updated 5/21/2007 1:56:29 PM ET 2007-05-21T17:56:29

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Jonathan Allen, Mark Halperin, Michael Powell, Michelle Bernard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  It‘s Friday night.  Here come the Hot Shots with lots of wild political stories.  Can you give Hillary a tune, and if you do, could she keep it?  And Obama takes a whack at Mrs. Clinton.  Fred Thompson takes a whack at movie maker Michael Moore.  Has the season begun?

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

Hillary‘s new listening tour.  She asks her friends now to give her a campaign jingle.  What‘s next?  Do we have to design bumper stickers? 

And is Obama now ready to go after Hillary?  He says the difference between the two is that she thought the war in Iraq was a good idea and he didn‘t. 

And Fred Thompson takes on movie maker Michael Moore.  Is Michael the new Sister Souljah, someone you whack to win your street cred?

And the sex lives of presidential candidates.  Did Mike Wallace really ask Mitt Romney if he had relations with his wife before marriage?  And did Mitt Romney really have to answer the question?

And Rosie‘s scenario.  Why do people who hate the war keep making the anti-war side so hard to take? 

We begin tonight with a look at the best sights and sounds from the week.  It‘s the HARDBALL Hot Shots, A.B. Stoddard from “The Hill”, “Congressional Quarterly‘s” Jonathan Allen and Mark HALPERIN of “TIME” magazine, which by the way, has Al Gore on its cover this week.

First up Hillary‘s song and dance.  This week, Hillary Clinton tried to shed the perception that she‘s all work and no play, all frowns and no fun.  And she did it with another online video message.  Let‘s take a look. 


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hi, I‘m Hillary Clinton, and I need some advice from everyone out there who‘s watching this.  I want to know what you‘re thinking on one of the most important questions of this campaign.  It‘s something we‘ve been struggling, debating, agonizing over for months.  So now I‘m turning to you, the American people. 

Here‘s the issue.  What do you think our campaign song should be?  There are so many great choices.  We want and need your help.  Please go to HillaryClinton.com and vote for your favorite choice or send us your ideas. 

Whatever song you choose, though, I make you this solemn and sacred promise. 

(singing) Of the land of the free...

(speaking) I won‘t sing it in public.  Unless I win. 


MATTHEWS:  I like the ending, A.B.  Do you think that‘s going to work? 

Another listening tour.  Pick my song. 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  She needs to be accessible, and this is very corny. 

The problem for Hillary Clinton is that she doesn‘t do chummy very well.  She doesn‘t do “I‘m showing you my secret self” very well.  It just doesn‘t seem authentic. 

MATTHEWS:  But it is tongue in cheek.  It‘s faux.

STODDARD:  It is faux, because she never acts this way. 

But the thing is, this is part of a larger problem she‘s trying to address.  She‘s been in an office holder bubble for 15 years in Washington and many more in Arkansas.  And I don‘t know if they‘re going to take her to the grocery store, but her team really needs to try to get her to be a woman of the people. 

And the Obama people really need to exploit that. 

MATTHEWS:  Mark Halperin, is that the real Hillary, or is that a faux Hillary that won‘t sell?  I‘m not sure.  I like the ending myself.  I thought it was cute, about admitting she couldn‘t sing.  Maybe she should have started with that.  What do you think?

MARK HALPERIN, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Chris, you‘re exactly right in the way you set it up.  If she doesn‘t show people that she‘s having fun running for president, she won‘t win.  I think it‘s the biggest barrier to her getting elected, winning the nomination against... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, does this gig work for her or not?

HALPERIN:  I think—I think this one does.  Look, it‘s nails on the blackboard for A.B. and other people, and there are plenty of Clinton haters who will not like anything. 

MATTHEWS:  But it‘s music to your ears?  Right, Mark?

HALPERIN:  I think it shows her having fun.  Like I said, if she can‘t have fun doing this, she‘ll lose.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think?  Is this her showing that she‘s willing to stoop to conquer, make a little bit of a fool of herself to win some votes, which people like to see politicians do?

JONATHAN ALLEN, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”:  Well, I‘m not sure exactly what she‘s doing with it.  It‘s kind of a weird thing, Chris.  But I will say this.  My suggestion is if she‘s going to use Bill in the campaign she should go with, “I‘m Bringing Sexy Back”.  Have a little fun with it.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know what this means.  But is this like eating a Coney Island hot dog on the street corner or a blintz?  Is this just one of the things you‘ve got to do?

ALLEN:  Well, I mean, we‘ve watched presidential candidates try to connect with the people, and it always backfires when they try to connect with the people.  Maybe they should just...

MATTHEWS:  I like the skepticism here.  Let‘s take a look at the Hot Shots.  Here we‘ve got a big question.  This is serious business. 

Obama takes on Hillary on the war.  Can Barack Obama charm his way to the front of the Democratic field or does he need to hit Hillary hard to make it happen?  And can Obama draw a sharp line between himself and Hillary when it comes to the war in Iraq? 

And here we go this week.  Earlier in the week, Bill Clinton said that the two candidates had the same voting record as Barack and his wife on Iraq.  Here‘s NBC‘s David Gregory interviewing Obama afterwards. 


DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Bill Clinton has been interviewed the last couple of days about his global warming initiative.  And one of the things he said last night is that there really isn‘t any difference between you and Senator Clinton in terms of your voting records on Iraq.  Do you think that‘s about right?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I suppose that‘s true if you leave out the fact that she authorized it and supported it, and I said it was a bad idea.  That‘s a—that‘s a fairly major difference.  So...

GREGORY:  And to you I gather this is—this becomes a fundamental question of judgment, does it not?

OBAMA:  It does.  I mean, I think that—I think very highly of Senator Clinton.  I think she‘s a wonderful senator from New York.  But—and I think very highly of Bill Clinton.  But I think that it‘s—it is fair to say that we had a fundamentally different opinion on the wisdom of this war.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that was David Gregory in his new role as the FM D.J., the Clinton Quaalude (ph) in the morning.  What do you make of her?  Did he really help—he helped Obama put the nail in her coffin, didn‘t he?

ALLEN:  Well, he really gave her an opportunity exploit that.  And there is a big difference here.  But Barack Obama was a city—state representative in Chicago at the time.  Hillary Clinton had the constraint of being a United States senator.  And these are two really different...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference?

ALLEN:  Well, I think that Barack Obama represented a pretty small constituency in the state senate district and a very liberal one.  It makes it easier for him to be against the...

MATTHEWS:  Whereas Hillary had to represent the hawks, the doves and the middle people. 

ALLEN:  That‘s exactly right.  The entire state.  And she was looking forward to a presidential election.

MATTHEWS:  Astute.  I‘m going to write your name done, Jonathan.  That is smart.  I‘ve always wondered how you justified her vote.  Maybe you‘ve done it.

Let me go right now to Mark.  That‘s a shot right at the heart of Hillary.  If you‘re going to be the Democratic candidate in 2008, you‘ve got to be generally anti-the Iraq war.  Can he still nail her for having voted to approve it?

HALPERIN:  Well, I think the Obama campaign may be feeling a little pressure.  They‘re seeing what the Clinton campaign has hoped and predicted happen, happen right before their eyes.  Much more focus now on what is going on what‘s going on in the war now, what these candidates are going to do now. 

If they can‘t keep that initial decision, that initial judgment front and center, they‘re losing one of their very powerful weapons in this. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, can he bring it back up in a reaction to a question from David Gregory?  Has that got enough power behind it?

HALPERIN:  No, you‘re going to—he‘s going to have to keep driving at it.  Maybe in the next debate.  But that was quite a whack.  I think that was probably the most aggressive action any of the three leading Democrats has engaged in so far. 

MATTHEWS:  It reminded me of this whack this week on the FOX debate when I watched.  One of the guys—it was McCain—nailing it to Romney, saying, “Well, I don‘t have different opinions on odd—or even numbered years.”  That was a pretty serious shot. 

STODDARD:  And that was the best moment that John McCain has had in months and months.  It was the real John McCain.  He struggled because he hasn‘t been the real John McCain. 

For Barack Obama, who‘s running as a rookie, trying to beat two Clintons at their game, he cannot ignore this opening.  That‘s all he has. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re with me.  He has to engage?

STODDARD:  Look at her the other day.  She voted for a withdrawal amendment on Iraq, and within hours she was trying to do the rhetorical retreat.  “Well, I won‘t speculate on my future votes.”

MATTHEWS:  She does that.

STODDARD:  And you know what?  This—Barack Obama has to keep riding this one point. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s like Archie Andrews with Betty and Veronica.  You know, he does the pyramid play.  She does the pyramid play between the hawks, some of them contributors, people she has to keep happy, more conservative people, richer people, and the people out in the streets and on the campuses who hate this war. 

ALLEN:  The problem for Barack Obama is that he‘s got to distinguish himself on this war, because that‘s the issue. 

MATTHEWS:  This issue, everybody agrees.

ALLEN:  It‘s the only one.  And he‘s got to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  If he doesn‘t win on this one, he doesn‘t win. 


HALPERIN:  Any coalition—any coalition that‘s going to win this for him has got to include a high percentage of people who hate the war and think it was a big mistake.  He can‘t let that distinction be blurred.  And that‘s what he‘s trying to do.  And I suspect he‘ll keep doing it.

MATTHEWS:  I want a vote around the table here.  You first, A.B.  Has he lost ground to Hillary in the last couple of months by not engaging her?  He had a big run in the beginning. 

STODDARD:  I think that there was a big moment around the David Geffen flap, and everyone thought he was going to actually go back to politics, as usual.  But he‘s really trying to keep his promise, which is to, you know, have a new brand of politics and a new kind of politics. 

MATTHEWS:  Howard Wolfson (ph) took some shots, and they went right back into their home. 

STODDARD:  I think it‘s going to be hard for him. 

MATTHEWS:  He didn‘t continue to—I want to be fair.  He held his ground, but he didn‘t really say, “Let‘s duke it out here.” 

STODDARD:  No.  But there was a pause.  I think he‘s going to have to come back after her.  He‘s going to have to look—she‘s running a general election campaign and a primary campaign at the same time. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s holding rallies.

STODDARD:  And there are openings for him. 

ALLEN:  I absolutely agree.  He‘s got to get engaged.  People want to see them duke it out.  They want to see what he‘s got, what he‘s made of, if he‘s tough enough to... 

MATTHEWS:  Mark, are we going to have a summer break and then have the real campaign in September?  When do you see this thing getting in close, when people really start playing at each other and really saying, “I‘m better than that person because”?

HALPERIN:  Of course, I think the debate schedule that was just announced, you‘ve got debates in June.  You‘ve got debates in July.  You‘ve got debates every month. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got the ASPI (ph) one coming up here.  That‘s an earlier one.  That‘s—how many more are there in June?

HALPERIN:  I think just one in June.  I don‘t think there‘s going to be a break.  I think this thing is going to go full throttle the whole way.  And remember...

MATTHEWS:  No French August?

HALPERIN:  They‘re—no Iraqi parliament break.  They‘ve got to worry about—they‘ve got to worry about fundraising every day, Chris.  And that‘s what a lot of this is about. 

I think Barack Obama is getting a little bit soft in the polls in the last few weeks: national polls, key state polls.  They can‘t let that happen.  He needs to keep things going.  And if he moves up a little bit, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are going to keep the pressure up. 

MATTHEWS:  You are a brilliant guy. 

We‘ll be right back with more of the HARDBALL Hot Shots, including Fred Thompson‘s latest salvo against Michael Moore.  That‘s a fat target. 

And later, NBC‘s Lisa Meyers with the investigative report on whether the U.S. military—this is really big—is giving our troops the armor they need.  This is a big one tonight.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Wait till you catch this.  Welcome back to HARDBALL Hot Shots, our weekly review of the biggest and boldest news nuggets from the week. 

Next up, Fred Thompson versus Michael Moore.  Former Republican Tennessee senator, Fred Thompson, star of NBC‘s “Law & Order”, hasn‘t announced whether he‘ll run for president yet.  But like Mitt Romney‘s spat last week with Al Sharpton, he‘s seizing the chance to pick a fight with a Democrat that Republicans love to loathe. 

Responding to filmmaker Michael Moore‘s challenge for a debate over health care, Thompson posted this video on the Internet.  Let‘s watch.


FRED THOMPSON, ACTOR/FORMER SENATOR:  You know, I‘ve been looking at my schedule, Michael, and I don‘t think I have time for you.  But I may be the least of your problems. 

The next time you‘re down in Cuba visiting your buddy Castro, you might ask him about another documentary filmmaker.  His name was Nicolas Vienne (ph).  He did something Castro didn‘t like, and they put him in a mental institution for several years, giving him devastating electroshock treatments. 

Mental institution, Michael.  Might be something you ought to think about. 


MATTHEWS:  Mark HALPERIN, is Thomas‘ cigar-chomping chide a sign that he‘s serious about getting in this race? 

HALPERIN:  Chris, I‘ve got to see your, “Ha ha!”

MATTHEWS:  I have to tell you, Mark, it‘s for real.  I can‘t fake it. 

But let me ask you this...

HALPERIN:  I agree.

MATTHEWS:  Is this the kind of winning performance that the avuncular Fred Thompson needs to win this thing?

HALPERIN:  I echo your “Ha ha.”  Mega “ha ha” to you, Chris.  Because

that is exactly what this kind of campaign is going to have to be.  He said

he has said he‘s going to run in an unorthodox campaign. 

That kind of video gets the net roots totally in a lather.  They hate Michael Moore.  They like the jab.  They like the cigar.  It‘s a total winner.

MATTHEWS:  So there is a right-wing net roots as well as a left-wing net roots?

HALPERIN:  Look, it shows that this guy has the flair for the dramatic.  He understands what the net roots cares about.  He was aggressive on immigration.  I think right now that this guy is poised to come in and be a key player in this. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s also brilliant, because the attack from a defensive position is one of the smartest moves in politics.  There you go again.  He posed as if he was defending himself against Michael Moore and took his head off. 

ALLEN:  That‘s right.  I mean, he basically took it right back at him.  I mean, the thing with Thompson here is there‘s the grass tops encouraging roots him to get in.  The grass roots want a conservative candidate, and something has got to connect.  And I think he‘s trying to do that with this.

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree, A.B., this is a little winning punch there for this guy?

STODDARD:  This is—he is a candidate looking for a message, and what he did was he stumbled on a moment.  And it‘s what he needed. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I‘m watching him.

STODDARD:  I really think that he figured out he needs to have more swagger than Rudy Giuliani. 

MATTHEWS:  You notice how he joined the defense fund for Scooter Libby, tying in with the neoconservative crowd?  Here he is, tying with the anti-Michael Moore.  It seems like he‘s finding ways to symbolically connect with what HALPERIN is calling net roots or hard right. 

ALLEN:  Well, I think what‘s really important for him is he‘s being able to do it without actually jumping into the campaign and taking the shots that other people might be taking. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Next up, holy war on Rudy.  The first two Republican debates, put Rudy Giuliani in the spotlight for his support for abortion rights.  Giuliani has tried to appeal to the libertarian streak in his party, the Barry Goldwater streak, saying that government shouldn‘t be involved in such decisions. 

But as H.L. Mencken put it, never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced.  And Dr. James Dobson, of course, is that sort of person.  He says he‘s not going to vote for Giuliani.  Big surprise, A.B., right?

STODDARD:  Exactly.  You know, but at the same time there‘s a column in “The New York Post” today that said that Ted Olson whose wife died on 9/11, who‘s—is a true-blue, true red conservative, is supporting Rudy Giuliani. 

He‘s going to overlook these other issues, because he says he has passion and he has guts and he‘s real.  And this is something...

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been saying for two years the conservatives are going to do that.  And I like the new Tom Edsel piece on the cover of “New Republic” this week, saying the same thing. 

STODDARD:  There—you know, I—several months ago I talked to a very devout conservative who‘s—pro-life is sort of his defining issue.  And he said, “I really think the paradigm has shifted, and I‘m going to have to consider keeping a Democrat out of the White House because of our national security.  And I‘m going to have to put that over the life issue.” 

And I think there are other Republicans doing that. 

MATTHEWS:  So if there is a New York-New York fight between Hillary and Rudy, the people in the Bible Belt will say, “We‘ve got a favorite”?

What do you think, Jonathan?  Or will they say, “This isn‘t our fight”?

ALLEN:  I think they‘ll say, “This isn‘t our fight.”  But that‘s what remains to be seen.  I mean, James Dobson is tipping his hand that way. 

MATTHEWS:  These guys have to say this stuff.

ALLEN:  Well, I don‘t think he has to say it now.

MATTHEWS: That‘s why they get paid. 

ALLEN:  Sure.  Absolutely.  It‘s a question of whether his followers will follow him.  But you know...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s like leaders of ethnic group organizations.  They have to always take the side against the majority, because that‘s how they show they‘re militant. 

ALLEN:  Sure.  But this is the big threat, and people worry about it in both parties, the Democratic and the Republican, that people will stay home.  People stayed home for the Democrats in ‘94.

MATTHEWS:  Mark, you can be the tie-breaker here.  Do you think that those extra 30 million votes that came out in 2004 for the Bushes would come out for Rudy?

HALPERIN:  They may not.  Chris, mark me down a little bit more skeptical than you and A.B.  This guy is winging it.  He‘s got to figure out how to deal with these issues.  All he does is, when he‘s forced in a debate, when he‘s forced in an occasional press conference to answer, he answers.  He needs a thought-through strategy about how to deal with Dobson, how to deal with abortion... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s late off the mark.  I‘ve noticed in the first debate I moderated, he wasn‘t quite ready.  He said it‘s OK to get rid of Roe v. Wade or it‘s OK not to.  But this last time around he did have a spiel.

HALPERIN:  A little bit better, Chris.  But look, he should have been prepared for your question.  He was more prepared in the second debate, but where are they on Dobson?  They need to engage.  They‘ve got their head in the sand.  They‘re hoping it will all go away. 

I just think it‘s got to—if it‘s going to work, it‘s got to be more thoughtful and less just ad hoc, on the fly, trying to deal with it and pretend it doesn‘t exist. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, among the downtown business groups in all the big cities in the south.  Among the suburbs where I grew up, with Philly, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, all this stuff, they don‘t know who James Dobson is.  They could care less.  He‘s the kind of guy they‘re embarrassed to have in the Republican Party with them. 

HALPERIN:  That‘s a wing of the Republican Party, Chris, but so are the followers of James Dobson.  They are not insignificant.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why doesn‘t he just give those votes to Romney, who seems to want them so much?  Let Romney have those votes.  Let him split them up with McCain, and he gets all the secular people.  Doesn‘t that work? 

HALPERIN:  I don‘t think it will work in the Iowa caucuses.  And they...

MATTHEWS:  How about in Florida, New York and California?  Because there‘s a few more delegates than there are in Iowa?

HALPERIN:  If he gets there, Chris, but if the press treats Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina like the elimination round, he may not be in the game. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you how that might not work.  Here‘s the dynamic.  I love that word.  You use that word, dynamic. 

How about if Hillary Clinton doesn‘t win in Iowa and Bill Clinton goes on television then, right, and says, “You know, I lost the first couple, too.  Wait until the big ones come along.”  And serves the purposes of Rudy as well as Hillary.  Suppose that happens. 

HALPERIN:  Nobody‘s ever done it.  Maybe if they started now.

MATTHEWS:  Bill can do anything.  Bill Clinton can do anything.  I have learned the hard way, watching this guy.  He can say, “I won the New Hampshire primary.”  He lost to poor Paul Tsongas by eight points.  He just said he won, and it worked.  Mark, you know better.  You know he can do anything.

HALPERIN:  The expectations game could come into play.  But I don‘t think you can be shut out in those first three or four states and then go on to rack up delegates.  The press just doesn‘t allow it.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Maybe you‘re right.

HALPERIN:  The press makes it about wins and losses...

MATTHEWS:  But, until you‘re right, and proven right...

HALPERIN:  ... not about delegates.

MATTHEWS:  ... I‘m going to charge—mark you down a point, despite your performance in the last segment...


MATTHEWS:  ... because that is pure conventional wisdom. 

We will be right back with the “Hot Shots.”

And later:  Can you run for president if you don‘t have a load of money? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  You won‘t believe this one. 

Welcome back to the HARDBALL “Hot Shots.”

Next up: the sex lives of candidates.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney hit the cover of “TIME” magazine last week.  But, on “60 Minutes” with Mike Wallace, he was asked if he had sex with his wife before marriage. 


MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You get all of these Mormons with strict prohibition against premarital sex.  And they‘re young.  And they‘re attractive.  And the hormones work very well.  And people decide it is time to get married. 

MIKE WALLACE, “60 MINUTES”:  Did you have premarital sex with Ann? 

ROMNEY:  No, I‘m sorry.  We don‘t get into...


ROMNEY:  ... into those things.  The answer is no.




MATTHEWS:  I have an “ugh” response to Mike.  I love Mike, but that was the question I don‘t think you should ask and I don‘t think he should have answered. 

But he did answer it.  He played ball.  Why?

STODDARD:  Mitt Romney is playing to his strengths.  And he—I mean...


MATTHEWS:  That he didn‘t have sex before marriage is one of his strengths...

STODDARD:  No, but he...

MATTHEWS:  ... clearly.

STODDARD:  He has a beautiful wife.  And they have been married forever. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s true.  That‘s true. 

STODDARD:  And he looks like a cross between Warren Beatty and George Herbert Walker Bush.  And he has a great voice.  And he—people love his style. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s never had a hangover.

STODDARD:  And it is very sweet. 


STODDARD:  It—it really appeals to people.

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you like the fact—in other words, you come down on the side that he should have answered that question? 

STODDARD:  You know, he answered it so quickly, I don‘t think he had time.  I mean, he was taken by total surprise.

MATTHEWS:  No.  He gave a—he gave a dodge answer.  Then he gave the complete answer, which I thought he had time to reflect.


MATTHEWS:  And he said, I want to cover my butt, because, if I don‘t give a complete answer, people will say I‘m covering up something. 

STODDARD:  Possibly.  Possibly.

MATTHEWS:  Jonathan, you‘re laughing.  I want to know the honest answer, straight line.


MATTHEWS:  Should a politician simply say, some things are none of your damn business?

ALLEN:  Exactly. 



ALLEN:  Exactly.


ALLEN:  Nobody‘s business. 

And the only—I mean, the only thing I have learned from all this is that some of these guys need to have more post-marital sex.  I have been watching these debates.



ALLEN:  ... loosen up a little bit, you know?


STODDARD:  I mean, but that is nobody‘s business. 

I am married.  You are married.  A.B. is married.  It‘s nobody‘s business. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, look at Mark.

I want to ask you a question.  Should a candidate, at some time, say, Mike, I will ask you the same question, but I‘m not going to do it; stop talking to me about that stuff?

HALPERIN:  Chris—Chris, I‘m amazed that this hasn‘t happened more.  We have got a combustible cycle here.  You have got all these media outlets, lots of competition for the salacious, and you have got inexperienced candidates. 

I think, if Governor Romney had thought about it in advance, he would have said just what you are suggesting, like George Bush said, very effectively, in 2000 about such things:  It is none of your business.  That‘s what—not what the public is interested in.  They are interested in serious issues.  And you should be ashamed of yourself for asking. 

That is what worked for Bush.  And I think candidates who aren‘t ready to give that answer...


HALPERIN:  ... are silly.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s widen the question, starting with you, Mark.

Is it possible that the world stakes are so high now, in terms of facing the possible strike against us again by al Qaeda or someone else, that we are really looking for the best person we can find to—to run the presidency, whether it‘s Hillary Clinton or it‘s one of the other front-runners or one of the backbenchers; we just want somebody who is strong and smart and wise, and we are willing to forgive the things we normally would say, well, let‘s fuss about whether Rudy has been married three times, or John McCain twice, or Hillary has had problems with Bill, or anything like that?

Is it possible that that stuff is off the table this time? 

HALPERIN:  I don‘t think it is.  To the extent it goes to character, goes to questions in judgment, goes to the American people‘s understanding of a person, I think that stuff is right in there this time, as it‘s been for the last several cycles.


STODDARD:  Yes, I agree. 

MATTHEWS:  Still there, still on the table? 

STODDARD:  It‘s still a popularity contest.  And people want—when they pick—want—they want to pick someone like themselves, their brother, or their neighbor. 

MATTHEWS:  But—OK.  Let me...


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a tougher question.

We picked—the American people—picked George W. Bush because he had a nice, quiet, go-to-bed-at-night, early-at-night, together marriage, right?  No problems.  No soap opera.

Do a lot of people have buyer‘s remorse, saying, we made the wrong basis of judgment?  We should have thought about his vision, his—his wisdom, instead of deciding whether he had a nice, neat marriage or not?

ALLEN:  I think the country is so split—and it was in those elections—it‘s hard to tell exactly why he won both times. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I will tell you that‘s why he won.

ALLEN:  But...


MATTHEWS:  I will say it right here.

ALLEN:  But I will say...

MATTHEWS:  He won because of Monica, and because he came in and said, I am going to clean up the mess. 

ALLEN:  But I do think, on these—on these other issues, that they are not as important this year.  The—the paradigm has shifted.  I think that we‘re—I mean, we are at war. 


ALLEN:  Nine-eleven, it does make a big difference. 


MATTHEWS:  Mark, I read—did you read that piece by Tom Edsall? 

He‘s a brilliant writer. 

And he wrote this cover saying that conservatism today is defined not by that moral menu of issues, as much as it is—and he did it by polling data.  He‘s a good numbers guy.  He said, it is really about the war in Iraq, and how we end it, and about how we protect ourselves at home.  Those are the paradigmatic, if you want, issues of the conservative movement right now. 

HALPERIN:  I—I just think the conservative movement is broader than that and more divided than that. 

You—we talked earlier about Dobson.  You have got to have all three legs of the stool, the economic conservatives, the national security conservatives, and the social conservatives.  No one is going to do what Bush and Reagan did and get them all.  Whoever can get the most—but, if you—if you—if you just give up on the social conservatives, I don‘t think...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HALPERIN:  ... you can be nominated. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here is a question I should only ask to Tipper, because it‘s none of anybody else‘s business, because she has to deal with it.  But has—has Al lost a significant amount of weight? 

Mark, he‘s on the cover of “TIME” magazine.

STODDARD:  And Mark Halperin is going to know?

HALPERIN:  Yes, he has. 


MATTHEWS:  Because he looks very sculpted in the pictures, but I didn‘t know if that was good photography or not. 

HALPERIN:  He—no, no, no.  He has lost some weight.  He‘s not down to his absolute lowest, but he‘s not...

MATTHEWS:  Well, is he Raymond Burr, Marlon Brando, or what—or more recognizably just a little heavy?

HALPERIN:  It‘s more a little Al From-type thing, Chris.  How is that?

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you mean...


MATTHEWS:  ...  Emperor Bokassa, I call him.

Let me ask you, seriously, do you think he is making a move by losing weight?  People have said that he—he will show signs of an interest in this race if he starts to really go through some dieting.

HALPERIN:  Look, the piece in the magazine makes clear that the guy still is interested in public life, but, also, he doesn‘t seem—Tipper says, you know, people want to take him on a walk in the woods all the time.  He doesn‘t want to go.  She doesn‘t seem that into it.  He doesn‘t seem that into it.  It could just be he wants his old clothes to fit. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean—a walk in the wood means people want to talk over the politics of ‘08 with him.

HALPERIN:  And convince him to run, to take him...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me tell you.

HALPERIN:  ... take him out and say, you should run..

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Mark.  Mark, you are very smart.  And I am going to set you up for this, because it‘s a tough question.


MATTHEWS:  Then I‘m going to go around.

If Hillary were not in this race, if it was not a Clinton race, Bill and Hillary in this together, if he didn‘t have to go up and bang his head against that wall again, would he be in this race? 

HALPERIN:  Oh, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you. 

Same question to you, Jonathan.

ALLEN:  Absolutely.



MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that interesting...


MATTHEWS:  ... that what is keeping him from offering himself up to the American people is this old family feud with the Clintons?

HALPERIN:  But, Chris, I will tell you—I will tell you...

STODDARD:  Well, it‘s hard to beat...

HALPERIN:  I will tell you something else.

We have got also, in “TIME,” an excerpt from the book that he has just written. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HALPERIN:  He is a great student of what happens when you go from being pop cultural hero, scientific wizard, potential Nobel Prize winner, to being a candidate for president.  And he would face all the same questions and harassments he has faced before. 


HALPERIN:  He‘s not interested in that.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Bobby Kennedy—young Bobby Kennedy—he‘s not young now—he‘s a little younger than me.

But Bobby Kennedy once said to me the reason he doesn‘t just run for office, like every other pol in the country, is because he wants to be able to pick his issues. 


MATTHEWS:  And you don‘t want to have to talk about abortion and gay rights and gay marriage, if you don‘t want to talk about all this stuff, you don‘t have a strong—but you care about the environment.  You care about climate change. 

I think we are getting a new paradigm, which is, people who want to lead this country don‘t want to run for office, because they have got to deal with all this crap. 

Anyway, thank you, Mark Halperin.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, A.B. Stoddard.


MATTHEWS:  You have to deal with us.


MATTHEWS:  And thank you, Jonathan Allen.

Up next: NBC‘s Lisa Myers with a hot new report, investigative report, about the U.S. Army and whether our troops are getting the right armor they are supposed to have.

And, this Sunday, on NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a candidate for president on the Democratic side, and Newt Gingrich. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 


VERA GIBBONS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Vera Gibbons with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing higher this Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average gaining almost 80 points, closing at another record high of 13556, the S&P 500 up 10.  And the Nasdaq gained 19. 

Stocks were helped by a couple of high-profile deals today—

Microsoft buying online advertiser aQuantive for about $6 billion—aQuantive shares surging 77 percent on the news—Microsoft shares slightly lower.

And General Electric is reportedly close to a deal to sell its

plastics division to a Saudi Arabian industrial firm for about $11 billion

GE shares up more than 1 percent today.  GE is the parent company of MSNBC and CNBC.

And Northwest Airlines got approval to emerge from bankruptcy protection, after almost two years of reorganization.

Finally, oil prices up a little bit today, 8 cents in New York, to $64.94 a barrel. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Now to the dead serious stuff.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Is the body armor that is meant to save American soldiers‘ lives in war really the best available?  Today, three U.S. senators called for an investigation into that matter, in the wake of an NBC report led by NBC News senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers, who has spent several months investigating this story.

She joins us now with more—Lisa.

LISA MYERS, NBC CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, these independent reports—excuse me.

The question that our team set out to investigate was simple, but very important:  Did the—does the—do the soldiers in the Army have the best possible body armor in the world? 


MYERS (voice-over):  For troops in the line of fire, body armor can mean the difference between death and life.  The U.S. Army insists, our troops have the very best, and, without question, that armor has saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK BROWN, U.S. ARMY:  The body armor we issue to our soldiers today is the best in the world, bar none.

MYERS:  But is it really the best?

(on camera):  An NBC News investigation, including independent ballistics tests, suggests there may be something better, called Dragon Skin.  Some soldiers and their families have tried to buy Dragon Skin, believing it offers better protection.  But the U.S. Army banned Dragon Skin last year, even before formally testing it.

(voice-over):  We went to the factory where Dragon Skin is made.

(on camera):  So, this is Dragon Skin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s it.  It‘s a—it‘s a unique system comprised of individual scales, if you will.  As you can see, it‘s flexible.  It‘s pliable.

MYERS (voice-over):  The Army‘s current body armor is called Interceptor. 

We found the man who designed that body armor a decade ago, Jim McGee (ph), a retired Marine colonel.

(on camera):  What is the best body armor available today, in your view?

COLONEL JIM MCGEE (ph), U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.):  Dragon Skin is the best out there, hands down.  It‘s better than the Interceptor.  It is state of the art.  In some cases, it‘s two steps ahead of anything that I have ever have seen.

MYERS (voice-over):  Why?  He says more stopping power and more coverage.  McGee says the Army‘s Interceptor uses four plates to stop the most lethal bullets, leaving some vital organs unprotected. 

But McGee says Dragon Skin, with disks that interconnect like medieval chain mail, can wrap most of a soldier‘s torso, providing a greater area of maximum protection.  McGee has no financial stake in Dragon Skin.

MCGEE:  If you would ask me today, “Jim, we‘re sending you to Iraq tomorrow; what would you wear?” I would buy Dragon Skin and I would wear it.

MYERS:  He‘s not alone.  The CIA bought Dragon Skin for these elite operatives in Iraq, they say, after it passed CIA testing. 

But Brigadier General Mark Brown, in charge of body armor for the Army, says the Army conducted its own tests of Dragon Skin last year.

BROWN:  Thirteen of 48 shots that were taken at Dragon Skin were penetrating, full penetrating shots.

MYERS (on camera):  So, Dragon Skin failed?

BROWN:  Dragon Skin failed miserably.

MYERS (voice-over):  Brown says those tests led the Army to ban Dragon Skin, with this safety-of-use message warning soldiers of death or serious injury.  There‘s just one problem.  The Army banned Dragon Skin in March, almost two months before that testing began, in May.

(on camera):  But, General, the Army banned Dragon Skin before the Army even tested it.

BROWN:  Lisa, I‘m not aware of that.  I don‘t know that it had not been tested at that time.  I—I wasn‘t here.

MYERS (voice-over):  NBC News has learned that, well after the Army ban, select soldiers assigned to protect generals and VIPs in Iraq and Afghanistan wore Dragon Skin. 

This soldier, who asked us to conceal his identity and voice, says he wore Dragon Skin on certain missions, with the full knowledge of his commanders.

UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER:  I wore it, and I saw other people wearing it.  It conforms to your body.  It gives you more mobility.

MYERS (on camera):  Does the ban on Dragon Skin apply equally to everyone in the Army?

BROWN:  Lisa, yes, it does.

MYERS (voice-over):  However, sources in these documents reveal that the security detail for a top general in Iraq bought and wore Dragon Skin.

(on camera):  If Dragon Skin is good enough for a three-star general, shouldn‘t it be good enough for other soldiers?

BROWN:  Lisa, even three-star generals make mistakes.

MYERS (voice-over):  A Pentagon spokesman says that general, Peter Chiarelli, had no knowledge that Dragon Skin was prohibited, and he never wore Dragon Skin, though it‘s possible his staff ordered it for him. 

The Pentagon says Chiarelli acknowledges his bodyguards ordered and received concealed body armor, but he didn‘t know the armor was Dragon Skin.

Given the controversy over body armor, NBC News commissioned an independent side-by-side test of Dragon Skin and the Army‘s Interceptor vest.  In that testing, Dragon Skin outperformed the Army‘s body armor in stopping the most lethal threats.

Retired Four-Star Army General Wayne Downing, now an NBC News analyst, observed the test.

GENERAL WAYNE DOWNING, U.S. ARMY (RET.), NBC NEWS ANALYST:  From what we saw today, Lisa—and again, it‘s a limited number...

MYERS (on camera):  Sure.

DOWNING:  ... of—of—of trials—Dragon Skin was significantly better. 


:  Chris, these independent limited tests raise serious questions about the Army‘s claim that Dragon Skin simply doesn‘t work and it suggests more testing is needed.  We will report on the specific results of the independent tests we commission on “Dateline” Sunday. 

MATTHEWS:  So General Corelli (ph), I understand he is upset with the report on some basis? 

MYERS:  Yes, Chris, he is very upset.  He felt that we left the impression with viewers that he had worn Dragon Skin and that he was wearing better protection than his men.  To be clear, as we said in the piece, General Corelli says he never wore Dragon Skin. 

We wanted that his security detail did buy and wear Dragon Skin after it was banned by the Army.  Today in a phone call, the general acknowledged that was correct. 

The general was also concerned that we left the impression that his detail was wearing better armor than what was provided to the soldiers.  He says the concealed Dragon Skin his staff wore affords less protection than the best armor issued to soldiers. 

He says the Dragon Skin only was used in certain situations such as meetings or receptions with Iraqis who might have been insulted if his detail showed up wearing the obvious Army issue body armor. 

MATTHEWS:  So what does it all mean? 

MYERS:  What this means, Chris, in essence, is that the general‘s security detail violated the order that no soldiers wear any kind of Dragon Skin.  But it is important to the general that no one thinks he would be taking better care of himself or his entourage than he takes of the troops. 

General Corelli is very proud and very accomplished.  And he has a reputation for being a straight shooter who takes good care of his men.  He also has written personal letters to the families of more than 500 soldiers who died under his command—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Anyway, thank you very much, Lisa Myers, for another great report. 

Up next, the 2008 presidential field has assets—financial assets totaling over a quarter billion dollars.  Can anyone win the White House these days without starting off pretty rich?  This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  If it is true that money is power, both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have nothing to worry about.  Most are millionaires or at least one has a net worth in the hundreds of millions. 

Here is how some of the candidates‘ net worth breaks down.  These numbers are inexact, they are based on official reports which are wide-ranging in what they might mean.  On the Republican side, it is estimated that Rudy Giuliani‘s worth between—I love this, imagine filling out a tax form that says, I made between $20 million and $70 million last year.  I‘m not sure where.

John McCain $25 million to $38 million, and that is pretty good for a guy who has always been in public life.  And Mitt Romney, estimated to be worth between $190 million and $250 million.  He is the big guy. 

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is estimated to be worth between $10 million and $50 million.  And Barack Obama between $1 million and $2 million.  And John Edwards between $22 million and $60 million, there is a wide range. 

Big bucks for all.  What does it mean?  Let‘s hear from our HARDBALLers, Michelle Bernard with the Independent Women‘s Forum.  Is that a conservative or a liberal group? 

MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S FORUM:  It is right of center, a free market group. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I like the way you say that.  And Michael Powell (ph) is a Democratic strategist. 

Michael Powell, why does it—do you have to have at least a couple million in ante money to get in this game?  You don‘t—they are not spending their own money in these campaigns, are they?


I don‘t know what you do about all of the money in politics, unless you... 


MATTHEWS:  No, these are money to get to be candidates.  Not spending money, having it. 

POWELL:  Well, I don‘t think there is anything wrong with being credentialed as a successful person, as somebody who has gone out through their hard work and initiative and made money. 

MATTHEWS:  What did John McCain do to make all of this money? 

POWELL:  Well, he...


POWELL:  He married well. 

BERNARD:  He married his wife.



MATTHEWS:  Since when is wealth a sign of having worked hard?  A lot of cases, inherited or married or whatever.

POWELL:  Well, most of them.  Most of them that are running...


MATTHEWS:  Most of them have modest—well, we should say, they are very well off.  There are not rich.  But there are some people who are really rich here.  Do you think Romney being really rich helps him with the public, the regular people or not? 

BERNARD:  If he can convince the—you know, the quote-unquote “regular people” that he is one of the regular people, I don‘t think the money really makes a difference.  You know, it allows people to get into the race but the bottom line is people are going to vote for who they like. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the last self-made zillionaire to be president?  We don‘t elect self-made people.  We have had the Rockefellers.  We have had almost one.  We have had the Roosevelts who won, certainly.  We have had all—the Kennedy.  But what is the last time we elected some guy who went out there and made his bucks himself and made a lot of money?  It seems like we have never done it. 

POWELL:  I can‘t...

MATTHEWS:  I can‘t think of a single self-made rich guy who has been elected president. 


MATTHEWS:  And you would think this country would like people who made their own money. 

POWELL:  Well, I think the last one that did was probably President Reagan.  And but he is not in the category that this—these candidates are.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, no, he is not in this kind -- $200 million stuff.  So what is your bottom line?  You say, why don‘t we have brilliant college professors running, brilliant novelists running? 

Why doesn‘t David McCullough show up on one of these lists or Michael Beschloss or a president of a big university, Judy Rodin from—used to be head of Penn?  Amy Gutmann, why don‘t we have big time—Ruth Simmons, why don‘t we have some major academic leader or major figure in whatever or business? 

Why didn‘t Lee Iacocca run?

BERNARD:  It is just not the money.  Well, I—what I was going to say is it is not just the money, it is the ego that it takes to think that you have the ability to be president of the United States.  So it‘s not just money...

MATTHEWS:  And you get that from having money...

BERNARD:  And Iacocca, he has got—you know, he has got, what—you don‘t...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  He is a bad (ph) example. 

BERNARD:  Yes.  You know don‘t just get it from the money, it is just something that is innate. There are people who just—who get up and say, I can do this, I deserve to be president of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We have a couple rich guys running.  What is Romney? 

The other one—I made a list here.  The Clintons are almost up there now.  Giuliani is almost up there, Edwards.  But the only really rich guy is Romney.  He is like a Steve Forbes.  Is this going to hurt him?  That is your question now, Michael.

POWELL:  I don‘t think so.  I really do think...

MATTHEWS:  Too well off? 

POWELL:  No, I really don‘t think so.  I mean, I don‘t—you know, he looks to me as if he is comfortable in his skin.  He looks to me like he is a person who has, you know, worked hard, has been rewarded through his hard work initiative. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, he made the money. 

POWELL:  He made it.

MATTHEWS:  He made the money. 

POWELL:  He made it.

MATTHEWS:  But that is so rare.  I said, isn‘t it odd in a country where we love to say, you can make it here, the guy who did make it on his own doesn‘t have a bigger advantage? 

POWELL:  Well, listen, we will find out. 

MATTHEWS:  Mike Blumenthal may prove this for us too somewhere down the line. 

POWELL:  Right.  And I think in—and if he does run...

MATTHEWS:  Not Mike Blumenthal—Mike...

POWELL:  Mike..

BERNARD:  Bloomberg.

POWELL:  ... Bloomberg, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Bloomberg.  Mike Blumenthal was the former secretary of the treasury.


MATTHEWS:  Hey, we will be right back with Michael Powell.  I haven‘t gotten anything out of this conversation.  I have no idea, is it good to be rich in American politics like the Kennedys, Rockefellers and Roosevelts? 

BERNARD:  Doesn‘t make a difference.

MATTHEWS:  I think it helps you with Democrats.

POWELL:  It is always good to be rich.

MATTHEWS:  I think Democrats like old money and Republicans like new money.  We will be right back with Michael Powell and Michelle Bernard. 

And stay up on all of the news between the scenes here on HARDBALL.  Get your daily e-mail briefing, just go to our Web site, hardball.msnbc.com.  You are watching it only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Michelle Bernard and Michael Powell.  By the way, breaking news, the U.S. military said Friday, that is today, that five more soldiers have been killed in fighting in Iraq, unbelievable. 

Let me ask you about this, Michael Powell.  This Gonzales thing, we lost Wolfowitz, at the World Bank, the other day.  Now we are—it looks like there is a drumbeat for a no confidence vote in the U.S. Senate next week.  Is this going to be the end of Gonzales—Alberto Gonzales.

POWELL:  It is hard to say, Chris, because you know he has an enormously high threshold for pain.  I don‘t know how the guy gets up in the morning. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that his job now, to just take it?

POWELL:  Apparently so.  I mean, the testimony that former Assistant Attorney General James Comey gave this week was just something, you know, that, you know, revealed a whole new side...


MATTHEWS:  ... look like Luca Brasi going into the hospital there. 


MATTHEWS:  Michelle, I know you like that side of things politically, but what do you think of this behavior of two guys going into the hospital and trying to get this sick guy to sign the paper when they knew he was relieved of duty, that his deputy was in charge, and they snuck around the deputy to get to the sick guy? 

BERNARD:  It was politically unwise. 


MATTHEWS:  Do you think the president gave the order?

BERNARD:  I don‘t—you know, I don‘t know. 

MATTHEWS:  Who do you think gave it? 

BERNARD:  I don‘t think it really matters. 


MATTHEWS:  Oh it does.  Let me tell you, some things do matter.  We want to know who said, go to the hospital bed, ignore Comey, and get the signature, you know, like you are—either your signature or your brains are going to be on that paper, you know “The Godfather.”

BERNARD:  Well, you know what, regardless of who gave the orders, they shouldn‘t have done it.  And the American public is never ever going to be able to get it out of their imagination... 


BERNARD:  ... that this guy is laying in ICU...

MATTHEWS:  So they (INAUDIBLE) the dead man, so Gonzales is the dead man.

BERNARD:  Gonzales is gone. 

MATTHEWS:  Why does the president hold onto him so long to make it so painful?  Why doesn‘t he just say, you know, Alberto, we are close friends, I will find another position for you, but you can‘t be my attorney general under this heat. 

BERNARD:  Well, we don‘t know that the president is saying that.  For all we know, Gonzales is saying, I need this job, let me hang in there and let me resign on my own terms, or let me see if I can fix it.  Wolfowitz stayed in as long as he could.  He didn‘t...


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a longer question which is really awful to ask you on a Friday afternoon, does anybody ever benefit from a relationship with this president? 

BERNARD:  That is a very good question. 


MATTHEWS:  I‘m going through the list.  Feith, yes, nobody will have lunch with him over at the Georgetown faculty.  Wolfowitz is out now, humiliated.  Not a bad guy, but humiliated.  Scooter is awaiting sentencing.  All the hawks seem to have gotten into big trouble.  Cheney is still there, but I wonder whether Cheney is more Bush‘s guy or he is Cheney‘s guy.  I can‘t tell sometimes. 

BERNARD:  Yes, well you know, but they fall on their own swords.  I mean, somebody gives them orders, someone asks you to do something.  Everybody has a fundamental sense of right and wrong.  And there comes a time when you say no. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go with some people who didn‘t fall on their own swords.  Gonzales, the first one. 

BERNARD:  Gonzales was in the hospital room. 

MATTHEWS:  O‘Neill, the first secretary of the treasury that Bush publicly fired.  Larry what‘s-his-name?  The first chancellor of economic advisers—chairman, he publicly fired...

POWELL:  Lindsey.

MATTHEWS:  Larry Lindsey, publicly fired him.  There is a lot of bodies out there. 

BERNARD:  Well, you know what, it happens in every administration. 

MATTHEWS:  Really, like this?

BERNARD:  Well, in every administration...

MATTHEWS:  Who did...


MATTHEWS:  ... fire?

BERNARD:  ... people—well, he didn‘t have to fire, look what happened to Lani Guinier under Clinton.  He let her go.  There were supposedly loyal friends.

MATTHEWS:  I like your memory. 

BERNARD:  Yes, well, of course. 


MATTHEWS:  ... one of the great moments, he is about to put her up for

he puts her up for chief of the civil rights division at Justice, an intellectual at Penn, a law professor.  Then it comes out that she believes in this kind of rotating majorities in cities—or towns where there is a black and white, a black minority and a white majority.  And said, why don‘t we have a rotating leadership so that everybody gets a share of power, which is kind of a revolutionary idea, it is not exactly democratic. 

And Bill Clinton is confronted with that document she wrote, oh, I never read her stuff before.  Like, he picks her for chief of the civil rights division, then says, I never read her stuff, now I‘m going to dump her. 

BERNARD:  Exactly.  And they were supposedly lifelong friends, hanging out on Martha‘s Vineyard together.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Do you think they still are?

BERNARD:  Sayonara.  No.

MATTHEWS:  You have got a great memory.  Well, what do you think?  Do you think this administration is not coming apart at the seams right now?

BERNARD:  It is coming apart at the seams.  It is.  And hopefully they can pull it together. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is next to go? 

BERNARD:  I don‘t know.  Time will tell. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Condi is doing a good job? 

BERNARD:  I do.  I am a big supporter of Condi Rice. 

MATTHEWS:  What is she doing?

BERNARD:  She is trying to make waves.  She is trying to deal with rights in the Middle East.

MATTHEWS:  A little late on the Middle East.

BERNARD:  Excuse me?

MATTHEWS:  A little late on the Middle East, like seven years to try to put together a deal over there. 

BERNARD:  Well, arguably, the United States has been really late on the Middle East for the last 20 years.  I mean, it doesn‘t matter who the president is, what—the engagement that we needed to have in the Arab Middle East, it just hasn‘t happened. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael Powell, do you want to raise the issue here? 

POWELL:  Well, Chris, I just think that...

MATTHEWS:  Chris Dodd is your old boss, he is running.  You know, we met when you were working for him.  And he is now running for president.  Why?

POWELL:  Well, I think he feels like he has got something to offer the country.  He has been in the Senate for over 20 years.  He has distinguished himself on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committees and the Senate Banking Committee.  He has been a great senator from Connecticut.  He led the Democratic Party in the late ‘90s during President Clinton‘s re-election campaign. 

And I think he has a world view.  And I think he has a view...

MATTHEWS:  Certainly.  He is very smart and he is a great guy and he is a great speaker.  But it seems like the lock is on, the lock is in for Hillary for and maybe an outside shot for Obama or Edwards, and that is about it.

POWELL:  Well, there is clearly an upper tier.  But it is a long game. 

And we will see how it plays out. 

MATTHEWS:  How does he get to the inside rail by the end of the summer?  How does Chris Dodd jump ahead in this NASCAR race ahead of Hillary or catch up to Hillary and Obama and Edwards?  How does he do it? 

POWELL:  Well, I think a couple of things.  Number one, I think he has to offer a vision about what we are going to do for national security in the coming weeks—or coming months and years. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe Biden is doing that.

POWELL:  Well, Joe Biden is.  And he is doing a very a good job of it.  But I think Senator Dodd also has an opportunity to distinguish himself on that issue.  I also think he has to find out, you know, for—you know, I think he has to talk about how we are going to move the country forward. 

Six years into a new century, where are we?  With all of the hope and promise of a new century—that it has to offer, where are we?  And leadership has got to take us beyond the last six years.  And I think he has an opportunity and the intellect to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  Are there any outsider—backbenchers on the Republican side we should look at? 

BERNARD:  think we be looking at the non-candidate candidates, you know, look at Newt Gingrich, look at Michael Bloomberg, look at Fred Thompson, you know, they are able to go out and have a dialogue across the country without, you know, announcing yet.  And it will be very interesting to see who actually puts their hat in the ring. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, Fred Thompson had a good week when he took a

shot at Michael Moore.  That was an easy shot and took a well one.  Anyway

a good one.  Anyway, thank you, Michael Powell, it is great to have you on.  Thank you, Michelle Bernard. 

Right now, it is time for “TUCKER.”



Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com) 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 MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.


Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET


Discussion comments