updated 6/5/2007 5:25:47 PM ET 2007-06-05T21:25:47

Guests: Bob Shrum, Mike Murphy, Michael O‘Hanlon, Frank Gaffney, Carl Cannon, Eric Alterman, Jennifer Senior

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, tough talk.  Why do the Democrats keep blowing presidential elections?  Let‘s hear it from the guy who‘s been advising those losers.  Let‘s hear it from Mr. “No Excuses” himself and from a Republican smart guy who disagrees with him.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Why do Democrats keep losing the “Who would you most like to have a beer with” question?  It‘s about who connects with you as a fellow American.  Why did a conservative Republican like George W. Bush come out better than the Democratic candidate when people were asked, If your car broke down on the roadside, who would stop and help you?  Who‘s going to run the candidate next time that people like in 2008, or is that going to be the test after eight years of Bush?

In the HARDBALL debate tonight, why is President Bush saying that Iraq is going to be like Korea?  Is that an honest comparison?  And Bill Jefferson, the congressman who had that $90,000 stowed in his refrigerator, is headed inside himself.  An indictment handed up today has him facing 235 years.  The only thing good about that sentence is the prospect of maybe living the full term.

We begin tonight with the HARDBALL political analyst, our own Bob Shrum.  His new book, which I‘m sure is going to do great, “No Excuses”—

I love this subtitle—“Confessions”—I‘m sorry—“Concessions of a Serial Campaigner.”  Bob, were you going to write “confessions” and changed it to “concessions”?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT:  No, I wanted to say “concessions” because I wanted to be very honest about what happens in politics.  Look, Chris, I wrote the book because—fundamentally, because I came from this kind of working-class background.  I got very lucky with scholarships and some other things, got to be at the center of American politics, and I wanted to say honestly what it was like, give people a glimpse of what it was like and make the argument that the Democratic Party ought to stand up for economic and social justice not only to win elections but because I want other people to have the same kind of chance I did.

MATTHEWS:  Why have Democrats had such an unlucky run with the personalities of their candidates?  Jimmy Carter was very attractive when he first ran—although you didn‘t agree.  And by the second time around, he looked a bit desperate.  Walter Mondale was not exactly a day at the beach.  Dukakis was a disaster in terms of personality.  Gore did not sell with the American people, maybe will now.  And certainly, Kerry didn‘t win on the personality front.

Why do the Republicans have such good luck with Reagan, even Bush, Sr., looked relatively attractive, and George W. being Mr. Regular Guy—why do they keep winning that personality test?

SHRUM:  Well, first of all, with Reagan, you‘re talking about someone who‘s sui generis, in the league of John Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt.  I think George Bush did pretty well in 2000 because he ran as someone he wasn‘t.  He didn‘t really run as himself.  He ran as a compassionate conservative.  People didn‘t have the sense that he was going to be this kind of president at all.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHRUM:  And I sort of reject this whole idea of the beer test.  If we‘re picking presidents by the test of who you‘d like to have a beer with, then we‘re making a terrible mistake.

MATTHEWS:  Well, wait a minute.  Maybe we are making a mistake.  I‘m just asking you, do you think we‘re not making judgments like that?  And how else do you explain—I mean, I love the poll question, “If your car is broken down on the side of the road, who‘s going to stop?”  Now, I love that question because it gets to something the Democratic Party‘s always been very good on, which is looking out for a person in trouble, whether old, sick or whatever.  Now, the fact that George W. Bush won a—nobody won a majority of votes in that one, by the way.  But the fact that he beat out John Kerry as somebody who would be—he‘d pull his car over and try to help you fix your tire, as opposed to a person who would whiz by and think they got something more important to do.

My conjecture is if Democrats can‘t win that one, they‘re going to lose every presidential election.

SHRUM:  Well, actually, you know, I think that to draw huge, large lessons out of an election in 2004 that, as I said before, was decided by about half a football field in Ohio, is a big mistake.  John Kerry came close to being the first candidate ever to defeat an incumbent president renominated by his own party in time of war.

You know, there‘s this great story, and I think you‘ve heard it before, Chris.  We‘ve talked about it.  “Time” magazine, I think it was, after the Kennedy victory in 1960, described the Kennedy enterprise as “coruscatingly brilliant.”  And he came in...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

SHRUM:  ... the next day and said, Change 55,000 votes, and we‘re coruscatingly stupid.  So I think we have to be careful about drawing huge lessons out of this.

MATTHEWS:  Well, but why do you lose that poll question?

SHRUM:  Why do we lose that poll question?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHRUM:  I don‘t think—well, first of all, it depends on how it‘s asked.  It depends on who it‘s asked...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s going to help you when your car breaks down?  It‘s a simple question.

SHRUM:  In the year 2000 -- in the year 2000, George Bush came across as someone people really liked, as the guy next door.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SHRUM:  If people could vote in the election today, the 2000 or the 2004 election, either Gore or Kerry would beat Bush by a big margin.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I agree with that.

SHRUM:  So that‘s why...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m asking you a question you don‘t seem to have an answer to.  Why did John Kerry come in second on the question who would help you out if you‘re in trouble?

SHRUM:  No, well, that‘s a different question than who would help you out with your car.  If you took every single index, like, Who cares about people, Who cares about health care, Who cares about education...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SHRUM:  ... John Kerry won those.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHRUM:  Now, I think one lesson out of 2004 is we can‘t try to convince people to vote for us by saying we resemble them, that we want to sit down—they want to sit down with our candidates and have a beer with them.  You know, in 1960, John Kennedy didn‘t convince people in West Virginia that he was like them...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

SHRUM:  ... he convinced people he cared about them.  I think one of the things I wish Senator Kerry had not done in 2004, even though he‘s a hunter, I wish he‘d never gone out goose hunting...

MATTHEWS:  The camo!

SHRUM:  ... because it came across to people as him trying to be something he wasn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  Well, also, you don‘t wear that starchily pressed camo costume.  But you know, I have to disagree with you because I agree John Kennedy had a certain appeal with—and Roosevelt certainly did, with working people who—like, no regular experience, like Roosevelt‘s, and like they were both aristocrats, Kennedy and Roosevelt.  But you know, I was with John Kerry, and I like the guy personally, but I saw him at Ohio one time, at a Cleveland group of people.  I guess the group was ethnic, Eastern European people in their backgrounds, African-Americans, and I got the feeling he wasn‘t connecting with these regular working stiffs.  I just didn‘t think he was.  And you say that‘s not important...

SHRUM:  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think it is.

SHRUM:  No, no.  I don‘t agree with that, actually.  And I think it‘s

you know, it‘s tough to lose an election in America, tough to lose the presidency, especially by a small margin.  But I watched John Kerry in those final weeks of that campaign, he was connecting with huge crowds of people...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

SHRUM:  ... all over the country.

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, we disagree.  Let‘s take a look at the Democrats fighting last night on Iraq.  Let‘s take a look at a snip.  I think you‘ll have a lot to say, Bob Shrum.  Your book‘s called “No Excuses,” a great title.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Senator Clinton and Senator Obama did not say anything about how they were going to vote until they appeared on the floor of the Senate, voted.  And there is a difference between making clear, speaking to your followers, speaking to the American people about what you believe needs to be done.

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think, John, the fact is, is that I opposed this war from the start.  So you‘re about four-and-a-half years late on leadership on this issue.  And you know, I think it‘s important not to play politics on something that is as critical and as difficult as this.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think it‘s important—excuse me—particularly to point out this is George Bush‘s war.  He is responsible for this war.  He started the war.  He mismanaged the war.  He escalated the war.  And he refuses to end the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I love that.  Shrummy, can you see the picture?  It‘s great, the way CNN set it up.  And my congratulations to them on how they did it.  They didn‘t play fair, like we did, do it by raffle and random, putting people where they happen to show up in a lottery.  They put the three hotshots together.

SHRUM:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  They put Hillary right in the middle so they could have that great three-shot, as we call it on television.  What did you make about—first of all, why did Edwards get so tough on both of them?  Why did Obama get tough on Hillary?  Why did Clinton try to make peace?

SHRUM:  Well, I think what happened was that John Edwards came in wanting to establish himself as the most serious anti-war candidate among the serious candidates.  I mean, obviously, we‘re not talking about Gravel here.  And I think he made a mistake.  I think challenging Barack Obama on the war is not the right thing to do.  It‘s not—I mean, sensible thing to do.  It‘s not smart.  And I think Obama turned around and basically, in a very nice way, took Edwards‘s head off.

I think Hillary went to home base, as we call it in politics and as I describe it in the book.  And that is, she went after George W. Bush.  No Democrat‘s going to get in trouble going after George Bush.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about—about—what do you think of Edwards?  You‘re pretty tough in your book on Edwards, and I thought he‘s had a hard time in this campaign, not just because of wonderful Elizabeth‘s terrible health challenge facing her, but he doesn‘t seem to be able to get what they—you guys all call “traction.”

SHRUM:  Well, I said...

MATTHEWS:  What is his problem in this election?

SHRUM:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  If you were advising him, what would you try to get him to do to get in this fight, what he did last night?

SHRUM:  Well, I‘ve retired so...

MATTHEWS:  I know...

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  No, no.  I know.  But Chris, look, I said on this show a year ago—and I think we ought to be very careful about writing John Edwards off—that he was a serious first tier candidate for president.  He‘s leading in Iowa.  If he—and that‘s both his blessing and his curse.  If he wins in Iowa, he‘s off to the races.  If he loses in Iowa, he‘s out of the race.

I think what he was trying to do last night is broaden that base a little bit nationally...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHRUM:  ... because he‘s sitting at about 11 percent in the national polls.

MATTHEWS:  Well, we don‘t know what the Kinsey numbers are, but we can assume, you and I, Bob, knowing the Democratic Party, that there‘s a substantial minority of the Democratic Party who are gay people.  Now, let‘s talk about something you wrote in your book because this could have some political charge.  It seems like it does.

Here‘s what you wrote about John Edwards on gays.  Quote, “Once he entered the 2008 presidential race, Edwards would tell a New Hampshire town meeting that he had a lot of personal struggles with same-sex marriage.”  Quote, “‘I‘m not there yet.‘  So when I first asked him about gay rights and he said he was uncomfortable with,” quote, “‘those people,‘” close quote, “he was probably being genuine.”

Now, here‘s Elizabeth Edwards responding this weekend to what you wrote in your book, in “No Excuses.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS:  I referred to a friend of mine from English graduate school and how we had been out for—John and I had been out for the evening.  I saw this old friend from English graduate school when we were still in law school, and I went over and spoke to him.  And I knew that he was gay.  And I said, you know, I‘m engaged, and there‘s the fellow over there I‘m engaged to.  And he said, Oh, he‘s awfully cute.  I might snake him, if I wasn‘t with—if he wasn‘t with you.

And I told John that.  And this is where he used the word “uncomfortable.”  He said, That made me feel uncomfortable.  So Bob correctly remembers the word uncomfortable, but incorrectly remembers the circumstances in which he said it.  I mean, all of us feel uncomfortable about someone snaking us, I guess, in the presence—trying to snake us in the presence of our fiance.  And he—that made him feel uncomfortable, and he—John talked about that.  So he just—he remembers it slightly, but he remembers it incorrectly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Bob, do you remember it correctly?

SHRUM:  Yes, I remember it correctly.

MATTHEWS:  And you say—is she covering for...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is she covering?

SHRUM:  I remember it correctly.  But the explanation that‘s being given—and there have been several different explanations, by the way.  The explanation that‘s being given, I don‘t know if it makes things better.

What I say in the book is not very different, actually, from what I think Elizabeth Edwards is trying to say, not those specifics, which is John came out of a tradition that made him have great difficulties with this issue.  He said that in New Hampshire a few months ago.  I think he‘s clearly evolved on that issue.  I accept the notion that the evolution is genuine.  And it‘s also a political necessity in the Democratic Party.

But if you read that entire little section of the book, the fact of the matter is that I‘m saying that John Edwards started in one place, ended up in another place.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s wrong with that?

SHRUM:  I also think people are cherry picking the book.  When I first met the guy...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, come on, Bob!  Come on, Bob!  Let me tell you how we

read books in politics.  We look for interesting stuff that causes trouble

for people.  Like you‘re saying that John Edwards said to you one time, I‘m

when you told him you were going to back Kerry and not him in 2004, he said, I‘ll remember this on my deathbed.

SHRUM:  Well, he did say that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think I underlined that when I‘m reading the book?  Come on, Bob!

SHRUM:  But Chris, come on, you‘re welcome to underline it.  What I wanted to do was write a book that was straightforward, told people what really went on inside politics, didn‘t consist of stick figures.  And I actually think a lot of the political leaders I describe in this book are more appealing as human beings than they are as stereotypes.

MATTHEWS:  You think anybody in the book you covered, like Kerry and -

you‘re tough on Kerry.  You say that Kerry said, All the Clintons care about is themselves and power, direct quote.

SHRUM:  Actually, what I say about John Kerry is that he—that he went through the valley of 2003 with great determination...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SHRUM:  ... made some very tough strategic decisions and that he would have been a superb president...

MATTHEWS:  But you did quote him...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you did quite him with regard to the Clintons in an unflattering way.

SHRUM:  Well, I don‘t know if it‘s unflattering to him or to them.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  I quoted him in an accurate way.  But what I‘m telling you is that John Kerry is a person of great character...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

SHRUM:  ... the guy who went back, rescued the guy in the river when he was in Vietnam, and would have been a terrific president of the United States...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

SHRUM:  ... in a crisis.

MATTHEWS:  Why are you backing and filling?  You‘re so tough in your book.

SHRUM:  I‘m not...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not nice to all these people, and you‘re saying you are.

SHRUM:  Chris—Chris, if you—you can look it up in the index.  You will find a whole paragraph that says, John Kerry, when things were tough in the White House, would have been a terrific president of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  I agree you did say that.  You covered yourself great.  And let me ask you, Bob, have any of these people called you up and said, I‘ll never talk to you again or anything like that?

SHRUM:  No.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re kidding.

SHRUM:  No.

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s a great book.  I tell you, you know, I‘ve been reading—I started halfway through—you know how I read these books.  I started with the most recent campaigns.  I wanted to know all about what happened in 2004.  I‘m going to work my—this summer, I‘m going to get back to the beginning, all the way back to ‘76, when you broke up with Carter after a summer romance of, what, nine days...

SHRUM:  No, 10, 10.

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM:  Yours lasted longer, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  I stayed with him right to the end!  Anyway, thank you, Shrummy.  He‘s coming back—by the way, we‘re going to have a little debate coming up.  We‘re going to have a hot debate because he was on “Meet the Press” with Shrummy yesterday, Mike Murphy, one of the most honest Republicans out there.  Let‘s see how honest he is.  Can Republicans win in ‘08?  Now, that is the tough question I‘m going to hit Shrum and Murphy with, the partnership that never was.  Coming back in a minute, Shrum and Murphy.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Bob Shrum, adviser to many Democratic presidential campaigns and author of the new book, “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner.”  We‘re joined right now by Republican campaign consultant Mike Murphy.

Mike, I want to put to you the same exact question I put to Bob Shrum, who‘s just written this great book.  Why do the Democrats—you know, for a while there, the Republicans had, if you will, the dour candidates.   They had, oh, Dewey back in ‘48.  They had Nixon.  They had Bob Dole.  And now the Democrats seem to have a run of these guys that don‘t quite have the personality advantages of a George W. or even his father or certainly not Reagan.  Why has your party been lucky in the personality department the last 20 years?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN CONSULTANT:  Well, I think because we‘re right about everything.  We‘re Republicans.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.

MURPHY:  I don‘t really know.  I—and by the way, let me just say it‘s freezing cold rain up here in New Hampshire, and I‘m proud to die of pneumonia to help Shrummy unload a few more books.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, thank you.

MURPHY:  It is a great book, and I enjoyed it.

SHRUM:  Thank you.

MURPHY:  But no, I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... this just cyclical, that there—like, there are times when Democratic consultants are better than Republican consultants?  Are there times, like—and maybe it‘s over, where the personality advantage, if you will, of who you‘re going to have a beer with, if you will, goes from one—and Jack Kennedy certainly won that test over Nixon.  Harry Truman won it over Dewey.  Eisenhower won it over Stevenson.  It does flip around, it seems.

MURPHY:  It does.  And I don‘t know if I have a big theory about it, but some parties just seem to have the talent for a while.  I think, generally, governors—that governorships are a good breeding place.  So when there are a lot of Democratic governors, one may pop up.  When there are a lot of Republicans, one may pop up.  They tend to be a higher level of political animals.  But I‘m not sure there‘s a big theory of why one party or the other.  But we‘ve had our share of good luck.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, let me go right now to the—let‘s take a look

Hillary Clinton was asked last night whether she agreed with John Edwards that the president‘s war on terror is nothing more than a bumper sticker.  Let‘s take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  No, I do not.  I am a senator from New York.  I have lived with the aftermath of 9/11 and I have seen first-hand the terrible damage that can be inflicted on our country by a small band of terrorists who are intent upon foisting their way of life and using suicide bombers and suicidal people to carry out their agenda.  And I believe we are safer than we were, we are not yet safe enough.  And I have proposed over the last years a number of policies that I think we should be following.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  OK, Bob Shrum, what—explain, if you can, behind her head

she looks very attractive, obviously, as a candidate.  But behind her head, what is she calculating here in terms of taking that more conservative, more hawkish position on the war regarding terrorism?

SHRUM:  Well, first of all, I think she‘s right.  It‘s the right answer.  We are engaged in a war against terrorism.  The real objection that I have to the Bush administration Democrats ought to be running against is they got caught in a sideshow in Iraq.

One of the most interesting moments in the 2004 debates, Chris, you will remember, is when Kerry was pushing Bush on why we had invaded Iraq, and he said, the enemy attacked us. 

And Kerry said, we—we had talked about this before the debate.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SHRUM:  He says Saddam.  You say Osama.  And Kerry said, but we weren‘t attacked by Saddam Hussein.  We were attacked by Osama bin Laden. 

And a very irritated and nonplused Bush said, I know who attacked us. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHRUM:  So, I think Hillary Clinton is right.  We are engaged in a war on terrorism.

MATTHEWS:  Mike Murphy, when you look at the Democratic Party...

MURPHY:  Oh, I think she‘s...

MATTHEWS:  I want you to ask—answer this question. 

I thought that Ron Brownstein of “The L.A. Times” had a wonderful description of the Democratic Party intramurals of the last 30 years, which is, there‘s always a battle between the idealists and the interests, the—you might say the interests of the more entrenched.

MURPHY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Hillary represents the interests of smart people, perhaps, big-city people, New Yorkers, people that are more conservative, whatever.  She seems to know where that power is.  He‘s saying, no, I want the young idealists who are more sympathetic to the Third World struggles going on everywhere all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And she says, go ahead.  You take that vote.  In an atmosphere of fighting terrorism, you take the Third World side.  I will take the First World side. 

MURPHY:  Yes. 

No, Hillary, on occasion, breaks out with some half-sensible things on foreign policy, where she‘s by far...

(LAUGHTER)

MURPHY:  ... to the right of the Democrat debate here.  She almost endorsed the president when she says, we‘re safer now. 

I think...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MURPHY:  ... what you saw happening...

MATTHEWS:  She said that.

MURPHY:  ... last night was classic Democratic primary politics. 

John Edwards and some of the guys more to the left want a wedge issue about the war within the primary, where they say Hillary is Bush-lite.  Hillary doesn‘t want that.  She wants to loop everybody together as generally anti-war, focus on Bush. 

So, they‘re—they‘re both playing politics there, because she‘s trying to take away the wedge issue.  I thought she did a good tactical job last night.  But, as Bob says, this campaign is going to go on for a while. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MURPHY:  Edwards is a contender.  And he‘s going to take that issue to her all the way.

MATTHEWS:  But, Bob, how can a Democrat invoke the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment, thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Democrat?  That‘s what Democrats do, is speak ill of each other.

SHRUM:  Well, actually, I think there was some criticism...

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM:  There was some criticism of Obama after the debate.  And I thought Mike Murphy, who I heard talking about it, had it absolutely right. 

People were saying, Obama should have attacked Hillary.  That was his way to the future.  That is not his way to the future.  Whatever problems people have with Hillary Clinton, they have.  The real question that‘s going to be on the mind of Iowa voters, New Hampshire voters, when, as I suggest in the book, they get very serious next January 1...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHRUM:  ... is, is there substance to the excitement; is there depth underneath the excitement of Barack Obama?  If they decide there is—and that‘s the question he has to answer.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you think? 

SHRUM:  Well, I think that we‘re going to find out over the next few months. 

But, if they decide there is...

MURPHY:  Well, the campaign will test him.

SHRUM:  ... if they decide there is, as for example, they decided that John Kerry was the most believable and plausible president and the guy with the best chance to beat Bush...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHRUM:  ... then, I think he could very well—Obama could very well be the nominee. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Murphy, do you think Obama...

MURPHY:  Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  ... is the real thing, or do you think he‘s ephemeral; he‘s just a nice appearance?

MURPHY:  I think he has potential to be the real thing.  If I have to bet, I think he gets pretty real.

Let me make one fast point, too.  One big thing happened last night, which was, I saw a lot of the old Clinton, Bill Clinton-DLC centrism go out the window.  And, as is the wont in primaries, the whole party lurched to the left, gays in the military, tax and spend...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MURPHY:  ... the health care stuff.  This is going to come back—you know, the English-first thing, which will be big, it will all come back next year to hit that nominee. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think they made a mistake....

MURPHY:  So, it‘s fun in a primary.

MATTHEWS:  ... on English first, but...

MURPHY:  But there‘s a general.

MATTHEWS:  ... they may have made a mistake on English first.

MURPHY:  I do, too.  It‘s going to be big.

MATTHEWS:  I think English is what holds us together. 

Eventually, you assimilate.  I don‘t think you should be mean about it.  But, eventually, we all have to speak the same language, literally and rhetorically.

Anyway, Bob Shrum, Mike Murphy staying with us.

MURPHY:  Yes.  It—it‘s a melting pot. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  That‘s what—we melt into one pot, and not several pots. 

SHRUM:  Yes.  But the problem is, if the—if the Republicans alienate Hispanics, they‘re not going to win a presidential election for a generation. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I agree with—Bob, listen to me, don‘t say it in a harsh way, but we don‘t end up like Quebec and Toronto.

SHRUM:  But nobody is talking...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

SHRUM:  Nobody is talking about that.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We‘re talking about Bob Shrum, and talking to him.  His book is called “No Excuses,” great for political students of all kinds.  This is great beach reading.  It really is.  He is honest in the book, as far as I can tell.  He has advised—and then we have got Mike Murphy joining us. 

Let me ask you, gentlemen.  I was cleaning out my shelves last night, trying to get rid of books.  And I came across Dallek‘s book on Kennedy, President Kennedy. 

When he ran in 1960, Murphy, since you‘re Irish, and Shrum—you can both do this one—at the last minute, the Kennedy people thought they were going to win the popular vote against Nixon, who they thought was a dork, by 53 to 57 percent of the popular vote.  They thought they would get a comfortable victory.  There would be no questions about the election.

It ended up being like a 49 percent-50 percent kind of thing, really close, on the nail, because the Catholic vote was a big problem.  People in the middle of the country, Ohio, Kentucky, all voted against Kennedy because of his religion, never told the pollsters, just did it.

Are we going to face a situation like that, if we have Hillary or Obama or perhaps Mitt Romney running, where, because of religion, gender, ethnicity, race, if you will, people won‘t tell the pollsters the truth?

MURPHY:  Well, don‘t forget Mayor Daley in that equation in 1960, a little special backspin.  Made the Florida thing look like amateur night.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  But I‘m talking about the popular...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about the live people that voted.

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  But your point about religion is—is correct. 

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  You know, the Mormon question with Romney is wide open.  I think it‘s way overrated.  But we won‘t know until we have had some elections.

I do know people used to tell me in Massachusetts, the most Democratic Catholic state in America, a Mormon could never win.  He beat an Irish-Catholic female Democrat. 

But, you know, I think what you might see is a bit of a new coalition, where some places vote a little less than normal Republican, some places vote a little more...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MURPHY:  ... with Romney.  But we don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Shrummy, what do you think about—about a woman candidate for president?  When it really comes down to making a woman commander in chief, will some people pull back secretly, or even not secretly? 

SHRUM:  I think most of the people who would vote against Hillary Clinton because she was a woman or Barack Obama because he was an African-American wouldn‘t vote for a Democrat anyway. 

And, by the way, Murphy, we have got to put a little backspin the other way, in terms of what was going on those solid Republican counties in southern Illinois. 

(LAUGHTER)

MURPHY:  OK.  Well, let‘s not talk about the dead, because dead people actually did vote in that election.  But you‘re right.  It wasn‘t clean anywhere. 

Hey, Bob, congratulations on the book. 

SHRUM:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s got a lot of stuff in it.  You obviously wrote it yourself.  It‘s got a fine hand and a lethal—a lethal knife in it, which I do like. 

Anyway, Bob, and, Murphy, thank you very much, Mike Murphy, for coming on.  You were great on “Meet the Press” yesterday, you especially, Murphy. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Why is the Bush—because you‘re honest.

Why is the Bush administration comparing Iraq to South Korea?  I‘m confounded by this comparison.  Tony Snow made it the other day as well.  Would U.S. troops really stay there for decades, 50-plus years?  That‘s the selling piece here?

And, by the way, we‘re not fighting in Korea right now. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERTHA COOMBS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Bertha Coombs with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closed slightly higher, as investors shrugged off an 8 percent plunge overnight by China‘s mainland stock market.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained eight points.  That was good for yet another record at 13676 -- the S&P 500 also in record territory, up almost three points.  This is the fourth straight record for the S&P 500 -- the Nasdaq up four points. 

Factory orders were up a weaker-than-expected three-tenths-of-a-percent in April.  That‘s the smallest increase in three months. 

Oil, meantime, rose, as a cyclone in the Indian Ocean heads for the Persian Gulf and could disrupt oil production in the Middle East.  Crude gained $1.13 in New York, closing at $66.21 a barrel. 

And media mogul Rupert Murdoch met with the family that controls Dow Jones Company, publishers of “The Wall Street Journal,” to discuss his $5 billion offer for the company.  The family initially rejected the offer, but now appears to be reconsidering.

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

And time for the HARDBALL debate tonight. 

In describing a potential long-term presence for U.S. troops in Iraq, members of the Bush administration and their allies have invoked the Korea model, basically suggesting that a long-term U.S. presence, akin to what we have done in South Korea, is a viable option, maybe even a selling point. 

Well, is it? 

Michael O‘Hanlon is with us from the Brookings Institution.  And Frank Gaffney is with the—is—is president of the Center For Security Policy.

Gentlemen, Michael O‘Hanlon first. 

What do you make of this word?  It‘s been coming out of the White House.

Here‘s Tony Snow.  Let him say it well.  Here he is last Wednesday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  You have the United States there in what has been described as an over-the-horizon support role, so that, if you need the ability to react quickly to major challenges or crises, you can be there, but the Iraqis are conducting the lion‘s share of the business, as we have in South Korea, where, for many years, there have been American forces stationed there, as a way of maintaining stability and assurance on the part of the South Korean people against a North Korean neighbor that is a menace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Michael O‘Hanlon, what do you make of this comparison of leaving troops on a long-term basis in Iraq, and comparing that to our long-term service on the DMZ in Korea?

MICHAEL O‘HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS

INSTITUTION:  Well, Chris, I hope that the mission will go well enough in Iraq that we can talk about a long-term presence.  I think it would be the best outcome.

But I‘m not convinced this analogy helps.  For one thing, it presupposes we‘re going to find a mission that works.  We haven‘t yet.  It also presupposes that the decision somehow is well on the way towards being made.  We need to wait for an Iraqi government to make this kind of an invitation a little more clear, because we don‘t want to be seen as the occupier. 

We have spent a lot of time trying to get away from that image.  It was never a problem in South Korea, because we were there to protect them from North Korea.  In Iraq, however, it would be seen as us inviting ourselves in to play the role that many Iraqis see as almost a quasi-colonial role.  I‘m not saying that‘s correct, but that is often the perception. 

We worked very hard to get rid of that perception.  I don‘t see why you want to introduce it by talking about a long-term presence before the Iraqis themselves invite us. 

MATTHEWS:  Frank Gaffney, the comparison—I mean, Jack Kingston was on this program, and we had a little rocky debate on that, about two weeks ago, saying that our role should be to try to be in a perimeter role, ultimately, defending the country against enemies, like we do in Korea, South Korea. 

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  Look, it‘s just a totally different model.  You have got, in Korea, basically, a peaceable situation, or at least a durable, stable, active sort of non-belligerency.  I don‘t see that, any more than Michael does, happening. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But why are they—but why is the White House saying this? 

Who‘s—who‘s giving the president advice? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And who is telling the White House to sell this thing?

GAFFNEY:  They‘re talking about a vision.  They‘re talking about where they would like to see this thing go, which, as Michael says, we...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, sure.  We wouldn‘t be arguing at this table...

GAFFNEY:  No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... ever if there—if it was peace over there. 

GAFFNEY:  Let—well, I don‘t know.  To hear the Democrats last night talking about it, they want every man, woman, and child out of Iraq as...

MATTHEWS:  Not Hillary.

GAFFNEY:  ... as quickly as possible. 

MATTHEWS:  Not Hillary. 

GAFFNEY:  Basically.  Basically.

MATTHEWS:  No, Hillary has said she...

GAFFNEY:  Look...

MATTHEWS:  ... wants a permanent base over there. 

GAFFNEY:  When—when...

MATTHEWS:  No, she doesn‘t call it that.  She calls...

GAFFNEY:  When she spoke...

MATTHEWS:  ... it a residual military force.

GAFFNEY:  ... last night, she was talking about getting our forces out of the Iraq. 

Let‘s face it, Chris.  They don‘t want forces in Iraq.  Bush is offering an alternative vision.  Can you get there from here is the question both Michael and I have.  I don‘t know that you can. 

Clearly, it can only work if the government of Iraq wants us there.  And I think the administration has made that clear.  Talking about it now may make it harder for them to ask that.  But we‘re a long way from them...

MATTHEWS:  Fair enough.

GAFFNEY:  ... even being in a position to ask it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mike—Mike, you know, we‘re talking casualties, another bloody weekend for U.S. service people serving their country over there, a bunch of guys killed this weekend again. 

How can you compare that to the DMZ in Korea, where I—I got the numbers.  Except for a very violent period in the late ‘60s, we lose about a person a year, a G.I. is lost a year, in the DMZ situation.  How can you compare the two fronts?  Obviously, if we were at peace in Iraq, we wouldn‘t be arguing about this.

O‘HANLON:  It‘s pretty hard to compare, Chris. 

But since Frank and I are agreeing so much, and I‘m—I will try to play devil‘s advocate, or try to be fair to the administration and look and see what they could be arguing. 

And I guess, if I was going to try to use the Korea analogy, we could all remember from the Korean War that there were certainly some very difficult periods of fighting during the actual 1950-1953 conflict against North Korea and then China, during which time America had lost hope.  It seemed like the war couldn‘t turn around. 

If there‘s anything to gain from the Korea analogy, I would say it‘s less in this question of the long term, and it‘s more in remembering that, sometimes, wars go through very difficult periods. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

O‘HANLON:  Now, I‘m not real optimistic about Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  I know, because...

O‘HANLON:  But I think that‘s the best I can do by analogy.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s the best you can do, because there‘s no DMZ in Iraq. 

I mean, if there was a—a 38th Parallel, where he could agree that this was the bloody stop to a war, like Ike Eisenhower was able to come and do that in ‘53, fine. 

But where is the DMZ over there?  Where could you agree would be the peace line in Iraq, Frank? 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  Here‘s the real difference. 

In Iraq, we not only don‘t have a DMZ, but we have neighbors all around Iraq that are actively fighting...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GAFFNEY:  ... what amounts to a proxy war. 

We want to talk about civil war.  It‘s a proxy war.  Unless and until we‘re doing something, I think, to counter that, whether it‘s Syria, whether it‘s Iran, or whether it‘s Saudi Arabia...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

GAFFNEY:  ... and the role that they‘re playing to make mischief in Iraq and a lot worse, we‘re not going to be able to stabilize that situation. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

GAFFNEY:  But, frankly...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re talking what...

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  It increases the importance of having forces there. 

MATTHEWS:  But, Frank, this is so ironic, because that is the argument we hear from people who are opposed to our role over there.

They say, look, we‘re involved in a war where the Sunnis are being backed up by the Saudis, where Iran is backing up the Shia.  And we‘re stuck like there like these little striped-suited referees in the NBA, and everybody is 7 feet tall, and we‘re 3 feet high in this fight. 

GAFFNEY:  No. 

The difference is, I‘m not suggesting that we try to sweet talk these enemies of this country.  I frankly consider Saudi Arabia, in important respects, not friendly to us. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  Give me a paradigm, a role model for our role there five, 10 years from now in Iraq. 

GAFFNEY:  It depends entirely on whether we‘ve been able to succeed in stabilizing the situation and helping this representative government to survive.  If we continue to talk about defeat, which is what, frankly, all we‘re doing at the moment, there‘s not going to be a question five years, except for --  

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  Which president will come in next time on your side—the Republican side, rather, and defend this policy we‘ve had? 

GAFFNEY:  I don‘t know that anybody‘s going to defend this policy. 

MATTHEWS:  Will they maintain a strong presence, support a strong presence? 

GAFFNEY:  I hope what you‘re going to recognize, on the part of any of the Republican candidates, is Iraq is one front in a vastly larger war, in which we are waging, I think, the war for the free world, frankly, against Islamo-fascists.  If we lose in Iraq that war doesn‘t get any better.  Believe me.  It will be a huge problem for anybody that succeeds this administration. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Mike O‘Hanlon, what do you think is the strongest candidate on the Republican side right now?  Who would defend the Bush policy? 

O‘HANLON:  Of course John McCain‘s lost a lot of standing because he‘s sounded too much in favor of the surge.  I understand and respect his resolve, but if you‘re looking for an external model, I would like to see some discussion of plan B‘s, in case the surge doesn‘t work, starting with the Bosnia model of soft partition.  It‘s a very hard thing to do in Iraq.  The Iraqis themselves haven‘t yet committed to it.  But it‘s an idea that I think needs to be considered more seriously. 

MATTHEWS:  So Joe Biden is right, the Democratic candidate? 

O‘HANLON:  I think there‘s a chance.  It depends on the Iraqis accepting it.  It won‘t work without most of the Iraqis supporting it.  But I think it has to be thought through in much more detail.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you for joining us Mike O‘Hanlon.  You surprised me, both you gentlemen, Frank Gaffney.  But there is a debate out there.  It‘s whether we can have a long term commitment in Iraq.

Up next, the private lives of presidential candidates.  What‘s fair game?  And what‘s off limits?  This is HARDBALL.  That‘s interesting.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now to digest some of the top stories and argue about some of the politics, Carl Cannon writes for the “National Journal,” which is a fabulous magazine.  His latest story is entitled “Here We Go Again, the Public‘s Right to know or”—I never could announce this word.  How do you pronounce it?

CARL CANNON, “NATIONAL REVIEW”:  Prurient (INAUDIBLE).

MATTHEWS:  Prurient with an R.  Anyway, Eric Alterman‘s a reporter for “The Nation,” actually wrote something nice about me about three weeks ago.  I forget what it was.  I‘ll remember it.  Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at the “New York Magazine.”  She wrote the cover story of this week‘s issue about the personalities of the 2008 candidates.  It‘s titled, “The Politics of Personality Destruction.”

Let‘s start with you, Eric.  Your altercation, Mr. Alterman, was in the news.  How say you, Mr. Alterman?  Are you innocent or guilty of having caused a commotion in a bar adjoined to the debate site last night? 

ERIC ALTERMAN, “THE NATION”:  I guess I‘d say I‘m innocent, Chris.  You know, I got involved somehow in a kind of Marx Brothers mishap, where I went into a room which turned out to be a private reception.  I was asked to leave.  I left right away.  And then outside that room the officer kept telling me to leave.  I didn‘t understand because I thought I had left. 

What I guess he meant—and I only figured this out later.  I was a little slow on the uptake.  What I guess he meant was that he wanted me to leave the building.  He didn‘t like the fact that I was in the wrong room in the first place. 

MATTHEWS:  So he was punishing you.  He had some sort of soft punishment in mind, which was to humiliate you by walking you out of the building. 

ALTERMAN:  I can‘t speak for him, but I never could understand it.  I keep saying why are you yelling at me, dude?  I left.  And then finally, when I tried to explain it to his commanding officer, he slapped cuffs on me.  I couldn‘t believe me. 

MATTHEWS:  What was his charge, by the way? 

ALTERMAN:  It was trespassing. 

MATTHEWS:  Going into a bar is trespassing? 

ALTERMAN:  It wasn‘t even—it was a reception area.  Thing was, I was in the spin room early, and there was no place to sit down.  So I just went upstairs because I saw some chairs.  Nobody told me not to go in.  Anyway, the funny thing was, here I was getting cuffed, and I was pretty cool.  I wasn‘t yelling or screaming or anything like that.  I was just a little surprised.  Ed Markey came over and he stuck his hand out to shake my hand.  He said Hi Eric, how you doing.

I turned around and said, Ed, look, I have these cuffs on my back.  I can‘t shake your hand.  He said he would vouch for my character so maybe he will come back to New Hampshire for me when I have my hearing. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s the senior Democratic congressman from New England, so maybe he has some clout.  Anyway, our next topic tonight, join in this one.  No one here is involved.  How personal is too personal?  Mitt Romney was asked whether he had premarital sex with his wife.  Elizabeth Edwards talking about her cancer.  And now two new books about Hillary Clinton, her ambition, her marriage.  Where do we draw the line between the public‘s right to now and, I guess, just curiosity.  Carl, what‘s your line? 

CANNON:  Did you see the Mike Wallace interview? 

MATTHEWS:  He asked Mitt Romney if he had sex with his wife before they were married.  I thought that question crossed the line, because there was no reason to ask the question.   

CANNON:  Well, no, it was in context.  Let‘s be fair to Mike.  Romney had brought it up.  He was talking about how they had met, and whether she would wait for him or not.

MATTHEWS:  He was saying how Mormons get married early because they‘re not allowed to have sex before marriage, therefore they are—I hate to use the word horny—therefore they get married because they‘re horny, right? 

CANNON:  But the point is that we‘ve beaten down these poor candidates so much, Romney is talking about it before we are talking about.  But, of course, Mike goes the next step.  Did you ever have premarital sex with her, by the way?  This would have been -- 40 years ago.

MATTHEWS:  What should he have said?  Not that you want to give candidates answers before they give you questions—or you give them questions.  But should he have just said none of your business, Mike? 

CANNON:  He tried that.  And that was his first line.  And I think he saw the headline in his mind‘s eye, Romney Stonewalls on Premarital Sex.  He said, we don‘t answer those kinds of questions.  Then he quickly said, no, we didn‘t do it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask Jennifer Senior, where do you draw the line? 

What‘s in and what‘s out these days?  I know it keeps changing.

JENNIFER SENIOR, “NEW YORK MAGAZINE”:  I‘m not sure where women draw the line.  I think it‘s case by case.

MATTHEWS:  How about there.

SENIOR:  There I‘d say no.  I think that he should have—in the way Clinton could have declined to answer the question whether he wore boxers or briefs, even though it‘s not the same kind of breach.  There are a couple things to say about this.  The first thing is that, you know, YouTube is going to make this question somewhat irrelevant.  Can you imagine if Rudy Giuliani, in a moment of extreme pique, left a message for his son or Donna Hanover, his ex-wife, that sounded like the Alec Baldwin message?  And it got leaked. 

This isn‘t even a press question anymore.  That would find its way to YouTube also.  Some of these things are going to be out of people‘s control.  Even if the press is polite and complicit—I mean, they might be able to dignify this, if they had the presence of mind to do so. 

MATTHEWS:  Eric, is anybody objective on this, except really objective journalists?  I mean, does anybody really not take a stand.  If you like a candidate like Hillary Clinton, you‘d say anything about her marriage is off base.  If you don‘t like Bob Dole, you can ask any question you want about him. 

You and I know enough people in politics.  I‘m asking you an open question: is anybody honestly fair about this or does everybody set up different standards for different candidates? 

ALTERMAN:  Well, Chris, for me the fair standard would be what‘s this got to do with being president?  Now, when George Bush ran for president in 2000, he said I think you deserve to have a president who‘s faithful to his wife.  Now, personally, I don‘t really care if the president is faithful to his wife.  But Bush said that, and therefore Bush was asking for the question, the same way Gary Hart said follow me around.  That brought it up. 

But, if you look at—you know, for most presidents, it‘s not really an issue.  You can be a great president and be an adulterer.  Look at John Kennedy, look at Lyndon Johnson, look at an awful lot of presidents.  So I think that ought to be the standard, and—

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t candidates—why didn‘t Gary Hart just tell the reporter, who was asking him about Donna Rice, no answer, buddy.  Get out of here. 

ALTERMAN:  He should have and he didn‘t have—he thought that he was immune.  And he found out he wasn‘t.  But I would like to see more candidates doing that. 

(CROSS TALK)

ALTERMAN:  What‘s this got to do with being president? 

MATTHEWS:  The guy jumped out of the bushes from the Florida paper, Miami paper. 

CANNON:  That‘s right.  That happened before.  That quote that he said, follow me around, you‘d be bored; they‘d already followed him around before he said that.  Let‘s be fair to Hart.   

MATTHEWS:  By the way, there was E. J. Dionne article.  It didn‘t run until last Sunday.  He was, let‘s face it, approached by a journalist that weekend—a couple days before.  You‘re right, it‘s not quite accurate.  He was warned, but the warning didn‘t get printed until after he was caught.  We‘ll be right back with Carl Cannon, Eric Alterman and Jennifer Senior.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re back with Carl Cannon of the “National Journal,” which is an expensive magazine, but probably the best, and Eric Alterman, of “The Nation,” who‘s recently in the news last night.  He is going to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  And Jennifer Senior of “New York Magazine.”

Next up, Fred Thompson forgets his lines.  Fred Thompson‘s in the process of raising a lot of money and trying to hire a campaign team in anticipation—we all expect he‘s going to run for president fairly soon, I think July 4th exactly. 

Meanwhile, he is practicing his interview stalling tactics, or maybe this is Ted Kennedy with Roger Mudd here.  But he was asked by NBC about what he thought were his greatest accomplishment in the Senate? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON ®, POTENTIAL REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I facetiously said leaving the Senate the other day when somebody asked me that question, but I don‘t guess I ought to say that again.  There were a lot of things.  I would take a while, I guess, in discussing all that.  It doesn‘t always have to do with putting your name on a piece of legislation.  There‘s an awful lot of bad legislation that I have to stop, for one thing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a battle cry of freedom.  Eric Alterman, that would not exactly have me running down to sign up for this guy.  He doesn‘t know what he has accomplished as a senator for eight years.  Apparently an earlier question had him unable to say why he was running for president.  Don‘t you need a little bit of a bug, like at least a flea of interest in running for president, to be a candidate that can win? 

ALTERMAN:  I hope you are right, Chris.  I have to say, as someone who thinks we need a real fundamental change in direction in this country, this fellow scares me as a candidate.  I think being a good candidate for president and being a good president are two entirely different things, but I really think Fred Thompson is kind of a dream candidate. 

He is the only guy is among the what will be 11 who is acceptable to all of the factions.  He‘s likable.  He is non-threatening.  He projects strength and down home good sense.  He feels kind of the way Reagan felt.  I‘m not saying he‘d be a good president, but I think he is going to be a great candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  But not for the right reason, you are saying? 

ALTERMAN:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Not for a good American reason?

ALTERMAN:  I mean, we have a real problem in this country that running for president has nothing to do with being a good president.  But, you know, I didn‘t create it.  I have to live with it. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he, Jennifer, too comfortable for the country?  We don‘t need a comfortable candidate.  We need somebody to make us uncomfortable, to make some changes and proposals that scare us a little, but excite us, because we don‘t like the way we are going right now? 

SENIOR:  Yes, I think that that‘s a possible direction that everybody‘s going to want to go in 2008.  The other thing is that he looks awfully uncomfortable there.  I mean, for a man who is being recruited because he is telegenic and easy with the cameras, those were amazing moments to me. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Carl, doesn‘t he have to have the answer?  Remember the great Roger Mudd interview?  I was just reading it again the other night.  It took him 70 words to say restoration, which is, I‘m going to do what Jack and Bobby were trying to do.

CANNON:  That was the eerily similar to that.  And the problem is that happened before.  You have to be prepared now. 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody‘s ready for the Roger Mudd question. 

CANNON:  You‘d think.  But actually, you know, Jennifer wrote her piece this week in “The New York” magazine very smartly about the YouTube election.  I‘ve written about that as well. 

SENIOR:  I liked your piece a lot.

CANNON:  The good news about Thompson is he gets that already.  He has already posted on YouTube.  Maybe he‘s figuring you and me and the old media don‘t matter.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t have to have Roger Mudd or anyone else, Eric, these days.  Anybody can walk up to you now who‘s got a hand held camera, cell phone.  And they say, why are you running for president?  You‘ve got to have some answer.  And you‘ve got—I love what you said, the comforting candidate isn‘t the one we need probably.  We need someone who‘s going to make us a little worried, Eric. 

ALTERMAN:  I think that is what we need too.  I mean, I‘m very worried.  I‘m not a little worried.  I‘m very worried.  I just think that, particularly in a YouTube election, a guy who‘s been a professional actor, a who knows how to play the role of a genial celebrity has a real leg up on the rest of the people, particularly when you think of the kind of character that Fred has played.  He‘s the kind of guy who you feel good about in that office. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Boy, I tell you, if it comes to him and Hillary, he could just play on all the people who are afraid to vote for a woman by just being a comforting, reliable old shoe, get my slippers guy from the 50s. 

CANNON:  I don‘t mean to sound negative, but I don‘t think there are many of those voters left. 

MATTHEWS:  Aren‘t you tough.  And they‘re dying every day, right?  Anyway, Carl Cannon, thank you.  Eric—I‘m sorry, I cast the last mean comment of the night.  Thank you Carl, Eric and Jennifer.  Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”

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

END   

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