updated 7/12/2007 12:23:15 PM ET 2007-07-12T16:23:15

Guests: Rep. Ron Paul, Michael Rechtenwald

CARLSON:  Welcome to the show.  Rudy Giuliani perilious path for the Republican nomination took another turn in the last hour.  One of Giuliani‘s most potent enemies, the International Association of Firefighters has released an internet video that outlines its case that Giuliani was not a hero but rather a villain in the tragic events at ground zero, on September 11th, 2001.  Here is a piece of that video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have remains of dead heroes out at the garbage dump because of Giuliani and his administration.  And they are still there today and they won‘t remove them. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And this guy had politics and his image much more important than the needs of firefighters and their families. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This image of Rudy Giuliani as America‘s mayor is a myth. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

These allegations are not new.  The IAFF blames Giuliani for defective radio equipment that prevented firemen in the Trade Center buildings from learning of evacuation orders.  The union holds Giuiliani responsible also for putting New York‘s command center at the World Trade Center, rather than in a less vulnerable position.  The IAFF says that then-Mayor Giuliani cut short search efforst at ground zero after hundreds of millions of dollars in gold bars were recovered from the rubble.

We contacted the Giuliani campaign for its response, but we were told that no surrogates were willing to come on today.  In a press release instead, the campaign quotes one retired New York City fire captain as saying, quote, “It‘s unfortunate but not surprising that the IAFF union bosses have once again taken the low road in a move clearly out of step with their membership.  In 2008, I expect these same union bosses to endorse Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama or John Edwards, so today‘s comments are just a first step in that process.  Forutnately, rank and file firefighters know the difference between politics and leadership.” 

Well joining me now is Captain Pete Gorman, he‘s Chief of Staff at the International Association of Firefighters.  He was serving as the president of the New York Fireofficers Union on 9/11.  Pete, thanks for coming on.

PETE GORMAN, CHIEF OF STAFF, INTERNATIONAL ASSOC. OF FIREFIGHTERS: 

Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So this, the Giuliani campaign is saying, this is a partisan attack your union is—union dominated by a Democratic leadership, you‘ve endorsed Democrats going back to at least, Mike Dukakis.  And the head of your union, Harold Shafeburger (ph), is intimately involved in Democratic politics.  So why should voters take this seriously when a Democratic-controlled union attacks a Republican candidate? 

GORMAN:  First of all, let me set the record straight.  If you look at the IAFF‘s polathiapack (ph) we have traditionally supported Republican candidates.  In fact, we gave 36 percent of our money to Republican candidates. 

And this is not a video supporting any Democrat or Republican ...

CARLSON:  Wait, wait, wait.

GORMAN:  ... but it‘s about ...

CARLSON:  Hold on.  Hold on. 

GORMAN:  greed.

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry to stop you there ...

GORMAN:  OK.

GORMAN:  ... but having covered a lot of campaigns, and seen everywhere your members in their bright yellow shirts, you know, firemen‘s union on the back, at only Democratic events.  You all endorsed John Kerry.  I remember it really well.  Did I imagine that? 

GORMAN:  No.  You‘re not imaginign that.  You‘re talking about presidential politics.  There‘s Congressional races, there‘s Senate races.  Every state association backs people in their state assemblies and Senates. 

And so if you look at it, take a look—just take a look at the record.  IAF is publica information, 36 percent of our money goes to Republican candidates ...

CARLSON:  OK.

GORMAN:  ... in Washington. 

CARLSON:  All right.

The question of, I understand the radio, and I‘m peraonally bothered by this question, why the radios didn‘t work.  And I‘m willing to belive you that Giuliani shares responsibility for that.  That make sense to me. 

I‘m a little more confused by the claim that he somehow stopped the cleanup of 9/11 -- six weeks of ground zero—six weeks after 9/11 because the gold had been recovered and so it wasn‘t worth continuing searching?  I don‘t know—what‘s the connection between the gold?

GORMAN:  Let me explain to you.

CARLSON:  Yes.

GORMAN:  Startign on September 11th, firefighters, building tradespeople, crane operators and operating engineers, started a rescue operation. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GORMAN:  It was extrememly dangerous.  There were fires were burning, things were out of control, but yet there was a frantic effort to save human life.  Naturally, we understand that.  There was certain risks that was taken.  As days and weeks went by, the site became more and more stable as the fires were put out, as construction crews stabilized areas, as they worked side by side with police officers and firefighters in a very pain-staking and methodical process to recover the dead.  And not just firefighter dead, all human remains were sacred to us. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So, but at a certain point, and we know more about this now, but the ground zero was a health hazard for the entire city.  There was a lot of toxic materials there and they made people sick.  Wouldn‘t the mayor have been right to, sooner rather than later, clean up the site? 

GORMAN:  No.  You know, first of all, that doesn‘t make any logical sense if you think about it.  Immediately after, as I said, it was very dangerous down there.  There wasn‘t proper respiratory protection. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GORMAN:  Slowly but surely, things got safer and safer as we sent—started sending our own safety people and OSHA started coming in.  There was still major problems with not getting the right information about the hazards in the air, but the site became more stable as time went on.  So why would you stop the recovery on November 2nd?  And say, today it‘s dangerous?  It was dangerous on September 11th.  It was dangerous on October 11th.  And it was dangerous on October 31st

Why did he stop that rescue and recovery?  It wasn‘t a rescue effort? 

There was no one ...

CARLSON:  Right.

GORMAN:  ... was lviing, unformtunately, on November 2nd.  Why did he stop it?  Well, ironically, I mean you can‘t make this up.  The gold was found on October 31st.  They asked him at a press conference, did you find the gold?  He chuckled, I think we got all of it. 

What did that mean to firefighters?  I mean, we were soldiers on a battlefield, and we had our brothers, you know, in that pile. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

GORMAN:  And some of them, we had heard from New York City detectives that were screening debris at the Statan Island Landfill that they were finding large torsos once they shut that site down.  Which they did for several days.  We did demonstrate on November 2nd to try to get that rescue, the recovery effort reinstated. 

CARLSON:  I take your allegations seriously.  I wonder if voters will.  Giuliani is, in the public mind, the hero of 9/11.  He‘s riden that perception to his place at the top of the polls on the Republican side.  I wonder if you are going to change anyone‘s mind. 

GORMAN:  Well, you know something.  Understand if you listen to the intro to the video, from President Shafeburger, this is an education piece for our members.  What happened between us and Rudy Giuiliani, New York City firefighters, all 11,000 of us, understood that. 

Now when—we go to all 50 states and we are involved in union politics and union activity.  You meet other leaders from other cities.  And I was getting calls, as a New York City leader, from Iowa, from New Hampshire, from all 50 states.  The Rudy people are approaching firefighters.  He‘s the one that made—he made the connection I‘m 9/11‘s hero.  I‘m the firefighter‘s hero.  I‘m your guy.  All we‘re trying to do is make sure those firefighters in Davenport, Iowa and Manchester, New Hampshire and in all 50 states know what we, New York City firefighters ...

CARLSON:  Oh, that‘s, I‘m sorry.

GORMAN:  ... think of Rudy.  

CARLSON:  That‘s absurd.  This video is for public consumption, as well. 

GORMAN:  Yes ...

CARLSON:  This is going out over our air and it influences voters.  And that leads to my final question, which is, I understand that the political arm of the union has produced this video.  But you are using the name of the union, proporting to represent many firemen across the United States.  Have you poled them?  Are they in favor of this?  Have you asked them thier permission before putting this on the internet? 

GORMAN:  This is an education piece put out by the IAFF to educate our members of the problems that New York City families and firefighters ...

CARLSON:  So you haven‘t asked your membership? 

GORMAN:  We did not poll 280,000 members.  No. 

CARLSON:  Why not?  Why not, you are using their names. 

GORMAN:  Because we have an executive board comprised of 16 members from the United States and Canada.  And this was vetted at a very long process over a number of months. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I hope all your members agree with you.  Or else they may be pretty annoyed, I bet. 

GORMAN:  Well, you know, Tucker, what I can say, is with people—what I have found out, again, this is our video.  Naturally, with today‘s media, it will be on YouTube, it‘s going to be all over the place.  That‘s the way videos work. 

CARLSON:  Oh, come on!  You are putting—I‘m not even attacking your video.  Maybe it‘s all right, I‘m just saying this is political video used for political ends. 

GORMAN:  Absolutely.

CARLSON:  Let‘s just admit it and stop pretending it‘s for the education of your membership.  You could send them a brochure.  This is to influence voters, be honest.

GORMAN:  This is a political message to our members that we hope reaches every household in the United States. 

CARLSON:  Right.

GORMAN:  Is that—am I clear with that?   

CARLSON:  Yes.  I mean, look, you see the point.  Unfortunately, we are out of time.  Mr. Gorman I appreicate you coming on.  Thank you very much. 

GORMAN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Louisiana Senator David Vitter issued an apology yesterday after his name turned up on the client list of the D.C. Madam.  The question is how many other members of Congress have reason to be nervous their names will be revealed? 

What do you think of the Madam publishign her list in the first place? 

Pretty nauseating, isn‘t it?  Yes it is.

Then, what does it mean when the Head of Homeland Security gets a gut feeling about impending terror attack on our shores.  Did he tell President Bush about it?  And what should the average American do in response?  We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Republican Senator David Vitter is still feeling the heat today after his name turned up on the DC madam‘s client list and now comes word from the madam‘s attorney that more names are likely to come out.  Washington, DC could be in for another sex scandal.  But should the sex lives of public officials be dissected, judged and discussed in the first place?

Well, joining us now is a man whose organization is working to reveal the names of more public figures who may have gone to this escort service.  He is Michael Rectenwald.  He is founder and chair of Citizens for Legitimate Government.  Mr. Rectenwald, thanks for coming on.

MICHAEL RECTENWALD, CITIZENS FOR LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT:  Thank you for having me, Tucker.

CARLSON:  How could you justify doing something like this?  Why is it your business?

RECTENWALD: Well, I mean, I think it‘s our business, it‘s the public‘s business to know simply because here we have candidates running on family values platforms and legislating morality and yet they are visiting escort services and prostitutes throughout the country.

CARLSON:  With all do respect, wait, hold on, I‘ve heard that argument a lot recently.  Kind of a silly argument.

RECTENWALD:  How so?

CARLSON:  I don‘t remember David Vitter making any case that people who frequent prostitutes ought to be punished more severely than they are.

RECTENWALD:  What we‘re saying is here‘s a party that depends on, its platform depends on so-called family values, that the Christian Coalition backs, that other organizations backs and that runs on this demagoguing of family values.

And yet as we have seen with the Mark Foley case, as we‘ve seen with Vitter‘s case, as we saw with the Livingston case, as we saw with the Newt Gingrich case, this is a party that is full of hypocrisy and yet they continue to try to legislate morality and legislate sexuality.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know what you mean.  I mean you are throwing out slogans here.  Family values .

RECTENWALD:  No, I‘m not.  These are the slogans that they use.

CARLSON:  Mr. Rectenwald, let me, here‘s my proposition.  If you disagree with a policy position that a candidate or an elected official puts forward, why don‘t you argue against it?  In other words, if you don‘t agree that kids ought to be taught abstinence only education, that stem cell search ought to be legal or that abortion ought to be banned or that gay marriage ought not be aloud, why not argue against it?  Instead you‘re taking a shortcut and just trashing the guy‘s personal life?  What a sleazy shortcut that is.

RECTENWALD:  He‘s trashed.

CARLSON:  What do you mean it‘s not trashing his personal life?

RECTENWALD:  This is a public record.  They are phone records.  They are public records.  They have been released by a judge.  All we‘re doing is publishing them.

Now we‘ll let the cards fall where they will.  Laurie Price has dug up these lists from Jean, the so called DC madam.

CARLSON:  You have dodged my question.  My question is very simple.  If you disagree with his positions

RECTENWALD:  We do disagree with his positions.  However .

CARLSON:  I don‘t know anything about you other than you are holding up this guy‘s sex life to public ridicule.  And you ought to be ashamed of yourself.  You have no justification.

RECTENWALD:  He ought to be ashamed of himself.

CARLSON:  He is ashamed of himself.  You‘re right.  And he ought to be. 

And he is.

RECTENWALD:  For running on these family values and then being a hypocrite on the other side.

CARLSON:  OK.

RECTENWALD:  OK.  That‘s very simple.  We‘re not the ones that are going on parading our so called superior moral values like the Republican Party?

CARLSON:  Actually, I think are you.

RECTENWALD:  No, we‘re not.  We‘re publishing records that exist .

CARLSON:  OK.  I want to ask you questions about your sex life.

RECTENWALD:  Go right ahead.  I don‘t have to pay for prostitutes.  OK.  I get it the way through intimacy and decency.

CARLSON:  You do?

RECTENWALD:  That‘s correct.  I don‘t have to pay for prostitutes.

CARLSON:  Oh, you don‘t.  So it seems to me you are the one bragging about the moral superiority of your .

RECTENWALD:  I‘m not bragging about anything.

CARLSON:  You said I don‘t have to pay for it.

RECTENWALD:  You asked a question and I answered it.  How am I bragging?

CARLSON:  Let‘s take a closer look at your sex life now that you say it‘s better morally than David Vitter‘s.

RECTENWALD:  I have nothing to hide.

CARLSON:  You don‘t?

RECTENWALD:  All we did was publish a phone list.

CARLSON:  OK.

RECTENWALD:  We published a phone list and that will fall where it will.

CARLSON:  No, it won‘t.  You pulled the guy‘s name out.

RECTENWALD:  Excuse me, Tucker, can I say something, please?

CARLSON:  Please.

RECTENWALD:  We‘ll leave it to the electorate of Louisiana that elected this man on a so-called platform that he ran on to decide whether his sex life counts or not.  OK?  We‘re not moralizing here.

CARLSON:  Spare me your platitudes.

RECTENWALD:  We‘re not moralizing here.

CARLSON:  You just did moralize.  You just said I don‘t have to pay for it.  I‘m better than that.  I get my nookie for free.  You are being as moralistic as Jerry Falwell ever was.

RECTENWALD:  You are the one objectifying women.  I said nothing of the sort.

CARLSON:  Objectifying women?  Holy smokes.

RECTENWALD:  You used it, I didn‘t.

CARLSON:  Please calm down.

RECTNEWALD:  You are despicable the way you are attacking me.  Where we are just putting out a record your partisan interests that are under attack.

CARLSON:  My partisan interests?

RECTNEWALD:  That‘s right.

CARLSON:  May I ask you—could you take a deep breath and answer.

RECTENWALD:  You are an unapologetic Republican partisan.  OK.  We know that.

CARLSON:  Anybody who watches this show will not come to the conclusion .

RECTENWALD:  You only turned against Bush when everything went down the toilet that‘s when you changed.  I‘ve been watching you for years.

CARLSON:  And apparently not agreeing with my show.

RECTENWALD:  You‘ve got nothing without your little bow tie.  You are nothing.

CARLSON:  May I ask you a question?

Mr. Rectenwald.

RECTENWALD:  What?

CARLSON:  My impression was after the impeachment saga and the Bill Clinton years that the rest of us had reached this kind of consensus .

RECTENWALD:  Once you got done destroying our candidate you want it to be off limits.  Once you‘re done destroying our candidates then you want to say oh, it‘s all over now .

CARLSON:  You just revealed yourself.  Our candidates.

RECTENWALD:  Legitgov.org is the place to find out what your administration is about.

CARLSON:  Let me just set the record straight for one second.

RECTENWALD:  Yeah.

CARLSON:  If this were Russ Feingold.

RECTENWALD:  I don‘t care.

CARLSON:  I would be up there making the same argument that Russ Feingold‘s personal ...

RECTENWALD:  So would I.

CARLSON:  . ought to be off limits from creeps and scandal mongers like you

RECTENWALD:  We‘re not scandal mongers.

CARLSON:  . who profit from digging into other people‘s sex lives.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself Mr. Rectenwald.

RECTENWALD:  You worked for the “National Review.”  Their whole career was based on that.

CARLSON:  I never worked for the “National Review.”  But I didn‘t.

Well, just how big is the threat of an al Qaeda terror attack on U.S. soil this summer?  The head of homeland security says he has got a gut feeling but he didn‘t tell the president, the FBI or anyone else.  Plus, are the reports of John McCain‘s campaign death premature?  Consider this.  At the end of the second quarter, long shot presidential hopeful Ron Paul wound up with more cash on hand than the former frontrunner John McCain.

In a moment we‘ll talk to Congressman Paul about how he did that.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he has a quote, “gut feeling” about a possible terror attack in the U.S. this summer.  Apparently President Bush was not aware Chertoff was going to go public with his feelings and those comments have raised concerns with everyone from law enforcement to ordinary Americans who ride buses and subways to work everyday.

In the last half hour the Associated Press has reported quite chillingly that U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded al Qaeda has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since just before the 2001 terror attacks.  Despite nearly six years of American efforts to dismantle the organization, is it time to raise the threat level?  Should we run out and buy duct tape?  Did Michael Cherotff handle this correctly?

Joining us to unravel these mysteries, Democrat strategist Stephanie Cutter and Steve McMahon, both from Washington.  Thanks for joining us.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Stephanie, I‘m a little bit confused as to why Michael Chertoff would go out and say he had a gut feeling.  Of course the White House didn‘t know.  This wasn‘t the product of some meeting where the president said, Chertoff, go tell him you have got a gut feeling, obviously.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Right.

CARLSON:  On the other hand I think response has been quick and maybe too severe, this idea that Chertoff is an idiot, that the White House is doing it for political reasons.  Do you think it is wise for Democrats to write this off as nonsense when there is a threat?

CUTTER:  I don‘t think Democrats are writing it off.  I think the problem is get feelings are not particularly comforting to the American people when it comes to their safety.

CARLSON:  That‘s true.

CUTTER:  I think everybody agrees that al Qaeda is a threat and has been a threat for many, many years.  The question is whether or not we are taking the right actions to protect ourselves from it.  And I think the answer to that based on al Qaeda rebuilding itself is no.

CARLSON:  It is a question - it‘s not a partisan question, it‘s an honest human question, a moral dilemma, really, what do you do if you suspect something but have no hard evidence?  Does the public have a right to know?  Especially since the public can‘t real do anything.  We say, oh, be vigilant but in real life we‘re just really going to be more scared.  That‘s it.  Do you tell the public or not?

MCMAHON:  First thing you do if you work for the president of the United States, you might mention it to him.  And I think if it‘s a threat of a specific nature you absolutely have to say something and you have to warn the people or the properties that might be affected by it.

If on the other hand it‘s just a gut feeling and it might be gas, then I think you probably owe it to the public not to create a scare, not to scare the widow in Wichita, if you will, and find out a little bit more before you trot out there and tell people you have a gut feeling that we‘re going to be hit.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s fair.  I think that‘s completely fair what you just said but there‘s also the implication lurking behind it that the threat really isn‘t real.  And I think a lot of Americans feel like there isn‘t a threat.

MCMAHON:  The implication lurking behind it is that the threat is real but it‘s no more specific, it‘s no more tangible and it‘s no more dangerous than it was yesterday or last week or last month or last year.

And what seems to be happening here with this administration is every time the politics of the situation gets to a certain point, the president‘s approval rating dips into the 20s they trot out the terrorism card in order to either distract or to remind people of why they once liked this president.  And frankly, I think the American public is getting a little weary of it.

CARLSON:  That‘s a pretty heavy charge, Stephanie.  Speaking for myself, I didn‘t vote for Bush last time because I was mad about Iraq, but if I really believed that they were manipulating the terror threat for political reasons I would say that‘s an impeachable offense.  I mean, that‘s a big thing to say about a president, any president, don‘t you think?

CUTTER:  Well, Tucker, it‘s been said before and it‘s been said quite often, there has been an uncanny similarity between these terror threats and when the president gets in trouble.  I can‘t speak to if that‘s what Chertoff was up to.

CARLSON:  What do you mean though:  In other words—Hold on.  You are implying rather than stating—do you think - do you believe personally, Stephanie, that the White House is capable of manufacturing a terror threat for political gain?

CUTTER:  Well, Tucker, I believe the White House is capable of just about anything.  But in terms of whether or not they are manufacturing terror threats, I don‘t know the answer to the question.  I hope the answer is no.  But I think at the end of the day we all have to be on high alert on terrorist threats.  We know that the terrorist threat has increased over the past six years.  We‘re not adequately prepared and our policy in Iraq is making it all that much worse.

CARLSON:  Listening to this, Steve, particularly what you just said you get the feeling that the threat is really not al Qaeda, it‘s the Bush administration.  You‘re saying they might manufacture a threat.

MCMAHON:  No.

CARLSON:  If that‘s not a high crime I don‘t know what is.

MCMAHON:  I didn‘t say manufacture.  The terror threat is there.  The terror threat has been there for some time.  As some people have pointed out legitimately, the terror threat preceded this president.  The question for the administration is whether the American public is going to believe it after it selectively used intelligence to create fear of weapons of mass destruction and fear of great harm that was going to be caused by the Iraqi government and the links to terrorism that they tried to create that didn‘t exist.

CARLSON:  Can I just make an obvious point?

MCMAHON:  Just wait one second if you would just let me finish.  So unfortunately the administration has lost credibility by cherry picking and hyping certain aspects of intelligence and certain threats.  So the threat is there but the question is whether the threat yesterday is any greater than it was last week or last month or last year.  And I don‘t think it was.

CARLSON:  Well, they certainly did lose credibility but I would just make the obvious point that no one ever makes which is if the war in Iraq was essentially a political initiative, they were trying to hoodwink the public in order to become more popular by waging this war, kind of a bad plan.  Considering the president is now below 30.

MCMAHON:  Very bad plan.

CARLSON:  In fact, it‘s so stupid, that it‘s not really credible as an idea in my mind.

MCMAHON:  But Tucker, at the time they did it, remember, the president‘s approval ratings were up to 80 or 90 percent.

CARLSON:  But it‘s a pretty short term plan.  Lying about something you know is going to be revealed in short order is not - Karl Rove is not that dumb.  He may be evil, but he‘s not stupid, just my view.

We‘re going to come back in just a minute.  We‘ll tell you that John Edwards says he‘s the best man for the job for helping the poor.  The problem is the poor don‘t agree.  They don‘t like John Edwards.  Details in a minute.

Then Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has more money on hand than John McCain does.  He will be here to tell us how he is doing it and why he ought to be the next president.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Poor John Edwards, not literally, of course.  He‘s richer than some countries.  But he‘s chosen the problem of poverty and the widening chasm between rich and poor in America as the central theme of his presidential campaign.  What do poor people think of that, and him?  The latest “Washington Post” and ABC News poll shows that Democrats and Democratic leaning independents who make less than 20 grand a year prefer Hillary Clinton to John Edwards by a margin of 55 to 10. 

Now, for all intents and purposes, that is a shutout.  Another “Washington Post” poll indicates that among independent voters who make less than 20 grand, 40 percent say they absolutely would not vote for John Edwards in the general election.  How can that be?  He loves them.  They don‘t love him back.

Here to try to explain, we welcome Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter and Steve McMahon.  Stephanie, I‘m sure there have been more embarrassing polls.  I just can‘t recall one. 

CUTTER:  Well, you know, I think it‘s insulting to voters who make less than 20,000 dollars a year to think that they are single issue voters.  I think there are probably a number of different things on their mind, Iraq, health care, general economic issues, and not just poverty. 

The other thing is, it reflects where every other poll is.  Edwards consistently comes in third place in these national polls.  So if I were the Edwards campaign, I would take not of it.  But I don‘t think I would overreact. 

CARLSON:  I think those are both fair points.  On the other hand, politics we hear—and I think there‘s some truth in this—is a question of identifying with voters or getting them to identify with you.  He understands my issues.  He knows me.  He likes me.  That‘s a lot of what it means to run for office.  And here‘s a guy who has devoted his whole life to helping the poor.  You kind of expect them to like him.  Wouldn‘t you? 

CUTTER:  Well, it‘s a question of whether or not they like him or whether or not they are going to vote for him. 

CARLSON:  They identify with him.  They think he‘s on their side. 

CUTTER:  I thought it was whether or not they were going to vote for him, which reflective of the other national polls.  Hillary is the front-runner.  Barack Obama comes in second.  And John Edwards comes in third.  It‘s no different than other national polls. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.  I bet, Steve, if we look more deeply into this poll—and we don‘t have the data, so we can‘t—but I suspect they think of John Edwards not as an advocate for the poor, but as a rich guy, a rich guy with expensive haircuts.  I‘m not attacking Edwards, I just bet that‘s the problem. 

MCMAHON:  It just sounds that way.  Right?

CARLSON:  Right, it just sounds that way. 

CUTTER:  You‘re not attacking him?

CARLSON:  It is interesting thing that other polls show the same thing that people with lower education and lower income like Hillary Clinton.  What is that about? 

MCMAHON:  I think what you see in these polls—Stephanie is absolutely right; Democrats like Hillary Clinton across the board. 

CARLSON:  No. 

MCMAHON:  Well, yes, actually. 

CARLSON:  They like Hillary Clinton.  But the poorer and less educated they are, the more they like Hillary Clinton. 

CUTTER:  That‘s true. 

MCMAHON:  That‘s true, but Hillary is winning African-Americans against Barack Obama, who‘s an African American candidate.  So it‘s true across the board that people seem to like and be attracted to Hillary‘s candidacy.  The other I‘ll say, that Stephanie didn‘t mention, is that there are a lot of people who make under 20,000 dollars a year who don‘t necessarily think of themselves as poor, even though they might meet the statistical definition of the lower class in this country. 

You know, a lot of them are young.  A lot of them are working minimum wage jobs.  And they don‘t necessarily think of themselves as poor.  They think of themselves as getting into the work force, starting their careers, whatever. 

CARLSON:  They don‘t know how oppressed they are.  And when John Edwards tells them how oppressed they are, they kind of look confused.

MCMAHON:  Or perhaps, Tucker, when you tell them. 

CARLSON:  Right, no, but I mean, John Edwards tells them they‘re oppressed and they say I like Starbucks.  It‘s a good place to work.

MCMAHON:  So Tucker to viewers, if you make under 20,000 dollars a year, you‘re poor. 

CARLSON:  Unlike John Edwards, I have never patronized low income people.  I don‘t run around talking about what my father‘s irrelevant job.  My dad worked—Who cares what your dad did? 

MCMAHON:  By the way, Tucker, there‘s one other thin here, and that is people who care about poverty aren‘t necessarily just people who make under a certain amount of money.  There are a lot of us, like Stephanie and myself, and probably even you, to some degree, who think that the richest country on Earth shouldn‘t have people who are going hungry, who don‘t health insurance, who don‘t have access to health care. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  Unlike me, it‘s liberals who make money off poor.  The poverty industry has made a lot of liberals rich.  I don‘t think it‘s made too many conservatives rich, as far as I know.  There is a group with a vested interest in keeping the poor poor, and it‘s not the American right. 

MCMAHON:  Oh Tucker, come on. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true.  You know it‘s true.  How many poverty programs are administered by right wingers?  How many poverty programs have brought people out of poverty? 

(CROSS TALK)

CUTTER:  I think you do have to give John Edwards credit for trying to raise this to a national issue.  We do have a record high poverty rate.  We do have a problem in terms of tiers in our economy.  He needs to get credit for raising as a national issue.

CARLSON:  I give him credit for making 50,000 dollars for giving a speech about poverty.  I think it‘s appalling that he can talk about poverty and not mention the fact that being born out of wedlock is the single most accurate predictor of whether you‘re going to be poor.  So broken families are clearly one of the root causes of poverty.  And neither he, nor any of the Democrats mention it.  Why?  I don‘t know.  But I think it‘s—

MCMAHON:  Tucker, that‘s just not true, Democrats do talk about it. 

Democrats do talk about it.

CARLSON:  Really?  I have listened to a lot of John Edwards speeches about poverty and I have actively searched for him to say, you know what, this is one of the big problems.  And he‘s never mentioned that.  Why is that, I wonder? 

MCMAHON:  I have listened to many Democrats talk about poverty and heard many Democrats, especially African-American and minority Democrats, talk about what‘s going on in communities where out of wedlock births are common and how it contributes to poverty.  But again, you know, Stephanie is right.  He is taking an issue that, frankly, in the context of Iraq and health care, poverty isn‘t one of the top issues that most Democrats and most Americans are most concerned about right now. 

So the fact that he‘s taking it on at all I think shows that it‘s not political.  It‘s courageous.  Because it would be a lot easier for him to be out there demagoguing the war. 

CARLSON:  Oh, no, he‘s definitely doing that.  Have no fear.  He‘s definitely demagoguing the war.

MCMAHON:  It would be easier for him to be demagoguing the war full- time. 

CARLSON:  He‘s doing it mostly full time.  It‘s just that nobody is paying attention because he‘s not drawing on deep reserves of foreign policy experience.  But John McCain is.  And I want to ask you, Stephanie, that he said.  John McCain seems to be sharpening his rhetoric on Iraq, an extremely unpopular war.  I think his support for it has hurt him, no doubt.

And yet he‘s not backing off.  He‘s said this.  He said, I‘ve seen this movie before from the liberal left in America who share no responsibility for what happened in Cambodia, when we said that while the mission was in the early stages—in other words, we stopped bombing Cambodia.  We pulled out of Cambodia and Pol Pot and killed a third of the population.  John McCain is implying that something similar will happen when and if we leave Iraq.  What do you think of that? 

CUTTER:  I respect John McCain.  He clearly served his country in Vietnam and had great sacrifice for us.  But I think that the movie he‘s referring to is a different movie than every other American saw, and historians have seen.  I mean, it‘s been well-documented that officials throughout the course of the Vietnam war knew that war was lost well before any troops were withdrawn. 

That‘s the problem that we‘re facing today, whether or not the surge is helping us win the war or whether a real change of course is needed.  I admire him for sticking to his principle, but I just think he‘s wrong on this. 

CARLSON:  He may be, but he does raise—and he may be about Vietnam.  Far be it from me to re-litigate that here.  But he raises an issue that I am interested in, and that is current history.  And it is what does happen when we leave?  There is going to be more bloodshed.  Everyone recognizes that, Steve.  Can you call yourself a humanitarian, interested in human rights, concerned about Darfur, if you are willing to abandon Iraq to the inevitable death squads that will arise when we leave? 

MCMAHON:  First of all, it‘s something this administration should have thought about before we went in. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  You‘re absolutely right.

MCMAHON:  Secondly, the alternative is to stay there for a thousand years, because it‘s been going on over there for a thousand years.  It probably will continue for the next thousand years.  Obviously you can‘t take everybody out immediately.  But I do think that you can set deadlines for moving troops out of combat. 

CARLSON:  Are we upset about it?  Are Democrats—I think part of what you are saying is true.  It‘s not our fault that they hate each other, really.  But when we leave, it is going to get worse.  Why have no Democratic candidates kind of been honest about that and said, you know what, you think it‘s a bloodbath now, wait until we split.  It‘s going to be awful.  Why does nobody say that, because it‘s true? 

MCMAHON:  Because at some point we are going to split and the question is how long is the American public going to hang in there?  I mean, we still live in a democracy and people are going to chose their leaders based on what their leaders are telling them.  And right now, even in the Republican presidential primary, the leaders that people are flocking to are the leaders who are saying we need to bring this thing to an end.  We need to bring our troops home. 

The American public has already reached a judgment on this.  John McCain just hasn‘t gotten the memo apparently.  The ironic thing is that the guy who was independent and did so well by standing up to this president and to his party is now going to be the guy who gets defeated because he‘s standing too closely to George W. Bush on the two issues that are most contentious today, Iraq and immigration. 

CARLSON:  We‘ll see.  Stephanie, really quickly, “New York Times” had this piece today about Dr. Carmona, the former surgeon general, in which he says he was pushed to do all kinds of things he didn‘t want to do for political reasons by the Bush White House, including—if this is true, it‘s a total outrage—mentioning the president‘s name in speeches. 

My question to you is pretty simple.  If this is true, there‘s no defending it.  It‘s an outrage.  Why do we have a surgeon general?  They are all blow hards.  They are all annoying.  The office is almost always used for political reasons by every administration.  They do nothing.  They are these over-bearing nanny figures, who really ought to just go away and shut up.  Do we need a national doctor?  What the hell is a surgeon general, anyway?  Will the next Democratic elected to the White House get rid of that office, please. 

CUTTER:  I can‘t speak for the next Democratic elect, and what they are going to do with the surgeon general.  I think that the surgeon general has provided an important role.  It was Dr. Satcher (ph) that raised the national awareness of the AIDS crisis and fought a right wing president over its even existence and how it would spread. 

CARLSON:  Oh, you mean Dr. Coupe (ph), right.

CUTTER:  Dr. Coupe, sorry.  Doctor Satcher fought for mental health parody and to raise awareness about mental health issues across the country.  I think that politics needs to be taken out of that office but I that they provide a good public service. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I think they‘re just all grand standers who should just go back to pulling peoples‘ teeth or doing face lifts or whatever they did before they started that job.  Thanks so much.  Thank you both, Stephanie and Steve.

Coming up, what does it mean that a candidate barely registering in the polls has more cash in the bank than John McCain does.  Plus, President Bush makes the White House press corp laugh as he cuts a really big ribbon.  We‘ll hear what he had to say.  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The golden days of the Republican party, fiscal responsibility, limited government, a cautious approach to foreign intervention.  After six and a half years of the George W. Bush administration, the Republican franchise has changed.  Right now, Republicans are taking a close look at the front runners seeking the nomination for their party, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson. 

But waiting in the wings is another kind of conservative, a traditional one.  He may be trailing in the polls, but Ron Paul is getting a hard look from voters wondering what happened to their party.  He‘s quietly raising some pretty decent dollars.  He even has more cash in the bank than John McCain does at the moment.  How did that happen? 

Here to tell us is the man himself, presidential candidate, Republican Congressman from Texas, physician Ron Paul.  Congressman, thanks for joining us. 

REP. RON PAUL ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, nice to be with you.

CARLSON:  So how did you wind up with more money in the bank than John McCain? 

PAUL:  Well, the truth is we didn‘t raise more, but we spent it more wisely, I believe.  The money came in rather easily.  We didn‘t have to spend a lot of money to raise it.  It was raised spontaneously over the Internet.  And this has been good. 

We‘ve been improving our campaign all the time.  Our message is spreading.  Our numbers of supporters are growing.  At the same time, we really didn‘t have to spend any money we raised in the second quarter.  We‘re still living off the money we raised in the fourth quarter.  In the second quarter, we raised four times as much as we did in the first quarter.  So hopefully that trend will continue. 

CARLSON:  I like the way you manage money, doctor.  Good for you.  How do you get to the next level?  I mean, you‘re—I think it‘s fair to say, a boutique candidate at this point.  people who are really interested in political ideas like you.  Some love you.  But how do you get to the phenomenon level, the Howard Dean 2004 level?  What do you need to get there?

PAUL:  I think we have to continue to do what we‘re doing.  The growth rate we have now is fantastic.  We continue to raise this money and our numbers keep growing, yes, eventually we are going to show up in these polls.  I think we‘re going to have some straw votes that we may just surprise a lot of people. 

We have had a few little ones that we have done very well.  Everywhere we go now the meetings are getting bigger each time, so we feel very good about what‘s happening. 

CARLSON:  Not to give you unsolicited advice—I‘m a talk show host.  I‘m not running your campaign.  But you need some celebrities.  It seems to me all campaigns like yours on the cusp of being a phenomenon have Rob Reiner, Barbara Streisand or their Libertarian equivalents.  Are there Libertarian equivalents?

PAUL  That sounds like a good idea.  There are a few that I believe are very attuned to the principles.  I haven‘t had anybody sign on the line yet.  But that may just come.  You know what, I‘m almost more fascinated with the fact that young people are so interested in the campaign.  We have a lot of people coming into our meetings and even to visit me, and I ask them, why are you here?  They say, well, my teenagers showed me what was on the Internet.  I heard your speeches.  So literally, the teenagers are our recruiting agents right now.

CARLSON:  Interesting, One of the raps against Libertarians—I‘m not sure it‘s fair, but people say it—that they tend to be a little cold.  They‘re not as compassionate as people who believe the government can help. 

I‘ll give you a very specific example.  You would like to pull out of Iraq.  Fair enough.  If we do, there‘s really no question that blood shed—as we were just talking about in the last segment—will increase.  There will be a lot of killing when we leave. 

There‘s a lot of killing now.  There will be more.  If you are president, what would you do in response?  Just let it happen? 

PAUL:  I would, because Americans wouldn‘t be killed and we don‘t know for certain that there will be more killing.  There may be initially, but there was a lot less turmoil in Vietnam after we left.  We‘re trading partners with Vietnam.  So some good things can come by leaving. 

CARLSON:  Didn‘t you have tens or hundreds of thousands of people put into re-education camps and more than a million killed in Cambodia and Laos? 

PAUL:  Of course, the French and Americans were in Vietnam for 20 some years.  It was a tragedy.  Millions of Vietnamese died.  So I would say, yes, it will be tough and difficult.  But I want to be compassionate for the American people and the American soldier.  I want to protect all those individuals, the taxpayers, everybody else.  That‘s where our compassion should be directed toward. 

Whether we are dealing with economic policy—free markets are really compassionate.  They take care of the poor.  And when you talk about compassion for others, yes, the non-interventionist foreign policy over a period of time is the only compassionate policy, as far as I‘m concerned, because we stay out of these undeclared, unwinnable, political U.N.-type wars. 

That‘s the maximum compassion one can have, is to have a policy that really keeps us out of war.  That‘s what I‘m striving for. 

CARLSON:  All right, Ron Paul.  Look into the camera and tell your views exactly what you think.  Agree or disagree, I admire your honesty.  I appreciate it.  Thanks a lot.   

PAUL:  Thanks a lot.  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Well, Bill Clinton was a no-show today at an NAACP Event where he was billed as the keynote speaker?  So why did he leave them high and dry and which rap star played the role of President Clinton at the last minute?  Willie Geist has all the answers, as usual, when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Imagine my surprise, I come back to the set after getting a 400 dollar haircut, and who is sitting here but the great Willie Geist. 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Can I tell you something? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

GEIST:  You should get your money back.  It is shapely. 

CARLSON:  I think I need to comb it, that is part of the problem. 

GEIST:  I just got off of the phone with Michael Rectinwald (ph).  You, me, him, drinks in the village tonight.  We are all going to get together.  That was intense.

CARLSON:  He‘s a ton of fun.

GEIST:  We have a policy of not talking about guests after they have been on, because they can‘t defend themselves, but just leave that at it was exciting.  It was fun. 

CARLSON:  I never watched the tape of the show, but I think I will. 

GEIST:  You should.  Check the Tivo tonight.  Well, Tucker, Springfield, Vermont announced yesterday as the official home town of the Simpsons.  The town beat out 13 other Springfields in a “USA Today” vote.  Springfield is, of course, the name of the town where the Simpsons live on the insanely popular animated show. 

Springfield, Vermont now gets to host the premier of the Simpsons movie later this month.  That is not sitting well with one of the sore loser Springfields, the one in Illinois, specifically.  The local paper in Springfield, Illinois points out that Springfield, Vermont got more votes than it has residents.  Yes, allegations of voter fraud. 

An editorial in the “State Journal Register” of Illinois fumed, quote, “So Springfield, Vermont, congratulations.  Enjoy the movie premiere and the fame it brings to your fair town.  Enjoy your pristine lakes, your mountains, your fall colors, your skiing, your fancy cheese and Ben and Jerry‘s.  This Springfield is happy for you.  Really, we are.” 

GEIST:  Wow, sour grapes in Springfield, Illinois. 

CARLSON:  Enjoy your Ben and Jerry‘s; that‘s just—they have a point. 

GEIST:  They do have a point.  I have to confess to something, I haven‘t really ever seen the Simpsons and it‘s a huge hole in who I am.  It was the same way with “Seinfeld.”  I don‘t know what it says about me. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a pretty great show.  Let me just say, I despise everything about Vermont, everything about Vermont, except Vermont itself.  I hate to admit it, Vermont is actually a great state. 

GEIST:  Is that right?

CARLSON:  Yes, it is.  So I am happy for Springfield, Vermont. 

Congratulations. 

GEIST:  It is not certain that they deserved the honor.  They may have stolen the election, but hey.   

CARLSON:  So did Kennedy. 

GEIST:  Exactly, didn‘t stop the president.  Well, Springfield, Illinois, not the only mid west city where they‘re a little steamed today.  Hundreds of people packed a convention center in Detroit this morning expecting to hear a speech from Bill Clinton.  The problem is Bill Clinton was not in Detroit this morning.  He was billed as the keynote speaker at the NAACP youth event, but it turns out he had never confirmed that he would be there.  Whoops. 

So what do you do when you have to replace the former president of the United States?  You turn to one of the kings of hip hop.  Yes, you turn to Master P.  Reports say the rap star played the role of the president admirably this morning.  Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak at the convention tomorrow.  And if she can‘t make it, Little Kim will be waiting in the wings for sure.

We actually talked to Clinton‘s office, says it was a big misunderstanding.  They assumed he was doing something that he had never confirmed.  It seems like there should be a little more bureaucracy there.  You had him up on the banner.

CARLSON:  You know me, I am happy to blame Clinton for anything.  But having dealt with the NAACP over the years, single flakiest organization ever.  I just know it wasn‘t Clinton‘s fault.

GEIST:  If you‘re billing that Bill Clinton is going to be there, I would just double check it. 

CARLSON:  If the Secret Service does not show up to sweep the building, that is a sign. 

GEIST:  We sent them an email.  We assumed he was coming, but he didn‘t make it.  Well, finally, Tucker, the White House press corps got its much anticipated new briefing room today.  Isn‘t that exciting.  President Bush and the first lady, as you can see there, cut the ribbon.  Some estimates say the facility cost you, the taxpayer, 20 millions dollars. 

Despite the new facade, the president assured the press that he will continue to toy with them and generally ignore their questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let‘s do this.  Let me cut the ribbon and—let me cut the ribbon.  Are you going to cut it with me, Steve?  And then, why don‘t you all yell simultaneously.  Listen, internalize, play like I am going to answer the question, and then smile at you and say, thanks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GEIST:  So things won‘t be much different for the president.  He will pretend he is listening and then ignore the press.  So, good for him.  Nothing changes with the new facility.

CARLSON:  Yes, but I bet it‘s less depressing than the old facility.

GEIST:  I hear.  Have you been inside there? 

CARLSON:  I have not been inside the new one.  I‘ve spent a lot of time in the old one.  It‘s awful.  It is over the old White House swimming pool, which I believe the new one is too.  Beneath the floor is a dead pool, and it smells like it. 

GEIST:  Apparently, they did not have air conditioning in the old one. 

CARLSON:  The vending machines were put in during the Truman administration.  And it has the same kind of green cheese and crackers.  It‘s just—they have Zagnut bars.  Yes, it‘s an outdated candy machine. 

It is pretty awful. 

GEIST:  Bush did say they will have new ejector seats in.  So, if you as a bad question, Tony Snow can throw the guy out of the building. 

CARLSON:  That would make them more interesting.  I saw my friend from Steve Scully from C-Span up there, decent guy.  He gives the press corps a good name. 

GEIST:  Good, they need it. 

CARLSON:  Willie Geist, great to see you. 

GEIST:  See you for drinks tonight with Rectinwald. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll be there.  For more of Willie Geist—I can‘t get enough—check out Zeit Geist at Tucker.MSNBC.com.  That does it for us today.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.

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

END   

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

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