updated 7/19/2007 11:28:08 AM ET 2007-07-19T15:28:08

Guests: Buzz Patterson, Tom Andrews, Judy Miller, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Kate Michelman, John Heilemann, Michael Crowley, Susannah Meadows

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  President Bush has now told friendly journalists that God wants us to fight for democracy in Iraq.  Is that why the U.S. Senate stayed up all night, to start today refusing to let itself vote on a war God told Bush to fight?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to HARDBALL, reporting tonight from Los Angeles.  Today at dawn, a majority of U.S. senators voted their position on the war in Iraq.  They voted to bring up a measure to bring the troops home by next April.  Unfortunately for the majority, even after a night of debate and drumroll, there were only four Republicans among them, the two from Maine, Smith from Oregon and Hagel from Nebraska.  So now every Republican except those four is on record opposing an up or down vote on the war.  All but the four are not just hawks but opponents of having a vote on the war.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic campaign front, gutsy Elizabeth Edwards, who took on right-wing Ann Coulter, is now attacking Hillary Clinton for what she says is Hillary‘s failure to champion the cause of women.  Says her that her husband, John, it the better champion for women.  We‘ll give you a debate on that one tonight on HARDBALL.

Plus, video eight (ph), for the first time, Elizabeth Edwards will be featured in a TV ad for her husband‘s campaign.  Let‘s take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF DEMOCRATIC PRES. CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS: 

It‘s unbelievably important that in our president, we have someone who can stare the worst in the face and not blink.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And later tonight, I‘ll be on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno, and I‘m lucky to be on with actress Sandra Bullock.  (INAUDIBLE) decide who to watch, but you got to watch both of us.  Anyway, stay up and watch.

But now, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has a report on Elizabeth Edwards going after Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just six months before the presidential primaries, the Democratic nomination contest is now featuring a battle between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards‘s wife, Elizabeth.  Today, one of the New York tabloids, “The New York Post,” labeled it this way: “Broad-sided.”

At the center of the skirmish is Hillary Clinton‘s core support.  The latest polls show that the Democratic frontrunner has a commanding lead over her opponents among women voters, especially among single blue-collar women.  The Edwards campaign is trying to chip away at Clinton‘s support, and this week, Elizabeth Edwards began the debate by telling the on-line magazine Salon.com, quote, “She”—Hillary Clinton—“wants to be commander-in-chief, but she‘s just not as vocal a women‘s advocate as I want to see.  John is, and I‘m not convinced she‘d be as good an advocate for women.”

Last night on HARDBALL...

JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think the point she was making is if you look at things like poverty, there are more women in poverty than there are men.  There are more women who don‘t have health insurance than men.  There are more women who are affected by the minimum wage than men.  And in these kinds of substantive areas that have a direct impact on the lives of women, I‘ve been very aggressive and I‘ve been out front and leading on those issues.  I think that‘s the point she was making.

SHUSTER:  The Clinton campaign is not responding to the Edwards argument, and for now, Hillary Clinton is staying removed from the fray.  But Elizabeth Edwards, who has been diagnosed with cancer, is carving out an increasingly higher profile in the race.  Today, the Edwards campaign unveiled a new television ad, which for the first time features Elizabeth Edwards.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS:  He works harder than any human being that I know.  Always has.  It‘s unbelievably important that in our president, we have someone who can stare the worst in the face and not blink.

SHUSTER:  And just two weeks ago, it was Elizabeth who called in to HARDBALL and challenged the venom of conservative columnist Ann Coulter.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS:  These young people behind you are the age of my

children.  You‘re asking them to participate in a dialogue that‘s based on

on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues.  And I don‘t—I don‘t think that‘s serving them or this country very well.

SHUSTER:  Just hours after that call-in, the Edwards campaign received more than $400,000 in on-line contributions.

JOHN EDWARDS:  Go Elizabeth, is what I got to say.  You know, I appreciate her having some backbone and courage.  And somebody‘s got to speak out when these people get—use the kind of language that this woman‘s been using.

SHUSTER (on camera):  But that raises the down side of the Edwards strategy.  If somebody needs to speak out, as John Edwards told us last night, why isn‘t the backbone and courage coming from him?  Voters may indeed love Elizabeth Edwards, but in the end, it‘s still her husband who will be on the ballot.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David.

They rolled out cots and ordered pizzas last night in the U.S. Senate as they settle din for a marathon debate on Iraq.  It ended at 11:00 this morning with Republicans defeating a Democratic proposal that wanted to order troop withdrawals from Iraq.  Actually, they defeated it by keeping from—keeping the Democrats from getting 60 votes to bring this matter to a vote.

Was it a political stunt or an effective strategy?  We‘re joined right now by two people in the front lines of the war for the hearts and minds.  Tom Edwards—Tom Andrews is a former Democratic congressman from Maine.  He‘s now with an organization called Win Without War.  And Buzz Patterson is a retired lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Air Force, a 20-year veteran, and he‘s now the vice chairman of Move America Forward.  He‘s also an author of “War Crimes: The Left‘s Campaign to Destroy our Military and Lose the War on Terror.”

Let me go to Buzz, who‘s with me.  Thank you for joining us here.

BUZZ PATTERSON, MOVE AMERICA FORWARD:  My pleasure, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s wrong with having an up or down vote in the U.S.

Senate on whether to continue this war?

PATTERSON:  Because it‘s faultless (SIC).  It‘s fruitless.  I think that what‘s happening right now is Harry Reid‘s going to pull the same tricks that he pulled when he was the minority in terms of trying to force the Republicans to—to repeat (ph) retreat (ph) and withdrawal (ph) on the war.  I think, really, it sends the wrong signal to our troops, Chris.  It sends a signal to the troops that if al Qaeda just holds out a little bit longer, they‘re going to win this thing.  I think Harry Reid‘s shenanigans—his—his—his...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re fighting for democracy over there, Buzz.  We believe in majority rule, right?

PATTERSON:  Right.  That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS:  Why not let the majority rule in the U.S. Senate?

PATTERSON:  Well, because I think...

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what we‘re teaching?

PATTERSON:  Well, we also have the cloture rules, Chris, as you‘re well aware, and also, the president has the veto.  So I think we want the commander-in-chief to fight the war, we don‘t ask Harry Reid to fight the war.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Let me go to you, Tom Andrews.  How do we decide this? 

Do we let the Senate decide this war or the president?

TOM ANDREWS, WIN WITHOUT WAR:  Well, I think we have to bring somebody

up to the plate that can get these young people, our soldiers, men and

women, out of harm‘s way.  We put them in an impossible situation, someone

else‘s civil war.  Eighty percent of the population of Iraq believe that

the presence of American troops is the cause of this violence.  More than

70 percent of the people of Iraq believe that Americans should leave, the

American forces should leave within the year.  And two thirds of the Iraqis

this is key, Chris.  Two thirds of Iraqis believe it is totally

justified to attack and kill Americans in Iraq.

You cannot possibly prevail in a situation like that, and we have no business—the politicians in Washington, the president has no business putting those young people in that kind of a situation.  So we have to look to the Congress to stand up and do the job that the president...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Tom, you‘re—you served in Congress.  You know the thinking of politicians.  Why, if that‘s all so crystal clear, that the war is a mistake, the people in Iraq don‘t want us there, et cetera, et cetera, the American people don‘t want us there, then why are Republican senators sticking to the president?

ANDREWS:  Well, first of all, it‘s politics, Chris.  If you look at the polls, a majority of the Republican base support President Bush and want him to stay the course.  And so they‘re worried, the politicians are worried, that they‘re going to face political problems in the case of a possible primary challenge in going after their seats.

Other Republicans, however, are finding themselves really under the gun, like Senator Collins in my state of Maine, where overwhelmingly, the population believe that the Senate should be voting to get these young people out of harm‘s way.  I was in New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago. 

We did a poll.  And overwhelmingly, the public in New Hampshire want the

Congress to stand up and order these troops to start leaving Iraq and be

out of there within a year.  In fact, 60 percent of the military families -

that  is, families with some military member in Iraq or have served in Iraq -- 60 percent of them also believe very strongly that that‘s the case.  And of course, a majority of our soldiers no longer have confidence and are opposed to the way the president is handling this war.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Buzz.  Buzz, you served in the military.  We have a responsibility to trust you in terms of your commitment to this country...

PATTERSON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... but not necessarily to your political views.

PATTERSON:  Correct.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this question.  Who should decide whether we fight a war or not?  The U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate, should they decide?  Or should the commander-in-chief decide it?  And once we‘re in a war, we got to stay wit that war until the end, as the president decrees it?  Who decides?  Just tell me, who under our Constitution should decide this matter?

PATTERSON:  The president, commander-in-chief, Chris, should, and has ever since World War II.

MATTHEWS:  He should decide whether we continue a war or not.

PATTERSON:  Well, actually—actually, Congress did in this case.  The 2002 resolution was voted on overwhelmingly by both sides of the House in terms of going into Iraq in the first place.  And looking back to what Tom said...

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  People like Hillary—and I‘m not sure I buy it—say they didn‘t vote for the war, they voted to authorize the president‘s authority to conduct a war, if the conditions merited because we didn‘t get our way diplomatically.  You‘re saying once they make that decision, it‘s in the hands of the president.

PATTERSON:  Once...

MATTHEWS:  No.  That‘s it, then.

PATTERSON:  Well, commander-in-chief, yes.  And the American people...

MATTHEWS:  So the president decides to prosecute this war as long as he wants to.

PATTERSON:  Well, he‘s going to do it as the commander-in-chief, Chris.  Tom‘s point about politics is exactly right, but it‘s not politics on the right and the Republicans, it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just asking...

PATTERSON:  ... politics on the left...

MATTHEWS:  ... who decides under our system of government.

PATTERSON:  The commander-in-chief does.

MATTHEWS:  So he has...

(CROSSTALK)

PATTERSON:  He sought authorization to go to force...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Tom, where are you on that?  Do you think the president of the United States has the right, once we‘re in a war, to continue the war, prosecute it his way, as long as he wants to?

ANDREWS:  You know, Chris, it‘s called checks and balances.  The reason we have this kind of democracy is because our Founders were not very happy with King George.  And we decided that we were going to have a system of checks and balances in which a leader, whether it be a king, a president or whomever, that‘s going—heading this country in the wrong direction, the people have some recourse.  We have some capacity to put a check on that power so we can redirect this country in the right direction.  That‘s why we fought a revolutionary war.  That‘s why have a Declaration of Independence.  And that‘s why we have American democracy.  This is not a kingdom, it is a democracy of checks and balances.

MATTHEWS:  You made your point.  Buzz, your response to that?

PATTERSON:  My response to that is the Congress does have the authority of the purse strings.  If they wanted—if they really felt firmly about the war in Iraq going down the wrong path, they can cut the funding to the war, period.  If they don‘t have that gumption to do it, and they don‘t—I‘m sure Harry Reid doesn‘t...

MATTHEWS:  You know, actually, I agree with you, Buzz.  They‘ve got to cut off and stop talking.

PATTERSON:  One way or the other.

MATTHEWS:  They have the power of the purse strings.  They better use it or stop talking.  Thank you very much, Tom Andrews and Buzz Patterson.

Coming up next on HARDBALL, former “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller.  She spent 85 days in jail in Alexandria, Virginia, in the CIA leak case.  She‘s the only person, by the way, including Scooter Libby, to go to jail for the CIA leak case.  What a revolting development.

And take part, by the way, in the HARDBALL campaign ad challenge.  And this is fun.  It‘s harmless.  And it could be useful.  Make your own 30-second campaign ad—they‘re free to make—for your favorite presidential candidate—and this is the funny part—or your least favorite presidential candidate, upload—that‘s the phrase—your video at Hardball.msnbc.com.  I know we‘re going to have some amazing candidates.  In August, our panel of judges, including Donny Deutsch, Bob Shrum and Taryn Southern (ph), the “Hot for Hill” girl, will pick the winners, and we‘ll show you them all here on HARDBALL.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  A new National Intelligence Estimate says that al Qaeda is experiencing a resurgence and will remain the most serious threat to the U.S. over the next three years.  Are we losing ground in the fight against al Qaeda?  And are they intensifying efforts to struggle operatives inside the U.S.?

Pulitzer Prize-winning former “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller wrote a report for the Manhattan Institute‘s “City Journal” on how the New York and Los Angeles police departments are working to prevent another terrorist attack.  Judy Miller‘s also known for spending 85 days in jail for refusing to disclose her sources‘ identity in the CIA leak case.

Judy, you‘re a hero to the press.  You are definitely a woman to be trusted with secrets.  And thank you for coming on this program.  Let‘s talk about what matters more to people than press shields and all the rest that we care about.  I‘m in Los Angeles right now.  I‘m up there in a—I was up in a Renaissance Hotel the other night, looking down—actually, when I got up this morning—seeing this whole city, crowded city, below me.  Is it safe?

JUDY MILLER, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE‘S CITY JOURNAL:  Well, it‘s safer than it probably was before 9/11.  There‘s no doubt that the city in which you are, Chris, and the city in which I live, New York, are definitely the targets of intensive effort to make us safe against terror.  Is it enough?  Who knows?  But all I can tell you is, especially here in New York, where $200 million a year are being spent just by the NYPD, a lot is going on.  And I think people feel safer.

MATTHEWS:  Is that smart, that we‘re doing our best job in the most iconic—that‘s a new phrase we use all the time—the most perfect targets to make a lot of noise?  In other words, is it smart to say better we defend our two biggest cities because that‘s where the evil ones or the bad guys or al Qaeda, whatever you want to call them, would like to target most?  Is it smart?

MILLER:  Well, I think it is smart to concentrate on your most populous areas and the areas that al Qaeda has tried to strike on several occasions.  I mean, New York has been hit twice.  LA has been a target at least once.  They go in for very big, very splashy, dramatic events.  And this is perfect.  New York and LA are perfect for them.

The police chiefs and the commissioners or these cities that, and that‘s why they are pouring resources into this effort, above and beyond what the FBI is spending.

And my own view, Chris, after really researching this for several weeks and spending time with both the LAPD and the NYPD was that local law enforcement—these are 700,000 people across the nation—are eager to be recruited in this war against terror.  All they need is training and some resources to fight terrorism with.  Many of them find themselves on the periphery, and that‘s unfortunate.

MATTHEWS:  Is it a winning battle?  Can we protect ourselves, in the main, against the worst of the mayhem?  In other words, can we defeat terrorism to the extent we can live with it?

MILLER:  Look, terrorists have to be lucky only once to succeed.  The defenders have to be lucky and good all the time.  But I think a big part of this equation is how Americans would react if there was another 9/11.  I mean, if we‘re the British and we try to adopt a stiff upper lip and say, as the Israelis and the British and people in Indonesia have, We‘re going to go on, we‘re not going to let this disrupt us, we‘re not going to start to do away with our own civil liberties and protections in order to make ourselves safer, I think we‘re going to be fine.  I mean, I have great confidence in this country and its ability to withstand many challenges.  This is just one of them.

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s sort of where my head‘s at.  And I was just wondering—you know, we live in dangerous times.  You get up in an airplane, it‘s always a little bit dangerous.  You ride on the highway, a Route 95, at 70 or an 80, you‘re out there with people going 70 miles an hour, that‘s a danger we live with.

Let me ask you about this question.  What‘s your biggest fear, that we‘ll shut down on all East-West communication?  You‘ve spent a lot of your life in the Middle East.  It seems to me one of the things that the bad guys want to do is force the people in Egypt and Saudi and Jordan and even Syria, all those secular countries, to take sides with the bad guys.  And the way they can help—we can help them do that is cut off student exchanges, cut off scholarships, cut off travel, cut off tourism, and then they‘ll be able to say, Hey, yes, these guys in the West don‘t like you, either.

MILLER:  That would be shooting ourselves in the foot.  I mean, I really think that there is a civil war going on within Islam itself and Muslims are being asked to decide between an extremist version of the Koran and the version that most Muslims all over the world still believe in.  They don‘t want to be targets of or perpetuators of violence.

And there is—you know, we‘re at the periphery of their struggle, but one thing we can do to hurt ourselves is to cut them off from us and from our ideas and from letting them see what democracy looks like and how it works in action.  And people who say we just ought to shut down and close in on ourselves, I think that‘s counterproductive.

MATTHEWS:  Judy, I believe in you.  You‘re great.  And by the way, I

didn‘t ask you about Scooter Libby because—because the president didn‘t

let‘s make it clear what happened here.  If he had pardoned the guy, we could talk because there‘d be no further legal action against him.  But because he‘s now floating around there in limbo, as the guy with clemency commutation but still appealing his case, you can‘t talk about the case.

MILLER:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  I completely understand that.  I sympathize with you.

MILLER:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  And I sometimes even sympathize with Scooter Libby.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Judy Miller.

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER:  Thank you, Chris Matthews.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

The Edwards campaign has a new TV ad in New Hampshire right now featuring, for the first time on our stage, not John Edwards, but his incredibly gutsy wife, Elizabeth.

And Hillary Clinton sends a video to Iowa voters about her plan for Iraq.  We will see if we believe that one.  NBC‘s Chuck Todd will break it all down on Vide08.  That‘s how we do it here.  We show  you the pictures.

And, later, Elizabeth Edwards says John is a better advocate for women.  He‘s a better woman president than Hillary?  Well, you know what I mean.

That‘s HARDBALL.  And that‘s our debate tonight, only on HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

It‘s time for Vide08, our daily look at the hottest political ads and video of the day.

Chuck Todd is NBC‘s political director. 

Let‘s take a look at the clip of Hillary Clinton talking to Iowans.  It‘s from a DVD her campaign is mailing to voters in that very important first caucus state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CLINTON CAMPAIGN AD)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hello. 

How are you all? 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Really chirpy today.

CLINTON:  Hey, that is good. 

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON:  I thought I would be a little, you know, cheerful and colorful this morning.

Well, I really appreciate your coming together to visit with me, and particularly on the very difficult issue that I hear from Iowans about everywhere I go.  And that is Iraq. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  Absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON:  I think it is fair to say that the way that this administration has conducted this war has been wrong from the start.  In fact, I think it is accurate to say that the president misled everybody. 

And, for the life of me, I don‘t understand why, if he was so intent upon waging that war, he wasn‘t better prepared for what was going to happen.  We are trying now in the Congress to persuade or convince or require the president to begin to extricate us from Iraq. 

He has not shown any indication that he is willing to do that yet.  And I have said consistently that, if he does not end the war in Iraq before he leaves office, when I am president, I will. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Chuck, is the same person who voted to authorize the war in Iraq?  I am confused. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  It is.  But you know what? 

This works, because she did a good job.  

Look, I watched the whole thing.  I think it is terrific.  I think, in fact, I would not be surprised if you are going to see a lot of these very rich campaigns spend three-, four-minute—buy four minutes, five minutes of airtime to air things like this.  I think this is where she is very strong, in formats like this. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the substance.

TODD:  That‘s fine.

MATTHEWS:  A couple things.  I know she is very charming.  And it works with me sometimes.  But let me ask you this question.

She is not talking about whether it was a good idea to go to Iraq or not, because that reminds everybody...

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... she voted to authorize it. 

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s talking about the management of the war, like she is an efficiency expert from McKinsey & Company, a war consultant. 

Presidents are supposed to make big decisions and have big ideas.  Did she think it was a good, big idea to go to war with Iraq or not?  It sounds like she still thinks it was a good, big idea to go to war, because she is here arguing about the management of the war. 

TODD:  Right.  I think she...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, she‘s not a Maytag man.  She‘s not supposed to come back and fix things.  She is supposed to be smart.  Is she coming across as a war critic here or simply as a management expert?

TODD:  Well, actually, I would argue that, in Iowa, I think in what—how this is going to work and how she can pull this off is by making herself a management expert, because I don‘t think she is going to win some sort of big-idea contest with Obama or Edwards, but I think it is the competency thing...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TODD:  ... and experience that I think that she‘s trying to have come across in here.

You know, sprayed throughout this DVD, Chris, is generals and a couple of soldiers and a couple veterans.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  

TODD:  Joe Wilson, by the way, is featured prominently in it, too, which is all about talking about how...

MATTHEWS:  To what effect?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why is Joe in there?

TODD:  Well, I think he‘s in there to make sure the anti-war folks—any of them that have followed the debate closely, Joe Wilson is a familiar name to the anti-war crowd.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And he‘s also part of her campaign now.

Let me ask you, do you think it answers the question?  The person who brought us Iraq, the people that voted for the Iraq resolution, will they bring us Iran?  Does it help us believe that they will be any more hesitant about going to war with Iran than they were with Iraq? 

TODD:  Well, I think it—look, I think it does position her as somebody who looks a little more anti-war, even though you‘re very right.  If you parse her words, she is very careful about what she says.  She does not sit here and try to be re-debate whether we should have gone...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TODD:  ... into Iraq and re-debate whether we should—you know, she has a line in there at one point.  She says, well—somebody says, well, don‘t we need somebody who‘s going to make us—like us again around the world? 

And she goes, well, it‘s not important that everybody likes us, but it is important to make sure that not everybody hates us.  So, you know, you almost...

MATTHEWS:  That is directly from a Nixon speech, by the way, in ‘68. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  No, it is.  It‘s directly from a Nixon speech, that exact phraseology.

TODD:  Well, one would argue the ‘68 campaign might be—might be one that they‘re modeling.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think she may end up winning the way Nixon did, in the worst way.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you.

TODD:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  Chuck Todd.

And, remember, HARDBALL gives you the chance to play campaign media strategist.  This is a little novelty, but it‘s a chance way show how this new game of politics is working.  And this part of it is a game. 

Make an ad about a presidential candidate or cause and upload it on HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.  We are going to pick the winners and play them right here on HARDBALL.

Our all-star panel includes Donny Deutsch, who really knows the ad game, Bob Shrum, who has had a somewhat difficult record in selling candidates, and Taryn Southern, who is the Hott4Hill girl.  And they will judge the finals.   

Take a look at this, by the way, an ad submitted by Barry Jackson (ph) of Paterson, New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Leadership, faith and loyalty, the essentials needed (INAUDIBLE) the country.  Vote for Barack Obama. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Works for me. 

So, keep your ads coming. 

Up next: tonight‘s HARDBALL debate.  It‘s going to be a hot one.  Is Elizabeth Edwards right?  Is her husband a better advocate for women than Hillary Clinton is?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Brian Shactman with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

And after the Dow flirted with 14000 yesterday, stocks closed lower today.  The Dow dropped 53 points.  The S&P 500 fell three, and the Nasdaq lost almost 13 points.  Investors reacted uneasily to comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.  He told Congress economic growth for the year will be low—slower than expected because of the housing slump.  He also said inflation remains a major concern—stocks also hurt by news that two Bear Stearns hedge funds essentially worthless, wiped out by bad bets on subprime mortgages. 

After the closing bell, IBM reported quarterly profit rose 12 percent and earning beat analyst estimates.  IBM shares are higher in after-hours trading—eBay also reporting quarterly profit jumped 50 percent, earnings also beating estimates.  And eBay shares, like IBM, also higher in after-hours trading.

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this should be interesting. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

On Tuesday, Salon.com quoted Elizabeth Edwards saying that Hillary Clinton is—quote—“just not as vocal a woman‘s advocate as I want to see.  John is.”

At a campaign event last night in Iowa, “The Des Moines Register” reports that Mrs. Edwards said—quote—“Maybe Hillary‘s staying away from some of those issues described as female issues.”

Is Elizabeth Edwards right?  Is John Edwards a better advocate for women than Hillary Clinton?

The campaigns have provided two surrogates to address this issue on our behalf—on their behalves.  Kate Michelman‘s an Edwards adviser who was with Mrs. Edwards at last night‘s rally.

There she is, Kate.  Hi, Kate.

KATE MICHELMAN, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER:  Hi.

MATTHEWS:  She‘s also the former president, as everyone knows, of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

And U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a pal of this show, is national chair of the Clinton campaign.

Well, this is—I‘m going to try to do this as well as I can.  So, here‘s how I start.

Kate Michelman, why can‘t a woman be more like a man?  Why do we have to have a gender dispute here?

(CROSSTALK)

MICHELMAN:  We don‘t have to have a gender dispute.  What I think is very important is the very issue you raised, which is that women cannot be assumed as a monolithic vote.  Women are not going to vote just on gender.  They‘re going to vote for the candidate that they believe will—represents the issues, the—the values, the leadership, the competence that they expect from a candidate. 

And I believe that—that candidate is John Edwards.

So, I think, in fact and indeed, gender is not the only issue that‘s going to weigh heavily on the minds of women.  And in fact, as women begin to look at the candidates more closely after Labor Day and voters begin to focus, I think they will see that John Edwards has stood his entire life for those who have no voice. 

As you had him on earlier, Chris, he has—he is working on the issues that most affect women, poverty, health care, education, minimum wage, wage equality. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

MICHELMAN:  I mean, these are conditions that face women‘s lives and affect their lives.  And he‘s leading on those issues, and those are the issues that care—that women care tremendously about.

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, the numbers show women voting for Hillary.

Why?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA:  Well, I mean, if they‘re like me, when they heard about the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president and being president of the United States, my parents raised me to believe that, in America, little girls could grow up and be anything they wanted to be, even president of the United States.  I have two daughters.  And I want to make that a reality for them.

With Hillary Clinton, they see experience, they see work ethic, they see an agenda that has been pro-family and pro-children and pro-woman for her entire career.  And then they have the added bonus of making the dream of having a woman president for the first time in history a reality.  It‘s a no-brainer for women.  We have an opportunity that is historic in this country.

MATTHEWS:  You know—you know, Kate, I know you‘re a pro on issues affecting women.  You‘re one of the top pros in the country. 

But that argument I just heard there, I have been saying to myself, trying to figure this thing out, that, whatever happens in Iowa, whatever happens in Nevada, when you get to south Florida on January 29, those retired women down there—a lot of them from New York—have dreamed of their daughters growing up to be like Hillary Clinton, to be that professional, that educated, that smart.

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to get them to vote against the girl they wanted their daughters to be?  And maybe their daughter is like that, like Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz.  So maybe she is what her mother wanted her to be.  Probably is.

MICHELMAN:  Well, I hope so, too.

I have three daughters.  I have a granddaughter.  And I have worked all my life for women and families, as Hillary has.  And it is extraordinarily exciting and important that we finally have a woman running for president, a serious candidate.  And it is important.

But women have evolved over time.  We have been on a long journey to dignity, equality and political and social power.  And we‘re not going to use that—we‘re not going to—you know, it would be antithetical to everything that we have worked for to vote only because we have a woman running.  It‘s an important fact...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  But, Kate...

MICHELMAN:  ... it‘s an important factor.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  Chris, I have...

(CROSSTALK)

MICHELMAN:  Go ahead.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  I have enormous respect for you, Kate, and I have...

MICHELMAN:  And I you.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  ... fought side by side with you, and I‘m so—really, it‘s nice for me to be on HARDBALL with someone I agree with on—on virtually everything, for once.

But, on this issue, it is so incredibly important that we take this historic opportunity to elect the first woman, who can articulate the importance of equal pay, who can repudiate the decisions that the Supreme Court has been making recently...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  ... that have destroyed the opportunities for women.

Hillary Clinton will be able to do that uniquely, because she‘s been a leader and she has the experience and she‘s a woman.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, is Hillary holding back, laying back on health care, because of how badly it went back, because of Bill Kristol and other critics, back in ‘94?  Is she afraid to touch that issue again?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  Gosh, if she‘s laying back on health care, I would like to see it if she—see what happens when she really kicks into gear, because she has repeatedly said that her number-one priority when she becomes president of the United States will be to make health care universal. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  We have got to make sure that health care in this country is a right and not a privilege.

MICHELMAN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  And that is her number one priority.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Last word from Kate.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  She‘s repeatedly said that.

MICHELMAN:  Well, John Edwards is leading on all of these issues.  And I don‘t think—you know, I don‘t think that voters are going to be, you know, looking just at gender, as I said. 

They‘re going to be looking to the candidate who has stood firm all his life, who‘s not played politics with issues, who‘s always led on principle, and who has a health care plan that is universal, who is working to eliminate poverty, who has a plan to affect education, who has a plan to turn around minimum wage, which affects women. 

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  Chris, I don‘t either. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

MICHELMAN:  These are—these are issues of great importance and—to women.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  Chris, I don‘t think they will look at gender.  I don‘t think they will look at just gender, either.

MICHELMAN:  I don‘t. I don‘t.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  But it sure would be nice to have the experience of Hillary Clinton and the added bonus that she‘s a woman and make little girls‘ dreams in America possible for the first time in history.

MICHELMAN:  I think women—I think women most need someone they can trust and believe in to...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ:  And that‘s Hillary Rodham Clinton.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know, I like this debate.  I like this debate.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Kate Michelman, thank you. 

MICHELMAN:  Well, we will do it again.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a leader.

And, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, you‘re always welcome here.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I like this debate, very civilized. 

(LAUGHTER)

MICHELMAN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  I won‘t say ladylike...

MICHELMAN:  Thanks, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  ... because I might get in trouble, but I liked it. 

Anyway, thank you.  I mean it.  I think we need this debate. 

Up next, the HARDBALL round table on all of today‘s big political news.  What did the Senate‘s all night fight over Iraq really get done after all the fire works and the sleepiness?  Anyway, we‘re going to talk about that.  And why don‘t the Republicans break with the president?  There‘s something tough going on there.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  It‘s time now to dig into the hottest political headlines across the country.  Here to do it with us, “New York Magazine‘s John Heilemann, “Newsweek‘s” Susannah Meadows and the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley. 

First up, in a display of Senate theater Tuesday, Democrats stayed up late into the night to give speeches in protest to the war in Iraq.  Today the Senate took up a bill that would require the troops to come by spring of 2008, but it was pulled after failing to get the requisite 60 votes to end a filibuster. 

What game are the Democrats playing?  Are they hoping to win a few extra seats in 2008, or are they simply committed to ending this war?  And for all the Republicans who criticized the president, why won‘t they vote where their mouth is.  It‘s a hot question.  John Heilemann, you‘ve written big stories about John McCain on the front cover of your magazine. 

Let me ask you the tough question; is Bush—George Bush, the president—playing a game here with the American people?  And what I mean by that is that is he has suggested that if the surge does not work—and we will find that out in September—he will change policy.  Now we‘re being told by hawks like David Brooks in the “New York Times” that if it‘s not working, we do not have enough troops over there to win; he will send in more troops. 

In other words, if the surge does not work, it‘s not that he‘s coming home or bringing the troops home, we wants more troops.  Has he pulled a trick on the American people? 

JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK MAGAZINE”:  Well, I think if history is any judge—any guide to what the administration has done, I think the answer to that question is probably yes, Chris.  The duplicity throughout the way in which this war has been conducted, the way in which it was started and the way it has been played out over the last four years has been kind of extraordinary.  So I wouldn‘t be surprised—I won‘t actually think there is any chance that the president thinks there is going to be a substantial draw down of U.S. forces before the end of 2008. 

MATTHEWS:  Michael—let me go to Michael Crowley of the “New Republic.”  Same question to you and then I‘m going to get to Susannah.  I have studied this thing.  I‘ve watched the American people hang on tender hooks, OK, we‘ll see how this surge works; believing that there would be some kind of verdict coming back from the military and therefore from the president on the possible effectuality or non-effectuality of our war effort, assuming that if it did not work, this last college try, we would begin to pull out.  Now I am reading if it doesn‘t work, he will want more troops.  Is that your reading?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Well, Chris, we have to honor the men and women who died in the surge.  We can‘t cut and run and let them have sacrificed in vain.  Right?  I mean, that just seems to be the mantra you keep getting.  It‘s like a gambler in Vegas who can‘t walk away from table.  He‘s got to make his money back.

I don‘t mean to be glib about it, but you get the sense that he just feels like the more it fails the harder you have to try to make up for the failure.  At some point you kind of worry that there is a legacy thing going on there.  The guy just can‘t admit defeat and he does not want to give up and put his cards down on the table and say it is over.

So I think John is exactly right.  If we‘re going to judge from history, it seems like a totally plausible theory.  However, I think that the probability that Republicans at some point are going to come to him and say, we‘re not within you anymore; the gig is up, is pretty good.  I don‘t know how he can resist that.  You get into pretty scary territory if he does not listen to, you know, John Warner coming to the White House for a special session. 

MATTHEWS:  Susannah, as a reporter, the facts on the table are that the president has put to the American people this test period called the surge.  He has sold it.  Fred Kagan, the military expert, the hawk, has said this is worthwhile.  We‘re trying it.  Petraeus is executing it.  The American people are watching.  We are told to wait until September. 

But if the verdict is either fight with what we have or more forces, that will surprise the people I believe.  Isn‘t the premise out there that if it doesn‘t work, we try something else?   

SUSANNAH MEADOWS, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, you have already got these Republicans who are breaking from the president who are sort of backing this third way, which is redirect combat troops, make them focus on border security and training Iraqi troops and fighting terrorism.  But it is not clear to me how that draws down any number of troops.  It seems to me that we would have to keep the same amount of forces to get any of that done. 

MATTHEWS:  I was taken by—I respect him—David Brooks.  But when he quotes the president from a private meeting with, I guess, conservative columnists, where you have the president saying, in explaining his war policy, it‘s more of a theological perspective.  I do believe there is an almighty and I believe a gift of that almighty to all is freedom.  I will tell you that a principle that no one can convince me that doesn‘t exist.

Well, the problem with using theology in war planning is that not even Abraham Lincoln claimed to be on the right side of god.  Even he, fighting slavery and keeping the union together, was humble enough to admit.  you know, the trouble is that the people we have out there as our worst enemies in the world drove into the World Trade Center believing they were serving god‘s purposes. 

We have got to have a political solution, not a theological one. 

Anyway, up next, Elizabeth versus Hillary.  The Edwards campaign has been sending Elizabeth Edwards to the front lines of the campaign.  Let us put it this way, she is going to the front lines.  Let us take a look at this new ad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS:  You‘re not going to outsmart him.  He works harder than any human being that I know.  He always has.  It is unbelievably important that in our president we have someone who can stare the worst in the face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Most voters, Susannah, are women.  That shocks men, but it‘s the truth.  It‘s an objective, mathematical, arithmetic reality, yet our politics is guys with cigar still fighting with each other about what is good for the country.  Is this a sea change, where women are coming out front, even the spouse of a candidate, fighting the other candidate? 

MEADOWS:  Yes, well, I think this year or this election, the big untapped voting bloc is this group of unmarried women.  There are more of them than ever.  They have never voted in numbers as great as married women.  And so the campaigns are going after them, and that is what we are seeing here.  Elizabeth Edwards is trying to dig into Hillary‘s hold on them. 

MATTHEWS:  They‘re called women with needs.

MEADOWS:  Or the anxious single woman, which is even worse. 

MATTHEWS:  Women with needs is to me much more well founded, it means women—maybe they‘re single women.  Maybe they had a difficult marriage, whatever.  They need help with child care? 

MEADOWS:  Right, they tend to be middle-class, blue collar.  They‘re divorced or they have never been married and they want a better life. 

MATTHEWS:  And minimum-wage is a big issue with them, because they are close enough to minimum-wage, if they are not on it, to benefit from a hike? 

MEADOWS:  Yes, but it‘s an up hill battle for the Edwards, because as your guests were saying earlier, a lot of women turn out to see Hillary on the campaign trail.  And I hear from them that they are there just because they want to see the first woman president. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the feeling at the “New Republic,” Michael?  Are the women journalists there pro-Hillary or are they mixed between Obama and Edwards?  I know there are no Republicans there, so I‘m just trying to figure this out. 

CROWLEY:  Chris, I have to tell you my personal experience.  I constantly encounter women who say they can‘t stand Hillary.  So I am always surprised by these polls showing how well she does. 

MATTHEWS:  Me too.  Exactly my perception.  Do you believe these women, do you think they just have this struggle about the role of women in their lives as they‘ve grown up?  Why do they all say the same thing?  And I mean, everybody seem to say, you know, I really do not like Hillary.  It‘s usually a liberal woman that says that to you and you go, are you for real? 

CROWLEY:  I can‘t get them to put their finger on it.  That‘s the thing is that they are kind of vague and they just say, it is just this feeling I have.  But a funny thing, Chris, is I saw Hillary in Manchester, New Hampshire on Friday evening.  She is not hiding from the fact that she is a woman.  She actually had this sound bite line that I was sort of surprised by.  It was so out front. 

She said, when I am elected president, I am going to put out an all points bulletin for all the women to get your brooms and brushes and vacuum cleaners and we‘re going to clean up Washington in 2009, because it takes a woman to clean the place up.  I thought it was kind of an amazing quote for her to say, playing to, you know, gender stereotypes. 

By the way, look at the front page article in the “Washington Post” a few weeks ago about her advisers.  I mean, that was a huge team of powerful women she‘s surrounded by.  I just don‘t think she‘s that vulnerable on this. 

MATTHEWS:  John, are you getting the same result when you report these stories?  You talk to a lot of people on and off the record.  Do you think there is a women‘s problem with Hillary that does not show up in the polling? 

HEILEMANN:  Yes, I think it‘s mainly anecdotal.  You do get that from a lot of people.  This is not just a women‘s problem.  There are some large proportion of the electorate that finds Hillary—they are just not going to vote for her.  That has shown up in the polling all along. 

MATTHEWS:  What is it?  Fingernails on the blackboard?  What is it?  Is it this sort of palpable problem with her that does not have words for it?  What is it?

HEILEMANN:  Yes, I think it‘s that sense that, fairly or not—there are people who have this perception of her being too calculating and being too ambitious and all this stuff that we kind of unfairly hold against calculating ambitious women, that we don‘t hold against calculating and ambitious men. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said and carefully put in our politically correct age, John.  We‘ll be right back with out panel.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  A reminder, by the way, I‘m going to be on “The Tonight Show” tonight with Jay Leno.  You can watch Sandra Bullock, but then you have to watch me afterwards.  It‘s going to be great tonight, great double header I hope. 

We‘re back with “New York Magazine‘s” John Heilemann, “Newsweek‘s” Susannah Meadows and the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley.  Here comes the hot corner.  Hillary‘s former opponents.  “Newsweek‘s” Susannah Meadows, who‘s on with us now here in our panel tonight, has a new piece out that takes a look at how the seemingly inevitable Democratic nominee right now can be beaten, even though Hillary hasn‘t lost an election since she ran for student council president. 

Susannah talked to those who have run against Hillary in the past and she has gotten her advice on how to do it.  Susannah, at best, how do you beat Hillary?  What‘s your best plans?

MEADOWS:  I think the best piece of advice came from Mike Long, the head of the New York Conservative Party.  What he said was look, all you do is you make a very simple ad.  You string together footage of Hillary, showing her on, as he said, all four sides of the Iraq issue.  And he said, at the very beginning, she was trying to outdo Bush, and then now you hear her saying this is George W. Bush‘s war.

And so, he said—I think for Democrats, the prospect of their candidate being tagged a flip-flopper again is just a chilling proposition. 

MATTHEWS:  John Heilemann, it seems to me, as a voter, I am going to be looking at the candidate who are smarter than have been in terms of dealing with the Middle East, not the kind of person who would take the entire American army into Arabia, leaving us with no good way out.  That‘s where we are at now.  I don‘t hold this against anybody.  It was sort of a group decision, it seemed at the time, including Hillary.

But how can Hillary claim to be wise when she was part of that decision? 

HEILEMANN:  I think it‘s very hard for her.  I think, more to the point, it‘s very hard for her to represent what is the fundamental thing that people seem to want in this election, which is change.  She seems to be—this is something she has stuck with—both the strength of her biography and the weakness of her biography is that she has been around the scene for so long. 

If I think about the ways in which at least Democrats have the best chance of beating her, it seems to me as to framer her as a relic of the past and them as agents of change going forward.   

MATTHEWS:  Michael, do we want a spin off as our next president?  Do you know how these sitcoms will go on for years and then somebody—Kelsey Grammer or somebody shows up—or someone‘s Taxi and they end up having a show of their own.  Hillary was on the Bill Clinton show for eight years and now she wants a show of her own.  Is that too much of a retro move by America? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, you know how all those people from Seinfeld did when they went out on their own.  I wish her better luck than Kramer.  Yes, I think that‘s a big problem.  I think maybe that is one of these intangible reasons people say, gosh, you know, I talk to women and they‘re not excited about her, despite the fact that they want to vote for a woman.  They don‘t want to go back to the past. 

But I think I heard Bill with a good line recently, saying everybody says we are yesterday‘s news and we‘re old news.  He said, yesterday was pretty good.  I think that‘s a pretty good line.

MATTHEWS:  Would anybody be saying, if she hadn‘t run, gee, I wish Hillary had run for president?  I mean, that‘s my standard question about all these guys that are running this year, these second raters, these middle weights at best.  Would anybody be saying I wish Mitt Romney had ran, or I wish—I guess the only one would be Rudy. 

Anyway, thanks John Heilemann, who writes about all these big guys in “New York Magazines,” Susannah Meadows at “Newsweek” and Michael Crowley at my favorite new magazine “The New Republic.”  I‘m back with you guys after your neo-con splurge. 

Anyway, finally tonight, a sad story; General Wayne Downing, a valuable member of our NBC family—he‘s been on this program so many times—passed away at his home in Peoria, Illinois the other day, a highly decorated combat soldier.  He served his country for years.  Thirty four years he served us in uniform.  We thank him.  How can we thank him now, but we should have for his service to his country.  That‘s Wayne Downing.  There he is.  A man who knew.

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

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