updated 10/2/2007 2:11:33 PM ET 2007-10-02T18:11:33

Guests: Mike Allen, Drew Westen, Peter King, Tony Perkins, Jill Zuckman, Howard Fineman, Chris Cillizza

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Frontrunners under fire.  A group of Christian conservatives threaten to run a third party candidate if pro-choice Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination.  And a pair of “New York Times” columnists questions the electability of the so-called “inevitable” candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  We‘re celebrating, by the way, the 10th anniversary of HARDBALL all this week.  And I was on “The View” today, talking about “Life‘s a Campaign.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, “THE VIEW”:  What‘s the biggest thing in the election this year?  What‘s going to be the biggest issue?

MATTHEWS:  Gender, a woman president.  Big question mark.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And our big story tonight focuses tightly on that very question.  Has Hillary Clinton peaked too soon?  Last week, Clinton was the A-list newsmaker on the Sunday political talk shows.  Then she dominated at the Democratic debate at Dartmouth College.  But now the frontrunner is under new pressure.  Is the political landscape shifting under Hillary?  A new “Newsweek” poll shows Barack Obama now beating Hillary in Iowa among likely caucus attenders.  Is the Clinton campaign strategy of branding Hillary as inevitable backfiring?  More on this in a moment.

In our second big story tonight: Is the Republican right coming apart?  We‘re going to talk to former presidential candidate and former Republican Pat Buchanan.  And a group of Christian conservatives are making noise about bringing a third-party candidate to challenge Rudy Giuliani if he gets the Republican nomination.  Could some pro-life conservatives bring down the party the way Ralph Nader did to the Democrats in 2000?  That‘s our HARDBALL debate tonight.

And we begin with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster and this report on the shifting coverage of the Clinton campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Three months before the first votes are cast, there is now a growing distaste for the idea of a Clinton coronation.  This weekend, the first shot came on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.”

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good evening, my fellow Americans.  A little more than a year from now, you, the American people, will go to the polls and elect me president of the United States.

SHUSTER:  Late night punchlines were followed by real Sunday morning punches from the Democratic opponents.  Bill Richardson hammered Clinton for last week‘s Senate vote giving President Bush more authority to punish Iranian military forces.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I regret Senator Clinton voted for this resolution labeling the Revolutionary Guard terrorists.  This was provocative.  It didn‘t need to happen.

SHUSTER:  Anti-war Democrats have been increasingly vocal about their fears that the measure gives the Bush administration pretext to gin up a war.

MIKE GRAVEL (D-AK), FORMER SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it.  You‘re not going to get another shot at this.

SHUSTER:  And now the latest poll shows that in Iowa, the first major test of the 2008 nomination battle, Clinton is locked in a tight three-way race with Barack Obama and John Edwards.  And among likely caucus goers, “Newsweek” found that Obama has 28 percent, Clinton 24 percent and Edwards 22.

Nationally, Clinton is still far ahead of the rest of the field.  She received mostly positive press two weeks ago when she unveiled her health care plan.  She appeared on all five Sunday talk shows one week ago and emerged without a scratch.  And her political skills in speeches and debates have been impressive.

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR:  William Jefferson Clinton last year.  So he disagrees with you.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, he‘s not standing here right now.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

RUSSERT:  So there is a disagreement?

CLINTON:  Well, I‘ll talk to him later.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SHUSTER:  Still the praise for Clinton‘s quick wit has now been replaced by some tough coverage of her in “The New York Times.”  On Sunday, the paper focused on her laugh.  And in the same “New York Times” issue, on the op-ed pages, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, quote, “Without nepotism, Hillary would be running for the president of Vassar.”

And columnist Frank Rich, addressing the inevitability issue, wondered aloud whether Clinton is too cautious and contrived.  In a piece, titled “Is Hillary Clinton the new old Al Gore,” Rich wrote, quote, “So far, her post-first lady record suggests a follower, rather than a leader.  She still can‘t offer a credible explanation why she gave President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq.  That‘s because her votes had more to do with hedging her political bets than with principle.”

The Clinton team chalks up the coverage to the natural media cycles of the campaign, and Clinton staffers argue that issues like health care count more with voters than much of the latest Beltway criticism.

(on camera):  Still, likability is a major issue for Hillary Clinton‘s candidacy because while it‘s important to have a well-organized and well-financed campaign, inevitability requires far more.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster.  I‘m up here in New York, by the way.

Mike Allen is the chief political correspondent for “The Politico,” and Drew Westen is the author of “The Political Brain.”  Let me go to Mike Allen.  I got to tell you, I love Frank Rich, and I love him especially when he points out what seems to me to be the obvious, that Hillary Clinton is hedging, that she wants to have the hawks in the Democratic Party, the hawks in the general election, and the anti-war people in the Democratic Party all to like her, and it‘s starting to show, this hedging of her bets.

MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO.COM:  Chris, congratulations on the book, “Life‘s a Campaign”...

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.

ALLEN:  ... the ultimate must-read, if you care about politics.  And Chris, what you‘re seeing here is Senator Clinton has run back the touchdown.  She‘s on the three-yard line, and the press, the punditry, the Frank Riches of the world, are saying “Wait a minute.  This was supposed to be hard.  This was supposed to be a cliff-hanger?  What about likability?  What about electability?  What  about nepotism?”

So now you have this shift in coverage that David Shuster did that great package about, and you have this incredible shellacking going on, people talking about the laugh, people writing about the fact that she can‘t pick between the Yankees and White Sox and people saying that she‘s evasive in her questions.  David Broder, usually gentle, talked about her dodginess in the debate the other night.

MATTHEWS:  I love it!  You know, I keep—my wife says, Stop doing this, but it does remind me, Drew Westen, of the old comic book hero, if you will, Archie Andrews, who couldn‘t decide between Betty and Veronica, the blonde and the brunette, and he played the pyramid (ph).  And Hillary can‘t seem to decide, is she a hawk who wants to take on Iran, who supports the latest resolution from the neo-conservatives, is she the hawk who wants to keep troops in Iraq forever, or is she the one who wants to bring our boys home and end this war?  She says both things all the time.  What is she?  Can you read her?

DREW WESTEN, AUTHOR, “THE POLITICAL BRAIN”:  Well, I think it‘s hard to tell, and I think that‘s the biggest problem for the candidacy, you know, is that people want a candidate who shares their convictions, but they second most wanted a candidate who has convictions.  And I think people get worried when they see her flip-flop from one side to the other on issues like that.

MATTHEWS:  You said the other night, when we were talking at dinner, you said that people don‘t mind you taking any position except the fetal position.  Is that what Hillary‘s doing?  I don‘t know what it is.  It‘s like the quarterback who falls down on the ball, rather than trying to advance it, because he knows he‘s winning the game.  That‘s what she seems to be doing.  Every time there‘s a play, she falls down on the ball so she won‘t, you know, fumble.

WESTEN:  Well, there‘s—you know, there‘s certainly good reason you can see why somebody would do that in her position.  She‘s afraid of getting—of stumbling in some way.  But you‘re absolutely right...

MATTHEWS:  Did any great leader ever do that?

WESTEN:  You can‘t win playing defense.  Have to play offense.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  You know, we‘re looking for the lift of a driving (ph) dream in this country.  We feel stuck in the mud or in the sand, I should say, in Iraq.  We‘re not losing.  We‘re not winning.  We‘re somewhere in the middle.

Let me go to you, Mike.  I think the country wants to move the ball.  They don‘t want somebody to keep control of the ball, like the Clintons do, hold the ball for the rest of their lives when what people want is it to move forward.  They want to get out of Iraq.  They want to avoid going into Iran.  They want to have the economy better off and more secure.  And here‘s a woman who‘s playing it safe and hedging her bets.

ALLEN:  Well, you‘re right.  But if you have a lead, you don‘t want to lose it, but...

MATTHEWS:  Well, she doesn‘t want to lose it.  But it‘s not—OK, that‘s playing for her, it‘s not playing for us.

ALLEN:  Right.  And that‘s why you see Senator Obama today reporting an unbelievable $19 million collection of funds in the last quarter.  Even Republicans, who invented the huge cashboxes, are amazed at that.  And that shows that there‘s still a significant part of the Democratic electorate that has questions about Senator Clinton‘s electability.  They want a winner.  And the press has started to say that this game was over, and certainly, not everyone is willing to concede that right now.

Especially, I think you have Republicans helping Senator Obama by saying, We would love to run against her.  And that seems to be the case.  If you look at where the country is right now, if you look at “right track, wrong track” numbers, it‘s hard to believe that Senator Clinton, who looks like Washington, is Washington, is the answer to that question.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the cackle, Drew?

WESTEN:  Well, I think it—in some ways, it‘s a little like the Dean “scream.”  I think it can get blown out of proportion.  It does sound like a defensive laugh.  It sounded like that in the debate when she was—when Mike Gravel took her to task for that Iran vote.  But boy, I‘ll tell you, I wouldn‘t want my every move scrutinized the same way she‘s getting it scrutinized now.

ALLEN:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.  You go ahead.  Go ahead, Mike.

ALLEN:  Yes, Chris, first of all, “cackle” is a very sexist term. 

It‘s hard to believe that you would talk about...

MATTHEWS:  No, I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Look, let me tell you something.  I got a cackle.  I have a hoot.  Norah O‘Donnell, my colleague here, has a cackle.  I love cackles, OK?

ALLEN:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t consider it sexist.  Drop that line...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to get in trouble for “cackle” being female-

specific.  What do I have, a hoot?  What is that thing I do they do on

“Saturday Night Live” when they make fun of me, a hoot?  You know, I can‘t

I can‘t pretend to do it.  I just do it when I hear something

ridiculous.  But go ahead, Mike.

ALLEN:  I promise not to laugh, Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No go ahead.  Go ahead.  Keep taking your shots.

ALLEN:  But it is a guffaw, and it has been very effective.  It‘s a way for the senator to deflect questions that either are tough or sound tough or are rude...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

ALLEN:  ... or could be trouble, and not only does she take the spotlight off herself, but it serves to impugn the questioner.  So it‘s worked very well.

MATTHEWS:  Impugn the questioner?  I love that!  I love that because somebody said that the other day.  Patrick Healy (ph) of “The New York Times” yesterday said that what Hillary‘s really doing when she‘s going up against somebody like Chris Wallace—this is her perspective—is saying, OK, you‘re from Fox.  OK, you took my husband into a little pistol fight a couple weeks ago, and you‘re asking me if I‘m hyper-partisan?  Give me a break.  Her way of saying, Give me a break, to Chris Wallace is to cackle.  Do you buy that, Mike?

ALLEN:  Well, and the other thing that that article pointed out is it looks contrived because she laughs in surprise at questions that she‘s heard before...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

ALLEN:  ... and taken seriously.  And it‘s the artifice, the contrived nature...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

ALLEN:  ... of the Clintons...

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m hoping...

ALLEN:  ... that these pundits still have under their craw from years ago.

MATTHEWS:  I know, but Drew, I‘m hoping it‘s real because I really liked the cackle when she did it to Chris and—because I love to be rivals with everybody.  But I‘ve also heard that she cackled when she was talking to Bob Schieffer, which made no sense.  I can‘t figure her out.  Is the cackle killing her?  You think it‘s a distraction.  What is it?

WESTEN:  Well, it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll know if she stops cackling because then we‘ll know it was a tactic.

WESTEN:  Well, but Chris, also...

MATTHEWS:  If she keeps cackling, we‘ll keep talking about it.  So I don‘t think she can win this baby!  I don‘t know what to say.

WESTEN:  Well, you know, what it indicates defensiveness is when she runs into trouble.  I thought when—the cackle in response to Mike Gravel‘s comment—I thought Gravel was actually raising a really interesting...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.

WESTEN:  ... point, and it was right on the mark, and that...

MATTHEWS:  Hey, I was with him on that one, by the way.

WESTEN:  I‘m sorry?  That sounded like—that sounded more like kind of defensive laughter there than it did...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

WESTEN:  ... an attempt to change the subject.

ALLEN:  But Chris—Chris, the reason the guffaw is fine is it‘s been part—until now, I think she was misserved by some satellite delays and some other problems with those last Sunday interviews.  But until now, it works find.  It‘s been the softening of her image.  I‘ve watched on your show clips of her four, eight, twelve years ago.  It was a very different Senator Clinton...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.

ALLEN:  ... we‘re seeing now, a much more likable, personable person, and that‘s very important for her.

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Mike, Drew, I‘m warming up towards her, despite how hard I get on this show, because it‘s my job to play HARDBALL and be tough on all these guys.  But I do think she‘s so much more appealing as a political figure, after all these years of putting up with Bill.  Anyway, thank you very much—he‘s been her sparring partner, maybe, not her trainer.  Anyway, Mike Allen, thank you, Drew Westen.  Both of you please come back a lot.

Coming up: Some Christian conservatives, a group of them out in Salt Lake City, are plotting against Rudy Giuliani.  Is the Republican Party about to come out at the seams?  We‘re going to bring Pat Buchanan on, an old Republican, a former Republican, and erstwhile Republican, to talk about what happened to his party.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  What‘s happening to the Republican Party?  Some Christian conservatives are threatening to run a third party candidate if Rudy Giuliani, who supports abortion rights, wins the nomination of the Republican Party.  MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan joins us right now.  Pat, do you think that people like Tony Roberts—I‘m sorry, people like—let‘s do this over.  I‘m sorry.  (INAUDIBLE) Tony Perkins—let‘s go to Tony Perkins.  Do you think that people like that can cause the Republican Party to crack up?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think if they ran a third party candidate, I don‘t think he‘d get too many votes, but it would be damaging to Giuliani.  One for one, the votes would come out of Giuliani.  I think it would hurt the social conservative movement because it would it would not get any number of votes, Chris.  So I think it would be a real problem for the social conservatives to do it.  This is a shot across the bow at Rudy Giuliani.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s a real shot?  Do you mean it‘s a promise of things to come?  Will they—the people who held this meeting out in Salt Lake—you know these people, Richard Viguerie...

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  ... the people like that, James Dobson, and of course, Tony Perkins himself—I got him mixed up with Woody Allen‘s old partner, Tony Roberts. Do you think they‘ll actually go to the mattresses over this?

BUCHANAN:  No, I think what they‘re going to do is they‘re going to go all out against Rudy Giuliani, Chris, for this reason.  I mean, Rudy has not only been pro-abortion or pro-choice on it, he‘s pro-gun control, he‘s pro-affirmative action.  He marches in gay pride parades.  He made New York a sanctuary city.  And I think what this is, is this is saying, in effect, If you want our support, nominate someone else.

I‘ll tell you, the real effect of this could be to really push Mike Huckabee for the vice presidential nominee if either Romney or Rudy wins the nomination.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it sounds a little bit too melodious, Giuliani-Huckabee, as a bumper sticker, as something you can actually say with those two words together?  I mean, I‘m serious.  Don‘t you need a name, a sort of a WASP to stop (ph) after Giuliani, something like Giuliani-Thompson or Barbour (ph) or something like that?

BUCHANAN:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  You really think it could be Giuliani-Huckabee as the ticket?

BUCHANAN:  I think—well, I think Huckabee would be the first logical choice if Giuliani wins.  But Chris, I grew up with Lefkowitz (ph), Feeno (ph) and Gilhooly (ph) up in New York, as you recall, when I went to journalism school.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about another possibility.  Do you think Fred Thompson—do you think what they‘re really doing is hoping to help Fred Thompson?  He‘s a Southern Baptist, a guy from the Bible belt, the buckle of the Bible belt, Tennessee.  Do you think they‘re really saying, Think again, maybe Thompson‘s the guy, not Giuliani?

BUCHANAN:  Well, you took—Chris look at what Dobson did.  He hammered Thompson as hard as he hammered Giuliani, I was astonished, calling him a “weak sister.”

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, who does he want?

BUCHANAN:  Well, I—you know, and frankly, Mitt Romney has come around on these issues, but Mitt Romney of Massachusetts was not a conservative on life and he was not a conservative on the gay rights issues.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  So I think—you know, the odd thing is that John McCain, whom they can‘t stand, is more conservative on these issues than any of the other frontrunners.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I‘m sorry about that.  I thought we were taping that segment with Pat earlier.  Obviously, we‘re doing it live, and you saw my mistake.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I am prone to mistakes.  Thank you all for watching tonight.  Pat Buchanan, by the way.

Up next: Rudy Giuliani explains why he keeps interrupting speeches to take his wife‘s telephone calls.  And wouldn‘t you know it, it has to do with 9/11.

Plus, the greatest hits of 10 years of HARDBALL.  You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Time now for some more exciting politics. 

Did you catch Jon Stewart whacking Rudy for showing symptoms of what called 9/11 Tourette‘s syndrome, his inability to stop saying 9/11 whenever he‘s saying anything? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)

(LAUGHTER)

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Won‘t you 9/11 help us, 9/11? 

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  Because 9/11 is a terrible 9/11 to...

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART:  ... 9/11. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, catch Rudy doing Rudy on full blown Tourette‘s. 

Here‘s what he said when he was asked by the Christian Broadcasting

Network why he can‘t turn off his cell phone and he must take his wife‘s

telephone calls, even when he‘s addressing a group—quote—this is Rudy

“Quite honestly, since September 11, most of the time, when we get on a plane, we talk to each other and just reaffirm the fact that we love each other.”

Hmm.

Next:  Bill Clinton told Bloomberg News that, when he ran for president, he was much more experienced than Barack Obama is—quote—this is Bill Clinton—“I was the senior governor in America.  I had been head of any number of national organizations that were related to the major issue of that day, which is how to restore America‘s economic strength.” 

Well, if I were Obama, I would say the following:  So, you and Hillary were so experienced, that you thought it a good idea to authorize President Bush to take the American Army into Arabia, where it is now stuck?  You were experienced enough to think that invading a Third World Islamic country would not create a problem from which we would find it brutal to escape.  It‘s experience like which I, Barack Obama, not to repeat. 

That‘s what I would say if I were Barack Obama.

On the happy news front, Newt Gingrich isn‘t running for president.  He blames it on the campaign finance laws.  But did those laws change since last week, when he said he would run if people would pony up $30 million to pay for it? 

Finally, this is HARDBALL‘s 10th anniversary week.  We started in Bill Clinton‘s second term.  We covered the big impeachment battle of 1998, the long vote count of 2000, the events of September 11, 2001, the tragedy of Katrina, the rise of Hillary. 

But this 2008 race for president could be the big one in American political history. 

Let‘s keep it going, and let‘s enjoy what we have been through together. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Here we go. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

We‘re going to see some fireworks tonight. 

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  This is a big story. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Now the hardball starts. 

So, I‘m going to be a little tough with you right now. 

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You mean unlike usual?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I haven‘t read a...

(CROSSTALK)

WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER:  You‘re going to play hardball with me. 

MATTHEWS:  You read the question I... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t have a script.

CLARK:  Let me tell you something. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you something. 

CLARK:  Let me tell you something.

MATTHEWS:  No B.S., just HARDBALL. 

You got to love it. 

Did you ever advise the president to go to war? 

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  You ought to get a life, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  This is my life. 

(LAUGHTER)

SAM WATERSTON, ACTOR:  Happy anniversary, Chris Matthews. 

MATTHEWS:  And, when you first wake up and you first become Al Gore, at the break of dawn...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... does that Al Gore...

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... want to be president and wonders why he‘s not?

GORE:  I‘m actually Al Gore while I‘m asleep, also. 

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  This is so inspiring. 

If nominated, would you run?  If elected, would you serve?

ROBIN WILLIAMS, ACTOR:  Never.  I would never be nominated. 

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS:  It would like the same odds as Gary Coleman being in the

NBA. 

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS:  Just give me the ball.  Put me...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Do ever feel like, damn it, what an awful system that puts some guys at risk and other guys not? 

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know what I felt?  I feel like, what a bad war, that we didn‘t fight the war to win.  And the lessons from this generation ought to be not to commit troops to...

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS:  How about Hillary?  Can you take her down? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MIA FARROW, ACTRESS:  Happy 10th anniversary.  And I wish you at least 10 more. 

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to win the presidency? 

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST:  I‘m going to win it unlike the present occupant.  I‘m going to get the most votes. 

(LAUGHTER)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You guys are tough, but that‘s what America needs.  Happy 10th anniversary. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Osama bin Laden is in your country? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I hope he‘s not. 

MATTHEWS:  Where have you been for 35 years, sir? 

MIKE GRAVEL (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hiding under a rock. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re like a voodoo doll for conservatives. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Was that bombastic enough for you?

So, what do you do when you do me?

DARRELL HAMMOND, ACTOR:  I do you being uncomfortable, slowly being driven mad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

HAMMOND:  Great.  But, just on principle, I‘m still going to tell you to zip it. 

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMOND:  Stick around.  I‘m going to go outside and shout at cars. 

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMOND:  You‘re watching HARDBALL. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, everybody is not in love with—you‘re not the poster boy for the League of Women Voters. 

(CROSSTALK)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA:  All that matters to me is one thing.  And this is action.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARZENEGGER:  ... action, action, action. 

MATTHEWS:  You know who is on the line?  somebody to respond what you said about Edwards yesterday morning, Elizabeth Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line.  You‘re on the line with Ann Coulter. 

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS:  These young people behind you, you‘re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on—on hatefulness and ugliness. 

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “GODLESS: THE CHURCH OF LIBERALISM”:  I think we heard all we need to hear.  The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. 

No. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Leadership.  Hillary Clinton, she got it? 

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Not from my point of view.

MATTHEWS:  I have heard that you can do me. 

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR:  Not as well as Darrell Hammond, but I can do—all right, Ben Affleck, you‘re on the show.  What do you know?  You‘re an actor.  You‘re an idiot.  Tell us. 

(LAUGHTER)

AFFLECK:  I mean, what—what are you here for?  What have you got?  I‘m sitting with David Gergen.  I mean, this guy has worked for four presidents.  What do you know?  Why am I talking to you? 

Go ahead.  Answer. 

GIULIANI:  I‘m in trouble a lot.

(LAUGHTER)

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER:  Hi.  This is Michael Moore.  And it‘s the 10th anniversary of HARDBALL.  Thanks, Chris, for all these years of giving them hell. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  When you hear the word government, are you happy with it?

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR/DIRECTOR:  No.  No.  I have always been a small-government person.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Chris, I would have done what was necessary to know that you had exhausted the available remedies with the French and the Russians. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a tough question.  It takes a few words. 

SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA:  Get out of my face. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER:  If going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer. 

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER:  I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.  Now, that would be pretty good. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  I think old Zell was laughing when he said that. 

Anyway, it‘s been a great 10 years up. 

Up next—the good, bad, and the ugly, by the way.

Up next, the HARDBALL debate.  What is worse for Christian conservatives, a pro-choice Republican in the White House or Hillary Clinton there? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Wall Street begins the fourth quarter with a new record high.  Investors showing confidence that the worst of the credit crisis may be over, the Dow surging about 192 points, to close at 14087.  The S&P 500 also gaining, up 20 points, to 1547, and the Nasdaq following suit, soaring 40 points, closing near the 2741 level. 

Also fueling Wall Street, optimism today—oil prices, they fell more than a dollar today, closing at $80.24 a barrel in New York trading.

And then you have Wal-Mart shares up, after the nation‘s top retailer said it‘s cutting prices by as much as 50 percent on its top 12 holiday toys. 

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan today provided a gloomy outlook on the world economy—Greenspan telling Reuters that the world economy hinges on the U.S. home prices, which he says are likely to fall even more. 

From CNBC global headquarters, now back to HARDBALL.   

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

A small group of Christian conservatives meet in secret over the weekend to discuss the possibility of fielding a third-party presidential candidate if Rudy Giuliani gets the Republican nomination next year. 

Is there a division on the Republican right?  Will pro-lifers bring the GOP down?  That‘s the HARDBALL debate tonight. 

Tony Perkins was at that meeting in Salt Lake City.  He‘s the president of the Family Research Council.  And U.S. Congressman Peter King is a Republican from New York state.  He‘s a Giuliani supporter. 

So, let me ask you this right now, Tony Perkins.  Are you running for president? 

(LAUGHTER)

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  No, Chris.  Let‘s take that off the table.

MATTHEWS:  Are you available, the way that, say, Dick Cheney was available after he headed up a search committee for a V.P., and ended up the person he discovered? 

PERKINS:  No, not—not hardly. 

And let me make this very clear.  This was more of a proclamation of principle, rather than a declaration of intent.  There‘s no desire to run a third-party candidate.  But there‘s been a line drawn, which I think most pro-life conservatives are not willing to cross. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is the difference in the words you just used from the words I just used, saying you guys are threatening a third party?  What‘s the difference?

PERKINS:  Well, I mean, the intent here is not to create a third party. 

What—what we‘re saying is—like myself, you know, I came to the political process.  I ran for office, held office, because of the issue of life.  And—and the vast majority of social conservatives came to the Republican Party because of the life issue and the other social issues. 

If the party leaves those issues, I think it‘s unreasonable for them to demand that they stay in the party.  And I don‘t think they will.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman King, what do you make of this rump group meeting out there and talking about basically bolting? 

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: 

Well, I have, you know, great respect for Tony Perkins and what he‘s trying to do.  But I strongly disagree with him on this. 

I‘m pro-life myself.  I‘m supporting Rudy Giuliani for a number of reasons, one of which is that, on the life issue, the judges he would support to the Supreme Court, judges like Alito and Scalia and Roberts, they are strict constructionists.  And that is where the battle is going to be fought.  It‘s going to be fought in the courts. 

And, on federal funding of abortion, he supports the Hyde amendment, would not allow federal funding of abortion.  But, also, among Republican primary voters, those who are church-going, those who are self-professed evangelicals, Rudy Giuliani is getting the most votes of any of the Republican candidates among them. 

And I think it‘s because of leadership, because of terrorism, and because he is basically a neighborhood guy who does represent basic values.  People may disagree with certain aspects, but, on the overall issue, he‘s the one who can defeat Hillary Clinton.  And he‘s the one who, on issues such as life, will be able to advance, I believe, the pro-life cause by his appointments to the courts. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Tony?

PERKINS:  Well, I would—out of all due respect to the congressman, I think his record on judges is all not that strong. 

And, secondly, we just had a—a very strong administration.  And we would have had Harriet Miers on the court, had we not opposed that—the president‘s nomination there. 

The—the court is no longer the trump card.  There is no guarantee that a Republican is going to nominate strong conservatives for the court. 

There‘s more issues here.  And I think, when—when—and he‘s on record having stated that he supports taxpayer-funded abortion.  I think it‘s very difficult for those who have...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is he still on that?  Let me check that fact.  I want to always check facts on this show.

Congressman King, does Rudy Giuliani support, what, breaking with the Hyde amendment, or what?  I hadn‘t heard that before. 

KING:  No.  No, Mayor Giuliani has said and continues to say that he supports the Hyde amendment; he would not provide federal funding for abortions.  That was his...

PERKINS:  So, he changed his position?  He‘s changed his position on that?

KING:  Well, it‘s been consistent throughout the campaign, certainly for the last five or six months, that I‘m aware of.

PERKINS:  But, in the past, he‘s on record—he‘s on the record stating that he opposed previous—previous President Bush for opposing taxpayer-funded abortion. 

KING:  But the fact is, he‘s running for president now.  This is the position he‘s taking now.  This is his position. 

And you can expect him to keep it when he becomes president.  And I think, again, if we‘re trying to advance a conservative cause, and not just look for possible statements in the past that are different from that, I would say, let‘s go with someone who, certainly, in the conservative party, would consider to be a far-right conservative...

PERKINS:  Well...

KING:  ... and someone who, right now, among—among Republican primary voters, is doing extremely well among conservatives.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Perkins, do you think the Democrats are—do you want to play the role Ralph Nader played with the Democrats?  I mean, the Democrats think this guy ought to be sat on a desert island somewhere out in the Pacific, because helped—he played a role—in fact, his votes killed Al Gore‘s chances. 

Do you want to be there?  Do you want to be—part of the Al Gore party—or the Ralph Nader party of 2008, that destroys the Republican coalition? 

PERKINS:  No.

But I think, Chris, there comes a point where you draw a line on principle.  And I think this—this is the principal issue, the issue of life.  We are not going to sit down at a table and negotiate away the protection of human life and shake hands and get up and go forward.  That‘s not going to happen on my watch. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you don‘t take Rudy Giuliani at his word when he says he‘s going to pick strict constructionists?  You don‘t believe that?

PERKINS:  Look, we have had a number of Republican presidents who have stated they are going to do good on the courts, and we have a court that is dominated by Republican nominees. 

We have only tilted the court back to where it‘s balanced.  And that was because we fought this administration on one of its appointees.  So—and this president is pro-life, adamantly, one of the strongest pro-life presidents we have had.  To think that we have got a candidate, a—the first time we have had major Republican Party presidential candidate who is adamantly pro-abortion, I don‘t have much comfort—comfort in that, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean by—why do you guys—I‘m sorry.  This lingo drives me crazy.  Do you say Rudy Giuliani is pro-abortion?  Where do you get that language from?  Do you have it—do they teach it somewhere? 

PERKINS:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  He has never been pro-abortion.  Why do you say that? 

PERKINS:  Well, Chris, if you‘re not opposed to abortion, you‘re supportive of it.

MATTHEWS:  No.  If you‘re not for putting a woman in jail for it, you‘re not for...

PERKINS:  No, no, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

PERKINS:  Who has advocated that?  Nobody has...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... putting a doctor in jail for it, that makes you pro-abortion? 

PERKINS:  Nobody has advocated that. 

What we have said is that it shouldn‘t—we should allow the states to rule on this, that Roe vs. Wade overturned and took away from the states. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.  I don‘t want to get involved here. 

It seems to me, when people use lingo like pro-abortion when a guy simply believes you don‘t put people in jail for it, it is not the same thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

PERKINS:  You‘re pro-life or you‘re not pro-life, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman King, your witness. 

I don‘t know how to talk like that.  Go ahead.

KING:  Yes. 

No, if I could say something—and I‘m a person who is—is 100 percent pro-life.  And, you know, whether it is Governor Romney, or Senator Thompson, or Senator McCain, none of them has a perfect pro-life record.

The fact is, Mayor Giuliani has said, on the issues as it faces now on life, on Supreme Court judges, on the Hyde amendment, on partial-birth abortion, that he is with the pro-life side.  And, to me, you know, this is not a perfect world.  We live in a very imperfect world. 

But the fact is, you have to make very prudent decisions going forward.  And I think it would hurt the pro-life movement, I think it would advance the cause of pro-choice—or pro-abortion, if Mr. Perkins wants to say—if we run a third party, or if we block Giuliani, and we allow someone like Senator Clinton to become the president.  That‘s the moral decision you have to face. 

PERKINS:  Well, I...

KING:  Do you want Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton?  And who would advance the pro-life cause more?  I say, clearly, Rudy Giuliani. 

PERKINS:  Well, again, I respectfully have to disagree. 

And you did bring up a good point.  I think there are other candidates in the race that are pro-life, that have stated that they oppose Roe v.  Wade and that they are—they are have pro-life credentials.  And, so, there are other options on the table.

KING:  They also have pro-choice credentials.  Governor Romney has only become pro-life in the last year or so. 

PERKINS:  He has a very clearly stated position on it presently.  Senator Thompson has a pro-life record in the legislature.  McCain is questionable on the issue.  But there are other options that are out there.  That‘s why I‘m saying that this is not a declaration of intent to create a third party.  We‘re simply saying that there is a line which we won‘t cross.  That is we will not be supportive of a candidate who supports abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  What percentage do you think, Tony, of the movement do you think you represents in the meeting out there in Salt Lake? 

PERKINS:  Well, Chris, social conservatives are about a third of the Republican primary voters. 

MATTHEWS:  What percentage do you represent of that third? 

PERKINS:  I don‘t know what the percentages are.  I think that there will be some that vote for Mayor Giuliani.  But I‘m hard pressed to think he‘s going to get the majority.  There‘s no way. 

MATTHEWS:  Tony, I really appreciate you coming on tonight.  You‘re a big news maker tonight.  Your group out there and Dobson made a lot of news this weekend.  We very much appreciate you coming here on Monday to make news with us. 

Congressman Peter King you‘re always welcome, sir.  Up next, the HARDBALL round table.  Has Hillary peeked too early?  Is the Republican party coming apart over just what we‘ve been talking about, the pro-choice position of Rudy Giuliani?  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time now for the round table.  Chris Cillizza is with theWashingtonPost.com.  Jill Zuckman‘s with the “Chicago Tribune.”  And “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman is an MSNBC political analyst and an NBC analyst.

Let me ask you, Howard, this Hillary cackle that‘s been derided now, her laugh—I don‘t know.  The first time I heard her do it against Chris Wallace, I thought, you know, that‘s a pretty good response to somebody from that network who just did a pretty hard job on her husband a few weeks before that to attack her for—her husband for being partisan.  I thought that was a worthy sarcastic cackle at that point.  Then she has apparently done it again and again.  Is that her way of beating the argument that she is too tight, too rigid, too controlled, that she cackles? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, I don‘t usually hear somebody describe somebody‘s laugh as being against another person.  That would be an indication.  Yes, I think, though, it‘s entirely too symbolic of a certain self-satisfaction that she might have at this point.  When we in the business smell a sense of self-satisfaction or the notion that somebody has already assumed the position that they haven‘t been voted into, then the dynamics change.  I think that‘s what is happening around her now.  So that laugh may absorb of needle—a spike in the fever chart. 

MATTHEWS:  Jill, Patrick Healey of the “New York Times” says it has to do with sarcasm.  She can‘t express sarcasm, so her way of whipping it at a guy who is pretending to be nicer than he actually is to her is just join back with that big cackle of hers.  That‘s her put down, sarcastic cackle. 

JILL ZUCKMAN, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  I think it‘s a pause button.  I think it gives her an opportunity when someone is trying to take her on to slow things down, to have a chance to think about what she wants to say.  I also think that it allows people to see her as if she is having a good time, because if she never laughed, never smiled then we would say, oh, isn‘t she awful?  She‘s so serious.  What‘s to like about her. 

MATTHEWS:  Chris, what do you make of the cackle?  Because it‘s been coincidental with the charge she is acting too big shot for her britches, that she is too much the front runner in manner. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I think Jill is right in that it gives her a pause.  It‘s the old, oh, I never thought about that question before, as your mind races to try to find an answer.  I also think, look, this is somebody—From everything I have read and from the people I talk to who are close to her, say she is quite sarcastic, that her sense of humor is more sarcastic than slapstick or anything else.  When she makes jokes they tend to be sarcastic.  She‘s a smart enough politician to know that sarcasm only gets you so far.  It‘s not all that far.

People like their politicians earnest, I think.  They don‘t necessarily like them cynical and hardened and sarcastic.  And that‘s the image she has to fight, that hardened, cynical, too stern, can‘t laugh at herself.  So i think it probably serve as couple of purposes.  It givers her a pause, but also maybe softens her up a little bit.  Remember, this whole campaign—start it from the beginning, she is the most famous person no one knows.  That‘s what they said. 

They‘re trying to continue to roll these things out about her.  See, she is funny.  She does have a sense of humor.  She‘s not what you thought she was.  I think it‘s all of a piece.

ZUCKMAN:  And there‘s that age-old question, which presidential candidate would you like to sit down and have a beer with.  She has to come across as likable if she wants to be electable. 

FINEMAN:  That wasn‘t a likable laugh, at least on the Chris Wallace show.  That was an icy laugh saying, oh, you‘re just too funny. 

Listen, let me just say, I know her well enough to know that she has a terrific sense of humor, that she is very funny, that she does have a belly laugh.  I‘m just saying that the tactical one she showed on TV wasn‘t really it. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree completely.  Let me ask you, Howard, about the poll that just came out.  I know you have to defend it.  But you‘re not always tied to the apron strings of “Newsweek” on these questions. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, I am. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well let me try any way.  A “Newsweek” poll came out today that shows she had lost whatever lead she had in Iowa.  Barack Obama is ahead among likely caucus attenders.  Is this the end of the Hillary domination? 

FINEMAN:  What I find interesting about this, Chris—I was talking to Chuck Todd of NBC to make sure my facts were right on this.  Both Obama and Hillary have been up with ads on television and pretty heavy buys in Iowa for the last—Hillary has been on for the last month.  Obama has been on since September 19.  Our polls is I think the 25th through the 27th.  I think we‘re more interested, because we did a Romney cover this week, in the Republican side of the ledger, where Mitt Romney leads. 

MATTHEWS:  That will sell a lot of copies.  That was my sarcastic laugh. 

FINEMAN:  I know that one, too.  In your case, the one on the air and off the air is the same one.  The news we came upon was the Obama side, where he‘s been on the air, where he has been spending a lot of money, where he has tremendous organization, where people like me who went out to see thought Harkin Steak Fry thought he was kind of flat.  I remember talking to David Axelrod, who is the media guru for that campaign.  He said we haven‘t gone up on TV yet.  We haven‘t really introduced this guy.  Wait until we introduce the guy.

They introduced him for ten days with a very warm and direct ad called “Believe,” where he‘s walking toward the camera, talking about the end of divisiveness in politics.  We like divisiveness in politics, because that‘s what we do.  But the voters—I‘m not sure the voters do. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m looking for idealism.  Is it you, Jill?  Or is it you, Chris?  Who is the most idealistic of the two?  I need an idealistic answer? 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t get to vote on that one. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  Jill, I‘m going to try you.  No, I‘ll try Chris. 

CILLIZZA:  I‘m ready. 

MATTHEWS:  It seems to me that there‘s a chance that Obama could beat Hillary for the nomination.  That chance is Iowa.  If he wins out there, it will create an electricity across the country.  The first African-American, of course mixed back ground.  But the first African-American guy to really have a shot, that the voice of the future, no more Clinton versus—

Clinton and Bush rotating the job of the presidency like rotating old cans on a shelf in a supermarket, dusting off the cans because nobody is buying them. 

You know, they are not afraid of Edwards.  They are afraid of Obama.  Can Obama find a way to use advertising and to begin to engage in this campaign that he want he can win in Iowa? 

CILLIZZA:  Absolutely.  I think the way he wins—I‘ve written about this.  I think the way he wins is not by running a traditional campaign.  I think if the campaign plays out in the way that we‘ve seen past campaigns play out, she is probably the nominee.  I think the way he wins is by turning his candidacy into a movement.  I think you have already seen progress toward that, as Howard noted, the first ad running in Iowa is called “Believe.” 

This is not about Barack Obama, they‘re arguing.  This is about broader.  This is a new kind of politics.  I think that‘s how Barack Obama can beat Hillary Clinton.  Turn it from candidate to candidate to candidate versus movement.  Against a movement, even the Clinton machine I think would struggle to push that back, if, as you say, he wins Iowa. 

MATTHEWS:  I think if you put a face in the dictionary next to the word hope right now, it would be his face. 

We‘ll be right back with the round table.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Chris Cillizza, Jill Zuckman and Howard Fineman.  Let me start—let‘s take a look at the Republican side, starting with Howard again.  Howard, it seems to me that there‘s something percolating here on the right.  I guess we could have predicted it.  The people who are against abortion, who don‘t like anybody who is pro choice or would allow it legally—they really are against it, by the way.  They are not for throwing it back to the states.  Let‘s not kid ourselves, they want to get rid of it.  They want to outlaw it, put doctors in jail for doing it.  Or maybe even people in jail for doing it.

Let me ask you, what do you think of this?  Is there actually going to be a rebellion before the convention?  Will they wait and see who Rudy picks if he wins it, for his VP. 

FINEMAN:  I think it‘s too soon to tell.  I think, just for the sake of argument, let‘s say Rudy Giuliani is the nominee.  I‘m not convinced they are going to bolt to a third party.  I think they are going to want their seat at the table.  Don‘t forget, the last time the Republicans went through this was in 2000, the run up to 2000 campaign.  They had their candidate.  He was George W. Bush, after John Ashcroft dropped out.  George Bush literally had the laying on of hands, Chris, of all the Evangelicals. 

There was a meeting out in Texas where they came to literally put the hands on him.  That‘s not going to happen this time, because none of the front runners, non of the top candidates are their guy on abortion.  Ironically, of the top four, the one who is closest to their position on abortion, who has been the most consistent over the years is John McCain.  Yet, you heard Tony Perkins earlier saying McCain is questionable.  McCain isn‘t questionable on abortion.

He‘s questionable on whole lot of other thing, as far as the right is concerned, the religious right, but not on abortion. 

MATTHEWS:  Fund raising is their big concern, as I‘ve observed over the years.  The funny thins is the most spiritual among us seem to be most interested in the getting the hands on as much money as they can for party fund raising. 

FINEMAN:  Or the power. 

CILLIZZA:  Don‘t underestimate the unifying power of the religious right of Hillary Clinton.  Remember, the reality is, Rudy Giuliani is not running against generic Democrat in their mind.  He‘s running against Hillary Clinton.  There‘s no one that I think the religious right, social conservatives would less like to see as president of the United States than Hillary Clinton.  I think they may get behind Giuliani as the less are of two evils argument, frankly, if he winds up being the nominee. 

ZUCKMAN:  Chris, I actually thought this was more of anti-Giuliani effort.  They may not have settled on who their choice is for the Republican nominee, but suddenly we‘re just few months before we‘re really going to pick a nominee and this guy‘s still in there.  And he favors abortion rights.  He‘s completely anathema. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they might be against him because he‘s an Italian Catholic and that‘s what it‘s really all about, and they don‘t want to admit it? 

CILLIZZA:  As an Italian Catholic myself, I sure hope not.  I think it‘s—I don‘t know, but I think it probably much more—remember, this is not sort of like a side issue for a lot of people in the social conservative movement.  This is the issue.  There‘s no other issue.  All the other issues spring from this.  It‘s more likely that on that huge issue they‘re in disagreement with him than anything else. 

FINEMAN:  Chris, what this is about is that they don‘t have a candidate.  They really don‘t really have a soul mate here.  George Bush and Karl Rove made it their business to make George Bush their soul mate in 2000, especially after John Ashcroft got out.  And he was.  There is no equivalent in this race.  Romney is history, Rudy is history, Fred Thompson is history, less so McCain, but McCain for other reasons. 

There isn‘t a candidate that they can get behind.  This is as much a symbol of their confusion as—and their weakness in the party as anything else. 

MATTHEWS:  Despite the denials we heard tonight, it could be that they‘re looking at Tony Perkins himself.  We‘re not talking about the guy who lived at the Bates Motel, either.  Thank you very much, Chris Cillizza, Jill Zuckman and Howard Fineman.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  See you then. 

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.

transcript

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,