updated 10/9/2007 12:47:11 PM ET 2007-10-09T16:47:11

Guests: Jonathan Martin, Steve McMahon, Bob Franken

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Welcome to the show. The heat is on in Iowa and it‘s not just the global warming. Polls across the country may show Hillary Clinton way ahead of her opponents in the Democratic side. But it‘s a different story in the one state that may matter most this presidential primary season. The latest Des Moines register poll shows the New York senator in a dogfight with Barack Obama and John Edwards for the affections of Iowa voters.  

On the Republican side, supposedly front-runner Rudy Giuliani isn‘t even in the top three in Iowa. In fact, he appears to be losing support in the state. And Mitt Romney mean while has maintained a double-digit lead and look who‘s creeping up Mike Huckabee. How much of the new numbers mean?  Is Iowa still critical given the cramped primary schedule so early in the season next year?

Well, joining us is a man who knows the state of Iowa as well as he knows his own neighborhood, and maybe even better at this point. Politico Jonathan Martin joins us. John thank you for coming on.

JONATHAN MARTIN, THE POLITICO:  Thanks, Tucker.  

CARLSON:  Rudy Giuliani seen as the front-runner by people paying half attention to the campaign. 

MARTIN:  Right.  

CARLSON:  Not in the top three. What‘s that about now?  

MARTIN:  He has the sort of the fish nor fowl strategy in Iowa. He is not really playing there, but yet, he has a full-time staff there. He is going to the state to visit. He wants the folks to believe that his focus is on these later states and they‘re back in the pack, it‘s not viewed by folks like us as that damaging of a loss.  

CARLSON:  Why do that?   If you‘re Giuliani and you have the money and you certainly have the name recognition, he doesn‘t have to introduce himself to people. They know who he is. Why not make a stand in Iowa?  

MARTIN:  Because Iowa is all about organization. He got in the race late. The caucuses on the GOP side are dominated by cultural conservatives who will not support Giuliani.

CARLSON:  He got in late and yet, Fred Thompson who got in 20 minutes ago is beating him, at least in the numbers just out.  

MARRTIN:  And that said everything about Thompson‘s appeal versus Giuliani‘s appeal. Thompson appeals to a lot of those folks, many of them who are undecided who are more culturally conservative in Iowa.

CARLSON:  So what‘s Giuliani‘s scenario at this point?  

MARTIN:  Giuliani is survive Iowa do well in New Hampshire. Surprise some folks in Michigan and South Carolina and have a big showing and probably win in Florida end of January.

CARLSON:  So if you had to bet on it, if thing—things change always, but you would have to bet on it now, you would have to bet that Mitt Romney has a good shot of winning both Iowa and New Hampshire. At that point, we start hyperventilating here in the press. Doesn‘t that carry on to next states? 

MARTIN:  That‘s certainly hugely helpful. When you combine the fact that the next state is Michigan, where he grew up and he‘s probably got a strong organization there, he can possibly go 3 and 0 out of the gates. 

CARLSON:  Is that survivable for the other guys?

MARTIN:  I think that makes it very, very tough for them. But that is by the old rule, if the new rules are in place now and it‘s a whole different ball game and these traditional first states don‘t matter as much and we have these big states that moved up their primaries to February 5, maybe it‘s moot. But the fact is that if you win those first three contests you‘re going to be pretty darn formidable.

CARLSON:  Yes because group dynamics come into play. People who aren‘t really paying attention look up at “Newsweek.” 

MARTIN:  It‘s a winner. 

CARLSON:  It‘s Mitt Romney, the elders have decided, of the Republican Party have decided he‘s the man. 

MARTIN:  The Rudy Giuliani folks know this is a gamble but it‘s the option they are to play. Because Romney has organized so early in these states, has spent so much money in this state, Giuliani has been basically playing where he can later in this primary cycle. 

CARLSON:  Why then are you seeing Romney going after Giuliani and not the other way around?

MARTIN:  Well because Romney, I think is a bit concerned that his numbers are not moving in some of these polls, he is a little bit flat and Giuliani is doing nothing as far as TV goes and he‘s actually enjoying a bit of a bump. Also there‘s this widespread thought in a lot of GOP circles that Giuliani has these vulnerabilities that folks just don‘t know about yet and so the Romney folks are sick and tired of waiting for that shoe to drop and they‘re going to go out there and talking about Giuliani‘s record.

CARLSON:  Well it just seems to me that strategy, he‘s fatally flawed, the voters will figure it out someday, and I remember hearing that in 1992 about Bill Clinton, we‘ve heard it this year about Hillary Clinton. 

MARTIN:  The past. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right, if you don‘t tell people something they don‘t get it so maybe that shoe won‘t drop for Giuliani. 

MARTIN:  This is an important thing to watch. Can Giuliani sustain the paid attacks on television and radio? It‘s one thing at the go after him in a press release or to try and give some background to reporters. But when this campaign‘s full times frontally are going after him and attacking him with paid commercials, can he sustain and keep his lead if the answer is yes, he‘s going to be in a very, very strong place. 

CARLSON:  The conventional understanding is if you want to understand Hillary Clinton‘s frank look at Iowa, is that true, do you think?

MARTIN:  I think that Iowa is the better indicator on the Democratic race. Look if Hillary Clinton wins there, she is on her way to being nominated because that‘s where she has her stiffest competition from Barack Obama and John Edwards. Obama, senator from a neighboring state has worked the plates very, very hard and has a the lot of appeal, especially among young islands.

And Edwards has almost lived there for the past four years, ever since almost coming second in 04 in the caucuses. Edwards has a very strong organization there. If Hillary comes out on top there as the poll shows now, that could make it very, very tough for her to be beat later in the contest. 

CARLSON:  It seems she‘s going to come out on top. I mean the movement is on her side. 

MARTIN:  Not necessarily. This poll is very, very helpful and shows just how strong of an organization that she has built. They‘re like everyone else in America; they want to vote for a winner. So the perception that she is creating has helped her among islands, but the folks there also do their homework and they are very much independent. And they‘re still not totally sold on her and they have some warm feelings for Edwards from that ‘04 race and all the attention he‘s really given them. He‘s really stroked the state in a lot of ways. And Obama I think appeals to a lot of folks there who like his message of new generation, new voice and hope. 

CARLSON:  If Obama loses Iowa, where does he win?

MARTIN:  It‘s tough for Obama if he comes in third in Iowa. Second is potentially doable because keep in mind, Tucker, in New Hampshire, independents can vote in the primary, Obama has the potential to appeal to a lot of those kind of people who support McCain in 2000, the independents who can go both ways, they may be Obama folks this time, so if he doesn‘t come in third or finish too far back in the mix in Iowa and he can sort of get those McCain types from 2000 from New Hampshire, he can still do OK.

But for Edwards it‘s important to know, Iowa is do or die. His political career rests on this state, which is why we‘re going to see in the weeks ahead him getting a lot more aggressive towards Senator Clinton because he‘s got to win Iowa. 

CARLSON:  He‘s basically—does he have an Iowa driver‘s license at this point?

MARTIN:  He may as well. 

CARLSON:  Jonathan Martin who spends his life on the road so you don‘t have to. 

MARTIIN:  A lot of time in Iowa. Great people. 

CARLSON:  Thanks for joining us.

MARTIN:  Great donuts and pork chops, too. 

CARLSON:  All of sudden, Iowa seems to like Mike Huckabee, he‘s running third in the latest poll in that state ahead of Giuliani and John McCain, we‘ll tell you what that means if anything.

Plus Fred Thompson is preparing for his first debate in a long time tomorrow night. Thompson was once burdened with extraordinarily high expectations. That is no longer the case, to put it mildly. What does it mean?

You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If it was as simple to predict the presidential nominees as a quick read of the national polls, we would already be planning the Clinton-Giuliani debates and honestly we are but we shouldn‘t be. There‘s a long way between here and there. In Iowa first up in the primary season, Hillary Clinton with just a slim lead right now over Barack Obama and John Edwards within the margin of error. Yet, Romney meanwhile has a significant push over Fred Thompson with Giuliani running a rather distant fourth.

Here‘s to access the meaning of the Iowa polls and the importance of the Iowa caucuses considering the effect of the compacted primary schedule, we welcome Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Columnist Bob Franken a long time campaign reporter with whom I‘ve shared a seat on many an airplane. Welcome to you both. 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Bob, here is the most interesting part of this poll when you break out the numbers, they‘re much more interesting. Hillary, slight edge over the other two Democratic front runners. But when you ask Democrats which candidate has the most integrity, Barack Obama 29, Edwards 23, Hillary 17, not even close. On morality, Barack and Edwards are tied at 26, Clinton 15. Almost doubled. It doesn‘t look candidates, I mean voters in Iowa are looking for a good person; they‘re looking for a winner. 

BOB FRANKEN, ONLINE COLUMNIST:  You know it‘s funny; we may have come to the point where people are saying you know what? It‘s not possible to be in politics and have integrity or morality. I don‘t know which is which.  Maybe they‘re being pragmatic about it, which would bode on the other side, maybe bode well for Rudy Giuliani who has some questions about the way he lived his life. 

CARLSON:  That‘s my point. 

FRANKEN:  I don‘t know why we bother having polls. I thought it was decided, I thought that Hillary was the nominee.

CARLSON:  They‘re falling in line. I thought the Democrats have these kinds of heterogeneous political ideas, you know hurting cats and all that, every Democrat has his own notion about things. No, they‘re getting orders from headquarter, the same group of people, Harold Ickies and Terry McAuliffe all the same people from the 90s are saying Hillary is the one, and that are obeying. Why are they doing this?  

It‘s the Republicans, that‘s what they‘re say. 

MCMAHON:  Well it‘s not happening Tucker. Here is what is happening, Hillary started out in Iowa in third or fourth place. John Edwards and Barack Obama both had some pretty significant leads over her at some point in this campaign and frankly she‘s run a very good campaign and she‘s gotten stronger and better with each passing day. Her debate performances have been solid and she‘s earned the position that she has.

Now that‘s not to say that John Edwards or Barack Obama couldn‘t knock her off, they‘re within striking distance. If either one of them wins in Iowa, this is going to be a two person race, and it going to be like a  rocket coming out of there. But if Hillary wins in Iowa, it‘s going to be awfully hard to stop her. 

CARLSON:  But I have not seen a single poll Bob that says Democrats supporting Hillary, because they agree with her position. It says striving the anti war party Democrats are very against the war and yet Hillary Clinton by far is the most hawkish by my reading and I think others in the Democratic field and they‘re supporting her anyway. 

FRANKEN:  Well look we have to consider one possibility. Right now, Hillary Clinton is the Republicans‘ favorite candidate. They are just salivating. 

CARLSON:  You think that‘s true?

FRANKEN:  You bet I do. 

MCMAHON:  Like Ronald Reagan was the Democrats‘ favorite in 1980. 

FRANKEN:  Absolutely, now that doesn‘t mean she can‘t win, but she is the one who they believe is the most vulnerable even if she might have all the positives that she does and they‘re looking forward to  running against her.

CARLSON:  As if we need another measurement as to how far out to lunch the Republicans are. Hillary, I‘m not saying this because I want it to be true, I saying it because I really believe it. She could easily win. Do you hear Republicans say they want Hillary to run now?

MCMAHON:  I do, but I can‘t believe they‘re serious. Because if they look at the campaign she‘s running, she is running a disciplined, focused very effective campaign against a field that‘s quite talented. Barack Obama is perhaps the most charismatic Democratic candidate to come along in a generation. He‘s articulate and he has a huge following but even Barack can‘t seem to crack Hillary‘s strength. 

CARLSON:  Democrats want a robot. 

MCMAHON:  They want a winner. 

CARLSON:  Yes they want a winner, I‘m not sure there‘s a difference. 

FRANKEN:  The one we‘re not really talking about is John Edwards.

CARLSON:  Yes. 

FRANKEN:  I think that people are a little bit uneasy about him. I mean here‘s man who is for the poor and would provide $400 haircuts for all of them. There‘s this kind of contradiction that‘s really hurting him a little bit. 

CARLSON:  No question. On the Republican side, the candidate that a lot of people I know that are personally liberal and find his views repugnant still seem to be pushing the candidacy of Mike Huckabee for some reason. You‘re from Arkansas, what is the appeal of Mike Huckabee?

FRANKEN:  Isn‘t it obvious. He is a governor from the state of Arkansas with a weight problem. I mean we‘ve been through that one before.  Besides which, he has a real good way with humor, particularly self-depicting. 

CARLSON:  He‘s an appealing guy. 

FRANKEN:  He is an appealing guy. A lot of us are he might a vice presidential candidate. He describes himself as a conservative but not an angry one. Maybe that is appealing; it worked for George W. Bush. 

MCMAHON:  I actually think that is the point, and the reason he is getting traction is because he‘s a principle articulate conservative, but he has now anger, and he is not seeking to divide people. He is a Christian who invokes Christianity as a way of helping others. He‘s a remarkable Republican candidate. 

CARLSON:  In other words, you believe, I can tell just by the way you‘re saying that, you think he‘s liberal. 

MCMAHON:  No, I don‘t. 

CARLSON:  Yes, you do. 

MCMAHON:  I think that he embodies the optimism that George Bush put forward in 2000. I don‘t think it was real but it certainly fooled a lot of people. He‘s not angry; he wants to win an election by dividing Americans.  He seems to want to win the election by bringing people together around Christian values. Now, I‘m not going to vote for him, but I see why he‘s moving in Iowa, he‘s in third place and watch that guy. He‘s going to be -- 

FRANKEN:  Well putting on your hat though, I think what‘s remarkable in this poll is Fred Thompson, number two, at 18 percent. 

CARLSON:  It is remarkable. 

FRANKEN:  The man hasn‘t campaigned. 

CARLSON:  No, I agree with that. We‘re going too finished out tomorrow night. We‘re going to find out if the low expectations are warranted or not.

When we come back, the Republican presidential candidates have gone head to head six times already except for Fred Thompson. Tomorrow night will be his first debate in many years. Will it be a make or break night for him? What to expect, we‘ll give you a preview.

Plus Barack Obama is in the midst of his 40 days of faith and family tour, Obama says he hopes to be an instrument of god and he asked the church to pray for him. Is god on Obama‘s side or is he a Hillary man? That old time religion next on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Not completely in the race for president until they mock you on “Saturday Night Live,” so it‘s officially too late now for Fred Thompson he‘s, he‘s in. The (INAUDIBLE) send-up hit the nail of skepticism of the former Tennessee senator right on the head but the image of a reluctant half interested candidate could all change tomorrow night. Fred Thompson‘s first debate appearance in Michigan. Should we expect a Thompson turnaround in his first time out? We are gong to hear from Dearborn, Michigan with a debate preview as MBC News political director Chuck Todd. Chuck, welcome. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Good evening, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So he‘s got—at least he‘s got low expectations on his side or does he?

TODD:  Yeah, “Saturday Night Live” helped that a lot. We‘ll see. I had a Republican out here who‘s pretty plugged in saying to me that don‘t let Thompson play this expectation game. Voters out there, Republicans actually have very high expectation for Thompson, so he can‘t just hope he does better than an “SNL” sketch. He‘s got to actually be more Reagan. That‘s been the problem for Thompson, is I think actual grassroots conservatives are looking for Reagan and trying to tamp it down and saying no he‘s just going to be better than Arthur Branch. So he‘s caught between those two levels of expectations. 

CARLSON:  On the stage with as many candidates as he‘s going to be standing on tomorrow night, can you be just Reagan or does he have to contrast his positions with say Giuliani‘s or Romney‘s? Does he have to go after someone?

TODD:  I don‘t think Thompson should be going after anybody and I think he would say he‘s not going after anybody. What he‘s got to do is pass the competency test. He‘s got to look like she up on the issues. The problem he‘s got, he can‘t even have little flubs, unfortunately, maybe it‘s not fair, but that‘s sort of the  stage in this process that we‘re in he can‘t say Soviet Union when referring to Russia or can‘t pretend he doesn‘t know something about Terry Schiavo. So he has that burden to deal with. But he can kill the critics with facts and a performance of competency. I think the other candidates are going to try to ignore Thompson a little bit and instead and you‘ve got Romney who is probably going to spend the entire time going after Rudy. Because that is a contrast he desperately wants.

CARLSON:  How frustrating must it be if you‘re John McCain and here your long time friend, one of the three or four senators to endorse you in 2000 hasn‘t left his house in McCain in the past couple years basically, he gets in and he is beating you in most polls. Do you think McCain or some of these other guys will be tempted it go after him?

TODD:  We‘ll see. I don‘t think so. I mean I think you risk elevating him a little bit. I mean you go the other extreme and ignore him, you may make a passing reference of Thompson comes after you, but I don‘t expect Thompson to do that. Per se. I think this is the warm up, you know, this is the he gets his sea legs a little bit and maybe in the next one he‘ll actually start going after candidates.

McCain has been interesting you know, he is in this with nothing left to loose. He‘s Janis Joplin in here with all the freedom in the world.  Remember, he went after Romney last time? He‘ll probably do it again and he might feel comfortable going after Giuliani. That‘s the interplay I‘m most intrigued about. Will Giuliani continue to praise McCain at every step of the way? And will McCain duck a chance to go after Giuliani?

CARLSON:  We‘re talking earlier in the show about the assumption many Republicans have had that  Giuliani is going to blow up at in point, that that toast is going to pop. He‘s just going to collapse under the weight of his own sordid history that hasn‘t happened yet. Do you they think it‘s going to?

TODD:  I‘ve talked with other Republicans about other campaigns. They yell at me about it why haven‘t you taken Giuliani down? As if the media was supposed to be in charge of the Republican opposition campaign against Giuliani. I get this from folks running against Clinton. How come you guys haven‘t taken down Clinton? Whoa, whoa, our can job is to cover the campaign.

If you go after them, we‘ll cover that and what I think has been intriguing is how much hesitance there‘s been with Romney and McCain and all these guys to go after Giuliani. They take subtle digs, but they don‘t go for the kill. Giuliani is very popular. Even people who aren‘t supporting Giuliani really like Giuliani. He‘s in this unique position where the folks that don‘t agree with him that know he‘s pro-choice, probably a little too liberal on social issues, they‘re trying to talk themselves into liking him and accepting him as the nominee and I think that‘s what‘s created this hesitancy by Romney and by these other guys by not going too negative on Giuliani up front. It thinks they‘ll do it underground and in the mail and phones and radio, but they‘re hesitant to do it face to face. 

CARLSON:  That is a shame. It is more fun when they do it on camera, Chuck Todd. Thanks, Chuck. 

TODD:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  And a programming note tomorrow, be certain to catch the first Republican debate of the 2008 campaign it will be the focus on economic issues and it will air live on CNBC at 4:00 P.M. Eastern and it is going to air right here on MSNBC at  9:00 P.M. Eastern. Don‘t miss it.

Coming up, John Edwards comes out swinging against frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Is it too late for that?

Plus Hillary Clinton is promising to restore economic prosperity. Will her husband‘s former policies help her win the nomination? You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  People, including your wife Elizabeth, have made these kinds of suggestions.  It‘s the elephant in the room.  Let me read what Elizabeth said, “I do not think the hatred against Hillary Clinton is justified.  I don‘t know where it comes from.  I don‘t begin to understand it.  But you can‘t pretend it doesn‘t exist.  And it will energize the Republican base.  Their nominee won‘t energize them.  Bush won‘t.  But Hillary as the nominee will.  It‘s hard for John to talk about, but it‘s the reality.”  Why is it hard for you to talk about? 

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  What you said about Elizabeth‘s statement I think is true.  I hear a lot of those things when I‘m out on the campaign trail.  I don‘t want to ignore the first part of what you said; she‘s not saying it‘s fair.  She is just saying it is out there in America.  I hear the same things over and over and over. 

What I think is impossible to predict is how that plays itself out during the course of a presidential campaign. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was, of course, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards saying what his wife has been saying all along, a lot of people really dislike Hillary Clinton.  Will Democrats listen to that message or is it too late for Edwards and the notion that Hillary will hurt the party? 

To answer the question, we welcome back Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Bob Franken, the columnist and noted political reporter.  Welcome back.  This is a point that Mudcat Saunders, adviser to John Edwards, made on our show last week.  I think it‘s a fair point.  I‘m not sure why it wasn‘t penetrated with Democrats. 

She is a polarizing figure.  I‘m not attacking her.  I‘m merely noting what is obvious.  And both the Edwards have said the same thing.  Is this a concern for Democrats and will Edwards benefit from that concern? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I think we live in a politically polarized country right now, so any Democrat nominee is going to come out and be polarizing. 

CARLSON:  Come on?  Do you think Barack Obama is as polarizing as Hillary? 

MCMAHON:  He‘s not as polarizing today, but by the time he‘s the nominee and by the time he‘s defined by the Republicans, he will be.  It‘s going to be another election that‘s going to be a 51-49 election, one way or the other, just like it was the last two or three times. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t believe that.  I don‘t believe that.  I think if this is a 51-49 election, the Democratic party is pathetic. 

MCMAHON:  No, but it‘s a polarized country? 

CARLSON:  No it‘s not.  All the energy is on the Democrat side.  The money is on the Democratic side. 

MCMAHON  This is why we‘re going to win.  But let me just tell you something, it‘s a very polarized electorate.  You can see it on Capital Hill and you can see it in the blogosphere.  You can see it everywhere in politics today.  People don‘t like it, but it‘s a fact. 

CARLSON:  Issues are important.  People have different opinions about them and they‘re passionate about that.  I don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with that.  The question is, are people unreasonable in their response to certain political figures?  Yes, that is true about some people and not true about others.  And it is true about Hillary. 

FRANKEN:  But don‘t forget who the most polarizing figure in this election is going to be and that‘s George W. Bush.  I agree with Steve, that this is a polarized country, not just an electorate.  But a lot of people are so disgusted that they‘re not going to vote.  So I don‘t think there‘s anything whatsoever to fear about being a polarized figure. 

As a matter of fact, some might say the Barack Obamas of this world or the John Edwards are not polarizing enough, that they‘re pabulum. 

CARLSON:  As a political matter, it‘s inarguable that you‘re right. 

(CROSS TALK)  

CARLSON:  I just resent having Hillary Clinton—the Democrats are in charge at this point, in effect.  They‘re in charge of this election, unless something unforeseen happens. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  I resent having Hillary Clinton foisted on us.  Of all the Democrats you can run, make your nominee and make president, why the one who arouses the passions that Hillary arouses. 

FRANKEN:  I‘m sorry, Steve.  I just want to make this point.  In

December, when Howard Dean was riding the polls at the top, I was doing a

program, doing “Inside Politics” on CNN, and I did this whole program on

how it was that John Kerry was no longer a factor and that Howard Dean had

won it.  This was months from now in the last election.  So aren‘t we

sitting here now making all these assumptions on something that is probably

almost certainly is going to change. 

CARLSON:  It‘s in my nightly prayers every night.  Anyway—

MCMAHON:  But it‘s reflected in the value of the stock already.  She‘s doing as well as she‘s doing.  She‘s as polarizing as she is.  You may be right.  I may be right.  But the fact is she‘s ahead.

CARLSON:  She is ahead, and I personally think it‘s not support built on sand.  For what it‘s worth, I always thought Dean would never be the nominee, because it was just too tenuous.  It was too much of a moment.  It wasn‘t real.  But who knows?  I‘m often wrong. 

Rudy Giuliani, of course, would not be where he is were it not for 9/11.  I don‘t think any honest person would say anything other than he did a nice job on 9/11.  However, there is this pattern of using 9/11, Mr.  Giuliani, to explain just about every controversy that surrounds him.  The “New York Daily News” has a list.  I‘ll put a couple of them on the screen.  This is him explaining in his speech to the NRA why he changed his stance on gun control, and became against it; “there are some major intervening events, September 11th, which cast somewhat of a different light on the second amendment.”

How?  Not clear.  On Fox, he was asked, what about your messy personal life.  He said this, “you can judge me on my public record.  I‘ve had a long one.  I‘ve had an intense.  I‘ve been under enormous pressure, took over a city that was the crime capital of the country, had to handle the city at the very end, when it was part of the worst attack on America.” 

Not clear what that has do with his personal life?  Is there a point, Bob, at which 9/11 becomes not only inadequate as an answer, but counter-productive. 

FRANKEN:  Probably when they don‘t hold the election on September 11, that they delay it until November.  I think that‘s going to hurt him a little bit.  But possibly what will help him is that his wife will call him on the phone in the middle of his speech or something like that.  Right now, we‘re still in such a preliminary stage. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

FRANKEN:  It‘s hard to judge anything.  About all you get out of the debates, for instance, is seeing how telegenic somebody is.  Which, by the way, is probably going to work to Fred Thompson‘s advantage tomorrow.  But he‘s got to show that he‘s more than a pretty face, of course.  But the point is that this is really now just about reaching out to the voters, getting them to somehow relate to you.  And I think Rudy Giuliani is going to have to come up with something besides his record on the September 11. 

CARLSON:  Democrats have said from the beginning that Giuliani‘s constant conversation, talk about 9/11 is unseemly.  And to some extent I have agreed with that.  I haven‘t defended Giuliani and I thought his speech before the Republican convention last time was embarrassing and I said so.  Mrs. Clinton comes out with an ad literally where she is wearing a face mask, a dust mask. 

MCMAHON:  She was there too.

CARLSON:  Yes.  That‘s not vulgar?  That‘s not using a national tragedy for political gain?  Of course it is. 

MCMAHON:  It‘s part of her record.  She‘s a New York senator.  The question is whether it‘s enough for him.  I think everybody probably would agree that if more people in the streets of New York City had guns that day, those planes wouldn‘t have flown into that building.  I mean, I think we can all agree that messy personal lives are the result of enormous pressures that come with the job of being mayor of the most difficult and ungovernable city in the world. 

You remember when the president used to say, if we don‘t do this, the terrorists have won.  Rudy is starting to sound a little bit like that; it‘s all because of 9/11. 

CARLSON:  I do think though, if you‘re Hillary Clinton, how far do you get attacking someone else‘s marriage or personal life? 

MCMAHON:  She‘s not. 

CARLSON:  Tom Vilsack was acting on her behalf, attacked his marriage.  Her surrogate attacked his marriage.  If we‘re going to call a truce on the marriage talk, maybe we should stick by it.  That would be my feeling.

MCMAHON:  If we‘re going to call a truce on the marriage talk, Hillary Clinton is not attacking his marriage.  And by the way, I think plenty of Republicans have attacked the Clintons‘ marriage on plenty of occasions.  And so I think if Rudy Giuliani is the nominee, you are going to see this kind of conversation, whether—it probably won‘t be from a campaign.  It will probably be from a third party group, like a Swift Boat Group.  But you are going to see it. 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s ugly.  And I pledge right here now to attack whoever does that because I think it‘s wrong.  The Democrats, as you know, Bob, have decided that they want to go after voters of faith, evangelicals, religious people.  Who knows if they will succeed.  Here is Barack Obama at a recent church service in South Caroline, his latest attempt to reach out to voters of faith.  Listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I guarantee you that this is not good-bye.  This is just hello.  Because I‘m going to come back.  And we‘re going to keep on worshiping together.  And we‘re going to keep on building together.  And we‘re going to praising together.  I am confident that we can create a kingdom right here on Earth.  Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  First of all, where did he get that phony accent?  Second, I‘m going to come back—I‘m going to come back in glory to judge the living and the dead and my kingdom will have no end.  Is he comparing himself to Jesus here?

FRANKEN:  Don‘t you recognize a Harvard accent? 

CARLSON:  Why did he do that?  Why does everybody get in front of a black church—I know Jack Kemp used to do it. 

FRANKEN:  I‘ve not heard Rudy Giuliani do that. 

CARLSON:  Why do they do that?  I think anybody who does it, who assumes an accent he doesn‘t normally have in daily life, is making a mistake, just my view.  But this religious stuff, I‘m going to come back.  What does that mean?  Is this a messianic statement, do you think? 

FRANKEN:  Well, perhaps he‘s saying, better vote for me.  I‘ve got friends in high places. 

CARLSON:  Are you comfortable with this? 

MCMAHON:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  Are you really?  I‘m kind of surprised, because for years, the left has attacked Republicans for acting as if god is on their side, for using the church for political purposes.  I kind of agree.  I don‘t think you should get into a pulpit and preach politics.  I wouldn‘t stand for it in my own church.  Why does he get a pass? 

MCMAHON:  It‘s a tradition in African-American churches—

(CROSS TALK)

MCMAHON:  And you don‘t think the Christian Right does the same thing. 

CARLSON:  Democrats come out and they pay a per parishioner price on vote on election day.  You know that is true. 

MCMAHON:  Here is what I say; if Democrats are going in a church—if Barack Obama is going in a church and talking about his faith, good for him.  Republicans have been doing it for a long time.  Democrats have almost been afraid of their faith.  I think it‘s wonderful that he‘s out there doing it. 

You know what, he doesn‘t just go to church when he‘s in Tennessee, like Fred Thompson does.  He goes to church—

CARLSON:  When does he put on the accent? 

MCMAHON:  Whenever he‘s in a church.  

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama, this week, also—we don‘t have time to play the sound bite.  But he went after private contractors in Iraq, saying they‘re cowboys.  They shoot up people.  Democrats have been taking that line. 

MCMAHON:  Which part of that isn‘t true? 

CARLSON:  Here‘s the question I have; it‘s more complicated than that, actually.  There‘s some really decent people who work as contractors, working on behalf of our country. 

MCMAHON:  As cowboys. 

CARLSON:  No, I know a lot of them.  I‘ve been with them in Iraq.  A lot of those guys are really brave.  And we owe them a lot.  They‘re helping us, some of them, most of them.  If we don‘t have them, how do we protect American diplomats, business interests in Iraq?  If you don‘t have the private contractor, how can you be in Iraq? 

FRANKEN:  As you might know, in my column, I suggested, as a matter of fact, that maybe what we should do in the United States is replace the TSA people at the airport with the Blackwater guards. 

CARLSON:  That would work.

FRANKEN:  We‘ll have long lines, but nobody will be whining about it. 

(CROSS TALK)

FRANKEN:  The answer to your question. 

CARLSON:  That‘s not a bad idea, actually. 

FRANKEN:  Yes, it is.  But the answer to your question is that perhaps the United States needs to have people who are accountable, that is to say government forces, to do the job that needs to be done.  Instead of outsourcing, as we‘ve had the habit of doing, all these jobs to private enterprises, who, among other things, are cluttered a little bit by the profit motive. 

Were these guys properly trained?  What about this ridiculous regulation that stopped their being accountable to Iraqi law?  That kind of thing.  These are all questions that really come down to, shouldn‘t the government do the government‘s work? 

CARLSON:  These guys are pretty well trained, from my experience. 

We‘ll be right back.  Or as Barack Obama said, we will return in glory. 

First health care and now the economy, it seems Hillary Clinton has a recipe to fix everything.  The question is, will her latest plan work. 

And why is Britney Spears comparing herself to Princess Diana?  Wow.  Bill Wolff reveals Britney‘s latest dispatch from the edge.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Hillary Clinton has already said a lot about her foreign policy.  And she unveiled her revamped universal health care plan a couple of weeks today.  Today Mrs. Clinton released her master plan for the U.S. economy, which she says will restore fiscal health to the American middle class.  Among the tenets of today‘s pronouncement, government management of the mortgage crisis, adjustment of the tax rates, help for union, tighter enforcement of our trade agreements, and a 50 billion dollar strategic energy fund.  That fun would, in theory, create alternatives to American‘s oil dependence and create thousands of high paying jobs in that sector. 

How good is the plan and how realistic is it?  Back with us, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and columnist Bob Franken.  Welcome back. 

Steve, she said as one of her main tenants, part of her economic blueprint to restore the middle class—nobody pays attention to the middle class.  I don‘t know if you knew that.  It‘s not as if every politician panders endlessly to the middle class or anything. 

MCMAHON:  You would agree though that the middle class has not fared quite as well under Bush regime as --  

CARLSON:  Oh, please.  I would agree that the government really isn‘t in charge of the economy.  No one is.  But she says that one of her main ideas is to strengthen unions.  When was the last time we saw economic innovation from a union heavy sector.  In your lifetime?

MCMAHON:  I think you saw if with GM just a few weeks ago when the UAW said let us—we understand. 

CARLSON:  You‘re holding up GM as an innovative -- 

MCMAHON:  No, I‘m holding up the unions who help stepped into management and said look, we recognize that the pension and health care system is a bit of a challenge—

CARLSON:  No, but—

MCMAHON:  They stepped in and they basically took it over. 

CARLSON:  That answer reveals so much.  My question was; is any sector of the U.S. economy dominated by unionized workers at the forefront of their innovation in its field.  Is it making something new, exciting?  Are we dominating the world in any sector of the economy dominated by unions?  The answer is of course not.  Of course not.  That‘s an anchor.  Let‘s be real.  Are we? 

FRANKEN:  First of all, that UAW agreement, there are many who believe that GM was successful in foisting all the problems of pension and health and welfare onto the unions, number one. 

MCMAHON:  There are people who leave that, Bob.  But GM is basically saying to the union, look, we have this problem and it‘s a problem that we have to get around. 

CARLSON:  It‘s so 1935.  Silicon Valley is not unionized.  We dominate the world in that.  This is like, let‘s think about tomorrow. 

FRANKEN:  There‘s another reality.  Let‘s think about yesterday, a little bit.  One of the hardest fought battles that unions fought and lost was the NAFTA trade agreement.  Guess who was the champion of that? 

CARLSON:  Bill Clinton. 

FRANKEN:  Thank you, sir. 

CARLSON:  So now Mrs. Clinton is running both on her husband‘s record

vote for me because my husband will really be running things, which is, by the way, a lot of the reason people are supporting her, because they yearn for the Clinton years—and running against the central tenant of his first term, which was these free trade agreements.  How does that work? 

MCMAHON:  I think it presents a little bit of a challenge. 

CARLSON:  You‘re an honest man, Steve. 

MCMAHON:  But listen, unionization is simply a way to get more people into the middle class and it‘s a value.  You can say it‘s not economically efficient, and maybe in some cases it‘s not.  But what is better for America?  If people who work and make cars have enough money to buy the cars that they make, that they can buy a home. 

CARLSON:  I‘m in a union, so I‘m not reflexively anti-union.  Unions are a good thing in some sector. 

MCMAHON:  It sounds that way. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying, that is yesterday.  America is not—by increasing the power of unions, is that going to make this a stronger country?  No.  Let‘s be workers.  That‘s over.  That story is over. 

MCMAHON:  Globalization is a reality.  And unions, like everybody else in America, have to figure out how to adjust. 

CARLSON:  I‘m being told that our new tomorrow is in fact upon us. 

We‘ve got to go to commercial break. 

MCMAHON:  There you go.  Saved by the bell. 

CARLSON:  Sorry.  I can‘t defend your brilliant argument.  Thank you both very much.  Bob, Steve, I appreciate it. 

Think your boss is tough?  Try succeeding at a job for 12 years or so and having your boss tell the entire planet he‘s thinking about canning you today.  The trouble with being Joe Torre is next.  This is MSNBC, the place for baseball. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back to the show.  We appreciate your watching. 

This program has often been criticized for not having executive oversight.  Today that‘s about to change.  We‘re inviting now the vice president of MSNBC for prime time programming, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT OF MSNBC:  Who was complaining about executive oversight? 

CARLSON:  My wife. 

WOLFF:  Is that right?  I‘ll call her later.  We‘ll settle it off line, Tucker.  Right now, there is surely more than one Pam Solomon (ph) running around this planet, you know PTAs and such, but, Tucker, only one of them looks like this.  That is officially Pamela Anderson Solomon, formerly Pamela Anderson Lee and after that Pamela Anderson Rock. 

Miss Anderson of Vancouver, British Columbia, Malibu, California and videos around the world was formally married to Mr. Rick Solomon, home town not listed, whose greatest fame up to now was his co-starring role in Paris Hilton‘s notorious intimate home video.  Pam and Rick tied the knot before a small gathering at the Mirage Hotel Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  The ceremony was a brief but sincere ten minutes long.  Then Pam had to run off for her second nightly performance as the curvaceous woman in the tight clothes in magician Hans Glock‘s (ph) act. 

If I know anything about Pam Anderson, Tucker—and I believe I do—

I have to believe she wore white.  Good luck to the happy couple from all of us here at MSNBC.  Are you a big Pamela Anderson fan?  Tell the truth.

CARLSON:  That whole story is going to pass by without comment from me.  Bill, I just don‘t trust myself. 

WOLFF:  Not many trust themselves around Miss Pamela Anderson Solomon, as it is. 

Now, Tucker, update for you; the Britney Spears crack-up continues, or at least reports of it do.  Today‘s amazing news nugget, Britney is reportedly obsessed with Princess Diana.  According to Englands “News of The World,” Miss Spears has a shrine to the late princess in her house, and fears that she, Britney, will meet the same tragic fate as the people‘s princess herself.  That paper also reports that Britney is interested in buying Diana‘s famous wedding gown, or at least one that‘s just like it. 

Remember, Tucker, this is all reported in the UK‘s “News of The World.”  That‘s the same publication that printed the Pentagon papers and broke the Watergate scandal.  Wait, I‘m not sure that last part is true.  Anyway, it‘s easy to understand why Britney, with her two children by Prince Kevin and life-long commitment to charitable causes, would draw comparisons between herself and the former Princess of Wales.  It just keeps getting weirder. 

CARLSON:  But I know a lot of people are going to be offended by the comparison.  How dare Britney Spears compare herself to the late Princess Diana. 

WOLFF:  Not me.

CARLSON:  I know I‘m going to take abuse for this.  I honestly don‘t see such a big difference between them.  They seem like the same person but with different accents. 

WOLFF:  Well, now I think you may have gone just a bridge too far. 

CARLSON:  I know, I know.  We‘re going to get some e-mail, but I feel that way and I felt sorry for them both. 

WOLFF:  I feel sorry for them both.  I‘m not sure they‘re exactly the same people.  Britney has had some awful—I never saw Diana in a public restroom without her shoes on, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Actually, I don‘t remember Princess Diana actually doing anything.  At least Britney Spears had an entertainment career.

WOLFF:  Tucker, she‘s the people‘s princess.  She‘s a candle in the wind, come on. 

Tucker, you think you‘ve got a tough boss?  Wait, don‘t answer that.  Instead, consider the plight of Joe Torre.  He is, as you know, the long-time manager of baseball‘s New York Yankees.  The Yanks, with their 13 trillion dollar payroll have made the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season, including 12 straight with Torre at the helm.  He‘s the world‘s nicest guy.  He never says or does anything wrong.  And the Yanks have excelled every season under his guidance.

So when his club fell two games behind Cleveland in a best of five playoff series, his boss, Mr. George Steinbrenner, came out of seclusion to tell the “Bergen County Record” of New Jersey that Torre would probably be fired if the Yanks can didn‘t pull off three wins in a row and advance to the League Championship Series.  New York staved off elimination and job termination last night with an 8-4 win at home. 

Tonight‘s action, which surely not be as compelling as “HARDBALL,” “COUNTDOWN,” or “ABRAMS,” here on MSNBC, goes off in the Bronx in a half an hour, Tucker.  Predictions? 

CARLSON:  My prediction? 

WOLFF:  Yes, your predictions. 

CARLSON:  Well, I‘m obviously rooting against the Yankees. 

CARLSON:  That a boy.  We got you trained right, buddy.  I‘ve got bad news for you.  It‘s all a ruse.  They‘re going to win again. 

Finally, Tucker, we talked Friday about the new Christmas catalogs, already out.  Well, you‘ve felt the nip in the air, seen the frost on the pumpkins, maybe heard the jingle of sleigh bells in Rock Creek Park.  Well, Rockefeller Plaza is in step with the season, as the ice rink over by World Headquarters opened this weekend for the 71st consecutive year. 

That watery stuff is ice, the symbol of the season.  Look at the revelers all bundled up, short pants and t-shirts, gliding around or stopping by the snack bar for sun block and Gatorade.  Temperatures barely cracked 90 degrees over the weekend.  Christmas can‘t be far behind.  Santa already has reserved eight dolphins and an inner tube for his annual trip around the fast melting planet, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Bill Wolff with our daily global warming update.  Bill, I appreciate it.

WOLFF:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We‘re back tomorrow.  Hope to see you then.  Have a great night.

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

END   

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