updated 10/15/2007 10:56:08 AM ET 2007-10-15T14:56:08

Guests: Mike Allen, April Ryan, Andy Ostroy, Mark Green, Howard Kurtz

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Will Gore be Gore or Gore be gone?  Place your bets.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, and welcome to HARDBALL.  Al Gore will go to bed tonight with his Nobel Peace Prize tucked in next to him, knowing that the world loves him.  President George Bush, on the other hand, might have trouble sleeping, with most polls showing he‘s one of the most disliked leaders on the globe.  Is this a good day to remember that Gore got more votes than Bush?  Alan Greenspan won an Oscar, an Emmy, and now the Nobel Peace Prize.  But will he pawn those statues to try and win the White House?  How about in 2012, if Hillary doesn‘t make it this time?  How about in 2008, if Hillary gets upended?  Or could Gore become a king maker for Obama and knock Hillary off her poll-driven throne?  That‘s our big story tonight.

In our second story, Barack Obama is finally going after Hillary on her vote on Iraq, on her vote on Iran.  Has he got the time and the moxie to catch her?

Plus, should Al Gore jump in this thing?  Should he risk losing again, especially against Hillary Clinton in the primaries?  That‘s the Friday night HARDBALL debate tonight.  And we‘ll take you behind the scenes later at the network news war with Howard Kurtz and his new book on that subject, “Reality Show.”

But we begin with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster and his report on Al Gore and whether his new prize will push him into the presidential race.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just hours after learning he had won the Nobel Prize, today Al Gore tried to keep the focus on climate change.

ALBERT GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Tipper and I will go to Oslo and I accept this award on behalf of all of those who have been working so long and so hard to try to get the message out about this planetary emergency.

SHUSTER:  There would be no bigger megaphone for Gore than the presidency of the United States.  Today he refused to take questions about that or anything else, even though He himself poured lighter fluid on the flames of speculation.

GORE:  I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency.

SHUSTER:  The Nobel Prize caps a remarkable year for the former vice president.  In February, his acclaimed documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award.

GORE:  This is an emergency.

GORE:  A month later, Gore generated front-page news by merely by testifying to Congress.  And now, wherever he goes, Gore is as popular as ever.


SHUSTER:  Some Democrats are still holding out for another Gore presidential run.  In a poll of voters who have been hearing Clinton, Obama and Edwards campaign for almost a year, 10 percent say they still prefer Gore.  Today, Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying, quote, “Congratulations to Al Gore for his well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize. His dedication and tireless work have been instrumental in raising international awareness about global warming.”

John Edwards, quote, “His leadership stands in stunning contrast to the failure of the current administration to pursue policies that would reduce the harm of global warming.”

Barack Obama, quote, “By having the courage to challenge the skeptics

in Washington and lead on the climate crisis facing our planet, Al Gore has

advanced the cause of peace and richly deserves this award”

The last American to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Jimmy Carter.  Today the former president said climate change is a worthy cause, and he urged Gore to run with it.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘m delighted that Al Gore has won it, and my own personal hope is this might lead him to consider another political event.

SHUSTER:  There are some Democratic activists and fund-raisers in place.  This week, the group called Draftgore.com took out a full-page ad in “The New York Times” urging Gore to run.  If Gore were to enter the presidential race, analysts say he would pose an immediate challenge to frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  He‘s gone from somebody to left the stage to somebody who, it turns out, was right on just about every major issue, whether it was the war, the deficit or now global warming.

SHUSTER:  But friends of Gore say he has not been talking about the presidential campaign with as much focus as he used to.  They expect Gore to ask the Democrats already running to embrace his climate change crusade in exchange for an eventual endorsement.

GORE:  There‘s an old African proverb that says, If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.  We have to go far quickly, and that means we have to quickly find a way to change the world‘s consciousness.

SHUSTER (on camera):  Regardless of whether Gore decides to run for president again, today he and his supporters are on top of the world.  The man Gore lost to seven years ago, George W. Bush, is now one of the most unpopular presidents in history, and Gore, despite winning more votes but losing the election, is now the winner of the Nobel Prize.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster.

Let‘s bring in our panel right now to talk about Al Gore.  April Ryan is the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.  Mike Allen‘s a chief political correspondent for Politico.  And Craig Crawford‘s a columnist for “The Congressional Quarterly” and an MSNBC political analyst.

I want to go to you, Craig, right now.  Alan Greenspan—will he be Gore or gone?


don‘t see him running in this thing.  The consolation prize of an Oscar and a Nobel‘s not too bad.  It‘s better than a plush toy and a gold watch.  But I think that‘s all he gets.  I don‘t see Gore getting in this mainly because Clinton—Hillary Clinton is doing so well in the race.  The theory of the case for Gore supporters earlier in the year was that her baggage would drag her down in the polls to such an extent, there was no obvious front-runner in the race, then that was an opening for Gore.  But that hasn‘t happened I think largely because her challengers, Edwards and Obama, haven‘t taken her on.

MATTHEWS:  OK, can I clarify your thoughts?  Because I‘m not going to make it easy for you.

CRAWFORD:  All right.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re saying he‘s not entering the race for president this fall.  If the Clintons blow it up, if something goes wrong, is he ready?

CRAWFORD:  That‘s the only way I ever thought he would get in, and I don‘t see that happening.  If it did happen...

MATTHEWS:  ... goes wrong, she‘s going to be exposed as the nominee of the party perhaps January to November.  That‘s a long time to hang fire.  If she gets bumped out of the way, would you think that Al Gore would have a better shot at the nomination than whoever she runs for veep?

CRAWFORD:  I think that‘s the only way.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What about 2012, if Hillary doesn‘t make it this time?


CRAWFORD:  I think Al Gore‘s always—I always thought he was kind of the Richard Nixon of the Democratic Party.  He could always—he could always come back some day.

MATTHEWS:  Did I hear someone say, Oh, come on?  Mike Allen, is that you?


ALLEN:  You busted me, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Express your—Mike Allen, express your thoughts more clearly.  Three questions.  Will he jump in this fall?  Will she—will he be ready to jump if in if there‘s something going wrong with the Clintons by next November?  Or will he hold his fire, lose some weight and go back in 2012?

ALLEN:  Chris, Al Gore no longer needs to run for president.  He‘s been vindicated.  He‘s been validated.  It‘s what you said at the beginning, he knows the world loves him.  Al Gore was a permanent punchline, and now he‘s transcended that.  Now the candidates are going to be coming to him.  Yes, they would love have him endorse.  Chris, I‘ll tell you something you don‘t know, which is I think he will not endorse now, but I think his wife, Tipper, may well endorse.

I also think, Chris, that the vice president may now stage a summit about the environment for the Democratic candidates.  They would have to come, so they would be coming and kissing his ring...


ALLEN:  ... where he‘s been kissing other people‘s rings for 30 years.

MATTHEWS:  Wow!  And you‘re thinking about Al Gore—you say that he doesn‘t need the presidency.

ALLEN:  That‘s right.


ALLEN:  He‘s treated—Chris, he‘s treated as an ex-president wherever he goes now.  And as David Shuster pointed out, he‘s been right.  The North Pole is melting.  What could be a bigger issue?

And you know, the president‘s dad used to mock him, as you know, as “ozone man.”  Now it was much quiet, but Al Gore‘s real vindication came when the Bush administration started trying to convince people that they cared about climate change all along, which, as you know, is not the case.  But Chris, as you know, they now are saying that, which proves that Al Gore was on to something.


MATTHEWS:  ... April, then you.  Then you, Craig.  April, do you think Al Gore will run this fall?


talked to so many different people.  One thing that stands out in my mind -

I talked to Donna Brazile early this morning.  She had text-messaged Al Gore early, before the 7:00 o‘clock hour, and they had been talking back and forth.  And Donna Brazile said one thing.  She didn‘t think that he was going to run now, but she said one thing that really stuck out.  She said, He is a recovering politician.  Now, what does that mean, Chris?

MATTHEWS:  Well, it means the bug‘s still in him somewhere.

RYAN:  That‘s right.  That‘s what I‘m saying.  So you never know.  But as Mike said—I agree wholeheartedly—he is vindicated.  He‘s vindicated after creating the Internet.  He‘s vindicated after Elian Gonzalez.  He‘s vindicated after—after losing—well, after the Supreme Court gave the presidency to George W. Bush.  And he‘s vindicated now after supporting Howard Dean for president.

CRAWFORD:  Another personal factor I think would argue against it in his case is I was stunned to find out how rich he‘s gotten.  He‘s actually become a very good businessman.

RYAN:  Yes.

CRAWFORD:  He made millions in a deal with Google.  His cable channel is doing well.  There are estimates that he‘s now worth something like $100 million.

RYAN:  Yes.

CRAWFORD:  So I think success in the business world is something he‘s enjoying very much right now and would have to give up, possibly, if he got back into politics.

ALLEN:  But Chris, now he‘s found something that he‘s good at.  As you know, campaigning was not something that he was good at.  But now his life really is a party.

MATTHEWS:  Well, my theory is—and I want to run it by you—you know, politicians are most attractive when they‘re pushing something really important to us all and not pushing themselves, whether it was Roosevelt and trying to save us from the great depression or it was Ike getting us out of Korea or whatever, and even Reagan cutting taxes or whatever, beating the Soviets.  When you‘re selling yourself as a personality without any real goal behind it, people don‘t really like you that much.  But Gore now has a cause.  I think there‘s a big difference between Al Gore of 2000 and Al Gore of 2007.


CRAWFORD:  ... is if he got back into politics and ran for office, it sort of diminishes his cause.  It makes the global warming initiative look like it was just politics.



ALLEN:  ... and he could lose, and now he can‘t lose.

RYAN:  Gore had a cause prior to this.  During the Clinton era, he was dealing with the issue of environment.  He was talking about brown sites, brownfield, back then and the empowerment zones.  So this nothing new for him.

MATTHEWS:  Whoa!  April, he dropped all that stuff in 2000.  He ran on fear and depression and the world‘s coming to an end and Bob Shrum.  He did not run on this big-picture stuff!  What are you saying?  This is revisionism, April.

RYAN:  No, but no, no, no, no, no.  During the Clinton years, I was there.

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m talking about 2000, the race for president.  He drop kicked all that stuff about the big picture stuff...

RYAN:  OK, but it was still...

MATTHEWS:  ... and ran on fear.

RYAN:  ... there—but it was still there, Chris.  But you have to remember, as well, if you‘re talking about Al Gore trying to get into the presidential race right now, it‘s going to be very hard because he has to literally say, I‘m going in tomorrow.  He would have to get the money.


RYAN:  He would have to get backers.  He would have to get a staff.  And everything is coming all to a head just before January, before these critical primaries come up, Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what happens if the Clintons blow it next year sometime, something disastrous happens in their world, and the Democrats are looking for a stand-in?  Would it be Al Gore be the perfect default candidate?

ALLEN:  That means that Barack Obama will be the president.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, really?

CRAWFORD:  No, I take your point.  I mean, I—it‘s such an unlikely event.  I mean, if something really disastrous happened and—after the primaries and the party had to go for somebody, he would be, like, the ready-made candidate, I suppose, but...


MATTHEWS:  Mike, did you say you think Barack Obama could beat Al Gore at the Democratic convention if they actually had to have a vote at the convention?

ALLEN:  Oh, no, I‘m sorry, Chris.  What I was saying is if for some reason Senator Clinton is not viable, that that means that Senator Obama would step in.  He‘s unusual for any second-place candidate, and that is he has as much money as she does.  And so if something happens, he‘s ready to charge in.  Very unusual situation.

MATTHEWS:  So there‘s not even an opening if the Clintons are knocked off the set?

ALLEN:  Look, Chris, as you know, in four months, less than four months, we‘re going to know who the nominee is.  A year ago, this might have made sense.  There‘s not the time for the vice president to do this.

MATTHEWS:  Last go-round, beginning with April.  Do you think Al Gore will endorse Barack Obama this fall?

RYAN:  I think he‘s going to be very careful in who he endorses after the fiasco with Howard Dean.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  What do you think, Craig?

CRAWFORD:  It was before his Oscar and his Nobel, but the endorsement

of Howard Dean was pretty much of a joke.  I don‘t know it would mean very

I think it would be better for his cause.  Again, I think it depends on, you know, if he‘s really committed to his cause.  Probably better for his cause not to endorse and make sure that whoever the nominee is embraces what he wants in global warming.

MATTHEWS:  I think we‘ll know if he‘s serious about global warming or about politics if he doesn‘t endorse.  It seems to me, Mike, if he doesn‘t endorse, that means he‘s serious about his cause.  If he does endorse, he‘s splitting up his army to fight the anti-Clinton wars.

ALLEN:  Well, Chris, you‘re right, but also, I think he‘s not going to endorse, and that means that if any of the Democrats become president, the vice president will be invited to be an ambassador to the world on climate change.  That way, he gets it both ways.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  We‘ll be right back to talk about this interesting development.  Barack is coming out swinging after all the months and months of people like me playing Don King, saying, Get in there and start a fight.  He‘s decided to do it on his own, obviously.  He wasn‘t listening to us.

And later, the HARDBALL debate tonight.  Should Al Gore run for president?  That‘s going to be hot.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  She says that she wasn‘t really voting for war back in 2002, she was voting for more inspections or she was voting for more diplomacy.  But all of us know what was being debated in Congress in 2002.  We didn‘t need to authorize a war in order to have the United Nations weapons inspections.  No one thought Congress was debating whether or not to conduct diplomacy.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was Senator Barack Obama hitting Hillary Clinton hard this morning in Iowa.  We‘re back with April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks, the Politico‘s Mike Allen and Craig Crawford of “The Congressional Quarterly.”

April, I thought—well, let me the you, I‘m going to leave this wide

open.  Is he finally making his kick, as they say in running?  Is he about

to go for the—for the -- -

RYAN:  For the jugular?

MATTHEWS:  ... for the ribbon.

RYAN:  Well, let me say this.  I talked to some Barack Obama staffers, high-ranking staffers, today.  And they said, Look, you know, why is everyone making such a big deal about him making factual statements?  They said, you know, Hillary has been making statements and attacking him all along, since until now.  They‘re saying things like, you know, the fact that she called him naive and inexperienced and irresponsible, and now, you know, people are making a big deal out of this.

But going to that Iran vote, they‘re basically saying, Look, this vote has the potential to back President Bush to keep troops in Iraq so they can thwart Iran.  So they‘re very concerned about how this is playing out.

MATTHEWS:  Who are you arguing with?  You‘re not arguing with me, April.  I think it‘s a positive statement by this guy.  I don‘t listen to all this blowback from the Clinton crowd.

RYAN:  Good for you!

MATTHEWS:  You act like that‘s objective criticism.  It‘s just blowback by staffers who are paid to do it.

Look, Mike, I do not understand this new kind of press coverage.  It seems to me, if somebody makes a statement, you cover it.  You don‘t sit around waiting to hear from Howard Wolfson for his latest debunking of it and put that and give it equal coverage.  It‘s just another automatic, you know, functionary, doing their functionary job of debunking something, and it gets equal play in the press.  It‘s significant that Hillary voted to authorize this war in Iraq.  It‘s significant that she she‘s voted for this new version of the Iraq Liberation Act applied to Iran.  That‘s significant.  It‘s significant that a candidate for president raises these issues.  It‘s not significant that some staffer on some campaign puts out a debunking statement, and yet everybody gives equal coverage.

ALLEN:  You know, Chris, I think we definitely can agree with that.

But what‘s changed this week—and April Ryan always knows what‘s going on.  And I definitely agree with her.  But the reason this is getting some attention is that, Chris, you know better than anyone that politics is a contact sport.

And Senator Obama finally put on his pads this week.

MATTHEWS:  Oh.  Thank you. 

ALLEN:  As you and your viewers know, he in the past has made these statements that were elliptical.  He referred to some.  He referred to others.  This time, he referred to Senator Clinton, first in an editorial in “The Manchester Union Leader” in New Hampshire, and today in that great clip that you played. 

He recognizes that he has to get in and start—start mixing it up, that you can‘t leave it to the press to assume that he‘s talking...

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

ALLEN:  ... about Hillary Clinton...

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

ALLEN:  ... because that‘s we did before. 

MATTHEWS:  The biggest mistake you can make in politics is expect the free media and free observation by the media is going to get the truth out.  The only way to get the truth out is to speak it as best you can and hope it gets covered. 

CRAWFORD:  Well, I believe, in politics, you go negative early.  And this should have been done...

MATTHEWS:  Is this negative?

CRAWFORD:  This should have been done in April. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s essential.

CRAWFORD:  It‘s good comparative policy arguments. 

MATTHEWS:  Why doesn‘t he just start calling the Clintons the incumbents?  Because they are the incumbents.

CRAWFORD:  Well, he started calling her by name and attacking her votes.  I mean, I‘m not saying anything is wrong with going negative.  I‘m saying it‘s good politics if the timing is right.  This should have been done back in April. 

Edwards and Obama let Hillary try on, tailor her Teflon suit for the last eight months.


CRAWFORD:  And now they‘re suddenly trying—and the problem is, you know, the later you do this, the more risk of A backlash.  And we saw it today in Iowa with the speech Obama gave.  He gave it to 200 Iowans at Drake University.  They didn‘t applaud a single time during that speech, just at the end. 

I remember when Richard Gephardt went hard negative on Howard Dean and took himself out.  He hurt Dean.  But, in Iowa, they don‘t like to see this stuff.


MATTHEWS:  They‘re dainty, or what? 

CRAWFORD:  They‘re very genteel in Iowa about this stuff.  I mean, even if it‘s a good policy debate like he‘s trying to have, there‘s a backlash in Iowa when candidates start doing this, why you do it early, get it over with, so you can be positive at the end. 

He reminds me of Bill Bradley running against Al Gore...


CRAWFORD:  ... because, you know, Bill Bradley tried to be the poet, instead of a politician. 



CRAWFORD:  And this is what Obama did. 


MATTHEWS:  April, it seems to me that you don‘t have to defend an active campaign. 

RYAN:  Right. 

Well, but—but here‘s what happened.  This is what is at issue, the fact that the Barack Obama campaign was saying, we‘re going to take the high road.  We‘re not going to bash anybody.  That came out early on.

And now they‘re in full attack mode.  And they have to, because Hillary Clinton is the one to beat at this moment. 

ALLEN:  And she was the one to beat a long time ago.  That‘s what I don‘t get.

MATTHEWS:  Let me get this straight.  It‘s a negative act to criticize someone for authorizing a war that‘s cost us 3,000 to 4,000 troops already, is costing us 100,000 or so in whatever—deaths around the battlefield over there of all sides.  And that‘s OK to authorize a war that‘s caused such calamity on our foreign policy.  But that‘s a positive thing to do. 

It‘s a negative thing to call somebody out for that.  Who came up with this scorecard, that it‘s negative to criticize the war? 


CRAWFORD:  ... it‘s perfectly legitimate to make that case.


RYAN:  If you say you‘re going to take the high road, you‘re going to have to take the high road. 

MATTHEWS:  But what‘s the high road? 


RYAN:  The high road is to just let her do what‘s she‘s doing and keep on moving forward, not looking back.

But now he‘s looking back.  And he‘s pointing out.  It‘s point/counterpoint.

MATTHEWS:  All right. 

CRAWFORD:  Well, yes.  But now he‘s so far behind in the polls, he‘s giving up the audacity of hope and the positive message. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s the dichotomy. 


RYAN:  It‘s an attack.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s the commentary of the Clinton campaign, Mike.  That is not a rational assessment.

To say that a candidate running against an incumbent leadership, the Clintons, who are basically the establishment of the Democratic Party, and the fact that he cannot challenge their policy statements of the past, if that‘s the high road, I don‘t want to have anything to do with politics. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s a stupid notion of the high road. 

ALLEN:  Right. 


MATTHEWS:  The high road is, don‘t get personal, don‘t get trashy.  But to say you can‘t debate the policy decisions of the leadership of the party is what?  I don‘t know what kind of a statement that is. 

ALLEN:  Right. 


ALLEN:  Chris, that‘s right.



ALLEN:  Chris, what you have happening here is, you‘re right.  They‘re talking about policy. 

And the other thing is that, beyond the specific issue positions, the Obama campaign will tell you that this tells you some very important things about Senator Clinton, including the fact that, on Iran, she took a vote that she thought would help her in the general election, but now is biting her with the Democratic base vote...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ALLEN:  ... and with some of her statements about Iran that she‘s gotten into trouble by being too—by parsing the statement too much, by being too Clintonian, if you will. 

And that‘s why they‘re going to keep pointing out these statements, because they‘re going to say, that‘s what you get with Senator Clinton when you get her off her script. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think so.

CRAWFORD:  And most of these arguments were available six months ago. 

Why didn‘t they make them then? 


Here‘s Senator Obama today talking about the Iranian vote of Hillary Clinton the other day.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don‘t want to give this president any excuse or any opening for war, because as we have learned with the authorization of the Iraq war, when you give this president a blank check, you can‘t be surprised when he decides to cash it. 

Now, among my Democratic opponents in this primary, Senator Clinton is the only Democratic candidate for president who supports this amendment.  She said, like she did five years ago, that this is the way to support diplomacy. 

This is a real difference.  I disagree. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, he‘s leaning over reading from the notes.  That‘s what I was accused of doing by my wife the other night during the debate, asking questions. 


MATTHEWS:  Why doesn‘t he prepare his remarks, April?  Why doesn‘t he get a teleprompter, a box of Wheaties, and come out and give a speech? 

RYAN:  Because we would be complaining.  We would be complaining about that as well.  You know that.

MATTHEWS:  Not me. 


MATTHEWS:  No, no, no, no.


MATTHEWS:  You can say, I would. 

RYAN:  It would seem too scripted.

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t say, we would, April, because you know I wouldn‘t be complaining about it. 

RYAN:  But we—we said that—now, Chris, you remember there were teleprompters at other debates, and people were complaining about that. 

So, it‘s—I‘m not going to say the word I was going to say, but it‘s dogged if you do, dogged if you don‘t, one way or the other. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s wrong.  You‘re wrong.  You‘re wrong, April.  You‘re wrong.

RYAN:  No.  Oh, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  The fact is, we want to hear a well-delivered speech with some passion.  And we want to have it delivered as if the guy read it once...

RYAN:  On a teleprompter?

MATTHEWS:  ... or twice before.  Sight reading doesn‘t work here. 


RYAN:  So, you want it like the president reads his Oval Office statements or the State of the Union, very scripted?


ALLEN:  But, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m all for it.  I don‘t mind it being scripted.  I just think, if he had read it a couple times before, it would have been better delivered.  That‘s all. 


ALLEN:  Well, that‘s right, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  He had to keep looking down at the notes. 

Come on, April.  He wasn‘t prepared. 

RYAN:  OK.  OK.  OK.  OK. 


CRAWFORD:  It looked like he was pulling the punch.  I mean, they wanted this to be covered more in print than on video. 


MATTHEWS:  Dainty doesn‘t win.

RYAN:  So, you‘re basically saying—you‘re basically...


MATTHEWS:  Can I—can I sing this song?  Dainty doesn‘t win. 

RYAN:  So, you‘re basically saying someone gave him the card; he didn‘t know about it, and he kind of read over the card, because he wasn‘t there for the vote? 

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m saying that he may have read it in the car.  He may have read it in the car on the way over, but you have got to get a little more punch in these speeches.  Anyway...


ALLEN:  OK, but, Chris, there‘s no question...

CRAWFORD:  He pretended—he pretended for eight months that she wasn‘t there.  He‘s suddenly discovered she‘s in the race and she is way ahead of him.  And it‘s too late.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s got to whack her.



MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, April Ryan. 

Thank you, Mike Allen.

Thank you, Craig Crawford.

Up next:  Has Ann Coulter finally said the unsayable? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Here‘s the latest political scuttle. 

First, my friend Donny Deutsch apparently had it with his guest Ann Coulter Thursday night.  Here‘s what she said, and then what he said. 


ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “GODLESS: THE CHURCH OF LIBERALISM”:  I give all of these speeches at mega-churches across America, and the one thing that‘s really striking about it is how utterly, completely diverse they are, and completely un-self-consciously.  You walk past a mixed-race couple in New York, and it‘s like they have a chip on their shoulder.  They‘re just waiting for somebody to say something, as if anybody would.  And...

DONNY DEUTSCH, HOST, “THE BIG IDEA”:  I don‘t agree with that.  I don‘t agree with that at all. 

COULTER:  And...

DEUTSCH:  Maybe you have the chip looking at them.  I see a lot of interracial couples, and I don‘t see any more or less chips there either way.  That‘s erroneous.

COULTER:  No, look, in fact, there was an entire “Seinfeld” episode about Elaine and her boyfriend dating...

DEUTSCH:  Right. 

COULTER:  ... because they wanted to be a mixed-race couple.  So, you‘re lying. 

No, we think—we want Jews to be perfected, as they say. 

DEUTSCH:  Wow.  You didn‘t really say that, did you? 

COULTER:  Yes.  No, that‘s what Christianity is. 

DEUTSCH:  OK.  All right. 

COULTER:  We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express.  You have to obey laws. 

DEUTSCH:  In my old—In my old days...


COULTER:  We know we‘re all sinners. 

DEUTSCH:  When you say something absurd like that, there‘s no...


COULTER:  What‘s absurd? 

DEUTSCH:  Jews are going to be perfected.  I‘m going to go off and try to perfect myself for Ann Coulter, author of...

COULTER:  Well, that‘s what the New Testament is.

DEUTSCH:  ... “If Democrats Had Any Brains, They‘d Be Republicans.”

And, if Ann Coulter had any brains, she would not say Jews need to be perfected.

I‘m offended by that personally. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I have got to learn to be that cool, as Donny is.

I remember years ago when someone made a divisive reference to my religion, I ended that appearance on the program then and there. 

Coulter called Deutsch a liar and then belittled his religion, and still was allowed to remain on the show. 

I can‘t tell how much of Coulter‘s stuff is manufactured, can you, to gather attention and how much of it is genuine.  Then again, how much does that matter?  It‘s pretty awful either way.

Anyway, second, remember the other Thompson who ran for president, Tommy Thompson?  The former Wisconsin governor and Bush Cabinet member announced today that he‘s backing Rudy Giuliani for president. 

Great headline, by the way: “Thompson Endorses Giuliani.” 

Speaking of Rudy, “The New York Daily News” reports today that federal prosecutors are expected to file charges next month against former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.  The briefly nominated candidate for homeland security chief, according to the newspaper, says the charges will likely include allegations of bribery, tax fraud, and obstruction of justice. 

Kerik‘s lawyer told WNBC in New York that prosecutors told him no charging decisions have been made yet. 

Here‘s the former New York mayor‘s reaction—quote—“I have already said I should have checked his background more carefully.  I didn‘t.  I have learned a lesson from it.  I‘m going to check more carefully in the future”—close quote.

And, finally, Mitt Romney is up with a new ad.  It‘s called “Jihad.”


ROMNEY:  It‘s this century‘s nightmare, jihadism, violent, radical Islamic fundamentalism.  Their goal is to unite the world under a single jihadist caliphate.  To do that, they must collapse freedom-loving nations, like us. 

As president, I will strengthen our intelligence services, increase our military by at least 100,000, and monitor the calls al Qaeda makes into America.  And we can and will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. 

I‘m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message. 


MATTHEWS:  That ad didn‘t exactly have the smoke of the battlefield, did it?  Where‘s the grit and the fire over the war front?  Where‘s the gut feel of a man who is really into the matter?  There‘s something too darn comfortable here.  It feels like Mr. Cleaver telling the Wally and the Beaver to make the beds. 

Up next, the HARDBALL debate:  Should Al Gore run for president? 

We‘re at it again.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks rebounded from yesterday‘s losses, the Dow Jones industrial average closing the week in the green, up almost 78 points, broad-market S&P 500 up more than seven.  Tech stocks saw a 33 percent gain on the Nasdaq.

Stocks got a boost from stronger-than-expected retail sales in September.  Another report also helped.  It showed that core inflation at the wholesale level remained well-contained in September. 

And tech stocks got a boost from some potential deal news, Oracle making a $6.7 billion offer for business management software-maker BEA Systems.  Oracle shares were trading down fractionally, while BEA Systems shares jumped 38 percent. 

Meantime, GE shares edged lower, even though it reported quarterly profit up 14 percent.  And earnings were in line with analyst estimates.  GE, of course, is the parent company of CNBC and MSNBC. 

And oil traded above $84 a barrel today for first time ever, but closed at $83.69, after gaining 61 cents in the session. 

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


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Former Vice President Al Gore may have lost the White House, but, this year, he‘s won an Emmy, an Oscar.  And, today, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in raising global awareness about global warming. 


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency.  It truly is a planetary emergency. 


MATTHEWS:  With Gore‘s positive international image, as a man who was against the war from the beginning, and his passion for saving the planet, is it the inconvenient truth for Democrats that he may be the best candidate for the White House in 2008? 

The HARDBALL debate tonight, here it is:  Should Al Gore run for president? 

Andy Ostroy is the spokesman for the—DraftGore.com.  And Mark Green is with Air America Radio.  He‘s president, in fact.

Let me go to Andy. 

Make your case for Al Gore to jump in this thing and win it. 

ANDY OSTROY, SPOKESMAN, DRAFTGORE.COM:  Well, this is the absolute right time for Al Gore to be the right person at the right time and place.

you know, Al Gore has incredible credentials.  He‘s already gone through the vetting process in 2000.  The biggest thing you could say about Al Gore, in terms of criticism, is that he‘s a wonk, that he‘s smart, that he‘s serious, that he may be boring.

But, you know, I think, in the last eight years, we have had a taste of what it‘s like to have a president who‘s the guy we want to have a beer with.  And I think maybe the—the American public is sort of clamoring for a president who is smart and serious and—and ready to lead this country in a global environment. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of that, Mark?  That sounds like a solid argument.  We need a man of substance, not a frat boy. 

MARK GREEN, PRESIDENT, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  I agree with that.  But I don‘t think he will run or should run. 

Look, Al and Tipper Gore and all Americans should be really gratified that the person we chose as president in 2000 has been recognized and rewarded for his leadership on global warming.  When they hung abolitionist John Brown, he said, “I will have more to say about this when I‘m dead.”

Al Gore has won this recognition while he‘s alive.  So, why would he or should he run?  First, he understands how the media kicked him so bad and unfairly as a candidate and after he lost.  Remember all the over-analyses about how he sighed during the debates.  Great, now we have a president who invades the wrong country.

Why would he want to do that again?  Second, it‘s a very unusually strong field this year.  The top tier of Democrats are super stars.  The so-called second tier has a lot of presidential timber.  Chris, if it were 1988 or ‘92 or 2004, with lesser well known Democrats running, maybe.  But there‘s not much space with Hillary Clinton doing so well and Obama and Edwards doing so well. 

Finally, Democrats are quite unforgiving when someone has lost and Americans as well.  Al Gore—I think it‘s wrong.  I agree with Andy about his merit.  He has a 46 percent unfavorable rating nationally.  In the current polls in a match-up—


GREEN:  It‘s Hillary Clinton at 40 and Al Gore at 10.  I don‘t see it. 

MATTHEWS:  Andy, is she a better candidate against—

OSTROY:  If I can speak to the points for a second.  In terms of why he wants to run, I believe that once you run for president, you always want to be president.  I think Bob Dole would still like to be president.  I don‘t think you give up that kind of ambition.  I think he has an opportunity here to actually lead and provide direction in a country that‘s facing a lot of crisis, in terms of the environment, in terms of war and fighting a war on terrorism. 

In terms of Obama and the other field of candidates that he‘s running against, if you look at polls and look at fund-raising, Obama in a sense—his luster is not shining as brightly as it had a couple of months ago.  So that‘s real opportunity for a guy like Gore with the credentials he has to step into this race and speak the messages that seem to be resonating very well with the American public. 

I don‘t believe that Hillary Clinton, simply because she‘s the front-runner today, is necessarily anointed the candidate of choice for many people.  Howard Dean also was the front-runner prior to the primaries and we all know what happened there.  So I think the opportunity is incredibly ripe and fertile for someone like Al Gore to enter this race and take the mantel at the call of the people.  You know, the whole idea of the Draft Gore ad was to issue an impassioned plea to this man, who was part of a very successful administration, to come in and provide direction in this country in a time of crisis with the economy, the environment, the war and terrorism. 


GREEN:  Al Gore was right and prescient, ahead of all the current crop of candidates, on Iraq, on global warming.  I couldn‘t agree more with that.  And I agree that Hillary Clinton is not the anointed nominee.  There have been upsets before.  But Andy, Al Gore has had a better year than Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Chris Matthews combined.  He now has this stature.  If he invests it in his major cause, a planetary cause on global warming, that would be so consistent and enhancing. 

If he suddenly turned around and ran for office, he would look, right or wrong, as opportunistic.  Were I advising him, and I‘m not, he could still be president. 


GREEN:  I think a Democrat will win in 2008, but I have been wrong before.  He could be president—

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s get—if Hillary doesn‘t make it next November or Obama doesn‘t make it, is he still a candidate for you in 2012? 

OSTROY:  I think Al Gore is among the field of candidates out there today and on the horizon.  He is the best possible choice for the Democrats today and tomorrow. 

MATTHEWS:  You may be right, but he hasn‘t even begun a campaign.  To catch up—You‘re saying he can catch up to Hillary Clinton this fall? 

OSTROY:  He‘s already pulling in the low double digits without even being a declared candidate.  Hillary Clinton has about 51 percent.  What do you think would happen if he entered the race?

GREEN:  When you‘re a declared candidate, what happens is what you

said what happened to Obama.  You often go down because the press engages

in their punditry about his sighing, his Internet stories, his love stories

OSTROY:  Mark, this is a man who won the election once before in a country that was very different.  To me he‘s the new Nixon.  You know, Nixon came back eight years later.  The country was different.  Nixon was different.  The time is right for Al Gore. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you gentlemen, both of you.  Andy Ostroy, thank you very much.  Thank you Mark Green, as always. 

Up next, who‘s driving the coverage of the 2008 campaign?  The press or the candidates themselves?  Is the media being manhandled here?  “Washington Post” media critic Howard Kurtz is the author of a new book “Reality Show” about the anchors.  Let‘s talk to him about the politicians as well.  He‘ll join us right here next.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Howard Kurtz is the media reporter for the “Washington Post.”  His new book is “Reality Show, the Last Great Television News War.”  You write your book about these three big anchor guys, including the woman, of course, Katie Couric.  Who‘s wining? 

HOWARD KURTZ, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Who‘s winning?  Well, Charlie Gibson is winning the rating race. 

MATTHEWS:  So what happened to Charlie, just to get into this without getting into the problems of my management here and who I have to be loyal to.  But Charlie was around a long time.  He almost got bumped off by ABC.  He was going off to work at the History Channel or A&E.  All of a sudden, he comes back.  There‘s a terrible tragedy involving Bob Woodruff.  And all of a sudden he‘s back as Mr. Hot. 

If they thought he was that talented, how come they were pushing him aside in the beginning? 

KURTZ:  Well, you know, obviously Peter Jennings had that chair for life until, unfortunately, he died.  And so Charlie kind of sneaked onto the stage.  I mean, Katie Couric, her picture was every bus in New York City, huge publicity campaign.  Charlie got nothing.  But what happened is people liked him.  He wore well, and because he was a Capital Hill reporter for ten years, he had political chops and it showed. 

MATTHEWS:  I know him.  How often do these things change?  Brian Williams—Tom Brokaw wasn‘t always number one. 

KURTZ:  Number three for a while, ten years. 

MATTHEWS:  What took his evolution to occur?  What happens?  It isn‘t always a snapshot.  Things change. 

KURTZ:  Things change because maybe your newscast gets a little better, maybe people get to like you.  In Brokaw‘s case, he wrote “The Greatest Generation.”  That gave him a certain stature. 

MATTHEWS:  So it wasn‘t the prime time slots?  It wasn‘t the prime time ratings that helped, it was something else? 

KURTZ:  NBC had the Olympics one year.  That helped him.

MATTHEWS:  Getting older, does that help? 

KURTZ:  Getting Older helps in the case of Gibson, because the Evening News, --

MATTHEWS:  I think it helped with Tom too. 

KURTZ:  Look, a lot of people think the 6:30 newscasts are kind of an anachronism.  They‘re obsolete.  We can get our news from the cable and the Internet. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you can. 

KURTZ:  Yes you can. 

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever done a study of the commercials on the evenings news?  They‘re pain relievers. 

KURTZ:  I have done a study in this book of the news content and it‘s all about back pain and alzheimers and hip replacement.  And nobody under 30 watches, and that‘s the reason. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re still pushing Viagra for the guys still active here. 

At least we still got the young people here.

KURTZ:  But Gibson is the oldest of the anchors, closest in age to the people who watch these programs. 

MATTHEWS:  So that helps? 

KURTZ:  It does help. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the candidates; I noticed that our bookers around here, they are young people.  They‘re amazingly innocent, nice people.  They are.  They‘re not tough guys, not HARDBALLers.  They will come in once and a while and say, we‘re trying to get this guy.  By the way, you said something last night that seems to have offended one of these candidates.  I‘ll read the complaint and I‘ll go, yes, OK, that‘s their point of view.  I think I‘m right.  I think I‘m on the facts.  They don‘t like it, tough. 

And they‘ll say, well, they‘re threatening not to put the candidate on the show.  How long has that gone on, this sort of man handling of the media?  If we don‘t like your message, we‘re going to freeze you. 

KURTZ:  If you‘re up in the polls, you can get away with that.  So when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy online on a Saturday, that Monday she let it be known that she would visit all the three evening news anchor, 3.5 minutes, no editing, taped.  Charlie Gibson did not like that.  He pushed back and said, I‘m not going to do that.  We don‘t do that for the president of the United States.  We have—

MATTHEWS:  Explain from the media end why you wouldn‘t agree to a deal like that? 

KURTZ:  Because you‘re ceding control to the candidate.  She can filibuster a question and you can‘t cut it and you can‘t extend it beyond the 3.5 minutes. 

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s paid advertising really? 

KURTZ:  Well you can ask your questions, but you really cede the control of the formatting.  They ended up compromising on a live interview, but when Hillary Clinton—when she does her health plan—Barack Obama already had a health plan.  John Edwards already had a health plan.  She gets to go on four morning shows.  She gets to do the full Ginsburg and do on five Sunday shows. 

MATTHEWS:  The full Ginsburg.  You‘ve got to explain it.   

KURTZ:  Monica Lewinsky‘s lawyer, William Ginsburg, was the first to do all five Sunday shows on a given day.  It‘s become known as the full Ginsburg.  Bill, the next week, does two fifths of a Ginsburg, goes on two of the shows.  It‘s not an even playing field.  She‘s a celebrity.  She‘s a former first lady.  The press gives her a platform that none of the other candidates have. 

MATTHEWS:  How about punishment, how common is that today, press punishment?  If the commentary isn‘t sweet, if the reporting isn‘t the way they like it, they freeze or what else can they do?  They can put out statements.  What else can they do? 

KURTZ:  Well in this book, “Reality Show,” I talked about how the Bush White House froze out Katie Couric for five years because the president and his people were ticked off that she had pressed Laura Bush about abortion.  No interviews, no access until she went over to CBS.  They reluctantly said I guess we have to deal with. 

Hillary Clinton also had the incident with “GQ Magazine,” was working on a tough piece about in-fighting in her campaign.  The campaign calls up and says, you know, this interview request you have in for Bill Clinton, you want to go with him to Africa, that might go away.   

MATTHEWS:  You know what I like about HARDBALL?  I don‘t need them.  I‘d like to have them on.  We‘re having McCain on next week, a number of people that come on the show a lot.  But if they say they don‘t want to be on the show, we‘ll just talk about them. 

KURTZ:  You don‘t feel any pressure? 

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s better this way.  Nightly news is different. 

Interview shows are different.  My two shows are better for me because I don‘t have to do any kissing.  We‘ll be right back with Howard Kurtz, who doesn‘t kiss either.  His book is called “Reality Show.”  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Howard Kurtz, author of the new book “Reality Show.”  Let me ask you because your the toughest guy in town, the scariest call backs known to man for our business.  Where do you see it going?  People watching cable I know watch throughout the day.  They catch up with the news when they get home at night.  They may watch one of the broadcast networks.  But they generally watch a show like this.  Later on in the evening, if they‘re younger, they will watch Stewart.  They will watch Colbert.  Maybe on Sunday they‘ll watch one of the shows.  They‘ll watch Tim, or they may watch me as well or somebody else.  How do people put it together?  Where is that heading? 

KURTZ:  The network newscast, even though they‘re kind of shadow of themselves from the Cronkite era, remain a prestigious outlet that can really drive news coverage, even though fewer people are watching.  So here‘s an example.  During the mid term campaign, obviously a good year for the Democrats, ABC‘s Bryan Ross gets a tip, gets an e-mail, Congressman Mark Foley writing to a 16 year old House page, send me a picture of yourself and the kid writes back this is sick, sick, sick. 

He goes to Charlie Gibson, he says, this could be a really big story.  Gibson looks at is and says, I don‘t think it‘s strong enough to go on the show. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s managing editor.  He decides. 

KURTZ:  He has very strong voice on what goes on the newscast, as does Brian, as does Katie.  They don‘t put it on the show.  Brian Ross breaks it online.  The next day, Foley is toast.  That wouldn‘t have happened ten years ago.  They do play a gatekeeper role, but the Internet is increasingly important.  All of these shows are now trying—Brian Williams does a daily blog.  You can catch all these shows on the Internet.

If they don‘t find ways to reinvent themselves, and appeal to young people and use the technology, then in five or ten years they will be—

MATTHEWS:  What would you rather have power over if you wanted to control news?  Would you rather own “The Today Show” or “The Nightly News?”  What‘s bigger? 

KURTZ:  The—

MATTHEWS:  I hear “The Today Show” sets the agenda for the day because you‘ve got overnight, nothing happening.  People don‘t blog all night.  They get up in the morning and the first thing they do is they turn on “The Today Show” or they turn on Joe Scarborough or somebody, and they find out.  You have fresh opportunity, whereas the nightly news comes on after a whole day of news coverage, a whole day of news reporting. 

KURTZ:  I still think that there was a reason that Hillary Clinton chose to sit down with Brian Williams, Katie Couric—who she once gave advice to, by the way, when she took over the CBS chair.  She sent her to a friend—and Charlie Gibson.  That is, they are the face of the network news division. 

But I don‘t underestimate the importance of those network morning shows because they drive the coverage during the day.  The sound bites are replayed during the day, particularly on cable, and they influence what‘s on in the evening and they influence newspapers.  They are becoming players, even though a lot of it is about fashion and food and stuff like that.  The first 20 minutes of those newscasts are probably as important to political strategist and campaign people as the 6:30 news. 

MATTHEWS:  Sometimes I hear an echo of what we say here on this show -

or I say, and I‘ll hear it elsewhere.  I‘m learning about the echo affect and how different things echo.  We all hear each other.  But you never know where the echo begins.  You never know what starts. 

KURTZ:  I‘ll tell you where it begins on the evening news.  It begins in a few newspapers, particularly “the New York Times.”  It‘s amazing the way I documented how much stories that particularly get good play in those papers show up in the news shows.

MATTHEWS:  If the big network shows, including NBC, were located in Kansas City, it would be different, wouldn‘t it? 

KURTZ:  “The Kansas City Star” would be huge. 

MATTHEWS:  The culture out there would be different too.

KURTZ:  “New York Times” did a feature story on guy who covered corvette—

MATTHEWS:  We can talk all night.  Read the book.  The book is called “Reality Show.”  Howard Kurtz, thanks for joining us.



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