updated 10/30/2007 11:45:08 AM ET 2007-10-30T15:45:08

Guests: Jonathan Martin, Peter Fenn, John Fund, Michael Isikoff

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Barack Obama swears he‘s going to get tough with Hillary Clinton but the thing about real tough guys, they don‘t talk all that much about being tough, they just do it.  Is Obama for real?

Welcome to the show.  In an interview with the “New York Times” aboard private jet Obama did his version of getting tough saying that Hillary Clinton has not been truthful about her positions on social security, Iraq or Iran.

Obama also said he was not going to kneecap the Clinton campaign but if history or national polls are any indication it could be kneecap time about now.  Obama‘s next best chance for that is tomorrow night at the Democratic debate in Philadelphia.  Will he take effective shots at the distant front runner or will Barack Obama‘s politics of hope turn the Democratic debates into something like the recently completed World Series, swift, decisive, without drama.

Running a more effective nice guy campaign is Republican Mike Huckabee, his lighthearted presentation and ostensibly authentic conservatism made him the star of the Values Voters Summit a week ago.  However, new study of Huckabee‘s tenure as Arkansas governor suggests he may not be all that conservative.  In a moment we‘ll talk to John Fund of the “Wall Street Journal” the man who did that study.

And if brazen convicted murderers on the loose get your attention and we hope they do, stick around for an outrage, the man responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, the bombing that killed 17 American servicemen is living and laughing at life in Yemen.  The government there is well aware.  “Newsweek‘s” Michael Isikoff broke that story and he joins us later in the hour with details.

We begin with what may be Barack Obama‘s last chance.  It is unclear if Mr. Obama has the stomach for rough and tumble politicking required to win national office.  And tomorrow night at Drexel University we hall see.  Here with their much anticipated insights we welcome Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and the “Politico‘s” Jonathan Martin.  Welcome to you both.

Peter Fenn, tough guys don‘t brag about being tough, they just go in there and smack you in the face with a roll of quarters, don‘t they?


CARLSON:  So all this, “We‘re getting tough now.”

FENN:  And I think it‘s hard, isn‘t it, for Barack.  He‘s talked about politics of hope, he talks about not engaging in slash and burn politics, he talks about the politics of old versus the new politics.  So it makes it a little more difficult for him to do this.

But look.

CARLSON:  So self aware.  It‘s like he‘s floating above himself, looking down upon ...

FENN:  The thing about it is to announce that you‘re going to go negative with two “New York Times” reporters on the front page of the Sunday “New York Times” is a little odd.  But my theory on this they got two months now.  And Hillary Clinton is going to be the pinata, she‘s going to be the one out there that they‘re all going after.  And the biggest stick that they can come up with to whack at her is way this thing is going to come down.

CARLSON:  It seems, we were talking about this in our conference calls with our mostly female producers all of whom were laughing because they heard men do this so many times.  You‘re going to love this, baby, I‘m tough as hell.  It‘s like, we‘re empty words from a man.  He‘s attacking Hillary for being a hawk on the war.  Yet it seems to me judging by the polls of Democratic voters Democrats aren‘t as against the war as they say they are.  Or they wouldn‘t be supporting Hillary Clinton, the most conservative on the war would they?

JONATHAN MARTIN, “THE POLITICO”:  What‘s remarkable is that even some democratic voters who say the war their most important issue, they still favor Hillary Clinton.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

MARTIN:  It‘s remarkable.  But look, Peter‘s right.  Politics is very simple.  When you‘re losing and you‘re losing like Obama is in some of these national polls and some of the early states you‘ve got to do something.  You‘ve got to try to start closing that gap.  And the way do you that is by taking some shots at the person who is winning.  That‘s what is happening here.

CARLSON:  Right.  My sense is that, the Obama people, maybe to some extent the Edwards people and Mike Gravel‘s people as well had their campaign predicated on the idea that she would stumble, that she would make a mistake and then they would pounce, is that true?

MARTIN:  I think they were expecting her to not run the campaign that she has.  They were expecting some more gaps, Bill Clinton is this sort of gifted retail politician, she clearly does not have those same sort of attributes but she‘s done a darn good job so far in this campaign.  Has been very, very disciplined.

FENN:  I totally agree with that.  I think they thought, look, she‘s got a lot of ground to cover, she‘s got a lot of states she has to be in.  She‘s got to vote, she‘s got to do her Senate job and plus she‘s just not going to be as good as Bill.  She‘s not going to be able to do it on these debates.  We had all these debates with John Edwards, I live in Iowa.  Obama, I‘m going to put more time in Iowa than she has.  But the fact is she has done a lot better than people expected.  And the big question now is, as these Iowa polls are tight and they‘re going to stay tight for a while is does she overcome that likability factor.  Do people ..

CARLSON:  How about this.  Everyone talks about Rudy Giuliani, he is so popular but on September 10, 2001, he was unpopular.  No one ever says the same about Bill Clinton.  He is very popular now, January of 2001, he was reviled by just about everybody.  Here‘s what Obama says about legacy of the Clinton years.  He‘s only gingerly touched on this, here is part of what he said to the “New York Times.”

“There‘s a legacy that is both an enormous advantage to her in a Democratic primary but also a disadvantage to her in a general election.  I don‘t think anyone would claim that Senator Clinton is going to inspire a horde of new voters.  I don‘t think she is going to get a whole bunch of Republicans to think differently about her.”

That‘s a pretty subtle way of saying, look, the Clinton years were really divisive, Clinton himself very gifted, also incredibly sleazy, a troubled man, why doesn‘t he go out and say this?  Do you want to relive this crap, no?

FENN:  This is a big problem for him right now.  Because his—he‘s trying to go into Iowa with the winnability argument.  He saw John Kerry do it last time, he is trying to say, look, I can win in November.  The trouble is that a lot of the polls now are showing that she can win, too.

And the difficulty I think for Obama is that he needs to make tracks fast.  He‘s got to move quickly.  And it probably won‘t come off of Hillary‘s hide, going to come off of John Edwards‘ hide or Bill Richardson‘s hide or some of these other folks.  So he‘s got to find a way to distinguish himself as the alternative.

CARLSON:  But it‘s not going to be a policy.  This is the mistake they made.  I think your point central one of this whole campaign.  People who say that war is foremost in their minds, Democrats who hate the war above all else, still prefer Hillary who is like, basically Bush‘s side on the war, I think.

MARTIN:  Here is the crux.  If it‘s not about policy, it has to be about personality and character.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

MARTIN:  But Hillary‘s advantage is this, is that loyal Democrats don‘t think the Clintons are corrupt and when they hear charges that even touch that that allegation, they hearken back to Republican attacks.  So when Obama voices .

FENN:  Here is two points.  One, now the eight years of Clinton administration look damn good compared to what we‘ve with dealing with with this crap.  That‘s number one.  That‘s a big factor in this going back to Bill stuff.  Secondly, on the war, Tucker, I tell you I think what you‘re going to see tomorrow night, I think she‘s going to come out tough on Iran.  She‘s not going to play any games with this.  She‘s going to come out very tough .

CARLSON:  What do you mean, tough?

FENN:  Tough on not going in and criticizing Cheney and criticizing Bush.  And going after the Republicans for being too quick on the trigger.  And I think that .

CARLSON:  Something that she supported it.

FENN:  Look, she supported—that‘s the other problem Obama‘s got. 

He supported the very same resolution, the poor guy.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think he‘s going to get anywhere on this foreign policy stuff with her.

FENN:  I‘m not sure he is either.

CARLSON:  I think he‘s going to be 20 points behind.

All right.  We‘ll be right back.  When we do come back, here‘s what we‘re going to talk about.  Hillary Clinton says if she‘s elected president she will immediately send Americans all over the world to spread her message of hope.  The era of cowboy diplomacy is over, that‘s what she says.  It may be a nice sentiment, but shouldn‘t she wait until at least Inauguration Day to voice it.

Plus Jim Webb is a freshman Democratic senator from Virginia.  He‘s been in office about 10 months now.  For most of his career he didn‘t even vaguely resemble a Democrat.  He‘s a winger.  Why then is he now being potential running mate for the Democrats?  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.



RUDY GIULIANI, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This election is a year away and Hillary announced in her inimitable fashion that when she‘s the president elect she‘s going to send emissaries all over the world in order to reach out to other countries to let them know that we‘re going to end, I think she calls it the cowboy diplomacy.  Last time I checked she‘s not even the nominee for the Democrat Party but she‘s already telling us how she‘s going to conduct foreign policy in way that would be highly inappropriate.


CARLSON:  That was Rudy Giuliani sounding like he was speaking from the bottom of a well, note to self, fire the audio guy, but he was saying that Hillary Clinton has no business acting like she‘s already the nominee and telling voters what she would do if she were elected president.

Meanwhile, her main rival, Barack Obama, is ripping her for not being honest how she would govern.  So which is it?  And is it a bad idea to count your chickens before they are elected president?

Joining us once again, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and “The Politico‘s” Jonathan Martin.  Welcome to you both.

Jonathan, it does seem to me if you‘re a candidate being accused of megalomania already and overreaching and having the desire to control people‘s personal behavior, getting up there in a megalomaniacal fashion, designing your first diplomatic move before you get elected, not a good move.

MARTIN:  What‘s so fascinating about this, Tucker, both Senator Clinton and Mayor Giuliani are both using this opportunity to avoid talking about their own primary.  Senator Clinton loves to talk about President Bush and Bush-Cheney administration and how she will differ, that‘s vehicle for her to talk about all these folks who Democrats hate, not about her own challenges against Obama and Edwards.

At the same time Giuliani wants to talk about Hillary he isn‘t talking about his stance on abortion or view on his view on gay rights, he‘s talking about the sort of common GOP enemy.  So any opportunity Hillary has talking about Bush-Cheney and Rudy has talking about Hillary it‘s a win-win for both of them.

CARLSON:  I agree with that completely.  And this is also useful to Hillary in another way, because it allows her to pretend that her foreign policy is substantially different from that of the Bush-Cheney administration, it‘s not.  I‘m dead serious.  She‘s a neocon.  She‘s keeping combat troops in Iraq, she sees American power as useful tool for .

FENN:  Tucker.  Please.  No.

CARLSON:  . improving lives of other people.  I‘m totally serious.  In what way is she not a neocon.  Answer the question.

FENN:  I‘m going to call you ‘60s a sixties style hippie if you think she‘s a neo-con.

CARLSON:  I am actually sincere.  But everybody else is so caught up in these false narratives.  Oh, she‘s a Trotskyite.  No.

FENN:  She asked for withdrawal plans from Iraq.

CARLSON:  She has no plans to withdraw from Iraq.  Has she said that?

FENN:  No, no, no.

Come on.  And the Defense Department comes down on it like a ton of

bricks, Cheney comes down on it like a ton of bricks.  Look, the basic

point of this, Jonathan‘s right, you‘re right in one sense, this is going

to help Hillary.  And it helps Rudy to bash Hillary

But the fundamental point that this foreign policy of this administration has been so pathetic.  We‘ve got most of the countries of the world who hate us after they were ready to do anything for us after 9/11.  We‘ve got, well, you read the Pew polls.

CARLSON:  (inaudible).  I‘m totally serious.

FENN:  Tucker.  We never had a chance because we went into Iraq like idiots.

CARLSON:  But this is like the kindergarten view of world relations, international relations.  It‘s like, their feelings are hurt?  No, they have different interests than we do.  They are pursuing different national interests.  We‘re at loggerheads naturally.

FENN:  Their national interests are very much the same as ours.

CARLSON:  They‘re not.

FENN:  Not to have nuclear weapons in the Middle East.  Not to have terrorism blow up there.  Spain, would you say Spain‘s nuclear interests are the same .

CARLSON:  I would say the actors that matter, for instance, Russia, China, have very different goals from our goals.  And we need to recognize that going in.

FENN:  Look, my point on this is very simple.  And that is, that just like Ronald Reagan felt in 1980, that Jimmy Carter had so screwed up American foreign policy started put advisors out there, started to send people around the world between the election and inauguration.  Hillary Clinton is saying, listen, I think it‘s very important to test people‘s .

CARLSON:  I think Bush has screwed up our foreign policy tremendously.

MARTIN:  Right.

CARLSON:  The difference between the current situation and analogy that you just used is Reagan and Carter had different views of foreign policy.  This President Bush and Hillary Clinton are almost identical.  How are they different?

MARTIN:  There‘s a little bit of politics here.  Look.  Somebody should do a count at these next few debates, see many times Hillary Clinton says the words Bush-Cheney and the next debate see how many times Rudy says Hillary Clinton.  Politics at work here.  This is about them trying to avoid their own sort of nagging issues.

CARLSON:  You follow this.  I just want—I don‘t want to put you sincere straight reporter, I don‘t want to put you in an uncomfortable position.  But educate me.

How in a substantive way are Hillary‘s plans for America‘s place in the world different from the current president‘s other than we‘re going to be nicer or use different language.  But from a strategic point of view how is she different than Bush?

MARTIN:  I think her supporters would say this they would probably not launch preemptive wars against countries .

CARLSON:  Just vote for them.

MARTIN:  Probably would not pursue it at least in the way that President Bush pursued it.

CARLSON:  I‘ll buy that.

MARTIN:  Would carry it out in the same way with the same manner and the same style.

CARLSON:  I believe that.  But philosophically I just don‘t see the difference.

FENN:  Let‘s go through.  Star Wars, for example.  She‘d put the money into conventional military not in building $100 billion Star Wars operation.  OK.  There‘s a clear difference.  The relationship with—look, there‘s good piece in today‘s paper about France and NATO.

I mean, the idea is that you bring people together and that you bring people in to your defense operations.  This president has so screwed up—

United Nations, she would never appoint any idiot like Bolton to the United Nations who wanted to abolish the United Nations.  She‘s are fundamental differences, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Those are actually stylistic differences.

FENN:  Stylistic?  Good grief.

CARLSON:  Yes, they are.  Here are the basic differences.  The question is, should the United States ever go to war, commit troops with weapons and orders to fire them if necessary except to protect itself from violence.  And a conservative says, no.  Mr. Bush, Mrs. Clinton both say yes.  They‘re neocons.

FENN:  Because you believe that you have to defend your country?

CARLSON:  No.  Not defend your country.  That‘s the conservative position.  You don‘t fight unless you‘re defending yourself.  Their position is you fight to in Darfur, in Iraq to improve the lot of people you‘ve never met.

FENN:  Let me make this point.

Democrats from John Kennedy on had two and a half war strategy which was that we can fight around the world in two and half wars.  This president has totally eviscerated that.  I would make the argument as a Democrat that the military has been so eviscerated by this administration that we can no longer fight the wars that we should be fighting like those in Afghanistan.

CARLSON:  I wonder if—apart from Afghanistan—OK.  I‘m not defending Bush‘s stewardship of the Pentagon.  I‘m merely saying Democrats need to look really closely at Mrs. Clinton and what her beliefs are to the extent it‘s possible to know those ask themselves, is this really a change of direction from where we are now and I think the sincere answer, I‘m not saying this is partisan, I‘m saying this totally honestly, is no.  More of the same.

MARTIN:  Why is why you‘ve got Obama, by the way, really going after her on this Iranian vote, trying to exploit just that.

CARLSON:  All right.  Mike Huckabee claims he‘s a consistent conservative on the social issues, there is no doubt he is.  But he is a fiscal conservative?  Some say that‘s debatable.

Plus Bill Clinton is an admitted philanderer but is he a full blown sex addict.  Yes, according to another former president, the first step is admitting it.  More on that in a minute.


CARLSON:  Mike Huckabee calls himself a hard working consistent conservative.  And on the campaign trail his laid back style and easy laugh are winning over crowds.  But Huckabee is getting flack for raising taxes as governor of Arkansas and some Republicans in that state say, he‘s nowhere near as conservative as he claims to have been.  So who is Mike Huckabee and just how similar is he to another man we know from Hope, Arkansas.  Joining me now is “The Wall Street Journal‘s” John Fund.

John, thanks for coming on.


CARLSON:  So Mike Huckabee, Baptist preacher, pro-life, pro Second Amendment, a liberal?

FUND:  No.  But not a conservative.  At least on domestic issues.  Look, a very engaging fellow.  A terrific campaigner, but he‘s only going to wear well with people if he tells the story that checks out with the record back in Arkansas.  Back in Arkansas, state employees up 20 percent.  Taxes way up, cut some taxes, raised a lot more other taxes.

Internet, he wanted to tax sales - he wanted to have sales tax purchases on Internet goods.  This is not a record of the fiscal conservative.  On education he basically went along with the educational establishment.  On immigration, he was someone who wanted to give scholarships to the children of illegal aliens that he wouldn‘t give to children from other states.

CARLSON:  Amazing.  So economic populist would you say?

FUND:  Well, he is a populist reminds me of a lot of populists who happen to be from that part of the country.  In fact if he resembles anything, Tucker, it‘s Harriet Miers who was a clear social conservative when Bush appointed her to the Supreme Court but turned out to be very liberal views on lot of economic and other issues.

CARLSON:  You quote in piece you wrote for “The Wall Street Journal” which is making the rounds faster on the Internet than almost anything that I‘ve ever seen that‘s not pornography.  You quote Phyllis Schlafly, the president of Eagle Forum as saying, quote, “He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as compassionate conservative are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee.”

Boy.  I can‘t think of more damning sentence than that.

FUND:  Well, Phyllis Schlafly knows Arkansas very well.  She‘s got a lot of people there.  And they all agree that Mike Huckabee did not do the conservative movement any favors.  One of the evidences for that is, there are 33 Republican state legislators in Arkansas.  Only two that I can find support Mike Huckabee.

Now he does have support from a former U.S. senator and former U.S.  congressman but the bottom line is the party grassroots withered under Mike Huckabee, he didn‘t build a party, he built up himself.  He‘s not a team player as far as they‘re concerned.

CARLSON:  You no doubt have seen the response that he wrote to your piece which you really can‘t over state what a big ripple in the small pond that presidential politics that piece made.  In his reply to you he says, look, I campaign tirelessly for Republicans across this country, helped get some elected.  Auto he well regarded by his fellow governors outside Arkansas?

FUND:  Yes.  They thought that he worked well with them.  They thought he was incredibly approachable.  A very good spokesman.  But Governor Owens of Colorado told me, I tried to reform the National Governor‘s Association, he stuck with the bureaucracy and the establishment.

Mike Huckabee has a record for saying he‘s a conservative but when push comes to shove he sticks with the ruling establishment forces in any organization he‘s worked with from the Southern Baptist Convention through the National Governor‘s Association.

CARLSON:  And I like Mike Huckabee.  I was .

FUND:  I like him, too.

CARLSON:  I was at a newspaper in Arkansas, I knew him then.

FUND:  I‘ve known him for 15 years.  He‘s very likeable.

CARLSON:  Very nice guy.  I have notice, I know because I like him because I know him.  But I notice that every left wing person I know in the press which is everybody in the press, obviously except me and you, likes him, too.  Is that why?  Because they kind of sense as dog senses that he‘s one of them?

FUND:  Well, look, the SCHIP healthcare program was not about helping poor children get healthcare.  What it was about was having another step to socialized medicine.  Governor Huckabee himself agrees with that.  In his letter, though, refuting my piece he says, well, I admit that I‘m the only Republican presidential candidate to oppose President Bush‘s veto of SCHIP but I did it for political reasons, not for policy reasons.  What‘s the substantive difference, Tucker?  He wanted Bush to sign that bill.  For whatever reason.  That is an incredibly liberal big government bill.

CARLSON:  Gee, John, you‘re kind of depressing me.  So let‘s say you‘re one of the nine people in America who still believe in small government yet you‘re not for whatever reason going to vote for Ron Paul, who do you support in the Republican primaries?

FUND:  Look, I‘m a journalist, my job to sit in the front row of the spectator seats and at half time go down and shoot the wounded.

CARLSON:  You‘re doing a good job of that.  Who are you going to vote for?  Who is the conservative candidate here?

FUND:  I think there are several candidates that will be tested in the next few weeks and we‘re going to see in the end who has the best message and who can, I think, approach this campaign in Reaganesque way.  The party is going to nominate the most Reaganesque candidate I‘m convinced and we‘re going to find out who that is in the next two months.

CARLSON:  Finally, can you make the generalization based on the Huckabee example that you just gave that evangelicals, while they‘re pro-life, they‘re sincerely opposed to abortion, and good for them, they‘re not that conservative on other issues, you think that fair to say?

FUND:  Certainly.  Free trade not something that they necessarily buy into, although most of them do shop at Wal-Mart, they love those low prices.  So there‘s contradiction there this they don‘t really resolve.

CARLSON:  John Fund of the “Wall Street Journal,” thanks a lot, John.

John McCain knows what needs to happen in New Hampshire in order to keep his presidential dreams afloat is do or die.  But what about Iowa?  Can he win one state without the other?  And the man responsible for the deadly suicide bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 is now free after being sentenced to death three years ago.  How did this happen?  We‘ll tell you, coming up.



GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I come today as one not who comes to you, but as one who comes from you.  You are my roots. 


CARLSON:  That was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee before a group of Christian conservative voters in Washington last weekend.  Anecdotal evidence abounds that Huckabee won that Values Voter summit with his presentation.  However, John Fund‘s piece in the “Wall Street Journal” suggests that as governor Huckabee wasn‘t as conservative as advertised. 

Joining us once again, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn, an all around great guy, and “Politico‘s” Jonathan Martin.  Welcome back. 

We‘re just saying on the commercial break, lots of evangelicals, not that conservative actually. 

MARTIN:  Exactly right.  First of all, talk about issues like free trade, capital gains tax cuts, those aren‘t their priorities.  So if Huckabee is on the wrong side of those issues it‘s not a huge deal.  His danger though is with the sort of fiscal wing of the party.  That‘s where his party is. 

But two quick points here; first of all, despite the national media swoon for Huckabee that we‘ve seen the last couple of weeks, back home in Arkansas, on the left and the right, he does not have a lot of fans.  Then secondly, I would just add that for Huckabee these recent attacks have been sort of a good thing.  The big silver lining in the cloud is this, as Huckabee said over the weekend during a pheasant hunt in Iowa, folks don‘t shoot at dead birds. 

So the reason he is catching all this flack right now is because he‘s viable.  He‘s a player. 

CARLSON:  Why do liberals like him so much? 

FENN:  You know what?  It‘s style. 

CARLSON:  Yes, he does have an appealing style. 

FENN:  He‘s kind of interesting.  The other thing is he‘s telling the truth out there.  He‘s not the doing one of these things. 

CARLSON:  Wait a second, Tom Tancredo is every bit as funny—I‘m serious.  And Tom Tancredo is—

FENN:  Funny?

CARLSON:  I think Tom Tancredo‘s a riot.  I‘m not talking about the bombing Mecca stuff.  He tells the truth.  Why is it that no one likes him. 

MARTIN:  He‘s not as likable. 

CARLSON:  I like him. 

FENN:  George Bush was reviled by the left and the right in Texas too.  Here‘s the crazy thing about Huckabee, I think: that is that there are so many people in the Republican party who are none of the above.  They have kind of had it with—so first they thought, oh, Fred Thompson‘s coming in.  Let‘s try him.  That flavor of the month lasted about three days. 

Now we‘ve got the flavor of the month will be Huckabee.  He may get—


CARLSON:  I would not call Fred Thompson out.  I bet there‘s profound Thompson resurgence when people realize they want a laid back president who is not so emotionally invested in getting elected.  I‘m serious. 


FENN:  Bring in the red truck and—


CARLSON:  I like that.  Jim Webb—we recently saw a piece in the “Washington Post” suggesting Jim Webb might be a viable candidate for vice president on the Democrat side.  Are Democrats, Jonathan, aware of just how right wing Jim Webb is culturally, carrying a gun, et cetera. 

MARTIN:  I think when there‘s a half an hour search done on Nexus from last year‘s campaign, I think those stories will probably be snuffed out pretty fast.  Look, this is somebody who is very much pro-gun, carries his own gun, who on cultural issues is someone who is very much out of step with the sort of national Democratic party. 

But look, he‘s a Vietnam veteran.  He‘s got this sort of tough guy bravado image.  For the Democratic party, it‘s not a bad thing.

CARLSON:  My favorite line from Jim Webb ever is—I believe this is a verbatim quote, “I would not cross the street to watch Jane Fonda slash her wrists.”  Now, are you allowed to attack Jane Fonda in the Democratic party?  This is like—

FENN:  I think you can survive by doing that. 

CARLSON:  That‘s like attacking Ronald Reagan in the Republican party. 

FENN:  The thing about Jim Webb is, look, a new senator, came out of nowhere because of Macaca, carried around his son, who was in Iraq, his boots.  This was a good story.  But I think in this kind of campaign, look, I doubt very much whether he‘ll be on the—

MARTIN:  He‘s not a safe pick.  And if Senator Clinton is -- 


MARTIN:  She‘ll want a safe pick, Tom Vilsack, Evan Bayh.  They scream safe.  Jim Webb, not so much.

CARLSON:  Tom Vilsack, I don‘t Tom Vilsack.  I think Tom Vilsack is a loaded cannon, a lose cannon, a loaded gun, that guy.  He‘s the one who came out and attacked Rudy Giuliani for cheating on his wife.  And the Hillary people were furious at him for doing that. 

MARTIN:  But in Democratic politics, Tucker, going after Rudy is one thing.  Going after Jane Fonda is a whole different animal. 

CARLSON:  I guess—my impression is that Hillary Clinton likes to have complete control over every living thing within her sphere, in the universe or whatever. 

MARTIN:  Why invite undo risk. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that. 

MARTIN:  -- not to bring the questions and more scrutiny. 

CARLSON:  I think you‘re absolutely right.  President Gerald Ford, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has now departed.  But before he died, in his early 90‘s, he talked to Tom DeFrank, the long-time and much respected bureau chief of the “New York Daily News” and a good guy, here in Washington.  Mr.  DeFrank has now written a book about it. 

I want to put an excerpt up.  This is Gerald Ford on former President Bill Clinton‘s sex life, something we never talk about on this show because we know the answer.  It‘s still kind of interesting.  Listen to this, “I‘ll tell you one thing,” says the former president to Tom DeFrank, “Clinton didn‘t miss one good looking skirt at any of the social occasions.  He‘s got a wandering eye, I‘ll tell you that.  Betty had the same impression.  He isn‘t very subtle about his interest.  I‘m convinced that Clinton has a sexual addiction.  He needs to get help for his sake.”

Tom DeFrank talked to Betty Ford about it, the famous addiction expert.  She said, that‘s absolutely right, he needs to get treatment. 

FENN:  I think they probably ought to stick to alcohol addiction, which she knows and he knew a great deal about, and not go into that.  But I‘m just not going to touch that stuff.  I‘m not going to—


CARLSON:  I don‘t touch this either and Bill Clinton—the idea of touching—just the whole thing is cringe making.  However, his wife is running for president on the memory of his administrations, of 1992 to 2000, the golden era of American life and politics.  I don‘t know, there were dark moments too. 

FENN:  Of course.  Look, there‘s no question about it.  I think a lot of people said, you know, here we are second term administration; he‘s doing very well.  He‘s done amazing things for the country.  Now we have to deal with this for three years.  This is a disaster. 

CARLSON:  But he‘s just a really weird guy. 

FENN:  The other part of this is—look, but we look at this, as we always say about Americans and sex, we lie before sex, during sex, and after sex.  Jacques Chirac‘s, at his funeral, his wife and mistress show up for the event.  We—

CARLSON:  What‘s that have to do with anything? 

FENN:  What I‘m trying to tell you here is, we get a little too worked up about it. 

CARLSON:  We may.  The point is not that Clinton had affairs.  Lots of people have affairs.  You‘re not seeing me running around judging them or calling them names.  I‘m not—I feel sorry for Clinton.  My only point is he‘s a very troubled man.  That‘s all I‘m saying.  In addition to being a brilliant guy and a good guy in some ways, he‘s really weird guy.  Do we want to deal with that again?  That‘s an honest question. 

MARTIN:  Politically for her, it‘s an inconvenient reminder about the more tawdry days back in the White House that she doesn‘t need.  But look, you can be assured, this is not the last time the Clinton sex life is going to come up.  You‘re going to hear it time and time again. 

FENN:  It‘s a nothing. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a nothing?  I think it‘s something.  I think if you‘re running on your husband, which she‘s doing—people are voting for her because of her husband. 

FENN:  Tucker, arm chair psycho analysis here—

CARLSON:  It‘s not arm chair psycho analysis.  It was like three years of our collective life.  I think we over did it.

FENN:  Thank you Kenneth Starr. 

CARLSON:  Look man, I‘m not defending that.  I‘m just saying, there‘s no getting around it.  And his wife, if she wanted to keep us from talking about it, why are you running for president and thrusting your marriage into our face, which she is doing? 

FENN:  That‘s not true. 

MARTIN:  If you‘re supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary, being reminded of this is not going to change your vote.  The larger danger is ultimately, if she does get the nomination, these kind of things being resurrected could do her some damage during the general. 

FENN:  The more people talk about this, the more the American people are turned off.  Why is Newt Gingrich no longer in the Congress of the United States?  Because people over played this.  The American people get it.  They understand it.  They have figured it out.  Everybody‘s psycho analysis of it doesn‘t make it a hill of beans. 

CARLSON:  The Republicans over played it.  They over played it and they hurt themselves by doing so.  I think Hillary Clinton is over playing her family life and marriage.  I don‘t know if you be are on her mailing list.  I am.  I get e-mails every day from her husband talking about their intimate time together, their birthday.  It‘s like, shut up about your marriage.  I don‘t want to hear about it.  You‘re inviting the question.  Leave me alone.  Keep your weird marriage to your weird self. 

FENN:  Who says it‘s a weird marriage? 

CARLSON:  I just don‘t want to hear about it.  She‘s pushing it on us. 

FENN:  Come on. 

CARLSON:  I‘ll forward you the e-mails next time I get them. 

FENN:  I get them too.

CARLSON:  You‘ve got a really interesting piece about John McCain, Jonathan, in “The Politico,” in which you point out, New Hampshire, as in 2000, is everything to him.  But there‘s a debate going on about Iowa, should he run in Iowa. 

MARTIN:  Right, this is the challenge he has: he recognizes, as does his campaign, he can‘t lose New Hampshire.  This is the place where he made his bones politically, that 19-point win over Bush in 2000.  He still got a solid core of support in New Hampshire.  There are signs of life in his campaign in New Hampshire.

His challenge is, he‘s not got a lot of money.  Frankly, he doesn‘t really have any money at all.  So where does he spend the resources that he has.  Does he put all his chips in New Hampshire, and pin his hopes on if they win there again?  Or does he try and play in Iowa, so he can finish there decent enough to get a bounce into New Hampshire, or at least not embarrass himself and come in sort of dead last, fifth place in the Iowa caucuses. 

So they‘re right now trying to grapple with that.  At least for—

CARLSON:  Can he afford it? 

MARTIN:  At least for right now, they‘re going to try to at least put an effort in to Iowa.  And to answer your question, he has two options, take out a large loan to try to finance his campaign or take matching funds. 

FENN:  I think—look, I hate to give advice to Republican candidates, but I take out the matching funds.  I would play in Iowa, seriously play, because I don‘t think anybody is locked in there at all.  The problem is that Romney‘s likely to win because he can spend all this money.  But if he comes in second or third in Iowa, then he can still do OK in New Hampshire. 

I think his problem right now is that the war—he needs independent voters in New Hampshire, which is what he got in 2000.  The war is hurting him big time.  The only thing that could happen, which would be fascinating, is if Hillary Clinton rolls in Iowa; it looks like it‘s over going into New Hampshire.  That independent vote says, what the heck, I‘m not going—

MARTIN:  And so they play the Republican primary. 

FENN:  Exactly. 

MARTIN:  You‘re right, Peter, that Iowa is totally wide open.  That‘s part of what is driving this debate, is that the McCain folks look at Iowa and say, look, it‘s totally fluid there.  We can perhaps go in spend some money in small universe caucus, and perhaps surprise some folks. 

FENN:  Comeback kid sound familiar? 

CARLSON:  That would be a story.  Thank you, gentlemen, both very much.  I appreciate it.

One quick programming note, please tune in to MSNBC at 9:00 p.m.  tomorrow night to see the seven leading Democratic candidates face off in Philadelphia.  NBC‘s Brian Williams, joined by Tim Russert, will moderate that debate.  Again, it will be here tomorrow night at 9:00. 

Up next, he admitted to meticulously planning the suicide bombing of the USS Cole, the bombing that killed 17 U.S. soldiers.  Now he is a free man in Yemen, apparently getting a warm welcome from well-wishers in the government there.  Why is he walking free?  We‘ll tell you in a minute.

And in infinitely less serious international news, hundreds of women sprint down a Mexico City sidewalk wearing high heel shoes.  Why did they do that?  We‘ve got answers ahead. 


CARLSON:  The FBI describes Jamal al Badawi as the local mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.  The attack he planned killed 17 American soldiers, wounded 39 others, and earned him a death sentence three years ago in Yemen.  But somehow Badawi is no longer behind bars.  What happened? 

“Newsweek” investigator reporter Michael Isikoff joins us now with that story.  Mike, thanks for coming on. 

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK”:  Good to be here.

CARLSON:  So he‘s sentenced to death, he escapes.  He‘s taken into custody again, how did he—who let him out again? 

ISIKOFF:  Well, the whole thing is very murky.  But he apparently a few weeks ago turns himself into authorities.  He escaped from prison last year, he and 22 others.  U.S. officials thought it was an inside job, that there was—clearly got some help from Yemeni security officials, who have always been sort of wink-wink, nod-nod when it comes to cooperation on counter-terrorism matters. 

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, he turns himself in, pledges allegiance to the Yemeni—his loyalty to the Yemeni president, and reports were, he was a free man, was receiving well wishers at his home outside Aden.  This absolutely infuriated FBI agents who worked on this case.  This was a big deal, the Cole bombing, October 2000. 

This showed that bin Laden was absolutely committed to killing Americans and attacking American interests all around the globe.  Badawi had been arrested shortly after the bombing, initially denied everything.  Eventually confessed to being the local mastermind of the operation, recruiting the suicide bombers, renting the boat that was used to attack the Cole.

He ultimately got a death sentence.  He probably should have been extradited to the United States.  We don‘t have extradition treaty to Yemen.  That was the problem.  He‘s under indictment in New York.  Then this unbelievable chain of circumstances.  I talked to Ali Sufan (ph), the FBI agent who interrogated Badawi and got his confession.  He was just furious last week, said this man has the blood of 17 U.S. sailors on his hands.  He‘s a cold blooded killer, will kill again if let loose, and just couldn‘t believe—

CARLSON:  I‘m confused.  The government of Yemen is basically saying, we‘re letting this guy go because we want to? 

ISIKOFF:  You know, now the situation is very murky, because after we wrote the story, after this got some attention over the weekend, the Yemeni embassy put out a statement today saying, no, he‘s not a free man.  Some reports right now are that he is under house arrest.  It‘s not clear exactly what that means.  It‘s a little bit of murky situation.

The Yemenis played this game with the United States from the beginning after the Cole bombing, saying they were cooperating and then -- 

CARLSON:  Why wouldn‘t we just snatch him? 

ISIKOFF:  Well, you know, I think there are a lot of people inside the CIA and inside counter-terrorism circles thinking exactly that.  This would seem to be a sort of made to order case for extraordinary rendition.  The guy is under indictment in the United States.  He doesn‘t have to be brought Gitmo.  He could be brought straight to New York and tried and get a life sentence or even death under federal law. 

But, look, if you remember John O‘Neill was the head of the FBI investigation in Yemen.  This was something that he was raising cane about, the fact that the Yemenis weren‘t cooperating.  I think this does tell you something about waning influence in the region.  It‘s hard to imagine three or four years ago that the Yemenis—government would have done this.  But I think today, or at least couple weeks ago, they thought they could, because the United States doesn‘t have the influence it does in the region before, partially because of the war in Iraq, partially because of diplomatic—because of actions elsewhere. 

The—now, because we‘re raising cane about it, they may pull back a little bit. 

CARLSON:  Hopefully “Newsweek” can do what the U.S. government hasn‘t done.  Michael Isikoff, thanks very much.  I appreciate that.

ISIKOFF:  Any time.

CARLSON:  Well, the Miami dolphins went all the way to England to prove there are, in fact, many ways to lose a football game.  Wait until you see how 15 laterals on one play helped another college team achieve immortality.  That‘s coming up.


CARLSON:  Welcome back. Hide the children.  Bill Wolff is here. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  Hide the children?  I mean no—I come in peace, Tucker.  Let‘s put it that way.  Of all the shows on cable news, it is fair to say that this one has taken ownership, Tucker, of dancing.  With all due respect to your own dance stylings, you are about to be knocked down the list of greats by one more. 

Dateline Bogota, Columbia.  This is Renaldo Ojada (ph).  And though the only thing I know about dancing is that I don‘t know how to do it, he is the greatest dancer I have ever seen.  Note that he has but one leg.  He lost his left leg at birth, but here he is cutting a rug, shaking it without breaking it, tripping the light fantastic.  Amazing.

He said he gets about 2,500 per performance.  His dream is to perform in a salsa competition in the United States.  But for now, he is described by our ace producer Melissa Frankel (ph) as, quote, a big ass Youtube sensation.  His work has been viewed almost 950,000 times so far, Tucker.  Amazing. 

CARLSON:  He has tremendous balance, I‘ll give him that. 

WOLFF:  He‘s moving it.  He‘s got all the moves.  That is a man to be admired. 

CARLSON:  I‘m impressed. 

WOLFF:  How would you compare his work to yours? 

CARLSON:  I knew were going to ask me that.  This is like a long set up to the obvious question. 

WOLFF:  I‘m done. 

CARLSON:  I will concede the crippled man is a lot better dancer than I am. 

WOLFF:  I would argue with your description. 

CARLSON:  As is almost everybody.

WOLFF:  I would argue with your description.  He‘s amazing.  That guy is amazing. 

CARLSON:  He‘s amazing.  I agree. 

WOLFF:  Absolutely.  It was another remarkable weekend in sports.  Yes, the Red Sox are champions of baseball.  Yes, the Yankees‘ Alex Rodriguez has made himself a free agent, wants 30 million dollars a year.  But the greatest moment in sports this weekend, and maybe any other weekend, came from a Division III football game in Texas. 

Trinity University of San Antonio was down to its last gasp against Milsap (ph) College, trailing in the game with time for but one more play, Tucker. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He takes the snap.  There‘s only three men rushing for Milsap.  Barbour (ph) throws it over the middle, complete to Thompson.  Thompson looking for a block.  He laterals it to Curry (ph).  And Curry laterals it again.  It‘s caught again.  And Tomlin (ph) now on the lateral.  And now the lateral to Thompson. 

He laterals it back to Maddux (ph) on the other side.  Maddux looking for a block.  He fakes the lateral to Curry.  Now he laterals it to Curry.  Curry‘s at the 49 yard line.  He‘s dancing around.  He throws it back now to Maddux, who throws it across the field to Barbour.  Barbour looking to run.  He‘s looking for a block.  He‘s got a convoy.  He‘s going to throw it to Thompson. 

Thompson at the 30 yard line.  Thompson now laterals it back to Curry at the 35.  They‘re running out of spaces.  Curry fakes—he‘s going to lateral it to Thomas.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thomas has a chance to go.  He laterals it.  Now it‘s going to go to Maddux.  Maddux at the 30 yard line.  And now it‘s a lateral.  And Curry is still going. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Curry is still going.  He‘s going to score.  Curry scores.  The game is over.  Curry scores.  Curry scores on the lateral. 


WOLFF:  That, Tucker, is about the 17,000th time I‘ve seen that and I have smiled anew.  Hand it to the play by play guy.  Number one, he got everybody‘s name right.  Number two, he didn‘t cuss, because I would have.  And number three, sports are contrived.  We don‘t need sports.  They don‘t happen in nature.  We make them up.  But the emotions they evoke are genuine.  That is—I love that stuff. 

CARLSON:  That was unbelievable.  I‘m not even a football aficionado and I was impressed. 

WOLFF:  Emotion is emotion.  That guy is thrilled.  He won the Lottery.  They won the World Series.  It‘s a Division III crappy little game that not that many people care about.  But to that guy calling that game, that‘s the greatest thing he ever saw. 

Tucker, finally let‘s sneak in one more piece of tape from the wide, wide word of sports.  Dateline Mexico City, for the high heels 100 meter dash.  There they are, getting ready at the line, and away they go; 500 women running like there was a 100,000 Peso shopping voucher at the finish line, because there was. 

It was promotion for an exclusive store called Palasio de Yero (ph) and quite a promotion it was.  Three ambulances and 15 paramedics on hand just in case.  Eight contestants fell.  No major injuries reported.  Just enormous disappointment for the losers.  That‘s sports, pal. 

CARLSON:  That is incredible. 

WOLFF:  I am always in awe of people who are able to walk in high heels.  But to those who can sprint?  Why, hats off. 

CARLSON:  That woman in the front.  I mean, that—that‘s athletic talent. 

WOLFF:  I would say so, balance, skill, poise, focus, the whole bit, character, all for 100,000 peso, which, by the way, about 9,000 dollars in today‘s market, my friend. 

CARLSON:  Amazing.  The wide weird world of sports.  Bill Wolff, thanks a lot, Bill. 

WOLFF:  My pleasure.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks a lot for watching.  We‘ll be back here tomorrow night.  Hope you will be too.  In the meantime, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next.  See you then.



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


Watch Tucker each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET


Discussion comments