updated 10/31/2007 12:08:33 PM ET 2007-10-31T16:08:33

Guests: Sacha Zimmerman, A.B. Stoddard, John Zogby

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show.

The buildup to tonight‘s Democratic debate in Philadelphia has centered on the performance of one man—Barack Obama.

Will Obama he sharpen his attacks on Hillary Clinton tonight?

Does he have enough time left in the campaign to catch her?

Does a virtual tie in Iowa polls mean he actually has a chance to do that?

Tonight‘s debate and the race for nomination itself appear to be Hillary Clinton‘s to lose. In a moment, we‘ll identify the ways by which Mrs. Clinton could, in fact, lose.

Senator Clinton is also on Republican minds these days, after Rudy Giuliani chided her plans for international diplomacy before her inauguration. Mitt Romney has reasserted his position that Mrs. Clinton‘s lack of experience would make her a virtual intern in the Oval Office.

Is Hillary Clinton‘s relative inexperience in charge of things her real vulnerability?

And should the other Democratic hopefuls exploit it?

And what exactly does Mitt Romney mean by intern, anyway?

Plus, Clinton‘s challengers—from Obama to John Edwards to Joe Biden

have tried to explain her hawkish stance against Iran in their campaigns to catch her. However, a new poll suggests that once again Hillary Clinton‘s positions line up with those of a majority of Americans.

We begin tonight with the debate, less than three hours from right now.

Joining me, “The Hill‘s” Amy Stoddard and “The New Republic‘s” Sacha Zimmerman.

Thank you both for coming on.

Here are the numbers out of Iowa, which, I think, are significant in any presidential race, vital in this one. The University of Iowa—a brand new poll of Democrats. This is lay the land in that state—Hillary Clinton, 28.9 percent; Barack Obama, 26.6; John Edwards, 20. Pretty much where we knew they were, within the margin for Hillary and Obama. John Edwards kind of out of it.

Fine.

Here‘s where it gets interesting. Let‘s break down that poll along lines of sex. The same poll among women—Hillary, 33; Obama, 27; Edwards, 17.

And here‘s the most interesting, when you break it down among men—

Obama, 27; John Edwards, 25; Hillary Clinton, 23.

It‘s women—it‘s women—there‘s just no doubt about it, Sacha, who are making this Clinton surge possible and sustaining it.

SACHA ZIMMERMAN, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Yes, it looks like they are. But they‘re the over 45 women, which I think Hillary ought to really like because they vote. And if you‘ll remember, you know, Kerry and years past, there‘s always been a promise that young Democrats are going to come out.

And in this case, I don‘t think they will again...

TUCKER: The old ladies.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

TUCKER: Like the old lady vote that...

ZIMMERMAN: And they vote. Why not?

Hey...

TUCKER: Well, why, I guess, is the question.

I mean, why not?

Sure. Of course, they vote and they know a lot about the process and it‘s probably good for our democracy they do vote, because they‘re informed.

But what is it about Mrs. Clinton—Hillary Clinton—that appeals to them?

ZIMMERMAN: I think she‘s broken a lot of glass ceilings and that their generation, particularly baby boomers, appreciate that, see what she went through. And I think that they‘re a little less cynical about her kind of naked ambition and that young people are really turned off by that.

TUCKER: It is baby boomers. I mean and let‘s be totally honest—this country will be a much better place when the last baby boomer has gone to the grave and beyond, do you agree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: It will be. No more lectures about Woodstock and RFK and JFK and your stupid elections from the late ‘60s—early ‘70s. We‘re not interested. This will be a better country, won‘t it be?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: That‘s just too predictable for me...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD: ...that baby boomer bashing thing. I don‘t know.

TUCKER: I can‘t help it.

STODDARD: I don‘t know. It‘s boring.

TUCKER: It just comes out.

But the appeal—look, if you‘re to boil down why Hillary Clinton went from this kind of objective fascination—someone about whom we said, can she really win—to someone about whom we are now saying how does she blow it, you would boil it down to one word—women. Women supporter her.  That‘s the key.

Is this fair?

STODDARD: Oh, it‘s 60 or 65 percent of the primary electorate. And she‘s got them under lock and key. But the older thing—the older demographic is key. They remember the Clinton years. They‘re loyal Democrats. They think Bill Clinton is God, Elvis, something, somebody. And they‘re coming back. They bought her package. They feel that her candidacy represents experience and stability, that she was next to Bill Clinton all these years, that she‘s a virtual Clinton—a Bill Clinton presidency reduction.

I just think that they look at Barack Obama, who is getting these teenagers to these been Barack star events in Iowa, and Sacha is right—these people are going to drive their car and show up at the right house at the right time and cast a vote in the caucuses.

And these teenagers that Barack Obama—I mean it‘s a smart strategy on his part. He sort of scraped up whoever was left over. And if they actually all voted, it could really change the...

TUCKER: Well, I guess the...

STODDARD: (INAUDIBLE).

TUCKER: Guess who women don‘t like?

The ladies don‘t like John Edwards.

STODDARD: Well...

TUCKER: Kind of surprising.

Are you surprised by that?

STODDARD: No one likes John Edwards.

TUCKER: Well, that‘s—that‘s true.

STODDARD: So the problem is—I mean his poll numbers show that he‘s not—it‘s not like all the men favor John Edwards...

ZIMMERMAN: Well...

STODDARD: He doesn‘t have a strong enough showing...

TUCKER: Well, actually, they like John Edwards by, what?

It looks like seven more points than the women do.

STODDARD: John Edwards has to do a lot to win Iowa, Tucker, at this point.

TUCKER: Yes, but there‘s a gender...

STODDARD: It‘s really...

TUCKER: ...there‘s a gender split here.

I mean do you—what do you think this is about?

Women look at John Edwards and they think what?

ZIMMERMAN: I think that they think he can be a little bit slick.

TUCKER: Yes.

ZIMMERMAN: And that he‘s not as sincere, maybe, as an Obama, who has this kind of true believer status. And I think that when you have like, you know, this lawyer who comes up talking about unions and he‘s wealthy, that it‘s hard for people to imagine that he is sincere.

TUCKER: Women have insight into his personality.

Why do men like Barack Obama?

That‘s—I think this is maybe the most interesting of all. You ask Democratic men in Iowa who do you like—Obama, Edwards, Hillary. You can kind of understand Hillary because of the castrating quality to her rhetoric, but why Obama?

Why is Obama more popular than John Edwards?

STODDARD: Maybe she‘s—maybe he‘s just the anti-Hillary.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

STODDARD: Maybe they‘re choosing the person they think is the most viable because they don‘t want her. A lot of Democrats still have big problem with Hillary Clinton.

TUCKER: So even when it‘s about Obama, you‘re saying it‘s really about Hillary?

STODDARD: I—I mean you know how I feel about Barack Obama. He had the money, he had the masses at all his events, he had the message. And he blew it. It‘s just—I mean, I‘m sorry. I think he really picked...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD: ...I really don‘t think that he—I think there‘s chance for him to win Iowa and then that would change things. But like tonight, I don‘t think that he‘s really going to change the course of this campaign tonight.

TUCKER: Ooh, well, we will see.

(CROSSTALK)

ZIMMERMAN: He‘s shooting hoops. He‘s on “G.Q”. You know, he‘s got an appeal.

TUCKER: Well, you‘d think that women would like him.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: And I think younger women do like him.

Take a look at this fascinating graph from the “New York Times”.

We‘ve heard this before, but this is just—it‘s a powerful image here. These are the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination going back to 1952 in January, OK—the January before the election. Estes Kefauver, ‘52; Lyndon Johnson, ‘68 -- (INAUDIBLE) he dropped out. But still, Ed Muskie, ‘72; Ted Kennedy in ‘76; Gary Hart and Jesse Jackson, ‘88; Howard Dean, 2004.

None of them was nominated by his party. So, I mean, the obvious implication here is...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCKER: ...don‘t count your chickens before they‘re elected.

ZIMMERMAN: So maybe it‘s OK if Hillary loses Iowa.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: Oh, no. I mean, I guess the point of this is—I mean is this

the kind—I mean is it even conceivable—let‘s be totally honest here -

that Hillary Clinton doesn‘t get it, at this point?

I mean are we—we keep saying there‘s time, but is there really time?

ZIMMERMAN: I think so. Absolutely.

TUCKER: You do?

ZIMMERMAN: I think there‘s definitely time to dethrone her. I think that if you not only point yourself as the anti-Hillary, but then the third guy—John Edwards, in this case—drops out you could collect a lot of his supporters...

TUCKER: Yes.

ZIMMERMAN: ...and make a formidable case against Hillary.

TUCKER: And you must be praying for that. I don‘t know if that‘s going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know...

TUCKER: We‘ll be right back.

Bill Clinton talks about his marriage and talks and talks and talks.

What is he really saying?

Plus, Rudy Giuliani takes look at his crystal ball and predicts Democrats are going to do a 180 change their minds about Iraq, embrace the war as good idea.

More on that unlikely prediction, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCKER: Hillary Clinton always stood by Bill‘s side when he was running for president and while he was in the White House. No question about her loyalty. Now the tables are turned.

The question is, how loyal is he?

And you may be surprised by the answer.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCKER: Hillary Clinton‘s campaign is navigating uncharted waters in many ways. Among others, trying to use Bill Clinton as campaign tool without overshadowing the candidate herself, or violating federal election laws, for that matter. But recently, Bill has been staying out of the spotlight, sticking to his own issues, such as they are—promoting his new book, raising money for his foundation—except for one thing. He is getting romantic about his wife in public.

Is it working?

Here again, “The Hill‘s” A.B. Stoddard and “The New Republic‘s” Sacha Zimmerman.

Welcome to you both.

You actually can‘t make this up. Let me just say, here‘s the arrangement we have with Bill Clinton—we being the American public.

OK...

ZIMMERMAN: Don‘t ask don‘t tell?

TUCKER: Yes, exactly. That‘s right.

STODDARD: That‘s right.

TUCKER: We won‘t ask about your personal life. Don‘t talk about it.

Right?

I mean that‘s kind of fair. I don‘t want to know who he is or is not involved with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCKER: I don‘t want to hear details about his marriage. But he keeps forcing them on us. Example A, Bill Clinton on the night of their 32nd anniversary said this: “We were laughing and talking, and believe it or not, the campaign even gave her the night off. We had about decided by the end of the night that the key to a long relationship was never being bored with one another and I would still rather spend the night talking to her than anyone I can think of.”

Now, leaving aside the fact that that‘s just a provable lie...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: ...it breaks the deal we have.

What‘s the purpose of this?

ZIMMERMAN: I‘m not sure what the purpose is, other than you run for first family. You don‘t run for president these days. I mean they seem to be totally needing to prove that they‘re in love.

TUCKER: But they have this great deal where they‘re the one couple that gets the pass. Look, we know more than we want to know...

STODDARD: Right.

ZIMMERMAN: Right.

STODDARD: That‘s true.

TUCKER: ...about their personal lives. And we‘ve all agreed—even the most right-wing Clinton haters among us...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

TUCKER: We don‘t want to know another fact...

STODDARD: No, I really...

TUCKER: ...about their personal lives.

STODDARD: I really think that they do it because of the Democratic base groupies who love Bill Clinton.

TUCKER: Yes.

STODDARD: The more he and Hillary do this...

TUCKER: That‘s it right there.

STODDARD: ...yucky chatter about what they‘re going to eat, his diet and all this—they do it on all their fundraising e-mails and everything.  It‘s really, really not—it‘s just too much. Also, you know, the point is, if it was really true—if it was a couple like, let‘s say, Anne and Mitt Romney, they just—you just wouldn‘t say that. You wouldn‘t say on our anniversary we talked about—I mean, OK?

I mean I‘m just going to...

TUCKER: I suggest that‘s right.

STODDARD: I‘m going to take them as like a perfect couple. I‘m going to—I‘m going to just pick them out of the—out of a hat. And so it‘s manufactured and it seems to artificial. But I think it works because it‘s a way of having Bill be on the scene for the people that just can‘t get enough of him.

TUCKER: But, see, I so resent it because—I am totally willing to believe—in fact, I do believe that they that have a real relationship of some kind. Like, clearly, it‘s authentic or they wouldn‘t still be together in some way. I‘m willing to believe that marriages are so complicated you can‘t understand them, so you shouldn‘t try. That‘s kind of my position about everyone else‘s marriage.

But when he says stuff like this, he makes me complicit in the B.S.  and the P.R. campaign, like I kind of have to sign onto that. I‘m confronted, but I can‘t get away from it.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.

TUCKER: It‘s offense against me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

TUCKER: When will he stop, Sacha?

Can you ask him to?

(LAUGHTER)

ZIMMERMAN: I don‘t know. I mean he has this new book “Giving.” I mean maybe he‘s just like addicted to sharing, you know?

I don‘t know.

(LAUGHTER)

TUCKER: But, I mean, at what point are voters—even Democrats who love Clinton and love the legacy and all that—when are they going to say, you know what, I like a lot of things about Clinton but I don‘t want to return to the psychodrama?

STODDARD: Well, you know what?

I actually think there is a little bit of preparation going on. I think they think she‘s going to win and she‘s going to be president.

TUCKER: Yes.

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

STODDARD: And if you talk to Democratic insiders about, you know, what is the preparation for any bimbo eruptions or whatever is going to happen during a second Clinton administration—or third or whatever you‘re going to call it—I‘m serious about this. I think they—her interview with “Esquire,” when all this—this is like groundwork laying, all this we‘re kind of friends and we‘re—we don‘t always live in the same house. And you can track them—the number of nights we‘ve spent together, like the “New York Times” did—in the last several months. But we—we really are best friends. And we really want to talk to each other more than we want to talk to other people.

And it‘s some kind of thing—they‘re purposefully laying on this rap about their marriage. I mean and he said—at the group (ph), he said she‘s really still quite beautiful, which I found sort of almost like he was criticizing her.

TUCKER: Right.

STODDARD: It was sort of a weird...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD: ...this is painful.

TUCKER: I wish I believed you, because that would be political calculation—something we‘re very familiar with here in Washington.

STODDARD: Don‘t you think they‘re really talented at that, though?

TUCKER: I—of course they‘re very talented. But I think that it‘s weirder than that. I think this is part of the obsessive compulsive self-justification that he goes through. If you ever watch Bill Clinton speak—and he‘s a brilliant speaker and a very charming man—there comes a point in his speech where he tells what you a great president he was. And then he keeps telling you. And then he tells you some more. And he won‘t stop telling you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but (INAUDIBLE)...

TUCKER: And he can‘t help himself.

STODDARD: But why did Hillary talk about how romantic—he brings the stuff home from trips and...

TUCKER: Because that‘s—that‘s what he‘s about.

STODDARD: What‘s she doing?

TUCKER: It‘s like whenever there‘s something that‘s—it‘s like Clinton has all these things to recommend him, but the things that you know are his weaknesses, he feels like he has to convince you aren‘t his weaknesses.

Do you know what I mean?

ZIMMERMAN: I think they‘re—that‘s right. But I think they‘re talking to Oprah when they‘re talking about like all of the romance and everything—or the soccer moms and whatnot. I think that they‘re appealing to a certain kind of sentimentality that we have in this country that...

TUCKER: But you would you have to be a moeron—M-O-E-R-O-N...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whooo!

TUCKER: ...to believe this. So like...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. I think...

TUCKER: ...who‘s dumb enough to believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...that people (INAUDIBLE).

TUCKER: Pull the show!

I want you on. If you believe—if you take this at face value, I‘d like to meet you. And I don‘t think you should be voting, frankly, because you‘re not (INAUDIBLE).

All right, we‘ll be right back.

The majority of Americans support a U.S. military strike against Iran

a majority. And that same majority thinks a military strike will happen before Bush leaves office.

Amazing.

It also might surprise you who many think is the best candidate to deal with Iran. We‘ll tell you who that is.

Plus, Barack Obama has been trying to gain ground on frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The attacks have not yet worked, so his campaign now is focusing on the other Clinton. We‘ll tell what you that means.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCKER: Could a majority of Americans favor ending the war in Iraq and yet still favor military action against Iran?

Well, a new Zogby poll shows yes -- 52 percent of U.S. citizens would approve of a strike against Iran if that meant preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Even more startling, 53 percent think it is likely we will be involved in military action against Iran before Bush leaves office.

And joining me now is the president of Zogby International, John Zogby.

Mr. Zogby, thanks for coming on.

JOHN ZOGBY, PRESIDENT OF ZOGBY INTERNATIONAL: Yes, hey, tucker.

TUCKER: That is—I mean I don‘t even know what to say. I am stunned

by that number.

Were you surprised when you got that?

ZOGBY: Yes, to be honest with you, I was. But then you know what I did is I went to back went back to a tracking poll of late February and March of 2003 and found pretty much the same numbers about going to war with Iraq at that time. Fifty, you know, 52 percent in this poll are supportive of military action, 44 percent are opposed. The majority in favor really did surprise me, though.

TUCKER: So by military action, people mean what?

Is that—that could range from a bombing campaign to a ground invasion.

What are people thinking when they say that?

ZOGBY: Well, a good question, because we did not ask it in this poll.  I can go back, though, to previous polls. And, basically, the American people would be more in favor of a quick hit—of something that is back by allies as opposed to—unilaterally done by the United States.

But under no circumstances do Americans support ground troops or anything along those lines. That, again, was not asked in this round of polling, but has been asked before.

TUCKER: So when people say they believe -- 53 percent of people asked say they believe it is likely that will come to pass, are they saying that in a positive way—I‘m for it, I‘m glad it‘s going to happen?

ZOGBY: No. In that question, that‘s completely different. That was just asked whether or not they believe something will happen. And the 53 percent said something will happen. That does include large percentages of younger people, including larger percentages of Democrats, who just believe that something will happen soon, but who do not necessarily support it.

TUCKER: Americans are not anti-war, overall. I know they‘re quite dissatisfied with the war in Iraq, most of them.

ZOGBY: Yes.

TUCKER: But as a general matter, they seem kind of pro-war a lot of the time.

Is that true?

ZOGBY: Americans will support something if it‘s quick and if it‘s provable. We showed that in Iraq. I mean right up to the day before going to war in Iraq, we still had the same sort of 48-44 split; 52-47 split. And then as soon as we went to war, they rallied around the troops.

In this instance, they would probably rally around the president of the United States. But the burden on this president, who is at record low numbers, is to make the case. Remember, the way this question was asked was, if it is in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And so the way the question was worded was not simply would you support a hit against Iran. But if it meant preventing Iran from nuclear weapons, I think the numbers would go higher in support as they did—as going into war in Iraq.

However, it would have to be quick and, presumably, there would be a debate this time on the part of the other side—on the part of the opposition, dredging up faulty intelligence, dredging up the fact that something like this could create a conflagration in the region...

TUCKER: Right.

ZOGBY: And so perhaps, you know, something would—something may mitigate against that kind of an action.

TUCKER: Have you done polling on other countries and the American response to acting against other countries thought to be working towards nuclear weapons or that possess them, like North Korea, Syria?

ZOGBY: No. Not in this round of polling, we have not.

TUCKER: When did the war in Iraq start to go south in your polls?

What was the point at which the majority of Americans said that was a bad idea?

ZOGBY: Late June of 2003. So, really, there was only window of about three months of support. Then you started to see the president‘s numbers going down. You started to see the support for the war going down.

TUCKER: Where is it now?

ZOGBY: Right now, it‘s over 60 percent who oppose the war in Iraq. But it‘s a nuanced number, because when we ask when should American troops get out, it is always as soon as possible. Americans do not support leaving immediately. What they want to do is be assured that there will be some sort of stability, and, in Iraq, some sort of safety for American troops.

TUCKER: What—this is kind of—I‘m just struck by—as you‘re explaining all this, the poll numbers you‘re talking about reflect almost exactly Hillary Clinton‘s positions on almost everything.

Do you think—I mean is Mark Penn a good pollster?

ZOGBY: Oh, Mark Penn is a great pollster. And I would hope that he might say something nice about me, as well. But, no, Mark Penn is very, very smart—in this instance, steering a kind of a centrist position for Hillary.

But, you know, we did ask in this poll who do you think would be best to lead the country among this list of candidates. And as you pointed out, Hillary came in first, with 21 percent. Although I do believe that it‘s a factor of name recognition and a factor of the poll, including, as is proper, I believe, a larger number—a slightly larger number of Democrats than Republicans.

Rudy, of course, was in second place.

TUCKER: Interesting.

Interesting (INAUDIBLE).

John Zogby, thanks very much.

I appreciate it.

ZOGBY: Good to talk to you, Tucker.

TUCKER: Mitt Romney calls Hillary Clinton an intern for the second time.

Is he referring to a lack of experience or was it a more deliberate choice of words?

Plus, John Edwards—John who?

What does the comfortably in third place presidential hopeful have to do to get noticed at tonight‘s debate?

We‘ll tell you.

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUCKER: Still to come, Mitt Romney says Hillary Clinton‘s presidency would amount to a—are you ready for this—an internship.

And it turns out Barack Obama is preparing for tonight‘s debate by studying Bill Clinton, of all people. We‘ll tell you more in just a minute.

First, here‘s a look at your headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  The latest international crisis for America, of course, is Iran‘s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  And the latest Zogby poll, as you just heard, suggests a majority of Americans, 52 percent, would support a military strike to prevent Tehran from getting the bomb.  That same poll also shows 21 percent of Americans believe the current candidate best equipped to handle the situation there, Hillary Clinton. 

Her score topped the next most trusted candidate, Rudy Giuliani, by six points.  Here to assess what those numbers mean, “The Hill‘s” A.B.  Stoddard and the “New Republic‘s” Sasha Zimmerman. 

A.B. Stoddard, are you as stunned as I am that the majority of Americans support a strike against Iran, not because they believe Iran is going to strike us first, not a preemptive strike, strictly speaking, but a strike just to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon? 

STODDARD:  I am, especially after obviously the last four-plus years.  But I think it‘s interesting about what Mr. Zogby was saying that they want -- they don‘t want to occupy Iran.  They don‘t want ground troops in Iran.  They don‘t want an extended war with Iran.  They want—would be supportive of what Dick Cheney has convinced us all would be a quick and painless stealth strike. 

I think there is a big difference.  I thought the poll was also really interesting because it not only shows that the majority favor Hillary Clinton to handle something like that, but that a majority thinks it will happen before the next election. 

CARLSON:  They think it‘s going to happen—

STODDARD:  That she‘s the best positioned—

CARLSON:  It shows Barack Obama, whom I like—I would like to see a race.  I would like see Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton.  But this shows you why he‘s not going to, because he‘s out there pounding on Hillary Clinton for supporting or being in league with Cheney to bomb Iran.  It turns out, most people think that‘s fine. 

ZIMMERMAN:  Not only that, he didn‘t even vote on that. 

CARLSON:  Of course.  That‘s right.  But talk about a pointless dead end, as a matter of political rhetoric. 

ZIMMERMAN:  I think Americans have gotten the message when it comes to nuclear weapons.  Forget about it.  We‘ve got to do something.  But I think you‘re right, we have to parse that poll carefully.  Limited strikes is not the same as ground troops. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not.  And I think you‘re absolutely right, it‘s all about the nuclear weapon.  It‘s all, my gosh, the nut cakes have the bomb.  That can‘t be good.  We‘ve got to stop it. 

ZIMMERMAN:  It‘s going to destabilize the region.  It would be horrible. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a pretty compelling argument.  I still don‘t think they‘re going to do it.  Do you know people who follow this stuff, who are constantly in touch with their source at the State Department or the Pentagon or the White House, who believe that we‘re planning a preemptive strike against Iran? 

STODDARD:  Well, that‘s what Cy Hirsch keeps writing about.  I think that you can find comfort in the people who will tell you that it will rattle the oil markets and it will never happen.  Then you can lose sleep over the fact that I think that the administration is in some kind of a state of semi-preparation for some possibility like that all the time.  And they probably have reason to be doing so. 

CARLSON:  I think every administration is always preparing to bomb everybody.   

STODDARD:  It‘s interesting about this poll that Americans have not—are not more skeptical.  Again, maybe this is just one poll, and it‘s a spread of six or eight points.  But that Americans wouldn‘t be more skeptical about once you get in, what are you going to break and then what are you going to have clean up.  What does it become?

CARLSON:  It‘s one thing to blow up nuclear facilities, research facilities, military facilities, quite another to invade a country and have to rebuild the DMV, which is basically what we‘re doing in Iraq, which raises the question—and I think Iraq is much more complicated than the Democrats paint it.  Withdrawal precipitously would be a disaster.  I acknowledge that. 

But Giuliani‘s claim this week that in the end Democrats will accept the wisdom of going in the first place, of trying to create this utopian society, this democracy in the Middle East, that‘s insane. 

ZIMMERMAN:  He‘s flying the conservative flag to the extent that we don‘t negotiate with evil.  Hillary‘s not going—is going to welcome Ahmadinejad to the White House and have dinner with him.  This is sound byte.  This isn‘t foreign policy.  The idea that this guy thinks that we‘re going to look back on the mess that is the last four years and think that that‘s OK is just—if you‘re skeptical about Giuliani‘s run for the presidency before, now you have to be down right scared. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think it‘s a smart thing.  It‘s one thing to say look, we‘re there.  This can be better than it is.  We can‘t salvage something useful to the United States out of this debacle.  There are a lot of hopeful things one can say about Iraq.  But to say that the premise of it will in time be proved right, I don‘t see any possibility of that. 

STODDARD:  That and it was coupled with the comments about them inviting Ahmadinejad to the inauguration.  It was just so over the top.  It‘s true, if he had said Bush will be vindicated in the end.  History will look back and we did the—it was a legitimate invasion and subsequent war.  And, frankly, I mean, what he could say is that the Democrats of Congress have embraced the same policy now as the Republicans, which is they can‘t leave policy, like it or not.

And we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq now.  And that‘s sort of official since the late summer.  So it‘s become this thing that it wasn‘t in April.  And both sides are on a fund the war, cannot leave same page. 

ZIMMERMAN:  We have to be.  Giuliani also said something about how we‘re going to be thankful that we got rid of Saddam Hussein because of the weapons of mass destruction.  This is crazy talk.  There was no WMD and to say that history is going to judge us in such a way is just naive. 

CARLSON:  It doesn‘t seem a wise thing.  I‘m hardly a left winger, but it hardly seems a wise thing to say.  Speaking of wise things to say, here‘s Mitt Romney on Fox last night saying.  This is the second time he said something like this.  The first time he said, I thought, that can‘t be what he means.  Judge for yourself.  Here‘s Mitt Romney. 

All right.  We‘re going to load that up right now.  That‘s a sound byte.  Here we go.  I‘m hearing it in my ear.  Here‘s Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Beyond the direction she would take us is that she‘s never run anything.  She‘s never had the occasion of being in the private sector running a business or, for that matter, running a state or a city.  She hasn‘t run anything and the government of the United States is not a place for a president to be an intern. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Call me crazy. 

STODDARD:  I think it‘s genius. 

ZIMMERMAN:  I think it‘s genius, too. 

STODDARD:  It‘s code for the Clinton haters.  Look, he did this at the Larry Craig bathroom bust day.  He equated Larry Craig, Mark Foley and Bill Clinton.  He lumped them all three together.  That‘s such red meat for his base.  You say intern in the same sentence with president and you‘re talking about Hillary Clinton; it conjurors up the Clinton haters. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think it‘s wise.  I think it‘s fine to beat up on Clinton.  I enjoy it.  I think it‘s warranted most of the time.  But to remind people that Hillary Clinton‘s husband cheated on her only makes people feel sorry for her and helps her. 

STODDARD:  Not in his primary. 

ZIMMERMAN:  I think if Romney has the nomination, what he‘s done is set a precedent that senators can‘t run, because they haven‘t run anything.  That was the other point of this whole comment was that it wasn‘t just like a nefarious intern thing, it was that she hasn‘t run anything.  By that standard, neither has Obama, neither has Edwards.  So he‘s setting it up so that if he is the Republican candidate, no matter who he runs against, hasn‘t a qualification. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think that‘s a stupid point, I don‘t. 

ZIMMERMAN:  Thank you.

STODDARD:  Rudy Giuliani has made the same point about executive papers.  I think it‘s effective. 

CARLSON:  It‘s also—

ZIMMERMAN:  He‘s establishing it early in the minds of Americans that it‘s not the same as being a governor.  It‘s not the same as running a company.  And none of the Democrats have done that. 

CARLSON:  So tonight Barack Obama attempting to break out and close the 20-odd point gap between himself and -- 

STODDARD:  Thirty. 

CARLSON:  Thirty by some.  I think average is right in the high 20s with Mrs. Clinton.  His campaign has said out loud to MSNBC that he is studying tapes of her husband, Bill Clinton.  Why would you admit something like that? 

STODDARD:  Well, it‘s a strange thing to admit, but I actually think that in the debate, in this one last moment that he has, because we all know now his donors and supporters are—he‘s going to let down a lot of people and he‘s going to lose momentum if he doesn‘t take advantage of this opportunity.  I think that actually an effective way for him to break out tonight would be to compare himself to Bill Clinton and the hope of the Bill Clinton candidacy in the early days before he just became part of the establishment, and drag her into that. 

But to admit that he‘s watching Bill Clinton debate tapes is not the same as saying, I can be—I can offer the hope and fresh start that this guy was supposed to, and I can change Washington in the way that he didn‘t. 

CARLSON:  I just disagree with that.  I think whenever you concede that Bill Clinton is someone worth emulating, you‘re conceding to his wife.  Nobody is going to be a more authentic standard bearer of the Clinton legacy than Mrs. Clinton.  Why would you concede that? 

ZIMMERMAN:  I have no idea.  I think that he‘s actually studying the wrong Clinton.  I think that he‘s got a lot of winning personality and charisma, Barack Obama.  And where he‘s kind of been, I think, a little uncertain is when he kind of in the debate says things like, let‘s attack Pakistan.  And he gets excited about something and he loses his cool and he doesn‘t explain it.  That‘s where Hillary is calm, cool, collected.  She‘s owning the debates.  She‘s seeming like intellectual and in control.  And I think that maybe he could take a cue from her. not from bill. 

CARLSON:  Icy, even icier, an icy guy. 

ZIMMERMAN:  Practice the stare. 

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  That freaks me out.  Let‘s say you, Alexandra, were John Edwards.  And I‘m thankful to god that you‘re not.  Let‘s say you were for a moment, and you‘re kind of coming to the end of your time as a viable candidate.  I mean, let‘s be honest.  What do you do to get noticed tonight? 

STODDARD:  I really don‘t know, because he at the last debate was taking her on about the Iran resolution that she voted for in the Senate.  And that should have been Barack Obama, but he stood there with the deer in the headlights, I didn‘t vote for it.  I was campaigning.  Whatever he was thinking that night, you look back at that night and John Edwards was ready.  He was ready for the opening.  It‘s finally a contradiction that he could take advantage of.  Barack Obama should have. 

He has subsequently done the same.  But I don‘t think there‘s anything left for John Edwards, unless something really strange happens tonight, something that she‘ll have to utter that would give them an opening.  I think John Edwards will be ready for it, like he was that night.  But I don‘t think that given—I mean whatever—if everything unfolds tonight the way we expect, it‘s not John Edwards‘ night.  There‘s no opportunity for him. 

CARLSON:  I tend to agree.  Can we just admit, Sasha, that you can‘t win a presidential campaign on policy.  I mean, nobody‘s been more specific about what he would do if elected president than John Edwards.  Look what it‘s gotten him, nothing. 

ZIMMERMAN:  I think that‘s right, but I do think there‘s still an opportunity here for him.  I think that he‘s actually injected the last couple debates, kind of what you were saying, with a little bit more substantive direction and I think that‘s starting to get some legs, because Obama is staying so far out of the fray that he‘s not talking about anything any more.  I think that John Edwards is kind of positioning himself as another anti-Hillary electable candidate. 

I think between now and Iowa, as you were mentioning, so few of the candidates actually who are ahead now won in Iowa.  I think that there is still hope for him.  He‘s good in the living room.  He‘s good with unions.  That‘s Iowa. 

CARLSON:  The ladies don‘t like him.  We know from the polls. 

STODDARD:  I think this is a new year.  I think that where was Howard Dean model doesn‘t work.  This is the Clinton political machine.  Why is John Edwards going to topple it right now. 

CARLSON:  We can only hope.  Boy that would be a story.  Thank you both very much.  Coming next, the Democrats are doing some last minute preparing as they go through the final paces in advance of tonight‘s debate.  What exactly are they doing?  We‘ll hear from a key source. 

And the Red Sox paint Boston red with a parade to honor Red Sox Nation.  We‘ll try to find out when these post-championship celebrations began to include rioting and setting cars on fire. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Drexel University is hosting the Democratic presidential debate, which is going to be broadcast live on MSNBC at 9:00 p.m. tonight.  It‘s going to be moderated by NBC‘s Brian Williams, along with “Meet The Press‘” Tim Russert.  The target tonight, Hillary Clinton.  Obama and Edwards are expected to come out swinging.  Will their attacks hit or miss with voters?  NBC News‘ political director Chuck Todd is on the scene with the answer.  Chuck, welcome. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Hello, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  If you‘re John Edwards—we were just having this conversation.  All the talk has been about Barack Obama; is this his last stand; what should he do?  But John Edwards, it seems to me, is really up against it.  Is there anything he can do tonight?  What‘s he planning to do? 

TODD:  Well, look, what he‘s planning to do and what he should do I think are two different things.  I think what he‘s planning to do is to try to do the same thing Obama is doing, which is create a contrast with Clinton, become the story, somehow get into the exchange that, you know what, Clinton and Edwards were the ones who had a fight back and forth over corporate lobbyists or this or that.  And somehow Obama is relegated to the 8th paragraph of the Dan Ball story in the “Washington Post.”

But that‘s—what he should do, let Obama be the guy that beats up on Clinton.  I think there was a time when the Obama folks thought, this is going to be great.  Edwards will be the bad cop.  He‘ll beat up on Clinton.  Obama gets to stay above it all, while Edwards makes the case against Clinton and then all the folks gravitate toward Obama.  Clearly Obama‘s decided he‘s got to be the aggressor.  He‘s got to start taking her on. 

If Edwards—if I were Edwards, I would stand back, wait for the opening, not to take on Clinton, but to knock Obama out.  Because, at the end of the day, he‘s got to figure out how to make this Clinton v. Edwards.  He can‘t just assume, ignore Obama.  He‘s got to figure out how to get Obama out of the way.  Take the shot at Obama.  Start questioning whether Obama—see if Obama can take a punch. 

Nobody has ever landed a punch on him, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s a good point.  But that doesn‘t make John Edwards the kamikaze pilot, whose only purpose is to blow up other people.  At that point, it‘s just John Edwards against the world.  He‘s the angry man, right? 

TODD:  Well, look, the fact is, his message doesn‘t work unless you buy into this idea that you don‘t want a little bit of change, which is sort of—the Clinton message is, hey, you know what, you need a change of direction; you‘re tired of President Bush.  You need a competent, intelligent person in the White House to get this job done.  If you believe that you need more radical change, you need to shake up the system, then you‘re going to gravitate toward a slightly angrier candidate, but somebody who is a populist, who is a little bit of fire breather. 

So, look, I think Edwards—you are either for Edwards or you‘re not for that idea.  But I think Edwards has to be that guy.  He tried being the nice guy four years ago and it was good enough for second place.  Obama is finding that out this time.  The nice guy is good enough for second place.  I think you‘ve got to be a little more aggressive if you want to be commander in chief material. 

CARLSON:  What about the other guys?  You remember back in the last presidential cycle, all the other Democratic candidates, as if on cue, landed on Howard Dean.  They kind of—they hurt him, I thought.  This time you‘ve seen some of the other guys, Richardson, Chris Dodd, nice guys, who are being notably nice to Hillary Clinton, even Joe Biden.  Why is that and will that change? 

TODD:  I think that is going to change in the case of Dodd and Biden.  Dodd and Biden know that, number one, this is their last shot at the brass ring.  Yes, early on, they seemed to look like they were running to be vice president and secretary of state in the Clinton—next Clinton administration.  I think they are going to get aggressive on her. 

Richardson, though, I think you‘re going to see Richardson really stop being an aggressive candidate.  I think he has got his one eye on that Senate race.  he probably at some point is going to end up running for the U.S. Senate, probably is going to want Bill Clinton raising money for him in New Mexico.  So Richardson is the guy I‘m wondering, will he end up being a helpful surrogate on the stage for Clinton if people stop—start beating up on her too much, where you suddenly see Richardson saying, hey, hey, this isn‘t what this is all about, and he starts trying to be the nice guy and end up helping Clinton. 

CARLSON:  He basically would be the shill for Hillary Clinton.  He‘s her bodyguard. 

TODD:  Look, it‘s speculation on my part.  I‘m not going to say that‘s definitely going to happen.  But you start putting all this stuff together, Richardson today, for instance, said he‘s not going to take matching funds.  Well, that makes it easier to transfer any presidential money to a Senate race.  Anyway, I‘m adding up two plus two, probably getting eight rather than four.  But there‘s some—seems to be, of all the candidates that could end up being the defender of Clinton tonight, I‘m looking at Richardson being that guy. 

CARLSON:  That is so interesting.  I‘ll be watching for that.  Chuck Todd on the scene.  Thanks a lot Chuck.

TODD:  Who knows, I could be totally full of it. 

CARLSON:  If it happens, I will be very, very impressed. 

TODD:  That‘s what it‘s all about. 

CARLSON:  Amen, thanks Chuck.  See you. 

Up next, remember this guy?  He was a tasered during an appearance by John Kerry, and the video made him famous.  By the way, he was not tasered by John Kerry.  John Kerry was speaking.  The cops tasered him.  Anyway, where has he been since?  We‘ll let you know that, as well as other news you may have missed, in just a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  rMD+IN_rMDNM_Welcome back.  I‘ve been at MSNBC for almost three years.  During that time, I don‘t think we‘ve had a single meeting that didn‘t end with me screaming, don‘t tase me, bro!  Joining us now, the man I scream that at, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  And how many times have I tased you, bro? 

CARLSON:  Too many to count. 

WOLFF:  That‘s good management, is what that is.  Tucker, there will be no criminal charges against Andrew Meyer (ph).  You obviously recall that Meyer became as famous as the where‘s the beef lady in the ‘80s with this whaling utterance we can‘t resist playing at that John Kerry event last month at the University of Florida. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MEYER, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STUDENT:  Don‘t phase me, bro! 

Don‘t takes me!  I didn‘t do anything!  Ow.  Ow. Ow. Ow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  Well, after the university cops were cleared of wrongdoing and

accounts indicated that Mr. Meyer wanted all the attention, he became more

contrite than most punk kids, Tucker.  Today prosecutors said that he will

avoid criminal charges for resisting arrest, if he behaves during an 18-

month probation period.  For his part—here is where it gets interesting

Mr. Meyer has adopted the politics of hope; quote, “all of this is false division.  We are one people.  And once people can forget their differences, we can all start to focus on the issues that truly matter,” end quote. 

That sir is the statement, the valedictorian, if you will, of one Andrew Mayer.  He has got my vote. 

CARLSON:  It sounds like he‘s been having drinks with Rodney King. 

WOLFF:  Or Barack Obama.  It‘s the politics of hope. 

CARLSON:  I‘m still—I think he‘s obviously a loser.  But I still don‘t think if you have got six cops on one guy, who has already got a handcuff on his hand, you need to tase him.  I‘m sorry.  I‘m not defending the boorish little college student.  But I still think it‘s outrageous that they tased him.  It is outrageous.

WOLFF:  I concur.  Don‘t takes people.  Don‘t takes me, bro.  By the way, don‘t tase me, bro.  What would you have said?  I would have said the same thing.  God bless that guy.  Tucker, the opera ain‘t over until the fat lady sings, as you well know.  And the championship isn‘t won until they have a victory parade.  So the Boston Red Sox completed the experience today with a slow crawl through the streets of the hub this afternoon. 

Hundreds of thousands of New Englanders lined the three mile route, which started on Boylston Street, which turns into Kennedy Street, which turns back in Boylston, then Kirkland just at the rotary.  Just kidding.  I don‘t know if that‘s true.  But it usually is Boston.

Anyway, not everyone embraced the event.  A statement, Tucker—and I know how you feel about the school systems—from the Boston Public School superintendent, Carol Johnson, said, quote, “attending the victory parade is not an acceptable excuse for an absence by any student or staff member,” end quote. 

In related news the superintendent‘s door was spit balled profusely. 

CARLSON:  I think kids in Boston public schools can take just a day long break from learning to hate their own country to go celebrate the Red Sox. 

WOLFF:  I believe the date was October 22nd, 1982, would have been a Friday.  There was nobody at Clayton High, I can tell you that, after Cardinals won the World Series.  What are you supposed to do?  Come on. 

Now, in the retail business, always be careful what you promise, Tucker.  Case in point, a Massachusetts furniture store which offered free furniture if the Red Sox ultimately won the world series.  They did that last Spring.  Now it would have been a safe play for about 86 years there.  But this year, Jordan‘s Furniture, also known as Jordan‘s Furniture in the purple buildings, had to give rebates on about 30,000 orders placed between March 7th and April 16th

Red Sox fans Joseph Makazy (ph) furnished his entire home and will get the corresponding reimbursement.  The store hasn‘t said exactly how much they have got to pay out to customers, but they apparently bought an insurance policy in the event of a Red Sox World Series title.  They were insured against victory, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That is so great. 

WOLFF:  It‘s good.  Jordan‘s furniture in the purple building; that‘s what they‘re called.  Finally, Tucker, red meat politics.  GOP front runner Rudy Giuliani, who alienated New York Yankee fans by rooting for the Red Sox in the series is back on the pin stripe bandwagon.  Commenting on baseball while he was in New Hampshire, Giuliani bemoaned the impending defection of money hungry zillionaire third baseman Alex Rodriguez from the Yanks.  Recognizing A-Rod‘s o-field brilliance, the pragmatic former mayor said, if he‘s unhappy, he‘s unhappy, and you have to let him go. 

He then proved, Giuliani, his allegiance to baseball‘s Evil Empire by saying that the Yanks would, quote, have to pursue Boston‘s World Series MVP hero, third baseman Mike Lowell.  Now, pillaging Boston is, Tucker, the Yankee way. 

CARLSON:  What happens to players like Johnny Damon who come over from Boston and go to the Yankees? 

WOLFF:  What do you mean what happens?  Everybody in Boston hates them forever. 

CARLSON:  They don‘t play as well. 

WOLFF:  Fair point.  You know what, you‘re a baseball officianado, Tucker.  That was astutely done.

CARLSON:  Not really.  I just listen to my son.  Bill Wolff. 

WOLFF:  You‘re amazing.  

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  As always, we‘ll be back here tomorrow night, Halloween.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you then.

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

END   

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