updated 10/31/2007 1:01:07 PM ET 2007-10-31T17:01:07

Guests: Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Joe Trippi, Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah, Chuck Todd, Craig Crawford

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  That was the debate.  We heard the crowd right here in Philadelphia.  We‘re only a few yards away from the debate hall.  I‘m with Howard Fineman, Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, all our NBC family here, trying to figure out who won.  I must start with Howard.  I am stunned because it took to the last minute; it was the last round knockout perhaps.  Hillary Clinton would not answer the question straight.  Do you support giving driver‘s licenses in the state of New York that you represent in the U.S. Senate to the illegal aliens?  She kept saying over and over again undocumented workers.  That‘s the nice way of putting it.  Fair enough, but she wouldn‘t answer the question.  She said yes, then, she said no.  What did she say?

HOWARD FINEMAN:  Well, she said in New Hampshire and again, tonight at one point that she thought it was a good idea.  She said she wouldn‘t necessarily endorse it and wasn‘t committing to it.  So John Edwards said, wait a minute, have you all listened to what happened here within the last two minutes, Hillary Clinton said two different things.  And he said that‘s the double speak, that‘s the whole point that Edwards and Barack Obama were driving home all night that Hillary is too quite if I have that she‘s not forthcoming, she‘s—now, on things like Iran and Social Security, she could take a principled stand and say I‘m not going to impede my negotiating position when I‘m president.  She‘s already imaging herself president.  But on this very last thing at the very end of the debated, she just came off like a politician who didn‘t want to answer the question.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Bill Bradley years ago, (INAUDIBLE) where she stood on the tax increase in the state of New Jersey because it was a state matter, doesn‘t she have to answer this question?

ANDREA MITCHELL:  Well, she doesn‘t have to this question; her comfort zone is saying I am running against George Bush and Dick Cheney over and over again.  That was her line.  She is already the incumbent.  They, of course, are running against her.  I think tonight Obama and Edwards proved they could go after her and do it aggressively.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m trying to look forward tonight, Andrea, to tomorrow.  I‘m going to tell you something, the Republican Party which is fevering understand the surface with this illegal immigration issue, it‘s the issue that Fred Thompson may try to ride to the presidency.  I have sense that by - a few minutes from now, we‘re going to see announcements out of the Republican candidates saying Hillary Clinton wants to help add to the problem of illegal immigration by issuing what Chris Dodd called the privilege of a driver‘s license on the country you don‘t belong to be in, you‘re not supposed to be in this country legally but now we‘re going to issue what Chris Dodd calls the privilege ever a driver‘s license.  That‘s a hard case to make.

FINEMAN:  But politically the bigger problem for her in the immediate sense is that Obama and Edwards were trying to hammer all night on this theme that Hillary can‘t be trusted, that she‘s too evasive, that she won‘t give a straight answer and with only a few minutes left in the debate, they caught her in something that she just would not give an answer on for no good reason.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  The first story coming out of this debate, the first run at this by the Associated Press pointed to the issue that the two chief opponents Barack Obama and John Edwards were hitting on, the issue of character and double talk.  I didn‘t hear it that well.  I kept hearing Iraq and Iran.  But the way other reporters heard it was they‘re hitting her on not being reliable, she‘s not genuine, Hillary isn‘t who she‘s saying she is and then Tim Russert, one of the moderators tonight nailed her with that question.  She said it was a gotcha question.  A gotcha question is a weird question that doesn‘t relate to the central debate of our time.  Who‘s the prime minister of Canada, no, just kidding.  But the central question of immigration is so hot on the Republican side, it may well drive their nominating fight.

MITCHELL:  Well, in fact, it, Tim Russert said, you know, John Edwards, you accuse her of double talk and Edwards, do you still believe she has double talk, this is early in the debate.  And he said yes, I do, she does speak double talk.  It wasn‘t clear until those closing moments where she got caught on something that perhaps she wasn‘t prepared for.

MATTHEWS:  So, let me ask you Howard about this issue.  This was another weird moment at the end.  I don‘t want to distract too much with it.  Does Kucinich really want to sink himself totally out of the running here by saying, yes, I did see an unidentified flying object?  I saw - I mean, why don‘t we hear, we‘re in Philadelphia, why doesn‘t he say I see dead people, let‘s go all the way with it here.

FINEMAN:  Well, a cheer went up from the crowd back here.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Because they thought there may be a constituency out there tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  In Roswell, New Mexico.  He may find supporters.

MATTHEWS:  He may be going for the five electoral votes in New Mexico.  But Howard, I‘ve never heard a candidate for president and we‘ve only been covering them for about 40 years between us, or both of us, I‘ve never heard a guy say I believe in UFOs because I saw one.

FINEMAN:  God bless him.  You know -

MATTHEWS:  I mean, Louis Farrakhan talked about the big thing flying

around in the sky.  This guy -

FINEMAN:  There‘s no double-speak out of Dennis Kucinich.  You know, this is what he saw.  This is what he believes in, here he stands.  He can no other.  What are you going to do?  That‘s why they were cheering.

MATTHEW:  OK, let me go over a couple of things that start the debate tonight, before we get to the candidates.  We‘re all going to get tonight.  We have a number of them lined up they‘re committing - Bill Richardson‘s coming here, Joe Biden‘s coming here, Dennis Kucinich is coming here, we‘ll get more of the UFO and Chris Dodd is coming here.  I said it was interesting Andrea and Howard that the evening started with a certain resonance.  Three guys in a firing squad, all three of them, Biden, I‘m sorry, Barack, Edwards, and Dodd—all hitting Hillary for having supported the war resolution to authorize Iraq and then supporting this targeting of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.  Both saying we shouldn‘t have trusted Bush the first time, you sure as hell shouldn‘t trust him the second time.  He‘s taking us into another war.

MITCHELL:  And in fact, she said I believe in vigorous diplomacy.  This is really vigorous diplomacy, this is not giving George Bush and Dick Cheney a license to go to war and then Edwards said so why then did you support a resolution that could have within written by the Neo-Cons.

MATTHEWS:  Who said the Neo-Con thing?

MITCHELL:  Edwards.

MATTHEWS:  That was interesting.  Is that (INAUDIBLE) he talked? 

We‘re going to having to find out whether that‘s his aide talking.

FINEMAN:  That was a distincter (ph).  In the competition by the way to be the sharpest attacker of Hillary Clinton, I thought Edwards by far except for another point when Hillary was talking about why it was such a slow laborious process to release the records from the Clinton library, you may remember that?

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you that.  I thought.

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Obama made a great point about that because he said you‘re

basing your claim to experience on what happened in the first Clinton

administration, and yet, you won‘t release -

MATTHEWS:  They were on the trail; they were in for the kill.  Tim Russert had two great questions in a row.  But Tim‘s limited like most journalists, he can only go at somebody twice and then you‘ve got to hope for somebody else to jump in and somebody did.  Somebody else asked the question, as well but then the fourth person jumped in and changed the subject giving Hillary a chance to fob off the question, why are you personally sitting on your records as first lady when that is your number one claim to experience.

MITCHELL:  That‘s what happens in big debates.  But in fact, you know, when she‘s talking about those records and trying to lay it off on the archivist and also with other convoluted talk, Obama went right in, as Hillary pointed and Obama said, you know, we‘ve been suffering from a lack of transparency in the Bush administration and what you‘re talking about would be more of the same.  This is very appealing to a Democratic base.

FINEMAN:  When she talked about the process and also that was the one time where Obama really turned toward her, what we used to call in old debate language, the pivot (ph), remember that?  He turned toward her and he said, look, this will not stand because if you‘re claiming the presidency based on your being the first lady, you‘ve got to come clean on that.  I thought that was his best debating point that he‘s made in any of these debates so far.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to have some clips as soon as I hear they‘re ready.  I‘m going it start putting them on.  Let me ask you about there was a poll tonight as to who won tonight.  Do you have any sense based on your hunch, Howard, who‘s going to get the call tonight?  Do you think it‘s Hillary against the crowd?

FINEMAN:  Yes, Hillary against the crowd.  Now, the cut away shots of it Hillary, suddenly the mask of politeness fell away, the smiley face fell away and you saw Hillary glaring at these other guys.  I thought that was significant.  But she glared at them but she didn‘t blow up.  In other words, Hillary, they didn‘t get to Hillary enough to create a video moment that you‘re going to see time after time of her reacting.  You‘re going to see the video of them attacking her, but you won‘t see her losing her cool. 

That would have been -

MATTHEWS:  I thought Andrea, she was going to go at some point late in

the evening and say something nice like I see all the guys are jumping on

me tonight -

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Well, I think that in fact, she did talk about the Republicans.  She was asked about Rudy Giuliani‘s attacks on her for not being electable and for never having run anything and not having run a city or a state.  And she said, you know, the reason they‘re all going after me is because you know, they know I‘m tough.

MATTHEWS: OK, We‘ve got Bill Richardson, the governor of Mexico, joining us.  Governor Richardson, why did you defend Hillary Clinton tonight if you‘re running against her?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I simply was putting out that I thought the attacks were getting personal, not on the issues.  You know, I‘ve read the accounts of John Edwards and Barack saying she‘s not trustworthy, that she‘s controlled by special interests.  I think the issue should be on differences.  I have I big differences with her on Iraq, on education issues, they just didn‘t call on me and I think on the fundamental issue, getting our troops out, you know, I have the strongest plan.

MATTHEW:  Yes.

RICHARDSON:  And since nobody asked me.  I will have -

MATTHEW:  Let‘s take a look at you defending Clinton tonight, governor.  Let‘s watch you defending the front-runner.  She‘s 30, 40 points ahead of you guys and you‘re out there defending her.  I‘ve never seen a strategy like that.  Let‘s watch you tonight, governor, please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDSON:  I‘m hearing this holier than thou attitude toward Senator Clinton that it‘s bothering me because it‘s pretty close to personal attacks that we don‘t need, do we trust her, do we - she take money from special interests.  We need to be positive in this campaign.  Yes, we need to pint out our differences and have I big differences with her over the war.  I would get all our troops out over no child left behind; I‘d get rid of it.  I also have differences over Iran.  I think that was a long vote—wrong vote for her to cast because I think it was saber rattling.  But I think it‘s important that we save the ammunition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, the point those other candidates were making was that she‘s using double talk and at the very end of the debate tonight, she was particularly challenged on that issue because she said she supported Governor Spitzer‘s decision to give drivers licenses to the people who are in the country illegally.  And then she said she didn‘t and the space of a minute as one of the candidates point out that was John Edwards, don‘t you think she‘s on the verge of double talk in the way she approached that issue at the end of the debate?

RICHARDSON:  Towards the end, yes, that was a confusing answer.  But my point, Chris is that we shouldn‘t get personal and personal is saying you‘re controlled by special interests, you can‘t be trusted.  Look, on the issue of the war, I‘m just sorry it didn‘t come up.  I have a website, Getourtroopsout.com and I was frustrated because that‘s the big difference among all the candidates.  I get all the troops out within six to eight months and I believe that we need to do that to bring a political settlement to, get an all-Muslim peacekeeping force to, have a plan to give stability to Iraq, and that never came up.  So I continue to hope that I am recognized and it doesn‘t happen and it‘s regrettable.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of the debate tonight and your performance?  Do yo believe Governor Richardson that tonight will have an effect on the next NBC-Wallstreet Journal Poll on who the Democratic Party wants as its presidential nominee?  That‘s coming out next week.  Do you think tonight will affect those numbers?

RICHARDSON:  No, it won‘t affect the national numbers, Chris.  Those are name recognition polls.  I believe that I‘ll have inroads in Iowa, New Hampshire.  That‘s what I care about.  I have the clearest position on the war.  I have the clearest position on energy.  You heard me talk about that.  And by the way, I have a book coming out this week - “Leading by example”—on how we have to become green, how we have to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  I think when we look at the issues and experience and change, Bill Richardson on these debates, I talk about policy.  I don‘t get into personal attacks, I don‘t get into tactics.  I get into what I would do as president to bring this country together.

MATTHEWS:  Well, being from New Mexico, Governor, and being the governor of that state, do you believe in UFOs?  I mean it‘s an odd thing to ask, I wouldn‘t have asked it except Dennis Kucinich, candidate for president, U.S. Congressman, tonight said he saw a UFO.  Do you think that‘s credibility or is that disqualifying for a presidential candidate to say you‘ve seen UFOs?

RICHARDSON:  You know, I‘ve never seen one.  You know, Roswell, New

Mexico is the hot bed of UFOs and I promote Roswell as a tourism issue but

there is no credible -

MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about Roswell.  You have to be a booster for UFOs in that state?

RICHARDSON:  No, no, no, the federal government has not come clean on

all that issue and it should.  But no, I‘ve never seen one, I doubt of

their existence but you know, I‘m the governor of the state.  I push the

tourism promotion side like Billy the Kid, too.  You know, I‘m also trying

to bring tourism to my state.  But, no -

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Stop the music.  Stop the music.  Governor, did you say the United States government is covering up a history of a UFO sighting in your state?  You said the government—what are they hiding that you say about UFO?

RICHARDSON:  No, they haven‘t.  Well, they don‘t produce documents, Chris.  They should just get it all out.  And there‘s a known history about this.

MATTHEWS:  What is your belief that they‘re hiding?

RICHARDSON:  Released all documents.  Look, I don‘t believe there are UFOs, but the government has not handled this well over the years, that‘s a historical fact.  It‘s like on every issue, the energy papers of Secretary Cheney, they over classify everything, there‘s too much bureaucracy.  But we do in Roswell, New Mexico have a tradition of a UFO museum.  It‘s a tourist attraction and I don‘t think there‘s any credible evidence there is.  But the government would help their case if they just declassified all the papers.

MATTHEWS:  You know, with all respect, governor, I think I‘m seeing now a battle between the anti-evolutionary party and the pro-UFO party developing here.  This is a little—I‘m sorry, I‘m just kidding.  It‘s too odd.  Anyway, thank you, governor, for coming on.

RICHARDSON:  Thank you Chris.

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, Senator Joe Biden, we‘ll going to ask him about if he‘s seen a UFO or if he thinks there‘s a conspiracy to hide them from us.  We‘ll be right back.  You‘re watching HARDBALL coverage of the Democratic debate live from Philly only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, welcome back to Philadelphia.  We are back with Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Howard Fineman.  We‘re joined right now by one of the candidates for president Senator Joe Biden who‘s in the debate tonight.  Senator Biden, where do you stand on issuing state drivers licenses to people who are in this country illegally?  Are you for it or against it?

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Against.

MATTHEWS:  Great.  You agree with Senator Dodd.  Is this an issue that Hillary Clinton tried to wall of on the issue tonight in the debate making the point that some of you made that she‘s double talks?

BIDEN:  You might say she was less than decisive.  Look, I mean.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about -

BIDEN:  Again—go ahead.  Sorry.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Kucinich.  I was struck tonight by Dennis Kucinich, is not really in the front running for the office of the presidency is, perhaps luckily, I don‘t know, but tonight he said he has seen an UFO.  With in that, Governor Richardson came on this show and Governor Richardson said the federal government is operating in ways that breed suspicion there‘s a conspiracy to keep us from seeing UFOs or knowing about their existence in New Mexico, I agree.  Do you believe in UFOs?  It‘s an odd question, but there seems to be a pattern here.

BIDEN:  I‘ve never met Dennis Kucinich and I don‘t know Governor

Richardson.  Look, no, I don‘t think there‘s UFOs and no—what‘s heck are

we talking about here?  I mean -

MATTHEWS:  I‘d like to know.

BIDEN:  It‘s gone down hill real quick.

MATTHEWS:  It started going down during the debate.  Let me ask you, Senator Biden, about this issue of Iraq and Iran.  Did we get anywhere tonight in establishing which candidate has the best chance to get us out of Iraq in a good way and keep us from going to all-out war with Iran?  Is there a candidate tonight?  Are you that candidate?  Did we get somewhere tonight?

BIDEN:  I am that candidate.  I‘m the only one that‘s come up with a plan, 75 senators signed on to it.  It‘s an exit strategy.  The vast majority of all of the Sunni leaders, Shia leaders and Kurdish leaders signed on to it after it was distorted and I straightened it out after the president distorted it.  The idea that we in this stage tonight so many people in the Congress and running in both parties do not connect the dots.  Look, this whole idea of dealing with Iran in the abstract is a little like saying you‘re going to deal with only Russia in the abstract during World War II or only going to deal with Germany and not Italy.  This is crazy.  This is all connected, Chris. 

And the idea the next president of the United States not understanding that the way in which you will be able to curtail Iran‘s ability to acquire nuclear weapons is to garner the support of the rest of the world to squeeze and put a noose, it‘s a lot cheaper to block the straits of Hormuz if it gets down to that than go to war.  And the idea you‘re going to topple, I promise you, if this guy bombs Iran, watch what happens in Afghanistan.  Karzai will go.  Watch what happens in Pakistan and no one on the stage or out there seems to get the connection.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re looking at up - NBC‘s Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell it will to follow up on that.

MITCHELL:  Well, Senator Biden, what about Hillary Clinton‘s argument, her argument is that she voted for that resolution because she was supporting vigorous diplomacy, not military action.  Is that a credible argument?

BIDEN:  Well, who did she talk to?  Who do we negotiate with?  What was in the negotiation?  Is the idea of declaring a quarter of their military giving Bush an excuse by naming them terrorists, is that negotiation?  I mean, with whom did we speak before this was passed?  I find it absolutely incomprehensible.  I really don‘t get it.

MITCHELL:  But, do you agree with Senator Edwards that this was double talk on her part?

BIDEN:  Well, look, I don‘t know, it was just flat wrong.  She is fundamentally substantively wrong on the position.  I think that that bothers me more.  It‘s not the idea that I think she‘s double talking.  She probably really truly believes that this somehow is going to increase our diplomatic leverage when in fact, all it does was give the president an excuse, it raises the price of oil, putting the money in Ahmadinejad‘s hands, to give to the Quds force, to give to the Revolutionary Guard.  I mean, it‘s absolutely disconnected from reality.  I wish we would focus on what problem is.  The problem is these guys in Iran with swimming in a sea of oil.  The price going up, doing with that money what, in fact, she says she wants to stop and by the way in, fairness to her, 74 other senators voted that way.

MITCHELL:  But do you think in her case, she‘s looking for the general election strategy or is it simple she‘s misinformed, uninformed?

BIDEN:  I don‘t.  Well, I think the vote is uninformed.  I don‘t know. 

I never question another person‘s motive.

MATTHEWS:  Howard Fineman.

FINEMAN:  Senator, if Hillary Clinton was wrong on Iraq and you now say she was wrong on Iran on the way she voted, how can she be trusted to be president of the United States?

BIDEN:  Because you look at the opposition.  You look at the opposition.  Number one, first of all, the fact that she‘s wrong on those two things in my view, I‘m not sure what you mean by wrong on Iraq in terms of her original vote, I don‘t think she was wrong on Iraq.  I think Bush violated the conditions set down in the authorization of the use of force.  She supported the Biden exit strategy.  So, I don‘t know that she‘s wrong on Iraq.  I think she‘s dead wrong on Iran.  But look, my grandfather used to say you have to have somebody to beat somebody.  Look at who the Republicans are running versus any one of the candidates up here.  Mitt Romney?  His experience in foreign policy and the unusual things he‘s saying?  Rudy Giuliani?  The only qualified guy on the other side in my view is John McCain and he‘s wrong on substance.

FINEMAN:  Can I ask you quickly, do you think John Edwards or Barack Obama or anybody on that stage tonight raised any serious levels of questions about Hillary as a forth coming politician?  Because that‘s clearly what Edwards and Obama and to some extent the others are trying to do?

BIDEN:  I think if anything Hillary‘s answers raised that, not so much by because they seemed pretty confusing.  Some of them seemed very confusing to me and whether that was her intention or not, maybe she just misspoke.

FINEMAN:  Which point?

BIDEN:  Well, starting off with the last question with regard to drivers licenses.  You know, I mean in social security.  The answer that she told one guy out in Iowa, wherever it was, Tim said, and you know, I was truly confused by her answers.

FINEMAN:  Was she being confused or was she being evasive?  Which was it?

BIDEN:  I was truly confused by her answers. 

FINEMAN:  But was she being confused, or was she being evasive?  Which was it? 

BIDEN:  Look, I told you, I‘m not going to judge that.  I think the American public is going to look. 

I think—look, here‘s what I‘m banking on.  I‘m banking on the American public looking for someone with enough depth and breadth of knowledge and decisiveness that they can not trust in terms of their character, trust in terms of their judgment, to lead them through what they know is going to be a very difficult decade.  That‘s why I‘m running for president.  I believe I‘m that person.  Obviously that‘s for the public to decide.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I can tell you one thing, senator, it looks to me like if Hillary Clinton sticks to her position, which is 180 from yours, that we give driver‘s licenses to people she calls undocumented workers, that will be the major issue of next year‘s presidential election.

Thank you, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.  (INAUDIBLE) staying with us.  We‘ll be back with much more from the candidates and the campaigns, and later we‘ll find out who the American people think won tonight, based on our little poll tonight over the Web.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic debate live from Philadelphia, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRES. CANDIDATE:  I am against a rush to the war.  I was the first person on this stage, and one of the very first in the Congress, to go to the floor of the Senate back in February and say George Bush had no authority to take any military action in Iran. 

Secondly, I am not in favor of this rush for war, but I‘m also not in favor of doing nothing.  Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism.  So some may want a false choice between rushing to war, which is the way the Republicans sound.  It‘s not even a question of whether, it‘s a question of when and what weapons to use, and doing nothing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), PRES. CANDIDATE:  I think electability is a very critical issue.  Look, with the end of this process here, we need to have a Democrat in the White House come January 20th, 2009.  That is essential, in my view, to get this country back on its feet again, to restore our moral authority in the world.  It is a critical question. 

Whether it‘s fair or not fair, the fact of the matter is that my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public that say they‘re not going to vote for her.  I‘m not saying anything that people don‘t know already.  I don‘t necessarily like it, but those are the facts.  We as a party certainly have to take that into consideration. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic debate, live from Philadelphia.  Senator Chris Dodd is on the debate stage right now.  Senator Dodd, the Democratic party has yielded up the issue of tax increases to the Republicans, saying you‘ll repeal the Bush tax cuts, which is an issue they love.  Is the Democratic Party prepared to put in tats platform this summer in Denver that you support giving drivers licenses to people in the country illegally?  I think that‘s the winner for the Republicans if you give it to them, I must say. 

DODD:  Well, you heard my answer tonight, Chris.  I believe the extension of a driver‘s license is a privilege, not a right.  And therefore I disagree with that.  I think it‘s one of the problems we have here, that we‘re literally attracting a lot of people to come to this country, believing that there‘s no price you pay by arriving at an undocumented worker in our nation.  I think that‘s wrong.  I think that‘s a mistake. 

I tried to point out briefly this evening that on things like health care for children, I disagree there, because that is a public health problem, if we don‘t vaccinate or deal with children here who could up spreading diseases and problems healthwise in the country. 

But a driver‘s license is something entirely different, and in my view that‘s a mistake to extend those to undocumented workers. 

MATTHEWS:  You were very strong tonight in making the case that Hillary Clinton had supported the war resolution in 2002, and then had proceeded to give the president the authority to target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.  Do you think that‘s a main point of these closing months of this campaign? 

DODD:  Well, it can be.  Again, look, this is all about leadership in the country.  And it‘s a very legitimate question to raise.  We‘ve been through this.  We all know I think what the Bush administration has in mind, and those who support them on this issue.  They‘ve been building a drumbeat.  It wasn‘t coincidental that you had the Kyle-Lieberman proposal on the floor of the United States Senate, and then within days after that, the administration announcing its own intentions.  It lines up very neatly and tidily for them here to have 75 or 76 United States senators who I think cast a very bad vote, in my view, by, in a sense, enabling or providing cover for the administration to move in that direction.

And as I said this evening.  I‘ll promise you that the administration will wave back in the face of the United States Senate, that vote on that day is a further justification for their action. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Senator Chris Dodd, a candidate for the United States presidency. 

Joe Trippi is a senior strategist for the Edwards campaign. 

Joe, I‘ve never heard your candidate be so tough in blaming the foreign policy of the United States on the neocons, neoconservative ideology.  Explain why your candidate did that tonight.

JOE TRIPPI, SR. STRATEGIST FOR EDWARDS CAMPAIGN:  Because It‘s exactly what Senator Dodd just talked about.  This was—all language in that bill was neocon language that the Bush administration was pushing on Iran. 

MATTHEWS:  Are they using Senator Kyle as an instrument to try to build a case for war with Iran? 

TRIPPI:  Well, I think the bill clearly opened that door, and that‘s what we‘ve been trying to say.  I think a lot of the other—Biden and Dodd, believe that, as well, and Senator Edwards made that case. 

I think that‘s the big thing here is that there really is a stark difference between Edwards and Clinton on a number of issues and this is one of them.  And I think we made a very strong case tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  The case you made at the very end, on the issue of driver‘s licenses in New York State for illegal immigrants, for people in the country illegally, giving drivers licenses, Hillary Clinton seemed to be saying that‘s an OK idea with her.  And then your candidate John Edwards said in the space of a minute she gave two different positions.  What are those two positions.  Explain the double-talk.

TRIPPI:  Well, I‘m still confused, too.  I mean—and Obama was confused.  I mean, this wasn‘t just Senator Edwards, that could you not tell where she really was.  And by the way, it‘s clear to me that she‘ll change her position again on this one within the next week.  Probably by tomorrow when her consultants... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... supporting a driver‘s license for illegal immigrants by tomorrow?  Do you think she‘s going to dump that position? 

TRIPPI:  It depends whether he‘s in primary mode or general election mode, and I don‘t think...

MATTHEWS:  If she‘s in a general election mode, where will she go? 

TRIPPI:  I think it‘s going to change. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘ll go to opposing it. 

TRIPPI:  I think you‘ll see that position change.  I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about that. 

MATTHEWS:  I completely agree with you because is she expects to take on the Republican Party as a defender of giving privileges like drivers licenses to people in this country illegally, she has given the Republicans the biggest issue they‘ve got so far. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want troops out of Iraq now, no more blood, bro! 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I agreed with the sentiment, at least. 

TRIPPI:  So do I, smile.  If not the message, I mean, the weight of the message points effort (ph). 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  This debate tonight, who won?  What‘s it look like to you? 

TRIPPI:  Look, I think—I think you know, clearly ... 

MATTHEWS:  Edwards do his job?  Were you proud of him? 

TRIPPI:  Yes, I mean, look—there was, I think, a lot of moments, but I think the critical one was when he—when Edwards asked, you know, said there were clear differences and asked people—said the American people aren‘t going to go home to their kids and tell them they‘re not willing to pass on a better country to them and that we‘ve got to stand up to the corruption. 

MATTHEWS:  Joe Trippi, thanks.  Please, we‘ll have more time ...

TRIPPI:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  ...tomorrow night if you have time.  We‘ll be right back though, with Joe Trippi who‘s working in the Edwards campaign. 

Up next, who won the battle of Philadelphia?  And (ph) here tonight,

we‘re going to hear from two Democratic Congressmen.  They‘ll be right here

in a moment.  By the way, we‘re going to get a letter, we‘re going to get -

look at this right now, this is the battle we‘re having right now on the Webs right now, on the Internet.  We‘re going to see who‘s winning that thing right now. 

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Some of this stuff gets overhyped.  In fact, I think this has been the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed.  Although the amazing thing is I‘m Rocky in this situation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a Philadelphia reference to Rocky Balboa.  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic debate tonight, live from Philadelphia at Drexel University.

We‘re joined by two of the most prominent Democrats in the city, in fact, the area.  Both U.S. Congressmen, both formerly mayoral candidates.  Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady. 

Bob, you‘re the boss of this city, right?  Aren‘t you the Democratic boss of this city? 

REP. BOB BRADY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I‘m the Democratic chairman, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, you‘re head of city committee.  Who‘s the strongest candidate you guys can run statewide election against Rudy Giuliani, should he be the nominee, of the other party? 

BRADY:  I guess it would probably be Hillary or Barack Obama, either one. 

MATTHEWS:  Either one.

BRADY:  Probably be the strongest one.

MATTHEWS:  Strongest one.  What do you think, Congressman?  Strongest candidate? 

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I agree with Joe Biden. 

Giuliani can forget it.  I think that—in terms of carrying Pennsylvania

...

MATTHEWS:  Yes?

FATTAH:  ...this is a state that—with the strong help of Democrats across the state, Clinton carried twice ...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FATTAH:  ...Ford carried, Kerry carried.  This is not the new Ohio, we‘re going to win, Pennsylvania. 

MATTHEWS:  So, Pennsylvania will not be poached—Pennsylvania will not be poached by the Rs? 

FATTAH:  Well, I think there‘ll be a competitive race, but we‘re going to win, and we‘re going to win off the great strength of the Democratic voter, here in Philadelphia, in the five (ph) county region. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think you‘d be better off with Eddie Rendell, the governor of this state on the ticket with Hillary to make sure that Rudy gets stopped in his tracks as he moves into this blue state? 

FATTAH:  Nobody could go wrong with Ed Rendell on the ticket. 

MATTHEWS:  You guys! 

FATTAH:  I think that Philadelphia—Philadelphia ...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you guys are such (INAUDIBLE) -- you are such (INAUDIBLE).

FATTAH:  Philadelphia won tonight.  Philadelphia won tonight. 

BRADY:  If you want to win Pennsylvania, you want to put Rendell on any ticket.  He‘s a great vote getter, and he‘ll drive the vote out. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about a hot issue tonight, a very tricky issue ethnically.  This illegal immigration issue.  I think the Republicans are going to ride this like a thoroughbred in this general election, because a lot of people are hot under the collar about it.  They think people are coming into this country illegally, some to work, some to not.  Some of them are living off welfare, and some people don‘t like this thing. 

This guy—Hillary Clinton said tonight, she wants—she supports giving driver‘s licenses to people in the country illegally.  In other words, are we going to issue them at the border when they come in under the fence?  I mean, it‘s a serious question.  Do you think that can be supported by the working Democrats of this city? 

BRADY:  I believe with Senator Dodd.  I think the driver‘s licenses is a privilege.  And I don‘t know whether or not they‘ve earned a privilege to have a driver‘s license. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you give it to people here illegally? 

BRADY:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you?

FATTAH:  Look, I think people driving on our roads ...

MATTHEWS:  No, would you give ...

FATTAH:  ...need ...

MATTHEWS:  ...driver‘s licenses to people here illegally? 

FATTAH:  No.  First of all, you shouldn‘t give anything to anyone who‘s here illegally. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, no driver‘s licenses.

FATTAH:  The point is, if people present themselves and present documentation, if we can identify them, if they‘re willing to pass a driver‘s test, you know, if it‘s not terms of giving citizenship.  But I think that what they‘re trying to confuse is legal immigration, illegal immigrants ...

MATTHEWS:  No ...

FATTAH:  Schwarzenegger said ...

MATTHEWS:  ...illegal immigrants get driver‘s licenses. 

FATTAH:  The governor of California, who‘s a Republican, said he wants people driving on the roads ...

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, this is not ...

FATTAH:  ...who have licenses.

MATTHEWS:  ...this is not calculus.  Should illegal immigrants get driver‘s licenses? 

FATTAH:  If we got 12 million people here on our roads, somebody should figure out who the hell they are, and try to make sure they can follow the laws of the road. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you just arrest them when they‘re driving illegally? 

FATTAH:  Well, no one‘s proposing you can arrest 12 million people. 

MATTHEWS:  No, when they‘re on the roads driving illegally, say, where‘s your driver‘s license?

FATTAH:  How do you think they get to work?  To work at the hotel ...

MATTHEWS:  OK, oh see, OK, fine ...

FATTAH:  ...or at the restaurants ...

MATTHEWS:  ...and then, give them driver‘s licenses.  You‘ve stated your position. 

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH:  People on the road driving within the law.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re ...

(CROSSTALK)

BRADY:  I think what Hillary‘s point was she was trying to make was that—in this way, they have a driver‘s license.  We know they passed the test, because they‘re going to drive illegal anyway.  So, if they pay—that‘s her point that she‘s trying to make, that you get a driver‘s license, you got to pass the test.  At least you‘ve got qualified drivers on the road. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BRADY:  That‘s the point she was trying to make.

MATTHEWS:  So, how do you stop from using those driver‘s licenses to get on airplanes? 

BRADY:  Chris ...

MATTHEWS:  How do you stop them?

BRADY:  You know what, I‘m not for it, I agree. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you stop them from using it as I.D.? 

FATTAH:  Look, what the governor of New York has laid out as a detailed plan to do that, so you have a three-tier system.  The point here is that Republicans, last time they won a few states bashing gays. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

FATTAH:  They win on God, guns, gays.  This time, it‘s immigrants, right?  The country has to ...

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re going to win this? 

FATTAH:  ...focus on ...

MATTHEWS:  Ha!  You‘re saying they‘re going to win on this? 

FATTAH:  No, no.  What we have to focus on is the fact that we‘re mortgaging our future, the dollar‘s at an all-time low.  Oil‘s on the high, don‘t get sidetracked. 

MATTHEWS:  So, you don‘t think this is a big issue?

FATTAH:  There are people driving on the road tonight when me and Bob came down from Washington. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, so you—fair enough.  You say this illegal immigration thing is a side issue. 

FATTAH:  It is, and this—Bush and this administration has done nothing to close down the borders.  If they were so concerned about it, how are people coming across the borders? 

MATTHEWS:  Right, we agree.  They should have—they should start—what they ought to start doing is penalizing people ...

FATTAH:  You‘re network is (INAUDIBLE) on the Canadian border, with a camera, running—the people just come right across.  Where‘s the federal government?  Where‘s the help on the way? 

MATTHEWS:  The Canadian border, ha! 

BRADY:  I liked Joe Biden‘s line.

MATTHEWS:  Hey, are the Democrats going to carry Pennsylvania this year? 

BRADY:  Absolutely. 

FATTAH:  Watch out for the UFOs. 

BRADY:  This year and next year. 

FATTAH:  Watch out for the UFOs. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Bob Brady, I loved you in that debate, when you took on that guy, what‘s his name, Dodd (ph)? 

FATTAH:  I loved Barack Obama when he‘s going to deal with the people who are lobbying here.  We‘re still the guys in the picture (ph).

MATTHEWS:  Chaka Fattah, you‘re still the most charming member of Congress from this area.  Thank you, sir.  Chaka Fattah from Philly, Bob Brady, the boss of Philadelphia Democratic politics. 

Much more ahead, including the results of our survey.  We‘re asking viewers to text message, those who can, their thoughts on who won tonight‘s debate.  This is going to be a special award for people that know how to text.  They get to win tonight because they get to pick. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Democratic debate live from Philly, only on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Senator Clinton, in her campaign, I think has been for and after, previously.  Now, she‘s against it.  She has taken one position on torture several months ago and then, most recently has taken a different position.  She voted for a war to authorize sending troops into Iraq, and then later said this was a war for diplomacy.  I don‘t think that—now that may be politically savvy, but I don‘t think that it offers the clear contrast that we need. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, We Americans like winners and losers, and we like to see the scoreboard.  So this hour we asked to you text message which candidate you thought won tonight‘s debate.  And here are the results of our survey.  These results will last forever.  Barack Obama received the most votes, with 29 percent of you saying he won the debate.  Hillary Clinton follows at second with 20 percent.  John Edwards with third at 18 percent, with Joe Biden close behind at 17 percent.  Dennis Kucinich earned 7 percent, in single digits.  Bill Richardson was down at 5 percent, and 4 percent of had you Dodd. 

Let‘s go to some of our experts her right now.  We have right now Craig Crawford and we‘ve got Chuck Todd. 

Craig Crawford, what do you make of this? 

CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POL. ANALYST:  A lot of swings.  Fewer hits than misses.  I mean, I just think when the challengers gang up on a frontrunner, if they don‘t get a knockout, it makes the frontrunner stronger. 

MATTHEWS:  Wasn‘t her position on Iraq and Iran, or was it the accusation of being a double-talker? 

CRAWFORD:  Imagine that, not being able to pin down a Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the question. 

CRAWFORD:  I think she definitely handled that.  She never got rattled Chris.  There were hits, some hits, but she never got rattled.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Chuck Todd.  Your view of the numbers that just came in right now, showing at least the people with text messages tonight, saying Obama won rather handily over Hillary, she in second.  What do you make of the evening? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POL. ANALYST:  Wow, you were going to make me handicap a text messaging poll. Chris.  You‘re killing me.  No, I think Clinton increasingly got worse as the night went on.  I think she started off well.  She withstood the hits.  But you could moments where she started to crack. 

And I‘m wondering, Chris, what‘s going to happen when it‘s just two or three candidates.  What‘s it going to be like in mid-January, where this thing is narrowed down to two or three candidates.  I don‘t think she wears well when she is the center of attention.  When there are six other people on stage and she gets to take a break, she can do well.  But, boy, when she was getting ganged up on, you could see moments where she started to crack, where folks did get under her skin a little bit.  Chris Dodd did.  He put her on the defense at the end. 

So if you‘re Edwards and Obama, you feel happy you saw an opening, and that is, you saw an opening.  This double talk, or whatever they‘re going to hit her with, I think they got her, they found her on immigration, and they‘re going to use this to open up a whole bunch of other issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you feel, Chuck, that her briefing book let her down?  She was well prepared by Mandy and Mark Penn and the others, and Howard Wolfson, but got stuck on an issue of state politics, the issue of these drivers licenses in New York State, and she didn‘t have a clear answer? 

TODD:  No, I think she got stuck when she tries very hard not to answer specifics.  And she does it because it‘s something that her husband learned very well.  Be careful what you say in these primaries.  You‘ve got run in the general election.  This is a very long campaign, and what position you take matter.  And I think she was being careful.  And we all know—look, Chris, you and I both know this immigration is hot in the middle of the country, particularly in a state like Iowa, other swing states in the Midwest, like Michigan, Minnesota, potentially Colorado.  So I think she was trying to figure out a way to have it both ways.  I hate to put it in those terms, but I think that‘s what she was trying.  And you know what, Chris Dodd called her out on that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You guys are wrong.  She has taken a position tonight that she will have to correct in 24 hours.  She will have to come out against giving illegal—you can‘t give people in the country illegally a driver‘s license.  It doesn‘t sell. 

CRAWFORD:  There was a moment when they were making the case.  I thought Edwards made a good point when he said, the Republicans talk about you so much because they want to run against you.  The political case with worried Democrats that she‘s not electable is the one that‘s going to work.  It‘s not these policy arguments.  She knows this stuff too much.

MATTHEWS:  But can‘t you hear the Republican candidates right now, Chuck, she wants to raise your taxes.  And after she‘s raised your taxes, she wants to give drivers licenses to people in the country illegally.  It‘s a one-two punch against people. 

CRAWFORD:  She hasn‘t signed on to a single tax increase. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s going to repeal the bush tax cut. 

CRAWFORD:  That‘s not an increase. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes, you try that, for the people who‘s taxes are—you guys are not even playing...

TODD:  Craig brings up a good point.

MATTHEWS:  Look, I‘m telling you, Bill Bradley nearly got beaten in New Jersey on that.  You can‘t play games with state issues, by saying I‘m in a federal position, I don‘t talk about state issues.  You have to take a position on hot button issues like immigration and taxes.  You have to do it. 

CRAWFORD:  I think it‘s better to finesses them like she‘s doing.

TODD:  It‘s too big of a election.  I don‘t know, I think it‘s too big of a election.  I think there‘s an expectation that you have to take some more stands, and you have got a guy like Giuliani who, like it or not, is taking stands. 

MATTHEWS:  I completely agree with you.

CRAWFORD:  Some of them may not play very well, but he‘s taking specific stands. 

Anyway, all right. 

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Let me take your position, Chuck—I mean, Craig.  She did stand tough.  She said, I‘m not apologizing for voting for the resolution that led to the war with Iraq.  I‘m not apologizing for voting to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.  I‘m not taking back my refusal to give you particulars on Social Security reform.  She did hold her ground tonight.  She was a bunker. 

CRAWFORD:  I didn‘t say she ever really got rattled.  I mean, there were some moments, like Chuck pointed out, where she showed signs of getting rattled in the future.  But in these “gang up on the front-runner” debates, if the front-runner doesn‘t stumble, if you don‘t get a knockout, it makes them stronger. 

MATTHEWS:  We have 30 seconds.  Which other candidate besides Hillary move into what baseball people call the on-deck circle?  Who is ready to be her No. 1 challenger between now and January? 

Chuck?

TODD:  Well, I think Edwards made the case that this is still a three-way race, not a two-way.  I think Obama, while starting off slow, did  pick up steam a little bit.  Edwards, though, he did hit her pretty hard.  He was like the sledgehammer tonight.  He was a...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  It was a little negative, though.  It was a little negative.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you, Chuck Todd. 

I know.  Join us again tomorrow at 5:00, and then at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL tomorrow night.  From Drexel University in Philadelphia, good night.

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

END   

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