updated 11/5/2007 3:21:17 PM ET 2007-11-05T20:21:17

Guests: Samantha Power, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Roger Simon, Michael Crowley, Roger Stone, Joel Stein

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome to the show.

After weeks of sparring with chief rival Hillary Clinton over foreign policy, Senator Barack Obama has announced a new strategy for dealing with Iran. Obama tells “The New York Times” if he is elected he‘d be willing to sit down make a deal with Iran‘s leaders without preconceptions.

He proposes using economic inducements and promise not to seek regime change, in turn for end to Iran‘s Involvement in Iraq and also their cooperation on nuclear weapons and other issues. A remarkable by product of this idea is that it‘s gotten Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani to agree.  They both say they think Obama‘s idea is irresponsible and naive.

Joining me now is Senator Obama‘s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Samantha Power.  

Samantha, thanks for coming on.

SAMANTHA POWER, BARACK OBAMA‘S SR. FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR:  Thank you.

CARLSON:  Senator Obama says that if the Iranians will play along stop their nuclear program, among other things, he will not seek regime change.  What if they don‘t? What if they continue toward building a nuclear weapon.

Would he seek regime change?

SMITH:  I think his position is That we‘ve incentivised Ahmadinejad‘s pursuit of nuclear weapons. We‘ve made it easier for him to extend Iranian influence to Iraq. And we know what isn‘t working.  What isn‘t working is the six-year policy that we‘ve pursued which is denunciation, saber rattling, murky threats of the use of force. And what that‘s done is strengthen him domestically.

What Obama wants to do is get in the room, actually bring his principles, not check them at the door. And see if there‘s any room for maneuver. There may not be. But by being in the room what we will do is we‘ll have far more international public opinion at our back than we do working against us—which is almost—

(CROSS TALK)  

CARLSON:  But at the end of any conversation is always force, so the question is, is he taking that off the table or not?

POWER:  No, he hasn‘t taken force off the table. But we got a toolbox in American foreign policy with a lot of tools in it. We‘ve got one tool on our mind, this administration has one tool on it‘s mind, Obama is trying to open up the box and say this one tool isn‘t doing terribly well in Iraq. It probably won‘t do terribly well in Iran. Why don‘t we actually look at the panoply of options that we have. 

CARLSON:  He says he‘ll use, quote, “aggressive personal diplomacy”.

What does that mean?  Is that charm?

POWER:  He‘s got a lot of that, which is useful, not unhelpful. And he has a great ability as he‘s proven in this country to work with the unlike minded, although I will grant that Ahmadinejad is in another league of unlike minded.

But he wants to just get in there instead of lumping Iran, with Iraq, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, with Al Qaeda to actually pry our foes apart, to show the international community that we don‘t view talking to us as a reward for good behavior, but view it as root to securing good behavior.

I mean, basically, just to learn the lessons of history.  The lessons of Kennedy and Cuban missile crisis, and Nixon and China, and you name it.  But just to get in the room, do hard-nosed negotiations. And then at the end of an exhaustive process you may end up at exactly the same place, then you revisit other tools.

CARLSON:  But Kenney, of course, used the threat of force in the Cuban missile crisis pretty well.  But at the root of this is—isn‘t it, just the fact that it‘s good to have a nuclear weapon. Why wouldn‘t Iran want a nuclear weapon? It brings security, it brings power, what possibly could he offer in return for foregoing that power and that security?

POWER:  Well, there are plenty of countries that don‘t pursue nuclear weapons. But I don‘t think it‘s a coincidence that this country is pursuing it when it was named part of the axis of evil and then it looked at the other two countries that were part of the axis of evil, Iraq  and North Korea. And it said, hmm, one of these had A nuclear weapon and it didn‘t get attacked, the other didn‘t have weapons of mass destruction, it did get attacked. Maybe we should go and get a nuclear weapon in order to not get attacked.

I‘m not sure again that it‘s in our security interests to be continuing to threaten attacks when it actually makes people more militant.  And crucially it strengthens the very leader that we want out of Tehran.  It‘s in no one‘s interest for Ahmadinejad to hold power and we are the last thing that he has to hold on to because he‘s doing nothing for the Iranian people.

CARLSON:  So, you‘re saying that the U.S. government pushed Iran into seeking nuclear weapons and to interfering in Iraq, into supporting terror?  That seems to be what Obama told “The New York Times”. It‘s kind of our fault.

POWER:  It‘s our—Iran has it‘s own interests. Iran is going to do what it does and we just happen to take away its two biggest enemies in the neighborhood, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.  We made life much, much easier for Iran by making more in the way that we did. We opened the door by not doing any post-war planning for Iran to come in and fill the security void.

So, in that sense, yes, we have aided Iran. But it‘s Iran‘s fault that it‘s in Iraq and Iran‘s fault that it‘s pursuing nuclear Weapons. We just have to work, unfortunately, with the Iran that we have not the Iran that we wish we had.

CARLSON:  Why do you suppose it is that Democrats who list Iraq as

their chief concern, who are the maddest about the course of the war, there

about waging war in the first place—say pretty overwhelmingly they support Hillary Clinton, whose position, it‘s pretty clear is closer to Bush‘s than Obama‘s is. Why would they be supporting Obama over Hillary?

POWER:  Well, I—you know, Obama has just came out with this initiative now, and unfortunately for some reason this is a position that has been seen to be controversial.  There‘s a lot of very conventional Washington herd-like thinking, where people just go with the flow and go along to get along.

I think there‘s been a nervousness, domestically, about speaking up on behalf of economic sanctions, diplomatic negotiations, and so forth. Again the Bush administration has the pulpit and there are tremendous advantages that come from—

CARLSON:  Oh, no.

POWER:  No, no, but I‘m just saying—

CARLSON:  I can promise you that is conventional wisdom, here. I know Bush isn‘t fore it. But you know, everybody in my neighborhood is for it.  This is not the first time this has been proposed. You‘re not saying that, are you?

POWER:  What I‘m saying is that, the herd in Washington went along with the authorization to go to war in Iraq and for some reason now the bulk of the herd of the Democratic mainstream is going along with the Bush administration—not exactly with threatening the use of force, but going along with the Kyl-Leiberman Amendment, in which we say that actually keeping Iran out of Iraq is major national security interest for us, thereby potentially providing a back door authorization to the use of force, or to keeping U.S. troops in Iraq in order to stave off that influence.

There‘s just—it‘s been consensus for a long time, and I think it took somebody to stand up and have the courage of his convictions, to be pragmatic and to actually look empirically and say, what has not worked.  What—our current approach has not worked there for continuing to lament Iranian influence we could do that. To continue to threaten Iran we could do. We can say over and over again, no option is taken off the table, or we could actually sit down with them, and see if we can neutralize them. See if we can get the international community on our side, and that‘s what he‘s proposing.

CARLSON:  I‘m just wondering very quickly what you think of Senator Clinton‘s position that Barack Obama is being mean to her, partly because she‘s a woman, and that‘s wrong, that‘s out of bounds. That he should stop it. Do you think that‘s a legitimate response to his attacks on her?

POWER:  Um, I‘m hoping it was just a colossal slip of the tongue? I can‘t conceive that Hillary Clinton, who is such a professional, that she would think that somehow points of policy difference come about because of gender difference. That makes no sense to me whatsoever. I think to think that women in this country will respond to that I think is—would be, if that‘s what she‘s implying—again, I can‘t believe that it is—but that that would be quite insulting to women voters who were trying to actually make decisions on the merits.

CARLSON:  That‘s right. It certainly would be insulting. It certainly would be, thanks very much. Samantha Power, I appreciate it.

POWER:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter says U.S. diplomats who refuse to go to Iraq should be fired. He told the president the same thing in a meeting today.  We‘ll talk to him in just a moment.

Then, is John McCain in danger of being forced out of the race due to lack of interest. We‘ll show you his new poll numbers out of South Carolina.  Bad news for McCain campaign coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  What do you do when American diplomats refuse to work at the most important American embassy in the world, the embassy in Baghdad?  Well, Congressman Duncan Hunter, of California, says they ought to be fired. And he told President Bush that in a meeting yesterday. Congressman Hunter is running for the presidential nomination on the Republican side, he joins us now.

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER ®, CALIFORNIA:  Hey, good to be with you, Tucker. 

How are you doing?

CARLSON:  I‘m doing great.

For our viewers who have not seen it, I want to put up a video clip from a Foreign Service officer, a senior one, named Jack Croddy.  This is from a meeting of Foreign Service officers over the State Department recently, here‘s what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

JACK CRODDY, SR. FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER:  Incoming, is coming in every day, rockets are hitting the green zone. So if you force assign people that is really shifting the terms of what we‘re all about.

It‘s one thing if someone believes in what‘s going on over there, and volunteers. But it‘s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment. And I‘m sorry, but, basically that‘s a potential death sentence and you know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  Congressman, do American diplomats have to agree with American policy in order to represent our country abroad?

HUNTER:  No, they don‘t, Tucker. And that statement by that gentleman was—it totally left out the history, in which I‘ve been in this business 26 years, going to various war zones, our political people, our diplomatic people are in El Salvador had a modicum of danger, those in Beirut before the Marines were hurt there. There‘s a lot of difficult and dangerous assignments around the world, the idea that even going into the heavily fortified green zone is somehow—a—this guy terms it some kind of a death sentence. That‘s a real error to state that.

Let me tell you, my statement to the president was this, the president had a number of us over to talk about the wounded warriors, that‘s the Marines and soldiers who have come back from being wounded on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the president wants to get them into good jobs, those that are leaving the military, most of them want to go back and fight alongside their comrades in places like Fallujah, Ramadi, Mosul, Tikrit, those are dangerous places.

For those of those people to go to the heavily fortified green zone, that was R&R, that is where you went to be safe, to let down for a little bit. So, my recommendation was this, let‘s fire those diplomats who don‘t want to be deployed, and let‘s go to Walter Reed Hospital, and Bethesda hospital, and take these great people who have worn the uniform, who want to transition into new careers, because they can no longer be in a rifle company, and let‘s let them go back to Iraq in a State Department position.  They have got great expertise, they‘ve got great intellect, you know, something else they got a lot of patriotism for this country.

CARLSON:  I thought—maybe I‘ve read too many Graham Greene novels, I always think of Foreign Service officers, American diplomats as being the swashbuckling type. Who want to go into places like Baghdad, because it‘s interesting.

HUNTER:  Well, you know, actually we‘ve got a lot of great people in the State Department. I remember during the tough days in the Contra wars our ambassador to El Salvador was out there going through the rubble with his bare hands, helping after the earthquake. Always in danger of being hit by the FMLN, the Communist-backed forces there in El Salvador. There‘s lots of dangerous posts that have been carried out with great courage by State Department personnel.

But obviously, you saw the town meeting for these guys to hold a town meeting say, we‘re not going to go to the tough ones. Also to characterize the green zone as some kind of a deadly killing zone was I thought a real exaggeration of the violence, or the danger in the green zone. But also kind of a bad day for the State Department, which does have a history of people that go into dangerous places.

Let‘s let these guys go. The guys that don‘t want to go. And let‘s take these great soldiers and Marines, who already know the community, they know how to deal with people. They want to serve this country. And for those that can‘t serve in a rifle platoon again, or in the armor corps, let‘s let them go back. You know something?  That would give a shot in the arm to the State Department. It would give a new injection of patriotism and energy and love of this country and dedication that I think the State Department needs right now.

CARLSON:  But there‘s just one problem with your plan, Congressman, that is of course, you can‘t be fired from a federal job, unlike the rest of us. If you‘ve got a federal job, you‘ve got lifetime employment. You can‘t fire these guys, can you?

HUNTER:  I disagree with that, Tucker.  I know that the State Department takes an oath, and I believe part of that oath is to go anywhere the secretary of State deploys you.  So if you have people who say, I won‘t go, they can be fired. They can be replaced with great Americans coming out of the rehab, in our military hospitals around this country.

CARLSON:  All right, I hope so. Because it‘s pretty embarrassing I think for our country. Congressman, I really appreciate you coming on.  Thank you.

HUNTER:  Thanks.

CARLSON:  Fred Thompson joins the chorus of candidates going after Hillary Clinton. We‘ll show you his new YouTube attack in just a minute.  Plus Republican candidate Mike Huckabee says Mormonism is a faith, he won‘t call it a religion, he does not describe the it as Christianity, what does it mean for him, and Mitt Romney?  That‘s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

CARLSON:  We haven‘t heard a lot from Fred Thompson lately. Bu you can now add him to the long list of candidates lining up to take their shots at Hillary Clinton. Thompson took his shot in Internet video released today, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

FRED THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you know, life is full of surprises. Two things I‘d never thought I‘d see, Joe Torre become the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hillary Clinton getting pinned down and actually having to answer a controversial question.

In this case she decided it was a good idea to give illegals driver‘s licenses. Well, it took her 12 hours to come up with the wrong answer for America this time. Usually she does it more quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

CARLSON:  Joining us now, “The New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley and The Politico‘s Roger Simon. 

Welcome to you both.

Mr. Crowley, what do you think of that?  It‘s the second one we‘ve seen like this, at least the second, from the Thompson campaign.  This is not accidental.  Does it work?  Is this appealing?  

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  This is when Thompson was talking about getting into the race, he said he was going to do this kind of new kind of campaign, above it all using YouTube and everything. Which some might say suggests that he—as we‘ve seen—doesn‘t really like the rigors of being on the road and doing multiple campaign events. He likes to do it from a distance. 

But there‘s clearly Republican see profit in attacking Hillary, however much she‘s been rattled, her standing has been rattled this week.  She‘s still the Democratic front runner and I think Republicans know that they can kind of—they‘re playing to the bleachers. Pleasing the masses by bashing her. It is sort of the easiest shot to take right now.

CARLSON:  But in this ad there‘s something about it, it reminds me of this late night preacher I used to see on TV about 3:00 in the morning, Dr.  Gene Scott (ph). I mean, there‘s something kind of—remember him?

CROWLEY:  Yes.

CARLSON:  That is kind of homemade about this?  

ROGER SIMON, THE POLITICO:  It reminds me of a guy about to fall sleep. I mean, could he be more lackadaisical? 

CARLSON:  I love that.

SIMON:  Play a little closer to type.  I‘ve got to revive an old joke.  Being called unprepared to answer a question, by Fred Thompson, is like being called ugly by a frog. But this is guy who didn‘t know about drilling in the everglades, about Terry Schiavo, when he was campaigning in Florida.  And now he‘s taking on Hillary Clinton who is usually pretty up on the facts whether he agrees with her conclusions or not.

CARLSON:  Basically, what you just said, from my point of view, is an endorsement. I want a lazy, disengaged president. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  I really mean that. I sincerely mean that.

(CROSS TALK) 

CROWLEY:  As you know, Tucker, I wrote a whole story when we talked about it. 

CARLSON:  Yes, you did.

(CROSS TALK)

CARLSON:  You were brave enough to defend it.

CROWLEY:  Well, as I said, if the current president had been a little lazier we might have gotten a little less trouble. Roger made the point I was trying to make, more articulately, which I think is good.  To some extent if Thompson is going to try to run a campaign this way it is going to make people say, get out there and do it in front of crowd of people?  Why do you have to—you can‘t run campaign from your living room, basically.

CARLSON:  Here is what I didn‘t like about it. I thought it was a little bit confusing in the way it looked, but more than that there was no critique of—or explanation of—why her position is wrong. It seems to me, it would be useful to explain. Why is it wrong to give driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens?  I don‘t know, tell us.

SIMON:  You‘re right. In fact, I spent the day researching giving driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens. The fact is, you can make a case for it. And you can make a case against it. You can‘t do is make both cases in the space two of minutes.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON:  No, it turns out you can‘t! 

SIMON:  Here‘s where Hillary went wrong. I‘m not sure—we‘ll find out, Thompson will be on “Meet the Press” this Sunday. We‘ll find out if he can make a case about illegal aliens and driver‘s licenses, or anything else in detail.

CARLSON:  Yes.

SIMON:  He‘s not a detail guy.

CROWLEY:  If, you‘ve got to think—I have seen some politicians offices you see the big preparation binders they get for the Sunday shows.  They really, no matter who they are, they take think this stuff through. If he bombs on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, I think that‘s—I think it‘s genuinely bad for him.

CROWLEY:  Oh, absolutely. I think he‘s luckily that he‘s still at the point where he‘s being  invited on “Meet the Press” Because he‘s done—he‘s had so many bad moments and so many bad stories, but people are still taking him more or less seriously. He did very well in a poll in South Carolina, which shows that maybe sort of elite media narrative that he‘s kind of ridiculous, but there are real people who like him.

But I think you‘re absolutely right if he has—the thing is that in that first debate he was in, everyone said there‘s no way he‘s going to strike out on this, the stakes, are too high. He‘s really going to have to nail it, he was pretty lame.  So, I don‘t know what to expect from this. I don‘t think he‘s necessarily going to change our minds.

SIMON:  He‘s got what everyone wants, low expectations, the trouble is he then has to exceed those low expectations.

CARLSON:  Who is this aimed at? This is aimed at people for who Hillary is a punch line.  He‘s not trying to win anybody over with an argument here.

SIMON:  It‘s folksy, it‘s kind of funny, it is slow. And I guess he is preaching to those already converted. He runs—the difficulty, I think, the problem is that he could be the Wes Clark of this campaign. You like him on paper, and then you actually go to see him or you hear him, and you say, gee, why did I like this guy? Is this guy really going to be president of the United States?

CARLSON:  Yeah, you have to wonder though, with this new, the form that he‘s coming at us with the YouTube campaign. Everyone clamors for something new. And of course we‘re so reactionary we hate anything new in the press.

(LAUGHTER)

The second you say something off script, that we‘re not expecting, we savage you. We despise it. We hate anything we don‘t understand. I wonder to the extent it‘s possible to get out there, in your mind, into the rest of America do you think average people looking at this are going to say, I like that?

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know. I‘m always wrong when I try to—to someone do great in a debate, they hate—the focus groups always say the thing opposite from what I do.  But -- 

CARLSON:  That‘s why I hate getting outside the Beltway.

CROWLEY:  I mean the flipside—

CARLSON:  I hate that outside the Beltway mentality. 

CROWLEY:  God forbid, yeah.

No, the flip side is when Hillary did that stuff when she lost her campaign, via video from her living room, it looked a little bit gauzy and soft focus, and the criticism was, look, this is so phony and—

CARLSON:  It‘s that Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds ad.

CROWLEY:  Right.  And so the problem now is that Fred Thompson is too real, and it‘s too amateurish. So there is—maybe we‘ll put word in for these guys, they can never win with these things.

CARLSON:  I agree. This is all part of continuum. My prediction, 2012 will be a campaign waged solely by text messages to cell phones. The candidates won‘t give speeches, they‘ll just text a little sideways smiley faces and stuff.

SIMON:  Their staff would love it.

CARLSON:  They would!

SIMON:  Totally controlled.

CROWLEY:  They‘ll send their avatars out to that—what‘s that virtual realm that Gingrich went to, you know, what I‘m talking about?

CARLSON:  Exactly, Amazon. 

We‘ll be right back. One quick programming note, Thompson‘s biggest test yet could come this weekend, when he sits down with interviews with NBC‘s Tim Russert.  Tune into “Meet the Press” Sunday morning to see how he does. This will matter.

Plus John Edwards cuts a new campaign spot about his wife‘s struggle with cancer.  Too much?  Desperate?  We‘ll show you the ad in just a minute. You decide.

Plus, Hillary Clinton took a beating at this week‘s Democratic campaign debate. Is she spinning it to her advantage now playing the role of victim?  We‘ll mull it over.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If you‘re looking for heroes, don‘t look to me.  Don‘t look to Elizabeth.  We have support.  We have health care.  We have the American people behind us. 

Look to them.  They are the ones who we speak for.  They are the ones that we stand up for.  And Elizabeth and I decided in the quiet of a hospital room, after 12 hours of tests after getting very bad news, what we were going to spend our lives doing for all those that have now voice.  We‘re not going to quietly go away. 

Instead we‘re going to go out and fight for what it is we believe in.  It is time for our party, the Democratic party, to show a little backbone, to have a little guts, stand up for working men and women.  If we are not their voice, they will never have a voice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was presidential candidate John Edwards who for the first time explicitly used his wife‘s cancer diagnosis in a campaign commercial.  Will it work?  Or is it the final desperate move from a politician whose time likely has passed.  Joining us once again, the “New Republic‘s” Michael Crowley and “The Politico‘s” Roger Simon.  Roger, I remember debating on this show a couple months ago an oblique reference that the candidate, Mr. Edwards, made to his wife‘s cancer, saying, is he using it for political gain; no, of course not.  That‘s too repugnant. 

Now it‘s out in the open.  There‘s no debating it, is there?

SIMON:  The first time I saw that ad a couple days ago I was a little disconcerted by that.  When Al Gore brought up his sister‘s death of cancer it was in his acceptance speech, right? 

CARLSON:  Right, acceptance speech at the convention, right. 

SIMON:  And he was eviscerated for it.  I mean, the press just landed on Gore‘s head and said, oh, you‘re using your sister and her death.  You used to raise tobacco, blah, blah.  John Edwards brings this out and I haven‘t heard a word of criticism, except now from you, Tucker.  But I haven‘t really heard—

CARLSON:  I‘m not even criticizing.  I find it so cringe-making that I don‘t even want to weigh in on it, because it‘s just so ugly. 

SIMON:  Maybe that‘s why people aren‘t weighing in.  I have heard silence about that part of the commercial. 

CARLSON:  Is that the way it strikes you?  If you stand back a little bit, partly because I have affection for Mrs. Edwards and I feel so bad for her and her family—I don‘t want to criticize this, which is part of the reason it‘s such an awful thing to do, because it‘s moral blackmail.  What are you going to say?  Are you going to criticize Mrs. Edwards illness?  Of course not. 

CROWLEY:  It make me a little uncomfortable.  I‘m not sure how I feel about it.  I‘ll play devil‘s advocate and say, it‘s his story.  It‘s his life.  It‘s a fundamental thing that I‘m sure is the first thing he thinks about in the morning, and last thing when he to go bed.  And it‘s who he is.  So he‘s entitled to talk about it and say whatever he wants. 

People should be entitled to criticize him for it as a result.  The one thing I find a little strange is that the premise of the ad is that it‘s about other people.  This campaign is not about me; it‘s about these heroes.  In fact the center of gravity that sucks you in is this thing that is intensely personal about him.  I find that to be a little bit strange and in a way almost—it feels like a little bit of card trick or something. 

CARLSON:  Almost actually—if you read the text of it—and I‘m going to now—it‘s almost megalomaniacal (ph).  He said, “stand up for working men and women.  If we are not their voice, they will never have a voice.”  What are you, Jesus?  What is that? 

SIMON:  Well, to that point, although slightly off the Jesus thing, was—he was not the campaign for working men and women, for the middle class.  His whole campaign in the beginning was about poverty, those living below or at the poverty line, the impoverished.  I wrote a column saying this is a courageous stance, because there are no voters among the impoverished, very few. 

The middle class is where the votes are.  The working class is where the votes and the contributions are.  And here is John Edwards having the guts to stand up for an altruistic, idealistic position.  Well, the polls aren‘t that good.  Now he‘s back to working men and women.  And I didn‘t see any poor people in that ad.  I saw only working people, farmers.  There was no one who looked to be obviously impoverished in that ad. 

CARLSON:  Interesting.  Does it seem like—I don‘t believe John Edwards is going to get time nomination.  I‘m not attacking John Edwards.  I just this as a predictive matter, he‘s not going to get it.  Do you think when he looks back on this campaign he‘s going to think, I wish I hadn‘t done that.  That‘s too far.  That‘s too personal, too revealing.  It‘s too cynical maybe. 

CROWLEY:  I don‘t know.  I can‘t get into his head that way.  I mean, I think that it‘s so hard—whenever people ask me about this stuff, I just feel like it‘s so hard to kind of judge them or say what they should do or could do. 

CARLSON:  That‘s why it‘s wrong.  It‘s not a fair fight, exactly.  Because you said a second ago he‘s using his family‘s suffering as a campaign device.  We ought to be able to judge that.  But of course we can‘t because we‘re trying to be decent people and we just recoil at the idea of judging someone else‘s choices in a state like that. 

CROWLEY:  I guess you‘re right.  I guess it should be reasonable to—no, you‘re right.  It does kind of paralyze important analysis.  But at the same time, there‘s this paradox here, because you can‘t tell a man, you can‘t talk about this fundamental thing in your life.  So—

CARLSON:  You can‘t tell a woman not to complain about men being mean to her, which is kind of the lesson of the debate and Hillary Clinton‘s response to that debate.  Barack Obama was on “The Today Show” today and he said a bunch of things.  The thing that struck me most, he gets up there and said, you know, I‘m the only person who really looks different at these debates.  And a couple of weeks ago, all the other candidates landed on me and I didn‘t say, you‘re being mean to me because I‘m black. 

I thought, you know, that‘s a great point.  Like how do you argue with that point.  Here she is whining about sexism. 

SIMON:  I thought two words when he said that, good point.  Exactly, I mean you‘re right on.  And in fact, later today, that day, she had to walk back her statement a little bit.  In fact, she had to do 180 degrees.  No longer were they piling on her because she was a woman.  They‘re piling on her because she‘s the front runner, which is absolutely true. 

And no longer is she fighting man, and this shows how she‘s tough.  She can take it.  She doesn‘t care if they‘re piling on.  It‘s not an issue.  She can stand the heat.  She can stand in the kitchen.  She‘s comfortable with it.  It is exactly the opposite of what her campaign was selling the day before, especially in a conference call by her chief strategist, Mark Penn. 

CARLSON:  It‘s so revealing that their first instinct was, they‘re being mean to the girl, woe is her.  How unchivalrous they were mean to her.  The juxtaposition of women versus boy—she gets up at Wellesley and said, in this group of women, I learned to deal with the boys, just dripped with a contempt for men—ew, you know what I mean?  It turns out there are a lot of men in this country and if she‘s president, she‘s going to have to preside over them as well. 

CROWLEY:  One interesting thing that someone with a rival campaign pointed out is that Penn allegedly said in this conference to donors yesterday that the polling was showing that the gang up by men was causing a backlash among women voters. 

CARLSON:  That‘s true. 

CROWLEY:  I do think that this was one of the more cynical moments in the history—the recent history of the Clinton campaign.  I don‘t think there‘s any way she actually believes this.  It‘s just so transparently a line you put out in the media, and something you do to try to encourage those numbers that they‘re seeing in the polls.  There‘s no way she believes this.  And so, you know, it‘s clearly just politics. 

SIMON:  I thought what was even more delicious was that in the same conference call, Penn says to big contributors on the phone call—he says, and because she is being attacked by men, we need more money.  What are they going to pay off Russert?  What are they going to use this money for? 

CARLSON:  To get her message out, because nobody pays attention to Hillary Clinton.  That‘s the thing.  She talks, nobody listens.  It‘s like she‘s yelling down a well.  It‘s insane. 

You wrote an interesting piece this week for the “New Republic” about South Carolina, and what an incredibly tough place it is for everybody to campaign; a lot of nasty people in the Palmetto State, it turns out.  Take a look at an interesting new poll from that state of Republican voters.  It asks who do you prefer; Fred Thompson 18 percent, Giuliani 17 percent, Mitt Romney 17 percent.  Pretty much a three way tie.  John McCain, nine percent. 

Now McCain, I think, has been in that state more than those three other guys combined over a lot longer period.  Nine percent? 

CROWLEY:  Yes, McCain rolled in—of course, everyone remembers that in 2000 McCain was savaged by the political establishment there. 

CARLSON:  To some extent.

CROWLEY:  Well, OK, I think you spent more time there than I did. 

CARLSON:  He did a lot of dumb things in that state and he‘s never taken credit for those. 

CROWLEY:  There were some pretty awful things said.  But he came in determined not to allow that to happen again.  He tried to wrap up the establishment this time.  He had, I think, the endorsement of a majority of Republican legislators.  And it all fell apart when he ran out of money.  He had to lay off staff.  He hasn‘t been able to just spend time there I think.  So that backing is being filled by Thompson, who has sort of regional, you know, cache, and Mitt Romney who has gotten this sort of amazing kudos from Evangelical leaders down there, I think the chancellor of Bob Jones University. 

But the last thing I‘ll say is my story hinted there have already been nasty smears down there, anonymous mailers, e-mails about Romney‘s Mormonism.  That Fancy Fred website targeted Fred Thompson.  So it‘s going to be very nasty again, only now instead of a clash between two fronts.  You‘re going to have a circular firing squad. 

CARLSON:  You can see where it‘s going.  In an interview Mike Huckabee did recently where he asked about Mormonism generally; is it a species of Christianity.  He refused to really answer that question.  He said, it‘s a faith.  A lot of Evangelicals feel it‘s not a Christian religion. 

SIMON:  If you go to Google and you enter Mormons and Christians, you get the first like 100 entries are arguments that it‘s not.  This is—

CARLSON:  Not a Christian religion. 

SIMON:  Yes, Mormons aren‘t Christians is the selling point.  Let me point out, Mormons say they are Christian.  Now, this is a big deal among Evangelicals.  There are big differences between traditional Christianity and what Mormons call their Christianity.  And in most factors of life it doesn‘t matter.  But to your point, this is now the second major candidate who has said they don‘t know if Mormons are Christians.  The first was John McCain, who by the way is from Arizona, where there are a lot of Mormons. 

And I‘ll bet you he‘s got some as friends and probably talked to a few of them over the years.  Then Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, who says he finds it hard enough to keep up with his own religion.  Has its really changed that much?  He can‘t keep up with Mormonism, so he doesn‘t know. 

Bob Jones III, the chancellor of Bob Jones University, who endorsed Romney, was also very careful to say, however, I am against Mormonism and everything it preaches.  It was not the greatest endorsement in the world.  But what‘s interesting to me, however, in this poll, is that Romney is tied for first in a state where everyone thought he was going to get wiped out. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  It shows, your ideology matters.  Thank you both very much.  I appreciate it. 

From Nixon to Reagan to Al Sharpton, my next guest has been there, seen it all.  We‘re talking to the original campaign spin doctor himself, a god in the business, Roger Stone. 

And Ron Paul ignites a new passion for politics among the disaffected. 

Will all the hype he‘s getting on the Internet translate to actual votes. 

Of course not.  It‘s fun to talk about.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  If politics is war, our next guest has lived his life on the battlefield.  After more than 30 years in the politics business—he‘s got a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, and a list of rules to live by.  Those include, above all, attack, attack, never defend.  And never order fish in a steak house.

He‘s worked for Presidents Reagan and Nixon, as well as Donald Trump and Al Sharpton.  He is the subject of this week‘s cover story in the “Weekly Standard” by Matt Labache (ph), who sums up his piece this way, quote, it‘s hard to assume he‘s not up to something because he always is.  Joining me now, one of the greatest and most diabolical political consultants of all time, Roger Stone of Miami, Florida. 

ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT:  Tucker, it‘s great to be with you. 

Let me straighten out the disinformation right out of the box. 

CARLSON:  OK, good.   

STONE:  I worked in eight National Republican Presidential Campaigns.  Al Sharpton is a friend of mine.  I like Al Sharpton.  He‘s a show man in tradition of Adam Clayton Powell (ph).  Sure, I give him gratuitous advice when he ran for president, because I like to see him do well.  Now some of my advice he took, most of he didn‘t.  We‘re good friends.  But I never worked in his presidential shall campaign. 

That was the figment of the imagination of the “Village Voice.” 

CARLSON:  Let me put this way, Roger, some out there who follow presidential politics ascribe to you magical powers, consider you the puppet master of the Sharpton campaign.  I‘m not taking a position on that.  I‘m merely noting it was widely believed that you were running that campaign.  But I want to—

STONE:  There is this crazy conspiracy theory as the “Village Voice” named Wayne Berry (ph).  You know “the Village Voice?”  That is the newspaper they give away free on the streets. 

CARLSON:  Yes, you have in this kind of amazing piece, cover sorry of the “Weekly Standard,” you have your rules.  I just want to read some of them for our viewers who haven‘t yet seen this piece.  I hope all 300 million Americans will read it by the end of the day.  But for those who haven‘t, here are some of them; “unless you can fake sincerity, you get nowhere in this business.”  Is that true? 

STONE:  This is—this is what television is all about, Tucker.  If you don‘t have the ability to look in the camera and sell the American people on something that your pollster may have just told you you need to enumerate, then you‘re not going to get elected.  Losers do not legislate.  That‘s another one of Stone‘s rules. 

CARLSON:  Always praise them before you hit them.  What does that mean? 

STONE:  This is a trick that I learned from Nixon.  Nixon used to say, now Hubert Humphrey is a sincere man.  he‘s a sincere liberal.  And he deeply believes all the wrong things.  It was a technique.  It kind of—it makes you look fair minded when, of course, you‘re really giving him a gut punch. 

CARLSON:  Avoid obviousness, I love that rule.  What does that mean? 

STONE:  I think this has to do with the political bank shot.  In other words, you sometimes—you don‘t want to say something yourself, sometimes you need to get a surrogate to do it.  Find a surrogate who is not so obviously yours.  It‘s a standard campaign technique. 

CARLSON:  So like take a conservative political consultant have him run a left wing Democratic presidential campaign like Al Sharpton‘s, is that kind of thing? 

STONE:  Or maybe run an internationally known developer and businessman for the reform party nomination in order to finish that reform party nonsense and not cost the Republican party the White House, as it did in ‘92 and ‘96.

CARLSON:  You‘re speaking, of course, of Mr. Trump. 

You say this to Matt Labache, politics with me is not theater; it‘s performance art.  Sometimes for it‘s own sake. 

STONE:  Well, I‘m a child of the ‘70s.  In other words, I thought that the reason that the anti-war movement was so successful is because there was so much street theater around it.  There was so much protest in the centers, people wearing Nixon masks and people dressing up as POW‘s.  I think that brand of politics of is outside the box now.  Therefore, it attracts public attention. 

I think you got to be outrageous, you got to be over the top because there‘s so much information out there.  There‘s so many cable news stations.  There are so many cable entertainment stations, so many networks, so many magazines.  You got to cut through that.  The only way to cut through that is being interesting.  As Nixon said, the only thing worse in politics than being wrong is being boring. 

CARLSON:  You know what, you‘re doing us a huge favor too in the press when you do that.  Speaking of your personal style, you have a whole section in this piece about your sartorial choices.  You say things like this, white shirt plus tan face equals confidence.  Looking good equals feeling good. 

You say this about cufflinks—I think this is useful.  Pay attention our male viewers; large hub cap types are for Mafia dons from Jersey and Vegas lounge singers.  Cufflinks should be small, understated and tasteful.  No coffee grinders, no jet planes, no large stones.  Do you live by that? 

STONE:  I‘m trying to bring a certain sense of spesetura (ph), of elan to the way people dress.  Americans are the worst dressed people on the planet.  I‘m just trying to do my part to help them out. 

CARLSON:  Do people appreciate it or stare at you in airports? 

STONE:  In all honesty—one of my rules, for example, is important meeting, blue suit.  When they got to the 1960 debate, and Jack Kennedy showed up in a Navy blue suit with faint pin stripe and Dick Nixon showed up in a pale gray suit, baby, it was all over.  Nixon later on in ‘68 he used to use a sun lamp so he went into his major appearances looking tan, tan means confidence.  Or as Aristotle Onassis (ph once said, you can never be too rich or too tan. 

CARLSON:  Finally in one sentence, when you went in and got the face of Richard Nixon tattooed on your back, what did the tattoo artist say to you? 

STONE:  He said, do you want the words Republican gangsta on either side.  I declined.

CARLSON:  That‘s great.  I love asking you questions, Roger, because the answers are always worth it.  Roger Stone, the great Roger Stone, thanks for coming on. 

STONE:  Tucker, thank you. 

CARLSON:  The man, the myth, the presidential candidate; we get an inside look at the Ron Paul Revolution when we come back.  You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RON PAUL ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So I would say, yes, there probably is a risk I could win.  

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Would you accept a vice presidency?  

PAUL:  I probably wouldn‘t be offered one. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Ron Paul, one of the large handful of Republican presidential candidates doing everything in his power not to be the little known also ran and succeeding.  Despite being at bottom of the poll rankings, Paul is doing pretty well with fund raising.  He‘s taken in over five million bucks last quarter.  That‘s a little less than John McCain. 

Above all, Ron Paul has a huge following, most of it online.  Joining me is someone who studied that.  He is “L.A. Times” columnist Joel Stein.  He took a close look at what he calls the Ron Paul Revolution in this week‘s “Time Magazine.”  Joel, that‘s for coming on.  I‘m impressed that you dared enter Ron Paul world.  Good for you. 

What is this about?  Who are his fans? 

JOEL STEIN, “TIME MAGAZINE”:  Oh, man, they‘re crazy.  They‘re not just on the Internet.  They show up to see him speak.  I saw maybe—I don‘t know, 700 people show up for 300 seats out in Iowa.  It‘s amazing. 

CARLSON:  Why?  Let me just—for those who haven‘t read, let me read one of the opening lines of the piece this week. 

STEIN:  Please, yes.  Give it your all, though. 

CARLSON:  I will.  It says, Ron Paul goes to a college and delivers the same speech he‘s given for 30 years of his political career, the one espousing the Austrian school of economics.  Only now, the audience is packed with hundreds of kids in Ron Paul t-shirts who go nuts.  They give standing ovations when he drones on about getting rid of the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard. 

Now what is that?  Are they really there because they want to return to the gold standard? 

STEIN:  You know, I couldn‘t figure it out.  He would talk about like, legalizing drugs or any of the drug war, talk about the war in Iraq, and they would applaud.  But they went crazy for the fiscal stuff.  I think it‘s—the only thing I can get about talking people is they see there‘s something corrupt going on with the military industrial complex, whether it‘s Blackwater or Halliburton.  He seems to be the radical that wants to change it. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not just—

STEIN:  Plus he‘s—

CARLSON:  They‘re not just liberals who are mad about the war and he‘s got the most radical position in the Republican party.  It‘s they like the idea of small government you think? 

STEIN:  I think they like just that he seems like the guy from network who is going to yell and tell Washington to go screw itself.  I think he‘s just the radical this year. 

CARLSON:  How does he seem about that?  You say it‘s bewildering for him to all of a sudden be popular after decades of relative obscurity.  Does he seem comfortable with it? 

STEIN:  Yes, he seems confused.  I think he believes that after 30 years, it just took a long time for people to hear him.  They‘re finally paying attention.  So I think he feels really vindicated.  But he‘s also this little nerdy guy who is confused.  He‘s used to speaking to small groups of people about obscure subjects.  It‘s pretty freaky. 

CARLSON:  Is he a good—I say someone—I voted for him last time in ‘88 and I like Ron Paul a lot.  But I‘ve never thought of him as a good speaker, has he gotten better? 

STEIN:  No, he‘s horrible.  He‘s like the professor who—you know he‘s smart.  His book was supposedly really good.  But you‘re not going to stay awake the whole class.  He does it.  There‘s something charming about him.  He‘s an older, cute little guy. 

CARLSON:  Describe the average Ron Paul fan.  Are they like the Dean followers? 

STEIN:  No, no.  They‘re definitely nerdier than the Dean followers. 

I hung out with the Dean followers four years ago in New Hampshire.  They‘re a good looking group.  They‘re like little Kennedy, kind of J.F.K.  followers.  These people are pretty nerdy and hardcore.  I saw a guy standing in Iowa outside the speech with like a tri-cornered hat, ringing a bell with the full revolutionary suit. 

There‘s a lot of 9/11 truthers, like to the far left who like him.  There‘s a lot of anarchist, like November 5th, Guy Faulks Day, is his big fund raising day that his followers have created.  There‘s a lot of freaks out there, including you apparently, right? 

CARLSON:  That‘s so Guy Faulks day.  Boy, you caught me off guard with that one.  That‘s farther out even than I realize l.  Joel Stein, cataloging the far reaches of the campaign trail.  Thanks very much. 

STEIN:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thank you for watching, as always.  We mean that sincerely to all eight of you.  We‘ll be back here Monday.  Up next, HARDBALL with Chris Matthews.  Have a great weekend. 

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

END   

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

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