updated 11/7/2007 11:30:41 AM ET 2007-11-07T16:30:41

Guests: Lois Romano, Gov. Bill Richardson, Julie Mason, Matt Continetti, Jonathan Capehart, Heath Shuler

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  (IN PROGRESS)... slide.  Obama cuts her lead by a third.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to HARDBALL.  Tonight:

Has Hillary hit the panic button?  After a defensive performance at that debate in Philly, Hillary Clinton blamed the moderator, the other candidates, played the gender card, and now her husband, Bill Clinton, is comparing the flap over her awkward answers over illegals getting driver‘s licenses to the Swiftboating of John Kerry back in ‘04.

New polls show Hillary slipping from a 30-point lead over Obama to just a 19-point lead in just a few weeks.  Has Hillary peaked too soon, and is Obama emerging as the alternative?  More on this in a moment.

Plus: Five U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year in the history of the war.  In Afghanistan, two bombs killed at least 84 people, including five members of parliament.  And clashes continue in Pakistan as the government continues in chaos.  We‘ll ask Democratic presidential contender Governor Bill Richardson what he thinks we did wrong in Pakistan.

And freshman congressman Heath Shuler is introducing a new bipartisan bill aimed at cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.  We‘ll tackle this issue with Heath Shuler later.

But we begin tonight with NBC‘s Mike Viqueira with something breaking on Capitol Hill late this afternoon, where Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich was trying to lead the charge to impeach Vice President Cheney.

Mike, you‘re smiling.  Was this a serious measure to impeach the VP?

MIKE VIQUEIRA, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Oh, it certainly was in Dennis Kucinich‘s mind and people like Maxine Waters, who stuck with him to the bitter end here today.  It was unlikely that it was ever going to get to the point where after one hour debate on the House floor, which is what this resolution would have called for, the vice president would have been impeached by the United States House.  But for a few chaotic moments there, legislative chaotic moments there, Chris, it appears that at least we were going to have that debate.

It was so interesting.  Dennis Kucinich used House procedures to put forward what‘s called a “privileged resolution.”  He wanted to impeach the vice president.  We‘ve known that all along.  We didn‘t expect him to get this far on the House floor today as he did.

The Democrats, ironically, the Democratic leader, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, stood up and immediately moved to kill Kucinich‘s resolution.  At that point, all heck broke loose, Chris, as Republicans, after initially voting along with Hoyer to kill it, realized that, Hey, why not put Democrats on the spot?  Why not have us debate and vote on this this afternoon?  Why not make Democrats choose between their base and the rest of more mainstream America about impeaching Vice President Cheney on a moment‘s notice here in the House?

Then procedural motions were put forward by the Democrats, and in the end, Democratic leadership was able to prevail upon enough Democrats to vote to refer this motion back to the Judiciary Committee, which in effect really kills it, Chris, of course, because the Judiciary Committee is where any respective impeachment resolution of the president would reside, and we know that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when she took office said, Hey, that‘s not going to happen, and she put the kibosh on that...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

VIQUEIRA:  ... giving John Conyers, the chairman over there, the word on not to move forward with it.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Mike Viqueira.  It‘s too bad, those watching right now, we don‘t have a system in this country for getting to the truth somewhere between reporting or journalism, which we have right now, and congressional hearings, which we have right now, and impeachment proceedings, where you really get to the truth because there‘s a lot of information I‘d like the get on the way in which the case for war was made with Iraq.  Who brought the evidence to the president?  Was it the Iraqi National Congress?  Who pushed the case?  Who confected (ph) the evidence in some cases?  Who cherry-picked in some cases?   Who was an honest broker and who was not?  I‘m afraid we‘re going to have to wait for historians to get that story.

Anyway, since the Democratic debate one week ago, the Clinton campaign has offered an array of explanations for her performance last week.  Let‘s go through a quick chronology of the Clinton campaign‘s post-debate media moves.

The day after the debate, the Clinton campaign put out this Web video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The first lady and now Senator Clinton...

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I now seem to be the topic of great conversation and consternation, and that‘s for a reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that was after she tried to blame it, through some sort of unknown figure in her campaign in the Drudge report, on the moderator.  That same day, by the way, the candidate spoke at her alma mater, Wellesley College.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  In so many ways, this all-women‘s college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, first it was the moderator.  Then it was her bad rivals.  Then it was the gender card.  And here it is.  Big Bill‘s weighings in now.  Last night, Bill Clinton spoke before the American Postal Workers Union and had this take on why Hillary didn‘t have a good night in Philly.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The point I‘m here to make to you is, whoever you‘re for, this is a really big election.  We saw what happened the last seven years, when we made decisions in elections based on trivial matters, when we listened to people make snide comments about whether Vice President Gore was too stiff, when they made dishonest claims about the things that he said that he‘d done in his life, when that scandalous Swiftboat ad was run against Senator Kerry, when there was an ad that defeated Max Cleland in Georgia, a man that left half his body in Vietnam, so they put an ad on comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Why am I saying this?  Because I had the feeling at the end of that last debate, we were about to get into cutesy land again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, speaking of “cutesy land,” the one person that Al Gore blamed for his defeat in 2000 was the man just talking.  Check with Al.

Anyway, the new poll numbers show the gap between Hillary Clinton and Obama—Senator Obama—are narrowing.  Registered Democrats were asked who they‘d be most likely to support for president in 2008.  Although Hillary Clinton still leads by 19 points, her lead before the debate was 30 points.  She‘s lost a third of her support.  It could be—and I mean could be—the start of a closing of the gap.

So has the Clinton campaign hit the panic button?  Let‘s bring in MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle and “The Washington Post‘s” Lois Romano.

Michael, if you win the debate, you don‘t have five excuses in five days.  What happened in that debate in Philly?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I think a lot of people saw that Hillary Clinton seems to have this genetic inability to give a yes or no answer to simple questions, and I think it hurt her.  It‘s not necessarily the issue of driver‘s license for illegal immigrants that resonated, Chris.  I think if you talk to people and you‘re on the ground in these primary states and you see enough people, it‘s how she handled it.

And nobody—you just showed the spots they had on the Internet, and we listened to the former president speaking—and my God, he is great.  He still is great speaking.  But nobody this year voting for president wants to vote for a victim.  And she sort of tried to portray herself as a victim.  I don‘t think that‘s going to wash.

MATTHEWS:  You know—you know, Lois, I think it‘s Mark Penn who‘s behind this.  I don‘t know who went out that night and leaked out to the Drudge report the night of the debate that it was Russert‘s fault and then put together this fund-raising conference call the very next day, saying that Hillary is being unfairly set upon by her rivals, so give more money to her.  Mark Penn‘s leading that.  Why are these sharpies working for Hillary who are so smart, and they are smart, playing her as the victim?  Is this a calculated campaign?

LOIS ROMANO, “WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, Chris, I think it‘s a really good question.  I think the one, really, thing you have to look at in this debate is how flat-footed she was caught.  I mean, they had anticipated she was going to get attacked.  They knew that she wasn‘t going to get coronated.  But yet she was totally unprepared when everybody went after her.  And their reaction has been kind of very typical Clintonian, which is to go after everybody else.

I think I did see her quoted somewhere as saying it wasn‘t her best performance.  And I think, if anything, this has to be a rude awakening for them to kind of get back into the game here and not be so complacent.

I want to mention one thing about the polls, though.  I think it was both “Newsweek” and CNN that showed this drop.  She still—she hasn‘t really slipped in state-by-states, which are really the most important polls right now.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ROMANO:  She‘s doing very well in Iowa and New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s true.  But let me ask you about Iowa, Michael, as well, both of you—start, Lois.  Iowa looks very close.  I mean, I‘m looking at a possible—who knows whether Obama‘s going to get his sea legs here.  If Obama‘s closed the gap by a third, if he does it again in the next two weeks, it‘s going to get interesting, obviously.  But if he wins in Iowa, where he‘s very well positioned to win, could he start a roll, Lois?

ROMANO:  I‘m not so sure, at this point.  She has a really strong firewall in New Hampshire, and I don‘t know that she could lose New Hampshire.  It‘s very tight.  All she really has to do is come in second, to be honest.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ROMANO:  It would be nice if she won, but—if she came in third, she‘s really got a problem, but if she came in second, I think that does just lift her right to New Hampshire, and I‘m not sure Obama can take her on.  But you know, we‘ve got a month here, or whatever, six weeks.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know we do.  I‘m speculating, too, like we all are.  Let me go—Michael, you know New Hampshire pretty well.  It‘s right next door.  Do you think New Hampshirites, with all those independent unaffiliated voters up there, might latch onto the dream of an African-American candidate who can actually become president?  And after they see him win, if he wins in Iowa, and he‘s very well positioned now to win there, will they jump aboard and say, No, this is something I want to do, I want to do this for the history of the country?

BARNICLE:  Well, first of all, when is Secretary of State Bill Gardner (ph) going to slot that primary?  What if he slots it before Iowa?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BARNICLE:  That‘s going to make a huge difference in the landscape going forward.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he might put it Christmas week, I mean, before...

BARNICLE:  I think he might put it right before Christmas, Chris.  I really—he‘s a very independent guy.  He‘s going to do what he wants to do.  It‘s an unusual state.  He makes the decision.  The legislature has nothing to do with it.  It could happen.

What is really interesting—I agree with Lois, Hillary Clinton is in fine shape in New Hampshire.  She‘s going to have no problems in New Hampshire, I don‘t think.  Barack Obama—you know, he hasn‘t said anything for the past seven months.  He‘s just now sort of getting up to speed in saying something, giving people a reason not only to listen to him but maybe to vote for him.

The big issue on the horizon, especially out of New Hampshire, I would submit, is that Rudy Giuliani is increasingly stronger in New Hampshire, and I think he might knock off Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.  And what Rudy Giuliani brings to this game that Hillary Clinton does not bring to this game is certainty of response.  And people are looking for that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s the leader in that party.  He looks more like a leader than the rest of them.  Let me ask you this, Lois.  I mean, this gender thing is so tricky to talk about.  Here‘s my theory, and I‘m going to be totally positive.  Men voted back in the early part of the last century to give women the vote because they had all the votes and they said, Well, why don‘t we share this with women?  Women are smart.  We‘re married to them.  You know, if Mama‘s not happy, nobody‘s happy, that sort of thing, in the household.

Do you think this is going to get to be positive or negative about her chances when it comes down to the close elections in Iowa and New Hampshire?  Is it going to be a gender fight, or basically, is it going to split pretty much 50/50 in both genders?

ROMANO:  Well, look, Chris, they‘re reacting totally to their internal numbers.  I mean, when they started this campaign a year-and-a-half ago, I can remember her aides saying, Oh, no, no, this—she‘s not running as a woman, she‘s running as a qualified candidate.  Don‘t call her a woman.  Let‘s not write about the women.  And then all of a sudden, their numbers started showing that this woman is running very strongly as a woman.  And so I think they are going to run a gender fight because—and that‘s why she said what she said at Wellesley.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ROMANO:  They see that they can get some traction.  She‘s—among registered Democrats, 49 percent favor her, which is pretty good numbers.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they liked the big cover piece?  You did a major front page piece for “The Washington Post” several weeks back which showed a picture of all the women around Hillary, no men, and it was called “Hillary Land,” I believe was the tag on this.  Did they like it?  Did the smart people, like Mark Penn and Mandy Grunwald, the smart people around Hillary, did they like that piece or not like that piece?  Could you tell?

ROMANO:  I think everybody liked it.  They all asked for copies of the picture.  It was very interesting about the piece, though, because I got very, very gender-mixed reactions on it.  Women loved it.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ROMANO:  I mean, I got all these e-mails.  Men just despised it.  I mean, they hated it.  It was very interesting.  They said, Oh, you know, who would work for that campaign?  My God, look, she‘s just got all these women around her.  You know, she favors women.  It was very interesting gender divide on that story.

MATTHEWS:  Michael, what did you think of that cover that Lois did?  I mean, Lois is a Massachusetts native.  You ought to be loyal to her.  Lois wrote a hell of a piece there that made the front page.

BARNICLE:  I read it.  I read everything that Lois does.  Clinton, Massachusetts—I love Lois, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

BARNICLE:  But here‘s the deal, what you were just talking about, Chris, you and Lois.  Maybe after 16 years, all the people around the Clintons—they‘ve been very smart, very sophisticated.  Maybe they‘re not that smart this time around...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I love that theory!

BARNICLE:  ... because what she—what she had going for her—and Lois pointed it out just now verbally, she‘s pointed it out in her written pieces in “The Post”—she has experience going for her.  That‘s why enormous numbers of people like her, the sense that she has experience, that she can do the job experience-wise.  Now to play the gender card at this date, that sort of confuses the thing.

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  When she said “I‘m your girl” at that labor debate out in Chicago, when she said, “I‘m your girl,” I thought that was the best line.  That was “Cat Ballou.”  That was the hot chick—I‘m sorry, the hot woman doing something well...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... saying, I can beat those guys.  But when she gets her husband to come in like this big Teddy bear, saying, Leave my wife alone...

BARNICLE:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... everybody goes, Wait a minute.  She‘s running for leader of the world...

BARNICLE:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... and you got to come in and defend her?  Stop it!

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANO:  ... he‘s the first defender.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  I wonder whether he wants her to win or not or he just wants to look like he wants her to win.  I don‘t know these people that well.

ROMANO:  Oh, come on~!  He wants her to...

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... what he‘s doing.

BARNICLE:  Chris, nobody...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, lady and gentlemen, Mike Barnicle, Lois Romano.

Coming up tonight, by the way, and all this week at 7:00 Eastern on HARDBALL, the HARDBALL “Power Rankings.  And tonight we‘re focusing on the top Republican candidates for president.  HARDBALL‘s David Shuster‘s here with a little sneak preview, but not too much of a preview.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  No, Chris.  This...

MATTHEWS:  Like last time we did Hillary.  She may be having a bad week, but everybody seems to agree she‘s way out in front.

SHUSTER:  Right.  This one, Chris, is going to be controversial no matter who you pick.  I mean, you heard Rudy—you heard Mike Barnicle talk about Rudy Giuliani.  He does lead nationally, and maybe he is picking up in New Hampshire.  But Mitt Romney is beating Giuliani in New Hampshire.  Mitt Romney is running strong in Iowa.  But then there‘s Mike Huckabee.  Mike Huckabee‘s coming out of nowhere.  He‘s surging in Iowa.  Fred Thompson is starting to pick up, did well on “Meet the Press.”  He‘s running the first ad.  John McCain is picking up nationally.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHUSTER:  He‘s picking up in New Hampshire, but he‘s not doing so well in Iowa.  So there‘s a case, Chris, to be made for any one of these five.

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think?  I think I see Huckabee doing well in the rural areas of the country, not so well in the coastal areas.  I see Romney doing well in the north, where he‘s put a lot of money and effort in these campaigns, not so well in the Bible Belt, where they may have a problem with his religion.  And I‘m waiting to see.  What I‘m looking for is a national leader.  We‘ll talk about that person at 7:00 o‘clock tonight with the “Power Rankings.”

SHUSTER:  And Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who do I think‘s going to win it all?

SHUSTER:  ... you really got an earful from the Romney campaign today, saying, Here‘s why we should be number one in your “Power Rankings.”

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) because “Power Rankings” do not sleep.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, David Shuster.  Again, coming up tonight at 7:00 Eastern, the HARDBALL “Power Rankings.”  We‘re going to tell you who‘s got the best chance now to win the Republican nomination come next September in St. Paul, Minnesota, when they‘re finally going to have their convention.  That‘s the HARDBALL “Power Rankings” all this week live at 7:00 Eastern.

By the way, coming up: As Hillary‘s rivals ratchet up their attacks, one Democratic candidate has been coming to her defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, what I‘m hearing here, I‘m hearing this holier-than-thou attitude towards Senator Clinton.  It‘s bothering me because it‘s pretty close to personal attacks that we don‘t need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Richardson for VP.  Up next, we‘ll ask Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson whether he‘s running for P or VP.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Democratic presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has outlined his plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil in a new book called “Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.” 

Thank you very much for joining us.

We had a bizarre incident on the House floor, where you once served, Congressman—I mean, Governor.  Kucinich, Dennis Kucinich, has called for the impeachment of the vice president, Dick Cheney, for having given us manipulated information leading to the war in Iraq. 

What do you think of that motion? 

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I wish the Congress would do real things, not political things, end the war, deal with the health care crisis, deal with immigration. 

Look, there‘s a lot of issues relating to the vice president that I don‘t like.  I don‘t think he‘s been fair with the American people.  I don‘t believe he‘s been up front.  But I want the Congress to end this war, the House and the Senate. 

And, so, I—I guess I‘m concerned about this resolution, that it‘s taken up time, that the Congress should be doing everything they can to bring the troops home, bring them back, get us out of this war. 

So, I guess I‘m not terribly enthusiastic about this. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you vote to impeach the vice president, on the grounds that he mis—he misconstrued the evidence to get us into war with Iraq, by building up a nuclear case?  That‘s the argument made by Kucinich.

RICHARDSON:  I probably would vote no, but as a protest vote that we should be dealing with everyday, important issues to the American people, like ending the war, like a stronger education system, like an immigration bill, comprehensive immigration. 

So, I guess my vote would be no, based on a protest vote.  But I think there‘s a lot of evidence to suggest that the vice president has not been honest with the American people, that he is keeping documents on energy policy to himself.  Furthermore, he‘s been saying that he‘s not a member of the executive branch, so, he‘s not going to provide information...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

RICHARDSON:  ... to the Congress.  So, my vote would be no, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Hillary Clinton‘s performance in last week‘s debate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure of what I heard.  Do you, the New York senator, Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor‘s plan to give illegal immigrants a driver‘s license?

You told the New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense.  Do you support his plan?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know,, Tim, this is where everybody plays “gotcha.”  It makes a lot of sense.  What is the governor supposed to do? 

He is dealing with a serious problems.  We have failed.  And George Bush has failed.  Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do?  No.  But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this?  Remember, in New York, we want to know who‘s in New York.  We want people to come out of the shadows.

He‘s making an honest effort to do it.  We should have passed immigration reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Governor, what would you have said to that same question?  Were you on base with regard to whether we should give, at the state level, driver‘s licenses to the people in the country illegally? 

RICHARDSON:  I would have said yes. 

You know, four years ago, my legislature sent me a bill to give driver‘s licenses to illegal immigrants.  I signed it, because my law enforcement people asked me to do it.  They said it was a matter of public safety, that we want safe drivers on the roads.  Insurance—uninsured drivers has gone down in New Mexico, from 33 percent to 11 percent, since I signed that bill. 

It‘s a matter of being safe on the highways and also knowing where they are.  I think Senator Clinton should have just said yes.  It sounded like she agreed with the governor.  She did fumble that.

But I do feel, Chris, that Barack and John Edwards, instead of focusing on the differences on the issues, are going too much on the personal side, personal attacks.  We need to keep this campaign positive and clean.  And that was one of the other points that I made at that debate. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at what you said about Hillary at that debate, and then how you were depicted on—I‘m sure you have heard about this—on NBC‘s “Saturday Night Live.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARDSON:  You know what—what I‘m hearing here?  I‘m hearing this holier than-thou-attitude towards Senator Clinton that—it‘s bothering me, because it‘s pretty close to personal attacks that we don‘t need. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)   

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why not let Senator Dodd or Senator Biden nail on her lack of experience?  I mean, the two have been in the Senate 20 years longer than she has. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, do you—do you think you‘re coming across as too much the defender of Hillary Clinton, like you‘re seeking the vice presidency here? 

RICHARDSON:  No.

And, you know, I have been in Iowa the last five days.  And I get a lot of good compliments that I basically was saying, look, we have differences on the issues.  I do with Senator Clinton.  I want to get the troops out of Iraq, all of them.  She doesn‘t.  We have a difference on the Iranian resolution.  She voted for it.  I would have voted against it, so many other issues.

But let‘s differentiate where we stand on issues.  Let‘s not get personal.  Let‘s not make attacks on integrity and whether you trust and control by special interests.  And I do think that both John and Barack are going too much in that direction.  And I want us to keep the campaign positive.  Let‘s save it for the Republicans. 

No, I‘m not trying to make up to her to be vice president.  I‘m going to win this race.  You watch.  Iowa is going to be full of upsets.  They like underdogs.  They like dark horses.  I‘m making progress there.

So, I‘m not interested in being vice president.  I want to be president, and I think I can win. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the president‘s gamble with Musharraf over in Pakistan?  You‘re an expert in these areas of foreign policy.  Do you think it was smart to put all our—all our bets, basically, on this guy Musharraf, who now has declared martial law? 

RICHARDSON:  No, Chris, I think it‘s a tragic mistake, the fact that we put all our bets on a country that has nuclear weapons, but who has a leader who doesn‘t believe in democracy and doesn‘t have the courage also to go after the safe havens in Afghanistan on his border. 

What I would do, as president, is, I would go to Musharraf and say, we have given you $10 billion since 9/11, most of it for your military, for you to stay in power.  Unless you go after terrorists in the border, and do the job that you‘re supposed do and unless you bring back elections in January, let Benazir Bhutto run, bring the supreme court back, release political prisoners, we‘re going to cut you off. 

I think that‘s a conditional effort that I, as, president would push.  And I would send the vice president to give this message, not have the secretary of state make a mild statement, as she did, that she was disappointed. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

RICHARDSON:  You know, people are disappointed in losing a football game.  This is major foreign policy problems for our country, Chris. 

We have a crisis in Iraq.  We have an impending—hopefully not, though—conflict with Iran.  And now we have one of our major allies in a position of being a failed nation state with nuclear weapons, and with terrorist elements on the premises. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Are you sure, Governor, that the vice president disagrees with what Musharraf has done? 

RICHARDSON:  No, he probably agrees with him.  I think President Bush and Musharraf—and Musharraf and Cheney have been too cozy. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

RICHARDSON:  So, it‘s obvious that they‘re giving Musharraf the green light, the Bush administration, to do what he‘s doing. 

I wouldn‘t have done that.  I would have prevented this, had I been president, by saying that our support is conditional, our assistance, on you going after terrorists and of you keeping democracy. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

RICHARDSON:  That‘s—that‘s what our ideals and foreign policy should be. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor Bill Richardson, thanks for joining us. 

RICHARDSON:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Your new book is “Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.” 

Anyway, last Thursday, in the midst of Hillary Clinton‘s rocky week, I suggested on this show that she should use the old Harry Truman line, if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  Well, it looks like she‘s listening. 

We will tell you what else is new when we come back.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I anticipate it‘s going to get even, you know, hotter.  And, if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  And I‘m very much at home in the kitchen, so I think I will stick around. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there in politics?  In a part of the world too many tend to forget, Iraq, where the American Army and Marine Corps stand watch, more than 850 of our people have died this year, making 2007 the deadliest year since the war began, lest we forget. 

I have often said the Republican Party is a party devoted to the leader, the man calling the shots.  Well, not all Republicans.  Ron Paul, an outright opponent of this American war in Iraq, just raised over $4 million in one day. 

Let‘s face it.  If it were bill or Hillary Clinton who led the American Army into this war, the average Republican voter would be mocking them and the war. 

Speaking of anti-war candidates, Dennis Kucinich tried unsuccessfully late today to move articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney.  The measure was referred to the Judiciary Committee. 

And here is Congressman Kucinich. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Vice President Richard B. Cheney has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as vice president and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and the manifest injury of the people of the United States, wherefore, Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct warrants impeachment and trial. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I think we‘re going to have to wait for the historians to get that kind of information. 

Anyway, finally, last week, I gave some free advice in the form of suggested speech notes, first to Obama, then to Joe Biden, then to Hillary. 

I guess she heard me. 

Here‘s what I said she should say on Thursday and what she ended up saying on Friday. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Taking the heat is what leadership is all about.  As Harry Truman said, if you don‘t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  Taking heat is all part of the process of proving yourself for the world‘s most important democratic office.  The fact that I am the first woman has nothing to do with the heat on me in this week‘s president debate.  I was the target because, quite simply, I‘m running well in the national polls. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I anticipate it‘s going to get even, you know, hotter.  And, if you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  And I‘m very much at home in the kitchen, so I think I will stick around. 

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well done. 

And that‘s not the only advice I have got for these guys.  I have spent years looking at the way politics ought to be honored in the country.  It‘s called “Life‘s a Campaign.”  It‘s in the bookstores right now.  I hope you can go out and get it, because it talks about a positive way for this country to go politically. 

Up next:  Is Congress ready to get tough on illegal immigration?  And will President Bush sign a new bill that crack downs on employers who hire illegals?

Congressman Heath Shuler—Remember him, the quarterback? -- joins us next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks rallying, as oil climbed to a new high and the dollar sank to a new low against the euro.  The Dow Jones industrials surged 117 points.  The S&P 500 gained 18, and the Nasdaq gained 30 points. 

Tech stocks were helped today by Cisco Systems.  The largest computer networking equipment maker expects to report solid quarterly earnings tomorrow afternoon.  Today, Cisco shares were up more than 3 percent. 

Oil prices soaring to an all-time high of $97.10 a barrel, before falling back just slightly, crude finishing at an all-time closing high of $96.70 a barrel, up $2.72 for the day.

And the surge in oil is putting pressure on airline stocks.  Shares of American Airlines parent AMR and Continental Airlines falling more than 4 percent today.  Delta shares dropped 5 percent. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

A new bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress today to crack down on illegal immigration.  But, unlike past efforts, this one gets tough with employers, the people who hire people who come into the country illegally. 

Freshman U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler, a Democrat of North Carolina, is behind this new bill. 

Welcome, Congressman Shuler.  Thank you for joining us.

Here is Hillary Clinton, by the way, from last Tuesday‘s debate in Philadelphia.  Let‘s watch it.  It sets up the heat on this issue. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSERT:  Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure of what I heard.  Do you, the New York senator, Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor‘s plan to give illegal immigrants a driver‘s license?

You told the New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense.  Do you support his plan?

CLINTON:  You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays “gotcha.”  It makes a lot of sense.  What is the governor supposed to do? 

He is dealing with a serious problems.  We have failed.  And George Bush has failed.  Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do?  No.  But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this?  Remember, in New York, we want to know who‘s in New York.  We want people to come out of the shadows.

He‘s making an honest effort to do it.  We should have passed immigration reform.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, that politician right there, Hillary Clinton, is not willing to say on national television that she wants the people in New York illegally to leave New York and to leave the country. 

Nobody seems to be honest about this.  They want to give driver‘s licenses to people, so they can go to jobs that shouldn‘t have, because they shouldn‘t be here legally, but they‘re able to get because they us false I.D. 

How do we stop this syndrome of nonsense, whereby we kid ourselves about a failed immigration policy? 

REP. HEATH SHULER (D), NORTH CAROLINA:  Well, Chris, we have to start listening to the American people.

And they have spoken out.  They have said that we just need to stop illegal immigration into our country, and that—the process of which they‘re coming in is—is the work force.  They are trying to gain work.  And, so, we need to cut that magnet off. 

We have had a bipartisan bill that we have had presented today.  Right now, we have original co-sponsors of 43 Democrats and 42 Republicans.  And we should be able to go over a hundred co-sponsor, this bipartisan piece of legislation.  What it does is it secures our borders, first and foremost, adding border patrol agents, increasing the infrastructure and technology that‘s needed to be able to secure those borders.  A relationship between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, so they can collaborate together, share equipment, so it saves tax dollars money.  Then an employer verification -- 

MATTHEWS:  How do you make sure that an employer doesn‘t hire somebody illegally?  How do you do it?

SHULER:  The process is quite simple.  Its‘s called E-Verify.  It‘s a pilot program that is working.  There are some 26,000 businesses presently right now participating in the program.  They like the program.  They simply, after hiring a person, they—when you‘re filling out the application, the forms, you take the information, either by—via phone or by the Internet, fill out the information.  It‘s free to the businesses.  And it takes the liability off of the businesses, so they don‘t do the verification.  They don‘t have to do it.

It actually puts it in Homeland Security, so they verify to ensure that that person‘s eligibility—and they can gain employment or not.  Either they‘re here legally or they‘re illegals. 

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re saying the government, if it puts this policy into effect, and the president signs it, people won‘t be able to hire somebody who‘s not supposed to be in this country? 

SHULER:  That is correct.  The first step that we took, the very first year of adopting this legislation, after it passes—the first year we‘re pointing at the federal government and the federal contractors and businesses that employ over 250 employees.  Then it is phased in over a period of four years to ensure that our small businesses prepare and that we have the E-Verify system, the capabilities and expanding the service and the servers, in order for all Americans to be able to verify every single employee. 

MATTHEWS:  But what about all the people doing domestic work, working in restaurants right now, working in the fields?  I mean, everybody says it‘s in the millions of people here illegally.  What would happen to them?  Would they be picked up immediately and their boss would say, sorry, I can‘t keep you on the payroll because my—your system has just told me you‘re not here legally? 

SHULER:  When they try to gain employment, they don‘t—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about the people already working. 

SHULER:  Well, they‘re here.  This bill covers that.  Once—when the process is taken in, over that four-year time period, they will not have employment here.  And they will then have to return.  Hopefully they‘ll be willing to return and be able to enter into our country legally.  We‘re a country of immigrants, but we are also a country of laws. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I don‘t think it is going to pass, Congressman, because there‘s too many people in business who want cheap labor.  The labor unions are turning their back on this.  The Republican party wants to increase its membership among Latinos.  The same with the Democrats.  Everyone is playing this game of illegal immigration.  And that‘s why I don‘t think anybody wants your bill to pass, and I don‘t think the president will sign it. 

SHULER:  It looks like the great thing is we have reached out to the business community and I think that we should—if not today, tomorrow, we should be able to get one of the stronger, more—membership of the business community that we have reached out to, they like the process.  It‘s time we started abiding by the laws that‘s on the books. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s a good argument.  I‘m with you, sir, but I just think our doesn‘t country have the political will to have a liberal enforced immigration policy.  I‘m with you if you believe we should have immigration.  I‘m with you if you believe it should be immigration.  But for some reason, you combine business with labor, with the Democrats and the Republicans—the big four don‘t want this to happen.  And that‘s why they‘re going to squelch your effort.  You can predict it.

But thank you very much.  Good luck with this effort.  I think you‘re trying to do the right thing.  If you allow for enough immigration to fill the jobs and we do it legally, who could be against such a logical plan?  Anyway, thank you.  Up next, Bill comes to Hillary‘s side, comparing criticism of her to the Swift Boating of John Kerry.  Is playing the victim the official strategy now of the Clinton campaign?  Our Round Table takes that one up when we come back.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time for the Round Table, my favorite part of the show.  The “Washington Post‘s” Jonathan Capehart—he writes editorials, signed and unsigned—the “Weekly Standard‘s” Matthew Continetti—he works for a conservative or neo-conservative magazine—and the “Houston Chronicle‘s” Julie Mason.  Now that we know everybody‘s persona here, what do you make of this new CNN poll that just came out late today that shows the gap between Clinton and Obama narrowing, although Hillary is still ahead by 19 points? 

Just a while ago, before the debate in Philly, she was 30 points ahead.  Is this the start of something big, Julie Mason? 

JULIE MASON, “THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE”:  I don‘t know if it‘s the start of something big.  It seems to be a combination of things.  For one thing, she lost a little steam after that last debate it seems like.  Edwards isn‘t really catching on, but Obama seems to be coming up a little bit. 

MATTHEWS:  We predicted that.  What do you think?  I did predict it.  I have been saying, John, this guy, Obama, with his velvet glove, I‘m not really a politician, but I am a politician might be working here. 

JONATHAN CAPEHART, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, remember, this is one poll and Senator Clinton is still very much ahead.  And I think the attacks from Senator Edwards has probably—the person who is benefiting from Senator Edwards‘ attacks is probably Senator Obama. 

MATTHEWS:  Which is the way it always works. 

MASON:  Right, well who‘s not benefiting? 

MATTHEWS:  The guy who punches doesn‘t get credit, but the guy whose opponent is punched benefits. 

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, “THE WEEKLY STANDARD”:  Look at Iowa, Chris.  It‘s a three way race in Iowa.  Iowa will be the spring board to that nomination, short Hillary. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you just say? 

CONTINETTI:  Short Hillary; buy Obama stock now. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, here‘s my theory, following up on that.  Let me ask you this; suppose Hillary loses a narrow one, which is very possible, given the margin of error.  Suppose she loses a narrow come January 3rd in Iowa, the New Hampshire voters, independent, unafilliated voters, can do that.  They can switch over.  They get excited about a candidate.  Will they be—Why are you chuckling, Julie?  Are you—you have a fire engine running by you? 

MASON:  It‘s crazy here. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me—well, I have to go in order here.  Do you think that will work?  Do you think the excited voters in New Hampshire will say, damn it, here‘s a chance to make history.  Let‘s put Obama up there? 

MASON:  Yes, New Hampshire voters love to be—I‘m sorry, I‘m talking out of turn. 

CAPEHART:  Go right ahead. 

MASON:  OK, New Hampshire voters love to be quirky.  They love to show their independence.  If something different comes out of Iowa, who knows what they‘ll do.  They‘re not as predictable as Iowa voters.  And Iowa voters aren‘t even that predictable. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow, I think they are somewhat predictable.  They like nice.  By the way, one thing I have noticed about the White House—I was once on the Truman Balcony down there—you would think the president would be immune to all this fire engine noise and police sirens; that‘s all you hear down in that part of the town.  That‘s like crime central.  You really do hear a lot. 

Anyway what do you make of the fact—you first Matt—that Hillary Clinton‘s team, led by very smart people, the best and the brightest in the business, people like Mark Penn and Andy Grunwald (ph); they‘re putting out the word—first of all, they put out the word to Drudge that night that somehow Tim Russert was too tough.  Then they put out the word the next day at a fund raising meeting, in a conference call, that the other rivals were too tough.  Then she dropped the Wellesly—maybe she did it rightly or wrongly, but she did do the gender card thing.  And now they‘re putting out the fact, Bill, that they‘re Swift Boating this poor woman. 

You know, just a month ago, she‘s I‘m your girl.  In Chicago, she was tough.  I can take on all these bad guys.  Now, what‘s big brother coming to defend her for?  What‘s all this excuse-making. 

CONTINETTI:  It sounds, Chris, like a nervous front running campaign that wanted to plow through those early primaries on an aura of inevitability.  Now, for some reason, maybe that debate performance, maybe there‘s something we don‘t know about in the internals—maybe they‘re nervous, because immediately they‘re going to this, well, look at the national polls.  She‘s still the front-runner.  But those national polls don‘t really matter right now. 

And then there‘s all the excuse gaming.  This has not been a very good period for Hillary Clinton.  

MATTHEWS:  -- you don‘t make excuses for the contest.  You just let everybody decide what they saw.  But if you felt you‘re losing—do you think that‘s true?  I thought that too.  Somewhere in their internal polling, they discovered a major fault, something that showed something was breaking loose.  Here‘s my conjecture, based upon on the new CNN poll;

Hillary has always done well among working women, women with needs—the campaign call—I completely understand that; people with health challenge, working women with kids at home, not much money in the bank, the real challenges of life, the struggling class of America, which is a big number, percentage of us. 

But she hasn‘t done so well with college-educated, the more elite women.  Right?  She began to pick up them the last couple weeks.  Is she losing them to Obama again?  I think that might be what‘s happening; she‘s losing those intellectuals. 

CAPEHART:  Remember, of all the debate performances we have seen so far, this is the one where Senator Clinton did the worst.  She said this was not her best performance.  And I think if Senator Clinton had said from the outset what she said days later, which was they‘re not beating up on me because I‘m a woman, because of my gender; they‘re beating up on me because I‘m ahead.  In the end, that‘s what‘s happening.  They‘re going after Senator Clinton, because even though she‘s come down in the national polls, she‘s still beating Senator Obama almost two to one. 

She‘s the one that everyone is going to be gunning for, and they‘re going to continue to gun for her until the folks in Iowa go through their caucuses and we really start seeing what‘s happening. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Julie, that she‘s still waffling on this hot potato issue of driver‘s license for illegal people in the country.  She did a Candy Crowley interview and when you read the text here, it‘s like blah, blah, blah, blah.  She doesn‘t want to answer the question because she doesn‘t want to offend the Latino groups.  She doesn‘t want to offend them, and yet, at the same time, she sees the poll numbers that show that that‘s a very unpopular view, so she‘s waffling.  That‘s not what leaders do.

MASON:  I still don‘t know where she stands on that issue.  Do you?  I have no idea.

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.  I know that she sympathizes with—well, there she is clapping again.  I don‘t whether she is clapping—would somebody please tell me why she claps every time she goes somewhere? 

CAPEHART:  Maybe she‘s responding to the crowd. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s clapping for them. 

MASON:  We should clap more. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I think it‘s bizarre behavior.  Anyway, I think it has something to do with—men don‘t know what to do with their hands.  I guess she‘s like us.  Anyway, we‘ll be right back with more of the round table.  I want an answer, why is she clapping.  Matt, please.  Tell me.  Why does she clap all the time? 

CONTINETTI:  She‘s happy, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s a good answer.  We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Senator Clinton is voting like a hawk in Washington and talking like a dove in Iowa and New Hampshire.  One of her advisors told the “New York Times” that that was because she was shifting from primary mode to general election mode.  Well, we only need one mode all the time, and that mode should be the same for the primary and the general election.  And that mode should be tell the truth mode. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s John Edwards or Joe Trippi, his writer, continuing to turn up the heat on Hillary Clinton.  I see Trippi all the time.  That sounds like Trippi.  You‘re back with the Round Table.  It is interesting, he is the one who is getting personal.  He‘s accusing Hillary of being two-faced, of speaking with a forked tongue, as they used to say in cowboy movies.  That‘s personal stuff. 

CAPEHART:  Right, and what you‘re seeing is he talked about—I can‘t remember what he said just in that clip—about the mode.  The mode he‘s in is continual attack.  We see that because in all the polls that we‘ve seen leading up to last week‘s debate, and even now, John Edwards is third.  John Edwards has to do something to try to bring himself up in the polls, and the way do you that, at least the way he thinks he can do it, is by attacking Senator Clinton. 

But it gets to the point where I think Governor Richardson is right, you start to move from substance to being personal. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go—you know in the NBA or college basketball when you‘re behind in points, you‘ve got to foul the other team to get the ball?  It‘s the only way to get possession.  Julie, this is really jock stuff, but it‘s true.  Only way to get the ball when you‘re behind is foul the other team and get the ball.  Otherwise they just win the game.  You need possession. 

Is it worth it?  I‘m going to go to Matt first.  Is it worth it to foul her to get the ball? 

CONTINETTI:  For John Edwards maybe not, because people tend to be turned off occasionally by the—

MATTHEWS:  What‘s he do then?

CONTINETTI:  For Barack Obama, however, this is the best thing that

can happen, because Obama doesn‘t want to seem to go for the sucker punch -

-

MATTHEWS:  How long is Edwards going to—

CONTINETTI:  He can have Edwards do it. 

MATTHEWS:  -- open door for Barack.  He‘s going to have to go after Barack too. 

CONTINETTI:  Edwards isn‘t going anywhere in the polls.  He can serve as his attack dog, maybe become V.P. nominee again. 

MATTHEWS:  Julie, how does a guy catch up to somebody who is so far ahead without making it rough.  I don‘t know how the game is played any more if you don‘t do that. 

MASON:  It‘s true.  The problem is in Iowa—Iowa voters, as you know, Chris, they don‘t like that negative campaigning.  They don‘t go for the rough stuff. 

MATTHEWS:  They like it in Philly, anyway.  Thank you very much, Jonathan Capehart, Matt Continetti, Julie Mason.  Join us again at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Power rankings are coming up, as we unveil the top Republican tonight running for president.  Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”

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

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