updated 11/9/2007 11:11:32 AM ET 2007-11-09T16:11:32

Guests: Pat Buchanan, Jim Warren, Patrick Healy, Chrystia Freeland, Chris Cillizza

Thompson‘s power punch, people recognize him from the movies and from TV.  He‘s an outright celebrity and he‘s a southern boy with that great southern drawl.  His hang-ups, he got in this thing too late and just didn‘t come off as the conservative savior a lot of people thought he would be from the start.  So there you have it.

Romney is number two after Giuliani.  McCain is number three.  That‘s a surprise for a lot of people.  He‘s doing well.  And Thompson is not doing well.  He‘s a bit lethargic as a candidate.  He‘s down to the fourth best.  And how can they beat Rudy?

Well, Chris Cillizza is the author of “The Fix”, what a great name, for the washingtponst.com.  He also writes for the paper every week.  And Pat Buchanan is a man that‘s running very strong in his own right today.  Congratulations.  The NBC “Wall Street Journal” poll has you polling a very strong 12 against Rudy and Hillary.  What do you think?  Are you going to make a run for this?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think the filing deadline is past for New Hampshire and I don‘t have a couple of million dollars, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the field first.  You‘re an expert and you‘ve been there.  You won the New Hampshire presidential primary.  I was there.  It was an amazing time.  Let me ask you this.  What about Romney?  Can he catch Rudy?  Is he the best bet to catch Rudy of all of them?  Catch him and beat him in the convention?

BUCHANAN:  I think he‘s almost the only individual that can stop and beat Rudy.  And I think he‘s almost the strongest choice in this field from my standpoint because I‘m a believer, Chris, in momentum theory.  Now, if Romney wins Iowa, he‘s already ahead in New Hampshire.  He will win New Hampshire.  He will win Michigan.  He‘s running dead even ...

MATTHEWS:  Michigan because of his roots.

BUCHANAN:  Because of momentum and roots and he‘s already dead even in South Carolina.  He will win that.  The only way I think you‘re going to stop Romney, and the guy is going to stop him you haven‘t mentioned.  The one guy that can stop him is Huckabee with the Christians in Iowa upsetting him or winning a great moral victory so that Huckabee is the rising figure.

MATTHEWS:  Huckabee polls at a strong 25 percent and Romney polls like 45 percent.  Will Huckabee be declared the winner?

BUCHANAN:  Romney is the nominee.

MATTHEWS:  You think?

BUCHANAN:  He‘ll roll through New Hampshire, he‘ll roll through Michigan and he‘ll roll through South Carolina.  And Rudy is—in those odds you‘re giving, the odds will sink and Romney will be better than the 50 percent range.

MATTHEWS:  You believe in the slingshot theory?  That‘s traditional thinking it‘s different this year.  What do you think?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  I think we don‘t know the answer yes—yet.  I think Rudy is hoping the way in which the party nominates candidates has fundamentally changed.

MATTHEWS:  Wait for the big states.

CILLIZZA:  He can wait until—I don‘t think anyone disputes in New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut.

MATTHEWS:  The winner take all proposition.

CILLIZZA:  Rudy is going to have a whole lot of delegates, but the reality ...

MATTHEWS:  Just because Romney wins out in the middle of the country that New York City or the New York suburbs, rather, are going to go for this guy from—they don‘t know.  But they know Rudy.

BUCHANAN:  The tide rises.  Romney will rise nationally.  Let me tell you something.  I did well in Iowa and New Hampshire.  All of a sudden it was me and Dole.  He was 38 or 35.  I‘m 28.  In California.  I‘d never been there.  You know, the whole tide rises.  You watch it.

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re not a Mormon.

BUCHANAN:  Well, look at—I mean ...

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t want to be unfair here.  We don‘t know the impact of that fact.  We don‘t know the impact.

BUCHANAN:  That may be a problem—It may be in the Southern primaries.  I don‘t think it‘s in the North.

CILLIZZA:  Pat is right in that I do think that if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire and Michigan, it may not matter ...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m standing by my guns.  I think Romney is - of these three below Rudy right now, he has the best shot.  McCain.  I have a sense this guy is one tough fighter.  He‘s been through worse than this campaign for five and a half years over in Vietnam in the Hanoi Hilton.  He‘s been through having his arms twisted and mangled.  He still shows the signs of what he went through over there.  It‘s in his body.  You feel it, you see it.  Let me ask you this, Chris Cillizza.  McCain, is he on the way up or down?  Just simply a vector here.

CILLIZZA:  I think he‘s on the way up.  And I think what it‘s about is it speaks to the fluidity of the race.  If McCain had the problems he had this summer in 2000, this race would be over.  George Bush would have been the nominee.  The fluidity of this race has allowed McCain, who everybody wrote off when his staff left and his money was bad in the summer, it is over.

MATTHEWS:  He went through a shoestring a lot of people said he was just staying in to get the federal money in January.

CILLIZZA:  And now look at his numbers.

MATTHEWS:  Can he win in New Hampshire?

BUCHANAN:  He could win New Hampshire today, but I tell you what, he‘s got to go through Iowa first.  The whole world is going to Iowa on the 26 of December.  And on the third that‘s going to be held and he may run sixth or seventh in Iowa and when he does, I think he sinks then in New Hampshire and he loses it.

MATTHEWS:  I want to give an alternative view to you, Pat.  The voters are very ascertaining.  I watched local elections in Pennsylvania two days ago.  My brother managed to win up there.

The Democratic ticket should have beaten him but didn‘t.  I think people are thinking a lot right now, Pat.  Philadelphia picked up a very intelligent guy as mayor this year.  I think people are thinking and taking politics more seriously than ever.

BUCHANAN:  The people that are looking closely that politics are Iowa and New Hampshire and that‘s where Romney is doing the best right now.  One poll has him with an eight-point lead over Giuliani.  And Rudy has got—

McCain has got a lot of problems even up there.

CILLIZZA:  The one thing I will say in McCain‘s defense, though, Pat, is that he has, I believe, the best story in this race.  And, remember, presidential races are very much about the narrative.  The narrative is important.

MATTHEWS:  You tell me who is a successful American politician, whoever made it into the history books, who didn‘t begin with a very fascinating rite of passage.  Something in the beginning, whether it was Roosevelt‘s polio or Jack Kennedy‘s PT 109 or Ike—what he did obviously.  Something in the beginning that said this guy has got greatness coming.

CILLIZZA:  And more so than he did in 2000.  McCain is using that.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the biggest celebrity in the race.  Let‘s look at Thompson on MEET THE PRESS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMPSON:  I think Roe versus Wade hopefully one day will be overturned and we can go back to pre Roe versus Wade days.

RUSSERT:  Each state can make their own abortion laws?

THOMPSON:  Yeah.  But to have an amendment compelling—going back even further than pre Roe versus Wade, a constitutional amendment to do that I do not think would be the way to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s why a lot of people think he‘s not really going to run for president.  Thompson, despite how well he‘s run and all of the effort he‘s put in, he‘s not willing to sign on the dotted line with the Christian right.  He is not willing to say you want an amendment to outlaw abortion, of course I‘m for that.  He said no.  It seems like that was a deal breaker, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s the heart of Republican platforms.  We fought on that in every Republican convention all the way back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan put in there.  He said I‘m not going to run on that.  I don‘t know how you get the Christian conservatives to rally to you when you tossed that out.

MATTHEWS:  And these guys are such pander bears on most of the issues.  Hillary on the drivers‘ licenses for people here illegally.  Right and left, everybody seems to be go to the biggest interest group they have to deal with and say amen to them.  Here‘s a guy saying the largest group you represent in many ways, the pro-life movement in the Republican party saying I‘m not with you on the most important issue to you people.  I‘m not with you.

CILLIZZA:  The problem for Thompson, you talked about it at the start.  I think it plays into all of this.  He did get started really late.  The reality is that Romney and Rudy and McCain had spent the better part of the year building campaigns and raising the money.

MATTHEWS:  As we look at the end of the week here, Pat, you think the battle for the Republican nomination is between Romney and Rudy, Rudy and Romney?

BUCHANAN:  I do.  If Romney is knocked off by Huckabee, or someone he trips and stumbles and falls I don‘t think he‘ll get up.  I think Rudy will win it.  If I had to bet right now, I would bet on Romney.

MATTHEWS:  I think there‘s another way to look at it.  I think we‘re going to have a lot of independent choices here.  Iowa goes for Romney.  New Hampshire goes for McCain or Giuliani, South Carolina could go for anybody.  I think we‘re going to have a series of independent decision-makings.  But we‘ll see.  What do you think?  And I think that means Giuliani wins.

CILLIZZA:  If we have that ...

MATTHEWS:  I think that means Giuliani wins.

CILLIZZA:  If there a muddle, that‘s for Giuliani.  Pat‘s right.  If Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire, it‘s going to be hard for Giuliani.  But if you have a split decision, the longer it goes, the better for Rudy.

MATTHEWS:  It may be like Carter and Kennedy.  Every time one guy won, the other guy won because they couldn‘t stand the idea of either one of them.  Anyway, thank you Pat Buchanan, thank you Chris Cillizza.  Tomorrow we put together the power rankings and tell you who has the best shot to win the White House across the board between the two parties.

Up next, one of the other Republican challengers to Rudy Giuliani.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.  He says he was surprised by Pat Robertson‘s endorsement of Giuliani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I congratulate Rudy for getting that endorsement.  Somewhat of a surprise to me, but politics is all about surprises.  And I plan to surprise some people on January 3 in Iowa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to ask Governor Huckabee how he‘s going to make up ground in Iowa.  He‘s doing pretty well out there.  He‘s number two.  Pat thinks he might go a lot higher.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Well, Pat Robertson endorsed Giuliani, Sam Brownback threw his weight behind Senator John McCain, and the Moral Majority founding father Paul Weyrich is backing Mitt Romney.  So why are prominent Christian conservatives bypassing former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to support a New Yorker with liberal positions on social issues, a senator who‘s had poor relations with evangelicals, and a Mormon who‘s changed his position on abortion?

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is here to answer that question.  Governor, thank you for joining us.  What is going on?  Is this the power-brokering that usually goes on in these old-time smoke-filled rooms at conventions?

HUCKABEE:  You know, Chris, I‘m not sure what‘s happening with the leaders, but the good news for us is that out there in the grass roots answer and among the rank and file, people are with us and it‘s growing every day.  And we‘re picking up some key endorsements, just today Don Wildmon of American Family Association.  We‘re picking them up every day.  But more important than the endorsements of just the leaders is out there the followers.  And those are the folks who are going to be going to the caucuses on January the 3rd.  And I‘m more than content to let one leader go with another candidate.  I just want  the followers.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you cracked a joke.  We have (INAUDIBLE) light-hearted.  You cracked a joke at the expense of one of the Democratic candidates, Dennis Kucinich.  We‘ve got to use this.  Let‘s go.  Let‘s take a look at what you said about Congressman Kucinich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE:  If we do a manned space trip to Mars, we‘ve already got the first astronaut lined up.  Dennis Kucinich is ready to go!

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  He‘s already seen UFOs.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you—you‘re recommending that Dennis Kucinich can be his own UFO.  He can be one of the flying objects in the future here. 

What do you think? 

HUCKABEE:  Well, you know, he was the one who said that he had seen a UFO.  And I thought, well, if we‘re going to send a person to Mars, let‘s let somebody with some experience go. 

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  It was a good line.  It was fun. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it is fun.

HUCKABEE:  And no harm intended. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at this.  What do you think of Fred Thompson saying that you‘re a—I‘m not sure what this phrase means, but here is in a radio interview yesterday talking about you, Governor. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He‘s a good man, but he‘s a pro-life liberal.  He‘s right on the pro-life part, but he‘s a liberal.  You look at his taxes in the state.  You look at what he said about immigration.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Are you a liberal, or even a pro-life liberal?  What do you think of that little handlebar he put on you—that handle he put on you? 

HUCKABEE:  I will tell you, Chris, you know, I know the Writers Guild is on strike, but he really needs to get some...

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  ... better lines and scripts, because he‘s only half-right. 

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  Yes, I‘m pro-life, but liberal?  For heaven sakes, if you said that to a lot of people in Arkansas, they would slap their knees laughing. 

Look, here‘s the record.  I believe in a secure border.  I don‘t believe in amnesty or sanctuary cities.  That‘s hardly weak on immigration.  Now, the one area, I don‘t believe you punish the children for the sins or the crimes of the parents.  Now, that doesn‘t make me a liberal.  It makes me a human being. 

And I don‘t think that it‘s matter of, you know, having a hard line on immigration, which I do, but you don‘t extend the hard line to people who didn‘t actually break the law.  That‘s where Fred has to be coming from. 

This idea of taxes, I cut 94 taxes when I was governor, the first-ever tax cuts in a 160-year history of my state.  It‘s a darn good record.  And I did something that nobody else on that stage has done.  I balanced a budget every one of the 10-and-a-half years I was governor. 

I actually led a government.  I have had more executive experience, running a government, than anybody running for president, Democrat or Republican. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about Giuliani-Huckabee as a ticket? 

HUCKABEE:  Well, I don‘t know if I would pick Rudy as my running mate.

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  But I would certainly give him a lot of consideration. 

You know, Pat Robertson likes him, so maybe I should love him as well. 

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE:  Look, let me tell you something about Rudy.  One thing I like about him—and I mean this sincerely—you know where he‘s coming from. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HUCKABEE:  He has the guts to go to the NRA and the guts to go to the values voters and say, look, we don‘t agree on some issues. 

I have more respect for a person who at least is who he is, rather than somebody whose message changes with every election that he is in or somebody who, you know, you‘re just not sure where their center is.

So, Rudy and I don‘t agree on some issues, like Second Amendment, sanctity of life and same-sex marriage.  But at least you know where he‘s coming from. 

And, personally, I like him.  He‘s a good guy and he‘s somebody who is, quite frankly, pretty fun to be around.

MATTHEWS:  Is Rudy for same-sex marriage?  I didn‘t know that, Governor. 

HUCKABEE:  Well, I don‘t know if he‘s for—well, you know, he said that he would perform the wedding of the couple, I think, that he lived with.  That‘s—that‘s where I‘m getting that. 

And it may not be a position that he holds to want to push, but I think he has had that expression before. 

But the point is, we differ on some key issues.  But it doesn‘t mean that I have anything but respect for him, because I do. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you may end up on the ticket with him one way or the other, because that ticket‘s going to have to be balanced.  There‘s no way Rudy Giuliani isn‘t going to have to get a running mate from the Bible Belt.  He has to, to balance off what he‘s offering.  That‘s just my assessment.  It doesn‘t have to be yours.

But it‘s an honor to have you on the show.  Everybody likes you, Governor Huckabee.  We‘re waiting for those poll numbers to reflect it.  Everybody around here seems to like you.  And we will see what that‘s worth. 

Anyway, good luck in Iowa.  That‘s where everybody expects you to pull the big upset and come in strong second to—or maybe first—to Romney. 

Anyway, thank you, Governor Huckabee, for coming on—former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee.

HUCKABEE:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  The price of oil is soaring and the stock market plunging, thank you.  CNBC‘s Jim Cramer is going to tell us where things are headed. 

I‘m personally interested in this.  And so are a lot of people watching right now.  What the heck is happening to the stock market? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.    

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN:  Further sharp increases in crude oil prices have put renewed upward pressure on inflation and it may impose further restraint on economic activity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier today,

Thursday, saying that the U.S. economy is resilient, but, at the same time

talk about on the other hand—hard times are coming. 

Jim Cramer is the host of “Mad Money” on CNBC. 

What are we looking at here, Jim?  Are we looking at a recession slowly creeping into our life? 

JIM CRAMER, HOST, “MAD MONEY”:  Absolutely. 

What we really have a deflationary scenario.  When your house goes down in value, and when there‘s so much credit being crunched, the war is against deflation, not inflation.  It always pains me, Chris, when I hear him talk about a commodity inflation.  He could take rates to 10 percent.  It wouldn‘t stop oil.  I mean, we really have to get the right enemy. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what—let‘s talk about the oil thing. 

It seems to me that we all ought to put our money in oil, because it just keeps going up.  And the Chinese, and the Brazilians—everybody in the world, except for the Brazilians, are trying to get their hands on more oil.  What‘s going to stop the oil companies in this—in this country and around the world to stop—to just keep making more and more of our money?  In other words, more of the money we make every week is going into the oil industry.  Is there any way that‘s going to stop? 

CRAMER:  Well, I would like a—a president to go over there and say, listen, guys you need to lower the price. 

They have some ability to be able to lower the price in Saudi Arabia.  There is some supply problems, but not as much as to merit $100.  They did raise the price on us.

But, Chris, I have got to tell you, we‘re running out.  Those guys who tell you we haven‘t been running out, they just don‘t understand all the drilling that we have been done and how little oil we have been finding.  Oil is going to stay at $100 for some time.  It had been my price target on “Mad Money” since the beginning of the year.  We‘re there. We won‘t exceed it, I don‘t think.  But we‘re stuck. 

MATTHEWS:  How many more years of oil do have we got in the world?  Given the growth of the Chinese economy, the growth of the Indian economy, the growth of our economy, the more cars every day you see on the road than the day before, how long can the oil we have, at an imaginable price, last? 

CRAMER:  I think that—well, you threw me the caveat right then, because I would tell you that I think we‘re going to look back 10 years from now and say, do you remember when oil was only $100? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CRAMER:  Pretty cheap.  That‘s what going to happen.

MATTHEWS:  So, what are we going to be paying a gallon of gas?  Twenty bucks a gallon? 

CRAMER:  I think that it‘s conceivable that we could be paying $10, $15 a gallon in the next five years.

We‘re just not finding any, Chris.  And we‘re not—we haven‘t switched to nuclear power.  Even the fastest—the fastest we could have nuclear power in this country, a new plant, is 2014. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

Look, look, that‘s the biggest tax people are going to be paying.  A working guy or working woman who has to commute a decent amount of miles to work complains about taxes, as they should, because they have got to be careful about how much they pay. 

CRAMER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  The biggest tax, the biggest bite out of our wallet, or our butt, or whatever you want to call it, looks to be me to be oil in the years ahead, just taking more and more of your money that should go to food, tuition, an occasional ball game or movie, or new shoes.  That money is going to be going to oil. 

CRAMER:  Dead right. 

Now, there‘s going to be basically a tax on the consumer.  We are going to see $4 -- $4 a gallon.  We should see that in the next three months, because of the refinery runs.  This is going to slow down things.  It is unavoidable.  That‘s why we need the housing business cleaned up, because we are certainly not going to get a break for the consumer from oil. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

What can a president or a Congress, if they were doing the job for the people, do...

CRAMER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  ... to keep—to at least slow down the growth of oil?  I know the world market is going to drive the price up, because everybody else is buying it.  What can they do to keep the price from going up any faster than it has to? 

CRAMER:  Well, I do—I do—I do think that someone should go over to Saudi Arabia and say stop it, stop it.  We know you‘re raising the price because the dollar is going down.  We need a break. 

And you know what?  I have to tell you, we are—I‘m starting to feel like that, if we get the right person in president, they will do what they did in Brazil.  Take a nasty recession, get off the—the gasoline dole...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CRAMER:  ... which is what Brazil did.  Otherwise, I got to tell you, we‘re in really, really bad shape, much worse.  I wish the president would even address the issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is GE Green Week.  And we‘re all part of that family.  But is there anything that looks to be on the table?

I‘m looking at the bill that Markey is pushing on the Hill.  I don‘t know what Dingell is going to with it, but they‘re talking about energy efficiency.  They‘re talking about fuel economy, you know, the CAFE standards, all that good stuff.  Is that going to happen? 

CRAMER:  Yes, I think it actually will happen.  I think that we‘re pretty desperate these days. 

I have to tell you, though—and we have been doing a lot of Green Week stuff on “Mad Money”—there are a lot of companies that are beginning—First Solar stock was up 50 points today.  They are producing actually voltaic cells that are cheaper actually—because of this price that oil is at, cheaper than oil.

We are beginning to see wind power actually being much cheaper than oil.  Now, I know those are small substitutes.  But, if we could just push nuclear in this country, we could—we could unhook ourselves from oil.  But you can‘t build a plant in less than seven years in this country.  And that‘s a travesty. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what I think?  I think nuclear is coming.  And I think it‘s coming if people have to choose between the outside risk of nuclear and the near-term reality of high gasoline prices that are killing the average family economically, they are going to go with the nuclear...

CRAMER:  You‘re right.  Look...

MATTHEWS:  ... like it or not. 

CRAMER:  ... Democrats and Republicans agree.  It takes only three years to build a nuclear power plant now.  They operate much cheaper than coal. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CRAMER:  They absolutely have no pollution.  My take from Green Week that we have been doing this week is, nuclear must happen now.  It can be our salvation, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Thank you very much, Jim Cramer.

CRAMER:  Thank you...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m listening to every word you say. 

Up next, we get to the bottom of why Hillary Clinton is always clapping.  We‘re going to have some fun with that.  And I mean good-hearted fun.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELISSA LEE, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Melissa Lee with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing lower after a volatile day following yesterday‘s sell-off.  The Dow Jones industrials lost 33 points, but the Dow had been down 200 points.  The S&P 500 fell a fraction, and the Nasdaq dropped 52 points, weighed down by disappointing earnings from tech bellwether Cisco Systems.

Stocks sank after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress economic growth is likely to slow noticeably this quarter and into 2008, as the housing slump intensifies.  Some analysts saw that as a reason for the Fed to cut interest rates further, but Bernanke also said he sees important inflation risks, which could prompt the Fed to raise rates. 

Retail sales figures for October hurt stocks today, too, most big-name stores reporting disappointing sales ahead of what could be a grim holiday season. 

And oil prices ease, crude falling 91 cents in New York trading, closing at $95.46 a barrel. 

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

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there? 

Fred Thompson called a fellow conservative, Mike Huckabee, a bad name the other day.  He said he‘s a liberal.  Take that, you awful man. 

Obama, meanwhile, took an unchivalrous shot at fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton.  If you listen closely here, he‘s calling her old. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think there‘s no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Senator Clinton can‘t deliver on.  And part of it is generational.  I mean, Senator Clinton and others, they have been fighting some of the same fights since the ‘60s.  And it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Will that “don‘t trust anyone over 50” shot at Hillary alienate older Democrats in Iowa, the kind that actually show up and vote?  Those are the older people.  And they do vote. 

A new Quinnipiac poll also shows Hillary and Rudy neck and neck in Connecticut, not that they would ever be neck to neck.

Finally, time for some fun you will only get here on HARDBALL.  As her friends and foes must have noticed, I get a kick out of going after Hillary‘s fondness for public clapping.  She does it everywhere.  Every time she gets in front of a crowd of supporters, she keeps clapping and clapping and clapping. 

Well, I was up at my old high school the other night, La Salle in Philly, last night.  And I talked to Agnes Hallis (ph), who is married to John Hallis (ph), who used to play French horn with me in the school band. 

She gave me four—make that a full quartet of reasons why Hillary likes to clap. 

I love these reasons.

Number one, it‘s a polite way to show she appreciates the applause from the people around her.  She‘s responding.  Number two, it‘s a way to jazz up the energy in the room, sort of like being a cheerleader of the crowd.  She‘s sort of cheering them up, getting them going. 

Three—I love these last two—it‘s like Peter Pan.  If you clap, Tinker Bell will get better.  Four, that‘s that old kid‘s song.  If you‘re happy and you know it, clap your hands. 

Anyway, so, don‘t let my Scrooge attitude about clapping make you think anything less of this or take away any reasons why a person running for commander in chief shouldn‘t enjoy this campaign any way she chooses. 

Let‘s go to the roundtable, Jim Warren of “The Chicago Tribune,” Patrick Healy of “The New York Times,” Chrystia Freeland of “The Financial Times.”

Chrystia, I want to ask you this about this new poll number we just got from Gallup, the oldest poll around.  Now, whatever we thought before last week, when everybody popped up against Hillary after the Philly debate, I was still surprised at this. 

Fifty-five percent of married men—now, that includes minorities,

all the ethnic groups that tend to be Democrat—it includes all of them -

55 percent of married men say they would never, ever, ever, as long as they live, vote for Hillary Clinton for president. 

Doesn‘t that stun you? 

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, “THE FINANCIAL TIMES”:  I‘m afraid it doesn‘t stun me at all. 

I mean, I think that this is the fear deep in the heart of the Hillary campaign and in the Democratic Party.  And it‘s something that you might call the Katie Couric factor.  Is there some latent sexism in America, especially among married men, which means that, at the end of the day, they are just not going to be able to vote for a gal? 

And I don‘t think we know the answer to that yet. 

MATTHEWS:  Why would married men be more sexist than non-married men? 

I don‘t get that, exactly.

FREELAND:  Well, speaking as a married woman, maybe it‘s because they‘re a little older.  Maybe they have a little more contact with us every day.  And we all know that that can cause some strains. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean to know you is not to love you? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  There‘s more friction on the table.

FREELAND:  I think uppity woman perception of Hillary is a real problem.  There‘s also another issue with Hillary, which is this question of authenticity that we come back to again and again.  But with the married men, it‘s got to be sexism.  Why else would they particularly be so strongly different from women when it comes to Hillary? 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to ask that same question to Jim Warren of the

“Chicago Tribune.”  Why do men, 55 percent, say openly to pollsters—And

I have to assume, by the way, a lot of these pollsters calling up are women

so I‘m not sure this gender thing carries through.  It may be the authenticity issue.  They‘re saying to the face of the pollster on the line, no, I won‘t ever vote for Hillary as long as I live.  They‘re willing to say that. 

WARREN:  Two things, first of all, is that the first public disclosure of your French horn past? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it is.  The next time you see a Robin Hood movie, listen for the sound. 

WARREN:  Second, as far as the Katie Couric factor, in all due respect, what‘s most interesting about the Katie Couric negatives; they‘re higher among women than they are among men, women who don‘t buy into the notion of a women reading them the news.  That‘s just a parenthetical. 

But as far as Hillary and men, I think a lot it just has to do with the anxiety of having this tough gal out there.  They just don‘t feel it, you know, fits the role of too many women.  Now, does that make her winning impossible?  No, obviously not, because look at the pretty sky-high approval rating among women, particularly lower-income women.  Just as that might be a ticking time bomb in the Democrats‘ camp, you have also got the fact that the Republicans should be real nervous about women turning against them on mass, particularly as the war continues. 

MATTHEWS:  Patrick Healy, are you amazed at this 55 percent of married men saying they will never vote for Hillary? 

HEALY:  I can‘t say I am, Chris.  I mean, the Hillary camp has said for a long time that people who don‘t like her basically fall into two camps.  Either they think she‘s too liberal or she‘s too, you know, rhymes with witchy.  It really sort of bugs them.  It‘s interesting that it‘s married men though that‘s such a sizable number.  I guess these are guys who have gone through the gender wars and the mommy wars and everything like that, and maybe they‘re worried that—maybe her strength, which a lot of people see as a positive, just comes off as too—you know, too pushy or just sort of unlikable to them. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, and I wonder how many say they will vote for her, who are not going to do it, because the person polling them is a woman. 

Up next, President Bush is nearing Nixonian disapproval levels in the polls.  I‘m not sure he‘s this hated was as Bush—as Clinton—I‘m sorry, as Nixon was.  But now only one in five Americans say the country is going in the right direction right now.  Which presidential candidates are in the best position to cash in, if you will, on this need to change?  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let‘s take a look at a big number tonight.  It‘s in the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll.  I‘ve mentioned it before.  It is so big; 74 percent of the country now want the next president to take a different approach than President Bush.  It seems to me that says the Democrats are in better shape than the Republicans going into this election.  If you want big change, you usually want a partisan shift.  That‘s the way it has always been in this country. 

FREELAND:  Absolutely.  I think this election is the Democrats to lose.  What is really interesting is, if you look at those numbers and you say, people want a change, that says to you, Obama.  He‘s the guy who is presenting himself as the big change candidate.  But if you look at those numbers and you say, people are just frustrated with Bush incompetence, I think that says to you Hillary Clinton.  And that‘s why her campaign is really hammering this idea of effectiveness, efficiency, ready on day one. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an interesting question.  Patrick is this a call for a change in success or a change in approach? 

HEALY:  Well, I think Americans want results for sure, but I think it‘s more about approach.  I think there‘s sort of a frustration with either looking overseas and feeling like diplomatic strategy hasn‘t been pursued enough, a sense that looking at home, you have things like how Katrina was handled, how different sort of domestic challenges have been handled, you know, sort of a frustration that there aren‘t enough results coming out of the approach. 

I mean, I think that Hillary and Barack are both trying to talk about themselves as the sort of uber competent candidates, who would be able to get some kind of results for people.  But right now, Hillary is really the one pushing this idea that, from the experience that she has in the White House and the experience in the Senate, she could actually put deals together. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I wonder—I have been saying for a while now that the country feels like it‘s in a rut.  It‘s in a rut of a war that doesn‘t seem to ever want to end, Iraq, and war policy that seems to be leading toward a war in Iran, a rut we can‘t seem to get out of.  We‘re in a rut with the sub prime problems with the market.  We‘re in a rut with higher energy prices.  We want someone to come along and get us out of that rut, the way I think we felt in ‘32, ‘52, ‘60, ‘80.  Do you think, Jim, watching these elections, this is going to be an election where we really vote for something completely different?

WARREN:  Well, just tell me who is going to get through the Democratic nomination process and then one could answer that.  Obviously, the larger context is grossly obvious and antithetical to most of the Republicans; eight years of Bush, bad war, sputtering economy, increase in self-identification as Democrats.  And then when you look at the independents, more and more are swaying to the Democratic side, if they had to go one way or another. 

But does Obama get through the early primaries and still maintain this aura that he‘s trying to maintain of being the sort of the change agent?  I mean, it‘s still obviously kind of early.  But just tell me who gets through that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you this about the ultimate question of whether we have a partisan result next election, whether Hillary wins the next election, if she‘s the nominee, or Obama wins it; if you have a president who‘s running 63 percent negative in job approval, Nixonian levels—and he‘s getting close to Nixon.  He may get there.  That I‘m told is another indicator that the election will go to the other party.  Whenever you have an incumbent president who is miserably successful in job approval, that is one more reason, one more bit of a nail in a coffin of a party. 

WARREN:  Take a look also, just anecdotally, at the number of Republicans who are heading to the exits, who decided I‘m going back to the district and find a new job.  What are we up to, the mid teens now or something like that? 

MATTHEWS:  Guys like Ralph Regula; really good guys are quitting.

WARREN:  You‘ve got a whole bunch of districts currently held by Republicans that are going to be in play.  On the Democratic side, so far so good.  You have only got two Democrats who have decided they‘re not going to run to retain their seats.  But those are two House members who are going to run for Senate positions.  So clearly there‘s a powerful conventional wisdom out there among the Republicans that it‘s time to look for some other work.   

MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts on this? 

FREELAND:  I was going to say, I think you mentioned factor which is going to give a further push in the direction we are talking about, and that‘s the economy.  We have been focused a lot on Iraq and bad performance in Iraq.  But I think increasingly the economy is going to be an issue.  The sub prime mess isn‘t going away.  I think that we may see many more write downs in the future.  The price of oil just keeps on rising.  We have a weak dollar.

And that‘s a combination that‘s extremely hard for the Fed to deal with. 

HEALY:  Chris, none of these Republican candidates are running as Bush‘s guy.  None of them are running as his VP, as his heir apparent anymore.  And I think by the time you actually get a nominee, it‘s going to become even more dramatic than that.  They‘re really going to largely be either running away from the president or at least talking about change, possibly as much as the Democrats are. 

WARREN:  As far as what Chris has said—if I can add, Chris—I think it would be good for most Washington journalists to get out to the hinterland and see what‘s happened very quietly, without necessarily a very high profile, with a lot of manufacturing jobs gone.  Just imagine today, Ford Motor Company declares a 380 million dollar third quarter loss.  And that‘s considered good news.  They figured it was going to actually be worse; 380 million dollars they lost.  What‘s happening—

MATTHEWS:  Are you saying the engine room is flooding? 

WARREN:  The collateral damage of sub prime—hey, take a look at a media company, which is now, like a lot of other media companies—is facing the reality of declining revenue. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the secretary of treasury? 

WARREN:  Paulson.

MATTHEWS:  See, we don‘t even have a sense of a Rob Rubin there or some heavy weight there.  It‘s a sense of—Larry Lindsey (ph) has been sacked.  I don‘t have a sense of an economic brain behind this administration right now.  We‘ll be right back.  That‘s a dangerous situation to be in when we‘re in a tricky economic outlook right now.  Who is calling the shots?  The president doesn‘t know the economy.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the round table.  I had a little fun here on one of our blocks earlier.  I said let‘s take a look at it together.  This is Hillary Clinton‘s way of campaigning.  Chrystia, you have got to talk about this, because it‘s sort of a gender-related issue.  Every time we see Hillary Clinton at an event—it‘s usually lunch time—there‘s lots of supporters around.  It‘s a well choreographed event.  And the highlight is her finale, where she walks around the room and claps to everybody.  What do you make of that as a campaign method? 

FREELAND:  Well, you quoted your old high school friends talking about Tinkerbell and if you‘re happy as you know it, clap your hands. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FREELAND:  So it‘s really hard for me to top that kind of creative analysis.  I would have to say, it doesn‘t bother me. 

MATTHEWS:  How about that one? 

FREELAND:  I do think we have to be a little bit careful also about not picking on Hillary‘s mannerisms a little bit too much.

MATTHEWS:  Those secondary characteristics are off base.  Am I being told that? 

FREELAND:  Just a little bit.  I mean, there‘s the clapping.  There was the laugh.  I think there are things to pick on Hillary about, but probably the clapping I wouldn‘t choose. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, give me a list some day on email of what I‘m allowed to criticize about Hillary.  And how—

FREELAND:  Any policy matters; dynasty I think is OK too. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, OK.  I‘ll be sure to keep that in mind.  Jim Warren, what do you make of this as a cultural phenomenon?  If you‘re watching us from overseas, you say is this what Americans do at political rallies?  It is interesting.   

WARREN:  She can‘t copy me and stick her hands into her pants pockets.  So there‘s not much left to her.  And given the repetity of her life, the ten thousand different appearances—oh, my gosh, it looks like she‘s at Sea World in San Diego.  Here comes the seal.  Yikes.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re worse than I‘ve ever been.  Throw me a fish.  What do you think, Patrick, of this new way of campaigning.  There‘s Jerry McCintee (ph) of ASME giving his big endorsement and she‘s clapping the endorsement, I guess. 

HEALY:  It‘s sort of like the Tip O‘Neal line about ask for every vote.  Don‘t take anything for granted.  That‘s at least the way they see it.  She‘s trying to connect.  She‘s always trying to engage with the audience, show a little bit, sort of her humor, like, you know—also, I‘ve got to say, I go to a lot of her events, and she‘s up there holding a mic for an hour.  She talks about how she doesn‘t get enough exercise.  Maybe it‘s like moving her body around, you know, makes her feel—

MATTHEWS:  Circulation.  It‘s like an Ellen Degeneres thing here.  Let me go back to Chrystia because I sense a little friction between you and me.  I want to give an opportunity for you to vent that.  Let me ask you; do you think, as a journalist, can you say this --   I know there‘s ways to say things.  Let me put it this way; does the great mentioner—I think it‘s still David Broder—believe that Hillary is still the best single bet to be the next president? 

FREELAND:  Yes.  And do I agree with that? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, yes.  I ask you to do it your way.  You either say the great mentioner says it or you say it or there are those who believe, all the old tricks we use.  Go ahead. 

FREELAND:  Sure, sure.  I think if you had a bet—and I spoke to a former Bush cabinet secretary who made the same prediction to me yesterday.  So, yes, I think the smart money has to be there.  But I think the point that you started this segment with, about is there some kind of latent unlikability in Hillary that particularly American men feel, that‘s a huge question.  Maybe it‘s the big question for her. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, maybe it‘s overcome-able.  What do you think, Jim?  Do you think that she‘s still the best bet?  Can you say that as bureau chief—or editor of your paper, that she still has the best bet here? 

WARREN:  First of all, if you keep referring to your horn playing past, and using French, your populist image could be distinctly in danger.  Yes, sure, at this point that‘s where some of the smart money would be.  But just remember, we‘re into November.  It was January of the last campaign where, what, Howard Dean was on three magazine covers.  So I think it‘s really, really early.  I think as the Philadelphia debate suggested, some dynamic may just play out here that‘s very unexpected. 

MATTHEWS:  I think something is going on.  Chrystia, thanks for joining us.  Thank you Pat Healy.  Thank you Jim Warren.  Join us again one hour from now at 7:00 Eastern for the HARDBALL power rankings.  Tonight, we rank the Republican challengers to Rudy.  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.

END   

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