updated 11/13/2007 12:46:45 PM ET 2007-11-13T17:46:45

Guests: David Axelrod, Roger Simon, Nancy Giles, Jonathan Darman, Chrystia Freeland, Ryan Lizza, Chris Cillizza, Jill Zuckman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Can Barack really do it?  Can he catch and pass frontrunner Hillary?  Can he be the hero he promised to be?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  Tonight, the Barack boom.  Just a few years ago, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was an unknown name in politics.  Today, let‘s face it, he‘s the headliner of the Democratic field.  Saturday night, he wowed the crowd in Iowa for that J-J dinner.  Sunday, Obama performed well, everybody says, in a tough interview with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press.”  And tonight, the HARDBALL spotlight is on Barack Obama and the 2008 presidential race.  In a moment, an exclusive interview with his top political strategist, David Axelrod.

Plus: Is the anti-war movement pushing an Obama candidacy forward?  I wonder if we‘re not seeing, myself, a stirring of the electoral excitement I remember from 1968.  That year, which “Newsweek” magazine celebrates on its cover this week, really began in October of ‘67 with the march on the Pentagon against the Vietnam war.  The excitement picked up that autumn with the “children‘s crusade” of Senator Eugene McCarthy against President Lyndon Johnson.  I remember all that excitement.  I‘m sensing a whiff of it tonight.

We begin tonight with Barack Obama‘s top strategist, David Axelrod.  David, thank you for joining us from Chicago.  Let‘s take a look at a big chunk of your candidate‘s performance Saturday night at that big Jefferson Jackson dinner in Des Moines, Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That is why the same old Washington textbook campaigns just won‘t do in this election.  That‘s why, I‘m not answering questions because we‘re afraid our answers won‘t be popular, just won‘t do.  That‘s why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won‘t do.  Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we‘re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won‘t do.  This party, the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy, has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we led not by polls but by principle, not but calculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, David Axelrod, that‘s got to be the strongest, most pointed speech I‘ve ever heard your guy give.  It was directly on the mark, directly targeting the Clintons, both of them.  I noticed in his list of great  Democratic leaders, Bill Clinton‘s name did not make the list.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST:  Well, it‘s hard to make that list.  You know, there‘s some great presidents on that list, Chris.  And as Senator Obama mentioned, they were people who really stood up and led this country in a very, very powerful way.  That‘s what we need right now.

MATTHEWS:  You mean to tell me you think that Barack Obama can win the Democratic nomination by giving honest answers on questions, like Social Security and the Middle East and actually say what he believes?  Do you think that‘ll work?

AXELROD:  We‘re going to...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, this is a party that‘s driven so much by interest groups.  You‘ve got so many in the Democratic Party who want to be pandered to every minute of the day, 24/7, and you‘re saying you don‘t have to do that.

AXELROD:  We‘re testing that proposition, Chris.  I honestly think, and he said on Saturday night, this is a very different time.  I think people are very, very serious about where we are at this point in time.  We‘re at war.  We‘ve got this terrible problem of global warming, climate change that‘s upon us.  The economy‘s a mess.  I don‘t think people are up for more of the same old politics.

They‘re tired of 20 years of trench warfare in Washington.  They really understand that we‘ve got some serious things in front of us.  If we don‘t deal with them now, the consequences are going to be long-term.  And so I think he‘s getting a very respectful and interested hearing.  And you can see it in Iowa.  We‘re dead even in Iowa.  The polls have closed in New Hampshire.  I think the American people are ready for the real change, change as we say that they can believe in, and that‘s what he‘s offering.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look.  We‘re going to listen to more of Barack, a lot of Barack tonight on HARDBALL.  Here he is because this is the big event so far in the campaign.  Barack Obama has started his kick, as they say in racing.  Here he is from Saturday night again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I am running for president because I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking and acting and voting like George Bush Republicans.  When I am this party‘s nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran or that I support Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don‘t like.  And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is OK for America to torture because it is never OK.  That‘s why I‘m in it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, I got to say this, in watching this, in scoring this, I got to say bull‘s-eye, bull‘s-eye, bull‘s-eye, bull‘s-eye, bulls-eye, every one directly at the heart of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign.  I‘m not making it personal and your guy‘s not making it personal.  But every one of those charges is directly targeted at what I would consider objectively the nature of the Clinton campaign.

AXELROD:  Well, it certainly—this certainly is part of what this race is about is the kind of politics that we need in this country to move forward and actually attack these problems.  And as he said in his speech in South Carolina last week, Senator Clinton is a very, very proficient politician.  She‘s good at what she does.  She‘s got a great campaign.  They‘re running a textbook campaign.  But it‘s a campaign designed to get you through an election.  It‘s not designed to bring the country together.  It‘s not designed to solve problems.

And so yes, his feeling is that we have to try something different.  We have to be direct and honest with the American people and lead with principle.  And people are responding to that, Chris, all over the country.  Where they get to know Obama, where they hear his message, and you saw it on Saturday night, there‘s tremendous enthusiasm for this candidacy.  This is the change people are looking for, not a slogan but real fundamental change in how our leaders approach these problems.

MATTHEWS:  Well, both parties pander to their people outrageously.  But do you know what people don‘t like about the Democrats?  Maybe I‘m speaking for myself here.  They look at—they get all the groups together, and we know the usual suspects because they pay for tables at the dinner.  And the classic example is a guy I do admire, but not his politics, is Walter Mondale.  He would give an applause line for each table at the fund-raiser, but never once did he give an applause line that everybody stood up for because everybody was being pandered to.

You know this kind of politics.  It‘s Chicago politics, too.  You work all the interest groups, and you hope it‘s going to add up to 51 percent.  And thank God, it never does.  It adds up to 44 percent or 45 percent.  And you lose election after election after election, whether your name‘s Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry, Gore, whatever, because that‘s the politics of interest group, circle the wagons, us 40 percent or 45 percent against everybody else.

Republicans are smart to run against high taxes and on national defense, and they usually get over 50.  Let me ask you this.  Can a Democrat win a campaign without being simply a cheerleader of the interest groups?

AXELROD:  Well, I certainly—I certainly think so, Chris.  I‘ll let the slight on my city of Chicago pass.  But I will...

MATTHEWS:  But you know how it works.

AXELROD:  But—but...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not a slight, it‘s a fact.

AXELROD:  But I have to say, one of the interesting—one of the interesting things in this campaign has been to watch—you know, Senator Obama, as you know, went to Detroit and spoke to leaders there in the auto industry, some of the labor leaders there, about the need for higher fuel efficiency standards, which have been stalled for 20 years in this country.  As he points out, he didn‘t get a great hand in the room...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

AXELROD:  ... but it was something that he felt strongly about.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

AXELROD:  You mentioned Social Security.  We‘ve got 78 million Baby Boomers—you and I among them—who are reaching—sadly reaching retirement age.  It‘s going to be a problem...

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m not getting any older.

AXELROD:  ... for the system...

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m not getting any older.

(LAUGHTER)

AXELROD:  Yes, that‘s true.  You‘ve got the fountain of youth over there but—or a very good make-up person.  But there is a—but the rest of us are getting older, Chris, and it‘s going to be a problem for the country.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

AXELROD:  And he said that, and Senator Clinton has said, Well, we‘ll talk about it after the election.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

AXELROD:  He went to the teachers union and talked about the need for pay for performance, to reward teachers...

MATTHEWS:  Good for you.

AXELROD:  ... for doing a great job.

MATTHEWS:  Good for him.  David, let‘s get—let‘s get a little more of your candidate.  Here‘s Senator Obama again...

AXELROD:  OK.  Love to hear him.

MATTHEWS:  ... from Saturday night...

(CROSSTALK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  ... because I will never forget that the only reason that I‘m standing here today is because somebody, somewhere stood up for me when it was risky, stood up when it was hard, stood up when it wasn‘t popular.  And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up.  And then a few thousand stood up.  And then a few million stood up.  And standing up with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!

That‘s why I‘m running Iowa, to give our children and grandchildren the same chances somebody gave me.  That‘s why I‘m running, Democrats, to keep the American dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity, who still thirst for equality.  That‘s why I‘m asking you to stand with me.  That‘s why I‘m asking you to caucus for me.  That‘s why I‘m asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept.  In this election, in this moment, let us reach for what we know is possible—a nation healed, a world repaired, an America that believes again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  David, I wouldn‘t have believed it possible, but I think I heard Bob and Jack and Martin all at once there.

AXELROD:  Well, you know, I think one of the things that we hope to do in this campaign is rekindle that lost sense of idealism that you spoke about, that you and I both remember.  There was a time when people, young people, but others, as well, believed that we could actually, through politics, deal with the great problems facing this country.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

AXELROD:  And we‘ve lost that in our politics, Chris.  It‘s become a tactical game.  I think what Senator Obama‘s trying to do is rekindle that sense is we can actually organize ourselves as the American people, not as red states and blue states, Republicans and Democrats, and deal with the problems facing this country.  And I do think we can do that.  I think we can win by doing that.  And you know what?  I‘m not sure we can if we don‘t do that.  I think the American people want that desperately at this time.  They know it‘s important.

MATTHEWS:  Boy, you‘re getting eloquent, too, David.  Thank you very much, David Axelrod, consultant to the campaign of Barack Obama...

AXELROD:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  ... who‘s had one heck of a weekend.

Coming up tonight at 7:00 Eastern, the HARDBALL Power Rankings.  And you probably can tell where my head‘s headed tonight.  At 7:00 o‘clock, you‘ll know for sure.  By the way, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster is here right now to give us a preview.  David, I think we‘re giving away the secret here of who we thought had a good week, who showed some power this week.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  But Chris, what‘s so

interesting is that Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, they didn‘t have bad

nights on Saturday night.  As we‘re going to show at the half an hour when

we put this piece together and you can hear Barack Obama and then you can

hear Hillary, you can hear John Edwards.  Hillary Clinton and John Edwards

they gave pretty good speeches, but Barack Obama‘s speech was so much better and so much more sort of unexpected...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHUSTER:  ... I think, for people who‘ve been listening to him.  And again, Barack Obama never mentioned Hillary Clinton by name in this speech.  It was his effective way of going after her without being—without jamming it down your throat.  And I think that‘s one of the reasons why...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SHUSTER:  ... why it‘s going to be so interesting to see what you‘re going to come up with an hour from now at—two hours from at 7:00 o‘clock with the “Power Rankings.”  Who‘s got the power?  Which way are they trending?

MATTHEWS:  I think, David—I was out there when he announced for president at the beginning of the year.  And I have to tell you that he‘s beginning to deliver on the promise, finally.  Let‘s see if he has enough of it.

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  One of the great things about the “Power Rankings,” of course, is that they can reflect what‘s going on today.  Obama may have not had his sort of rhythm a few months ago, but we‘re now just 52 days...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... growing up in a church, but that had the rhythm, the cadence of a black church, as much as I‘m familiar with one, I got to tell you, from politics.  And I got to tell you, there was a bit of Martin King in that guy, Martin Luther King.  I heard that plaintive call for hope at the end.  It wasn‘t just Bobby and Jack, it was this other voice I heard for the first time Saturday night.  It was—it was great stuff.  And I‘m as romantic as anybody else in this business.  I don‘t mind admitting it.  I‘m not some cold-hearted guy...

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  Well, we‘ll be cold-hearted at 7:00 o‘clock.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you.  Thank you very much, David Shuster.  Tune in tonight at 7:00 Eastern for HARDBALL “Power Rankings,” and they will be coming your way at 7:00 o‘clock, as we tell you—I tell you which candidate showed the power this week.  And I mean the power!

Up next, inside the Barack boom.  We‘ll hear from Senator Obama‘s—about the barn-burning speech from those who were there Saturday night, who witnessed it first-hand.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  ... a party that doesn‘t just offer change as a slogan but real, meaningful change, change that America can believe in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was Barack Obama Saturday night in De Moines, Iowa, at the Jefferson Jackson dinner.  By the way, did we actually show that?  We‘re going to show that in just a minute.  It featured all major Democratic presidential candidates.

Roger Simon covered the event for “The Politico.”  Let‘s take another look at Barack Obama Saturday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  That is why the same old Washington textbook campaigns just won‘t do in this election.  That‘s why, I‘m not answering questions because we‘re afraid our answers won‘t be popular, just won‘t do.  That‘s why telling the American people what we think they want to hear instead of telling the American people what they need to hear just won‘t do.  Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we‘re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about us just won‘t do.  This party, the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we led not be polls but by principle, not by calculation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s, like, saying, Don‘t punt on fourth down.  Don‘t bunt when you got one man on and no man out.  He‘s saying, Don‘t go by the textbook.  Is that going to work?

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM:  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) by the way, wasn‘t invented by the Clintons.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  It was used for years by the Dukakises and the Mondales.  It‘s the standard Democratic ploy.  Don‘t talk taxes.  Don‘t talk Social Security.  Don‘t talk anything about NAFTA or trade, any of those issues that might hurt you in your constituency groups.  Wait until you get elected.

SIMON:  Well, it‘s more than just in your constituency groups, it‘s, Don‘t say anything that‘s going to hurt you in a general election campaign.  I mean, Barack Obama is making the bitter medicine argument: We have to give you the bitter medicine because, in the end, it‘s good for you.  It‘ll help you.  It‘s better for the country.  Do you want to hear it?  No.

MATTHEWS:  Well, isn‘t he really saying...

SIMON:  Do you need to hear it?  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... do you really want to be BS‘d again for the millionth time?

SIMON:  Yes.  That‘s exactly what he‘s saying...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s another way of putting it.

SIMON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  And Hillary‘s saying, You‘ve eaten this BS before.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re going to eat more of it because you got—that‘s what we Democrats do.  We feed you the promise that we can have—look what Bill did.  Let me take devil‘s advocate.  I will take Barack‘s view because I know you think about the other way because time—tested, you‘re right, probably.  But Bill Clinton won in 1992 because he waffled on the Iraq (SIC) war.  He had a position that was sort of for it, but people tell me he had an escape hatch to get out of it.  He waffled on Social Security.  He let Paul Tsongas tell the truth about the need fix Social Security.  He waffled on that.  He waffled on NAFTA.  He‘s always waffling.  And he taught waffling to his wife.  And you‘re saying...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  And he got elected twice, right?

MATTHEWS:  Right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s your point.

SIMON:  He got nominated and elected.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, when the American people get—say politicians are a bunch of B.S.ers and wafflers, they get what they deserve, you‘re saying? 

SIMON:  I‘m saying, the argument is, if you can‘t elected in the fall, why should the party nominate you now? 

MATTHEWS:  Because there‘s such a thing as excitement for change that overwhelms particular concerns.  When people say, yes, we have had Republicans, but they have promised this, promised that. 

SIMON:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Taxes are still going up.  We got a war we never wanted, all this stuff—they can still say, I will try something else. 

SIMON:  It‘s the movement argument.  It‘s the Howard Dean argument. 

Here‘s a paragraph.  It came out the very good clips you showed.  It‘s how—it‘s Barack Obama—quote—“If we are really serious about winning this election, Democrats, then we can‘t live in fear of losing it.” 

That‘s the Howard Dean position. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SIMON:  The Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. 

Does Barack Obama have the guts to say he will raise the cap on Social Security taxes?  Yes.  Will Hillary Clinton?  No.  She says she will study it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what happens if you run as a me-too Democrat?  As—as Barack said, again taking his argument, that, if all you do is say, I‘m going to vote for the war in Iraq, I‘m going to vote for some kind of authorization to act against Iran, you‘re basically are constantly me-tooing the Republican Party.  So, why have an election?  That‘s not change. 

SIMON:  Well, because you say more than that, obviously.  You say you have a Democratic platform; you have positions that are appealing to the Democratic Party.  Yet, you have both...

MATTHEWS:  What, on family home leave? 

SIMON:  Yet...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What‘s left after all this?  Uniforms for schoolkids?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What do the—what do the Democrats distinguish themselves on, if they buckle on war, and taxes, and Social Security, and trade, if they buckle on everything? 

SIMON:  What they have, they hope, is a candidate who emphasizes that she has the strength and experience to not just get through telling Democratic voters what they want to hear, but telling general election voters what they want to hear. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me give you another argument.

If you don‘t run on what you believe and what you intend to do, you have no mandate when you get elected.  If you run on a me-too ticket and you get in office, and you try to do things, you look like you have double-crossed the people, because you never promised to do these things. 

SIMON:  It‘s not a bad position to take. 

If you want to run on giving driver‘s license—licenses to illegal...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, well, there‘s one I disagree with, so...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON:  ... to illegal immigrants...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s one I disagree with.

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  ... and Barack Obama believes that, he is willing to tell the American people that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You got me.  You got me.  Roger, you got me. 

I‘m with the majority on that one.  I think you don‘t paper over the immigration problem by giving out documents to people that are not here illegally. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Roger, you‘re right and I‘m wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But I feel better for taking my position...

SIMON:  That‘s never happened.

MATTHEWS:  ... because I want to be more youthful.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next—I‘m serious—Hillary Clinton gets in some hot water over her aides.  Her aides have planted some questions in the audience at a campaign event.  Now, that‘s the new politics. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And the tape tells the whole story.  Wait until you catch this, where the kid is winking up to her or whatever after playing ringer.  That‘s teaching the youngs how to—young ones how to play politics. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there in politics?  Well, more bad news for Hillary today.  A spokesman for Senator Clinton admitted, admitted the campaign planted ringers in the audience at her public appearances. 

Check out this softball, followed by a wink from the questioner. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURIEL GALLO-CHASANOFF, GRINNELL COLLEGE STUDENT:  As a young person, I‘m worried about the long-term effects of global warming.  How did you plan to combat climate change?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you should be worried.  And I find, as I travel around Iowa, that it‘s usually young people who ask me about global warming. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Want to check that out again?  Here‘s the replay. 

Is she getting her P.R. help—I mean Hillary—from FEMA?  Remember how that agency had staffers serve up down-the-middle questions for the disaster director? 

Anyway, speaking of P.R., here‘s Bill Clinton talking about the boys ganging up on Hillary again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It‘s a great time to be a Democrat, and I like it. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

B. CLINTON:  I like it because, even though those boys have been getting kind of tough on her lately, she can handle it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, by the way, has this election become a choice between the anti-evolution party and the pro-UFO crowd? 

I‘m sorry.  UFO sighting is clearly bipartisan now.  Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington of Arizona—he‘s a Republican—hosted a discussion today on UFOs at the National Press Club. 

Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL”)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, this is Drew Pearson.  We bring you this special radio television broadcast in order to give you the very latest information on an amazing phenomenon, the arrival of a spaceship in Washington. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I came here to give you these facts.  But, if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s obviously not the National Press Club today, but that is, in fact, a great movie of Michael Rennie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Now to the veep beat.  I have thought, based on his strong defense of Hillary Clinton, that Governor Bill Richardson is in the on-deck circle for Hillary‘s running mate.  Apparently, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is in the competition for running mate with whomever wins the gold on the other side, the Republican side.  He‘s certainly not turning down the possibility. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My goal is not to see the silver or the bronze. 

BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST:  But you‘re not ruling out something like that, if something like—if you should be offered it, you‘re not saying right now that “I wouldn‘t under any circumstances accept”? 

HUCKABEE:  I would rather say, would I consider Rudy—Rudy to be my running mate than would I be Rudy‘s. 

SCHIEFFER:  OK.

HUCKABEE:  And I just don‘t know.  I haven‘t figured that one out yet. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  How about Bob Schieffer for V.P.?

Anyway, you may have noticed that HARDBALL has been getting a lot of press attention over this weekend for comments that Senator John McCain‘s mother made on this show. 

Let‘s take a look at it again. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTA MCCAIN, MOTHER OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN:  And, as far as the Salt Lake City thing, he‘s a Mormon.  And the more Mormons of Salt Lake City had caused that scandal.  And to clean that up, I—it‘s not even—again, it‘s not a subject. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The views of my mother are not necessarily the views of mine. 

(LAUGHTER)

J. MCCAIN:  Could I just reemphasize one quick point?

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

J. MCCAIN:  I think that Mormons are great people.  I think that is should no way be a factor in consideration of lack of consideration for Governor Romney.  I think that it should never be a consideration.  And I know that he will be judged on his record.  He‘s a fine and decent man and a fine family man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s what Kevin Madden of the Romney campaign said after that comment by the 95-year-old Mrs. McCain -- -- quote—“I would disagree with any candidate or any candidate‘s surrogate that chooses to disparage someone based on the faith that they hold, and instead implore other candidates and their campaigns to make a case to voters based on the important issues facing the nation.”

Well, Kevin, excuse me.  The smart thing would have been to show some class here and say, we all have parents. 

John‘s fortunate enough to have a mother still around to fight for him.  No harm, no foul, end of story.  Nothing looks stupider than to try to make a big issue about this thing.  Kevin Madden should have let it go.  His candidate should have let it go.  It‘s not helping them to jump on a 95-year-old woman.

Up next:  With Barack booming, the anti-war crowd behind him, and the younger generation increasingly in his corner, is this 2008 election beginning to feel a lot like 1968?  Well, maybe that‘s a good thing.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don‘t want to spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.  I don‘t want to...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

OBAMA:  I don‘t want to pit red America against blue America.  I want to be the president of the United States of America!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

All red arrows once again today, after last week‘s sell-off.  The Dow Jones industrial average gave up earlier gains on Monday and fell 55 points, closing below 13000 for the first time since mid-August.  The S&P 500 lost 14 ½ points.  And the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped almost 44 points. 

Oil prices fell after Saudi Arabia said that OPEC would consider boosting production.  Crude oil dropped $1.70 in New York‘s trading session, closing at $94.62 a barrel.

E-Trade Financial shares, though, plunged 59 percent after the online brokerage firm forecast a drop in fourth-quarter earnings and a Citigroup analyst said that that company could go bankrupt. 

And Boeing shares fell slightly, despite major orders from the Middle East.  One deal is worth almost $14 billion, while three others are worth a total of $10 billion.  But rival Airbus just received orders that be worth an estimated $50 billion. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Barack Obama‘s speech at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Iowa was his best yet—I‘m sure that‘s true—and may mark a turning point in this campaign. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA (voice-over):  America, our moment is now. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just seven weeks until the Iowa caucuses, and Saturday night in Des Moines belonged to Barack Obama. 

OBAMA:  I don‘t want to pit red America against blue America.  I want to be the president of the United States of America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  At the end of the Jefferson and Jackson Dinner and in front of 9,000 Democratic activists who had already heard John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, Obama gave the sharpest and most effective speech he‘s delivered in the campaign. 

OBAMA:  Triangulating and poll-driven positions because we‘re worried about what Mitt or Rudy might say about it us just won‘t do.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  Though Obama never mentioned Hillary Clinton by name, it became even clearer who he was talking about when he referred to Iraq and Iran. 

OBAMA:  I am sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only way to look tough on national security is by talking and acting and voting like George Bush Republicans.

SHUSTER:  For her part, Clinton took a shot at Obama‘s campaign theme of change and drew a contrast by playing up the judgment she acquired in the White House and on the national stage. 

H. CLINTON:  Change is just a word, if you don‘t have the strength and experience to make it happen. 

SHUSTER:  And Clinton tried to inspire Iowa Democrats who are leaning towards her candidacy. 

H. CLINTON:  If you will stand for me for a night, I will stand and fight for you every day in this campaign and every day in the White House!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  But, for now, the momentum in Iowa appears to have swung to Obama.  First, Clinton‘s campaign is on the defensive after acknowledging that staffers planted this friendly question at a Clinton town hall.  Watch the wink. 

MURIEL GALLO-CHASANOFF, GRINNELL COLLEGE STUDENT:  As a young person, I‘m worried about the long-term effects of global warming.  How did you plan to combat climate change?

H. CLINTON:  Well, you should be worried.  And I find, as I travel around Iowa, that it‘s usually young people who ask me about global warming. 

SHUSTER:  Second, former President Bill Clinton last week created controversy by alleging that the Democratic attacks against on his wife were akin to Republican Swift Boat attacks in 2004 on John Kerry‘s patriotism.

Third, Obama managed tough questions on Sunday‘s “Meet the Press.” 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Why are people in our your own party skeptical about your knowledge and experience to be president? 

OBAMA:  Well, look, I have not been on the national scene as long as some of the other candidates in this race. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  But David Yepsen, the leading political columnist in Iowa, wrote that Obama was the clear winner Saturday night.  And, fourth, Yepsen‘s headline today was—quote—“Obama‘s Superb Speech Could Catapult His Bid.” 

Yepsen noted that other Democrats gave speeches that were very good, including John Edwards, who is counting on a victory in Iowa to slingshot his campaign. 

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It is time for us to give America hope.  It is time to give these entrenched interests...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

EDWARDS:  ... that are standing against America hell.  That‘s the only way we‘re going to win this fight.  It‘s the only way we can turn America around. 

SHUSTER:  And, for Hillary Clinton, while she‘s in a tight race with Obama in Iowa, polls in the states that follow show her maintaining, for now, a double-digit lead. 

Still, Obama is on the move. 

OBAMA:  That‘s why I‘m asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept.

In this election, in this moment, let us reach for what we know is possible: a nation healed, a world repaired, an America that believes again.

Thank you very much, everybody. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER (on camera):  At the very at least, this past weekend underscored the intensity the Democratic nomination battle.  And it‘s a race that‘s getting even more dramatic, now just 52 days until the Iowa caucuses. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that captured it.  That was David Shuster with that report.  Thank you. 

Jonathan Darman was this week‘s—has this week‘s cover story in “Newsweek” about the legacy of 1968 and how it may be echoing today.  Nancy Giles is a social commentator. 

Nancy, I want to start with you.

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR:  Great.

MATTHEWS:  Do you feel the old magic?  I don‘t know if you‘re old enough to feel the old magic of ‘68.  I feel a whiff of it, a bit of the stirring, of war and youth and excitement and all that.

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR:  First, that‘s so sweet of you to think that I‘m not old enough to remember.  I was actually born in 1960.  I remember very much the kind of excitement and the kind of terror that was going on in ‘68, and the feeling of the ‘60s.  And I got to tell you, that speech of Obama‘s was really exciting. 

It got me kind of hot and bothered; and then watching him on “Meet the Press” was also really inspiring.  Maybe it‘s partly because he‘s black; he‘s a black American.  Also because he‘s different and he‘s new.  I know that Hillary Clinton has got the experience; but I got to tell you, it‘s getting tiresome to have Bushes and Clintons in the same politics as usual.  To see somebody like Barack that is just exciting and feels like he can bring two different sides together, it‘s kind of magical. 

MATTHEWS:  I also thought it was a powerful point intellectually to say that you don‘t want a president who supported the war in Iraq, who supports going to war in Iran.  And he says, basically, you got to stop electing people—supporting people who vote the Bush line.  Here‘s Barack Obama invoking Dr. King and taking on Hillary Clinton at the same time.  Here it goes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I am running in this race because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now, because I believe that there‘s such a thing as being too late; and that hour is almost upon us.  I don‘t want to wake up four years from now and find out that millions of Americans still lack health care because we couldn‘t take on the insurance industry.  I don‘t want to see that the oceans have risen a few more inches; the planet has reached a point of no return, because we couldn‘t find a way to stop buying oil from dictators. 

I don‘t want to see more American lives put at risk because no one had the judgment or the courage to stand up against a misguided war before we sent our troops in to fight. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, I think I‘m watching this—Jonathan, I want Jonathan‘s thoughts here first.  Jonathan, it seems to me I‘m watching somebody swing for the fences.  The ball may stop short of the warning track; he may not get a home run.  But he‘s definitely going for a home run.  Hillary is going for a bunt.  She‘s being very clever.  She‘s moving the ball.  She may be following what Obama calls the textbook.  But it‘s hard to get excited or to root for a bunt. 

JONATHAN DARMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, you know, obviously I think that speech was a lot more important for Obama really than it was for Hillary in a lot of ways.  He needed something that was going to give the national press a story line that said hey, this guy is in it still.  He‘s fighting for it.  And just giving an interview to the “New York Times” about how you‘re going to take on Hillary and sort of go after her in the Democratic debate isn‘t enough to do it.  You need something that speaks to those people who really want to vote for this guy but aren‘t so sure that he‘s got the experience, and tell them hey, I can connect you with that message of hope and with this idealism that we haven‘t seen since the ‘60s. 

That‘s why that speech is important.  A lot of those people who like his message but don‘t know if he can actually do it are going to have more of a reason to say, OK, I can go with this guy. 

MATTHEWS:  Nancy, I can remember—I wasn‘t eight years old.  I was in graduate school back in 1968 in North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  That is fortunate.  Let me tell you; there was nothing as exciting than after class was over, after I was studying in the library, I would walk over to the student affairs building around 6:30 and watch the evening news back then.  I would watch Cronkite and Eric Severy (ph) talk about the Gene McCarthy challenge to the Johnson administration. 

It was so stirring.  These news people were objective, but they were capturing the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, almost the way Murrow did back in the Second World War in London.  There was an excitement to watching the news at night because something was happening and it was conveyed to us through the news. 

GILES:  I didn‘t even know what Zeitgeist meant.  I was in like third or fourth grade.  But we were doing protest plays and stuff like that at PS30 in Queens, in New York City, writing letters to President Johnson about all kinds of things, about how we as kids felt about the issues.  and the big difference between then and now is that in the ‘60s like peoples‘ brothers --  a lot more peoples‘ brothers, fathers and uncles were actually in the Vietnam War.  We haven‘t had the same experience with Iraq as we did then. 

And it was really something to think that in June of 1968, that was when Robert Kennedy first became like a real threat to Eugene McCarthy.  June of the actual year of the election.  We‘re already still 11 months away from the election and so many things now seem set in stone.  That‘s another reason why I think it‘s so exciting.  And I agree with Jonathan; to see these guys out there talking to the public in a much freer way than these debates—

MATTHEWS:  OK, I‘ve got to ask Jonathan, why did your magazine decide to put the ‘68 cover on this week? 

DARMAN:  We‘re about to be inundated with a lot of commemoration of the 40th anniversary of 1968.  It‘s fair to say, anniversaries aren‘t journalism, so we don‘t actually put every anniversary of a significant year on the cover.  But this one actually shaped who we are.  The political parties that we‘re talking about today were shaped in the ‘60s.  That‘s what this is about.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Jonathan.  By the way, my two favorite years, 1968 and 1989, when communism fell.  Thank you Jonathan Darman of “Newsweek,” and thank you Nancy Giles. 

Up next, Barack Obama makes his move.  But can he overtake Hillary Clinton in the stretch?  We‘re going to see.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let‘s go to the round table;

Chris Cillizza of the “Washington Post,” Chrystia Freeland of the very impressive “Financial Times,” Jill Zuckman of the “Chicago Tribune,” and in New York, there‘s Ryan Lizza.  We got four people here.  It is not “Hollywood Squares.”  Ryan, look up.  Perk up, my friend.  Ryan, you‘re a great writer.  You‘re at the “New Yorker” now.  You‘ve made it.  OK, good, I got you.

Let me go to Chris Cillizza.  Not everybody‘s in a good movie.  Chris, give me your take on how the last week affected the year to come. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, I think it started a narrative that could become a broader story or not.  But I think it has started a narrative that Obama is starting to move.  Remember, we spent three, four, five, six months waiting for him to move, stories coming out that he wasn‘t aggressive enough, that Hillary was padding her lead; well, this looks like movement. 

You combine his speech over the weekend at the Jefferson Jackson dinner with his appearance on “Meet the Press,” with polling in New Hampshire that shows him closing in on her.  Those three things make it a trend.  So that says that movement is afoot.  I think it‘s up to Obama and Clinton and maybe a little bit of John Edwards in there, too -- 

MATTHEWS:  Chrystia, your assessment of the last week; give me a damage report or success report—whatever you want to call it—on what happened over the last week? 

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, “FINANCIAL TIMES”:  Well, I would carry on with what Chris has been saying.  I think that what was really important is we have been waiting for Obama to be the forceful guy that people expected.  And he was—he did a very good job at saying, look, Hillary is playing a technical game.  She‘s triangulating.  I am a guy who is going to tell you what I really think.  I‘m really going to be genuine. I‘m really going to speak for change.

And I think that‘s a big deal.  The one think I think we need to be cautious about is our own media interpretation of these things, because I think that all of us were getting a little bit bored by the inevitability of the Clinton machine.  So I do think we need to be a little bit careful and not just jump on change and on a story for a story‘s sake. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Chrystia, for that advice to us journalists; except that you have one thing you missed, that the American people have more ADD than I do.  They get bored faster than we do.  I get bored very slowly.  Let me ask you Jill, what is the impact of the week? 

JILL ZUCKMAN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  I think next week‘s story is going to be the Clinton campaign going after Obama in a way we haven‘t seen before. 

MATTHEWS:  They always do that though.

ZUCKMAN:  I think that they‘ve been fairly restrained in dealing with the other campaigns. 

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s going to be the hatchet man?  Howard Wolfson?

ZUCKMAN:  Maybe it will be Howard, maybe Senator Clinton.  I think her campaign is going to have to be a little less cautious from here on out. 

MATTHEWS:  Is the hatchet person going to be the one that was distributing these ringers in the audience, the fake questions?  That is so hokie to have this little kid, this young person in the role of flak, of ringer.  Can‘t they trust the audience? 

ZUCKMAN:  How about trusting the candidate?  The candidate can probably handle any curve ball. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s just too much careful defensiveness, but you think this week is a question mark still? 

ZUCKMAN:  I think it‘s open, because I think we‘ve seen the beginning of one thing, but we haven‘t seen the response to it. 

MATTHEWS:  Ryan, your assessment.  You were out there.  You‘re still out there. 

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW YORKER”:  I‘m still out there.  I‘m like the last guy out here I guess.  I think what we learned this week is that the Clinton inevitability is a very fragile thing.  It didn‘t take a whole lot for Barack Obama to stop that story line.  What did it take?  It took a few good lines at a debate to get her completely off her game.  This is the big opening he has.  The big opening he has is that her inevitability—she went a little too far with it. 

Look at her new slogan that she unveiled at the JJ dinner.

MATTHEWS:  What does it mean?

LIZZA:  What was it?  Turn up the heat.  We walk in there and we‘re looking at these signs and we say, who does she want to turn up the heat on?  Obama, right?  No, you listen to the stump speech; she‘s saying we need to turn up the heat on the Republicans.  I‘m thinking about the general election.  I think that‘s her mistake.  She had a decision to make the other night, does she try and stall Obama; does she go after him; or does she continue her strategy of looking at the general, and she went with the general. 

And now obviously that‘s going to change.  I agree with the person who said that Obama is about to be hit with, you know, a ton of bricks.  I think—

MATTHEWS:  Howard Wolfson leading the way.  Yes.  We‘ll wait and see what pops up this next week as the surrogates.  We‘ll be right back with Ryan Lizza.  The rest of the round table is staying with us as well.  Thank you, Ryan.  You‘re not staying with us.  Everybody else is.  Thank you very much for joining us with the hot report from Iowa.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the round table.  Chris Cillizza; the Clinton reaction, what is it going to look like? 

CILLIZZA:  I think you‘re going to see her probably punch back in this debate in Nevada on Thursday.  She has not done that, Chris.  Her surrogates have done that.  Her campaign has done that.  But she herself in a televised national event has not said, Senator Obama, you‘re not being truthful or you‘re not telling the whole truth.  She resisted doing that in the entire Philadelphia debate, despite being under attack from her opponents throughout. 

I think you‘re going to see her start to punch back.  I think she has to.  This is a real race.  This is not a coronation.  And her campaign now knows that.  And I think you‘re going to see her come out and be more personally aggressive towards both Obama, maybe towards Edwards.  But certainly towards Obama.

MATTHEWS:  Jill, I have a sense that she started to do that Saturday night when she said change is no good unless it‘s backed up by substance.  She‘s trying to make this guy look like Dan Quayle.  Will that work, to just call him a light weight?  Can she call Barack Obama a light weight? 

ZUCKMAN:  I don‘t think she was comparing him to Dan Quayle.

MATTHEWS:  She was saying, if you don‘t have anything behind it? 

ZUCKMAN:  She was saying, if you don‘t bring the experience to the table to know how to make the change.  I think that‘s a legitimate argument for her, because her argument is I have years and years of experience and he doesn‘t.  So she is just bringing that to the discussion. 

What this whole situation reminds me of, Chris, is Gore versus Bradley.  And I know you don‘t think Bradley—

MATTHEWS:  Humphrey versus Gene McCarthy or Bobby Kennedy.  It reminds me of—you‘re right, He whole pattern of Democrats.  There is always one interest group candidate who tends to win and then there is one idealist, whether it‘s Howard Dean or it‘s Gary Hart or it‘s whoever.  There‘s years and years of the idealist losing to the interest group person, the pro.  That‘s what makes it so depressing watching these Democrats pick a candidate every year. 

ZUCKMAN:  You can call that the establishment person, who then has to stop being—

MATTHEWS:  They are about one for six right now.  Clinton is the only one they ever got right. 

ZUCKMAN:  They always seem to come out in the end in the Democratic primary.  They manage to. 

MATTHEWS:  Chrystia, they give out calling cards to these people as if they have been elected to something.  They get the nomination.  I‘m sorry, we‘re going to come back.  Next time, Chrystia—you are invited back many times again.  Thank you Chris Cillizza, thank you Chrystia.  Thank you Jill Zuckman.

Today, we commemorate Veterans Day here and I want to thank all of our brave men and women in uniform who have fought and died for this great country.  We mean it.  We talk about it a lot.  Join us again in one hour, at 7:00 Eastern, for the HARDBALL power rankings.  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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