updated 11/21/2007 9:03:07 AM ET 2007-11-21T14:03:07

Guests: A.B. Stoddard, Peter Fenn, Mike Allen

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  For the first time, John McCain finds himself behind Rudy Giuliani in the latest presidential poll in Arizona, his own home state.  What gives? 

Welcome to the show, coming to you live from the campaign trail with Ron Paul in Reno, Nevada. 

John McCain, not Rudy Giuliani, picked up the endorsement of the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.  McCain, not Giuliani, is and has always been pro-life.  McCain‘s stump speech in New Hampshire argues that he, not Giuliani, is the Republican most likely to beat Hillary Clinton in national election, and some polls back him up on that.  But a new poll by a Phoenix-based behavior research center shows Giuliani with a 20-18 lead over McCain in McCain‘s back yard of Arizona. 

In a moment, former New Jersey governor and 9/11 Commission co-chairman Tom Kean joins us to explain his endorsement of McCain and why that campaign still seems sluggish. 

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, the ABC News/”Washington Post” poll shows Barack Obama inching upward in the vital state of Iowa.  He is now the first among equals there at the top of the survey.  But it is the poll‘s ancillary questions that provide even deeper insight into those campaigns. 

On the issues of trust and candor, Obama does far better with voters than Hillary Clinton does.  So what exactly do Democratic voters want from their nominee?  Trust, experience, or something else? 

Also, Scott McClellan absorbed a verbal pummeling of the White House press corps during the Bush administration‘s most difficult moments, including the so-called CIA leak case.  McClellan has now written a book in which he implies that not only the vice president, but also Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and President Bush himself were involved, as he says, in feeding the press false information about former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. 

The Politico‘s Mike Allen joins us to discuss the details of the story he broke just hours ago. 

We begin today with the Obamas.  He‘s been on “Saturday Night Live,” now she is guest-hosting “The View” on ABC.  Are Barack and Michelle Obama running for President and first lady, or king and queen of the prom? 

This is supposed to be the most important presidential election in a generation.  Why are we as nation still so obsessed with voting for the candidate we think has the most charming personality or the one we‘d like to have a beer with? 

Here with their picks, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. 

Welcome to you both.

A.B. Stoddard, I know you minored in psychology.  Tell me, why does it matter that Michelle Obama is on “The View”?  Clearly it does.  Why do we care? 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  Well, “The View” has a huge audience, as does the Oprah show.  We‘re still waiting for Barack Obama to get himself on to the Oprah show since she‘s supporting his candidacy and basically she runs the country. 

Michelle Obama will get a lot of attention on the show.  She will appeal to the kinds of voters that they want to appeal to that Hillary Clinton has so far kind of locked up.  Women who watch “The View,” frankly. 

And I really think that Michelle Obama has not been—she‘s an interesting question because she hasn‘t been on the trail that much.  The few times that she‘s been out, she‘s gotten some sort of negative attention for some strange comments about his feet or his breath or something.  So I will be interested to see what sort of the reintroduction of Michelle is going to bring. 

CARLSON:  It absolutely will be fascinating to watch that. 

Peter Fenn, there‘s no question that Barack Obama has already won the cool caucus.  He‘s running as a candidate who is much cooler than Hillary Clinton, not that that‘s hard to do.  He‘s clearly won by that one measure.

Now comes news from the NBC field reporter on the scene he was giving a speech at a high school or at a—at Central High school in Manchester, New Hampshire, and he told the students there that, yes, I experimented with drugs when I was in school, I didn‘t try that hard, I partied, I played a lot of basketball, didn‘t pay attention.  These are things he said already in his—one of his—a couple of autobiographies. 

Is it more significant that he says it out loud to high school kids themselves? 

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, I think it depends how you say it to high school kids, Tucker.  Obviously, “don‘t try this at home” was probably his final message.  But, you know, the guy is very candid about it. 

I found his book just extraordinary, as I found McCain‘s book where he talked about driving around in Corvettes and going to kind of bars that folks shouldn‘t go to up there in the military, but which they all go to. 

CARLSON:  Right.

FENN:  But, you know, I think, look, the human factor is very important in this.  You know, as you were just saying, maybe with the writers strike the Obamas can take over Letterman and Leno.  I don‘t know.

CARLSON:  I don‘t think it‘s bad. 

FENN:  No.

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  And you want to—I mean, I personally like a president who seems worldly enough to understand people‘s foibles.

What do you make of these poll numbers, A.B. Stoddard?  These are two of the most interesting polls I have seen in a long time.  They confirm what we‘ve been seeing for months now.  Here are the latest.

A “Washington Post”-ABC News poll asked of Iowa voters, “Who is the most honest and trustworthy.”  Asked of all voters in that state.  Barack Obama, 30 percent; Hillary Clinton, 15.  He beats her by 100 percent. 

Here is an even more interesting poll.  The same question asked just of women, “Who is most honest and trustworthy.”  Barack Obama, 38; Hillary, 18.  An additional five points. 

In other words, women trust Hillary even less than men do, at least according to this poll.  And yet they‘re the backbone of her support. 

What do you make of these numbers? 

STODDARD:  There‘s a lot of concern for Hillary Clinton in this poll.  The fact that he‘s making inroads with women and the fact that he‘s making inroads with older voters is really trouble for Hillary Clinton. 

She‘s known all year that Iowa—if she can win Iowa, that the game is over and she‘ll enter the general looking even more invincible and inevitable.  If she loses Iowa, it‘s not that she can‘t become the nominee, but it makes it much harder for her.  And that greatest liability of hers, the fact that she—that voters still suspect that she calibrates and calculates her positions and answers come from politics and not from principles, is something that Obama has been able to stoke ever since the debate in Philly to his advantage.  And the problem remains that there‘s all these undecided voters in Iowa that have known Hillary Clinton all year long, and I wonder, are they going to change their mind and be in her camp now? 

CARLSON:  You‘ve got to wonder that.  And you‘ve got to also wonder if this isn‘t really the sleeper issue of the campaign. 

Peter, remember election night 2006, when the exit polls came back and we learned that the issue that was more important even than war in Iraq was corruption, public integrity, the feeling that the government is crooked?  You‘ve got to think that questions of integrity, who is more honest and straightforward, really, really matter.  And if Obama is doing twice as well as Hillary, that‘s very bad for her.  Is it not? 

FENN:  Look, Tucker, those—those questions of integrity, honesty are critical for campaigns like this.  I think the internals right now are shaky for her.  I think she‘s got to prove to people in Iowa in a very short time that she can be trusted, not only is she experienced and tough. 

I think the problem right now is that this is very fluid.  And I—you know, the conventional wisdom on this thing I think may be a little off.  In other words, right now, if New Hampshire goes on the 8th, five days after Iowa...

CARLSON:  Right?

FENN:  ... she loses Iowa, you‘ve got Independent voters there who are going to come to the polls, I think she could be in trouble in New Hampshire if she loses Iowa. 

CARLSON:  I agree with you. 

FENN:  So I think this whole thing is so wide open and so fluid, I felt that way for a long time.  The electability factor though is going to be very interesting as folks begin to go into those caucuses.  They want to win.  Who is it that they think has the best chance of winning?  And that may come up to the top in the list of things... 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I have not agreed with you.  I‘ve thought that this race was not wide open, I thought it was essentially a coronation.  My mind is changing.  I hope we‘re both right on that. 

We‘ll be right back.

A former White House secretary is now naming names in the CIA  leak case.  Among those names, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, George W. Bush himself.  We‘ll assess the shock value of the shocking new details from his book. 

That‘s coming up. 

Plus, Al Gore has the whole country going green, but a piece in today‘s “Wall Street Journal” warns Mr. Gore against banking too much on the green movement. 

Who should get rich saving the world, anyone?  And if so, how rich? 

We‘ll tell you. 

You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back from Reno.

A former White House press secretary is telling the whole truth today, or appears to be anyway.  In his soon-to-be-released memoir, Scott McClellan accuses President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney of intentionally misleading him into giving the press false information about the CIA leak case.  Not surprisingly, in implicating his former bosses, McClellan also absolves himself of all blame.

Joining me now is the man who broke the story first, The Politico‘s Mike Allen.

Mike, welcome.

MIKE ALLEN, THE POLITICO:  Well, hello, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Mike, I am—if you—if you bet me—you know, who would be the last person in the Bush White House ever to say something critical about the president, I would guess Scott McClellan.

Were you stunned when you first got this information?

ALLEN:  Well, Tucker, you‘re right, Scott McClellan has always been a real bomb thrower, a naysayer, off message, off the reservation.  You‘re right, this is—this is an unlikely source of this type of information. 

But I love his title.  He has one of the best titles ever—“What happened?”  Now if the book answers that, it will be the best book ever. 

Scott, as you know, felt that he was lied to by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, or at least misled, and that they let him, as your viewers know, go out there day after day, and we‘re seeing it right there, in turn pass along incorrect information.  So Scott‘s been hurt by that, and he‘s writing a book that has a mixed message about the White House. 

I talked to Scotty about this a few months ago.  He said that he was going to write about where things went right and where things, as he put it, went a little bit off track. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s—let me just for our viewers who haven‘t been keeping up with this, let me put up an excerpt from the book.  I think it may be only one we have so far.  This is an excerpt from Scott McClellan‘s new book, and I‘m quoting.

“The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  So I stood at the White House podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the most senior aides in the White House, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.  There was one problem.  It was not true.”

“I had unknowingly passed along false information.  And five of the highest ranking officials of the administration were involved in my doing so—Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president‘s chief of staff, and the president himself.”

Mike, two questions.  What exactly does this mean?  What was the false information, and what does it mean that the president was involved in passing it on? 

ALLEN:  Yes, well, Tucker, that involved is quite a “weasel” word, Clintonian, if you will.  I think there‘s probably a lot less there than meets the eye. 

Scott is standing by the statement that he made on “Larry King Live” after Scooter Libby was convicted, which was at the time the president did not know about the aides‘ involvement.  So I think what he‘ll probably say is something like the president created an environment where this could go wrong. 

On the other hand, with the president‘s top aides, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, Scott does feel that they gave him incorrect information. 

And not only that, but called his own competence and integrity in question

by letting him go out there day after day. 

It‘s clear that Scott still has affection for the president.  As you‘ll recall, when Scott resigned last year, they were on the south lawn, embraced, had a tearful goodbye.  The president said he looked forward to the time when they‘re both back in Texas in rocking chairs talking about the good old days.  Now, I would say that after this book comes out they will have quite a spicier conversation. 

CARLSON:  Yes, or no conversation at all given the way that the president deals with people he perceives as disloyal. 

Why write this book, I wonder, if you‘re Scott McClellan? 

ALLEN:  Well, if it answers the question what happened, it obviously

will be very valuable.  And if you‘re former White House press secretary,

what do you do?  You write a book, of course.  And

the publisher has been very anxious that this be a tell some, you might say, clearly not a tell all.  And this little spicy, juicy excerpt is out there to get people to order the book.  So there are commercial considerations here. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ALLEN:  But I know from talking to Scott that he feels very passionately about what he‘s writing.  He‘s still working on the book.  It‘s not done.  It will be out in April. 

CARLSON:  I remember talking to Bush when he was governor of Texas, and he was going on about how unhappy he was watching his father‘s staff when his father was president, and they all seemed to be out for their own interests.  And he said, when I become president my staff is going to work for me.  They‘re not going to be out there freelancing to their own aggrandizement.

And that was kind of the model for the first term for Bush.  But now no one is loyal anymore, or is that an over statement? 

ALLEN:  No, Tucker, that‘s a fascinating and very relevant recollection that is fascinating.  And I think you‘ll agree with me, like it‘s lasted for people who are on the inside.  Now that some of the people have left, we‘re hearing a little more.  But this is still someone who in the end is going to be seen as a defender of George Bush, but I think he definitely will sell a few pages or at least get a few television interviews by spelling all this out. 

And this is one of the sort of, like, unknown chapters.  Like, what exactly was said to whom?  And I think that he will give us some insight into what they did or didn‘t tell the president.  That‘s something we know nothing about.  If the book answers that question, it will be well worth the price. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.  And I—absolutely, I can‘t wait to read it. 

And finally, Mike, just to absolutely nail this down, when he says he passed along unknowingly false information, do we know specifically what that information was? 

ALLEN:  Oh, sure we do, Tucker.  As you know, he allowed reporters to conclude that there was no involvement by these aides in the name of Valerie Plame getting out. 

Now, you can parse whether they were the source of the original leak or you can source—you can parse what they meant by “source.”  But the fact is they were clearly involved, as it showed in testimony, and they gave him incorrect information.  He repeated it day after day, and he frankly looked foolish when the real story came out. 

CARLSON:  All right.  The great Mike Allen from The Politico.

Thanks a lot, Mike. 

ALLEN:  Have a great trip, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Thanks. 

New reports indicate the war in Iraq appears to be taking a turn for the better.  Violence is down in Baghdad and across that country.  Will the good news on Iraq pay dividends to the Republicans now campaigning for president?  Will it hurt the Democrats?

Plus, are Fred Thompson‘s own turning on him?  Several House Republicans who came out backing him now they say they regret doing that. 

Why?  We‘ll tell you just ahead. 

This is MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Christmas may have come a little early this year for the Republicans.  The military says the streets of Baghdad are safer than they have been in a long time and the press corps appears to agree, to some extent anyway.  The front page of today‘s “New York Times” has photographs of residents moving freely around that city. 

Is the good news out of Iraq for real?  And what does it mean for the ‘08 elections? 

Here again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. 

Welcome back to you both. 

Peter, I don‘t think this is great news for the Republicans.  I don‘t imagine you‘re going to see lot of theme running on the wisdom of the invasion in the first place.  Most people think it was a bad idea, and I believe they‘re right. 

However, the Democrats, their whole rationale, their reason for being, has been the war is bad, we must withdraw now.  Harder to make that case now in the face of this news, isn‘t it? 

FENN:  Well, I think, look, first of all, everybody wants to see stability in Iraq.  They want to see fewer deaths.  They want to see the political situation get a lot better, which the generals say, boy, they haven‘t done a darn thing with the political situation, Maliki and his crowd. 

But look, the Democrats have to be careful here, Tucker, because they have to say, boy, if something‘s working, great, let‘s go, let‘s see what we can get working.  But, I think the bottom line of this is right now, this is 80 percent political, 20 percent military.  We‘ve got to solve our political problem. 

And the other thing is, that because things calm down and you have some people moving back into their homes 20,000, 25,000, there are four million people who have left their homes in that—in that country. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  Well, it‘s a bad place.  I‘m not saying that I would -

you know, I‘m going to spend my summer there.  I‘m merely saying, if it‘s improving, shouldn‘t we admit it? 

And A.B., I wonder if congressional Democrats are intellectually nimble enough to switch gears.  They‘ve spent years berating Bush for this war and describing Iraq as living hell.  Now we have evidence that it‘s still bad but not as bad. 

Are they even capable constitutionally of admitting that?  That we‘ve made some progress and that‘s good?  Do you think they‘re capable of doing that? 

STODDARD:  Well, I hope that they will admit it.  And I—there are, you know, people in their districts, all of them, I‘m sure, serving us in Iraq.  And I‘m sure that they‘re pleased with progress and stability at some level.  When the Democrats say there has still not been, as Peter mentioned, a political progress, and that maybe even one death a month is too much for us to be holding up country that can‘t be stabilized long term, that it‘s not worth our military surge there, you can‘t really say that they‘re wrong. 

That said, I think there is sort of—you know, there‘s anti-war and then there‘s a bunch of Independents, Republicans and Democrats who were disappointed by how the war turned out, thought maybe the invasion was mistake.  And they helped Democrats gain power last fall. 

I think those people, those Americans, are saying, I‘m pleased to see something good happening there.  And so that actually can have a huge difference next year at the polls. 

CARLSON:  Yes.

FENN:  And the other...

CARLSON:  Peter, I mean—wait, but your point about the political situation being poor and there not being much hope for political solution, I would agree with that.  I wonder, though, after all these years in Iraq, if we haven‘t adjusted our expectations down.  And we‘ve come to a greater understanding of what‘s possible and what isn‘t, and we sort of know as a country the Iraqis are never going to have a self-sustaining government. 

FENN:  Right.

CARLSON:  You know?  They‘re not really capable of it.  So we don‘t really care as much, do we? 

FENN:  Look, look, I mean, we‘re not waiting for George Washington there. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

FENN:  There‘s no question about that.  But here‘s my—here‘s the point.  This gives the Bush administration a chance to move on the political front. 

And what the generals were saying just this last week was they are not moving on the political front.  They‘re not doing what they should do.  So some Democrats are arguing, you have got to send a message. 

Now that things are getting better, you say to them, folks, we‘re moving.  We‘re not staying here forever.  We have a plan for withdrawal.  We have given $800 billion so far and counting fast, and 35,000 people have been injured or killed in this war.  And it‘s your...

CARLSON:  But wait a second.  Don‘t you have to concede this one small point—not that the invasion was a good idea—I will never concede that because I don‘t believe it was.  But you‘ve got to concede Bush was right about the surge.  He said this will bring order to Baghdad, and it has. 

FENN:  Well, here‘s what I would say—I would have said the time—when we were all talking, we thought a year and a half ago he was going to be withdrawing troops.  He never did it. 

I will say—and I would have wished that he had done that.  But in the context of stabilizing certain areas of the country, the surge is working.  And Democrats have to accept that and use—I think we need to use that to take the next step.  That‘s my point.  Not argue about, it didn‘t work, it didn‘t work.  The point now is, let‘s move.  Let‘s show...

CARLSON:  You really think, A.B.—do you think the argument can be, as Peter suggests, from Democrats that Bush was right about the surge, things are better, let‘s split? 

STODDARD:  No, no.  I don‘t think they can make that argument. 

FENN:  Split...

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  I think that the—I think those who have pushed for a  sustained military—a sustained and expanded military presence, arguing that that would improve security, I think those people have been exonerated this year.  I think that the situation on the ground shifted so radically between when we all said the Republican Party was going to belly up in the spring by the time the Petraeus report came out, and then the Petraeus report came out and all of a sudden we‘re finding al Qaeda in Iraq and doing so successfully in some areas, that we never thought—that we thought were totally lost.

We see, you know, an Iranian problem there that is very vexing, the changes from week to week, month to month.  It doesn‘t—I mean, it doesn‘t—I don‘t think that the Democrats can say this is a reason, because the surge has worked, that we can now say you must succeed politically in your government or we‘re out of there, we can‘t occupy you any longer. 

CARLSON:  Right.

STODDARD:  I mean, I think that—I think to some extent, the Bush argument about the surge is...

FENN:  But A.B., when...

STODDARD:  I think he‘s been exonerated to an extent.  Not absolutely. 

CARLSON:  OK.

STODDARD:  Again, I want to suppress what Peter said.  When you—when the Democrats say there‘s been no political progress made, how can we stay there forever dying for something that won‘t happen, you can‘t say that they‘re wrong.  But I don‘t think they can argue for a withdrawal right now. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  All right.  We‘re going to have to—I think we‘re on the cusp of solving this, but sadly commerce intervenes.

We‘re going to take a commercial break.  We will be back. 

Flashback to the 1990s, that‘s what Hillary Clinton‘s latest television ad feels like.  Does she really think playing the victim will work?  It may.  We‘ll let you decide when you see it.  That‘s next. 

Plus, John McCain is a pro-life straight-shooting war hero with the endorsement of the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.  So why is Rudy Giuliani beating him in the polls in his own state? 

We‘ll be back with that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)  

CARLSON:  Still to come, first it was the boys who were being mean to her now it‘s the Republican attack machine that‘s persecuting Hillary Clinton.  What she hoping to achieve by playing the sympathy card yet again, we‘ll tell you in just a minute.  But first, here is a look at your headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here they go again.  The same old Republican attack machine is back.  Why?  Maybe it‘s because they know that there‘s one candidate with the strength and experience to get us out of Iraq.  One candidate who will end tax give-aways for the big corporations.  One candidate admitted to cutting the huge Republican deficit.  And one candidate who will put government back to work for the middle class.  The strength to fight, the experience to lead.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Hillary Clinton‘s latest television campaign ad.  A New Hampshire newspaper calls it negative.  More than negative though, the ad reminds of Mrs. Clinton‘s of 1990s claim of a vast right wing conspiracy.  The question is what Hillary Clinton stands to gain by claiming that the Republicans are out to get her once again.  Back with their theories associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and the Democratic strategist, all around good guy Peter Fenn.  Welcome back.

A.B., here is what Chris Dodd, one of my favorite Democrats running for president, has to say about that ad.  It really gets I think to the core of what‘s wrong with the Hillary Clinton idea.  Here‘s what he said, quote, “It‘s an interesting admission from Senator Clinton, that if she‘s elected we‘re headed for four more years of the partisan warfare.  Washington dysfunction, bitter divisiveness and gridlock that have marked the last 15 years.  At a time, when all Americans are desperate for real solutions to real problems.”

You know, that kind of sums it up right there.  That America at this point, I think all people, right, left, center, recognizes ready for a turn of the page.  Maybe not ready for a continuation of the same nasty stalemate that we‘ve had since 1992.  That really is the core argument against Hillary Clinton, don‘t you think?

STODDARD:  Well, I think there‘s a few.  But, obviously with the ad she‘s attempting to say Republicans are scared of me because I‘m so strong a candidate.  But what she ends up saying is, I‘m scary.  And I think that she would be—she would be much better served right now.  She‘s loves to play the general election campaign thing while doing the primary.  I think she‘d be better served right now, particularly in a situation in Iowa.  If she cut a commercial saying this is how I‘ve worked with Republicans.  You might be surprised to learn that I worked with this Republican and that Republican and spend it on this and that.

I can build bridges and I can get stuff done.  That‘s why I‘m the most electable candidate.  And I think that, when you look at someone like John McCain who is actually flattering Hillary Clinton this week and you look at Hillary Clinton who is, you know, always coming up with the vast male conspiracy or vast Republican and you wonder is this really a winning strategy.

CARLSON:  I think that‘s exactly right, Peter.  And I also think that there‘s something, well of course, there is something unseemly about playing the victim and whining the people are out to get you and are being mean to you.  But it also cuts against her main strength which is strength.  Hillary Clinton wins when she seems like a tough Margaret Thatcher-like person.  She doesn‘t seem strong when she is complaining about being a victim.

FENN:  Well, first of all that is a meat and potatoes ad, Tucker.  The first part is red meat.  And it is about Republicans and the fact of course in the last debate that they went after her 29 times and that she‘s been the poster child for the Republicans.  So, you‘re talking about Democratic primary.  So, the strategy of going back at the Republicans, which I have been hoping to be honest with you, that all of candidates would do more of on the Democratic debate field.

But the second part of the ad of course is more the potatoes ad and that is not a part of it which is here is what she‘s going to do.  And you know, it is true, that she has cosponsored legislation with 35 folks who voted for her husband‘s impeachment.  But you know, in the context of a Democratic primary, you know why I hit back hard, go want to after those Republicans, and beat the candidate that can beat the Republicans.  When you get elected you work with them.  But I think the Democratic primary voters don‘t want to hear that.  They want to hear that you‘re going to take them on.

CARLSON:  But wait a second, think this through a little bit.  Hillary Clinton, the rationale for Hillary is the idea she can win.  She has the establishment behind her, every Democrat you‘ve ever heard of in Washington has already signed on with her.  She‘s the candidate elect.  She‘s been coronated already.  So, as soon as she starts to complain about how people are being mean to her, it makes it seems like there‘s really a race on.  Wouldn‘t it be better to rise above all of that and just say, in my administration I‘ll be better.

FENN:  Let me just—let me just, I wrote a column for “The Politico” for next week.  A little longer than my usual blogs for the “The Hill.”

STODDARD:  Oh, Peter Fenn, I‘m very disappointed.  I‘m sorry, what can I tell you?  I know you‘re upset.  It‘s all ghettos like a dealt.

FENN:  And my point there, the Democrats have backbone.  And you know, obviously it‘s backbone on issues but it‘s also backbone to stand up to the Republicans.  They have been tougher on their campaigns to me at start.  We lost in 2000, 2004.  We got to be tough for them.  And that‘s you know, I think it might be Obama (CROSSTALK).

CARLSON:  Well see, I disagree with that completely on Hillary side.  I mean, A.B., she‘s got this op ad out.  Hillary Clinton which she says I will fight for you, I‘m a fighter, et cetera, et cetera.  There a lot of good things you could say about Hillary Clinton.  I think she‘s an impressive person in many ways.  There‘s no evidence she‘s a fighter at all.  She‘s not taking the stand on - no, I‘m not being mean, I‘m being serious.  She is a triangulator.  She is the candidate of compromise.  She‘s the candidate who defends lobbyist in public.  She‘s not an ideologue at least in this round.  She‘s not a fighter.  She‘s a compromiser.  She‘s a conciliator.

STODDARD:  I want to make the point, actually, in fact to Peter‘s point.  The reason I said she should go out for this—not I‘m a uniter, but I get things done tact is because she‘s weak in Iowa, where Obama is convincing undecided, that he‘s not toxic, that he doesn‘t rile people up and that he is a conciliator and therefore, he gets things done.

That‘s what she should be battling right now, is that she‘s drawing that contrast.  She shouldn‘t be whining.  And she shouldn‘t be—and by the way, Peter Fenn, I‘m glad you wrote something in “The Politico” about asking Democrats to have (INAUDIBLE), it‘s very awarding of you.  If you listen to John Edwards and all the debate, he mentions Bush, Cheney, and the Neocons ten times a minute.  So, he‘s fighting the Republican party all the way.

FENN:  Let me add by agreeing—let me agree with A.B. at one thing, Tucker.  We‘re taking over your show, Tucker, by the way.

CARLSON:  Go ahead.

FENN:  Here‘s where I do agree.  That if you are going to get change to happen, you got to make some of these arguments.  I agree with you on that idea and that stuff.  And one of the things that I think Hillary has been trying to—Obama has done very well, where obviously Edwards has done this portion, all the candidates are and Democratic side is change, change, change.  Because, they know that that‘s what this election is about.

CARLSON:  So, what do you make of this new poll, Peter, that shows Hillary Clinton losing in the state of Florida to Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani.  Fred Thompson beating in theoretical match up in the state of Florida.

FENN:  I‘ll tell you.  If I can get Fred Thompson, I have real trouble with.  But anyway, I think he‘s gone off the radar and even in New Hampshire.  But Florida, Tucker, to be perfectly honest is a very tough state right now for the Democrats.  We‘ve been slipping badly there.  In looks tough.  I‘m not saying it‘s off the radar but it‘s going to take something to win Florida in the next election.

CARLSON:  Interesting.  What do you think of this, A.B., there was an interesting piece today, a survey done mostly anonymously of Fred Thompson backers in the Congress.  And number of them were quoted, again, not by name, saying how disappointed they are with the campaign.  Here are some of the quotes.  “I think he‘s kind of done a belly flop, said one.  When he seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it, says another.  There‘s bad perceptions of him, quote, “I‘ve kind of pulled back.  I‘m not supporting him—I‘m not not supporting him but I‘m not doing anything said a third.  Boy, that‘s from congressional quarterly.

I mean, I don‘t really know what to say to that other than guys who come out and endorsed you or saying that about you.  It‘s hard to imagine a worse scenario.  Really.

STODDARD:  You know, I wrote about Fred Thompson last week, and I tried to give him credit for, the fact that he‘s put out some policy proposals that are bold and that his other field mates are not working on thorny problems like social security and expansion of the military and other things.  I think that Jerry Thompson, his wife, made the case on your air with an interview with Kelly O‘Donnell in recent days.

Making the case that just because Fred Thompson doesn‘t jump up and down on stage, the way the average presidential contender does, doesn‘t mean that he‘s not the kind of president that people want sitting across the negotiating table, that doesn‘t care about all of the concerns of the average voter because he does and he‘s not a light weight, he‘s had long career, et cetera.  And I think actually that that‘s a good point about Fred Thompson.

The problem is, that though we watch this with amazement, this whole process that we think, you know, all the front runners are power hungry, and everything else.  There is a certain kind of leadership in just wanting the job.  The job is very hard, it‘s very thankless.  And you have—there‘s something about John McCain not sleeping and like running all around to trying to do this again.  And I‘m serious.  And it shows leadership when you try to answer every question, to be up on every important matter and when you don‘t look like you‘re trying, it disappoints your supporters and it makes them feel that you don‘t want it.

CARLSON:  Yes, I agree with that completely.  Let me ask you, Peter, I want your very quick take on new piece out about Al Gore‘s life after the White House which describes how much money he might be making on his new crusade to save the earth.  And here‘s my one contention here.  If you are approaching global warming as a moral issue, as he is, and you are trying to improve, save the planet from itself, save humanity from itself, you shouldn‘t be getting rich doing it.  It‘s almost like a televangelist getting rich on the donations of the faith.

FENN:  First of all.

CARLSON:  I‘m serious.

FENN:  First of all, he‘s going to donate his salary to charity.  But the other thing about this is, look, I mean, I haven‘t looked at his 1040 form but my sense of it is Al Gore and Tipper Gore have more money than they can ever spend, that they can ever use.  He‘s done very well in the private sector for the last eight years.  He‘s doing just fine.  You know, he is charitable donations, I‘m sure will exceed the Bushes and Cheneys, no question.

CARLSON:  All right.  John McCain‘s campaign troubles don‘t add up when you think about it he‘s authentic or appears to be.  He‘s always opposed abortion which is key in the Republic primaries.  He‘s got a lot of conservative endorsement and he just got a nod from the 9/11 commission co-chairman.  Why doesn‘t all of that translate to a lot more money and much better poll numbers?  We‘ll tell you in a minute.  We‘ll guess anyway.  And it wouldn‘t be Thanksgiving without a presidential pardon.  No scooters here just two lucky birds.  So, where are they heading with the new found freedom?  Bill Wolff reveals that and so much more when MSNBC comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  John McCain‘s presidential campaign continues to struggle despite his conservative bona fides and some notable endorsements.  According to the latest poll, he‘s not even winning his home state.  He is a straight talk express out of gas?

Back with us again, associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.  We planned to have former governor of New Jersey, Tom Cane, senior on who is of course the former co-chairman of the 9/11 commission.  He has endorsed John McCain.  We have some satellite problems.  But A.B. Stoddard, his endorsement, he follows the endorsements of so many other fixtures not just in Washington but in American life.  A lot of—a lot of big time people have endorsed John McCain impressive people and not one of those endorsements appears to have made much of a difference, why is that?

STODDARD:  I mean, you know, whenever we have this discussion, it always comes back to the fact that the real conservative grass roots, the real base of the party is still mad at him for seven years ago.  They didn‘t like that he spoke agents of intolerance and bashed social conservative leaders and Christian leaders.  And then he didn‘t beg for their vote.

CARLSON:  Let me just.

STODDARD:  There‘s some—I wanted to add something.  There‘s also some policy matters they disagree with him on.  And you can interrupt, but I think that this is old wounds that haven‘t healed.

CARLSON:  OK.  Let me just come back to the question a little more refined.  You‘ve got a war going on in Iraq.  You have this broader war on terror, whatever that is, we know it‘s scary in any case.  You‘ve got a bunch of candidates running for the Republican nomination.  Almost, none of whom have any foreign policy experience.  You have, John McCain who has the endorsement of four, four former secretaries of state.  Four have endorsed the guy.  It‘s unbelievable that a co-chairman of the 9/11 commission.  And none of that seems makes any difference?  People really don‘t care (CROSSTALK)?

STODDARD:  And right now, he was like right on Iraq.  I mean, to a large extent this year.  You know, the lonely man, the only one who was the poster child for the war last January.  I think that seriously there‘s still a chance for him because the field is wide open, because Giuliani‘s support is so soft in the early states.  He could get toppled.  Lots of things could happen.  Obviously a terrorist incident would help John McCain.  I mean, there‘s a way in which he rises again.

But I seriously think that with all these endorsements, with all his bona-fides, with this long legislative record, a war hero, you know, I just don‘t think that—I think that the real reason is bad feelings that people—want of him.  I don‘t think they‘re saying he‘s too old.  I think that people don‘t like John McCain.  They decided if they liked him in New Hampshire the first time, then he sold out and he answered too much for Bush.  But it‘s a dislike problem that he can‘t over come.

CARLSON:  I think you‘re right.  But it also, again, I think, Peter, speaks to this broader issue that nobody wants to say it loud, because nobody wants to be seen slamming the American people.  But the truth is, the public doesn‘t follow what happened beyond our borders and doesn‘t really care that much.  I don‘t see any other way to read that.

FENN:  Well, you know, the other thing that‘s happened with McCain is, the McCain-Fine Gold Bill, the conservatives don‘t like.  The activists don‘t like.  The Campaign Finance Reform.  They don‘t like his position on immigration at all.  They‘re furious about that.  But you know, he is an interesting guy in the sense that people say, but you know, he gets up, he says what he believes.  You know, he went after Rumsfeld during the war period.  Which is a tough thing for—he‘s a maverick.  I mean, he‘s always been a maverick.

The question for him right now politically is, he looks like he‘s abandoning Iowa after going in a lot of days.  I‘m not sure it‘s smart.  I think if he could just, you know, win play place or show in Iowa.  Then he can—but he has no money.  I can‘t add to your ads and so therefore, he‘s got to pull all his marbles into New Hampshire and that‘s really a tough state to put your marbles into.

CARLSON:  I agree with.  Peter Fenn, A.B. Stoddard, thanks you both very much.

FENN:  OK, thanks.

CARLSON:  Coming up, mild mannered Mike Huckabee has turned to physical intimidation.  First, it was Chuck Norris.  Stick around to find out which legend of the ring joined the Huckabee campaign.  Nature boy‘s Bill Wolff has details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Time for that part of the show when the vice president of MSNBC himself drops everything he‘s doing and steps before the camera, ladies and gentlemen, Bill Wolff.

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  I drop it all for you.  Tucker, how‘s things in Washoe county?

CARLSON:  Honestly, they could not be better.  On the road with Ron Paul in Reno.  The biggest little city in the world.  Last I checked.  Reno, Reno, twice as friendly.  Great town on the banks of the Truckee River.

WOLFF:  Tucker with 15 months left in this term, President Bush got a head start on the last minute pardons today by granting clemency to two Turkeys, at the white house.  The bird‘s names are May and Flower, get it.  And they were accused of containing trip to fame.  An agent that induces sleep and could on the wrong fork.  Both a national security threat.  May and Flower not only escape the death penalty, their clemency includes a publicly funded trip to Disneyworld where they will spend the rest of their days as free birds.

It‘s not clear what if any political fall out will come of these pardons when reached for comment, Congressman Dennis Kucinich decried the turkeys are originally in incarceration on the basis that he is a vegan.  No comment on this pardon from Scott McClellan.

CARLSON:  Dennis Kucinich a man who has killed a lot of bean curds.

WOLFF:  Yes, he has.  And plenty of green leafy vegetables that have never walked among us, Tucker.

CARLSON:  By the way, those turkeys still isn‘t going to live long.  They fatten up Turkey‘s so much that they wind up croaking anyway.  Sad story.

WOLFF:  Yes, it‘s bad for their livers.  They get enormous.

CARLSON:  Why were there two?  There‘s a back-up turkey at the White House?  Do we really need that?

WOLFF:  Well, you can‘t enjoy clemency by yourself.

CARLSON:  I wouldn‘t know, thank God.

WOLFF:  Tucker for most people marrying a former beauty queen is like winning the lottery.  For a man named Arny Ramdass (ph) from South Florida winning the lottery like winning the lottery and it‘s better than being married to former beauty queen like his wife, Donna Campbell.  Ramdass was part of a group lotto ticket buy that resulted in a $19 million haul.  But, rather than disclose his $600,000 pretax dollars prize to his wife, Ramdass wouldn‘t let her watch TV, and had his phone disconnected so she wouldn‘t find out he had the dough.

Then, the couple received notice in the mail congratulating them on the new house he just bought.  It is believed that Ramdass said something like, uh, err, ah, I was going to tell you about that honey—and then he split.  Campbell is suing Ramdass for her half of the dough, predictably Ramdass is on the lamb trying to find someone who will cash a $600 check from the state of Florida without asking questions, Tucker.

CARLSON:  See this is why I don‘t like the government, Bill.  The government claims you—the government, they claim you win $19 million in the lottery.  You get only $600,000.  And they take another 200,000 in taxes then your wife takes half.  $19 million turns into 200,000 grand which you can blow on one car in South Florida.  When the mafia ran the lotto, you got all the money, no questions asked.  That‘s the difference.

WOLFF:  One of the things I love about you, and I say it when you‘re not around.  Give that man any story and he will turn it into an outrage against the government.

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

WOLFF:  You‘re mad at the government.  God bless you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Yes.  Talk to the hand.

WOLFF:  All right, this week‘s spate of upsetting Santa Claus video continues.  Yesterday Santa‘s beard got caught in his rappelling rope.  Today, Santa is under water.  There he is.  Submerged with one of his legendary elves breathing easily.  Fingers presumably priming, including a global warming activist plan to use this video as further evidence of the melting polar ice cap but they called it off when they learned that this is Plano, Texas.  What remains alarming, the home entry implication, Santa uses the chimney when he flies into the reindeer-powered sleigh.  How did he get into your house when he‘s coming up from under water?  Think about it.

CARLSON:  No.

WOLFF:  Yes.  Thank you very much.  Kind of disgusting.  I got to go quickly for some red meat politics to close this hour.  Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Tucker, has the most powerful endorsement from inside the squared circle pro-wrestling legend Rick Flare.  Yes, the nature boy, has endorsed Mike Huckabee.  Reached for comment, flare said, Huckabee for president, Whoo!  The original announcement will Saturday before the Clemson South Carolina Football Game and you surely know Rick Flare, the master of the figure four leg log a submission hold.  So, vote for Mike Huckabee or you‘re going to get it from somebody bigger and meaner than you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Wow.  Rick Flare and Chuck Norris, that‘s a campaign to beat.

WOLFF:  I‘m not saying I‘m not going to vote for him.

CARLSON:  I dare you, from 30 rock.  Thanks, Bill.

That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  See you back here tomorrow night from Washington.  In the meantime, here‘s Chris with “Hardball.”  Have a great night.

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

END   

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