updated 1/11/2008 11:15:43 AM ET 2008-01-11T16:15:43

Guests: Rep. Paul Hodes, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Rick Stengel, Clarence Page, Pat Toomey, Tony Perkins, Margaret Carlson, Ron Brownstein, Hillary Clinton

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The battle for the hearts and minds of the Democratic Party.  Will it be Hillary or Obama?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  Two major news stories tonight on the Democratic side of the presidential election.  This morning, Senator John Kerry, the party‘s last nominee, came out and endorsed Barack Obama for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Barack Obama can be, will be, and should be the next president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And Governor Bill Richardson, Democratic candidate for president, announced today he is dropping out of the race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D-NM), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Now it really gets interesting because both races are wide open.  Look at the Democrats.  Obama won Iowa.  Clinton took New Hampshire.  It‘s a battle for the future of the Democratic Party.  Hillary‘s the traditional party candidate, Obama is the candidate pushing for change.

On the Republican side, Christian conservatives helped Mike Huckabee win the Iowa caucuses.  Traditional and independent Republicans made John McCain the victor up in New Hampshire.  The battle inside the GOP—do they want to feel good with the old-time religion of Huckabee, or do they want to nominate John McCain, who just might have a better chance of winning in the general election?  We‘ll get all sides of these arguments from both sides of the aisle later in the show.  And Rudy Giuliani, if you‘re watching, you might want to stay tuned because our “Big Number” tonight is all about you.

But we begin with the culture clash within the Democratic Party.  U.S.  Congressman Paul Hodes is the national co-chairman of the Obama campaign, and New York congressman Joe Crowley—Joseph Crowley—supports Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Let me start with Congressman Hodes.  You know, the inimitable Karl Rove, no friend of the Democratic Party, said in “The Wall Street Journal” today that the battle between Obama and Hillary is a battle between the wine drinkers—and I think he meant chablis—and the beer drinkers, beer drinkers being for Hillary.  How do you accept that or not?

REP. PAUL HODES (D-NH), OBAMA NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR:  Well, I don‘t know what they‘re drinking.  Karl‘s been drinking Kool-Aid, frankly.  Look, Chris, the Democratic Party has always been about change and moving forward, and Obama is capitalizing on this extraordinary feeling for change.  It started with Dean in 2004.  It went right through the congressional elections in 2006.  And he‘s the guy who‘s talking about pulling everybody together in the Democratic Party and beyond to make a new majority to lead this country.  He‘s fired up and ready to go.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did people vote for Hillary in New Hampshire?

HODES:  Well, listen, the real story here is, three weeks ago, Obama was 20 points down.  On Thursday before the election, he was 7 points down.  We knew this was going to be tough.  He‘s battled to a win in Iowa, a near win in New Hampshire, endorsed by John Kerry today.  He‘s got the support of unions coming in in Nevada.  He‘s on a roll and ready to go.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Crowley, what do you make of the fact that there‘s an arguable class difference people between the people that like Hillary—the labor people, the interest group people, and the ethnic crowds, you might say, that get bused in by Tommy Menino and others up to New Hampshire—and the more college crowd over on the other side with Barack Obama?

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D-NY), CLINTON SUPPORTER:  Well, I don‘t really know if that really holds.  If you look at what happened in the election in New Hampshire—and I was there.  And Paul, good to see you again.  I was on the ground in New Hampshire.  I heard...

HODES:  Nice to see you, Joe.

CROWLEY:  Thanks, Paul.  I heard those early poll numbers coming out about the record crowds that were coming out in New Hampshire, and quite frankly, I was really nervous about that.  But at the end of the day, they all ended up voting for Hillary Clinton.  She won that day.  She got a majority of those votes to come out and support her.

So what I think we can all take from New Hampshire—I think Paul would agree with this—when you combine the number of votes that Senator Clinton got and that Senator Obama got together and compare them to the majority of the votes that were garnered by the all Republicans, it was a good day for Democrats.  We‘re going to have a good election day in New Hampshire come November.

MATTHEWS:  You know, when you listen to a Hillary speech...

HODES:  Well, look...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s let the candidates speak for themselves, gentlemen.  You‘re both advocating for them, but let‘s listen to, first of all—let‘s listen to Hillary Clinton, who has a particular kind of approach.  It‘s very particular.  She talks about particular challenges and enemies of the Democratic Party, if you will, and how to address them.  Here she is up in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:   The oil companies, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the predatory student loan companies have had seven years of a president who stands up for them.  It‘s time we had a president who stands up for all of you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I intend—I intend to be that president, to be a president who puts you first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Congressman Crowley, that could be a speech given at almost any Democratic state convention I‘ve ever heard from.  It‘s about interest groups.  It‘s about particular causes, particular animosities Democrats fight against year after year after year.  Isn‘t she a traditional Democratic candidate for office?

CROWLEY:  Well, I think what she said during that campaign—and you heard it, we all heard it.  She found her voice in New Hampshire.  And I think we‘re grateful to New Hampshire, as well, certainly not only for the victory, but I think for allowing Senator Clinton to evolve in terms of finding herself.  And she certainly has done it in this election.  She said it there.

I was there that evening when she gave that speech.  I have to say, next to my own first election to the New York state assembly back in ‘86, it was the most exhilarating night of my political career.  She‘s saying that, you know, she‘s going to take on the special interests.  She‘s (INAUDIBLE) before.  People say they‘re suspect of that.  She‘s clear, when she‘s elected to president, she‘s taking on the special interests.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Senator Obama speaking also up in New Hampshire on primary night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But the reason our campaign has always been different, the reason we began this improbable journey almost a year ago, is because it‘s not just about what I will do as president, it is also about what you, the people who love this country, the citizens of the United States of America, can do to change it.  That‘s what this election is all about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, if you listen to the pronouns there, they‘re very different.  Hillary says, I will fight for you.  Obama says, No, you‘re going to be doing the fighting.  You‘re going to take over this government.  Congressman Hodes, distinguish the two candidates, from your perspective.

HODES:  Sure.  I think Hillary Clinton has what I sometimes call Democrats disease, a litany of issues and then something to fight against.  Barack Obama‘s on a different track.  He‘s talking about bringing lots of people in with a message of hope and positive change that gives people something to vote for, instead of voting against something.  And I think that is a fundamental difference.  That‘s why Barack Obama has such extraordinary momentum between them.

And you know, when you look at what happened in New Hampshire, if you combine Obama and Edwards, the change candidates, you see that change trumps the status quo in New Hampshire.

CROWLEY:  Well, if change trumped the status quo in New Hampshire, the outcome would have been different.  Clearly, the people in New Hampshire voted for change in electing—in electing Hillary Rodham Clinton to win this primary.

Let me just say one point.  You know, when I was at my mother‘s house last night, she said to me—my mother‘s a Reagan Democrat.  She‘s not—she‘s an old-school Democrat.  She said to me, Joe, can you take some time off next week to go with me to the car dealership so that you can help me take buy a car because, you know, they won‘t take me as seriously.  I think Senator Clinton spoke to those people this week in New Hampshire and throughout this country, and that‘s what made the difference in New Hampshire this week.

MATTHEWS:  That is so interesting.  Your response, Mr. Hodes?

HODES:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, it‘s so interesting...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... the description we‘re getting of the older Democratic woman who‘s tired of being pushed around.  She saw Hillary Clinton getting pushed around by the media, as well as other people, and they stood up as a woman, an older woman, in a society where women haven‘t gotten the breaks, especially older women.

HODES:  Well, you know, there was a slip from Iowa to New Hampshire for the women candidate.  And the Clintons are well loved by the older population in New Hampshire, and the women went in New Hampshire for Mrs.  Clinton.  They ran a—an old-fashioned, hardball campaign.  Barack Obama is there with the youth and with the independent voters because when I was out at the polls, what I was seeing, what was very interesting was the McCain guys were saying, OK, if you can‘t vote for McCain, vote for Obama.  And what that means is that there‘s a shared quality that somebody‘s looking at of authenticity, integrity and outside the establishment that‘s attracting independents, and that‘s the new coalition that we need as Democrats.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

HODES:  You know, like Will Rogers said, I don‘t belong to an organized party, I‘m a Democrat.  There are all kinds of interest groups in the Democratic Party, and what Barack Obama is doing that‘s so successful is he‘s reaching beyond the traditional base to bring in independents and Republicans with no place to go, and he‘s the guy who‘s going to unify all the interest groups of the Democratic Party and create this new coalition to govern this country.

CROWLEY:  Chris, at the end of the day—Chris, at the end of the day, Obama did not clean her clock.  She held her own with independents in New Hampshire.  She held her own with young voters in New Hampshire, as well.

HODES:  Of course he didn‘t clean her clock!  He was never going to clean her clock, Joe!

CROWLEY:  Oh.  You wouldn‘t have known that...

HODES:  He never was going to clean her clock!

CROWLEY:  Believe me, you wouldn‘t have known that where I was standing at 5:00 o‘clock in the afternoon at St. Anselm‘s College outside of Manchester.  You would never have known that.  And I put my game face on that day.

HODES:  The polls had—look—hey, Joe, look, everybody expected something because the polls and the pundits had it wrong.  What you really have to look at was the polls were all wrong because they were switching much too fast, and who knows what they were picking up.  New Hampshire voters are fiercely independent, but the real story is Obama battles to a near tie against the absolute lock.

CROWLEY:  I appreciate your spin.

HODES:  This woman was supposed to be a lock for everything.

CROWLEY:  I appreciate your spin, Paul.  I appreciate that.  You know, there‘s been a lot of spinning going on.  At the end of the...

HODES:  This isn‘t spin, it‘s what happened!

CROWLEY:  At the end of the day, she took your state—in terms of the Democratic primary, she took your state.  And I understand that.  It‘s painful, but at the end of the day, she did.  And I think she‘s going to go on and prove herself throughout the rest of this country.

MATTHEWS:  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

HODES:  ... today.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  Congressman Hodes, what do you make of Kerry making his move?  Is this an old antagonism with the Clintons?  What are we really seeing here in the inside?  Why would John Kerry, the candidate of the party, what we used to call growing up the titular head of the Democratic Party, the most recent nominee, coming out for one of the contenders in a primary fight, hugging him there?  What is this about?  Congressman Hodes first.

HODES:  Well, I think it‘s really fascinating.  I won‘t speculate on the motives.  Some of what I‘m thinking, though, is that John Kerry may be sending a signal to John Edwards, saying, It‘s time to come on board.  Obama is going to be the nominee.

John Kerry is smart.  He has a great organization.  He sees what‘s going on in the country.  He sees what‘s going on with Obama.  And it‘s fascinating that John Kerry, who was the establishment candidate in the fight against Dean, the upstart, has now turned over to Obama, who is the insurgent candidate, with Hillary Clinton as the establishment candidate.  It means a fundamental realignment in some ways of some interest inside the party.  I think it‘s fascinating and important.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Crowley, what do you make of John Kerry‘s endorsement today, rather dramatically down there in South Carolina, of Barack Obama?

CROWLEY:  I think, Chris, that it really does say a lot about the Edwards campaign, at this point.  I think they‘re probably licking their wounds more than anyone else in terms of this—clearly, he ran with him in 2004.  I think there was some expectation that at least they would stay out of the race at this point.

But in terms of overall endorsement by super-delegates, Senator Clinton has 10 U.S. senators endorsing her already.  Almost 70 members of the House of Representatives have endorsed her, including Shelley Berkley from Nevada.

MATTHEWS:  OK, who‘s going to win Nevada?  Congressman, you raised the issue.  Who‘s going to win Nevada next week?

CROWLEY:  Oh, I think it‘s—you know, it‘s going to be a very close race.  I don‘t think any of us want to be in the business you‘re in today of predicting the outcomes of these elections...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not getting out of the business!

CROWLEY:  Well, I‘m...

MATTHEWS:  I love this business!

CROWLEY:  I‘m pulling for Senator Clinton to come through in this.  I think the people are going to...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CROWLEY:  ... make the decision, not the polls, not unions in total, but they can certainly weigh in.  But I think the people, as they did in New Hampshire, are going to make the decision.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Hodes, you‘re the outsider...

HODES:  Hey, so listen to that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... anti-establishment guy, but yes, you‘re glad to have that culinary union behind you out there in Vegas, aren‘t you.

HODES:  Anti-establishment doesn‘t mean we don‘t welcome working people.  We‘re for all the people of this country.  And what‘s fascinating is Joe Crowley is now saying it‘s going to be a hard-fought and tough race.  Just a few weeks ago, what we were hearing was she was the nominee.  It was inevitable.  She was invincible.

CROWLEY:  Not from me, Paul.  You know that.

HODES:  This is going to be some battle!

CROWLEY:  Not from me.  I‘ve always said...

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you...

CROWLEY:  ... this was going to be a tough battle.  We look forward to it.  Let me just say in terms of working men and women -- 12 international unions have endorsed Senator Clinton, 5 million workers behind her, in comparison to...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

CROWLEY:  ... less than one million workers behind Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS:  Gentlemen, Congressmen, thank you both for joining us.

CROWLEY:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re very helpful.  In fact, I like having you guys on. 

You seem like real people.

CROWLEY:  We‘re friends.

MATTHEWS:  I know that‘s unusual for politicians.  Anyway...

HODES:  Hey, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  ... Paul Hodes, thank you.  Joe Crowley, thank you.

CROWLEY:  Thank you.  Thanks, Paul.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, much more on the Kerry endorsement.  Is he dissing the Clintons and John Edwards by endorsing Obama down there in South Carolina, where John Edwards was born?

And later, the battle for the heart and mind of the Republican Party.  Do the Republicans want to feel good and have old-time religion singing, or do they want to beat, well, maybe, Hillary?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If we‘d have done what the Democrats wanted to do a year ago or six months ago or today, and that is set a date for surrenders and a date for withdrawal, al Qaeda would be telling the world they defeated the United States of America.  My friends, I will never let that happen.  I will never let that happen!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  I support him because he doesn‘t seek to perfect the politics of Swift Boating but to end it.  I support Barack Obama because he will help bring the country together again, lead the world, and show by example, not by words, that here in America, anything is really possible to those who dare to dream!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was, of course, John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic candidate for president, backing Barack Obama today for the presidency.  In doing that, Kerry rejected, obviously, both the Clintons and John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, his 2004 running mate.  Big question: Can this matter?

Richard Stengel is the managing editor, the boss, if you will, of “Time” magazine, which just came out.  Clarence Page is a columnist for “The Chicago Tribune.”

Well, it‘s a nice reference in your magazine today, just came out today, about my little getting together with Hillary Clinton out there in New Hampshire.  I thought that was very sweet of you guys.

RICK STENGEL, MANAGING EDITOR, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Yes.  A lot of affection between you two, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  It is an interesting relationship.  Anyway, let‘s talk about—and I do owe her a great deal of respect for her comeback up in New Hampshire.  Let me—let‘s talk about this crazy deal.  You know, Richard and Clarence, you guys—I grew up in a country where if you were the most recent nominee of a political party, you had a title called the titular head of the party, you know?  It was a big deal.  Adlai Stevenson had that job for, like, eight years.  It‘s a big deal.  Hubert Humphrey seemed to always have it.  Richard, you first.  The fact that the most recent nominee has endorsed a guy, really, the underdog again in the fight for Hillary Clinton—what‘s it mean?

STENGEL:  Well, you know, Chris, first of all, there‘s no love lost between John Kerry and the Clintons.  They‘re all alpha folks, all trying to be crammed in the same room, and they just all want to take up all the air in the room.  But also, throughout American history, there‘s been the party of the past and the party of the future.  John Kerry thinks that Barack Obama represents the party of the future.  He wants to be on that train.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to you, Clarence, because I‘m going to show you a clip that will make that point, as well.

CLARENCE PAGE, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Yes, I got that feeling, too, that Kerry does want to be on that train.  And he‘s known for making these surprise moves.  But I think he does see that Obama does represent something that is a movement spirit out there in the land these days, and he wants to get out there and try to be a part of it.

MATTHEWS:  And what‘s the hardest thing in the world?  To endorse somebody from your generation.

PAGE:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  Because if they get it, you don‘t.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But if you give it to a guy down the road, it‘s a lot easier.

Here‘s John Kerry making that point, but perhaps something much more important.  Here he is, John Kerry, endorsing Barack Obama today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY:  I was recently in Africa.  And I was also at the climate change talks in Bali.  From afar, you sometimes have a clearer view than when you‘re in the middle of the maelstrom.  I saw and felt how important it can be to America‘s interests in the world, to our ability to be able to reach across great and growing divides and speak the truth from a different experience in our own land.  I saw how Barack Obama could strengthen our nation and set us back on a path of our time-honored values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Clarence? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a hell of a statement:  The world will like us more if this guy is president. 

PAGE:  Yes, it was. 

And I think—I heard a little bit of the old John Kerry from the from the—from his younger days, back when—it was the anti-war, Vietnam vet Kerry, when he really spoke with passion and ideals, and wasn‘t running for office at the time. 

You know, being a candidate kind of constrained him and restrained him in uncomfortable ways.  And he‘s kind of been trying to burst out of it ever since, I think.  And, here, he‘s following the act of Barack Obama, a tremendous speaker, a tremendous speak, a terrific, masterful speaker. 

MATTHEWS:  Nobody like him.  Nobody like him.

PAGE:  Exactly. 

But it‘s the kind of speaker John Kerry wants to be.  And I think he was expressing that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Richard, we took some hell for having the polls the night of the primary this week.  And, by the way, all the polls were together.  And the candidates‘ polls were the same as each other‘s polls.  Everybody‘s polls were the same. 

STENGEL:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And I got to tell you, the polls were backed up by what we saw up there. 

You go to a Barack rally, I have never seen such—or felt such excitement in a room, people leaving higher up, bigger up than when they went into the room, inflated in terms of their hopes.  Hillary was very good, let me tell you, very impressive, but those Obama rallies were something.

And I just wonder whether we were wrong—and I don‘t think we were -

in saying those polls matched what we were seeing.  Let‘s talk about this endorsement again, one more shot at this, John Kerry.  Is this going to help Barack Obama in South Carolina? 

STENGEL:  Well, I think, anything, Chris, right now for Barack Obama, who is the unconventional candidate, the candidate of change, anything that makes him a little bit more establishment at this point in time, that is a good thing. 

She‘s trying to do the opposite.  She‘s the establishment candidate who is trying to look a little different, to look like a candidate of change.  And I think what Kerry does for Barack, in a way, is, it helps him get momentum again, and it helps people feel like, OK, he is good enough to be an establishment candidate, as well as the anti-establishment candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  And John Kerry doesn‘t bet on losers, right? 

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

STENGEL:  He doesn‘t have that much to lose anymore, you know?

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

STENGEL:  I mean, he...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me—let me go to something more interesting. 

We all know that George Miller, the congressman from the east bay near San Francisco, on the eastern coast of the bay—I believe that‘s the geography—George Miller is the consigliere to Nancy Pelosi.  He‘s her number-one most trusted policy guy, political guy, whatever.  He advises her on all kinds of things.  He‘s now come out for Barack Obama today. 

Should we take that, Clarence, as a San Francisco endorsement, a Bay Area endorsement, or we should this is Nancy winking to say, yes, guys, I‘m with Barack, because I want to hold seats next year; I don‘t want to lose them because Hillary is on the ticket?

PAGE:  I will inclined to let Nancy Pelosi speak for herself.  But it certainly looks like it. 

It‘s hard to believe that George would have made that move without her

her support, shall we say.  And it‘s a way of her sending a signal.  But I would think Barack Obama would suit very well with the San Francisco spirit out there, because...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But what about the need to hold and win seats? 

Richard, hold and win seats, that‘s the name of the game in the House. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If they—they need more seats, so they can get a working majority and not constantly lose these war votes.

STENGEL:  No, and that‘s what—I mean, we looked at this before, and we saw that, you know, Hillary doesn‘t do as much for the Democrats in the House as possibly Barack would do. 

But, you know, the other thing is, as Shakespeare would have said, when you go for the queen, you have got to kill her.  So, I think Barack is now going to people and saying...

(LAUGHTER)

STENGEL:  ... and saying, look, we have got to enlist you now.  I have got to—I have got to get back on track...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

STENGEL:  ... because now they are coming after me. 

MATTHEWS:  What a race.  This is—this is—what is this?

PAGE:  Well, it‘s exciting.

MATTHEWS:  Is this...

PAGE:  This is wonderful for an election, isn‘t it?

MATTHEWS:  Is this Tony Zale against Graziano? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is this Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is this Archie Moore and...

(CROSSTALK)

STENGEL:  Or Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Muhammad Ali.

And this—this goes—no, that was over quick, that one.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you Richard Stengel. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s Smokin‘ Joe.  It‘s Frazier against Ali. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, up next—thank you, Clarence. 

Thank you, Richard.

PAGE:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  By the way, the cover of your magazine is fascinating.  Here it is, just came out.  And it says, “It‘s the voters, stupid, not the pundits.”  I get the shot.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Rudy Giuliani‘s Florida‘s fire wall, let‘s talk about that. 

Let‘s talk smart politics.  They‘re a little too late. 

And don‘t look now, but guess who may be moving closer to a presidential run?  The man from New York. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there politically? 

Well, one stench Republicans can‘t get rid of is Jack Abramoff.  Another casualty today is nine-term California Congressman and Abramoff pal John Doolittle, announced he will retire when his term ends in ‘09.  The FBI raided Doolittle‘s house last year.  He already got knocked off the Appropriations Committee in the House.

And he‘s fighting multiple grand jury subpoenas, which raises the question, why not now? 

What exactly, Congressman, do you think you can do for the people of California and your district by hanging around the rest of your term? 

In other news, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg‘s presidential dabbling sounds a little more serious every one of these days.  The Associated Press reports that the mayor‘s people are quietly polling in all 50 states to get a feel for things. 

I think, for Mayor Mike, it‘s as simple as this:  H. and H.—no, not the famous New York bagels.  H. and H. in this case means Hillary and Huckabee, Hillary and Huckabee.  If the two parties end up with those two nominees, who are what a lot of people might call polarizing, then that‘s exactly why and how Bloomberg gets in this thing, Bloomberg against Hillary against Huckabee.  He might do it. 

And, finally tonight, the HARDBALL “Big Number.” 

Rudy Giuliani has an interesting and well-known strategy to win the Republican nomination this year.  He says it starts in Florida on January 29, and no voting before that matters. 

He even has a new ad out to back it up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GIULIANI CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  With pundits handicapping the campaign like the Super Bowl, it‘s easy to lose sight of what‘s at stake: an economy in peril, a country at war, a future uncertain. 

The media loves process.  Talking heads love chatter.  But Florida has a chance to turn down the noise and show the world that leadership is what really matters. 

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Rudy Giuliani, and I approved this message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I saw at least one familiar face in that bunch. 

Anyway, so, with Rudy‘s new ad mind, the HARDBALL “Big Number” tonight is 26 -- 26 days between the Iowa caucuses, which started it all, and the Florida primary, 26 days for Rudy Giuliani with no wins, no bragging rights, and no mo‘.  If Rudy survives that span, and proves that his plan did work, then that number is bigger than big.  It‘s huge.  It‘s the new measure of political rope-a-dope -- 26, our “Big Number” tonight.

Up next: the battle for the future of the Republican Party.  Do Republicans want to win or feel good about themselves? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Stocks rallying on comments by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and on word Bank of America may buy troubled Countrywide Financial.  The Dow industrials gained 117 points.  The S&P 500 climbed 11.  The Nasdaq gained almost 14 points. 

In his speech, Ben Bernanke said the Fed is ready to take substantive additional action to help the economy.  And that raised speculation Fed policy-makers will cut interest rates a half-point when they meet at the end of the month. 

Meantime, Countrywide shares soared 51 percent today on news the struggling mortgage lender is in advanced talks to be acquired by Bank of America. 

The nation‘s big retailers reported weaker-than-expected December sales.  Big losers include Macy‘s, J.C. Penney, and Target.  Among the few bright spots?  Wal-Mart and Costco. 

And oil fell $1.96 in New York, to $93.71 a barrel. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Well, Iowa and New Hampshire are over now, and now the candidates, the presidential candidates, are taking their campaigns across the country.  For the Republicans, there are some crucial contests coming up.  They are coming up right now. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster, the best man in the business, has this report. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you.  Great to see you.  Thank you.  Good to see you, sir.  Thank you. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Just hours before a big GOP debate, all of the Republican presidential candidates today came to South Carolina.  Each is now facing primaries that are do or die.  And, for Mike Huckabee, it‘s here, a week from Saturday. 

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I want to make it real clear.  We‘re going to win South Carolina. 

SHUSTER:  Promising victory in the Palmetto State carries little risk for Huckabee, because, if he doesn‘t win this Southern state, with all its evangelical voters, Huckabee‘s campaign and his prospects in other states will be over anyway. 

Mitt Romney‘s must-win is next Tuesday, January the 15th, in Michigan, a state Romney knows well and is counting on for a boost. 

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And this is a place I feel comfortable.  It‘s a place I feel welcome. 

SHUSTER:  Romney was born and raised in the state and his father was governor.  After losing to Huckabee in Iowa and John McCain in New Hampshire, Romney has pulled his advertising money out of future primary states, so he can concentrate it in Michigan. 

ROMNEY:  And it‘s a place I‘m absolutely confident that‘s going to launch me in my bid for the presidency of the United States. 

SHUSTER:  Fresh off of his win in New Hampshire, John McCain is now focusing on Michigan in an effort to knock Romney out. 

MCCAIN:  You‘re not going to buy an election by buying ads on TV.  You‘re not going to do it with negative attack ads on people.  You‘re going to do it by talking to the people and listening to the people. 

SHUSTER:  But, if McCain comes up short in Michigan, McCain‘s must-carry state becomes South Carolina and that January 19 battle against Huckabee. 

Then there is Rudy Giuliani. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We love Rudy!

SHUSTER:  The former New York City mayor spent over $2 million in New Hampshire and finished fourth.  Now Giuliani is betting everything he has on Florida‘s primary January the 29th

And to those who say his campaign is dead, Giuliani‘s even running this Florida ad. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, GIULIANI CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR:  Talking heads love chatter.  But Florida has a chance to turn down the noise and show the world that leadership is what really matters. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER (on camera):  But what matters in a presidential nomination battle is momentum.  And whoever has it coming out of Michigan, South Carolina, and then Florida will also have the inside track for February the 5th, when voters go to the polls in more than 20 states, in the single biggest day of balloting in presidential primary history. 

I‘m David Shuster, for HARDBALL, in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

As the Republican presidential candidates battle it out for Michigan, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida, the Republican Party is also facing an internal battle between you might say social and fiscal conservatives.  Does the GOP want to win or do they want to feel good?  That‘s also the question. 

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.  And Pat Toomey is the president and CEO of the Club For Growth.

We couldn‘t have two better people here to talk about this in ever so brief a time.

First of all, I‘m going to ask the partisan question. 

How important it is—is it for your party, the Republican Party, to win in November the presidency, if it‘s Hillary or it‘s a Barack Obama candidate you‘re up against? 

PAT TOOMEY, PRESIDENT, CLUB FOR GROWTH:  Well, it‘s incredibly important, Chris, because it‘s frankly pretty unlikely that the party is going to take back either the House or the Senate. 

And the idea of having either Hillary or Barack Obama in the White House with majorities in both bodies is—is pretty scary. 

MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s one-party government if you don‘t win?

TOOMEY:  It‘s one-party government. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you agree?

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:  Well, I would say it‘s important to elect a conservative to the White House as president, not just a Republican, someone who is going to advance a conservative agenda and defend conservative principles, both fiscal, both foreign policy-wise, but also on the social issues.  That‘s important. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look.  We have to get serious now and talk about the people that are running. 

Right now, it‘s very hard to say who the front-runner is.  Let‘s just look at a couple of candidates.  Huckabee, who won last week, McCain, who won this week—it‘s almost hilarious—Rudy, who promises to win in a couple of weeks, Thompson, who is still looking at South Carolina, is any one of those candidates not a conservative, Tony?

(CROSSTALK)

PERKINS:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By your definition.

PERKINS:  I do not believe that Giuliani is a—has a socially conservative bone in his body.  I don‘t think he‘s a conservative. 

TOOMEY:  I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is there anybody on that list you don‘t think is a conservative? 

TOOMEY:  The guy who clearly is not a conservative is Mike Huckabee. 

Mike Huckabee is a big-government liberal. 

This is a guy who thinks that his Christian faith requires him to believe in a big, expansive government.  His record as governor clearly was that of a big-government guy, a serial tax-hiker, big spender, advocate for all kinds of new programs.  And now, on the campaign trail, he‘s moved to the left of that. 

I think the fact that he‘s pro-life and supports traditional marriage doesn‘t make him a conservative. 

PERKINS:  No, but he—what happened is that the Republican establishment embraced Giuliani and essentially told social conservatives to take a hike.  They took a hike.  They came back with a Huck.

MATTHEWS:  Who did that?  I missed that vote.  When did they call—call this election for Giuliani? 

PERKINS:  Well, look, you have—look, go back—go back two months before we began to see the surge of Mike Huckabee, and all the talk was about who could beat Hillary.  And the only one that was said that could beat Hillary was Giuliani.  Look at the polls today, and that‘s not the case. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe any of the candidates we have talked about, Huckabee, McCain, Thompson, or Rudy, could all beat Hillary? 

PERKINS:  I think a...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  With good campaigns? 

PERKINS:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Could they all do it?

PERKINS:  I think what it takes to be successful—and this is where I think Pat and I would agree.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m assuming she‘s the nominee, I don‘t think that‘s a good assumption yet. 

PERKINS: For the Republican party to win, they must have a conservative candidate who brings together the conservative coalition, fiscal conservatives, defense conservatives and social conservatives. 

MATTHEWS:  Who was the last nominee of your party that wasn‘t a conservative? 

PERKINS:  Well, I think—

MATTHEWS:  When was the last one? 

TOOMEY:  Gerald Ford. 

PERKINS:  Yes.  You have not had a candidate who has not united those three elements and been successful. 

TOOMEY:  It‘s important to thing about the three.  If you think of it as a three-legged stool, the guy who clearly has only one leg of that is Mike Huckabee.  Seriously, the foreign policy folks cannot be comfortable with Mike Huckabee.  Economic conservatives can‘t even begin to—

PERKINS:  I don‘t think he‘s as bad on fiscal policy as some make him out to be, certainly not as bad as Rudy Giuliani is on the social policy. 

TOOMEY:  I strongly disagree.  I think you can make a case  that Giuliani—I‘m a social conservative and I disagree with Mayor Giuliani on a lot of things, but I believe him when he says he‘ll appoint conservative justices. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we going to have a divided party and a defeated party if it‘s either Huckabee or Giuliani?  Based on this conversation, they are both polarizing.  Am I wrong? 

TOOMEY:  Huckabee can‘t.

MATTHEWS:  Are you saying the party can unite behind Huckabee?  Can the party unite behind Huckabee, the Pennsylvania suburbs?  Can states like Pennsylvania, which are purple states—can a guy like Huckabee win in those states, and Ohio? 

PERKINS:  I think the challenge is steep for him.  I absolutely would agree with Pat on that.  But I would also say Giuliani, there‘s no way he can unite the party.   

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the candidate that can get 270 electoral votes.  That‘s always the issue.  After everything else, they are just losers.  There‘s lots of losers out there and there are only a few presidents in history.  Which of the candidates can actually be elected president, Tony Perkins, win the presidency against Hillary or Obama or Edwards, whoever else is left standing? 

PERKINS:  I would clearly say that Mike Huckabee is helping shape this race. 

MATTHEWS:  Could he win the presidency? 

PERKINS:  I think he could, but everything would have to come into alignment.  It‘s very difficult for him to do it.  I would say who to watch at this point—I think the two candidates that can bring together the conservative coalition is John McCain and Mitt Romney.  I think those are the two that can bring together the party. 

MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts on that?  Respond to that?  come on. 

TOOMEY:  Mike Huckabee can‘t win the nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s move off that.  We are off Huckabee and Giuliani.  We are having a brokered convention right now, here in this room.  What about McCain and Romney?  Could that be a ticket?  Romney is ambitious beyond imagination.  He‘ll take any place on the ticket to get there eventually. 

TOOMEY:  I don‘t think it‘s going to be a ticket. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not?  Why not?  One guy is 71.  And the other guy is antsy pantsy to get the job some day.  You‘re laughing because you know it‘s true.  If this ticket is being formed, he‘ll want to be on it.   

TOOMEY:  It‘s not a good fit for McCain.  If he‘s looking for somebody, he‘s going to be looking for somebody like Governor Mark Sanford or somebody like that, somebody who is—

MATTHEWS:  Southern. 

TOOMEY:  Southern. a governor is good, but southerner.  Someone who is

PERKINS:  Someone with a good social conservative record. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m trying to do it right here.  McCain/Thompson, that‘s the ticket.  You‘re just defining it, guys, you do it. 

PERKINS:  I think he picks a chief executive from someplace. 

MATTHEWS:  Haley Barber? 

PERKINS:  Possible.  Mark Sanford is a good choice. 

TOOMEY:  Mark Sanford would be a great choice.  It‘s way too soon to make McCain the nominee here.  Romney can still win in Michigan.  

MATTHEWS:  If you guys have to put somebody from South Carolina to win South Carolina, you‘ve already lost this election.  You start with South Carolina.  That‘s the easiest state for you guys. 

PERKINS:  Romney is still very much in the hunt. 

MATTHEWS:  I think he is.  I think he is.  If he keeps getting second place in this jamboree, second, second, second will eventually add up to winning the thing.  Thank you.  I love this fight.  I love the fact that you have X‘d out Rudy and X‘d out Huckabee, leaving us with McCain and Romney. 

TOOMEY:  I don‘t X out Giuliani.

PERKINS:  Then I take back Huckabee.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Tony Perkins and Pat Toomey.  

Up next, with Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida all in the next few weeks, it‘s do-or die time for the presidential candidates.  Well, maybe it‘s do or die.  They don‘t seem to die very easily.  Do they?  The politics fix is next.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now the politics fix and our round table tonight an illustrious one.  Ron Brownstein is with the “National Journal.”  He is author of “The Second Civil War.”  Bloomberg‘s, not the candidate, the organization, Margaret Carlson joins us.  Chris Cillizza of the “Washington Post.”

I want to start with Democrats because I find it fascinating right now that we‘re going into a very heated fight for Nevada with a lot of union power.  The biggest union, the Culinary Workers, despite Obama‘s bad night the other night, they endorsed him.  You Start, it seems to me that will be the big noise next Sunday, the papers and on “Meet The Press,” et cetera. 

RON BROWNSTEIN, “NATIONAL JOURNAL”:  It‘s a state that has a lot mystery for the Democrats.  They don‘t know how many people are going to turn out.  They don‘t know who will turn out. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a caucus. 

BROWNSTEIN:  It‘s a caucus state and it‘s a state that doesn‘t have the kind of tradition that Iowa has of a caucus.  I don‘t know—

MATTHEWS:  I heard it‘s somewhat disorganized.  They‘re going to be late counting and all that—I don‘t mean to knock them. 

BROWNSTEIN:  In that environment, the endorsement from the most potent political union on the state has to be a big plus for Obama.  But, whatever happens in Nevada and South Carolina, New Hampshire has positioned Hillary Clinton where she can go on and fight on Super-Tuesday.  In some ways, it‘s diminished the importance of the intervening events. 

MATTHEWS:  Not to diminish it any further, Hillary Clinton has South Carolina facing her now.  John Kerry has endorsed her number one opponent, Barack Obama, who already has—these are interesting numbers, 30 percent of the electorates in the Democratic primary in South Carolina are African-American women.  What does that mean?  Does that mean women or black women?  What does that mean?  How do we figure this? 

MARGARET CARLSON, “BLOOMBERG”:  They might be torn. 

MATTHEWS:  You say.   

CARLSON:  Back to Nevada, they are so anxious to get it right, having fought so hard to get this, and they want to drum up a lot of interest.   

BROWNSTEIN:  They want people to turn out. 

CARLSON:  They do. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the betting in Vegas? 

CARLSON:  What is that called? 

MATTHEWS:  The sports bar. 

CARLSON:  The sports bar.  I think Obama has an advantage in South Carolina because now South Carolina African-Americans think he has a chance.  He won Iowa.  They are not taking the two points in New Hampshire to heart.  And if African-Americans think he has a chance, they‘ll vote for him.  The fear was, inside the black community, he can‘t do it, we don‘t want to waste our votes. 

MATTHEWS:  What about this hugging we‘re watching here?  Chris Cillizza, someone said earlier in the show that gives him not just obviously the community of the African-Americans down there—a lot of them poor in South Carolina, who will root for this fellow and how far he has come.  But here you have the establishment figure of the Democratic party looking every inch of establishment figure, endorsing him down there in South Carolina, and making a point to travel down there where he began his own campaign?  Does this get a two front war going for Barack, the poor people, the African American people, and also this establishment candidate coming down there? 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Chris, I think it‘s actually important.  I know a lot of people are willing to pooh-pooh Senator Kerry and what does his endorsement mean.  Look, Barack Obama looked like the he was going to be nominee.  Everyone expected him to win New Hampshire by double digits, frankly, if not that, certainly in the higher single digits.  He loses. 

Several days later, you know, 48 hours later, the nominee, the last nominee of the party, endorses him.  I think that‘s important.  Obama‘s campaign told me privately that, of course, they wanted to win New Hampshire.  But they saw no one pulling away from them in the establishment.  You know, these campaigns have these endorsements teed up long in advance, and they try to sort of roll them out in key and consequential places and times.  They said no one has pulled away from them since the Clinton loss. 

That‘s telling.  You are talking about the Clinton name.  This is the royalty of the Democratic party for the last 15 or 20 years.  The fact that Barack Obama is looking like he will probably match her in terms of establishment support I think is meaningful. 

MATTHEWS:  It is to me.  How do you explain the fact that nobody is getting off base here? 

BROWNSTEIN:  I think he‘s still a very formidable candidate.  What you‘ve seen in the first two contests is that each of them, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have coalesced a clear hold on a piece of the party that should allow both of them to fight for a long time.  He has, from the beginning, been very strong, upscale, young voters, independents and college graduates.  In Iowa, he overwhelmed her and ran even with her downscale, non-college, women and so forth. 

In New Hampshire she got that back.  So now, as you kind of look forward, both of them have the capacity to extend this fight for quite a while.  And it‘s not surprising that a challenger of his magnitude is able to attract a fair amount of establishment worth. 

One last point though, that‘s somewhat of a mixed blessing.  When you are standing behind a plaque that says “change you can believe in” and the person next to you is John Kerry, there‘s a little dissonance, as Howard Dean discovered in late 2003. 

CARLSON:  I thought it hurt Edwards more than the picture helps Obama, because here‘s the guy that knows him really, really well, and you‘d think that he would stand by him through thick and thin, or at least wait until Edwards gets out of it. 

MATTHEWS:  Margaret, do you this is a strategy to erase John Edwards as a factor?  You know, this is not helping, it seems to me, Barack Obama, to have two anti-Hillary candidates in the field who are strong.  If it becomes a mano a mano race between Hillary and Obama—I‘m just asking—doesn‘t it give Barack a better shot? 

CARLSON:  Obama is much strong.  Think if in New Hampshire, Edwards and Richardson hadn‘t been in, he would have won. 

BROWNSTEIN:  I‘m not sure I agree with that.  Outside of Iowa, Edwards‘ support has been remarkably flat, ideologically, demographically, almost every way.  There‘s almost no indication yet that it would disproportionately—If anything, his fall off among downscale voters in Iowa and New Hampshire probably helped Hillary, because more of them seemed to end up her in her camp. 

MATTHEWS:  The question is whether Hillary Clinton can win the Democratic nomination by scoring less than 40 points in all these events.  She can do that if there‘s three people in the race.

We‘ll be right back with the round table.  I want to talk about the exciting race coming up in Michigan, between one of the sons of Michigan, Mitt Romney, whose father was governor out there, and whose mother ran for Senate against Bill Hartback (ph) in the old days, and this guy, John McCain, who seems to have a lot of support with those other people with Mac on their name up there, a lot of Irish support.  I always thought that was part of the Michigan deal. 

Anyway, we‘ll be right back with the politics fix.  You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the round table for the politics fix.  I want to start now with Ron.  You know, the Republican party is getting short thrift on this show tonight, but it has the most exciting event coming up next Tuesday in Michigan.  This could be the end of Mitt Romney.  This could be the flowering of Mitt Romney. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Here‘s the thing.  It‘s his home state.  He‘s come in second twice. 

MATTHEWS:  How many home states has he got?  He‘s got Utah, Massachusetts. 

(CROSS TALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  Here is why Michigan is again another a curve ball like New Hampshire.  In 2000, John McCain won the state.  A majority of the votes in the Republican primary in Michigan were cast by non-Republicans, either Democrats or independents.  He lost Republicans there.  Ultimately, in 2000, John McCain couldn‘t get enough Republicans to vote for him, even in the states he won, like Michigan, he usually lost Republicans. 

In New Hampshire, he only ran even among Republicans.  Even if he wins Michigan on Tuesday, it still begs the question of in states where independents are not 40 or 50 percent of the votes, can he get enough conservatives and Republicans to vote for him to win the nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he outsourcing his candidacy?

BROWNSTEIN:  Ultimately the nomination—nominee of the party is going to be selected by voters from the party.  That was the mantra of the Clinton people. 

CARLSON:  Clinton‘s argument was we need some closed primaries because we don‘t want these independents mucking it up.  That‘s a good argument for November. 

BROWNSTEIN:  The reality is that in most states, independents don‘t cast enough share enough of the vote to decide.  Michigan is one where they do, so even if McCain wins, I really wonder, what will—

MATTHEWS:  Chris Cillizza, get in here, look at the one-two races coming up right now, Michigan next Tuesday, and then South Carolina at the end of the week.  What‘s it look like to you? 

CILLIZZA:  Well, I think Ron is right about Romney and Michigan.  The thing for Romney, the reason I think his campaign has some hope here is that he‘s now switched to this change message, that we need to change Washington; Washington is broken.  They think that fits nicely with the fact that Michigan is what they call a single state recession.  People here know that change is need.  They know he‘s a native son.  They know that his father was governor. 

This is where the Romney name actually means something.  I don‘t know the answer to that, Chris.  Momentum in this campaign has mattered a heck of a lot more than money.  Romney had more money than Mike Huckabee and a better organization in Iowa; he loses.  He had more money and a better organization than John McCain in New Hampshire, he loses. 

He‘s going to have more money and probably a better organization than John McCain in Michigan and he‘s got to hope he doesn‘t lose.  If he loses, and that means anything but coming in first—there‘s no second place win here, I don‘t think, for Romney—I think it‘s hard for him to go onto South Carolina. 

CARLSON:  Romney had a Hillary Clinton moment in Michigan where he welled up with tears talking about his dad.  If ever he breaks out of his shell, it will be Michigan. 

(CROSS TALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  Does he decide there‘s one more bite of the apple? 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t get the headline. 

CILLIZZA:  The problem with that, Ron, though, is that it‘s not just going to be McCain versus Romney in South Carolina, then.  That vote then gets split up between Huckabee, Thompson.  And those people are probably all the same pool. 

MATTHEWS:  Smart round table.  Thank you, Ron Brownstein.  Thank you Margaret Carlson.  Thank you, Chris Cillizza.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  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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