updated 1/22/2008 12:44:04 PM ET 2008-01-22T17:44:04

Guests: Jonathan Martin, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Tom Andrews, Joe Mathieu, Jim Moran

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Something about South Carolina almost invariably makes for interesting campaigns.  With Mike Huckabee and John McCain running too close to call before tomorrow‘s Republican primary, attack ads and push polling dominate the day. 

John McCain has been hit on his conduct as a POW in Vietnam, among other things.  Fred Thompson has been slammed for his record on immigration.  Virtually unscathed though, has been Mike Huckabee, who made a direct play for South Carolina‘s conservatives on the issue of the confederate flag. 

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In Arkansas, if they told us what to do with our flag, we‘d tell them where to put the pole.  That‘s what we‘d do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  In a moment, David Shuster reports from South Carolina on the latest developments in the Republican primary campaign down there. 

On the Democrat side, meanwhile, the contest is Nevada, where the caucus contest among Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards is nearly impossible to predict.  We don‘t dare to predict it, anyway.  That race has, if anything, been rougher. 

It includes the Spanish language ad that savagely attacks Hillary Clinton as shameless.  You‘ll hear it in just a minute. 

There‘s a slew of other political news out there.  We‘ll get to most of it in the next hour. 

But we begin at the ever-shifting epicenter of the race for the Republican nomination, which is this weekend, South Carolina. 

For the latest there, we are joined by MSNBC‘s David Shuster, who is in Columbia for us. 

David, what‘s the state of play? 

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Tucker, interestingly enough, this race may come down to weather.  There is a snowstorm that is expected in the area of Spartanburg and Greenville, and rain here in Columbia.  The reason that‘s significant is because Spartanburg and Greenville are supposed to be a Huckabee stronghold, and there are great fears tonight that some of the more elderly voters and South Carolina voters who don‘t see snow very often at all might be scared tomorrow and might stay home from the polls. 

So, a lot of nervousness in the Huckabee campaign. 

All of the latest polls, Tucker, show the race between Huckabee and McCain to be neck and neck.  Huckabee, as you mentioned, counting on some evangelical voters and Christian conservatives. 

John McCain, meanwhile, has been trying to rally the military families and veterans in this state by talking at every opportunity about the surge in Iraq and what‘s at stake.  So it‘s a really head-to-head battle. 

And then against all of this, Tucker, are the sort of push phone calls in which a group that has been supporting Mike Huckabee has been making now almost a million phone calls to Republican voters across the state, disparaging the legislative record of John McCain and Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson while praising the record of Mike Huckabee. 

Huckabee has disavowed these, says that he doesn‘t want them to be part of the campaign, but he‘s really powerless to stop them—Tucker. 

CARLSON:  How exactly has McCain been responding to Huckabee?  I know up in New Hampshire and in Iowa, the McCain strategy appeared to be friendliness.  Has that remained? 

SHUSTER:  Yes, Tucker, McCain has largely ignored Mike Huckabee.  McCain has taken Huckabee at his word when Huckabee says that he has nothing to do with these—with these push phone calls—these push calls.  So, McCain has largely been ignoring him.  McCain has largely stayed on his own message of trying to talk about veterans issue and about his own foreign policy experience, and for the most part is really not talking about Mike Huckabee much at all. 

CARLSON:  Is the—I mean, I‘ve heard people characterize Huckabee‘s support as exclusive evangelicals, but the numbers you just described suggest it‘s got to be bigger than that.  I mean, is it solely religious people who are in sync with him theologically, or is there some—what‘s the other appeal of Mike Huckabee, do you think? 

SHUSTER:  Well, you know, frankly, Tucker, it might even be younger voters.  The last couple of days, Huckabee was getting huge crowds, including nearly 3,000 people at a rally yesterday in Clemson, which was the biggest Republican rally this week in the state. 

They had Chuck Norris and Ric Flair from the World wrestling Federation who were there, so maybe that was part of the appeal.  But clearly, Huckabee is hoping to catch on with other groups—younger voters, women. 

They are trying to sort of branch out and get beyond the Christian conservatives who they believe they can count on but believe this race is going to be decided not by them, but by some of these more independent-minded voters, especially, perhaps, the younger voters. 

CARLSON:  It really is a remarkable story. 

David Shuster from Columbia. 

Thanks a lot, David. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Joining us now, the national director of “Win Without War,” former congressman from Maine, Tom Andrews, and program director and anchor for POTUS ‘08 on the XM satellite channel, Joe Mathew. 

Welcome to you both. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you for having us. 

CARLSON:  I have to say, this Huckabee story is almost unbelievable.  We have contempt for him in the press because he‘s religious and we hate religious people, obviously.  But it‘s true.

It‘s true, we think he‘s a snake handler, an evangelical who‘s got weird beliefs.  He‘s against abortion.  God, he‘s a freak.  But it‘s an amazing story. 

And part of what‘s amazing to me—we played this in the intro, but I want to replay it—Huckabee has come out for the right of the state of South Carolina to fly the confederate battle flag over the Capitol.  This is a huge and very contentious issue in that state, and he has basically made the point that, gee, you ought to be able to do that, and framed it not as a question of the flag itself, whether or not it‘s offensive to black citizens—it clearly is offensive to many—but whether or not people from out of state ought to be able to weigh on it.

Again, here‘s what he said in response to that question. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE:  And if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we‘d tell them where to put the pole.  That‘s what we‘d do. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  He‘s going to get slammed as a racist for that, but it‘s—he‘s saying more than that.  He‘s saying, arrogant Yankees, back off.  I think that‘s an effective message. 

TOM ANDREWS, “WIN WITHOUT WAR” NATIONAL DIRECTOR:  Yes.  You know, maybe it‘s effective, but it‘s also very offensive.  You know?

I think it‘s ugly.  This is exactly the same rhetoric that we heard during all those civil rights clashes, the reason why we couldn‘t pass civil rights legislation, was not because we‘re against blacks, but because of states‘ rights. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  It‘s just conjuring up all this very ugly part of our history.  It‘s racist.  It‘s bigoted.  And it just conjures something I wish that we could put behind us. 

CARLSON:  I mean, part of what you‘re saying is incontestable.  I mean, this is similar to the rhetoric you heard 50 years ago.  But there is a kernel of social truth in it that goes beyond that. 

I mean, it‘s true.  Now, both of you guys are from New England.  I‘m not from the South either.  It‘s not my culture. 

I don‘t understand the attachment to the stupid flag.  It‘s not my battle. 

If it offends people, take it down.  I mean, that‘s kind of where I am.

But there is something to this idea of these arrogant, NPR-listening, Volvo-drying, Chardonnay-sipping New Englanders, easterners, coming down there and lording it over the southern people that the southern people hate. 

JOE MATHIEU, ANCHOR, “POTUS ‘08” :  It will clearly endear him to a certain part of the voting base in South Carolina.  But you have to remember, he‘s appealing to the base right now.  Something tells me he won‘t, if he ever became the nominee, use language like this later on in the year. 

CARLSON:  Well, of course not.

MATHIEU:  But it‘s a risky move for that reason, because they are going to play this sound bite over and over and over. 

CARLSON:  But Al Sharpton has now issued a statement attacking, predictably, Mike Huckabee.  And you almost get the feeling like, is Sharpton working for Huckabee?  Could anything endear Huckabee more to the people that that appeals to than Sharpton coming out against him? 

ANDREWS:  But you know, the problem for Huckabee is these are code words that used to be disguised.  I mean, everyone in the South would understand what someone who was saying states rights was talking about. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  They were talking about...

CARLSON:  (INAUDIBLE) should use that phrase.

ANDREWS:  Well, in effect, he did.  He said it‘s our business, not yours. 

We in a state—that is, South Carolina...

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  ... should be deciding for itself that state‘s rights.  And that‘s code.  And everybody—but the problem is that not only people in the South understand it who are bigoted, but everyone in the country understands it.  And I think that was a very, very unfortunate statement for him to make, and I think it‘s going to hurt him. 

MATHIEU:  He‘s still going to appeal a to a certain number of people in South Carolina, though, who are big on heritage.  They believe that it is their right as an historical landmark, if you will, to fly that flag where they want.  And he did allude to state rights.  He said, don‘t come to my state and do that because—well, he made a reference to the pole. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I think the issue is stupid.  I mean, if it offends people, whatever, take it down.  On the other hand, can we really with a straight face look into the camera and say this is the most important issue facing South Carolina or any state?  Are you kidding me?

ANDREWS:  You know, John McCain...

CARLSON:  I mean, seriously.

ANDREWS:  But look at John McCain, 2000.  He took the same position—none of my business, didn‘t take a position.  After the election was over, he made a public statement, he regretted it.  And he was wrong.

CARLSON:   Yes.  Well, OK.  He regretted it.

I mean, again, I‘m not—I‘m not any big advocate of the flag either.  I just—it‘s such a sideshow. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATHIEU:  ... Senator McCain, is it not?  He came out with pretty strong words about it.  And now we have suddenly a distinction between these two guys who are fighting nearly neck and neck in the polls. 

CARLSON:  Well, think about that for a second.  Let‘s just back up very quickly and consider what that means. 

McCain lost in 2000.  That was his Waterloo, obviously.  He spent the last three or four years building up quite a base there.  He is essentially the establishment candidate.  He‘s got endorsements from everybody, he‘s spent a ton of money. 

And here Mike Huckabee, who nobody heard of 10 minutes ago, rolls into town and they are neck and neck.  It‘s actually—you‘ve got to stand back—I know you disapprove of this particular component of Huckabee‘s campaign, but you have got to stand back in awe of Mike Huckabee‘s resilience, don‘t you? 

ANDREWS:  Well, you do.  And, of course, the pressure on Mike Huckabee right now is to build beyond his base.  I mean, everybody understands that the key to Iowa was his evangelical base. 

CARLSON:  Right.

ANDREWS:  Everyone understands it‘s a very strong evangelical base in South Carolina, which means he‘s going to have to win big to demonstrate to the Republican Party that it‘s not just the evangelicals that are behind him, but he has a broader appeal.  And if you‘re going to try to make the case for a broader appeal, I don‘t know if you want to make those kinds of a statements.

CARLSON:  OK.  Here‘s my prediction.  Everybody who runs the Republican Party, the people we run into in Washington, they have pure contempt for Mike Huckabee. 

Who is this guy?  I never heard of him.  He‘s a joke, he‘s a Christian, he‘s a Baptist preacher. 

He will end up by the end of this running against his own party.  You watch that.  He‘ll start attacking the elites in Washington. 

MATHIEU:  Which could play in his favor. 

CARLSON:  I bet it will.

MATHIEU:  To be an outsider?  Here you go. 

CARLSON:   Yes, because it‘s not like you can look at the National Republican Party and say, you know, they‘ve done a great job, they really represent ideals I can believe.  They are total sellouts, they‘re total phonies, in a lot of cases.

I hope he does run...

ANDREWS:  What a unique strategy, running against Washington. 

CARLSON:  No, no, but running against your own party.  I mean, Republicans are mad at their part, and they ought to be.

Whatever happened to the war against the war?  Iraq was supposed to be the issue of this election.  When was the last time you heard candidates argue about it?  They have all agreed to be quiet for some reason.  We‘ll tell you why. 

And all together now, poor Bill Clinton.  Yes, he is rich and famous and free to do just about anything he wants.  But according to him, he is still a victim. 

Has his incessant whining about himself helped his wife‘s campaign, or has he hurt her? 

We‘ll tell you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Can you remember way, way, way back, all the way back to last year?  The Democrats had just taken control of Congress on the promise to end the war in Iraq immediately, yesterday.  Fast forward to today, and it‘s hard to find anyone in public office still talking about shutting down the war. 

Has the war that once divided the country become an afterthought, or have Democrats simply lost the will to fight President Bush?

Joining me now, longtime opponent of the war, Democratic Congressman from Virginia, Jim Moran. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on.

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA:  Good to be with you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So there was a meeting, according to The Politico, of antiwar groups recently in Washington.  Here‘s a quote from John Isaacs, the executive director of Council for a Livable World. 

He said, “There‘s a consensus that last year, fighting the war was not productive.  Our expectations were dashed.”

Various antiwar groups spent $12 million opposing the Iraq war, pushing you in Congress to do something about it.  You refused. 

MORAN:  It‘s not that we refused.  We couldn‘t get it through the 60-vote requirement in the Senate.  So it was a no-win proposition in the same way that the war itself is. 

We‘re not going to get 60 votes in the Senate.  And so we‘re going to wait until we have a new president and get the kind of leadership we need out of the White House. 

CARLSON:  I wonder—I mean, that‘s a completely valid case, and I‘m not mocking your explanation, but your constituents, the ones who voted—the people who voted, there‘s a lot of members who really rose to prominence on the basis of their opposition to the war.  Their constituents come to them and say this president is less popular than Chlamydia.  OK?  The war is deeply unpopular, too.

You‘re the majority.  You can‘t do anything?  What do you say to them. 

That‘s not an adequate answer, is it? 

MORAN:  I think you share their frustration.  You know, like Bill Clinton used to say, I feel your pain. 

We share that frustration.  We‘re beside ourselves that we haven‘t been able to do anything.  But, you know, even if we could get it through the Senate, which we haven‘t been able to, the president vetoes it.  There‘s no conceivable way we can get two-thirds vote.  So the president has succeeded, and...

CARLSON:  And yet, your leadership refused to even try a number of different tactics, which struck me as kind of reasonable.  For instance, the idea that you would pay for the war with tax increases. 

MORAN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  Right?  That was an idea that I believe you supported. 

MORAN:  Yes.

CARLSON:  And yet, Nancy Pelosi, your leader, said, no, that‘s too controversial, that‘s too scary.  I‘m afraid of that.  No.

MORAN:  We didn‘t have the votes.  We didn‘t have the votes.  It was...

CARLSON:  There‘s no value in trying on principles?

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN:  Jack Murtha, myself, a handful of others, we couldn‘t even—we couldn‘t get it through the Ways and Means Committee. 

CARLSON:  Why couldn‘t—I mean, if the war is so unpopular, why wouldn‘t you have the votes? 

MORAN:  Tax increases, people just weren‘t...

CARLSON:  No.  I mean, funding the war in general.  I mean, during Vietnam, there were many Republicans, Mitt Romney‘s father, for one, who came out against the war and sided with Democrats in opposing the Vietnam War.  In the Iraq war is so unpopular, if, as you have said many times, it‘s so immoral, then why couldn‘t you get the votes? 

MORAN:  Tucker, I don‘t know.  I can‘t give you a satisfactory answer. 

CARLSON:  But interesting, though, you‘ve got to admit.

MORAN:  I think it‘s what we need to do.  Nobody has asked to sacrifice anything except these kids that are over there fighting the war and their families.  Nobody else. 

Now, we may—of course, if we‘re in a recession we‘re not going to ask anybody to sacrifice.  We‘re not going to pay for the economic stimulus package.  You don‘t ask people to sacrifice today, and that‘s one of the reasons why we are not as great a nation as we could be and should be, as far as I‘m concerned. 

CARLSON:  So you‘re blaming the American people? 

MORAN:  I‘m blaming its leadership.

CARLSON:  Well, no, but...

MORAN:  I‘m blaming the leadership in the White House who has never asked one American to sacrifice anything to wage this war except those kids that are in the military themselves. 

CARLSON:  Now why is it—if tax cuts are so selfish and bad—and that‘s been your position I think for a long time—why are even Democrats supporting tax cuts for the stimulus?  Even Democrats acknowledge, because it‘s an economic truth, that tax cuts stimulate the economy.  But they are immoral.  So why would Democrats be for them? 

MORAN:  I don‘t think tax cuts are necessarily immoral, obviously.  But we had breakfast with Larry Summers (ph) yesterday, and he said if you don‘t do a stimulus package and if it‘s not the right stimulus package, then you‘ve probably got a 50-50 chance of this economic recession being long and deep. 

Otherwise, if you do the right thing, you could probably get out of it. 

There‘s a 75 percent chance it will be short and shallow. 

And you know, we don‘t want this to be a long, deep recession that extends into next year.  We know we‘re going to have one, at least a severe economic downturn.  We want to get out of it at least by the fall. 

CARLSON:  But you‘re acknowledging that tax cuts are part of the answer. 

MORAN:  A tax rebate.  We‘re not talking about cutting taxes. 

What we‘re going to do is give back some of those taxes...

CARLSON:  Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MORAN:  Well, people whose incomes are less than $115,000 maybe for a couple.  We give them back maybe $900.  We extend unemployment benefits because it‘s tough in many areas of the country to find a job.  We‘d probably extend food stamps, because that money gets spent immediately. 

And, you know, it will cost us maybe $100 billion to $200 billion.  But a lot of people are suffering, not necessarily in the Washington area, but too many around the country. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MORAN:  And we need to be empathetic about that. 

CARLSON:  Jim Moran of Virginia.

Congressman, thanks very much. 

MORAN:  All right, Tucker.

CARLSON:  Appreciate it.

MORAN:  Good. 

CARLSON:  Hillary in the crosshairs again.  This time, it‘s a pro-Obama group‘s radio ad which says the former first lady doesn‘t respect Hispanics.  We‘ve got the whole story coming up. 

Plus, is it time for Fred Thompson to bow out?  Is it make or break tomorrow in South Carolina for the former Tennessee senator? 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The crucial Democratic race in Nevada tomorrow may hinge on the support of an often-ignored but crucial group of mostly new voters, Hispanics.  The race to win their allegiance has become ugly, as this new radio ad paid for by a pro-Obama textile union shows.  In the ad, Hillary Clinton is accused of not being on the side of Hispanics, among other things. 

Back with us, the national director of “Win Without War,” Tom Andrews, and program director and anchor for “POTUS ‘08” on the XM Satellite Radio network, Joe Mathieu. 

Welcome back to you both. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  This ad, I have to say—I mean, I think almost all of the dirty tricks in this campaign have originated in the Hillary Clinton for president operation, and they‘ve been disgusting, injecting race, et cetera, et cetera.  But this ad is offensive and it comes from people who support Obama. 

Let me read it.

The translation—this is in Spanish, and it‘s, as I said, by a union that represents primarily textile workers—“Hillary Clinton does not respect our people.  Hillary Clinton supporters went to court to prevent working people to vote this Saturday.  That is an embarrassment.”

“Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday.  This is unforgivable.”

“Hillary Clinton is shameless.  Hillary Clinton should not allow her friends to attack our people‘s right to vote this Saturday.  This is unforgivable.  There‘s no respect.”

Now, part of this is true.  She was against voting in casinos on the Strip.  And that‘s offensive and shameless, which, you know, she is shameless.  But Hillary Clinton does not respect our people?  That crosses the line. 

MATHIEU:  Tough talk, absolutely.  And it‘s so tough that it‘s actually now renewed this alliance between Senator Obama and John Edwards, who was out with an e-mail today that hit all of our e-mail boxes, and you probably saw it, denouncing the campaign and telling the Clinton campaign to pull it down—or the Obama campaign, rather. 

CARLSON:  Right.

MATHIEU:  This is just the beginning though, is it not?  We‘re heading into Nevada.  This is tough stuff. 

What happened legally with regard to the caucus sites in the casino resorts, even pulled the former president into it yesterday.  There‘s a lot of angry people here. 

CARLSON:  Well, see, I guess what I don‘t like—I mean, there‘s all sorts of meanness in politics and people say mean things, but whenever you try explicitly, or even implicitly, to divide people by race, it‘s not good.  I mean, we‘re not the Balkans, don‘t want to be the Balkans.  It‘s—Hillary Clinton does not respect our people?  I mean, that brings it to an ethnic level that I think is bad. 

ANDREWS:  Yes, it is bad, and it‘s unfortunate, and you hate to see this kind of thing happen, particularly if you‘re a member of the Democratic Party.  You know, this is a very unfortunate thing. 

The whole point to going into Nevada and South Carolina after Iowa and New Hampshire was to give more opportunity for more Democrats to participate in the process and for them to have a say in who‘s going to be the next president.  There weren‘t enough minorities that were participating and showing up, obviously, in Iowa and New Hampshire.  So we expanded it.

So, first of all, I think it‘s very much over the top and very unfortunate.  But I also think that the Democratic Party should be congratulated whenever it‘s trying to expand the opportunities for particularly minorities to participate in these elections. 

CARLSON:  Targeting people by race, it should be congratulated for that?

ANDREWS:  No, not at all.

CARLSON:  Does that make this a better country, do you think?

ANDREWS:  Listen, it was an attempt, and I think any time you can make an attempt to give more people an opportunity to show up at these caucuses—listen, I‘m from a caucus state, the state of Maine.  It‘s not just showing up and casting a ballot and walking back home. 

You have to show up to a location, you have to spend sometimes several hours at that location.  So the only way that‘s going to actually happen for many, many people is if it‘s convenient to their work. 

Was it good that they only had some people that had the opportunity to go to these caucuses?  No, they should have expanded it even more.  But it seems to me that you should not be opposing and suing the Democratic Party for expanding... 

CARLSON:  Oh, I totally agree.

ANDREWS:  ... opportunity for people to show up...

CARLSON:  I completely—even though I think the Clintons have a point that the system itself is kind of crooked and rigged, the idea that you have to caucus in front of your boss or the shop steward when your union has endorsed one candidate, and you have to get up in front of all your colleagues and say, no, I dissent from the popular view... 

MATHIEU:  That‘s what this story is really all about, especially when you consider who is going to be walking into these caucus sites.  We‘re not talking about Tucker Carlson here, we‘re talking about people—bellhops, guys who park cars, guys who wash dishes.

CARLSON:  I don‘t know.

MATHIEU:  With all due respect—I know you‘re a Vegas guy...

CARLSON:  Yes.

MATHIEU:  With all due respect, these are not necessarily the most educated people, these are not necessarily people who are used to speaking up to their boss.  They are going to walk in there in uniform on the job.  And like you said, their shop steward is going to be standing there, and you‘re telling me they‘re going to make the case to vote for Hillary Clinton? 

CARLSON:  Just go and have a primary.  That would be my feeling.

Well, when press conferences go bad, Mitt Romney gets up in a reporter‘s face after a testy exchange.  Was the reporter right or was Mitt Romney? 

We‘ll show you the tape. 

And a kinder, gentler Hillary hits the talk shows.  We‘ll tell you what she had to say about her toughest time in public life.

This is MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

rMD+IN_rMDNM_          MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don‘t have lobbyists running my campaign.  I don‘t have lobbyists that are tied—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That is not true.  Ron Kaufman (ph) is a lobbyist. 

ROMNEY:  Did you hear what I said?  Did you hear what I said? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said you don‘t have lobbyists running your campaign. 

ROMNEY:  I said I don‘t have lobbyists running my campaign and he‘s not running my campaign. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s one of your senior adviser. 

ROMNEY:  He‘s an adviser.  Listen to my words.  All right?  Listen to my words. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Running your campaign and giving you advice?  Come on. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Save your arguments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He approached me. 

ROMNEY:  Let‘s you and I talk. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘d be glad to talk any time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Except for a few spells of sentimental mistiness weeks ago, Mitt Romney‘s pique at an AP reporter Thursday was the first evidence that the former Massachusetts governor is, on some level, just like you and me.  He gets mad.  The episode raises two questions; was Romney‘s position factually accurate?  And, in either case, did this moment of humanity help his cause? 

Here again, national director of Win Without War and former congressman from Maine, Tom Andrews, and program director and anchor for POTUS 08 on the XM Satellite Radio Network, Joe Matthews joins us.  Welcome to you both. 

I‘m not even sure—they both seem so grumpy in this.  Who cares if there‘s a lobbyist working on his campaign.  When is that against the rules?  Lobbyists aren‘t prima facie evil. 

ANDREWS:  The problem for Mitt Romney though is that he has this image now, whether it‘s earned or not, that he‘s going to tell you whatever he thinks you want to here.  Whatever a pollsters says, he‘s going to tell you.  Now, the pollsters have said Americans hate lobbyists.  They hate Washington.  So he says, I hate lobbyists.  I hate Washington.  I‘m not going to have any lobbyists associated with my campaign. 

The problem when you do that is that reality can bite your rhetoric on the behind.  In this case, not only is this guy Kaufman a senior advisor of Mitt Romney‘s campaign, but the policy chairman of his campaign is one of the most prominent lobbyists in D.C., Vin Webber (ph), who served in Congress when I did. 

CARLSON:  Vin Webber is a very smart guy.  It makes me think more of Mitt Romney that Vin Webber works for him. 

ANDREWS:  Exactly, but this is the point; there are good lobbyists and bad lobbyists.  Vin Webber is a decent guy.  I don‘t agree with him on many issues.  But he‘s a decent man. 

But when you decide that you‘re going to pin your campaign on this broad brush stroke attacking all lobbyists -- 

CARLSON:  I agree.  You‘re right.  When is someone going to run on the side of Washington, say, you know what, the one thing I don‘t like is leaving the beltway.  It‘s that outside the beltway mentality.  Washington is filled with smart people who care about the future of the country.  Actually, impressive people who are not as venal as the stereotypes suggest. 

MATTHEWS:  You say that because you live here. 

CARLSON:  I do live here.  I‘m not from here.  I like a lot of lobbyists because I know them.  I didn‘t start out liking them.  But I‘ve learned to like them because a lot of them are really impressive people.  You‘re not allowed to say that now?  Demagoguery makes me sick. 

MATTHEWS:  This is potentially damaging because he‘s framed his campaign as an outsider.  Two things here, first of all, I think the candidate Mitt Romney does deserve some credit for maintaining his composure.  I‘ve seen a lot headlines about Mitt Romney blowing his cool and all this stuff. 

He was pretty cool, actually.  He kept forcing the smile and I think that was good.  But let‘s talk about the reporter here.  I‘m a reporter.  I would never sit on a floor, first of all, without standing up to address a presidential candidate, and then with the smug attitude he.  I thought it was actually pretty disrespectful, no matter what you think of Mitt Romney‘s politics.  I don‘t think the Associated Press was probably really happy about that. 

CARLSON:  Toward the end of campaigns, people either openly love or despise the candidate.  A lot of reporters love Obama and John McCain, and they despise Mitt Romney. 

MATTHEWS:  But get over yourself. 

CARLSON:  I agree. 

ANDREWS:  As a recovering politician, I always learned, if you pick a fight with an AP reporter, you‘re probably going to lose. 

CARLSON:  Of course you‘re going to lose.  Do you have your own wire service?  No. 

Hillary Clinton went on “The Tyra Banks Show” and was asked predictably about her husband‘s infidelity.  Really interesting answer.  Here it is.  This is Hillary Clinton on “The Tyra Banks Show.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TYRA BANKS, “THE TYRA BANKS SHOW”:  How did you persevere during the darkest moment in your life? 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, because I had tremendous faith, number one, I really had to dig down deep and think hard about what was right for me, what was right for my family.  And I never doubted Bill‘s love for me. 

BANKS:  Were you embarrassed? 

CLINTON:  Well—

BANKS:  I would be embarrassed. 

CLINTON:  Well sure. 

BANKS:  Do women come up to you and ask for advice?  My husband stepped out on me, I‘m going through hell right now, what do I do?  Have they done that?  What do you say?

CLINTON:  Yes, all the time.  I say you have to be true to yourself.  No one story is the same as any other story.  I don‘t know your reality.  I can‘t possibly substitute my judgment for yours.  But what I can tell you is you must be true to yourself.  You have to do what is right for you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I know we‘re not supposed to admit the fact Hillary Clinton was wronged by her husband has helped her enormously politically.  It makes the feminists mad.  The feminists are mad because it‘s true.  It stings.  True things sting.  Truth is, that really helps her.  She didn‘t do that interview by accident.  Her campaign understands that when she gets into empowerment talk, that female voters like that. 

ANDREWS:  I don‘t know if she set up that interview. 

CARLSON:  Come on. 

ANDREWS:  For crying out loud, the fact is that your profession set it up.  You‘re the ones who think it‘s going to have great media value.  So let‘s relive a chapter that—depending on your age, everybody knows what happened. 

CARLSON:  I‘m saying, it helps her at the polls. 

ANDREWS:  We are in two wars simultaneously.  We are in a recession.  We‘ve got all these problems facing this country.  Let‘s talk about the future and let‘s not keep dragging our self back into the past. 

CARLSON:  I couldn‘t agree with you more.  That‘s why I find it so nauseating that, A, that kind of conversation really helps Hillary Clinton with voters.  And B, her campaign, knowing that, sets up opportunities for her to have that kind of conversation.  Clearly that‘s what‘s going on. 

MATTHEWS:  As someone who has requested over 100 interviews with Senator Clinton and has not received one yet, I can assure you that it was carefully choreographed between the campaign and the program.  I am sure that is the case.  The fact of the matter is she had to address it at some point.  Everyone is asking this question.  So she picked a very safe place to do it.  The applause sign was lit up.  It went over very well in the room. 

But does this actually play well with middle America?  Watching a presidential candidate come on a daytime talk show between soap operas to talk about her husband‘s personal life?

CARLSON:  Yes, because she survived.  The message is, you persevere, you remain true to yourself, you hang in there, honey.  Everything is going to be OK in the end.  Which is actually probably pretty good advice.  I‘m not mocking the advice.  I‘m merely saying this is Oprah.  People look at this and they say, you know what, she understands me.  She understands my problem.  She‘s a strong women.  There‘s no question that helps her. 

MATTHEWS:  Now we‘ve also got the image of all these women coming up to Senator Hillary Clinton, a senator and presidential candidate, asking her about what it‘s like to have your husband cheat on you. 

CARLSON:  It‘s so embarrassing, I agree, but it works.  Speaking of things possibly embarrassing but may or my not work, the Fred Thompson campaign—I like Fred Thompson.  I think he‘s a really good guy, sort of Reaganesque figure who‘s going precisely nowhere.  He was asked the other day on camera, what are your guilty pleasures, and he gave this answer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, none of my pleasures are guilty ones.  I like a good cigar every once in a while, but I don‘t feel guilty about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Why can‘t we elect someone who isn‘t guilty.  Wouldn‘t it be nice for once. 

ANDREWS:  It reminded me of that question asked during the recent debate, what is your weakness, and all—at least Barack Obama is the only one that gave an honest answer to that.  It was so refreshing.  But I care about people too much and all of this stuff.  People want an honest answer. 

CARLSON:  Have you seen what Barack Obama—It‘s amazing you brought that up.  We actually have what he said.  Barack Obama, like all of them, was asked, what are you bad at.  He said, I‘m a messy guy.  Meanwhile, John Edwards said, I care too much.  I weep when America suffers.  Hillary says I get impatient when people aren‘t working hard enough to make this a better world. 

Here is what Barack Obama said when asked about that exchange recently.  He said, quote, “because I‘m an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, what‘s your biggest weakness.  If I‘d have gone last, I would have known what the game was.  And then I would have said, I like to help little old ladies across the street.  Sometimes they don‘t want to be helped.  It‘s terrible.” 

MATTHEWS:  Live at the Improv.

CARLSON:  Live at the Improv, pretty good though.

MATTHEW:  It‘s kind of a new side of Barack Obama.  Maybe we‘ll see more of that over the next 24 hours as he tries to make a dent in Nevada.  I think that was actually pretty effective, because most people have a messy desk.  Do you? 

CARLSON:  No. 

ANDREWS:  But he was genuine.  People see through politicians, and they just hate it.  When you actually contrast a genuine moment versus a phony moment, it works for you.  Maybe he‘ll set a trend. 

CARLSON:  Since they see through politicians, can we all just stop pretending that Bill Clinton is a great politician, a great campaigner, a great asset to his wife?  Two pieces, one in the Post today, “Washington Post,” another in the “New York Times” both talking about his inability to stay on message, his propensity to explode in anger.  In the “Washington Post” he‘s literally whining, quote, “the Republicans were so mean to me,” whining about his presidential terms.  He‘s not helping his wife.  Can we admit that? 

ANDREWS:  He‘s not helping his wife.  He‘s not helping the Democratic party.  He‘s not helping the country.  Listen, we don‘t have to relive the past.  The present that we‘ve got in here is pretty grueling enough.  We‘ve got some major decisions to make.  The future is very uncertain.  Let‘s talk about the future, please and let‘s get over it. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I just hope that no other person will say, he‘s the most brilliant politician of his generation. 

MATTHEWS:  The fact of the matter is he is a great politician. 

CARLSON:  Why is he hurting his wife‘s campaign if he‘s so brilliant? 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what‘s so interesting about this, because here he is; he‘s got a lot of attention all of a sudden, and he seems to be moving more and more towards this setting the record straight routine and talking about ten years ago.  Monday, by the way, is the anniversary. 

CARLSON:  Right, well it‘s always about Bill Clinton, always and everywhere.  Tom, Joe, thank you both very much. 

Many of the stories coming out of South Carolina have to do with Senator John McCain and the so-called dirty tricks being employed to sabotage his effort in that state.  But is the press making a martyr out of McCain by making more of this story than we ought to be making?  By all accounts, the attacks on McCain are fewer and less severe than they were eight years ago. 

Joining me now from the scene, with the answers, the man who wrote this story this morning for “The Politico,” Jonathan Martin.  Welcome. 

JONATHAN MARTIN, “THE POLITICO”:  Tucker, how are you? 

CARLSON:  So talk about a counter-intuitive piece; the rest of us are foaming about how South Carolina is the meanest place ever.  It‘s like hell, basically.  You‘re saying it‘s not so bad. 

MARTIN:  Look, there‘s no question in 2000 there were some really sharp elbows, some real dirty tricks.  The fact of the matter is, this time around the facts just aren‘t there to support that a similar campaign is happening.  There have been some robo-phone calls by the exact same folks that did the same phone calls in the previous three states.  You just didn‘t hear about it in those states because those states aren‘t renowned for down and dirty tactics.  Only in South Carolina can a down and dirty story be written by some kind of journalistic rule. 

So here it is.  Once again that story is being written, even though the facts aren‘t there. 

CARLSON:  I think, as you put it this morning, the gloves have stayed on. 

MARTIN:  That‘s exactly right. 

CARLSON:  Nevada strikes me as much nastier than South Carolina.  the McCain campaign, and I‘m not attacking McCain, whom I like and respect, but they seem to be doing all they can to gin up the story of the unfair attacks on the senator.  

MARTIN:  Well, of course, because it generates a certain degree of sympathy for him, because the folks down here were embarrassed by what happened to their state in 2000.  They regret it.  So for the McCain campaign to remind them at every turn that such tactics are being used again can only help them politically.  The fact is, it‘s nothing near what it was in 2000.  There have been, Tucker, county coroner races here in South Carolina that have been more dirty in recent years.  This thing is PG at best. 

CARLSON:  We‘re hoping for R at least.  I hate to put you on the spot, but since you are one of the smartest people in politics I know, what do you think is going to happen tomorrow? 

MARTIN:  It‘s tough to game this thing out, Tucker.  It kind of reminds me of Iowa, where all the smart political elites in the state thought that Romney had it locked up.  But Huckabee pulled a lot of votes out from the evangelical community.  It smells the same way here.  McCain widely favored by the smart set here in Columbia.  But Huckabee has this vote that maybe you can‘t just poll.  Maybe they come out of the pews tomorrow en masse and give him a victory. 

Nobody has a sense of what‘s going to happen.  The one thing I would mention though is the weather.  It‘s going to be raining, maybe sleeting here tomorrow.  The folks here aren‘t used to that.  Will Huckabee‘s folks stay home?  Will they come out?  McCain‘s, who knows? 

CARLSON:  If they really love him, they will come.  That‘s the test. 

MARTIN:  That‘s right.  That‘s the question. 

CARLSON:  Thanks a lot, Jonathan. 

We know what happens to the candidates who go on to win their party‘s nomination.  But what about the dropouts.  Where are they when all is said and done.  We‘ll tell you in a minute.

President pushes for tax cuts.  He may have found the right piece of equipment to get that job done.  We‘ll tell you what it is.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  There‘s a lot more happening in Washington.  Not all of it‘s on the front page.  The most interesting material sometimes is deep inside the paper and that‘s where we find Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, who join us now.  They are, of course, the ladies of “The Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.”  Welcome, happy Friday. 

What does happen?  You all have insight into one of the questions that has bothered me for years.  You drop out of a presidential race.  What happens next? 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  They are a little vague about this. 

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  We were expecting some great stories about how they finally get to take that trip to Bermuda—

ROBERTS:  Hog the remote, who knows, basic things you do. 

ARGETSINGER:  Catch up on the Net Flix queue.

ROBERTS:  But no.  When we called—we called Biden.  We called Richardson and Dodd.  Let‘s just say there was a scarcity of details.  What we know is this; Governor Richardson took one day off.  He spent, quote, quality time with his wife.  No further details on that and went back to being governor.  Biden went back to Delaware and was not heard from for a week, which we found shocking. 

ARGETSINGER:  He had nothing to say for a week.  Joe Biden! 

ROBERTS:  And Dodd, who had moved with his kids and wife to Iowa for a year, packed up the next morning—he doesn‘t get to sleep in, because the kids are still little—and had a homecoming party the day after back in Connecticut.  Then presumably they are back doing the people‘s business. 

CARLSON:  I bet he was glad to get the hell out of Iowa in January. 

ARGETSINGER:  People who run for president are not like you and me apparently. 

CARLSON:  No, they are not.  I do like Chris Dodd, though, charming guy.  So Maureen Dowd, I was reading in your column, fell ill on a trip with the president? 

ARGETSINGER:  Who has made a living skewering the Bushes.  She went off on the president‘s trip to the Mideast.  She was in the press corps that was following his visit.  As soon as they got to Jerusalem, she fell deathly ill, like the worst stomach flu ever.  The White House aides kept offering her, do you want to see the president‘s doctor.  She demurred.  She said, no, no, no. 

Finally, by the time they got to Bahrain, she was so sick, she said, yes, I‘ll see the president‘s doctor.  The president‘s doctor hooked her up with some Cipro (ph) and some Pepto Bismal (ph) --

ROBERTS:  Totally pampered her.

ARGETSINGER:  She got to see the special doctor‘s office that they set up in the luxury hotel in Bahrain, where the White House folks were staying.  Yes, she feels like they may have saved her life.  It doesn‘t mean she‘ll necessarily be looking out for the president next time around. 

ROBERTS:  She ate a little bit of humble pie by circumstances, I think. 

ARGETSINGER:  She wasn‘t able to write her column last Sunday.  She was that sick. 

CARLSON:  So what is—Finally, tell me quickly, this could be the sign of the end of times.  In fact, I don‘t even believe it‘s true.  Another hell story, I want to hear it right from your mouths.  Christopher Hitchens—

ROBERTS:  Christopher, warrant‘s funniest, smartest, baddest boy, always has a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other—

ARGETSINGER:  Now he‘s got a free hand. 

ROBERTS:  He gave up smoking, not only gave up smoking after 35 years, he gave it up cold turkey.  He hasn‘t touched one for three months.  He said he hasn‘t really had a desire to. 

CARLSON:  That‘s just unbelievable.  No more Rothman‘s.  I can‘t visualize Hitchens without a cigarette.  I‘ll believe it when I see it.  Thank you so much.  Have a happy Friday. 

Lindsay Lohan is about to see dead people.  We‘re not talking about a sequel to Bruce Willis‘s blockbuster, her close encounter with the dearly departed when we get back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Enough talk about the future of this country.  Time now for our Lindsay Lohan update.  Joining us from headquarters, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  So Christopher Hitchens quite smoking? 

CARLSON:  It is a little bit shocking.  I know that‘s a good development, but it makes me sad. 

WOLFF:  I just can‘t imagine the kind of mood he‘s in, never exactly cheery.  But my god, steer clear.  Tucker, there isn‘t much that qualifies as important, in light of the ‘08 campaign, the economy, world events, except these items; the Associated Press reports that fallen starlet Lindsay Lohan, who is famous for reasons known only to the most abject pop culture fanatic, will serve two four-hour days as a worker at a southern California morgue as part of community service for her guilt on drunk driving and cocaine charges. 

Yes, Lindsay Lohan in the freezer with the stiffs.  But eight hours of service with the recently deceased still puts Miss Lohan ahead of Britney Spears on the shame scale.  The Associate Press, which reported Lohan news, is itself reported to have written Britney‘s obituary.  Pre-death obituaries, of course, standard procedure in the news media just in case, but it is a rare day that a 26-year-old merits that sort of unwanted attention, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That seems a little early.  The Pope, Gerald Ford -- 

WOLFF:  Old people, infirmed.  Ariel Sharon, people not doing well.  She‘s 26 and the AP has written her obit.  Stay tuned.  We‘ll bring you details as they become available. 

Barack Obama has written of his own youthful experiment with controlled substances, as certain rival campaign surrogates can‘t stop reminding everyone who listens, Tucker.  Today, the “Huffington Post” reports that Obama volunteers in San Francisco, California have rented that office space, and it has its own history.  It seems that the campaign office currently there was the home of that place, West Coast Growers, a one-stop merchandiser specializing in everything a person would need to raise his or her very own crop of marijuana in the privacy of his or her own home or flop house. 

Obama moved into a former I don‘t think—you don‘t call it a head shop.  It‘s a home growers depot. 

CARLSON:  It‘s the hydroponic campaign. 

WOLFF:  You have really done your research. 

CARLSON:  I‘m from California, Bill, come on. 

WOLFF:  Dude, where is my campaign? 

CARLSON:  Very good.

WOLFF:  On the day President Bush proposed tax relief in the order of 150 billion dollars to stimulate the slowing U.S. economy, he visited a manufacturing plant in beautiful Frederick, Maryland there.  As you can see, the president took a ride on a stand up lawn mower.  Look at him go.  It‘s like a segue with a bad attitude or maybe one that just quit smoking.  It does appear to defeat the purpose of the riding lawn mower, which is that you get to sit down. 

Then again, Tucker, I never understood non-alcoholic beer, mountain bikes or dress shoots with hiking boot souls.  Call me crazy.  The stand up lawn mower?  Isn‘t the whole point you can sit down, smoke a cigarette, drink a beer. 

CARLSON:  That was, but the country is more vigorous than they used to be, Bill? 

WOLFF:  Is that right?  What about the sofa affect we discussed yesterday on the program?  That‘s not about vigor. 

CARLSON:  No, it‘s not.  The Republican party, unfortunately, is a little enervated at the moment. 

WOLFF:  I‘m confused by the facts.  The Obama campaign has been the beneficiary of Internet adulation from the site named Obama Girl, the curvaceous performer who proclaimed her love for the candidate wearing revealing outfits in Youtube videos.  There‘s now a reply from an equally devoted if less obviously alluring Hillary Clinton supporter.  Here is a sample. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  Just my observation.  I‘m not commenting on either of the campaigns, Tucker, but I‘ll go with Obama girl. 

CARLSON:  It is kind of the perfect metaphor. 

WOLFF:  Which one? 

CARLSON:  Both.  That‘s the choice America faces.  America, don‘t screw it up.  Bill Wolff from headquarters.  Thanks a lot, Bill. 

WOLFF:  See you tomorrow, buddy.

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  We‘ll be hanging around this weekend with coverage of the primaries in Nevada and South Carolina.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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