updated 1/24/2008 12:24:41 PM ET 2008-01-24T17:24:41

Guests: Margaret Carlson, Hilary Rosen, Bob Franken, Robert Sommer

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  Maureen Dowd be damned, Bill Clinton doesn‘t care what you think about his role as Hillary Clinton‘s chief attack agent.  The former president was on the campaign trail yet again today criticizing Barack Obama to anyone who would listen.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  When he put out a hit job on me at the same time he called her the senator from Punjab, I never said a word.  And I don‘t care about it today.  I‘m not upset about it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

T. CARLSON:  In fact, Mr. Clinton said, quote, “I kind of like seeing Barack and Hillary fight.”  Of course he does.  Fighting keeps Obama off his intended campaign message.  He keeps him on the offensive and it pits Obama, who is one man, against a two-headed campaign juggernauts in Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, putting aside concerns like the dignity of an ex-president or strict adherence to the facts. 

Is there any political downside at all to Bill Clinton‘s current attack? 

With her husband stumping in South Carolina, Mrs. Clinton tours the states of Super Tuesday.  She‘s not remaining in South Carolina because after all she is not the first black first lady.  Instead she headed west to court Latino voters in California before heading to Pennsylvania to pick up the endorsement of Governor Ed Rendell. 

What if the strategy cost Hillary the South Carolina primary?  Well, according to one now prominent theory, an Obama win in that heavily black state will be used to beat him in the rest of the country. 

The woman who has first deposited that theory explains it in just a minute. 

Margaret Carlson is here. 

Then the Republicans are duking it out in Florida whose primary is Tuesday.  John McCain has the sentiment, the momentum and the endorsements, like that of retired General Norman Schwartz Cough.  But by his own admission, McCain does not have much economic acumen and his campaign doesn‘t have a lot of money. 

Mitt Romney certainly has money—his own—and his entire candidacy is built on his business experience. 

What does all of that spell in the ever-muddled GOP race?  We‘ll tell you in just a minute. 

But we begin with the South Carolina primary and the idea that losing South Carolina is, in fact, part of Hillary Clinton‘s plan to win everywhere else. 

Joining me now is Bloomberg News columnist and all around seasoned Washington hand Margaret Carlson. 

Margaret, thanks for coming on. 

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS COLUMNIST:  Seasoned means old, Tucker. 

T. CARLSON:  That doesn‘t mean old.  It means great.  It means one of the wisest people in the capital city, and I have proof tonight because you were, I think, the first person to write what is now essentially conventional wisdom in Washington. 

Let me put up a part of a very (INAUDIBLE) column you wrote on this question, quote, “For Obama, he lost the essence of his candidacy as the first black man to run as himself.  Once the race card is on the table, no matter who puts it there, it‘s impossible to put it back anyone‘s sleeve—up anyone‘s sleeve.  Obama may look back on the first two weeks of 2008 s the time when he lost the nomination to Clinton. 

Wow.  What exactly do you mean by that? 

M. CARLSON:  Well, Obama spent his whole clear transcending race.  He‘s never used race in any context of what he‘s been doing.  He needed to transcend race, he wanted to, and he came into the election as somebody whose whole persona was not to be Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or play identity politics. 

And then in two weeks, suddenly, Obama is the black candidate.  And it started with the, you know—comparing Martin Luther King and LBJ.  That was put out there by the Clintons. 

Now, did they just think that maybe there were other dreamers or other

remember, the whole theme coming out of Iowa was he‘s a talker and I‘m a doer?  That was the theme.  So they wanted to find a contrast.  But they didn‘t have to pick out the leader of the civil rights movement.  Not that Obama was running away from that but it wasn‘t his identity.  And Obama became the black candidate that week. 

T. CARLSON:  Well—and the drug thing, as you point out there, if—you know, if one surrogate for Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton brought up the fact that Obama used drugs when he was a teen, that‘s one thing.  But by your count, four or five surrogates did that.  Of all the things you can hit Obama on, and there are many, there are (INAUDIBLE) -- why drugs? 

M. CARLSON:  And the excuse from the Clintons is, well, it was in his book.  And so therefore it‘s fair game. 

T. CARLSON:  There are a lot of things in his book. 

M. CARLSON:  Well, by the way, there were things in Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton‘s book that they wouldn‘t want to make issues in the campaign like impeachment or Monica Lewinsky, so I don‘t think that‘s a good basis for that. 

But one of the people who talked about it was Mark Penn, who was actually in the campaign, so it isn‘t even not only surrogates, although, as you know, when surrogates go out on the campaign trail, they don‘t go to the hinter lands to do something that the candidates doesn‘t want them to do or wouldn‘t approve of. 

So when Bob Johnson last week, the head of B.E.T., said what he said about the drug thing, he wasn‘t doing something that he thought would really offend Hillary Clinton. 

T. CARLSON:  So by becoming the black candidate, all of a sudden for, you know, the last year we‘ve been asking the question: will Obama win the black vote?  And for a long time, it seemed like he may not. 

I always saw that as a sign of racial progress, right?  People aren‘t just voting for a guy who looks like them.  Now it looks like he‘s going to win the black vote overwhelmingly in South Carolina. 

The question, as you pointed out, is: can he overcome that?  Does he alienate the rest of the country? 

Mickey Kaus has a really interesting piece today on Slate about the one thing Obama might be able to do to not be the black candidate anymore. 

Here‘s part of what he said. 

“Obama has already made noises about shifting to a class-based, race-blind system of preferences.  What is he made that explicit?  Wouldn‘t that shock hostile white voters into taking a second look at his candidacy?  He‘d renew his image as a trans-race leader.  The howls of criticism from the conventional civil rights establishment would provide him with an army of (INAUDIBLE) soldiers to fight against.  If anyone noticed Hillary in the ensuing fuss, it would be to put her on the spot.” 

What do you think of that? 

M. CARLSON:  Well, the good thing is that Obama already feels the way that Mickey says would be advantageous to him. 

T. CARLSON:  Yes. 

M. CARLSON:  .which is he believes in—like a financial-based system. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

M. CARLSON:  Poverty should get you compensation.  And, you know, maybe he could do it.  He hasn‘t emphasized that.  I don‘t even think he wants to be on the right side of it because, as you said, he wasn‘t aiming for the black vote.  He was campaigning as himself.  And remember when the polls showed he wasn‘t particularly getting the black vote? 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

M. CARLSON:  And blacks were saying—well, some of the leaders were saying, “Well, he‘s not one of us.”  And—but then the Clintons made him the black candidate, and now he has no choice.  I don‘t think you can get back, even if he were to do, oh, a class-based affirmative action system and emphasize that. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

Well, can the party get back?  I mean so many, I think, smart liberals in Washington, but I think around the country, particularly younger ones, look on this series of arguments between the candidates with real contempt to Hillary Clinton.  They think she injected race into this.  They‘re mad at her.  If she gets the nomination, as I think is probably likely, will the party still be in disarray? 

M. CARLSON:  Yes.  You know, I sometimes wonder if we do live in this rarified atmosphere where we find Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigning like this so reminiscent of a White House that wasn‘t that admirable. 

T. CARLSON:  Yes. 

M. CARLSON:  .even though it had some good accomplishments, offensive, whereas other people aren‘t going to see it that way so in the long run, the memory of Americans is very short. 

T. CARLSON:  But what percentage, would you say, of liberal, I hate to use the term, but opinion makers, columnists, reporters, people who—you know, throw their opinions out there and try to convince others are for Obama and mad at the Clintons? 

M. CARLSON:  Well, I‘ve never seen tough, hard, mean press people be so taken at an event as they are at an Obama event when he gives one of his really good speeches.  I mean, you can‘t help but be—have you been at them? 

T. CARLSON:  Yes, I have.  Yes. 

M. CARLSON:  And how do you feel? 

T. CARLSON:  I feel like as someone who‘s not going to vote for him because I don‘t agree with him on the issues.  I feel impressed by his inclusive tone.  I don‘t think he hates me for my ideas and I appreciate that. 

M. CARLSON:  Yes.  And he didn‘t hate Reagan. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

M. CARLSON:  By the way, the Clintons hate him for not hating Reagan. 

T. CARLSON:  No.  No. No. 

Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg, thank you for coming on.  I appreciate it. 

M. CARLSON:  Thanks, Tucker. 

T. CARLSON:  Bill and Hillary Clinton billed themselves as a two-for-one package in ‘92.  Obviously things haven‘t changed a lot since then except now the former president not quite as diplomatic.  Is it working?  It seems so.  But what are the consequences? 

Plus Mitt Romney compares those who disagree with him on the Middle East to Adolf Hitler.  That story ahead. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

T. CARLSON:  Apparently it takes a village to run for president or at least a husband.  Why does such a strong woman need a man in order to win? 

More on that coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

T. CARLSON:  Running for president is tough enough but running against the first woman with a shot at winning when her husband happens to be Bill Clinton is really tough as Senator Barack Obama has found out the hard way.  But this week‘s double-barreled assaults on his comments about Republicans appeared to have caught him off-guard and they‘re hurting. 

Joining us now Democratic strategist MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and online columnist Bob Franken. 

Welcome to you both. 

Hillary Maureen Dowd, who has flashes of insight and brilliant occasionally, have one today, I thought, when she wrote this about Hillary Clinton.  Pretty deep point. 

It‘s odd, she wrote, that the first woman with a shot of becoming president is so openly dependent on her husband to drag her over the finish line.  She handed over South Carolina to him knowing that her support there is largely derivative—derivative from him. 

There is a certain irony in a woman running as a strong feminist leader leaning on her husband in order to win, isn‘t it? 

HILLARY ROSEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, you know, I think that comment is much more about who Bill Clinton is than who Hillary Clinton is because there‘s no question that every candidate running for president is using their spouse where they can‘t be.  It‘s just that Hillary‘s spouse happens to gets a lot more attention than anybody else‘s spouse.  So I don‘t know.  I actually think that the fact that Bill Clinton is in South Carolina, you know, Obama has a lead there, Hillary Clinton needs to focus on states where she actually has a much better chance of winning. 

It seems to me that‘s sort of the secondary important place not the most important place.  So I‘m not sure why that‘s a bad thing.  With any other candidate‘s spouse, no one would think twice about saying oh, well you‘re behind in South Carolina but there are a lot of people who want to hear from you.  Let‘s send the next best thing, let‘s send your spouse. 

T. CARLSON:  I mean I‘m all for spouses helping each other, I‘m all for marriage.  OK?  And I even admire the fact that they‘re still married and I‘m not saying that sarcastically.  I mean it sincerely.  I just think she‘s running explicitly as a tough feminist leader and it strikes me as the behavior of someone who‘s not. 

ROSEN:  Meaning if she was really a feminist her husband would not be campaigning for her? 

T. CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right, because a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, as you know. 

Bill Clinton, apparently on the campaign trail, I just heard this from someone, and I believe it‘s true, said to at least one perspective voter, quote, “a vote for Hillary is a vote for me.” 

Now I don‘t want to—I‘m not a shrink, but let‘s be honest, this is about him, isn‘t it?  His campaigning. 

BOB FRANKEN, ONLINE STRATEGIST:  Well, I think it is.  I think first of all when we‘re talking about political spouses, I don‘t think we‘ve ever had a spouse who‘s a former president of the United States.  But what is so interesting about what‘s going on, he has decided it‘s not worthwhile of campaign from the lofty perch of being a former president.  He‘s becoming Hillary‘s Darth Vader or, I said in my column, her Spiro Agnew.  He is the guy who is going out there and doing the really nasty stuff so she can sort of sit back and play the role as the candidate who‘s above it all, and above it all meaning above what Bill Clinton is doing. 

T. CARLSON:  Are they going to get on tax charges? 

ROSEN:  Exactly.  I think that this is much less calculated on Bill

Clinton‘s part than people say in many ways, for this reason.  I think he -

Bill Clinton is one of those people who believes that no matter what‘s been said, if he says it, it will be understood a little bit better.  And so. 

T. CARLSON:  I think that‘s right. 

ROSEN:  This all started with kind of this issue of, “I don‘t think that Barack Obama has the experience.”  This is his—President Clinton‘s view.  Barack Obama doesn‘t have the experience that Hillary Clinton has, won‘t be as good a president.  Basically he keeps saying the same thing over and over again. 

T. CARLSON:  I don‘t know.  But listen. 

ROSEN:  It‘s just with different tones and different inflections. 

Sometimes he gets angry that people aren‘t accepting his view. 

T. CARLSON:  But he also is talking, and this is consistent with everything, every time I‘ve seen Clinton speak in the past eight years, he‘s given the same thing speech, essentially, which is, “I was a great president, I‘m a great person, respect me, love me.” 

Dana Mobeck has a really funny column, a smart column in the “Washington Post” this morning. 

ROSEN:  Yes. 

T. CARLSON:  .in which he describes a Clinton campaign speech in South Carolina. 

ROSEN:  (INAUDIBLE) 

T. CARLSON:  Here is what he says. 

ROSEN:  Yes. 

T. CARLSON:  Along the way, Clinton often sounds as if he‘s campaigning for a third time.  Here in Aiken, South Carolina, he tried mightily to talk about Hillary but kept lapsing into the first person: “My position on that is simple, when I was in law school, when I was president, when I was governor of Arkansas, when I started this school‘s program, I made the governor of South Carolina the secretary of education. I‘ve got a Mercury mini-SUV.” 

FRNAKEN:  But I think. 

ROSEN:  In—no.  In fairness, though. 

T. CARLSON:  Come on. 

ROSEN:  .people are coming to these events often to see him. 

T. CARLSON:  Oh sure. 

ROSEN:  And people care about what he thinks, unlike potentially other spouses.  So he has—no matter what he does in this race, he is going to be criticized for it. 

T. CARLSON:  But there‘s a runaway theory here.  And Greg Craig, I thought—how do you debate Greg Craig‘s point, when he says if Hillary Clinton can‘t control her husband on the campaign trail, holy smokes, if she gets elected president, the Democratic Party is going to regret it.  I mean (INAUDIBLE) 

FRANKEN:  Well, but there‘s one other thing here, and we‘ve both—we‘ve all witnessed his complaints about reporter coverage and media coverage, and it‘s well-known that he doesn‘t particularly like reporters.  Probably part of that is he doesn‘t suffer fools well, which would describe most of us. 

ROSEN:  Name a successful politician who doesn‘t complain about reporters. 

FRANKEN:  Well, but gets me—that‘s a good point.  That gets me to part two, I think the successful politician becomes very used to very quickly sycophants, people who don‘t dare question what this person is saying.  And I don‘t think that Bill Clinton is any exception.  So here comes some snot-nosed reporter, and he has the audacity to ask some challenging questions about what Bill Clinton is saying.  And I think that drives him off the wall. 

ROSEN:  (INAUDIBLE) never been a sicko fence when it comes to Bill Clinton.  That‘s not something. 

T. CARLSON:  Well, no—but no, the point is that needy, insecure people can‘t bear to be challenged.  So you challenge John McCain—I‘m not cheering for McCain—you challenge McCain and say, hey man, what you said is totally false.  He‘ll say, well, you know, no, it‘s not and here‘s why. 

You say that to Clinton, he immediately goes after your motives, just as he did to that reporter in California, when he said, “Well, if you‘re asking me these questions, you don‘t care about the subprime mortgage meltdown, do you?”  Huh?  Do you know what I mean?  Like you‘re not a good person if you‘re asking me these questions. 

FRANKEN:  Well, and what I would say to a public... 

ROSEN:  Well, I think it. 

FRNKEN:  What I would say to a public official who would engage in that, I‘d say do you believe in the system in the United States where the reporter asks the question and the public official is responsible for answering it?  What he tries to do and what others try and do is to turn around on the reporter to try and discredit but might be a good person. 

ROSEN:  Well, that‘s not really true.  What‘s he‘s trying to do is go around the press who only want to talk about his behavior and actually talk to people in South Carolina.  That‘s what he‘s actually been trying to do. 

T. CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t think anybody has talked about his behavior.  I haven‘t read one story about, you know, who‘s he sleeping with.  I - we - the press has been (INAUDIBLE). 

ROSEN:  Not that behavior, Tucker. 

T. CARLSON:  No, I‘m just saying the press has been putting high-minded, I think.

ROSEN:  I mean his attitude and his, you know. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  .extraneous comments as opposed to his stumping for Hillary Clinton. 

FRANKEN:  That exploding (INAUDIBLE). 

T. CARLSON:  The two are pretty hard to disentangle. 

Hillary Clinton leaves South Carolina to campaign in other states but she‘s leaving behind her husband and a new attack ad.  We‘ve got it.  We‘ll play it for you. 

Plus John McCain had less than a million dollars lest in his campaign coffers just a month ago.  Now he‘s raking in that much in just one night in New York City.  Are the Arizona senator‘s money woes over?  We‘ll tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

T. CARLSON:  Senator Hillary Clinton has left the building, while she‘s left the state of South Carolina anyway.  That‘s just three days before the Democratic primary there on Saturday.  She has instead bolted north to receive the endorsement of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and to campaign in the state of New Jersey.  But she did leave two things behind in South Carolina, her husband and a brand-new radio ad attacking Barack Obama. 

Back with us now Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and online columnist Bob Franken. 

Welcome back. 

Before—you know, let‘s just go right to the source, the primary document here which is that anti-Obama radio ad being run in South Carolina right now. 

Listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Listen to Barack Obama last week talking about Republicans. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  The Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Really?  Aren‘t those the ideas that got us into the economic mess we‘re in today?  Ideas like special tax breaks for Wall Street, running up a $9 trillion debt, refusing to raise the minimum wage or deal with the housing crisis.  Are those the ideas Barack Obama is talking about? 

OBAMA:  The Republicans were the party of ideas. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hillary Clinton thinks his election is about replacing disastrous Republican ideas with new ones like jumpstarting the economy, putting an immediate freeze on foreclosures and mortgages, cutting taxes for the middle class and creating millions of new jobs. 

With the economy in crisis, we need a president with the ideas, the solutions that get our economy working for all of us. 

Hillary Clinton, solutions for America. 

Paid for by Hillary Clinton for president. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I‘m Hillary Clinton, candidate for president, and I approve this message. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

T. CARLSON:  Have you ever heard a more close-minded ad in your life?  The attack essentially is if you dare even describe or acknowledge that the other side may have ideas, that‘s verboten.  It‘s unacceptable to say one nice thing about people who are your opponents. 

FRANKEN:  Not only that but the Obama people complained that say it‘s a distortion, that what he was saying, if he‘d—they used the second sentence in what he said is that they were bad ideas.  He goes on to say you look at the economic policies when they are, meaning the Republicans, being debated among the presidential candidates it‘s all tax cuts.  He said derisively, she conveniently forgets that.  And some people that‘s distortion. 

But I think we have to step back and before we get too sanctimonious about this kind of hardball politics or bean ball politics, we have to understand that there is view that political campaigning is a contact sport and that civility is for patsies. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

FRANKEN:  That you‘re not going to win if you don‘t get out there and fight real hard and cut corners against your opponent. 

T. CARLSON:  Well, of course, I do think you‘re right. 

FRANKEN:  Just like if I can torture a sports metaphor, in football, that‘s just the way it is and it should be expected, and anybody who doesn‘t live with that is going to be a whiner. 

T. CARLSON:  Sure.  I‘m not whining about nastiness, everybody is nasty in politics, and that‘s fine.  And it‘s informative actually, when they are and this ad is informative.  What bothers me, again, is the small-minded reactionary nature of the ad.  I mean there‘s nothing wrong with acknowledging that your opponent has ideas.  And the Clinton campaign is using the fiercest most stupid sort of partisanship to win.  I don‘t know.  I don‘t—that‘s not growing the Democratic Party, isn‘t it? 

ROSEN:  Well, it‘s—you know, fierce partisanship is exactly what many people feel like Ronald Reagan was about.  And you know, Republicans are the only ones who feel Ronald Reagan really was this great uniter in the country. 

T. CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  Most Democrats think that, you know, he sold us down the river a hundred times over. 

T. CARLSON:  OK. 

ROSE:  So I. 

T. CARLSON:  But Obama didn‘t defend Reagan, he just said he had ideas, that it was a party of ideas, which is right. 

ROSEN:  He didn‘t.  I—you know, I think that what really was interesting to me is that, as heated as the debate was the other night about the back and forth and the charges, when the next day what people appreciated the most actually, was the real discussion that they had about health care.  And that part of the debate actually got the best reviews. 

T. CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROSEN:  And I think that they—both of these candidates, and John Edwards, have been itching out these policy notions in this campaign.  Should that have been the focus of a Clinton ad?  It‘s been the focus of other ads and it should be more. 

T. CARLSON:  See I think. 

ROSEN:  But Barack Obama has a responsibility out there, too, to make this be about ideas, substantive ideas. 

T. CARLSON:  OK.  I‘m not—I agree with you.  And again, I don‘t mind hard hitting nasty ads, even mildly misleading, fine.  I‘m not—you know, I‘ve seen this a lot.  The only point is when I look at Hillary Clinton I see somebody that says you‘re not from my party, I‘m not listening to you, I don‘t like you. 

ROSEN:  No, that‘s. 

T. CARLSON:  That‘s the message. 

ROSEN:  No, it was not the message. 

T. CARLSON:  You‘re a Republican?  Oh you suck. 

ROSEN:  No.  The message is if you compliment Ronald Reagan‘s ideas, you‘re. 

T. CARLSON:  He didn‘t compliment Ronald Reagan‘s ideas, I promise. 

ROSEN:  I don‘t think he did either. 

T. CARLSON:  Yes. 

ROISEN:  But the message is if you do compliment Ronald Reagan‘s ideas you are standing for something that hurts people that we care about.  That‘s the message.  So that‘s why it‘s bad to compliment Ronald Reagan‘s ideas. 

T. CARLSON:  It‘s just so small-minded. 

ROSEN:  It‘s not the fact that he had ideas, it‘s that they were bad ideas. 

T. CARLSON:  OK.  Give me your 10 seconds. 

FRANKEN:  My 10 second (INAUDIBLE). 

T. CARLSON:  Yes. 

FRANKEN:  When you talk about small minded, big minded doesn‘t win elections, to be perfectly honest. 

T. CARLSON:  And you may be right.  Oh you‘re totally—I think—I think you‘re right.  You know, you‘ve covered a lot of elections, I have, too.  You‘re right.  It‘s just sad, just sad.  I think Obama‘s message is more inclusive and I like it for that reason. 

John Kerry attacks Bill and Hillary Clinton saying the swift-boat attacks against Obama need to stop.  Does anybody care what John Kerry thinks?  We‘ll tell you. 

Plus, Hillary Clinton attempts to (speak Spanish.)  We‘ll tell you what she said or didn‘t say. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  John Kerry is hard at work trying to help the Barack Obama campaign.  Good luck, senator.  In a new fund raising letter, Kerry writes prospective donors that many of the current attacks on Obama are, quote, nothing short of Swift Boat style anonymous attacks.  Now, in one light, a former Democratic nominee defending the reputation of a would be nominee is a good thing.  In an other, it really is the feckless schmo who couldn‘t get a date buddying up to the guy running for prom king.  Thanks but no thanks, buddy. 

Here with their analysis of John Kerry‘s campaign, we welcome back Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and online columnist Bob Franken. 

ROSEN:  That was bad. 

CARLSON:  It was only three years ago that is John Kerry—he‘s still the leader of the party, the last nominee.  Technically, he is though.  He‘s the last guy ratified by all Democrats in this country.  We laugh at him now. 

ROSEN:  Well, I think it‘s actually too bad for Barack Obama on a couple of levels.  But really the most important levels, it seems to me, maybe my timing is a little off, when Barack Obama started to complain about people attacking him, he started going down in the polls.  I actually think that Hillary Clinton found some mojo that she needed to find in New Hampshire and that the loss in Iowa helped her be a better candidate and the like. 

But really this constant victimization now that Obama has been doing this last week, I don‘t think works for him. 

CARLSON:  But Hillary is a victim, too. 

ROSEN:  I think people want to hear something bigger and better.  He‘s the candidate of change.  He‘s got ideas.  What are they?  Talk about them.  If you‘re going to have a guy who has the largest e-mail list of Democrats in the country send out an e-mail for you whining about attacks on you in that e-mail to get people to respond, I don‘t think is the way to go.  What is Barack Obama going to bring to the country? 

CARLSON:  I have to say, I think Obama has reasons to be aggrieved, but I agree with you.  John McCain, what do you think, Bob, of John McCain raising a million dollars in one night in New York City and getting the endorsement of Arnold Schwarzenegger and four previous secretaries of state.  At what point are you going to be comfortable calling him the front-runner. 

FRANKEN:  Well, I think right now.  He is considered the front-runner even long before this is over.  As we know, there‘s so much we don‘t know that‘s going to happen. 

CARLSON:  I‘m sorry to interrupt you.  I was just told by my ever vigilant producer that I referred to him as Schwarzenegger, who, of course, is a governor, not a former general, Norman Schwartzkopf is the endorser.  

FRANKEN:  I think the response to that is that he was so the last war.  I mean, who?  I don‘t think that really means very much.  But I think that there are a lot of people who believe that John McCain is the one Republican who would stand a chance after George W. Bush in beating the Democrats.  I think that implicitly at least makes him the front-runner.  

However, there‘s this inconvenient thing about all these primaries coming that are coming up.  They are going to have a lot to do with it.  Right now, he has to be considered the main man. 

CARLSON:  You‘re absolutely right.  Every Democrat I talked to, in fact even at lunch today, says, and I think they‘re telling the truth, he would be the toughest guy to beat for a Democrat. 

ROSEN:  I think he‘s the toughest.  We need a pundit calendar on this show, because at the beginning of the year we had this conversation.  John McCain was our guy.  Both you and I thought that John McCain would win the Democratic (sic) nomination. 

Two weeks ago, I sat here and you were talking about Fred Thompson‘s resurgence. 

CARLSON:  I did flirt with Fred a little bit. 

ROSEN:  You flirted with Fred a little bit and I pooh-poohed you and you got mad at me. 

CARLSON:  You mocked me on the show. 

ROSEN:  I mocked you publicly on air.  John McCain has ended up where he started, which is sort of their last best hope for somebody who can seem credible and actually be the candidate who, you know, he‘s always been.  There‘s no sort of switching around who was the real John McCain.  The Republicans are finally realizing that. 

CARLSON:  Yet the man who is ahead by the delegate count, only by a few at this point, is Mitt Romney.  There‘s a really interesting, I thought, little monologue he gave recently about the situation in the Mideast, speaking before a Jewish group in Florida.  Here is Mitt Romney.  Watch this.  I‘ll be interested to hear what you think. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Obviously during the run-up to the Second World War, there were people who listened to Hitler say that he just wanted to put together the Sudetenland, that that was what it was all about, just let‘s get together the German speaking people.  You could have read his book and found out what it was really about, which was the elimination of a people and the conquering the entire world. 

But those people who didn‘t want to read his words instead could take what he said in the press release and believe the problem was very different.  The consequence of that accommodation of his press releases was devastating to the entire world, and most devastating to millions of Jews. 

Today, we have individuals who believe that the cause of the challenges in the Mideast is the conflict in Israel with the Palestinians, and that if somehow we could have the Baker/Hamilton commission imposed, then we could just settle things between the Palestinians and Israelis, why, everything would be fine in the Mideast. 

I listen to that and simply shake my head.  This is not about boundaries. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So in other words, if you think that bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians would make things better in the Middle East, you‘re kind of like Hitler.  That‘s basically what he‘s saying. 

FRANKEN:  I suppose so.  I‘m not going to say that he is guilty of this.  Some might think Mitt Romney was pandering for his audience that he was speaking to.  He sort of dropped the nuclear bomb when he used the word Hitler. 

ROSEN:  Memo to politicians.  Never, ever, ever talk about Adolf Hitler. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that completely. 

ROSEN:  There is no upside ever.  And whenever it‘s been done, it doesn‘t end well for anyone. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree with that.  I‘ve thought that for years.  They should sign a pledge.  I will say though, this is—I can‘t believe he actually meant this.  He could just get up and say, I support Israel.  Most Americans do.  I do support Israel in the end.  But, holy smokes, to say even being worried about the battles between Israel and the Palestinians, that makes you somehow an accomodationist or sell out or anti-Israeli.  That‘s so crazy and unreasonable. 

ROSEN:  You can‘t put this genie back in the bottle. 

FRANKEN:  I don‘t think that was his point. 

ROSEN:  You can‘t explain your way around it. 

FRANKEN:  I‘m going to try and do my Mitt interpretation.  What he was trying to say is that it over-simplifies things to look at the problems in the Middle East as only being the Palestinian-Israeli problem.  That‘s what he was trying to say.  I think he got carried away.  He or whoever wrote that speech got carried away. 

We can only hope that he was ad-libbing.  If so, then there is a writer that needs to be fired. 

CARLSON:  Even Ariel Sharon couldn‘t get away with this.  Sharon, you remember, a number of years ago, said—he compared something Bush did Kristalnacht and even he, the head of Likud, had to back down.  So I don‘t think Mitt Romney—That‘s ridiculous. 

Speaking of pandering, Hillary Clinton, a native Spanish speaker, I think, was out there doing her best to pander to fellow Spanish speakers in the state of California, and here is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON:  Si se puede (ph).  That is right.  Yes, we can. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I‘m from California, but I‘ve also been to enough immigration rallies, se se puede, Caesar Chavez line.  Si se puede?  Huh? 

ROSEN:  Overcome by the moment. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t—do you really think a responsible presidential candidate ought to be chanting that anyway?  It‘s kind of a radical slogan. 

ROSEN:  It‘s an exciting rally cry.  There‘s an underlying piece here though, that we didn‘t mention, which is that she actually got the endorsement of the farm workers, which is extremely important in California.  The Latino vote is very, very important. 

And we are finding now that Hillary Clinton has become the favorite candidate of Latino Democrats. 

CARLSON:  Of course, she‘s running against the black guy.  White people are uncomfortable saying this, but there is huge racial tension between elements of the Rainbow Coalition.  That‘s true. 

ROSEN:  That‘s just not true. 

CARLSON:  It is true. 

ROSEN:  In this environment, and not in California. 

CARLSON:  Are you kidding?  Los Angeles is like, in some places, not universal—there‘s a lot of tension between immigrant Hispanics and native born black Angelinos.  That‘s just real. 

ROSEN:  I prefer to think it‘s because of her long standing work on behalf of working people.  That‘s why I think Barack Obama gets union endorsements.  He‘s worked hard for union people.  That‘s why John Edwards gets it.  They deserve all them.  I don‘t think it‘s about racial tension. 

CARLSON:  You‘re sweet to take that point of view.  Everybody is for universal health care, everybody.  I think all the Republicans are for social—basically, everybody is a socialist now, except Ron Paul.  Let‘s be totally honest. 

Considering what‘s going on in world markets and the financial outlook for America, all the Democrats now are for tax cuts as a stimulative measure.  How are we going to get tax cuts and pay for universal health care?  Are we going to have to pull back on our promises just a little bit at sometime soon? 

FRANKEN:  First of all, we‘re not talking about this being a single payer system.  Let‘s not dance on the head of that pin.  We‘re talking about different ways the insurance companies would provide health care and what the responsibilities would be for the individual.  John Edwards made a good point the other day when he was talking about whether it should be mandatory to pay for health insurance, saying the arguments against that are the arguments against mandatory Social Security contribution. 

I‘ll stop if you want to make your opinions known about that. 

CARLSON:  Are you suggesting that somehow we‘re going to get a more efficient, more inclusive health care system, but it won‘t cost anybody anything. 

FRANKEN:  No, it‘s going to cost.  What we have to do is prioritize, the Democrats would argue, and perhaps put universal health care or something quite close to that at the top of the list of national priorities.  That‘s what they are saying and maybe stop spending money on something else. 

CARLSON:  We‘ve got so many—

ROSEN:  How many months of the Iraq war would pay for this. 

CARLSON:  Hold on, we‘re not going to dismantle the Pentagon again.  Bill Clinton did that after the Soviet Union collapsed.  Obviously, we‘re not going to do that once more.  Hillary Clinton is arguing she‘s going to reorganize a fifth of the economy, but it‘s not going to add a single new bureaucrat, not going to be a new government agency, and it‘s not going to cost anything.  I don‘t think any person who is awake believes that.  Do you? 

ROSEN:  I don‘t think she said it either.  I think what she is saying is that there are changes in the system.  She believes the system is currently inequitable. 

CARLSON:  She said we‘re not going to increase the size of the government, no new agency, no new bureaucrats. 

ROSEN:  The private sector is administering health care in this country.  The private sector also has a lot of extra costs on it that they have to sustain, whether it‘s because we‘re artificially inflating drug prices by not having competition in the marketplace, or other things, so that there are a lot of ways to achieve this without simply—

CARLSON:  If she can do that for no cost, she‘s magic.  Honestly, she‘s magic. 

FRANKEN:  Quite frankly, just about any company that has a bloated bureaucracy can often times cut into that bureaucracy and still maintain the same kinds of services.  Whether she can do that or not, the bureaucracy has defied our entire history.  But that‘s what she‘s suggesting she would do. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I want to be slimmer and younger.  If she has those magical powers—

ROSEN:  You wouldn‘t actually argue that somebody has tried to do this and failed, would you? 

CARLSON:  I would say you can‘t point to single socialized -- 

ROSEN:  Somebody has tried to create a better health care system. 

CARLSON:  Name a country with socialized medicine that delivers it more efficiently, cheaper and more effectively than ours?

ROSEN:  We‘re not talking about—

CARLSON:  Of course we are. 

ROSEN:  No, we‘re not.  We‘re talking about helping employers in a more realistic way provide health care. 

FRANKEN:  -- delivers good medical care.  The problem is, in this country, it‘s not delivered to everybody.  How many people can‘t count on good medical care?  Forty seven million. 

CARLSON:  I would love to see a model society.  We could point to Sweden.  They do better.  Canada, UK, no, no, no.  We‘re out of time. 

(CROSS TALK)

ROSEN:  That‘s about money.  That‘s not about services. 

CARLSON:  Thank you both so much.  Hillary and Bob, I appreciate it. 

Barack Obama gets an unlikely endorsement from the “New York Observer.”  Hopefully Hillary wasn‘t counting on that one.  Will the other papers in New York City follow suit?  We‘ll talk to that paper‘s president, coming up.

Plus, remember those UFOs spotted in Texas earlier this month.  Well, apparently they are now very much identified.  Wait until you hear what they actually were.  We have that news. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The “New York Observer,” possibly the hippest tab in New York City, and it has now endorsed not the junior senator from the state of New York, but the one from Illinois, Barack Obama.  Why did they do that and what‘s the fall out?  Joining me now is the president of the “New York Observer,” Bob Sommer.  Bob, thanks for coming on. 

ROBERT SOMMER, “NEW YORK OBSERVER”:  My pleasure. 

CARLSON:  Why did you do that? 

SOMMER:  We believe Barack Obama speaks to the future of this country.  We like to view our readers as some of the smartest, most—some of the brightest readers in the country and especially in New York.  We wanted to be the first out of the block to say Barack Obama is the candidate that speaks to the future. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but I mean, she‘s your home town senator.  You must be under some—as far as I understand it, the “New York Observer” doesn‘t have the biggest circulation in New York, far from it, but it is read by everybody in the media, everybody in politics.  It has influence.  Were you under pressure not to endorse Obama. 

SOMMER:  First off, we‘d love to take that as an advertisement for the paper in the future.  So if we can continue to do that, Tucker, I‘d appreciate it. 

CARLSON:  It‘s true.  I read it. 

SOMMER:  It absolutely is true.  As to feeling pressure about who we were going to endorse, we specifically stated Hillary is an extraordinary United States senator.  She‘s done a great deal for the city of New York and a great deal for the state of New York.  But in our view, Barack Obama is the voice of the future and the voice that speaks to the American people in a way no other candidate has in a generation. 

And once in a generation a candidate like this comes along who speaks to America in a way that others don‘t.  That‘s why we went with Barack Obama. 

CARLSON:  Here is an excerpt from the endorsement, from the editorial; quote, “Mr. Obama has found his strength in the generation that succeeded the Baby Boomers.  Speaking for the frustrations of those who wished their leaders would just get over themselves, get over the 1960s, get on with resolving issues that threaten our globally leadership.” 

In other words, I‘m glad you went to Woodstock.  Shut up and go away. 

Good for you. 

SOMMER:  Hardly.  What we‘re really saying is we view ourselves ahead of the curve, both to our readers and to the media at large.  We went out to be the first to endorse in the Democratic primary.  We were the first to endorse in New York.  And we think that Barack Obama speaks in a voice that others have not been able to do yet in this campaign.  And that‘s why we think he should be the choice for voters in New York for the Democratic primaries. 

CARLSON:  On the other hand, I bet the Hillary people are looking at this and saying, that‘s so perfect.  The “New York Observer,” it‘s read by rich yuppies, by Ivy League people under 40, the Democratic elites.  They are liberal.  They‘re hip.  They have long earrings.  That‘s Barack Obama‘s base is your readership. 

SOMMER:  First off, if that‘s an accurate description of our readership—I think that‘s part of our readers.  But I think our readers are more.  Our readers are thought leaders and not just opinion followers.  They are also opinion makers.  We‘re trying to make them understand why we were going in this direction, because though we think, again, Hillary is an extraordinary United States senator, we think Barack Obama is the rarest kind of candidate, the candidate that comes along once in a generation to speak to the future and excite both young voters to get back into the process, but also speak to voters who have, perhaps, been tired of the white noise of every presidential campaign for the last generation. 

He cuts through that and speaks to the way we think a presidential candidate should. 

CARLSON:  Bob Sommer of the “New York Observer.”  I really appreciate you coming on.  Thank you.   

SOMMER:  A pleasure.  Thanks for having me. 

CARLSON:  The day would not be complete without a Britney Spears update.  She was back in court again today or was she?  We‘ll get a report from our senior Spears correspondent Bill Wolff, coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  For more on the relative merits of the Democratic candidates‘ health care plans, we turn now to Bill Wolff at headquarters in 30 Rock. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  I‘m not at liberty to make comment on them, Tucker.  Although, I agree with you that it‘s curious, how will we pay for it, my friend.  Any answers? 

CARLSON:  No clue. 

WOLFF:  No clue.  I‘m going to stay away from campaigning of all kinds, particularly negative campaigning, and report to you that yesterday, Tucker, we reported on the report about the report that Britney Spears generated as much as 120 million dollars annually in the U.S. economy.  Today, the driving force of the Britney Industrial Complex herself was doing what she does best, not appearing in court to plead with the judge to let her see her two sons whom she has been banned from visiting because she‘s a complete mess. 

Britney reportedly went to the courthouse, cleared security, then got cold feet, said she wanted to leave and left.  No ruling yet from the judge on this one.  But the smart money is not on Britney.  Now, the court has not ruled but in the all-important court of public opinion, Britney has picked up some help from a character witness.  Paris Hilton told E Entertainment News that, quote, she‘s a great mother and a great girl, and I really care about her, end quote. 

I think that‘s going to make all the difference.  I think you‘re going to see a turnaround in the whole case. 

CARLSON:  Ouch.  That hurts right there.  I got an e-mail from a viewer last week that said, you know, you‘re being mean to a woman with severe mental problems and a disintegrating family life.  Stop being mean to Britney Spears.  I responded and said I will never do it again.  I make my pledge, I will never again say a mean word about Britney Spears.  I officially feel sorry for her. 

WOLFF:  I would report that I‘ve never said a mean word about Britney Spears.  I love the girl. 

CARLSON:  I agree you haven‘t gone there.  I‘m just saying, I‘m never going there. 

WOLFF:  Paris Hilton, another story.  Now, there‘s a place in Texas where several dozen people swear they saw an unidentified flying object, or UFO, on the evening of January 8th of this year.  There was even some videotape of the incident.  Two weeks later, that‘s now, the United States Air Force Reserve advises the public not to worry.  In fact, say America‘s fly boys, there were ten F-16 fighter jets doing a training exercise in the Stevenville, Texas area that night. 

Initially, officials said there hadn‘t been any planes in the area that fateful night.  They said today they erred in their estimate of zero and wanted to set the record state, quote, in the interest of public awareness, end quote.  Said Kenneth Cherry (ph), the Texas director of the Mutual UFO Network, of which I‘m sure you‘re a member, quote, I find it curious that it took them two weeks to fess up.  I think they are feeling the heat from the publicity, end quote. 

So, Tucker, trust the government about UFOs or don‘t. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they know the truth, Bill.  Deep inside some bunker out in Northern Virginia, they have the bodies from Roswell. 

WOLFF:  All I‘m asking is, who named it Area 51, the aliens?  Hmm.  As pointed out by Val Nicholas (ph) of NBC News promotions, if it is Area 51, it means there‘s 50 other areas.  Be afraid. 

I‘ve got more space news and reason number one zillion that I‘m never blasting off.  Tucker, Super duper rich guy Richard Branson today unveiled a scale model of his proposed new civilian spaceship.  There it is.  It‘s all part of Branson‘s plans to make space flight available to people like me and you, six at a time. 

He says, testing of the ship will commence later this year.  If the thing actually works, it will cost about 200,000 dollars per passengers for a ride.  And there are already more than 200 reservations for a seat on Virgin Galactic.  Reportedly among the interested are physicist Stephen Hawking, designer Philippe Starck, and of course the woman who was Pam Ewing on “Dallas,” Victoria Principal. 

To me, it looks like something a nine-year-old kid pretends is a rocket ship after he only gets toy jet planes for his birthday.  Unimpressive.  That‘s my initial report.   

CARLSON:  I‘d book a seat if I could afford it.  Very cool.

WOLFF:  One more space news for you.  There are people who believe there‘s life on Mars because there seems to be photographic evidence.  If you look closely at the photo right there, you see something in the corner.  There are people on the Internet—and they are never wrong—who say that‘s a man.  To me, it looks like something that looks like Sasquatch sitting on a rock.  I don‘t think that something is Sasquatch, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  I disagree with that.  If you look right to the left, it‘s the abominable snowman taking a cigarette break. 

WOLFF:  And there‘s Mikey dying of Pop Rocks. 

CARLSON:  Bill Wolf, a man who remembers the ‘70s well.  Thanks, Bill. 

WOLFF:  Less well. 

CARLSON:  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.  In the meantime, “HARDBALL” with Chris is next.  Have a great night.

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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