updated 2/3/2008 12:29:39 PM ET 2008-02-03T17:29:39

MR. TIM RUSSERT:  Our issues this Sunday, this is it.  In just 48 hours, Super Tuesday, more than 20 state primaries and caucuses across the country. The final four leading candidates:  for the Republicans, it's John McCain or Mitt Romney; for the Democrats, it's Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.  With us, he helped put Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House in 1992: Democrat James Carville.  She worked for Bush 41, Bush 43 and Dick Cheney: Republican Mary Matalin.  He's worked for both John McCain and Mitt Romney: Republican Mike Murphy.  And he's worked for John Kerry, Al Gore and the man who just endorsed Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy:  Democrat Bob Shrum.  The race for the White House through the eyes of Carville, Matalin, Murphy and Shrum, only on MEET THE PRESS.

Welcome all, and do we have a lot to talk about.  Well, this is it.  It's Christmas, kids.

Offscreen Voice:  Oh, man.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let's start with the Democrats and start with the very latest polls.  And here's the roll call:  First, Alabama:  Obama, 44; Clinton, 37. Next, Arizona:  We have Clinton, 43; Obama, 41.  Georgia:  Obama, 47; Clinton, 41.  Illinois, hometown for Obama, 55, 24.  Missouri:  Clinton, 47; Obama 41. New Jersey, this is tightening:  Clinton, 46; Obama, 39.  New York, hometown Clinton, 54-to-38.  California, the Mason-Dixon has it 45-to-36.  The Field poll in California out today, 36-34.

Here's the landscape.  Those are the states that are at stake Tuesday for the Democrats.  The advantage for Hillary Clinton, we believe, are in the following:  Arizona, New York, New Jersey, California, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Massachusetts.  Advantage Obama:  Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, North Dakota, and we have Alaska.  The toss-ups:  Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah.

Mike Murphy, what does it all tell you?

MR. MIKE MURPHY:  It is a real race, and he's moving fast.  That's the problem.  I think if it were before the Kennedy endorsement, before some of this momentum, after her great comeback in New Hampshire, she kind of took things back.  Now, after Kennedy, in the last couple of days most of the polls show movement with Obama getting close to her.  And movement doesn't stop. Polls tend to be a day or two behind reality.  So we're going to have a mixed result.  It won't end the race, but it could really be a wash, which is a big, big win for Obama.  This is huge.  It's almost a national primary, and he's the candidate I think with energy.

MR. RUSSERT:  James Carville, if Hillary Clinton, because of her name recognition and longevity in American politics is considered the incumbent...


MR. RUSSERT:  ...should she be concerned by the closeness of some of those states?

MR. CARVILLE:  Well, anybody--right now, everybody's concerned about everything.  Obama's not 100 percent, no.  So I mean, I get it, there's one sort of known and an unknown candidate here.  His--that, that, that is dissipating.  I think that what the Hillary Clinton campaign takes some, some hope in is the fact that the polling seems to have stabilized.  If anything, that she, she went up a little bit after the debate.  We'll wait and see if, if that's just a pause in Obama's momentum or there's something real there. But all of these--all of this tells us these states are awfully close.  It's going to depend on what's in these voters' minds.  I'll tell you, if, if, if "it's the economy, stupid" in their minds, she'll do better; if it's Camelot in their minds, Obama will do better.  We don't know.  We're going to know Tuesday night.  It's just amazing, stunning.

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Shrum, Barack Obama raised $32 million this quarter, Hillary Clinton 10.  Does the money factor play into this?

MR. BOB SHRUM:  Oh, I think it plays into it as the process goes on longer and longer.  It could go on all the way to Pennsylvania.  Look, the conventional wisdom here is that is all going to break about 800 delegates, 800 delegates.  But sometimes these things break at the end, and Mike Murphy could be right.  It could also break the other way, by the way, it could break toward Hillary Clinton because the real question is, with his momentum, are the lines going to cross?  Is there a moment when she's in the position which is very perilous, I believe, in any campaign, of trying to hold on to what she has.  He's in the position of trying to move forward.

And I--by the way, I believe everybody misreads that debate.  I don't think that debate was about the issues or who was slightly better than anybody else. I think it was like the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960.  People looked at it, and they made a decision because there was a stature gap, because she has more experience and they wanted to see whether he could sit on that stage with her. And he at least did that, at least did that well, and in that sense I think it helped him a lot.

MR. RUSSERT:  Could they envision either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama sitting at the desk in the Oval Office?

MR. SHRUM:  I believe they could.


MS. MARY MATALIN:  Well, that's the point.  See, what Obama doesn't have is he does have 100 percent ID now, but he doesn't have love in the states.  He doesn't have machinery.  Where he has done best and beat her, exceeded her, was where he had campaigned for a long time.  There's been many pieces in the paper about how he's running against the clock now.  She is a machine, and the machine is going to matter in these proportional states.  You hate to reference tactics here with all this lofty talk as it changes the choice, but some of these Democrats are actually looking to the fall, past the whole change hoo-ha, and going to the choice who sits up better not just in the Oval Office, who sits up better against the Republicans.  And I think they think that Hillary is a tougher candidate.

MR. SHRUM:  Oh, Mary has endorsed Hillary.


MR. SHRUM:  That is not a favor to Hillary.  Let me tell you, that was the one thing she didn't want this weekend.

MR. MURPHY:  One poll--in all this forest of polls in a year where we've learned to be a little worried about these last-minute polls, there's one that if I were working for Hillary Clinton would scare the heck out of me, and that's California, because I've seen a private poll, similar numbers, about two points, and he's been picking up almost a half point to a point a day. And everything happens first in California, and that's a good bellwether.  If it's bad there, it's going to be bad everywhere.

MR. RUSSERT:  What would happen if Hillary Clinton lost California?

MR. CARVILLE:  It would be bad.  It would be really bad.

MR. RUSSERT:  Really bad.

MR. CARVILLE:  Yeah, it really would.  I just know.  I'm for her, I love her to death, I think she would be a great president, but losing in--I mean, I guess if she carried a bunch of other states, generally what happens--and I agree with Bob--generally what happens is, is that it breaks in favor of one candidate or the other on Election Day.

The other thing I would say, I don't know a political professional who would place any stalk in a 36-34 poll.  There is just not that big...

MR. SHRUM:  Right.

MR. MURPHY:  Right, right.

MR. CARVILLE:  ...of undecideds in California.  I promise you that.  Now, I don't want to have a Field poll down on me, but there's not a political professional in the world that wouldn't automatically discount a 36-34 poll right now.

MR. RUSSERT:  Forty-eight hours before an election.

MR. CARVILLE:  That, that, that is not--that is not an accurate poll. There's something wrong in the reporting of the way...

MR. RUSSERT:  It seems like an eternity ago, but on Monday Senator Edward M. Kennedy came here to Washington, American University, and endorsed Barack Obama, standing with Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the 35th president of the United States, and this is what Kennedy said.  Let's watch.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA):  He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past.  He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical.  He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in without demonizing those who hold a different view.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Bob Shrum, what does that endorsement mean?

MR. SHRUM:  I think it was a very powerful endorsement.  It--the--Teddy has at times been--he's my friend, but he's at times been the lion in winter.  I think he might be the lion in springtime for the Obama campaign.  I think he kick-started that campaign, gave it a new start.  He said a year ago that he would endorse someone if they inspired him, if they inspired the country.  And I think he made that decision.  He thinks that Obama can be a transformative figure, thinks he's ready to be president, and knew exactly what he wanted to say in that speech.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mary Matalin, we have Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, Oprah Winfrey and Carolina Kennedy in Los Angeles today.  Do those kinds of big events work?

MS. MATALIN:  They work towards what is a conventional wisdom in this cycle, which is not--endorsements haven't meant much, but enthusiasm has meant a lot. That's what Huckabee did in Iowa.  Stronger than but less coverage than the Kennedy endorsement was Claire McCaskill in Missouri, senator, and Governor Sebelius in Kansas, his home state.  These are women, these are--they were sort of tangentially attached or committed to Hillary.  So those kinds of endorsements mean something.  This is a lot of hoo-ha.  It might, it might contribute to the enthusiasm, but we have not written off on this show and the punditocracy has written off Hillary so many times you can't even count, so...

MR. SHRUM:  Well, let me make clear, I'm not writing her off.  What I think happened on Monday was that Ted Kennedy had a huge impact in giving Obama a new chance, a new entry into this race and no other person could have had the same impact that he had.  But I'm not writing her off.  I think it could break toward her, it could break toward him.

MR. MURPHY:  But in--it--she was anything but written off till she started losing primaries.  What happened was that great comeback in New Hampshire made it a real race.  I think the Kennedy thing has one other dimension.  He's clearly a big battleship, huge power in the Democratic Party, to the extent endorsements matter.  But he may be the key to unlocking the Latino vote, which is where Obama's had trouble, and that's another thing to watch in California if it does go Obama's way.  I think Kennedy could get a lot of credit for moving in those numbers.

MR. RUSSERT:  And those are exactly the congressional districts that Kennedy campaigned in over the weekend.

MR. MURPHY:  Exactly.  They know it, and they're playing that strategy.

MR. CARVILLE:  First of all, women, what we're seeing here--and, and everybody knows this--women are disproportionately higher proportion of the Democrat electorate than they are the general electorate, obviously, 55, 57 percent sometimes.  It's not surprising to me at all that the Obama campaign would have Michelle Obama with Oprah Winfrey and Caroline Kennedy campaign for him in Los Angeles.  However, Senator Clinton, we got to be fair to her here, she has a strong hold on these women voters.

MR. CARVILLE:  They have come in, and they've, you know, they've basically saved her in, in, in New Hampshire.  And, you know, a lot of questions...

MR. RUSSERT:  Overwhelming gender gap in favor of Senator Clinton.

MR. CARVILLE:  Exactly.  Yes!

MR. RUSSERT:  State after state.

MR. CARVILLE:  State after state.  And, and, and it's not in a general electorate that--it's kind of 52, 48, women, men; 51, 49.  In a Democratic electorate it could be 55, 56, even 57 percent in some.  The Obama strategists understand this.  I had a, a friend of mine, a, a woman in, in Connecticut that got six pieces of mail from, from Hillary's campaign.

MR. SHRUM:  That same conversation.

MR. CARVILLE:  I mean, it's really--they--everybody--we're--people watching MEET THE PRESS, both of these campaigns know this down to the core.

MR. SHRUM:  Yeah.  Yeah.

MR. CARVILLE:  And believe me, if you're a woman in any of these Super Tuesday states, you're going to get a lot of mail.  You're not going to be lonely.

MR. SHRUM:  But you left--you left out one piece of information.  She got six pieces of mail; her husband got--who's also registered Democrat--got not one piece of mail.  And I think that tells you where the Clinton people want to put their resources.  But number two, I'm not sure that you shouldn't send the guy at least one piece of mail.

MS. MATALIN:  A husband should vote like their wives.  That's--we're moving it to a new era.

MR. CARVILLE:  None, none, none of this is surprising...

MR. SHRUM:  Never happen, Mary.

MR. CARVILLE:  ...and these strategists know that.

MR. RUSSERT:  A big debate on Thursday night.  One of the lines was most repeated was offered by Hillary Clinton in her response to the dynasty question.  Here's Hillary Clinton.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON:  And you know, it did take a Clinton to clean after the first Bush, and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Mary Matalin:

MS. MATALIN:  You know, this--even Democrats, thinking Democrats, this is not going to be a race about Bush.  They have united--this party's been united on one organizing principle for eight years, it's anti-Bush.  People are over it.

MR. RUSSERT:  But in a Democratic primary?

MS. MATALIN:  Even Democrats are over it.  What're you going to do?  What are you going to--and always, always elections are about the future.  They're not about the past.  She's just--it's just a--it was cute, it was clever, but in was, in the end, sophistry.

MR. CARVILLE:  I think what they were--I think what Senator Clinton was saying is, is there's really economic troubles here, and before you go vote, you need to think about that.  I think was this more focusing people on economic problems.  Then Friday morning you have this 17,000 net jobs loss. That is what, what, what the Hillary Clinton campaign thinks that voters will think going into the thing here is, we are--have very, very big problems in this country.  What's the best way to solve them?  Do you want an experienced, steady hand on there or do you want somebody who's kind of new, gives a great speech?  That's what they would like the election to be framed as.  That's what she was--she was trying to get away from the dynasty question as much and put it on an economic question, is what she was trying to do.

MS. MATALIN:  Well, that really popped out for me!

MR. MURPHY:  Well, if I were--no advice from me, but I'd be careful with clean up analogies.  Place needed to be steam cleaned after Bill Clinton.  I don't think that was a particularly powerful...

MR. SHRUM:  I've got a--but, look, James clearly is trying to get them to understand that it's the economy, stupid...


MR. SHRUM:  ...the line he used a long time ago.  I'm not sure it cuts that way at this point.  I think people may believe that Obama can actually deal with the economy, too.  The real question people are asking here, I think, is, number one, who's going to stand for change, much as Mary hates it.  Number two, who's up to the job.  And I want to say, Hillary Clinton--that was not only a great line in the debate, I heard her give a terrific speech this weekend.  I think she has a new stump speech where she says we got to go beyond deadlock, beyond fear-mongering, beyond distortion and change this country.  She almost sounded like she was channeling Obama.  That should've been the speech she was giving from the beginning.

MR. MURPHY:  And when you can't beat them, copy them.  And that's clearly what she was trying to do.

MR. CARVILLE:  But, but, but we do agree what they were trying to do is focus it.  I'm, I'm saying that's was what Hillary was trying to do with that line.

MR. SHRUM:  James, I think you've been trying to get them to focus on the economy for some time.

MS. MATALIN:  But I'm not against change.  It's that change is certain.  OK? This is a change.  It's going to change no matter what.  It's always about a choice.  She's got to get them to focus on the choice in the general election. It's not--he just can't ride the change...

MR. SHRUM:  But, Mary, if we change, for example, from Bush to Cheney, we wouldn't really change.  It might get a little worse.

MS. MATALIN:  Cheney, the guy I would've been for, is not in the race.

MR. SHRUM:  I know, but he wouldn't have...

MS. MATALIN:  There are two guys I would've been for, and they're not in the race:  (unintelligible)...and Cheney.

MR. SHRUM:  If you were for him, he wouldn't have won either.

MS. MATALIN:  McCain is change.  Romney is change.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right, we're going to get to the--we're going to get to the Republicans, I promise.

MR. CARVILLE:  All right.  Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me stay with the Democratic debate.  A large part of the debate was on Iraq.  Senator Clinton was asked about whether her vote for the war was a mistake and what it meant.  Let's watch Senator Clinton's response and then the--Senator Obama's comments after her answer.  Let's watch.


SEN. CLINTON:  I believe that it is abundantly clear that the case that was outlined on behalf of going to the resolution--not going to war, but going to the resolution--was a credible case.  I was told personally by the White House that they would use the resolution to put the inspectors in.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA:  The legislation, the authorization had the title, "An Authorization to Use Military Force--U.S. Military Force in Iraq." I think everybody, the day after that vote was taken, understood this was a vote potentially to go to war.  I think people were very clear about that. That's--if you look at the headlines.  The reason that this is important, again, is that Senator Clinton, I think fairly, has claimed that she's got the experience on day one.  And part of the argument that I'm making in this campaign is that it is important to be right on day one.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Mike Murphy.

MR. MURPHY:  A very powerful line for Obama, that was his high point of the debate.  It's an issue where the Democratic primary voters are more lined up with him, and, you know, I thought that was his moment, just like the cleaning thing was hers.

MR. RUSSERT:  James Carville--and before you answer, "Take it Back:  Our Party, Our Country, Our Future," best-selling book by James Carville and Paul Begala.  And here's what it says:  "Some of the Democrats who supported the war in Iraq began to claim their vote was to put pressure on Iraq--that they voted merely to give the president the option to go to war.  Bunk.  The war resolution was a blank check.  The language of the resolution could not be clearer.  `The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate' against Iraq." Mr. Carville, was her answer bunk?

MR. CARVILLE:  Well...

MR. MURPHY:  Begala, Begala wrote that paragraph, right?

MR. CARVILLE:  First of all, first of all, the governor of Louisiana once said of the attorney general of Louisiana, "If you want to hide anything from Jack Gremillion, stick it in the law book." And I don't know if that's fair, Mr. Russert, for you to actually read my book and quote me.  I mean, I didn't mean--look, Senator Clinton--and I say this, I think her--given her answers, exactly.  She believed the Bush administration.  That was a mistake.  And it was a mistake then, it's a mistake now.  Every now and then politicians make mistakes.  I love her to death.  I look at--she's made so many right decisions in her career.  This was not a--the decision to believe the Bush administration was not a, was not a good decision.

MR. SHRUM:  But don't, don't you think she would have been better off if she'd just said from the beginning it was a mistake?  Because I went through the necessity of parsing with John Kerry.

MR. CARVILLE:  I--right.  Right.

MR. SHRUM:  She didn't have that necessity.  And she could have said like two years ago, "The vote was a mistake, let's move beyond it," and I think I've said on this show before...


MR. SHRUM:  ...she would have been a lot better off.

MR. CARVILLE:  I--maybe.  But you know, in her mind I think is what, what they say, is that, based on the information that she had, she thought it was the correct vote at the time.  Obviously she doesn't think it is.  This thing has been played and replayed.  Every voter knows that she voted to authorize the war.  Every voter knows that she said the Bush administration assured her of this.  It's a judgment call.  Voters are going to have to assess that when they make a decision.

MR. MURPHY:  Every politician has a blind spot, and hers is never admitting failure or mistake, and she's paying a price.

MR. RUSSERT:  Even the 11 Amendment, where the question from the political person was that people wanted to know about that, an amendment by Carl Levin that would have sent, in effect, this resolution off the table and moved to the United Nations for more discussions.


MR. RUSSERT:  She said, "Well, I didn't want to subordinate the U.S. interest to the U.N." And no one involved in that resolution said that was the issue.

MR. CARVILLE:  Well, Senator Feingold, Senator John Kerry, all those voted against it.  Senator Feingold expressed some of these same concerns.

MR. RUSSERT:  But Senator, Senator Levin, the sponsor...

MR. CARVILLE:  I know, Senator Levin thought that, and I don't think--and I think Senator Levin did.  But they were, Senator--I know Senator Feingold did, Senator Kerry did also...

MR. SHRUM:  But Senator Feingold voted against the whole resolution.

MR. CARVILLE:  I think Senator--I know...

MR. SHRUM:  I mean, so...

MR. CARVILLE:  So it's, again, I think all of this is fair to bring up, but also, in her--she did--her state had just been hit in 9/11.  The administration told her that.  I didn't, I didn't agree with her vote, and I can't sit here and say that I did.  But it's one of those things.  I do know a lot of things that she has done that I really agree with and passionate about, and I know her person and I love her to death.

MS. MATALIN:  Well, here's a quick counter, Tim.  For eight years they've been saying Bush is a dope, so her argument is, "I've been duped by a dope." That's what they've been saying this whole...


MS. MATALIN:  ...time, yes.  And another thing about that, you know when you guys say about Iraq, we want to end the war, we want to resolve Afghanistan, you never say we want to win the war, we want to defeat the jihadis.

MR. MURPHY:  Yeah.

MS. MATALIN:  And there are eight million people watching that, and you guys are dancing on the head of a pin of something that happened years ago, which is basically saying I was duped by what she presumes to be a dope.

MR. MURPHY:  I agree with it.  That was a big moment, she said, "I want to resolve the war in Afghanistan." Not in the Democratic primary, but in a general election, that's the kind of thing that's going to go back if she's the nominee, and hurt her.

MR. SHRUM:  I--can I defend her?  I think...


MR. SHRUM:  I think she--all she was saying, resolve the war.  It's not--she doesn't want to get out.  Don't start smearing her before she's the nominee.

MR. MURPHY:  Well...(unintelligible).

MR. SHRUM:  She wants--she does want to win the war in Afghanistan.

MS. MATALIN:  (Unintelligible).

MR. SHRUM:  All you have to do, all you have to do is look at her record.  In fact, she's been attacked for being too tough on this.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right, let me, let me...

MR. MURPHY:  (Unintelligible).

MR. SHRUM:  So I want to defend her on that.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn to Senator Obama...

MR. SHRUM:  Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...the issue there is one of experience.  When I listened to Senator Kennedy speak, he talked about Harry Truman, the former president...

Voice:  Right.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...and John Kennedy.  And so we at MEET THE PRESS love going back into history...

Voice:  Right.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...and we've been able to find exactly what Harry Truman said about John Kennedy back in July of 1960.  Let's watch this.


PRES. HARRY S.  TRUMAN:  Senator, you--are you certain that you are quite ready for the country, or the country is ready for you in the role of president in January 1961?  I have no doubt about the political heights to which you are destined to rise, but I'm deeply concerned and troubled about the situation we are up against in the world now and in the immediate future. That is why I hope that someone with the greatest possible maturity and experience would be available at this time.  May I urge you to be patient.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Incredible.  Two days later, this is how John Kennedy responded to Harry Truman.  Let's watch.


PRES. JOHN F.  KENNEDY:  The world is changing.  The old ways will not do. It is time for new generation of leadership to cope with new problems and new opportunities, for there is a new world to be won, a world of peace and good will, a world of hope and abundance, and I want America to lead the way to that new world.

Today I say to you, with full knowledge of the responsibilities of that high office, that if the people of the nation select me to be their president, I am ready.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Forty-eight years later, maturity, experience, "be patient," "I'm ready."


MR. SHRUM:  It's the same debate.

MR. MURPHY:  Yeah.

MR. CARVILLE:  I--but--I--but I'd like to make a point here in comparison. Senator Kennedy had served 14 years in the United States Congress.  Senator Obama's served three.  Senator Kennedy was a decorated combat veteran and had won a Pulitzer Prize at this time.  I mean, he was young and fresh.

MR. SHRUM:  Well, senator--I don't want to...

MR. CARVILLE:  I know, but I'm just saying...

MR. SHRUM:  Senator Clinton has served five years in the Senate.


MR. SHRUM:  Served six years in the Senate.  He--Obama's served four.  I don't think that's the critical question.  In 1960, Kennedy was attacked this way.  People didn't vote for him for president because of his legislative record.  Franklin Roosevelt, when he ran in 1930--and, Tim, if you'd--if MEET THE PRESS had been around, you'd have this on tape in one way or another, at least audiotape--Walter Lippman said he was a man of no substance and no significant accomplishments.  I mean, that was kind of a bad prediction, but the fact is...

MR. CARVILLE:  Governor of New York and secretary of the Navy.

MR. SHRUM:  No, but he--he'd been--but he'd been assistant secretary to the Navy, actually.  He'd been governor of New York for four years.  And Lippman said he hadn't done anything, hadn't stood up for anything.  People watch these debates, they watch these campaigns, they make a judgment.  I actually agree with you.  Hillary Clinton should've been running all along on the economy and on change.  I think making this experience argument has not helped her.  She started out as experienced, inevitable, establishment.  And it's proved to be a double-edged sword.

MR. MURPHY:  The problem is, change isn't really the right word for why Obama's campaign's so powerful.  What he's really talking about is rejection of what people perceive to be the broken status quo of politics.  And Hillary Clinton, not only by chronology, but by style, for most of the campaign, has embodied that to a lot of voters.  And so that's where Obama's power is.  He's a certified outsider.  When I was doing the Arnold race, when we were doing the recall race for Schwarzenegger, the Democrats saw us coming up in the polls, and they dropped the big H-bomb on Arnold, which was the Dianne Feinstein spot, tremendously popular California Democratic senator, who basically said the guy's not ready, in a soft way, to be governor.  We went up in the polls because people liked the idea that Arnold was not ready to be governor.  They were so tired of government in Sacramento.

Obama has some of that same energy going, and that's why these experience, what were your SAT scores, these kinds of attacks...

MR. CARVILLE:  They don't cut it.

MR. MURPHY:  ...they don't cut it.

MR. SHRUM:  How many years vs.  how many years?

MR. RUSSERT:  We're not going to do that at this table because I think we'd have a weak link or two.  But, you know, here--just a small footnote, when Harry Truman came on television to make those comments about Senator Kennedy, the television set in Senator Kennedy's office went down, out of order, and the staff from Kennedy's office ran across the hall to...

MR. SHRUM:  To Richard Nixon's office.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...to Richard Nixon...

MR. SHRUM:  Because he was vice president, and his office was across the hall.

MR. RUSSERT:  And Herb Klein, the press secretary, invited in the Kennedy people to watch Truman trashing Kennedy.  I just love this.

MR. SHRUM:  And he was probably rooting at that point for Truman, Herb Klein, I think.

MR. MURPHY:  Back then, right, yeah.

MR. RUSSERT:  I'm going to show you another comment from Barack Obama and then come back and talk about it as well, because this goes to the issue of electability.  Here's Obama on Friday.


SEN. OBAMA:  I'm confident I will get her votes if I'm the nominee.  It's not clear that she would get the votes I got if she were the nominee.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Talking about the Democratic base, crossover independents, Republicans.  The Washington Post is out today.  Their headline is, "Obama, Clinton even in the national race." Clinton's up by 4 amongst Democrats.  Then they compare McCain and Clinton in a general election, and this is what they come up with.  McCain, 49; Clinton, 46.  Then they compare McCain and Obama, it's Obama, 49; McCain, 46.  James Carville:

MR. CARVILLE:  I think it--I think it's something.  I'm not going to say it's nothing.  I remember John Kerry was like 14, 15 points ahead in the Gallup in poll of March of '04.  If you go to the general election, and I think the economy is going to be the dominant issue here, Senator McCain has said, I think quite honestly, that, that he's not very--he doesn't know very much about the economy, it's not his issue.  If you want the matchup, I think the case for Senator Clinton to make is, is she does.  She is, she is schooled in this.  She's thought about it a good deal.  The public thinks that she's very knowledgeable about this.  Well, that'd be a stronger nominee against Senator McCain or would Obama, who the public has not a lot of, a lot of faith in his expertise in these matters.  How does that match up?  That's a question that's going to have to be resolved.  But he has--he certainly has a lot of energy right now, I'd be the first person to say that.  And we're going to see how this thing gets flushed out on Tuesday.  But I think Democrats are going, going to vote...

MR. SHRUM:  James, I love you, but I want to be fair here.

MR. CARVILLE:  All right, be fair.

MR. SHRUM:  As you've suggested to Hillary.


MR. SHRUM:  I will buy you dinner anywhere you want if Barack Obama has said the economy is not my issue.

MR. CARVILLE:  No, I didn't.  I said--Obama...

MR. SHRUM:  That's what just said.

MR. CARVILLE:  No, I did not say Obama said that, I said McCain said that, Bob.  But I'll buy you dinner if you can show me in a transcript that I said it.

MR. SHRUM:  (Unintelligible)...look, look, what--first of all, Obama shouldn't even be making this argument.  It's a political argument, he ought to skip it.  He ought to be talking about big things.  Secondly, there's a memo that came out from the Clinton campaign from Mark Penn saying that actually she'll do better with independents, so she's a stronger candidate. This follows an earlier memo from Mark that says the primaries that--where independents can vote are unfair to Hillary Clinton because they don't support her.  I mean, a three-point--look, he runs three points stronger, or six points stronger against McCain right now than she does.  That doesn't matter.

MR. MURPHY:  Yeah.

MR. SHRUM:  The truth is, over the months it's going to change in a lot of different ways.

MR. MURPHY:  I think if there's one lesson for the punditocracy this year, it's...

MR. SHRUM:  Yeah.

MR. MURPHY:  ...we're always going to be wrong when we try to decide the future based on what's happening right now.  All we know is it's going to be a close race, and there are a bunch of really strong candidates out there.  I think most Republicans are--take Hillary Clinton very seriously but are a little bit more afraid of Obama simply because she's a little more divisive. And that's about all I know.

MR. RUSSERT:  Before fore we take a break and talk about the Republicans, I do want to talk about the, the Bubba factor, William Jefferson Clinton.  After South Carolina, he seemed to go off and be a bit quieter, James Carville, Mary Matalin.

MR. CARVILLE:  Love that.  I love the guy, man.

MR. RUSSERT:  Been chasing down--after being roundly criticized for stepping over the line.  Except in--on Thursday in Arizona, it seems he couldn't resist going after Ted Kennedy a little bit.  Here is former President Clinton.


FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON:  This was a train wreck that was not intended. No--leave no child behind, or No Child Left Behind was supported by George Bush and Senator Ted Kennedy, and everybody in between.  Why?  Because they didn't talk to enough teachers before they did it.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Now, when I heard that, I played it again, I said "And everybody in between.  I wonder who he was talking about?"

MR. MURPHY:  You mean his wife?

MR. RUSSERT:  Well, this is the press release I found.  Here's Hillary Clinton on 2001, leave it to--"`Leave No Child Behind Act' includes several increases in federal resources for New York City schools.  Passing this landmark legislation sends a clear message that all American children deserve a world class education."

James, is he incorrigible?

MR. CARVILLE:  No.  You know what, I just love the man to death.  He loves politics.  He's out their campaigning.  In the stuff of sort of campaign charges and back and forth, this is really pretty mild stuff.  It's kind of fun.  And what makes it fun is, is that it is so mild.  And what's he trying to kind of have it both ways for his wife?  In that a little bit, sure.  And it--I mean, that's hardly a, a...

MR. MURPHY:  We're learning...

MS. MATALIN:  But when she says you--that she can control him.  The only way you can control a husband like that is being right next to him with a leash, OK?  And this is, this is an important thing, because...

MR. RUSSERT:  Wait a minute, are you speaking from experience?

MS. MATALIN:  Well, this is why he's so well-behaved here.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mary, I, I wanted to show you a comment from Senator Clinton, because I need your interpretation of this.  This was Senator Clinton on ABC's "Nightline." Question:  "Newsweek magazine this week says flatly if you're elected, it will be a co-presidency." Senator Clinton:  "Well, that is not the case.  I'm going..." Question:  "Well, maybe it's a good idea." "Well, no, it's not.  It's not.  I learned that.  I learned that the hard way, because it's important for the country to know who they're voting for." What's she referring to?

MS. MATALIN:  She learned it that the two-for-one thing doesn't work.  She's got to hang on to these crossovers.  Obama's right.  It was a smart thing for him to say.  He is going to get the crossovers.  The crossovers do not want Bill, as Mitt Romney said, "roaming around in the White House with nothing to do." And it's evidenced by everything he said that he cannot do nothing.  He's always the man in motion.

MR. MURPHY:  We're learning that it is generally, we've all learned now, kind of a bad idea to give a former president a microphone in an election year, because they have a lot of kind of score settling they want to do; it just seeps out.  And Clinton, the super personality, more than most.

MR. SHRUM:  Look, I think he's--look, I think he's frustrated and angry, probably very frustrated and angry about Senator Kennedy's decision.  I think they talk internally about it, and some of it comes out.  But the truth is, this was a good week.  He only slipped the leash once.  And I think James and the Clinton campaign and everybody else decided that we couldn't have a repetition of what went on in South Carolina.

MR. CARVILLE:  You know, again, I point out this is pretty mild stuff.  OK? It is fun.

MR. SHRUM:  (Unintelligible).

MR. CARVILLE:  This is pretty mild--again, still pretty mild stuff.  And you know what...

MR. RUSSERT:  Was South Carolina and the race stuff mild?

MR. CARVILLE:  I don't--you know what, I--there's--I have defended President Clinton on this set many times.  I would defend him to the end.  He does not--I know him well--he doesn't have a racial bone in his body.  And, and, and neither did Jesse Jackson think that.  Neither did the two congressman who sit with him.  I, I, I know what's in this man's heart.

MR. MURPHY:  I agree, but he has a lot of cynical political bones in his body, and there was that line in South Carolina.

MR. CARVILLE:  I think he was analyzing something, and I think that, that Jesse said that, you know, and a lot of other people came on.  I'll defend him through anything.  He has got a good, pure heart on these matters.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.  We're going to take a quick break.  Mary Matalin, Mike Murphy.  Talk--come back and talk about your guys, the Republicans.  The GOP up next.  The analysis of Super Tuesday.  Two days to go.  We're digging into it right there on MEET THE PRESS.


MR. RUSSERT:  Carville, Matalin, Murphy and Shrum--our MEET THE PRESS roundtable.  The Republicans--McCain, Romney, Huckabee--what to watch for after this station break.


MR. RUSSERT:  And we're back.  The Republicans, here we go, folks.  First stop, Alabama:  McCain, 38; Huckabee, 26; Romney, 15.  Georgia:  McCain, 33; Romney, 27; Huckabee, 18.  Illinois:  McCain, 43; Romney, 20; Huckabee, 15. Missouri:  McCain, 37; Huckabee, 27; Romney, 24.  New Jersey:  McCain, 46; Romney, 31; Huckabee, 5.  New York:  McCain, 61; Romney, 24; Huckabee, 6. California:  McCain, 40; Romney, 31; Huckabee, 13.  The Field poll in California, McCain, 32; Romney, 24; Huckabee, 13.  So let's reset the table. There are all the states that are available.  We say advantage John McCain: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey.  We say advantage Mitt Romney:  Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia.  We say advantage Mike Huckabee:  his home state of Arkansas and then we do the toss-ups.  Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Mary Matalin, the one thing that's clear in all that, other than New York, John McCain doesn't hit 50 percent in any of those states.  Mike Huckabee's presence on that ballot seems to really help John McCain.

MS. MATALIN:  Absolutely.  I mean, Rich Lowry said he has a man crush on McCain.  He can't get enough of him.  At every one of those states would be for Romney, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and even California, given the way the California primary works, they are real Republicans in there, would go to Romney, in addition to Romney's other states that he has.  Huckabee's presence in the race is a spoiler for Romney, and it's, it's a shame.  We should let this be a two-man race because we're also talking about the future of the country.  But apparently this man crush is stepping in front of--he's not going to get out.  I don't know, he hasn't brought one thing to the party. Not one--his record doesn't say anything to the party, what he's put on the table says nothing to the future of the party.  He's a good joke teller.

MR. SHRUM:  Mary, do you not like him?

MS. MATALIN:  I don't like--this is very important contest...

MR. MURPHY:  Put us down as undecided.

MS. MATALIN:  ...a very important contest, and he's being supremely selfish. And if John McCain really was--and I'm not against John McCain--but if he was a straight-talk he would say, "It's a two-man race.  They were invited to be here today.  He turned it down.  It's a two-man race, get out of the way, man crush, and let me prove to everybody that I can beat Mitt Romney.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mike Murphy, you've worked with Mitt Romney and John McCain...

MR. MURPHY:  Right.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...is it OK for John McCain to keep Mike Huckabee alive and well in the race and encourage him?

MR. MURPHY:  Well, sometimes in politics you get a little lucky, and I don't think it's incumbent on Senator McCain to tell Governor Huckabee what to do. I think Mary is right that the Huckabee campaign is increasingly more and more relevant.  We're seeing maybe he'll win a Southern state.  One of the big factors at work, I think, on the Republican side is that our rules are different than the Democrats.  Democrats, being the nice liberals they are, grade on a curve.  They give you delegates for coming in second.  Republicans are being...

MR. RUSSERT:  Proportional.

MR. MURPHY:  Proportional, right, in most places.  Republicans, being mean, social Darwinists, we tend to punish the second place guy for a lot of winner-take-all primaries, and that is the real problem for Mitt Romney. Where McCain tends to be strong are winner-take-all primaries.  They're big, there are a lot of them, coming in second doesn't mean anything.  The few places where Romney might have some strength are proportional.  So McCain can come in second and still get delegates.  This will serve to make the Republican thing a more brutal world and probably kill somebody quicker.  And while Mitt Romney, in a few of the caucus states, the Colorados, you know, but smaller states don't have a lot of delegates like a Montana, has some strength.  In the overall place, he's going into the weekend a bit behind, if more than a bit...

MR. SHRUM:  A bit?

MR. MURPHY:  ...as we saw--well there's some polls that are a little closer--and McCain definitely is in a stronger situation.  You know, the old Mary Chapin Carpenter song, "The stars may lie, but the numbers never do." And the numbers are really, really tough now for Mitt Romney.

MR. RUSSERT:  A lot of "what if" going on.  If Rudy Giuliani had stayed competitive in New Hampshire to the end, Romney could have won there.  If Mike Huckabee had gotten out in South Carolina, Romney could have won there.  And we could have much different...

MR. SHRUM:  You know, Tim, you know, the problem with all of this is that there was resistance to McCain in the Republican establishment.  He was the next guy in line, the guy they were supposed to nominate.  Lot of people stood up against him, looked for anybody else.  He went into the valley, he's come out the other end of the valley.  Prediction is perilous, but I'm going to predict that on Wednesday we're going to look at him, he's going to be the Republican nominee apparent, and all of the folks who had trouble with him are going to figure out how to embrace him.

In 1992--and James remembers this--there were similar groups who had some real doubts about Bill Clinton.  And as he emerged, finally, they had to settle for him.  They're going to settle for McCain--I deeply regret this, by the way.  I think he's the strongest Republican candidate.  I am strongly for Mitt Romney. I join Mary in hoping that Mitt Romney really pulls a big upset on Tuesday.

MS. MATALIN:  Don't--I'm not....

MR. SHRUM:  Because I don't want to run against McCain.

MS. MATALIN:  I'm not--I don't have a side here.  I'm simply saying that Senator McCain would be strengthened in the long run by having to go after the conservatives.  What he did in a serendipitous process here was he went from the outside in.  You can't have Democrats and crossovers in lieu of conservatives.  You have to have a base plus...

MR. SHRUM:  But Mary...

MR. MURPHY:  Mary...

MS. MATALIN:  ...because the crossovers going to go to Obama.  He would be strengthened to come back home.

MR. SHRUM:  Mary, he is being strengthened for the general by people arguing that he's too moderate.  Every time Rush Limbaugh attacks him, he picks up half a point in the general election.

MR. CARVILLE:  (Unintelligible).

MS. MATALIN:  (Unintelligible).

MR. RUSSERT:  Let's, let's watch some of this.

MR. SHRUM:  All right.

MR. RUSSERT:  Because these are some of the comments made, and then James, I'll start with you.

Here's Dr.  James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family:  "I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances." Unequivocal.

Here's Rush Limbaugh on his radio program on Thursday.


MR. RUSH LIMBAUGH:  I was watching the endorsement of Senator McCain by Governor Schwarzenegger in California.  What a picture this was.  And I'm looking at the picture, and I'm seeing McCain surrounding himself with the left wing of our party.  These guys are Republicans, but they're the left wing of our party.  So he just got the endorsement of a big-taxing, big-spending, socialist health care, eco-extreme governor who says the Republican Party needs to follow him to the left.

(End audiotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  That's Rush Limbaugh.  Now...

MR. CARVILLE:  Well...

MR. RUSSERT:  Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, however, a strong voice in the Republican Party, he weighed in this way with NBC.


REV. RICHARD LAND:  Senator McCain has gone to great pains to make it clear that he is a conservative.  He has moved to a more conservative position on taxes.  He has expressed appreciation for the pro-life position.

I think it'll be a mutual, a mutual opportunity for both conservative groups and Senator McCain to get to know each other better and to understand what's at stake in November.

Rush needs to get out and talk to average folk more.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. Carville?

MR. CARVILLE:  Well, first of all, a little bit history's in order.  McCain started out like sucking up to these right wing guys.  He looked ridiculous, his campaign went nowhere.  He abandoned that strategy.  He went back to being old John McCain.  He now is going to win the Republican nomination, and a lot of these people who have sort of exposed for not being that sort of powerful within the Republican Party.  It is going to be fascinating to see how McCain does this.  Because if he goes back and tries to play nice with all these guys on the right, the people on the center will leave him.

MR. MURPHY:  And lose the advantage he's been...

MR. CARVILLE:  He'll lose the advantage that he's built up.  So that's going to be a--it's a--strategically, the McCain campaign faces an incredible choice, and as a Democrat, I can't wait to watch it in play.

MR. MURPHY:  There are--I think there's a mistake a lot of people make. There are a lot of conservative potentates with a mailing list or a radio microphone.  They're important, but they don't rule the Republican primary. In the regular primary voter world, McCain has been very competitive with the conservatives.  He never would've won South Carolina.  So I, I think it's easy to talk to a small group of self-referencing potentates that talk about the conservatives as opposed to what conservatives are actually doing on primary day.  And we're going to find out on Tuesday.  And I think McCain will perform very well.  And in a general election, I agree with Mary, there will be a unity behind it.  Because it's a very simple decision for conservatives for a pro-life, leader on the war, fiscal conservative John McCain vs.  Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.  That's going to be an easy-as-pie choice for Rush Limbaugh and everybody else.

MR. RUSSERT:  There's now been a battle of commercials.  We have a John McCain commercial and then another one taken out by the Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group.

Let me play these back to back, Mary, and I'll come back and talk to you. First, the McCain commercial.


Narrator:  (From political ad) Guided by strong conservative principles, he'll cut wasteful spending and keep taxes low.  A proud social conservative who will never waver.  The leadership and experience to call for the surge strategy in Iraq that is working.  John McCain, the true conservative.

(End videotape)


Narrator:  (From political ad) One candidate voted against the Bush tax cuts both times and pushed more restrictions on gun owners' rights.  The same candidate joined Ted Kennedy to sponsor amnesty for illegals and was even mentioned as a running mate with John Kerry.  Hillary Clinton?  No.  John McCain.  John McCain, surprisingly liberal.  Citizens United Political Victory Fund is responsible for the content of this ad.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  Which commercial do you like, Mary?

MS. MATALIN:  It's very powerful, isn't it?  Listen, I just wanted to correct something.  You know, John McCain didn't enter the race sucking up to any conservatives.  He entered as the heir apparent, front-runner, and we--our party primogenitor, and we're back to the primogenitor thing.  He did not win conservatives or Republicans in any primary.

MR. SHRUM:  I think she likes the second commercial better, Tim.

MS. MATALIN:  No, no.  Listen, I want to win, I want to beat them.  And the notion that Rush Limbaugh and these guys are--they do not direct these people out there, they reflect them.  And on any given day, on any hour, Rush Limbaugh has eight times more audience than all the primary voters combined who've voted so far.  They're just reflecting what's out there.  You had on Rush, Hannity, and you add on Laura, and you add on Mark Levin.  He has--this is a...

MR. SHRUM:  Mary, look.  In the--in The Washington Post poll this morning, McCain is winning 48 to 24 percent among Republicans.  I think Republicans are making the decision they're going to nominate John McCain.  And I have to observe, by the way, Tim, when I see that clip you have of the Reverend Land, I don't recall Jesus calling for tax cuts.  And I think when you try to make that a kind of religious litmus test, most Republicans even are common sensical to walk away from that.

MR. RUSSERT:  He threw the Pharisees out of the temple.

The--Mary, some Republicans are suggesting that if John McCain's the nominee, they'd vote for Hillary Clinton.

MS. MATALIN:  Some are saying that.  But what John has to do--and look, we've been through primaries.  In '76, churches split up.  In 1980, the Reagan people kicked down the door of the campaign manager when he picked Bush.  In 2000, McCain famously attacked the agents of intolerance.  We do come back together.  But to come back together, he has to shore up in each of those legs where he is very weak to get Republicans.  And if he does, they will vote for him.

MR. RUSSERT:  Shore up what legs?  What does he...

MS. MATALIN:  On--he's good on security, on Iraq; he's no good the day after on intelligence, Gitmo and other things.  He's good on spending, he's no good on taxes.  He's good on life, he's no good on campaign...

MR. RUSSERT:  But you want to say that...

MS. MATALIN:  ...finance reform.

MR. RUSSERT:  ...Guantanamo should stay open and we should have torture?

MS. MATALIN:  I want to...

MR. RUSSERT:  You want the...

MS. MATALIN:  We--what conserve--it's not me.  What conservatives want to hear is something akin to what he did on immigration:  "I was wrong," OK?

MR. MURPHY:  Right.

MS. MATALIN:  "I've now seen the light."

MR. RUSSERT:  And if he starts flip-flopping, what happens?

MR. SHRUM:  He'd be Romney.

MS. MATALIN:  Is that he would...

MR. MURPHY:  No, what Americans want is a president who's not pushed around by any special interests.  I'm a conservative, but there's a--I mean, McCain is the maverick, and it's a year of that kind of thing, and I want to win. And I'm very happy with the conservative, if he's our nominee, who doesn't necessarily march in lockstep to everything the talk radio guys dictate.

MS. MATALIN:  This is not lockstep.  He is on--it is also the lingo of the left attacking this anti-business stuff, attacking big pharma, it's manage for profit.  We're happy to be for profit...

MR. CARVILLE:  Global warming.  We can all agree with John McCain on global warming.


MR. SHRUM:  I agree with him on global warming.

MR. CARVILLE:  I do, too.

MS. MATALIN:  All I'm saying is this:  He's not, in the end, going to get the crossovers, because they're going to go back to Obama.  He has to be...

MR. MURPHY:  I disagree.

MS. MATALIN:  Well, he could get some of them.  He's not going to get the majority of them.  he has to get the base back.  That...

MR. MURPHY:  Yeah.

MS. MATALIN:  Being a maverick is different from eschewing and having these guys, these crossovers, in lieu of conservatives.  In all these primaries, the times we have won was not '76 or '96, it was the times when we chose that made the clear conservative choice.  He doesn't have to bend over, but he has to someplace come back, make some compromises.

MR. MURPHY:  Well, I think that in this year...

MR. SHRUM:  (Unintelligible)...

MR. MURPHY:  ...the pure base strategy loses.

MS. MATALIN:  I'm not saying pure base.

MR. SHRUM:  I think if he, I think if he wins this nomination, secures it and then goes out and tries to satisfy all of the right wing litmus tests...

MR. MURPHY:  Right.

MR. SHRUM:  ...he--I agree with James, he will do himself great damage.  I hope he takes Mary's advice.  I think Mitt Romney took this kind of advice when he remade himself, and this is not John McCain, from a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-environmental person into someone who didn't want to do anything about global warming, was opposed to gay rights and wanted to outlaw abortion.  I don't think John McCain, for example, can stand up and say, "Gee, I was wrong on campaign finance reform, and I hope all of you people here at the Conservative Political Action Committee will forgive me."

MS. MATALIN:  You can say...

MR. SHRUM:  I think he'll destroy himself.

MS. MATALIN:  ...it didn't play out the way he had intended.  He is going to CPAC next weekend.

Voice:  Thursday.

MS. MATALIN:  And you know, last year Rudy went there, not a natural for CPAC, and they loved him.  There's an opportunity here for him to say, "This country"...

MR. SHRUM:  It really did Rudy a lot of good.

MS. MATALIN:  "This country was built on core principles."

MR. SHRUM:  Yeah.

MS. MATALIN:  "These are my core principles.  We can build on those." There's a unity message available to him without defining conservatism as you demonizers have.

MR. SHRUM:  It's nothing...

MS. MATALIN:  And he should take it pretty quickly.

MR. SHRUM:  I'm just saying the guy can't flip-flop and become something he isn't.

MS. MATALIN:  It's not flip-flopping.

MR. RUSSERT:  Take it.

MR. CARVILLE:  In 2004, we were sure there were three powerful pillars of the Republican Party:  the right wing preachers, the nutty supply siders and talk radio, OK?  It--McCain has vanquished all three.  All of them had no influence in this election.  McCain has said that he definitely was not on the right wing preachers, he's definitely not a supply sider and right wing talk radio can't stand John McCain.  And now they have to deal with him.  That's the, that's the reality.

MR. SHRUM:  He's become a supply sider suddenly.

MR. CARVILLE:  Ah, he says he's for the tax cuts.  He doesn't claim that they, they generate revenue.

MR. SHRUM:  They will all come together in the general.  He will not be gratuitous about it, but McCain will always be a little bit independent, and talk radio's going to have to live with that.

MR. RUSSERT:  Will he be the nominee?

MR. MURPHY:  I want to wait till the votes are counted, but the numbers are--no, and I want to be fair to Romney.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mary, will he be the nominee?

MR. MURPHY:  Yes.  McCain has the advantage.

MS. MATALIN:  I--you know, all we know about this cycle is that the unexpected always happens.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.  All right.  We can't agree on politics.  How about football?  Super Bowl.  Patriots, Giants.

MR. SHRUM:  Patriots.

MR. MURPHY:  Giants.

MR. CARVILLE:  Points.  Take the points.

MR. RUSSERT:  Come on.


MS. MATALIN:  Giants.

MR. RUSSERT:  Now, I'm told that on the famous James Carville, Luke Russert "60/20" sports show on XM Radio, Mr. Carville, you promised your wife the most expensive jewelry in the world if she could name the two teams who were playing.

And, Mary, you said?

MS. MATALIN:  The Giants and the Patriots.  He thinks that--he should never treat women like idiots.  That's what you get--that's how you got Hillary back on the board.  All those men treating her like an idiot.

MR. RUSSERT:  Get the old--get the old credit card out.

MR. CARVILLE:  My friend, my friend Coleman Adler....

MS. MATALIN:  Coleman Adler.  It's in--Adler's in New Orleans, it's a pearl bracelet.  Send it up.  Send it up.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.  Fourth quarter of the Super Bowl today, you're going to see this picture for a fizzly soft drink.  Let's roll this real fast. There's--that bald head on the left, Mary Matalin, you recognize it, looking at the sunset at the Washington monument.

MS. MATALIN:  I like the head on the right better.

MR. RUSSERT:  James Carville and Bill Frist.

MR. CARVILLE:  Yeah, you know what?

MR. RUSSERT:  If you can come together over soft drinks, the country can unite on politics?

MR. CARVILLE:  That's it.  All we, all we, all we did is drink a Coke.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.  Matalin, Carville, Murphy and Shrum, thanks very much for your insights.  Super Tuesday--we'll be right back--40 hours away.


MR. RUSSERT:  That's all for today.  Watch MSNBC all day Tuesday, all night Tuesday.  It's Super Tuesday.  And then an hour network special on NBC at 10 PM Eastern.

We'll be back next week.  If it is Sunday, it is MEET THE PRESS.


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