updated 2/25/2008 1:28:34 PM ET 2008-02-25T18:28:34

Guest: Susan Rice, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, Jonathan Martin,

Latoya Foster, Robert Bennett

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  It wasn’t six shooters at 20 paces but last night’s debate did provide what may be a preview of what is to come eminently in the Democratic race for the nomination.

Welcome to the show. 

Hillary Clinton got a standing ovation for comments at the conclusion of the Texas debate.  But almost everyone watching felt she was virtually conceding she may lose, and soon. 

As for Obama, he took a few glancing blows but hardly enough to change what is looking like the inevitable conclusion of this race. 

What exactly is Hillary’s plan?  We’ll tell you in a minute. 

Meanwhile, it’s day two of John McCain versus “The New York Times.”  Is McCain raising more money in wake of a story about his ethics?  Amazing.  We’ll talk to the senator’s attorney Bob Bennett in a few minutes. 

But first outside the Hillary Clinton spinner, anyone who watched last night’s debate witnessed an increasingly confident Barack Obama and at times a strangely muted even passive Hillary Clinton.  We assumed she’ll go harshly negative last night but she didn’t.  And the question is: why didn’t she? 

Joining us now, we welcome the host of the political affairs program, “In the Know,” Latoya Foster and senior political reporter for the “Politico” Jonathan Martin. 

Welcome to you both. 

LATOYA FOSTER, “IN THE KNOW” HOST:  Nice to be with you, Tucker. 

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Take a look at this.  I think the most famous sound bite to come out of last night’s debate right at the end being described as Hillary Clinton’s valedictory.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I met a young woman who gets three hours of sleep at night because she has to work the night shift, even as she’s going to school full time and still can’t afford to provide the health care for her sister who is ill. 

In Youngstown, Ohio, I talked to workers who have seen their plant shift overseas as a consequence of bad trade deals like NAFTA.  Literally seeing equipment unbolted from the floors of factories and shipped to China. 

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.  You know, we have strong support from our families and our friends.  I just hope that we’ll be able to say the same about the American people and that’s what this election should be about. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So this is one of two things.  Either this is Hillary Clinton saying. “I’m losing and I can deal with it,” or it’s a last ditch attempt to garner sympathy from voters or maybe it’s both.  What is it? 

FOSTER:  I would like to think it’s a last ditch attempt to grab the sympathy, because honestly, we saw Hillary Clinton at her best last night right at the end.  Why?  Because that’s what resonates with the people when she finds her voice the way she did in New Hampshire when she shows us that very personal side of her.  That’s the Hillary Clinton that the people want to see, that the voters want to see.  That’s what the undecideds will say, you know what?  This race isn’t over yet.  Let’s give her another chance, maybe we need to throw our support behind her after all. 

People know that she’s gifted.  People know that she’s intelligent, that she’s smart, that she’s experienced.  But what people want to see is the Hillary behind closed doors.  The Hillary that says, “You know, sometimes maybe I just want to pull the covers up over my head.”  You know?  The real Hillary.  Not. 

CARLSON:  Yes, throw a lamp at a Secret Service agent. 

FOSTER:  Hey, something like that.  You know? 

(CROSSTALK)

FOSTER:  Not Senator Clinton, not Bill’s wife, not the first lady, just Hillary. 

CARLSON:  Well, I mean, I think at this point, I’m not—certainly not piling on and I feel sorry for anyone who’s losing no matter who it is.  I think it’s possible that Hillary Clinton does not win another state.  And I wonder if Hillary people think it’s possible. 

MARTIN:  It’s a very, very real prospect.  And they absolutely know that.  Look, they understand that they are running against right now, somebody who is riding a wave in effect.  Look, conventional politicians don’t draw 17, 18,000 people to basketball arenas every day.  It just doesn’t happen.  So they understand the challenge that they are up against. 

I think it’s both, Tucker, your question.  She was signaling to us and to a lot of folks out there watching that she’s not going to go down with sort of a scorched-to-earth last ditch. 

CARLSON:  She’s not going to be the last Japanese soldier on Okinawa, huh? 

MARTIN:  But we just have one thing, too.  It’s almost a clich’ but it seems like we always say that a politician is having their best moment when it’s already too late.  I mean how many times have you heard that?  When Mitt Romney dropped out of the race a couple of weeks ago at CPAC, oh it was a great speech, fantastic. 

FOSTER:  Yes.  (INAUDIBLE) 

MARTIN:  We’re always piling the praise. 

CARLSON:  Al Gore at “Saturday Night Live” after his. 

MARTIN:  If only, if only—see, (INAUDIBLE) like that.  We’re always piling the praise on after the fact. 

FOSTER:  Hillary realizes that she is in the final round of this fight.  And if she doesn’t land that TKO, she knows that she’s going home without that belt. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  So she goes right. 

FOSTER:  It has to be a TKO, she has to totally knock her opponent completely out.  Hit the canvass. 

MARTIN:  Right.  Right. 

CARLSON:  But she didn’t.  She didn’t.  She didn’t. 

MARTIN:  I know. 

CARLSON:  I mean she passed up, it seemed to me, I kept count at one point, but opportunity after opportunity to smash Barack Obama.  And instead she wound up where really she began by tugging at the heart strings of her potential supporters.  She said this about the crises in her life, I thought, the weirdest moment in the debate.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I think everybody here knows I’ve lived through some crises and some challenging moments in my life and people often ask me, how do you do it?  You know, how do you keep going?  And I just have to shake my head in wonderment.  Because with all of the challenges that I’ve had, they are nothing compared to what I see happening in the lives of Americans every single day. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  I cringed when I saw that.  I think she has poise and she’s—you know, I respect her abilities as a candidate more than I ever have.  She’s very good and she’s very smart.  But she’s making direct reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal there.  Why would she do that? 

FOSTER:  Because that was a crisis.  I mean. 

CARLSON:  Yes, well. 

FOSTER:  I mean keep it real here.  That was a real crisis and every woman in the country was like oh, my god.  You know?  How is she going to handle this?  And it won some supporters and it lost some for her.  But it shows that, I can handle a crisis in my personal life and I can handle it for this country if it presents itself here as well. 

CARLSON:  I think that’s exactly what—I think you’re exactly right. 

Terry McAuliffe sent, as you know, Jonathan. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  .an e-mail out this morning, saying, in case you missed it. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  .here’s a clip from YouTube of Hillary Clinton talking about her husband cheating on her.  I mean. 

MARTIN:  They love that moment.  I’m kind of up two minds about.  On the one hand I think it’s very admirable that she took it head on, and you know, as the saying goes, hung a lantern on her problem.  I’m not going to, you know, try to evade the fact that this happened.  It was a tough moment in my life. 

FOSTER:  Sure. 

MARTIN:  And I’m going to sort of refer to it.  On the other hand, why would she bring that up and why is that funny to her?  Why is she sort of smiling and laughing about—and why is the crowd laughing?  That’s a very painful moment in her life.  I don’t really get why it’s sort of an amusing thing. 

CARLSON:  Well, especially since the rest of us have signed this kind of secret contract not to talk about it.  I mean nobody talks about it.  I’m not going to talk about it.  I’m embarrassed by it.  You know no one in the press brings that up.  It’s considered poor form. 

FOSTER:  But she’s saying, “You know what?  I weathered the storm.  You know I was strong through this.  I did what I had to do.  I dusted myself off, I licked my wounds, and I kept it moving.  And that’s what I would do when I am the leader of this country.”  That’s what she’s saying.  “I can weather the storm, I can take the hit, and I can keep on moving.” 

CARLSON:  When my secretary of state betrays me in some way or something like that.  No, you’re absolutely.  I’m not mocking.  I mean that’s. 

FOSTER:  You know, there’s no time to sit here, “OK, I’ll cry a little bit and then I got to move on.” 

CARLSON:  People love that. 

MARTIN:  Yes, yes. 

CARLSON:  Right.  I’m not one of them.  We’ll be right back. 

Be sure to mark your calendars, next Tuesday, February 26th, at 9:00 p.m.  NBC’s Brian Williams and Tim Russert will host the last Democratic debate before the Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Rhode Island primaries, maybe the last Democratic debate there is this season.  We’ll see.  Any case, it’s right here on MSNBC. 

Up next, John McCain admits that lobbyists served as close advisors on his presidential campaign.  But he says they’re honorable and he’s not influenced by them despite what “The New York Times” says.  Will he force the “The New York Times” to make things right?  If they weren’t telling the truth, will he make them correct it? 

Plus 100 grand for party platters and groceries, 25 grand for room at the Bellagio in Vegas, another $5,000 for the Four Seasons.  Top consultants collected millions.  Is there a reason Hillary Clinton’s donors are worried about her campaign spending.  You bet.  We’ve got the numbers coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  John McCain won’t answer questions today about “The New York Times” report linking him to a lobbyist.  He has denied the accuracy of that report and criticized the paper for publishing it.  Will he get an apology from “The New York Times”?  That’s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  Obviously I’m very disappointed in the article and it’s not true.  For months “The New York Times” has submitted questions and we have answered them fully and exhaustively.  And unfortunately many of those answers were not included in the rather long piece in “The New York Times.” 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  The firestorm that erupted over “The New York Times” front page piece about John McCain has died down a bit.  We’re not doing a whole show on it tonight.  But does that mean the Arizona senator is just going to let it go or is he going to take on “The New York Times” and get a retraction? 

Joining us now is his lawyer, the author of “In the Ring: The Trials of a Washington Lawyer,” man people in trouble go to first, Attorney Bob Bennett. 

Mr. Bennett, thanks for coming on. 

ROBERT BENNETT, “IN THE RING” AUTHOR: Hi, Tucker.  Good to be here. 

CARLSON:  So Senator McCain and you as his representative are saying that this piece is incorrect but that you’re not suing.  Are you going to push for a retraction? 

BENNETT:  I think, you know, that’s something that remains to be seen.  But my present sense is that we’re just going to move on.  And he doesn’t want to get off message.  He wants to wrap up the primary season and run for president of the United States. 

CARLSON:  So the most. 

BENNETT:  This is something that hopefully is behind us.  And I think that, you know, the “New York Times” story was just really very unfair.  It was a very strange story.  It just sort of reminded me of the expression that, you know, a horse is a camel made by a—a camel is a horse made by a committee.  It just didn’t fit together, relied on these unnamed sources.  It dug back 20 years to the Keating case and another seven or eight years to the Paxson incident. 

CARLSON:  But in the course of doing all that it implied that he is both an adulterer and corrupt.  And you, Robert, reject those conclusions, obviously.  But I mean, isn’t there a matter of honor at stake here?  I mean. 

BENNETT:  There is a matter of honor.  But I don’t know that you prove your honor by just getting into a lawsuit with somebody, not when you have a goal of being the president of the United States.  Sometimes I tell clients, Tucker, that you just have to rise above principles sometimes. 

CARLSON:  Rise above principle.  So let me just ask you one factual question since I know you’re. 

BENNETT:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  .more familiar with this than most people.  In the story, John Weaver, the adviser, I don’t know if he’s still an adviser, to Senator McCain said he called a meeting of other senior advisors to McCain to talk about this woman Vicki Iseman.  Did that meeting took place?  Was it. 

BENNETT:  I don’t know, because in—I honestly don’t know.  Other staffers say it never happened.  So when I got into this and started asking questions, others said no.  I mean, and. 

CARLSON:  Did you talk to Weaver in the course of. 

BENNETT:  I did not talk to Weaver. 

CARLSON:  Do you believe his account? 

BENNETT:  I don’t know—no, I don’t think I do.  But that’s only because I hear so many other people saying no.  But you know, the important point is I don’t think Weaver suggests that president—hopefully President McCain, at least in his hopes, breached the public trust.  I think that’s the big problem.  The biggest problem with the story is, remember that old ad, where’s the beef? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

BENNETT:  We gave “The New York Times” reporters about a dozen specific

instances where John McCain was requested by that—by Miss Iseman or her

public relations firm to do something, and he rejected every single one of

them.  And they don’t really do much with that.  They make a general

reference but that’s all. 

CARLSON:  It’s pretty—that must be. 

BENNETT:  So I don’t think Weaver is quite—I think he still believes, at least if what I’m reading is correct, that McCain is an honest guy and never did anything for her or anyone else, and didn’t show favoritism. 

CARLSON:  So why didn’t—you’ve got this new book out, “In the Ring.” 

BENNETT:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  It’s a story of your life, it’s a memoir.  John McCain is the latest of a long list, going back decades, of people in trouble calling you first.  Why do they call you first? 

BENNETT:  I—you know, I don’t know.  I mean. 

CARLSON:  What do you mean you don’t know? 

BENNETT:  Well, you’re asking me.  I’m basically, as you know, a humble guy. 

CARLSON:  OK.  So when—OK, let me turn around. 

BENNETT:  Why do you think I get called? 

CARLSON:  I don’t know.  I’ve called you when I’ve been in trouble. 

BENNETT:  Why did you call me without getting in the. 

CARLSON:  Smart people said Bob Bennett knows what he’s doing. 

BENNETT:  OK.  Well. 

CARLSON:  But when someone calls you, what’s the—and says, I’m in trouble, what’s the first question you ask yourself and the first question you ask that person? 

BENNETT:  The first question I ask them is, fine, let’s meet.  Let’s not talk over the phone and keep your mouth shut.  I think that’s what I told you.  Keep your mouth shut. 

You know, I have this big brown trout on my wall which I caught in the Missouri River some years ago, because as you know for me in the book, I like fly-fishing and I have a little label under his mouth, which says, if I kept my mouth shut I wouldn’t be on this wall. 

And I try to give that advice to anyone who calls me, and then I get them in as soon as I can and—or go to where they are and talk about it.  And I don’t ask myself a whole bunch of questions about—I ask them questions. 

CARLSON:  Finally, what percentage would you say, just a guess, of your clients tell you the whole truth, would you say? 

BENNETT:  Well, I—that’s an impossible question.  I don’t ask clients in the first meeting to tell me, you know, tell me the truth, because if they don’t tell you the truth, then down the road they have to not only tell you what happened, but they have to overcome the obstacle of having not been straight with you.  So I draw the process out. 

Sometimes people fool themselves.  Sometimes people, you know, we’re not talking about people shoot somebody or rob a bank. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

BENNETT:  I mean that’s very clear, black and white.  But so much of this

stuff is the (INAUDIBLE) kinds of things or knowledge or intent.  But also

a big part of my practice, Tucker, like, well, you know, we’ve made general

reference to you calling me, people have not done anything wrong. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

BENNETT:  They get caught up in—these very successful people are like they get ahold of a rocket ship.  And the rocket ship is taking them to places they have never been before, and they need help.  And I’ve been there before.  And I’m more a crises manager really now than I am a criminal defense lawyer. 

CARLSON:  And I can say, the best.  I think—a great lawyer, a great fly fisherman, now a great author.  “In the Ring: The Trials of a Washington Lawyer,” Bob Bennett, thank you. 

BENNETT:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  This report about John McCain could have been devastating to his presidential campaign.  How would you like to read that about you in the paper?  But instead it’s become a rallying point for conservatives.  Could it help McCain in the end? 

Plus Ohio and Texas are must-wins for Hillary Clinton.  Her husband says so.  But Barack Obama is quickly gaining ground in both those places.  Will Obama be able to secure the nomination on March 4th?  We’ll tell you when we come back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  We’re getting close to the primaries.  These allegations are coming out in a very interesting time.  And I have never, ever done a favor for any lobbyist or special interest group.  And that’s the opinion of all who have dealt with me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  For a lot of politicians, a front page piece like the one you read yesterday in “The New York Times” about John McCain would spell political death.  But not for McCain.  In fact, it might be the shot in the arm his campaign needs. 

Back with us host of political affairs TV show, “In the Know,” Latoya Foster and senior political reporter from the “Politico” Jonathan Martin. 

Jonathan, you’ve got a piece on this today.  It’s—it’s amazing how these things work. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  This might help McCain? 

MARTIN:  It could well.  I mean, in fact, the early indications are that, financially at least, it’s yes.  He actually raised more money from an e-mail that his campaign blast yesterday than any other e-mail that they blasted out this entire campaign.  Why is that?  Because the entire basis of the pitch was, the liberal media is attacking me.  I need you.  A call to arms. 

And it’s like there’s a dog whistle in the conservative movement.  When the “Times” does this, it’s to battle station.  And even though it’s John McCain, who certainly is not a fan favorite among conservative activists, the hatred for the “Times” trumps all. 

CARLSON:  I have to say, Latoya, I thought the piece was bizarre and probably unfair in that it didn’t prove what it suggested, which I think was wrong.  I’m not defending the piece at all.  But I do think McCain to this day gets the benefit of the doubt from liberal journalists.  He does.  You saw it yesterday.  You saw people who would have attacked, who would have crushed him had he been Tom DeLay or Newt Gingrich or some other boogey man.  They’re nice to him. 

FOSTER:  Well, I think it’s nothing there.  It’s just—it made for a couple of good days of talk that we could sit around and talk about but what else?  There’s nothing there.  You know what I think, we’re all saying this, OK, now what? 

CARLSON:  Did it make you like him more or less? 

FOSTER:  It didn’t change anything.  It just didn’t change anything at all.  It was just, OK, when you go out and talk to people, voters in the street, you know what they’ll say to you?  They will give you two words, who cares? 

MARTIN:  Right. 

FOSTER:  Who care?  Why now?  What difference does—people don’t care. 

It’s—nothing there. 

CARLSON:  If they had proved the allegation, I would have cared.  I would have cared if he was putting his thumb on the scale for someone he was sleeping with.  I think that that, I mean, that would have offended me. 

MARTIN:  Of course.  Look, this is not an alloy asset for him.  Yes, it helps on the right, rally some conservatives, this will help him raise some coin in the past 24 hours.  But look, I think any indication about impropriety, be it sexual or in the course of his work as a senator, is obviously not helpful for a campaign. 

There are some folks who I think read this piece who didn’t know every single detail and fact about a lot of what had gone on.  But it’s the stench of it that turns some folks off, because John McCain’s entire appeal is based on the fact that he is not like the rest of the gang here in Washington, D.C.  And where there’s. 

FOSTER:  Yes.  He has integrity.  Yes. 

MARTIN:  Right.  And when there is evidence, be it circumstantial, indicating otherwise, that ain’t helping the cause. 

CARLSON:  No, it’s not.  Though I have to say McCain has changed in the past week.  You’ve seen him getting aggressive with Barack Obama in a way I haven’t seen him get aggressive.  McCain is not a big attack dog. 

MARTIN:  Right. 

FOSTER:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  But he’s going after Barack Obama in this foreign policy stuff. 

Do you think it’s working? 

FOSTER:  You know, what we’ve seen, even with Hillary Clinton, when you go negative against Barack Obama, it doesn’t work.  And that might be the same situation for John McCain as well. 

Basically I think what would be the best campaign just to talk about what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done, try to stay away from what he hasn’t done or what he hasn’t been able to do, because people are saying, you know, this whole experience situation has really put our country in a crisis, so that the whole attacking him on inexperience is not going to work, because they’re saying look where experience has gotten us. 

CARLSON:  Well, you’re not allowed to attack Barack Obama anyway.  McCain might just better served endorsing Barack Obama, kind of folding it up, and saying, you know what?  All the kids are for Barack Obama, and frankly, I am, too. 

MARTIN:  Look, the Republicans are licking their chops right now, though, because Hillary Clinton can’t attack him obviously. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MARTIN:  .based on the fact that he is liberal.  But the McCain folks and the Republicans will emphatically. 

CARLSON:  Yes, they will. 

Bill and Hillary Clinton have made millions of dollars since leaving the White House.  How many millions?  We don’t know because they won’t release their tax return unless Hillary is elected president.  Do they have anything to hide? 

Plus Barack Obama raised a record $36 million last month.  And this month he’s on track to raise even more.  Can he become the $50 million man?  Why not?  We’ll tell you. 

You’re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Things aren’t going well for the Clinton campaign lately.  So the idea they are going to disclose their tax returns or how much money is making its way to the Clinton foundation may never come to pass.  But in the campaign that is approaching the 300 million dollar mark in money spent, why not disclose?  Tell us what you did with it, where it came from. 

Here again, the host of the political affairs TV program “In The Know,” Latoya Foster and senior political reporter for “The Politico,” Jonathan Martin.  Welcome back to you both. 

I think it should be a moot point fairly soon if Hillary Clinton gets out of the race, but it has never made sense to me why Mrs. Clinton doesn’t release her tax returns. 

FOSTER:  And to the American people as well.  People are saying, look, if you can’t release them, do you have something to hide?  It does raise that eyebrow.  To hang onto this campaign, I think it would be a very good idea for her to release her tax returns and to be open and transparent with the American people. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree with that.  I want to put up—there was a story today about the Clinton campaign spending, what they have done with the dough.  I want to put up a graphic of where some of that money has gone; five million dollars to their consultants, to some top consultants, 95,000 for groceries in Iowa, 25,000 to hotel rooms at the Bellagio in Vegas, 11 grand for pizza, 12,000 for Dunkin’ Donuts, et cetera, et cetera. 

There’s a great bitterness on the Democratic side, as you know Jonathan, about the money that’s gone to Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson, among other top consultants to Hillary Clinton.  I’m not here to defend Hillary Clinton but I will for a minute.  If she were winning, no one would pay any attention to this. 

MARTIN:  In the interest of full disclosure, I too have eaten thousands of dollars of pizza and donuts on the campaign trail in the past six months, so I can’t criticizes her too much on that front.  Look, you’re exactly right.  The fact is that people who win campaigns are all brilliant strategists and they run flawless campaign, and they made all the crucial choices at the right moment. 

But the fact is that when you spend a lot of money on consultants and don’t win, the money was going down the drain.  You’re wasting it away, donuts and pizza and high commissions for consultants, strategists. 

CARLSON:  They are mad about your villa in Tuscany when you lose.  Otherwise, they think you deserve it.  Exactly.  You know what bothers me, Latoya?  I’ve talked to more Democrats recently who are mad about the Hillary debacle.  They blame the consultants.  I don’t have a dog in this fight at all, at all obviously.  I think it’s unfair.  The truth is Hillary Clinton, in my view, is a pretty good candidate.  She’s smart.  She’s articulate.  She knows what she thinks.  She’s unflappable.  She had a lot of money.  She had a lot going for her.  She’s just up against a guy who is better than her. 

FOSTER:  It’s the appeal of Barack Obama.  When we were talking during the break; what is it about Barack Obama that makes him so special?  It’s the way he connects and identifies with the people.  He is saying, you know, I’m not so far removed.  I was just walking in your shoes.  Thank god for the audacity of hope.  I was able to pay off my student loans.  We bought a bigger home.  Life is a whole lot better now. 

CARLSON:  Like you, I am rich and went to Harvard.  Is that what he’s saying?

FOSTER:  You could also look at it and say, hey, he could have gone to the private sector and made a seven figure income a long time ago, but instead he stayed in the community.  He was a public servant.  He didn’t have to do that. 

CARLSON:  I have to say, I think that is—I like Obama and I think he is a great speaker.  He has a compelling message.  I think that’s one of the dumbest lines I’ve ever heard, I could have made a lot of money.  I could have been a serial killer.  I mean, what does that mean, the things I didn’t do? 

FOSTER:  I’m committed to the people. 

MARTIN:  They are politicians, man.  You can’t have that high a standard.  The fact is, they are going to focus on that which allows them to relate best to people.  John Kerry wasn’t talking about going to the St Paul School and going to Yale.  He was talking about serving in the jungles of Vietnam.  H.W. Bush wasn’t talking about Kennebunkport.  He was talking about pork rinds.  Folks want to relate. 

CARLSON:  I know, but the idea you get points for not becoming a leveraged buy-out artist, not going to Wall Street.  I didn’t either.  and I’ve got an IQ over 100.  I haven’t made riches on Wall Street.  Do I get a gold star too. 

FOSTER:  I relate to you.  That’s what he’s saying, I relate to you.  I’ve been you.  I was just you.  I walk in your shoes.  The 2000 Convention, he told you in the book, “the Audacity of Hope.”  He said, hey, I had to call the credit card company and say, please release a few dollars off my credit card so I can get the car out of Hertz or wherever he was renting the car from.  People are looking at him and saying that was me yesterday.  I was on the phone with American Express too.  It works. 

CARLSON:  The truth is Barack Obama is where he is because he’s an extraordinary guy.  He’s not like you and me. 

FOSTER:  He is. 

CARLSON:  He has very little in common with people.  That’s OK.  You want to vote for someone just like you.  Pas moi.  I don’t.

MARTIN:  Most folks do. 

FOSTER:  You want to feel like you can reach out and touch this person.  This person is real, that you’re not so far removed.  You can relate to me having child care expenses, that you can relate to that single mother who doesn’t have health insurance for her children, working at a job just making a little over minimum wage.  You want to feel like this person relates with me and my struggle, my every day struggle.  That means if you know what I’ve been going through and what I’ve had to deal with, you’ll know what to do with when you take the oath of office and know what to do on day one. 

CARLSON:  Honestly, I’m out of step.  I’ve learned that over the years.  I’m totally uninterested in voting for someone who can relate to me.  I’m not interested in that at all. 

MARTIN:  There’s a precedent here.  Go back to ‘88 and then forward.  Look at every single losing presidential candidate.  Why do they lose?  In no small part, it was because they could not relate to the American people as well as their opponent.  From Dukakis on, Bob Dole, John Kerry, Al Gore.  What did they have in common?  They couldn’t relate like their opponents could. 

CARLSON:  I’m happy to vote for the guy I agree with.  How much money does the Hillary Clinton’s campaign have?  We don’t know now.  What are you hearing?  Are they out of dough. 

MARTIN:  No, I think she has some cash.  It’s easier for her to raise money online to at least have something in the bank.  Look, it’s obviously nowhere near what Obama has.  She does have an advantage where they can still raise money.  Also, if they really do want to go all into this thing, she and Bill Clinton can put in some more of their own cash. 

FOSTER:  That’s true.  Where is Terry McAuliffe?  He knows how to raise good money.  He raises great money. 

CARLSON:  There have been a number of pieces out on the periphery of the news business that talk about an apparent relationship of some kind between Barack Obama and a couple named Bernadin Dornin (ph) and Bill Ayers (ph), both who were members of the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist group in the 1960’s.  He, Bill, is some sort of academic, of course, who said he’s not at all sorry for the bombings of the 1960s. 

Now comes evidence that Obama was once at a meeting in a house with them in Chicago in 1991.  I don’t know how significant that is, but it points to what may be a new narrative, which is Obama pretty left wing. 

FOSTER:  You left me at a loss for words on that one, Tucker.  I don’t know about that. 

CARLSON:  I guess my question is, that’s true.  If you’re to place him on the ideological spectrum, it would be to the left.  I guess the macro question is, do people care?  Is that still a resonant argument, where people are ideological?

FOSTER:  I don’t think that people really care about that.  People are more concerned with what have you done for me lately and what are you going to do for me.  What you did back in the 60s or whatever, I don’t think that -- unless it directly affected and harmed people, I don’t think it much matters.  People are too consumed with how am I going to pay for my home; how am I going to maintain this house; how am I going to pay for my child’s child care; how am I going to get health care?  What about jobs? 

People are more concerned about those bread and butter issues right now.  I don’t think they mush care about that. 

MARTIN:  It’s a preview of things to come.  This summer and this fall, you’re going to see a constant back and forth between the Democrats and the Republicans, Obama and McCain, between Obama claiming he’s post partisan.  He’s beyond the old left and old right, and the Republicans say no, you are still part of the sort of left wing fringe of the Democratic party that this country has rejected time and time again.  That’s going to be a sort of constant and perhaps dominant thread in this campaign. 

CARLSON:  You’ve got to wonder—my theory is the hangover is proportional to the intoxication. 

MARTIN:  From experience? 

CARLSON:  It is from much personal experience, yes.  The higher you get, the more you suffer the next day.  Taking that as a guide, how profound is the Barack Obama hangover going to be when we wake up from this in a couple of months? 

FOSTER:  People are having a love affair with Obama.  They really are, with Barack and Michelle, too.  If you ever have an opportunity to hear both of them speak, if you’re ever at one of them rally, you understand. 

CARLSON:  If you live in America, you’ve heard them speak recently. 

FOSTER:  They are truly extraordinary.  Once again, it’s the way they connect with the people.  But, you know, once—if he is the nominee and let’s say he does become the president of the United States, people are going to have huge expectations.  OK, now that you’re here, do what you say you’re going to do. 

CARLSON:  Yes, because let me just draw a quick graph, Jonathan. 

MARTIN:  Visual aid. 

CARLSON:  This is the line between political candidate and deity.  I wonder if there hasn’t been some people crossing over that line. 

MARTIN:  I’ve gone to some of his events.  There’s no question that it’s nothing like a conventional political event.  People there are crazy for this guy.  They will stand up until he tells them to sit down.  It’s really, really intense. 

Obviously right now it’s certainly helping him.  Like you said, nobody stays on the top of the roller coaster, eventually it comes down, especially when the media sees someone riding that wave for a long time.  There’s going to be more of an incentive to say, all right, this guy is human, too.  Let’s examine his flaws and foibles.  The more intense scrutiny is coming, especially if and when he gets the nomination.  It’s going to be pretty intense. 

Look, he has showed so far, for a guy who is pretty young, isn’t that experienced in national politics, he can handle himself pretty well. 

CARLSON:  He has.  My theory, very quickly, is that once people are sold on somebody, once they decide they like you, they don’t want to be unsold.  You can throw a lot of evidence at them.  For them to change their minds, they have to admit they are wrong, people don’t like to do that. 

FOSTER:  That’s the god honest’s truth.  But, you know, Michelle Obama has done a great job keeping him human. talking about, OK, he’s not going to be perfect.  Don’t expect him. 

CARLSON:  Belittling him. 

FOSTER:  No.  She’s showing that he’s real.  He’s this great orator.  He’s a great debater.  He’s a great politician, a great senator, and he might just make a great president of the United States.  But, yes, maybe he does leave his socks on the floor and he leaves the top off the toothpaste. 

CARLSON:  Jonathan Martin, he’s a great guest, but he leaves the top off the tooth paste.  You are excellent.  Thank you both very much. 

MARTIN:  How did you know that? 

FOSTER:  Thanks, Tucker. 

MARTIN:  Op-O research.

CARLSON:  My face is getting red.  Barack Obama tries to set the record straight on his experience with foreign policy, but in a potential match up with McCain, is he up to it?  And what happens when a Spice Girl goes to Washington?  The answer and all the gossip from inside the beltway when MSNBC continues, coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I think that on every critical issue that we’ve seen in foreign policy over the last several years, going into Iraq originally, I didn’t just oppose it for the sake of opposing it; I said this is going to distract us from Afghanistan.  This is going to fan the flames of anti-American sentiment.  This is going to cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives and over-stretch our military.  And I was right. 

I’ve said very clearly that we have put all our eggs in the Musharraf basket.  That was a mistake.  We should be going after al Qaeda and making sure that Pakistan is serious about hunting down terrorists, as well as expanding democracy.  On the issues that have come up that a commander in chief is going to have to make decisions on, I have shown the judgment to lead. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Barack Obama knew he’d face questions about his experience and his readiness to be president on day one in last night’s debate and he was ready for them.  Did he do enough to silence the skeptics.  More important, how would he fare in a general election against a guy with a foreign policy resume like McCain?  Joining us now is senior adviser to the Obama campaign, someone likely to be a very big deal if he wins, Susan Rice.  Susan, thanks for coming on.

SUSAN RICE, SENIOR ADVISER TO OBAMA CAMPAIGN:  Good to be with you. 

CARLSON:  Let me ask you the macro-question first off; obviously, the prevailing winds are helping the Democrats in this election.  But if there is a foreign policy crisis, if Pakistan blows up or there’s an attack on the United States, wouldn’t—McCain has the profound advantage there, doesn’t he? 

RICE:  McCain spent years in the Senate.  His approach has been to essentially replicate and intensify the failed Bush policies.  Barack Obama has demonstrated time and time again exquisite judgment on the most difficult policy challenges of the day, whether it was opposing the war in Iraq from the outset and every day since, whether it was recognizing that with respect to Pakistan, we were making a grave mistake by putting all our eggs in Musharraf’s basket and not embracing the Pakistani people in their quest for democracy and not receiving from Musharraf, at the same time, the kind of hard nosed counter-terrorism cooperation that we need.  Or whether it was the wisdom to say that we should be prepared to deal directly with our adversaries, as John F. Kennedy did, as Richard Nixon did, as Ronald Reagan did with considerable success. 

CARLSON:  It was his remarks about Pakistan that got me wondering for the first time just the opposite, is he ready?  It seems to me, he was parroting the Bush line, which is the most important thing is democracy and that the will of the people be expressed at the ballot box, et cetera.  When it seems to me, the lesson of Iraq, or the most important thing, is don’t have lunatics at the helm. 

RICE:  He was not parroting the Bush line.  The policy has been, until Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, frankly not to really care much about democracy.  It was to shore up Musharraf and see him as the principle agent for the United States’ interests in Pakistan. 

Barack Obama’s view has been that, yes we have to deal with Musharraf and Pakistan is a very important ally, but the Pakistani people, not an individual, are our real allies.  By aligning ourselves with the dictator, as opposed to supporting the aspirations of the Pakistani people to choose their own government, we’ve gotten cross wise with the Pakistani people, which will harm us in counter-terrorism efforts in the long run. 

In the meantime, we haven’t gotten enough of the meaningful counter-terrorism cooperation that we so badly need from Musharraf.  So we need to take a different approach. 

CARLSON:  What if the Pakistani people are not, in fact, our allies.  Every survey shows they hate us.  They’re not our allies and they hate us for religious and cultural reasons. 

RICE:  No, no, no. 

CARLSON:  You don’t think they hate us. 

RICE:  No, we have real problems in Pakistan. 

CARLSON:  I’ve been there and seen the Osama bin Laden, hero of Islam shirts on the streets. 

RICE:  The Pakistani people want democracy.  They want security.  They want development.  And the United States has not been a sufficient partner in providing that.  The fear in Pakistan has always been, if you listen to the Bush administration, that if we don’t have Musharraf, radical Islamists will be elected and come to power.  This election just proved that it wasn’t the radical Islamists who have come to power, it was indeed two relatively mainstream Democratic movements.  The Islamists were marginalized in the outcome of the elections. 

Yes, we have real problems and repair work to do with the Pakistani people.  But the way to begin that process is to support their aspirations for democracy, not to back the dictator they hate more than anybody. 

CARLSON:  Speaking of dictators, I’m confused on Senator Obama’s Cuba policy.  He’s taking a lot of heat from the McCain campaign for saying that he would meat with Raul Castro, the successor to his brother Fidel.  What’s his position on wet foot-dry foot question?  Now, if you’re coming over from Cuba and you land on U.S. soil, you’re treated very differently from the way Mexican immigrants, Sri Lankan immigrants, any other kind of immigrant is treated.  Will he keep that policy in place? 

RICE:  I think we’ll have to look at that.  I think basically that policy has been one that has worked to date.  The issue is really the larger approach. 

CARLSON:  Do you think it’s fair that policy? 

RICE:  I think it’s one that we have understandable historical reasons for.  We have a special relationship with Cuban-Americans who have suffered enormously under the Castro regime and we have embraced their struggle for freedom.  That takes us back to the real important policy question.  John McCain’s approach is to pursue the exact same failed policies that have gotten us nowhere over the last 50 years, a continuation of Bush. 

What Barack Obama has said is we need a new strategy.  Instead of just sitting back and waiting for something to happen in Cuba and seeing, it may never happen for another 50 years, why don’t we try something different?  Why don’t we try to catalyze change through our policies?  So his approach has been to say, we need to change a few things.  Why don’t we allow family remittances, so that Cuban Americans can send money to their families in Cuba?  And let’s allow family travel, so that Cuban Americans can visit their relatives in Cuba. 

Cuban Americans are the best ambassadors for democracy, back to Cuba.  That can seed the kind of change we need.  Second part of the strategy is to say, let’s maintain the embargo, but say to the Cuban people and the Cuban government that as they make progress on critical issues, releasing political prisoners, freeing the press, allowing free and fair elections, we’re prepared to ease the embargo. 

Let’s have a strategy to catalyze change, rather than sitting back in a ridiculous situation with an island neighbor and refusing to engage.  We’ve had 50 years of stalemate. 

CARLSON:  What you just described, I have to say, I don’t think that’s stupid.  I think that sounds reasonable.  Susan Rice, thank you very much.  I appreciate it. 

They have a Hillary and Bill, too.  Which “Saturday Night Live” cast mate will earn the honor of faux Obama?  Washington and the rest of America waits with anticipation.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Hillary Clinton still doing very well in one state, the state of denial, ladies and gentlemen. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  She’s winning there.  Well, joining us now are two people who actually know what’s really going on in Washington, D.C., Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger.  They are the ladies of the “Washington Post’s” universally read gossip column “The Reliable Source.”  Welcome. 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Happy Friday.  Did you get caught in the ice? 

CARLSON:  No.  I live a block from my office.  I didn’t get caught in anything.  So I heard there was a Spice Girl, whoever they are, in Washington.  True?  If so, why? 

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  True.  This caused a big debate.  There are very strict rules of protocol in Washington.  An ambassador takes precedence over an associate Supreme Court justice.  A senator is introduced before a governor.  What happens when a Congressman meets a Spice Girl?  We are still trying to figure that out. 

ROBERTS:  Ginger spice, She’s the red haired spice girl, Jerry Holewell (ph).  She was in town for her sold out concert, the Spice Girl’s sold out concert last night.  First, of course, she stopped off for the celebrity ritual of lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Her cause being maternal health and AIDS prevention in third world countries. 

She’s a U.N. goodwill ambassador. 

ARGETSINGER:  We really want to know about their babies and labor, but she kept changing the subject. 

She’s holding forth on various topics.  Among them, how exciting it is that we have such wonderful diversity in our race.  We have a woman and we have a black man and we have that old fellow, what’s his name again? 

ROBERTS:  The ancient one. 

ARGETSINGER:  Anyway, she is full of spunk, Ginger Spice.  Anyway, Jim Moran walks into the room to have this meeting with Ginger Spice.  Jim Moran, also known as Ginger Wraps.  At least, he used to have red hair.  Any way, so he walks in and the entire room freezes up, because a congressman walks in and you’re really supposed to sort of greet him, aren’t you?  But Ginger Spice is talking, so they all stayed focused on her instead. 

He was very gracious about it and he sort of deferred and took a seat very quietly. 

ROBERTS:  Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?  If he acted all stuffy, it would be like, who does he think he is?  The whole idea is that everyone is supposed to be very cool and cool around celebrities and nobody is stuffy and everybody is cool. 

ARGETSINGER:  I think now we know Spice Girls outrank Congressmen. 

CARLSON:  He is not a stuffy character.  Looking ahead to tomorrow, what is going on “Saturday Night Live?”  It’s back. 

ARGETSINGER:  It’s back, finally, and they missed so much.  They were off all these months because of the writer’s strike. 

ROBERTS:  What did they miss? 

ARGETSINGER:  They missed the Huckabee surge.  They missed Mitt Romney.  Now the big debate is who on their cast can possibly play Barack Obama.  They don’t really have someone lined up.  They don’t have a—

ROBERTS:  Yes, they are going to probably—there’s some rumors going around.  They are going to bring somebody in who can play that part, because there’s not anybody right at the moment.  They say, bring in Will Ferrell. 

ARGETSINGER:  But meanwhile, Mike Huckabee is scheduled to be making a cameo on the show tomorrow night. 

ROBERTS:  The real Mike Huckabee. 

ARGETSINGER:  The real Mike Huckabee. 

CARLSON:  And you’re certain he’s back from the Cayman Islands? 

ARGETSINGER:  I think this is worth coming back for.  Yes, thinking about this, the last “Saturday Night Live” episode they had, it was Amy Poler (ph) doing her wonderful Hillary Clinton imitation.  The joke then was Hillary Clinton was not only going to be the nominee, she was going to win the whole thing.  It was a done deal.  That was the joke.  Brian Williams was the host. 

ROBERTS:  It was a given.  It was a given. 

ARGETSINGER:  They missed a lot.

ROBERTS:  The first five minutes are going to be great. 

CARLSON:  A given.  I will be watching.  Amy and Roxanne, you are the best.  I hope you have a great weekend.  Thank you. 

That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  We’ll see you Monday.

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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