updated 5/19/2008 12:09:09 PM ET 2008-05-19T16:09:09

Guests: Tucker Carlson, Hampton Pearson, Chris Matthews, Michelle Bernard, Andrea Mitchell, Phil Bronstein, Chris Cillizza, John Harris, Ron Brownstein, John Heilemann, Ed Schultz, Michael Smerconish

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Obama vs. Bush, vs. McCain.  McCain like Churchill, calls Obama an appeaser.  Is this history or hysterics?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  What Barack Obama did today more or less was to say to President Bush, Oh, yes?  Well, appease this.  One day after the president used a speech in Israel to link Obama to the discredited policy of World War II-era appeasement, Obama took on Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain for good measure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  After almost eight years, I did not think I could be surprised about anything that George Bush says.  But I was wrong.  Instead of celebrating and offering some clear ideas about how to move the situation in the Middle East forward, the president did something that presidents don‘t do, and that is launch a political attack targeted towards the domestic market in front of a foreign delegation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Is this a fight that Barack Obama wanted to have?  Well, here‘s a hint.  Yes.  We‘ll break down the speech and all its political implications.

Also, can the Republican Party save itself from itself?  Yes, say some political experts, but it won‘t be easy, and it won‘t happen right away.

Also TGIF.  It‘s Friday, so we‘ll look at some of the winners and losers of this very big political week.  It has been an amazing week on politics.  We‘re going to handle that in the “Politics Fix” tonight.

And if you watched HARDBALL last night, you might have noticed this little exchange with radio talk show host Kevin James.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong.

KEVIN JAMES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What did he do?

JAMES:  Neville Chamberlain—Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right?

MATTHEWS:  What did he do?

JAMES:  Neville Chamberlain—his—his policies, the things that Neville Chamberlain supported, all right, energized...

MATTHEWS:  Just tell me what he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And he never could tell me.  That was just a small part of it.  Trust me.  It‘s become a bit of YouTube—well, it‘s an event, let‘s put it that way.  This inspired our “Big Number” tonight.  Wait until you hear that one tonight on the “Sideshow.”

But first, Obama versus Bush and McCain.  Andrea Mitchell is chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, Ron Brownstein is with “The National Journal,” John Heilemann is with “New York” magazine.  John, thank you for joining this circle here.  We‘ve got the best here.

Let‘s go to the politics of this thing.  Why is Barack Obama thrilled that George Bush took a shot at him, calling him Neville Chamberlain, the appeaser of the 21st century?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  First of all, it engages him on foreign policy, and he thinks he‘s got a case to make against the George Bush foreign policy.  Number two, it makes him the presumptive nominee.  He‘s on a level playing field...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

MITCHELL:  ... with the president of the United States from the Knesset.  Number three, McCain jumps in and they immediately said to me (INAUDIBLE) McCain is the wing man to George Bush.  It ties McCain...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) that is a triple play in baseball, right?  He gets on the same level as the president on the biggest issue of the world, protect the United States.  He ties McCain to the president, who‘s running about 20 percent in popularity.  What else?  I forgot the third thing.

MITCHELL:  And he gets to argue against...

MATTHEWS:  ON his policies, which are...

MITCHELL:  ... the president‘s policy...

MATTHEWS:  ... unpopular, as well.

RON BROWNSTEIN, “NATIONAL JOURNAL”:  To have a fight with a president at 20 percent is not exactly something you have to drag Barack Obama into kicking and screaming.  John McCain is putting a lot of effort into trying to differentiate himself from Bush on some issues...

MATTHEWS:  Ain‘t doing it today!

BROWNSTEIN:  ... certainly not all issues, and he ain‘t doing it today.  And this basically allows Obama to say—to frame the decision the way he wants to.  Do you want to continue in the Bush direction, which McCain is defending, or not?

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at...

BROWNSTEIN:  That is a frame that works for him.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Boy, is he joining this battle!  Here he is today, talking about the Bush/McCain foreign policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for.  They‘ve got to explain why we are now in our sixth year, entering our sixth year of war in Iraq.  They‘re going to have to explain the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large and is sending out videotapes with impunity.  They need to answer for the fact that al Qaeda‘s leadership is stronger than ever because we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan.  They‘ve got to answer for the fact that Iran is the greatest strategic beneficiary of our invasion in Iraq.  It made Iran stronger, George Bush‘s policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Franklin Roosevelt once said along these lines, John Heilemann, he said, Don‘t mention the word “rope” in a family where there‘s been a hanging.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Why would he bring up this issue—why would he go to

Israel?  Now, Israel, of course, needs all the friends it can get.  We‘re

the best friend of Israel.  There‘s no complaint from over there.  But this

is so transparently aimed at a domestic audience.  And using Israel, which

has got enough problems—to be using it as a backdrop for a political hit

but Barack—God, he seems want this!

JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK”:  Right.  Well, I think it‘s really simple-minded politics from the Republican side, apart from everything else.  I mean, we know that Florida is going to be a closely contested state.  And at least at this point, Obama has not done that well against McCain in matchups in Florida.  So when you hear Bush do this, in the same way that you have heard McCain over the past couple weeks constantly talking about Obama‘s Hamas endorsement, I think a lot of it is not just about domestic politics, and possibly, as you say, Chris, wrong-handed domestic politics on the Republican side, but it‘s specifically about how can Republicans tie down that Florida vote, where support of Israel, indeed, against Iran, are seen as...

MATTHEWS:  He could have done it better!  But let‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... case here.  I think Bush could have done it smart.  He could have said, Don‘t talk to Ahmadinejad, he‘s not worth talking to, instead of accusing Barack of doing something he never did do.

BROWNSTEIN:  Right.  Well, there is one...

MATTHEWS:  Talking to terrorists.

BROWNSTEIN:  One cautionary note here is we don‘t really know how the public will fall out on the underlying issue here, whether it is appropriate, as Obama has said, for us to talk with rogue nations.  I mean, it‘s an issue that‘s been argued to some extent in the Democratic primary.  We don‘t really know where the country is on the underlying issue.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, I want to make the case!

BROWNSTEIN:  Make the case.

MATTHEWS:  Because—because when we got into two wars, the horrible Korean war, which Halberstam has written about brilliantly, the horrible, coldest war—it‘s because Dean Acheson didn‘t lay down the line of defense and include (INAUDIBLE) Korean peninsula~!  So the commies, to use an old phrase from the comic books, said, Here‘s a chance to bite off some of the West‘s sphere of influence.

When we went into the first Iraq war, I have never been convinced we

didn‘t hand them (ph) that war because April Glaspie, our skilled diplomat,

sat down with Barack—you know all this!  You were there!  Saddam Hussein

never said that we will fight for that country.  She said, Well, it‘s a border problem you have there.  Maybe you can work it out yourself.  Diplomacy is not to kiss somebody‘s butt.  It‘s to tell them where the lines is.  And if you don‘t talk to people—and by the way, appeasement, for the jackasses out there, is not talking to Hitler and Mussolini, it‘s giving them countries!  That‘s what happened~!

MITCHELL:  Mr. Ambassador...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Pick (ph) it up.  I mean, maybe I‘m not being diplomatic, but when you use words like “appeasement”...

MITCHELL:  No, but first of all...

MATTHEWS:  ... you‘re just causing trouble.

BROWNSTEIN:  Well, don‘t you think there ought to be just a moratorium in American politics on comparing...

MATTHEWS:  Anything to Hitler!

BROWNSTEIN:  ... to Neville Chamberlain?  I mean, we—I mean, every

every fight is not World War II and every political leader who wants to use military force is not Churchill, and it demeans the initial experience.

MITCHELL:  That goes to John‘s argument that this is partly aimed at the Jewish constituency that Barack Obama has been trying to reassure.  Now, first of all...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, by the way, he ought to start doing it.  Now, that‘s a smart move for him, too.

MITCHELL:  First of all, Colin Powell has said that we should talk to Hamas.  Hamas was, through our own stupidity, elected as the—the...

MATTHEWS:  John McCain said to talk to Hamas!

MITCHELL:  ... government of Gaza...

MITCHELL:  John McCain, as Jamie Rubin was quick to point out in “The Washington Post,” was saying that we should talk to Hamas once they were elected.  There‘s a difference between talking to Hamas, the governing body of the Palestinian (INAUDIBLE) in Gaza...

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... and a terror organization headquartered in Damascus.

MATTHEWS:  They run the West Bank, and if you‘re going to give the West Bank its independence at some point, you got to deal with that.  God!

MITCHELL:  But the sad part of this...

MATTHEWS:  But they still won that (INAUDIBLE) They won the prime—no, they won the West Bank election.

MITCHELL:  The sad part of all this is, just to button it down, is that because of this debate, you have Barack Obama now unable to even have advisers who talk to Hamas appropriately.

MATTHEWS:  Now, this is to add to the pudding here, Barack Obama has now caught McCain double dealing here because McCain did say talk to the Hamas government when they were elected.  Here he is, Obama going after McCain, calling him a hypocrite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  John McCain has repeated this notion that I‘m prepared to negotiate with terrorists.  I have never said that.  I have been adamant about not negotiating with Hamas, a terrorist organization that has vowed to destroy Israel and won‘t recognize them.  The irony is, yesterday, just as John McCain was making these attacks, a story broke that he was actually guilty of the exact same thing that he is accusing me of, and in fact, was saying that maybe we need to deal with Hamas.  And that‘s the kind of hypocrisy that we‘ve been seeing in our foreign policy, the kind of fear pedaling, fearmongering that has prevented us from actually making us safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that accusation of McCain speaking with a forked tongue, to use an old American cowboy movie expression—let‘s take a look at it here.  Here is McCain two years ago, when asked whether American diplomats should work with the Palestinian government if Hamas is in charge.  Let‘s take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas is because of their dedication to violence and the things they not only espouse but practice.  So—but it‘s a new reality in the Middle East.  And I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and a decent future, then they want democracy.  Fatah was not giving them that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there you go.  Let me go right to John Heilemann on that.  I don‘t know how John McCain gets now in attacking a guy—gets in a position of attacking a guy for doing what he had once advanced, talk to the enemy, if you will, once they get elected because we are pushing democracy in that part of the world, and you can‘t—I know this is a hard sell, but if you‘re going to allow democracy to take its course, you sometimes get the wrong people elected.  It just—it happens here, too.

HEILEMANN:  Right, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

HEILEMANN:  And I want to come back to Ron‘s point from earlier, which is right on your point, too, Chris, which is that part of the reason why Obama was so strong today is because not only do they believe and does he believe that he‘s right on the substance, but they also believe that this is right on the politics for him, that this particular policy, that this notion of being more open to having a constructive dialogue with some of our enemies, that this was a winner for him in the Democratic primaries.

You know, this was litigated to some extent in the Democratic primaries.  Hillary Clinton hammered Obama hard last year when he first expressed his openness to having these conversations.  And Obama hewed to this line and it worked for him...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

HEILEMANN:  ... because it very much sums up this notion of him as change, that he is going to bring a different approach to all of our problems across the spectrum.  It‘s a very good issue for him I think both on the substance and on the politics.

BROWNSTEIN:  But...

MATTHEWS:  McCain‘s feeling the heat.  Here‘s John McCain late today, giving the final sort of sur-rebuttal to this whole thing.  Here he is, Senator McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  You know, it would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world where we don‘t have enemies, but that‘s not the world we live in.  And until Senator Obama understands that reality, the American people have every reason to doubt whether he has the strength, judgment and determination to keep us safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That‘s pretty tough, too.

MITCHELL:  That‘s pretty tough, and also tough, Karl Rove and Mike Huckabee at that same NRA convention, with some awfully strangely harsh language from Huckabee, in fact, about Obama, very bizarre behavior, I think, for Huckabee to...

MATTHEWS:  You mean when he made a joke about the chair falling...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... that he was afraid he was going to get shot at?  You know—you know, that‘s the kind of talk...

MITCHELL:  Yes.  You don‘t talk that way about...

MATTHEWS:  ... conversation that we shouldn‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t even want to talk about it again on the show because nuts watch everything, and I don‘t want to encourage people.

BROWNSTEIN:  Can I just...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a terrible thing to say.

BROWNSTEIN:  (INAUDIBLE) what John said.  I think that this was not a problem for Obama in a Democratic primary.  It‘s another thing—we don‘t really know whether the underlying substance would be a problem in a general election.  But the way it has been framed really frees him from that, at least temporarily.  If he‘s arguing with President Bush, he‘s not arguing about the details of whether what Obama is saying is right, he‘s arguing about continuity versus change.  And right now...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  ... any continuity with Bush...

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s a problem...

BROWNSTEIN:  ... has a certain taint to it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  A quick problem here.  If Ahmadinejad does what he usually does, pump up his latest nuclear threats and say, I‘m going to proceed for whatever—the next level of development of weaponry, weaponization, does this make—put Barack in a position, by the clever movement of the other side, to be playing defense for the guy?

MITCHELL:  Except that Bob Gates this week, the defense secretary, said that we should be talking to Iran on a whole range of issues.  Condoleezza Rice has been...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

MITCHELL:  ... through all sorts of channels talking to Iran.  And so does Colin Powell, the former...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) to do?

MITCHELL:  ... secretary of state.

MATTHEWS:  We got to try to get the 40-some percent of the people in that part of the world—like Friedman and those guys know more about it.  You know more about it than I do.  But there‘s a big chunk of Iranian people that didn‘t leave the country when they wanted to.  They‘re still there.

MITCHELL:  The youngest...

MATTHEWS:  And they wanted—and they wanted—they want to (INAUDIBLE) get their lattes and live in a secular society and let women live normal lives.  They want—they don‘t want to hear us saying, like Hillary said the other day,  We‘re going to obliterate you.  I mean, this level of diplomacy, about appeasement and obliteration—why don‘t we settle down?

Anyway, thank—I shouldn‘t say—I never settle down.  Thank you, Andrea Mitchell, Ron Brownstein, John Heilemann.

Coming up, Obama versus Bush and McCain.  He‘s two-teaming them.  Who has the political advantage in this fight?  Well, I guess this group thinks Barack Obama‘s had a good shot this week following—didn‘t he just lose a big primary somewhere this week?

HEILEMANN:  A couple days ago.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s, like, 1,000 years ago now~!

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  That‘s the Bush/McCain record on protecting this country.  Those are the failed policies that John McCain wants to double down on because he still hasn‘t spelled out one substantial way in which he‘d be different from George Bush when if comes to foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  But in the Bush/McCain worldview, everyone who disagrees with their failed Iran policy is a appeaser.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Now that Obama has counterpunched President Bush and John McCain, who has the upper hand in this fight over foreign policy that got so hot yesterday?  Let‘s turn to two radio talk show hosts of the highest order, Michael Smerconish of Philadelphia and Ed Schultz of somewhere out west.  I don‘t know where out there, somewhere.

Michael, it seems to me that it‘s rare in boxing, or any kind of field of competition, where both sides seem to want to fight on the same line.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, I think that the administration may have a glass jaw.  They‘ve got to be careful in this regard.  And you know, Chris, I‘m not thinking Neville Chamberlain today, I‘m thinking Charles Atlas.  This was an attempt by the administration and then by Senator McCain to kick sand in the face of Barack Obama.  And I think he served notice that he is not going to be Swift Boated.

And here‘s the take-away, at least for me.  While you‘re discussing this on HARDBALL tonight, on MSNBC, your crawl is all about a brand-new tape that‘s been released by bin Laden.  Are you kidding me, that this administration is going to say, We‘re the tough guys on defense?  And you know this is the issue that drives a wedge...

MATTHEWS:  Well, it drives you, too.

SMERCONISH:  ... between my party and me.  While this guy is still on the lam, Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden—we‘re paying $80 million a month to Musharraf, not doing squat to find those responsible for September 11!  They better be careful!

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, maybe—maybe, Ed Schultz—maybe at some point—I hate to see this used completely partisanly, but President Bush gave, I think, the greatest speech of his presidency at the site of the World Trade horror, when he said, We‘re going to get the people that knocked down these buildings, and yet he went Wrong Way Corrigan right away and went somewhere else to settle an old score with Barack Obama (SIC).  He never did go after bin Laden.

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Yes, well, his policies have depleted our resources, so it‘s been a bad game plan all along.  This is a great issue for Barack Obama.  We‘re not talking about flag pins anymore.  We‘re not talking about Pastor Reverend Wright.  Here we go...

MATTHEWS:  But he is wearing a flag pin tonight.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Ed, he‘s wearing a flag pin.  Just so you know.

SCHULTZ:  Yes, I saw that.  And by the way, I want to come to the MSNBC Christmas party because I want to see a replay of what happened last night!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘ll see it.  Let me ask you—let‘s go to the issue here.  Put the whole dramatis personae together.  Here‘s the president of the United States doing—paying tribute, as he should, as any president would, I think, to the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.  Obviously, it has tremendous emotional firepower to so many Americans, and not just Jewish people, so much firepower.  We‘ve rooted for that country in their six-day war, rooted for them through the ‘73 war, the Yom Kippur war, and all this effort to survive.

And he goes over there, and he seems to suggest me—now, this is tricky business here, Michael.  He seemed to be suggesting, I‘m over here to defend you all against Ahmadinejad, when, in fact, most people see Ahmadinejad as a threat generally to the world, including us.  I just think he got something wrong over there in the politics, just the way he played it.

SMERCONISH:  Well, you know, the White House is saying, hey, we were after Jimmy Carter.  We weren‘t after Barack Obama. 

And here is what was running through my mind today, which has yet to be said.  Am I wrong in remembering that Bush 41 was talking about Bill Clinton protesting against his country, perhaps, overseas?  And he tried to drawn a line of demarcation, saying, it‘s one thing if you are there in the Monument.  It‘s wrong thing if you‘re in Washington, D.C., protesting Vietnam.  But you shouldn‘t be overseas protesting your country. 

And, in the same respect, I think that many Americans say, you don‘t go to the Knesset and talk about a domestic squabble. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SMERCONISH:  That‘s just not right.  There‘s something not right about that.

MATTHEWS:  Especially when it‘s purely politics, right?

SMERCONISH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, it didn‘t have any geopolitical dimension, did it, Ed?  There wasn‘t something else we‘re missing here.  Israel didn‘t need to hear from President Bush that he didn‘t like Ahmadinejad. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, President Bush is an idiot, and everybody in the country knows that.  He‘s got a 28 percent approval rating.  And if John McCain doesn‘t pivot away from that fast, he has no chance in this election cycle.  This is a great issue for Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he didn‘t do that, Ed.  He didn‘t do that.  He joined him.  Why did he do it? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, he—he—Chris, he has shifted.  There‘s no question about it, that John McCain has shifted his position.  He‘s trying to be the hawk right now.

But the fact is, is that he is a lot like Bush.  If he stays like Bush, he‘s not going to get reelected.  That‘s the point I‘m making. 

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH:  I have got to defend him.  He‘s not an idiot.  I think that, in his heart, he‘s a good man.  He‘s mistaken.  I don‘t think that he lied.  They acted on intelligence that they believed at the time.  But they‘re at fault.

And we have got to right this course.  But I can‘t buy into the sound bite. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I don‘t either. 

You know what I think is interesting, both of you, is that these kinds of issues, getting to the very essence of this campaign, national security, usually, that takes until October, where you start fighting, like Nixon and Kennedy did, or whoever is between, Carter and Reagan.

Here we have an election being joined now, in May, between the president of the United States and the leading Democratic contender. 

I‘m—Michael, I‘m just amazed.  This is getting to the real raw seat of the hurricane, the very essence of what this campaign is about.  And it‘s only May.

SMERCONISH:  All right. 

But let me try and tie in what went on, on HARDBALL last night, because I think this was really significant.  Here‘s the crossroads we‘re at.  Are we going to fight this battle based on sound bites?  Are we going to throw around words like appeasement, when we don‘t even know what the hell that means, or somebody didn‘t?

Are we going to talk in terms of cut and run?  I mean, we have got people‘s lives on the line. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

SMERCONISH:  Or are we going to have a dialogue about how to hell to get out of there?  That‘s what I‘m saying on my Barcalounger as I‘m watching your show last night. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You speak with a certain street wisdom, Michael Smerconish, my friend.  Thank you.

Ed Schultz, thank you.

You can‘t call people an idiot, because the trouble with that is, it ends the discussion.  It‘s more fun if you keep people‘s I.Q. out of the issue.

Anyway, up next: the HARDBALL “Sideshow” and an instant reply of my fight last night with a radio talk show host, not one of these guys, who just didn‘t know, to be honest with you, what he was talking about when it came to appeasement. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I have been sitting here for five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich. 

KEVIN JAMES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I don‘t know what the—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t know.  Thank you. 

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES:  Chris, I don‘t know...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we will tell you how we got to that point last night, if you want to catch up with us. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL.  We‘re coming back with the “Sideshow.”  And that belongs in the “Sideshow.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I will go and get on that merry-go-round some night. 

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Time now for the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

He‘s back.  Well, possibly.  Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura told Minnesota Public Radio that he‘s seriously thinking about stepping into the Minnesota U.S. Senate race that‘s going on right now between incumbent Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

Venture called Coleman a chicken hawk.  That‘s somebody who is for a war, but doesn‘t fight it.  And Franken, who grew up in Minnesota, made his name on “Saturday Night Live” obviously.  He called him a carpetbagger.  I guess having a wrestler in the race would solve everything. 

Anyway, remember Jim McGreevey, the disgraced former New Jersey governor who left office after hiring his gay lover for a homeland security job, in fact, the top job?  It turns out he‘s having some trouble finding work.  His headhunter—that‘s the person who gets you jobs at the executive level—Donna Kolsky, testified at his trial this week that she approached 20 non-profit organizations and firms to find the ex-governor of New Jersey a job.  And, each time, she was met with—was met with a—quote—“audible, an audible gasp” at the other end of the line. 

Now to something that has been getting a surge of buzz in the last 24 hours. 

Last night on this show, HARDBALL, we had a discussion about President Bush, about him accusing Barack Obama, it seems, of appeasement for wanting to talk to our enemies.

Well, one of our guests was conservative radio talk show host Kevin James.  Here‘s the exchange. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  What did William—Chamberlain do wrong, Neville Chamberlain, in 1939? 

JAMES:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  What did he do wrong?

JAMES:  Oh, come on.  It all goes—it all goes back to appeasement. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, what did he do?  Tell me what he did. 

JAMES:  It‘s the key term.  It‘s the key term. 

MATTHEWS:  You have to answer this question.  What did he do?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What did Chamberlain do in ‘39?  Tell me—in ‘38.  What did he do?  What did he do?

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES:  Well, ‘38, ‘39, Chris, what year do you want?  It doesn‘t...

MATTHEWS:  What did he do?

JAMES:  It doesn‘t...

JAMES:  His actions—his actions enabled...

MATTHEWS:  What did Chamberlain do?

JAMES:  ... energized, legitimated.  It‘s the exact same—it‘s the exact same thing, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to continue with this interview unless you answer what that thing is. 

JAMES:  All right, energized, legitimized...

MATTHEWS:  Just tell me what he did.

JAMES:  Energized, legitimized, and made it easier for Hitler to advance in the ways that he advanced. 

MATTHEWS:  What...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I have been sitting here for five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich. 

JAMES:  I don‘t know what the—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t know.  Thank you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, look, I‘m a student of history, especially of the late 1930s, when the world didn‘t stand up to Hitler.  And my hero, Winston Churchill, saw all the hell coming, and couldn‘t stop it.

The catastrophe of the 1930s was thinking that Hitler would be satisfying with the gift of bite-sized countries, like Czechoslovakia.  The evidence suggests he wanted war, to avenge World War I, and dominate Europe.  He also had his heart set on the extermination of the Jewish people. 

The horror of appeasement was not in talking to Hitler or in reading his books or figuring the guy out, which would have been smart.  That would have helped.  But it was letting him take over countries.  Appeasement was giving him countries.  That was the horror of appeasement, not talking to the guy.

Anyway, perhaps it‘s a little surprise that our “Big Number” tonight -

it‘s no surprise—was how many times I asked my guest—now, maybe I shouldn‘t do it that many times.  But I demanded—well, catch this.  I think I asked him 26 times, what was appeasement?  Twenty-four times.  What actually was appeasement?  And what did Neville Chamberlain actually do in 1938?  Well, actually, he gave away half of Czechoslovakia, and ended up in ‘39 giving the rest of it away. 

I tried to get an answer from our guest.  But that‘s tonight‘s “Big Number.”  Twenty-four times, Kevin James couldn‘t give me the basic answer. 

But he‘s a good guy.  And we‘re going to have him back.

Up next:  With a hugely unpopular president, and a staunchly

Republican House, why are all these House districts falling to Republicans

falling to Democrats?  What can the Republican Party do to save itself? 

They have lost three in a row of the easiest seats in the world, in Illinois, in Louisiana, and Mississippi.  Is they can‘t win the easy seats, are they going to lose the entire representation they have in Congress?  Is this the end of a party?  You wonder. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Hampton Pearson with your CNBC “Market Wrap.” 

Stocks closing mixed, as oil prices soared again.  The Dow Jones industrials fell about six points.  The S&P 500 was up almost two, and the Nasdaq lost about five. 

Oil hit a record high, near $128 a barrel, after Goldman Sachs forecast, crude will average $141 a barrel in the second half of the year.  Oil finally settled at a record closing high of $126.29 a barrel, up $2.17 for the day.

Meantime, AAA says the national average for regular unleaded gas rose another penny overnight, to a fresh record high of $3.79 a gallon.

Construction of new homes posted a surprise increase in April. 

However, the gain was due to a big jump in apartment construction. 

And CNBC has learned Lehman Brothers will begin a new round of job cuts next week.  About 1,400 jobs will be eliminated. 

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

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Republicans have lost three House seat in a row this year.  Are they headed for disaster this fall?  Can they avoid it?

John Harris is editor in chief of “Politico,” and Tucker Carlson is MSNBC senior campaign correspondent. 

Gentlemen, I want to look at something that‘s just happened now.  Here‘s a CBS report from the NRA meeting today.  Mike Huckabee, speaking later in the program, was interrupted bay loud noise. 

Quote—this is Huckabee—“That was Barack Obama,” he said.  “He just tripped off a chair.  He was getting ready to speak and someone pointed add gun at him, and he dove for the floor.”

Now, John Harris, that was apparently a joke, a real knee-slapper by Mike Huckabee.  I would think that discussions of possible assassination attempts would not be the basis for humor in this campaign. 

JOHN HARRIS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, POLITICO.COM:  Yes, that one, it seemed to fall flat.  I don‘t even exactly get what he was going at if the joke had come off well. 

MATTHEWS:  I think he met he was gun-shy.  But anyone who doesn‘t think he ought to be, given the history of this country in these kinds of very hotly contested campaigns hasn‘t kept up with history.

Tucker? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC SENIOR CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT:  I don‘t imagine Huckabee‘s the kind of guy who would joke about Barack Obama getting killed.  He‘s a famous ad-libber.  You throw these things out on the spur of the moment.  And, sometimes, they‘re not quite as clever as they emerge as you imagine they‘re going to be.

I mean, it sounds horrible.

MATTHEWS:  Well, when have you heard a noise in the backroom, and you assume that the guy was afraid of a gunshot?

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  The transcript you just read that I have in front of me sounds awful.  But, knowing Mike Huckabee, it‘s hard to imagine—I‘m just giving the guy the benefit of the doubt—he‘s joking about Obama getting murdered.  That is so over the top and disgusting, I just have trouble believing it.  Maybe that is what he was doing, in which case I will change my view of him entirely.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  But I have just trouble imagining it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think—my view is to salute the Secret Service.  They‘re doing an amazing job this year.  It‘s a very tricky time.  And I don‘t want to get into all the details, but every American knows what happens in these very...

CARLSON:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... charismatic moments, when somebody is really the toast of the town, and people are really excited about a campaign.  Sometimes, it brings out the loonies. 

CARLSON:  Big time.

MATTHEWS:  And let‘s talk right now—let‘s talk about you wrote about. 

“Politico” mapped out what Republicans can do this campaign, in fact, in the near future, to bring themselves back. 

John, let‘s talk about how the Republicans—for everybody watching who is a Republican and those who think about the party, its problems now are manifest. 

First off:  Get a clue.  Cut the crap.  You list among cut the craps, they just got to stop having problems like Mark Foley and his problem with the House pages, and Larry Craig and his problems in that Minnesota bathroom. 

How does a party bring order back to a bunch of people that obviously have the—the human characteristics of the general population, if you will? 

HARRIS:  Right.

And my colleagues Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, who wrote that piece, well-known to both of you guys, when they said cut the crap, what they mean is, look, the Republican Party has to be absolutely intolerant and be seen by the public as being absolutely intolerant of even a whiff of scandal.

One reason for the bad result in 2006 -- and we see from these three

special elections in a row, like, they‘re on track to repeat that sorry

performance in 2008 -- is, the party perceives—or the public perceives -

I think, correctly, Chris—that this is a Republican caucus that was prepared to protect its own members, to avert its gaze from problems...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

HARRIS:  ... to make excuses, rather than take total intolerance for bad behavior. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that rot at the top?

HARRIS:  Absolutely. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can people smell the rot at the top?  They have been in too long?  Every party likes that.  The Democrats are in for 50 years, and had these problems.

CARLSON:  I mean, look, a lot of politicians have unusual personal lives.  You will probably never get all of them out of any party.

But the truth is, the corruption is deeper and more profound.  It‘s ideological corruption, corruption of the spirit.  They came to power promising smaller government.  They lied.  They brought us bigger government.  That‘s the essence of their problem.  It‘s not the war in Iraq.  It‘s the spending and the betrayal of their own principles.  And this—the piece says that.  And I think they‘re right.

MATTHEWS:  Is that Lord Acton at work here?

CARLSON:  Of course it is.

MATTHEWS:  Absolute power corrupts absolutely? 

CARLSON:  Of course it is.

MATTHEWS:  It just—too many power—too many chairmanships. 

Let‘s look at this one here.  You, John, start here.  Beg for help and burn the Bush. 

Can the Republican Party escape George Bush this cycle? 

HARRIS:  No, they can‘t. 

But—and individual members have to put as much distance as they possibly can between their own fortunes and President Bush.  And there‘s no way it‘s going to be entirely successful.  But, in 2006, to some degree, in 2004, members tried to—they weren‘t happy necessarily with Bush, but they tried to walk the line. 

I think the point Jim and Mike were making—and it‘s a good one—is, look, forget walking the line.  Head for the hills.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS:  Get as far away from a presidential—a president with an approval rating in the high 20s is one who is radioactive.  Sprint away.

MATTHEWS:  But how do you sprint away from a president who yesterday, in front of the Knesset, addressed probably the hottest issue of our times, protection of the United States against our enemies overseas, and accused the enemy, as he saw it, the Democrats, of being appeasers? 

I mean, he jumped out in front of the ranks and said: “I am the Republican Party on national security.  Look at me.”

HARRIS:  Right.  It‘s going to be—it‘s not going a be easy. 

And President Bush, I think, is signaling that he‘s not going to be a

sort of fade away, as a lame-duck president.  He expects to be at the center of the debate in 2008. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I think political historians will agree, 20 years from now, the single biggest mistake the Republicans made was not having the president take on his own party in Congress during the past seven-and-a-half.  That‘s...

MATTHEWS:  He never vetoed.

CARLSON:  He never did.  And he if he had.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  If he had put the brakes on their behavior, he would have seemed more principled, they would have seemed more restrained.  The Republican Party would not be in complete meltdown.  That‘s the essence of the problem. 

And they—I agree completely with John Harris, they‘ve got to just run, not walk, away from this guy.  And they should anyway, on principle.

MATTHEWS:  What about fear as a tactic?  I thought we got a whiff of that yesterday.  Your colleagues talked about change the pitch and fan the fear.  Well, it seems to me the president did fan the fear going back to the World War II situation. 

HARRIS:  Right.  It‘s a—the core of the Republican argument that Democrats still have not learned the lesson that it‘s a dangerous world and you can only respond with force.  You know, that argument worked really well in 2002.  It worked well enough in 2004, didn‘t work in 2006.  You know, we‘ll see how much life it has got in 2008. 

His remarks in Israel, certainly a lot of Democrats—not just Democrats, thought were impolitic but the essence of the case, they stand for negotiation, we stand for force, they think it‘s a world you can reason with, we think it‘s a violent world that you can‘t reason with, I do think that‘s an authentic philosophical debate within the parties, we‘re going to hear a lot of it this fall. 

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, is that the enduring Republican strategy?  Is George Bush the emblem of future Republican foreign policy?  Once he leaves office, will the smile remain of the Cheshire Cat; should I put it that way? 

CARLSON:  You‘re watching erosion and it‘s getting—you‘re going to see a lot of it in the next six months on the Republican strength in national security.  That has always been the trump card for my whole adult lifetime.  And I think that that is changing. 

The fear always works, people vote against more than they vote for, of course, in every election.

MATTHEWS:  What if get hit? 

CARLSON:  I think—well, that changes the calculus entirely.  I hate even to speculate.  I think the domestic side is where the fear works, though.  It‘s Obama is a more divisive character than he pretends to be.  The Jeremiah Wright stuff, I think that works better than national security fears this election.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, that sort of faded this week, didn‘t it? 

CARLSON:  I don‘t know, I think it‘s more resonant.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Look, it‘s just beneath the surface—look at the results.

MATTHEWS:  I know it‘s there.

CARLSON:  . 41 points in West Virginia.  It‘s still there. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  . it bobbed back in West Virginia.  Thank you, Tucker Carlson.  Thank you, John Harris.  Good piece from Politico. 

Up next, Obama fires back at Bush and McCain.  Has the general election campaign—in fact, are we already in October?  They‘re aiming their big guns at each other, and the issue is national security, going after bad guys.  How do we deal the enemy?  You can‘t have a more frontal issue than that. 

And remember, Tuesday, Keith Olbermann joins me for complete coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right through the night.  MNSBC will be live into the night with results and analysis.  We‘ve got a double header for you Tuesday night.  This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, winners and losers of the week.  A lot has happened this week.  Remember John McCain said we‘re going to be out of there by 2013?  Well, that was overcome by this big fight over who are the appeasers.  The big victory by Hillary on Tuesday overcome by the big fight between the president and Barack.  This week has changed every night. 

Next, one the “Politics Fix,” what does it all add up to?  When HARDBALL comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the “Politics Fix.” Who are the big winners and losers of this week?  Let‘s go to our roundtable, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post; MSNBC‘s political analyst Michelle Bernard; and Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers. 

Phil Brownstein, let me ask you about this crazy week.  If you had to put together a Sunday paper on this thing, how do you it?  Hillary wins Tuesday, then Barack Obama gets Edwards aboard.  And then he gets the president to do him a favor by calling him an appeaser, a Neville Chamberlain. 

Now we have got Mike Huckabee, who everybody in the media loves, telling assassination jokes about Barack Obama.  This is a potpourri, isn‘t it?

PHIL BRONSTEIN, HEARST NEWSPAPERS:  Well, I think that Mike Huckabee won the week, because at least he was funny, or funny to some people.  I mean, the reality is, you know, it‘d be the conventional wisdom, I think, to say that Obama won this week because of the Edwards endorsement.

But, you know, you look at what Edwards actually provides at this point in the campaign, it may not be all that much.  Chris, let me offer something a little different.  I think that McCain won the week because he gave a speech, and he said, I‘m going to offer question time, question time like the British Parliament has with the prime minister, and guess what, given what we‘ve had for the last eight years, that‘s going to be a huge sense of relief for the American public because they would get to see, if McCain did question time, the president of the United States sitting there, thinking his own thoughts, no handlers, no spinners, getting hit by the opposition, responding to the opposition. 

I don‘t know, you know, you‘ve seen this happen in London.  It‘s an amazing thing.  And I think if he does that.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, we get it on C-SPAN.  Do you think he would do that in front—now that you‘ve raised this issue, do you think he would do that right in the House chamber?  I mean, this would be almost extra-constitutional.

BRONSTEIN:  Well, you know, I can‘t speak to the constitutional legality of it, but I think that‘s the best place to do it, because it‘s great political theater.  And isn‘t that what we all—that‘s why we watch HARDBALL, right? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, I think (INAUDIBLE) well, that is—that would be all you get until you get this.  But.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM:  Remember, to Phil‘s point, is that the great genius of John McCain in 2000, and you can argue in 2008 in terms of the campaign, is access.  That this is the guy who is not trying to hide behind things.  That was—you know, that‘s a huge criticism of the Bush administration.  Let‘s say we.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is this another way of saying in American English, I ain‘t Bush? 

CILLIZZA:  Exactly.  Put it—remember, the other thing, Chris, I want to mention about this week, it seems like it was a month ago, but McCain out in Washington and Oregon talking about global warming and how we need to address climate change.  You know, he is systemically stepping away from the president and criticizing the president on a number of issues.  It‘s going to continue, it‘s probably going to get more overt, I think, as we get closer. 

MATTHEWS:  Is this an opening that he—I mean, Bush—when he ran, Bush Senior ran against to replace Reagan after two terms said, I‘m going to be kinder, gentler.  Well, he didn‘t mean kinder, gentler than Mike Dukakis.  He meant kinder, gentler than Reagan.

Is this the dime‘s worth of difference we‘re looking at?  Is he saying, that guy is—you know, we just heard Ed Schultz call him an idiot.  Well, no one has ever called John McCain an idiot.  I don‘t like that language, but is that the door-opener for him?  I can answer questions, Bush can‘t. 

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, that‘s what he‘s trying to do.  But I‘ve got to tell you, just along with what you said, though, I think his speech in Oregon this week on climate change doesn‘t help him.  I mean, he‘s trying to reach out to independents, he‘s trying to reach out to Reagan Democrats. 

But I don‘t think this was a great week for him because that climate change speech in Oregon completely disaffected his base.  I mean, I see what he is trying to do.  I say it was an OK week for him.  I don‘t think McCain wins the week at all. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know what he‘s trying to do.  He‘s trying to get middle of the road parents from the suburbs to not listen to their kids and vote for Barack Obama. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that what he‘s trying to do? 

BERNARD:  And it‘s not going to work, not in Oregon at least. 

CILLIZZA:  The issue, I think, is—and we haven‘t gotten to this because we‘re still not at the general election, though I think the whole Knesset thing... 

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA:  The Knesset thing certainly felt like it. 

MATTHEWS:  That Knesset was October 20th.

CILLIZZA:  Well, you know one quick observation on that?  You know what‘s amazing?  Three months ago, could you imagine that Hillary Clinton is not involved in this conversation at all?  If you watch cable television, you would not even know she was still in the race.  It is Barack Obama, President Bush, John McCain.  I mean.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Phil Bronstein, it‘s interesting that—you bring that up, Chris Cillizza, because I‘ve said the trouble with cable—and it is fabulous, it‘s how I make my living, and it is the most exciting thing in the world. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But when you have a three-ring circus, you can only cover one ring at a time.  And the ring right now is Barack versus the president.  That‘s the huge fight in the Knesset. 

But Hillary Clinton, her people had to fit a full-page ad in the paper today, in the USA Today, which must have cost $50,000 to $100,000, or $75,000, whatever it is, that‘s good for the newspaper, but that was the only way she could get in the story today. 

And a friend of hers called me, and said, hey, we put the ad in the paper, talk about it tonight.  I mean, that‘s the only—Phil?  Hillary is out of the picture.

BRONSTEIN:  Well, yes, you are talking about it.  And frankly, you know, if she starts advertising in newspapers, you never know, the editorials might go her way, because no one else is advertising in newspapers. 

(LAUGHTER)

BRONSTEIN:  But you know, I think Hillary Clinton—Hillary Clinton is not out of this race.  Hillary Clinton—you know, the big slam either on Hillary Clinton or on Barack Obama, depending on who you‘re listening to, was that Barack Obama—Hillary Clinton had more testosterone than Barack Obama. 

And here you have President Bush coming along—you know, Chris, I disagree with you, you called it an incoming on Obama, his speech in the Knesset.  You know, the guy was just—he was making the same statement he has made a million times before. 

This is—we are already really in a general election campaign, and Barack Obama either ought to, you know, get some tough skin, some calluses, or, you know, this is a brilliant move on his part to put Bush back in the debate and to show that he does have testosterone. 

MATTHEWS:  Here he is, Obama went after McCain for continuing President Bush‘s Iran policy.  Let‘s take a look.  This is all hot stuff. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Our Iran policy is a complete failure right now, and that‘s the policy that John McCain is running on.  He has nothing is offer except the naive and irresponsible belief that tough talk from Washington will somehow cause Iran to give up its nuclear program and support for terrorism.  I‘m running for president to change course, not to continue George Bush‘s course. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, as you say, I mean, I think Chris Cillizza, we‘re getting into October country here.  This is when we‘re arguing about who is going to protect us.  And I think it‘s Bush‘s strongest suit, maybe to make Phil‘s point. 

But when you think of all of the polling we do, there‘s only one area where Bush comes out on top, and that‘s protecting us from terrorism.  Here we have Barack Obama taking him on in his strong suit. 

CILLIZZA:  And I think that it—I just wrote down two words here that Barack Obama said, “naive and irresponsible.” Those are the words that John McCain is trying to paint Barack Obama with on foreign policy.  I think you‘re seeing Barack Obama say—he essentially said it today, you want to fight on foreign policy?  Let‘s fight on foreign policy. 

You‘re right, Chris, that it remains sort of the strongest suit out after a number of weak suits for the president.  But that number has dwindled.  If you looked in 2002, 2003, 2004, Republicans had a 20-plus point lead on who do you trust more on national security. 

Now if they have a lead, it‘s certainly in the single digits. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Is this Barack Obama‘s way of getting Hillary out of the race by attacking Bush? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back to talk about Hillary‘s week.  We have to, because this race is still going on.  The roundtable comes back to the “Politics Fix.” And on “MEET THE PRESS” this Sunday, Tim talks to Virginia Senator Jim Webb.  He‘s on that list of potential VPs, because Virginia, some people think, is in play, some people don‘t.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘re back with the roundtable, more of the “Politics Fix.” Chris Cillizza, you start it.  I want to talk about this week.  This week started with Hillary Clinton whooping him, if you will, down in West Virginia, I mean, over 40-point spread.  He didn‘t have a prayer, he didn‘t even try to fight it.  How come that got erased so quickly?  Is that just the way this campaign is going to go?

CILLIZZA:  It‘s because of two things.  One is because the math is essentially determinative, and the Obama campaign has made argument, rightly, which is that no matter how big, she would have to win 90 to 10 in the rest of these states to overcome him.  We all know that‘s not going to happen. 

Second, the Obama campaign, though he says we‘re doing a different kind of politics, they practice some of the old politics, which is stepping on good news for the other candidate.  It is not by accident that the John Edwards endorsement was announced 24 hours after West Virginia.  It destroyed any momentum that Senator Clinton was going to have.  It was one of the big remaining endorsements out there. 

They did it in Michigan, a state that‘s going to be a real general election battleground.  Everything was pushing Obama in the general election.  And it was very easy then to forget what Senator Clinton had done 24 hours before.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s the fickle nature of this campaign, 24 hours, you know, down in Washington, what a difference a day makes, you know, one day. 

BERNARD:  Well, one day, and not only did he get the Edwards endorsement, but then the next day, he gets this gift from President Bush.  I mean, you know, the president was actually talking about Obama and the Democrats or not, it was a great gift.  It gave Obama the ability to go out on the defensive and start giving the American public what his foreign policy credentials are going to look like. 

And that‘s something he needs to do.  We always have people talking about Hillary Clinton having this great testicular lockbox, and she opens it and closes it, and she is looking very powerful. 

MATTHEWS:  Testicular lockbox? 

BERNARD:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Is that metaphor?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s very mixed.  Let me.

(LAUGHTER)

BERNARD:  Where have you been?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Phil Bronstein, out there on the coast in San Francisco, do the people think of this campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as still up in the air?  Still possible to go either way? 

BRONSTEIN:  No, I don‘t think so.  I think it is—you know, everyone listens to your show, Chris, so they all know it is over.  And you know, some of us aren‘t that good in math, but even if that is the case, it‘s kind of—the West Virginia Primary told us a lot.  It was in the rearview mirror about 10 seconds after it was over. 

However, if you like a little news on your show, Chris?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, sir. 

BRONSTEIN:  OK.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, I mean, one of the things that is missing when Hillary Clinton leaves the race is the bipartisanship that she brought into it.  She didn‘t keep it when things got rough with Obama, but you know, that was one of her big pitches. 

And we had Arnold Schwarzenegger in here today.  And you‘ve probably been talking about the gay marriage ruling out here already on your show.  But you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger says, hey, look, I‘ve been to domestic partnership ceremonies, it‘s not a big deal. 

And you know, he‘s the guy that kind of invented for the Republicans -

or reinvented the idea of post-partisanship, let‘s concentrate on global warming. 

MATTHEWS:  Interesting.  OK. 

BRONSTEIN:  And you know, I think that he—you know, he sort of talks about the future of the Republican Party. 

MATTHEWS:  I think you may be right.  Phil Bronstein, thank you, sir.  Thank you, Chris Cillizza.  Thank you, Michelle Bernard.  Right now, it‘s time for the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE WITH DAVID GREGORY.” 

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

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