updated 8/15/2008 2:05:48 PM ET 2008-08-15T18:05:48

Guests: Derragh Murphy, Will Bower, Amy Sullivan, Dan Gilgoff, Joe Watkins, Kate Michelman, Michelle Bernard, Del Walters

DAVID SHUSTER, GUEST HOST:  Hillary gets her way, and Democrats decide a little more blood on the floor won‘t hurt anybody.  Oh, really?  Well, who has the mop for this one?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, everybody.  I‘m David Shuster, in for Chris Matthews.  Today Democrats announced that Hillary Clinton‘s name will be placed into nomination at the convention in Denver in addition to Barack Obama.  Is this an Obama-Clinton ceasefire or a Clinton Trojan horse?  Hillary says it will help with unity.  Her supporters say it‘s not enough.  What do they want now?  Are they sore or just sore losers?  We‘ll talk with two of them in a moment.

Also: You‘ve got to have faith if you want to get elected president.  This Saturday, Obama and McCain will attend the Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership held at Rick Warren‘s mega-church in California.  It‘s the first Obama-McCain joint appearance of the election.  MSNBC will cover the forum live, of course, but in the meantime, tonight we‘ll talk about the role religion is playing in this campaign.

Plus: Will conservatives abandon John McCain if he picks a pro-choice running mate like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman?  Today GOP convention organizers announced that pro-choice Rudy Giuliani will be one of the primetime speakers.  Meanwhile, Senator Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, will speak at the Democratic convention in Denver.  Which party is more tolerant of the dissenting views in their ranks?  We will take a closer look.

And a Democratic superdelegate who wants to go to the Denver convention was told today he must keep wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.  The man is also the mayor of Detroit.  An update on the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

In the “Politics Fix,” we‘ll have the latest polls and talk about the strategy behind this new Obama ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It begins with a plan, a plan to build, a plan to put hard-working Americans first.  Barack Obama.  He‘ll put the middle class ahead of corporate interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  But first the Obama campaign is trying to keep the peace in Denver by allowing Hillary Clinton‘s name to be put in nomination from the floor.  In a joint statement today, Barack Obama said, quote, “I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton‘s historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong, united fashion.”  Hillary Clinton said, quote, “With every voice heard and the party strongly united, we will elect Senator Obama president of the United States and put our nation on the path to peace and prosperity once again.

Joining us now, two of Hillary Clinton‘s most die-hard supporters.  Derragh Murphy is a founder of People United Means Action, and Will Bower is a co-founder of Just Say No Deal.

Will, Hillary‘s name is going into nomination.  I gather that‘s not enough for you.  Why not?

WILL BOWER, CO-FOUNDER, JUST SAY NO DEAL:  Well, it‘s the least of things.  This is not a favor that‘s being done for us.  This is the way the process is supposed to be done.  Since 1884, we‘ve had conventions where more than one candidate‘s name is placed on the ballot.  So we‘re not asking for any special treatment here.  This is how it‘s supposed to be done.

SHUSTER:  But you‘re saying that you‘re not going to support Barack Obama.

BOWER:  Well, I‘ve always said that.  Come November, I will not be voting for Barack Obama.

SHUSTER:  All right.  Well, Derragh, are you going to be supporting Barack Obama, or are you also going to support John McCain?

DERRAGH MURPHY, PEOPLE UNITED MEANS ACTION PAC:  I‘m not saying that we‘re supporting John McCain.  What we‘re saying is that we‘re not going to be supporting Barack Obama.

SHUSTER:  I want to play something that Hillary Clinton said when she ended her race in June, when she concluded that the race was lost and that Barack Obama would be the next Democratic nominee.  Here she is on June the 7th.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So I want to say to my supporters, when you hear people saying, or think to yourself, If only, or, What if, I say please don‘t go there.  Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.

(CHEERS, APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Derragh, what is it that keeps you from listening to Hillary Clinton?

MURPHY:  Oh, we all listened to that speech.  It was a beautiful speech that she gave on June 7.  And our position is that Hillary stood up for her voters for as long as she could, and now it‘s our job to stand up for ourselves, and that‘s what her speech...

SHUSTER:  All right.  But she‘s not standing up for your organization.  I mean, Derragh, she said to a reporter, We oppose any effort that doesn‘t support a Democratic victory in the fall, including PUMA.  You‘re with PUMA, right?

MURPHY:  Yes, we‘re PUMA, PUMA PAC.

SHUSTER:  Right.  So she doesn‘t support you.

MURPHY:  Well, it‘s not her job to support us.  It‘s our job to support the democratic process, to support Democratic voters.  We don‘t operate at that high level.  We‘re about the voters—voice of the voters and the Democratic process.

SHUSTER:  And speaking of the democratic process, Will, why not accept the fact Barack Obama, if he comes out of the convention as the nomination, that‘s the end.  You‘ve had your say.  Hillary Clinton supporters have had their say.

BOWER:  Oh, because we haven‘t had our say yet.  And to expect 2,000 delegates who represent 18 million voters, that they‘re going to silence those voices—again, this is the least of things.

SHUSTER:  The least of things, but what—I mean, most voters—let‘s put aside the superdelegates.  Most voters in the popular vote supported Barack Obama.

BOWER:  (INAUDIBLE) popular vote.

SHUSTER:  Right.  But what‘s your definition of democracy?

BOWER:  Well, my definition of democracy is when we have a system that isn‘t brokered from the beginning.  I view this as having been pre-wired.  You know...

SHUSTER:  How?

BOWER:  Well, everyone talks about Florida and Michigan, you know, that they broke the rules and that they were right to be punished.  But no one realizes that Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire, they broke the rules, too.  But for some reason...

SHUSTER:  Wa, wa, wa, wait!  How did they break the rules, by moving up the day?

BOWER:  Well, no.  There was—if you want to get into this because it‘s kind of wonky.  But for example, there was a process where they were going to invite four states to be early window states.  And those were going to be...

SHUSTER:  I see where you‘re going.  Here‘s the problem, Will.  Here‘s the problem.

BOWER:  All right.

SHUSTER:  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, all of the Democrats agreed with the process.  They all agreed.  They were all aware of the very issues you‘ve been raising now.  And I guess the question is, Why can‘t you guys let this go?  Why can‘t you accept—I mean, do you really want John McCain to be president?

BOWER:  Well, no.  I‘m not going to be voting for John McCain with joy in my heart.  But this isn‘t about John McCain.  This isn‘t about Barack Obama.  This isn‘t about Hillary Clinton.  This is about the democratic process, and we‘ve seen it greatly abused this year.  And you know, most of us were very damaged the personally by what happened in this country back in 2000, when the election was decided by...

SHUSTER:  Wait a second.  Who was abused?  Who did the abusing in this process?

BOWER:  The DNC did the abusing, whether it‘s Nancy Pelosi or Donna Brazile or Howard Dean.

SHUSTER:  How did they abuse the process?

BOWER:  Well, for example, Howard Dean selected which states would be punished and which ones wouldn‘t.  He didn‘t apply the rules evenly.

SHUSTER:  But everybody agreed!  Hillary Clinton agreed.  All right, Derragh, let‘s ask you.  Who abused the process, in your view?

MURPHY:  Yes, I would say that—the RBC on May 31 in Washington, D.C.  Hillary Clinton‘s campaign did not support that process of taking four delegates from her and giving them to Barack Obama.

SHUSTER:  But they support it now.  And in fact, Barack Obama has reinstated the Michigan and Florida delegates.

MURPHY:  Right...

SHUSTER:  So why is this a complaint of yours?

MURPHY:  Conveniently at a time when it will help him and not hurt her.  So I think it‘s—it‘s widely agreed that...

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  ... question for you.  Derragh, do you support abortion rights?

MURPHY:  Yes, I do.

SHUSTER:  You do.  Then why would you want John McCain instead of Barack Obama?

MURPHY:  I don‘t believe that Barack Obama stands up for anything, for any platform.  I don‘t trust his...

SHUSTER:  Nothing?  He doesn‘t stand for anything?  He doesn‘t stand for ending the Iraq war?  He doesn‘t stand for trying to fix the economy?  He doesn‘t...

MURPHY:  Well, I don‘t know.  He‘s in Hawaii right now, so I‘m not sure where he stands on those kinds of issues.

SHUSTER:  All right, let‘s vote against him because he‘s in Hawaii.  Is that the position—I mean, seriously, what is it about a John McCain presidency that you think would be better than Barack Obama, given that you clearly seem to have Democratic viewpoints?

MURPHY:  Because it will change the leadership of the DNC.

SHUSTER:  That‘s all you care about, is changing the leadership of the

DNC.

MURPHY:  All I care about is the Democratic Party, the democratic process, and Democratic voters.

SHUSTER:  Will?

BOWER:  Well, I would say it would be great if this could be about issues, but in the last six to eight weeks, Barack Obama has betrayed every issue that he garnered original support for, whether it‘s FISA or offshore oil drilling...

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  But if that‘s the standard, Will, if the standard is he‘s flip-flopped, John McCain went from comprehensive immigration reform to only border security.  He went from, I‘m against the Bush tax cuts now—

Now I support the Bush tax cuts.  I mean, you could go on and on.

BOWER:  Well, I agree.  You know, politicians do flip-flop.  But what I would say, Barack Obama has gone beyond flip-flopping.  This is betrayal of issues.  And what I say is at the end of the day, since we can‘t trust him on policy, we do have to revert to issues of character, of trust, of experience.

SHUSTER:  Well, you raise a very good point.  Let‘s talk about issues of character and trust.

MURPHY:  Experience is the big one.

SHUSTER:  Well, Derragh, let‘s talk about issues of character and trust.  How much money has PUMA raised?

MURPHY:  We‘ve raised about $50,000.

SHUSTER:  Fifty thousand dollars.  Then why did your spokesperson say on national TV a few weeks ago you had raised at least $6 million?

MURPHY:  No spokesperson from my group said that.

SHUSTER:  Well, it was a person who claimed that they were with PUMA.  Only $50,000.  Now, do you think that with $50,000 that you represent a wide view of Democrats?

MURPHY:  Yes.  We‘re not necessarily rich, but we are a large group. 

We don‘t need to be rich to be able to be effective.

SHUSTER:  All right.  Now, what about -- $50,000 is pretty small.  So a donation that kicks into $50,000 would be pretty significant.  Is it true that you donated to John McCain‘s campaign in 2000?

MURPHY:  Yes, I donated $500 to the Republican primary campaign in 2000, and $700 to Hillary Clinton this year.

SHUSTER:  OK.  So what about that argument, then, that, Look, these are just Republicans who are trying to cause trouble in the Democratic Party?

MURPHY:  Well, it‘s just not true.  Our largest donation is—there‘s a limit of $2,500.  We can only—we are a political action committee.  We have to file our forms with the SEC.  So we cannot accept donations of that size.

SHUSTER:  Right, but $500 is a pretty significant amount of money—in fact, I think, if I‘m doing my math correct, that‘s 1 percent of $50,000, right?  Now we‘re comparing apples and oranges.

MURPHY:  You mean (INAUDIBLE) $2,000?

SHUSTER:  Sure.  I mean, your group has only gotten $50,000, but you gave $500 to John McCain back in 2000.  I mean, the point is that there‘s not a lot of money behind your group.  There are allegations that you guys are Republicans.  There are also allegations, well, that you guys don‘t respect the Democratic process because if you did, you would follow advice of Hillary Clinton.  And you know what?  She‘s saying, Let the process play out.  I‘m going to be nominated on the convention floor.

MURPHY:  The Democratic process...

SHUSTER:  And when the convention is over...

MURPHY:  The Democratic process is different...

SHUSTER:  ... stand behind Barack Obama.  Why is it so difficult for you to do?

BOWER:  Well, you know...

MURPHY:  Because you‘re confusing the terms democratic process and Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party is supposed to represent the voters.  The democratic process is what protects voters.

SHUSTER:  Right.  But I don‘t understand how the voters are not protected when the voters—the majority of the popular vote supported Barack Obama, and the only way that Hillary Clinton can get this nomination is if you convince the superdelegates to somehow change their mind.  Is that what you‘re advocating, Will, for this convention?

BOWER:  Well, yes.  I mean, that‘s what conventions are about.  This is a zero-to-zero game right now, and there‘s no nominee until the delegates decide who that nominee is.  Barack Obama is only the presumptive nominee.  He is not the nominee.  It‘s for the delegates to make that decision.

SHUSTER:  Well, how can it be following the democratic process, given that Barack Obama got a majority of the popular vote, and you‘re asking the superdelegates to overturn the will of the Democratic voters in all these primaries, and we‘re not even including the caucuses.  He got the popular vote in just the primaries, and you want to overturn that.

BOWER:  Well, first of all, we‘re working with different numbers. 

It‘s my understanding that Hillary Clinton got the popular vote and...

SHUSTER:  Well, your understanding is wrong.

BOWER:  Well, we‘re using different numbers on that one.

SHUSTER:  Right.  You guys are using a lot of different numbers throughout this whole argument.  But again, the bottom line is Hillary Clinton wants you guys to knock it off.  She wants—if you feel as passionately as you do, she wants you to support the Democratic nominee.

MURPHY:  Well, that happens on August 28.  Yes, August 28 is when we‘ll have the Democratic nominee.

SHUSTER:  All right.  but will you pledge right here and right now that, A, you‘re not a Republican, and, B, you will support the Democratic nominee, whoever that will be?  Derragh?

MURPHY:  I will pledge that I‘m not a Republican, absolutely not a Republican, never have been, never will be.  I will not support Barack Obama.  I won‘t vote for him.

SHUSTER:  Will?

BOWER:  I‘ve been voting 18 years.  I‘ve never once cast a vote for anything but a Democrat.  I even campaigned for Michael Dukakis when I was 14 years old.  I mean, the Democratic Party has been my home.  This is not something that I‘ve been doing lightly.  I would say that if Barack Obama is our nominee in November, he‘s not the Democratic nominee, he‘s the DNC‘s nominee.

MURPHY:  Exactly.

BOWER:  There‘s been a departure between the DNC‘s leadership and they no longer represent the Democratic people.

SHUSTER:  Well, I think most Democrats would disagree.  I think even most Republicans would disagree with you.  In any case, Will Bower, co-founder of Just Say No Deal—you‘re in D.C.—and Derragh Murphy who‘s with PUMA PAC in Boston, we thank you both for coming in.

MURPHY:  Thank you.

SHUSTER:  Coming up: Faith in the ‘08 race.  How big a role will religion play in this election?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  In just 48 hours, Barack Obama and John McCain will speak at a faith forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback church in southern California.  We will have live coverage of that event right here on MSNBC.

So how many evangelicals are up for grabs in this election, and what do the candidates hope to gain politically from this event?  “Time” magazine‘s Amy Sullivan is the author of “The Party Faithful,” and Dan Gilgoff is the political editor of Beliefnet.com.

Amy, Obama and McCain with Rick Warren on Saturday—what do we expect?

AMY SULLIVAN, “TIME” MAGAZINE:  Well, we don‘t know what to expect.  We‘ve never seen anything quite like this before.  And the fact that this is the first presidential meeting of these two candidates during the campaign, and it‘s at a mega-church with a Southern Baptist pastor asking the questions, is kind of unprecedented.

SHUSTER:  Dan, Rick Warren talks a lot about AIDS, global warming, poverty.  Are these the big issues that are now front and center among faith voters, and wouldn‘t it tend to benefit Obama?

DAN GILGOFF, BELIEFNET:  It seems that way.  I mean, I think the fact that this forum is happening at all and that Rick Warren is the host of both parties—the candidates of both parties tells you as much about the state of the evangelical movement today as it does about the candidates.  I mean, Rick Warren was someone who in 2004 was basically campaigning for George W. Bush.  Shortly after, I remember being on conference calls where he was supporting the Supreme Court nominations of George W. Bush, and these were about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, the most divisive issues in the American electorate, really.

Now here we are a few years later, and he‘s invited Barack Obama and John McCain to talk about not hot button issues but issues like the poverty, the environment and AIDS in Africa.  So I think that Barack Obama sees a big open here, and whether he can take advantage of it is yet to be seen.

SHUSTER:  Dan, do you think that Rick Warren is looking for specific commitments from both McCain and Obama on these issues?

GILGOFF:  I don‘t think so.  I mean, I think that he went out of his way to say beforehand that these weren‘t going to be gotcha questions.  And I think what‘s really important to watch here is I think that someone like Rick Warren in this event is trying to do PR for the evangelical world.  He doesn‘t want America to view the evangelical movement as a bunch of right-wingers and as a bunch of James Dobson acolytes.  So I think what‘s important to watch for is as much of what Rick Warren is saying and how he‘s trying to portray evangelical politics, just as much as it is to see what John McCain and Barack Obama are saying.

SHUSTER:  Amy, I want to put up a poll that was done among white evangelicals.  The breakdown was that they favor John McCain 68 percent to 24 percent.  And what‘s so interesting about this is it‘s almost identical to four years ago, Bush versus Kerry, with 68 to 25.  So is it simply the case that Barack Obama essentially can‘t lose by reaching out to religious conservatives, to Rick Warren or simply to evangelicals?

SULLIVAN:  Well, I think one of the things that Barack Obama is doing with his outreach to evangelicals is trying to reassure them that he wouldn‘t be the worst thing in the world if he was in the White House.  I mean, there‘s an established kind of long-simmering tension between John McCain and the religious right.  Certainly, there‘s not a lot of enthusiasm right now among white evangelicals for John McCain.  We did a poll at “Time” just last week and found that a good 3 out of 10 supporters of John McCain among white evangelicals are unenthusiastic about his candidacy.  And I think that Obama...

SHUSTER:  Other words, does Obama win...

(CROSSTALK)

SHUSTER:  In other words, does Obama win if those evangelicals simply stay home?

SULLIVAN:  I think there‘s a good chance that he does.  I mean, one of the things that the Bush campaign did in 2004 was not just do very heavy outreach to evangelicals and try to, I think, assure them that Bush was a man of faith who should be their preferred candidate, but they really drove up the turn-out.  And it was that turn-out as much as anything else that really provided the margin of victory for Bush.  I don‘t think McCain can count on anything that looks like that from 2004. 

SHUSTER:  Now, both Barack Obama and John McCain have had problems with their pastors.  There was Reverend Wright, a—who was Obama‘s spiritual adviser, who said inflammatory things about America.  John McCain had problems with Pastor Hagee, who said inflammatory things about Catholics. 

Here‘s Obama trying to recover after Reverend Wright.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It is antithetical to our campaign.  It is antithetical to what I‘m about.  It is not what I think America stands for. 

And I want to be very clear that, moving forward, Reverend Wright does not speak for me.  He does not speak for our campaign.  I cannot prevent him from continuing to make these outrageous remarks.  But what I do want him to be very clear about, as well as all of you and the American people, is that, when I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Now here‘s John McCain talking about Pastor Hagee, who was not his spiritual adviser, but simply somebody who had endorsed John McCain. 

Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My church that I attend is the North Phoenix Baptist Church.  My pastor and spiritual guide is Pastor Dan Yeary.  I have never been in Pastor Hagee‘s church or Pastor Parsley‘s church.  I didn‘t attend their church for 20 years.  And I‘m not a member of their church. 

I received their endorsement, which did not mean that I endorsed their views.  But the comments made most recently by Pastor Hagee are just too much. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Now, Dan, given the way that both McCain and Obama have had to sort of essentially separate themselves out from religious leaders, at least these two particular leaders, are there still questions, unanswered questions, about John McCain‘s faith and about Barack Obama‘s faith, questions that Rick Warren‘s church might have? 

GILGOFF:  Yes, but I think they‘re different kinds of questions, and I there are different kinds of issues or personalities that those two controversies revealed about each candidate. 

For Barack Obama, the entire problem was that he had associated for 20 years with his pastor, had—he had baptized his kids, married Obama to Michelle Obama, even blessed his house.  So, for Democrats, who have a hard time proving that they are truly religious, truly people of faith, the one good thing that the Wright scandal did for him is, it proved that he was indeed a frequent churchgoer and someone to whom faith was central. 

For the McCain controversy, it kind of illustrated the opposite tendency in McCain.  He easily dismissed someone like Hagee, someone like Parsley, because he didn‘t know them very well.  And what does that tell you?  It tells you that he‘s not someone who‘s particularly close with the religious right. 

So, I think that these controversies were both problematic for the candidates, but, in a way, it did something of a backhanded favor for Obama. 

SHUSTER:  Amy, you mentioned the work that Barack Obama has done in trying to reach out to evangelicals.  And that‘s largely been very different for the Democratic Party, at least compared to John Kerry four years ago, Al Gore eight years ago. 

Given that he has tried very hard to make inroads, and that his poll numbers are no better than John Kerry four years ago, doesn‘t that suggest that Obama‘s message is not working? 

SULLIVAN:  Well, you know, one of the things that is so different about 2004 is, the real difference in the evangelical community is not necessarily on—along ideological lines.  It‘s along generational lines. 

And that‘s not being picked up in polls.  It certainly wasn‘t picked up in our poll in “TIME” last week.  When you look at older evangelical voters, they‘re behaving about the same as they have been in the past.  But it‘s the younger voters, who are still very pro-life, who are saying, there are other issues that are priorities. 

And those are the issues, the same ones that Rick Warren is going to get into, whether it‘s poverty, whether it‘s the economy, whether it‘s the environment.  And, so, he really has a chance to make some inroads with them. 

But we‘re also finding a lot more enthusiasm among Obama supporters in the evangelical community.  In that same poll, you know, he may have less support, but his supporters are enthusiastic, and they‘re going to be running their first television ad in support of him, in fact, during the—the forum at Saddleback on Saturday. 

SHUSTER:  Amy Sullivan and Dan Gilgoff, thank you both very much. 

And, again, Barack Obama and John McCain will be together for the first time in this election.  They will be at Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church in California on Saturday night.  We will have it live here on MSNBC from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Eastern time. 

Up next: Julia Child, international woman of mystery?  That‘s next in the HARDBALL “Sideshow.” 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  And welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Time now for the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

Here is Stephen Colbert making his case for a prime-time speaking slot at the Democratic Convention. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE COLBERT REPORT”)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE COLBERT REPORT”:  You know, I can already hear the objections. 

“Stephen, do you really have the Democratic Party‘s best interests at heart?”

Maybe not. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  But they‘re letting this guy speak. 

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  And listen to his glowing endorsement of Obama. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”) 

MARY SNOW, ABC REPORTER:  You think he‘s completely qualified to be president right now?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The Constitution sets the qualifications for the president. 

SNOW:  Is he ready to be president? 

CLINTON:  You could argue that no one‘s ever ready to be president. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

COLBERT:  Hell, I can fake it better than that. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SHUSTER:  The thing is, I don‘t think Bill was even trying to fake it there. 

Next, the mayor of Detroit simply cannot catch a break.  Kwame Kilpatrick had been hoping to set his legal troubles aside long enough to attend the Democratic Convention later this month.  Things looked good this morning, when the judge in Kwame Kilpatrick perjury case gave the mayor permission to head to Denver and remove his electronic tether. 

But hold the celebration, Mr. Mayor.  Just a few hours later, the judge in Kilpatrick‘s assault case ordered the mayor re-tethered. 

By the way, the Obama campaign said today they don‘t want Kilpatrick at the convention because he would be a distraction. 

Well, if they‘re so concerned—so concerned about distractions, maybe they should rethink letting the Clintons speak on two of the four nights. 

Meanwhile, this week, John McCain had another foreign policy slip on the campaign trail.  Check it out. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m interested in good relations between the United States and Russia.  But, in the 21st century, nations don‘t invade other nations. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Hello.  Excuse me.  Iraq?  Didn‘t we invade that country, and aren‘t we occupying it today?  Oh, yeah.  I forgot. 

Here‘s some food for thought.  It turns out Julia Child, America‘s favorite chef, started out her career as part of an international spy ring.  That‘s right.  Newly released documents show that, during World War II, Child was one of 24,000 members of the Office of Strategic Services, the agency that preceded the CIA—Julia Child apparently not as innocent with that butter knife as we thought. 

Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Hillary Clinton may have lost the Democratic primary months ago, but it turns out she wants a roll call vote in Denver anyway.  So, how long has it been since the losing candidate formally entered their name in a nomination?  Sixteen years.  The last time was back in the ‘92 Democratic Convention, where California Governor Jerry Brown challenged—you guessed it—Bill Clinton. 

It was a move that angered the Clintons.  My, my, how times have changed.  Sixteen years since we have had rival roll call votes at a convention—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next: HARDBALL veepstakes and how a potential V.P.‘s position on abortion could make all the difference. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.  Here‘s what‘s happening. 

Russian troops and tanks defiantly moved around Georgia today, two days after a shaky cease-fire took effect.  In Moscow, Russia‘s foreign minister declared, Georgia could forget about regaining its two pro-Russian breakaway provinces.  Meanwhile, President Bush repeated his call for Russia to honor that cease-fire and demanded that Moscow respect Georgia‘s territorial integrity. 

In France, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who‘s been leading Western efforts to stop the fighting between Russia and Georgia.  Rice is scheduled to travel to Georgia tomorrow. 

And senior Pakistani officials tell NBC News President Pervez Musharraf is expected to resign in the next few days, rather than face impeachment by parliament.  The charges are based in part on his declaration of a temporary state of emergency last year.  Musharraf has been an important U.S. ally in the war on terror, but has been under pressure to resign by the ruling coalition in parliament that was elected last February—now back to HARDBALL. 

SHUSTER:  And welcome back to HARDBALL. 

John McCain has not ruled out picking a pro-choice running mate, like Tom Ridge, and the Republican Convention will feature, just like four years ago, pro-choice Rudy Giuliani as a prime-time speaker. 

On the Democratic side, Senator Bob Casey, who‘s pro-life, will speak at the Democratic Convention in Denver. 

Will McCain alienate Christian conservatives if he picks a pro-choice running mate, and which party is more welcoming of dissenting views? 

Joe Watkins is a Republican strategist.  And Kate Michelman is the former president of NARAL, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.

Kate, given that John McCain is talking a pro-choice candidate on the ticket, or leaving open that possibility, why isn‘t it fair to conclude that Republicans are more welcoming of a dissenting view than Democrats? 

KATE MICHELMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ABORTION AND REPRODUCTIVE

RIGHTS ACTION LEAGUE:  Well, first of all, Democrats have always been a party that respects diversity of views own a range of issues. 

But the party has also been very strongly committed to women‘s freedoms, women‘s equality, and women‘s right to decide whether and when to become a mother.  And there‘s no question about that.  As far as dissenting views, I—I—I don‘t think the Democratic Party has ever discriminated against anyone who opposes...

SHUSTER:  What about Bob Casey in ‘92, Bob Casey‘s father, of course? 

I mean, he was denied a speaking spot at the ‘92 convention. 

(CROSSTALK)

MICHELMAN:  Yes, he was. 

But I think the characterization that he was denied because he was opposed to a woman‘s right to choose is really misleading.  Bob Casey did not get a spot at the convention because he—he publicly opposed Clinton.  He publicly did not support Clinton as the candidate.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

REVEREND JOE WATKINS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT:  In other words, he had a dissenting point of view.  He had a dissenting point of view, in other words? 

MICHELMAN:  No, he did not have a dissenting point of view.  He did not have a dissenting point of view.  He did—he did not support the—and endorse Clinton as the presidential candidate. 

And, you know, it‘s unlikely you‘re going to have someone with a—who may have a dissenting view on a particular issue, but you‘re unlikely to ask someone to speak at your convention who opposes your nomination, who opposes your candidacy. 

I will remind you that Ray Flynn...

SHUSTER:  Hey, Joe, I have got to ask you...

MICHELMAN:  Ray Flynn was a...

SHUSTER:  Oh, I‘m going to—Kate, hold on just one sec. 

I want to ask—I want to ask Joe—well, let‘s move it on to the Republican side for a second here.

Joe, do you really think...

MICHELMAN:  Yes. 

SHUSTER:  ... that John McCain can count on the support of conservatives if he picks a pro-choice running mate?  Do you really believe that? 

WATKINS:  Yes, I do.  I do.  I‘m a conservative guy.  I‘m a Christian guy.  As many of you know, I‘m a pastor of a church. 

And I have—I have very firm faith views, as a—as a born-again believer.  And I think that John McCain, what matters most to me, and I think to most other voters, is where John McCain stands on these issues that matter to Americans. 

And I think what Americans appreciate about John McCain is his leadership style, which is so engaging, and so broad, and so well-timed for this period in America‘s—in America‘s history.  I mean, he‘s willing to...

SHUSTER:  But, Joe, I have got to stop you.  I mean, you‘re a savvy political guy.  Don‘t you think it would hurt John McCain, that evangelicals would decide, you know what, I‘m not going to show up at the polls if he‘s going to put somebody like Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman on the ticket?

WATKINS:  Well, you know, if you look at a guy like Tom Ridge, Tom Ridge is somebody I have known for a long time.  I have the utmost respect for Tom Ridge.  I like him a great deal. 

And—and what John McCain looks at is the fact that Tom Ridge has so much to offer.  I mean, not only is he the former popular two-term elected governor of Pennsylvania, winning in the second term, in ‘98, with 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race.  But he‘s also been the secretary of Homeland Security.  So, he‘s got a great national security background. 

He‘s a blue-collar guy, raised in the public housing—public houses

in western P.A., and—and worked his way through college at Harvard, and

and left law school to—to enlist in the Army, and served his country proudly overseas in war, and—and won some medals.

SHUSTER:  And don‘t forget to mention, Joe, that he‘s also pro-choice. 

WATKINS:  Well, he certainly is that.  He—but, on every other issue, he‘s—he‘s right in synch with John McCain. 

And, on the issue, of course, of pro-choice, you have to look more carefully to see exactly where he stands, but he‘s against partial-birth abortion, and he‘s—he‘s for more restrictive policies, as a pro-choice guy. 

SHUSTER:  Kate, I have got to ask you, the Democratic platform now has some compromise language about supporting a woman‘s decision to have a baby.  Are you OK with this sort of platform language to try to reach out to the professional movement? 

MICHELMAN:  Well, first of all, I completely disagree with your characterization. 

This is the most—this is the strongest platform that the Democratic Party has ever produced supporting a woman‘s right to decide whether and when to become a mother.  In fact, it‘s the strongest platform addressing issues of great concern to women, women‘s economic security, women‘s rights of choice. 

SHUSTER:  To pick up on your point, let‘s clarify. 

MICHELMAN:  I would say that pro-life Democrats are—pro-life Dems are desperate to convince the world that they have a role in this party, and I think this is all spin.  This platform is not a compromise.  It‘s a stronger platform than ever before.  It‘s incredibly important.  In fact, it‘s a stronger endorsement of Roe v. Wade.  It sends a warning out—

SHUSTER:  You‘re in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Are you saying Bob Casey has no influence, no role in the Democratic party? 

MICHELMAN:  I‘ll tell you, he—of course he has a role in the Democratic party.  He is a sitting Democratic senator.  And Bob Casey and I do disagree on—and strongly on the issue of whether women have a right to decide or not.  But Bob Casey has worked very hard for Obama.  But he did not write this platform.  In fact, this platform was written by, informed by, managed by women in a predominant role, unlike past platforms in the party‘s history. 

This is a platform that addresses women‘s needs, addresses women‘s rights, addresses women‘s role in society, and strongly reflects Senator Obama‘s commitment to improving the conditions of women, to protecting and defending their rights, including their right to decide.  I think what‘s important here—and Joe alluded to this.  What‘s important is that these two candidates, McCain and Obama, have very differing views on a range of issues, but importantly for women in this country—for women in this country, who is going to lead us in the next leg of our journey to fully equality that we have been working on for over a century? 

John McCain wants to appoint Supreme Court justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade and restore women—

(CROSS TALK)

SHUSTER:  We‘re not going to be able to come back if we go down this road.  We‘re going to end it there.  Kate Michelman—

MICHELMAN:  He does.

SHUSTER:  -- and Joe Watkins, thank you both very much.  I promise we‘ll get back to this topic.  Don‘t worry.  Up next, it‘s our HARDBALL panel with the politics fix.  The Obama campaign rolls out a new ad to run during the Olympics.  Is it a winner?  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix.  Tonight‘s round table, Del Walters of EbonyJet.com and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard.  There‘s a new ad that Obama has just released for his Olympic rotation.  I want to play it for you and ask you a question on the other side.  Watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It begins with a plan, a plan to build, a plan to put hard working Americans first.  Barack Obama, he‘ll put the middle class ahead of corporate interests to grow the economy, end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, help businesses that create jobs here, invest in education, cut taxes for working families and make energy independence an urgent national priority. 

OBAMA:  I‘m Barack Obama, and I approve this message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Michelle, that‘s a lot to keep track of at a time when people are watching the news or hearing about Hillary Clinton.  Is Obama able to break through with this? 

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Absolutely.  I don‘t think he can break through.  Also, there‘s so much that he has promised in that ad that it sort of makes me remember George Bush with the read my lips, no new taxes, and he puts himself in the position, if he actually does win the election, of having to make good on all those promises.  That ad, people will remember forever. 

SHUSTER:  Del, your view on the ad? 

DEL WALTERS, EBONYJET.COM:  I think people won‘t remember the specifics of the ad, but I think they‘ll remember the tenor of the ad.  I think what we‘re seeing in the Obama campaign is trying to maintain the high road at a time when we‘re seeing the negative campaigning back and forth, Jerome Corsi‘s new book.  He‘s trying to say—and live up to what he said he was going to do in the primary, which is he said he was going to run a campaign above board. 

Does it work?  That‘s going to be up to the voters.  What he‘s trying to do, I think, is set the tone in the Olympics, which is a very positive time, by saying this is a positive ad.  This is a positive reinforced message, and this is what I want to do if I‘m going to be president. 

SHUSTER:  Now, we learned today that Hillary Clinton is going to have her name introduced in nomination from the convention floor.  This is the first time in 16 years.  Del, what do you make of it? 

WALTERS:  I think what you have to do in order to examine this correctly is to ask yourself what would we be saying if Hillary Clinton had secured the nomination and Barack Obama were on the other side saying, I want my name placed in nomination.  I want a keynote address for Michelle Obama.  I want all the things that Hillary Clinton is getting.  Would we be saying that this is prolonging a battle or would we be calling it sour grapes.  I think we‘re reaching the point right now where the public is going to start saying, wait a minute.  How much do we give the person that lost? 

SHUSTER:  Is it really fair, though, to talk about the comparison between Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton?  I mean, he‘s a former president.  They have to deal with him in some fashion. 

WALTERS:  I don‘t think it‘s fair to compare the two on that note, but I do think it‘s fair to compare the tenor of Bill Clinton when it comes to this particular campaign.  Everybody realizes that when you lose the primary, you‘re supposed to line up behind the nominee, whether you‘re a former president or not.  And Bill Clinton hasn‘t done that.  As a spouse, is it asking too much for Bill Clinton to act the same way that we would have asked Michelle Obama to act had Barack Obama lost the primary? 

SHUSTER:  Michelle, is there a risk in that they‘re trying to get closure by reopening the wound?  Isn‘t there a bit of a risk there? 

BERNARD:  That‘s where I disagree with you.  I don‘t think they‘re trying to get closure.  I think that this about 2012 and it‘s about making the Democratic convention all about the Clintons.  You know, we—Mrs Clinton sort of usurped Barack Obama‘s nomination and all of the excitement that one would have expected with it when she delayed on the speech that she gave to say she was finally dropping out or suspending her campaign.  We‘ve got Mrs. Clinton speaking on Tuesday.  We‘ve got former President Clinton speaking on Wednesday.  I think this is a veiled attempt to make the convention about the Clintons and damp down any of the enthusiasm that we will see, or the possibility of a post-convention bump for Barack Obama.

SHUSTER:  And the Obama campaign has got to have those same suspicions.  So, Del, why would they cave on this?

WALTERS:  I don‘t think it is a matter of whether or not they even have the suspicions.  I think they know that.  The question is what do you do?  How do you maintain the high road in this argument, but also do battle with the Clintons, who are not exactly doing what they said they were going to do.  I mean, after they had the joint appearance, Hillary said I‘m going to go out there and I‘m going to stump for Barack Obama.  When does that actually begin in earnest?  Is it after they give the speeches at the convention and is it after the convention show case the Clinton campaign or is it on election night? 

I agree with what Michelle is saying.  I don‘t think this has anything to do with them trying to coalesce the party.  I think we‘re looking at the launching of 2012. 

SHUSTER:  Is there any chance that super delegates may suddenly say, you know what, we said we were supporting Hillary, then we‘re supporting Obama.  Let‘s go back to supporting Hillary just for the sake of the roll call. 

BERNARD:  I don‘t see that happening under any circumstances whatsoever.  I think what we‘ll be told the week of the convention is that we‘ll see more of Mrs. Clinton‘s statements that this is a catharsis for her supporters, particularly for women who are angry. 

SHUSTER:  And the irony of that is Barack Obama said he doesn‘t think his convention needs catharsis. 

BERNARD:  I would venture to guess that if we took a poll, most people in the American public and most women would said they don‘t need a catharsis to figure out who they‘re going to vote for president.  They‘re either going to vote for Obama or they‘re going to vote for McCain.  But this catharsis that we‘ve heard Mrs. Clinton speak about, I think most women feel is completely unnecessary. 

WALTERS:  Here‘s the bottom line, while we‘re talking about Mrs.  Clinton‘s catharsis, and while we are talking about who is stronger on the Russian situation with Georgia, we‘re not talking about Barack Obama‘s ad.  We‘re not talking about his platform.  We‘re talking about Hillary Clinton and John McCain.  At a time when Barack Obama wants everybody to focus on me, we‘re not focusing on him.  We‘re focusing on everybody but him.  That‘s not good for the Obama campaign. 

SHUSTER:  Del Walters and Michelle Bernard, we‘ll be right back after this.  And we‘ll be back with more of the politics fix.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHUSTER:  And we are back with more of the politics fix.  Del Walters, the Obama campaign has now released a 40-page rebuttal to this new book, an attack book on Obama that includes a lot of things that are flat-out wrong and dishonest.  Is that enough?  Is that enough of a response for the Obama campaign? 

WALTERS:  I think the problem with that particular book is it is the political—the literary equivalent of, do you still beat your wife?  I talked to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend one time, and she said that nowadays in politics, you not only have to be prepared to respond to your record and your reputation, but also the things that they may say about you that have no absolutely no basis in fact.  The problem with these books are that they print them.  Somebody is going to see it on a newsstand and they‘re going to say, you know, there‘s a whole book about this.  And then they‘re going to look at the back of it and say, look at the publishing company that went ahead and published it.  They‘re going to say, there must be some fire there because there‘s an awful lot of smoke. 

It may be completely true, and that‘s what the Obama campaign is trying to do.  But how do you answer those charges?  How do you say I don‘t beat my wife anymore, I never beat my wife.  People are going to say, if you do, you protest too much, and if you don‘t say anything, they are going to say, well, there must be a grain of truth there.  I think this thing is very troubling. 

SHUSTER:  Michelle, there is a point-by-point response on each of these main allegations and efforts to show why this guy, Corsi, is, as described by the Obama spokesperson, a discredited liar who is peddling another piece of garbage in order to continue the Bush/Cheney politics.  Now, what do you do if you‘re the Obama campaign other than saying these nasty things about Corsi and saying that, yes he lies in this book.  At a certain point, does Barack Obama or somebody at that level have to say, this is nonsense? 

BERNARD:  I think they have to say this is nonsense, but I think they have to parse through the book very carefully to see what lies or alleged lies that he tells about Obama that might actually resonate with the public.  I mean, just as Barack Obama had to answer the public when there were questions being raised about whether or not he was a Muslim, it is a shame that he had to do so, but he had to do so.  And I think he will have to take a look at this book and any images or statements that he thinks the American public will take against him, he absolutely has to respond to them, because people know John McCain.  People are still trying to figuring out who Barack Obama is.  That‘s why this book was published when it was published. 

SHUSTER:  And there are still some questions about whether Barack Obama is tough enough.  And the reason I want to mention that is to bring up somebody who was seen with John McCain today.  You may remember Phil Gramm and some comments that he made several weeks ago that John McCain quickly distanced himself from.  Watch Phil Gramm at the “Washington Times” last month. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL GRAMM, FMR SENATOR:  You‘re heard of mental depression.  This is a mental recession.  We‘ve never been more dominant.  We have never had more natural advantages than we have today.  We have sort of become a nation of whiners. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  John McCain very quickly distanced himself from Phil Gramm, but there was Phil Gramm today at a John McCain event.  The picture of Phil Gramm in the audience with John McCain.  At a certain point, don‘t the Democrats—they didn‘t run an ad on Phil Gramm.  Aren‘t they essentially giving John McCain a pass on this.  That would suggest that maybe Obama isn‘t as tough as he needs to be. 

WALTERS:  I think there‘s a combination of toughness and smartness that you always have to walk that fine line.  He went in early on saying I‘m going to run a different type of campaign.  You saw on the bottom of the campaign ad we just saw the Youtube logo, meaning that it will be viral in 24 hours.  How do you do that when you‘re going to be attacked by the Jerome Corsi‘s of the world.  I think we‘re going to have to watch and see how this develops.

Right now, he‘s running it his way.  Will it work?  History has not been written on that yet, because we have never had a campaign in our lifetime that was literally above board.  We have swift boat attacks.  We‘ve had campaigns that attacked people‘s characters.  And we never did get to the substance of what the debate was supposed to be about. 

SHUSTER:  Michelle, ten seconds. 

BERNARD:  It‘s a slippery slope for him.  Negative ads work.  He has to be careful to be the agent of change but also has to go negative, if he wants to win. 

SHUSTER:  Michelle Bernard, who is an MSNBC political analyst, and Del Walters, who is a columnist for EbonyJet.com, and, of course, a frequent guest here on MSNBC, we appreciate you both.  you both are terrific.  So interesting to have you here talking about Hillary Clinton.  Again, the big news, Hillary Clinton will have her name introduced into nomination from the convention floor in Denver.  This is the first time that has happened in 16 years and this comes, of course, at a time when the Obama campaign is trying to respond to some of these negative attacks in a book, and also trying to break through in the Olympics with some ads.

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  I‘m David Shuster.  “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.

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

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