updated 9/4/2008 1:55:45 PM ET 2008-09-04T17:55:45

Guests: Howard Fineman, David Shuster, Ron Brownstein, Rep. Adam Putnam, Mike Duhame, Robert Gibbs, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris>

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Big night.  Will Sarah Palin rise to the occasion?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  Welcome to HARDBALL, live from the Republican national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.  We‘re coming to you live from Rice Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country and now the epicenter of the hottest political party in the country.  We‘re talking about hundreds of folks who are all jazzed up because tonight America gets to meet Governor Sarah Palin.  Senator John McCain picked the Alaska governor for his running mate, surprising just about everyone in politics.  Tonight, around 10:30 PM Eastern, Governor Palin steps into the national spotlight, having made history as the first woman nominated for the VP slot on the Republican ticket ever.

Plus, John McCain‘s former rivals Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee will speak at the convention tonight, along with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani delivering the keynote address.  MSNBC will have full primetime coverage of the convention starting at 7:00 PM Eastern, when Keith Olbermann joins me from New York with NBC News correspondents in and outside the hall.  MSNBC is the place for politics, and you don‘t want to miss a moment of this convention tonight.

But first: The most anticipated speech tonight will come from the Republicans‘ newest rock star, if you will, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  I‘m joined right now by Ron Brownstein of “The National Journal” and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman.

This is, gentlemen, I think, the most dramatic moment, in a weird way, of anything I‘ve ever seen in politics.  Ron, you first.  Someone everybody wants to know about and everyone knows practically nothing about we‘ll now learn a lot about in a matter of about 20 minutes.

RON BROWNSTEIN, “NATIONAL JOURNAL”:  Yes.  It‘s like taking someone from AA and having them start the first game of the World Series.  She—based, I think, on her performance Friday, it‘s a good bet that she will probably deliver a good speech tonight.  But ultimately, the verdict of the public on her is, I think, going to be set day by day by day by day between now and November and whether she strikes the American public as a plausible president, if need be.  She can make some strides toward that tonight, but ultimately, she can‘t resolve that tonight.  It will all be kind of in the performance day by day between now and the election, I think.

MATTHEWS:  You know, she could suffer from what you might called the Liddy Dole syndrome, having a very good first act and then repeating it again and again to the point where people realized it was just a performance.  You know what I‘m talking about?

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, she could, yes.

MATTHEWS:  And seriously, that went on a while and Liddy Dole sort of rolled (ph) out of her own national prominence in the ‘90s.  Doesn‘t she have to take a decision, make a decision, Do I risk answering real questions with real spontaneous answers, or do I simply answer with the scripted responses that are given to me and worked out with the staff?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think she‘s capable of handling herself very well in front of any circumstance, I think.  It‘s true, as Ron says, she‘s not hit big league pitching, but she‘s shown a lot of promise.  I was talking to a Republican from Alaska who knew her well and watched her.  And in the debate that took place, in the—a very vicious Republican primary in 2006, a three-way debate, she cleaned their clocks.  She was smart on her feet.  She managed to make the other two look small.  She‘s a quick thinker.  So I think there‘s every reason to expect not only that she‘ll do a good job tonight—that‘s a given.  If she flops tonight, then who knows?  But I think...

MATTHEWS:  Why do you say that, that it‘s a given that she‘ll do well tonight?  I mean, I‘ve been saying it, too, but let me hear your reasons.

FINEMAN:  Well, my reason is that these people know what they‘re doing.  They know how to put on a show, just as the Obama people did.  They‘ve been training her.  They‘ve been tailoring her speech, retooling a speech.  They had a problem with this convention because since McCain didn‘t make the pick until the very last minute, a lot of the speeches were generic.  A lot of the themes were generic.  So they‘ve been busily retooling them for the specifics for the last couple weeks.  The last 48 hours, they‘ve been retooling the generic veep speech for her, making it fit her and her experience.

She was a former broadcaster.  Don‘t forget, she started out in television.  She‘s been on a public stage, albeit not one, you know, with the big lights.  And I expect that she knows how to perform.

BROWNSTEIN:  Can I make a point, Chris?

MATTHEWS:  There she is practicing, I believe.

BROWNSTEIN:  One thing that is—there‘s a fundamental difference between this convention and the Democratic convention.  Going into the Democratic convention, Obama...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN:  ... but there‘s one political difference, is that Obama was running at 80 percent or less among Democrats, and the principle focus of his convention could be unifying Democrats and he could get a big—a reasonable bump in the polls simply by bringing his party together.

McCain coming to this convention is running at 85 percent or above among Republicans, over 90 percent in the Gallup poll that was released yesterday, which means that there isn‘t that much more to squeeze out among Republicans.  And the test for Sarah Palin tonight and for John McCain tomorrow is much more speaking to the middle.  That‘s why you saw Joe Lieberman in primetime last night...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) speak to the middle?

BROWNSTEIN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Not to the base?

BROWNSTEIN:  Well, I‘m saying that if she is only capable of speaking to the base, there isn‘t that much more good she can do him because he is already running near 90 percent of Republicans.  Ultimately...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BROWNSTEIN:  ... he cannot win this election solely by unifying Republicans.  He has to find independents.  And if she can‘t help him do that, then she will not be as valuable as they think.

MATTHEWS:  Howard and Ron, let‘s take a look at the new polling

averages right now to see where this campaign is right now as the

Republicans go into the third night of their convention here.  It‘s

interesting Pollster.com‘s average has Obama leading McCain by just 5

points right now, but that is above the margin of error.  It is a real lead

you see the poll there—and it is spiking northward for Barack.

BROWNSTEIN:  And it is the highest number that they have ever had for Obama.  I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s 49 percent.

BROWNSTEIN:  It‘s 49 percent.  We‘re looking at the question of whether there is a ceiling for him, and yesterday, really, for the first time, he hit 50 percent in the Gallup tracking poll, 50 percent in a couple stand-alone polls.  Now, doesn‘t necessarily mean he‘s going to hold that, but it does suggest that he has made some inroads with his convention.  And as I said, ultimately, the challenge for McCain here this week is not so much to consolidate Republicans, who are largely consolidated, it‘s begin to erode Obama in the middle, among independents and more conservative Democrats.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I have a hard time figuring out how she will come into the calculation.  Will she change the decision people make between Barack and McCain?  Will she change that decision?

FINEMAN:  The hope of the McCain people and the people who know Sarah Palin is because she‘s quote, “so real,” because she comes across as somebody who understands the lives of average people, because she‘s not from Washington, because she‘s a governor and not a senator, because she lives an obviously vividly real life, as we all know...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  ... that somehow, that is going to appeal to undecided middle-of-the-road voters of the kind Ron is talking about.  She doesn‘t have to talk to the base tonight.  And Ron‘s right.  To the extent that she wastes her time talking to the base...

MATTHEWS:  She is the base.

FINEMAN:  She doesn‘t have to do that.  They all love her.  She‘s got to talk to the—people that I interviewed in western Pennsylvania, in Ohio, working women who maybe have to work overtime, who‘ve got three or four kids, who‘ve got health problems in the family, somehow those are the people—women more than men, I think...

BROWNSTEIN:  Yes.  Absolutely.

FINEMAN:  ... that she has to connect with tonight.  And that will be the measure.  If I were putting together a dial group, a focus group, I would have undecided working class women, see what they think of Sarah Palin tonight.

BROWNSTEIN:  I think she is a missile aimed at one specific slice of the electorate.  If you look at the electorate today, Obama is already getting annihilated among non-college white men, the working guys that we‘ve talked about so many times this year.  McCain isn‘t going to squeeze much more out there.  I don‘t think Sarah Palin‘s going to help him a lot with college-educated, more socially liberal white women, who are now leaning toward Obama.

Where she can help, as Howard said, are these waitress moms, these non-college white women who overwhelmingly preferred Clinton to Obama.  Right now, in our “Hotline” poll we put out yesterday, Obama was running slightly ahead of McCain.  That is where she has to connect.  We‘re talking about southeastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, the places like that around the country.  That is where she can help him if—if—she is seen as a plausible president by the time this election, you know, is actually in focus in October and November.

MATTHEWS:  So she‘s going after that 11 percent that the NBC poll isolated, largely women, under $50,000 a year, and they don‘t like President Bush much.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And one other...

MATTHEWS:  And they don‘t like the direction of the country.

FINEMAN:  That‘s right.  But one other thing, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  But they—why would they go with someone who represents, basically, the Republican Party?

FINEMAN:  Because they think she represents these other things we‘ve been talking about.  One other point, though.  The other person who‘s on trial tonight besides Sarah Palin is John McCain because this was John McCain‘s first big presidential decision.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

FINEMAN:  And all of the viewers, whatever their demographic, are going to be watching tonight to see what John McCain hath wrought.  Let‘s see the big decision he made.  This is our first chance to test his judgment.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at the latest McCain campaign advertisement.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “The Journal” says Governor Palin‘s credentials as an agent of reform exceed Barack Obama‘s.  They‘re right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She has a record of bipartisan reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s the Senate‘s most liberal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She took on oil producers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He gave big oil billions in subsidies and giveaways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She‘s earned a reputation as a reformer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His reputation, empty words.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m John McCain, and I approved this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So they‘re sending her in to do battle with him.

BROWNSTEIN:  Right.  They‘re clearly hoping that she has two purposes.  One is to fire up the base with her views on social issues, and the other is to reach out to the center with this image as a reformer.  And both could work.  But again, all of that is contingent on voters seeing her as someone who could step in to...

FINEMAN:  I think there‘s a...

BROWNSTEIN:  ... be president, and we are a long way from that...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  I actually think there‘s a third purpose, which this ad shows, which is to use her as an attack dog against Obama by dragging Obama down into her arena in terms of experience.  And you know, they make the case that if you‘re a governor, and even if you‘re a mayor, that there are administrative things you do that you don‘t do as a two-year senator, to which Obama has replied, Hey, wait a minute, I built this wonderful, gigantic campaign organization.  That shows my administrative skills.  So it‘s not like they haven‘t heard this attack over on the Obama side.

BROWNSTEIN:  I think (INAUDIBLE) a persuasive argument that I‘ve heard from people in and around the McCain campaign is that they would not have picked her if they believed they could have squeezed more advantage out of the experience argument.

FINEMAN:  Oh, no.

BROWNSTEIN:  They feel like they‘ve people—they‘ve gone about as far as they could, and they needed to move to other terrain.

FINEMAN:  They‘re trying to make a virtue of necessity...

MATTHEWS:  You know...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  ... virtue of necessity with this thing.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I guess it‘s hard to figure out how this ball keeps turning because I thought people voted on issues, especially an election after eight years of one-party rule.  They want to find some way to deal with the problems they have.  I mean, the problems we have in life are real—whether it‘s paying tuition, whether it‘s paying for gas, whether it‘s keeping a job, whether it‘s paying a mortgage, whether it‘s health care.  These are real challenges, plus a war that nobody likes.  Why is her biography as a second-year governor in Alaska relevant?

FINEMAN:  Well, because we‘ve all asked the question, all the media and the opponents of the Republicans have asked the question, whether she meets the minimum qualifications to be prepared...

MATTHEWS:  Why would anybody...

FINEMAN:  ... to participate in the debate.

MATTHEWS:  ... on earth have thought of her as next president of the United States?  She never came to mind.

FINEMAN:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  And now...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, this is a fair question.  No one in the country has ever thought of her as the next president of the United States.

FINEMAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  She didn‘t run for president.  Barack ran and won.

FINEMAN:  Then you answered your own question.  Your question was, Why is everybody paying attention to biography?  It‘s because a lot of people were completely surprised that she was pulled out of Alaska to do this.  And so there‘s all this interest in who the heck she is, that‘s all.

BROWNSTEIN:  You don‘t always pick the person you think would be the most qualified, but they certainly have to be qualified.  They have to cross the threshold.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BROWNSTEIN:  That is the test.  She doesn‘t to have prove to the country that she is the most qualified by experience.  The best example of that is Barack Obama.  He trails McCain by 2-to-1 or more when people are asked, Who is best prepared to be president?  But he‘s the one winning in the race because enough voters feel that he is sufficiently prepared, even if he is not as prepared by experience as John McCain is.

I think the same test will apply to her.  Voters will look at her...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BROWNSTEIN:  ... not listen to us.  They will make judgment on what they see about her, whether she crosses the minimum threshold.  And if she does that, she could be an asset with Obama...

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s...

BROWNSTEIN:  ... or for McCain with certain groups.  And if not, she is going to be a problem.

FINEMAN:  By the way, I think about one in five voters make their decision on whom they want to win based on the convention season.  So this is a very important speech.  And just as Obama used that whole theatrics of Invesco field in Denver to show his strength and determination and leaderly ability—that was what that speech was all about—this one tonight is about, Can you see this person as president of the United States?  I think that‘s what one of the big tests is.

MATTHEWS:  Is there a real—this is a tough one.  Is her real credential gender, at this point?  The way you described that voter that we‘re targeting, the Republicans are targeting, does her gender make 90 percent of the case why that person would want to vote for her?

FINEMAN:  No, I wouldn‘t say 90 percent.  I don‘t know what Ron (INAUDIBLE)

BROWNSTEIN:  No, I would—I mean, I—look...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is the thing that drives voters...

BROWNSTEIN:  I think—I think...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s appealing to voters in this governor as a candidate for VP if it‘s not gender?

BROWNSTEIN:  I think for the McCain campaign, it was finding three things at once.  It was someone who could activate the base with social issues, who had some claim, which is now being challenged, as a reformer, and who also brought the excitement of breaking this precedent.  So it‘s the combination of all three.

But I think, in practice, her appeal will be mostly—she will affect this race mostly if she can help them recapture those waitress moms who were critical in George Bush but are—and resisted Barack Obama in the primaries, but right now, he‘s running competitively with them, and that‘s one of the main reasons he‘s ahead.

MATTHEWS:  Was this selection based upon research or gut?

FINEMAN:  This is gut.  This was gut.

BROWNSTEIN:  Gut.  Gut.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much.  We‘ll have to have our own guts working tonight—Ron Brownstein, Howard Fineman.

Coming up, more on what‘s about to happen at tonight‘s GOP convention.  What an interesting night.  I am really ready for this night.  We‘ll ask Senator McCain‘s political director, Mike Duhame, about the vetting—well, I‘m sure we‘ll get a long way with this one—the governor—the vetting of Governor Palin.

You‘re watching HARDBALL from the site of the Republican national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re live at the Republican national convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, where eyes will be on Governor Sarah Palin tonight as she delivers her acceptance speech on the convention floor.  With me now is U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam from Florida, who‘s the Republican conference chair, one of the House leadership, and Mike Duhame, who‘s McCain‘s political director.  We‘ve got two young guys here.

Look, what do you make of a one-day, day-before vetting, Congressman, of Sarah Palin?  Is that risky?

REP. ADAM PUTNAM, ®, FLORIDA:  Well, first of all, Sarah Palin‘s been vetted by the voters of Alaska.  She has executive experience.  She‘s one of the most popular governors in America.  She did it by taking on her establishment.  The people that she represents currently have the faith in her to make her one of the most popular elected officials in America at a time when Washington has a 9 percent approval rating.  I think she‘s passed the most important test and she‘s ready to lead.

MATTHEWS:  She ready to be president, if necessary?

PUTNAM:  If necessary, she is.

MATTHEWS:  How do you judge that?  How did you come to that conclusion?

PUTNAM:  Well, I think there‘s a lot of factors.  I think that people look at executive experience.  She managed the workings of government, multiple agencies, multiple stovepipes.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

PUTNAM:  And she‘d bring the kind of character and vision for a better America that we need, if, heaven forbid, she was called to step into that position on a moment‘s notice, that she brings the kind of people around her to analyze crises and make the right decisions.  I think there‘s a whole host of factors there that go into that, and she passes them all.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re comfortable with her as the next possibly president of the United States in the next eight years?

PUTNAM:  If I weren‘t comfortable with that, I wouldn‘t be supporting her for vice president.  I‘m entirely comfortable with her.

MATTHEWS:  OK, Mike Duhame, let‘s talk about the politics of this thing.  A lot of people were passed over for this job, a lot of big names, not exactly flashy names but big names, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Mitt Romney.  None of them passed muster.  Why did he go with this—with this total unknown?

MIKE DUHAME, MCCAIN POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  I wouldn‘t say none of them passed muster.  I don‘t think this is a comment on anybody else.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, it isn‘t?

DUHAME:  We‘re in a good position.  We have a number of good people that were—could be considered for this.  I think the fact that this is a testament to her and her leadership...

MATTHEWS:  Rudy!

DUHAME:  Yes, Rudy‘s a great—Rudy‘s a great guy...

MATTHEWS:  He could have been on the ticket.

DUHAME:  Rudy‘s a fantastic guy, as you know.  I think we both agree on that.  Bottom line, this is about Governor Palin, her leadership, her executive experience, as the congressman said.

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever hear of her before?

PUTNAM:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Did you?  What did you know about her?

PUTNAM:  I knew she was a very successful governor...

MATTHEWS:  Did you know how to pronounce her name?

PUTNAM:  Yes, I knew how to pronounce her name.

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t know how to pronounce her name.

DUHAME:  I couldn‘t even pronounce Matthews, though, so...

MATTHEWS:  NO, no.  Come on.  That‘s right out of the Bible.  Come on. 

Don‘t give me that nonsense.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look.  There‘s an interesting little side fight (ph) here.  And this being HARDBALL, I‘m always looking for interesting things, Congressman.  Watch this.  This is Joe Lieberman, (SIC) the VP nominee of the Democrat Party, talking about what he thought of Joe Lieberman‘s speech last night to your convention.  Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  ... my friend, and when I see him, I‘m going to ask him to go down to the gym with me.  Joe Lieberman—talk about surrender—but look, they use phrases like that, about “surrender” and “putting country first.”

If Barack Obama is the agent of surrender, George Bush is the one signing the surrender papers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, this isn‘t George Carlin here.  This is Joe Biden, who is running for vice president of the United States. 

When he says, “I am going to ask him,” Joe Lieberman, his Senate colleague, “to go to the gym with him”—you‘re a member of Congress—what would that mean?  Help me explain that to the people.  You know, “Go down to the gym with me,” does that mean I want to go outside with the guy and fight with him?  What does it mean? 

PUTNAM:  I have no idea what that metaphor means.

MATTHEWS:  No idea?

PUTNAM:  It‘s just kind of a rambling Joe Biden speech. 

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  The bottom line is, the guy that was the vice presidential nominee for the Democratic Party eight years ago was—was here in Minneapolis, in Saint Paul, last night to say that John McCain is the right man to be president of the United States right now.  That is a historic moment. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think he did that? 

PUTNAM:  You know, they had Jim Leach.  We had the guy that was...

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think that?  Why did you think that?

PUTNAM:  ... the number-two guy eight years ago.

MATTHEWS:  Why did you think he did it?

PUTNAM:  Because he believes it in his heart. 

I mean, Lieberman is a guy who is—has the courage of his convictions, calls them like sees them.  There is no question.  I mean, the Democrats have said, Jimmy Carter said, the Senate leadership said, they are going to strip him of his committee leadership because he had the courage of his convictions to say, I am going to put my country first and say that John McCain is the right guy to be president right now. 

MATTHEWS:  He also endorsed Governor Palin.  Do you think that was—what was that based upon?  Does he know Governor Palin? 

PUTNAM:  Does Joe Lieberman know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s doing the “Fully Monty” here.  He‘s endorsing everybody in your party.  Why do you think he is doing it? 

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  Well, you know, if you‘re endorsing John McCain, you‘re endorsing Sarah Palin.  They‘re all on the same ticket. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why do you think he‘s doing it? 

PUTNAM:  He believes that the entire ticket is capable...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You think he‘s doing it because—because—because John McCain agrees with him on the war in Iraq?  Do you think so? 

PUTNAM:  You know, these are two guys...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that is the reason he is doing it? 

PUTNAM:  ... have a long history of going against political orthodoxy. 

MATTHEWS:  Who? 

PUTNAM:  These two guys, Joe Lieberman and John McCain...

MATTHEWS:  All right.  Right. 

PUTNAM:  ... together have been through a lot of battles in the Senate.  And they have consistently put the country above their party on a variety of issues, on a host of issues, not just Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

PUTNAM:  So, I think that they have had a unique opportunity forged in the fire of—of Senate leadership battles to get to know one another, to have a respect for one another.  And that came through in Lieberman‘s speech last night. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we had—this isn‘t exactly a novelty, Congressman, anymore.

Mike DuHaime, four years ago, they pulled out Zell Miller out of somewhere, out of some cave, and they brought him to the convention.  He gave this fire and brim—it seems like it‘s a regular feature at Republicans Conventions now, get some fire-breathing conservative in the Democratic Party to attack the Democrats. 

DUHAIME:  I don‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, I haven‘t seen Zell Miller since he challenged me to a duel.  They put him on FOX television.  They must have put him in a refrigerator somewhere.  I haven‘t seen him since. 

DUHAIME:  Well, I don‘t think anybody...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is this what—is this what—is this going to be the Joe Lieberman express?  You disappear once you join the Republican Party? 

DUHAIME:  They‘re not even—they‘re not even comparable.

MATTHEWS:  Where is Zell Miller today? 

DUHAIME:  They are not comparable. 

Joe Lieberman was the vice presidential candidate in 2000. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DUHAIME:  He came within 572 votes, or whatever it was, of being the vice president. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DUHAIME:  And he, eight years later, says John McCain should be president of the United States.  John McCain and Sarah Palin should be the ticket that has the vision for—in this country to lead. 

MATTHEWS:  And you‘re impressed by this?

DUHAIME:  That‘s historic. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re impressed?   

DUHAIME:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re impressed, Michael DuHaime, by people that switch parties?

PUTNAM:  In terms of Joe Lieberman, I think nobody would accuse him of being a fire-breathing conservative.  He‘s somebody who is very independent.

MATTHEWS:  On the war, he‘s a hawk.  He‘s a hawk. 

PUTNAM:  The Democrats—the Democrats...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s a fire-breathing hawk. 

PUTNAM:  He is somebody who is independent.  He somebody who doesn‘t just follow the party.  I know the Democrat Party doesn‘t like that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s more hawkish than most Democrats, to say the least.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you don‘t mind people crossing the aisle to vote and pushing the other party‘s candidates?  You think that‘s healthy?  

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  Listen, it is good for the country.  I think the more people that do that—I mean, these two independent-minded guys.  And the bottom line, John McCain is going to win, because he has the appeal to reach out to independents, as well as Democrats. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m getting nowhere tonight here, gentlemen.

Let me ask you this.  Tonight‘s speech, is it possible, conceptually -

and, if so, define it—that Governor Palin could fail her test tonight? 

I keep thinking it is impossible, because people will root for her.  She‘s a rookie.  Americans root for rookies.  Is there any way, the way this thing is set up dramatically tonight, that she won‘t be a wow anyway? 

Because—you want to try this, Mike.  You have handled P.R.

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  I think it‘s actually unfair...

MATTHEWS:  No, is there any way she couldn‘t be? 

PUTNAM:  I don‘t think so, because she‘s fantastic. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, no, I mean conceptually.  Is there any way she could not look good tonight? 

PUTNAM:  Well, only if the media piles on and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, no.

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  She‘s going to be—she‘s going to great. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who is piling?  The media is just trying to figure out who she is. 

PUTNAM:  She‘s got 80 percent approval ratings.  As the congressman said from Alaska, you don‘t do that by accident.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

PUTNAM:  So, I wouldn‘t even classify her as a rookie. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the media has been piling on Governor Palin?

PUTNAM:  No, I think they have been asking...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who?  Who has been piling on?  Give me some names. 

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  If you look at the some of the tabloid headlines, some of the magazine headlines.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, the tabloids.  Come on.  Give me a break. 

Mike, you know that...

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  Chris, give me a break.  You‘re on MSNBC.

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  You‘re going to act like MSNBC has given a fair shake to Republicans every single day?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Good.  Frank question.  I will ask you, where is—who has piled on, from MSNBC or anywhere else, on Palin? 

PUTNAM:  I have been asked questions whether or not she could campaign and be vice president, given the fact that she has children.  You think they would ask that question of Barack Obama, who has two young children?

(CROSSTALK)

PUTNAM:  Or even Senator McCain or Joe Biden?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who has asked you that question?  Who asked you that question?

PUTNAM:  I have been asked that on ABC, a major network.  I have been asked that.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Good.  Not me.

Go ahead.  Who has piled—do you think they‘re piled on, the media, on Palin?  I think they have asked questions about her. 

(CROSSTALK)

DUHAIME:  No, they—they have—they have gone beyond the pale as it relates to her family situation.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Who has done that?  Who has done that? 

DUHAIME:  I would say that “Us Weekly.”  I would say—I watched a segment on CNN a few days ago where they did the same thing.  I would say that is really across the spectrum.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who else besides “Us Weekly”? 

DUHAIME:  People have dwelled too much on someone who is not on the ballot.  People are talking too much about a family member who is not being asked to be the next vice president.  People are talking about, you know, the proper role of women and questions that never came up when Hillary Clinton was running a historic race for president of the United States. 

So, has the media piled on?  I think that they have tried to. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You have listed—you have listed “Us Weekly.”  And who else has piled on? 

DUHAIME:  Look, Sarah Palin, your question was, can she fail tonight? 

She won‘t fail because she is the right person to be vice president.  She has captivated the imagination of America.  I think that this is the hottest ticket on that convention floor thus far this week. 

Everyone wants to be more introduced to this fantastic governor who gets up to go moose hunting, who defeated a legend in her own party to become the governor of that state...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DUHAIME:  ... who has taken on wasteful Washington spending and told Washington what they could do with their bridge to nowhere. 

I mean, she is a remarkable political figure, at a time when people are sick much Washington.  And here she is, coming out of a great Western state...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

DUHAIME:  ... that just captures—that captures the whole rugged individualism of the—of the country.  And—and she‘s running against a ticket that‘s two senators. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

I just wonder.  I liked it.  You‘re—you‘re great at doing this.  I just wonder—I haven‘t heard any of this until the last couple of days.  I never heard anybody come on our show or any other show anywhere politically and talk about how great Governor Palin is. 

I have never heard you.  I will have to do a Nexis search and see how many times you have said this before, but I doubt if you have ever said this before this week. 

DUHAIME:  Before—before this week? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Have you been raving about the greatness of the governor of Alaska before? 

(CROSSTALK)

DUHAIME:  Well, I have never been asked the greatness of Alaska‘s governor, being a from Florida, but...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever think she was worthy of note until this week? 

DUHAIME:  She was on the political radar...

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever talk about her before? 

DUHAIME:  ... as someone who took out an incumbent governor.

MATTHEWS:  No, did you ever talk about her before? 

PUTNAM:  Chris, I can tell you—I can tell you, I have. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking you, Congressman.  Have you ever talked about Governor Palin before? 

DUHAIME:  I haven‘t been asked about Governor Palin before she became vice president.

MATTHEWS:  No, but you have...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I just think that all this excitement and glorification of a newcomer is basically politics. 

I don‘t think anybody was singing her praises until she was nominated. 

(CROSSTALK)

DUHAIME:  Well, that‘s not true.

MATTHEWS:  If do I a Nexis search on you, Congressman, will I find you ever having mentioned the name...

DUHAIME:  If you a Nexis search on whether...

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever mentioned her name before? 

DUHAIME:  If you do a Nexis search on whether people have been talking about Governor Palin and what a great leader she is for the country before becoming the vice president candidate, she will pop up, absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

DUHAIME:  If you see where—you know, there‘s no question that she‘s been the buzz out there about who took out Frank Murkowski?  This incredible former mayor...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

DUHAIME:  ... who—who took on her party establishment. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

DUHAIME:  Who is an up-and-coming leader in the Western United States, as a Republican leader who is hanging on to the Rocky Mountain states, who is good on energy?

MATTHEWS:  I just follow the news, Congressman.  I never heard her name in the context of potentially being vice president.  I have never heard you rave about her before.  I have never heard John McCain rave about her before.  All of a sudden, she‘s hot and cool, politically, and fair enough.  But I think it is politics.  I think this buildup is hoopla. 

(CROSSTALK)

DUHAIME:  Kind of like Barack Obama giving a speech a few years ago at the convention. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s been—he‘s been part of our national discussion for years now. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But fair enough.  You can say what you want.  It is a free country.  But you never said anything about her before.  That‘s all I‘m saying.

PUTNAM:  I think, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Mike?

PUTNAM:  The bottom line, you talk about she is somebody who the American people are going to love.  She‘s somebody who is an exceptional governor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that is—that is a good argument, because I may fall in love with her tonight.  Everybody may think she is great tonight. 

PUTNAM:  She‘s fantastic.  I think you‘re going to see that.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just saying that nobody talked about her before.  And, all of a sudden, she‘s going to be the—almost the next president of the United States.  That‘s a pretty bold statement. 

PUTNAM:  Many—very few people were talking about Barack Obama before four years ago, when he took the national stage here.

This is somebody who in two years...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

PUTNAM:  ... in the U.S. Senate, did he do anything even comparable to what she‘s done as governor?

MATTHEWS:  The difference between four years and four days is a lot of time. 

Thank you, U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam...

DUHAIME:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  ... and Mike DuHaime.

Up next, a look back at some of the most remarkable moments in past Republican Conventions. 

You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, from the Republican National Convention in Minnesota here in Saint Paul.  

Look at this crowd out here.  Whoa!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back on this beautiful day here in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with a lot of people.

But, before we talk to them, let‘s hear David Shuster on the history of Republican National Conventions. 

David, take it away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  They are the Republican speeches that live on. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1960) 

RICHARD NIXON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And we must never forget that the strength of America is not in this government, but in its people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  The mesmerizing remarks that branded a Republican Convention. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)

PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is a religious war going on in this country.  It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  In the 1950s, during the Cold War, the Republican Party‘s robust attitude was led by Dwight Eisenhower.  And, at the convention in 1960, President Eisenhower‘s farewell speech led the way. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1960)

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Millions of people are crushed under the heavy deal of communist imperialism.  The conscience of America can never be completely clear until the precious right of freedom of choice is extended to all people everywhere. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Four years later, the red meat came from Barry Goldwater. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1964)

BARRY GOLDWATER, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Republicans loved the line, but Democrats used Goldwater‘s own words to help define him as a right-wing extremist, and Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon Johnson by 38 states. 

In 1968, Richard Nixon deftly handled the Johnson administration over Vietnam. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1968)

NIXON:  The first priority foreign policy objective of our next administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  But the war wouldn‘t end for another seven years, and until Nixon had left office. 

Then, in 1980, an optimistic Ronald Reagan spoke of renewing America‘s spirit. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1980)

RONALD REAGAN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny, to take it into our own hands. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  But, in 1988, George H.W. Bush thrilled delegates with this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1988)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Read my lips: no new taxes. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Bush broke that promise as president and was defeated in 1992. 

Then, following eight years of the Clinton administration, and capped by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Texas Governor George W. Bush promised his White House would be different. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2000)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land.  I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, those are the great moments in recent Republican Conventions. 

Let‘s see.  What do you think?  Going to be a big night tonight about Sarah Palin?  What do you expect?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Governor Palin, I think—I think we‘re going to find out if she will crack under the pressure or not. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you‘re tough. 

What do you think about tonight, a woman nominee for the vice presidency of the Republican Party? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m actually very excited about it, but I am not crazy about her. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your—what is your concern? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My concern is that, as a parent, that she—if she did in fact know that her daughter was pregnant, to put her daughter into a national spotlight like that. 

MATTHEWS:  Too much—too much exposure?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that‘s a little unfair. 

MATTHEWS:  Hi, madam.

What do you think about Sarah Palin? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m anxiously awaiting her speech tonight.  And then I can make...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is this going to be like “A Star is Born”?  Or is this going to be the understudy steps in for the lead role? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It kind of already is, I think.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think so. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Governor Palin tonight, what do you make?  What do you expect?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This woman with lot of moxie, she is going to give a hell of a humdinger of a speech.  We are all going to get to know her real.  Remember, she took on the Murkowskis, and she took them.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  I love your broadcast voice, sir. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I envy it.  It‘s a deep, resonant, boffo voice. 

What do you expect tonight? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Gosh.  I expect a great speech.  I am so excited to hear Palin talk tonight and just to hear more about her, and all the reforms she‘s done.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  I love the way you said excited, excited. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You get up and down.  I love it.  We‘re excited here.  I am excited.  I get excited myself.  I‘m just kidding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m very excited.

MATTHEWS:  We will be right back tonight.  We are going to talk about this big speech, because a lot of people are excited about this speech, especially John McCain. 

This was his pick.  This is his bet.  And it is a big one. 

We will be back tonight.  In fact, I will be back in a few minutes to talk about tonight, on MSNBC—right back on HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

*

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  We‘re broadcasting, as you can see, live from the Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota where former presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney will speak tonight, and where John McCain‘s running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, will step onto the national stage and make history as the first woman vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket of any time. 

Obama campaign advisers and spokesman Robert Gibbs is here with me at the Xcel Center.  Here you are in enemy territory, Robert.  Thank you for joining us.  Aren‘t you—don‘t you have to admit that you were caught off guard by the selection of Governor Palin?  I didn‘t expect it.  Did you guys? 

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISER:  Not necessarily.  I thought they were leaning toward some of the other names that we had seen and heard in the press.  But who they choose is certainly their business.  And they think they‘ve got a good pick and we think we‘ve got a good pick. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of their latest commercial?  The Republicans are running an ad today showing a comparison between the executive experience of Governor Palin against the legislative experience of Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.  And they make it sound favorable to Governor Palin. 

GIBBS:  I think the ad, obviously, is ridiculous.  I think if they‘re for executive experience on that side of the aisle, maybe she should run for president and John McCain can be her vice-president.  Look, it is a silly comparison.  Barack Obama has worked, both in the state Senate and US Senate, across party lines to get things done that matter in real people‘s lives.  That‘s what he‘s done and that‘s what he‘ll do as president of the United States. 

GIBBS:  They‘re clearly trying to poach voters from the Democratic side.  They‘re going after sort of classic Norma Rae people, working women, hard working women who need union protection, perhaps, who would like to be in a union, who are not, women who want minimum wage increases, women who need health care, child care, the works.  And yet Republicans have selected a woman, a working woman, a professional woman, the governor of Alaska to poach those votes from your party.  How do you keep them from doing it? 

GIBBS: I think we have to tell them the truth about their record.  Nineteen times, John McCain voted against raising the minimum wage.  John McCain Supports tax breaks for companies that ship those very jobs that Norma Rae was trying to protect overseas and give them a tax break for doing it.  We need to tell people that we need to create jobs here in this country, in a new economy, and in new sectors like green jobs that can create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 

I think if we tell people about the issue, something you didn‘t hear about last night at this convention, and you probably won‘t hear again tonight.  But if we talk to them about how do we get this economy moving, I feel pretty confident about how this election will turn out. 

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you talk right now—I got half a minute here—talk to the woman in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who wanted Hillary Clinton to be the nominee of the Democratic party, is still upset about that politically, not emotionally, upset politically, doesn‘t like what happened.  And she or her husband are both thinking about voting for McCain.  What are you saying to them? 

GIBBS:   Well, here‘s what I would say to them.  I‘d say two things.  First of all, I would say that the candidate that they most wanted to be the Democratic nominee is now supporting Barack Obama.  And secondly, I would say, do you think we could afford four more years of what we‘ve had for the last eight?  Can we afford four more years of this economy going backwards, health care that‘s not affordable, education that‘s not up to the standards that we expect, relationships in the world that aren‘t as strong as they need to be?  Or is it time for a change in Barack Obama? 

I think if they look at the records of these two candidates, the direction they want to take this country, that they‘ll come to the conclusion that many have, that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are best poised to lead this country in a different direction. 

And then—I would send Joe Biden, who is from Scranton, over to their house to sit on their front porch and tell them those same thing. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of Joe Biden inviting Joe Lieberman down in the Senate gym to have a little tussle with him?  Do you think that‘s metaphoric or real? 

GIBBS:  I think it is real.  I have to tell you, I was ashamed to listen to Joe Lieberman last night.  Not because he picked a different presidential candidate; that‘s certainly within his prerogative.  Boy Chris, he went out in front of millions of Americans, as he is giving a speech about being politically cynical, and just made things up about Barack Obama, saying he hadn‘t worked across party lines.  When Joe Lieberman knows better. 

I would say this to Joe Lieberman.  If you don‘t have enough good thing to say about your candidate, don‘t make up thing about the other candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Robert Gibbs.  Time now for the strategists, with former McCain spokesman Todd Harris and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.  Thank you guys for joining me.  Let me go to Todd.  Your thoughts about what you just heard.  Robert Gibbs is out there making—he is in the belly of the beast for him.  He is in this convention and he‘s making the point, Republicans are poaching.  They have a woman nominee.  They‘re going up, trying to get the Hillary supporters.  There are 11 percent of them in the electorate, as we‘ve identified them, people who make less than 50,000 a year, who are generally Democrats in their thinking.  Can your party steal them? 

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  It is we can.  I think one of the reasons why this race continues to be so close is because John McCain is doing a good job appealing to those independent voters, appealing to those conservative Democrats.  I do want to just follow up on something that Robert just said though.  I find it amazing that the Obama campaign, which talked so much about bringing people together and Republicans, Democrats working together, hearing him say that he is ashamed of Joe Lieberman simply because Joe Lieberman, who happens to be a Democrat, had the gall to support John McCain. 

Where is the bipartisanship?  Isn‘t that what their whole campaign is supposed to be about? 

MATTHEWS:  Steve, what do you think of the guys who run across the

other party, run across the other side of the play ground?  Doesn‘t

everybody normal in America have a problem with a person who is disloyal to

their party, to their crowd?  Doesn‘t everybody have an instinctive problem

with a guy who changes with the weather politically?  Why doesn‘t he—why

did you think Zell Miller did himself any favors four years ago when he went flitting up to New York and then disappeared? 

HARRIS:  I wouldn‘t put Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman in the same category. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not?  They‘re both hawks that didn‘t like—you can‘t accuse the Democrats of using spit balls to fight the terrorist.  And then he went nuts and tried to get me into a duel.  And this guy Lieberman is trying to imitate that act.  That‘s a strange act to imitate.  Isn‘t it?

HARRIS:  I think the average working vote, who is a split ticket voter, sees absolutely no problem with someone being—

MATTHEWS:  I wonder. 

HARRIS:  -- a Democrat supporting a Republican. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the other thing.  What would you think of a Republican coming over to the Democratic convention?  I mean, we didn‘t even give Jim Leach three seconds on the air, from what I can remember.  We didn‘t think it was worth talking about. 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  We didn‘t build our entire case around Jim Leach.  Joe Lieberman did three things last night, the first of which I think nobody has any problem with.  He picked a different candidate for president and he came out and said, I‘m for John McCain.  That‘s absolutely fine.  Then he did, as Robert points out, mischaracterize Barack Obama‘s record.  And that‘s not fine.  He actually made things up that he knows are not true.  That‘s what Robert was objecting to.

The third thing he did, which, frankly, was beyond credulity for me, was he went out there and talked about Sarah Palin and what a great vice-presidential pick she is and what a great vice president she‘ll be.  Based on what?  Based on what?  Based on the one hour that John McCain spent with her?  Based on the vet that didn‘t occur?  Based on her record as a mayor of 8,000 and a governor for 16 months? 

I just thought he lost all of his credibility last night, totally and completely.  And it was really disappointing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me raise this question again.  All these people jumping up and down giving these tributes to Governor Palin, fair enough.  But they never did it before.  This is something that they never did in their whole lives and all of a sudden, this is the greatest person in American Republican politics.  Is it to be believed—if I do a search now—thanks to computers, I can check and see if Congressman Putnam ever mentioned her name before.  I can find out if you ever mentioned her name before. 

And all of a sudden, you‘re jumping around like you found the Messiah.  It‘s a person you never heard of before, or spoke about before.  Are we to believe you? 

HARRIS:  Well, that‘s the nature of politics. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  It‘s the nature of politics to say that she is the greatest thing in the world, and you never mentioned her name before. 

Steve, I‘m doing your job for you, Steve. 

MCMAHON:  You‘re doing a great job.  Just continue. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but this massive discovery of this person, this planetary discovery of someone they never mentioned before, and they‘re saying that this person ought to be the number two leader of the world basically.  It is an amazing leap. 

It is one thing if you‘ve been talking about Governor Palin for years.  This person is really good.  She ought to be on the national ticket.  All a sudden, unbelievable excitement about someone they never thought about. 

MCMAHON:  It would be another thing if Governor Palin‘s record matched the rhetoric that John McCain tried to put in the teleprompter last week.  She claims to be a reformer, but her record of reform includes hiring lobbyists to get ear marks for her little town in Alaska, which John McCain has objected to consistently.  It consisted of possibly—possibly, abusing power to get a family member fired from a state job by using the governor‘s office to first intimidate and then fire the public safety commissioner. 

HARRIS:  All right, all right. 

MCMAHON:  And she supported the bridge to nowhere.

MATTHEWS:  Now you‘re making fun of someone. 

MCMAHON:  I‘m not. 

MATTHEWS:  Now you‘re making fun of someone you never heard of before. 

(CROSS TALK)

HARRIS:  Let‘s talk about Barack Obama‘s record and where, when it meets his rhetoric, explodes to make a firing ball of hypocrisy and hyperbole.  As much as he talks about change—hold on, hold on, Steve.  As much as Obama talks about change, Joe Lieberman was absolutely right.  If you look at Obama‘s record, whether it‘s in the Illinois state Senate or the United States he has zero, zero record of accomplishment, zero record of reaching out across party lines to get things done.  John McCain and Sarah Palin have long records of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Who would have believed a week ago we would be arguing about the governor of Alaska.  But we are.  Tonight, she‘s giving perhaps the most exciting speech that either convention see because everybody wants to know how good she is going to be.  Americans, I must say, Steve, root for rookies.  They root for the new kid on the block, the new person, male or female, because they want their own chance when it comes to do well.  Thank you, Todd Harris.  A little bit of American dream there.  Anyway, Steve McMahon, nothing wrong with that. 

Up next, we‘re going to ask this crowd what they think of the convention so far.  This is an interesting group of Americans.  You‘re watching HARDBALL from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with a little more HARDBALL, with the people here talking about what this big night means to the Republican party and to the country when Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, speaks to the country and really introduces herself to the country.  What do you expect tonight? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  First of all, I have to tell you that I live here in town and I‘m actually a Democrat.  I will be watching the speech because I‘m very amazed at the choice and interested in what she has to say. 

MATTHEWS:  Well said.  What do you think about tonight? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She has a lot of explaining to do.  An Evangelical creationist is not my idea of someone I want representing me. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re from the Wasilla, yourself, the town where she was mayor. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  Well, she‘s too conservative for me.  But I really do appreciate that she‘s tough and stands up for what she believes in.  I think she‘s a good role model for many women. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about tonight?  This is a woman Republican candidate for vice president, first time in history. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obviously, I‘m a partisan Republican and I‘m so proud of our party.  We‘re going to nominate the first woman vice president, a strong woman, confident woman.  I‘m very proud of our party for doing this. 

MATTHEWS:  Sir, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it‘s great.  I think we have someone with strong values, who has had real problems like most people have real problems in their life, who is a proven reformer, and someone who is bringing a lot of youth and energy to the party and to this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Sir, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s an opportunity for my daughter, Kendell, who is an alternate delegate to this convention, to understand and to know that she can grow up to be anything she wants to be. 

MATTHEWS:  Sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Real experience.  It‘s nice to see that someone didn‘t spend their whole life trying to get on “Meet The Press.”

MATTHEWS:  Why do you turn things negatively?  One more thought. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What was the question?

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of a woman candidate for the vice president of the Republican party. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m happy that it‘s a woman, but I‘m not happy that it‘s her. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  We‘re going to be back, by the way.  David Gregory is coming up with “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.”  An hour from now, it‘s going to be all night election coverage.  I‘ll be joined by Keith Olbermann, as MSNBC does what no one else can do, covers this exciting convention dramatically and brilliantly.  We‘ll be right back.

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

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