updated 10/29/2008 12:16:50 PM ET 2008-10-29T16:16:50

Guest: Rep. Chaka Fattah, Pat Toomey, Ed Rogers, Bob Shrum, Tad Devine,

Michelle Laxalt, Tad Devine, Perry Bacon, Jonathan Darman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  So who‘s the top Republican out there calling Governor Palin a “whack job”?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Leading off tonight, the final battleground.  Call it the second battle of Gettysburg, if you want.  It won‘t be easy for John McCain, but the northern state of Pennsylvania may be his last best hope to pick off a blue state and thereby reach the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected president.  Barack Obama leads by double digits in Pennsylvania right now, but McCain was there today, making his pitch, and Obama was there just in case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Senator Obama is running to be redistributionist-in-chief.  I‘m running to be commander-in-chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  John McCain‘s ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven or economy towards a cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Does John McCain really have a chance to grab Pennsylvania from Obama? Also, with the election now just one week away, both candidates are making their closing arguments.  What do their speeches say about who they are and what kind of president they might make? And are Republicans in Congress about to become an endangered species?  Ted Stevens‘s convictions yesterday was jut the latest in the drip, drip, drip of bad news for Republicans.  Just today, our own Charlie Cook moved six more House races from the lean Republican column to the toss-up column.  What‘s behind it all?  Two words: George W. Bush.  Actually, that‘s two words and an initial.  Has President Bush destroyed the Republican brand for a generation? Also as if someone in the McCain camp—what do you make of it? -- calling Sarah Palin a “diva” wasn‘t bad enough, now someone in the top ranks of the party, of the campaign, someone called a “top adviser” by “The Politico‘s” Mike Allen called Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, a “whack job.”  We‘ll have more on that in the “Politics Fix.” And in case you missed it, check out this Florida TV news anchor asking the “Have you stopped beating your wife” question of Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You may recognize this famous quote, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”  That‘s from Karl Marx.  How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Are you joking? 

Is this a joke?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s not.  Has it gotten that bad that candidates have to gird themselves from charges of being Marxists?  We‘ll have more on that in tonight‘s “Sideshow,” where it belongs, of course. But first, Obama and McCain were campaigning hard today in Pennsylvania.  Democratic U.S. congressman Chaka Fattah supports Obama and former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania Pat Toomey is the president of the Club for Growth.  He endorses John McCain. Gentlemen, I want you to talk about just for a second here the latest news here about Senator Stevens.  I think it‘s a sign that things are not going well for the Republican Party right now.  What is the significance, Congressman Fattah, of the senior Republican in the U.S. Senate being convicted on seven counts involving corruption?

REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Well, look, I think what we have seen now is a major turn in terms of the Democratic Senate hopes in Alaska.  It‘s very unfortunate what has happened with Senator Stevens, but it does put in play the Alaska Senate seat.  There‘s been a call by John McCain and his vice presidential candidate, the governor, for Senator Stevens to step down.  He says he‘s not going to.  I think it really moves our candidate in a position to be able to win that seat and to really put us in a position of capturing 60 seats.  That‘s the political impact.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go with that.  Congressman Toomey, timing is everything.  What do you make of Governor Palin?  She said today that even if Senator Stevens gets reelected, which is now a tough row for him to hoe next week, he should step aside anyway and not be senator.

PAT TOOMEY ®, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN:  I think he should step aside right now.  I don‘t think he is going to get reelected, frankly.  I don‘t think you can get convicted on multiple counts, and a week later get elected to the U.S. Senate.  I don‘t think you should.  I think he should step aside.  If he doesn‘t, then, you know, I think Republicans are going to lose this seat, and that‘s—the only consolation, I don‘t think it spreads.  I don‘t think it has impact on other races.  But I think it costs us a Senate seat in Alaska.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this strange thing coming out of the campaign of McCain campaign, who you endorse.  A senior, top adviser has called—that‘s being redundant—a top adviser—and I think that (INAUDIBLE) narrows it down to two or three people in that campaign—has called Governor Palin a “whack job,” not just a “diva,” that‘s the word—is this a—the kind of thing that happens when a party is arguing over ideology?  What are they—what‘s going on inside that campaign that they‘re making these kind of comments to the press?

TOOMEY:  Chris, I don‘t know who made this—such a comment.  I don‘t know for sure that it actually happened, so I have no idea...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I know it does because Mike Allen‘s a serious reporter.  When you say “top aide” like that, it means something.  Look at this.  A top McCain adviser one ups the diva description, calling her a “whack job.”  Mike Allen is serious business.

TOOMEY:  Well, very strange.  I don‘t know how to explain that.  That‘s certainly not the kind of comment you want to see coming out of a campaign.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Fattah, what‘s going on on the other side?  I don‘t know if you‘ve ever been in a losing campaign.  I think you lost once, once.  Is this what happens?

FATTAH:  Well, look, I‘ve won 25 and I‘ve lost 3, actually.  So you know, you know what‘s going on in the McCain campaign because they are sensing a defeat.  They‘ve been pushed into a corner.  He‘s had to try to appease his base, people who weren‘t with him when he was running the primary.  In order to get them on board, he‘s had to become more like Bush than George Bush is, and also to pick Sarah Palin. And now it‘s costing with independent voters.  It‘s costing with conservative Democrats.  And it‘s going to him this election.  And the same conservatives that pushed things so far are now pulling the rug from up under him.  They‘re pushing Sarah to become more Sarah-like and...

MATTHEWS:  Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

FATTAH:  ... well, it‘s really shown the country a disunity even among their own ticket.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Is this a campaign that‘s already begun for Sarah Palin for president in 2012, that she‘s running past the guy that picked her already?

TOOMEY:  I don‘t think so.

MATTHEWS:  She hasn‘t ditched him yet?

TOOMEY:  I don‘t think she‘s thinking that far down the road. You know, I think they‘re making an all-out...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the comment that she made the other day, I‘ve got nothing to lose in this race?  What does that mean?  I got nothing to lose, meaning, I‘m going to come out on top, no matter what.

TOOMEY:  Chris, I...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a hell of a statement.

TOOMEY:  When you‘re a relatively new candidate and you‘re in front of the cameras and in front of reporters, talking nonstop for days on end, you know, inevitably you‘ll say some things you wish you hadn‘t.  You know...

MATTHEWS:  You are so generous!  Let me talk about Pennsylvania.

TOOMEY:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  You ran for senator up there.  You know the state really well.  You were a congressman for how many, two or three terms.

TOOMEY:  Three terms.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So you know the state very well.  And Chaka—Congressman Fattah, you know it from the—you know it from Philadelphia.  You know it from—from Lehigh Valley—Lehigh Valley.  Let‘s talk about the state.  Lots of talk about the ethnic factor, the racial factor playing a role and we all know will play some role up there.  I‘ll just say that, some role to play, because it‘s the first time an African-American has a real shot to become president of the United States. Look at these numbers right now coming out of the polling here right now.  This is Pollster.com, an average of all the polls.  Here‘s the state that John McCain thinks he has a good shot at.  Look at all the time.  He‘s up there again today.  But look at it opening up there.  Why is John McCain spending so much time in Pennsylvania when it‘s opening up like that?

TOOMEY:  Well, he probably has to win Pennsylvania, at this point.

FATTAH:  There‘s no other way.

TOOMEY:  And I—well, I tend to agree with that.  I think he has to win Pennsylvania.  But I also think it‘s still entirely possible that he might.  This—Senator Obama is not going to get too many of the undecided votes.  And I don‘t think that‘s about race.  I think that‘s because this election has become about him and people who have decided—or haven‘t decided to support him at this point are not going to. And John McCain has two very powerful sets of messages for Pennsylvania.  In the greater Philadelphia area, I think an economic message, a contrast on taxes and spending, where the contrast is clear and stark and credible...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

TOOMEY:  That can help him very much.  And throughout most of the rest the state, in addition to that message, a cultural message on social and cultural issues...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the cultural issue he benefits from?

TOOMEY:  2nd Amendment big time.

MATTHEWS:  Guns.

TOOMEY:  Absolutely.  And John—John McCain...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s for gun—he‘s for gun rights.

TOOMEY:  He‘s a 2nd Amendment guy, and Barack Obama has a record of being very hostile to the 2nd Amendment.  That resonates within a lot of Pennsylvania.  And frankly, in a lot of Pennsylvania, you know, it leans towards a more pro-life position once you get further away from Philadelphia.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

TOOMEY:  And Barack Obama is way outside the mainstream on that.  He‘s not just a little bit pro-choice, he‘s the most pro-choice you can possibly be.  And so that puts him outside the mainstream.

MATTHEWS:  Is that right about...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... you know, those are fighting words in Pennsylvania, Congressman Fattah.  Is the candidate the Democratic Party anti-gun?  Is he hostile to guns, as it‘s just been described?

FATTAH:  Well, look, Joe Biden is a son of Pennsylvania, and he says that Barack Obama is not taking anyone‘s shotgun away.  Barack Obama is clearly in support of what he says is the 2nd Amendment right for people to own guns. Guns are not going to be the issue.  The issue is thousands of Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs, lost their homes.  This nonsense about cultural issues—you‘re going to see a reality in this state in which Barack Obama is going to do better.  He is polling better than any Democrat running for president among white voters nationwide in the last 20 years.  I mean, you know, he‘s doing as well or better among African-American voters.  He‘s doing better with white males than John Kerry or Al Gore. He is going to do very well in Pennsylvania, and the only reason John McCain is here is the same reason that Custer had to show up at the last stand.  There‘s no other route for him to the White House...

MATTHEWS:  Well, he didn‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Custer didn‘t know, Congressman, that it was the last stand, or he wouldn‘t have shown up.  Let‘s get that straight.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But let‘s take a look—I want to ask you, Congressman Toomey, if you had to bet your house on it right now, would you bet on McCain carrying Pennsylvania?  Yes or no.  Come on!  This is HARDBALL.  This isn‘t—this isn‘t...

TOOMEY:  Look...

MATTHEWS:  ... “Success” magazine here.

TOOMEY:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  This isn‘t some economic magazine here.

TOOMEY:  No, I...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘s a good bet for him?

TOOMEY:  Honestly...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s going to win Pennsylvania?

TOOMEY:  His chances are probably a little less than even.  He‘s an underdog right now.

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) but I think we agree on that.  Let‘s take a look at McCain today in Pennsylvania, fighting as the underdog in Hershey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  Raising taxes makes a bad economy much worse.  That‘s a lesson of history which our opponents ignore.  Keeping taxes low creates jobs, keeps money in your hands and strengthens our economy.  If I‘m elected president, I won‘t spend nearly a trillion dollars more of your money.  Senator Obama will.  And he can‘t do that without raising your taxes or digging us further into debt.  I‘m going to make government live on a budget, just like you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s Robert E. Lee heading in Pennsylvania.  Here‘s George Meade trying to defend it.  Here‘s Obama up in Chester, same state, same day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  He‘s proposing $300 billion in new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations.  That‘s not something even George Bush proposed.  Not even George Bush proposed another $700,000 in tax cuts to the average Fortune 500 CEO.  Not even George Bush proposed a plan that would leave 100 million middle class families out of tax relief.  That‘s not change.  Change is a middle class tax cut for 95 percent of workers and their families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So Congressman, tell me what‘s the fight about?  Sometimes when I listen to the debates here—we‘re going to have some more of it here—socialism, you know, soak the rich, all these phrases being used, Marxist gets used, and communist got used the other day.  Are we now for getting rid of the progressive income tax, the ability to pay system?  Is that what your party—is that what you to do, get rid of—you want a flat tax?

TOOMEY:  I prefer a flat tax and...

MATTHEWS:  In other words, everybody pays the same percentage.

TOOMEY:  I‘d be find with that.  Absolutely.  A generous...

MATTHEWS:  Would that work?

TOOMEY:  ... exemption for everybody.  Yes, it would tremendously well.  It would be a tremendous supply-side encouragement for work and production and investment and risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

MATTHEWS:  But when you‘re starting off in life, you‘d be paying the same percentage as somebody who runs the biggest financial houses in America.

TOOMEY:  Yes, but if the first $30,000...

MATTHEWS:  Same percentage.

TOOMEY:  ... is not taxed at all...

MATTHEWS:  Oh.  Well, then there‘s...

TOOMEY:  ... and you make...

MATTHEWS:  ... not a flat tax.

TOOMEY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re (INAUDIBLE)

TOOMEY:  No, no.  Chris, the understanding of flat tax...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOMEY:  ... Steve Forbes or Dick Armey or any of the other popular ones...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

TOOMEY:  ... includes a big personal exemption.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... it seems like we‘re arguing over the basics now in American life.  Should we have a progressive income tax?  Should we have a Social Security system that has a safety net for everybody, not—that isn‘t equally divided, that comes out basically on the basis of need.  That‘s what Social Security is based upon, to a large extent.  Go ahead.

FATTAH:  This is the biggest lie late in this campaign, which is that Barack Obama wants to give a tax cut to people who don‘t pay taxes.  The only people he wants to give a tax cut to are people who pay 10 percent of their income in payroll taxes and those who are paying payroll plus income taxes.  And so this notion that he wants to give a tax cut to people who are not paying it not true, and we need to get out of that. And the other thing is that we know that the real John McCain actually agrees that people who are wealthy—like Warren Buffett says, Why should I pay a lower rate in taxes than my secretary is paying?  We know that in his heart of hearts, because he said it right ere on this network years ago, that John McCain even agrees that what he‘s saying now is nonsense, that we should give people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know.  He said it to me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He said it to me.  I heard it.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOMEY:  You know, the thing with...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re against the progressive income tax.

TOOMEY:  I much prefer...

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re the radical here.  You‘re the one that wants change.

TOOMEY:  Well, you check with the American people.  You‘ll find there are a lot of radicals.  There are a lot of people that think a flat income tax with a generous personal exemption is a very good arrangement.  The more you make, the more you pay, but at a flat rate.  That‘s considered pretty reasonable by most.  And let me say something about this—the fact that Barack Obama‘s tax plan...

MATTHEWS:  You think we should get rid of Social Security?

TOOMEY:  No, absolutely not.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  You say it—you say it with hesitance.

TOOMEY:  Well, I don‘t know what hesitance you‘re perceiving.  I...

MATTHEWS:  Do you like the Social Security system?

TOOMEY:  I think we need to have a Social Security system.  I would change the way it‘s structured, change it...

MATTHEWS:  Would you go to private personal accounts?

TOOMEY:  Yes, I would.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think personal accounts would have weathered this storm on the market very well the last couple months?

TOOMEY:  Well, first of all, Chris, personal accounts ought to have a big fixed income component, treasuries and cash and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... equities, we would have been—people...

TOOMEY:  Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Retirees would have been going crazy the last couple months.

TOOMEY:  Chris, this assumes that retirees would be sitting on all equities.  Why would you make that assumption?

MATTHEWS:  Because...

TOOMEY:  They wouldn‘t be.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOMEY:  You would scale it into a much more risk-averse...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... stocks is to get a higher income.

TOOMEY:  At a young age, sure, but as you got older...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You guys—the luckiest break you guys ever got on your side of this political fight is you failed to get to personal accounts through before this storm hit.  Look at Chaka laughing.  Look at the—because he—what would have happened if we had personal accounts during this hell—when this hell broke loose on the market?

FATTAH:  Look, I met with some money managers yesterday who‘ve seen their accounts, billions of dollars in accounts that they‘re holding for college endowments and others, that have dropped 40-plus percent in this market.  Now, we had a little rebound today, and that‘s great. But the underlying problem in this economy is that George Bush has doubled the national debt.  When George Bush came into office—and Congressman Toomey was there then, and I was there—the discussion in the Congress by Alan Greenspan was the fact that we could pay off the entire national debt over the term of this president.  We had a projected surplus of $5.6 trillion.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

FATTAH:  We wasted that, Chris.  We wasted it.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, this is a good battle.  We‘ve had a serious discussion tonight.  I appreciate it, Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, former congressman Pat Toomey, who may well be a leader in Pennsylvania in the days and, well, years ahead. Coming up: It‘s the final week of the campaign and both candidates are making their closing arguments.  What are we learning about what they‘d be like as president?  Let‘s get to the substance?  What are we hearing now?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  I‘m an American, and I choose to fight!  Don‘t give up hope!  Be strong!  Have courage and fight!  Fight for a new direction for our country!  Fight for what‘s right for America!

OBAMA:  We cannot afford to slow down or to sit back or to let up.  Whether it‘s rain or sleet or snow, we are going to go out and we are going to vote because it‘s too much at stake.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  With a week before the election, both Obama and McCain are presenting their final arguments, like in court, to the voters, who are the jurors here, of course.  How do they measure up? Let‘s turn to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Ed Rogers, who also served an aide to President Bush‘s father, the first President Bush. Bob Shrum, I want to talk to you about a number of things because I know you‘re very passionate.  It seems to me one of the things that we‘re looking at here is perhaps the end of an eight-year period in which division of the voters was a strategy by one of the parties, dividing the parties over—over class, race, orientation—sexual orientation, all kinds of things dividing people. And, for whatever reason, Barack Obama seems to be striking a chord—and he does—I have been out there watching him—when he talks about unity.  Let‘s watch. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  We can‘t afford the same political games and tactics that we have seen over the last few years.  Despite what my opponent may claim, there are no real parts of America or fake parts of America. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

OBAMA:  There‘s no city or town that‘s more pro-American than anyplace else. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

OBAMA:  We‘re one nation, all of us proud, all of us patriots. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, Bob, I have been out there, watching these speeches of his.  And what grabs people is not, we‘re going to get even, not, we‘re going to change policy, not, we‘re going to have redistribution or spreading the wealth.  What always works with the crowd, including poor people, is, we‘re going to be united.  It is stirring to hear. 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that‘s been part of his message from the very beginning, goes all the way back to 2004. The remarkable thing about him is the strategic consistency of his appeal, all the way up to the closing days of this campaign.  But he‘s talking about the things people really care about, finding a bipartisan way to move the country forward, the economy and how to restore it, tax cuts for the middle class, health care, things that are really central to people‘s lives.  And I think that‘s McCain‘s problem.  He can‘t fight or compete on that field very effectively, so he‘s going around talking about redistribution, socialism, all this other stuff.  And I think most voters are hearing it and saying, that man isn‘t talking to me. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the closing argument, Ed, of—of your candidate? 

ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT:  Well, by and large, McCain is—

Obama, rather, is able to get away with platitudes.  He says things like, you know, we‘re for justice, and we‘re for peace, and we‘re for prosperity. 

MATTHEWS:  No, he says unity. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  He says unity.

ROGERS:  Unity is a platitude. 

MATTHEWS:  It is? 

ROGERS:  Yes, it is. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, why doesn‘t your party use it? 

ROGERS:  Keep in mind that the right...

MATTHEWS:  How come you guys never use it, if it‘s a platitude?

SHRUM:  Well, they used to, Chris. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS:  Because it‘s not celebrated and it doesn‘t get away as an applause line if McCain used it. Who is against unity, Chris?  Come on.  Be fair.  But the fact of the matter is, this race is still very close.  It‘s within four to seven points.  McCain needs to make up a point a day, and he can still win. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I agree with that, if he does...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s watch him now.

Here‘s Senator McCain talking today about Obama trying to control wealth, rather than produce it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  He‘s more interested in controlling wealth than creating it...

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MCCAIN:  ... in redistributing money, instead of spreading opportunity. 

I‘m going to create wealth for all Americans by creating opportunity for all Americans. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  How does that reach the—the—the undecided voter?  It seems like, that‘s a very effective plea, Ed Rogers...

ROGERS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... to the Republican base.  It‘s hard Republican economics, which we have been under for the last eight years. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why would that sell now? 

ROGERS:  And, right now, you‘re right.  Republican are not credible on the economy.  He needs to make a broader point about, Obama doesn‘t have an economic plan.  He has an ideological belief that he should take money from one person and give it to another.  That doesn‘t create wealth.  That doesn‘t create jobs.  That doesn‘t create an economy in which people can...

MATTHEWS:  How would he do that? 

ROGERS:  ... seek opportunity.

MATTHEWS:  How does he do that?  Just tell me what the method is for Obama.  Explain what you mean by that. 

ROGERS:  How Obama does it or how McCain...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How Obama would take money from some people and give to others.  Who would he take from? 

ROGERS:  Well, let‘s take what he has said.  He will take money from people that he wants to raise taxes on...

MATTHEWS:  Who would they be?   

ROGERS:  Who are they?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Who would they be?

ROGERS:  He told Joe the plumber...

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  And who would those people be? 

ROGERS:  Well, ultimately, it‘s all of us.  He wants to raise Social Security taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  That is a lie.  That is a lie. 

ROGERS:  He wants to raise—no, it‘s not.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Ed, it‘s a lie.  It‘s a lie.

ROGERS:  He wants to raise...

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  And I‘m not going to let you say it.  It‘s a lie. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  It‘s a lie.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  ... on capital gains and interest income.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Slow down here. 

ROGERS:  It‘s not a lie at all. 

SHRUM:  It is a lie. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  You know why it‘s not working? 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  And he wants to give to people that support him.  I mean, that‘s what it‘s about.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  It‘s not working.  It‘s not working, for a simple reason that Chris alluded to in the last segment.  People are not interested in the abstract. 

ROGERS:  He doesn‘t have an economic plan.  He has an ideological belief.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  You know, Ed, you talked a long time.  Let me talk.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  You talked over me...

SHRUM:  People are not interested in these abstract discussions...

ROGERS: as usual.

SHRUM: about progressive income tax.  People are for the progressive income.  They know that Obama gives a tax cut to everybody under $250,000, and to 95 percent of the American people.  And you know what?  You are ashamed to say who would pay more, because the people who would pay more are the people at the top.  They would pay slightly more what they paid under Bill Clinton, when, by the way, we created a lot of jobs and had a very prosperous economy. 

ROGERS:  What is it about today‘s economy that suggests a tax increase is the solution? 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  We need job creation.  We need to cut the corporate income tax. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  We need job creation.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is it better to borrow more money from China or to raise taxes?  What‘s better? 

ROGERS:  What‘s better...

MATTHEWS:  Because you have to do one or the other. 

ROGERS:  What‘s better—no, you don‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, where do you get this money? 

ROGERS:  You grow your way out of it. 

(LAUGHTER)

ROGERS:  You can grow your way out of the deficit.  That‘s what we did before. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The problem is, right now, nobody is borrowing money. 

Nobody is lending money. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Our economic situation is at a standstill.  We have got a real challenge out there.  And I just wonder what kick-starts it. 

ROGERS:  And what is—what is the problem where raising taxes is the solution in today‘s economy? 

SHRUM:  But it‘s—he is giving a tax cut to the middle class.  He‘s putting taxes back to the level for the very wealthiest...

ROGERS:  Oh, come on, Bob.  You be honest.  You be honest.  He‘s giving a welfare check.  He‘s giving...

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  You guys have been lying for the last month, consistently, because you can‘t win this on a straight up-and-down economic choice. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  And, in fact, McCain‘s own people said, we can‘t win on the economy.

ROGERS:  OK.  We‘re not credible on the economy.  We shouldn‘t be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  He‘s right.  You agree.  You agree.  What I find fascinating—and you guys have all, like I have, have been watching these polls, all our lives, frankly.  When the Democrats have broken even with the Republicans on the tax issue, which has always been your party‘s strength...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What‘s your problem?  How come that happened?  How come his argument, whatever it is, is winning?

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  Because we are not credible on the economy.  We have an incumbent that is at 10 percent job approval on the economy.  Even though McCain and Palin...

MATTHEWS:  What did he do wrong?  He cut taxes.  He did everything you said a Republican should do, and this is where we‘re at.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  How philosophical do you want to get?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No.  I‘m just saying, we‘re where we‘re at because of Republican policies.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  McCain is a legitimate opponent of the status quo in Washington, period.  He should get credit for that.  He always has been.  He‘s not for more of the same.  And, yet...

MATTHEWS:  He said he supports the Bush tax cuts. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  Plus some, plus some, a pro-growth economic philosophy. 

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM:  But it doesn‘t work. 

ROGERS:  Obama doesn‘t have an economic philosophy.  He has an ideological philosophy of redistributing the wealth. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Oh, come on. 

ROGERS:  He does. 

SHRUM:  Oh, come on. 

ROGERS:  He said it.

SHRUM:  Drivel. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Ed, and let me ask you, Bob, Bob Shrum.

ROGERS:  He said it, Bob. Let‘s elevate this for one minute here.  When Barack Obama gets into the White House, will he be the kind of interesting pragmatist, like Jack Kennedy was back in the ‘60s, where he put together a Cabinet—it was basically about fiscal stimulus, tax cuts at the right time.  He tried to get them through, never could.  But he really balanced it off by putting Doug Dillon as treasury secretary, an Eisenhower person.  Do you think Barack is going to do that?  Will he put together a solid centrist team to push his agenda?  What kind of an administration do you think he will put together? 

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM:  I think—I think he will be a pragmatist if he wins.  I think he will have Republicans in the Cabinet.  I think he will propose national health care reform.  And I think he will give tax cuts to the middle class.  And I think people will say, that‘s pretty much what we want.  And then he‘s going to have to go on and face some of the big challenges that we have...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHRUM: which is how do we prepare to compete with China, India, educate our kids, stuff like that?

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  Everything that‘s easy to be done in Washington has been done. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  We need a president who can do hard things.  He‘s never done one hard thing in his life.  He said...

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Oh, you know, that‘s not true.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We have got to go, Bob. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM:  Somebody from the South shouldn‘t say that a black person running for president has never done a hard thing in their life. 

ROGERS:  Oh, come on.  Don‘t you even go there.

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

ROGERS:  Obama has never done one hard thing in his life. 

SHRUM:  Wrong.

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s not do this, Bob. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS:  What? 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s not—let‘s drop this.

SHRUM:  Wrong.

MATTHEWS:  I think the problem is what you address, which is, the ins gets blamed when things go bad.  And your party is the ins right now. Thank, Bob Shrum.  Thank you, Ed Rogers.

ROGERS:  There‘s some truth to that.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, up next:  A TV anchorwoman asks Joe Biden the ultimate “Have you stopped beating your wife?” question.  Wait until you hear her question.  This is one—you think I‘m tough?  Catch this act that is coming up here next from Florida. Plus, Senator Ted Stevens finds himself in very exclusive, well, not happy company.  The HARDBALL “Sideshow” is coming up.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL. 

Time for the “Sideshow.”

First up:  Remember that old line about, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”  Well, take a look at these lashings from an anchorwoman in Orlando, Florida, directed at V.P. candidate Joe Biden.  They‘re the hit of the Internet. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist, if he intends to spread the wealth around?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Are you joking?  Is this a joke?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No.

BIDEN:  Or is that a real question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That is a question.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN:  He is not spreading the wealth around.  He‘s talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you forewarning Americans that nothing will be done, and that America‘s days as the world‘s leading power are over? 

BIDEN:  No, I‘m not at all.  I don‘t know who‘s writing your questions, but let me make it clear to you, the fact of the matter is that everyone has acknowledged, from Colin Powell on, that the next president of the United States is going to be tested, whether it‘s John McCain and/or—or it‘s Barack Obama. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Let me get this straight.  Marxism, Socialism?  Has it come to this, that the candidates are guilty of being communists and socialists  unless they can disprove the charge on the spot? In other words, when someone calls you a Marxist or a communist, as a Florida Republican senator just did to the Democratic candidates, you have got to go on television and clear yourself?  Well, here‘s someone who‘s getting a good rep these days, Michelle Obama on “Jay Leno” last night displaying her charms. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF SENATOR BARACK OBAMA:  Wednesday, he‘s airing this—you know, he‘s—he‘s on all the networks. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”:  Oh, the commercial. 

Oh, yes.

M. OBAMA:  The commercial.  I don‘t know what they‘re calling it. 

LENO:  Right.  Right. 

M. OBAMA:  But he‘s all over the place. 

LENO:  Right. 

M. OBAMA:  So, he‘s describing this to my mother.  We‘re at the kitchen table.  And Malia sort of overhears it.  She‘s 10.  She says, “You‘re going to be on all the TV?”  She said, “Are you going to interrupt my TV?”

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

M. OBAMA:  And he said—he‘s sitting like this.  He says, “No, we didn‘t buy time on Disney and Nick.”

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA:  And she said, “Oh, good,” and she got up and walked away. 

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA:  That‘s about...

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA:  She was just, like, “Don‘t mess with my TV.”

(APPLAUSE)

LENO:  Now, I want to ask you about your wardrobe.  I‘m guessing about 60 grand? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

LENO:  Sixty thousand, $70,000 for that outfit? 

M. OBAMA:  Actually, this is a J. Crew ensemble. 

LENO:  Really?  Wow.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

M. OBAMA:  Thank you. 

LENO:  Well, there you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I buy pants at J. Crew.  Time now the “Big Number.”Despite yesterday‘s conviction on seven counts, Senator Ted Stevens says he‘s going to fight on in his tough reelection race, not an easy feat.  In fact, just how many times has a senator convicted of a felony fought reelection?  One.  His name is Ted Stevens.  And he‘s doing it with the two Republican candidates for president and vice president, McCain and his fellow Alaskan, Governor Sarah Palin, calling called for him to go right now.   Stevens‘ bid, by the way, the first time a convicted U.S. senator has sought reelection—tonight‘s “Big Number.”   Up next:  Are Republicans in Congress an endangered species?  Ted Stevens may have been convicted yesterday, but he did get some good news today, an endorsement from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.  I‘m not sure that‘s going to do it.  Anyway, the Democrats go for 60 in the Senate and a lot more seats in the House—when we come back. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.” A stunning late-day rally, with a massive surge in the final hour of trading.  The Dow Jones industrial average soared 889 points.  That‘s its second best point gain ever, the Dow climbing back above the 9000 level.  The S&P 500 gained 91 points, also its second best point gain ever.  And the Nasdaq surged 143.   Stocks rallied amid bargain-hunting, a bear market bounce, and in anticipation of a decision by the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates tomorrow.  A cut of anywhere from a quarter to a full point is expected.  Meantime, oil prices continue to slip.  Crude fell another 49 cents, closing at $62.73 a barrel.  And Whirlpool, the world‘s largest appliance maker, announced that it will eliminate 5,000 jobs by the end of next year, about 7 percent of its work force.  And a widely watched index of home prices had its sharpest decline ever in the month of August.  Prices in the 20-city index plunged 16 percent from the previous year.  That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Before I go any further, Bob Shrum took a shot at Ed Rogers before we went off the air in that last segment.  I have to tell you, you don‘t go after a guy because of his geography and being Southern, and using that against him on ethnic or racial issues.  Unacceptable.  Anyway, what has been the effect of President Bush‘s unpopularity on the Republican brand name?  Joining me right now is Republican strategist Michelle Laxalt and Democratic strategist Tad Devine, two excellent people to talk about this.  You know, I do think that the Stevens conviction yesterday was probably one more bad piece of news for the Republican Party.  Your karma is off, my dear...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... Michelle, isn‘t it?  Isn‘t this a bad time?  Like, don‘t you think you‘ve got a bad run going this week into this election? 

MICHELLE LAXALT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Let‘s just say that this has...

MATTHEWS:  Seven counts?

LAXALT:  This has not been an extraordinary year for the Republican Party.  It reminds me a little bit of when my father ran for the United States Senate after Watergate in 1974.  And you may or may not remember that after President Ford pardoned.

MATTHEWS:  Is that the time he won or the time he lost? 

LAXALT:  He won against Senator Reid.  But who remembers?  Sorry, Harry.  But he was one of two Republicans only elected to the Senate after Watergate.  So the Republican Party rebuilt.  Has it been a bad year?  Yes.  Is Ted Stevens a different case?  Yes.  Am I prejudiced?  He was my first boss.  I know Ted Stevens.  Ted Stevens is an honest man.  And the people of Alaska are not going to rely upon a jury in the District of Columbia to tell them whether they were right or wrong about a man.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re going to bank on that?  You‘re going to bank on.

LAXALT:  I will bank on that.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  That he gets reelected.

LAXALT:  I believe he‘ll be reelected, and he will also win on appeal. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that may well be.  The second point is a point of law, which I think that Brendan Sullivan, his brilliant lawyer might win on.  But I think the electorate in Alaska has been hit with a bit of bad timing here.  Tad, let‘s look at these races, all of them right now.  I‘m looking at them all.  Ted Stevens up in Alaska.  Norm Coleman out in Minnesota facing a surprisingly strong threat now from Al Franken.  Elizabeth Dole in big trouble in North Carolina.  Gordon Smith a very good senator, in big trouble in Oregon.  Mitch McConnell, the leader of the party in the Senate, being challenged heavily in Kentucky.  Sununu probably—well, let‘s look at this, in big trouble up in New Hampshire.  Chambliss in surprising trouble down in Georgia.  And Wicker in Mississippi, who was appointed to the seat of Trent Lott, he has got a challenge.  Is it possible the Democrats can sweep those eight seats? 

TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yes.  I think when you have a situation like this, when everything comes together in a year like this, almost anything is possible.  I mean, let‘s take Georgia, for example.  I mean, that‘s a state where Democrats really haven‘t had much of a shot in recent years.  But so far I think the early voting in Georgia that I‘ve read, 36 percent of the early vote has been African-American.  When you change the composition of an electorate like that, when you start to have twice as many African-Americans vote in an election as normally you would have, it changes everything.  It‘s a whole different dynamic.  So I think we‘ll have to wait and see.  I think anything is possible next Tuesday.  In those states and other states too, in other Senate races as well for Democrats. 

MATTHEWS:  I think it looks right now like the Democrats could pick up 59 seats in the Senate.  They may not get to 60, Michelle, but I think they‘re going to win 59 the way it‘s going. 

LAXALT:  I think it‘s very possible when you look at them and as you tick them off one by one, as you just have, I agree with Tad.  I mean, I think that these numbers are very tough for a lot of these members who should be in very secure seats. 

MATTHEWS:  Also, you start with two guys named Udall in New Mexico and Colorado, and an easy pickup in Virginia it looks like now. 

LAXALT:  Well, those are three that the Republicans unfortunately ceded at the front end when their incumbents decided not to run for reelection. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk coattails.  That is an old-time term like patronage.  I mean, coattails is a funny word, like you‘re hanging onto somebody‘s coattails.  Good people lose in wrong years.  I mean, last year, Jim Talent was a good guy, lost.  I really like Claire McCaskill too, she is very impressive.  But good people.  This time Sununu could lose, Gordon Smith could lose.  Some good guys could lose, right?  Admit it.  You‘re the Democratic consultant. 

DEVINE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Good people lose in tough years. 

DEVINE:  They do.  And in 1994 a lot of good Democrats lost seats and people got elected to the Senate in very surprising races all over the country.  I think the big difference this year in terms of coattails is that we‘re going to have a different electorate.  The composition of the electorate will be better for Democrats in states like Georgia, more African-Americans.  And a lot of places, more younger voters participating in record numbers.  And I think when you get this different electorate, it‘s going to help not just Barack Obama, but Democrats running for every office. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s take look at this ad against Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, it looks interesting.  Take a note of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m telling you Liddy Dole is 93. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ninety-three? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  She ranks 93rd in effectiveness. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After 40 years in Washington? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  After 40 years in Washington, Dole is 93rd in effectiveness, right near the bottom. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ve read she‘s 92. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Didn‘t I just tell you she‘s 93? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, 92 percent of the time she votes with Bush. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Is that Bartles and James? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What kind of a commercial is that?  Is this supposed to be real?  It‘s so hokey. 

LAXALT:  It is hokey, but hokey.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think bottom of the list is bad?

LAXALT:  You remember it and you‘ve just run it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, 92, 93 whether she‘s that bad.  One guy says she may not be the worst, but she‘s close to it. 

DEVINE:  I think her problem is she got elected to the United States Senate from a state that she grew up from but then left for a long time and then she never went back there for six years.  And it‘s killing her.  It‘s killing her.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And they talk about her not talking on the committee chair for 60 hearings in a row or something. 

DEVINE:  Right, right.

LAXALT:  It‘s—and by the same token, you made a point a little bit earlier that good people lose in some elections. 

MATTHEWS:  They sure do. 

(CROSSTALK)

LAXALT:  But remember Ronald Reagan in 1980, he brought in a lot of Republicans into the Senate who arguably were sort of oddball... 

MATTHEWS:  Boneheads.  Boneheads who.

LAXALT:  . candidates.

MATTHEWS:  . were out six years later. 

LAXALT:  . who lost six years later. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m going to tell you something, he brought in some flotsam and jetsam, Michelle.  I like honesty.  Tad Devine, thank you both, gentleman, and lady—gentlelady. 

Coming up with the “Politics Fix,” first a McCain adviser calls Sarah Palin a “diva.”  Now a second top adviser calls her a “whack job.”  Will Palin be McCain‘s excuse if he doesn‘t win or will she be his excuse if they don‘t win?  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton finally hit the campaign together.  That‘s tomorrow.  Big rally in Florida for the Democrats.  Bill and Barry together, that‘s Barack.  His nickname is Barry.  HARDBALL returns with the “Politics Fix” next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the “Politics Fix.” Tonight‘s roundtable, Perry Bacon of The Washington Post, and Jonathan Darman of Newsweek. Perry, I don‘t know—your former colleague Mike Allen picked up that little tidbit from the McCain-Palin campaign where a top adviser to John McCain‘s campaign—and I know what that means, “top adviser,” that means somebody in the top four or five at least in the campaign, very near the top, referred to the running mate as a “whack job.” That comes on top of somebody else referring to her as a “diva.”  What going on in that?  Is this intramural warfare? 

PERRY BACON, THE WASHINGTON POST:  It looks like a week before the election, before we even know who is going to win, they‘re sort of already blaming each other.  There is this dispute about how exactly Sarah Palin‘s clothing was purchased, who purchased it and who authorized it.  There is a lot of skirmishing going on, even before the elections, which I‘m sort of surprised by, to be honest. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about the term whack job?  That suggests off balance, crazy.  I think we all know what a whack job is.  Do you think that is something you have heard—have you heard anything like that coming out of that campaign? 

BACON:  I had mostly heard the concerns about them not being sure exactly how prepared she was and that kind of thing.  But I had not heard whack job before.  That‘s sort of a strong term to use to describe the vice presidential candidate who sort of did pretty well for them at the very beginning and sort of raised their poll numbers initially. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look—same questions to you, Jonathan.  Are you getting anything out of that campaign that suggests commentary that strong? 

JONATHAN DARMAN, NEWSWEEK:  I haven‘t gotten whack job.  But I think what we‘re seeing at this point is a couple of things.  One, John McCain is not in control of this campaign, unless he actively wants to step out there.  You don‘t have this much, you know, distracting talk about your vice presidential nominee in the last week of the campaign if everyone is focused and convinced that, you know, you‘ve got them right where you want them, which is what the talking point is.  So there is a bit of disarray there.  I actually think in a lot of ways, the more of this talk there is, the better for Sarah Palin.  Because if John McCain loses, if she can prove right off the bat, hey, I wasn‘t in the McCain campaign, those guys were out to get me, that makes it a lot easier for her going forward to be the future of the Republican Party and get away from the mistakes they made in 2008, which, you know, there are a lot of indications that might be something she wants to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here‘s Sarah Palin at a rally up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, comparing the McCain ticket to Ronald Reagan.  This is certainly elevating everything this time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  What John McCain and I believe in is what Ronald Reagan believed in. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN:  We believe in the forward movement of freedom and not the constant expansion of government.  And we believe those virtues of freedom as John McCain has proved, they are worth fighting for. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN:  John and I believe that America is not the problem.  America is the solution. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

PALIN:  And we do believe that America is that “shining city on a hill” that Reagan used to speak of.  And I thank God that we have a man who is ready and worthy to lead it, someone who inspires us with heroic and trustworthy deeds and not just words. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Perry Bacon, is that a manifesto for the future?  Is that the kind of thing—I remember hearing that kind of thing from Barry Goldwater back in ‘60 when he didn‘t get the nomination but he was looking forward to ‘64 when he would. 

BACON:  I think that kind of rhetoric about Ronald Reagan, sort of cutting taxes and her being sort of more patriotic, what have you, than Obama, I think that‘s sort of—that‘s not a surprise.  She has been saying that all year to a great degree. 

I think that if you talk to—you listen to her crowds, or the people who go to see her are very excited about her to some extent, even more than John McCain.  And I think whether she has tried to or not, she has sort of built her own following.  And I think that‘s what was happening in the last couple weeks is she is building her own separate following.  And if she wants to run again, I think that‘s sort of what she‘s trying to develop right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think she is dumping McCain and she‘s marrying Ronald Reagan.  We‘ll be right back with Perry Bacon and Jonathan Darman for more of the “Politics Fix.” We‘re watching HARDBALL—actually you‘re watching it.  I‘m here, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Perry Bacon of The Washington Post and Jonathan Darman of Newsweek for more of the “Politics Fix.” Well, we have got a big day tomorrow, gentlemen.  I want you to talk about it.  Perry, you first, and then, Jonathan.  The emergence, I think really for the first time, of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as a traveling duet.  They‘re going to actually campaign together in this final week.  What is the significance, Perry? 

BACON:  I think it might be more important for Bill Clinton than Barack Obama.  I, to some extent, feel like most voters who are deciding who they are voting for are—particularly people who like Bill Clinton have already decided who they‘re voting for.  There are not a lot of undecided’s left at this point.    But President Clinton had a tough time in the primaries sort of figuring out how to campaign for his wife.  And (INAUDIBLE) about, the racial tenor of some of his remarks, I think for President Clinton, this is very important, you know, to get Obama‘s sort of stamp of approval.  I think it is very important for him on some level. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of that, Jonathan?  Because I think Senator Clinton has done a strong job already.  I saw her up in Scranton with—a couple of weeks ago.  She certainly knows how the campaign for Biden and the ticket.  Does Bill Clinton still to have prove something here?  Is he aboard?  Where does he stand on this campaign?

DARMAN:  Yes.  I mean, you talk to the people around him and he knows that he has taken a big beating in this campaign.  There is this perception that as late as September, right around the time of the financial crisis, he was showing too much ambivalence.  This is sort of his last chance to show how onboard he is.  And I think what you‘re going to see is him going out there.  Bill Clinton is someone who knows which way the wind is blowing.  And everyone knows—and knows the way that everyone is talking about, where this race is.  So I don‘t think you‘re going to see any of that ambivalence when they‘re out there together.  He is going to be Obama booster number one. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Perry, he has been out there campaigning in places like, I guess to be blunt about it, white areas like Kentucky.  He has been campaigning, you know, where they say, the “Bubba” vote.  Has he been effective in that regard or do we know? 

BACON:  He hasn‘t been out there as much as Senator Clinton has.  I mean, again, I think it is hard to tell in the sort of general election that the poll numbers switch when the economic crisis happened more than any campaigning has.  But I think Senator Clinton‘s supporters have moved toward Barack Obama in the last couple months, which I would attribute to the (INAUDIBLE) crisis, one.  And then two, I‘d attribute to Senator Clinton has so emphatic in supporting Senator Obama the last few weeks as well. 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t you think it has been impressive that Senator Clinton, coming right out of the campaign, her first speech, and then later on at the convention where she said, if you were with me, examine your conscience, if you were with me, you‘re with my issues, and my issues are with Barack Obama.  It seemed to me as best she could in a big macro sense, she delivered her vote in the sense of a political delivery, really, she gave her vote completely to Barack Obama in a way you don‘t see in politics that often—

Perry. 

BACON:  I don‘t think she had much choice.  I mean, I think for her future as well, for her future and for her views of the country and health care and economics, et cetera, supporting Barack Obama was natural.  So I‘m not surprised she did that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, she did it.  Anyway, thank you, Perry Bacon.  Thank you, Jonathan Darman.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now it is time for “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE WITH DAVID GREGORY.” 

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