updated 11/4/2008 1:39:07 PM ET 2008-11-04T18:39:07

Guest: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Todd Harris, Steve McMahon, Haley Barbour,

Rick Hertzberg, Michelle Bernard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  What should we do?  Americans must decide.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to an election eve edition of HARDBALL.  Leading off tonight, just hours to go.  Seven hundred and twenty-five days after Iowa governor Tom Vilsack filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for president, thereby beginning the 2008 campaign for the White House, the two presidential candidates are on a mad final cross-country scramble for votes.

The latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll has Barack Obama leading John McCain by 8 points, 51 percent to 43 percent.  McCain was just about everywhere today.  He began campaigning this morning in Tampa, Florida.  And from there, it was on to Blountville, Tennessee, the suburbs of Pittsburgh, then on to Indianapolis.  Tonight, McCain goes to Roswell, New Mexico, Henderson, Nevada, and then ends the day in his home state of Arizona, in Prescott.

Here‘s McCain early today in Tampa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Pundits may not know it and the Democrats may not know it, but the Mac is back!  We‘re going to win this election!

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Barack Obama began his day in Jacksonville.  Right now, he‘s in Charlotte, North Carolina.  And then later, he holds a nighttime rally in Manassas, Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Tomorrow, at this defining moment in history, you, each and every one of you, can give this country the change that we need.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll look at the final push for votes in just a moment.

About that NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll—think of this.  That 8-point Obama leads compares with a 1-point lead that President Bush had four years ago in our final poll.  President Bush wound up beating John Kerry by three points.  NBC News political director Chuck Todd joins us later to look at that poll and this poll.  And Chuck will also unveil our new election night virtual reality graphics and offer us a “Smart Viewer‘s Guide” to watching tomorrow‘s election returns.  Especially in the early evening tomorrow, I want you to know what to look for to see who‘s winning.

Also, one more time before election day, our Democratic and Republican strategists give their last-minute strategy from both sides of the fight.  And we‘re going to have a lot of fun in tonight‘s HARDBALL “Sideshow.”  It‘s a look back at some of the quainter, quirkier, smile-inducing moments of this very tough campaign.  You don‘t want to miss the “Sideshow” tonight.

And a reminder.  On Tuesday night—that‘s tomorrow night—please join me and Keith Olbermann as we host MSNBC‘s election night coverage, and there‘s nothing like it anywhere else, anchored by David Gregory.  Our coverage begins 5:00 Eastern in the afternoon.

And late today, we got word that Barack Obama‘s grandmother—this is a sad story—the woman who raised him, lost her battle with cancer at the age of 86.  And Senator Obama last saw her last month.  He did get to see his grandma near the end, when he visited her in Hawaii.  We‘re lucky for that.  And I‘m sure he‘s joyful that he was able to see her near the end.

But we begin tonight with a close and final look at the campaign, starting with the Democrats.  Maryland congressman Chris Van Hollen is the chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee, Congressional Campaign Committee, fondly known as the D-triple-C.

Let me ask you, Congressman, you have information in your head right now—and we can see your head on television.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Inside your brain is knowledge of every Democratic congressperson running for reelection and running for election in every one of the 435 districts right now.  In that swirl of knowledge, what do you know that we don‘t know?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D-MD), CHMN. DEM. CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN

COMMITTEE:  Well, the story, Chris, in the congressional campaigns has been very much the story of the presidential election.  The fact that Barack Obama is campaigning in Virginia is a testament to the fact that he‘s broadened the political map, and that‘s what we‘ve done in these congressional races.

Most people thought that after the big win in 2006, where the Democrats picked up 30 seats, we‘d have to hunker down, that we‘d have to protect the gains that we‘d made last time around because, historically, you lose seats.  Instead, we stayed on offense.  We‘ve gone into not just purple areas, not just pink areas, but traditionally very Republican areas, areas that George Bush carried by large percentages.

And look, I‘m not making any predictions on numbers, but I am confident we‘re going to break that historical curse, where after winning a lot in one cycle, you don‘t win any in the next.  In fact, you got to go back to 1932, 1934, when the Democrats won back—won the Congress with lots of seats, to see that the party then picked up even more seats in the following cycle.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I‘m getting all kinds of word from people.  I know it‘s anecdotal.  People are calling me, e-mailing me.  I hear that Florida is still very tough for both parties, that it may be going in McCain‘s direction, that Ohio may be in the same situation, that in Pennsylvania, there‘s questions about what kind of get out the vote campaign they‘re going to do in Philadelphia with or without the help of money.  Are you sure you can win this election at the presidential level tomorrow?  Are you sure this thing is in the can?

VAN HOLLEN:  Look, we all know, all of us—you know from your involvement in politics, it really ain‘t over until it‘s over.  But as you said, we‘re coming into an election where the polls uniformly show Barack Obama consistently ahead by a decent margin.

I was in Florida.  I‘ve been in North Carolina.  I‘ve seen the early voting.  Early voting clearly is trending the Democratic column.  It‘s not just Democrats coming out, it‘s independents, a lot of disaffected Republicans.  You would have to see something really strange going on out there to see any different outcome than Barack Obama as president.

But they have been very clear.  Take nothing for granted.  That‘s what we say to our members.  We‘ve got one member of Congress who was elected in 2006.  He won by 83 votes, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

VAN HOLLEN:  That just goes to show the work you do in the next 24 hours on turnout does have an impact.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it seems to me—watching Congress for all my life, it seems to me the great strength Republicans have is they‘ve always in the past been able to say, We‘ll keep your taxes lower, especially at the federal level, than the Democrats.

Here‘s McCain making that case again today in Tennessee on election eve.  I want you to respond.  Is that working for the other side, the fear of your side raising taxes?  Here‘s John McCain in Tennessee today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  And my friends, he‘s in the far left lane of American politics and he‘s stuck there, and that‘s why he‘s the most liberal senator in the United States Senate.  He‘s even more liberal than a guy from Vermont that used to call himself a socialist.  Tax and spend, tax and spend.  That‘s what they‘re all about, my friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Tax and spend.  Is that hammer hurting you, Congressman Van Hollen?

VAN HOLLEN:  It‘s not going to work this time because he‘s got his facts so wrong.  The big difference here is that Barack Obama wants to give a tax break to middle America, who got left behind with the Bush tax cuts.  The Bush tax cuts went to folks at the very high end of the income scale, the people who have been partying on Wall Street until the most recent meltdown there, whereas Barack Obama says, Hey, for once, let‘s give middle income families a break.  And he gives them a bigger break than McCain.

And if you‘re a family making under $250,000, you‘ll see no increase in your taxes, and 95 percent of working Americans will get a bigger tax break under Barack Obama than under John McCain.  And I actually think that one of the things Barack Obama has done really well in this campaign is make clear, by the end of the day, his tax plan because Republicans try this every time and...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It usually works.

VAN HOLLEN:  Yes, but this time, when we talk about taxes, most people understand that they‘re going to get a better break under Barack Obama because most people are in that under-$250,000...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see.  It seems like the Republicans know something. 

You know something.  All I know is the Republicans keep banging your party for raising taxes and socialism and tax and spend.  They must have research that tells them this is cutting into your vote.  You disagree.  You think it‘s not working, right?

VAN HOLLEN:  I don‘t think it‘s working.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

VAN HOLLEN:  I think tomorrow will prove it.  I mean, I think if you look at...

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll find out.

VAN HOLLEN:  ... socialism out there, it was John McCain whose proposal on the mortgage foreclosure crisis was to simply give all the banks who had made bad loans a total taxpayer subsidy.  And then to turn around and say he doesn‘t like Barack Obama‘s tax cuts for the middle class just doesn‘t cut it.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who represents all the Democrats running for reelection.

Later in the show, we‘re going to talk to McCain supporter and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour.

Now let‘s bring in our strategists left and right, Democrat and Republican, Steve McMahon on the Democratic side, Todd Harris on the Republican side.  It looks to me like this fight has come down to something we‘re used to all our life.  The Democrats are for government.  They like government.  They believe in a larger federal role.  They want things done at the federal level.  They want infrastructure.  They want energy policy.  They want health care.  Republicans say, No, government is roughly a bad idea.  Better to keep your money in your wallet.  Is that a fair estimate, Todd Harris, of this fight?  Yes or no?

TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I think...

HARRIS:  Sort of.  I mean, the problem is one of the reasons why that message isn‘t sticking as much as it has in the past is because—look, you know, some straight talk.  During the Bush administration, we‘ve seen a huge increase in the size of government.  It‘s one of the reasons why conservatives were so dispirited going into this election.  So the idea—now, I guess we could say the Democrats would have grown it even more than the Bush administration did.  But the fact is, you know, whether it‘s Medicare prescription B—you know, a lot of these are great programs, but they grew the size of government.  And so that‘s not sticking as well as it might have in the past.

MATTHEWS:  Steve, a 7.3 advantage going into an election is a damn serious advantage.  Do you really believe that John McCain will lose this election by almost 8 points?  Look at these numbers.  These—we‘ve got the gold standard here at NBC and the “Wall Street Journal” poll.  It‘s considered the best of the polls.  And look at this spread.  It‘s large—it‘s lengthened out to almost—well, it‘s 7.5 points right now.  Do you think it‘s going to be that good tomorrow?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think there‘s a very good chance it will be, Chris, not only because you‘ve got a great pollster in Peter Hart and Bill McInturff, great pollsters, but also because of all the new people that Senator Obama has brought into the process.

In Virginia, for instance, 5 million people normally vote.  There are 500,000 new voters, and almost every one of them was registered by the Obama campaign.  So you would have to expect that an overwhelming majority, maybe 80 percent or 90 percent of those people, are going to vote for Senator Obama.  That‘s true in many of the battleground states across the country.  That‘s why he has this lead.  And I think the farther out you expand the model, the more significant his lead becomes.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Todd on this question of the final fight here. 

It seems to me McCain is fighting admirably, going to something like seven

states in one day.  And yet I don‘t sense, starting with Saturday night,

with “Saturday Night Live,” when he made that somewhat hilarious appearance

·         although I thought it was somewhat embarrassing appearance on “SNL”—he hasn‘t looked like he‘s winning.  In fact, he looks like a guy who‘s losing.  And he doesn‘t look like a guy who‘s commanding forces in the field as much as a guy who‘s struggling on against overwhelming odds.  Do you like the picture that you‘re seeing of McCain in these last couple days?  Todd Harris.

HARRIS:  Yes, actually.  I actually do.

HARRIS:  No.  Well, it looks like he‘s fighting, which is exactly what he is doing.  You know, there are basically four stages when you—when you‘re running a campaign as far as voter contact.  You‘ve got identification, organization, persuasion, and finally motivation.  You know, we‘re past the stage now where you‘re really trying to persuade large numbers of voters.  Now you‘re just trying to motivate those that, hopefully, you‘ve already persuaded and get them to the polls.

And you know, McCain—this is his closing message.  McCain has always been sort of a mixture of biography and policy and politics.  He‘s talking about how he has fought his whole life for this country, and now he‘s asking people for, you know, one more fight to help lower taxes.  And you know, he repeats his whole message.

MCMAHON:  You know, Chris, when Todd started talking about the four stages just a minute ago, I thought he was going to tell us about the four stages of grief.  And you can see—you can see on the screen tonight, when you look at...

MATTHEWS:  I thought that, too, because but I‘m not that cruel to bring it up the way you did.  I wouldn‘t have said that.  I thought the same thing, but I wouldn‘t talk like that.

MCMAHON:  I know you wouldn‘t.  You would never—you would never...

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re being very cruel here.

MCMAHON:  ... pop off.

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘re dancing on his grave a little prematurely. 

Let‘s take a look at...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... your candidate, in Jacksonville today.  Here he is, Barack Obama, the day before the election.  Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  That day, more than 5,000 jobs were lost.  More than 7,000

homes were foreclosed on.  The day before, former Fed chairman Alan

Greenspan said we were in a once-in-a-century crisis.  And yet despite our

economic crisis, John McCain actually came here to Veterans Memorial Arena

and repeated something he said at least 16 times on this campaign.  He said

·         and I quote—“The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

(BOOS)

OBAMA:  Florida, you and I know that not only was John McCain fundamentally wrong, it sums up the fact that he‘s out of touch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  OK, Gentlemen, for the ages, first to you, Todd, then Steve.  Todd, I want the spread tomorrow for your guy, the number please, the percentage difference between John McCain and Barack Obama.  I assume you‘re predicting McCain.  Let‘s hear the spread.

HARRIS:  I‘ll say McCain in a surprise squeaker.  How‘s that?

MATTHEWS:  One point, half a point or what?

HARRIS:  Sure.  By one vote.  Whatever we can get.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  And your prediction spread here, Steve McMahon?  What will Barack Obama win by tomorrow?  Is it the same squeaker or something more impressive?

MCMAHON:  No.  I think he‘s going to win the popular vote by a margin of around 54-46, if you take out the third-party candidates.  So I think it‘s going to be a pretty significant victory for him, and I think you‘re going to see that victory carry in the Senate and the House, as well.

MATTHEWS:  OK, 8-point spread predicted here for the Democrat, half a point spread predicted for the Republican.  Average it out, you might get near the truth.  Anyway, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, gentlemen, it‘s been an honor to preside over your fight, your tomfoolery on occasion, and your serious debate oftentimes.

Coming up, NBC News political director Chuck Todd joins us from—well, he joins us from here with a “Smart Viewer‘s Guide.”  He‘s going to tell you what to look for tomorrow night around 6:00 o‘clock, when we first start getting returns in, how you can read those returns without us telling you what they mean because we have to be careful not to tell you who‘s winning, but you‘ll be able to figure it out if you listen to us tonight.  We‘re going to give you the code ring, the Captain Midnight code ring, to figure this thing out tomorrow night.

Back in a minute with Chuck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  If you‘ll stand with me and fight with me, I promise you we will not just win Florida, we‘ll win this election!  You and I together will change this country!  We‘ll change the world!

MCCAIN:  We need your help, and we will win.  Volunteer.  Knock on doors.  Get your neighbors to the polls.  I need your vote.  We need to bring real change to Washington, and we have to fight for it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL on the eve of the 2008 presidential election.  It‘s tomorrow.  Believe it or not, after all these months and years, it‘s tomorrow.  NBC News political director Chuck Todd is here to give us a “Smart Viewer‘s Guide” to what to look for tomorrow night.  But first he‘s got some hot new numbers from today‘s poll—Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Chris, can‘t believe it.  We‘re 24 hours—we‘re 12 hours away from people actually voting, or 5 hours from Dixville Notch up there in New Hampshire, when they do their ballot.  But we got the new head-to-head.  You‘ve debuted it, 51-43.

Couple of things stood out at me.  Chris, number one, one in three voters said they had already voted.  Thirty percent in our survey said they had already voted.  That‘s still an astronomical figure, an unbelievable number.  And it‘s going to make watching election night very tricky.  And we can talk about that later.

The second thing that stood out, those positive/negative numbers, the fact that Obama‘s 86 -- 9 in 10 of Obama supporters love the guy.  Only about 4 in 10 of McCain‘s supporters love him.  That gap between sort of love and like, between Obama and McCain, is probably the difference between those that are going to be willing to stand in a three-hour line and vote tomorrow and those that aren‘t.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I‘m hearing that some of—the Obama campaign has advertised, Come wait in line and have a good time.  They‘re turning it into a kind of a tailgate at a football game.  Have you heard about that?

TODD:  They have.  In fact, they did this for those long early voting lines in Charlotte and Atlanta, where they came out with food, came out with entertainment.  It actually—when they were saying that, it struck me as—remember the Iowa straw poll, when the Republicans used to throw a whole fair and all this stuff to do their presidential straw poll stuff.  It‘s almost as if what the Obama‘s trying to do with election day, turn it into a carnival.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s do a favor to everybody watches you and me all these months. 

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s give a little advance, OK, as we say in the business. 

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Tomorrow night, after watching us tomorrow night—I will at this table with all the other correspondents and anchors—if they see Indiana too close to call at 7:00 tomorrow night...

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... which will be the first big news coming in, does that

suggest a good night for Barack, the fact that the usual Hoosier State is -

·         is locked?

TODD:  Well, let‘s...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s too close to call? 

TODD:  Look, let‘s go to our map.  Let‘s have a little fun.

Let‘s show them all of our...

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

TODD:  ... bells and whistles...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Fine.

TODD:  ... and toys.

But you‘re right.  That first—the first two poll closes that we see votes count first are both—are Indiana, as you said, you said here.  And, with Indiana, it is—it‘s—I doubt we‘re going to call this at poll close.  Why?  Because of one big reason. 

And that is, up here in Gary, because their polls close actually an hour later.  This is the one part of Indiana that‘s in Central time.  Everybody else is in Eastern time.  And we have got to wait to see, what is that northwest—that Chicago media market portion of Indiana, what is it going to do, and how big is the number going to be for Obama? 

And—and that‘s why.  The other thing, Chris, about Indiana, if we don‘t call it at poll close, I believe it will be the first time in four elections that we haven‘t called this for a—the Republican candidate for president at poll close. 

MATTHEWS:  I heard that the—what‘s that late county they have to get...

TODD:  Lake County, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  If they can get like 80,000 votes, a plurality, out of there, they can win the state, something like that. 

TODD:  They can. 

Between Lake County and Marion here, with Indianapolis, and even down here—you know, the Obama campaign today says, down here in that 9th Congressional District here—this is where a Democrat, a very conservative Democrat, Baron Hill, is running for reelection, a fourth rematch.  He looks like he‘s favored. 

Obama is competitive there.  He doesn‘t have to win the district.  If Obama is competitive here, he can win this state.  And he wins Indiana, and, you know, it blocks all sorts of paths for John McCain. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s talk about Virginia.  If Indiana is close, it‘s good for Obama.  What about Indiana—Virginia, the old dominion of—the former—well, it‘s capital of the Confederacy.  Let‘s remember that from history books. 

(LAUGHTER)

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And could it vote for the first African-American president with a—candidate with a real chance?  Could it do it?

TODD:  Well, I—I think the—the concern that—that we have here, Chris—I mean, let‘s be realistic—that you and I have to deal with tomorrow night is, what if Virginia is called for Obama by 8:00, you know?  And this is a huge state for McCain. 

You take Virginia away from him, and then, suddenly, we‘re going to be sitting here, after 7:30 or 8:00 -- and let‘s say, if the Virginia polls are correct, OK, Chris, and Obama has this five-, six-, seven-point lead in this state, and we that, and it comes in, and this is what it is—

Virginia, they count their votes very quickly.  It‘s a very efficient state.  They count them very fast.  Northern Virginia will come in.  We will know pretty quickly what‘s going on here, particularly here Hampton Roads and in Richmond. 

When we start getting those samples in, and we‘re able call this by 8:00, well, you and I are going to be focusing on three states, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio, because if Obama wins just one more of those, it‘s pretty much checkmate. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to say that tomorrow night?  Are you going to be that blunt? 

TODD:  I think we have to be honest.  You know, I will be honest. 

There‘s an honesty to it. 

Look, that doesn‘t mean you can‘t sit here—could John McCain pull an upset in Oregon? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TODD:  You know, could he pull a—could you sit here and say—but the bottom line is, the McCain campaign will tell you, if they can‘t win two of the following four states, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, they don‘t know how to get to 270. 

MATTHEWS:  So, let‘s run those early announcements, Indiana and Virginia at 7:00, North Carolina and Ohio at 7:30, and, then, 8:00, among the other announced 15 states that time includes Pennsylvania and Florida. 

We‘re going to know an awful lot, you‘re telling me, by 8:00, because Pennsylvania has been sort of the—you and I know well...

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... and we have advertised it and reported it—has been the backdoor strategy of the McCain campaign.  OK, lose some other points, electoral votes, elsewhere in the country, because of Obama‘s strong showing...

TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... but hold on to—or grab, rather, an old industrial Democrat state like Pennsylvania. 

If they can‘t do that, it‘s hard to see where they‘re—where they go, right?

TODD:  Well, as you know, when we did our—our—our map, we came up with 252 for McCain.  This was if he swept all of what‘s left in our battleground, you know, Missouri, everything that‘s in our tossup.  So, he needed to find 18 electoral votes. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TODD:  Pennsylvania is worth 21 of them.  This is it.  This is the other “it” state at that point. 

You know, we talked about Virginia.  This is the other “it” one.  If these polls are correct, Chris, we‘re not going to—we‘re going to know at 8:05 if this is a race.  Bottom line is, is that, if—if, at 8:05, we haven‘t called Pennsylvania, then you know what?  John McCain is going to be feeling pretty good. 

But if, in that first half-hour, and we call it for Obama, then it—it underscores that the polls were correct in Pennsylvania, a majority of those polls, that Obama had a significant lead, because we will see that very quickly with data out of here, out of Philadelphia. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TODD:  We will see it quickly out of the southwest portion.  And it won‘t matter what—what numbers that—that McCain ran up in the T.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s going to be really like the second battle of Gettysburg, to get historical, the Pickett‘s Charge.  And we will see if this one makes it.  The first one, of course, didn‘t make it back in the 1860s. 

Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd...

TODD:  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  ... for giving us an early look at what to look for.  Keep your eye on Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  However, I think Indiana is a very good leading indicator, if that is too close to call.  That state has always been Republican. 

Up next:  Nearly two years after the presidential campaign got started, we take a look back at the very best of the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”  This is the “Sideshow” of “Sideshow”s coming up tonight.  That‘s next. 

It‘s going to be fun, a bit lighthearted and a bit quaint. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL, and, as promised, the “Sideshow” of “sideshows.”

This election has been one wild ride.  Now, as we get near the end, let‘s recall some of the quainter moments. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PARIS HILTON, ACTRESS:  Then that wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I‘m running for president.  So, thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude.

SARAH SILVERMAN, ACTRESS:  If they vote for Barack Obama, they‘re going to get another visit this year.  If not, let‘s just hope they stay healthy until next year. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing):  Because I have got a crush on Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, HUCKABEE CAMPAIGN AD)

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR:  My plan is to secure the border?  Two words: Chuck Norris. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW”)

(MUSIC)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Now, did you see a UFO?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  I did. 

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  Today, I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off. 

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS (singing):  (SINGING IN FOREIGN

LANGUAGE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  And the number one Barack Obama campaign promise:

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Three words: Vice President Oprah. 

LETTERMAN:  Yes. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CLINTON:  It is so great to be here.  You know, I—I was worried I wasn‘t going to make it. 

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

CLINTON:  Yes.  I was pinned down by sniper fire. 

LENO:  Really?  Right out...

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)

LETTERMAN:  Later, I got to think, well, maybe I‘m just not important enough. 

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Can I give you an answer? 

LETTERMAN:  Please. 

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN:  I screwed up. 

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

LENO:  Can I call you Joe?  Is that OK? 

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  You can call me whatever the heck you want to call me. 

LENO:  There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, now for the “Big Number.”  Barack Obama has refused federal funds for his general election campaign, as we all know.  So, altogether, in his campaign, he will have raised almost $700 million from private contributors. 

That comes out to about $10 per vote on Election Day, which, by the way, is almost twice what Bush and Kerry spent in 2004.  Obama is spending about 10 bucks a vote tomorrow—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next:  How is the McCain campaign feeling on the eve of the election?  We will talk to McCain supporter Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour when we return.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing little changed, and volume was light on Monday, as investors await the outcome of tomorrow‘s election.  The Dow Jones industrial average fell by just five points, the S&P 500 lower by two, and the Nasdaq gained by five points, its fifth straight trading day of gains. 

Oil fell on continued concern about a global recession.  Crude dropped $3.87, closing at $63.91 a barrel. 

Meantime, more grim news about the U.S. economy—a widely watched manufacturing index fell last month to its lowest level in 26 years. 

And auto sales plunged in October, Ford down 33 percent, Toyota sales lower by 26 percent, Chrysler down 37 percent, and GM down 47 percent, sales there at their lowest level since World War II. 

And Circuit City announced that it will close 155 of its more than 700 U.S. stores by the end of this year.  It will lay off about 17 percent of its work force, all in an effort to return to profitability. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Look at this, look at this beautiful view before we get started again here.  Look at this, this—I‘m lucky enough to work here in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  That‘s, of course—we‘re calling it Election Plaza in these next couple of days.  All the flags are out there.  We have got the ice-skating rink, which is such an iconic place in America, especially in the holiday season. 

Look at—look at the building bathed now I‘m in right now.  This is where we do—of course, “Saturday Night Live” is produced here, as well, as the “Nightly News.” 

Look at that, bathed in blue, white and red.  It‘s really an amazingly gorgeous place to be.

Anyway, joining us right now from the South, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour from Jackson, Mississippi. 

Governor, thank you for joining us.

I‘m just celebrating this amazing, iconic building we work in up here, 30 Rockefeller, all ready for the excitement of the election tomorrow. 

Do you feel a little bit less than festive, given the—the poll numbers coming in? 

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI:  Well, look, Chris, the Republicans have had the White House for two terms.  And, historically, that means that the Democrats are the favorites. 

Bush‘s job approval is fairly low, but not nearly as low as the Democrat Congress, I might add.  But, you know, historically, it‘s the Democrats‘ turn. 

Now, here in Mississippi, we‘re not taking anything for granted.  I think McCain is going to carry Mississippi.  I think he will carry it by a pretty good margin.  We have got two U.S. Senate races here in Mississippi.  And I think we will win both of those, again, not taking anything for granted.

But I actually think probably, nationally, the election is closer than a lot of people up there at Rockefeller Plaza like to indicate. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, I may agree with you on that.  I get the

feeling, from little reports I‘m getting in my ear from different people

over the phone, that we may have a very close race in Florida, a very close

race in—in Ohio.  And, of course, in Pennsylvania, where I‘m from, it‘s

·         they look all very tight. 

But aren‘t you—don‘t you have to admit that the fact you have a close race for one of those Senate seats down there, with Senator Wicker defending the seat he was appointed to, that that‘s unusual that you have a close race in Mississippi for a Senate seat? 

BARBOUR:  Well—well, of course, it‘s unusual for us to appoint a United States senator.  I was the first governor in 60 -- in 60 years to appoint a senator. 

And, so, when you have an appointed senator who has never run statewide, it‘s not surprising that a former Democratic governor ran against him, and that the Democratic National Senate Campaign Committee has put about $7 million of attack television advertising in here.

When you consider Governor Musgrove, the Democrat, has raised about $2

million, and the national party spent another $7 million, you see that they

·         they took a great interest in this race. 

At the end of the day, though, I think Wicker, because he‘s a conservative, and a record of Mississippi values, is very consistent, I think he will end up winning.  And it‘s going to be closer, as you say, than we‘re used to.

But part of that is just the—the literally unique fact that you just don‘t get many elections like this, where it‘s an unelected senator who‘s on the ballot running against a former governor who‘s been elected statewide twice. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your reaction, as an American and a Southerner, to watching all this discussion on programs like HARDBALL about the racial issue up North?  The South has always been under the heat on racial issues, except for the bussing fights, of course, of recent vintage—or fairly, actually, old vintage now. 

But you see this discussion about the North Philly, Northeast Philadelphia, South Philly, Scranton, Western Pennsylvania.  Every time you turn on the tube, you‘re hearing about, well, cultural conservatism—that‘s the nice way of pointing it—or racial problems. 

BARBOUR:  Well, look as a Southerner, I don‘t go out and pick sores or to try to say that somebody in north Philadelphia is a racist.  I don‘t know what‘s going on inside their heads or their hearts.  I can tell you that I‘m here.  Obama‘s problem is not his race.  It‘s that he is so liberal.  He‘s so left.  The—He‘s got the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate, Chris.  Now, that‘s saying something.  That means he‘s to the left of socialist Bernie Sanders, not to mention Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry. 

Now, conservatives and moderates from the south really worry about that.  That‘s a heck of a lot more important to them than race. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you really think—I‘m going to ask you an open question.  Do you think he‘s going to socialize America or create major government programs in health and energy that are going to rob the private sector of its vitality?  Do you think that? 

BARBOUR:  Well, I think there‘s very good reason to worry about that, I sure do.  I think that his redistribution of the wealth ideas are well-known before Joe the plumber; the idea that we‘re going to have refundable tax credits, where people who don‘t pay taxes get paid, quote, tax refunds.  They can take the money from the people that do pay taxes.  I don‘t think most Americans, regardless of their race—I don‘t think most American tax payers want that. 

I‘ve got real concerns about some of his ideas about unionism, about protecting our state‘s rights to work laws against things like card check.  I am a whole lot less worried about his race.  The fact is, to me he is incredibly dynamic, articulate, charismatic.  And I think actually being an African-American with many people helps him, because they think now is a chance for us to show that America is above this.  I believe America is above this, too, but I don‘t think America should elect the most liberal member of the United States Senate to prove that we‘re not racist. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about a couple of points, because I have to challenge you because you‘ve made a very bold statement there.  Let me ask you this about taxes.  As I understand the Barack Obama tax program, it‘s to give people tax relief who are working people, who don‘t make much money, who pay a very high percentage of their income in payroll taxes.  That refund on the income tax, which is, of course, new money back to them, is to offset the payroll taxes they‘re paying.  They‘re not people that don‘t pay taxes.  They‘re people who pay a high percentage of their income in payroll taxes, and that refund, as you call it, is to offset some of that.  Isn‘t that what Barack‘s honestly proposing?  

BARBOUR:  Some of them, in fact, do pay seven point something percent of their income in payroll taxes, because that‘s what the payroll tax is.  It also is to fund what Franklin Roosevelt said could never become a welfare program.  Franklin Roosevelt thought one of the ingenious idea about Social Security is that everybody paid and that anybody that got Social Security, it‘s because he or, in some cases minors who lost their parents, their parents paid in.  It‘s not a program where—

And also we limit what gets paid out based on what you paid in.  Now, that was a Rooseveltian principle that turned out to be very smart for preserving the sanctity of Social Security. 

MATTHEWS:  Touche.  You gave the right answer.  You‘re right.  No, you‘re right.  That‘s what I like about you.  By the way, I wish I had more time.  I want you to dwell on this thought.  If Chris Shays loses in Connecticut, there will be no Republicans from New England in the U.S.  Congress, none.  I‘m going to have a conversation about this after this election with you, because I get the feeling the Republican party, because of air conditioning, is moving south.  It‘s just losing up north.  It‘s losing its seats everywhere. 

If Sununu loses in New Hampshire, if Chris Shays in Connecticut, it‘s really dying up north, the Republican party.  I wonder if you‘re going to be comfortable being in a Dixie Republican party.  That is where it‘s headed. 

BARBOUR:  It is a very serious issue.  It‘s something Republicans have got to deal with.  When I became a Republican in 1968, we were a regional party because we didn‘t have anybody in the south.  We can‘t become a regional party again.  The Democrats have been through that danger.  They‘ve come out well.  I believe we‘ll come out well.  But it‘s a real issue.  I‘m glad you brought it up. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I know why you‘re a popular governor.  You‘re popular on this show.  Haley Barbourr, from Jackson, Mississippi, the governor of the state of Mississippi. 

Up next, John McCain has been hitting Barack Obama on taxes, as we‘ve been discussing, but according to the polls, it hasn‘t worked yet.  How can McCain win tomorrow if he doesn‘t have a real cutting issue to cut through Barack‘s 7.3 percent lead in the NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll out today?  The politics fix up next.  What is going to change this election in the next 24 hours?  HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  What do they think?  Do they think that the terrorists have all of a sudden become the good guys and changed their minds?  No.  The terrorists still seek to destroy America and her allies and all that it is and that we stander for: freedom, tolerance, equality.  The terrorists have not changed their mind. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  How would she know?  Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix.  Our round table tonight, MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard—I have no idea where that message is come willing from.  Is that Randy Scheunemann running those notes?  Where do they come from, Rick Hertzberg? 

RICK HERTZBERG, “THE NEW YORKER”:  I guess so. 

MATTHEWS:  Who writes that stuff for her?  We have a guy out there called Nick the Plumber saying, whatever his name is, said Israel is going to die tomorrow.  Where do they get this stuff?  They just make it up. 

MICHELL BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  It‘s a late-minute attempt to try to switch the conversation from the economy back to terrorism, and hope that will bring -- 

MATTHEWS:  But there ought to be some foundation when people make these statements. 

HERTZBERG:  It‘s Randy the neo-con.

MATTHEWS:  I am amazed.  I don‘t get it.  Let‘s talk about a couple of

these things.  The word socialism has not reared its head in this country

for many a decade, Rick Hertzberg.  You and I have talked politics for a

hundred years.  All of a sudden, my brother calls me up from Montgomery

County, Pennsylvania, one of those collar counties, and said the biggest

concern up here is socialism, because—and he is a smart guy, my brother

·         he said people are worried that if Obama gets in there, we‘ll socialize medicine.  You‘ll have to wait in line under a rationing system.  In other words, you can‘t have fee for service.  You‘ll to have wait in line like Britain‘s old Labor Party system, and wait your turn and probably never get to live to get that heart transplant.  That is the fear. 

HERTZBERG:  That‘s crazy. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it? 

HERTZBERG:  Yes, sure it is.  It not even working. 

MATTHEWS:  Knock down that argument then, because it is apparently cutting up there in the burbs.   

HERTZBERG:  They always make the national health service of England the bad example.  They spend, what, about a third of what we spend per capita on medical care. 

MATTHEWS:  And the dollars making a buck and a quarter an hour. 

HERTZBERG:  Pump in another two thirds, plus the rest of Europe.  Everybody has socialized medicine except us, everybody, every advanced country. 

MATTHEWS:  Why to they come here when they‘re rich to get fixed then?  I‘m just asking.  Why does every potentate in the world come to the United States to get fixed when they‘re threatened with death. 

HERTZBERG:  They don‘t always.  

MATTHEWS:  The worst people in the world come.  This is the argument between left and right.  Socialized medicine, if you want to call it that, is probably better for the average person, but it doesn‘t give you what?  There is some value added in commercial medicine, right? 

HERTZBERG:  Most of the extra money goes to the insurance companies who are trying to avoid covering anybody.  We spend way more on bureaucracy than any socialized medicine.  Our system is totally bureaucratic-ridden.  And you know that if you ever try to file a form. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I mean, every time you go to the doctor‘s office, there are four people out front doing the paperwork and one doctor in the back room trying to make it. 

BERNARD:  The system‘s not perfect, but nobody wants socialized medicine. 

HERTZBERG:  Yes, they do. 

BERNARD:  Well, maybe you do.  I don‘t.  I know a lot of people who don‘t want it.  What I will tell you is there are a lot of—this message is resounding with his base.  It is not doing anything to help the McCain campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s helping Republicans vote Republican. 

BERNARD:  Exactly.  The same people who would vote for him whether or not he used the word socialism or Marxism are still going to -- 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I agree with that.  I think it is only working with the base.  republicans don‘t like it, because that‘s why they‘re Republicans.  Independents still like him. 

Here‘s an issue that I‘m stunned by:  after all this very dangerous kind of talk—and she‘s entitled to do it.  She‘s a very good speaker, Governor Palin, warning of terrorism‘s resurgence and how we have to be afraid of it.  Fine, it‘s a fair case.  They‘re not winning a point on this issue.  The latest polling shows about a 38-38 push on who is going to make you safe.  Why is that?  How did Barack Obama win his spurs as a national defender?  How did he get even with John McCain, the lifetime soldier? 

HERTZBERG:  Steadiness.  Steadiness, that‘s how he did it.  It‘s the -

·         His response to the financial crisis, it sort of transfers to the other end, to terrorism.  Who do you want in charge when something bad happens? 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t want Captain Queeg, do you?  You don‘t want the guy with the ball bearings in his hand. 

HERTZBERG:  From a substantive point of view, al Qaeda seem to want to continue the Bush policies. 

HERTZBERG:  Well, ask Richard Clarke.  You know, CIA people and experts on terrorism seem to agree on that. 

MATTHEWS:  What would be the logic in keeping a conservative, militaristic right wing government, if you will, as opposed to a liberal government?  What would be the advantage to the enemy of that? 

HERTZBERG:  The advantage is that we bleed in useless wars that don‘t actually advance our interests, that our over-bearingness is a recruiting poster for al Qaeda, that we‘re seen as a religious war, Christians against Muslims.  It rallies Muslims—it makes Muslims more extreme, more receptive to the message.  It is not that complicated. 

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s like in “Lawrence of Arabia,” my favorite movie, where the Arab terrorist would blow up the trains knowing they would be rebuilt, because they wanted to bleed the Turkish empire. 

HERTZBERG:  Right, and we‘re the Ottomans in this scenario. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the issues that are going to work for McCain.  I find it interesting that Hillary Clinton ran on experience and I think it was a strategic mistake, because everybody on the Democratic side wanted change.  Now John McCain comes along and said, experience.  And he‘s not winning.  Has he made the same blunder that Hillary Clinton made, which is people would rather have experience than change? 

BERNARD:  It is the same blunder.  But he has had a lot of blunders.  He‘s not had one strong message throughout the entire campaign.  Going back to your earlier question, I think it is not just the steadiness.  We have been talking about the economy.  And John McCain did himself a lot of damage when he suspended his campaign to come back and deal with the Wall Street bailout.  It did not look like the actions of a leader. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it was a mistake to spend one week attacking Barack for being a celebrity in Berlin, the next week spending a week attacking him for saying lipstick on a pig, the next week attacking him for something else?  Do you think it was a mistake to keep changing the attack line? 

BERNARD:  It didn‘t help.  People will tell you Pat Buchanan loves to say attack ads work, negative ads work.  But they have not worked for the McCain campaign.  It left the base in a—it left a lot of the electorate wondering what is the message and also, how will you get us out of this mess?  I don‘t think people really care about lipstick on a pig.  They care about kitchen book—pocket book issues and paying for gas.

BERNARD:  I don‘t know.  I think the polls—I think the polls are closer.  I think it is a lot closer than the polls are saying. 

MATTHEWS:  So NBC is wrong at eight points? 

BERNARD:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t trust the polls. 

MATTHEWS:  Rick Hertzberg, how close will it be?  Closer than eight? 

HERTZBERG:  I‘m too superstitious for this kind of talk. 

BERNARD:  Exactly, it ain‘t over until the fat lady sings.   

MATTHEWS:  Rick, you‘re not the cover of “Sports Illustrated.”  You can‘t jinx this whole thing with one comment.  I‘ll leave you off the hook, my old pal.  Michelle Bernard, thank you as always.  Rick Hertzberg.  Neither one wants to guess.  NBC guesses eight points going into this thing.  We‘ll be right back in an hour for a live edition of HARDBALL.  And join me tomorrow night along with Keith Olbermann and David Gregory for NBC‘s—the most exciting coverage of the election tomorrow night.  It will go on all night.  It beats the band of anybody else. 

Right now, it‘s time for “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” with David Gregory. 

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