updated 11/14/2008 10:58:24 AM ET 2008-11-14T15:58:24

HARDBALL

November 13, 2008

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

Guests: Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Doug Brinkley, Mike Paul, Pat Buchanan, Mike Paul, Ryan Lizza, Chris Cillizza

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Obama rules, Republicans cry.

Let's play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Leading off tonight, Miami heat. If the Republican Party is going to find its way out of the wilderness, it may be the Republican governors meeting down in Miami who lead the way. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is telling his fellow Republicans that the party can't compete if it continues to concede groups like African-Americans and Latinos and women, and regions like the Northeast and the West Coast, to the Democrats. Does the party need to modernize, to broaden its base, or should it return to its core conservative values? We'll talk to Governor Pawlenty in a moment.

No governor has received more attention than Sarah Palin. Today she gave a speech, held a press conference-she took four questions-and she's been giving countless television interviews. Is Palin the future of the Republican Party, or does the somewhat chilly reception she's received from her fellow governors suggest tougher times ahead for her?

Also: What kind of a president should Barack Obama be? Here's what "Time" thinks. They've got Obama looking like FDR, thinking New Deal big-time. If President Bush could have a 300 -- or rather, 537-win vote in Florida in 2000 and a popular vote loss nationwide that year and still turn it into a mandate, why can't Barack Obama do the same after winning by 8.5 million votes? Why shouldn't he go bold? We'll look ahead at what could be in store in an Obama presidency.

Also, can anybody explain exactly what's happening in the government's $700 billion bail-out program? More than a third of the money has been spent already. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has abandoned the original strategy, and oversight is nowhere to be found.

By the way, we're going to be looking right now-there it is, a live shot-this is live television-of Dick and Lynn Cheney welcoming Joe and Jill Biden to their new home, the vice presidential mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, the former home of the chief of naval operations. There it is, a nice picture.

By the way, nobody was as tough on Cheney as Joe Biden, yet there they are, exchanging real estate. There he is, the happy-go-lucky vice president of the United States (INAUDIBLE) to give away his house. That must be a happy moment. And as the Cheneys host the Bidens in the vice presidential mansion right now, exactly how uncomfortable must that meeting be inside those closed doors after all the things Biden's been saying? Listen to some of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Most dangerous vice president in American history, and he just goes in the house with the guy a second ago. Anyway, much more on that and more to come. By the way, there's a lot of that Biden stuff attacking Cheney. We want to play it so they can watch it in the house as they chat over tea and crumpets.

Anyway, don't look now, by the way, but guess who's ahead in the Alaska Senate race? Democrat, the mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich, has now moved into an 814-point lead over Ted Stevens, the guy who's carrying a number of felonies right now, overcoming a deficit of about 3,000 votes that Stevens did have. There's still about-and this is unbelievable-

40,000 votes to be counted next week in Alaska to get this thing over with.

But if Begich pulls it out, that would give the Democrats a gain of seven seats in the Senate. That would take them up to 59 seats. They're in good shape. They could possibly win 60 seats. They could still win in Minnesota. They could still win in Georgia. They have two shots at one, and that would take them to 60, to a filibuster-proof majority. And Mark Begich, by the way, is going to be on Rachel Maddow's show tonight at 9:00 o'clock.

But first tonight here, the future of the Republican Party, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who hosted the Republican convention. What a happy young man you are, sir. You are-having survived this electoral season-Churchill one said, There's nothing as exhilarating as to be shot at and missed. You could have been the Republican nominee for VP. Are you glad you weren't?

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: You know, you're in a much better mood since the election, Chris. It's good to hang out with you under these circumstances.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Well, so are you, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

PAWLENTY: It's an honored to have your name mentioned in those things, but I'm happy the way it turned out because I get to continue my role as governor of the state of Minnesota and help out the broader cause as I'm needed and as I can lend value to that.

MATTHEWS: Well, there's two old political expressions-well, they're political-they're maxims. One is, When you're in a hole, stop digging, which is change your ways to get ahead, don't keep doing the bad old stuff. And the other one is, Be true to your school. Which should the Republicans do?

(LAUGHTER)

PAWLENTY: Well, Chris, my premise is this. There's going to be one school of thought that says we have to just go back to the bare bones approach to the party. There's another approach that says, Hey, look, the country is changing demographically and other ways, and we've got to become a more modern party.

I think we can be both conservative and modern. I think we can take those principles, not throw them out the window but go back to the core, key Republican principles, but apply them to the issues and circumstances of our time. So it's not an either/or. I think you can do both. And that's where the Republican Party needs to head, in my view.

MATTHEWS: You've lost all your Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives in New England. You lost Virginia. You lost North Carolina. You lost the entire Northeast in the presidential race. You lost every state that has a Big 10 basketball-a Big 10 basketball-or football team in it, right there in the Midwest. What you're left with is that swathe of the Plains States, basically, up in the Northwest, and then you go back down to the South through Appalachia. In fact, the only part of the country you've gained in this election is the mountain states, starting in southwestern Pennsylvania, down through the Appalachians, down through the Ozarks, down to Oklahoma, you know?

That's not exactly where most of the country is moving to these days. Is that a losing proposition, if you're only gaining in the mountainous part of the-sort of the Ozarks and the Appalachian mountains?

PAWLENTY: Chris, we're the market party, and so if we're going to be the market party, the market measurement in politics is something called an election. And the marketplace is telling us for now, We prefer the products and services of your competitor. And we're losing market share in those geographic regions that you mention, plus with women, people of modest incomes, African-Americans, Hispanics, younger voters and the like. It doesn't look good, based on the election we just had.

But the fact of the matter is, we've got good ideas and we are not out of this by a long shot, but it's going to take new energy. We're going to have to turn the page. The party's going to have to be younger, more dynamic, more issues-oriented, more diverse. That doesn't mean not being conservative, it means applying conservative principles to today's issues and today's time, rather than always looking backwards. We have to hit the "refresh" button for the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: OK. I've been asking this question all week now. Which states did Governor Palin bring to ticket? Which states did your party win in the presidential election because Governor Palin was on the ticket? I can't think of one.

PAWLENTY: Well, in fairness, Chris, to Governor Palin, I don't think a Superman or a Wonder Woman could have perhaps won this election when you're up against...

MATTHEWS: What about one state?

PAWLENTY: ... eight years of the White House as the incumbent party, the war, the economy, and all the headwinds we were up against. It's not that you can point to a state and say she won. But you know, who could have won in this year, in this environment on that ticket?

MATTHEWS: Oh, I'll give you some states. You could have helped carry...

(CROSSTALK)

PAWLENTY: ... fair to her.

MATTHEWS: No. I'll be fair to you. You could have delivered Minnesota. You could have helped deliver Indiana. You could have helped in the Midwest part of the country. You would have cut the Republican losses in a lot of moderate states politically because you're a moderate, right?

PAWLENTY: Well, I consider myself a mainstream conservative, but I also think I know how to apply conservative principles in today's times. Those two shouldn't be in conflict.

MATTHEWS: Yes. OK, let's talk about Governor Palin's future in the party. Can you see her on a ticket again? Can you see this happening again, the need for her to either lead or support a national ticket again? Do you think that'd be good for the party, to run Governor Palin again for national office? Is that a good idea?

PAWLENTY: I think Governor Palin's going to be an important voice for the party for months and years to come, but she's not going to be the only voice. We're going to need a lot of work to regrow this party. It's going to have to be a team effort. And so I'm sure she'll play a role and be one of the voices, but in the end, we're going to need a whole team, a whole chorus, a whole symphony to get this thing working again.

MATTHEWS: Well, this is HARDBALL, Governor. Do you think she should be on the national ticket again?

PAWLENTY: Well, the voters will decide that. I think she's a talented person and somebody who I think has got a bright future. What specifically that is will be up to the voters in her state or otherwise.

MATTHEWS: Well, you're a voter, Governor. Do you think she should be on the national ticket again? Was this a good experience for the party to have her on the ticket or do you think it was a mistake? I mean, you're a leader, sir. You are one of the leaders of the Republican Party (INAUDIBLE) future. There's you, there's Bobby Jindal, there's Palin. Which direction should the party go in, the Pawlenty direction, the Bobby Jindal direction of youth and perhaps different ideas, or should it go back again to Palin and where she took your party? Over 60 percent of the people coming out of the polling booths on election day last Tuesday said she was a drag on the ticket. Do you agree? Was she a drag on the ticket or not?

PAWLENTY: Well, the data in that regard speaks for itself, but I don't necessarily agree with the one piece of data you're looking at. You know, you look at politics like post-modern art and people spout off with their opinions. For the answers to these questions, you have to look at this data. And Chris, I would say this. After this long, hard-fought, ugly election, in many ways, the last thing people want to hear about is what's going to happen in 2012 or 2016.

We should give President-elect Obama some breathing room, give him the benefit of the doubt, wish him well, and focus on the issues at hand, not worry what's going to happen in four or eight years. People are about ready to puke with all of the campaign stuff.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAWLENTY: And now here we are a week later, and we're starting over again. And I don't think it's appropriate. It's premature at best.

MATTHEWS: OK. I accept that scolding, and we'll move on. Here's the question I want to ask you about, and that's the situation we're (INAUDIBLE) Now, we're in an interregnum right now, and I'm worried, and I raised this last night, that this economy in this country has fallen between the cracks of two presidents. President Bush is acting, as somebody said, like a guy who's got a towel around his neck and he's in the locker room, like it's over. We had Heidi Harris on the other night, a talk show host, who said, Let Barack clean up the (ph) own mess. Then we got people like Rush Limbaugh saying the recession is already his fault, so tough. There's a lot of-well, disappointing lack of acceptance of duty out there right now by the Republicans.

Barack is being dutiful only in the sense of saying, I'm not going to take over until it's my time. Now, if your party is in retreat and your president's-and our president's is not taking responsibility for this mess we're in right now in terms of autos, in terms of making some decisions as to how that $700 billion in bail-out is being spent, and the new guy's not taking over yet, aren't we adrift? Aren't we right now adrift, Governor?

PAWLENTY: Yes. Clearly. Yes, we need-we have a major challenge facing the country of epic and historic proportions, and it doesn't seem like there's a clear plan. You have a plan go forward, then it gets revoked. And what appears to be happening, whether it's in this final month of this watch or the one that's coming, is, unfortunately, a coalition of big government, big unions and big business doing things that may not be in the interests of everyday Americans. And that worries me a lot.

MATTHEWS: Well, you've been very honest on the show tonight, and you've said that you're not willing to endorse Palin to be back on the ticket next time. You've said that the exit polling that shows that 60 percent, three five people, believe that she was a drag on the ticket speaks for itself. You've said that the president has failed to basically live up to his oath of office right to the last day, to January 20. I think you're a very honest guy. Are you considering running for president next time?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think you're a pretty poor editor after that editorializing of my comments, but I'm focused on...

MATTHEWS: No. It's a statement...

PAWLENTY: ... being the governor of the state of Minnesota.

MATTHEWS: ... of fact, in most regards. OK. Well, by the way, you are running for reelection, right?

PAWLENTY: I am focusing on the needs of my state.

MATTHEWS: Are you running for reelection?

PAWLENTY: I might. I haven't decided that yet. I might. I haven't decided that yet. I'm going to announce that in 2009. I like being governor of Minnesota, but I haven't decided whether I'm running for reelection yet.

MATTHEWS: OK. If you run for reelection, do you promise to fill the full term, or do you expect to run for president during that term?

PAWLENTY: I haven't even decided whether to run yet, Chris. You've got to calm down.

MATTHEWS: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

PAWLENTY: You've had too much caffeine today.

MATTHEWS: I always have too much caffeine. Governor, please come on the show next time you're in Washington. You are one of the rising stars of the party. They're in retreat, but you're not. It is the battle between Palin and Pawlenty. And it's a four-year run, sir. Thank you very much for joining us.

PAWLENTY: You are unbelievable! OK, thank you very much. Nice to see you.

MATTHEWS: I hope I'm unbelievable. You are-you're great. Thank you, Governor Tim Pawlenty...

PAWLENTY: Bye-bye.

MATTHEWS: ... almost was on the ticket this year, a near miss for greatness and a near miss for, well, maybe embarrassment. But he came out all right. Look at him.

Anyway, coming up: 68 days until Obama takes the oath of office, and there's a lot of optimism about his presidency. Can he make bold moves in this troubled economy? Let's hope he makes bold moves. Why be squeamish? You only get one shot to be president.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Barack Obama campaigned on the idea of hope and the promise of change, but with the Bush administration extending its $700 billion bail-out package beyond banks, and with the American auto industry clamoring for financial rescue, can Obama make bold moves with the country the way FDR did with the New Deal?

Doug Brinkley is a presidential historian. Doug, I guess the question is, should Barack Obama really do the big stuff and do it up front when he gets in office? I mean, green jobs, the five million he promised, I mean infrastructure, putting roads back together, putting bridges up, building things again. Can he do the big stuff, or does he have to wait?

DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He's got to wait. I think "Time" magazine is wrong. This isn't FDR at all here. What we're going to have is, I think, change on the cheap, meaning there are things you can do that don't cost a lot. We are in an economic meltdown right now. We are going to have to bail out GM and Ford. Obama said he wanted to fix the leaks in the plumbing of capitalism. That's going to take a while.

But change on the cheap are things he can do. He can denounce waterboarding. He could do away with Gitmo. The whole world will applaud a Obama human rights speech for saying never again will the United States break away from the Geneva conventions. He could say, Tear down that fence that's being built between Mexico and the United States, which is really a waste. He could take ANWR and say, for the environmentalists, Where we can't do big things on climate change, we can switch with one executive order ANWR from being a wildlife refuge to a national monument.

All those things and many more are things that can be done without money, but can be change on the cheap. The big things, universal health care, I think he may have to wait six to eight months after we get out of these economic doldrums.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think I disagree with you, but I want to hit you on a couple points. First of all, when you get rid of Gitmo, as you put it, what do you do with all the terror suspects and real-life terrorists that are held down there. What do you do with them? If you just take them somewhere else, what difference does it make?

BRINKLEY: Because it's become symbolic. I think one of the things Obama has in the world right now-I don't know-I mean, John McCain said he's against torture. What I'm suggesting is doing an American speech early on that we are no longer doing that. I mean, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo have been nothing but albatrosses around the Bush administration's foreign policy. I don't think Obama wants to be straddled with that. And I think you'll find the human rights community, the left of the Democratic Party cheering something like that. It's a change, but it's nothing that's going to be costing a lot of money, and that's what I'm suggesting he'll probably end up doing.

MATTHEWS: OK. He storms the Bastille. What about ANWR? Are you suggesting that he find an executive order way to allow economic or oil exploitation of ANWR, start drilling up there?

BRINKLEY: Again, it's a wildlife refuge right now. John McCain in the campaign disagreed with Governor Palin, saying, I would not drill there because it's a wildlife refuge. Every four years, we're putting this up and debating it. It should probably become a permanent national monument, our largest national monument. It's literally an executive order. Seven lines signed by Barack Obama, and future generations will have the wild of Alaska up there. And people that are really what you call green people have been pushing for this. And you can do it with an executive order without creating a climate czar, doing a whole major thing right now, when we're in an economic downturn.

MATTHEWS: Will we get the oil from ANWR then?

BRINKLEY: Never touch the oil from ANWR. ANWR-I see ANWR as becoming a-a situation like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon that Theodore Roosevelt had put aside.

MATTHEWS: OK. Protect it. So, don't dig. So, don't go for oil up there. You're saying stay with the liberals on that, stay with the environmentalists on that?

BRINKLEY: Yes. I think it's become...

MATTHEWS: OK.

BRINKLEY: ... a national monument preserve forever.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me tell you why I disagree with you, Douglas.

(CROSSTALK)

BRINKLEY: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I disagree with you completely, because I believe that one thing the Republicans have taught the Democrats is, when you get into office, even if you don't get the most popular votes, as George W. Bush didn't, even if there's a dispute about you coming into office, and the Supreme Court has to solve it, with a 5-4 Republican court making that decision, Bush came in and did what he wanted to do.

Ronald Reagan came in and did what he wanted to do. The voters elect you to do what you promise to do. Why shouldn't he take the advantage of his first year in office, use the budget process, which guarantees him a vote for big changes in spending and big changes in taxation, to do what he promised to do?

The deficit is going to be high, no matter who's president, no matter if nothing is done. Why not go for it?

BRINKLEY: I would have said go for it before September and October and the economic meltdown, the first bailout. You have the second bailout.

Chris, I have been fighting for the-these Category 5 levees that Barack Obama went to Tulane University and said, we're going to save New Orleans from the sea.

I don't expect to get it now. I believed him on the campaign trail, but, since September and October, at least for this first six months-and also, where is the loose money going to come from? If we get out of Iraq, you are going to save money, but that's not going to happen in January, February, or March.

That may have to be loose money that comes a year down the road, two years down the road. So, I think he's got a difficult position of getting this economy running, but also showing change. But I don't think you can do it by just doing what Lyndon Johnson did, by doing big Great Society programs one after the other, and find yourself, in '68, like LBJ did, unable to even run for reelection, because of trying to have the Vietnam War and the Great Society, doing it all at once, and it didn't work out well for him.

MATTHEWS: OK, disagree-agree to disagree, because I think he can do health and energy and the job program the first year, or he won't get it done at all.

Let me ask you about foreign policy. You have written well and positively about John Kerry. I'm very big on John Kerry myself. I also love the idea of a grand Cabinet, where there's Cabinet members who are ministers, in other words, heavyweights, colleagues, almost equals to the president, in the way of a major Cabinet, like Kennedy had, people that challenge him, that argue in the back room, who are not just staff people that enable and carry out orders, like President Bush has around him.

Give me the case for John Kerry as secretary of state.

BRINKLEY: Well, there's a political one, for starters.

I mean, I think the matter-the fact of the matter is, there's some, they're going to have to some people coming in to the Obama administration from the Pelosi/Reid/Kennedy/Kerry/Daschle side of the equation. They were the original supporters of the Barack Obama. I do think Secretary Gates looks like he's probably going to be staying at least for, again, a year, perhaps, at Defense.

So, you're going to have to bring in some Democrats. And State, looks like two people seem to be in the running, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, both with good profiles. Kerry is a war hero, three Purple Hearts, Silver Star, Bronze Star. Kerry has a long history in the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee. In fact, if he wasn't picked as secretary of state, he would be a head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee right now.

And he is a respected world diplomat, speaks numerous languages. So, I think Kerry is-and Kerry is the one who picked Barack Obama in 2004 at the Democratic Convention, gave him that big start in national life. So, I think you're seeing that the momentum right now is turning to Kerry, although Bill Richardson is in the running, also.

MATTHEWS: You make a strong case. I agree with you on the second one. On the first one, we disagree.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think we need a bold, bold Democratic administration, at least as bold as Reagan was. Elections-elections ought to matter.

Thank you very much, the great historian Doug Brinkley.

BRINKLEY: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Up next: Biden and Cheney meet at the vice presidential mansion-that must be a lovefest-the Naval Observatory. Well, that is what it used to be called. What does Biden really think of the guy he's replacing? Wait until you hear this tale of infamy that he taught during the campaign about the guy who is now giving him tea and crumpets somewhere in that building.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Time for the "Sideshow."

Earlier in the show, we brought you these pictures of Dick Cheney and wife, Lynne, greeting vice president-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at the vice president's mansion. There they are. Talk about awkward, though.

Here is a rash of remarks that Joe Biden leveled at Dick Cheney during the late, great presidential election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Just today, Vice President Cheney came out and endorsed John McCain.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Folks, do you need any more proof?

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: At least I know what the vice president does. I...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Not what Dick Cheney...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we have had, probably in American history.

For all those people in government who are honoring the pledge to uphold the law and honor the Constitution, no longer will you hear the eight most dreaded language-words in the English language: The vice president's office is on the phone.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: And I want to thank you for making this stadium today, changing-temporarily changing the name from Cheney Stadium to Obama/Biden Stadium for the day.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: If it was Cheney Stadium, we would be at an undisclosed location.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: You would never have been able to find us.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, as wildly tricky as that behind-the-scenes meeting of the two couples must have been today, I doubt if it matches the stuff that went on in the Ukrainian parliament yesterday.

Look at these pictures of elected lawmakers wildly throwing punches at each other. It looked like a damn hockey game up there. In fact, there's some other pictures. I hope we keep showing them.

Why-there they are. Oh, I love this scene. There they are in the back there. Why do people get so dressed up, in business suits and ties-they all look great-if they're going to behave like this? This is democracy in action over in the Ukraine.

Anyway, next, do as I say, do as I do? A Michigan state legislator yesterday allowed himself to be Tasered at the state capitol to prove that Tasers are safe. He's sponsoring a bill that would allow Michigan residents, regular people, to carry Tasers for self-defense. While calling the experience electrifying, the lawmaker said that he wouldn't want to volunteer for it again.

God.

Time now for the "Big Number."

We have had a lot of bad economic news these past few months. And today is no different. According to the Labor Department, how many new people filed claims for jobless benefits? How many people are on unemployment right now? Well, last week alone, 516,000 people applied for unemployment. That brings the total number of workers drawing jobless benefits to 3.9 million, almost four million people on unemployment, a 25-year high.

And this recession is just getting started. Over a half-million jobless claims just last week, four million altogether-tonight's "Big Number."

Up next: Sarah Palin is the center of attention as Republican governors meet in Miami. And while she's not talking about her last campaign, is she thinking about the next one in 2012? I think.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I'm Julia Boorstin with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

Stocks soared late in the session. The Dow Jones industrials finished up 552 points. The Dow had been down more than 300 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 shot up 59 points, and the Nasdaq up 97. The rally came after all three major indexes tested their October lows.

More dismal news about unemployment-over a half-million newly laid-off workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. That's the highest level since just after the 9/11 attacks.

Meantime, the total number of workers on unemployment rose to a 25-year high of 3.9 million.

Oil prices jumped, as OPEC seemed ready to cut production again later this month. Crude rose $2.08, closing at $58.24 a barrel.

And despite a slowdown in consumer spending, Wal-Mart reported a 10 percent increase in third-quarter profits. However, it lowered its profit outlook for the full year.

That's it from CNBC, first in business worldwide-back to HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Sarah Palin was the main attraction today at the Republican-

Republican governors conference down in Miami. But is she the future of the Republican Party? That's a big question. And will the party go big tent or back to the core?

Joining me is MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and Republican strategist Mike Paul.

Let's take look at Governor Palin speaking today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN ®, ALASKA: Let us be true to our beliefs, strong in the defense of the weak, unafraid to speak for American ideals, and firm in our support for the men and women who defend those ideals in a dangerous world. And in all that we do, let us carry ourselves with good will and confidence and with a servant's heart. Let's lead by example.

A week ago, America did make her choice. And as for us, with a strong group of leaders here, our convictions, our loyalties, our hopes for this country remain the same, I am sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Pat, she doesn't have those first-rate speechwriters she had when she was running for vice president. They have-they have obviously taken them back.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought her speech was excellent, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that point-I had a hard time finding anything really arguable in what she said that was interesting.

BUCHANAN: Well, and she just talked about the fundamental principles of the party...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BUCHANAN: ... on which almost all of the Republicans agree.

I thought she did a good job in terms of what she said, Chris. She's getting away from talking about 2008 or 2012. She's talking about the governors. She's not talking "I." She's talking "we," "what we can do," and "how we're going to lead," and "we're going to show the way," and "we're going to work with President Obama."

The only problem was the choreography of the press conference, where they cut it short after about three or four minutes of questions. She was doing fine, and they stepped it and shut her down.

MATTHEWS: Is that what happened?

BUCHANAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I'm sorry.

I want Mike in here. But let's take a look at this, Mike, and you jump in. Tell me what you see happening here.

MIKE PAUL, PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT: Yes, sir.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: Let's have one more. Let's have one more question.

Who you want?

QUESTION: Thanks. Thanks, Governor.

(INAUDIBLE) just a follow-up on the fact that those of us who followed you around-around the country, this is your first formal press conference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Now, what was that about?

BUCHANAN: I don't know. I think-believe-I was watching it with my wife. I said, who is that guy?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: He went out to her and he said, "one more question," Rick Perry.

BUCHANAN: I said, who is that? I didn't even know. But it was Governor Perry.

MATTHEWS: Governor of Texas.

BUCHANAN: It was Governor Perry.

He went in and shut it off. They had all the governors lined up there, some of them probably unhappily.

But she was doing fine. And they were throwing out a lot of questions. All of them, obviously, had come down to see her, have a-interview her. And I think-they should have let her go for 10, 15 more minutes. She was doing fine. And, so, that looked a little odd or strange.

MATTHEWS: Did he look like he was patronizing her? Is that what you're saying?

BUCHANAN: No. I thought it was somebody who was stepping in. I couldn't figure it out.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

What do you think, Mike Paul? It's hard to read these situations. I had it explained to me that somebody thought that she should take one more question, as if she had been bowing away from the questions.

And now Pat sees it as somebody making sure that she didn't talk too long, because the other guys wanted to get in there.

PAUL: Well, she certainly appeared like she wasn't ready for prime time.

You know, there's a big difference between being a supportive player, as a vice president, and then holding the stage yourself, whether you're there as a presidential candidate or what you're there as a governor who is about to go back to Alaska, or as a former vice presidential candidate.

I think that she needs a lot more work. She's not polished right now. I think she could have a future, but she's got a lot of work to do to prove to the American people that she's ready.

MATTHEWS: Do you think-well, you're on the-you have got the mike here, Mike. Do you think that John McCain is glad he picked her?

PAUL: Well, you know, of course, the party line now is going to say, absolutely, as he-as he did on "The Tonight Show" the other night and then-and other interviews he's had.

But the bottom line is, it was a huge risk, and that risk didn't bear fruit. And it might bear fruit for her in the future, eight years from now, if she has an opportunity to learn more about foreign policy, if she has an opportunity to learn more about economics, and, quite frankly, if she has an opportunity to learn more about what it's like to govern as a president.

But...

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, all right...

PAUL: Go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Let me-let me-let me say this. Yes.

Look, the only time John McCain was ahead was for the two weeks after he picked Sarah Palin. He was about eight down. We were out there in Denver. And, so, he pulls ahead.

MATTHEWS: She looked like the hot hand.

BUCHANAN: Well, she was the hot hand. She got him back up in-back into the game. He was three or four ahead, and, all of a sudden, the thing crashed, and, "The fundamentals are sound," and McCain made all those mistakes.

You know, rather than knocking Sarah Palin-and she had her bad days.

MATTHEWS: No, we're not knocking her. We're asking...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: I mean, but a lot of people are.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Katie Couric asked her some pretty obvious questions.

BUCHANAN: I know. She didn't do well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And those questions helped Katie Couric, but they didn't help the governor.

BUCHANAN: She didn't do-she didn't do well in it. She did terribly in that. There's no doubt about it.

But the question is, what about the top of the ticket? Did the Republicans make the right decision on the top of the ticket? I mean, John McCain was the one in the party least wanted as nominee. Remember, in Pennsylvania, after he had won it, he was only winning 75 percent of the vote, Ron Paul and Huckabee picking up 25 percent?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BUCHANAN: That's the key question. We ran a moderate candidate who is not an outstanding candidate. Even he would concede that. He's not a great speaker. He doesn't have a clear-cut conservative philosophy out of which he works.

I mean, I thought she helped the ticket. Maybe she hurt it. Maybe he did, too.

PAUL: Well, she hurt it. I think she hurt it.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but I think you make-you make two points that contradict each other.

You said he was in the running. He was-pretty much evened it out coming out of his convention.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: Well, she brought him back into the game.

MATTHEWS: Right, but you said it was her that brought him back into the game, but it wasn't her that brought him down eventually.

BUCHANAN: Well, what do you think brought him back into the game after those weeks, his speech at the convention?

MATTHEWS: But I think she had the power to bring down as well. You look at the map, the map is so interesting, guys. It taught us more about our country than it did about these people. The country has a lot of geography, Mike. And you and Pat and I know this, this country-look at it, look at the geography of that country.

It's pretty obvious, you want a determination of where you're going to vote? Where you live. That's what that map says. Where you live probably tells you where you're going to vote.

MIKE PAUL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I have something for Pat, I have something for Pat here. I respect him. He's a tremendous man. But the bottom line is, we need to think about some bigger ideas here. The party needs to change. The party has some fundamentals right now with a changing demographic situation in our country.

Quite frankly, Pat, there are more people that are looking more like me than you and we need to start looking at that as a party. You've been around a long time, a lot longer than I, but the party is starting to change. It's going through a midlife crisis. The country is speaking. And it's time for the party to follow suit. And it's not.

I don't think it's going to be Sarah Palin that is going to be the victor who is going to change that. It's not McCain who, as the victor, is going to change that. The party has to have a time of mea culpa and the time for it is right now.

BUCHANAN: Well, I'm not sure what they-maybe a mea culpa for what Bush did. The two things Bush did.

PAUL: Not necessarily Bush.

BUCHANAN: . were, he got us into that war and McCain and the Democrats supported it, which was terrible. He had No Child Left Behind and Medicare prescription drugs, which were too much spending, and you got this crash-this economic crash. So, look-but let me tell you this, you go...

PAUL: Yes, but I'm talking about the party.

BUCHANAN: . back to Nixon.

PAUL: I'm talking about the party.

BUCHANAN: All right. Let's talk about the party.

PAUL: I'm talking about the party.

BUCHANAN: Let me talk about the party.

PAUL: Go ahead.

BUCHANAN: All right. Let me talk about it. Back in 1972, '68 Nixon got about 10 percent or something of the African-American vote. In 1972 he got 8 percent of the African-American vote, and 25 percent in the South. Now that's the way we got it. We worked at it very hard. And we worked-and others have worked at it and worked at it.

Bush worked at it. Mehlman and those guys worked at it. And they got down to 3 percent of the African-American vote. You're not going to win it running against Barack Obama. The Hispanic vote went two to one against McCain, and he is Mr. Amnesty. He is Mr. Amnesty.

PAUL: The party did a horrible job of having outreach, quite frankly, to those people of color in this country, those that are African-American, those that are Latino, those that are Asian, horrible job.

There was a lot of rhetoric. There was not enough money backing candidates, there was not enough money trying to find candidates and there was a lot of lip service. And that has been going on for a long, long time within the party.

BUCHANAN: All right. Who do you blame, Bush, Mehlman, and Rove?

PAUL: I blame the party overall.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: I blame the entire tent. I blame a lot of rhetoric with not enough people standing up. I commend the governor of Minnesota, who spoke earlier this evening, who is the future I think of this party, and more people like him who are honest enough to say, you know what? The country is changing, the voice has been heard, and we need to make change.

BUCHANAN: Well, look, excuse me, but this is a bunch of cliches. There's no doubt the Hispanic vote is growing in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and the Republicans could be out of there forever. The immigrants coming in, let's face it, they look to government because 90 percent are poor. They don't have education. They're looking for jobs and schools and rent supplements and things like that. They're people who believe in government.

And the demographics of this country are, you're right, working against the Republican Party. So the question is, do we give up our beliefs, the things we think are right or best for America in order to try to get more votes, or do we try to sell what we believe in to these folks?

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Or do we truly define ourselves as a big tent party and we realize that it's not all the ultraconservatives, it's not all of those that are over 65 and 75 years old in this country. We look to the young and we look at some of the principles that move not only from those that are old but those that are young. And I think that's the opportunity for us to look at.

BUCHANAN: All I've heard is, look, I would love to get all of the young voters and all of the African-American voters, but you haven't told me how to do it other than talk about a big tent.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: I'm saying we need to examine ourselves first. We need to examine ourselves first.

BUCHANAN: Why don't you examine yourself?

PAUL: . and understand where we're falling short. Excuse me, Pat?

What did you just say?

BUCHANAN: Why don't you examine yourself.

PAUL: What is that supposed to mean?

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you both a question. You and I-let me just quickly go to a culture point here which gets beyond issues.

PAUL: What's with the personal attack?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: If you go to a Democratic Convention, I've been to 10 of them, you go to Republican Conventions, 10 of them, you'll see the difference culturally between the two parties when it comes to color.

BUCHANAN: You mean racially or ethnic?

MATTHEWS: Racially.

BUCHANAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Ethnically, I like to say. At a Democratic Convention, African-Americans and other people of color feel very much at home. They're in groups of people. They are celebratory. They're happy to be there because it's their home. You go to a Republican Convention, there's one or two blacks there who feel like they're guests. That's the difference.

BUCHANAN: Well, let me talk about that. That goes back clearly to 1964. But as I said, in terms of outreach, I've worked for Nixon, he got 18 percent and 25 percent in the South. We did everything in there. Listen, Reagan didn't write these folks off. Chris, work in those White Houses, we know if we can get 20 percent of the African-American community, we win.

MATTHEWS: So the Southern Strategy in '68 wasn't influential and African-Americans.

BUCHANAN: Southern Strategy, look, we didn't do this.

MATTHEWS: When you picked up Strom Thurmond, you didn't lose a few million blacks?

BUCHANAN: Look what you're talking about, Adlai Stevenson put two segregationists on his ticket.

PAUL: Pat, you're talking about racists from 1964. With all due respect, sir, I don't like your personal attack earlier, but I'll end with this. I was born in 1964. It shows you the difference between you and I. Things have changed. We need to change. The party needs to change.

And if we're going to be a big tent party, we need to hear all voices. We don't need to have personal attacks. I'm not here to talk as an African-American, I'm here to talk as an American.

BUCHANAN: Well, look, why don't you get a candidate, go out to Iowa, back him up and see if he does well. But we nominated the most liberal candidate in the field. That's John McCain. We didn't nominate Tom Tancredo. And so look, and you got your guy, and it didn't work out.

MATTHEWS: Last word, Mike.

BUCHANAN: Go ahead, Mike. Last word.

PAUL: Pat, I respect you as a human being. I am saddened that you had a personal attack on someone ironically that's within the same party.

BUCHANAN: Personal attack? What's the personal attack?

MATTHEWS: What was the personal attack? I'm sorry. I want to you to give a shot (ph) here.

PAUL: You'll have to look back at the transcript then. To say I need to move to Canada. I mean, come on, we're talking about issues here.

BUCHANAN: I didn't say move.

MATTHEWS: He didn't say move to Canada.

BUCHANAN: I didn't say move to Canada. What are you talking about?

PAUL: Pat, that's exactly what you said a couple of minutes ago.

What, and I'm not hearing what you said.

BUCHANAN: Chris and I are sitting across from each other.

MATTHEWS: Don't look at me, I'm not the instant replay here.

BUCHANAN: I'll look at the tape, but I didn't say anybody should move to Canada.

MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, thank you both for coming. Mike, thank you.

Thank you, Pat.

Up next, three Senate races still undecided. Believe it or not, one is in Alaska, one is in Minnesota, one is in Georgia. And now John McCain is hitting the campaign trail down in Georgia where Republican Saxby Chambliss is in a runoff. And by the way, McCain didn't like the way Saxby behaved in the last campaign. I guess he has changed again. Anyway, can the Democrats sweep and reach 60 seats? This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Coming up, Democrat Mark Begich takes the lead over Ted Stevens in the Alaska Senate race. Will the Democrats actually get those 60 seats in the Senate? When HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and the "Politics Fix." Tonight we're joined by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, and Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker-how do you guys always get put together, Chris Cillizza and Ryan Lizza. Anyway, internal rhyme there.

Let's talk about the two exciting races that are-or three, actually, with two can make a difference. The Associated Press calls the Alaska House race today for Republican incumbent Don Young, he defeated Democrat Ethan Berkowitz by 50-45.

Let's take a look at the races, however, the controversial race down in Georgia right now. Let's take a look at that one. Georgia, Georgia, Georgia, this is amazing because back four years ago a really, I would say, rotten campaign ad was run by Saxby Chambliss to defeat Max Cleland, who had lost-was a triple amputee coming out of the Vietnam War. Here is the ad that ran four years ago-six years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America faces terrorists and extremist dictators. Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead. He says he supports President Bush at every opportunity, but that's not the truth. Since July Max Cleland has voted against the president's vital homeland security efforts 11 times. Max Cleland says he has the courage to lead but the record proves Max Cleland is just misleading.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Brutal ad. And that's what John McCain thought it was. Here is what he said about that ad in 2002, quote: "I have never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield, it is worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

But here's what Saxby Chambliss had to say, anyway, he is up there now, John McCain is out there campaigning with him now this week.

RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: Well, look, he has got a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. He obviously supports the Republican in the race, it is a no-brainer for him. But.

MATTHEWS: Per se.

LIZZA: Per se. And look, he's-I'm surprised he is campaigning for him because I figured he would be sick of running around the country. You don't see Obama down there campaigned for the Democrat yet. And there will be a little bit of pressure on him from Chuck Schumer and some of these other folks in the Senate to, at the very least, send some high level surrogates and get his political operation down there.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let's talk about, well, double talk. Why is John McCain once again spinning 180 degrees here, Chris? I mean, here's the guy that said this guy broke the rules with a dirty rotten ad against a guy who gave so much for his country and now he is now campaigning with the guy blissfully. What is this? Is this just politics as Ryan suggested?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean-yes. The short answer is yes, it is just politics. He is the just defeated Republican nominee for president, a special election, this runoff on December 2nd that Saxby Chambliss and a guy named Jim Martin, the Democrat, are going to have. It is going to really about turning out your base. It's an odd day for an election. Most people won't be voting.

But I do think that it gets to this issue of, who is the real John McCain? That was one of the big storylines in this campaign. A lot of people fell in love with John McCain in 2000, maverick, willing to say things against his party. But then, in order to get the nomination-remember, that was 2000.

The quote you just cited, denouncing Saxby Chambliss, 2002, by 2004, 2006, 2008, he was preparing to run for the Republican nomination. In order to do that, he had to adhere to the sort of more traditional belief systems there.

I don't know if we are going see John McCain maybe swing back more to that independent deal-maker in the Senate or not. But, you know, there is a real question about whether-who is John McCain really? Is he the guy who ran for president in 2000 or 2008?

MATTHEWS: OK. The old expression to go along, get along-or get along, go along. He was never like that. He is like this in that instance. Maybe nobody is perfect. We'll be right back with Ryan Lizza and Chris Cillizza with more of the "Politics Fix." You are watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We're back with Ryan Lizza and Chris Cillizza. Chris, just think about this. If Senator Stevens is defeated ultimately in that race, he is 814 behind now-behind the mayor of Anchorage, Begich-Mark Begich, what do you make of that?

I mean, does this mean that Sarah Palin has no route back to national noise and excitement? She can't run for the Senate, the seat is not open.

CILLIZZA: You know, Chris, I don't know that it has that much to do with it. You are right though that Palin would have one route closed off. But my guess is what she will do is sort of what she is doing right now. She is going to go around, I think she's going to make sure that people know she's not going away.

Do I think she has decided she is running in 2012? No. It has only been nine days since they lost that election. But I think what is clear from her appearances on various television networks as well as her speech down at the RGA today is, this is someone who is not going quietly into that good night, whether Ted Stevens wins, loses or draws.

MATTHEWS: And she is not going to the library, either.

CILLIZZA: Probably not.

MATTHEWS: No, I mean, it's another way-another way to go back and say, I didn't do well with the Katie Couric interview, I obviously don't read enough, I don't keep up enough, it's not hard to deal with, I'm a bright person, I'm going to go read a lot more and know a lot more and hang out with people with brains a lot more.

LIZZA: But the best way to prove herself would be to actually win that Senate seat, if it opens up.

MATTHEWS: That's what I mean, that's the way you usually do it.

LIZZA: . come to Washington, do some hard work, and show what she didn't show on the campaign trail, which is she knows the issues. But, look, that race, one of the big losers in this campaign was the Alaskans.

You know, Sarah Palin failed on the national stage, and it looks like they are on the verge of perhaps sending a convicted felon back to the Senate. So the best thing that can happen if you are an Alaskan is this guy Begich wins and you sort of cut your losses in this campaign.

MATTHEWS: She tried to blame Katie Couric for saying, what do you read up there in Alaska? Katie said, what do you read? And she kind of turned it into a shot against her state. Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Ryan Lizza. Thank you, Chris Cillizza.

Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now it's time for "1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE WITH DAVID GREGORY."

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

END

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