updated 2/23/2010 9:49:08 AM ET 2010-02-23T14:49:08

Guests: Eliot Spitzer, Wendell Potter, Adam Green, Joe Sestak, Tom Tancredo, Ron Christie, Bill Press, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. 

HOST:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW from Minneapolis tonight.

Good to be back with you.

These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” tonight.

After 11 months of the health care debate, the president finally puts his cards on the table and releases his plan online today.  In it he throws the hammer down on the insurance gouging that‘s been taking place.  This, of course, as Republicans are gearing up for their televised summit with the president later this week, on Thursday.

And there was a lot of crowing at the “Psycho Talk” convention known as CPAC over the weekend.  But a new poll shows that the American people aren‘t buying what the Republicans are selling, or, in this case, “Beckster‘s” case, the writing on the chalkboard. 

And the United States Olympic hockey team pulled off an amazing upset victory over Canada last night.  That will be in my “Playbook” later on in the show.  If you‘re a hockey fan—from Minnesota, that is—you‘ve got to love the way those guys played last night. 

But first, these are the top stories that really got me cranked up.

Now, this is what we‘ve really been waiting for throughout this entire health care debate.  I‘ve been asking for the president—and many Americans have as well—to take on the insurance industry.  Take the gloves off, get after it, and just remind the American people really who the culprit is in all of this. 

Well, now the president has, I guess you could say, drawn kind of a line in the sand.  He‘s not going to stand for these arbitrary or outrageous insurance premium hikes that‘s been taking place. 

Here‘s the key graph from the president‘s health care plan that was put online this morning.  “... If a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified, health insurers must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable.”

Now, hold it right there.  This is what the conservatives are going to say—that‘s your government takeover.  Here comes the government telling the insurance industry what they can and cannot do. 

Now, President Obama is sending a message to all Americans that he will not let—that he will not let this slip away and he won‘t let greedy insurance companies excessively increase rates.  How can Republicans be against that?  Well, they are.

The Republican leadership rejected the president‘s proposal outright today.  Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Mike Pence all put out statements just ripping on the president‘s plan and accusing him of not listening to what Americans want. 

The Republicans are tone deaf to the outraged Americans out there who have had their premiums jacked up 39 percent.  Like, for instance, Anthem Blue Cross in California.  Middle class families, they just can‘t afford those kind of rate increases.  And I think the American people are going to be listening very closely on Thursday, not so much to just what‘s going on, but to the president.  How strong is he going to be on this?

If the Republicans say no to Obama‘s proposal—and it‘s a weak one, in my opinion—they are essentially saying, let‘s see, yes to higher premiums, yes to unfair rate hikes, yes to businesses dropping coverage, and hurting more middle class Americans.  Now, that‘s what the Republicans are for, the status quo.  It seems that Democrats have finally gotten wise to all of this.  The White House, at least they claim that they are ready to go the route of reconciliation if they just fail in efforts to get a bipartisan bill. 

Now, you know, this is really the story that I was talking about a year ago when I first came to MSNBC.  My very first show was about insurance rates and the gouging that is taking place. 

Well, here we are, a year later.  Same old story. 

Americans are out there and still getting gouged.  And I just hope that the Democrats have the guts to do something about this. 

Get your cell phones out, folks.  Want to know what you think about all of this tonight.

Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you support President Obama‘s health care plan? 

Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Coming up right now, first guest tonight, is going to be the former New York governor and attorney general, Eliot Spitzer. 

Mr. Spitzer, good to have you with us. 

ELIOT SPITZER (D), FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  Great to be here, Ed. 

Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

How in the world are progressive Democrats, the base, supposed to keep their patience with the president when, within hours of him putting his compromised plan on the Web, you‘ve already got Republican leadership hammering it?  I mean, when do you finish, when did you cut bait?  What‘s going on here?

SPITZER:  Well, let‘s face it, this Thursday meeting is going to be a choreographed charade.  The Republican Party will say no, and then it will be the real litmus test of the White House—are they willing to go forward with the 51 votes in reconciliation, as you said, and finally pass the bill we‘ve been waiting for?  If we don‘t have the votes or they‘re are not willing to go forward, then I think the progressive base of this party will really stand up and say, wait a minute, this is outrageous. 

On the other hand, if the president holds firm and we get a bill through the Senate and the House, then we will finally have seen real progress.  As you point out, this health care issue—the insurance issue is merely one of many, but it is sort of the quintessential issue where either you stand up or you don‘t, and now is the moment of truth. 

SCHULTZ:  As a former attorney general, how hard is it going to be to tell the insurance industry what to do when it comes to rate hikes?  Is this going to be like a public service commission, you know, about you can only do so much with electrical rates?  Is that how this is going to work?

SPITZER:  Look, it is very easy to examine their finances and see whether or not the ratios, in terms of payments, what percentage of the premiums you‘re going to pay out are legitimate and justified, what their return on capital is.  It‘s an easy thing to do. 

I was down in Washington years ago begging for this because we did a series of cases showing fraud throughout the insurance industry, the way it was sold, the kickbacks, the corruption, the bid-rigging, everything that was fundamentally wrong.  I went to Washington and said state regulation of insurance is simply not working, bring it to Washington and do it right.  Nobody there wanted to touch it for all of the reasons  you can well imagine. 

Finally, perhaps, we‘re beginning to see the first ember of a fire that will burn that will say we‘ve got to do this.  The insurance industry owns America because they are patient and they take our premiums, don‘t make the payouts, and they own all the assets at the end of the day. 

This is something that has become a financial reality.  Let‘s just hope this finally makes it through. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll tell you, if 50 Democrats in the Senate can‘t figure that out by now, I don‘t know when they are going to figure it out. 

And finally, your thoughts on reconciliation?  We‘re hearing it tossed around, but I just don‘t sense the passion, the guts.  I don‘t feel reconciliation.  What do you think? 

SPITZER:  Well, look, I certainly hope that we finally have the guts to say 51 votes is a majority, pass this bill, do something.  The Democratic Party, I think, took the wrong lesson over the past year. 

Everybody was talking about bipartisanship.  Bipartisanship became appeasement.  What the public wanted was action, action, action. 

Do something.  And it was the inability of the Democratic Party to act that permitted all the anger in the public do go the other direction. 

Finally stand up and do something fundamental.  Then the Democratic Party will show what it stands for and we‘ll be back on top. 

SCHULTZ:  Governor Spitzer, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much for your time. 

SPITZER:  Ed, thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Wendell Potter.  Wendell is a senior fellow of the health care at the Center for Media and Democracy.  And, of course, he‘s a former vice president for the insurance giant Cigna. 

Mr. Potter, how are the insurance companies going to get around any type of oversight commission that would actually reel in the rates that they have just been gouging on the American people on double-digit increases every year for the last five years?  How would they get around that? 

WENDELL POTTER, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY:  Well, a lot of it will be through their product design.  They are very clever at designing certain products and plans.

They will continue to shift a lot of the cost of health care from them and from employers to individuals.  This legislation will limit that to a certain extent.  But this is how they will say that they are able to keep premiums lower.  That is, by charging less for premiums but shifting more and more of the cost of insurance coverage to consumers. 

SCHULTZ:  Is it still a sellout from what you can see?  Is it still—you‘ve told us on this program in the past that what the Democrat rats are doing is selling out to big insurance.  Do you still see that? 

POTTER:  In many regards it is, but this is very important to get this passed.  And progressives need to understand that we need to have something passed that can get us on the road to progressive reform.  If we don‘t, we‘re not going to have this opportunity again. 

There are many things in this bill that the insurance companies can certainly live with.  But I think we need to see this as partially a win-win for consumers, and begrudgingly for insurance companies.  But we really need this for so many Americans who don‘t have any insurance at all. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, it sure seems that there are some Democrats that are still very reluctant.  They all want to be political pragmatists at this point.  In fact, there are a number of congressional Democrats that are afraid to identify themselves on their own Web sites as Democrats. 

Rick Larsen from Washington is one of them.  He claims to be for the public option.

Now, there is no public option in this, Mr. Potter.  Is that crucial? 

Does that really matter, in your opinion? 

POTTER:  It does matter.  I just don‘t see that the Democrats are going to have the political will to put it back in the legislation.  I wish they would, and maybe sometime down the road we can get it in a bill.  But even if we can‘t get a bill passed without a public option, we still should do it, but a public option is a very element to ultimate reform. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Potter, good to have you with us tonight.  Appreciate it so much. 

POTTER:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  One thing, as I said, that was not in the health care proposal by the president that was unveiled today is a public option. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about that today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you explain why in this detailed health care proposal the president is keen to not include a public option? 

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The president has put forward a proposal that is based on the Senate plan with some, as you all have heard in here, some modifications to that, and as the best way forward into something that can ultimately find its way through Congress. 

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST:  So what do you think of the 20 or so senators who have now signed a letter asking for this to be passed through reconciliation? 

GIBBS:  Well, I think they‘ve asked for a vote on the floor of the Senate, and that‘s certainly up to those who manage those amendments. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

I maintain the position that the public option is not dead. 

Joining us now is Adam Green.  He‘s the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  You can find them online at boldprogressives.org. 

Adam, good to have you back with us tonight. 

You‘ve been working diligently getting the signatures on board with Senator Bennet from Colorado.  He‘s written a letter to Harry Reid saying, hey, let‘s go down the road to reconciliation with the public option. 

But I think even a bigger story at this point, not only getting the senators to sign on to this, is that the polling that your organization and other organizations have done, the public option is a political winner, is it not? 

ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE:  It absolutely is.  And that‘s our main point to senators from states like Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Washington.

We‘ve been polling all over the place.  In every single state that we‘ve polled pretty much, current support for the Senate bill is at about 30 percent, but support for the public option is way up there, at about 60 percent.  It‘s a political no-brainer. 

This is the course that Democrats have to go down.  And it‘s very awesome that one week ago today, there were zero senators on the record supporting the public option.  Today, there are 21.  And in a second I‘d like to actually break some news.  There are actually 22 senators on the record today. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m listening.  What‘s the news? 

GREEN:  Well, the first piece of news came about an hour ago.  Tim Johnson from the pretty conservative state of South Dakota, which hasn‘t gone Democratic in a presidential election in 45 years, was number 21 signing his name on the Bennet letter for the public option. 

And right now, I‘m happy to announce that from the great state of Michigan, Debbie Stabenow will be signer number 22.  Thousands of phone calls have been going into her office, and she fortunately has been very responsive to her constituents. 

Tomorrow morning, given the news from South Dakota today, we‘ll actually be announcing some new North Dakota poll numbers, from your neck of the woods, and we‘re going to be asking your senators, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, to come out for the public option.  This poll is going to show that 31 percent of North Dakota residents support the current Senate bill, but a whopping 57 percent want the public option.  And by 55 percent to 29 percent, North Dakota voters would rather have a bill passed only with Democratic votes with the public option, as opposed to having Republicans on board for some token bipartisanship.  They want the public option.

SCHULTZ:  You know, Adam, to my knowledge, there has been no polling by any local media, newspaper, radio or television in North Dakota when it comes to the public option.  No one has commissioned a poll to this date. 

And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, was asked by the White House to go out and come up with an alternative to the public option, which was—he came up with the co-ops.  I think there was some political back-scratching going on up there in the north country. 

I have felt all along that the people in the Dakotas and Minnesota have been strong supporters—and I mean in the majority—for a public option.  So now you‘ve got 22 senators.  You will probably get some more tomorrow. 

What message does this send to the president of the United States?  How disappointed are you that he did not have a public option which would be a guaranteed mechanism in place to go compete with the private sector? 

It was not in his plan today.  The level of disappointment, and how much does that hurt you? 

GREEN:  Well, look, the White House, honestly, has not fought for the public option one iota this entire fight.  It‘s come down to some bold members of Congress and, frankly, the progressive grassroots, groups like ours and Democracy for America, Bold Progressives, MoveOn.

You know, we‘re the ones who have been working with senators on the inside, asking them to come out publicly for this, and making sure that they feel the rewards, that their constituents know when they come out.  So, if this is a victory in the end, it will be because thousands and thousands of Americans went to Web sites like Bold Progressives and Democracy for America, took action, called their senators and said we need you to support the public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Adam Green, great work.  Let‘s keep it going. 

You‘ve got the attention of the American people.  This is the net rooters at work.  This is the grassroots organizations getting after it. 

And basically what it is, folks, it‘s just a good old American political headcount.  I absolutely love it. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead.

GREEN:  WhipCongress.com.  WhipCongress.com is where we have our headcount.  And if your senator is not on it yet, you can make a phone call right from that Web site.

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Thanks, Adam.

GREEN:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, the great state of Minnesota is producing a bumper crop.  I mean a bumper crop in “Psycho Talk.”  I‘ll show you why Governor Pawlenty and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann are just a match made in crazy. 

That‘s next. 

And Colin Powell is sticking it to “Shooter.”  Tom Tancredo will tell us if he thinks America‘s premier soldier has it all wrong. 

Plus, Willie Geist will tell us about the United States Olympic hockey team and what a great win that was.  That‘s coming up in the “Playbook.”

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, since I‘m up here in Minnesota this week, well, I‘ve got a Gopher State special for you. 

At the CPAC convention this weekend, top Minnesota psycho talkers Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty, well, they threw out a couple of ideas about how Republicans could win back the Congress.  Bachmann suggested creativity and imagination was the way to go.  And her example was the billboard of some of her constituents that put up—it‘s got a goofy picture of George W. Bush and the words “Miss me yet?”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  I am lucky to be the representative for these very creative, innovative businesspeople who put this wonderful billboard together.  Let me tell you, they got their advertising dollars‘ worth out of this billboard. 

Use your creativity.  Use your innovation.  You have no idea what you will do to take back Washington. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And Governor Pawlenty had even more of a psycho idea for victory this November, saying conservatives should be more like Tiger Woods‘ wife? 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  A big event is happening in the United States of America.  Tiger Woods is holding his press conference.

We can learn a lot from that situation.  Not from Tiger, but from his wife. 

So she said, I‘ve had enough.  She said, no more.  I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash a big window out of big government in this country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s some tough talk from a guy who only got six percent of the vote in the convention straw poll for 2012.  That‘s the same number of people who were undecided, and it‘s just one percent higher than the people who picked “other.” 

So it seems that conservatives aren‘t even buying what Pawlenty is selling.  Comparing the government to Tiger Woods, Elin Woods in missing the worst president of the country has got a lot of big double dose of “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Arlen Specter is doing his best to keep our next guest from taking that Senate seat.  And the White House might just be helping him. 

Congressman Joe Sestak is on the bench.  Is he going to stay on the bench? 

We‘ll bring you that when we come right back on THE ED SHOW. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

The 2010 elections aren‘t looking too promising for the Democrats, so the White House may be pulling out all stops to make sure they get the candidates they want in the general election. 

In a recent interview, Congressman Joe Sestak said the Obama administration offered him a job to try and stop him from challenging Senator Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race? 

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Was it in Navy secretary? 

SESTAK:  No comment.  I would never get out for a deal.  I‘m in this for the Democratic principles—

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  But was there a job offered to you by the White House? 

SESTAK:  Yes.  Someone offered—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  It was big, right?

SESTAK:  Let me not comment on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, but you‘re going all the way. 

SESTAK:  I‘m in this all the way. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The White House has denied that any offer took place. 

So, to clear things up, let me bring in the man at the center of all of this, Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

What job were you offered, Joe?  Tell us tonight, what job were you offered? 

SESTAK:  Ed, I got asked that question after seven months.  I didn‘t push it out there.  And I answered it honestly.  And, Ed, to be quite honest here, to go further than that serves no purpose, because that‘s about politics. 

I‘m in this race because I honestly believe Washington, D.C., where I‘m standing, has just forgotten the working family.  And I want to talk about that health care bill.  I answered a question honestly, and that‘s all that matters.  And, quite frankly, that‘s the only important issue. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  And I don‘t think anybody out there thinks that you‘re dishonest on this.  But the fact is, the White House is saying that you were never offered any position. 

It‘s very clear that the White House wants Arlen Specter.  They are going to back Arlen Specter. 

Joe Biden has said that this is going to happen, their support is going to be—in fact, he even told Arlen Specter that the president was going to be out there campaigning for him.  So it looks like, based on the comment that you made, that the White House is trying to get you out of this race.  And the only way to clear that up is for you to say what job you were offered, whether it was seven minutes ago, seven days or seven months. 

What do you think. 

SESTAK:  Well, here‘s what I think.  When the deal was made for that 60th vote for Arlen Specter, a lot of Democrats were just, my gosh, we got it now, we‘re off and running. 

And you know what?  Where has it gotten us?  Another deal that‘s failed. 

Rather than being out there with a leader like Senator Ed Kennedy, if he had been in the Senate, having shaped by principled compromise, rather than compromise of principles, health care bills where 700 Pennsylvanians every day are losing their health care because action isn‘t being taken, Ed, I understand that Joe Biden ran up and down the Acela Express of Amtrak with Arlen Specter, and Ed Rendell got hired for his first job.  And I respect that. 

But I came down to Washington after 31 years in the U.S. military because I believed in the change.  And the change that this president promised us I believe in, which is not just a change in policy, but a change in politics to where principle triumphs over politics.  And that‘s what we have to do, is have the courage now to get the health care bill through, or as much as possible in the days to come. 

And Ed, that‘s where my focus is, both here and when I‘m back in Pennsylvania talking to the Pennsylvanians, where I‘m soon going to be the U.S. senator. 

SCHULTZ:  What is your polling in Pennsylvania right now, Congressman?  Are you ahead, behind, close when it comes to your primary race with Arlen Specter? 

SESTAK:  Well, we‘re a few points behind.  But it‘s like Ed Rendell said just a few weeks ago.  You know, when he was the anti-establishment candidate for governor against Bob Casey, he was actually about two to three times more points behind than we are today. 

There‘s 55 to 60 percent who are undecided in the last few polls. 

They said they don‘t want to vote for Arlen Specter. 

So I just ran down here.  As you know, I was a little late.  I left Scranton overnight, stayed all day in Pittsburgh, and ran down here to talk to you just before the votes in five minutes because we‘re going everywhere.  Just forget name recognition and show them there‘s a credible candidate who won‘t switch his party, won‘t switch anything because he wants to keep his job.  He‘s in it for Pennsylvania. 

So heck, at this point in time, Pat Toomey, when he ran against Arlen Specter, was 40 points behind.  We‘re just a few.  And we‘re going to win this race without any question, because Pennsylvanians need a change.  Actually, I think Washington needs a change in the establishment, from a generation of too much deal making, and actual believes in policies for the working family. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, I don‘t disagree with you.  I think you‘re right on all of that.  But if the White House is choosing up sides on Democrats, and they are offering jobs, it‘s back door dealing, which I find very interesting.  You don‘t want to give us an answer on that.  The White House is denying the story. 

SESTAK:  I honestly believe that President Obama truly, truly meant what he said at Arizona State university, I think it was, when he said the major mission of the Office of the Presidency is to create opportunities for everyone.  And whether that‘s an election process or not, I think he wants to—and I believe it—entice people into the race, not push them out. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman—Joe, I appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much. 

SESTAK:  Thanks for having me, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Coming up, Glenn Beck and his fellow Tea Party crazies wined and dined at CPAC this weekend.  I‘ll ask former Congressman Tom Tancredo if I‘m reading this all right about what is is going on.  Are they warming up to the Tea Partiers?

Plus, the United States men‘s hockey team had a mini miracle on the ice against Team Canada on Sunday.  Willie Geist will be here in the playbook to talk about that. 

And Katrina Vanden Heuvel will tell us if she thinks the president has gone far enough on health care.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  This is the disease.  This is the disease in America.  It‘s not just spending.  It‘s not just taxes.  It‘s not just corruption.  It is progressivism. 

Dick Cheney was here a couple of days ago.  And I love Dick Cheney, but—Dick Cheney, a couple of days ago, was here and he says, it‘s going to be a good year for conservative ideas.  That‘s true.  That‘s very true.  It‘s going to be a very good year.  But it‘s not enough to just not suck as much as the other side. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Just tremendous political insight there, huh?  The best way to summarize the CPAC convention is all chalk, no action.  There was a lot of no.  There was a lot of noise.  There was a lot of psycho talk, and no solutions.  But, you see, CPAC didn‘t offer any solutions at all to the problems middle class Americans are facing right now. 

Case in point, health care.  The White House put its plan online this morning.  There‘s still no Republican plan, even though CPAC was supposedly a big conservative ideas convention.  Think about this, CPAC was the Republicans‘, I guess you could say, Olympic team of ideas on display.  Turned out to be a dusted of Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann event.

It‘s no wonder that a new poll from “Newsweek” shows that Americans trusts the president over the Republicans under virtually every major issue.  Obama has a 23-point edge when it comes to creating jobs, a 16-point edge on the economy, a 10-point edge on tax policy, a nine point edge on fixing the budget deficit, a ten point edge on handling Iran, and a 12-point edge on climate change. 

Well, the Republicans have a way to go, I think, in convincing the American people that, I guess you could say, suck less.  For more, let me bring in Tom Tancredo, controversial former Republican from Colorado.  Tom, good to have you with us tonight.

I have to tell you, I paid close attention to the CPAC convention over the weekend.  I was waiting for solutions and it was a lot of generic talk.  Are you comfortable with the way the conservatives are presenting the case to the American people? 

TOM TANCREDO, FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  Well, you have to consider, when you‘ve got somebody like Obama, who presents such a huge target to Republicans and conservatives, it‘s not odd that they would continually be shooting at him.  After all, this guy is pushing harder to move this country to the left than any other president we‘ve ever had.  And that presents, as I say, a great target, and they are going to shoot. 

That‘s really—what you are doing at an event like this is encouraging the faithful.  You‘re  getting a lot of yelling and screaming, yes, but that‘s what it is all about.  There‘s plenty of time—I don‘t know that CPAC has ever been the place for policy development.  It‘s a place to get your—the hard core, the base of the conservative—of the conservative movement inspired.  And I think, to a large extent, that‘s exactly what happened. 

But I must admit to you that, you know, the issue I think you brought up a little bit earlier about whether the Republicans were kind of, you know, sucking up to the Tea Party people—I‘ve warned the Tea Party people.  I hope they don‘t get involve to that extent with the Republican party.  I hope they stay separate.  I hope they keep Republican‘s feet to the fire and Democrat‘s, and push for the issues they want, regardless of the party.

Because, frankly, Republicans in the past have not shown that they are that competent in delivering the fiscally sound government. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom, we don‘t get any substance at the Tea Party convention.  We don‘t get any substance at the CPAC convention.  All we hear is a bunch of hateful rhetoric towards the president.  And talking about shooting and targets I think, personally, is pretty much over the top when you talk about the president of the United States. 

TANCREDO:  Come on now, for heaven‘s sake. 

SCHULTZ:  Wait a minute.  The entire conversation surrounding President Obama is always over the top with conservatives. 

TANCREDO:  Not talking about guns, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Well, I‘m glad you‘re clear on that.  Because—

TANCREDO:  The phrase shooting at a target, in this case, has nothing to do with guns. 

SCHULTZ:  This is a sound bite I want to play for you, Colin Powell talking about the rhetoric that Dick Cheney has been using.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE:  I don‘t know where the claim comes that we are less safe.  The point is made that, well, we don‘t water board anymore or use any extreme interrogation techniques.  Most of those extreme interrogation techniques and water boarding were done away with in the Bush administration, and they‘ve been made officially done away with in this current administration. 

The issue about sending people to military commissions—we‘re not using military commissions like we should.  Any time you lock somebody up or you catch a terrorist, let‘s give them a military commission.  In eight years, the military commissions have put three people on trial.  Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free.  One guy is in jail. 

Meanwhile, the federal courts, our Article III regular court system has put dozens of terrorists in jail.  And they are fully capable of doing it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  So why can‘t the conservatives in this country, Tom, follow that lead and bring the country together to fight terrorism, instead of constantly tearing down the president?  In fact, President Obama, he hasn‘t done anything right, according to the conservatives.  I want you to respond to Colin Powell‘s sound cut there. 

TANCREDO:  No—I‘m sorry.  Did you say you wanted to go to Colin Powell again?  Or you want me to respond? 

SCHULTZ:  I want to you respond to it, yes. 

TANCREDO:  OK, look, Ed, it‘s interesting that you say that, because there are certain things, of course, that I think Obama has done right.  He‘s continued a lot of Bush policies, as a matter of fact, in Afghanistan, in Iraq.  Now, to a certain extent, of course, even Guantanamo.  He‘s saying, I really was wrong and we really have to do what Bush wanted.  And he was right—he is right on that.  And I give him full credit for it. 

I think what a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives are concerned about, things like Mirandizing the Fruit of the Loom Bomber, going ahead and letting people out of Guantanamo far too soon, finding them back on battlefields, fighting against Americans—these are the kinds of things that I think people say, you know what, I don‘t think Obama is right there.  And as a result, I think we‘re less safe. 

SCHULTZ:  Tom Tancredo, I appreciate you being on the program.  But I‘ve got to tell you, you‘ve got to get up on the current events now.  The Shoe Bomber also was read his rights during the Bush years, a hell of a lot faster than this guy was.  Great to have you with us. 

For more, let me bring in our panel tonight, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and Ron Christie, Republican strategist with us tonight.  I want to talk about the CPAC convention again, if we can go back to that.  Bill press, where‘s the beef?  All of the beef is hate and rhetoric and negativity.  Where is the beef?  Where‘s the solutions? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You know what they did, Ed, for this weekend, I think?  They looked back at your whole last year and they took everybody that you have featured in psycho talk and put them on the platform.  This was the psycho talk convention.  There was no beef there. 

And if you look, there are serious conservative thinkers out there.  You talk about Bill Bennett.  You talk about David Frum.  You talk about Bill Kristol.  You talk about George Will.  You think of the late, great William F. Buckley Jr.  They would have no place in this convention because it‘s not about conservative ideas.  There were no ideas that came out of it.  It was all just—I think what we saw was the extremist fringe of the extremist party.  If he‘s honest tonight, Ron Christie will say he was embarrassed by what he heard from the platform. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, I‘ll let you respond to that before a question.  Go ahead. 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Of course I wasn‘t embarrassed.  I actually was inspired by a lot of the people I heard, Bill.  If you heard Marco Rubio, the young gentleman from Florida, who is running for the United States Senate, he gave a very  inspiring speech about his love for this country, his pride for this country.  Former Governor Mitt Romney gave a very good speech. 

But the problem with the left wingers I think, Ed—I hate to put you in this boat—but you guys are looking at the CPAC convention as this is supposed to be the ideas convention.  Congressman Tancredo had it exactly right.  This was about inspiring the Republican base, getting people mobilized, talking about what is at stake for the election in November, not about, oh, we‘re going to talk about all of our party platform.  It‘s ridiculous.  You‘re setting up a President Obama straw man argument. 

PRESS:  Ed, Ron, I got to tell you something, if I were a Republican, I would take no comfort in this last three days at CPAC, because they slammed the Republicans, starting with Glenn Beck, as strong as they slammed the Republicans.  They don‘t like what the Republicans have been standing for, and the money that they have been spending, under George Bush and under this gang in Congress today.  So don‘t think that these Tea Partiers are in the Republican pocket.  They are not. 

CHRISTIE:  Well, that‘s a good point, Bill.  That‘s exactly it.  This was not the Republican party convention.  This was the conservative convention. 

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE:  Ideas?  You want to talk about ideas?  Let‘s talk about health care.  Let‘s talk about having portability across state lines.  Let‘s talk about having meaningful tort reform.  Let‘s talk about allowing small businesses to pool together. 

Let‘s talk about not Mirandising terrorists.  Let‘s talk about actually not apologizing for this country.

SCHULTZ:  -- for just a moment, Ron Christie.  When are we going to hear the conservatives come forward—I mean the conservatives.  You can separate this out from the Republican party if you want.  When are the conservatives going to start answering the real issues in this country, it comes to 39 percent rate increases for Americans, when it comes to education costs that are going through the roof, when it comes to energy costs that are continuing to go up?  When do we get that solution? 

I mean, the conservatives constantly say, well, it‘s the free market.  My friend, in health care, the free market is totally broken.  We are 37th in the world when it comes to medical outcomes.  This is outrageous.  And, Ron, your party, your movement, you have no answers. 

CHRISTIE:  I have plenty of answers.  I would encourage—

SCHULTZ:  What are they? 

CHRISTIE:  This is the usual straw man. 

SCHULTZ:  No. 

CHRISTIE:  Why don‘t you look at the Republican Study Committee site, RSC.gov.  Tom Price, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has put out a plan months ago.  You guys ignored it.  you pretended that it doesn‘t exist. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘m asking you, Ron—

CHRISTIE:  I‘m giving you the answers. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re telling me to go talk to Mr. Price or somebody. 

CHRISTIE:  No.  OK.  All right, you want answers, Ed?  Why are you against allowing people the opportunity to be able to—

SCHULTZ:  I‘m asking the questions here, Ron.

(CROSS TALK)  

SCHULTZ:  This is not about you asking me the questions.  You‘re here representing the conservatives.  Where is your solution when it comes to the people of 39 percent increase? 

CHRISTIE:  Well, let‘s see.  Maybe if I try the third time, you might listen, Ed.  The fact of the matter is, if you look at that case, the Blue-Cross case up in California—why do you think insurance companies are so worried?  Why?  Because the bureaucrat in Washington, DC are going to take control of the health care industry.  They are jacking rates up. 

Look at what they did with credit cards.  They said, oh, we need to have federal regulation, more increased regulation for credit cards.  What do they do?  They jacked up fees for credit cards.  You guys want—

SCHULTZ:  What a lame answer. 

(CROSS TALK)

CHRISTIE:  That is not a lame answer. 

SCHULTZ:  That is a lame answer.  It has no plan.  I‘m just telling you what I think.  This is a program where I bring conservatives on.  I bring liberals on.  I wear it as a badge of honor that you think I‘m on the left because you bet I am.  Great to have both of you guys on tonight.  I appreciate your time.

Coming up, the whole nation of Canada, are they down in the dumps because of one hockey game?  Last night, it was quite a show.  Willie Geist is up there in Vancouver having a heck of a lot more fun than I am.  He‘s next.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, Team USA picked up another four Olympic medals in Vancouver over the weekend.  Last night, the United States men‘s Olympic hockey team pulled off a historic upset over Team Canada.  Their five to three victory was a mini miracle on ice. 

Joining me now from Vancouver is Willie Geist, the host of NBC‘s “WAY TOO EARLY” with Willie Geist. 

Willie, what is the feeling up there now about the potential of the United States Olympic hockey team?  Do they have gold potential?  What do you think?  What‘s the talk? 

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Absolutely, Ed.  They are the number one seed remaining in the tournament. They went through the preliminary round four and zero.  They are undefeated.  They got a bye because of last night‘s win into the quarterfinals.  Now they just await the winner of Switzerland and Belarus.  They‘ve already beaten Switzerland three to one.

I can tell you how they‘re feeling in Canada about the game last night.  This pretty well sums it up, Ed: “Woe Canada.”  Canada now has to qualify just to get into the quarterfinals.  They‘ve got to win a game tomorrow.  And then if they win that game against  Germany, they are going to have to face Russia.  The interesting thing about that is Russia and Canada were the two teams seen coming into this tournament as the overwhelming favorites.  Now Canada will have to play them in the quarterfinals, and not in the gold medal game, as so many expected them to.

Interesting to point out, Ed, and—

SCHULTZ:  Willie, Ryan Miller, 42 of 45 shots, and just turned back flurry after flurry.  He‘s the star early on, is he not? 

GEIST:  Yeah.  If you didn‘t know about Ryan Miller before last night, you do now.  He‘s the goal tender for the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL, seen as one of the brightest stars in the league.  Faced 45 shots, as you said, made 42 saves.  He was the hero of this game, which, by the way, Ed, was watched by more people on MSNBC, 8.2 million, than was game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, which was on a network last Spring.  So that gives you an idea of how big this game was, not just for the Canadians, but back in the US as well. 

SCHULTZ:  Willie, you are the man.  Great to watch you last night.  We were glued to it. 

Coming up, the president has finally gone for the jugular with the insurance industry.  “The Nation‘s” Katrina Vanden Heuvel joins me next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The president posted his health care proposal online today ahead of Thursday‘s summit.  It does not have a public option. 

For more, let me bring in Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.”  Katrina, how disappointing is this?  How much trouble is this for the White House?  The president specifically not going the distance on the public option.  What do you think? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  Well, I think it‘s up to citizens, progressives, now to work with an exciting moment in the Senate, where we‘ve seen a revival of the public option, an option which remains popular with a majority of Democrats and a majority of independents. 

You had Adam Green on earlier.  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, ProgressiveCongress.org, Move On, Democrats for America, Democracy for America—these are groups that are putting together a revival.  Twenty two senators have now signed on, and people who care.  It‘s time to push back and pressure. 

I think what we got out of the White House, Ed, was the Senate bill, with some rough edges shaved off.  I do think it‘s a good thing to get the government the ability to curb these obscene, exorbitant insurance company tax hikes.  But there‘s more to be done and these are decisive days.  The White House said this was an opening bid.

SCHULTZ:  So does this health care plan that the White House put online today go far enough, in your opinion? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Not yet, but we still have time.  And I do think that what is going on is a revival of progressive energy and organizing and muscle.  I think—

SCHULTZ:  I agree. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  To see 22 senators—and that may grow.  We heard how Byron Dorgan and others may come on board.  And I think this—Senator Reid has said he‘s on board, and this should go through reconciliation, this pro-democracy legislative procedure.  And for the Republicans who are going to scream and say that‘s ramming through legislation, urgent, publicly mandated legislation, like children‘s health insurance program, or budget reconciliation, has gone through that process. 

So don‘t let them scream, because whatever the Democrats put on the table—this is why it‘s frustrating that you don‘t see a White House going beyond what they put up there—the Republicans are going to cry government take-over of health care.  They are going to say those things. 

SCHULTZ:  Katrina, what are your expectations for Thursday?  What do you think progressives should be expecting on Thursday when the president goes in to try to work with Republicans on live television? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, I think he‘s going to try and expose what we‘ve known for months and months, that this is a party, the Republican party, committed to gridlock, committed to bringing down his agenda, so it can bring down his presidency.  But, again, what we need to do is stay on message, stay on point.  And on Wednesday, there are going to be massive call-ins to senators, to representatives, to say fight for the public option.  And that‘s where I think our energy needs to go.  And that‘s why I keep saying SaveThePublicOption.com, and work with these progressive groups, which “The Nation” is involved with, to fight for the best we can. 

I also want to point out one piece of single standing legislation.  Representative Tom Perriello—we have a wonderful piece about this piece of legislation at TheNation.com—is calling for the simple thing of anti-trust law to apply. 

SCHULTZ:  Got to be done.  I think it‘s going to be done this week. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  -- to protect consumers in competition.  That is all American.  That‘s what we‘re fighting for here.  And I want to say one last thing.  We talk a lot about procedure, but our systems is broken.  Lives are in the balance. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve got to run, Katrina.  Great to have you with us. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much.  Tonight, in our text survey, I asked you, do you support President Obama‘s health care plan?  Seventy nine percent of you said yes; 21 percent of you said no.  Interesting. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on MSNBC.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.

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

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