updated 1/9/2012 11:33:46 AM ET 2012-01-09T16:33:46

Guests: Chris Matthews, Jo Ling Kent, Buddy Roemer, Felice Belman

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Ed, now that I know you can do that, you have to
stay for the hour and do that every segment. Do you mind it?

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: I can do it. I`m a sucker for it.
Absolutely.

MADDOW: Thank you, my friend. Have a great weekend, Ed. Thanks.

SCHULTZ: You, too. We`ll see you up there. Thanks.

MADDOW: All right. And thanks to you at home for being with us this
hour.

We are live in New Hampshire in Manchester, days ahead of the New
Hampshire presidential primary. I think everybody expects the news to be
all politics all time right now. But the rest of what`s going on in the
world refuses to go along with that presumption.

Today, for example, we got word that in the midst of hardcore
confrontation between Iran and the West, including Iran and us, a U.S. Navy
destroyer has directly engaged the Iranians in the Arabian Sea.

Now, that sounds very scary until you get to the part about which
Iranians they were and what exactly the U.S. Navy did to them. Iranians in
question were fishermen on an Iranian merchant vessel that had been
captured by pirates more than a month ago. The Navy destroyer, the USS
Kidd heard a distress signal. They boarded the Iranian ship, they captured
the pirates and they rescued the Iranians. They sent them on their way
home.

Let`s see Ahmadinejad tried to turn that into anti-American
propaganda.

We also got big news today about things unexpectedly getting better
here at home. The unemployment rate dropped to its lowest in nearly three
years today. It`s down to 8.5 percent.

The economy added 200,000 jobs last month. Manufacturing jobs are up.
We lost manufacturing jobs every year for 12 straight years, but now, we
have added them for two years in a row.

Even construction jobs are up. It`s the first time we`ve had a growth
in construction jobs in five years. Factories are upping production.
Consumer confidence is up. Even wages are up a tiny bit. We talked on
this show last night about a few little green chutes and the economy. But
today, it`s like the whole new long sprout of that, out of season.

The only downside in the jobs number right now is the public sector.
Private sector is doing much better, thank you. But the public sector, the
number of government jobs is still dropping, as it has throughout the Obama
presidency. Seeing the government jobs numbers shrink month after month
after month makes it feel a little weird when you see all the Republican
candidates for president out on the campaign trail here demanding that
Obama stop growing the government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you like the way that
this enormous expansive government is going and the power and control that
is trying to rest to the people, then I`m the great alternative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Given that government is the only category of employment that
is persistently dropping during the Obama administration, this critique is
a little bit weird.

But then, honestly, being here, I feel like it is all a little weird
right now in this presidential race. In the midst of all this reporting
for example, of how Mitt Romney is anathema to South Carolina Republicans,
that they`re all Tea Party Republicans and that the Tea Party hates Mitt
Romney, out comes new polling showing Mitt Romney with a huge new lead in
South Carolina.

The new CNN poll puts Romney at 37 percent in South Carolina. That`s
up 17 points from last month. Mr. Romney at 37 now, Santorum at 19
percent, Gingrich at 18 and Ron Paul at 12 percent.

Rick Perry tweeted this picture of himself at a shooting range today
saying he was on his way back to South Carolina. He is going to need more
than good aim when he gets there. He`s only polling at 5 percent in South
Carolina right now. Jon Huntsman is at 1 percent.

So the common wisdom was that Mitt Romney was supposed to be an
anathema in New Hampshire. That appears to be bullpuckey. Here in New
Hampshire, Rick Santorum, the common wisdom says, is surging -- is supposed
to be surging after his Iowa win this week. That`s the common wisdom.

Being up here today, I can tell you that Mr. Santorum is attracting
crowds, but the crowds do not necessarily seem to like what they are
hearing from Mr. Santorum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: So this is the Rick Santorum event at the Dublin school in
Dublin, New Hampshire, that we just drove to. It`s packed. Everybody is
telling us we can`t get in. So, let`s try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I went to this crowded, crowded Rick Santorum event at the
Dublin school today in southern New Hampshire. It definitely was crowded.
I couldn`t get past the overflow room even though I tried.

But interestingly, even from the overflow room, I can tell you his
speech did not have a single applause line. I did not talk to anyone who
was there to see him speak who supported his candidacy or who liked what
they were hearing.

The aggressive questioning and criticizing of Mr. Santorum from the
students and crowd at the event earned nasty headlines about yet another
crowd confronting Mr. Santorum today.

Another Santorum event in nearby Kean, New Hampshire, this morning had
the same reaction. "Talking Points Memo" was there describing shouting and
booing at Mr. Santorum from the crowd. They quoted one woman at the event
responding to Mr. Santorum expressing some anti-gay views by saying, quote,
"This is twisted." Another elderly man saying of Mr. Santorum: shame,
shame.

Both those events were today in New Hampshire.

This is what happened to him yesterday in Concord, New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel that they`re a
hazardous thing for society, and so I would -- listen. I -- I form that
opinion from my own life experiences and having experienced that. I went
to college, too.

So, I would make the argument that states have the rights, but they
don`t have the right to do what they want to do. They have the right to do
medical marijuana laws but -- legally -- but they morally have the right to
do things that are harmful to the people in their community. And
therefore, I think the federal government should step in. OK? So, I`m out
of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The event that Mr. Santorum was booed at yesterday, some of
which you saw there, was in New England College Convention, that was still
going on today. And that`s where I went today to try to convince Jon
Huntsman to talk with me.

We`ll have more on that in a moment. It involves a chase scene.

But what was interesting is that people at that event in Concord today
wanted to make it clear that they were not booing Rick Santorum at the
event because of him expressing anti-gay views that they disagreed with.

What was explained to me today by people who are at that event
yesterday is that they booed Rick Santorum because they thought he was
being sort of a jerk to the audience.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really his attitude and his treatment of the
students.

MADDOW: It was his demeanor, not his stance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is, it was a 17-year-old high school
student that had the courage to stand up, because he asked the audience to
defend their position. She stood up and did. And then he has -- he`s
berating a 17-year-old girl, not letting her answer the question, switching
it around on her, using these really slick political arguments. And the
audience reacted very viscerally, because he was just berating this girl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s trying to bring up the polygamy statement
and say that, you know, if a man and a man and woman and a woman can get
married, why can three or four, you know? The girl says, well, that`s
irrelevant. And then he said, no, no, it`s not and interrupted her.

And he`s like, if you can`t argue with reason, and what we`re dealing
with is reason, then we can`t have this conversation. Basically just
calling her dumb, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. So, he basically said, if you`re not smart
enough to talk to me, I`m going to move on.

MADDOW: But you guys are saying it wasn`t just a confrontation
between an anti-gay marriage candidate and a pro-gay marriage crowd.

UNIDIENTIFIED MALE: No.

MADDOW: It was people reacting to --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To the way he treated her. Interrupted her.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically said you were too dumb to have the
argument. We couldn`t reason. You know, he wanted to use his method, you
know? Well, if we can`t possibly argue with reason, then we can`t, you
know -- you`re not being reasonable, yourself.

You know what I`m saying? Like you`re not letting us answer, you
know? So, yes, you don`t treat a 17-year-old like that. You know, you
should at least have the respect of any individual, no matter who they are,
to let them answer.

Someone asked him, you know, what he was willing to do if he was in
the White House as far as exercising compromise, you know? He stands up
and says, well, compromise is necessary for any government to run, you
know? And absolutely, I`m all for it.

Then he says, but I find it hard to compromise with somebody who
doesn`t have the same values as myself. And I was like, let me get my
dictionary out and look up what compromise means.

MADDOW: You only want to compromise with people who already agree
with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. That`s exactly what he said.

MADDOW: That`s a recipe for a happy life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Really.

MADDOW: Thank you for helping me understand that. That`s great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was talking about him. We just were
like, that`s not going to happen.

MADDOW: Thanks.

Does it cost you something with the other voters if they see you
tangle with a person like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. I think to some extent, people
admire folks who stick to their principles. But on the other hand, it
becomes clear nothing productive is going to come from the exchange, you
start to sound like a bully. There`s nothing of value that will come from
this. So, why not move on?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: One other gentleman I spoke to today described that event,
said that -- the word he used to describe what Rick Santorum was doing at
the event was hectoring in a way he described was not only inappropriate
for that specific New Hampshire, but inappropriate he said for New
Hampshire voters in general. He said, I don`t know, maybe he`s playing for
South Carolina, since there were cameras in the room, but he wasn`t playing
for New Hampshire.

I also had the chance to spend time today with the editor of the
"Concord Monitor," a major paper here. As psyched as the common wisdom
says Republicans are to go up against President Obama this year, she says
her view from here is that people actually aren`t that psyched at all right
now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: Louise, thank you for doing this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

MADDOW: You do this every four years. Does your work flow at the
paper increase like exponentially because this is all happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. It`s dramatic. We have regular
news to cover --

MADDOW: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- about what real people`s lives are about when
they live here. There`s all this on top of it.

I go to say, for my staff, it`s really fun, you know? They`re
covering school board meetings and they`re covering, you know, Jon Huntsman
and Newt Gingrich and stuff. So, it`s very heavy particularly young
journalists. It`s fun.

MADDOW: When you -- in terms of the buzz and the amount of work and
all the things you have to think about this year compared to other years,
is the same more buzzy year or a less buzzy year?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s absolutely less to tell you the truth.

MADDOW: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, four years ago because there was a
Democratic race and Republican race, there was sort of double the
excitement, double the interest from readers, you know, because everybody
was interested in voting, you know?

Now it`s probably just 50 percent or 60 percent of the people who buy
the paper every day. And I think the candidates were more fun. The
stories were more fun. People seemed really passionate about these people
who were running. There`s much less of that this time around.

MADDOW: So the difference is in part that obviously there`s only one
party who`s contesting this, but you`re saying also even just among the
Republican candidates, people aren`t psyched?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I think there were people last time
around who would have given their right arm for John McCain if he asked
them to. People really excited about him. People were really excited
about Obama. They were really excited about Hillary Clinton.

You could go to parties over Christmas and this is what people are
talking about. It`s not really the case. I mean, I think Mitt Romney has
an awful lot of support, but you don`t see people psyched.

The candidates aside from Romney, they`re very different from one
another. And the idea that they could pool their resources somehow -- it`s
a bit farfetched at this point.

MADDOW: Yes. It`s over before it began.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.

MADDOW: It does feel like kind of a non-consequential New Hampshire
primary this year. There`s no suspense, unless Romney doesn`t win by 20
points. Like what else would be a relevant outcome?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a guy on television talking about if he
wins by merely 20 points, maybe that`s -- 20 points in an election that he
just won by eight votes? It seems pretty good. Yes. You know, it`s funny
from a journalist standpoint you sort of think, Romney, it seemed like
Romney was going to win when we started this thing, you know, a year ago
and we`ve been covering it all this time. And here we are.

It`s not that it hasn`t been interesting along the way, but in the end
it feels like we`re starting, we`re ending right where we started. It`s
very strange.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: It feels like we`re ending right where we started. It`s
strange. It is strange.

I mean, the common wisdom is that New Hampshire`s race is really
important. Common wisdom is Rick Santorum is surging and people really
like him. Common wisdom is that Mitt Romney can`t win in South Carolina.
The view from here is that all of that common wisdom is bunk.

Joining us now is my pal and colleague Chris Matthews, the host of
"HARDBALL" which you can catch at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on
MSNBC. His latest book is "Jack Kennedy: Elusive History."

Chris, happy New Hampshire.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, "HARDBALL" HOST: Thank you. Well, I don`t know about
that report. That was rich.

MADDOW: Tell me.

MATTHEWS: Well, because it was rich. It had a lot of anthropology in
it. Not just in the mores fight between Rick Santorum and the rest of the
world, but in the mood setting. I mean, that reminded me of the way
politics was before it got exciting, with Kennedy and that era. The `60s,
the `70s.

Since then it reminded me of Denmark politics -- oh, yes, I guess we
have to vote. That`s scary when American politics becomes so routine and
lacking in romance and phenomenon. There`s no phenomenon to the race.

What`s the excitement in the race? What`s the unique selling point in
this election in Massachusetts or New Hampshire up here this year? It`s
like there`s no unique selling point.

MADDOW: That was the strange thing about seeing a big crowd and
really wanting to go to a Santorum event because everybody was telling me
he`s getting the crowds. And you could see, I was really excited. There`s
a lot of people here, they tell us I can`t get in.

Then I get in, and everybody`s bummed out and booing him and they`re
yelling at him. And nobody`s happy to hear what he was saying. And nobody
was there as a supporter.

I mean, I`m sure it`s not true everywhere in the state. But people
are not psyched about this race.

MATTHEWS: You know, I get criticism for saying back in 2004 I got a
thrill up my leg about Obama speaking because he spoke about our country in
an exciting way. He didn`t talk about himself. He talked about our
country and its potential to live up to its ideal, a guy named Barack
Hussein Obama from an exotic background, if you will, becoming president of
the United States. It`s the only country in the world that would actually
be like this. And that was exciting.

Romney is just the guy whose turn it is. And I heard the editor of
the Concord paper talk about you could have predicted this election in your
sleep. That this was going to be Romney for regional regions. He`s the
local guy. He gets elected. What else is new?

And I think that`s pretty sad.

But I do think it`s interesting, even on the liberal side, the
progressive side, Obama has yet to excite the base yet. We`re going to see
it`s symmetric in a sense that this is a year without excitement.

But there will be a crash of views here. It`s going to come because
Romney has married into the right to get this nomination. He has basically
seduced the right by claiming he`s a conservative. In fact, a right winger
in many ways, a hawk in many ways. Not what he was all those years up in
Massachusetts.

And growing up, he wasn`t a hawk growing up or right winger. In any
way, pro-choice, for gay rights in many ways, and now he`s saying, that`s
not true. So, he`s tried to raise that myself trying to erase that and
move to the right.

I do believe the Obama people, the strategists -- I don`t want to be
coldly political about this, but they now have him in a boxed canyon. He`s
going over to the right. They can slam the door on him. He`s there. And
I think that`s what he`s done to himself.

MADDOW: When Romney -- I mean, we`re in this discussion, we`re
assuming it`s going to be Romney. We can talk about whether anybody else -
-

MATTHEWS: Because the numbers you just presented, they`re strong.

MADDOW: Yes, they`re strong. For them to be strong, so strong here
and increasingly strong in South Carolina, does sort of feel like a door is
closing. But anything could happen. In fact, anything could happen
between now and Tuesday. This might get exciting.

MATTHEWS: By the way, I love the way you said that because the
phenomenon of politics is what saves it from being boring. Even after
Florida, even if he wins this four in a row, after Florida, months and
months of exposure, knowing he`s the Republican nominee in effect. And all
those weeks and weeks and months really from, say, from February right
through November. All that exposure, that`s a dangerous time for him --
all that time to do opposition research, for him to make a mistake, for
people in the party to have problems with him.

MADDOW: When is the tipping point from when the Republican also-rans
and the Republican would-be contenders stop feeling desperate, oh, geez,
this is my last chance to stop Romney and stop feeling like they got to get
onboard the Romney train? When do they stop --

MATTHEWS: That`s a great question I can only think in the near term,
Saturday night and Sunday morning. Remember the movie, "Saturday Night and
Sunday Morning." That`s this weekend. It`s a doubleheader. It`s an
overnight.

MADDOW: Yes.

MATTHEWS: This is not original with me. Certainly after interviewing
him the other night, last night, clearly Newt Gingrich is loaded for bear.
And I wouldn`t get into he`s angry. That`s petty.

It`s not high school. He knows he has to get back on his feet again.
He knows he`s been beaten hard. He has to get back. There`s a bit of a
personal animus, which will make it interesting in any competition.

Romney knows he`s coming. There will be blood tomorrow night.

MADDOW: Isn`t that the same -- isn`t that the same calculus for every
single one of these guys? I mean, except for the ones who have given up
and are around trying to get a book deal or something -- I mean, isn`t it
the case the only way any of them can move forward is over Romney`s back?

MATTHEWS: He has to --

MADDOIW: They all got to kill Romney.

MATTHEWS: They all must have to win the intramurals first. They all
must have to become the non-Romney first. That`s the problem. They have
to -- clearly coming -- in South Carolina there has to be a main challenger
at that point.

MADDOW: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Who`s going to be the main challenger? Perhaps the one who
wins up here, comes in second up here.

I`ll tell you, the whole discussion you had in your piece there about
Rick Santorum, I watch Rick Santorum develop. A lot of people voted for
him in Pennsylvania thinking he was like any other moderate Pennsylvania
Republican. The long tradition going back to Bill Scranton and the
Eisenhower Republicans and Hugh Scott, Swiker (ph), they all thought he was
one of them. And then they got in there and watched him for a while,
develop into this guy who`s a home schooler, extremely pro-life, extremely
anti-gay in terms of gay rights and gay being.

And they said, wait a minute, this guy isn`t the kind of Republican
like Tom Ridge. He`s not a suburban regular Republican. He`s different.

And I think what you`re seeing here in New Hampshire, you`re seeing
the realization he is different, he`s not a regular Republican.

I`ll say this in his favor. He doesn`t change. It`s always been
Rick. And Rick will have problems with modern mores. And he doesn`t --
the trouble I think with the kids when he meets with young people, he
doesn`t want to listen.

If he wants to hear -- has he ever said, you know, you`re right?
Barry Goldwater, who everybody thought was a principled man, a wonderful
man in many ways, very libertarian and very good on gay rights, very much,
pro choice and all. Barry Goldwater was on the floor of the United States
Senate one time and they were debating whether or not 18-year-olds could
vote for not.

And somebody said, you know -- it seems to be very primitive to say
this -- you know, we make them fight. We draft them at 17, 18. We send
them out there in the armaments. They go kill Germans, go kill Japanese,
go kill communists. Should we let them vote on that?

And you know what? Goldwater said, you know what? You`re right --
and changed his vote on the floor.

MADDOW: Wow.

MATTHEWS: And so I -- change his whole philosophy about it. So, has
Rick Santorum said, it`s a constitutional issue, it`s not a religious
issue. Although I disagree with you on based on my religious training and
belief, you know what? That`s not for me to say.

He doesn`t do it.

MADDOW: Chris Matthews, I love talking to you.

MATTHEWS: That`s a song title, isn`t it? Johnny Mathis.

MADDOW: It`s good to be with you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Good to be here.

MADDOW: All right. Chris Matthews host of "HARDBALL" here on MSNBC.
His newest book is called "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," which you should
buy.

All right. My adventures in trying to meet Jon Huntsman were caught
on tape. Those are coming up, as is a live visit here on this seat with a
real live Republican presidential hopeful who has by far the best campaign
signs in this state.

We`re live in Manchester, New Hampshire. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

MADDOW: Hunt, hunt, hunt. But today here in New Hampshire, we were
the huntsman. We were hunting the Huntsman, trying to get Jon Huntsman to
talk to me about anything. It, involved quite a bit of driving, some
standing around and occasionally some stealthy quick walking through
parking lots and across lawns.

My chase scene in trying to ask Jon Huntsman one question, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: We`re on our way to the Jon Huntsman event right now. We`ve
heard from the Jon Huntsman campaign -- no, no way, no chance, never.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve told you no?

MADDOW: They`ve told us no. Don`t even try to get close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t walk next to us.

MADDOW: Yes. The idea was can we -- you know -- even if there`s not
like a time for a formal sit-down with the candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will walk to the car with you.

MADDOW: Can I open the door for him? No.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Please join me in welcoming Governor Jon Huntsman.

(APPLAUSE)

JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. How`s everybody
this morning? Do we have any voters in the room?

We have to be real. We have to draw from ideas that are doable and
not sound outlandishly stupid.

Thank you all very much for having me.

(APPLAUSE)

MADDOW: I`m trying to anticipate that as his vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old campaign end-around.

MADDOW: I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s your goal for Tuesday, Governor? Your goal
for Tuesday?

HUNTSMAN: Exceeding market expectations.

MADDOW: It`s interesting that he`s got (INAUDIBLE). I think a lot of
this group is for him. So I`m not sure how (INAUDIBLE) someone`s right
there in the middle who doesn`t look like me and might have a better
chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, I`m with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. If you
were president today, when would you believe Afghanistan? How quickly
would you leave Afghanistan?

HUNTSMAN: I would say, you know, there`s a year until I`d be in
office. I`d say by the end of the first year, 2013. I would drawdown.
Not 100,000, 90,000, but something that represented the real challenge in
southwest Asia, which is a counter terror challenge. That would be maybe
10,000, 15,000 troops.

REPORTER: Do you think that Governor Romney would be a credible,
strong candidate?

HUNTSMAN: We`ll let the people decide --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking lots of questions.

HUNTSMAN: -- who those ultimate successful candidates are to take on
Obama.

MADDOW: When you saw the scrum today after Huntsman`s talk, was that
totally atypical for what it`s been like with Huntsman thus far? This is
new for Huntsman?

JO LING KENT, NBC NEWS CAMPAIGN EMBED REPORTER: I used to be the only
reporter following him around, Rachel.

MADDOW: Wow.

KENT: I`m not kidding. So, this is -- it`s change a lot in the past
month. You know, more and more people are coming. You see the national
reporters from Washington.

But today, as I told you earlier, it was completely unprecedented.
I`ve never seen him mobbed and walking and told not to do an -- usually
Huntsman is the kind of guy after an event, he just sort of wanders up to
reporters, hey, guys, what you got for me? And then we just fire away and
he`s so nice and takes every question.

But I think now everybody is paying attention and maybe their strategy
is changing.

MADDOW: Do you think because there`s more media here and so
everybody`s getting more media? Or do you think that this is more
attention to Jon Huntsman specifically?

KENT: I think Jon Huntsman is under a lot of pressure. He didn`t
campaign in Iowa. He got no track record up to this point in terms of
elections. And so, we`re seeing everybody say, all right, is this guy in?
Are we on a death watch?

And so, I think that`s the thing. Four days to go. This guy`s only
campaign here. He`s in the single digits.

And everyone says he has the best resume of the Republican Party. Of
course, he`s of major, major interest.

He used to say in every stump speech, I`m going to put you on notice.
We`re going to win New Hampshire. Now, he doesn`t say that anymore. He
says, we`re going to do well, we`re the ticket out, we need these market
moving events.

It`s four days to go. So, as reporters we`re waiting to see what
happens.

MADDOW: Out of all the campaigns you`ve seen all these overall these
months, who has surprised you as being better than people think or better
than people think or improved the most?

KENT: In terms of their personality?

MADDOW: In terms of how they perform as a candidate, how their
campaign works and how they perform as a candidate on the stump.

KENT: I think I covered Rick Santorum for eight days in Iowa, ahead
of that Iowa straw poll. I was really, really surprised by their
determination and by their organization. And Rick Santorum, for all of the
positions that he holds that people say are very far to the right, he`s got
a personality and he believes without a doubt what he says.

It is part of his soul. He makes that known in a way, OK, this is me,
take it or leave it.

MADDOW: And it works with people, connects with people?

KENT: And I think it works with people. And I think that`s why he`s
slowly starting to see the surge. And I think, even today he just got in
the double digits in New Hampshire polls. That`s never happened before.

MADDOW: So, you`re expecting Santorum to do well?

KENT: I don`t think he`s going to do as low as we thought. I don`t
know how well he can do. Mitt Romney really has an incredible organization
here.

MADDOW: Yes.

KENT: They are a machine and know how to ID voters. They`re out
there. There`s never been an event that isn`t very, very well done --

MADDOW: Yes.

KENT: -- in terms of production value. So it`s an interesting race
to watch. I just think, you know, everyone really thought Huntsman was
going to explode on the scene. If you put in this many number of events
and you can`t get to that point, I wonder, you know, kind of what`s --

MADDOW: If you plug Jon Huntsman the candidate into Romney`s
campaign?

KENT: Possible.

MADDOW: Possible?

KENT: Possible. But Mitt Romney is very, very, very practiced and
been through this before and knows what to expect. I think to a certain
extent, Huntsman, if you had that, maybe. Maybe.

MADDOW: Jon Huntsman 2016.

KENT: Yes. I`ve been asking him. He doesn`t answer yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Jon Huntsman 2016. Is that such a crazy idea? Big thanks to
NBC News campaign reporter Jo Ling Kent who`s been up here forever and was
really nice to take time off the trail to show us the ropes today.

Governor Huntsman, you have an open invitation anytime you would like
to come on the show. If it makes any difference, there is a Republican
running for president who`s totally up for being our guest on our show.
He`s not afraid. In fact, he`ll be here on the show live tonight here.

I`m saying, Governor Huntsman. I do not bite unless you want me to.
We`d love to have you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This may not be the hardest fought New Hampshire primary in
history, but the war for campaign sign real estate is at Defcon one at
least.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: Sign assessment. As far as I can tell, everybody`s signs are
some shade of blue, mostly like blue blazer navy blue. Jon Huntsman has
chosen wine.

Why, Jon Huntsman? Why have you done this? Wine? Really? Not even
power red? Come on. Wine?

Couple things I want to point out here. The one thing that is in
italics on the entire sign out of its many, many fonts, join, join, join.
It`s italicized. The capital "F" fight. Why is it capitalized?

Join the fight at RickSantorum.com. Santorum bold.

OK. It`s a little weird. The fight being a capitalized thing makes
it seem like it`s some sort of a -- well, it seems like a proper noun
fight.

OK. While we`re talking campaign signs, can you see me? There we go.
While we`re talking campaign signs, here -- there`s a horn.

I don`t think that was for me. Here`s a very rare sight. It is a
Fred Karger sign. The Fred Karger for president sign, the only sign in
which a candidate has put his own face. Go, Fred.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: So Jon Huntsman, I question the color. Rick Santorum, I
questioned the inexplicable italics and capitalization.

Fred Karger -- hey, Fred Karger has a sign. Awesome.

But there is a clear winner up here in the war among the signs. There
is a candidate who has by far inarguably the best signs in state of New
Hampshire. The sign and the candidate -- next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WOLFF, TRMS EXEC. PRODUCER: You can see the campaign for the
Republican nomination really in mediums, the middle of traffic which is
where we`re sitting. There are many, many signs and many, many candidates.
The best sign. In arguably, this sign right here -- America needs Buddy.
Inarguable and artfully presented, really in THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW colors.
That`s the best sign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: America needs a Buddy. Even if it`s not in THE RACHEL MADDOW
S SHOW colors.

As THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW`s executive producer Bill Wolff points out
so very astutely there, standing in the median at sunset, you can`t argue
with the Buddy message in good times or in bad.

Unfortunately, though, poor Republican presidential candidate Buddy
Roemer now O for 18 when it comes to being asked to participate in
nationally televised debates. A lot of Americans have so far preferred
buddying up to the likes of Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann
over the four term U.S. congressman and former governor of Louisiana.

On our way to the Rick Santorum campaign stop in Dublin, New
Hampshire, today, I asked "The Concord`s" editor, Felice Belman, why it`s
been so tough for Mr. Roemer to get traction even as a protest candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FELICE BELMAN, CONCORD MONIOTOR EDITOR: I will say, there`s this
woman who`s one of my most regular letters to the editor writers. I hear
from her all the time, all week long. She can`t not write a letter to the
editor.

And she`s a Democratic activist and she`s involved in Democratic
politics in her town. And the most shocking thing I`ve heard from her this
year is she has switched from her Democratic registration to undeclared,
solely so she can vote for Ron Paul because she cares so much about getting
out of Afghanistan.

MADDOW: Wow.

BELMAN: I don`t know if she speaks for anybody but herself but she`s
really disappointed with Obama and willing to say so publicly which is
unusual, you know? She wants to use space my paper every three days to
tell people to vote for Ron Paul. It`s interesting.

MADDOW: As a protest candidate, essentially as a protest candidate

BELMAN: There`s a lot she likes about him. She likes Buddy Roemer
who`s somebody that people who watch national TV shows probably don`t hear
that much about. But, you know, his whole thing, he hasn`t gotten much
airtime. I don`t think they`re going --

MADDOW: Boy, has he got airtime with me. I`ve got like a Buddy
Roemer standing order on my -- I think, I`m hoping he`s going to be on our
show tonight. But he`s the only candidate -- he`s the only Republican
candidate who will talk to me. Maybe we`ll get Rick Santorum today. You
never know.

But, yes, Buddy Roemer is capturing people`s attention -- people who
are policy motivated I think.

BELMAN: Yes.

MADDOW: He`s got a really strong message on money and politics.

BELMAN: But a lot of those people are not Republican Party voters.
So they may -- that`s a protest vote. That might be a Democrat or a true
independent choosing a Republican ballot just to say, I want campaign
finance reform. But I don`t know that that`s a big enough number of people
that it`s going to turn into anything.

MADDOW: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: Joining us now, Republican presidential candidate Buddy
Roemer.

Governor Roemer, thank you for being here.

BUDDY ROEMER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Rachel. Glad you
had me again. Third time. That`s a record.

MADDOW: I talk about you behind your back. That`s what it sounds
like.

What do you think of "The Concord Monitor" editor there saying that
you have made this very substantive point on money and politics, the cause
of your campaign? But she`s saying that it does not appeal to Republican
voters, maybe to independents, maybe some Democrats. Republicans don`t
want to hear it.

ROEMER: How do we know? I`ve not been invited to a single national
debate.

Now, I`m the only person running who`s been a congressman and a
governor. Not only was I governor, I was a governor in a state with high
unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, a corrupt system where the current
governor bragged about taking money. No problem. I limited my money, no
PAC money.

I mean, I have the experience of what I think America needs. Now, let
me be careful. I don`t know that America needs me.

But I`m the only person running who begins with the key to unlock
success. No more special interest money. No more corruption.

Let President Obama put out his program. Not the special interests.
Let President Roemer put his program. Not the special interests.

We need balance. We need disclosure. We need cleanliness.

I`ll say this. This campaign is not about ideas. Have you listened
to them?

It`s about money. It`s about money. It`s about money.

And they get it from insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies.
How the hell are you going to have health care? They get it from those oil
companies and ethanol companies who have a stake in energy. How are you
going to be energy independent and be environmentally clean?

I challenge my party, stand with plain people, not with privileged
people on Wall Street and let`s turn this country around.

MADDOW: People who are seeing you right now for the first time, who
haven`t seen you the oath end couple times I spoke to you, haven`t seen you
at the debates, when they hear that diagnosis from you about what`s wrong,
what is the Buddy Roemer solution to that that they`ll remember if they`ve
never seen you before?

ROEMER: Say no to the PACs. Eliminate super PACs. Disclose all
money that you collect when you run. Do it every 48 hours. Not every 120
days. Have criminal penalties for those who violate.

Don`t let the lobbyists bring a check. They can bring an idea, but no
fund-raising.

You can clean it up, Rachel. And you can do it constitutionally.
Read Citizens United. Money of speech. OK. But it also says the biggest
threat to our country is corruption and the appearance of corruption.

And so super PACs have to be independent. You cannot name me a super
PAC that`s independent.

I mean, Jon Huntsman`s father gives the money to his super PAC and he
hides the fact. Mitt Romney has two super PACs. Rick Perry has seven.
Barack Obama has two.

And they`re all run by campaign managers or former chiefs of staff.
It`s not right. The first step, whether it`s jobs, immigration, foreign
policy, oil addiction, the first step is campaign reform. The first bill,
I`ll have is HB1, campaign reform.

You say, you can`t pass it, Buddy. If you can win with an average
contribution of $50 and have 5 million people stand with you, you will win
this race. But I`ve got to get on the debate, Rachel.

Now, look, I don`t usually complain about this system, but the money
runs deep in ways that go from beyond campaign contributions. They run big
media, big corporations. They control who we get to vote on for president.

Do you think you can be elected president, Rachel, and not be on a
single debate in the 21st century? It`s not possible. I`ve been shut out
of every darn one. And I wonder why.

And you know the rules change, Rachel. At first I wasn`t an announced
candidate. I announced in Dartmouth in August. Then it`s you need 1
percent. I got 1 percent. Then you need 2 percent. I got 2 percent.

Then you need to raise half a million dollars.

Is that the way we pick a president, how much money he raises or she
raises? It`s not right.

MADDOW: Governor Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana, former
U.S. congressman, candidate for president not invited to the debates but a
man who has pressed this cause and this issue I think farther than anybody
expected you to at this point in the campaign. I know that you have
planned a major announcement for your campaign tomorrow and I also know
better than to ask you to preempt yourself tonight -- but I want to let
everybody know that`s coming. And we`re looking forward from hearing from
you tomorrow.

ROEMER: See you tomorrow, Rachel. And that bar later tonight.

MADDOW: Yes, we will be at that bar. That`s right.

All right. The best new thing in the world is going to be that bar
with me and Buddy Roemer later.

But until then, I met the best new thing in the world today in person
at a New Hampshire political event -- very, very, very tiny sequined shoes.
Best new thing in the world coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I have learned that it is very important to people here in
New Hampshire we all describe their presidential primary as first in the
nation. First. First, first, first. And it is the first primary, but
awkward as it is to bring this up while you`re here, in New Hampshire,
before this comes something called Iowa.

The Iowa caucuses, those are people before this and the most
interesting thing about Iowa this year is the Iowa caucuses were almost
unbelievably close. Close, close, close. At one point, way after midnight
on Tuesday night when Rick Santorum was leading the count by 10 votes or
so, Romney headquarters were concerned they weren`t seeing full results
from Clinton County, Iowa. Clinton County in the eastern part of the
state, right along the Mississippi River, a Romney leaning county that
appeared to be missing some returns.

A woman named Edith Pfeffer is chairman of Clinton County, Iowa. When
the Romney campaign could not figure out what was going on with the returns
from that county, they tried to get Ms. Pfeffer on the phone.

By the time CNN got Edith Pfeffer on the line, Senator Santorum`s lead
had been down from 100 or so votes earlier to only four votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: How many precincts are there in Clinton County?

EDITH PFEFFER: There are 30 precincts.

BLITZER: And have all 30 as far as you know reported?

PFEFFER: Oh, yes.

BLITZER: Every single one?

PFEFFER: Every single one.

BLITZER: What`s the total for Clinton county Romney, Santorum, Paul?

PFEFFER: Oh. Are they -- oh, God. I added them up a couple times.
Oh, man. My -- I show Romney coming up a total of 437 votes from Clinton
County. Santorum had 354. Perry had 73.

JOHN KING, CNN: The numbers we`re receiving from the state do not
match the numbers we just received from the county chairwoman here in
Clinton County. If these are the final numbers --

PFEFFER: What do you mean the numbers don`t match?

BLITZER: I`ll explain it. I`ll explain it to you. John, you go
ahead and explain it.

KING: The numbers, Madam Chairwoman, I`m not questioning your
numbers. The numbers you`re giving us now do not match the numbers the
state central committee has reported so far from your county. And they say
one precinct is missing. So, if your numbers are that missing precinct and
these are the numbers from Clinton County, excuse my scribble, but 437, not
386; 354, not 321.

We can stop right there, Wolf. That would make --

BLITZER: Romney the winner.

KING: -- Romney the winner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Wow. What do you mean they don`t match?

And then about 20 minutes later, the state Republican Party in Iowa
officially declared Mr. Romney the winner. By eight votes. Eight votes,
out of 122,255 cast which is a margin of 0.007 percent. That`s close.

Since Mr. Romney was declared the winner by eight votes, a caucus
worker in Appanoose County, Iowa, said Mitt Romney was awarded 28 extra
votes in that county and if he only won by -- eight, an extra 20 votes
would of course mean that he didn`t win at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Twenty-eight-year-old Edward True (ph) helped count the
votes and jotted the results down on his piece of paper to post on his
Facebook page later. His notes said Mitt Romney received two votes.
According to the Iowa Republican Party`s Web site, True`s precinct cast 22
votes for Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is huge. This essentially changes who won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ultimately, does it matter now who exactly won in Iowa? Is
the effect on the ongoing race from here on out materially different if the
Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney virtual tie, if the result flipped today, would
it make a difference for what happened in New Hampshire or anywhere else
after this? Probably not.

And, frankly, if the margin were different by not just eight votes but
8,000 votes, would that make that much of a difference?

Being a Republican who wins, or almost wins the Iowa presidential
caucuses does not win you very much in American politics. Remember Mike
Huckabee`s big nine-point win in Iowa? He was pretty much out of the race
by March. He picked up some Deep South states in Kansas. He was done
almost before he was even done basking in Iowa.

In 1988, the huge conservative winner in Iowa was televangelist Pat
Robertson who won the Ames, Iowa, straw poll and came in second on caucus
night to Bob Dole. By April, he was out of the race. And now, he said God
told him who`s going to win this year.

God is giving Pat Robertson betting tips for Intrade.

So, does maybe not knowing who really won the Republican caucuses in
Iowa this year tell you anything important about the standings and the
momentum for the rest of this race? No, it does not.

Does knowing who won the Republican caucuses in Iowa any year,
reliably tell you anything important about the standings in the race that
year? No. No, it really does not.

The only reason it matters that we kind of don`t know who won Iowa
this year and we don`t know if we`ll ever know for certain is that
Republicans have spent their legislative time and energy since the 2010
election screaming from the rafters about their grave concern for the
integrity of the vote. The supposed grave and imminent threat to the
sanctity of every single vote has according to Republicans compelled them,
required them to push new restrictive voter ID laws in states across the
country. These voters ID laws potentially block millions of making it
hard to register.

But the Republican lie is that it`s worth restricting the vote to
ensure integrity of elections. Integrity. And in the first contest of the
year, an Republican only event run by the Republican Party, Republicans
cannot be bothered to figure out how to count their own votes and figure
out who actually won. That`s how devoted they are to the integrity every
vote. Busted.

(COMMERICLA BREAK)

MADDOW: One of the reasons I`m glad I will never run for office is my
here hold my baby problem. Somebody hands me a baby, I reluctantly accept
knowing what`s coming and two seconds, a expression of crying and wailing
and full throated repertoire of infant misery, every time, my whole life.

So, today, when a shockingly cute eight-week-old New Hampshire girl
was transferred into my arms, expectations were very, very low.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(INAUDIBLE)

MADDOW: Oh, God, look at her shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Baby Grace, eight weeks old, one of the newest things in the
world and easily the best new thing in my world today. Thank you, New
Hampshire. I love New Hampshire politics. It`s great to be here today.

Have a great weekend. Now, prison.

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

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