updated 7/6/2004 2:27:59 PM ET 2004-07-06T18:27:59

Guest: Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. David Dreier, Joe Trippi, John Fund

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Fireworks are still going off in Washington, as running mate rumors ignite the nation‘s capital.  The latest on veepstakes from “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman.  And will the burden of war in Iraq bring back the draft?  We‘ll talk to Congressman David Dreier and Congressman Charles Rangel.  Plus, political guru Joe Trippi on how the Internet has changed the face of politics.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews, back from chasing big game in Africa, and I‘ll have the pictures when I get them back.

John Kerry‘s expected to announce his vice presidential running mate as early as tomorrow morning.  And the Bush administration has a game plan in place for whoever Kerry picks.  NBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell‘s at the White House.

Norah, what is the game for tomorrow morning from the Republican side?

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Republicans are planning to be ruthless, today already hinting that they plan to attack Senator Kerry‘s vice presidential pick as his second choice.  They are noting that Senator Kerry‘s first choice, Senator John McCain, said no.  And so as soon as Kerry announces just who this vice presidential choice is, the Bush-Cheney campaign plans to go up with a new television ad, and that new television ad will feature Senator McCain heaping praise on President Bush.  This is seen as a move to embarrass Senator Kerry, as well as a move to strengthen President Bush‘s standing among independents and swing voters, which Senator McCain is very popular with.

It‘s also noteworthy, of course, that if these ads actually run, and when they do run, that Senator McCain will have a more prominent role in television ads and the president‘s campaign than Vice President Dick Cheney -- Chris.

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t John McCain pretty friendly with John Kerry?  And isn‘t he likely, as he—you cover him as often as anybody—to sometime tomorrow afternoon say, Well, I didn‘t—really didn‘t like the way they used those ads.  It seemed a little bit dirty to me.  Suppose he turns around and says, I didn‘t really like the ads being played the way they were.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, that‘s always a possibility.  But what we do know is that the president‘s campaign, Karl Rove, has reached out to Senator McCain, did several weeks ago, and said, Let‘s bury the hatchet.  We are old enemies.  Let‘s bury the hatchet.  Let‘s come together, work together.  And that‘s why we saw Senator McCain and President Bush bear-hug on stages in Washington state and Nevada several weeks ago.  And now it appears that McCain will appear in these campaign commercials to embarrass Senator Kennedy.  It‘s a political move that this campaign wants to use tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re going to try to embarrass Senator Kerry.  Let me ask you this.  Is there anybody in the White House will admit—when you talk to people in the interstices of the West Wing, who will actually admit there‘s any running mate that Kerry could pick that they might be afraid of?

O‘DONNELL:  I think that they will not publicly admit that.  But privately, I sense a bit of anxiousness among the campaign, the president‘s top strategist today, Matthew Dowd, putting out a memo predicting that Kerry will, in fact, get a big bounce.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

O‘DONNELL:  And they say that heading into August, that Kerry will likely have a 15-point bounce, based on historical trends.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

O‘DONNELL:  Clearly, that‘s a way for the Bush campaign to raise expectations because then come August, and after the conventions, if Kerry‘s only up 5 points, then they can say, Well, we thought it was going to be 15.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s in—that‘s in the HARDBALL tool book.  It‘s called sandbagging.  I think I wrote that chapter about 20 years ago, Norah.  Let me ask you about Cheney.  Is there any whisper that Cheney, through all the negotiations or all the commission reports and investigations over the next couple months, might require that they find a new VP at the White House?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, White House officials insist that Vice President Cheney has permanent job security, that he is wildly popular among the conservative base, and that ditching Cheney would be the equivalent of raising taxes.  That‘s according to some officials.

But clearly, Cheney has some issues, whether it‘s the comments he makes to Democrats or ties to Halliburton that Democrats have tried to exploit.  But they say Cheney‘s going to stay on the ticket.  It is noteworthy some polls have suggested that Cheney‘s approval ratings have slipped and that his disapproval ratings have gone up even among some Republicans.  But still they say Cheney will stay on the ticket.  He will continue to speak to the president‘s conservative base.  And they say they‘ll continue to send him out the reach out to swing voters.

MATTHEWS:  I was shocked hearing overseas, though, when I was overseas, that Dick Cheney had used bad language.  I hope he‘s cleaned up his act, now that I‘m home.  Anyway, thank you very much.  It‘s great—happy 4 of July.  Norah O‘Donnell at the White House for NBC News.

Congressman Charles Rangel‘s a Democrat from New York, and Congressman David Dreier‘s the co-chairman of Bush-Cheney campaign in California.  He‘s also chairman of the House Rules Committee.

What kind of choice would convince voters that John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, is serious about leading the country?  Mr. Rangel, happy 4th of July.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  Welcome back.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re looking very well turned out, as always, and looking very happy, I can see.

REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA:  How‘re you doing, Charlie?

RANGEL:  Welcome back.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.  Let me ask you this.  Who—not who would be the best gamesmanship, but who would convince you that this guy, John Kerry, means business, that he‘s going to be the best president he can possibly be by picking the best VP he can?

RANGEL:  Now, what I‘ve heard, and I don‘t know whether it‘s true, is that Kerry is going to pick Hillary Clinton, and someone‘s got to carry in Cheney to the Senate floor for him to express his feeling about the matter.

(LAUGHTER)

RANGEL:  At the debate is going to begin there.  Now, that‘s what I‘ve heard.  I don‘t know how true it is.

MATTHEWS:  Am I talking to the man...

DREIER:  Let me...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the man who made...

DREIER:  Let me just...

MATTHEWS:  ... Hillary—I know...

DREIER:  Let me just...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  May I tell what you I‘ve heard?

MATTHEWS:  Right.

DREIER:  What I‘ve heard is that—I‘ll predict right now that we will surpass Matthew Dowd‘s prediction of a 15-point bounce for John Kerry if, in fact, John Kerry selects Charlie Rangel as his running mate.

(LAUGHTER)

DREIER:  In fact, that‘s what—what...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, gentlemen, there‘s a number of names that have been floated around, and I have no idea if they‘re coming out of the heart and soul of the Democratic nominee, John Kerry—Dick Gephardt, John Edwards and this guy, Tom Vilsack, the relatively unknown governor of Illinois—or Ohio—of Iowa.  Congressman Rangel, do you have anybody in that group you think is going to get the nomination?  Or do you think it‘s somebody else?

RANGEL:  I wouldn‘t take Hillary Clinton off of the list, to be honest with you.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is this how we got you on a day off?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Is this what it took?

DREIER:  All Hillary all the time with Charlie.

RANGEL:  Oh, yes.  Well, and the more I see...

MATTHEWS:  OK, would she take it if she were offered it, do you believe?

RANGEL:  If she thought—and there‘s no question about this—that her candidacy could help get rid of Bush, there‘s no question in my mind that she would accept it.  And it would be consistent with everything in terms of her future.

MATTHEWS:  What states in the red part of the country, the part of the country that Al Gore didn‘t—didn‘t win, effectively—you can say what you want about Florida, but didn‘t actually get the points for—what electoral votes, states, would she pick up if she were added to this ticket, beyond what Gore got last time?

RANGEL:  What is happening to the Republican Party that, at long last, people are catching up with the lack of honesty that exists in the administration, and this is going not just to the battleground states.  It is absolutely sweeping the entire nation.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

RANGEL:  And this is especially so, since, for the first time, people are seeing that this is a war that we didn‘t have to get involved in...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

RANGEL:  ... that we‘re losing troops.  A thousand troops are there. 

And so therefore, I think this goes beyond...

MATTHEWS:  But Hillary voted for the war, Congressman.  Doesn‘t that contradict what you‘re saying?

RANGEL:  No, it doesn‘t.  It doesn‘t at all.  I could have possibly been tempted to have voted for the war if I thought for one minute that this president was going to use this as leverage, go to the United Nations...

DREIER:  Which is exactly what he did.

RANGEL:  ... and instead of playing cowboy and going it alone...

DREIER:  Oh, come on!

RANGEL:  We have lost more friends since this war than America has in the 200 years that we‘ve been in business.

DREIER:  Charlie...

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the question I‘m trying to get to.

DREIER:  OK.  Yes, yes, yes, yes.

MATTHEWS:  I know it‘s a holiday but I want to ask you about the question here.  Hillary Clinton—that name‘s been put out there by the—by Mr. Rangel.  He‘s a senior member of the Congress.  He knows what he‘s talking about.  I do think Hillary‘s a wild card, and everybody does.  You don‘t know what she would do to the ticket.  It‘s impossible to predict, whether she‘d kill it or she‘d make it thrive.  But what do you think about the other candidates—Gephardt, Edwards?  Which one would pose the strongest case to you, a Republican who supports Bush, that this guy John Kerry is serious about leading the country?

DREIER:  I think the arguments that have been put forward, that Dick Gephardt is a guy who obviously could step up to the plate.  As you have said often, he passes the cockpit test and...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, will he be a good...

DREIER:  ... he‘s someone...

MATTHEWS:  ... co-pilot?

DREIER:  He‘s someone who it could be turned over to if we were to see the president out of the picture.  And you know, I mean, obviously, I disagree with Gephardt on a wide range of issues.  I think that Gephardt would be probably the strongest guy.  I‘m a native of the “show me” state of Missouri, and I know that...

MATTHEWS:  Can he carry Missouri, do you think?

DREIER:  Well, you know, it remains to be seen whether he can carry Missouri.  I mean, he comes from the largest city in the state, st. Louis, and...

MATTHEWS:  Best media market.

DREIER:  Yes.  Exactly.  I mean, I‘m from Kansas City, on the other side of the state, and there‘s always this competition there.  I think that he would probably be the strongest and—but I still am for Rangel.  I really do believe...

(LAUGHTER)

DREIER:  And I think that—I think that there is this sympatico between John Kerry and Charlie Rangel that is important to note, Chris, on this day on which we‘re having a good time.  And that is fact that John Kerry has the single most liberal voting record, constantly voting for tax increases.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

DREIER:  Charlie‘s our ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, constantly arguing for a dramatic increase on taxes for...

MATTHEWS:  I like the connection...

DREIER:  ... small businessmen and women.

MATTHEWS:  ... between this—they‘re both Skull & Bones guys, Charlie and...

DREIER:  Yes, yes, Charlie and Kerry...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They‘re both St. Paul‘s guys.

DREIER:  Yes.  Exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They hung out together.

DREIER:  Yes.  Exactly.  So he‘s going to bring—they bring some diversity...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been trying to get serious.  That‘s why I came back to work today because this is serious...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  Welcome home.  And for having relived your youth in Swaziland, you know?

MATTHEWS:  In Africa, yes.  But let me just come back to Charles Rangel.  Going to give you a second choice when we come back, but I also want to talk about the question you raised, Mr. Rangel, about this whole war.  I just saw the “Fahrenheit 9/11” movie the other night.  You couldn‘t get in the theater here in Washington.  They were waiting in line to see it.  It‘ll all about the unfairness of this war...

DREIER:  Anybody walk out?

MATTHEWS:  ... and poor people having to fight.  We‘ll be right back with Congressman Charles Rangel of New York and David Dreier or California, each from a different political point of view, in just a comment.

And coming up: the choice for running mate.  Who will John Kerry actually choose?

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m back here with Congressman Charles Rangel of New York and Congressman David Dreier of California.

Congressman Rangel, do you think we need a draft?  I mean, I just—as I pointed out, I saw “Fahrenheit 9/11” this—have you seen that movie yet?

RANGEL:  I certainly have.  And what he is saying is what a lot of us have been saying, but we‘ve never been able to really get it on video as effectively as he did.  Did you see those Marine recruiters going around in minority communities...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

RANGEL:  ... recruiting young kids that just finished high school, and they—if you take a look at those people in the military today, they all come from low-income communities.  And the rest of them, the other 40 percent, are reservists and National Guard.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

RANGEL:  They won‘t even let those who‘ve already served their time—if they‘re on the way to Iraq or in Iraq, they can‘t get out.  And now they‘ve got this new cockamamie unfair policy of reaching back for those young people who‘ve already served, trying to put their lives together, going back to school, starting a business, getting jobs, and now they‘re calling them back for another year.

DREIER:  You know, Charlie...

RANGEL:  It is grossly unfair.

DREIER:  Charlie...

RANGEL:  It‘s unfair.

DREIER:  Charlie, let me just say a couple things.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Dreier...

DREIER:  Let me just say a couple things.  For starters, Charlie, I think it‘s very important to note that all of those people who are being called back are doing—being called back in compliance with the eight-year commitment that they signed, No. 1.  No. 2, you need to realize that 12.8 percent of the casualties that have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan have been from the minority community.  And so I know that your argument that has been put forward—because, you know, you and I were together when you first announced the fact that you were for reinstituting the draft.  We know that John Warner, who was the secretary of the Navy when the draft, in fact, was ended, said that he believed it the right thing to do.  Sandy Levin‘s (ph) our House colleague—Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agrees with Senator Warner on this, realizing the cost of reinstituting the draft would be a tremendous...

RANGEL:  Well, what‘s this...

DREIER:  ... burden on the American taxpayers.

RANGEL:  What‘s this...

DREIER:  And look at the kind of people we‘ve...

(CROSSTALK)

RANGEL:  What‘s this “minority” business?

RANGEL:  Charlie, look at the kind of people we‘ve been recruiting!  I mean, I have not seen the movie, but we have recruited tremendously capable people.  I have from my office a young guy who was tops in his Princeton class who actually is the son of an undersecretary of treasury today who enlisted in the Marine Corps just a couple of—several months ago.  I‘ve had—the brother of my press secretary—and I‘m saying that there are a lot of great people doing it.

RANGEL:  I know.  But I‘m telling you, they‘re not coming from families of members of Congress, families of CEOs, families of people in the Pentagon and...

DREIER:  Well, we know that Mark Kennedy has his two nephews there!

RANGEL:  Don‘t interrupt me.

DREIER:  If Mike—if Moore had put that on television...

RANGEL:  If the president can put on all of these fighter pilot uniforms, why can‘t he get on television, the president, and make an appeal to the patriotism of the people, instead of having the Defense Department going into rural areas and going into the inner cities?  I don‘t know what you‘re talking about with minorities.  But I tell you, when the blood is shed over there, it‘s American blood that‘s being shed and it‘s being shed by those that come from the communities that are on the lowest of the economic ladder.  You know it, and I know it.  And the statistics are there with the Department of Defense, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Well, I guess, you, know the question...

RANGEL:  ... so it‘s clear.

MATTHEWS:  The way the movie portrays it—and this—everybody knows this is the way it works—kids who join the military have no other plans.  Basically, kids...

RANGEL:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  ... who didn‘t get to go to college, the kids that need an opportunity.  And the Army does offer good opportunities for education.

RANGEL:  Sure.  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  So what the movie points out is, fairly or not, they go around trolling around shopping centers, where kids are basically hanging around in small groups, white and black both, kids that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) really sort of—not dead enders, but kids a little bit drifting—drifting kids—and sells them on the fact—You want to be a musician?  Join the military.  You put in the band.  You want to do this?  Join the military (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what you want.

RANGEL:  That‘s unfair.

MATTHEWS:  Basically, good salesmanship.

RANGEL:  Yes, sure it is.  And people wonder, why do they have to go through all of this redrafting those that have already served?  It‘s because they‘re not getting the recruitment.  They‘re not getting the retention.  And these kids...

DREIER:  Well, you know...

RANGEL:  ... like did I when I was a kid—let me finish my thought.

DREIER:  OK.

RANGEL:  What I wanted was to get an education.  You shouldn‘t say that it‘s fair to give a kid an opportunity to send a check home to his mom or to get an education, to send him in Iraq.  And the same is true of the reservists.  It‘s so unfair.  Some of these people are policemen and cops.  Others got jobs that they never will be able to return to.  And if the president believes...

DREIER:  Charlie, they made...

RANGEL:  If the president...

DREIER:  They made the commitment.

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  Let me just tell you this.  We marked the 4th of July.  Could I again...

RANGEL:  I‘m saying it‘s unfair.

DREIER:  ... thank you for your service as a veteran of the Korean war and say how important that is?  There is a level of patriotism that I believe this president has brought about.  And again, what you can point to this movie, which I have yet to see—I do plan, at some point, to see it, probably when it comes out on DVD.  But the fact of the matter is, I believe that there are many, many young people who are very patriotic.  You know, Charlie, as I‘m sure you, as I do, appoint people to serve in the different academies.  And we have a tremendous turnout, a tremendous level of interest in seeing appointments to the academies, as well as people from a wide range of backgrounds...

RANGEL:  Do you know—do you know...

DREIER:  ... who want to serve.  And I find that in my state of California and...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you a political question here.  Congressman Rangel, you read the House as well as anybody.  You‘re a veteran.  Do you think a majority of the Democratic caucus in the House would support bringing back the draft?

RANGEL:  No!  Of course not.  It‘s not the political thing to do.  No one wants to be able to say they want to fight a war with their own kids.  They want to do what David does and fight with someone else‘s kids by saying, Hey...

DREIER:  Oh, come on, Charlie!

RANGEL:  Well, you‘re saying that—get a college education...

DREIER:  You know—you know, my—my dad...

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  ... like your son, was a great Marine!

RANGEL:  Do you know one thing?  They are offering $20,000 a year for a high school grad to join up for six years.  You know that‘s wrong.  That‘s not the kind of Army we want.  But again, if the president truly believes that this war should excite the patriotism, why can‘t he get on TV and say, Listen, this is a good war and...

DREIER:  And he has done that, Charlie!  Look at what the cost would be to the American taxpayer if you were to reinstate the draft.  You talk about that $20,000?  That pales in comparison, according to John Warner‘s analysis...

RANGEL:  We‘re talking...

DREIER:  ... of what the cost would be to reinstitute the draft and...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you gentlemen a question.

RANGEL:  Shared sacrifice.  That‘s all I‘m...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you gentlemen surprised at the latest polling, CBS polling, “New York Times” polling, shows that 4 out of 10 Americans, 2 out of 5, believe that Iraq was involved in 9/11?  Not that they connected any way with al Qaeda, but they were directly involved in attacking America in 9/11.  Does that surprise you, given there‘s no evidence of that?

(CROSSTALK)

DREIER:  It does—it does surprise...

RANGEL:  The vice president is still saying...

DREIER:  No, Charlie—Charlie...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask Congressman Dreier first.

RANGEL:  ... vice president is still saying there‘s a connection.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask Congressman Dreier first.

RANGEL:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Dreier, you‘re first.

DREIER:  Let me say...

MATTHEWS:  Are you surprised if three—two fifths of the American people...

DREIER:  Yes...

MATTHEWS:  ... believe there‘s a connection?

DREIER:  Yes, I am surprised, and I‘ll tell you why I‘m surprised, because never has anyone in this administration said that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government was involved in command and control of September 11.  What has been said...

MATTHEWS:  Then where‘d they get the idea?

DREIER:  ... is, clearly, the global—the global war on terrorism—

Afghanistan and Iraq are part and parcel of the global war on terror.  And there is an understanding that there have been links.  We‘ve seen irrevocable evidence, I believe, that there are links between Saddam Hussein‘s government and the organization of al Qaeda.  And we‘ve all gone through the litany of those things for providing shelter and all kinds of other stuff.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

DREIER:  But what we need to realize, Chris, is that the world perceives us as leading the global war on terror...

RANGEL:  Oh, my God.

DREIER:  ... and both Iraq and Afghanistan are part and parcel of that.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you both, gentlemen.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Rangel, why do you think two fifths of the American people believe that Iraq attacked us on 9/11?  Why do they believe that?

RANGEL:  Because the president constantly inferred that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein...

DREIER:  He never implied anything like that!

RANGEL:  He did imply it!  And I‘m surprised that the number is so low.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

RANGEL:  I would say 9 out of 10 people...

DREIER:  He never implied...

RANGEL:  ... believe Saddam Hussein...

DREIER:  ... anything like that.

RANGEL:  He sure did!

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York and Congressman David Dreier of California.

Up next, a look at the man whose state-of-the-art electioneering energized the Democratic race for president.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Howard Dean‘s Roman candle rise caused a political firestorm in the Democratic Party and reenergized the party base.  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster takes a look at the man behind the phenomenon, Joe Trippi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In the end, even a brilliant strategist could not save Howard Dean from himself.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL

CANDIDATE:  And then we‘re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House!  Yes!

SHUSTER:  But the fact that Dean had been the frontrunner at all is testament, many analysts say, to the genius of campaign manager Joe Trippi.  When Trippi showed up in Vermont in January of 2003, Dean for America had $157,000, seven staff working out of an office above a brewery, and a candidate who most people outside the state had never heard of.  But Trippi thought it might be possible to tap to raw energy and passion.

DEAN:  You have the power to take back the Democratic Party!  You have the power to take our country back!  And you have the power to take the White House back in 2004, and that is exactly what we‘re going to be doing...

SHUSTER:  Joe Trippi had run campaigns for Ted Kennedy, Water Mondale, Dick Gephardt, even Jerry Brown.  For Howard Dean, Trippi cultivated the power of the Internet.  He helped introduce campaign blogs, fund-raising bats and Dean meet-ups.  By mid-summer, Dean‘s anti-Iraq war message and grass roots organization had caught fire.

JOE TRIPPI, FORMER DEAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  We‘ve got thousands of volunteers in this state going door to door today, 200,000 folks will be going -- 200,000 doors will be knocked on over this weekend.  So we feel pretty good.

SHUSTER:  And in August, Trippi‘s team came up with “The Sleepless Summer Tour,” 10 cities in 4 days, including stops in Texas to stick it to George W. Bush.

DEAN:  We can‘t beat George Bush by trying to be like him.  We have to stand up and reach out to the 50 percent of Americans who have given up on voting because they can‘t tell the difference between two parties anymore and give them a reason to vote!

SHUSTER:  Trippi, an emotional Diet Pepsi-guzzling son of a Sicilian flower shop owner, had turned the new ways of the Dean campaign into a cult.  Trippi‘s staff often repeated his favorite movie line, one that frequently made him cry.  “For Love of the Game” is about an old pro baseball player pitching the game of his life, knowing it‘s his last game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - “FOR LOVE OF THE GAME”)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ll back you up.  We‘ll there be.  Because Billy, we don‘t stink right now.  We‘re the best team in baseball right now, right this minute, because of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  For the summer and fall of last year, Howard Dean‘s campaign was the greatest and most creative in grass roots political history.  It broke every fund-raising record, organized supporter in ways never imagined and brought disenfranchised young people into the process by the thousands.   And it‘s a legacy that will long be associated with Joe Trippi.  I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Up next, Joe Trippi himself on the battle for the White House.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  This half-hour, John Kerry could be on the eve of announcing his choice for vice presidential running mate.  We‘ll get the latest on the veepstakes from “Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman.

But, first, the latest headlines right now. 

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back. 

Howard Dean‘s former campaign manager, Joe Trippi, addresses the power of the Internet in his new book.  I love the title, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything.” 

Welcome, Joe.

JOE TRIPPI, FORMER HOWARD DEAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  Great to be here.

MATTHEWS:  Now, let me ask you about the power of the Internet. 

Tomorrow morning at—we don‘t know when.  It is said by those who say these things that John Kerry is going to announce his V.P. running mate over the Internet.  What does that mean to you?  Why is it being done that way?  What does it say?

TRIPPI:  It just goes to what the real change that‘s happened.  The grassroots on the Internet now have an amazing power. 

And the million folks on John Kerry‘s e-mail list that visit his Web site every day are critical to the energy and sustaining his campaign in a way that the folks who give you the $2,000 checks used to be.  And they‘re still important, but I think this really speaks to the Kerry campaign getting it, to reaching out and doing it in a new and different way, not on television, not with a press conference, but to his own supporters, the people that carried him here on the Internet. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what are the limitations of the Internet?  People sit at home.  And I get nuts on this, almost like watching television and flicking the channels at night.  You get on it.  You start doing Googles on different topics. 

TRIPPI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  You start checking things out.  It‘ fun, but it is also a lonely life.  You don‘t do it as groups.  Does that kill the political power to some extent, or limit it, of the blogger, because you‘re basically one person alone, another person alone?

TRIPPI:  Well, they‘re not alone at all.  What people have been doing and what the Dean campaign did and the Kerry campaign continues to do is get people to use the Internet to organize themselves offline, to organize themselves into walking precincts and going door to door, into making phone calls. 

MATTHEWS:  Did it work? 

TRIPPI:  It‘s worked 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, what happened to Howard, your guy? 

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  Well, our campaign, I think we started it.  And often the first guy who starts something, a new movement, starts connecting isn‘t the beneficiary. 

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  Yes. 

The Kerry campaign has done an amazing job, and to their credit, of picking up the ball.  And the most amazing thing is they reported they raised $182 million.  In the Dean campaign back in January of 2003, we set as a goal to raise $200 million and catch George Bush. 

Everybody thought no Democrat could come anywhere near that.  Here, the Kerry campaign is $18 million away.  And you‘re going to see a catch George Bush campaign, I think, made up of Dean folks and other folks out there that try to go out in the last days of July and catch George Bush and follow through on that pledge to reach $200 million. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s help the person out there right now who is probably a businessperson or whatever, a college professor, who has always wanted to run for office, but didn‘t have the loot.  Is there any way that that kind of person can take the Internet and over a couple a spirit of say a couple of years or a couple months, even, develop a constituency, where that person run for office the way some rich guy can? 

TRIPPI:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  How?

TRIPPI:  Howard Dean proved that.

We started out with 432 people.  And we sent an e-mail out to them saying you‘re the only 432 people we have.  The most important thing you could do to make a difference is find one more person to join us.  And we did that from 432 people all the way up to 159,000 people.  And at the end of those 159,000 people, and when we asked them for money, we raised more money that quarter than John Kerry or John Edwards. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... out there against the war in Iraq, which is now unpopular. 

TRIPPI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  For the first time, the polls are showing that a majority of the American people think it was a mistake to go to Iraq.  But back when you were saying it, this was considered, everybody is embedded in the war.  We‘re all for the war.  The media was basically playing it as a war story, not as a political question. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Everybody was for the war except Howard Dean.  That‘s

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  Well, we had—we had—Howard Dean showed so much courage out.  It was unbelievable, watching this guy go out every day at a time when 80 percent of the people in the polls were supporting the war.  He went out every single day, stood his ground.  I think he taught the campaign and what he did taught the Democratic Party how to be a real opposition party, how to take on Bush. 

But I also think, if you look at the Kerry campaign, we opted out, which allowed Kerry to opt out. 

MATTHEWS:  Meaning you weren‘t committing yourself to federal funding. 

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  Federal funding.  When we opted out of federal funding, that gave Kerry the open door to do it, too.  And I think that was the critical moment in the campaign. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s give to the American people who are watching the show right now the scoop.  If it‘s true that tomorrow morning—and you buy the fact, right?  Are you buying into the fact that, tomorrow morning, we‘re going to know who the Democratic nominee is for vice president? 

TRIPPI:  That‘s—I‘m hearing the same thing you‘re hearing. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Given that fact and given the fact that the nominee, the presumptive nominee, John Kerry, says he‘s going to put it on the Internet tomorrow morning, when the announcement comes, how much back time do they need to do that? 

TRIPPI:  They would probably have to start—if it goes the way we had to do it in the Dean campaign, they‘ll have to start around 1:00 this morning. 

MATTHEWS:  Why? 

TRIPPI:  In the morning.

It takes—they have about a million e-mail names.  It takes a long -

·         you don‘t just hit the button and a million people get it one second later.  It takes long time to churn out through one million e-mail names.  It often takes six, seven, eight hours. 

So they would have to start, I would guess—I don‘t want to keep people up tonight checking their e-mail.  But they would have to start about 1:00 in the morning.  And if they do it that way, then, when everybody wakes up tomorrow, they‘ll all have it at the same time and the press will have it as well. 

MATTHEWS:  In other words, the people that send me letters that look like—and I can tell they have gone to 50 other people, right?

TRIPPI:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  They like to update you on everything.

TRIPPI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  They do it by just pushing a button.  Why can‘t John Kerry‘s people just push a button? 

TRIPPI:  Well, you push a button.  If you have 50 people, they will get it pretty instantaneously.  You have one million people, when you push that button, it actually takes hours for the computer to churn through that list. 

MATTHEWS:  Now, you‘re bet is we‘re going to know by what time this morning, a.m.? 

TRIPPI:  I bet, if they‘re doing it and if it is tomorrow, they would have to start by about 1:00, 2:00 tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  So, in California and Los Angeles watching tonight, San Francisco, they‘ll know by 10:00 tonight who the nominee is going to be.  The late news tonight will grab it. 

(CROSSTALK)

TRIPPI:  There‘s a good chance if they‘re checking their e-mails. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s see if we‘re back—so we‘ll be back on at 11:00 tonight if it‘s in fact a fact. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  We‘ll already have known that by now. 

Anyway, Joe Trippi, thanks for coming on again.  Good luck with the boo, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”  This is the future of American politics right here.

Up next, a time to choose.  Who will John Kerry pick as his running mate?  And is Dick Cheney a plus or a minus for the Republicans?  That‘s always the background question.  Howard Dean and John Fund will be here to duke that one out.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

ANNOUNCER:  Follow all the action in the battle for the White House.  Sign up for our free daily e-mail.  Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, more about the battle for the White House when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

John Kerry is expected to announce his vice presidential pick possibly as soon as tomorrow morning. 

“Newsweek”‘s Howard Fineman is an NBC News political analyst and he joins us from Pittsburgh, where he grew up and where he‘s traveling with the Kerry campaign.  And John Fund is with “The Wall Street Journal” and OpinionJournal.com. 

Gentlemen, first off, I want to ask you the greatest question I could ask you.  Do either one of you know who John Kerry is going to pick for V.P.? 

You first, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  No, even though I‘m scouting the horizon here, like George Washington 200 years ago.  No, I don‘t know the answer.

MATTHEWS:  John Fund, do you know who is going to be picked as the V.P. nomination as soon as tomorrow? 

JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”:  No.  I‘m probably one of the last people that John Kerry would tell. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you are a reporter, though.  I thought you might have dug it up. 

(CROSSTALK)

FUND:  What I do know is that John Kerry has been subject to an incredible lobbying campaign on behalf of John Edwards by almost every element of the party except for the Clintons, who don‘t particularly want John Edwards promoted as a rival. 

And if John Kerry holds out and picks someone other than John Edwards, it will show he really wants to assert his independence and that ultimately he didn‘t particularly want to serve with John Edwards for four or eight years in the White House. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I agree with that, too. 

Go ahead.  Do you agree with that, Howard?

FINEMAN:  No.

I don‘t think—if he picks John Edwards, it won‘t be a form of surrender, other than to what might politically be the obvious.  Edwards is the guy who lit the fires on the campaign trail, who came this close to stealing the nomination, who is great with people and would help light up John Kerry and make him a more charismatic candidate.  So if Kerry picks him, he‘s just be surrendering to one version of the obvious. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you list the number of states that John Edwards in the primaries? 

FINEMAN:  Yes, I know, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN:  But I don‘t think that‘s really the—South Carolina—I don‘t really think that‘s the point.  The point is that he adds a lot to Kerry as an entourage, because, if Kerry is going to win this thing, it is going to be as an ensemble cast, not as a solo act. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree that it is going to have to include Bill Clinton in

Florida and places like that.  He‘s going to have to get out there

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Going to have to have everybody.  Going to have to have everybody. 

MATTHEWS:  But let me ask you about the toughest question.  This is the first vice president to be picked by either party after 9/11. 

John Fund, didn‘t 9/11 change the standard for vice presidents? 

FUND:  I think it did.  And also what changed it is the fact that Dick Cheney has so redefined the role of a vice president.  He has so clearly gotten lots of responsibility and become a full partner in an administration. 

I think that‘s why John Kerry has probably looked at John Edwards and said, politically, it makes all the sense in the world.  But I‘m confident enough that I can run and win on my own.  And, by the way, history basically says that the vice president really doesn‘t ultimately help except maybe in your home state.  So if he picks a Dick Gephardt, actually, that‘s also politically savvy, because Missouri is one of the most contested states. 

FINEMAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you the same question, Howard.  If it is 9/11 again and we have a horror we face again and the vice president of the Democratic president is back in Washington and the president has got to leave him in charge basically as an operations boss for a couple of hours, would John Kerry be comfortable in having John Edwards calling the shots in the White House? 

FINEMAN:  Maybe not.  And I think that‘s the biggest knock against Edwards.  That‘s what‘s held Edwards up the whole time, his lack of foreign policy and defense experience, no contact with the military, still kind of green in the ways of Washington and the world, however quick a study he is. 

That‘s what makes Gephardt appealing, his steadiness and stolidity become a virtue.  That‘s what makes Senator Bob Graham of Florida still a dark horse here in the last hours.  I know they vetted Senator Graham a little more carefully than people realize, looked at him a little more closely than people realize because he is a seasoned expert on defense and foreign policy. 

And I think that‘s an important factor.  I think that‘s a very important factor and one that I know John Kerry has been weighing very deeply in this whole process. 

MATTHEWS:  John, who would you think—it‘s hard to be objective.  None of us have it easy doing that, but let me ask you this.  Who do you think would be the best candidate to sit across—let me say this right—to stand across at a lectern opposite from Dick Cheney in October and have a debate with him and really win that debate, as we say on television, walk away with it, win the debate?  Who would be the best Democrat to do that? 

FUND:  Stylistically, John Edwards.  I think he is very appealing on camera. 

However, John Edwards sometimes has a little bit of a problem in the heft department.  And, also, his foreign policy credentials, as Howard says, are thin.  Dick Gephardt is a solid hitter.  There are no home runs, but he‘s going to get on base every time. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s Richie Ashburn.

(LAUGHTER)

FUND:  I think every candidate has some qualities.  But, again, I‘m one of these outliers.  I really don‘t people that people vote for vice president.  Dan Quayle winning with George Bush and winning 40 states to 10 states is sort of proof that ultimately people vote for the top of the ticket.  I think the vice president can help in the home state, but not much else. 

MATTHEWS:  I like the way you‘re thinking tonight, John.

Howard, I like the way John is thinking tonight, because I think the top of the ticket matters more than having somebody attractive as No. 2. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What states can John Edwards provide John Kerry? 

FINEMAN:  Oh, I don‘t think it is states as much—so much as it would be demographics, a slice of undecided voters, people who don‘t find trial lawyers necessarily as evil, but in fact, you know, kind of like his populist tint. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

FINEMAN:  I don‘t want to say that he‘s the guy or I‘m rooting for him, because I agree with John and I agree with you that the pick matters more for what it says about the top of the ticket, about the style and the choices and the depth of the nominee. 

George W. Bush earned points when he picked Dick Cheney because it showed that George W. wanted to be seen as a serious guy who was very cared about...

(CROSSTALK)

FINEMAN:  Cared about legislating and leading.  So that is going to matter a lot.  And that‘s why Kerry has been hesitating all along over the Edwards pick and why he may very well may go some other way.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But, John—but, Howard, if the president or the Democratic presumed nominee, John Kerry, wants to emulate the big-picture decision, the big hefty decision of the president in picking a heavyweight V.P., why doesn‘t he just go ahead and pick Dick Gephardt and move on? 

FINEMAN:  Well, because I think he has also taken a look at Bob Graham.  And I think he also, by the way, took a look at Wes Clark. 

I know that the five people who were vetted financially and personally, as I understand it, were Edwards, Gephardt, Tom Vilsack, the governor of Ohio, who I think has fallen by the wayside perhaps a little bit in the last couple hours or days, and Graham and Clark.  And I know also that Kerry was very serious about the John McCain pick for that reason in part because of his deep foreign policy and defense experience, also because he could try to then sell the ticket as a bipartisan fusion ticket. 

And Kerry hasn‘t let go of that notion entirely.  And somebody like Gephardt, despite his union ties, has some conservative past in his voting record.

MATTHEWS:  Well, John, I guess you‘re ready to pick Dick Gephardt, right, as the probable nominee? 

FUND:  Or Bob Graham, one of those two. 

(CROSSTALK)

FUND:  Both of them are old enough that they are not going to be running for president in their own right.  That means they‘ll be fully supportive of a President Kerry.  And they come with critical states, Missouri in one hand, and Florida, which is even more electoral votes.

I think that it is going to be a political calculation and also a comfort calculation.  And both of them will not threaten and will not overshadow a President Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to come right back and talk more about this and also the vice presidential vulnerability, if there is one, on the part of Dick Cheney.

More with John Fund and Howard Fineman in just a moment.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Howard Fineman and John Fund. 

And the question is, let‘s talk about the competition here, gentlemen.

Howard, you‘re out on the campaign trail following John Kerry.  He‘s going to pick a V.P. nominee in a couple hours, perhaps, or he has already done so.  Has Dick Cheney changed the nature of the selection of a vice president?  Under the United States Constitution, the vice president of the United States has no executive authority whatever.  He has no job except to preside over the United States Senate, which is a legislative job, and to replace the president should the president be incapacitated or killed or die in office. 

But under this vice president, Howard and John, the vice presidency has ballooned into an executive position of almost an co-presidency.  And, also, in times of crisis, he becomes the co-manager of the crisis.  We‘ve seen that.  Does that require—does that fact of 9/11 require that John Kerry pick a heavyweight? 

FINEMAN:  Almost certainly yes, Chris. 

And, as I say, that‘s why Kerry hesitated and has hesitated over Edwards, because this job has been growing in importance even before 9/11.  Now it is desperately important.  And I think yes.  That‘s why foreign policy, defense experience, gravitas, the seasoning, all those things are going to matter.  And that adds to the stock of Gephardt, Graham, Clark, and so forth. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there any way—well, let me ask you this, because you have got it covered it no matter what happens.  We can‘t control history here, obviously, on this show.  It might be interesting if we could, Howard.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, the only guy that could strike out Richie Ashburn was probably Vernon Law or Bob Friend, one of your guys. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about—if he picks a first-term United States senator from North Carolina, if he picks a governor from Iowa who has never worked in Washington, can he claim that these two gentlemen or one of the other is capable of being the president in a crisis? 

FINEMAN:  Well, he can claim it, because people are going to remember the minute-by-minute scenarios of 9/11 and probably have their grave doubts. 

They want somebody with experience.  As I said, George Bush got a lot of points for picking Dick Cheney to begin with in the campaign.  Little did we know how important Cheney was really going to become.  It has become an almost co-presidency.  I agree with you about that. 

MATTHEWS:  You know who would be a really good vice president for the Democratic side?  Rudy Giuliani.  I don‘t think he‘s available. 

FINEMAN:  He would.  He would. 

MATTHEWS:  John Fund, you know more about Giuliani.  You‘re up in New York a lot.  Let me ask you this question. 

Do you think that the bar is set so high now in terms of seasoning and weightiness, because of 9/11, that the vice president has to be someone of Washington experience, has to have almost executive high level experience to be appropriate to the job? 

FUND:  The expectations have certainly gone that way.  Jimmy Carter started this by giving Walter Mondale real responsibility.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He gave him an office in the West Wing, too.

FUND:  That was very symbolically important. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FUND:  I think the days when you used to pick your vice president when you didn‘t—barely knew him, or you had contempt for him and you basically put him in a closet, like Lyndon Johnson did with Hubert Humphrey, are over. 

Now it‘s a team.  And I think we have so looked now to see two people who will get along together, who can work together, and both can interchangeably act with authority in a time of crisis.  I think the job has been fundamentally redefined.  And it started with Jimmy Carter and it has progressed every president since then. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is eligible? 

FUND:  Oh, I think anyone like Bob Graham, who has intelligence capability, Senate Intelligence chairman, anyone like a Dick Gephardt, who has had seasoning for 30 years, the heavyweights that Howard Fineman said were vetted.  With the exception of Vilsack and Edwards, all of them fall into that category. 

MATTHEWS:  Would the Republicans jump on a lightweight? 

FUND:  Oh, yes.  And I think that‘s one of the reasons which makes

Edwards so close, so close to being picked, but

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why are you laughing, Howard?  Howard, you‘re laughing like Santa Claus there.  What did you just hear that was so funny, the obviousness of my question?

FINEMAN:  Well, somehow, yes.  And I just imagined you as Santa Claus landing on John Edwards. 

The thing is, John Edwards has a tremendous ability to learn.  He is almost like Starman, that guy from the movies who learned a mile a minute. 

MATTHEWS:  Remember him, Jeff Bridges.

FINEMAN:  The question is, could he learn enough fast enough?  And that‘s been the question all along.  He passed every test in the campaign, came this close to winning the nomination.  So I just wouldn‘t dismiss him as a smart guy. 

FUND:  No.

No, but, Chris, in the debate with Dick Cheney, which will be televised, I think Edwards would stylistically be brilliant.  However, Dick Cheney a very good way of putting down people.  And there would come a point in the debate where Dick Cheney would say, now, there, there, I know you haven‘t had foreign policy experience.  And that‘s a danger, because as smooth as John Edwards is, he still looks like he‘s about 35 years old. 

FINEMAN:  And I tell you—I got to say, I don‘t mean to be an advocate for John Edwards, but John Edwards has carved up people like Dick Cheney in courtrooms for 15 years in front of juries.  He would like look the choir boy and act like the guy with the stiletto.  So I wouldn‘t necessarily be too confident if I were Cheney in that situation.

MATTHEWS:  Well, the stiletto has the wording Halliburton on the side of the handle. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, exactly.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The question is, how many times would John Edwards have the guts to keep bringing up the word Halliburton all through that debate? 

FINEMAN:  Every day, every day, every minute on the campaign trail. 

And, by the way, whoever the Democratic vice presidential nominee is, is going to mention Halliburton before breakfast, like a prayer before Halliburton. 

(CROSSTALK)

FUND:  And the response is going to be Michael Moore, because Michael Moore is going to have I think some very, very difficult times in the next few weeks, because a lot of people like Michael Moore.  He has excited the base.  But a lot of independent swing voters may just decide this is too much piling on and this is just too much. 

FINEMAN:  Well, I think Dick Cheney is not that much of an asset to George Bush right now.  He was here in Pittsburgh yesterday, Dick Cheney was, by the way, and he caused barely a ripple out in the suburbs. 

But the interesting thing is, the suburbs of this city, Chris, are trending Republican.  Rick Santorum is now the model of the Pennsylvania Republican, in the way that Jack Heinz was a generation ago. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that shocking for us? 

FINEMAN:  Well, much more conservative than was the case with Jack Heinz. 

MATTHEWS:  Pennsylvania Republicanism of the Bill Scranton and the Hugh Scott type and the early Dick Schweiker type has been replaced by probably the most popular Republican in the state and certainly the most influential. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Yes.  

MATTHEWS:  Rick Santorum.

FINEMAN:  If it hadn‘t been for Santorum‘s help, Arlen Specter never would have won renomination in the Republican primary. 

MATTHEWS:  Philadelphia agrees with Pittsburgh. 

FINEMAN:  And so Cheney does have power with those people.  But he doesn‘t have much crossover appeal at this point. 

MATTHEWS:  So we now agree that it has to be a young whippersnapper with enough hutzpah to take on the big guy, but he also has to have as much weight as the big guy.  We have got to find this guy. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman and John Fund. 

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  We‘ll have the latest on Kerry‘s choice for the V.P. nominee.  We should have it by tomorrow.  Our guests include former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.

END   

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