updated 8/12/2004 9:20:57 AM ET 2004-08-12T13:20:57

Guest: Steve Elmendorf, Terry Holt, Melinda Henneberger, Gail Sheehy, Richard Lugar

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight both presidential candidates hit the trail and head west in a rush for votes, as Vice President Cheney storms the Midwest.  So why is John Edwards on summer vacation?  We‘ll talk to both campaigns.  Plus: Jackie, Nancy, Hillary and Laura, all members of the first ladies club.  The bit question, Does the American voter see Teresa Heinz Kerry as its next member?  And Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on how to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.  Eighty-three days to go—I love to count it down—until the presidential election.

Today President Bush campaigned in New Mexico and Arizona with Senator John McCain by his side, while John Kerry campaigned in Nevada on his prescription drug plan, in an effort to mobilize the senior citizen vote.  The Bush campaign this week is hammering John Kerry over his position on Iraq.  It all started last week, when the president challenged Kerry to say yes or no on whether he would have supported the war in Iraq.  Here‘s Kerry‘s response earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - AUGUST 9, 2004)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  Yes, I would have voted for the authority.  I believe it was the right authority for a president to have.  Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace?  Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth?  Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war?  Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve it and relieve a pressure from the American people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  This prompted the following response from President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - AUGUST 10, 2004)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  After months of questioning my motives and even my credibility, Senator Kerry now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpile of weapons we all believed were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.  I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Terry Holt is the national spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, and Steve Elmendorf is the deputy campaign manager for the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

Steve, I‘m not sure the president got that right, from your perspective.  Did John Kerry say that he would have voted to go to war or he would have voted to authorize the decision?

STEVE ELMENDORF, DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MGR. KERRY-EDWARDS:  He said he would have authorized the decision that Saddam Hussein should be held accountable, but tat he would have done it differently, once he had the authority, than George Bush has done it.

MATTHEWS:  So then why does the president say, who knows all the facts

·         why does the president say yesterday in that speech we just saw that John Kerry voted for the war?

TERRY HOLT, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, BUSH-CHENEY ‘04:  Oh, John Kerry did vote for the war.  The question is, why did he flip-flop and not support the troops, and why has he become an anti-war candidate under political pressure from Howard Dean?  The fact is, this is an unsustainable contradiction.  John Kerry fundamentally doesn‘t have a position on Iraq and can‘t really talk straight to the American people about how he would have done it differently.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think—bottom line here, Steve, do you think Iraq, the fact that we went to war, suffered the casualties of almost 1,000 now in terms of killed and maybe up to 2,500 in terms of seriously wounded, and we‘re in the war, we‘re not quite out of it yet, that‘s for sure—is that a plus or a minus, the fact that we went to war, in this campaign?

ELMENDORF:  I think...

MATTHEWS:  For the president.

ELMENDORF:  I think people are holding George Bush accountable...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s a negative.

ELMENDORF:  ... that he went to war without a plan for the peace.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  Is the war itself a negative?

ELMENDORF:  For George Bush right now, yes.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Is the war itself a positive or a negative for the president?

HOLT:  It‘s a global war on terror, and as the president...

MATTHEWS:  No, but is the war in Iraq a plus or a minus for the president?

HOLT:  We‘re on offense.  It‘s a plus that we‘re going out...

MATTHEWS:  OK, so...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s a plus to go to war.  You say it‘s a plus—and it‘s a negative (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HOLT:  To protect the American people.  Come on.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  I know the arguments.

HOLT:  Yes.  OK.

MATTHEWS:  Just a question of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the war—because I‘m trying to figure out how the election is going to be decided.  Is it a plus or a minus that the interest rates went up a quarter the other day?

ELMENDORF:  I think people are concerned about the economy, and the job numbers that came out Friday are a big problem.

MATTHEWS:  All right.  Is raising the interest rates...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... going to get higher mortgage bills in September and October, when they have to pay their ARM (ph) mortgages.  Everybody out there knows what I‘m talking about who‘s still paying for their house.  If they‘re lucky, they got it paid for and they‘re an empty-nester, but most people are still paying.  Is raising interest rates a plus or a minus for the Democrats?

ELMENDORF:  I think for George Bush, it‘s a minus.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, higher interest rates?

HOLT:  We‘re trying to keep control of inflation.  It‘s a plus because it‘s sound economic policy.

MATTHEWS:  Is that the biggest danger we face now, a weak economy or inflation?  You say the biggest threat is inflation, therefore we need to raise interest rates.

HOLT:  But inflation would weaken the economy, so you need to have—you need to have a good policy...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s smart to raise the interest rates.

HOLT:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  So you think higher interest rates are good for this president.

HOLT:  Not necessarily.  It‘s—this is...

MATTHEWS:  You sound like Kerry on the war here!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Come on!  Help me out here!  I‘m trying to get clarity for our voters here.  For people watching right now, they want to know...

HOLT:  Ad hominem attacks...

MATTHEWS:  ... is this a party of tougher money, tighter money, higher interest rates, and that‘s part of the game plan to make the economy stable?

HOLT:  Well, there‘s no...

MATTHEWS:  Your sense of it.

HOLT:  There‘s no question that low inflation is going to help keep this economy strong.  We need to cap inflation.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So higher interests rates are better for the

Democrats, the war is probably better for the Democrats, according to you,

against the—let me go to the question of diseases here.  Right now,

there‘s a lot of people watching because every family, including mine, has

been through this.  Not every family, except the extremely lucky families -

·         have to deal with diabetes—I‘ll probably get it, you know?  It sits there.  My father‘s got it.  We‘ve got Parkinson‘s amazingly around.  I never heard of the disease, really, 10, 20 years ago.  It‘s everywhere.  Alzheimer‘s—we used to call it senility.  It‘s probably something different now.  People ere living longer.  They‘re lucky enough to live to their 80s and 90s, but they‘re getting this disease like wildfire.

When Mrs. Bush, who everybody likes, went out the other day and basically said that stem cell research isn‘t as promising as some people say it is, was that a good political move for her to be the one to deliver that bad news?  Terry?

HOLT:  Well, there has—there has been some discouraging news in the embryonic stem cell research...

MATTHEWS:  Is she the one you guys were smart to send out to deliver the pessimistic news about the potential of that kind of research...

HOLT:  Look, the first lady...

MATTHEWS:  ... to deal with those diseases ?

HOLT:  The first lady‘s going to speak the truth.  You know, what hasn‘t been truthful in this debate...

MATTHEWS:  You guys write the speeches!  What are you kidding me!  You didn‘t send her out there for—whatever you want to talk about, bring up, just—you think there wasn‘t strategy behind sending her out there to dampen hopes for stem cell research?

HOLT:  The first lady said it best.  The stem cell research issue has advanced.  This is the first president to have provided money for embryonic stem cell research, and he did so with a very careful decision.  What‘s been dishonest about this is the framing of the issue by the Kerry campaign, who said that the president opposes science.  What a ridiculous statement!  This president...

MATTHEWS:  Well, does he oppose federal funding for stem cell research?

HOLT:  No!  He‘s the first president to have provided funding for stem cell research.

MATTHEWS:  Explain, Steve.  Take your position.

ELMENDORF:  He took 99 percent of the stem cells of the table for research with his...

HOLT:  They weren‘t on the table to begin with!

ELMENDORF:  ... with his political decision three years ago.

HOLT:  There was a big goose egg for this research!

ELMENDORF:  Ninety-nine percent.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you this.  Do people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to politics, not metaphysics, which is very troubling to a lot of people, maybe me, too.

HOLT:  It is.

MATTHEWS:  She didn‘t address the metaphysics question of when life begins, and that‘s tricky always.  But the question of popularity.  According to the latest polling coming out of the University of Pennsylvania the other day, a majority, a strong majority, and actually, 53 percent of Republicans, support removing the restrictions on federal funding for research in stem cells, and Democrats—and overall in the country, 70 percent of people say, Get rid of these restrictions and go ahead with it.  Doesn‘t that put your party at a disadvantage on this issue?

HOLT:  Well, the people want balance about this.  You have to be reasonable...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why do they overwhelmingly want to get rid of these limits?

HOLT:  They also aren‘t comfortable with mad scientists out of control.  You have to have moral and ethical questions addressed whenever you...

MATTHEWS:  Who are the mad scientists?

HOLT:  ... turn science loose.

MATTHEWS:  Who are the mad...

ELMENDORF:  I don‘t think Nancy Reagan is going to...

MATTHEWS:  This is—this isn‘t “Young Frankenstein”...

ELMENDORF:  ... support mad scientists.

MATTHEWS:  ... we‘re talking about here, is it?  Who are these mad scientists you‘re talking about involved with stem cell research?

HOLT:  But my goodness, look...

MATTHEWS:  No, you‘re speaking for the campaign now.  Who are the mad scientists you‘re warning us about?

HOLT:  If you don‘t have moral and ethical questions addressed in science, then it‘s science for no sake at all.  We are people.  We are human beings.  We have to have respect for life in this country.  And embryonic stem cell research has a specific moral question that has to be addressed.  The president‘s decision addressed that, and yet still allowed science to go forward.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did Mrs. Bush, instead of addressing the question of the metaphysics, the morality...

HOLT:  Because she knows the facts.

MATTHEWS:  ... of when life begins...

HOLT:  She knows where the research is...

MATTHEWS:  ... would come out and say, basically—throw cold water on the potential?  I just think that‘s a politically strange position to take in a country looking for hope.  I mean, you‘re saying to a caregiver who‘s sitting next to a victim, sitting next to a Parkinson‘s person, sitting next to an Alzheimer‘s‘s person, themselves a diabetic, and saying, Oh, by the way, you‘ve probably been following this stem cell research and been hopeful about its potential to alleviate your disease and perhaps save future people from it.  Give up.  That ain‘t getting anywhere.

HOLT:  I think you‘re—I think you‘re...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s basically what she said the other day.

HOLT:  ... being a little bit too harsh on the first lady‘s comments...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you explain what she said.

HOLT:  ... because, obviously, we are just at the very beginning of this research.  And let‘s—nobody talks about the non-embryonic stem cell research, which has promise as...

MATTHEWS:  eve, you make this case.

HOLT:  ... on its own.

(CROSSTALK)

ELMENDORF:  The embryonic research is what the scientists say we need to do.  People like Nancy Reagan—there‘s a reason that 70 percent...

MATTHEWS:  Christopher Reeve, Michael Fox...

ELMENDORF:  There‘s a reason that 70 percent...

MATTHEWS:  ... Michael J. Fox...

ELMENDORF:  ... of the American people...

MATTHEWS:  ... these people want...

ELMENDORF:  ... are for this.

MATTHEWS:  They want—these people...

HOLT:  These are horrible illnesses, and everybody wants cures for them...

MATTHEWS:  But they want to see research, and they basically want...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They want all-out research.  They don‘t want restrictions.

ELMENDORF:  George Bush is captive to the right wing in his party, and he made a political decision three years ago to take 99 percent...

HOLT:  Patently...

ELMENDORF:  ... of the stem cell research off the table.

HOLT:  Patently wrong.  Look...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did he it off the table?

HOLT:  Because there are moral and ethical questions involved here.  People want a balance.  When it comes to science and ethics, you have to have both.  You can‘t rush headlong into one or the other.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the better position politically, being for the research, using all available stem cells...

ELMENDORF:  Oh, it‘s a better position substantively and politically, as well, because...

HOLT:  You have to be compassionate for these families, but you also have to...

MATTHEWS:  Politically, who wins in this fight?

HOLT:  ... protect the fundamentals.  The president, obviously.

MATTHEWS:  He will win on the issue of stem cells?

HOLT:  The president has increased funding for embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s an issue he‘s happy to debate.

HOLT:  ... in every budget...

MATTHEWS:  And you‘re happy to bring this up.

HOLT:  ... that he‘s proposed.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re happy to debate this issue.

HOLT:  This—if this gets us to a cure and we can protect the fundamentals of our values, then it‘s a winner.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  More with Terry Holt and Steve Elmendorf when we come back.  And Later, Laura Bush versus Teresa Heinz Kerry, how each woman will help or hurt her husband‘s chances—we‘re talking about it already—of winning the presidential election.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Terry Holt of the Bush campaign and Steve Elmendorf of the Kerry campaigns.  Today the Bush campaign released this ad, which touts the president‘s commitment to national security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I‘m George W. Bush and I approved this message.

My most solemn duty is to lead our nation to protect ourselves.  I can‘t imagine the great agony of a mom or a dad having to make the decision about which child to pick up first on September the 11th.  We cannot hesitate.  We cannot yield.  We must do everything in our power to bring an enemy to justice before they hurt us again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Steve, is this about the central—as you watch this ad, is this about the central issue of the campaign, whether we were wise to go to Iraq in the way we did at the time we did?  What else could it mean?

ELMENDORF:  Well, I think...

MATTHEWS:  It‘s almost like a line from “Sophie‘s Choice,” where you have to choose between the kids, which one you save, which one you go to check out that‘s—pick up at school after 9/11.  It‘s pretty brutal stuff.

ELMENDORF:  I think this ad is a clear sign of their slippage in the polls.  I mean, they‘ve seen that on the issue of terrorism, they‘ve gone from a big lead to where people are beginning to trust John Kerry on the issue.

MATTHEWS:  Is this like the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Remember the ad with—the Frankenstein ad with the little girl pulling the flowers out, the pulled the—and the Johnson people...

HOLT:  Please.

MATTHEWS:  ... were pulling against...

HOLT:  Guys!

MATTHEWS:  Well, tell me about it.

(CROSSTALK) Tell me about it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Tell me what the ad‘s about.

HOLT:  It‘s about the—doing—the president‘s doing something that John Kerry‘s incapable of doing...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s that?

HOLT:  ... which is making a connection with real people in America about that moment on September 11, where we all...

MATTHEWS:  Right.  What‘s the policy dispute between the two gentlemen?

HOLT:  ... saw our world change.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference in their position that that ad reflects?

HOLT:  That the president fundamentally understands the world we‘re in today and understands how that works in everybody‘s real life and the real family...

MATTHEWS:  In other words, he was right to go to Iraq.

HOLT:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Is that what the message—that‘s the message?

HOLT:  It is, but it also—that he can make—that he has made a connection, has a connection with the American people, and he understands what they‘re working with every day.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that—do you believe that we have fewer recruits joining al Qaeda today because he went to Iraq than we would have otherwise?

HOLT:  Well, I‘m not an intelligence...

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  Answer me.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... key question.

HOLT:  You‘re asking me to be an intelligence expert.

MATTHEWS:  No, because you were talking about the threat we face from al Qaeda.  It‘s a question of how many people...

HOLT:  I know that there are...

MATTHEWS:  ... are willing to kill themselves...

HOLT:  I know that there are...

MATTHEWS:  ... to come here?

HOLT:  But I know there‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there‘s more or less recruits to al Qaeda?

ELMENDORF:  I don‘t think George Bush has made our country safer in the last three years.

MATTHEWS:  How so?  why not?

HOLT:  Oh, come on!

ELMENDORF:  Because I think he went to war...

HOLT:  Libya, Iraq...

ELMENDORF:  ... without getting our...

HOLT:  ... Afghanistan, Pakistan...

ELMENDORF:  ... allies in place to do it.  I think they‘ve cut—they have not funded homeland security the way they should have funded it.

HOLT:  You‘re not living in the real world.  Look, there are five countries on the map that no longer harbor terrorists because this president went on offense in the war on terror.  It‘s been a tough three-and-a-half years...

MATTHEWS:  So think we—do you think we have...

HOLT:  ... but they don‘t have...

MATTHEWS:  Do we have less enemies...

HOLT:  ... any place to hide.

MATTHEWS:  ... in the world than we had two, three years ago?  Less enemies.

HOLT:  We have—we have 60 people -- 60 countries working with nonproliferation.  We have 40 people -- 40 countries in Afghanistan, 30 countries in Iraq.  We‘ve done a good job with this...

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s in dispute.

HOLT:  ... and we need to do a lot more...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s indisputable we have more enemies.  The question is whether we‘re safer in terms of homeland security and protecting ourselves against those enemies.

HOLT:  Fundamentally reinvented government to respond to this threat.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Well, that‘s a good argument.

HOLT:  Twenty-six billion dollars last year was spent on...

ELMENDORF:  Which he was against initially, and then he changed.

HOLT:  Twenty-six billion dollars last year funded homeland security. 

John Kerry didn‘t even show up for work that day.

MATTHEWS:  Is security the No. 1 issue of this campaign, or is it the economy or is it health care and stem cell, things like that?  What do you think, Steve, given the way things are moving right now?

ELMENDORF:  Well, the economy right now is the No. 1 issue.  I think if you look at the—George Bush is going to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to have lost jobs.

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the No. 1 issue in the campaign, security?

HOLT:  Making this country safer, winning the global war on terror.

MATTHEWS:  Your guy thinks it‘s economy because that‘s his stronger position.

(CROSSTALK)

ELMENDORF:  You can have strong positions on a host of issues.  And I think people watched John Kerry at the convention and see someone who they see...

MATTHEWS:  This debate, by the way...

ELMENDORF:  ... as the potential commander-in-chief.

MATTHEWS:  ... is the hardest debate in this country, whether we‘re going to be arguing the night before the election, November 1, Monday night -- are we going to be arguing about the safety of his country or the direction of the economy?

HOLT:  It‘s the safety and security...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the big issue.

HOLT:  ... in this country.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s the big issue.  Terry, you‘re very good.  A little less is better.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Terry Holt and Steve Elmendorf.

Up next, a look at the first lady, lady Bush, first lady Bush, and the potential first lady, Teresa Heinz Kerry.  And don‘t forget, you can keep up with the presidential race on Hardblogger, our election blog Web site—all new words to me.  Just go to hardball@msnbc.com.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, not Hardblogger, on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Jackie, Nancy, Hillary—most Americans like being on a first-name basis with their first ladies.  In this election year, voters are getting to know both Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry up close and personal as they hit the campaign trail.  HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  They are an essential part of the campaign teams.

KERRY:  And America is going to love her as the first lady of the United States, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

BUSH:  She is a wonderful wife, a loving mother and a great first lady.  I‘m really proud of her.  She‘s a...

SHUSTER:  But this week, Laura Bush went far beyond being just a first lady.

LAURA BUSH, WIFE OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:  And the implication that cures for Alzheimer‘s are around the corner is just not right.

SHUSTER:  On a day when she spoke out about stem cell research, Mrs.  Bush said in an interview that John Kerry‘s argument is ridiculous.  Then she told voters that scientists have everything they need.

LAURA BUSH:  The president‘s policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells, while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research.

SHUSTER:  The aggressive posture was unusual, not just because Laura Bush tends to avoid policy debates but because this one is seen as a loser for the president.  Several prominent Republicans, including Nancy Reagan, want the government to lift the limits on financing of research, and the latest polls show 64 percent of voters favor federal funding.  Only 28 percent are opposed.

Still, Republican strategists say they believe the first lady may blunt Democratic attacks on this issue and others.  The day after the latest terror alert, for example, the first lady went to CitiCorp to show the public the building was safe.

Meanwhile, in the Kerry campaign, there is the often unpredictable Teresa Heinz.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KERRY:  There is a value in taking a stand, whether or not anybody may be noticing it, and whether or not it is a risky thing to do.

SHUSTER:  John Kerry‘s wife, born and raised in East Africa, is as blunt and direct as her husband is verbose.  And she is not one to shy from critics.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY:  They want four more years of hell!

SHUSTER:  While Democrats say Teresa Heinz Kerry helps get the base fired up, her spontaneity and outspokenness sometimes raises eyebrows.  Last month, she responded to a hectoring reporter with this.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY:  You said something I didn‘t say.  Now, shove it!

SHUSTER:  Ironically, the damage from that moment has been limited, thanks to Laura Bush.  The first lady has repeatedly told reporters she has empathy for what Mrs. Kerry is going through.

(on camera):  The public also seems to give the candidates‘ wives a level of empathy and respect rarely given to the candidates.  It‘s another reason why Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry are playing such a prominent role, doing and saying things that might sound overtly political or even confrontational if they were articulated by their husbands.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Joining us now, our panel on the first ladies club, Gail Sheehy is a contributing writer for “Mother Jones” magazine and Melinda Henneberger is a contributing editor for “Newsweek.”

Melinda, I got to ask you a question, sheerly political question, not moral or metaphysical.  Why did the president...

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, “NEWSWEEK”:  Thank God.

MATTHEWS:  ... and his people send Mrs. Bush, this nice lady, this first lady who everybody likes, out on what looks like a suicide bombing mission to go out and say there‘s really no hope for stem cell research?

HENNEBERGER:  I think that...

MATTHEWS:  Amazing statement.

HENNEBERGER:  I think that he thought that it could blunt the damage because I think, on balance, this plays really well, this issue, for Democrats.  But I think that she did make a dent in the issue for religious conservatives, for whom this is a really important issue still.  And they‘re...

MATTHEWS:  But they‘re already for Bush.

HENNEBERGER:  That‘s right.  But they—you know, those...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about the suburbs.  Gail Sheehy, we go to the suburbs of Philadelphia, the suburbs of Ohio, of Cincinnati, the suburbs of Columbus.  In those burbs, where people are all right economically, a lot of them, maybe 90 are working or have their economy under hand—under control, they‘re worried about health.  They‘ve got an Alzheimer‘s person sitting next to them.

GAIL SHEEHY, “MOTHER JONES”:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re a caregiver.  They‘ve got Parkinson‘s nephew or a Parkinson‘s husband or wife.  They‘ve got diabetes in their own systems.  They know it‘s coming at them.  And the only hope right now, apparently, is stem cell research.

SHEEHY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s the bottom line.  Do they want to be told there‘s no hope?

SHEEHY:  No.  They want to believe.  And there is reason for belief.  And nobody can say how long it‘s going to take, but certainly, with 73 lines of stem cells only in the world, that is not sufficient for all scientists.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

SHEEHY:  And many, many scientists have spoken out to say, Help us, we need more.  And I think the Kerry‘s have done—have positioned themselves as being pro-science.  They know more about science.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Well, the Luddite position is not too popular in America.  Let‘s—here‘s what the first lady, Laura Bush, said about her husband‘s stand on stem cell the other day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH:  I hope that stem cell research will yield cures and therapies for a myriad of illnesses.  But I know that embryonic stem cell research is very preliminary right now.  And the implication that cures for Alzheimer‘s are around the corner is just not right, and it‘s really not fair to the people who are watching a loved one suffer with this disease.

The president‘s policy makes it possible for researchers to explore the potential of stem cells, while respecting the ethical and moral implications associated with this research.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Again, she‘s a nice lady.  But I don‘t know who‘s writing these scripts for her because the fact is, no one says that the cure for Alzheimer‘s is around the corner.

SHEEHY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Even Ron Reagan, who‘s been pushing this issue, said in a speech at the Democratic convention with 10 million people watching, Alzheimer‘s is the least likely beneficiary of research in this area.

SHEEHY:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Who is she—who‘s writing this crap for her and giving it to her to say?  I think it‘s a misuse of her role.  And she‘s a first lady, not a politician.

HENNEBERGER:  Can I—can I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What‘s going on here?  Why are they using her in this way, with this inaccurate information, this politically negative stuff?

SHEEHY:  Well, I think we see here the model of two very different families, and they play to two very different constituencies.  I think the Bushes are the evangelical model.  They wear their religion on their sleeve.  And for many of their constituents, religion is politics.  They‘ll vote for them on faith, on faith that the president is the—you know, the spokesperson for God and the moral position, whereas—and usually, the wife in that evangelical model walks a quarter step behind her husband and speaks softly, except when her husband is failing on an issue, and then they send her out.

The ecumenical model, which I think is the Kerry model, you know, the wife has...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

SHEEHY:  ... opinions equal to her husband.

MATTHEWS:  Gail, we‘ll come back with you and Melinda when we come back to talk more about the role of Laura Bush in this campaign.  I think they‘re misusing her.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL, Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry, how will both women help or hurt their husbands‘ chances of winning the presidential election?  That‘s an interesting question.  And, later, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee comes here to say we‘re not doing enough to keep WMDs out of the hands of terrorists. 

But, first, the latest headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We‘re talking about Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry with Gail Sheehy, who is a contributing editor, writer, for “Mother Jones” magazine, and “Newsweek”‘s Melinda Henneberger. 

Let me ask you this about the sheer politics of this.  I haven‘t seen much of Teresa Heinz Kerry lately.  Is that on purpose? 

HENNEBERGER:  No.  You just haven‘t been looking, no.

MATTHEWS:  Where has she been campaigning? 

HENNEBERGER:  I really don‘t think...

MATTHEWS:  They‘re not hiding her? 

HENNEBERGER:  She‘s with him all the time.

No, I don‘t think they‘ve ever tried to hide her.  She makes them nervous, obviously.  But I think they, long ago, decided let Teresa be Teresa, because...

MATTHEWS:  Will “shove it” sell in Missouri, Gail?

SHEEHY:  No, but, you know, Richard Mellon Scaife might sell in Missouri.  And he‘s the one that was behind the reporter who she made that remark to. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHEEHY:  So if it‘s an ultraconservative who‘s been after her family for 25 years. 

You know, Richard Mellon Scaife was in the Heinz wedding?  And his cousin is on one of Teresa‘s foundations.  So it‘s kind of a family feud.  And you saw, she went after that reporter, you know?

MATTHEWS:  But nobody‘s ever going to hear that reporter.  Probably most people who are normal have never heard of Richard Mellon Scaife.

SHEEHY:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  All they know is the first lady candidate said shove it.

SHEEHY:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s not helpful to her campaign, is it?

SHEEHY:  Not helpful, no.

But I have to tell you one thing.  It was interesting, the first part of your program.  You know, Teresa spoke up for women having opinions at the Democratic Convention, so she would probably celebrate for Laura Bush speaking, except she said women who are informed.  For Laura Bush to come out and say—express an opinion without correct information makes her look like a tool. 

MATTHEWS:  Now that you‘re somewhat in a position of saluting Teresa Heinz Kerry, Gail, why didn‘t she stop talking after she made her point at the convention?  Why did she go on like Sharpton for another 15 minutes?  She had a good point there.

SHEEHY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Women who are well informed and have opinions should be thought of as well informed.  And then she talked for another 15 minutes. 

SHEEHY:  Well, she

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Any editor, any staffer should have come up to her and say, Mrs. Kerry, you‘ve got a great speech with a great punchline.  When you have made your sale, stop talking. 

SHEEHY:  Well, she‘s a CEO, Chris.  People don‘t tell her what to do. 

But the other thing—there are some things people

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You did that so facilely, Gail.  But if she can‘t do it right, she can‘t do it right.  If she wants to campaign for her husband, why doesn‘t she work with the pros and get it right and then not give these long-winded speeches that turned off so many people? 

SHEEHY:  Well, it‘s a good question.  Sometimes on the campaign trail it doesn‘t turn off people, because it becomes very chatty and she connects. 

But in a high-profile situation like that, certainly, she should have been much more abbreviated. 

MATTHEWS:  It tells me the staffers are afraid to talk to her.

SHEEHY:  I think that‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  And her husband may be afraid to talk to her, to tell her, your speech is too long, dear.  Cut it. 

SHEEHY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think, Melinda?

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t think they‘re afraid to tell her anything.  I just...

MATTHEWS:  So they thought that speech was about right? 

HENNEBERGER:  I think that, no matter what she‘s told, she‘s going to say what she thinks. 

SHEEHY:  Right. 

HENNEBERGER:  And that you can say that that‘s distracting, and maybe it is.  But on the other hand, it‘s really the antidote to the whole thing that everything about Kerry is political.  She‘s not political.  She‘s going to say what she thinks, no matter. 

MATTHEWS:  What is—Gail, you‘re great at this because you‘ve written so many books about psychology and sociology and—I don‘t know if you know or not, but I‘m sure you have an opinion.  What does the correct first lady look like, act like, talk like? 

SHEEHY:  There is no correct.  Each woman defines it for herself. 

And—so the things that people don‘t know about Teresa is that she was a convent girl until she was 18.  She and Kerry are both pretty devout Catholics, but nobody knows that, or 40 percent of the American public don‘t, because they don‘t make it public or wear it on their sleeve. 

She was a wife and mother and not a professional for 25 years, didn‘t even campaign with Senator Heinz, and only got into professional life in her ‘50s when her life was shattered when her first husband was killed.  So, you know, I think the big thing that‘s different about her and Hillary is, Teresa has no political ambition.  As you know, Hillary was on a low boil all the way through—sometimes a high boil—in the White House because she wanted to be co-president and the public wouldn‘t accept that. 

Well, Teresa wants to be her own professional outside of the White House, which is unrealistic.  But she doesn‘t have any political ambitions, so she‘s both fearless, but also very feminine and very maternal.  And I think that does play in the Midwest.

MATTHEWS:  Look, I don‘t know Laura as well as I know Teresa.  I‘ve met Teresa a lot of times out there.  And I‘ll tell you, I think she‘s the kind of woman you find fascinating.  I do, because she‘s sort of a 1960s French movie star. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I said this before and everybody knows it.  Remember Jeanne Moreau and Anouk Aimee in all those great movies?  She‘s a mature woman.  She‘s not a kid. 

HENNEBERGER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  She gets better looking as she gets older.  She‘s sort of charming.  She‘s fun.  She‘s frisky.  She‘s all the good things that guys like me like. 

But I don‘t know.  I guess there are guys that like more straitlaced       women and Madam Librarian from “The Music Man.”  I guess that‘s what people, or some of them, are looking for. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  At least they say they want—but is there a Stepford quality to Laura? 

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  For some women.

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re afraid of that, aren‘t you? 

HENNEBERGER:  I am.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re afraid, aren‘t you?

(CROSSTALK)

HENNEBERGER:  I‘m not going to go there. 

MATTHEWS:  Gail, are you afraid of the Stepford question?

SHEEHY:  No, I‘m not.

MATTHEWS:  Because I know it shakes everybody up.  Do you think she‘s a little bit too dutiful in her support for her president? 

SHEEHY:  I do think so.  I do think it‘s an old model. 

And the women in the Democratic Convention and in television land I think were really thrilled when Teresa talked about women having opinions and not being called opinionated.  And a lot of those are Republican women who are really smart and very well educated, but are expected to be quiet. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask the question that is going to be make every woman and man happy I‘ve been talking about so irreverently, because everybody‘s got this marriage to deal with thing.  And no marriage from the outside looks like it does from the inside.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Could it be that, on the inside, Laura Bush, who is this sort of nice, nice—and I mean it not necessarily in a nice way, nice woman, is on the inside smoking a cigarette, telling George, you blew it again today, that speech was too long, and you‘re playing to the yahoos again, and you know what, we‘ve got to get more sophisticated?

Can you imagine her like that, consider on “Saturday Night Live?? 

SHEEHY:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  On the other hand, Teresa, when she gets with her husband, she‘s lovey-dovey.  She supports him.  She says you‘re the greatest.  Could it be they‘re the opposite of what they look like, Gail? 

SHEEHY:  No.

Actually, Teresa does consider telling him, you know, you could have done better, but also being lovey-dovey. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we know that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But Laura would tell George, you blew it?

SHEEHY:  No, Laura doesn‘t tell George, you blew it, I don‘t think, because she‘s the antidote to his mother.  Barbara, he could never please.  Laura, he can please.  And that‘s one of the reasons she‘s his wife. 

MATTHEWS:  So the tough cookie back home in Walker Point calls up once in a while and says, another bad day, George. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re like your father.  You‘re losing it.  You‘re a one-termer, she goes.  You‘re useless for two terms. 

That must be brutal to take if you‘re the husband. 

(CROSSTALK)

SHEEHY:  Very well.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You think so, Gail, that she calls up and says you‘re just like your father, you‘re blowing this thing? 

SHEEHY:  I don‘t think she‘d be that bad.  But they‘ve been towel-snapping all their lives.  They‘re brutal with each other. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, my word.  You have stolen that word from me.  That‘s my word, towel-snapping.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been using that for a year. 

Let me go back to Melinda.

No attitude here right now.  Who‘s the best first lady as a candidate? 

Who‘s the best candidate‘s helper here? 

HENNEBERGER:  To me, Teresa, because—not because—you know, if Laura Bush really is as she appears, there‘s nothing wrong with that.  That‘s why I‘m not going to disparage that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who helps in the all decisive suburbs? 

HENNEBERGER:  I just think that we‘re so—I think real Americans really are sick of hearing everything put through the political grinder. 

MATTHEWS:  Who do you want to bring through with you to Montgomery

County, Pennsylvania, or what do you call it, some nice place

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... Ohio.

HENNEBERGER:  I would rather go anywhere with Teresa, because she‘s a lot of fun.  She‘s really smart.  She says exactly what she thinks.  And I think people really respond to her, even if they don‘t agree with her.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to come back with more of this.  We‘re having a great—I love this stuff because it‘s based almost entirely on speculation. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with Gail and Melinda in a moment. 

Plus, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says, we need to do more to keep terrorists from getting nuclear weapons.  That will be a change of pace.  Senator Richard Lugar is going to join us just a little later.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming back with our panel on Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Gail Sheehy and Melinda Henneberger.

You remember the old movies in the 1950s where they‘d have the wife, the good corporate wife, having the husband‘s boss come home for dinner, and it was all about how she presented herself would decide whether he got the promotion or not? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That old paradigm. 

Is it still true? 

HENNEBERGER:  I don‘t think that that‘s expected.  But the funny thing is that...

MATTHEWS:  I mean in politics.  I‘m using a metaphor here, Melinda.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The fact is, do we still judge the guy by the woman?

HENNEBERGER:  No.  But I think that it still can tell you a lot. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it tell you?  What‘s it tell you? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re into good terribly here.

HENNEBERGER:  I think for Kerry it says, this man‘s afraid of nothing. 

SHEEHY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Whoa!

(LAUGHTER)

SHEEHY:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you share that salute, Gail? 

SHEEHY:  Yes. 

Well, I think Kerry is one of the most self-confident men I‘ve ever come across.  I think Bush needs a lot of backing up.  He has pockets of insecurity.  But I also think...

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  This is regional.  I went to Chapel Hill, Gail.

SHEEHY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And I‘ve to tell you, the women down there—not that I dated extensively, but the women I met down there tended to be, oh, you‘re so strong, you‘re so big, you‘re so wonderful. 

SHEEHY:  But you are. 

MATTHEWS:  And that was their way of sort of courting a guy.

No. 

And the women up North said, lose it, you know?  Their way up North was sort of...

SHEEHY:  Much tougher. 

MATTHEWS:  Much tougher. 

SHEEHY:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  So isn‘t it just regional, that Laura is from the South and the other woman is sort of a Northerner? 

SHEEHY:  No, but I think that Bush had such a tough mother that he needed somebody who was totally supportive, and that she‘s antidote to Barbara Bush. 

But I also think you‘ve got two very different families here.  You‘ve got the really down home, we go back to Texas, we don‘t go across the border into any foreign countries if we don‘t have to go to a summit meeting with the Bushes.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHEEHY:  And you‘ve got the Kerry‘s, who are both very worldly people.

They‘re very interested in other cultures and knowledgeable about them.  They speak other languages, you know.  They really believe in diplomacy, as did Bush I.  So—and then, also, if you look at the families, it‘s really interesting. 

You‘ve got this blended family, two people who have gone through a midlife crisis, really though, a divorcee, a divorced man and a widowed woman.  They‘ve blended their families.  Their kids all seem to get along really well and they‘re very politically active. 

The Bushes‘ girls aren‘t politically active, although they‘re going to be a little bit more.  And the Cheney girl, you never see.  So they‘re very different models of families.  And I think that plays into the cultural divide. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, one of the Cheney girls I remember campaigning last time.  I bumped into her.  She seemed very nice, very nice.  But I don‘t know.

SHEEHY:  They‘ve both been out some.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think.

Let me ask you about this.  Shouldn‘t we be beyond all this?  Can‘t we get to be like other countries, where you elect a guy or a woman prime minister and you don‘t really spend much time about this?  Do you think the British cared about Denis Thatcher? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the French think—sit and worry about Chirac‘s wife, or if he‘s got a girlfriend, her?  I hate to make a leap of assumption there.  But do you think they really care, Gail, other countries, about the wife or the husband? 

SHEEHY:  Not much.  But

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who is Mrs. Putin? 

(LAUGHTER)

SHEEHY:  Whoa!

MATTHEWS:  I mean, who cares if Mrs—he‘s the former head of the Soviet police.  I think that‘s more interesting than who his wife happens to be. 

SHEEHY:  Right. 

But in this country the wife is part of the presidency.  There‘s no way she isn‘t.  That‘s a full-time job, and that‘s something Teresa is going to have to come to grips with, because she really doesn‘t want that job.  She wants her own job. 

MATTHEWS:  I think she‘d be great.  What about her being able to speak to foreign leaders in their home language?

SHEEHY:  Fantastic.

MATTHEWS:  Addressing them at state dinners.  I think we‘ll all—not to take sides here, but I‘d be very proud of a president or a wife who could stand before an audience and speak in another language.  It would show that we‘re as sophisticated as other countries are. 

SHEEHY:  Yes. 

Imagine traveling in Africa, imagine traveling in Latin America, to countries that get short shrift most of the time. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SHEEHY:  And speaking in their own language.  She‘d be mobbed by reporters from all over the world. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But somebody said the other day, you don‘t want a first lady who can say shove it in six languages.

HENNEBERGER:  Five.

SHEEHY:  Why not? 

MATTHEWS:  Five.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, would you be proud of a first lady, Melinda, that could speak in all these other languages? 

Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Romance languages.

HENNEBERGER:  Sure.  I think that would be great for our image. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re being sarcastic.

(CROSSTALK)

HENNEBERGER:  No, I‘m not.

But I think that the thing with Teresa is that she would change the model even more than Hillary did. 

MATTHEWS:  More than Jackie.

HENNEBERGER:  Even more than Hillary did. 

SHEEHY:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Hillary showed a woman who can have her own life and who‘s

had her own career can really be OK, although that was, of course,

polarizing, too.  But for Teresa

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just stay off health care.  Just stay off health financing, please.

HENNEBERGER:  She is saying, I‘m going to say what I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Mrs. Heinz Kerry, don‘t do health care.

SHEEHY:  Yes. 

HENNEBERGER:  She‘s not interested in

(CROSSTALK)

SHEEHY:  Not only that.

MATTHEWS:  Stay away from the flip charts and the staff. 

SHEEHY:  Right. 

She was very much very outspoken with me about Hillary stepping into health care without having had an official role sanctioned by the Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  How about a Senate confirmation hearing before you get the job? 

(CROSSTALK)

SHEEHY:  Well, that‘s what she said should happen.  And she doesn‘t want any job.  So it‘s not going to be an issue. 

(CROSSTALK)

HENNEBERGER:  I think she feels she has more power

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be back.  I‘m hearing we‘ve got to go.

Gail Sheehy, it‘s great to have you on. 

Melinda Henneberger, thank you very much.

HENNEBERGER:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joins us and he warns about what we can do to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Is the Bush administration doing enough to stop to proliferation of nuclear weapons in rogue states like Iran and North Korea?  Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke before the National Press Club today and outlined a dozen actions that must be taken in the next presidential term to protect our national security. 

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR ®, INDIANA:  Thanks, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  Just for people now who are struggling even harder every day with Iraq and with homeland security, what countries do you worry about?  And what systems of delivery of weapons do you worry about? 

LUGAR:  Well, I worry, first of all, about the weapon themselves, the materials of mass destruction, that is, fissile material, chemical components and what have you, and how these can be kept out of the hands of al Qaeda cells. 

They can be.  And then the point of my speech today and other comments is, the methods that we have to take to secure all of this material, whatever it is, to destroy as much of it as we can, to work with other countries who have it to make sure they don‘t use it on each other and inadvertently leak it to others, or sell it, as in the case of North Koreans.  So I outlined North Korea and Iran as No. 1 and 2 problems. 

And the administration is fully engaged, with the six-power talks in North Korea and with many more powers, plus the U.N. in Iran.  But at the end of the day, we must be successful.  By we, I mean the world.  And this is going to require extraordinary diplomacy.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  Creativity, as to how Iran comes to a different conclusion and, likewise, North Korea. 

MATTHEWS:  Why would—what would be the motive for North Korea to sell a nuclear weapon to someone?  Money? 

LUGAR:  For money.  They routinely now sell technology, missiles.  For all we know, even fissile material might have gone out. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  We‘ve interdicted some of this in our new international program.  But the fact is, it is a bankrupt regime.  It needs the money.  This is a cash cow. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the disincentive?  What‘s the danger for them to do it?  Can we say if any weapon sold by you is used by any third party, any terrorist organizations, that we‘re going to blow to you smithereens?  What‘s mutual deterrence in this case?  What can do you to threaten a leader like Jong-Il? 

LUGAR:  Well, we have hesitated to say blow to smithereens because the South Koreans might be blown to smithereens in the process, plus a lot of our troops near the DMZ.  This is why we‘re in...

MATTHEWS:  You mean if we go after him.

(CROSSTALK)

LUGAR:  Yes.  It‘s why we‘re in a diplomatic situation.  Now, at the end of the day, that may not work, but the North Koreans ultimately have objectives, I presume, the retention of their state, corrupt as it all is.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  Some degree of solvency, as opposed to simply going down the drain.  So there are negotiating tools here.  The question is probably to get the right formats and the right deal.  Some in our government would say, no deal.  Most others would say, we better keep negotiating.  And that, in fact, we‘re doing. 

MATTHEWS:  So we‘re going to try to buy—I don‘t mean to derogate it, but something like pay them off with oil or some other form of energy so they don‘t have to go to nuclear all the way or, in this case, more particularly, you pay them off just not to do something wrong. 

LUGAR:  Well, I think our objective has to be clearly that we separate them from the weapons.  That is going to take some doing and probably a lot of incentives, not all of which we should provide.  That is the reason for six powers, to get the Chinese, the Japanese who have interests in success, the South Koreans particularly interested in this. 

These are all players in terms of the money or the food or the energy or what have you. 

MATTHEWS:  What countries have weapons now?  Israel has them.  We have them.  South Africa had them and destroyed them.  The French have them.  The British have them.  The Chinese have them.  The former Soviet republics have them.  Anybody else?  The Pakistanis.

LUGAR:  India and Pakistan in particular. 

MATTHEWS:  They have them.

LUGAR:  Now, in the past, Libya was trying, didn‘t probably make it.  We don‘t know really where else.  But we suspect others have thought about it.  And in the event that Iran succeeds in weaponizing, ditto for North Korea, we can anticipate that other countries in both of those areas will be engaged in those programs for their self-defense. 

MATTHEWS:  But the dangerous countries would be the former Soviet republics. 

LUGAR:  Because they have the most of it. 

MATTHEWS:  And they have the most desperate scientists. 

Let‘s talk about those people.  Suppose you‘re a middle-level or a high-level engineer in a Soviet plant.  You‘ve been out of work for 20 years.  One thing you do know is where there‘s a vault somewhere with some materials.  Has anybody tried to go on the world market with that kind of material? 

LUGAR:  Not to our knowledge. 

But 58,000 Russians have been employed.  Now, this is not an inconsequential program. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  In which, literally, you—most of them in governmental programs.  Now, I‘m trying to propose that we get many of them into commercial programs.  Some in Russia now are doing pharmaceuticals. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean give them something to do for a living so they don‘t go rooting around with the old stuff?

LUGAR:  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  They don‘t have a fire sale.

LUGAR:  But 58,000 is quite a number. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LUGAR:  And I don‘t know how many more there are, but I would just say, your point is well taken.  So long as somebody has that knowledge, maybe even has a little material stashed away somewhere, there‘s a threat. 

MATTHEWS:  The most dangerous country, it seems to me, based upon from everything you hear from every ideological stripe in this country is Iran. 

Israel doesn‘t like Iran.  The neocons don‘t like Iran.  Everybody is saying that‘s the country we should have gone to war with, the real conservative hard-liners.  But take ideology apart.  Is Iran a dangerous country for us?

LUGAR:  Well, Iran would be dangerous if they weaponize and do so deliberately, claiming their sovereign right to have bombs.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  And to be able to use them. 

Now, the good thing going in Iran are the young people, over half of the population probably under 25 years of age.  They actually like the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  And when polls are taken there, they like it.  Now, it may be perversely, because they don‘t like the old mullahs.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mullahs, yes.

LUGAR:  That are running the country, but that are getting older.  So it‘s an ambivalent situation.  There are possibilities in Iran.

MATTHEWS:  What would Iran do with a weapon?  Obviously, they could sell to it Hezbollah or Hamas.  They would be the most dangerous.  Those organizations are out to destroy Israel.  They would love to lob one that direction.  In terms of attacking us, do you think Iran would arm anybody to come after us?  Would they risk that?

LUGAR:  I doubt it.  My guess is that they will claim, it is just for our defense. 

MATTHEWS:  Just for prestige.

LUGAR:  They would say, in the end, Pakistan, not far away.

MATTHEWS:  Same.  Israel had that reason. 

LUGAR:  The Iraqis, their longtime rivals, were pretty close.  And Israel, obviously. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

What about Pakistan if they have a coup or Musharraf, God forbid, gets knocked off?  They have an Islamist state.  They‘re perhaps a very right-wing—or, I should say, extremist regime.  That‘s a danger, too, isn‘t it?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it certainly is. 

And Musharraf and his government are very important to us, not only in fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban, but, likewise, in trying to open up even what A.Q. Khan, the scientist in Pakistan who created the bomb for them, has done.  Now, they‘ve given us a lot of information.  They‘ve established the ties with the North Koreans, with the Libyans, with the Iranians. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  This is no longer speculative.  But, at the same time, they haven‘t been altogether forthcoming about a big political problem as to how far you delve into this. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

So it really is, if not an axis of evil, an access of danger.

LUGAR:  It certainly is.

MATTHEWS:  Iran, North Korea, especially, right?  And Pakistan potentially.

LUGAR:  And particularly with Pakistan and India potentially hitting each other.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LUGAR:  And creating through the animosities of that a horrible situation on the continent. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s nice putting religion together with nuclear weaponry, isn‘t it?

LUGAR:  It is very bad stuff. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Senator Richard Lugar, who spoke at the National Press Club today.

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.

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

END   

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