updated 9/10/2004 12:31:50 PM ET 2004-09-10T16:31:50

Guests: Jim Warner, Carlton Sherwood, Phil Butler, Ken Campbell, Donald Trump

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight: flashback to the never-ending Vietnam war.  New documents show President Bush failed to carry out a direct order in the Texas National Guard back in 1972.  And a new documentary, “Stolen Honor,” takes a critical look at Senator John Kerry through the eyes of former prisoners of war.  The big question: Isn‘t it time for the presidential election to move out of past and focus on the future?  And Donald Trump on which presidential candidate he‘d hire and maybe who he‘d fire.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Fifty-four days now to go to the presidential election, and one day after the launch of a new ad campaign questioning President Bush‘s record of service with the National Guard.  A new documentary has been released about the effect John Kerry‘s 1971 Senate testimony had on American prisoners of war in Vietnam.  HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL ELECTION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was seven months ago when the White House said it had released all of the records it knew of of President Bush‘s National Guard service.  But now there are more, and today the documents were splashed on the front pages of the nation‘s biggest newspapers.  The newly uncovered memos from Colonel Jerry Killian, Mr. Bush‘s commanding officer, state that George W. Bush failed to meet Texas Air National Guard standards and refused a director order.  One memo criticized a military official who, quote, “is pushing to sugarcoat it.”  Another memo said, “I ordered 1st Lieutenant Bush be suspended from flight status due to failure to perform to standards and failure to meet annual physical examination.”

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  If the Air National Guard Air Force did not think he was in good standing, they would have contacted him, by these very documents.  They knew where he was.

SHUSTER:  But fellow Guardsmen did not.  And a group of Democratic veterans is now running this ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I heard George Bush get up and say, I served in the 187th Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama.  Really?  You know, that was my unit, and I don‘t remember seeing you there.  So I called friends, you know?  And did you know that George served in our unit?  I never saw him there.

SHUSTER:  Meanwhile, veterans opposed to John Kerry are remembering his post-combat Vietnam protests.  And today in Washington, a group of former prisoners of war unveiled a documentary.

JACK FELLOWES, FORMER VIETNAM POW:  We stayed two more years because of him.  John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and all that crowd, the anti-war movement, I figure they owe us two years.

SHUSTER:  But the fact is, the war stopped in 1973 when the Nixon administration negotiated an end.  And history shows it was the lack of a settlement before then, not any protest, that kept the North Vietnamese fighting.

The documentary is controversial in other ways, as well.  Kerry‘s testimony from 30 years ago is edited, making it seem he claimed to have witnessed heads and arms being cut off by U.S. soldiers, when, in fact, he always attributed those dramatic allegations to others.

As for the news conference, former senator Bob Dole was originally slated to join the veterans at the unveiling of the film, but he didn‘t appear.  Sources close to Dole say he changed his mind after learning the film was not just a project to praise former POWs but also a sharp attack on John Kerry.  And the Reserve Officers Association, which rented out the room, issued a statement saying their hospitality was not an endorsement of the film.

(on camera):  Nonetheless, the former POWs and their filmmaker, whose documentary is only available over the Internet, have formed what is known as a 527, an organization that is collecting money to spread their message through campaign ads.  It‘s yet another sign that the strong feelings over Vietnam and the political payback are not about to disappear.

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re joined now by James Warner, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  Mr. Warner, tell me about why you participated in this documentary.

JAMES WARNER, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR:  In 1971, I was in a camp with 35 other guys, who were all in solitary.  They told us we were there to be punished.  In May of 1971, I was taken out to an interrogation, a very long interrogation, the longest one I had without being tortured.  We talked for a while, and then the interrogator gave me a storyboard.  It was a piece of cardboard with a magazine article cut out, pasted to it.  I started reading it, and it was testimony that my mother had given at something called the Winter Soldier hearing.  I had no idea what that meant.  I read it.  She didn‘t—it was innocuous.  She hoped I was being well treated and that the war would end soon.

And then there was some more to the story.  And I read that.  It was comments by people claiming to be veterans.  And I got really incensed that had somebody had gotten my parents involved in something like this.  And we talked some more about that.  And after a while, he showed me another storyboard.  My recollection is this was typewritten.  I do not recall that this was Senate testimony.  I just remember that he said, This is a Navy officer, John Kerry.  I recall that it said, Lieutenant JG John Kerry, but I remember the name John Kerry.  And I was told that he helped to organize this hearing, along with Jane Fonda.

And I read this, and it was a recitation.  And this, too, must have been—or edited because I thought he was saying these are things that he saw.  And it struck me that this showed very, very poor judgment to say this because he had to have known that his words were going to be used against us.  And he had...

MATTHEWS:  Help us explain, who were never in your situation.  What do you mean by “used against us”?

WARNER:  All along, the communists told us, Before the war is over, or when the war is over, you will not all go home.  We‘re going to keep some of you.  We‘re going to put on trial, and we‘re going to execute you if you‘re found guilty because you committed war crimes.  Now, we spend—after he showed me this, he started—he kept pounding on the table and pointing at this saying, This officer, your own Naval officer, proves that you deserve to be punished.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  Did you think—did you think they were—how did that affect your thinking about what they were going to do to you?

WARNER:  Well, in 1969, I was tortured for four months straight.  It‘s a long story.  But that was still fresh in my memory.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

WARNER:  Nobody had been tortured, to my knowledge, since September of ‘69, when Ho Chi Minh died.  But still, we didn‘t know that it was official policy that it was over.  We didn‘t know that.  And when he starts connecting the word “punishment” with what he says are alleged war crimes, I have in my mind, Maybe we‘re getting ready for my trial.  Maybe I‘m going to be executed.

MATTHEWS:  McCain, in his memoir, pointed out that from the time Ho Chi Minh died, maybe they thought they had to negotiate from then on, they weren‘t afraid of him anymore.  You can speculate as well as anybody...

WARNER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... given where you were.  They did get a little—they started to drop a lot of the solitary.  They started to give people a little better treatment.  Is that your experience?

WARNER:  They got people out of solitary after the raid at San The (ph) in November of 1970.  But after Ho Chi Minh died, they did back off.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So your feeling—I mean, you—this guy‘s lived rent-free in your head, obviously, all these years, John Kerry.

WARNER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  What do you hold him responsible for personally?  I mean, what—you have to speculate here a little bit.  I mean, you don‘t know what‘s going on in the Paris peace talks.  You don‘t know what Kissinger‘s up to.  That guy‘s got 50 different things he‘s popping up and down.

WARNER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Nixon‘s a gamesman, too.  How do you know there was a connection between what Kerry said, besides what happened to you in terms of the interrogation and the propagandizing?

WARNER:  That‘s all that I know, is that...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  All right.

WARNER:  ... that they told me that Kerry said these things and that that proved that I deserved to be punished.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go to Carlton.  Carlton Sherwood, you built this film.  You made it—you put this together.  What made you make this film, this documentary, which is now on line and may be distributed?

CARLTON SHERWOOD, PRODUCER, “STOLEN HONOR”:  Very simply—and I think you know this, Chris—There is a reservoir of resentment out among the Vietnam veterans, combat veterans, particularly, since what John Kerry did in 1971.  And I thought the best way to tell this story was through the POWs who—there were direct consequences to these men for what John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  In putting this film together, what did you learn were the consequences, if you could accumulate them right now for us?

SHERWOOD:  Oh...

MATTHEWS:  Of John Kerry‘s testimony.  What you know for sure, not speculation, what you know for sure.

SHERWOOD:  According to the POWs, what they said to me...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what they know for sure, if you can tell me what that is, not what they‘re speculating.

SHERWOOD:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Because they‘re just people who‘ve been through this hell. 

They don‘t know what—you never see the whole war.

SHERWOOD:  No.  They were there.  You‘re asking me direct consequences to them.  The direct consequences to them was they were already in peril, and all this did was enhance their peril.

MATTHEWS:  How so?  Explain.

SHERWOOD:  Well, they‘d taken torture to give confessions of war criminality.  John Kerry went public internationally and said we were all war criminals.  They...

MATTHEWS:  And therefore, what did they—what did the captors do to our guys because of hearing this?

SHERWOOD:  They threatened them with show trials and execution.

MATTHEWS:  Because of Kerry‘s testimony.

SHERWOOD:  Because of Kerry‘s testimony.  Secondarily, they believed...

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  This is very important.  You told me a minute ago that you were threatened with possible execution, and certainly trial...

WARNER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... as one of the possible selectees after the war was over.

WARNER:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Did they ever say to you, because of John Kerry‘s testimony, you were going to face a possible execution?

WARNER:  No.  They didn‘t say that.  They said—they kept pointing -

·         they just kept saying over and over again...

MATTHEWS:  Did any other former POWs say that they were told by their captors that they would face trial, potential trial, and potential execution because of what John Kerry said?

SHERWOOD:  Oh, yes.  Yes.  In fact, one guy—one fellow, Leo Thorsness (ph), is a Medal of Honor recipient.

MATTHEWS:  And he says?

SHERWOOD:  And he said that as a result of Kerry‘s testimony, he was threatened with execution.

MATTHEWS:  And he was told by his captors, because of the testimony, they were doing this to him.

SHERWOOD:  Yes.  This is a—yes.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I want to know.  I‘m trying to nail this down.

SHERWOOD:  This is a U.S. Naval officer.

MATTHEWS:  Admitting his credentials to speak publicly.  I‘m asking, did he say specifically that they told him that because of what Kerry had said, he was facing this possible punishment?

SHERWOOD:  Yes.  He said that.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to know.  Let‘s to go Ken Campbell, who‘s a Vietnam veteran who protested the war.  And on the phone, we‘re joined by Phil Butler, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Let‘s go to Phil Butler.  Could you tell me your years of captivity, Mr. Butler?

PHIL BUTLER, FORMER PRISONER OF WAR:  Yes.  I was captured on April the 20th of 1965 and released on February the 12th of 1973, just a little short of eight years.  I‘m the eighth longest-held prisoner of war in Vietnam.  And I was in Camp Unity, which was the camp that was mentioned earlier, I think, after the San The raid, from November the 20th of 1970 to May the 25th of 1972.  During that time, I lived in room 2 of that camp with Ken Cordier (ph).  And next to me in room 3 were Paul Galante and Jim Warner for a while, and also, Bud Day (ph) and Robert Shoemaker (ph) were in room seven of that camp.

And I can assure you that in Camp Unity—there were several hundred of us there—during all that time period, from 1970 up through May of 1972, we absolutely never heard of John Kerry.  And if John Kerry‘s name was used or mentioned in other camps, I can assure you that, certainly, in my opinion, John Kerry has absolutely no connection whatsoever either with anybody being tortured or with prolonging the war in any way, shape or form.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you generically, Phil, did you ever experience as a POW the kind of threats that Mr. Warner suffered, where they said to you, We‘re going to try some of you guys after this war is over, we‘re going to execute some of you guys after this war, and then show that kind of material, show that kind of propaganda, which for them was propaganda, testimony from Jane Fonda or anybody in the anti-war movement?  Was anything like that ever done to you?

BUTLER:  No.  They never really used anybody in the anti-war movement to torture me.  I was tortured numerous times between 1965 and 1969, for which I received Purple Hearts and—real Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars, and so on and so forth.  But other POWs have, as well...

MATTHEWS:  From the other POWs, sir, did you ever hear stories of them being told that testimony by people like John Kerry back home was threatening them or could be used against them in future war criminal trials?

BUTLER:  Absolutely not.  Absolutely not.  I did not know the name John Kerry until quite a while after I came home.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Jim Warner.  Wasn‘t there any scuttlebutt in the camp?  You guys were all in this fix together, possibly going to be executed.  You‘re all worried about getting home and wanting to get home.  Didn‘t you talk about that with people like Phil?

WARNER:  Yes.  Yes.  We did.

MATTHEWS:  Well, how come he doesn‘t remember it?

WARNER:  I can‘t tell you that.  I have to say, when we got back into Camp Unity, when they brought us back from the...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

WARNER:  ... from the solitary confinement in August of ‘71 -- we didn‘t have loudspeakers out there, but we—they had loudspeakers in Unity and the Hanoi Hilton.  And I don‘t remember hearing his name and I don‘t remember the voice, but I do remember hearing a broadcast from Hanoi Hannah with somebody who pronounced Genghis Khan the same way John Kerry does.

MATTHEWS:  But you didn‘t—you don‘t—you didn‘t carry with you the name John Kerry all these years.

WARNER:  I did because I remember reading that typewritten transcript and having that connected with somebody getting my parents involved in this Winter Soldier hearing.

MATTHEWS:  So you later heard that John Kerry was involved in that.

WARNER:  I heard it right there.

MATTHEWS:  Well, when...

WARNER:  The interrogator told me that John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WARNER:  ... had organized with Jane Fonda this Winter Soldier hearing because I asked him what this was.

MATTHEWS:  Why didn‘t Phil know about this?

WARNER:  He wasn‘t there.  And I don‘t know anybody else who was ever shown that storyboard.

MATTHEWS:  Anybody else share this experience of being used—of having had John Kerry used as a threat against them?

WARNER:  I can‘t tell you that.  I only know what I—what they did with me...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did you tell that to anybody else at the time, that this guy, John Kerry...

WARNER:  I did.

MATTHEWS:  ... was the enemy?

WARNER:  I went back and tapped—I‘m trying to remember who was on the other side of me, but I tapped to the other guys in solitary that...

MATTHEWS:  The name John Kerry.

WARNER:  ... the name John Kerry and the fact that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe they‘re going to come forward, too.

WARNER:  ... my mother had been involved in this.

MATTHEWS:  I understand the issue (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Winter Soldier (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

WARNER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  I know all about it.

We‘re coming right back with more on how the Vietnam war is still shaping this election.  We‘re trying to take testimony here.  We‘re trying to do it very clearly.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Carlton Sherwood, producer of the film “Stolen Honor,” plus Vietnam veterans James Warner, Phil Butler and Ken Campbell.

Ken, I want to get you in here right now.  Ken, tell me about your feelings about this whole thing, your thoughts.  Jim here seems like a really credible guy.  He remembers John Kerry‘s testimony being thrown in his face when he‘s sitting in a cell in North Vietnam, under tremendous stress, wondering if he‘s going to live or not and get home or not.  And here he hears the voice of a John Kerry accusing him and other service people of atrocities.  Why shouldn‘t he be mad at Kerry?  Or justifiably seeking justice from Kerry, however you want to phrase it.

KEN CAMPBELL, VIETNAM VET WHO PROTESTED WAR:  Well, I have great sympathy for him.  First of all, he was in a terrible situation.  And to be faced with that kind of a charge, or an accusation had to be very disturbing.  But in fact, it‘s inaccurate, in that what we were trying to do at Winter Soldier was not blame the rank-and-file troops.  After all, we were the rank-and-file troops.  We were invoking the Nuremberg principle of command responsibility and suggesting that the political and military leaders who designed the policies of search and destroy, body count, free-fire zone were the people who were really responsible.

MATTHEWS:  But that‘s the big picture challenge that I think history‘s going to have to answer.  I personally think those charges are for real.  I think when you have a tremendous number of villages just being targeted, and you have these free-fire zones, that is something to go after.

But the testimony that came through Kerry‘s mouth before the Senate committee included charges of individual horror—rape, killing people indiscriminately.  They weren‘t charges against the system, they were charges against individuals.  Isn‘t that what drives a lot of these guys who‘ve been through hell already mad about Kerry?

CAMPBELL:  I think that that‘s part of it, but I was also one of the individuals who stepped forward and said, Look, I did some of these things myself.  I called in...

MATTHEWS:  Like what?

CAMPBELL:  I was an artillery forward observer for a Marine grunt company, and I called in artillery on undefended villages several times.  I also participated in...

MATTHEWS:  Under orders, right?

CAMPBELL:  Under orders and under my own initiative.  Depends on which villages you‘re talking about.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you think is going to—what do you think of these guys who are coming forward now, like Jim, and saying, At a time when I was under threat of death by the enemy of the United States, this guy was giving the enemy of the United States ammo to use in the case against me personally?

CAMPBELL:  I just don‘t buy it.  And I also think that...

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t—you—in other words, you don‘t believe what Jim just told me a few minutes ago.  You don‘t believe he was brought in and told by his captors that this guy, John Kerry, had said this against him and his fellow soldiers.

CAMPBELL:  Well, either he got it wrong or remembers it wrong, or the Vietnamese, when they said that Kerry blamed him, were wrong.

WARNER:  I didn‘t say...

MATTHEWS:  Let me go—Jim talk.

WARNER:  They weren‘t blaming me, they were blaming everybody.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

WARNER:  And since the communists told us repeatedly we‘re all criminals, they never gave us POW status, this was just perfectly congruent with their theory that we were all guilty...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

WARNER:  ... that all of us were guilty because it was the official policy of the U.S. government.  I can‘t speak for everybody who...

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  I want to you speak on one person.  You believe—you remember and you swear now...

WARNER:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  ... that John Kerry‘s testimony was used to intimidate you as a prisoner.

WARNER:  That‘s right.  And I...

MATTHEWS:  And you, Ken, say that didn‘t happen.

CAMPBELL:  Oh, no, I‘m not saying that that didn‘t happen.  I‘m saying that John Kerry never blamed everybody, he and the rest us.  John Kerry wasn‘t there alone.  There were over 100 of us.  And John Kerry was one of the spokespeople of it, and one of several.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to come right back with Carlton Sherwood, James Warner—Jim Warner—Ken Campbell and Phil Butler.  And later, Donald Trump is going to be here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Carlton Sherwood, James Warner, Phil Butler and Ken Campbell.

Carlton, you put together this film, this documentary, which is out on line now.  And it‘s very tough on John Kerry, which is what you wanted to do because you had some facts and you put them to—brought them to the attention of the people.  Why aren‘t the Vietnam vets, especially the guys who were in the Hanoi Hilton and the Unity Camp and those horrible places where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) why aren‘t they angrier at the president for not having served than they are at John Kerry?

SHERWOOD:  They believe that John Kerry betrayed them.  They believe that John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  How so?

SHERWOOD:  Betrayed them?  Everything that John Kerry did is on the record.  It‘s on tape.  It‘s on video.  There‘s no dispute...

MATTHEWS:  You mean his testimony.

SHERWOOD:  The testimony, but also his “MEET THE PRESS,” “The Dick Cavett Show.”  It‘s all there.

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s not that he didn‘t deserve the medals, to these guys, it‘s that he testified against them, they feel.

SHERWOOD:  Well, he labeled all of us, Chris.  He gave us—he...

MATTHEWS:  What was your role?  What was your role in the war?

SHERWOOD:  I was a Marine grunt.  I was a mud Marine on the DMZ, ‘67, ‘68.

MATTHEWS:  So you feel this, too.

SHERWOOD:  Oh, absolutely.  And as far as what Ken said, everything that came from the Winter Soldiers hearing has been utterly discredited through volumes and volumes of books and not one...

CAMPBELL:  That‘s untrue.

MATTHEWS:  Phil—let me go...

CAMPBELL:  I‘m sorry, that‘s untrue.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s talking, Phil?  Phil, go ahead.  Or Ken.

CAMPBELL:  I was talking.  Ken was talking.

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead, Ken.

CAMPBELL:  Yes.  That‘s untrue.  There was only one person in the Vietnam Vets Against the War that was uncovered as having been a sergeant when he said he was a captain.  Otherwise, the rest of the folks, we all brought our DD-214s today.  I brought mine today, in case you challenged my credibility.  And we were not frauds.  And we did do or see or participate in what we said we did.

SHERWOOD:  Not a single atrocity—John Kerry after 30 years, John Kerry hasn‘t been able to come up with a single provable atrocity.

MATTHEWS:  Well, there were atrocities (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

SHERWOOD:  Well, there‘s atrocities in every war.

(CROSSTALK)

SHERWOOD:  But not the kind...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

SHERWOOD:  ... not on a daily basis, as he said.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Carlton Sherwood, James Warner, Phil Butler and Ken Campbell.  A lot of heroism here, a lot of argument.

Anyway, up next, MSNBC‘s very own Joe Scarborough‘s going to be here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Joe Scarborough is taking on the Republicans, his own party, in his new book, “Rome Wasn‘t Burnt in a Day: The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America.”

That‘s not a subtitle.  That‘s a whole book there.

(LAUGHTER)

rMD+BO_

rMD-BO_JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  I get paid by the word.

MATTHEWS:  Why are you so tough against leadership?  You got a problem with authority? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ve always had a problem with authority. 

But this really is—I was telling you before, this really started on “HARDBALL” back in 1996. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why we had you on, because you know—you know why? 

Because you were ready to take our your leadership any time we had you on. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And I wasn‘t taking on my leadership to take on my leadership.  I was just telling the truth.  I was the master of the obvious. 

Because then, they were passing these huge transportation bills, omnibus bills that we didn‘t even read. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Doing all the things that we swore we would never do.  And I had other Republican freshmen come up to me and say, who does your press for you?  I said, nobody does my press.  I just don‘t read the Republican talking points.  I just tell the truth. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve been there.  I haven‘t been there, so tell me the answer.  Everybody dreams, if they get elected to be senator or congressman, that they‘re going to be like Mr. Smith.  They‘re going to be this clean guy or woman coming to Washington and representing the people they just left who elected them.  They are not going to be part of the system. 

But there‘s a lot of pressures, aren‘t there, to vote the party line? 

If you don‘t vote the party line, what happens to you? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What happens to you?  If they see your button going nay and it‘s supposed to go yea in an appropriations bill, what happens?

SCARBOROUGH:  They all run around you.  They circle around you. 

MATTHEWS:  The other members. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The other members do.  The whip sends over 20 people. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is the whip?

SCARBOROUGH:  They start yelling at you.

MATTHEWS:  Explain the whip, Joe. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, the whip was Tom DeLay, who was great at whipping people.

MATTHEWS:  The guy who made you voted

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  The guy that made sure you voted right.  Tom gave up on me after about two or three years, and people like Steve Largent and other guys that came in, in ‘95. 

The thing is, though, how you get to Congress makes all the difference in the world in how you act in Congress.  For instance, people like myself, Steve Largent, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, we weren‘t the choice of the Republican Party anyway.  We were too independent.  We were too conservative, supposedly. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean the town elders didn‘t get behind you. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The town elders actually worked for our primary opponents. 

And when we got up here, every time they would threaten us—Mark Sanford in South Carolina.  I remember I was sitting in Newt Gingrich‘s office when one of his henchmen came in and they threatened us.  And Mark Sanford turned to me, great governor from South Carolina, and we started laughing.  He said, are they threatening us?  I said, it sounds like it.  I hope so, because the last time they worked against me, I got 62 percent against the Democrat. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So how you get there makes a big difference. 

If the party is behind you, if they‘re spending hundreds of thousand to get you elected, by the time you get to Washington, D.C., you‘re already theirs. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose you go to Congress—and I love this question because I‘ve never been there—and you just say, I don‘t care which interest groups gave me money.  I don‘t care which big shot back home or mayor who thinks something.  I don‘t care who they get to.  I‘m going to vote what I feel like every vote.  What would happen to you? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What would happen to you?

Do you know what happens to you?  You become John McCain.  Everybody hates you in Washington, D.C. and everybody loves you across the country. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How about back home?  Do they put up with you?

SCARBOROUGH:  They put up with you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Suppose you vote against the local church back home or you vote against the labor union or you vote against the National Association of Manufacturers‘ interests back home. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me give you a great example.

One of my favorite stories, and it is in the book, is, when I came up, I ran against farm subsidies.  We have a lot of peanut farmers in our district.  The peanut subsidy is important to them.  I told this to the peanut lobbyists.

MATTHEWS:  What did you tell them? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I can‘t vote for it. 

MATTHEWS:  Why?

SCARBOROUGH:  I campaigned against paying farmers not to

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... crops.

MATTHEWS:  Waste of federal money.

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s a waste of federal money.

So all these lobbyists came into my office right before the peanut vote.  I said, gentlemen, ladies, sorry, love you.  Can‘t vote for you. 

MATTHEWS:  And they said? 

SCARBOROUGH:  They said thank you so much for your time, Congressman. 

They left.  And then we got a stack of checks from the peanut farmers, from their lobbyists, right?

MATTHEWS:  Campaign contributions.

SCARBOROUGH:  I said to my chief, I said, why are they giving us that?  He said they want your support.  I told them I‘m not going to vote for them.  We fast-forwarded the vote.  I go ahead.  I vote against them. 

The next day, my chief of staff comes in and says, boy, the lobbyists

for the peanut farmers are really mad at you.  I said, why?  Because they

expected to you swing.  I said, I told them I was

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You cashed the checks, though?  You did cash the checks.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re darn right we cashed the checks. 

And so he said, they think you lied to them.  I said, I told them I

wasn‘t going to vote for them.  So then my chief of staff, who is very

smart, very wise in the ways of Washington, when I started yelling in my

office, saying, you can take those checks back, don‘t turn them in.  He

goes, yes, Congressman, yes, Congressman.  He leaves, immediately deposits

them in my campaign

(CROSSTALK)    

MATTHEWS:  What about the next cycle?  That‘s the old question in Washington.  They feed you.  They give you a check one time.  Do they come back the next time? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I think they gave me a little bit of money, but nothing like they gave me before. 

And, again, what is so disturbing about that, it‘s not about the peanut lobbyists.  What is disturbing about it is, it tells us, it tells us that that works with other people, that they‘re told no.  They give them checks—not the peanut lobbyists, all lobbyists—and then votes change.  These lobbyists are not stupid people.  They don‘t go around, I find, throwing money around chasing bad money. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did you get the money?  You were a bad bet.

SCARBOROUGH:  Because I was knew. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They didn‘t know I was a bad bet.  They didn‘t know people like Steve Largent was a bad bet.  And so that‘s why they made the mistake once. 

MATTHEWS:  But they can‘t beat you, can they? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Who can‘t beat me? 

MATTHEWS:  The lobbyists can‘t beat you once you‘re in.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, lobbyists can‘t beat you once you‘re in.  But, unfortunately...

MATTHEWS:  Can the leadership beat you? 

SCARBOROUGH:  No. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can the president beat you?

SCARBOROUGH:  The president may be able to beat you.  That‘s what‘s so interesting. 

When a speaker run against you, when a majority leader of the Senate

goes after you, that‘s one thing.  When the president of the United States

·         if the president had ever come down and said, that Scarborough guy, he‘s not one of us. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve never seen it happen.

SCARBOROUGH:  It would have been very interesting. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  FDR tried to knock off some Georgia guys because they were too conservative.  He couldn‘t knock off Senator George.  Remember that?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And I can tell you that this.  The more they worked against me, the stronger I got.

MATTHEWS:  You loved it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  In a very Republican district.

MATTHEWS:  In a way, you loved it, right?

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course I loved it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Joe Scarborough.  More with him.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about his book.  OK, thank you.  Great book. 

You can watch Joe nights at 10:00 here on MSNBC.  He‘s my colleague. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Donald Trump. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Donald Trump on season two of “The Apprentice,” plus his thoughts on this presidential race—when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Joining me right now, Donald Trump.  Season two of his hit show, “The Apprentice” debuts tonight. 

Donald Trump, thank you, sir.   

DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN:  How are you, Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  So we got to start with politics.  Then I want to talk about your show, because it is one of the only shows I watch on television, so I do want to talk about it. 

TRUMP:  Well, you better watch.

MATTHEWS:  Fighting words.  Are you Zell Miller?  OK, let‘s go on here.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP:  No, no.  I saw Zell.  By the way, I saw Zell Miller.  That was quite a program you had, I must tell you. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it was his choreography, not mine, I can tell you that.      

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Dueling is not my profession. 

Let me ask you about this election for president.  Who would you hire for president to do a job if you needed it done, Bush or Kerry? 

TRUMP:  Well, I know them both and I like them both.  I will tell you that I love Bush‘s tax policy, Chris.  I really do.  I think it is a good policy.  And I really like it.  I think it is good in terms of development...

MATTHEWS:  Well, you would. 

TRUMP:  ... and economic development and everything else.  But I hate the war in Iraq. 

Now, on the other hand, Kerry has really not done such a good job in terms of tax policy as far as I‘m concerned.  So I‘m very torn.  I haven‘t made up my mind yet.  I am one of the undecided. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Well, that‘s good.  You have a war you don‘t like, but at least you don‘t have to pay for it is what you‘re telling me, because the tax cuts have helped the better-off people. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And the war doesn‘t therefore cost that much to you. 

TRUMP:  Well, somebody is paying for the war.  I‘ll tell you, it is $400 billion, at least.  And somebody is paying for it.  But the war has not been a very positive thing, in my opinion. 

MATTHEWS:  Economically, what is the impact of a government that decides to borrow a war, basically, to pay for it later, fight now, pay later?

TRUMP:  Look, I don‘t think it‘s positive.  I think it has been a big negative.  There are other places. 

If you look at North Korea, if you look at—frankly, I mean, I think, if the United States used that as a launching base to go into Iran and clean out some of their nuclear problems, maybe all of a sudden, I would start to say that was a great move, because we ought to look at Iran and we ought to look at North Korea and what they‘re doing with nuclear weapons. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this choice people make.  What kind of a choice is it?  I mean, historically, a reelection campaign has been distinctive from a regular presidential campaign because you basically have a track record of a guy for four years.  Is this really what it is about?  If the guy has done a good job, keep him.  If he hasn‘t, dump him.  Or is it a choice question like we always face in other races?

TRUMP:  Well, I think in this case, it is both.  Some people love Bush.  He is a very—it is very fragmented.  But it is really both.  People love him and the job he‘s done and other people just can‘t stand him and the job he‘s done. 

And people are very mixed on Kerry.  And I will tell you this.  I sat through the convention in New York.  And they did a great job, the Republicans.  But maybe the greatest spin I‘ve ever seen on anything is, it‘s almost coming out that Bush is a war hero and Kerry isn‘t.  I think that could be the greatest spin I‘ve ever seen. 

MATTHEWS:  Because? 

TRUMP:  Well, the whole thing with the swift boat group, which obviously is being done by Bush and Bush‘s people, happened to be brilliant.  They‘ve taken all of that war hero thing away from Kerry and they‘ve almost given to it Bush.  And Bush, frankly, was not serving.  That we know. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about these ways of looking at candidates.  Why do you think we find ourselves checking on a guy‘s resume, going back to the ‘60s? 

TRUMP:  Well, I think resumes are always important. 

If you go to the Wharton School of Finance, that‘s a little bit better pedigree than if you go someplace else, in term of business.  And, likewise, a resume for a president—look, when you run for president, you‘re truly a special person.  And you have to be a special person.  And therefore a resume of what you‘ve done throughout your life is very important. 

MATTHEWS:  Would it matter to you in picking an executive?  I know that so much time has passed, that a person, because of his—well, he just chose not to go fight in Vietnam.  He chose to go to the Guard instead.  The other guy went there, got a bunch of medals.  And some people are complaining about one or two of those medals.  Who looks better to you? 

TRUMP:  Well, I think Kerry certainly looked better.  But they‘ve done this incredible spin control that is almost making Bush look as good.  And it was a very weak point for Bush. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make—what do you look—you‘re into television now as a performer and as really a guy who is the symbol of the program you‘re on.  You are in effect playing yourself.  These debates coming up right now, do you believe that they are going to move minds? 

TRUMP:  Yes.  I think they‘ll be very important.  It is going to be a very much closer election I think than even the polls are showing right now.

Right now, polls are showing anywhere from seven to 10 points.  And I think the election is a lot closer than that. 

MATTHEWS:  What is going to move it? 

TRUMP:  Well, you know, who does better?  Look at Gore in the debate. 

He looked terrible.  For some reason, he probably had the worst makeup person I‘ve ever seen.  Perhaps they could have used yours or one of mine, because, honestly, he really didn‘t look good. 

And there were a lot of things.  But he looked terrible, just like Richard Nixon.  He was killing Kennedy.  And then the debate came and all of the sudden, he lost the election over the debate.  And you know that.  The old gray suit syndrome.  Don‘t wear a white shirt and a gray suit. 

Let‘s see.  What am I wearing here? 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re wearing blue on blue.  It looks OK, though.

TRUMP:  I had better.

MATTHEWS:  You have got French blue.  That always works these days.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the role of personality.  The American people are pick a leader to fight the good fight against terrorism, etcetera, to keep the economy strong, huge responsibilities.  Yet it seems that we increasingly pick a guy based upon, do we want to have a beer with the guy? 

TRUMP:  Well, it seems that way.  And it seems that Bush is the one that people like in terms of personality.  And, you know, it‘s sort of an interesting choice. 

But he certainly has done well in the last two or three weeks.  And New York has actually been lucky.  I thought it was a very stupid idea having the convention in New York.  It turned out to be a very good idea.  They really did well.  They did well in a city that is mostly Democratic.  And the choice of New York was a little bit strange, but it worked out quite well. 

MATTHEWS:  It looked to me in the beginning—I can say this now, although it sounds a little incendiary—like almost a sting operation.  You‘re saying, we‘re going to hold the party in power‘s convention in New York City, the site of 9/11.  And we‘re almost saying to the al Qaeda crowd, go ahead, make our day. 

Are you amazed that there was no attempt by the bad guys to come after us and use this opportunity? 

TRUMP:  Well, Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg did a fantastic job in terms of the police and in terms of policing everything.  It was really orderly.  I mean, there was some demonstrations, but nothing out of hand.  And the police of New York are amazing and they did a great job.  And Ray Kelly is really to be congratulated. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they stopped them from an attempt? 

TRUMP:  Oh, I think absolutely.  I mean, the police were just extraordinary.  They looked good.  They were sharp.  They were respected.  And by the time the convention ended, I‘ll tell you something, it was very interesting.  The people were exhausted.  The demonstrators were totally exhausted.  They were leaving, saying, they just want to go home to bed. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ve got to tell you, I love meeting the cops up there, and for one reason, a hell of lot of them watch this show, including the guy cleaning up the trash around the corner we were working on Herald Square.  He watched the show.  I loved them up there. 

Let me ask you about perhaps what you might call unnecessary roughness in politics.  This week, Dick Cheney, the vice president, a very tough guy, said that if we elect, the American people elect Kerry, that we‘re basically going to face ourselves with the threat of a devastating attack.  He is saying vote Democrat, you‘re going to get attacked. 

TRUMP:  Well, it‘s a terrible statement unless he gets away with it. 

The other side doesn‘t seem to be hitting very hard.  The Republicans are

hitting much harder than the Democrats.  It‘s a terrible statement, unless

·         you know, let‘s see how the other side handles it.  But already after two days, I haven‘t seen much handling. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a terrible attack, because you‘re saying, because it means that you believe the other side just by its election would endanger the country. 

TRUMP:  Well, I mean, just take a look at that whole premise; 9/11 happened during the Bush administration.  Why doesn‘t somebody attack him?  I‘m not taking sides.  I‘m just saying, it‘s amazing.  He made that statement two or three days ago and I haven‘t heard anything to knock him.  It‘s really amazing when you think of it. 

MATTHEWS:  If you were the corner man—I know “The Contender” is coming, the program you‘re going to be producing.  If you were a corner man for Kerry right now, what would you tell him to do?  Quit?  Change?  Get tough?  Be visceral?  Be spontaneous?  Be something you‘re not?  How can you change this guy to a winner? 

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP:  Look, I know him.  And he‘s a very capable guy.  And, frankly, every election, he‘s losing until the end.  That‘s the one thing you have to remember about him.  He was losing the primary and he ended up winning easily. 

And if you go back four weeks before the primary, he was out of it.  People weren‘t even talking about him.  And he ended up winning.  He was also losing for the Senate to Governor Weld, and it was not even going to be a contest.  He had 30 percent of the vote to 70 percent.  And he ended up killing him.  So the guy has a way of coming back.  So don‘t just think that he‘s going to go away.  He‘s a very capable guy. 

But the Republicans so far have just been decimating the Democrats. 

And I think Kerry has to go out and do his thing.  And he‘s fine at it.  He‘s won lots of elections.  But it‘s very interesting.  He has come from behind on many elections. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is he putting out even now a confusing position on Iraq? 

TRUMP:  Well, I think the whole campaign so far as far as I‘m concerned has been confusing.  He ought to say something.  And, frankly, I think what people really want to hear is, we‘re going to get out of there was as quickly as possible.  I think that‘s what people want to hear. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, you don‘t think they care whether he is for the war or not?  Because that seems unclear as hell right now. 

TRUMP:  Well, you know, so many things can happen. 

I was saying somebody today, why can‘t they find a 6-foot, 6‘ Arab named Osama bin Laden?  He is 6-foot, 6“.  He is on a dialysis machine, supposedly, and we can‘t find him? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TRUMP:  And then you see him on television all the time.  They can‘t track him?  If I‘m on television, they track me.  If you‘re on television, they track.  We can‘t track this guy? 

Now, if Bush found him prior to the election, the election is won.  Then I would tell Kerry, you have to—might as well give it up, because the election is won.  So a lot of things can happen that can inure both positive and negative to both parties. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘re going to come right back with Donald Trump.  he‘s previewing, by the way, the new season tonight.  His hit series “The Apprentice” starts tonight. 

And don‘t forget, you can keep up with the presidential race on HardBlogger, our election blog Web site.  Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with more with Donald Trump, whose hit show “The Apprentice” debuts tonight on NBC.

Donald, did you think this had show business winner written all over it or not?  Or were you taking a chance here?  Was this a gamble? 

TRUMP:  It was a gamble.  I had no idea about show business. 

I hadn‘t done—I own the Miss Universe Pageant and Miss USA and things like that, but this was sort of a gamble.  And it really became more of a gamble after I signed.  I agreed to do it with NBC and Jeff Zucker and Bob Wright, who are terrific people.  And they had great confidence. 

But after I agreed to do it, I heard that 95 percent of the shows that go on television fail.  And of the 5 percent, most of them are just modest successes.  So this turned out to be a monster show.  We had 41.5 million, or actually even more than that, watching the final episode last year. 

And I think—honestly, Chris, I think the second season, the season that goes on tonight, is even better than the first.  I use the word even, because I have to use the world even, but it‘s even better than the first. 

MATTHEWS:  You used the words monster—used the word monster in describing its success.  Did you find any really good monsters to compete this time, like last time, real villains?

TRUMP:  Well, we had some tough people.  We had Omarosa.  We had Sam. 

We had a lot of really good people.  But I will tell you...

MATTHEWS:  Meaning bad people. 

TRUMP:  Well, yes, good people in one sense, but good from an entertainment standpoint. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TRUMP:  Good in many ways.

But we really have some tremendous candidates.  We had over a million people to choose from.  Over a million people applied to be in the show.  And we have some amazing characters, yes, I would stay the equal of Omarosa. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think you found people who will play villains and people who plays heroes?  Or how does it work out?  How do you put it together?

TRUMP:  Well, I think that‘s true in life, don‘t you think?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, yes, but you have got to make it work. 

TRUMP:  Like your senator last week.  I thought I was going to watch this wonderful gentlemen talking so very nice and silently about something. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I don‘t think so.

TRUMP:  And he turned out to be a wild man.  So you never know what is going to happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, Jay Leno said they had to put him down with a tranquilizer gun afterwards. 

Let me ask you—so you do sort of admit here that there‘s a quality of the program that requires that there be villains and heroes?  What I mean by a villain is the kind of person who, in first year of law school, would go to the law books you‘re supposed to look up the citation that night in and razor blade out the citation, so the classmates don‘t get to read it that night, that sort of person. 

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP:  When you have 18 -- last year, we had 16.  Now we have 18 because NBC is very smart.  But when you have 18 people and they‘re all type A‘s and they all have 185 I.Q. and all of that, you‘re going to find some people that will come across as villains. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about yourself, because I like the show because there‘s that wonderful quiet on that show.  It has got absolutely no soundtrack.  There‘s no audience, obviously.  And you get in the quiet of that chamber you‘re in when you make your judgments, or begin to make your judgments.  You have got that older guy in the corner and that woman, a very professional-looking woman. 

And the way you set that thing up, first of all, are you being Donald or playing Donald? 

TRUMP:  No, I think I‘m being Donald.  I don‘t think I‘m playing at all. 

It is totally unscripted.  There‘s never been a word that‘s been written for me to say.  Even the words, “You‘re fired,” I came up with that during one of the episodes, during the first episode.  Normally, that‘s not the way I do it, unless somebody is stealing, which of course happens, or doing something very bad.  You don‘t use the words “You‘re fired.”  Normally, you say, you‘re the greatest person that‘s ever worked for me, but, honestly, you can do better someplace else. 

So it is totally unscripted.  And it just works.  You can‘t hide.  When you do that much television, you can‘t hide from the public.  They really get to understand you, as we all understand you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you like it? 

TRUMP:  I‘m having fun.  You know, it‘s the No. 1 show on television, and that creates fun for me.  When the show becomes that successful, I like it.  And as long as it is that successful, I‘m going to keep doing it. 

MATTHEWS:  When you say “You‘re fired,” is there a bit of sadism in that?  Do you really like saying it as much as it seems like it, because, sometimes, you don‘t exactly say it more out of sorrow than joy.  You basically say, you deserve it, buddy, and here it is. 

TRUMP:  Well, it depends on who.  There have been cases where I‘ve hated to say it.  And there were some cases last year where it was very, very close and I liked both candidates that were under consideration to be fired.  So you really don‘t know, Chris.  But I don‘t enjoy firing people.  I never enjoyed firing people.  It‘s not one of my things that in life is lots of fun. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is going down in the record books.  I remember -

·         who was the guy, Jack Paar?  He used to say, “Would you believe”?  Is “You‘re fired” going to make Bartlett‘s book of quotations with Donald Trump‘s name on it? 

TRUMP:  Well, I was asked before whether or not, if we didn‘t come up with the term, “You‘re fired,” whether or not the show would have been successful.  And I think the answer is, yes, it‘s a great show.  It would have been successful.  But I‘m not sure that it would have been as successful. 

MATTHEWS:  God.  Harvey Mackay has got a book out now about people who have been—famous people who have been fired.  They‘re feeding off you already. 

TRUMP:  That‘s true.

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Donald Trump, good luck tonight, not that you need it. 

TRUMP:  Have a good one.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s going to be a great show. 

TRUMP:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern, on the eve of the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  We‘ll be joined by members of the 9/11 Commission.  This is going to be a Chris Matthews special.  What a night tomorrow night with a lot—we‘re going to have a quorum tomorrow night of the commissioners. 

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

END   

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