updated 10/13/2004 10:51:26 AM ET 2004-10-13T14:51:26

Guest: Doug Wilson, J.D. Hayworth, Tom Oliphant

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:   Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

And welcome back to Arizona State University on the eve of the third and final presidential debate.  We are here with the panel, NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan, MSNBC contributor—I guess that‘s different, Ben Ginsberg, who was an election attorney—that‘s right—you‘re a Republican—election attorney with the Bush campaign, and Tom Oliphant, columnist for “The Boston Globe.”

I want to stake out a position here now.  I am just anchoring this thing, but I have a view as a citizen.  I do think this election is very important.  I think it‘s got consequences up the kazoo.  Four more years of this administration is different than four years of Kerry, maybe eight years of Kerry.  It‘s a directional thing.  We go in one of two directions.

I don‘t see how you can say you can‘t make up your mind.  These guys are so different.  There‘s not an issue they agree on, let alone disagree on everything.  I can‘t think of anything they agree on.  And I think everything they disagree on is very important, science, morality, in terms of the science, ethics, in terms of the president‘s position, not your position.  I think, in terms of the economy, they couldn‘t be more different.  One believes in a certain kind of tax policy, a certain kind of trade policy.  And the other one certainly is leaning much towards a fair trade policy, if you will, more of a protectionist mode. 

And on foreign policy, the president has the clearest foreign policy of any president since Roosevelt.  We know exactly what his foreign policy is.  It‘s not nuanced.  It‘s clear.  It‘s aggressive.  It‘s forward-leaning.  It‘s damned and determined to get the terrorists, wherever they might be, wherever somebody might help them.  Now, the question is, why would anybody not vote in this election?  If you‘re ever going to vote in your life, why wouldn‘t you vote in this one?  There‘s no excuse not to vote. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

TOM OLIPHANT, “THE BOSTON GLOBE”:  There‘s an assumption behind your point that I don‘t agree with in terms of what I experience talking to people around the country, because these things don‘t line up, Chris.  You can be anti-gun and pro-life. 

You can be for low taxes and more spending on education.  If you just go down the agenda items of Bush or the agenda items of Kerry, it isn‘t pick one collection or one collection.  People really are cafeteria shoppers.  And you can encounter it all the time.

MATTHEWS:  But they weren‘t before.  Why are they different?  Because back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s, Dixiecrats, who were totally against desegregation, supported Jim Crow.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... voted for Franklin Roosevelt. 

OLIPHANT:  Simple.  Simple.

MATTHEWS:  How did they do it?

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  They had a mechanism for resolving these conflicts, where the parties actually were functioning as coalitions, and you had your chance to fight out point of view, but then you understood it was time to get ready for the general election. 

We don‘t have that arbitrating mechanism anymore, and, as a result, you have these polarizes agendas.  But there are still people for whom these things don‘t line up.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But you are saying both parties in their way offer a blue-plate special.  This is the special, no substitutions. 

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  You‘re saying no substitutions, and the voter is saying, hey, wait a minute, I want to make substitutions. 

MATTHEWS:  The voter is Jack Nicholson. 

OLIPHANT:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I want it without

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BEN GINSBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Look at the way the candidates are appealing to their voters.  There‘s the broad thematic themes that you‘re going to see in the debate tomorrow night. 

And in every battleground state that exists, both campaigns have very targeted efforts at specific voters because of things they like or don‘t like.  And it is perfectly possible for the Kerry-Edwards to target a voter on one issue and Bush-Cheney to target that same voter for something else. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But the strategy mentioned earlier, appealing to the base, the evangelicals, those people as a group, not knocking anybody, do want the special.  They want pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-stem cell, pro-the president‘s foreign policy.  It‘s easy.  I will take the—I will take the special, right? 

GINSBERG:  The databases are so specific. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Whereas suburbanites always want to make substitutions.  I am a Republican, but I‘m pro-choice, right?  I am a Democrat, but I want tax break, right?  They‘re used to that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Huh?

GINSBERG:  If you are fervent Catholic in the suburbs, that may not be the case. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But there are—let me tell you.  Let me give you a little education about the Catholic Church, Ben, half pro-choice. 

GINSBERG:  I have a lot to learn. 

MATTHEWS:  Half is pro-choice.

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Maybe they shouldn‘t be, but maybe more than that.  And they‘re pro-choice in the sense they think the government should make government rules and decide who goes to jail.  The Catholic Church should decide what‘s right and wrong.  The government should decide who goes to jail.  That‘s a different question. 

And, by the way, the Catholic Church is also against this war, is against capital punishment.  So a lot of hawks out there who are conservatives think they are in bed and at home in the Catholic Church, and in fact they are just out of it as the pro-choicers are, at least you could argue. 

RON REAGAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Whatever the blue-plate aspect of this is, I think the public agrees with you.  This is very important.  I think they see this as a transformational election, that, depending on who we get, the next decade or so is going to be very different in America.  And, again, however they feel about guns, however they feel about guns abortion, there is this sense that a lot is at stake here and that this is very important, even for the undecided voter. 

MATTHEWS:  It should work for the incumbent, because a dramatic change that we are talking about—we are talking about not just nuance, not just recalibrate, modify.  We are talking about John Kerry, as opposed to George W. Bush. 

REAGAN:  George W. Bush, very different. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Andrea.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  I think what‘s changed is 9/11.  That‘s why this election seems so important to people.

And I think the most shocking thing in the election results will be if we have a low turnout election.  That, to me, would be a real shock, because I think that people... 

MATTHEWS:  Do you expect that? 

MITCHELL:  I don‘t.  I am just saying that I think that people, as turned off as they may be by both candidates, as Americans always are, I think in the end they will shift and they will get there.

MATTHEWS:  They will get there.  They will find a way to vote. 

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

REAGAN:  Fifty-one percent in the last election.  Any predictions as to what this election will be?  I think it was 51 percent last time in 2000. 

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  The question is—the over-under is $110 million. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s—and some people are talking 118.  It was 104 last time.  That‘s a lot of votes.  That‘s a hell of a sample.

OLIPHANT:  That‘s the Kerry scenario.  I think the Bush one is more like 110. 

MITCHELL:  Low turnout.

OLIPHANT:  Go figure. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t it true that the Bush family experience has been to try to not suppress by illegal means, but to try to turn down interest in the election by the undecided types?

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  That‘s a Republican strategy. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a Republican strategy?

MITCHELL:  That‘s a traditional Republican strategy.

But this time, they know that they have to do a better job of turning out their base, and they are on the ground.  They are trying to out-organize Democrats, union members in Ohio and Michigan. 

MATTHEWS:  If I go and television and did a public service, or we played public service ads on this show by movie stars or whatever, credible people, whatever, athletes, whatever, that said, it‘s your duty as a citizen to go out and vote, whatever way you want to vote, Ben, would that be considered anti-Republican? 

GINSBERG:  No, absolutely not.

MATTHEWS:  Just getting people to vote.

(CROSSTALK)

GINSBERG:  Look, Republicans have registered more people than Democrats. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know what I mean, though.  Republicans want to register certain people, but do they want everybody to vote? 

GINSBERG:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

GINSBERG:  Absolutely. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing.

(CROSSTALK)

GINSBERG:  Read all the statements from the campaign and Eddie Gillespie.  Absolutely. 

REAGAN:  You are getting overheated.  Wait a minute. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

OLIPHANT:  ... me to vote.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Who are you betting on?  Are you going high or low in that bet?  Do you think we will have a great turnout?

OLIPHANT:  On the turnout? 

MATTHEWS:  Everybody wants a really high turnout.

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  I am in the 115 area.  And that would shock me. 

MATTHEWS:  Will that give Kerry a popular vote victory and maybe lose the electoral? 

OLIPHANT:  Not necessarily, because if Ben‘s guys do it in the right places, 115, it could still be like this; 118 I think is Kerry. 

GINSBERG:  Those new Republicans voters are largely concentrated in the battleground states.  There hasn‘t been a whole big effort in New York and California as much to register new people as in Iowa and Wisconsin. 

MATTHEWS:  Are the battleground states that we are all focusing on now red or blue, Ben? 

(CROSSTALK)

GINSBERG:  Well, the battleground states we are on now are Al Gore states. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that‘s true, Oli?  Are we moving to Missouri and West Virginia?

OLIPHANT:  It‘s only partly true. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

OLIPHANT:  Wisconsin and Iowa for sure. 

MITCHELL:  Kerry has pulled out

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada. 

REAGAN:  Nevada.

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  ... evened up.

MATTHEWS:  Is there any chance that the Kerry campaign can win in the real South?  I am talking about Tennessee, Arkansas?  Can they win there? 

OLIPHANT:  Not unless Clinton recovered a lot faster than I thought he did. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can he give them Arkansas?

OLIPHANT:  I think, if he went to Arkansas for two weeks, it would be a little fun.  I would go down and see it. 

GINSBERG:  I would pay for his plane ticket. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think it will help? 

GINSBERG:  Well, I think it would put him in Arkansas.  I don‘t think it would help in the long run. 

OLIPHANT:  Good story.  Good story. 

GINSBERG:  And it would be a great story.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Clinton is going to be the Lazarus of this campaign.  He is going to come up out of that bed.  It‘s going to be the most dramatic thing.

MITCHELL:  Hillary and the doctors are telling him... 

MATTHEWS:  And I am not sure his enemies won‘t still hate him, but his friends will love him. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Coming up—we‘re here in Arizona.  And we‘ll be joined by Arizona congressman—well, there‘s a noise.  We‘re going to have a big machine coming in.  J.D. Hayworth himself is coming here.  And this is a local hit for him, and the political director of the campaign.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage from Arizona State University on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back.  We are in Arizona at Tempe at Arizona State University.  There‘s a nice sweatshirt up there.  This is a heck of a school. 

Let me ask you about—we have got here Doug Wilson, who is a political director for the Kerry campaign here in the state, and, of course, Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who has been on the show many times. 

Welcome back, sir.

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH ®, ARIZONA:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, as a kid, I loved Barry Goldwater.  He was the symbol to me of this state.  And although my politics got different over the years—in fact, they went back and forth a few times, I must say, I was surprised that President Clinton won here in ‘96.  I know Gore won last time—or lost here last time.  Is this a state that is still up for grabs, Doug?

DOUG WILSON, KERRY CAMPAIGN ARIZONA POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  It‘s absolutely up for grabs.  Ideologues have been replaced by independents.

This state is demographically diverse.  The polls are tightening even today.  Out of Northern Arizona University, it‘s five or less.  I think we are going to win this state. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Hayworth, who will win this state? 

HAYWORTH:  Well, George W. Bush is going to win this state, and he will win it convincingly. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the Latino vote?  I was told by I think John McMahon—what‘s is his name, McCain?

HAYWORTH:  McCain.

MATTHEWS:  McCain.  McCain told me—for some reason, it slipped.

McCain told me that the vote in 1996 was affected by that vote in California on how to treat families of illegal immigrants, undocumented workers.  And the question is, is that issue still there, that the Republican Party is seen by Latinos as the enemy?  Is that the case?

WILSON:  We are up by about 20, 30 points among Latinos.  I think they understand that, when it comes to jobs, when it comes to health care, when it comes to environment, and when it comes to safety and security for the country, they understand that they have a choice. 

MATTHEWS:  But it‘s not—it‘s not like among Latino minorities, like Puerto Rico‘s are overwhelmingly Democrat.  Cuban Americans are overwhelmingly Republican.  People here who are Mexican-Americans are sort of split, right?

HAYWORTH:  Well, yes.

The bottom line is, you got to put the rest the myth of the monolith. 

People are individuals.  They don‘t vote as ethnic groups.  They vote

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  When did that start? 

HAYWORTH:  Oh, it‘s been from day one. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, no, no, no, no, no, no.  That may be your notion, Congressman.

HAYWORTH:  No, no, no.  Listen...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I come from the big East.  And people vote by Ethnic group. 

They really do. 

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH:  And we are from the new modern West, where people are individuals.  You talked about Barry Goldwater and the spirit of individualism. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Right. 

HAYWORTH:  It is borne out now, in fact, it is enhanced with campaigning on the Internet and people coming together as individuals based on the individual issues which concern them most and then forming majority.  That‘s the way you do it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you denying to me that Christian evangelicals don‘t tend to vote Republican? 

HAYWORTH:  I am not denying anything. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.  You‘re saying they aren‘t bloc- voting in this country.  There is bloc voting.

HAYWORTH:  What I am saying, is here in the West, with the spirit of individualism, people take a look issue by issue, candidate by candidate.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

HAYWORTH:  George W. Bush is going to prevail.  There will be a healthy Republican margin here on November 2. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your best issue in this campaign, Doug, on the Kerry side?  When you go out to voters, you may say, I want you to vote for my candidate.  What is your strongest button to push in terms of this one? 

WILSON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Is it the war in Iraq?  Is it the economy?  Give me your strongest button to hit. 

WILSON:  It is all of the above. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, come on. 

WILSON:  It is the fact that people understand there is a choice, and

there is a choice of leadership.  And I think that we find it across all

groups, whether it‘s health care

(CROSSTALK) 

MATTHEWS:  What year hasn‘t there been a choice? 

WILSON:  I think this year, there‘s been the starkest choice there‘s been in a long time.  And I do have to say...

MATTHEWS:  Give me the button that works in Arizona.  What is it? 

Because I‘m going to go to Congressman Hayworth with the button.

WILSON:  Leadership. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the issue out here for your party? 

HAYWORTH:  National security and financial security.  Who is prepared to protect America?  Who is prepared to build American prosperity, not based on the politics of enemy, but the politics of opportunity?

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, if you ask people, do you like the way things are or do you to want change, what would be the answer, generally speaking?

HAYWORTH:  Generally speaking, people like the way things are, because

they know George W. Bush

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH:  ... conservative majority, prescription for the future. 

MATTHEWS:  We have seen polls.  “TIME” magazine last week said that about 30 percent of the country, about a third, would like to see some moderate change in a second Bush administration.  A larger percentage would like to see a dramatic change.  You say that‘s not the case in the state of Arizona.

HAYWORTH:  Bottom line is this.  What my constituents have told me, with reference to national security is, whatever it takes, in terms of tax cuts, keep them coming.  That builds prosperity.  That‘s what the people of Arizona want.  That‘s what the people of America want.

MATTHEWS:  How about Iraq?  Where do they stand on the war?  Do they think it was a smart move for us to go into Iraq? 

HAYWORTH:  They have said to me that the war in Iraq is a battle in the war on terror.  And three words come back.

MATTHEWS:  They believe it‘s connected?

HAYWORTH:  Whatever it takes. 

MATTHEWS:  They believe the war in Iraq is connected?

HAYWORTH:  They believe that Saddam Hussein, whether you can have the smoking gun, whatever type of metaphor you want to use, they believe a nexus of terror existed and opportunities existed and we needed to act to remove that murderous tyrant before he was able to gain weapons of mass destruction and share them with terrorists or turn them on the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  What the Kerry position on the war in Arizona?  What are you saying out here to people about the candidate‘s position?

(CROSSTALK)

WILSON:  We are saying exactly the same thing that Senator Kerry has been saying in these last two debates.  And people are seeing that...

MATTHEWS:  What is that?  Remind me. 

WILSON:  Which is essentially that the war in Iraq was a diversion from true war, the war on terror. 

Senator Kerry has laid out the case.  And people understand.  They want to be safe at home.  They want to have more respect abroad.  And they understand the difference. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference between the John Kerry position today and the Howard Dean position last fall?  What‘s the difference?

WILSON:  John Kerry, people have seen in these last two debates, is someone who conveys confidence and the ability to lead.  They know that he has been in the kind of war that people are fighting in, in Iraq, and they that know he is not going to go to war unless he has to, not because he wants to. 

MATTHEWS:  The issue of scientific research, do you believe that we should be having federal funding for stem cell research? 

HAYWORTH:  I believe that federal stem cell—stem cell funding already exists on several lines.  I don‘t believe we should rush with federal funding.  I believe you see initiatives ahead in places like California, where Governor Schwarzenegger has chosen and that see has chosen to move forward, but I don‘t believe that federal funding right now should go to stem cell research. 

MATTHEWS:  If it works, if we find success with the limited amount of federal funding so far, should we go ahead? 

HAYWORTH:  Well, let‘s understand, that limited amount is pretty profound. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but should we go ahead?

HAYWORTH:  Well, let‘s see what‘s going on.  That‘s part of science.

MATTHEWS:  Because, if we go ahead, then we do face the conundrum of actually destroying embryonic stem cell. 

HAYWORTH:  Well, let‘s take a look at what‘s going on.  And that‘s a

question to review and that‘s a question of great debate.  But, right now,

I would say, we have the funding.  President Bush was the first president

to

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Where do you stand on stem cell? 

WILSON:  Senator Kerry was very clear, I believe, in the last debate on stem cell research.

And since that time, his good friend Christopher Reeve has passed away.  Christopher Reeve epitomized the kind of hope and courage that people want to see in being able to enable the kind of results that you can get from stem cell research. 

And let me just say one thing, Chris.  Watch this state.  My friend J.D. has said that this is just a battle and not the war.  This is a battle in Arizona.  You are going to find people from all kind, all demographic groups coming out.  This is going to be a close race here.  We are going to win. 

MATTHEWS:  Do it right now, right now.

Who is for Bush here? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Who is for...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  At ASU, who is for Kerry? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Let me—we are going to come right back with more of HARDBALL‘s coverage of the third presidential debate from Arizona State University. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back here with the ASU students tonight.

I always like to ask people to play the role of political consultant, because everybody thinks they know what they are doing here and they are smarter than the candidates.  So here‘s your chance now.

I‘m going to ask everybody to give me some advice.  If you can‘t do it, just say pass. 

What is your advice to John Kerry at tomorrow night‘s debate here right here at ASU?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Admit that you were wrong on some things. 

MATTHEWS:  This is about Kerry. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right.  I understand. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Like, the biggest difference between Bush and Kerry is that Bush refuses to admit that he has ever made a mistake in his life. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So Kerry needs to do that.

MATTHEWS:  Take some losses. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Kerry needs to stay on the topics where he

·         because he has not flip-flopped at all.  So the Republicans have been doing a really good job trying to make people think that he has, but he has really stayed consistent with all the issues. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you just listen to him speak. 

MATTHEWS:  So what should he do tomorrow night to make sure people don‘t think he flip-flops?  Don‘t flip-flop?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Explain all his things like in short—not short

sentences.  I mean, he doesn‘t have to do all

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Punch it out. 

What should Kerry do tomorrow? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry, you know you are cool.  Get out there, reach out to the young people of our age.  You can do it. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK.What should Kerry do? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Obviously, he has a lot of support.  He has a lot of support of the youth.  He just needs to keep doing what he is doing, because his positions are good and he is a strong candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He needs to let the public know that George Bush is not the only person with religiously deep-held values, that he has strong values, too. 

MATTHEWS:  Good.  I hear is going to do that later this week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry, be careful when you use big words.  Bush won‘t understand them. 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Keep going.  Three more weeks.  Three more weeks, Kerry.  Three more weeks, John.  We got it.  Three more weeks.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s that kind of elitism that drives people crazy.  You know that, don‘t you? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  What should John Kerry do tomorrow night to win the debate? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He should reestablish our foreign alliances. 

MATTHEWS:  No, in the debate. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What, the debate?  Say we should reestablish our alliances.  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Be passionate. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, you are so smart.  I agree with everything, especially that.  Do you think he can?  Is a passionate Kerry an oxymoron? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  There is a passionate Kerry there?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was inflamed, and we like that.  We want to support that.

MATTHEWS:  Inflamed?  When have you seen him inflamed?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  At the convention?  OK. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Remember young America.  We are huge.  We are all out here. 

MATTHEWS:  I love that.  I love that. 

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he is doing fine so far. 

MATTHEWS:  Great.  A real humble guy. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Stick to his guns. 

MATTHEWS:  Stick to his guns. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Be strong.

MATTHEWS:  Did you have a thought?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think Kerry rocks. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  This is not hard work. 

We are going to come back with more. 

Let me—one more.  What should Kerry do tomorrow? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Keep doing what he is doing. 

MATTHEWS:  God, this is—I have found the nest of true believers.

Just be yourself, John.  You‘ll win. 

Anyway, we‘ll be right back with more on HARDBALL.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALES:  Give me some HARDBALL!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage on the eve of the last presidential debate live from ASU. 

And with three weeks left to go before the election, most polls show the race is just about even.  One is up by one, up in the other one, down by one in the other.  But who are pollsters talking to?  That‘s the question.  And, perhaps most importantly, who are they missing and not talking to? 

HARDBALL Election correspondent David Shuster joins us with information on that very topic—David.

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, there‘s a lot of concern out there about cell phone users, people who use cell phones all the time who don‘t have their hard lines, and the pollsters say that this population is about 6 percent of the entire electorate.

But when you get to younger people, you are talking voters 18 to 35, it could be anywhere between 20 and 35 percent who use cell phones exclusively.  What this means, according to the pollsters, is that they have to work that much harder to try to find younger voters for their polling sample.  But here‘s the catch.  Pollsters say that even though they have to spend more time, make more calls to people to regular calls to try to find the representative sample, the pollsters say that the political leanings between as far as Bush and Kerry among younger voters does not change whether they talk to a younger voter who is on a regular phone or a voter on the cell phone. 

There‘s some people who may not believe that, but at least the pollsters say you don‘t find a breakdown change between people who use regular phones and younger people who use cell phones. 

Now, Chris, I believe you had a question earlier tonight about why are the polls so different.  So I am going to go ahead and answer that to you now.  The difference why some of these polls are bouncing all over the place, some showing Kerry up, some showing Bush up, is that each pollster uses a different model as far as predicting turnout, specifically predicting turnout of younger voters, but also minority turnout.

So, for example, John Zogby, who shows John Kerry even with Bush now, he uses a model that has higher minority turnout than the ABC News poll which shows President Bush ahead.  Because minorities tend to lean towards Kerry, when you use a model that has a larger number of minority voters expected on Election Day, that‘s why Kerry does better than the ABC poll, which uses fewer minority voters. 

Why is this important?  Because four years ago, there was only one major pollster, John Zogby, who got it right.  He predicted that minority turnout in the 2000 election would be somewhere between 18, 19, 20 percent.  Most of the other pollsters predicted somewhere around 12 percent or 13 percent.  Zogby was right.  And, as a result, his final poll, which showed Al Gore winning the popular vote was correct. 

The other pollsters, which showed George Bush winning the popular vote percentage-wise by two or three points, they were wrong.  So part of the trick here, Chris, is even though the pollsters, when they sample 1,000 people, they may come to identical breakdowns, identical numbers as far as what people are saying, but the question is, once they compute the math, once they run their formula as to what the turnout will be among younger voters, among minorities, that‘s where you get the different numbers—

Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, David Shuster. 

We‘re back with the panel.  I want to go to Tom Oliphant.  And then I want to go to everybody else here.  When you see these numbers up right now, even if it‘s even money, who wins the electoral vote if it‘s even?  What is your bet? 

OLIPHANT:  That doesn‘t do the bet for me. 

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t that tell you something—doesn‘t Kerry have to get more? 

OLIPHANT:  No.

MATTHEWS:  A bit more than the 50 percent.

OLIPHANT:  No, because when I see a poll that has the same number for each candidate, it could be, one is ahead four or five points, the other is trailing.  If I see somebody is up three, that doesn‘t tell me somebody has a lead. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  But in general terms

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  The mistake we made four years ago was as much as interpretation as it was in data. 

MATTHEWS:  But how do you crosswalk the popular to the electoral?  Isn‘t there a huge surplus of votes potentially in the East and the West Coast that Kerry won‘t benefit from because he wins New York by 65 percent or something like that? 

OLIPHANT:  Well, yes.

But I still believe, Benjamin Harrison, Ben Ginsberg, and George Bush notwithstanding, show me even a point in the popular vote, and I will show you 270 electoral votes. 

MATTHEWS:  Even one vote? 

OLIPHANT:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you win with 1 percent of the vote? 

OLIPHANT:  No, I mean, with 1 percent of the vote, that‘s happened

before.  You show me a plurality, I will show you an Electoral College

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Ben, give me a state that is decided right now, it‘s going to between now and the next two weeks, a close state that is a bellwether state?  Is it Ohio? 

GINSBERG:  It‘s Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  It is Florida? 

GINSBERG:  It‘s probably Florida.  It‘s almost certainly Wisconsin and most probably Iowa. 

MATTHEWS:  Those are bellwether states. 

GINSBERG:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And they happen to be the two that the Democrats got narrowly last time. 

GINSBERG:  How about that? 

MATTHEWS:  And you‘re...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But two other bellwether states would be, Andrea, wouldn‘t they be Ohio and Florida? 

MITCHELL:  Ohio, Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  States will generally go with the majority and move basically with that percentage? 

MITCHELL:  And West Virginia is... 

MATTHEWS:  West Virginia is a typical state?

MITCHELL:  Well, it may—yes, West Virginia is a state that will go with the winner. 

MATTHEWS:  Go ahead.

OLIPHANT:  And Nevada has only made one mistake in the last 100 years, 1912.  And so if you want—we still have bellwethers.  Delaware has fallen off, but Nevada is a very good one. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  When did Nevada come into play, by the way?  Because it wasn‘t a swing state originally. 

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  Well, it was another one where the Democrats learned four

years ago that they made too little an effort for a state that was much

closer

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Florida right now.  We‘re going to go to Joe Scarborough, who happens to be in Pensacola. 

Joe, is your state right on the mark there, and given all those different localities and different constituency groups, is Florida basically still basically adding up to a typical state? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Well, I think Florida is still obviously in play. 

And you hate to talk about this.  Here I am in the middle of a street that‘s been wrecked by Hurricane Ivan, but I can tell you, politicians from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket always do better after hurricanes come through.  There have been four hurricanes.  What that allows people to do, whether it‘s the county sheriff, whether it‘s the tax assessor, whether it‘s a superintendent of schools, it allows them to go out there and it allows them to show their best side, to help people out. 

I have got to tell you, it sounds extraordinarily cynical, but I am just telling you, it‘s political reality.  Hurricanes, events like these, usually help the incumbents, whether you are talking about Jeb Bush, whether you are talking about the president of the United States flying Air Force One across town.  That‘s going to play a huge impact.  That‘s something the Kerry campaign knows.  That‘s something they have seen in internal polls in Florida.  There has been a separation over the past several weeks, and I think in part it‘s because of the hurricanes. 

I will tell you, Jeb Bush‘s approval ratings right now in the state have to be hovering somewhere near 80 percent.  You know, he was a very unpopular man four years ago in 2000 because of a couple things he tried to do on affirmative action.  Right now, he could not be any more popular.  That is going to have an impact on this election.  I suspect the Kerry campaign has already figured that out.  And they may be spending a lot more money in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, instead of Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You are shaking your head, Tom. 

OLIPHANT:  No, because, again, the polls were telling us this four years ago.  Timmy Russert famously saw Florida on Election Day, but a week out, it was thought that George Bush was just a little bit too far ahead of Al Gore, just as the country was thought to be that way. 

When you see numbers that say three or four points one way or the other, get used to saying it‘s tied. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think Florida is still tied?

(CROSSTALK)  

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m not saying...

MITCHELL:  But I think that Joe is right.  There is an advantage for incumbents, especially when you arrive in a blue and white plane with gold trim delivering goodies.  There have been five or six trips. 

MATTHEWS:  How long is the shelf life of gratitude? 

MITCHELL:  When you are suffering from this kind of hurricane disaster

and the incumbent is bringing you relief, whether it is the county sheriff

or the president of the United States, it‘s also made it very much harder

for the Democrats to be competitive on the ground there, because

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Phone lines are down. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It‘s been said that you have to win Pennsylvania, Ohio or Florida.  You have got to win two of those.  I can see Kerry winning Ohio and Pennsylvania and still losing the election. 

GINSBERG:  That‘s true too. 

Poll-wise, we are about where we were four years ago before the driving-under-the-influence charge hit on the Thursday before the election.  That‘s what the polls look like now.  That‘s why Joe is right.  There is some separation in Florida now.  It‘s not dissimilar from four years ago. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, Chris, and I want to just say one thing also, if I could. 

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  ... and the poll says four points, you can‘t say anybody is ahead. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Joe.  

SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, yes, Chris, I was just going to say, as somebody that‘s actually been a politician in the state of Florida, as somebody who has actually walked next to Lawton Chiles in 1995 and walked next to Bill Clinton in 1996, I can tell you, it doesn‘t matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat.  It helps you a hell of a lot. 

I can tell you one other thing.  The only reason John Zogby got it right in 2000 is because Zogby was two points, three points off.  He didn‘t factor in the DUI charge that came out the Friday before.  Every internal pollster in the Bush and Gore camp realized that‘s worth two or three points.  I am not saying that the state of Florida is off the table.  I am telling you this, though.  The John Kerry campaign knows they are at an extraordinary disadvantage in the state of Florida. 

And they are not saying they have lost the state.  But they understand, they are going to have to look to Ohio.  They are going to have to look to Wisconsin.  They are going to have to look possibly to Nevada.  They are going to have to go to New Mexico and other states and spend a lot more attention there.  This isn‘t going to be Al Gore in 2000 doing that last-minute stretch through the state of Florida with Jimmy Buffett on election eve. 

I think, again, that‘s it‘s much different.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  There‘s one other difference this time, Joe, in Florida, and that is that the crackdown by the Bush administration on the Cuban American trips back home to Havana, with remittances, which is a very tough crackdown on the Cuban American community, has divided that community. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Which Cubans don‘t like that?  Which Cuban Americans don‘t like that crackdown? 

MITCHELL:  Those who want to go home and see their families and bring money.  Now, Mel Martinez—you are correct, Ben—is energizing the Cuban American vote, but there is a division in that community this time. 

MATTHEWS:  Castor is ahead in that poll, though.

MITCHELL:  Castor is ahead in that poll.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  And it‘s partly because Cuban Americans are not reliably Republican as a monolithic group any longer. 

MATTHEWS:  So I would go back to my argument.  As goes Ohio, so goes the Union. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t anybody want to contest that?

MITCHELL:  Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s still Ohio.

Anyway, thank you very much, Joe Scarborough.  I hope you get better. 

We all have been saying that all night off camera. 

We‘re coming back with the panel. 

And coming up this Thursday on HARDBALL, I am going to interview the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator John Edwards.  He‘s going to be—we‘re going to be on the bus with him, I think.  It‘s going to be exciting. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE)

Live coverage from Arizona State University continues on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the last presidential debate.

The panel is still here.  Let‘s all take a look at “The Tonight Show” last night.  There was an interesting moment where I took a poll.

And let‘s watch it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE TODAY SHOW”) 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask—can I get permission to do a little poll here?  This is not Jay-walking.  This is Chris Matthews, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Because I presume you are really start, OK?  First question, if you‘re...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.

If you are going to vote for the president, stand up and cheer. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know something. 

(CROSSTALK)

JAY LENO, HOST:  You know something?  It‘s about 50 percent.  I have never seen it this divided. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me try now.  If you are going to vote for Senator Kerry, stand up and cheer.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

LENO:  Can‘t tell the difference. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, after I did that, I asked them, is anybody not registered to vote?  And there‘s about 10 guys that stood up, these lugs, stood up said and they were like proud of it.  Now, Jay defended them because they are in his audience.

But aren‘t you impressed by the fact that everybody says—in most audiences, I am registered? 

MITCHELL:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Tom? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Nobody wants to admit they aren‘t registered.

OLIPHANT:  Especially on that show.  That is not a political program,

though I hope Rosie Perez is on

(CROSSTALK)  

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN:  She voted twice, didn‘t she? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Strongly for Kerry there last night. 

Let me ask you about moderators.  And I‘m so fascinated by the moderators.  We are all on TV here right now.  Let‘s talk about the television performance in the first two presidential debates.  Certainly, Jim Lehrer was great.  And then—well, I thought he was great.  And then you had the second one.  You have Gwen Ifill, who, when the president of United States, says, I can‘t answer that in 30 seconds, she said, that‘s all you got. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I loved it.  It was like the bartender saying last call. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  It was great. 

And then we saw Charlie Gibson get rolled over like an elephant and attacked him.  He was just rolled over.  He said, that‘s it.  You can‘t talk. 

And the president just went right past him. 

What are we going to see from Bob Schieffer? 

(CROSSTALK)

OLIPHANT:  Well, the same thing would happen, because the reason Charlie was there was, he was the kind of a guy with enough guts to let Bush roll over him, so the public would judge whether Bush was doing the right thing or not.  The trick in these debates is, you do not want the moderator to be a central figure.  That‘s the key. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, but was the president right or wrong in rolling over him? 

MITCHELL:  It worked for him. 

MATTHEWS:  Did the public dislike him?  I mean right politically.

OLIPHANT:  My sense was that that was one of two moments that were too

intense for television.  Now, Ben would probably disagree, but that‘s the

moment where you

(CROSSTALK) 

MATTHEWS:  That Bush looked like a bully. 

OLIPHANT:  Well, not bully. 

MATTHEWS:  Rude.  Rude. 

OLIPHANT:  Just going too intensely. 

(CROSSTALK)

GINSBERG:  He looked passionate about his moment. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He‘s concerned about the Republican.

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  I thought it was

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  I thought it was fine for that moment.  I don‘t think it hurt him. 

I think Jim Lehrer had the right balance, frankly, of a tough format, but making the format work.  He followed up.  He interjected when he needed to.  All the moderators have done that.  And I think you will see that with Bob Schieffer.  Schieffer is the quintessentially smart, genial moderator.  And he has said in interviews with you and with Don Imus that he is going to let them have a little time if they need a little time.  You are not going to see any bells and whistles going off. 

MATTHEWS:  But that whistle goes off automatically in terms of time limit.  And does anybody think that John Kerry may have lost his discipline after two debates and has forgotten about the shot clock? 

MITCHELL:  No.  No way. 

MATTHEWS:  No.  Tom?

OLIPHANT:  They use it in the rehearsals still.  It is the best thing that ever happened to him.  Thank you, Jim Baker. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The Republican negotiator gave John Kerry a way to be brisk. 

MITCHELL:  You know, they should have it on the Senate floor.  It might help the democracy. 

MATTHEWS:  They have it in the House. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  It‘s a five-minute rule. 

(CROSSTALK)

GINSBERG:  Does that work?

MATTHEWS:  It works. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  We talked about it before the first debate, that these time limits might actually rebound to Kerry‘s advantage. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You know, the really good politicians, like Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, if you ask him a question, he says, do you want it in 10, 20, or 30?  They can...

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... sound bite. 

MATTHEWS:  He can do that. 

Anyway, I want to thank you our panel, Andrea Mitchell, Ron Reagan, Ben Ginsberg, Tom Oliphant.

Tomorrow night, we are going to be talking to Nicolle Devenish, who is in fact the Bush campaign communications director, will be sitting right here, Rudy Giuliani, Commerce Secretary Evans, and White House adviser Karen Hughes. 

And when we come back, more from the crowd here at Arizona State University. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Site of tomorrow‘s debate. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back. 

We are almost at the end of our show tonight at ASU University.  It‘s obviously a fun school and a great school. 

I want to ask everybody here as we finish up tonight my part of the show tonight, who are you for and what is your advice to that candidate for tomorrow night‘s final debate? 

Sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, John Kerry, he needs to tell us that he is going to return the United States to its proper place of honor and prestige in the world that George Bush has squandered ever since 9/11. 

MATTHEWS:  Miss? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry.  And I have a speech.  Bush‘s dad may be proud of his son, but I‘m not. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you. 

Who is your candidate and what do you want him to do? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m with John Kerry.  All I want him to do is lay out the truth and get rid of all the lies Bush has been leading to. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, your thoughts.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush.  Stick to the issues, articulate. 

Go, ASU.  Beat S.C.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m Kerry.  I support Kerry.  And a strong foreign policy starts with a strong America. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m for John Kerry.  And he needs to bring up—he needs to be very critical about why all the jobs were lost in these past four years and what he is going to do to create more jobs for the American people. 

MATTHEWS:  A broadcaster‘s voice if I ever heard one.  Great voice. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m for Bush.  He needs to be aggressive to control the conversation and keep Kerry on the defense. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry should clean up the mess in Iraq and focus on Iran and North Korea. 

MATTHEWS:  What should he say tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He should tell America that Iraq has to be cleaned up and he‘s got to focus on where the real terror is. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry should keep on reminding everyone of the successes of Bush‘s father and the failures of this Bush. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Kerry for a stronger America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry is exceptional.  But is just special.  Go, Kerry!

MATTHEWS:  What should Kerry do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He should stay focused. 

MATTHEWS:  What should Kerry do tomorrow night?  You‘ve got a Kerry button on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Answer all the questions and be straightforward and tell people the truth. 

MATTHEWS:  What should Nader do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, Nader should be in the debate with Bush and

Kerry, so we actually have

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How many think Nader should be in the debate? 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We love these kids. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush is protecting the American people.  He is fighting the war on terror and he is very good at it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you. 

What is your—what is your—who is your candidate?  I see it‘s Kerry.  What should he say tomorrow night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The next time somebody refers to him as indecisive or says he‘s a flip-flopper, why doesn‘t he bring up phrases like we know they have weapons of mass destruction or mission accomplished?

MATTHEWS:  Do you think sarcasm works in national debates? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think it does.  Sarcasm is a part of everybody‘s life.  It‘s humor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The problem with sarcasm is, some people take it literally and they don‘t get it.  That‘s the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but thank you.

Who is your candidate and what do you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Kerry.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, Kerry.  What should he do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Really connect with the people and be passionate about what he says.

MATTHEWS:  I agree completely.  I think that‘s the best, connect with

the people and be passionate

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, and be himself, because that‘s what he has been all along and that‘s going to drive him...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What should the president do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that he needs to speak a lot better and not wear a wire.  No, just kidding. 

(LAUGHTER)      

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  What should Kerry do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just keep pointing out Bush‘s problems and his flops. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

What should Kerry do tomorrow night? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Just be out there. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  What should Kerry do tomorrow night?   

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think he should be honest, be decisive, what he‘s been doing all along. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bush should speak more eloquently and use more complex and different phraseology when he is re-asked a question or he gets a follow-up. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, anybody—who is your candidate? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I am undecided right now and I think it‘s just...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re going to have undecided until tomorrow night, but come back with an answer, OK?

We‘ll be back tomorrow night with our coverage at ASU, Arizona State University, big debate tomorrow night.

MATTHEWS:  Both candidates (INAUDIBLE) 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back tomorrow night early in the evening and all night.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

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

END   

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