updated 10/14/2004 10:49:20 AM ET 2004-10-14T14:49:20

Guest: Wesley Clark, Don Evans, Vanessa Kerry, Dan Bartlett, Rudolph Giuliani, Jon Meacham

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to MSNBC‘s coverage of the last—unfortunately, the last presidential debate. 

We want to thank—give special welcome right now to those of you joining us from NBC.  We‘re live, as you can see, very live, from Arizona State University.  We‘re joined by students, faculty and neighbors of the campus here where the debate was held.  It‘s over, by the way.  Let‘s see what we saw. 

Joining us tonight, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, NBC Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert, NBC News correspondent Brian Williams, NBC‘s Chris Jansing, and HARDBALL‘s election correspondent, David Shuster.  He‘s back in Washington. 

Plus, in this hour, our special guest, the former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani, our panel of political pros, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan, the managing editor of “Newsweek”—he decides on the covers—Jon Meacham, and Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst.

But, first, let‘s go to NBC—we‘re not ready to go to them right now

·         oh, let‘s go to them right now.  We are ready to go to Tom Brokaw, NBC News anchor, and NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. 

Gentlemen, what did you make of it tonight? 

Tom first. 

TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, I remember listening to Pat Buchanan last week talk about, they must have done some polling in the Bush campaign and they‘ve rolled out the liberal word and they couldn‘t roll it out enough tonight. 

And I think that what we have seen here, Chris, are the terms for the final three weeks, minus one day, of this campaign in which the president is going to continue to describe John Kerry at every opportunity as a tax-and-spend liberal who has done nothing in his 20 years in the United States Senate.  He‘s to the left even of Ted Kennedy.  His programs are unrealistic.  I believe in an ownership society.  It‘s your money, not the government‘s money. 

For his part, Senator Kerry has settled on saying that nothing is working, especially for black Americans and especially for women in this country, the issues that he talked about here tonight, the wage differential for them, for example, education, children and health care.  The big question is, folks out there can add it up.  Can the Kerry campaign pay for all those things that they are promising and reduce the deficit, as they say that they are? 

And, on the other side, of course, can the president ever get this budget back in balance and assure that Social Security will be there with the kind of deficits that we‘re seeing, Tim.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Absolutely. 

And, Tom and Chris, you heard John Kerry.  He was single-minded.  Women get paid less for the hours they work.  Women need an increase in the minimum wage.  Kids need more health care.  Women, kids, women, kids, women, kids.  And then the only time he mentioned any state other than Arizona, Wisconsin and Ohio.  And it‘s all very clear, because, Chris, as the board is so clear, we have George Bush at 217, John Kerry at 200.  Whoever wins Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, two of those three, the next president of the United States.  That‘s what this debate was all about. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you, Tom, about the course correction perhaps in the president‘s strategy. 

Until a couple weeks ago, it was flip-flop.  John Kerry was fickle. 

He was all over the place on the war.  And now it‘s an ideological battle.  Is that because they weren‘t comfortable tagging him as a liberal on the war issue, but they‘re comfortable tagging him ideologically on the issue of cultural issues and fiscal matters? 

BROKAW:  Well, I think that they were seeing on the war issue that John Kerry had tapped into something out there in America, that there were doubts even among the president‘s supporters on the Republican side of the agenda, and especially in a lot of those traditionally red states where they have a lot of people overseas and beginning to wonder whether this was going well or not. 

So they had to move it—move the agenda, if you will, off the war and harder on to the social issues, taxes, and the fact that he has not gotten anything done in 20 years, which is something they‘re going to tag him with every day, because they‘re going to say you can‘t be a leader if you haven‘t been able to lead in the United States Senate. 

RUSSERT:  I thought, Chris, that there was a big, profound change in the demeanor of the candidates in this debate from the previous one. 

Last debate, George Bush jumping off that chair, almost yelling on the stage.  Today, much more soft-spoken, a return to the compassionate conservative themes that we saw in the election of 2000.  And John Kerry, who had broken away from some of the Senate talk in the first debate, I think very much delving into statistics and data, trying to demonstrate convincingly that he does have a good record and he knows a lot about the whole notion of governance. 

I don‘t think either candidate had the opportunity to or took the opportunity, for example, on the one question Bob Schieffer asked, what would you say to the worker who lost his job to someone overseas for a lower wage?  What would you say to that person?  They didn‘t have an opportunity or take an opportunity to really connect with that person or to that question or to the audience. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about an issue we don‘t usually talk about in these kinds of situation, but we do increasingly now.  And that‘s gay rights.  I noticed that Kerry was very sympathetic to the situation of the gay male, the gay woman, very—almost talking about them as if it‘s a drama, a personal drama he can imagine going through himself, although he obviously hasn‘t, whereas the president took more of a view of, well, we have to tolerate people in these situations. 

Did it surprise you that Kerry was so sympathetic in a way that was obviously meant to appeal to women voters, as well as to gay people? 

BROKAW:  Well, I thought he had carefully worked out what was essentially a deeply philosophical answer on what they know is a sensitive issue out there. 

My own guess is that the voters who listen and hear these candidates on that issue see it through their own particular prism, and I don‘t think it moves a lot of voters one place or the other. 

RUSSERT:  Although when the president said he wasn‘t sure whether being gay was a matter of choice...

BROKAW:  Right. 

RUSSERT:  ... John Kerry I thought came down very firmly and said it is a matter of biology. 

BROKAW:  Right. 

RUSSERT:  And I think it‘s something that every American family is affected with, if not directly, certainly friends or relatives.  And I thought John Kerry invoking President Cheney‘s daughter was a very interesting maneuver at that particular stage of the debate.  And it certainly caught the president‘s attention. 

MATTHEWS:  I was waiting for John Kerry to come back to the president

and say, when did you choose?  He didn‘t do that, obviously.  He didn‘t

have a sense of humor.  But I think that would have been a great response -

·         Tom.

BROKAW:  You‘re not going to get me to respond to your response, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  If you think I‘m going there...

RUSSERT:  You‘re hanging out there alone on that one. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROKAW:  Right.  Right. 

(LAUGHTER)

BROKAW:  You‘re all by yourself there. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re in a festive mood out here at ASU.  Thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert. 

(CROSSTALK)

BROKAW:  We‘re going right now to talk to Rudy Giuliani.  I‘m going to ask him that question.

(CROSSTALK)

RUSSERT:  Chris, hold on.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

RUSSERT:  This is Tom‘s last debate.  This is Tom‘s last debate. 

BROKAW:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, Tom, Tom. 

BROKAW:  So I‘d just like to say to the American people...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, Tom, when did you choose?

BROKAW:  I‘ll be watching from the other end of the screen the next time. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, it will be great having you out there.  We‘ll put you out here with the kids the next time.  Thank you very much.  It‘s an honor to serve with you.

Thank you very much, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert. 

Let‘s get back to the panel right now.  A little hilarity there. 

But I‘ve heard that question put by people who are gay rights activists.  They‘ve said it right to people like Trent Lott:  When did you choose? 

RON REAGAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Your point is right on the money.  That was a very curious just answer from Mr. Bush.  I don‘t know.  Well, why doesn‘t he know?  Does he not know any gay people?  Has he not talked to any gay people?  When did you choose to be heterosexual? 

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  In fact, John Kerry has thought about this a great deal. 

But there‘s also tactical information going on here.  Gay Americans have been extraordinarily generous to the Kerry campaign.  They have contributed, as they did to Bill Clinton‘s campaign and Al Gore‘s campaign.  But the amount of money and organizing on the ground by gay Americans is extraordinary.  It is a big factor in American politics.  And he didn‘t want—he didn‘t want to say anything to offend them. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know.  It‘s serious.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani joins us right now. 

He‘s a Bush-Cheney supporter. 

Mayor Giuliani, we were just talking about the gay marriage issue.  Let me ask you this.  The president talked tonight about the sanctity of marriage in a way that suggested its exclusivity.  That‘s fine.  That‘s his position.  It‘s not yours, though, is it? 

RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  Well, yes, sure, I agree that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  I supported civil unions, however, partnerships, and I signed that legislation when I was mayor of New York City. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference between—what‘s the distinction? 

GIULIANI:  The distinction is that you protect people‘s rights.  You protect them against discrimination.  You make certain that they get the benefits the way Senator Kerry described it.  But it is not a marriage.  And so it doesn‘t have all of the rights and privileges of a marriage, and you preserve that as something for just a man and a woman. 

And that‘s—I think that‘s a distinction that a number of states have adopted, and some—I mean, some actually haven‘t accepted it.  But some have. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you comfortable with the president‘s position tonight on abortion rights?  Are you comfortable with the position he took, which is that he‘s hoping someday basically we can deal with it in a judicial way, but he‘s saying not right now? 

GIULIANI:  I thought the president was very clear that it‘s not going to be a litmus test in his deciding for justices on the Supreme Court.  And, actually, I think Senator Kerry imposed more of a litmus test. 

The president said he‘s going to choose judges that he thinks do a good job of interpreting the Constitution, who interpret it in a way that would be considered I guess a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution, but he‘s not going to impose a litmus test. 

MATTHEWS:  What about minimum wage?  The Democrat, and not unexpectedly, called for a rise in the minimum wage.  It‘s about—it‘s $5.15.  Do you think that‘s something that‘s a smart move politically for Kerry?  And it may be a difficult question for the Republicans to defend a wage, an hourly wage of 5.15.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  That might actually be speaking to the two different bases. 

I think John Kerry said what you‘d expect a Democrat to say speaking other a Democratic base.  And the president didn‘t reject it, but he was more reserved about it, because the president is thinking about any increase in the minimum wage usually means less jobs.  It also usually means less entry-level jobs.  And there‘s a tradeoff for that, and it seems to me the president wanted to preserve his options to see exactly how much it would be increased by, what kind of projections would there be. 

And I expect they‘re probably both talking to their base in giving that answer. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of John Kerry‘s reference rather casually to “The Sopranos”?  He obviously thought it was a fun reference.  What do you think? 

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI:  Yes, I thought it was OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  I‘m a big “Sopranos” fan.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... compare the president to Tony Soprano.

GIULIANI:  Any reference to “The Sopranos” I think was OK.

Probably comparing him to the—if you take some of these things literally, you could get yourself all offended and get yourself all upset.  But I think this was an excellent debate and I was extraordinarily happy with the president‘s performance.  I thought he was the more personal of the two and the more personable.  And he related to people better. 

I thought John Kerry got into too many statistics.  It was sometimes mind-boggling.  I was trying to write them down.  I got about eight pages of notes.  And I think that‘s going to help the president with the few people that are left that are undecided voters. 

MATTHEWS:  What are you going to do for the president the next three weeks yourself, Mayor Giuliani?  What‘s your role between now and November 2? 

GIULIANI:  Well, I‘m going to fly overnight to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and do a rally tomorrow morning with Senator Specter in Pennsylvania.  We‘re going to campaign there. 

The thing I like about it is, we‘ve been campaigning in a lot of places that were Democratic states.  I was in Wisconsin, Minnesota.  I‘ve been in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, all states that were Democratic states before, where we‘re either ahead or we‘re within the margin of error.  So I think we‘re doing a lot more campaigning, I mean the president and his surrogates, in formerly Democratic territory that we think we have a chance of bringing back to the other side. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, if you go back over the last 50 years of reelection campaigns, it‘s always pretty clear whether the president succeeded or failed.  Harry Truman had to leave in ‘52 because of his numbers.  Lyndon Johnson had to leave because of the numbers.  And the presidents who ran for reelection, overwhelmingly, most of them got elected, reelected, by big numbers.

And when Carter got defeated, it was by big numbers.  And even George Bush Sr. lost, went from 54 percent to 38 percent.  Why do you think this president is fighting for his life for reelection in what looks like a close election? 

GIULIANI:  Well, I think he was hammered, you know, back in the spring.  And I think that he‘s worked his way out of a lot of it. 

I think that he‘s taken a lead.  He‘s had a big lead, a small lead.  But he‘s in a much better position now.  But he went through about $70 or $80 million in negative campaigning all directed against him.  And you‘ve got to really work your way out of that.  And I think he has. 

And I believe he‘s going to win by a bigger margin than people realize right now from the campaigning that I‘m doing.  But I think we‘re all assuming it‘s going to be a close election.  But I wouldn‘t be surprised if he doesn‘t win by a somewhat bigger margin. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think you‘ll be running for president in about a month? 

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI:  Do I think I‘m running for president in about a month? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the election will be over and we‘ll have to think about the next term. 

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  I rarely answer questions about things like this.  But I can say definitively I will not be running for president in a month. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But if we‘re offering you a town meeting on HARDBALL with lots—a big national audience that will get you acquainted with the campaign trail in the state of your choice, will you take up our offer? 

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  I‘ll do that irrespective of whether I‘m running for president in a month or not, because I really enjoy—I enjoy those sessions on campuses with you. 

And, frankly, Chris, I think, if Kerry had asked the question you proposed before, this debate would have been over in a second. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  When did you make your choice? 

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI:  That one about choice.  I mean, did you make your choice yet?  I only had wished that Senator Kerry had said that. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, who knows?  I don‘t think anybody likes to answer that question. 

Anyway, thank you very much, Rudy Giuliani. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  And let‘s get back, our reaction of the panel.  Boy, we‘re getting jocular tonight.

Let‘s go back to the serious question tonight.  Of course, Andrea is telling me the score right now.  The Yankees are on top 3-1.  Anyway, that‘s...

(LAUGHTER)

MITCHELL:  But the tying run is at the plate top of the eighth. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, the Sox are battling for it.

Let me go—let‘s start at Patrick. 

This—we‘ve got three weeks ahead of us right now.  Was there anything tonight that looked like a launching pad for an issue, an issue—was is the sanctity of marriage, for example?  Do you think the president is going to take that out into the country in the rural areas and fight for it? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think that is going sub rosa. 

Ads are being run, just like pro-life ads in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

I think the president is going to stay on his issues.  But I think, getting back to the debate tonight, where Kerry has a problem is when they repeated the questions from two weeks ago.  He gets repetitive, all the numbers.  What I thought was most interesting was all this fresh material.  There‘s no doubt that Kerry is on points a better debater.  He is more cerebral. 

Where the president did well tonight was, he was not as aggressive as he was in Cleveland, but, secondly, he comes off as a man of heart.  He‘s impassioned.  He‘s energized.  That‘s why you get the face, expressions and things.  And I think a lot of people, as Joe Scarborough said, tend to relate.  Working-class people relate to this guy. 

MATTHEWS:  Can we talk cosmetics, because we did a lot of this a couple weeks ago?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Andrea, we were talking about the president, the split-screen.  Obviously, somebody in the control room somewhere gave him a big favor.  They gave him a bigger head and they made him look taller than the other guy.

MITCHELL:  The network pool.

MATTHEWS:  And there‘s a lot of equalization going on there, without God‘s help, I must say.

But let me ask you this about his facial expression.  He wasn‘t making those scowls.  How would you describe what he was doing? 

MITCHELL:  He was looking incredulous at times when he disagreed with Kerry‘s statements.  I thought, actually, that their—that both of them on style points were really strong and really good. 

Frankly, there was a very funny moment toward the end of the debate when they were talking with heartfelt sentiments about their daughters.  Each of them and Bob Schieffer have two daughters and wonderful wives.  And Kerry says, well, we all married above ourselves, and some would say me more than most, joking about Teresa Heinz and her extraordinary fortune.  And I thought that was actually showing a lot of self-confidence of John Kerry to joke about that disparity. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go right now. 

I‘m sorry, Andrea.  Go ahead.  Finish.

MITCHELL:  I just thought it was a funny moment. 

MATTHEWS:  I did, too.

I think the president had sort of an unhappy look, but it was a very controlled and disciplined look.  He was obviously told, they‘re looking at you.  Don‘t put on a show.  But he didn‘t look happy.  He wasn‘t used to this kind of browbeating.  Presidents of the United States are not used to be talked to that way.

Anyway, NBC‘s Brian Williams joins us now with a look at the accuracy of some of the statements made in tonight‘s debate—Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, Chris, good evening once again. 

And for this fourth and final debate, we once again watched here in Arizona tonight surrounded by our own experts on the issues.  And the first item they took issue with came just four minutes into the debate.  And it was expected to be about terrorism, and it was.  And its beginning were in a profile in this past Sunday‘s “New York Times” magazine.  It was a profile of John Kerry. 

Here is what the president had to say about a quote by John Kerry in “The Times” story. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My opponent just this weekend talked about how terrorism could be reduced to a nuisance, comparing it to prostitution, illegal gambling.  I think that attitude and that point of view is dangerous.  I don‘t think you can secure America for the long run if you don‘t have a comprehensive view.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Mr. Bush has repeated that many times in recent days.  But here is the quote in context. 

Senator Kerry said: “‘We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they‘re a nuisance.  It isn‘t threatening people‘s lives every day, and fundamentally, it‘s something that you continue to fight, but it‘s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

The problem with all of this is the word nuisance.  It was first used

broadly, publicly, in this context by a trusted Bush family friend, adviser

and ally, retired General Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser in

the first Bush White House, who said two years ago—quote—“There will

not be a treaty signed aboard the Battleship Missouri”—an obvious

reference to the one that ended the war with Japan—“but we can break its

back so that it is only a horrible nuisance and not a paralyzing influence on our societies”—close quote.

Our next topic here, health care coverage and this next claim tonight made tonight by Senator Kerry. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:       I have a plan to cover all Americans.  We‘re going to make it affordable and accessible.  We‘re going to let everybody buy into the same health-care plan senators and congressmen give themselves. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) Well,

WILLIAMS:  In fact, it falls way short. 

Currently, as we‘ve heard so many times, it‘s estimated that 45 million Americans are uninsured, have no health insurance.  You‘ll forgive the chanting here in the spin, call that for good reason. 

However, some research into this shows that the Kerry-Edwards plan leaves a coverage gap of its own.  By one estimate of that number, 45 million uninsured Americans, the Democrats‘ proposed health care program would cover roughly 25.2 million of those uninsured Americans, perhaps a couple of million more, but, notably, not all uninsured Americans. 

Now, we heard the name Osama bin Laden mentioned again tonight.  And tonight, our fact-checkers found the president in a major contradiction.  Here is what the president said on stage tonight in response, by the way, to a charge by Senator Kerry. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I just don‘t think I ever said I‘m not worried about Osama bin Laden.  It‘s kind of one of those exaggerations. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  But here is what the president said about bin Laden back in March of 2002. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  I don‘t know where he is.  I repeat what I said.  I truly am not that concerned about him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  So a contradiction on bin Laden and another on the subject of health care, specifically, the president‘s Medicare prescription drug benefit scheduled to begin in 2006. 

This was Senator Kerry‘s charge tonight, that it would bring the nation‘s big drug companies a $139 billion windfall.  Now, the truth on this appears to be that number is based on a study that has since been countered.  In fact, another study by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers found that it will bring the drug companies much less money than that and may even result in a decline of income, a 1 percent loss for America‘s large drug companies. 

Now, one further point, Chris.  You heard the discussion, the argument on stage tonight, as to whether the president during his years in office met with the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.  The president correctly pointed out he had met with the Congressional Black Caucus. 

So that is it from the spin room right now—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Great work.  Thank you, Brian Williams. 

MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing is in the spin room right now with White House communications director Dan Bartlett—Chris Jansing.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Thanks very much. 

I just want to tell you, Chris, before I go to Dan that I witnessed a very interesting exchange, Jesse Jackson and Ralph Reed going at it about that very question about whether he had met with the Congressional Black Caucus, and Ralph Reed saying of course he had, and Jesse Jackson saying only under duress.  So sometimes, both sides meet here in the spin room.

But let‘s talk to Dan Bartlett about more of what we saw tonight. 

Just an interesting little moment that I saw. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  It‘s been crazy in here tonight. 

JANSING:  It really is. 

(CROSSTALK)

BARTLETT:  ... people from all walks.

JANSING:  Over in the debate hall, anything that you saw tonight that changes where we are in this presidential race? 

BARTLETT:  Well, I think what you did see tonight was a clear victory by President Bush in this debate, because you saw the complete package. 

You saw his vision, his heart, his vision for America on the key issues, on health care and the economy.  You also saw a clear difference in this election.  In this debate, President Bush clearly demonstrated that Senator Kerry is outside the mainstream.  In fact, he said he was on the far left bank when it comes to the key issues of our economy and spending. 

JANSING:  Are we going to keep hearing liberal, liberal, liberal for the next 19 days? 

BARTLETT:  Well, what happens in an election is, a lot of politics say a lot of things. 

But the point here is that actions speak louder than words, and you have to look at Senator Kerry‘s actions, and his actions are that he‘s been for more taxes, more spending, more regulations, the things that earned him the title of being a proud liberal.  Now, he even himself in 1991 called himself a proud liberal.  So, if the label fits, wear it. 

JANSING:  Well, I think what the Democrats would say, not more taxes, but less taxes for the wealthy.  They talk about the number of uninsured, people who have health insurance. 

(CROSSTALK)

BARTLETT:  Well, if his record stood up to that, because the problem is, is that he says he is for those things, but he has a voting against, as the president pointed out, child tax relief.  He voted against the marriage penalty relief.  He voted against lowering the lower bracket to 10 percent.

So the very middle-class tax relief he claims to support, he‘s voted against on more than one occasion as a United States senator. 

JANSING:  We also heard some very difficult views on what have been called the wedge views, like abortion and gay marriage.  Are they going to make a difference? 

BARTLETT:  These are very important issues.  President Bush has conducted the debate on these issues with respect.

On the issue of marriage, he understands people have difference of opinions.  And he thinks that the people ought to decide that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman.  On the issue of abortion, Senator Kerry talked about a litmus test.  He‘s going to have a litmus test for judges.  President Bush doesn‘t believe that‘s the role of a president, to have a litmus test when it comes on judges. 

And I think, on the debate on the issue of gay marriage, I do believe that Senator Kerry stepped outside of the bounds when he brought in Vice President Cheney‘s family, personal life, into this debate.  I don‘t think that was appropriate.  I think the public expects to have a vigorous debate about the issues, but leave the families out of it.  So I think that was a place where a flag should have been thrown on Senator Kerry. 

JANSING:  Dan Bartlett, we appreciate you coming over and taking the time.  Good to see you again—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chris Jansing with Dan Bartlett.

You know, Lynne Cheney right after the debate tonight up on the platform said this regarding John Kerry in a context which seemed to mean she didn‘t like what he said about her daughter—quote—“This is not a good man.  This isn‘t a good man.  This is coming from an indignant mom.  What a cheap and tawdry political trick.”

MITCHELL:  Well, in fact, Liz Cheney...

MATTHEWS:  The other daughter.

MITCHELL:  The other daughter, Mary‘s sister, who is very actively involved also in the campaign, took issue with what John Edwards did in bringing it up gratuitously, it seemed, to the Cheneys in their debate. 

She took issue with that in interviews over the weekend.  So the Cheneys

are not at all happy with the way both Democratic

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But it was the vice president who introduced the topic, by bringing up the sexual identity of his daughter a couple of weeks ago. 

MITCHELL:  But in the debate itself, it had not been brought up and they thought very strongly that John Edwards was bringing it up tactically to try to raise the issue and do something against the base, the support—number of supporters of the Republican ticket who might find it in some ways offensive. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, does anybody have a theory as to why the two Democratic candidates have brought it up? 

BUCHANAN:  I find it—quite frankly, I found it offensive when Edwards did it, and I was offended tonight to have this brought up.  It‘s jolting. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s kind of a rough move.  There‘s no doubt about it.

BUCHANAN:  They‘re talking about an issue.  Why would you bring the opponent‘s daughter into this thing? 

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

BUCHANAN:  I mean, I just—maybe I belong to a different generation. 

MITCHELL:  No, Pat.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  But the idea of this thing really offended me.

MITCHELL:  It‘s because you can speak generically about the issue without making it personal and bringing up someone else‘s family if it has not been raised by the person themselves in that context. 

BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  I just thought he was wrong. 

And the example he brought up of a wife or something like that whose husband was homosexual and left the relationship, that was an example without using the name of any individual in it.  But to bring up Cheney‘s daughter, I was astounded that he did it. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s almost like saying, you‘re not so clean on this issue yourself and from that negative perspective. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  It‘s a personal thing.  You just don‘t do that. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s certainly not to help the vice president in more liberal areas.  It‘s not to help him in the suburbs.  It‘s to hurt him in the rural areas, right?

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  Exactly. 

JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK”:  But the implication and the reason both Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry have raised it is to implicitly accuse Bush and Cheney of hypocrisy, full-stop.  That‘s all this is.  There‘s nothing more about it.

And I think it‘s wrong.  I find it jolting.  I wouldn‘t have done it.  I think it‘s out of bounds.  I think that was a good way to put it.  But there‘s no question that that‘s what the hardball goal here is. 

MATTHEWS:  And the president‘s refusal to say it‘s a matter of nurture

or nature or something like that, but not a matter of explicit choice, it

seems to me

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... very cautious answer. 

BUCHANAN:  Chris, that would be as bad as if the president brought up, when they were talking about wives, brought up the fact that John Kerry was divorced.  That would be jolting and out of bounds.  And he didn‘t do it.  And I just—I thought it crossed a line.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, Pat.

Let‘s take a look at our update online.  In fact, it‘s the first date on our live vote.  With over 400,000 people voting, 75 percent said John Kerry won tonight‘s debate; 25 percent favored President Bush.  You can vote.  Just go to our Web site at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.  And, keep in mind, these results are not scientific, not at all, probably.

When we come back, reaction to tonight‘s debate from Vanessa Kerry, Senator Kerry‘s daughter.  Plus, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friends of the president‘s. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the last presidential debate—it‘s all over—live from Arizona State University. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  The war on terror is to make sure that these terrorist organizations do not end up with weapons of mass destruction. 

J. KERRY:  Compassionate conservative, what does that mean?  Cutting 500,000 kids from after-school programs? 

BUSH:  Like you, I‘m concerned about the deficit.  But I am not going to shortchange our troops in harm‘s way. 

J. KERRY:  ... running up the biggest deficits in American history. 

Mr. President, you‘re batting zero for two.

BUSH:  I‘m not going to run up taxes, which will cost this economy jobs. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

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

Vanessa Kerry is Senator Kerry‘s daughter.  She joins us now from the spin room. 

Vanessa, thanks for joining us tonight.  It‘s great to have you on tonight. 

Let me ask you about the—well, how did you rate your father‘s performance tonight?  Let‘s get to the bottom. 

(LAUGHTER)

VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY:  I thought my dad did fantastically. 

I think he showed himself ready to be president of the United States, the next commander in chief.  And I think he continued to show that the American people deserve better than the 3 ½ years of being misled that they‘ve seen under this president. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make about Lynne Cheney‘s very tough remarks afterwards, blasting your dad for bringing up the name of the daughter of the vice president and the fact that she‘s gay? 

V. KERRY:  I missed it.  I think what my father was really—I missed Lynne Cheney‘s remarks.  But what I know that my father was trying to emphasize, though, is that this is a very real issue.  It‘s a very personal issue.

And it‘s an issue that we need to respect, therefore.  We need to be respecting equal rights.  We need to be respecting people, who they are fundamentally.  And the point is—that he was trying to make is that the Republicans haven‘t done that.  And they are basically trying to divide.  They‘re trying to shame.  And they are trying to use our Constitution to do that.  And he‘s protesting that. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it seems to me, if you look at the array of issues that voters are looking at tonight, Vanessa, and they‘ll be looking at between now and November 2, it involves the war, obviously.  It includes the state of the economy.  And then there‘s the array of those social issues, abortion rights, gay marriage, gun rights, etcetera, stem cell. 

What do you think are going to be the top two issues of those three issues? 

V. KERRY:  Of the social issues? 

MATTHEWS:  No, I meant of—whether it‘s the economy, the war, or the social issues.  What‘s going to decide this election? 

V. KERRY:  Oh, of all these issues. 

I think this election is really fundamentally about the economy.  And I think it is about what the real war on terror is.  And I think that‘s why the American people are going to go to the voting booths and decide that my father should be the next president, because our economy is doing terribly.  We have a president who‘s not committed to fiscal responsibility, where the debt has grown larger than it has been in recent history, where we‘re losing jobs overseas, where we‘re not addressing the health care problem. 

But we also have a war on terror that is taking place by sort of according—this president is running brute force.  He‘s not looking at things like loose nuclear weapons.  He‘s barely talking about Afghanistan.  He‘s not investing in diplomacy and using real alliances to break up terror cells.  He‘s not protecting our borders.  Our borders are leakier today than they were 3 ½ years ago.  I think those are the issues America cares about, and I think that‘s what‘s going to decide this election. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s great having you on.  Please come back, Vanessa—

Vanessa Kerry.

V. KERRY:  I would love to. 

MATTHEWS:  On tonight‘s show.  Thank you very much. 

HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster joins us now with a look at tonight‘s debate.  I love this part of the show. 

It‘s so quantifiable, David.  Thank you.  Here‘s David Shuster.

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, tonight, for those of you keeping track at home, there were 20 questions, which means that Bob Schieffer got in three more questions than Jim Lehrer in the first debate, two more than Charlie Gibson in the second presidential debate, the same number as Gwen Ifill got in, in the vice president debate, a variety of questions, three about health care, two about jobs, two about abortion rights, two about Social Security, one question each about minimum wage, gay marriage, immigration, safety, faith, National Guard, assault weapons, affirmative action, partisanship and strong women. 

Both candidates, as we have mentioned in previous debates, had some key buzz words, some key phrases that they used.

Here, for example, is President Bush. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH:  People listening out there know the benefits of the tax cuts we passed.  If you have a child, you got tax relief.  If you‘re married, you got tax relief.  If you pay any tax at all, you got tax relief—all of which was opposed by my opponent.  And the tax relief was important to spur consumption and investment to get us out of this recession. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

SHUSTER:  A couple of key words there, first of all, taxes.  You heard the president mention it a couple of times in that sound bite.  Overall, the president mentioned taxes 24 times tonight.  He also went repeatedly to education, referring to education 17. 

My opponent, that‘s a way that the president sort of indicates that he wants the debate to be about John Kerry.  He said my opponent nine times and we‘ll see why that‘s very significant when we get to John Kerry‘s numbers.  The president said you voted to Kerry eight times.  He talked about Senator Kerry‘s record six times.  And the president brought up litigation, lawsuit reform five times. 

Now, here‘s an example of some of the key buzz words and phrases from Senator Kerry. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. KERRY:  Five million Americans have lost their health insurance in this country.  You‘ve got about a million right here in Arizona, just shy, 950,000, who have no health insurance at all; 82,000 Arizonans lost their health insurance under President Bush‘s watch; 223,000 kids in Arizona have no health insurance at all. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Now, what was so good about that sound bite is, it underscored the numbers that John Kerry himself used.  He relied on numbers a lot more. 

You also heard him mention the president in that sound bite.  John Kerry again tonight tried to keep the debate about the incumbent‘s record.  He mentioned the president 54 times.  He invoked health care, health insurance 22 times.  John Kerry talked about lost jobs 10 times.  John Kerry said I have a plan or we have a plan nine times.  He talked about keeping America safe seven times, and he mentioned Osama bin Laden five times. 

Chris, we were talking about before this debate whether Iraq would come up and in what fashion.  Both candidates mentioned Iraq.  John Kerry and President Bush both mentioned Iraq three times—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, David Shuster. 

Commerce Secretary Don Evans joins us right now from the spin room. 

Mr. Secretary, it‘s great to have you on HARDBALL. 

Let me ask you about a comment made by your...

DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about a comment made by your colleague, the secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Snow.  What does this word myth mean, when he said that the job figures put out by the Kerry campaign are mythical, that his talk about deficits is mythical?  What‘s that point, what is that debate about? 

EVANS:  Well, you know, I haven‘t seen the comments.  I haven‘t seen the context of it at all. 

But I can tell you this, Chris, that this economy we have is an incredibly strong economy.  We‘re seeing unemployment drop from 6.3 percent down to 5.4 percent, which is well below the average of the 1970s, the ‘80s and ‘90s.  But there is an ongoing debate about job creation. 

Listen, we‘ve created, according to the payroll surveys, some two million jobs since August of 2003.  There‘s also the household survey that is a survey that we‘ve been running in this country for the last 64 years that says we have more Americans working today ever in the history of our country.  We have about 140 million Americans working today.  And that‘s the highest number we‘ve ever had in the history of the country. 

One of the problems with the payroll survey that gets cited most frequently is that it doesn‘t count everybody.  It doesn‘t count sole proprietors, entrepreneurs, farmers and small business owners.  There‘s about 10 million people it doesn‘t even count. 

But, anyway, listen, I don‘t know what the exact number is.  All I can tell you is that this is a very strong economy.  But if there‘s one person out there that doesn‘t have a job that needs a job, we‘ve still got work to do, and we know that. 

MATTHEWS:  What can we do about the problem of men maybe my age who lose a job and they‘re making good salaries, and all of a sudden they find themselves working for less than 10 bucks an hour, maybe seven bucks an hour?  That‘s a reality out there. 

We‘ve seen these figures from states like Michigan where the new jobs being created pay almost double digits less per year than the job that was there before. 

EVANS:  Chris, you saw the president‘s passion tonight for education and jobs and the powerful linkage between education and jobs.  And that‘s not only a powerful education system for K through 12 post-secondary, but we have to have a powerful education and job training system in this country throughout life, because we do have a rapidly changing economy that‘s going to continue to create new industries all the time and new kinds of jobs. 

And we need to do what the president has outlined in his 21st century job initiative program, which is to work with community colleges, where there are those individuals later on in life that are transitioning from one job to another job or even maybe, Chris, one career to another career.  They‘re 40 years old.  They‘re 45 years old.  And working through the community college system in this country, we need to match the jobs that are needed in the region of the country with the kind of skills that are being taught in those community colleges. 

And that‘s what the president is very focused on.  He clearly understands that we‘ve got a new economy that we‘re moving into, and, yes, while we‘re creating new jobs and new industries all the time, we‘re going to be losing them.  And we‘ve got to—listen, in America, Chris, we don‘t leave anybody out and we don‘t leave anybody behind.  And we must have programs in this country that help people throughout their lives make sure they have a job, because there‘s not anything more important than a job. 

That‘s what people—everybody wants in this country.  They want to be able to put a roof over their family‘s head, educate their children, feed their children.  But you saw the president‘s heart tonight, Chris.  You saw his passion for education and jobs and the powerful connection between the two.  And it‘s a powerful connection that lasts throughout life. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Senator Don Evans, I‘ll put you down as a Bush voter. 

Is that all right? 

(LAUGHTER)

EVANS:  Please do.  Please do.  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  When we come back—OK.

When we come back, we‘ll be joined by former presidential candidate General Wesley Clark. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the last presidential debate live from Arizona State University on MSNBC. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage from Arizona State University, the site of tonight‘s debate. 

We‘re joined right now by the former presidential candidate, General Wesley Clark, who‘s a Kerry supporter. 

General Clark, I want to ask you about a personal thing that‘s come up tonight.  Do you think your candidate was within bounds when he talked about the sexual identity of the vice president‘s daughter? 

WESLEY CLARK (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Certainly, he was within bounds.  I mean, she‘s a public figure.  She‘s an adult.  And I think it put a sense of personal touch out there that the American people expect their leaders to have.  He‘s showing an awareness of other people. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you think tonight about the discussion of taxes?  Did you think that your candidate was effective in talking about the equity issue, or did he fall into the trap most Democrats do of seeming to be a taxer? 

CLARK:  No, I think he was very clear on this. 

John Kerry is a guy who‘s going to fight for middle America.  He‘ll fight for ordinary people.  The truth, Chris, is that if you don‘t make very much money, you have to spend it on the necessities.  And when you make a whole lot more money, you spend it on luxuries.  So it‘s right that people make a whole lot more money pay proportionately more.  And that‘s what John Kerry is saying.  And I think he communicated it very well. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, since you‘re a warrior, about the implications over the next three weeks of developments in Iraq.  Do you believe those developments will be detrimental to the confidence people have in the president? 

CLARK:  Yes, I do, because I think the situation in Iraq is extremely difficult. 

The troops over there are doing great, and I love them and their families.  And we fully support them.  And I think everybody in America does.  The problem has been the president‘s leadership, his diplomacy in the region and his ability to put together a team that could actually convince the Iraqi people that this interim government is legitimate.  You‘ve got to have three tool kits to succeed in Iraq shall, the troops, politics in Iraq and diplomacy. 

The president hasn‘t been a good leader.  He‘s let the troops down.  And it‘s reflected in the casualty figures that our troops are experiencing over there. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you happy, General, in John Kerry‘s advocacy of his position regarding Iraq?  Do you think he‘s strong enough? 

CLARK:  I think he‘s been very clear on this. 

This was a war that didn‘t have to be fought.  It‘s a war that we were led into by misleading intelligence that was hyped by the administration.  And, as John has said, we went into it before we had our alliances together, before the diplomacy had been he can exhausted.  There were many other alternatives.  The Bush administration rushed us into a war and then didn‘t provide the leadership necessary for our troops to succeed. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any explanation of why John Edwards has not played a more out-front role in this campaign?  We‘re going to interview him tomorrow and I think we hope he will be out front, obviously, with us.  But why do you think he‘s not going to be used as a dramatic partner, the way that Dick Cheney is being used? 

CLARK:  I think John Edwards is being used that way.  I think he think he‘s done a terrific job in the campaign. 

He‘s out all over America.  He‘s particularly effective in the rural areas.  He‘s got a great way of reaching people.  And if you go back and check, as I have, every time the administration is coming out with one of these outrageous distortions of something John Kerry has said or done, John Edwards is there to call the administration on it.  So I think John Edwards has really done a great job as a vice presidential candidate. 

MATTHEWS:  Once again, it‘s great having you on, General Wesley Clark, on tonight to help John Kerry. 

CLARK:  Thank you, Chris. 

We‘re back with the panel.  We‘re also joined by MSNBC‘s political analyst Joe Trippi.  He‘s also the campaign manager back for the Howard Dean campaign. 

Joe, was there any red meat out there for the Deaniacs tonight from Kerry? 

JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, there was, and I think particularly on the war and on the minimum wage.  I think he scored a lot of points there, people concerned about their jobs. 

And more for the Deaniacs, I think the way he took the president on again on the war is going to be an important thing to get those folks involved.  But they‘re all excited about the Kerry campaign now and are supporting him.  But, you know, if I could put my manager‘s hat on, what I thought we saw tonight was the same pivot that I saw Kerry make in the last days of Iowa. 

What happened there was their campaign and John Kerry figured out that the people were getting tired of the old debate on the war that was going on in the primaries and some of the other things that were going on.  And what they wanted to know was what was your plan, what were you going to do.  Kerry pivoted in the last few weeks of Iowa and came out with his 100 -- the first 100-day plan for his—what he would do if he was president in the first 100 days, actually started running ads about that.

And he was the only—he and John Edwards were the only two candidates who understood there was sort of voter fatigue on the debate and moved the debate from the old debate to forward and what my plan was.  And tonight, I thought that‘s what Kerry was doing.  He was taking the page out of that campaign in Iowa and saying, enough.  I‘m going to withdraw from this debate a little bit and move forward and let people, let the American people know what my plan is and that I have one.  And if that is what happened, it‘s going to work. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Joe. 

Let me go to David Gregory. 

I sense that if you‘re going to make the war one of their biggest issues to defeat the president, you‘ve got to constantly talk about it, no matter what the rules of the debate are.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought for an hour and a half tonight, John Kerry didn‘t talk about—with any passion about the war. 

GREGORY:  Well, I...

MATTHEWS:  It just seems to me, if it‘s a topic you only bring up when rules permit it, then you‘re not exactly passionate on the issue. 

GREGORY:  I think that he‘s trying to do two things at once.  I think he‘s trying to establish himself as strong enough on national security, but try to beat Bush at a different game, which is to take him down as a guy who has left the middle class behind, as a guy who only cares about rich people, and that John Kerry is somehow an answer for that. 

Bob Shrum was back in the spin room saying that he can protect America and protect the middle class at the same time.  I think that is the story, John Kerry‘s story, down the stretch now. 

MATTHEWS:  That he‘ll try to win on the economy? 

GREGORY:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Andrea? 

MITCHELL:  Yes. 

Having closed the gap, he hopes, or at least narrowed the gap on credibility, is he believable as a commander in chief, as president, now he tries to bring it on home by energizing the Democratic base, talking about the economy, minimum wage, jobs, jobs, jobs, and those kinds of issues.

(CROSSTALK) 

MATTHEWS:  He played to the base tonight, didn‘t he? 

GREGORY:  And, look, and not only that.  He is still on the defensive.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Wasn‘t he sticking to the base tonight? 

MITCHELL:  Oh, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought he sounded like he did back when he ran for reelection in Massachusetts, get the women out, maybe say good things to gay people and supportive of them.  Get your base out.  Don‘t keep playing for the undecideds. 

MITCHELL:  Well, take a look at which are the 10 states and which are the states that he mentioned by name.  He talked about Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio.  You saw the numbers.  You saw the white slate from Tim Russert earlier today.

MATTHEWS:  Was he playing too much to Shaker Heights in Ohio there with some of that stuff? 

MITCHELL:  No, actually, I think he was playing to the guys in the factories. 

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY:  He had a hard time sort of going on the defensive about Iraq.  In his closing comments, he makes it very clear that he wouldn‘t impose a global test.  He‘s still on defense on Iraq. 

It‘s difficult.  On the economy, on domestic matters, he can really take it to Bush in a way that he doesn‘t seem like he can Iraq at this stage. 

MATTHEWS:  Jon. 

MEACHAM:  I think, as with most closing weeks, this is all going to be about Democrats come home and Bush is going to be out calling the Republicans home.  And I think that‘s why this struck me as a really old-fashioned kind of debate, where both guys were talking to their base. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you hear a strong appeal to African-Americans tonight from Kerry?

MEACHAM:  No.

MATTHEWS:  When is it going to come?

MITCHELL:  Only in the context of jobs.  And, in fact, that may be one of his biggest problems, because he has not yet connected in the way that obviously Bill Clinton did. 

MATTHEWS:  Bring on Bill, right?

GREGORY:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Bring on Bill.

MITCHELL:  Well, unfortunately, he—unfortunately, he can‘t. 

There‘s a lot of talk about, when will Bill Clinton come in?

MATTHEWS:  OK.

MITCHELL:  Clinton is taping a message, a phone message, to try to get

(CROSSTALK)  

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, that‘s not exactly the lift of a driving dream.

MITCHELL:  Exactly.  

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, we‘re all worn out tonight.  Jon Meacham, Ben Ginsberg.

I want to thank everybody.  I want to thank Joe Trippi as well. 

Well, we‘re going to talk to the crowd down here at Arizona State University, when HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the last presidential debate continues right after this. 

CROWD:  We want Chris!  We want Chris!  We want Chris!  We want Chris! 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.  And I love that chant. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s been an amazing couple days out here.  I‘ve had a great time with the ASU students.  It‘s a hell of a school.  It‘s got a lot of enthusiasm. 

When you keep saying Matthews for president, how can I not love you?  Even though I‘m not running.  Anyway, it‘s great out here.  We‘ve had some great debates.  I think the presidential debate tonight was one great moment for American history.  It was a great American moment.  They both told you where they stood.  If you don‘t know where you stand after watching these two guys tonight, just give up and don‘t bother. 

But I do think a lot of people should vote.  And we‘re looking at maybe a turnout, the greatest turnout in American history.  And that‘s a message to the world.  I think, no matter who wins this election, if the whole world sees American democracy in full volume with full energy and excitements and resilience from what happened in 2001, this country is going to look very good in the world today. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  And I think it‘s great if we all vote.  If you don‘t vote, I don‘t know what you should do.  You‘re not going to be a real good citizen or a great American.  I think everybody is going to be a great American.

I predict 120 million people are going to vote this year.  And I want to thank this crowd for helping us (INAUDIBLE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  I want to thank you all.  I want to thank you all. 

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, all these guys.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re thanking everybody tonight, because it‘s been a wonderful college visit, as well as a great debate.  And the one great thing we do on MSNBC is show that America is alive, that America is a great democracy.

And we‘re going to keep doing it.  Here‘s some more over here. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) here. 

Hi.  Where did you get that hat?  Where did you get that hat? 

Hi.  Thank you.  Thank you.  I love you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Anyway, God, look at these people. 

How are you?  Let‘s have a vote.  Let‘s have a vote. 

So now it‘s time to vote.  No, everybody quiet.  It‘s time to vote.  Everybody who‘s going to vote, vote for the president of the United States, George W. Bush, make some noise. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

MATTHEWS:  OK.

And now everybody, pause.  Pause.  And now everybody who‘s going to vote for Senator John Kerry, make some noise. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)    

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Look at this guy.  This is the flip-flop man.  He follows us everywhere. 

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thanks for coming out tonight.  Do we have any more time here tonight?  How many more seconds? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thirty.

MATTHEWS:  Thirty seconds. 

Anyway, next time, I want to—I want to remind you all that we‘re going to be on tomorrow night.  We‘re going to have John Edwards on tomorrow.  We‘re going to go meet him.  We‘re flying all night to the middle of the country to Sioux City.  We‘re going to pick up with the bus of John Edwards.  We‘re going to have him tomorrow for a big chunk of time. 

So you‘re going to get to see the vice presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.  We‘re going to offer the same opportunity, obviously, to John Kerry.  We‘re hoping to get him on in some kind of town meeting before the election.  And, of course, the same offer is out, as always, to the president and to the vice president.  We want all four candidates to get on this program before Election Day.  We‘re going to do everything we can to keep this an equal playing field. 

And I can tell you, I can‘t have more fun than the job I have right now. 

And I want to thank everybody.  Good night. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  “AFTER HOURS” coming up with Ron Reagan. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Good night.

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

END   

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