updated 10/21/2004 10:28:30 AM ET 2004-10-21T14:28:30

Guest: Kendrick Meek, Mark Foley

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight, an extra edition of HARDBALL.  We‘re broadcasting live at the official opening of Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center.  From NBC News world headquarters in New York.  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews at the inaugural night at Democracy Plaza here in New York‘s Rockefeller Center.  This historical exhibit in celebration of democracy is a special project of NBC and will be open to the public for the next two weeks leading right up to election day.  And what a great place to come if you love politics and love this country—lots of exhibits.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about our government and its politics and to share history with their kids.

Earlier, we saw one of the 25 original copies of the Declaration of Independence.  They also have a display here of mock-ups, actually, of the Oval Office—you can know what it‘s like to be president for a couple minutes—and also the old Air Force One, the one that carried John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.  MSNBC‘s election coverage will originate here from right here at Rockefeller Center from the Democracy Plaza beginning this—next Sunday, October 31.

Bringing you the latest on this historic—by the way, this election itself is a bit of history—for president.  Let‘s begin tonight, 13 days until election day, and people already voting in some states.  And we learned today that former president Bill Clinton will be campaigning next week with Senator John Kerry in my home town of Philadelphia.  Meantime, President Bush has a slight edge in a new MSNBC/Knight-Ridder Mason-Dixon poll of six battleground states he won four years ago.

Our panel tonight, from NBC News, Andrea Mitchell, Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg, who worked with the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign and is now an MSNBC contributor, and Hilary Rosen, who was the chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America.  She‘s now a CNBC analyst and still a Democratic activist.

Let me ask you all about these polls.  But first, I got to ask about Bill Clinton, “Big Bill,” as we call him.  Hilary, is he a big factor coming into Philly next Monday, then on to Nevada and New Mexico?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  He‘s coming right in time because John Kerry needs him.  The people are going to love him.  And I think he‘s going to make a difference in turnout for Democrats in Pennsylvania.  They‘re trying to get him to Ohio.  You know, they‘ll keep him on the plane as long as he‘s willing to do it.

MATTHEWS:  Why Philly?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  They are ahead a couple of points, but it is very, very close in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania is absolutely critical.  They have to worry about...

MATTHEWS:  Must win.

MITCHELL:  ... Florida (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but it‘s a must-win.  John Kerry has not been doing well with African-American voters.  He‘s in Philadelphia.  He kind of bombed with the African-American leaders there.  They know that Bill Clinton at this historic location—they‘ll be right downtown near City Hall.  That‘s where they‘ve had for decades and decades the big pre-election rallies, that you know, that I‘ve covered...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about what Bill Clinton did just recently.  Four or five years ago, he showed up in a race that was going to be a loser for the Democrats.  John Street, the Democratic nominee, was going to lose to Sam Katz, who I bumped into here in New York, in Rockefeller Plaza today.  Sam Katz was going to beat him, take away the mayoralty from the Democrats.  Bill Clinton shows up at La Salle College up in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and just organized a rally that Sunday night and takes it away from them.

MITCHELL:  And I‘m told now that they think that they can actually use Bill Clinton, if he is well enough after Philadelphia—they‘re going to rest him up for a couple of days—to go west.  They think they can nail down Nevada and New Mexico, and then hold him in abeyance, look at the numbers and send him to Florida.

MATTHEWS:  Fascinatingly enough, he‘s going to those two Western states alone.  Now, there‘s a perception.  He does better without John Kerry with him.

MITCHELL:  Oh, you bet.

MATTHEWS:  But let‘s go to the exciting part.  If they hold Pennsylvania and if they pick up Ohio, from their point of view, Florida is a guarantor of an election.  I think whoever wins Florida‘s going to win this thing anyway, probably, but who knows?  Who knows?  Florida—what would Bill Clinton do down in Florida, just sit down there in the condo area, just sit and shake hands at the poolside for two or three days or what?

MITCHELL:  Remember what happened in 1992.  Bill Clinton came in second in New Hampshire behind Paul Tsongas...

MATTHEWS:  Eight points behind.

MITCHELL:  ... the late Paul Tsongas, but spun it as a victory, you know...

MATTHEWS:  Comeback Kid.

MITCHELL:  ... the Comeback Kid.  He then went to Florida, and he killed Tsongas on Social Security.  He absolutely demagogued the issue and rolled it up in those condos and...

MATTHEWS:  He accused Paul Tsongas of taking away Social Security.


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s face it.


MATTHEWS:  And then destroying Israel besides.

MITCHELL:  And you don‘t think...

MATTHEWS:  He accused him...

MITCHELL:  And you don‘t think that‘s what they will...

MATTHEWS:  ... of everything bad in Florida!

MITCHELL:  The difference this year is that George Bush has more support among Jewish voters in Florida than most...

MATTHEWS:  Ben, are you nervous...


MATTHEWS:  ... that Bill Clinton‘s going to be coming, the avenging cavalry here?


The election‘s about John Kerry, and that John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  Are you making an argument or a fact here?

GINSBERG:  ... so desperately—I hope it‘s a fact—so desperately needs Bill Clinton to pull him over the top is not going to be lost on people.  The real...


GINSBERG:  The real...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it‘ll have an impact on the vote?

GINSBERG:  Probably not.


MATTHEWS:  Bill Clinton‘s not going to rouse the vote...

GINSBERG:  Bill Clinton may be able to rouse the African-American turnout.  Andrea‘s absolutely right that I think the Kerry folks have to be panicked by the polls that show not a lot of excitement for John Kerry in the community.  Can Bill Clinton do that for them ?  Maybe.  But the election‘s still about John Kerry.  This is such a crutch!  He‘s grasping at it.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the crutch and how bad it is.  If it‘s such a weak crutch—in other words, we can‘t expect any attacks on Bill Clinton the next two weeks, right?


MATTHEWS:  In other words, since he‘s so—no, no.  Since you make the point, Ben, that he‘s of no value to the Kerry ticket, then we can‘t expect any spitballs to come flying from Karen Hughes or from any of those people at the White House, right, at Clinton?

GINSBERG:  The factual matter will be...


GINSBERG:  The factual matter will be...

MATTHEWS:  Ha!  You know they‘re going to be attacking him!

GINSBERG:  ... that John Kerry...

MATTHEWS:  You‘ll be attacking Clinton!

GINSBERG:  ... John Kerry needs...

MITCHELL:  They will be.

GINSBERG:  ... Bill Clinton is a shocking indictment...

MATTHEWS:  Therefore, you won‘t attack him!

GINSBERG:  ... a week before the election!

MATTHEWS:  Then you won‘t attack him.

MITCHELL:  The fact is that he‘s...


MATTHEWS:  Hilary—Hilary, you‘re in the business.  You‘re a Democratic activist.  Can you expect the Republicans to let Bill Clinton come back like Lazarus from the grave, arrive in Philly, north Philly or wherever, downtown...

ROSEN:  It‘ll never happen.

MATTHEWS:  ... I guess (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and not take a shot that morning?

ROSEN:  Because Bill Clinton does two big things for John Kerry, African-American voters and the economy.  And what Bill Clinton will do is remind people that in the Clinton years, when Democrats were in control of the federal budget, the deficit was getting better, not worse, and that jobs were created, not lost.

GINSBERG:  It worked for Al Gore so well!

ROSEN:  And what they‘re going to try and do, the Republicans are going to try and do...


ROSEN:  ... is say that Bill—that the economy was going south when Bill Clinton was still in office...

MITCHELL:  And Hilary...

ROSEN:  ... which actually isn‘t true.  And so they‘re going to...

MATTHEWS:  I want to—I want to...


MATTHEWS:  I‘m turning here now.  I‘ll give you one more shot, then I‘m turning on Clinton.  Go ahead.

MITCHELL:  There‘s one little...

MATTHEWS:  I‘m turning on him!


MITCHELL:  There‘s one more factor.

MATTHEWS:  I feel it coming!

MITCHELL:  Whether you like him or don‘t like him, he is a former president who‘s just come through a quadruple bypass.  There‘s going to be a sympathy vote for Bill Clinton.

MATTHEWS:  That said, let me give you a list of states they‘ll never take Clinton, OK?  Anywhere in the Bible Belt because of the problem, because everybody knows what the problem is.  That problem, by the way, is what created the presidency of George W. Bush, the Bill Clinton mess-up in the White House.  They can‘t take—can they take him to southern Ohio, Hilary?  To Cincinnati?

ROSEN:  They don‘t need to.

GINSBERG:  Please!  Please!

ROSEN:  They don‘t need to.


MATTHEWS:  So you guys want him out of southern Ohio...

ROSEN:  They won‘t.

MATTHEWS:  ... because what would happen, Ben, if you bring Clinton in there?

GINSBERG:  I think it‘d be a reminder of the Clinton years and his record and the moral fabric that is the Democratic Party.

MITCHELL:  They could send him to Cleveland.

ROSEN:  They don‘t need him in southern Ohio.  They can use him in Cleveland effectively.  Significant African-American turnout‘s going to make the difference in Ohio...

MATTHEWS:  Dare they bring him...

ROSEN:  ... for John Kerry.

MATTHEWS:  ... as far south as Dayton?  How far south can you bring Clinton in Ohio without getting into trouble?

MITCHELL:  Actually, they‘re going to send...



GINSBERG:  Comparisons between Bill Clinton and his political skills and John Kerry and his political skills are a great story for Republicans and a wonderful reminder to people who pulled the lever on election day for John Kerry, not for Bill Clinton.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at where the president is showing some strength here in the last couple days.  Let‘s take a look at a new MSNBC/Knight-Ridder Mason-Dixon poll of six battleground states that President Bush won last—four years ago.  In Ohio, it‘s Bush 46, Kerry 45.  In Missouri, it‘s 49 Kerry, 44 Bush.  Wait a minute.  Let‘s get that straight.  That‘s Kerry 44.  That‘s—so Bush is clearly ahead in Missouri.  In West Virginia, the president leads by 5.  In Colorado, it‘s Bush 49, Kerry 43, another 6-point gain there.  And in New Hampshire, the president has a 3-point lead, which is within the margin of...

I‘m telling you, New Hampshire—well, let me ask you this.  I‘m supposed to ask these questions, not know all the answers.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to your question...


MATTHEWS:  Andrea, is the president in need—does Kerry have to carry New Hampshire and Ohio?

MITCHELL:  Kerry has to carry New Hampshire and Ohio, unless he lucks out and gets Florida and Pennsylvania.


MITCHELL:  Two out of three.

MATTHEWS:  Flip your glasses around to the possibility of Kerry winning.  What does he need to do, reasonably, if he—if he squeaks this out?

GINSBERG:  He needs to get a lot stronger in the states that Al Gore managed to carry four years ago.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  He needs to carry the red states.


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think...


MATTHEWS:  ... only afford to lose one of them, really.


ROSEN:  I think that Kerry‘s internals, you know, I understand, today are much stronger than people—other polls...

MATTHEWS:  Explain that phrase we all use around, “internals”.

ROSEN:  Internals.  It‘s the—it‘s the—if you take a really hard look at yourself and you never have to release the numbers publicly, what do you find out?  And what the Kerry team is finding out is that in Ohio, Democratic turnout is going to be significant, that the registration numbers are strong and that his internals in the positives in Ohio—because of the economy, Kerry‘s going to win Ohio.

MATTHEWS:  Does Ohio lead the country, or does the country lead Ohio, Hilary?

ROSEN:  Oh, I think...

MATTHEWS:  Everybody says it‘s a bellwether.  You can‘t—no Republican‘s ever been elected without it.  I think Kennedy was elected without it, maybe somebody else.  I think Kennedy‘s the only one who was elected without it in ‘60.

ROSEN:  Well, Florida, I think, has equaled Ohio now as a bellwether in a presidential election, for sure, just because of the sheer numbers.  So you can win without Ohio, if you get Florida and Pennsylvania and—but I think...

MATTHEWS:  How can the least most typical state in the union be the most typical state in the union?  There‘s nothing like Florida.  It‘s a polyglot of hanging chads in this community and that community, and nobody knows each other, nobody particularly likes each other!

ROSEN:  And the population...

MATTHEWS:  And yet they all live in Florida!

ROSEN:  ... changes every four years.


MATTHEWS:  ... change every four years.

ROSEN:  This is a completely different population...

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go...

ROSEN:  ... in Florida.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to come back with everybody.  And coming up, Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, one of the key battleground states of this—maybe the one the Democrats really have to win.  He‘ll be out campaigning with John Kerry come Monday.  He‘ll be here, as well.  And former president Bill Clinton will be with him, as well.  They‘re old political pals trying to win one more time, the last hurrah in Pennsylvania.

You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL live from the beautiful Democracy Plaza here at Rockefeller Center.  It is a beautiful place tonight.  Only on MSNBC.



SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  This president has taken a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our health care system is the envy of the world because we believe in making sure that the decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by officials in the nation‘s capital.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York.  You‘re looking at a live picture of the famous skating rink here at Rockefeller Center in New York.  It‘s being transformed into a map of the United States.  And this will be our site, by the way, on election night.  When all the things get really hot in the country, we‘re going to be over the ice here -- 13 days away, of course, until the election.

And we‘re back with our panel.  And joining us now is the hottest man in American politics today.  He‘s on the phone because of audio difficulties, but he has no political difficulties himself—Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania.


MATTHEWS:  Governor, how did you land—how did you land big Bill, the former president, Bill Clinton, for his first stop of the campaign?

RENDELL:  Well, I think two reasons, Chris.  No. 1, obviously, we‘re a battleground state.  And No. 2, Philadelphia‘s always had a love affair with Bill Clinton.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about registration, all the anecdotal news we‘re getting out of that state.  I‘m looking at a number showing a very closely contested campaign among likely voters in Pennsylvania, yet you see the anecdotal stuff that suggests the Democrats are going to win.  The Republicans are pulling out their resources.  Which is it?

RENDELL:  Well, I don‘t think the Republicans are pulling out resources.  We‘ve seen an increase in spending on TV.  The president‘s been in, and Vice President Cheney, and the president‘s coming in Wednesday and Thursday, back to back.  So I don‘t think they‘re pulling out.  In terms of the optimism here, it‘s because of the registration figures, particularly in Philadelphia, where we‘ll probably have about 140,000, 150,000 new registrants, 9 to 1 Democrat.

MATTHEWS:  Well, who‘s the big winner here?  Is it going to be the committeemen, the Democratic committeemen, because they‘re going to get roused up like they were at the La Salle College rally to get—to beat Sam Katz for mayor a couple years back, or is it just a general sort of morale boost for the Dems?

RENDELL:  Well, I have to tell you, of course, I was at that La Salle rally, and I‘ve never seen anything like the transformation in the public opinion and the spirit about this campaign that Bill Clinton was able to produce.  Never seen anything like it.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the impact.  How will he do in the T, the culturally conservative part of the state, which James Carville once called Alabama, that separates Pittsburgh from Philly?  Will the president do as well for the—will the former president do as well for John Kerry in that part of the state?

RENDELL:  No, and I don‘t think we‘ll have him in the T.



MATTHEWS:  You mean Bill doesn‘t travel that well in Pennsylvania, but mainly in Philly.  Let me ask you about Philadelphia.  The old rule was that Philly carried the ticket.  How‘s he going to do, your candidate, John Kerry, in the collared (ph) counties of Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks?  How are they going to do there?

RENDELL:  Well, that‘s really the battleground in Pennsylvania.  He‘s going to do better than Al Gore in Philadelphia because of the registration increase.  He‘ll probably carry Philadelphia by at least 350.  Al Gore carried, as you know, Chris, three of the four suburban Republican counties, mostly on the social issues.  John Kerry will carry the same three.  The question is, can he do the same margin as Al Gore?  If he does, it‘s over.  There aren‘t enough votes in the rest of the state to make up for that margin.

MATTHEWS:  So 350.  Jack Kennedy carried the state—the city by 330, Hubert Humphrey by 450.  You‘re saying somewhere in between.  That is a colossal estimate.  Andrea, get in here.

MITCHELL:  Well, Governor, in the past—in the past couple of weeks, John Kerry has not proved terribly not effective, frankly, campaigning among African-Americans, particularly in Philadelphia.  So how is he going to motivate that kind of a turnout to get that kind of an—roll up that kind of an edge coming out of the city of Philadelphia, which you‘ve acknowledged you need?

RENDELL:  Well, first of all, I am not sure John Kerry has to do it.  Our motivator for our minority population, and many other Americans, is George Bush.  When I campaigned for John Street last year, I went around...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the mayor.

RENDELL:  ... to African-American areas and I said, Come on, guys, the mayor needs us.  And everyone said, We‘re voting for the mayor, Mr.  Rendell, but we want to send a message to President Bush.

MITCHELL:  Well, you really think that people are going to come out, even if they‘re very lukewarm about John Kerry, don‘t find him terribly empathetic—they‘re going to turn out just because you‘ve got anger against the president of the United States?

RENDELL:  Sure.  And you can ask Chris...

MITCHELL:  That while you‘ve got—you‘ve got a president, Governor, who has very high favorability ratings, even at the same time as you‘re saying that he‘s, you know, the great enemy here.

MATTHEWS:  You can ask George—I mean, you can ask Chris about...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me tell you what.  I know what you want me—I will tell you something, Mr. Mayor—Mr. Governor.

MATTHEWS:  Tell them about Frank Rizzo, Chris.  Tell them about Frank Rizzo.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m talking about Frank Rizzo was a notoriously conservative Philadelphia police commissioner and then mayor, who was the greatest registrar of black voters in history because they hated him so much.  They ended up having a higher registration percentage-wise among blacks than you had among whites.

MITCHELL:  Yes, but...

MATTHEWS:  In other words, negative...


RENDELL:  ... driving registration increase.

MITCHELL:  I covered Frank Rizzo, but Frank Rizzo was a lot more hated than George Bush ever could hope to be among the African-American community.

RENDELL:  Again, we didn‘t have that registration increase without fervid feeling among African-Americans and Latinos in Philadelphia.  And by the way, Bill Clinton is the single best weapon we have, one, to stoke up that feeling, and two, to remind people, to remind people surpluses under Bill Clinton, biggest deficit ever under George Bush, to remind people 23 million new jobs under Bill Clinton, minus one million under George Bush, to remind people, people getting out of poverty under Bill Clinton, people slipping back into poverty under George Bush.  And on and on and on.

MITCHELL:  You‘ve just previewed the speech for Monday.


MATTHEWS:  Governor—Governor Rendell, are you going to get on the plane and fly down to south Florida with Bill?  Because they‘re going to need him down there, won‘t they?

RENDELL:  Clinton needs...

MATTHEWS:  The Kerry people.

RENDELL:  ... no prompting.  And No. 1, it‘s fair to say that we need Bill Clinton to motivate the troops, but it‘s not fair to say that John Kerry has proved to be an inadequate candidate.  His performance in the debate took us in Pennsylvania from 3 or 4 points down to 3 or 4 points up.  And that debate performance, three debates, is good and consistent as anybody I‘ve seen.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Franklin County, you heard it here, don‘t expect to see Bill Clinton in the next two weeks.  Thank you very much, Ed Rendell.

We‘re coming right back with our panel.  But right now, you‘re looking at a live picture of some of the great election memorabilia here at Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center.  It‘s a real chance to learn, by the way, about American political history.  If you‘re within driving distance or easy transportation distance, come here to New York and see this amazing education in our democracy between now and election day.


MATTHEWS:  We‘ve been everywhere on this show the last couple weeks. 

We‘ve been in Miami, and of course, up to Cleveland, where it was cold.  Then it was down to St. Louis, where it was sort of OK, then beautiful Arizona.  Here we are in New York City, the great city of this country, in Rockefeller Center, which has got to the most beautiful part of this city, besides Central Park, which is natural.  This is the best man-made part of the city.  And here we have this great celebration of American democracy, Democracy Plaza.  It‘s almost like a theme park for our American government and our politics.  You‘ve got things here like a mock-up of the Oval Office, just like it really looks, a mock-up of the old Air Force One.  You can actually see that and walk on it as if you were president or one of his passengers.  It‘s all here.  It‘s like this grand world‘s fair of politics and government here in Rockefeller Center, which probably looks better than it did 60 years ago.

I‘ll go to the panel now, as I‘ve been encouraged.


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right—Andrea, an amazing story has developed.  And once again, perhaps much ado about nothing.  But today in an interview, the wife of the candidate, the Democratic candidate, Teresa Heinz Kerry, took a shot at the first lady, Laura Bush, who‘s extremely popular, and said, Well, she basically has never really worked as an adult.  And let‘s talk about the fight that has begun!

MITCHELL:  Well, she said, I don‘t know that she‘s ever had a real job.  This, by the way, at the same time as she was explaining herself in recent interviews, saying that English was not her first language and that she sometimes gets words sort of tied up and makes confusing statements.  But immediately, of course, the Republicans pounced on it because Laura Bush was a librarian.  She was a teacher.  She‘s been very active in going into classrooms and using her past experience as a teacher...

MATTHEWS:  And the Republican response has been?

MITCHELL:  And Karen Hughes and, you know,Scott McClellan, traveling with—Republicans have said, of course, that Laura Bush did work, and they‘ve been hammering Teresa Heinz Kerry as a result of this.

MATTHEWS:  Hilary?

ROSEN:  Karen Hughes has turned into a robot bully.  This is just ridiculous.

MATTHEWS:  Did she start this one?



ROSEN:  Because she didn‘t...

MITCHELL:  Hilary!

ROSEN:  ... start it, but she didn‘t accept the apology.  I think Laura Bush actually would accept an apology.  You know, Teresa Heinz Kerry made a mistake.  She recognized the mistake and she admitted it.  But these people have nothing to talk about other than to jump on gaffes.  And that is just a pathetic thing for a president running for reelection to do.  Talk about why he should be reelected instead of jumping on a mistake that was quickly admitted!

GINSBERG:  They‘re doing a lot of that, but sometimes...

ROSEN:  They‘re not doing any of that, Ben!

GINSBERG:  These gaffes...

ROSEN:  They‘re not saying anything positive!

GINSBERG:  These gaffes, as you say, are revealing, and that‘s why there‘s so much interest in this story.  The revealing notion that Teresa Heinz Kerry would make a comment like that is revealing about her, her world view, and where she comes from.

MATTHEWS:  What is that world view?

GINSBERG:  The world view seems to be being a mother is not a real job, being a teacher is not a real job, being a librarian is not...


ROSEN:  That was not the context.

MITCHELL:  No, that‘s not the context.

ROSEN:  This came up in the context of whether or not a first lady should have a job outside of the role of first lady.  That was the context.  It had nothing to do with putting down mothers.

GINSBERG:  You would seem to be equivocating a little bit here.  Her words are indicative of a feeling.

ROSEN:  No, no, no.

GINSBERG:  This comes at the same time as you got Ed Rendell, the former chairman...

ROSEN:  Teresa Heinz Kerry...

GINSBERG:  ... of the national committee...

ROSEN:  She‘s a mother...


MATTHEWS:  Look, I think—I think we ought to get the text of what Mrs. Heinz Kerry said.  She said something about she has a bigger standard than the other woman has, a little arrogant.  We‘re going to talk about that when we come back.  More on this fight later—in fact, lots more because I love it.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Will the state of Florida decides this presidential election?  We‘ll talk to two Florida congressmen on either side, one Democrat, Kendrick Meek—he‘s the Democrat—and Republican Mark Paul (ph) -- he‘s been on the show a lot—talking about the problems already apparent in the counting of the vote in Florida.

You‘re watching HARDBALL live from Democracy Plaza, as I said, in New York‘s Rockefeller Center, only on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  That‘s Freedom Tower we are looking at right below 30 Rock. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Democracy Plaza.  And it‘s a celebration, as you can see, of American democracy here at the plaza, freedom plaza—Democracy Plaza, I should say, at NBC News World Headquarters in New York, believe it or not, just 13 days before the election. 

Take a look around at the political fest.  That‘s what it is.  There are all kinds of exhibits here, including mockups, as I said, of Air Force One, the old Air Force One, I should say.  The new one is much bigger.  they can‘t put a replica of that in this little place, and one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence. 

Let‘s get back to our panel.  I have to tell you, big shot tonight, big fight tonight, actually today.  It began between the two women married to the men running for president.  In interviews today, when asked how she might be different from first lady Laura Bush, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of John Kerry, said she didn‘t know if the first lady ever had a real job.  The problem is, Laura Bush did have a real job.  She taught in the public schools in Texas from 1968 to ‘77, the year she married George Bush. 

White House adviser Karen Hughes, who is always on the job, criticized Kerry‘s remarks, saying they were indicative of an unfortunate mind-set that seeks to divide women based on who works at home and who works outside the home. 

Later today, Ms. Kerry apologized for not remembering her important work.  Now, that‘s Laura Bush‘s important work in the  past.  Actually, Karen Hughes tried to spin it her way.  But the fact is, here was a direct shot at Laura Bush for being a little woman.  Let‘s face it.  Isn‘t that what it‘s about here, Hilary?  Wasn‘t that shot sort of from the big foundation leader to the woman who is just the local woman? 

ROSEN:  But it had nothing to do with being a mother not being important.  She legitimately forgot that she didn‘t have a job.  And as soon as she found out, she apologized.

MATTHEWS:  But why did she say it? 

ROSEN:  Karen Hughes‘ response came after the apology. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Excuse me.  Why did she take the shot at the first lady? 

ROSEN:  What she said was that she thinks her view of the world is broader and she has a broader set of interests.  That‘s not a...


MATTHEWS:  I‘m more sophisticated than this little woman. 


MATTHEWS:  It‘s getting worse.  You know what they say in politics. 

When you‘re in a hole, stop digging. 



ROSEN:  This is the thing.  It‘s not an insult.  It‘s actually...


MATTHEWS:  We have a correspondent here of major, of major reputation. 



MATTHEWS:  Who can actually read the words spoken by Teresa Heinz Kerry today.

MITCHELL:  She was asked, how would you be different from Laura Bush?  This was in the context of, would you work outside the White House?  Would you continue your career? 

“Well, you know, I don‘t know Laura Bush,” said Mrs. Heinz Kerry, “but she seems to be calm.  She has a sparkle in her eye, which is good.  But I don‘t know that she‘s ever had a real job, I mean, since she‘s been grown up.  So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things.  And I‘m older.  And my validation of what I do and what I believe and my experience is a little bit bigger, because I‘m older and I have had different experiences.  And it‘s not a criticism of her.  It‘s just, you know, what life is about.”

MATTHEWS:  Ben, you‘re chuckling hard.  Bigger is the word here. 

MITCHELL:  The problem here, of course, for the Democrats is that there is no figure in politics right now among the people running for office or their spouses more popular than the first lady of the United States. 


GINSBERG:  Because she is emblematic of something that Teresa Heinz Kerry put down. 

And the real problem for the Kerry folks is that John Kerry has this aura of being haughty.  And they‘ve been trying to overcome it, giving him shotguns and dressing him up in clothes.  And then she comes and reinforce it with this sort of snobby view of the world. 


MATTHEWS:  Give me your “it” here, Ben.  What did she reinforce? 

GINSBERG:  She reinforced the sort of notion of, we are the aristocracy.  What I do is big and important.  What Laura Bush has done, teaching, being a librarian, being a mother...


MITCHELL:  She forgot that she was a teacher. 

GINSBERG:  Great.  She forgot.

But that also speaks of a certain haughtiness.  If you‘re going to make the comment in the first place, then you‘re saying she‘s ignorant, so it‘s OK if she didn‘t know...


MATTHEWS:  Hilary, what do you mean by bigger?  “I have a bigger sense of how I validate myself as a woman.”  What does that mean?, a bigger sense than Laura Bush? 

ROSEN:  I think what she was trying to express was that she has spent the last several years doing things that were about change with her foundation and literally trying to impact direct change. 

Mrs. Bush, a very nice woman and a very nice first lady, has not been doing much of anything.  In fact, for years, there were stories that when is Laura Bush going to come out of the White House?  She really hasn‘t started to come out of the White House until this election season.  So I don‘t think that it‘s wrong for Mrs. Kerry to say, I think that I am going to approach it differently.  It had nothing to do with motherhood.  She is a great mother.  She prides motherhood. 


MITCHELL:  ... tea and cookies, speaking of Hillary.  This is right up there in terms of being politically incorrect.  And I think it creates a problem...


ROSEN:  She apologized. 


GINSBERG:  Laura Bush has spent a lot of time doing fundamental issues, like helping kids read, like dealing with early childhood development issues.  That may not make the Beacon Hill status of Kerry world, but to most people in the country, that is a significant development.  And that is what the first lady has devoted herself to.

MITCHELL:  The bottom line is, this is a distraction the Kerry campaign does not need right now. 

ROSEN:  And Teresa Heinz Kerry recognized that.  She made a mistake.  She apologized for it.  The Republicans won‘t let it go because they have nothing else to talk about. 


GINSBERG:  No, come on.  She apologized because there were a half-dozen advisers pushing the words into her mouth. 


ROSEN:  Oh, I believe that was a sincere apology.  Those words that—you spend a lot of time on what—her mistake, but not much time on her apology, which was extremely respectful, extremely gracious and very quick. 


MATTHEWS:  Hilary, you work with women who people who have worked—women who have worked outside the home.  What about women out there working checkout counters at Safeway and places like that?

They are going to pick up the paper tomorrow morning and they go, which woman is on my side?  Is it the woman who is making fun of the person with the small job, who has been a big foundation head?  Democratic women are not all rich women.  They work outside the home and sometimes they work and provide for the family entirely.


ROSEN:  Actually, that story in “USA Today” was very revealing, because what it said was that, overwhelmingly, women under 50 really think that the first lady ought to have another life and really think that the first lady should be thinking about other jobs and other careers, and that that was a perfectly fine thing to do.  So I think people will like Teresa Heinz Kerry. 


MATTHEWS:  Hilary, will Teresa Heinz Kerry sell in Peoria? 

ROSEN:  She will sell in Peoria because she is honest.  And people like honest...


MITCHELL:  She did very well in Iowa.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Will she play in Peoria?  It‘s that great old line of John Erlichman‘s.

Up next, will Florida once again decide the presidency?  We are going to talk to two Florida congressmen on both sides of the aisle.  We are coming back to Democracy Plaza here.  And we‘re going to be talking about Florida. 

Right back.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to Democracy Plaza, where there are all sorts of exhibits out here at Rockefeller Center about American democracy, including an actual butterfly ballot—oh, my God—from—there it is, from Palm Beach County.  And that‘s where Buchanan got all those votes.

It was retired from us, thank God, after the 2000 debacle down there. 

And it‘s here at the Making Your Vote Count exhibit at Democracy Plaza. 

We are back here, of course, tonight 13 days before the election.  In 2000, the state of Florida decided the presidential election thanks to the Supreme Court‘s intervention and an extremely close and contested recount.  Will history repeat itself?

We are joined now by two members of the United States Congress from Florida, Democrat Kendrick Meek, Congressman Meek, and Republican Mark Foley, who has been on the show so many times.

But it was Congressman Meek I bumped into in Florida recently. 

Gentlemen, is Florida going to have the same problem in 2004 counting the votes? 

Congressman Meek? 

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D), FLORIDA:  Well, I hope not. 

And we are working hard to make sure that it doesn‘t happen.  We have had an explosion, Chris, of early voting here in this state.  Lines have been outside of early voting sites.  We have now caught up with the problem.  The lines have died down, but they are consistent.  A lot of voters are getting in to make sure that they cast their ballot early to make sure that they don‘t have any problems. 

And what we are saying in the Kerry campaign, go early.  If there is an issue with your registration, we would much rather have eight, 10 days to work it out, vs. two hours on Election Day.

MATTHEWS:  Are they shutting down the lines and telling people to go home this time, like they did last time, for these early voting opportunities? 

MEEK:  Well, on the first day, we had some issues.  The computers, intake computers in Broward went down, a couple of precincts in Palm Beach County and other parts of the state.  But those kinks have been worked out.  We are seeing an explosion. 

This is the first test of our early voting system here in Florida of allowing two weeks prior to the election.  A lot of Floridians have taken advantage of it.  We feel in the Kerry-Edwards campaign the more people vote, the better it is for John Kerry, John Edwards. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I am not sure about that, because I‘ve seen a lot of registered voters lists that show the Republicans are just as strong, if not stronger, among registered voters as they are among likely‘s.

But let‘s go to Mark Foley, an old friend of this show.

Mark, do you have any advice for the voters down there proactively? 

They want to have their vote count.  What do they have to do to make sure? 

REP. MARK FOLEY ®, FLORIDA:  Well, Chris, the new machines work very flawlessly and simply. 

You push a button.  It tells you who you voted for.  It doesn‘t allow you to vote twice in the same race.  It‘s seamless.  It‘s easy.  Getting there early is important.  I would respectfully urge my colleague to ask unions and activists to stop the kind of mayhem they created today at early voting sites.  They had picketers.  They had bull horns.  They were intimidating voters.  They were driving station wagons screaming at people at the West Palm Beach precinct.

They were stopping people as they were entering, saying, who are you voting for?  One said Kerry.  They said, oh, great.  Come on in.  A poor Hispanic woman said, I‘m voting for Bush.  They said, oh, lady, where are you from?  Where is that accent?  She said, I‘m from Cuba.  Well, you don‘t belong here.  Why don‘t you leave?  The husband then says, honey, go get the shotgun, the kind of thing that is embarrassing.  It‘s regrettable.  It‘s damaging.  It‘s dangerous and it‘s not democratic. 

MATTHEWS:  But I grew up in a city where there were strict laws about how close you could get to the voting booth if you were an election worker.

Are you are saying, in Florida, you‘re allowed to grab people in line, while they‘re already in line, and intimidate them? 

FOLEY:  Well, regrettably, Chris, there was only one security guard. 

And people were moving in and out.

They brought the bull horns close to the door.  They were all in union shirts with Kerry stickers.  It clearly states that they had to remain away from the poll.  Their permits said they could not have no audible devices, said they could have not any placards or any identification on them.  This poor one security guard was beside himself.  People were saying, get these people out of here.  I want to vote.  They didn‘t care.  They were honking horns.  They were screaming.  It was mayhem.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Why didn‘t those people call the police if they were being bothered?  You‘re not supposed to bother a person anywhere on the street. 

FOLEY:  All they wanted to do was do what good citizens do.  And that is cast their vote. 

They were trying to remain in line and remain calm.  I think the police probably were ultimately called, because it was getting out of hand.  But bottom line is, early voting can be helpful.  People should go to the precincts in which they are registered.  And they should certainly, if they can‘t early vote, absentee vote or at least turn out on Election Day.  It‘s very important for our democracy.


MATTHEWS:  Excuse me.

Let me get a check on that from Congressman Meek. 

Did you hear about this situation today or is it different from your perspective? 

MEEK:  Well, Chris, this is very interesting.  And it sounds like it is being sensationalized.  And I am pretty sure, if that would have happened, it would have been on the front page of “The Palm Beach Post.”


MEEK:  I am here in Tampa today.  And I was at an early voting site.  And I can tell you, it is nothing but voters going in.  Of course, the supporters of the president‘s campaign and the supporters of Senator Edwards‘ campaign, Senator Kerry‘s campaign, was just out there passing out information.  To say that this went on at the polling place, I am pretty sure we would read about it.  But...

FOLEY:  Kendrick, you may read about it tomorrow.  And I have never exaggerated on Chris Matthews‘ show. 



FOLEY:  He and I are friends.  This is honest.  This is what I saw. 

MEEK:  Mark, I know you. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, stay classy, Florida.

Anyway, thank you, Congressmen Kendrick Meek and Mark Foley. 

Coming up, a look how the candidates are spending what is left of their war chests in the final days of the campaign. 

We‘ll be right back from Democracy Plaza as we look at democracy in America from Rockefeller Center in New York.


MATTHEWS:  We are back at Democracy Plaza. 

If you look right down there and look at the cameras going right now through the flag there, you see the great skating rink that‘s been there forever in New York, right in the heart of New York at Rockefeller Center.  They are putting together a very familiar map to all of us on HARDBALL.  And that is a map of the states designed to show the electoral count and to divide them between red and blue states, of course.  And the purple states today are the ones that are still indecisive.  We‘ve been talking about those all night.

But according to our latest numbers, those states are leaning toward the president.  The president is doing very well in states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Missouri, the states that he won by little amounts last time, but certainly is still doing that now. 

You know what I‘m seeing, Hilary and Ben and Andrea?  Not much different than want we saw four years ago.  It‘s as if 9/11, the terrorist war, Iraq, the economy going down, then up again, almost back at where it started, it‘s as if we‘ve started all over again.  Somebody has reset the American political machine and here we are back to an election that could be just as close.


MITCHELL:  As Yogi Berra said, it‘s deja vu all over again. 



MATTHEWS:  Why are we back to that?

ROSEN:  It‘s bizarre event just that objectively the numbers for these two candidates are relatively close to what they were at the start of this election. 


MATTHEWS:  No, the start of this presidency. 

ROSEN:  And the start of this presidency.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSEN:  And so you‘ve seen very little movement.  And so you really are back to these...


MATTHEWS:  You‘re a partisan.  Ben, you‘re a partisan.


ROSEN:  ... permanent divide here.

MATTHEWS:  Does that mean people really did choose up sides maybe 10 years ago, maybe around 1994?  This country really got polarized around, evenly, by the way—for the first time in our lives, the Republican Party is as strong as the Democratic Party in its electoral base.

And from a country that was largely Democratic and then the other half split between Republicans and independents, is now a country pretty much split between the power of the Democrat and the power of the Republican parties.  We are getting like the Brits, aren‘t we, where we vote party completely? 


ROSEN:  Bill Clinton had a very big number in the reelect in ‘96. 

GINSBERG:  The guy we were extolling as the person who is going to

take the election for John Kerry in the first segment was the guy who

started the polarization.  And you‘re absolutely right.  The numbers now

are shockingly like they were before


MATTHEWS:  So you blame Bill and Hillary back in ‘93 with the big health care thing? 


GINSBERG:  No, no, no.  You said—that was the start of the polarization in the country. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 


GINSBERG:  ... and exacerbate.

MITCHELL:  I think that we‘ve seen our politics get meaner and uglier since before actually Bill Clinton.

But particularly during the Clinton presidency, during the Newt Gingrich Republican revolution, people took sides.  And then you had the impeachment.  And nothing could have been more dividing and more emotional and more personal than that kind of sexual, psychological...


MATTHEWS:  ... in this business of television and cable, where opinion is everywhere and people have very strong opinions.  You don‘t hear people criticize—well, they always criticize people for being unfair, me and everybody else.

But they urge you to take their point of view.  They don‘t say, be neutral.  You get e-mails from people saying, why don‘t you buy what I believe?  And why aren‘t you selling it?  That‘s the kind of e-mail I get. 


ROSEN:  Because there is so much at stake, because you don‘t need that many people to get over the line. 


ROSEN:  So you just convince a few more. 

GINSBERG:  But it‘s interesting.

I am not sure it‘s as true in the real America.  In traveling earlier this year and earlier this summer and going into coffee shops around the country, neighbors are still neighbors in sort of the real America.  And so that polarization is true in the voting patterns that we‘re all going to be following avidly for the next 13 days, but the country as a whole, while divided politically, is not so divided in the neighborhoods. 


MATTHEWS:  So you think people who are friends and neighbors and play golf together, go to church or synagogue together, still vote differently? 

GINSBERG:  Yes, absolutely.  Yes. 

MITCHELL:  But, you know, Ben, I do think that the 2000 election results, the outcome, has made the people who care deeply about politics much more passionate on both sides, the people who feel that they was robbed and the people who feel they are entitled. 


MITCHELL:  And then 9/11.  And that raises the stakes, because this is not just an election campaign about politics as usual.  This is an election about who is better able to protect the homeland.  And it makes it deeply personal. 

ROSEN:  And that goes back to the registrations.  You are seeing huge increases in registration.  And can we just go back to Florida for one minute, because that‘s connected? 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to end up there in a couple weeks, I‘m afraid. 

You might as well go back to it now.


ROSEN:  You keep saying that Florida has registered more Republicans, but what you‘re forgetting...


MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t say—I am saying the numbers that used to always say registered voters favored Democrats, likely voters favored Republicans, that‘s gone now.


MATTHEWS:  When I look at all these polls, I see registered voters are good for Republicans.

ROSEN:  Fifty percent of the new registrations were independents in Florida. 


ROSEN:  And so the Republican numbers might have been edged a little bit, but those independents are going there. 

And the interesting thing about what Congressman Foley said is that now we are starting to hear—and this is going to go on, I predict, for the next week and a half—we are starting to hear the Republicans complaining about the voting process. 


ROSEN:  That means they are not so confident. 


ROSEN:  That means they are not so clear they are going to win. 


MATTHEWS:  There‘s only three kinds—I can‘t tell my joke.

I‘m going to tell my joke.  The guy from Florida said there‘s only three kinds of people down here, those who can vote and those who can‘t.

Anyway, Andrea Mitchell, Hilary Rosen, Ben Ginsberg. 

We‘ve been live here all night at Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York.  If you‘re visiting this city in the last two weeks leading up to the election, make sure to pay a visit.  It is quite a sight and it‘s a great education.  It‘s a real American experience.

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

Right now, it‘s time for this—actually a special edition of “AFTER HOURS”—I love that name—with Ron Reagan and Ron Silver.



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