updated 4/13/2005 12:34:20 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:34:20

Guest: Norm Coleman, Bill Nelson, Jack Welch

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Senate Democrats make a fight out of President Bush‘s pick to be U.N. ambassador.  Plus, one of America‘s most respected business leaders, former GE chairman Jack Welch, live from Boston. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews on the road in Boston.  And it is great to be here today for the home opener for the world champion Boston Red Sox.  Meanwhile, back in Washington, John Bolton, President Bush‘s nominee to represent the U.S. at the United Nations, faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  And Democrats came loaded for bear. 

Bolton has been openly critical of the U.N.  And his blunt-spoken style has rankled some in the diplomatic community.  Is he fit for the job? 

From Washington, I‘m joined by two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who participated in today‘s hearing, Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, and Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida. 

Let me start with Senator Coleman. 

Is John Bolton the right kind of guy to send to the U.N. to represent the United States in these difficult months after our embarrassment with regard to the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the reason we gave to the world and the U.N. for going to war? 

SEN. NORM COLEMAN ®, MINNESOTA:  Chris, that‘s the president‘s choice.  And the president has made the choice.  He said yes. 

And then you have got to look, is he qualified?  He‘s been qualified.  He‘s been an undersecretary of international organization.  He‘s actually worked pro bono for the U.N.  He‘s done nonproliferation stuff right now.  This is a time that U.N. needs reform.  If the U.N. is to be credible in the future, it has got to clean up the oil-for-food scandal; it has got to clean up the sex abuse in Africa scandal; it has got to clean up the sexual harassment that was not done with by Kofi scandal.  This guy knows what to do.  He understands the organization.  He is pretty straightforward.  That‘s exactly what the U.N. needs right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go right now to Senator Bill Nelson. 

Do you that John Bolton, a man who represents the president on arms control and may have had a role with regard to the misinformation we got or misused with regard to going to war with Iraq, is the best person to send back to the world as our spokesperson? 

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA:  In a word, no.  He‘s not the kind of quality nominee that this administration has had in the person of former Ambassador Danforth and former Ambassador Negroponte. 

And what we need to be sending as our permanent representative to the United Nations is the best and the brightest.  And this is a guy who has made highly inflammatory statements, that there are all kind of questions about him trying to silence intelligence people who disagreed his extremist views.  And this is just not who we want to send into the United Nations, when the United States ought to be reaching out to the rest of the world, instead of dissing them. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you said extremist views.  Give me some of the extremist views of John Bolton. 

NELSON:  Well, for example, he said that Cuba had a biological warfare program. 

You‘ll hear testimony tomorrow that that was one that then he clamped down on the intelligence analysis from the CIA when they disagreed with him.  Now, that‘s just simply not the kind of stuff that we need in a representative in the United Nations. 

COLEMAN:  Chris, can I jump in here? 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  You‘re in.

COLEMAN:  Yes.  Yes. 

First of all, I have got to tell you that in fact what he said regarding biological weapons was what the intelligence community said he could say.  All that stuff was cleared in advance.  And that‘s exactly what he said.  There‘s no question about that. 

Secondly, his radical views is that he called a Kim Jong Il a dictatorial tyrant many times in Seoul.  Well, guess what.  He is.  His radical view is that the U.N. needs reform, that it‘s an organization that has lost a lot of credibility in the past.  And he challenged that.  That‘s not so radical.  I think that‘s the mainstream of America.  And, certainly, I think most of the Congress understands. 

And the issue that the Democrats raised today had to do with what happened is that there was an intelligence analyst who he felt, Bolton felt very strongly that this guy went behind his back, that this guy, what should have been simply sending out a speech for clearance in the intel community, this guy inserted his own opinion.  He did it without telling Bolton.  And Bolton was offended by that. 

He was offended over process, nothing to do with substance, nothing about quashing anybody because of his policy views.  Bolton made it very clear, I didn‘t trust the guy.  He violated the process.  I made that known.  That‘s all that‘s about. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Senator Nelson, is not the chief reason we‘re arguing here,

or you‘re arguing, over this nomination is that John Bolton is one of the

most out-there hawks in the administration?  If you read his writings, he -

·         I listen to everything he says, practically.  And the guy put out—he had three more nations on the axis of evil.  He was going to put Syria and Libya and Cuba on the axis of evil.

He is much—well, it strikes me—isn‘t that the issue here, gentlemen, that he is more hawkish even perhaps the president? 

NELSON:  Chris, I want to respond.  I‘ll answer your question.

I want to respond to my dear friend Norm Coleman.  And he is a dear friend.  You can tell where a fellow is going by where he‘s been.  And has Mr. Bolton earned this job?  He has been the arms negotiator for this country.  We have nothing to show for it in four years with a threat that is an imminent threat to the interests of the United States.  And that‘s the nuclear weapons in North Korea. 

And we can talk about the same thing about Iran.  Regarding Iran, he said, I don‘t do carrots, meaning, that he is not going to be in favor of negotiations.  He wants to lay down what he want to lay down.  And that‘s not the way to get things done in the interest of the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me just go to Senator Coleman with the same question.  I think you‘ve answered my question.  It is about ideology.  Do you think it is about ideology, Senator Coleman?

COLEMAN:  I think that‘s what the opposition is about. 

And the bottom line, Bolton said in the hearing, as the ambassador to the United Nations, he articulates the views of the president‘s.  That is what he does.  Is there any question that he is capable of doing that?  None whatsoever.  And so here‘s a guy.  You‘re right.  You‘ve got a guy who, in the past, has said some very tough, very hard things. 

And because of his ideology, that he is being opposed.  The bottom line is, the president won the election.  The president is setting foreign policy.  I believe the president believes that the U.N. needs reform.  It needs it desperately.  We are still dealing with—we haven‘t gotten to the bottom of oil-for-food. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

COLEMAN:  All those things, prostitution, child rape in Africa.  Bolton is a guy the president has asked to carry the ball.  He is being opposed because of ideology.

But he made it clear at the hearing today, he‘s going to articulate the views of the president of the United States.  He‘s very capable of doing that.  And that‘s why he‘s going to get confirmed.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Coleman and Senator Nelson, let‘s take a look at one of the heated exchanges in today‘s hearing, when Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut confronted the nominee, John Bolton, on stories that he tried pressuring, as you—as mentioned earlier—a State Department analyst. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  My problem is this:  We‘re suffering terribly.  We‘re going to send to the U.N.—we sent the secretary of state to the United Nations to make a case for the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

It was wrong, terrible information.  We were damaged terribly by that.  And if this is true, that you tried to remove an analyst because you disagreed with their conclusions about this, that is going to hurt us further at the United Nations.  That‘s my concern.

JOHN BOLTON, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE:  And, if I could just say, I have never done anything in connection with any analyst‘s views.  Nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I want to ask Senator Nelson about another issue with regard to the administration, also Senator Coleman.

Chris Shays, the U.S. congressman from Connecticut, he‘s an independent fellow.  We all know that.  He has come out basically saying if there‘s another vote on Tom DeLay as majority leader in the House, he won‘t vote for him. 

NELSON:  Which one of us do you want to ask that? 

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll start with the Democrat. 

COLEMAN:  That‘s the benefit of not being in the House, Chris. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, I‘ll go to the senator first.  He‘s a former House member. 

NELSON:  Chris, here again, it is radical ideology.  It is inflammatory statements. 

Listen to what Tom DeLay said after it went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court on the Terri Schiavo thing.  And he in effect said, there ought to be a retribution for those judges.  Now, that is challenging the very basic separation of powers, checks and balances doctrine of our U.S. Constitution. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you back—do you back what Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey said, that he was endangering the life, basically, of federal judges?  He is basically offering—making it a public threat, because Lautenberg is out there saying he may be violating federal law in that regard?

NELSON:  I‘m not going to go that far. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON:  I know commonsense things. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, Senator Coleman, you used to be a Democrat.  And back in your Democrat days, would you be attacking DeLay right now? 

COLEMAN:  Well, if I was Democrat, I wanted to make it partisan, I would.

But let me—you asked a fair question.  I think we‘re pushing on all sides here, Chris, maybe a little too far, whether it‘s my good friend Frank Lautenberg or some of the things that DeLay said about the judges.  It is not about retribution.  Her obviously had very strong feelings about Terri Schiavo.  Many of us did.  Many of us did. 

And so because of the intensity of the emotion of that, people say a lot of things.  But I think we would all be better off if we turned down the rhetoric just a little bit.

(CROSSTALK)

NELSON:  Amen to that. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think your party was right in going out as far as it did, holding a three-person voice vote in the United States Senate with nobody else around and pushing it through? 

(CROSSTALK)   

MATTHEWS:  With Rick Santorum playing chaplain that day, do you think that was healthy for the republic? 

COLEMAN:  Well, Chris, you know the way the Senate works.  We don‘t hold parties by—everything in the Senate is done by unanimous consent.  And what was done that day was actually a follow-through of what was done earlier, when we were all there. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

COLEMAN:  And both sides agreed.  So, this done unanimous, in a bipartisan, unanimous approach, at least on the part of the United States Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  With three senators present. 

COLEMAN:  Again, with the agreement of leadership, both sides following what was done before. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know.  The Democrats were all hiding.  By the way, you‘re right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re right.

At least your party had a position.  I don‘t know where the Democrats were. 

Anyway, thank you very much, Senator Norm Coleman.  It‘s great having you on this show.

COLEMAN:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  And, once again, Senator Bill Nelson, as always, thank you.

NELSON:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory has an exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  He‘s where the action is right now.

And, later, Jack Welch, who ran General Electric for 20 years, has a hot new book out.  I think it is No. 2 now, “Winning.” 

If you think the Sox are hot up here in Boston, baseball is about to heat up in D.C.  This Thursday is the home opener for the brand new—here‘s the name of them—the Washington Nationals.  And we‘ll be there right out there on the field at RFK with Senators John McCain and Jim Bunning, the senator from Kentucky, who threw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  When we come back, an exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  Plus, former General Electric chairman Jack Welch joins us.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  President Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today and told him not to expand settlements in the West Bank. 

In an exclusive interview, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory sat down with the prime minister of Israel.  Here he is. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, today, the president publicly urged Prime Minister Sharon to end the expansion of settlements on the West Bank.  But he also praised Sharon for his decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. 

In a rare interview with NBC News, the Israeli leader said that decision has put Israel on edge. 

(voice-over):  Israelis are bracing for a violent summer.  It‘s not the Palestinians they‘re worried about, but Jewish settlers. 

(on camera):  Do you expect violence as you pull out of Gaza? 

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER:  I expect that before and during. 

GREGORY:  The Bush-Sharon summit comes at a time when the Israeli leader is under tremendous pressure here at home.  His plan to withdraw from Gaza, uprooting all the Israeli settlers there, has threatened his political standing and his life. 

SHARON:  One should not underestimate the tension here.  The atmosphere here looks like on the eve of a civil war. 

GREGORY (voice-over):  Sharon himself has received death threats. 

(on camera):  Do you worry about your life? 

SHARON:  All my life, I was a defending life of Jews.  Now, for the first time, significant steps are taken to protect me from Jews. 

GREGORY:  Prime Minister, what do you say to your opponents, like Hamas, that effectively say, look, violence works; the Israelis are pulling out of Gaza?

SHARON:  We left Gaza or we are leaving Gaza because I felt that I have to make an effort to try and reach peace here.

GREGORY (voice-over):  The Bush administration considers the Gaza withdrawal critical to the peace process.  But officials also worry Sharon is undermining peace prospects by expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. 

(on camera):  A growing point of friction between the U.S. and Israel can be found just a short drive from Jerusalem, that sprawling settlement known as Maele Atomin (ph).  The Sharon government has announced plans to add houses there, a move that is being seen as a direct violation of the Bush administration‘s call to freeze all settlement activity. 

(voice-over):  Do you intend to freeze settlement activity? 

SHARON:  It would not be any new Jewish communities, no.  We don‘t build there.

GREGORY (on camera):  But you‘re adding to some existing communities. 

SHARON:  People live there.  There are not any new communities that are built or added.  Arabs live everywhere.  Jews live everywhere. 

GREGORY (voice-over):  Sharon insists that talk of settlements obscures a larger point, that Abu Mazen, the new Palestinian leader, isn‘t meeting his only obligations under the U.S.-backed road map. 

SHARON:  If he will not act against terror, if terror will continue, I think that it will be very, very hard to move forward. 

GREGORY:  He says Abu Mazen isn‘t moving fast enough to rein in terror groups and his own security forces. 

SHARON:  These forces did not get any real order, I would say, to arrest terrorists, to stop smuggling weapons.  And I can tell you, they also, the Palestinian Authority, also smuggles. 

GREGORY (on camera):  Even today they do?

SHARON:  Even today, they also smuggle. 

GREGORY:  Anti-aircraft missiles, is that a problem in Gaza? 

SHARON:  Yes.  It is a very serious problem.  And...

GREGORY:  Who is responsible for it? 

SHARON:  The terrorist organizations, but also, the Palestinian Authority, because they have to act against smuggling. 

GREGORY (voice-over):  An even bigger concern is Iran.  Sharon says diplomacy with the mullahs will not prevent the Islamic state from building a nuclear bomb. 

(on camera):  Are they just buying the Iranians time? 

SHARON:  Yes.  They are buying Iranians time. 

GREGORY:  Could you under any circumstances tolerate a nuclear Iran? 

SHARON:  I don‘t think that it‘s only our problem.  I think it is a problem of the free world.  Of course, we think seriously about all those steps that could save Israel if the Iranians will be able to do it or will do it. 

GREGORY:  Sharon said he planned to urge President Bush today to set a firm deadline for Iran, which, if violated, would land the issue into the lap of the U.N. Security Council—Chris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster—David Gregory.

Still ahead, former General Electric chairman and CEO Jack Welch knows a lot about winning.  And I‘ll ask him what it takes to win in business and in politics.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Jack Welch knows about winning.  The retired GE CEO is one of the most successful business executives ever.  And he continues to write books about what he knows.  His latest co-written with his wife, Suzy Welch, is called “Winning,” a playbook of sorts on life in the corporate world.

Welcome, Jack.  Welcome back, Jack. 

JACK WELCH, FORMER GE CHAIRMAN AND CEO:  How are you, Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I just want to ask you—this is going to be somewhat argumentative because I don‘t work for you anymore, OK?  So, we did go to the game today.  I sat in your box.  So, I want to make that public. 

WELCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  Is winning everything? 

WELCH:  Yes.  It really is. 

MATTHEWS:  It is?  Is that your life mission statement, to win at everything? 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  Not my life mission statement.  But whenever I‘m in the ring, I want to win.  Whenever I‘m in the game, I want to win.  I want to win with friends.  I want my friends to win.  Yes.  I think it‘s a hell of a lot better than losing. 

MATTHEWS:  But is it a life? 

WELCH:  Yes. 

I mean, you want your kids to be happy.  You want your family to be happy.  You want your church to do well.  You don‘t want it closed down. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WELCH:  You want to it grow and flourish. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the one we both grew up in, right, the Catholic Church?

WELCH:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You watched what I saw close hand last week.  I was lucky to be over there. 

And I watched millions of people pay respect to this guy who just passed away.  I should not call him a guy, Pope John Paul II; 1.1 billion people in that church, massive administrative responsibilities, massive—

I mean, it‘s a life—it‘s a complete life responsibility if you‘re head of a religion.  Do you think he did a good job? 

WELCH:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And what was he good about, Pope John Paul II? 

WELCH:  He really—he really brought his faith to the world.  In a way, I think the signature thing did he was bring people together.  Look what he did against communism.  He changed the Eastern Bloc. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WELCH:  He brought those people back into the game. 

Look what did he in terms of bringing Third World countries into a faith-based religion.  I think the guy had a remarkable story.  Now, he wasn‘t my cup of tea from his conservative leanings.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WELCH:  But I—it is a remarkable story. 

MATTHEWS:  Why did so—and I am a big defender of the church, but I want to put this in perspective.  And every Roman Catholic watching knows what I‘m going to do right now. 

Yes, that‘s all true.  And there is a dispute within the church about certain things like married priesthood and things like that.  But part of that is a concern.  The reason most Catholics are worried about a married priesthood is, they don‘t like the way it‘s going now, too many perverts.  Maybe the percentage isn‘t higher than anywhere else, in any other profession, but to have Catholic priests preying on young boys, he didn‘t stop it. 

WELCH:  That was a horrible time. 

MATTHEWS:  Cardinal Law up here didn‘t stop it.  They covered it up.  And then the Catholic Church let Cardinal Law say a mass today for the pope.  Here‘s a guy that was covering up, now gets to play a major role in a major liturgy.  Do you think that‘s good administration? 

WELCH:  Do we know how much he covered up?  I don‘t know...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, he was bounced. 

WELCH:  No.  He was drawn back to Rome. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WELCH:  I don‘t know that.  I don‘t know for a fact you can say that.  At a time like this, Chris, I‘m all for cleaning the slate.  I‘m all for a guy...

MATTHEWS:  But an administrator—shouldn‘t a church have administrative scrutiny to keep people from abusing their authority? 

WELCH:  Because it is just like a corporation. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WELCH:  ... should have...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Suppose GE had people throughout the organization involved with pedophilia. 

WELCH:  Well, forget pedophilia, just criminal acts in any way, OK?

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WELCH:  Of course you have to stop that.  You have got to have an integrity code and you have got to be on people all the time.  Of course this is a terrible blight on the Catholic Church.

MATTHEWS:  Do you want to reconsider your question—your answer, which is, he was a good administrator? 

WELCH:  I didn‘t say that.  I said, he was a great leader of a faith.  And he did an enormously great job.  He did a great job.  Look, this is a guy, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  But how can...

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  He had a failure.

MATTHEWS:  As Bono, the singer, said, he was the best front man a religion ever had.  But besides being the front man, which is fine—that was a major role he played.  He did bring the religion to all over the world, 100 and some trips. 

WELCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  But did he miss what was going on in the churches themselves?  Did he miss this problem? 

WELCH:  He had an administrative dislocation, if you will, in the church. 

But we—but if you look at his record, to hop on this I think is the wrong issue.  Obviously, he didn‘t do everything perfectly.  Most people don‘t. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  See, the reason I‘m bringing it up with you is, you‘re an administrator, a brilliant one. 

WELCH:  I‘m not an administrator.  That‘s the worst thing... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you were a CEO of this—of GE.

WELCH:  Well, I don‘t call you a liberal.  Why would you call me an administrator? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, because I‘m more complicated than that.  Are you more complicated than being a business genius? 

(LAUGHTER)

WELCH:  No, I‘m not a—you called me an administrator. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s change the subject here.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re scared to death of the pope. 

Let me ask you about this thing, about George Bush, George W. Bush.  He‘s been an amazingly popular president, much more popular than either of the guys who ran against him, obviously. 

WELCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  People like him.  In fact, they like him more than some of his policies.  Why is his job approval dropping right now below 50?  What‘s going on?  Is it the Schiavo, too much Schiavo stuff?  Is it gas prices?  What is working against him right now? 

WELCH:  Well, it‘s both of those for sure.  I think another thing that he‘s been a bit disappointing in is Social Security. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is he pushing something that is so difficult and dangerous?  I mean dangerous politically. 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  Well, I don‘t think it was when he started.

I think, for some reason, which I have no idea of, he basically, instead of doing what he normally does, which is lay out a position and sell it like hell, he somehow became somebody else.  And he said, what do you think?  I‘m looking for ideas. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WELCH:  And he lost the momentum.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me—how about the idea of borrowing $2 trillion from the Chinese and the Japanese to pay our Social Security checks?

I mean, if I were a senior right now retired and I realized that my check was coming via Tokyo and Beijing, because that‘s where we‘re borrowing the money, I would get nervous about that money still coming.  And he says, don‘t worry out there.  But all the time he‘s saying, I have got to borrow $2 trillion to pay those checks now from abroad.  As an administrator, would you think that was good policy?

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  As a liberal, you have asked the question beautifully, OK?

MATTHEWS:  No.  I have asked it as a critic, which is what I am. 

(LAUGHTER)

WELCH:  OK.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Well, I‘m saying—and this $2 billion, that‘s a red herring.  That money to get on a sound footing, to change the game, is well spent money.  We‘re going to have trillions of dollars spent on Social Security. 

MATTHEWS:  Borrowing from abroad at a time the dollar is weak. 

WELCH:  You‘re not borrowing from abroad. 

MATTHEWS:  The T-bills we‘re selling right now are going abroad. 

That‘s the net fact. 

WELCH:  Not particularly for that issue.  They‘re going abroad in general.  

MATTHEWS:  The president want to increase the federal deficit to pay for this new Social Security..

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  Transfer payments.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why does the United States have an interest in borrowing money to pay benefits to seniors who have a right to those benefits?  Can‘t we cover our own responsibilities without borrowing from abroad?  Why does he have to come up with a program that requires huge federal borrowing from abroad? 

WELCH:  He has got a program that—that debt that‘s involved here, all he‘s doing is moving it forward, OK, the same debt that is owed to people over the next 30 years.  That‘s all he‘s doing to get young people.  Young people shouldn‘t...

MATTHEWS:  But all that money is money we have to pay back at current interest rates starting now.  The minute we borrow the money, we have to start paying back all this money to the Chinese and the Japanese for borrowing those trillions of dollars to change a system which won‘t necessarily be fixed by this.  You know the problem with Social Security better than I do, too many old people, not enough worker bees. 

WELCH:  And if you don‘t get people in a first step into investing on their own to grow a pie in it of their own, you are never going to solve the problem. 

MATTHEWS:  You like the idea he‘s pushing?

WELCH:  I like—I like—I don‘t know the idea.  That is what I‘m arguing about.  He has not told me what his real plan is. 

MATTHEWS:  He wants to let us take a portion of our payroll taxes and invest it in equity. 

WELCH:  Oh, I know that piece.  But he hasn‘t told us how he‘s going to do it and he‘s asking for information from everyone as he travels around the country.  That‘s not the George Bush that got elected.  The George Bush that got elected had a position.

MATTHEWS:  The title of your book, Jack, is “Winning.”  Is he winning on Social Security? 

WELCH:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he winning on Schiavo? 

WELCH:  No, not by polls. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he winning on gas prices? 

WELCH:  That‘s not him.  Stop blaming him.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WELCH:  Stop blaming him on that. 

MATTHEWS:  More with Jack Welch when we come back.

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  That‘s wrong.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s a very strong Republican here.

WELCH:  No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And, still ahead, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has an update on some of the wounded soldiers—and this is real—we met at Walter Reed Hospital.  We‘re thrilled by that story.  And, after a long recovery, they‘re learning things they didn‘t think they would ever be able to do.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL live from Boston. 

We‘re back with Jack Welch. 

Jack, you have got a book here.  It‘s already No. 2, right?  It‘s moving, “Winning.”  Everybody wants to win.  They‘re going to learn from you,  right? 

OK, ready?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Across the street from where we are, in fact, across the river, right outside here, the Charles River, is a place called Harvard University.  They pronounce it here, Harvard.  The president of Harvard, right, his name is Larry Summers. 

WELCH:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sure he would find your chapter on the advantages of candor very helpful.  Here‘s a guy that said what he thought about the possibility that the sexes are unequal in terms of aptitude in math and sciences.  For speaking out what he thought might be worth investigating, he is practically canned.  So why do you say candor helps people?  Why is it good for people?  He was candid. 

WELCH:  Well, that was outrageous.  That was outrageous. 

MATTHEWS:  But it was candid?

WELCH:  Yes.  Hold it.

What that was a professor—was a university president raising very real issues that should have been accepted.  Now, if Larry...

MATTHEWS:  You mean it‘s outrageous the way he‘s been dumped on?

WELCH:  Outrageous.  And if...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You would not have fired somebody that said something like that at GE? 

WELCH:  Not at all.  And there‘s a chapter in here on crisis management.  If I had to have any criticism of Larry was, he never should have started apologizing at a rapid rate. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a question, since you‘re a candid guy.  If he had come out and say, women, I think, we ought to test this, may be better than men intellectually at math and science, would he have gotten into trouble? 

WELCH:  I don‘t think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Why not? 

WELCH:  Because it would have been not politically incorrect. 

MATTHEWS:  What?  Right.  And what do you mean by that?  In other words, it‘s OK to say women are smarter than men, but not that possibly that women aren‘t as smart as men?

WELCH:  Perhaps. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You chicken.  You say, chapter two, be candid. 

WELCH:  And I thought Larry Summers made a very reasonable statement and he got hung by a bunch of people that had no right to do it.  But he did not stake out his position. 

MATTHEWS:  I know he didn‘t.  He was speculating as an academic.  And then he buckled. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this.  Could Hillary Clinton be elected president of the United States? 

WELCH:  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Could she be elected?  Can she get 51 percent of the country? 

WELCH:  I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think she should run?  In other words, do you think it‘s a good enough bet that she can take the risk?  Is it a risk that you would take in business if you were her? 

WELCH:  Do you think—do you think that she‘ll get more votes than John Kerry? 

MATTHEWS:  More popular votes?  I don‘t know. 

WELCH:  No, more close states.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Kerry only lost because of Ohio.  If she carries Pennsylvania and Ohio, I would be surprised right now, right now.  I think that would be a reach for her. 

WELCH:  To carry Ohio? 

MATTHEWS:  I think she might carry Florida. 

WELCH:  What about Tennessee? 

MATTHEWS:  Very tough. 

WELCH:  For her?  Arkansas? 

MATTHEWS:  The red states are tough. 

WELCH:  Arkansas?

MATTHEWS:  Wherever gun are big, Hillary will be small.  The conservative guys out there who are very traditional in their values might have a hard time voting. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s my question to you.  President Bush, you like President Bush, right? 

WELCH:  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  When he says, well, you know where I stand, you like that sound, right? 

WELCH:  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose a woman said to you, well, you know where I stand, would that work as well for you? 

WELCH:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  That confidence? 

WELCH:  Yes.  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re that strong on women?  You think that a woman like Hillary could say, well, you know where I stand, and people would go with it?

WELCH:  Well, if I knew where she stood.  She is moving very rapidly.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I get you.  I get you. 

Why did Kerry lose the election? 

WELCH:  Likability.

MATTHEWS:  The numbers were even, very close in all these states. 

What did he do wrong? 

WELCH:  I think likability.  I think people have to come through authenticity.

MATTHEWS:  I think you had said recently that you thought it was winnable for him. 

WELCH:  I did. 

MATTHEWS:  And what happened? 

WELCH:  I think his authenticity did not come through with the American public.  Whether he is authentic or not, that‘s for you to judge.

MATTHEWS:  You mean when said things like I voted for the $87 billion for the...

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  And the second time around, you know, I reconsidered, all these things. 

Look, you can‘t be—George Bush, whatever you want to say, you knew where he stood. 

MATTHEWS:  What chapter in this book of yours, which is going to sell tremendously, is the best description of book?  Is it the candor?  What is it in this book that really talk about... 

WELCH:  Vision and candor.  And that is why I wished on Social Security he really laid out his vision, because he would have got the young people of America to buy into that program. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you like about Bush and what don‘t you like generically? 

WELCH:  I like, most of all, his straightforward stuff.  He tells you what he thinks.  He says it.  And he acts on it. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Did you ever golf with him? 

WELCH:  No.  But I‘ve been with him a number of times. 

MATTHEWS:  What is he like? 

WELCH:  Just a great guy, in my view, a real person. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  There‘s no artifice.

WELCH:  None. 

MATTHEWS:  None. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that Kerry has that problem, inability to be authentic? 

WELCH:  I think Kerry is probably a very nice guy.  I‘ve been with him a number of times in small form groups.  I don‘t think he projects a relaxed, comfortable...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  How about Hillary?  Does he? 

WELCH:  More so, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘ve seen her a lot.

WELCH:  And I know the intensity of those who like her is enormous. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes.  Do you find her charming and likable? 

WELCH:  Yes, when I‘m with her. 

MATTHEWS:  Me, too. 

Do you think that projects nationally? 

WELCH:  More so than I thought. 

MATTHEWS:  More so than you thought.

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  And increasingly so.  She is very good.  Let‘s face it. 

MATTHEWS:  Of all the presidents you‘ve watched, or governors, who do you think has what you would consider good business sense and good business logic, who thinks hard and makes big, tough decisions?  Would you say Harry Truman?  Would you say Reagan?  Would you say FDR?  Who would you say was a tough leader? 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  I didn‘t know some of the great early ones, but you have to give FDR enormous credit.  Look what he did with this country in a total disaster.  And he brought it out.  Now, I don‘t—I didn‘t know FDR.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Well, you grew up watching him.  He was a God...

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  I was 8 years old. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, I know.  I know.  But you read history. 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  But everything about—all I remember about FDR is my mother crying over the ironing board when I came home from school one day...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you, Ronald Reagan, it said, didn‘t know anybody personally.  He made the joke, he didn‘t know the Cabinet members - - but he knew why he was president, the big picture. 

WELCH:  He did.

MATTHEWS:  Stop the communists, defeat them, stop the growth of government, cut taxes.  Every cab driver knew this stuff.  Jimmy Carter knew everybody personally, knew all the details, but he did not have that bigger vision.  What‘s more important? 

WELCH:  Oh, clearly, the bigger vision in that job. 

MATTHEWS:  Not the details.

WELCH:  And touching people. 

Ronald Reagan, he may not have known the Cabinet.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WELCH:  But he knew how to go through that screen and reach into people‘s living rooms. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Bush took to us war over the issue of weapons of mass destruction.  He‘s later said, well, that wasn‘t the real reason.  The real reason is to liberate these countries and create democracy in the Middle East and shake things up.  Do you think that was artifice?

WELCH:  No.

MATTHEWS:  Or was that honest speaking?  Was that candid?

WELCH:  I think he gave it every day an honest, straightforward...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So you believe he believed. 

WELCH:  I believe to my toes that he believed. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, why didn‘t he fire the people that gave him bad information?  Why is he putting John Bolton up—why is John Bolton up for U.N.? 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  George Tenet is gone.  George Tenet is gone. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he...

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  He is gone.

MATTHEWS:  But John Bolton is up.  Wolfowitz is up for World Bank.  He has rewarded a lot of people. 

WELCH:  I think John Bolton is going to give the U.N. just what they need, a straight talk administration. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he is going to be like Moynihan or Jeane Kirkpatrick, a tough one. 

WELCH:  He‘ll be right there.  And they need it desperately.  You can‘t have this oil-for-food scandal and all this other stuff that is going to on there with no responsibility.  Come on, Chris.   

MATTHEWS:  Are these guys in the U.N. buyable?  Are they jokes, a lot of the guys in the U.N., a lot of representative countries? 

WELCH:  Well, look at the—you want to talk about scandals, whether it‘s rape and molestation, whether it is oil-for-food, these incredible scandals there. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the U.N. is corrupt? 

WELCH:  I don‘t know enough.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Chapter two says candor.

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  But, from what I read, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You said it.  Thank you. 

We‘ll be right back with more with Jack Welch on politics, business, you name it.

And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming right back with Jack Welch.  And, later, the update on the amazing strides being made by some of the wounded soldiers we met at Walter Reed Medical Center.

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Jack Welch. 

A little review session on his book.  And it really is.  I don‘t have to sell this book, but I will, good buddy Jack Welch, “Winning,” because it is a read.  It‘s a page-turner, by the way.

You talk like you write.  You must have just dictated this.  It‘s beautiful.

WELCH:  I had a great writer, my wife. 

MATTHEWS:  Suzy helped you with this.

Let me ask you, just to review, you think Hillary Clinton can be elected president.  If Jack Welch says that, it means something. 

WELCH:  Oh, I think so. 

MATTHEWS:  Is it a probable—is it a good bet for her, worth running? 

WELCH:  Tell me who she is running against. 

MATTHEWS:  Bill Frist. 

WELCH:  I would bet on her. 

MATTHEWS:  Jeb Bush? 

WELCH:  I would bet on Jeb. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  That‘s enough.  Rudy Giuliani, who wins that one? 

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH:  It‘s a flip.   

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a flip.  That‘s a push.

OK, how about McCain, if he should ever win the Republican nomination? 

WELCH:  I would bet on McCain. 

MATTHEWS:  I would, too. 

OK, let me ask you this about John Kerry.  You say he lost the election because of personality.  But how can you—you‘ve worked with people so many years.  You‘ve had people who had abrasive personalities, but you, you‘re a good producer.  I‘m going to give you another month here.  I‘m going to give you another year. 

Do people change?  Can you fix a problem about your basic personality in life? 

WELCH:  I think, in the political world, it is tough, because people get an impression of you through the tube.  And it‘s tough to change. 

MATTHEWS:  But can you change?  You‘ve had managers you had to change, you wanted to save, those middle 70 you talked about, not the 10 percent losers, but those middle 70. 

WELCH:  Oh, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Can you get a guy who is abrasive to be nicer? 

WELCH:  It is tough. 

MATTHEWS:  It is tough.

WELCH:  It is tough to change fundamental personality.

MATTHEWS:  I think Nixon was Nixon.  I think Clinton was Clinton.  I think the problems they bring to the White House—and we know them all—they kept. 

WELCH:  And the good stuff. 

MATTHEWS:  And the good stuff.

Do you think that you would ever want to serve in public office again? 

WELCH:  No.  I never did. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, because—I mean another career, another actual job you have to take.

WELCH:  A CEO, no. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you want to be an ambassador somewhere? 

WELCH:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  Not Italy?

WELCH:  No.

MATTHEWS:  Someplace really nice, you and Suzy? 

WELCH:  No, I wouldn‘t want to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about Tiger woods.  What has this guy got?  I remember the first time he won the Masters, and he put it on the green from the other fairway.  Was that the 17th hole he did that?  This time, he chipped that one. 

WELCH:  That 16th hole may be the greatest golf shot in history, under the gun.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re watching it.

WELCH:  Under the gun.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, watch this.  Look at the angle.  How—you‘re a golfer.  How does anybody plan that shot?

WELCH:  Well, I‘ve played that shot a lot.  That shot is a bank shot. 

MATTHEWS:  Look at this.  Look.  Look.  Look. 

WELCH:  Nike.

(LAUGHTER)

WELCH:  Nike.

MATTHEWS:  Is he in a different league than the other guys, Nicklaus, even? 

WELCH:  No.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  Nicklaus was up to him?

WELCH:  Each in their time were the greatest.  And it is unfair to compare. 

MATTHEWS:  Could you beat any of these guys on a good day?  Could you beat Nicklaus or Player in the seniors? 

WELCH:  Oh, God no. 

MATTHEWS:  No?  On a good day. 

WELCH:  On a good day, I couldn‘t either. 

MATTHEWS:  What have you ever lost at?  The book is called “Winning.” 

What have you ever lost at?  This is the Barbara Walters part of the show. 

WELCH:  Oh, I—you know, I haven‘t had every business deal go right.  I‘ve made some bad ones.  But, in general, my life has turned out well, despite having two divorces.  And no one is proud of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WELCH:  But now I have a perfect life with a wonderful woman. 

MATTHEWS:  What is your mission statement in life the rest of your life? 

WELCH:  To learn and to give back.  The proceeds from this book go to charity. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 

WELCH:  I don‘t want a nickel on that book. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s great.  Where is it going to go? 

WELCH:  Inner city education, Salem, where I started from, UMass. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re a public school kid, right? 

WELCH:  Totally.  Public school...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And UMass all the way, UMass Amherst. 

WELCH:  And then University of Illinois. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think the Ivy League does?  Any good or not? 

WELCH:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Harvard guys, some of them OK? 

WELCH:  Well, I married one. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You sure did.  Everything is transparent with this guy. 

Here it is, Jack Welch.  The name of the book is “Winning.”

An honest interview.  I think it has been good.

It has been a long road, by the way, to recovery for American soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When we come back, we‘ll get an emotional update on some of them.  This is great stuff.  We‘re doing great things.  Look at these guys. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

WELCH:  Oh, my God.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  I‘m Chris Matthews. 

In December, HARDBALL spent several days with disabled veterans at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington.  Last week, some of those same amputees were among the 350 disable military veterans who participated in a winter sports clinic in Colorado.  It was an inspiring and transforming week. 

As part of our special coverage, “For the Brave,” all week long, here‘s HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Oscar Olguin is 19 years old.  Six months ago in Iraq, an insurgent bomb ripped apart his right leg. 

SPC. OSCAR OLGUIN, WOUNDED IN IRAQ:  I was conscious the whole time, which was kind of bad.  But, I saw my boot on the—like my boot, it just tipped over and fell on the floor. 

SHUSTER:  Olguin had never imagined life without a limb. 

Seven months ago, Casey Owens wasn‘t sure when he lost both legs that we would live at all. 

CPL. CASEY OWENS, WOUNDED IN IRAQ:  Hit a double stacked anti-tank mine.  And it blew me through roof and threw me about 30 feet. 

SHUSTER:  And last summer, doctors thought Dawn Halfaker wouldn‘t survive, much less snowboard, after an Iraqi grenade severed her arm. 

CAPT. DAWN HALFAKER, WOUNDED IN IRAQ:  It‘s still very sensitive.  It is basically like sheer bone.  There‘s not any muscle or fat really in that area.  So, it‘s pretty painful. 

SHUSTER:  But it is a pain both physical and mental that other disabled veterans seem to understand. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How much use do you have of the other arm? 

SHUSTER:  And last week, in Snowmass Village, Colorado, 350 veterans representing every conflict since World War II joined together for a winter sports clinic. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re going to be in that position.  So, let‘s get you to practice with your hands like that. 

SHUSTER:  In addition to skiing, they played sled hockey, shot clay pigeons. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Pull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes. 

SHUSTER:  And climbed rock walls. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Come on, Mike.  Whoa.  You‘re almost there. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

ADRIAN MALDONADO, VA OUTREACH SPECIALIST:  It boosts their morale, boosts their character.  It lets them know that, hey, they can do stuff and overcome those obstacles that they have in their life. 

SHUSTER:  Jim Sursley in Vietnam lost every limb but his right arm. 

And he remembers the questions he used to ask. 

JIM SURSLEY, CMDR., DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS:  Will you ever be able to be employed?  Will someone love you?  Will you be able to be married and have children and just lead a normal life?  And, as time progresses and to have these kinds of events that challenge you, it just reaffirms that those things are certainly possible. 

SHUSTER:  And all disabled veterans can participate, regardless of their level of disability.  At the end of the day, the conversations are like those at any other ski resort. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You doing the jumps yet? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I haven‘t done any jumps yet. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, come on.  It‘s your second year. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks to sponsors and volunteers, this clinic, now in its 19th year, has grown.  And what the wounded soldiers accomplish on the mountain sometimes leads the able-bodied at a loss for words. 

RICHARD TUCKER, VICE PRESIDENT, BAXTER HEALTHCARE:  Then I pull up next to him.  And I say, Andy, I said, you‘re going to have to go on without me.  I said, I just can‘t keep up with you.  And he had a grin from ear to ear.  And I think that grin...

SHUSTER:  Everybody seem to know these veterans still face setbacks.  Some have tough rehab sessions ahead or are especially vulnerable to loneliness and depression. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hold it up right here and get set.

SHUSTER:  But the week marks an important step. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come on, Nastra (ph).  You can do it. 

OLGUIN:  Never did this before.  Never skied before.  Now I‘m going everywhere.  Go to concerts, dance the mosh pit.  Go to clubs.  Like I say, life isn‘t over.  There‘s a lot to life.

SHUSTER:  And it‘s something many of the instructors and support staff can relate to. 

(on camera):  Nearly all of the 700 at this event paid their own way and many of them are disabled American veterans, whose stories are just as inspiring as the first-time participants.  We‘ll have their stories for you tomorrow. 

I‘m David Shuster, MSNBC, in Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  If you would like more information on the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, can go to va.org or miracles.dav.org. 

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  And, later this week, our guests will include John McCain, Bob Dole, Lesley Stahl and Jane Fonda.  They‘ll all be here this week in person.

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

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

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant,Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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