updated 6/9/2005 2:31:24 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:31:24

Guest: John Warner, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Robert Byrd, Ken Salazar, Mary Landrieu, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee, Joe Lieberman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Fourteen senators break free of pressure groups, right and left.  They build a center in the world‘s greatest deliberative body.  And four out of five Americans applaud them.  They want politicians willing to break the partisan stalemate. 

Let‘s meet these senators.  Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

Tonight, in a television news first, we bring together 11 of the 14 strong-willed senators, the so-called gang of 14 who grabbed power in the United States Senate from both Republican and Democratic leaders, thumbing their collective noses at their party‘s ideological extremes and avoiding a nuclear showdown over the use of the filibuster. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster explains how the deal came together. 


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It was a dramatic last-minute announcement that took the nation‘s capital by surprise. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  We are here, 14 Republicans and Democrats, seven on each side, to announce that we have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate. 

SHUSTER:  The crisis, sparked by a nasty fight over the president‘s

judicial nominees, was a scheduled vote to change Senate rules.  Majority

Leader Frist was accusing Democrats of using filibusters

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER:  To kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees. 

SHUSTER:  Democrats were defending the filibuster as a check on executive power. 

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER:  They‘re demanding a power no president has ever had. 

SHUSTER:  In breaking with their party leaders, the 14 senators who reached the deal agreed to vote on some of the judicial nominees, while preserving the right to filibuster—quote—“in extraordinary circumstances.”  Talk radio hosts on the right were infuriated. 

MARK LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Let me do the translation for you of what that means.  Extraordinary circumstances means anyone we don‘t like. 

SHUSTER:  And some activists on the left said the compromise, which let some Bush judges get confirmed, was a mistake. 

NAN ARON, ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE:  These nominees have records of hostility to individual rights and should not be rewarded with lifetime appointments to the federal bench. 

SHUSTER:  But the deal marked an important milestone for Senate moderates.  Until now, they‘ve often been impotent backbenchers and treated by their parties as nebbishy wallflowers.  And most of them, you probably wouldn‘t recognize. 

On the Republican side, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike DeWine of Ohio and John McCain of Arizona. 

MCCAIN:  The bottom line here, I did what I think was right. 

The Republicans received crucial encouragement and political cover by one of the lions of the U.S. Senate, Virginia‘s John Warner. 

SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA:  I‘m reasonably optimistic that this framework agreement will help guide the Senate towards more comity, more mutual trust, more mutual respect. 

SHUSTER:  On the Democratic side, the deal-makers were Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ken Salazar of Colorado, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA:  You were asking just the other day whether—how to handicap this.  Well, I would have to say right now, it is 100 percent.  Thank you. 

SHUSTER:  The Democratic lion of the Senate who joined in was West Virginia‘s Robert Byrd.  The question now, of course, is whether this group of 14 will be able to stay together and solve the challenges that are coming.  The Senate remains bitterly divided over John Bolton, nominated to be U.N. ambassador. 

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT:  Mr. Bolton up here reaches not his own branch, reaches all the way down and drags this guy up to his office and then begin to berate him. 

SHUSTER:  And Democrats are refusing to allow a vote until the White House turns over some classified documents. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So, it is just a stalling tactic. 

SHUSTER:  The Senate will soon take up issues that could affect your life directly.  Senators are divided over whether to make the president‘s tax cuts permanent.  And battle lines have already been drawn over Social Security reform.  And then there was the ongoing fight over judicial nominees. 

FRIST:  Let me be very clear.  The constitutional option remains on the table. 

SHUSTER:  Adding to that drama, there‘s an expectation on Capitol Hill that Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist will retire when the court adjourns at the end of June.  Any retirement would likely rekindle a fight over how the Supreme Court should handle issues like abortion rights and how the Senate should treat next Supreme Court nominee. 

(on camera):  For the moment, though, the U.S. Senate is being run by moderates and centrists working together.  And polls show the nation is grateful. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  And now let‘s meet the senators who are here today: Susan Collins, Republican of Maine; Ben Nelson, a Democrat of Nebraska, moderate Democrat.


MATTHEWS:  John Warner, the senior senator from Virginia, a Republican; Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas; Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, a Democrat; Lincoln Chafee, a Republican from Rhode Island; and Ken Salazar of Colorado.  He‘s a Democrat.

Let‘s go to Joe Lieberman, who‘s up in—who‘s up in Connecticut today.  And we‘re also having listening on the phone, by the way, Senator Robert Byrd, who is the senior senator.  He‘s going to be listening and joining us in a moment.  He‘s got a serious cold that‘s kept him home today.  And we‘re also going to be hearing from Mike—Mark—Mike DeWine, rather, of Ohio.

Let me go right now to Senator Joe Lieberman.

Senator Lieberman, have you gotten any reaction to your joining of this 14?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT:  You bet, Chris.  I‘ve got great public reaction.  I think the average person was sick and tired of all the partisanship and polarization in the Senate and the fact that we weren‘t getting much done.  And that wasn‘t just about the judges, though there‘s a lot of concern about that.  It‘s about the Senate overall.

I had one man say to me, “You folks were acting like a bunch of children, and you finally stood up and acted like the grownups you‘re supposed to be.”

I guess I‘d give you one other positive reaction, which is very interesting.  And I bet my colleagues there got some of the same of this.  The day after this agreement, when I went out on the floor for a vote, colleagues on the Republican and Democratic side who were not part of our 14 came up to me and said, “You know, Joe, for one reason or another, I couldn‘t join the group.  But am I glad that the 14 of you did this.  You saved us from a disaster, and you maybe created some momentum for this to keep on going.”

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s not all Pollyanna, is it, Senator?  Didn‘t you take some heat from the real pro-choice people, the People for the American Way, people like Ralph Neas and those folks?

LIEBERMAN:  Oh, oh, for sure.  And, no, it‘s not—it‘s not all Pollyanna, but that‘s what made it a great moment. 

And, look, each of us, from our respective party ideological bases, were told not to do this and were criticized after it was done.  But, in some ways, that‘s the point here, that the—the ideological groups drive both parties.  And they too often drive us apart, so we get nothing done.

Most of us went to Washington, honored to be in the Senate not because we wanted to posture or please ideological groups.  We wanted to get something done.  And I think that‘s what we did in this occasion, and hopefully we‘ll just keep on going on energy and Social Security, and maybe even do something to make health care more affordable.

MATTHEWS:  You have to go, but a quick question, a quick answer.   I know you‘re a student of history.  You‘ve written a lot about history before you got here, “The Power Broker,” about John Bailey.

Let me ask you this.  Is this history-making what‘s going on here with the 14 senators?

LIEBERMAN:  First, Chris, let me thank you.  You‘re one of the few people who remembers that I wrote a book called “The Power Broker” about the great John Bailey. 


LIEBERMAN:  He taught me a lot.

Secondly, it is history-making.  And the one who reminded us of that was the historian of the Senate himself, Robert C. Byrd.  So—but—but, you know, history doesn‘t stop.  And now it‘s for us and other members of the Senate who are empowered by what we did to come out and join us and continue to get some things done for our country.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Senator Lieberman, up in Connecticut.

LIEBERMAN:  Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see you back here.

I want to get back to the senators here.

Susan Collins, you worked for the Senate for a long time before you became a senator.


MATTHEWS:  What kind of reaction have you gotten to this?

COLLINS:  Very positive.  I found that people stopped me on the street in Maine and said, “Thank you for forging the compromise.  We‘re so sick of all the fighting.”

Now, not everyone was happy.  There are obvious...

MATTHEWS:  Who threw tomatoes?


COLLINS:  Well, there were obviously...

MATTHEWS:  Where‘s Ralph Neas and those guys and...


COLLINS:  But, you know, I‘m much more interested in what my constituents think and in helping preserve the traditions of the Senate.  And I think we did just that.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Ben Nelson to the rescue.

NELSON:  Well, the same thing. 

Recently, I spoke to a group and I got a standing ovation before I started and one after I finished.  That isn‘t always the case, as you know.  But everywhere I‘ve gone, people have come up to me and have commented about how important it is for the Senate to get along and get things done.

And they feel, as in the case of Joe Lieberman, that sometimes we haven‘t acted as adults.  But on this occasion, we clearly did.  And I think the people are, by and large, very grateful for it.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Warner, one of the lions.

WARNER:  Well, I don‘t know about being a lion...

MATTHEWS:  How old do you have to be to be a lion, anyway?


WARNER:  But I‘m happy to be with this—we really did what we did on a foundation of hard work done by both Bill Frist and Harry Reid.


WARNER:  Let‘s make that clear.

MATTHEWS:  How did that work?  What‘s the dynamic there, Senator? 

WARNER:  Well, the dynamic...


MATTHEWS:  Because you guys broke—you senators established a strong center.  How did the positions of the two leaders on either side help to create that?

WARNER:  Well, I think, frankly, they kept our respective caucuses fully informed of daily, nightly conversations that the two had together.  And both came back and said, at this point in time, we still have not resolved this.  And that left an opening for our group to come together and do what we did.

But, you know, the Senate represents not just in the United States, but the world over, the greatest form of preservation of the rights of the minority to be heard of any legislative body in the world.  And we felt that we should keep it that way.  There wasn‘t the justification at this point in time to use a method by which to go around the two-thirds rule and change the vote.  And none of us could predict with specificity what would happen to the Senate had that constitutional option been used.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:  Senator Pryor.

SEN. MARK PRYOR, (D-AR):  Reaction has been very good.  What you alluded to, though, is that there are some groups who want the issue more than they want to get results in the Congress.  And so...

MATTHEWS:  Why?  To raise money?

PRYOR:  Maybe some to raise money.  I can‘t speak for all those groups.  But, nonetheless, I think that clearly is out there.  And we‘ve all be criticized by various groups around the country. 

But, by and large, my response in Arkansas has been very, very positive for what we did.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Landrieu.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D-LA):  Chris, the same, very positive. 

I think that my constituents in Louisiana and, I think, all of ours just want us to stay focused on the work at hand.  We‘ve got an energy bill coming up next week, a transportation bill not far behind, hopefully a water bill, which is our water resources bill.  That‘s important to everyone.  And so, by forging this compromise, we at least gave us a chance, the Senate, to stay at work.

Now, I have to say that it‘s going to take more than the 14 of us to hold it together.  There‘s going to have to be goodwill built on both sides.  We respect our leadership.  We want to continue to work with them in a positive way.  But, at home in Louisiana, people were really thrilled that we were able to at least stay on track, stay focused on the work at hand.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Chafee.

SEN. LINCOLN CHAFEE, ®, RHODE ISLAND:  Well, I agree with Senator Landrieu and Senator Lieberman. 

Americans care about energy.  They care about Social Security.  They care about the war in Iraq.  And I think there‘s been—there‘s a disconnect with what we‘re doing over these judges.  So I think we‘ve got the Senate back on track.  We can work together, Democrats and Republicans, and I think that‘s what the American people really care about.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll ask you, Senator Salazar.

SEN. KEN SALAZAR, (D-CO):  You know, Chris, I came to Washington to be a uniter, not a divider.  And what I found in this town in my first five months is that it is a very divided town with a lot of partisan poison hanging over both the White House and the Capitol. 

And I think what this group of 14 did is to stand up against that poison and said, we‘re going to work together on the important issues that face Americans every day.  And so I‘m very proud of the work of this group.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with the senators in a moment.        

And, all this week, HARDBALL is celebrating our eighth anniversary.  Tomorrow, he may be the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.  Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is going to join us.  Then, on Wednesday, exclusive access inside the Roman Catholic group Opus Dei.  We‘ll talk to members of this group and some former members who are critical.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  When your in Opus Dei, you‘re taught that, you know, you‘re supposed to trust your—and, in fact, one of the points in “The Way,” written by the founder, was that you‘re supposed to obey with blind obedience your superior.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s inside Opus Dei Wednesday on HARDBALL. 

You‘re watching‘s HARDBALL eighth anniversary on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, the bipartisan group of senators that bucked the leaders of both parties to broker a deal on the filibuster.

HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary continues after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary.  We‘re back with the senators who put together the great coalition of 14 senators from the middle, seven Republicans, seven Democrats. 

We‘re joined with Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, John Warner of Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Ken Salazar of Colorado. 

And joining us right now is the senior senator, the senior senator of the United States Senate, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Senator Byrd, thank you for joining us.


MATTHEWS:  I know you have a cold today, but I know you are a great man of history and I grew up loving the Senate as an institution.  And you have served there all these years.  “Advice and Consent,” it was a great novel.  It was a great movie.  What does it mean, those terms, advice and consent, when it comes to a court nomination?

BYRD:  Well, it means exactly what it says.  The president shall have the power to appoint, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint certain officers of the United States, including judges to the Supreme Court.

Now, what you have here is an attempt to pack the courts.  FDR tried that in 1937.  He failed, because the Senate filibustered and the people became informed as to what was going on.  Here we are.  We‘re talking about federal judges, people who are appointed for a lifetime, for a lifetime, on the federal bench.  And the president shall appoint by and with the advice and consent.

Well, there has been a lot of talk about the consent, how it should be.  The president and certain others in the Senate have said that there should up-or-down votes, that these people deserve an up-or-down vote.

Well, the Constitution doesn‘t say they may have an up-or-down vote.  It simply says, “by and with the advice and consent.”  And, consequently, a lot of these people have been nominated under various presidencies to serve on the courts, some of them have been bottled up in the committees.  They‘ve never been sent to the floor, for the floor to have a vote.

So, it all boils down to exactly what the Constitution says, “By and with the advice and consent of the Senate, he shall appoint judges of the Supreme Court.”

Well, John Warner and I, we felt that there had been a lot of talk about the consent factor and whether or not they should have an up-or-down vote.  But not enough attention was given to the advice element in that constitutional provision.

So, we wrote language in the agreement saying that there should be consultation with the Senate.  We thought that the chief executive, he would consult with the Senate.  He didn‘t.  The president doesn‘t have to take our advice, but he certainly ought to let us in on the takeoff as well as on the crash landing.

And so, we wanted something in the agreement referring to the advice and consent of the Senate.  And that‘s in there. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  BYRD:  And I think if the chief executive will consult with the Senate

·         he doesn‘t have to take our advice, but if he considers our advice, then the president can be more assured that his nominees are going to be met with a kinder reception.

This is a very, very basic matter.  It‘s extremely important to the American people.  The Senate is polarized about it.  And we talk about the so-called constitutional option.  There‘s nothing constitutional about it.  It‘s an unconstitutional option.  And—and—and those who seek to sell this idea, this crazy idea to the American people about it being the constitutional option, they are bent upon breaking the Senate into pieces.

They are—they are certainly and—their intentions have to do with politics, more than with the Constitution.  These 14 Senators who signed that agreement set political party aside.  And they have sought to do something for the good of the country, and they did it.  And I‘m very proud to have been with them.

I certainly want to praise John McCain, and John Warner, and Ben Nelson, and Mike—Mark Pryor.  They all worked together, and the others who were involved, Ben Nelson, Dan Inouye, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and the others. 


BYRD:  They all put politics aside and determined that they would do something in the best interests of the country.  They did it and—because the United States Senate is not a political playground.  It‘s a forum of the states, intended to be a place where wisdom and freedom of speech prevail.

I‘m sorry for my voice today, but I have bronchitis.  But this group of 14 have had enough partisan rhetoric and political games.  And those who sought to put the so-called unconstitutional option across and destroy the Senate as a forum for free debate and freedom to amend and freedom of minorities to dissent, that‘s what the founding fathers had in mind, a forum of that kind.

And this group that the White House—is trying to apparently put across this so-called constitutional option is interested in politics.  And it would have destroyed the Senate as such a forum.  And the American people would have been injured.  Their freedom of dissent, their freedom of speech would have suffered.  It was a great day for the Senate when these 14 senators of both parties got together and decided to put politics aside and do what was right for the American people and right for the Senate, right for freedom of speech, and right for the Constitution.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Senator.  We‘ll be back to you later, Senator Robert Byrd.

Senator Warner, do you want to respond to that?

WARNER:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Because, I guess advice and consent, does that mean that, if the president wants to put up Justice Scalia for chief justice, he would run it by you and the other senators and say, “What do you think?”

WARNER:  Well, selectively.  In the past, presidents have done it.

Let me give you 50 years of Senate history, the last 50 as it relates to the Supreme Court.  Twenty-seven total nominees, six of them were passed by the Senate on a voice vote.  In other words, the whole Senate said, “Aye.”  Nine got over 80 votes.  And only one fell below the 60-vote margin.  And three were rejected.

Now, that‘s responsible, bipartisan reaction and living up to the Constitution for the United States Senate in previous presidents, Eisenhower, Ford.  And I predict that‘s going to happen in the future.

MATTHEWS:  Is that the trend or is that the past?

WARNER:  That‘s the 50 years I gave you. 


WARNER:  And I think—I‘m—that the Senate will be responsible and the president will be responsible.  And I would hope, if there is a vacancy, that the Senate will confirm him with a strong bipartisan vote.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  We‘ll come back and talk to the other senators about the way they think it ought to be done, not just the president sending a name, popping a name on them, but running by some names, like Scalia, or Gonzales, people like that, and see what the Senate thinks of them before running the name up the flagpole.

And, all week long, by the way, it‘s HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary this week.  Tomorrow, Rudy Giuliani, and, later this week, Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe‘s going to be here to make some noise.  Journalist Bill Moyers is going to be here.  And “Saturday Night Live‘s” Darrell Hammond, he‘s the guy that does me. 

Anyway, for the eighth day of the HARDBALL eighth anniversary, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the senators. 

We‘re talking about ways in which the United States Senate would like to see nominations for the Supreme Court handled and all court appointments handled, in fact, with the traditional advice and consent of the Senate playing a key role.

Mary Landrieu, senator from Louisiana, do you think that the liberals in your party—you‘re a moderate, I think it‘s fair to say, right?


MATTHEWS:  The liberals in your party, what would they do if they got ahold of a nominee for chief justice ahead of time?  Would they give the person full consideration, or would they leak the name and trash the name?

LANDRIEU:  Well, I think the whole point is to try to get nominees that could pass muster from both sides.  And someone that‘s mainstream, they could be sort of a little to the left or a little to the right, that‘s not a problem with the 14 of us.

It‘s just the extreme nominations that are put up with the purpose of dividing...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LANDRIEU:  ... not for the purpose of uniting, not for the purpose of moving the country forward, not for the purpose of keeping us on track, but for the purposes of basically feeding ideological wings, that‘s what we object to.

So, I hope that the president will really see that this effort is being made in really good faith.  We‘re not trying to dictate how to run everything.  We‘re just trying to say, let‘s take a break.  Let‘s get back to work and stay united for the good of the country.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Senate would vote differently or behave differently on most issues, like these cultural issues, if there weren‘t these extreme groups, these pressure groups...


LANDRIEU:  Well, I think these issues are very important, Chris.  It‘s going to take a lot of our wisdom and patience and tolerance to work through them. 

But I think the Senate had really gotten almost to the point of going to a place we‘ve never been before. 


LANDRIEU:  And we weren‘t sure once we got there how we would return.

MATTHEWS:  But wouldn‘t there be liberal groups out there that would want you to filibuster every single nominee that this president might put up?

LANDRIEU:  Well, yes, there...

MATTHEWS:  Like, wouldn‘t Ralph Neas, for example, People For the American Way, want you to filibuster everything?  You say it‘s the right-wing groups, but isn‘t it the liberal groups, too, that want the fight?

LANDRIEU:  No, I said both groups, and there would be liberal groups that would want that.  But most Americans, like what Susan said, Senator Collins, when I went home this week in Louisiana—I was home all week—people were both, Republicans and Democrats:  Thank you for keeping the Senate on track.  We have a lot of work to do.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got a big show tonight.  You‘re watching a special edition of HARDBALL from the NBC News bureau in Washington, where we‘ve gathered together the new leaders of the Senate.  And they‘re from the middle. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary week, only on MSNBC.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL.  We‘ve gathered together these senators, a great representation of the 14 senators who put together this incredible compromise that has allowed the Senate to go on and do its business.

I want each of you to tell me what you‘re saying to your constituents about what you want to get done, now that the Senate has reached back into practicality and getting back to business.

Senator Salazar, what‘s the most important thing to get done, now that you‘re getting—working together?

SALAZAR:  The kinds of issues that every family in my state thinks about every day when they get out of bed.  They think about whether or not they‘re going to have health insurance and whether they‘re going to be able to afford it, the rising costs of gas to fill up the minivan, what we do with energy, what we do with transportation. 

It‘s those issues that we ought to be doing in our nation‘s capital that affect all of our people that I hope our Senate can now get back and focus on those issues that affect American every day.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Chafee, you‘re optimistic about that?

CHAFEE:  Yes, certainly, we‘re back.  And we‘ve got the highway bill coming up, just mundane work that we have to get done.  If this nuclear option had gone off, we wouldn‘t have a highway bill.  We wouldn‘t have an energy bill.

And these are important things that affect everyday life.  Social Security, the retirement of the baby boomers, we should be doing something about it.  The high cost of health care, as Senator Salazar said, the war in Iraq, these are issues that we have to work together, Republicans and Democrats.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take that one issue. 

Do you think, Senators, that you can put together a bipartisan, 60-vote success story that will get something passed on some kind of reform of Social Security in the next two years?

WARNER:  Could I speak to that?


WARNER:  I really think we came together under most unusual circumstances.  And we should in no way try to think that we can be a substitute for the time-honored leadership of the majority and the Democratic, or the minority leader, as the case may be.  And I would caution my colleagues, were we to go beyond what we took out as a path...

MATTHEWS:  You mean just the judicial nomination?

WARNER:  The judicial nomination.  If you were to ask me the important business of the Senate, Republicans feel very strongly—and I‘m sure there‘s a bipartisan—we‘re responsible, the Senate and the president, for forming the third branch of government, the federal judiciary, and we‘ve got to get on with that important responsibility.  That‘s what this group came together to do.  And we did it.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Nelson, do you agree with that? 

NELSON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  This is mainly for the judgeships?

NELSON:  Well, I think, certainly, initially, it‘s for that.  And it‘s not to replace the leadership in the Senate on either side. 

I think the spirit of cooperation and mutual trust that‘s been developed will have a shelf life and will carry over into the other areas that have been addressed, energy, health care, go right down the list.  The fact that we‘ve been able to work together indicates that there is, I think, a strong future for us to be able to do so in—in the days ahead.

MATTHEWS:  But don‘t you have the filibuster prompt, Senator Landrieu, with regard to other issues?  Like, anything you try to get done, you have to get 60 votes to get a vote, right?

LANDRIEU:  We do. 

But, you know, this energy bill will be a test of that.  I agree with what Senator Warner said.  This was really an extraordinary circumstance that we came together to try to just get us past this point, this danger point, if you will.

But the energy bill is coming up on Monday.  And, Chris, from my state‘s point of view, getting a bill that increases production and increases supply and also conserves energy for this nation, as we continue to try to be competitive around the world and put Louisiana and other states in a fairer posture, states that are contributing so much to our energy independence.

So, this energy bill is going to be a test.  But, as Senator Nelson said, maybe our agreement will have some shelf life, some goodwill.  But we were not created to try to run the Senate with the 14 of us.  I mean we came to solve a problem.  We hope we can solve it and stick.  But we also hope that maybe this goodwill will, you know, show itself in other areas.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me just talk about general terms.

Susan Collins, your thoughts. 

COLLINS:  The one thing I wanted to add to that is, the 14 of us don‘t see ourselves as solving all of the issues facing our great country.  But the approach that we took of working together in a bipartisan way, with mutual trust and respect, is a model for others to follow in solving some of these very difficult issues.  We‘re not a substitute for the leadership.  We‘re not a substitute for the committee process.  But that bipartisan approach of respect and mutual trust is a model.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I come from a state which is sort of like between red and blue, Pennsylvania. 

My brother‘s a local Republican politician up there.  And he says there‘s an attitude up there of give and take.  What‘s wrong with give and take?  They don‘t quite get this ideological extremes you get in maybe other parts of the country.  Maine is probably the same way.

COLLINS:  Right.

SALAZAR:  If I may—if I may, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s why I‘m hoping that maybe this will be something bigger than—this could be the start of something big, despite what Senator Warner says here.

SALAZAR:  You know, well, I think it‘s a—I think the template of working together is what‘s really important.  And I think the energy bill that just came out of our committee last week came out of—came out with a 23-to-1 vote.  And that‘s a tremendous bipartisan statement about that kind of legislation. 

And, so, I think the template of working together and getting beyond these issues that create impasses I think can serve as an example for the rest of the work of the Senate.  I agree very much with Senator Warner that, at the end of the day, we are not a substitute for the committees or a substitute for the leadership.


SALAZAR:  But the theme of bipartisan cooperation, I think...


MATTHEWS:  Okay, let me climb back on to the life raft here.  The idea of extraordinary, extraordinary circumstances being the only time the Democrats will vote against having a vote.  They‘ll basically vote—they won‘t vote cloture.  Now, let me see the Democrats here.

Senator Nelson, what do you mean by extraordinary circumstances?

NELSON:  Well, I think John McCain and Susan Collins have said it.  You‘ll know it when you see it.  The circumstances will be extreme.  There will be something about that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, what is that, incompetence, a person who‘s got a huge ethical problem?

NELSON:  Could be incompetence.

MATTHEWS:  Would it be an ideological issue, though?

NELSON:  I don‘t think it will be as ideological, as much as it might be looking for somebody who wants to be a—who wants to be an adjudicator vs. a legislator.

Judicial activists, in my judgment, should be ineligible to serve on the bench, because they want to make the law, rather than apply it.  In that case, I would consider somebody to be under extraordinary circumstances.

But we did leave it up to each senator.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Do you think it‘s that neat, because haven‘t we had some great justices on the Supreme Court who have, in fact, been so original in their judgments, like Warren, they realize the inherent inequality of separate but equal?  It isn‘t in the Constitution.  You have to see it, right?  How do you—if you strike out anybody who wants to be original in their constitutional interpretation...

NELSON:  I didn‘t say original.  I said a judicial activist.

MATTHEWS:  Well, what about Warren?

NELSON:  Well, I don‘t know whether he was...

MATTHEWS:  Would he have passed muster as a—as a—as not extraordinary?

NELSON:  I guess I‘d say that he did not show prior, from his being governor, that he was a judicial activist.  But if you have—had somebody on the court down below who has been, you‘ll know that when you see it.


Let me go to Senator Byrd. 

Do you think, Senator Byrd—and you‘re the scholar of the Senate—do you think it‘s possible to find some working definition of extraordinary circumstances?

BYRD:  Well, here—what we have here is an attempt to put a limit on freedom of speech in the Senate. 

The filibuster has a bad name.  But this—what we‘re talking about is the right of the people‘s representatives in the Senate to speak as long as their voices can be heard in regard to a matter affecting the constituents back home.

Now right here we‘re just talking about federal judges.  But if this -

·         if the filibuster dies here as a result of an unconstitutional option, then that means that—it may be in the name of judges, but it will spread of the—of the spectrum.  And there will be legislation of all sorts, Social Security, tariff legislation, environment legislation, whatever.  You just take whatever you want. 

Once this starts and the filibuster is broken, freedom of speech is denied to the rep—elected representatives of the people in the Senate.  If it is done with regard to judges, it won‘t take long until it will—it will—it will go across the board.  And here is where the people will suffer.  And this—I say here, the people‘s liberties will always be secure as long as we have a forum in which men and women can speak and can speak and can speak without limit.

The majority is not all right—always right.  The minority is sometimes right.  That‘s what we‘re fighting for here.  And I‘m glad that we had 14 senators, seven on each of the aisle, who decided to put politics aside and—and work in the best interests of freedom of speech, in the best interest of the Senate as an institution, and to support the Constitution, which provides for freedom of speech for three and separate and equal branches, and for a forum, the Senate, which, according the great compromise on July the 16th, 1787, allowed the small states and the large states to be equal and allowed the Senate to be a—a—a forum of free debate.

I hope that we can preserve this.  It‘s vital, absolutely vital to all the other liberties that the American people enjoy.  And I want to—I just want to compliment my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for putting—putting politics aside.  This so-called constitutional option was folly.  It was an unconstitutional option.  And I hope that these 14 will stick together and do what‘s right and try to deal with these judges on the basis of fairness, but—but—but keep the Constitution in mind. 


BYRD:  We should do—give our best—best judgment on these, as in all other matters.

MATTHEWS:  I have to take a break now, Senator.  Thank you.

We‘ll be right back to you, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. 

The rest of the senators are staying with us.


MATTHEWS:  Join me for an exclusive look inside the strict and some say secret Catholic organization Opus Dei Wednesday on a special edition of HARDBALL at 7:00 Eastern.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

We‘re back with the senators who made a deal to preserve the filibuster and to preserve comity in the U.S. Senate.

By the way, speaking at an event the other Thursday night, DNC Chairman Howard Dean took a jab at all Republicans when he talked about long lines at the voting polls.


HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  The idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida, there‘s something the matter with that.  You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever, and get home, and then still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote?  Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.


MATTHEWS:  Never made an honest living in their lives, the Republican Party.  Is that the party you know down in Arkansas, Senator Pryor?

PRYOR:  No.  Most Republicans I know are hardworking, decent folks.  And I don‘t agree with what Howard Dean said.  But, you know, I guess everybody‘s entitled to their opinion.  That was probably a little hyperbole.

MATTHEWS:  Is it yours?  Is that your opinion?

PRYOR:  No.  No.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Salazar, out in Colorado, another tough state to win in if you‘re in either party, do you think that‘s bipartisan talk by your party chairman?

SALAZAR:  Absolutely not.  I think it was unfortunate that Howard Dean chose those words.  I think he misspoke about...

MATTHEWS:  What do you think he meant to say?


MATTHEWS:  What was he trying to get out there? 

Senator Nelson, what do you think he was trying to say when he said he never knew a Republican to make an honest living?  What do you think he was up to there?

NELSON:  Well, I don‘t know, but that‘s a perfect example why some of us drink decaffeinated coffee.


MATTHEWS:  You think it‘s in the Republican...


MATTHEWS:  Mary Landrieu, Senator.

LANDRIEU:  The line wasn‘t true about the Republicans, but it was true about the eight hours standing in line.  And, you know, you‘ve got to say something about America where people have to wait.  I know.  I saw this happen in my own state.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that was a partisan trick out in Ohio to keep the Democratic vote down?

LANDRIEU:  Well, I don‘t know if it was a trick, but I can tell you one thing.  Supporting funding for good voting machines that have, you know, a paper trail, letting people get in and out, Americans are getting really aggravated when they show up to vote, do what we ask them to do and it—it takes them three and four and five hours.

In some of my precincts, people showed up and the machines weren‘t even...


MATTHEWS:  Was there any hanky-panky in Ohio last time?

LANDRIEU:  I don‘t know.  I mean, we declared the race and went on.

But I think, in all of our states, we would all admit that there are some things that go on in our states that could be improved in that election process.  And it‘s the least we can do in the greatest democracy in the world, to have that day operated smoothly.  And take into consideration that some people do...

MATTHEWS:  Can we have a quick vote here?  Does anyone not agree...

LANDRIEU:  Do not get off until 8:00.

MATTHEWS:  ... that Republicans and Democrats, on average, mostly make their livings honestly?


MATTHEWS:  Can we agree on that?  OK, thank you.

We‘re going to back with our group of senators.  We have a break here now.  We‘re on HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary show, coming back. 

Check out, by the way, our Web site, Hardball.MSNBC.com.


CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER, ACTOR:  Hey, this is Cedric the Entertainer.

Chris Matthews, happy eighth anniversary, man, doing your thing. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

TOMMY LASORDA, FORMER LOS ANGELES DODGERS MANAGER:  Happy anniversary, Chris.  You‘re the best.

COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS:  And they said it wouldn‘t last, and here it is, eight years.  Happy anniversary, Chris, for HARDBALL.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Late today, I asked Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine about pressure groups and whether Republicans and Democrats would act differently toward one another, were it not for these pressure groups.


SEN. MIKE DEWINE ®, OHIO:  We have to do, I think, what‘s right.  And I think what you saw, Chris, is that the 14 members coming together—and what we did was what we thought was right.

And, ultimately, the only way the Senate ever moves forward is if members of both parties move—move together, irrespective of what kind of pressure we get.  Yes, we get pressure.  And we got a lot of pressure coming from the right, a lot of pressure coming from the left.  But you saw these senators do what we thought was right.  And, you know, we just hope, in the end, that things turn out the way we envision that they will.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio.

You know, senators, this week, “U.S. News & World Report” had a new poll out that showed that four out of five Americans like their politicians to be moderate and they‘d like them to be independent of partisanship.  Will the center hold that you have all forged?

COLLINS:  It will.  I think we have paved the way.  I think this is what the American people want.  They‘re very tired of partisan bickering and gridlock.  They want us to get on with the nation‘s business.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Nelson.

NELSON:  Mutual trust is what we‘ve been able to accomplish and good-faith effort.  That will carry us through.  There are going to be some difficult days ahead with some of the nominees that will come up. 

But I think that we will stick together and we will.  We will keep the agreement that we made.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Warner.

WARNER:  I‘m confident we did the right thing, that—and it will help our leadership get through the judicial nominations.  But you have to look back over the history of American politics.  Competition is what bipartisanship should be, but not always is.  And we‘ll always have some fractiousness, and that‘s the way it‘s going to be.

And I remember Harry Truman, under whom I served.  He was the commander in chief of the forces.  If you can‘t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.  And we‘re staying.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Senator...

PRYOR:  One good thing I think we learned through this process is that good things can happen when senators talk to each other.  And one of the things I‘ve learned here in Washington is, we spend way too much time talking about each other than we do talking to each other.  So...

MATTHEWS:  OK, Senator Pryor, thank you. 

Senator Landrieu.

LANDRIEU:  I‘m very hopeful.  There are no guarantees, though, but I‘m very hopeful that the 14 of us can stay committed and focused.  And the others will join and work with us.  The other—the leadership has to take this as an opportunity to want to move forward.  And so far, so good.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Chafee.

CHAFEE:  Well, I think that‘s why the founding fathers gave us a six-year term.


CHAFEE:  So, we wouldn‘t necessarily listen to the pressure groups.  And we have the advantage of having these long six-year terms, so we can do the right thing.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Salazar.

SALAZAR:  You know, I‘m very proud of the agreement.  I think, so long as we do what we think is right, I think that there is going to be some life to this agreement that hopefully will also influence the rest of our colleagues to work together to find solutions to the common problems we face.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s an honor hosting you down here.  Thank you, gentleman and ladies.  Thank you for coming in the Senate.

Thank you, Senators Collins, Nelson, Warner, Pryor, Landrieu, Salazar, Chafee, and Pryor. 

Anyway, thanks all to—also our friends here at NBC News and WRC here in Washington.

Tomorrow on HARDBALL, our eighth anniversary continues with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the man who really brought the house down at last year‘s Republican Convention.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK:  At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed.  Without really thinking, based on just emotions, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president.”



MATTHEWS:  That‘s Rudy Giuliani tomorrow on HARDBALL. 

And HARDBALL‘s eighth anniversary continues all week with actor Russell Crowe, Bill Moyers, Bill Maher, Darrell Hammond and, next Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 

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



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