updated 7/26/2005 10:40:09 AM ET 2005-07-26T14:40:09

Guest: Charles Peters, Amre Moussa, John Harris, Harold Schaitberger,

Andrew Stern, Dianne Feinstein

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Big trouble for big labor, as the Teamsters and the nation's largest service workers union drop out of the AFL-CIO. 

Plus, from Iraq, to Madrid, to London, and now Egypt.  What more can be done to stop Islamic terrorists?

Let's play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I'm Chris Matthews.

We'll talk to the president of the Service Employees International Union about the big union split and find out what the pullout means for Democrats, who want to gain seat in next year's midterm elections. 

But, first, British investigators arrested two men in connection with last week's attempted bombings and apologized for shooting a Brazilian electrician to death Friday as he fled police in the London underground.  But London police say they will maintain their shoot-to-kill policy. 

Meanwhile, Egyptian police are searching for five Pakistani men as they investigate Saturday's predawn attack in Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed 88 people. 

Late today, I talked with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Select Intelligence Committee.  And I asked her what these recent attacks say about where we're at with terrorism. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, I think it is on an escalating track. 

Al Qaeda has morphed and mutated.  There are a large number of loosely connected rings I think all over the world.  And I was very interested, because, about a week ago, I read a column by Peter Bergen.  And he said in that column that not a single major imam had stepped up and issued a fatwa denouncing jihad.  And I begin to think about it.

And I've asked the Intelligence Committee to take a look at this.  And we're going to be looking more deeply into it.  But it seems to me that, if we're going to put an end to this, it really has to come from inside the Muslim faith itself.  And that means the leadership, the imams, stepping up, denouncing, through fatwas, jihad, denouncing those who commit acts of terror and kill innocents over and over and over again, until there's a kind of isolation, if you will, so that terrorists don't receive safe harbor.  The leaders are pointed out.  And that could be very salutary. 

Absent that, what we've seen is this terrible metastasis, and, of course, a number of people in Egypt and now again in Iraq today.  It just goes on and on.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think there's some of that going on in this country? 

FEINSTEIN:  Oh, I have no doubt that there are cells in this country. 

I have no doubt that people who would do us grievous injury in this country

·         and that's the reason for the Patriot Act, to try to give law enforcement and intelligence the tools it needs to be able to stop an act of terror before it starts. 

I think what the Israelis have found is where they have been successful is through intelligence, is enough of a presence in a community that someone will tip them off when a bomb-maker is on the march, and so the Israelis can pick him up at a crossing point or before the bomb perpetrator gets to the target. 

And that's really important.  And we need to—to develop more of that in this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the precautions we take in this country for—to self-defense.  The BART system in San Francisco, in the Bay area, are you comfortable with the idea of bag searches on people getting on the trains? 

FEINSTEIN:  Well, I'm neither comfortable or uncomfortable with it. 

I don't really know what it will mean.  I am very comfortable with the surveillance cameras.  I think the surveillance cameras, if they yield an identity, are very effective long-term.  Now, nothing may stop someone.  A random search won't.  But at least it gives the police the information to perhaps make an arrest. 

So, my advocacy would be to put surveillance cameras wherever you can in all of these stations. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the idea of using surveillance cameras to check suspects, in other words, compare the pictures of people as they get on the trains on BART or the New York subway system or the Philadelphia subways, against wanted people and people and suspects on wanted lists or watch lists? 

FEINSTEIN:  Yes.  Well, I would like to say, you know, that's not really necessary.  But I think it is. 

And I think having that camera in all major stations as people get on and off this train—now, that's a lot of footage.  But, nonetheless, you saw how rapidly the British pinpointed suspects and are ready to move if they can find them to make an arrest. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you now about the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts to be an associate justice.  According to a new “Washington Post”/ABC poll, something like six out of 10 people, 59 percent, think he should be confirmed.  However, there is a caveat.  Something like two-thirds of the people in this country, 64 percent, want him to state his position clearly on the issue of abortion. 

Where do you—where do you stand on that?  Should we know where he stands on Roe v. Wade before he is confirmed? 

FEINSTEIN:  Well, I think, first of all, you're right.  About 65 percent are supporters of Roe, supporters of abortion.  And about 64 percent want him to state that position. 

I think he should.  There's a lot of unsettlement in the country about this.  Now, he did to some degree in the district, the D.C. appellate court hearing, where he said that he believed that Roe was setting precedent, particularly settled because of the Casey case.  And I had an hour-session with him this morning, which was a private session.  And the results will remain private.  But it's fair to say that we did discuss this.

MATTHEWS:  Does he believe in precedent? 

FEINSTEIN:  Yes, he does believe in precedent.  And he is very cautious and he's very studious.

And in no way, shape or form do I believe he puts any ideology before the law, nor do I believe he would be an activist in the law.  I see none of those signs in anything he has done or said. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you're asking him how he will rule.  I would like to ask you, Senator Feinstein, how you will rule.  Could you see yourself voting to confirm a candidate for the Supreme Court who you thought might overturn Roe v. Wade? 

FEINSTEIN:  Well, for me, it would be very difficult.  I am the only woman on the committee; 65 percent of the people of this country are in support.  I ran as a pro-choice Democrat.  And, therefore, I feel that, with respect to the court and choice, this is the most important vote I will cast. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts said that the participation by Judge Roberts' wife, Jane, in the group called Feminists For Life should be off the table in terms of considering his nomination.  Do you agree? 

FEINSTEIN:  Oh, yes.  Absolutely.  I mean, I'm one that believe we all have spouses.  We all differ with our spouses on certain points and we agree on certain points.  It is not really relevant. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Let me ask you a tough question about this leak case, the CIA leak case, involving the wife of a former ambassador who was sent over to check out whether there's a uranium deal—or there was a uranium deal between Saddam Hussein and the governor of Niger. 

Do you believe that vice president or the president or both of them, could both have been ignorant of the efforts made the chief of staff of the vice president and the chief political adviser to the president in terms of their discussing that man's spouse with the press?  Do you think they could not be aware of that? 

FEINSTEIN:  I do think they could not be aware of it for the reason of deniability. 

I mean, Mr. Rove, if in fact he did do this, is a sophisticated operative.  And I don't—I doubt very much whether he would tell the president, well, I'm going to drop this here or I'm going to drop this there.  I just don't think he would.

And I think what you have to look for is an individual that had motive, means and opportunity.  And the special prosecutor has a lot of testimony now.  And it will be very interesting to see what he comes up with, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you still want to see Karl Rove's security clearance pulled? 

FEINSTEIN:  Well, yes, because I think it is clear that he did discuss it.  And he should not have discussed it. 

And, now, how he did it, whether he said—whether, I heard that, too, or he said something more, there's enough question, I think, right now.  Not only that, I think it is a kind salutary slap on the wrists until the public prosecutor comes out with his decision. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think a person who is not worthy of a security clearance, who can't be trusted to hold one, should be having—holding an office next to the president of the United States?  His office, if you look at the floor plan, is right next to the Oval Office.  And you're saying he isn't to be trusted with a security clearance.  Should he be trusted with a White House pass? 

FEINSTEIN:  Well, I think that's up to the president.  I think the president decides who he wants around him.  And I think he should. 

But I think we also should weigh in, and particularly those of us that serve on Intelligence, who understand what a grievous breach this is, particularly if it is intentional.  You know, sometimes, unintentionally, people say something.  But I have become convinced for a long time that somebody gave this information to Mr. Novak.  And they gave that information with malevolence at heart.  And that was to burn Ambassador Wilson and his wife. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Intelligence Committee and also the Judiciary Committee, which is taking up this court nomination.  Thanks for joining us.

FEINSTEIN:  Thanks, Chris. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  When we return, a big rift in big labor, as the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union decide to split from the AFL-CIO.  We'll talk to the president of the SEIU. 

And, later in the program, is the Arab world doing enough to take on Islamic terrorists?  We'll have an exclusive interview with the head of the Arab League.

You're watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, two of the country's most powerful unions say they're pulling out of the AFL-CIO.  Will that move weaken the labor movement?

HARDBALL returns after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  More trouble on the horizon for the Democrats.  The nation's largest unions are holding a convention that is turning into a leadership civil war.  And this comes as the Democratic Party was hoping to get a lift from unions going into next year's congressional elections. 

HARDBALL congressional correspondent David Shuster reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Today in Chicago and furious at the leadership of the AFL-CIO umbrella organization, unions representing more than three million workers announced they were breaking away. 

ANDREW STERN, PRESIDENT, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION: 

Today, SEIU is respectfully making its own choice to go in a different direction that we believe actually will work to change American workers. 

SHUSTER:  The decision means that unions representing nurses and health technicians, freight workers, restaurant employees, and garment and hotel workers are not going to participate in this week's labor activities.  And two of the unions which contribute $20 million each year to the federation, or about a sixth of the AFL-CIO budget, are pulling out permanently. 

BRET CALDWELL, SPOKESPERSON, TEAMSTERS:  They're stuck in the 1950s.  We're trying to move into the 21st century.  And that's essentially what this debate is about. 

SHUSTER:  At the center of the storm is 71-year-old John Sweeney, leader of the AFL-CIO.  Sweeney has been criticized for a membership decline and has repeatedly rejected calls for his resignation. 

JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO:  Every worker and our future should not be dictated by the demands of any group or the ambitions of any individuals. 

SHUSTER:  Sweeney's allies are primarily industrial unions, like steel and automotive workers, who are facing the brunt of global economy shifts because of changes like automation and high-tech manufacturing. 

The dissidents largely represent workers in retail and service sectors, the heart of the emerging new U.S. economy.  These breakaway unions want to streamline the AFL-CIO and change its focus.  But for whoever speaks on behalf of organized labor, there may be problems.

When the AFL-CIO formed 50 years ago, one out of every three American workers belonged to a union.  Today, it is less than one out of 10.  And, as organized labor tries to adjust, the political impact of this leadership fight could be enormous.  In the 2004 presidential campaign, unions were well organized as they ran hundreds of Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks and mailed more than 30 million pieces of literature. 

(on camera):  Now, with the congressional election campaigns a year away, Democratic political leaders are beginning to worry, because instead of a coordinated boost from organized labor, organized labor appears to be turning into a patchwork of competing interests. 

I'm David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Andrew Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union, one of the two unions that have left the AFL-CIO.  And Harold Schaitberger is president of the International Firefighters Union, which is staying in. 

Mr. Stern, if you were head of the AFL-CIO, would you be leaving it today?  It about leadership? 

STERN:  Oh, it's not really about leadership.  It is about what you once said, Chris, which is the story of Andy Fortuna (ph), a 21-year-old kid out of college, can't find a good job.  And you ask, if the purpose of business is to hire as few people as possible and pay them as little as possible, who speaks for me? 

And, today, we said there's a group of unions who speak for American workers, who want to get off the road where we know is going in the wrong direction and find a new road of hope and optimism and change. 

MATTHEWS:  Where is that road going you don't want to take? 

STERN:  Well, the road that we want to take is...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, the one you don't want to take. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Where's the one you're getting off of?

STERN:  The one we're getting off is a union movement getting smaller, people working more hours for less money, less pensions, less security, more debt, less time with their family.  That's the road we want to get off.  We want to build a new road for American workers.  And that means to grow stronger, not smaller. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Schaitberger, why is Mr. Stern wrong in leaving—leaving big labor? 

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF

FIREFIGHTERS:  Well, first of all, our goals are the same.

The road that Andy suggests he wants to get off is a road that none of us want to make.  We're all committed to trying to improve the lives of workers.  We're all committed to attempt and organize more workers.  We want to afford health care, good public education, to protect their pensions. 

The question here is the strategies and the approach.  We believe and I believe that you stay within the real house of labor, you work out your differences, you adopt new strategies, which we're in the process of doing this week, and find better and new ways to achieve our mutual goals. 

MATTHEWS:  Just to make this simple for the people out there, Mr.  Stern, you were with—you were a Deaniac in the last election.  You were with Howard Dean.

And, Mr. Schaitberger, you were with John Kerry. 

One was the establishment candidate.  One was the radical candidate. 

Does that define the difference in your approaches? 

You first, Mr. Stern.

STERN:  No. 

I think what it—it shows that the American labor movement, people make up their own mind.  Unions make up their own mind.  Members make up their own mind.  It is a voluntary federation.  And today, we chose to go in a different direction. 

We just tend to agree—disagree with the way it's going.  But we don't want to be disagreeable.  There's hope.  There's an opportunity.  We accomplish nothing now but to give ourselves a chance to change workers' lives, to reward their work. 

MATTHEWS:  But are you a Deaniac? 

STERN:  I loved Howard Dean.  I thought he would be a great president of the United States.  I then supported John Kerry with all of my heart.

And I think we both showed that we could have done a lot better than the current president of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Schaitberger, you were a very early and stalwart and steadfast supporter of John Kerry.  Are you back with him next time?  Are you with him if he runs away? 

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, I'm going to—listen, it is way too early.

Right now, my focus is on 2006 and trying to get a union-friendly and worker-friendly Congress elected.  We've got 34 governors up in 2006.  It is going to change the politics probably for a generation going forward.  So, we're very focused on making sure that we've got governor that provide collective bargaining and worker rights to worker, as opposed to new governors in Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri, whose one—one stroke of the pen removed collective bargaining rights from hundreds of thousands of worker. 

MATTHEWS:  In the last NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, Mr.  Schaitberger, President Bush suffered from his lowest job approval in handling the economy of his presidency, of both terms.  How come there was no noise about that from labor?  I heard nothing. 

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, I think that, actually, there—there is a lot of noise.  We're out on the streets and we're working with our members and talking to workers all the time. 

And, in fact, that's why one of the different strategical approaches between Andy and his group and those of us who are going to remain in the house of labor is that we have got to focus on getting our message clear, concise, understandable, and make sure we're connecting not only union members, but with workers that should be union members, so that they understand what is at stake and why we in fact have to make the political decisions and change a lot of our political leadership. 

MATTHEWS:  Would it be louder under you, Mr. Stern?  Will it be louder under your new movement, your splinter movement? 

STERN:  Well, I think here's the difference. 

We don't think you can do anything in Washington, D.C., and we don't think you can do anything just simply by talking to our members.  There's 92 percent of the private sector workers that don't have a voice and don't have a union.  And you could tell by those numbers they're upset.  They're angry.  They're watching jobs going out of this country that pay $22,000 more than the jobs that are staying.  They have less health care and less security. 

They want someone to stand up and fight with them, not in a big house of labor in Washington, D.C., but in their house, in their community, ever single day.  And that is what we're going to do.

MATTHEWS:  How come Ohio went Republican last time?  I'm serious about this, because you're talking about the tough problems facing labor and people that work for a living, men and women, working families.  And it's true.  It's in the numbers out there.  They're getting squeezed.  And yet, Ohio went Republican because they didn't want gay marriage, right, Mr.  Stern? 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHAITBERGER:  Chris?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Mr. Stern.

SCHAITBERGER:  Chris, I tell you, I was—you're going to Andy.  All right.  Go ahead. 

STERN:  No.  I would just say this. 

We lost Ohio for a couple of reasons.  One, the Democratic Party has

lost its voice.  It's lost its moral compass when it comes about talking

about economic issues.  People don't wake every day and say are they in a

re state or a blue state.  They wake up every day and think about taking

their kid to school, getting to work on time, paying their bills.  There isn't a party in this country speaking to those workers' issues. 

And Ohio did not have enough union members; 100,000 more union members, Ohio would be a state that voted for John Kerry.  We'd have a different president.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  And if cows had wings...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We'll be right back with Andrew Stern and Harold Schaitberger.

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We're back with Andrew Stern, president of the SEIU, and Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters. 

Mr. Schaitberger, for the next couple months, all you're going to hear is Democrats on Capitol Hill talking about abortion rights, because it is all about the Supreme Court.  Does that send the right message to your working families? 

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, Chris, and you mentioned just before the break, part of the problems the labor movement has had, as well as the Democratic Party, and that is that we've got to do a lot better job at our messaging. 

We've got to frame it in terms that give our members and workers like our members that should be in unions the comfort and the confidence that we believe in strong family values, that we believe in a strong national defense, that we understand how to secure our homeland, that these messages need not be in multi-paragraph academic terms...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

SCHAITBERGER:  ... which we tend to write and convey.  We find a way to better connect with members and workers and they will, in fact, follow, I believe, our political lead. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you belong in the same party as fanatically pro-choice women's groups, who insist that the Democrats say pro-choice every five words?  I mean, don't you have a real problem of static there, where all the Democrats talk about is choice, choice, choice, and you never hear them talking about jobs, jobs, jobs anymore?

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, and that's exactly my point.  And I am a pretty loud voice within the party leadership to say just that. 

And that is that they need to make sure that workers and that all Americans understand that the Democratic Party is a party that believes in values, that believes in strong national defense, that believes in those issues that are important to our workers.  We're always correct on the worker and economic issues.  What we don't do is frame them in a way that they can connect with.  And we don't give them a level of comfort and confidence in the other private and personal areas in their life that this is a party that embraces their values and views. 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Stern, same question to you.  Does the Democratic Party run the risk of talking so much about the social issues on the left side that they lose the middle-American working family on the economic issues? 

STERN:  Well, Chris, here's the truth.  Our members don't want us to be lapdogs for any political party.  They want us to be watchdogs for their interests.  And their issues are about good jobs.  They're about health care.  They're about being too much in debt.  They're about having a secure future.  It's about sending their kid to college. 

We need a party, any party to begin to speak to American workers.  And if the Democrats fail to do that, they're going to continue to lose elections. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you going to switch Republican if they fail? 

STERN:  No.  I'm going to switch and be for anybody who stands up for American workers.  I don't care what party they're in.  When you stand up for health care, when you stand up for good jobs, when you stand up for families, when you stand up for education...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

STERN:  ... you stand up for American workers. 

MATTHEWS:  God, you sound like a Teamster, like you're ready to switch to the Republicans every once in a while. 

Anyway, thank you very much, Mr. Stern.

SCHAITBERGER:  And, Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Schaitberger, as always—yes, sir? 

STERN:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much. 

When we return, much more on how the Democratic Party is going to be affected by big labor's big split-up, big divorce, with Pat Buchanan and “The Washington Post”'s John Harris. 

And tomorrow, a HARDBALL special report, a big one, “Boots on the Ground: Untold Stories From the Front Line.”  We'll talk to the U.S. Army's top field commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan about what is really going on over there in these wars.  That's “Boots on the Ground” tomorrow, right here on HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

More on the rift within the labor movement.  With two major unions jumping ship from the AFL-CIO, how does this affect the labor movement itself and the Democratic Party?

Pat Buchanan is a former presidential candidate and an MSNBC political analyst today.  And John Harris is a national correspondent for “The Washington Post” and author of the new book on Bill Clinton, “The Survivor” in the White House. 

Welcome.  Thank you. 

Let me ask you, John, has Bill Clinton dumped on your book lately to help sales or not? 

JOHN HARRIS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I need to somehow get him to do that to stir up a little publicity.  He's done it privately.  I've heard from some—some complaining behind the...  

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I'm sure he liked the part—just to sell your book, I'm sure he likes the part where you say everybody in the White House knew about his affair with Monica before the press did.  I liked that part, especially. 

Let me ask you, John, about this issue of the unions breaking up, powerful unions here, the SEIU, the service employees, and the Teamsters.  I mean, it is a big chunk out of the labor movement, for these two guys to be splitting.  Is this going to hurt the Democrats? 

HARRIS:  I mean, it potentially could, if this represents the weakening, the long-term weakening of labor, which is certainly one theory. 

On the other hand, the reason these groups have left is, they say, look, they're making a long-term investment to strengthen labor and it is the fact that labor has continually declined over recent decades that they're trying to reverse.  So, we don't know the answer to that.  But, in terms of the—the—the history of the union movement, this is a huge, huge development. 

MATTHEWS:  Is the movement still a movement, Pat? 

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think it is really disintegrating. 

You know, when I was at the guild in Saint Louis, 33 percent of the American labor force was in a union.  It is now down, I think, to something like 8 percent or something like that of private employees.  But this is very serious.  Andy Stern and Jimmy Hoffa are two of the most dynamic guys in the union.  And they're now antagonists and rivals of the AFL-CIO. 

A lot of money and time and energy is going to be spent on that fight, rather than fighting together for Democrats.  So, I think it is very bad news for the Democratic Party. 

MATTHEWS:  What's killing labor?  Is it just the job structures, Pat, or is it the fact that Democrats are too in bed with pro-gay, pro-abortion-rights people?  They're just..

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  One thing that's killing them, of course, is—one thing that's killing them is free trade, quite frankly, in terms of manufacturing workers.  The corporation guy says, look, I'm not going to move to Tennessee if you strike me.  I'm going to move to China.  And so, they're shutting down all these big—I mean, the autoworkers, steel workers, all these workers, they've really contracted dramatically.  That's one thing that is killing them. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, then it is going to die, because there is nothing you can do about that, is there?

BUCHANAN:  Well, there's nothing—in current policy, the manufacturing base of this country, in terms of worker, numbers of workers, we've lost three million under Bush alone, three million manufacturing workers.

But I'll tell you where you have got real growth.  And it's why labor is going after making illegal immigrants legal, is because it wants to organize these workers in kitchens.  They see this enormous base that is right now outside...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How do you organize people that may not even have green cards? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, that's why they want to give them green cards.  And they want all these—why labor has changed its position dramatically on illegal immigration and mass immigration.  It used to be, they threaten the jobs of American workers.  Now they're potential union workers. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is right, who is wrong here? 

BUCHANAN:  I think labor, in terms of its own interests, is right. 

MATTHEWS:  They're smart to unionize the newcomers? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, sure.  Where else are they going to get the workers from? 

MATTHEWS:  That's right, low-paying jobs, though, right? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Not big union dues coming out of the guys cutting the lawns at country clubs. 

BUCHANAN:  And the government unions are very, very powerful now, as you know. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  Because government is—what, it's got 18 million people working in government. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go—let me go to—let me go to John Harris here.

For the next couple months, we are not going to be talking about jobs and trade and wages and the life—the real life force of America.  We're going to talk about this abortion-rights issue.  Doesn't this put the Democrats once again out front supporting abortion rights almost exclusively as the party of abortion rights?  That's what they do. 

HARRIS:  Well, several prominent Democrats have said that the party needs to soften its stance on that. 

Howard Dean has said, look, we don't want to be seen as reflexively pro-choice, because it puts us out of the mainstream on these cultural issues.  I think it is worth pointing out that a lot of the women's groups and the pro-choice groups are the biggest funders and one of the most powerful organizing tools in the Democratic Party. 

They can still bring a million people to the Mall, as they did a year ago.  So, it is a real choice Democrats face.  They—to downplay this issue mean to turn away from one of the top priorities of its key groups. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Has Hillary Clinton said anything?  Because I have a sense

·         well, John, my hunch, before I get your answer, is, she's going to do some dancing on this topic, but, in the end, she is going to vote against Roberts because her—the money for her is on the left.  It's the pro-choice people. 

HARRIS:  Well, it's a very difficult situation for her, because her whole political strategy has been trying to make her seem as a less divisive, less polarizing, less partisan figure, a creature of the center.  Remember, she appeared several months ago with Newt Gingrich and did that joint press conference. 

On the other hand, as you correctly point out, the organizing interests of the Democratic Party desperately want a no vote on Roberts for this reason, on this issue. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, your hunch on Hillary.  Will she vote no just to keep her base happy? 

BUCHANAN:  I think that's probably right.  She is going to let Schumer take the lead in tearing Roberts up. 

MATTHEWS:  Noise.

BUCHANAN:  But I'll tell you this.  The Democrats face a second problem.  The president got this guy out of central casting.  If you're going to pick a justice to play a part in a movie, Roberts is perfect.  He looks likable.  He's affable, got a lovely family, a tremendous record. 

If they get on his case and are hectoring and hammering him, first, they will lose.  And, secondly, they will break their pick for the next choice, who is liable to be much more controversial. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

Let me ask you about this—this White House leak story.  You've got something in “The Post” tomorrow, tomorrow on this, John?  Is this developing, this story? 

HARRIS:  No.  We...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is Karl Rove and the president in more trouble than they were yesterday? 

HARRIS:  No, I don't think so.  I thought—and we were talking earlier about the story that was in today's paper about this 12-hour delay in notifying people of the investigation.  I'm not sure that's a hugely consequential story. 

MATTHEWS:  That's where they didn't notify—they gave the White House a heads-up, almost implicitly, right?

HARRIS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And so, they could get rid of the records, yes.

BUCHANAN:  Here's where a problem is coming. 

MATTHEWS:  That's the accusation.

BUCHANAN:  Rove and Libby clearly deceived McClellan or did not tell him the truth.  The question is, what did they say to the president and to the vice president, Libby talking to the vice president?  Did they say anything?  In which case, was the president in some knowledge when he said, if we find out anything about this, we're going to have to put...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, it's the Watergate question.  What did the president know and when did he know it? 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Exactly. 

But it's what each of these individuals not only said to each other, but now Fitzgerald gets them all before the grand jury.  And did they hedge?  And, as I told you earlier, a friend of mine went to jail for saying twice, I can't recall. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Did President Nixon ever go around the White House and say, what do guys know about Watergate?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  No. 

MATTHEWS:  I don't think he did either.

HARRIS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you this president has ever asked the guys...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  John, did this president ever go around the White House and ask, what do you guys know about the leak? 

HARRIS:  The rules of scandal management since Pat's era and since Watergate are well known enough that I think almost all political actors know that, once something becomes a legal controversy, there are certain questions you don't ask, even amongst yourself, and that you're very circumscribed for precisely this reason. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, we got to go.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Pat, we'll have more on this.

BUCHANAN:  Fred Buzhardt was the one guy who talked to Nixon about what he knew. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Patrick Buchanan, an expert on many things. 

And , John Harris, thank you from “The Washington Post.”

When we return, with an apparent global uptick in terrorism, is the Arab world doing enough to crack down on Islamic terrorists?  We'll have an exclusive interview with the head of the Arab League.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, what are the Arab leaders doing to help the worldwide fight against terrorism?  An exclusive interview with the head of the Arab League when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Now for an exclusive interview with Amre Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League. 

MSNBC's Rita Cosby sat down with him earlier today and asked him for his reaction to the recent attacks in London and Egypt. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMRE MOUSSA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE:  We're angry, sad.  We feel we're all in the same boat, regardless of whatever—where you are, in Europe, in Africa, in the Mideast, in America.  We're all in the same boat.

So, we cannot live with terrorism, waves of terrorism.  That has really sown havoc in many cities.  And the casualties are always innocent civilians. 

RITA COSBY, MSNBC:  What do you think of these terrorists?  Are they cowards, in your opinion? 

MOUSSA:  Well, you can say everything about them, criminals, ignorance.  Say whatever you want to say.  But this is not the important thing. 

The important thing is how, for all of us, to stop waves of terrorism.  We cannot defeat terrorism only through security measures.  We have to have a political understanding of the seriousness of the situation, the causes behind that, the effects, the organizations.  So, we must have a comprehensive approach. 

COSBY:  The U.S. State Department recently issued an alert essentially telling American not to travel to Egypt.  This is your country.  Is this the wrong move? 

MOUSSA:  Well, I hope that they will rescind this call very soon. 

Otherwise, we'll just be playing in the hands of—of—of terrorists. 

COSBY:  Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, said last year—it was a very powerful statement—that Arabs have a hatred never equaled towards America.  Do you believe that anti-Americanism is at an all-time high right now? 

MOUSSA:  I want to tell you something. 

It is not anti-Americans.  It is anti-certain American policies.  There is a huge, strong, solid opposition to the policies of the United States, especially when it comes to the Middle East and the bias in its policy between—towards Israel, at the expense of the other side.  But this is a policy that could change and that should change. 

COSBY:  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is reportedly proposing an Israeli-Arab summit, with the Israelis participating after the withdrawal from Gaza next month.  Should they be present?

MOUSSA:  Let the Israelis—let the Israelis stop building settlements, stop building the wall, and stop treating the Palestinians the way they are doing, before any meeting would take place. 

And I don't think anything like that, while settlements are being built.  So, just imagine a conference taking place and the settlements are being built in the occupied territories, which means exploitation of lands, which means destruction of the Palestinian houses and so on.

So, a conference, I don't think is—it could really succeed while the Israeli policy remains as it is. 

COSBY:  You are opposed to the war in Iraq.  Do you believe U.S.  troops should remain there now, just for stability? 

MOUSSA:  The question is, OK.  Now the conditions in Iraq are really -

·         it's a chaotic situation.  Too bad for all of us in the world.  And we are all embarrassed, not only the U.S., but the Arab world. 

And everybody is very sad because of the situation in Iraq.  The best thing for Iraq is to have a plan, a reconciliation among all members of the Iraqis fighting, not to exclude any of the groups, so, reconciliation, a time frame for the withdrawal of the forces.  A time frame—it's not a question of, you should withdraw today or tomorrow, but a time frame, an agreed time frame. 

That would send a message to the people in Iraq and around that it is not a question of, we are not coming to stay, but we are going to leave. 

COSBY:  How soon do you think U.S. troops should pull out? 

MOUSSA:  Well, I'm not going to set any time frame, but I am talking about a negotiated time frame, but immediately, now.  You have to start.  You have to start, because this is one of the reasons of the agitation in Iraq. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  That was MSNBC's Rita Cosby's exclusive interview with the Arab League secretary-general, Amre Moussa. 

When we return, we'll talk to Charles Peters, the author of a new book called “Five Days in Philadelphia,” about the 1940 Republican Convention.

And tomorrow, it's a HARDBALL special report, “Boots on the Ground:

Untold Stories From the Front Line.”  Some of America's top field commanders will tell us how the war in Iraq is really going.  That's tomorrow, right here on HARDBALL.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Charles Peters was a campaign manager for John F. Kennedy's 1960 West Virginia primary.  He helped launch the Peace Corps.  And he founded the “Washington Monthly” magazine, a launching pad for many prominent journalistic careers.  Mr. Peters is a recipient of the Columbia Journalism award.  His latest book is titled “Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing 'We Want Willkie!' Convention of 1940 and How It Freed FDR to Save the Western World.”

I love the book.  What was so great about the 1940 Republican Convention in Philadelphia? 

CHARLES PETERS, AUTHOR, “FIVE DAYS IN PHILADELPHIA”:  It was a convention that changed the—that the Republican Party went from being an isolationist, very conservative, isolationist party, to supporting a liberal internationalist candidate in response to an emergency situation in this world. 

The day before that convention opened, France had fallen.  Well, one of the great articles of isolationist faith in this country had been, well, the mighty French army and the British Navy, we don't have anything to worry about.  Well, the day before this convention, this one pillar of that faith collapsed.  So, you had a situation where you had a chance for someone like Willkie, because of the world situation.

And he—he took advantage of it.  He came from nowhere.  He had some marvelous people organizing volunteers behind him, so that, even in my hometown of Charleston, West Virginia, there were lots of Willkie volunteers.  They just appeared in a few months.  In April the 1st, he was nowhere in the polls.  Nowhere.  Zero. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you know what he had?  Do you know what I think he ad? 

And you're the expert.  And I just saw him in the news reels.  Pizzazz. 

PETERS:  Yes.  He did.  He had—he had—he was an exciting personality. 

When he walked into a room, he was one of those guys that everybody turned to.  And yet, he was a down-to-earth—he was a down-to-earth human being, very—he was from Indiana, grew up with a lot of farm people.  He was like my father and mother.  And he knew the people back home. 

MATTHEWS:  How did a guy who had been a Democrat right up until 1939 win the Republican nomination in 1940 for president of the United States? 

PETERS:  I think because he was against Hitler.  None of the—and had been firmly against Hitler and had seen the danger of Hitler, where none of the other Republican candidates had.  The candidate who came closest to beating him at the convention, Robert Taft, was splendid man, but he was just dead wrong on Hitler. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

PETERS:  He didn't understand.

MATTHEWS:  He also—Taft also didn't believe we should have had war crimes trials afterwards. 

PETERS:  Right.  That is so he would—he stayed dead wrong for quite a while. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.  That was in—that was in “Profiles in Courage.”

PETERS:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about the little trickery, trickery that went on backstage, the sort of Karl Rove stuff here that went on, where the Willkie campaign grabbed all the tickets to the balcony. 

(CROSSTALK)

PETERS:  The thing that happened, chance has a lot to do with this life.  And you have to say that.

In the—in the month before the convention, the chairman of the arrangements committee at the convention was a Taft man.  And he controlled the tickets.  Well, he dropped dead a month before the convention.  That left the vice chairman, who was a Willkie man, in control of the tickets.  So, two things came together in Philadelphia.  All those volunteers from all the over the country descended on Philadelphia to help Willkie.  And Willkie man had control.  He could let him in the door.  So, they...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And, so, the “We Want Willkie” sound was coming from a packed gallery. 

PETERS:  They packed the gallery with—because they—they controlled the tickets and they had the people to come in and take those tickets and cheer and chant, “We want Willkie.”

MATTHEWS:  You know, the Democrats tried that back in '60.  Remember how the Stevenson crowd in the L.A. convention tried to do the same thing and blow Kennedy out?

PETERS:  I'll never—I'll never forget that.  I was there. 

And if Stevenson hadn't made the lamest speech I ever heard in my life, he would have had a chance to do something.  I saw O'Donnell and Larry O'Brien out in the hall.  They looked worried during that demonstration. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think we'd be better off?  I only have a minute, Charlie.  And this is a big question for a lot of us who love politics and love the country, obviously. 

Do you think we would be better off with wide-open political conventions, where there are no more primaries?  You go in there.  You can get people to like you in the primaries, but the decision is made at the convention at the end of the whole season. 

PETERS:  I think it would be much better.  And this book shows why, because we had a chance—they had a chance to nominate the best man. 

If we had had the primary system, the convention would have been decided before, when Willkie was zero in the polls, back on April the 1st.  They are decided now by then.  That is crazy, because the world situation can change.  You can find out things about candidates emerge during a—that's why you want this period of time for the campaign to come on, so you have the maximum chance to get to know the candidate.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

Prediction time, Charles, Charles Peters.  I know you're a journalist, a pure one.  You don't make predictions.  But this is it.  Just like this guy, Willkie, John McCain has tremendous support among the media.  He has some establishment support in the Republican Party.  The right wing doesn't like him much.  Can he do the same thing at the next Republican Party Convention?  Can he storm the place with a—and get a “We Want McCain” thing going? 

PETERS:  It depends to me on whether—whether he takes enough stands on issues that can reach across party lines and really unite the country. 

There was something wonderful—and, also, it depends a lot on the people in—this time, the people were willing to take responsibility.  They were willing to vote for a draft, to draft themselves to serve.  If we were going to go to war, they were going to draft themselves to fight that war. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

PETERS:  They were going to tax themselves. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

PETERS:  Higher and whoever taxes.  Can you imagine the country felt that way?  Willkie even recommended...

MATTHEWS:  He came out for the draft.

PETERS:  He—and he—he not only supported the draft, but he came out for higher taxes. 

MATTHEWS:  Charles Peters.  The name of the book—and I've already read it—“Five Days in Philadelphia,” a great book.

When a parent dies, as my father did early yesterday, you find yourself wandering backwards in time over all the years you've known them.  My father, a lifelong golfer, for example, played it as it laid, as they say.  Like others of the World War II generation, he was the opposite of a whiner.  I never knew anyone who worked harder all those years he was raising my four brothers and I or had a better time in his retirement. 

Dad liked parties.  He loved weddings, because it was obvious he loved marriage.  Nothing made him happier than to see a young couple get together for life.  I remember how happy he was when he and mom—when he and mom saw Kathleen and I get married a quarter-century ago.  They were walking on air.  Well, this weekend, once again, we were all there, this huge extended family of ours, for our nephew Brian's (ph) wedding to the beautiful Julie (ph) . 

It was at the Aldrich Mansion up in Rhode Island, where they made the movie “Meet Joe Black.”  Well, just like in the movie, the bride and groom were the toast of the party.  My dad and his beloved Trudy (ph) were in heaven.  And the families on both sides could not have been more joyous.  Dad died Sunday morning without warning, but also without terror, as if God had taken him in the glow of what he had just a few hours before called the happiest day of his life.

(ON SCREEN: HERB MATTHEWS 1920-2005)

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

END   

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