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Clinton faces GOP contender in senate race

As the New York senate race heats up, the Republicans have a new opponent for Senator Hillary Clinton. Chris Matthews has a Hardball Exclusive with Republican candidate and former Reagan administration Asst. Defense Secretary K.T. McFarland.
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New York Republicans have a new challenger for Senator Hillary Clinton.  Her name is K.T. McFarland, she served as Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, as an adviser to Henry Kissinger in the Nixon and Ford administrations. 

Twenty years ago she left Washington for New York to get married and raise a family.  Now she's running for the Senate as a bona fide security mom. 

McFarland joined Chris Matthews on 'Hardball’ for her first national television interview on Monday to talk about her run for Senate.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, 'HARDBALL’:  K.T., you still have a primary ahead of you.  Would you have voted to convict president Clinton when he was impeached? 




MATTHEWS:  You would have voted as a Republican, you would have broken the party ranks and voted to acquit him? 

MCFARLAND:  Chris, the reason I'm in this race is because I think that we've gotten to the point where we're just fighting with each other all the time.  The extreme partisanship in American politics is driving voters away, it's driving us away from finding any common ground on which to stand to solve issues. 

MATTHEWS:  So basically, just to finish that up, K.T., just so I know how tough a Republican you are, you believe that the husband of the woman you would probably run against if you were to win the nomination was innocent of the charges?  He was innocent. 

MCFARLAND:  No, I didn't say that.  I didn't say that.  I said that I would not vote for impeachment.  I think that one of the problems that we have is this gotcha politics where people are constantly looking to divide, looking to conquer, looking to impeach. 

People are even talking now about impeaching President Bush.  It's crazy.  We've gotten this adversarial political system where all we do is look and try to find what's wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  To use a phrase I heard from Hillary Clinton, you're not part of the vast right wing conspiracy? 

MCFARLAND:  I'm not part of any conspiracy. 

MATTHEWS:  So what do you want to do?  Hillary Clinton is one of the most bankrolled politicians in history, people talk about her raising Zillions of dollars already to run for president.  How do you think you can beat her? 

MCFARLAND:  Chris, I read your book.  One of the things I've done for the last 20 years is think about government, think about politics.  And I must tell you that your chapter on the underdog was one of the things that I read and one of the things that pushed me over to make this decision to run. 

America is full of underdog stories.  President Clinton, when he first set out to run, he was running against the president who had enormous popularity, and he was—it was right in the wake of the first Iraq war.  President Bush was so popular at that point, that no major Democratic officials would step forward to challenge him.  They thought it was a lost cause.  As a result, Bill Clinton stepped forward, he won the nomination, he won the presidency, he was reelected.  You know, I worked for Ronald Reagan.  They didn't give Ronald Reagan's a snowball's chance when he first set out.

MATTHEWS:  He ran three times before he won.  He was a courageous guy.  You may have to run a few times too to get elected.  Let me ask you about a tough one.  Hillary Clinton supported the authorization to go to war in 2002, would you have done that? 

MCFARLAND:  Look, I wasn't there at the time, I didn't see the intelligence reports.  I certainly look at something like any commitment of force overseas and I try to judge it by something that I was involved with in the Reagan administration. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this, because you're an expert on Ronald Reagan.  Do you think Ronald Reagan would have invaded Iraq?  I don't think so.  That's my opinion. 

As an observer of watching him for a long time.  Do you think Ronald Reagan would have invaded Iraq?  Do you think Bill Clinton would have invaded Iraq?  Do you think Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy would have invaded Iraq?  You're an expert on foreign policy.  I'm just asking you to use your expertise.  Would any other president besides this one and Dick Cheney have taken that step?  That's all I'm asking? 

MCFARLAND:  I don't know.  My point is—let historians debate whether we were right or wrong.  Let go forward. 

MATTHEWS:  You worked for Henry Kissinger, it's on your resume.  Did Henry Kissinger, in the back room, not what he says in the op-ed pages of the major newspapers, did Henry Kissinger thought that this was a smart move, Henry, Henry the K, he's watching now, I'll bet you because he watches.  Did he think this was a smart move to go in there where there might be a civil war? 

MCFARLAND:  I don't know.  I didn't ask him.  I'll let Henry Kissinger speak for himself.  I worked for him for seven years and I can tell you one thing, Henry Kissinger can speak for himself. 

MATTHEWS:  You're a delightful candidate, you'll probably do well in this uphill battle as the underdog.  I have to ask you this question.  You must answer this one.  You can't foul this one off.

We have a situation if Iran right now where the Iranian government for reasons of national pride or zealotry or Islamic whatever, wants to have some kind of nuclear capability, for whatever purpose.  We could only read their minds, they probably want it for a bad purpose.  The president won't even let them develop for peaceful reasons working with the Russians to keep them honest.  He doesn't trust that deal. 

Do you think we should take any military action to stop that? 

MCFARLAND:  Well, you clearly don't want to put anything off of the table right now.  Iran to me and the potential nuclearization of Iran is probably the single biggest national security problem we face going forward, because if Iran develops nuclear weapons, I think it's highly likely that Saudi Arabia will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons and before you know it, we could have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which threatens Israel, which the Middle East, which threatens us and the world, so that's something that we need to address very carefully, very soberly, and with a full range of options before us. 

Now, I don't think that we've even begun to exhaust the diplomatic avenues that we could take.  This is the Iranian nuclear situation, it's something the United Nations is currently considering.  I think that if—whatever we do in the Middle East, with regard to Iran and nuclear weapons, we need to do it in concert with allies and with other powers who have influence over Iran.  But I would agree with you, that it is probably going forward, the single most difficult to solve problem that the United States will face. 

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to beat former mayor John Spencer to get the nomination to run against Hillary? 

MCFARLAND:  I'm going to do it the good old fashioned way by going to meet the voters.  There are 62 counties in New York State, each one has a Republican Party chairman, I've talked to almost all of them.  I've gone to see a number of them.  At this point I have been extremely enthusiastically received by all of the ones I have met, and all the ones I've spoken to.  So I'm going to do it the old fashioned way, go to the voters, convince them I'm the best candidate for the job, and then win. 

MATTHEWS:  You are not angry are you? 

MCFARLAND:  No, I'm not angry. 

MATTHEWS:  What did you make the Hillary's comment today that people who call women candidates angry are being chauvinist or sexist.  

MCFARLAND:  As a woman, I think that the whole issue of anger, who's angry who's not angry, that's just nonsense.  Let's move a little bit beyond that, don't you think? 

MATTHEWS:  Are you brittle? 

MCFARLAND:  I think you ought to ask my five children. 

MATTHEWS:  These are all the charges your party is making at Hillary and I think they might be along that line.  You don't think so.  You think it's fine to call somebody brittle and angry? 

MCFARLAND:  Ask my five children.  I don't think they think I'm brittle, maybe tough, but not brittle. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you know Hillary personally? 

MCFARLAND:  I've been racking my brain to think if we've ever met.  I worked for Henry Kissinger during the Watergate, I worked in the White House situation room, and I know that she was on the Watergate Committee and one of the lawyers working on it and I know there was a period of time when we turned our files over to some of those investigators, so I don't know.  Could I have met her?  Sure.  I don't know if she was actually in the White House during those days.  If she actually did come into the White House to read the files, chances are I did meet her.

Watch each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC.