Guests: Arianna Huffington, Joe Klein, Ana Marie Cox, Pat Buchanan, Terry Holt, Joan Walsh, Harry Shearer
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Welcome to this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We are now hours away from the start of an election that will shape the future of Congress, the Bush presidency and the Iraq war. Both the House and the Senate are at stake. And despite tightening in several races, Republican leaders are bracing for a political bloodbath. Tonight, most political pros are projecting a Republican loss of at least 20, possibly up to 35 seats. And in the U.S. Senate, GOP Party bosses can only hope to keep their losses under six, the six the Democrats need to control both chambers.
But Republicans‘ hopes appear to be fading fast. Today‘s “USA Today”/Gallup poll had Democrats leading Republicans by 7 points in overall polling. Put that in perspective, before the 1994 landslide, Republicans had a similar edge on the eve before the election, but the GOP‘s edge was 4 percentage points. The GOP is now on the run in red and blue states alike, with Democratic candidates expecting to make big gains in Bush country states like Montana, Missouri, Ohio and Indiana. Republican incumbents are also imperiled in blue states like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
So how will George Bush‘s war, Saddam Hussein‘s death sentence and John Kerry‘s joke heard around the world play over the next 24 hours? We‘re going to hear from our all-star panel—“Time” magazine columnist Joe Klein, Arianna Huffington—she‘s editor of the Huffingtonpost.com and author of “On Becoming Fearless,” and here with me at our election headquarters, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
But first, some perspective on whether 2006 will be a wave election on par with the landslides of 1994, 1980 and 1974. I asked that question of NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.
TOM BROKAW, NBC: It does have the feeling that it could be a wave here. Reminds me a lot of 1974, which was after Richard Nixon had resigned. We don‘t have anything that drastic, obviously, in the administration. But as I go around the country, I find a lot of Republicans, including conservative Republicans, Joe, who are just not happy with the direction of the country. And I guess what they don‘t like most of all is it‘s kind of “My way or the highway” emanating from Washington, D.C., and they want to be more pragmatic.
Now, having said that, I always liken these kind of discussions to all that sportswriter talk before the Super Bowl. Tomorrow morning, they kick off around the country, and the voters will make the decision. And there will be some changes in the game plan. There will be some unexpected developments along the way. So I‘m always a little reluctant, even with the polls showing as much Democratic strength as they do, to get too far ahead of what the actual voters plan to do.
SCARBOROUGH: From what you‘ve seen, from who you‘ve talked to, you think independents are going to be breaking Democratic in 2006 because of the chaos in Iraq?
BROKAW: I think Iraq is an umbrella for accountability and credibility. I think the country is wanting more accountability from Washington across the board, but especially from the administration, and more credibility. Here we are, this deep into the Iraq war, no weapons of mass destruction. We‘re not in the “last throes” of the insurgency, plainly. There are these little episodic developments, like Saddam Hussein getting sentenced. But then you have all of Baghdad going up one day or another, a record number of Americans killed in October, and the president saying late last week Rumsfeld has a no-cut contract. He gets to stay until the end of his term, and he‘s going to stay with this plan for Iraq, the president said, even if it‘s only Barney and Laura who are talking to him at the end.
I think that raises a lot of questions in the minds of a lot of the people. This is a big play on the part of the White House, and it‘s going to be interesting to see how it turns out.
SCARBOROUGH: And the vice president, of course, yesterday coming out basically saying, We‘re going to stay the course, also, we‘re on the right path, despite the fact—and I was stunned, reading Bob Woodward‘s book, finding out that generals and other high-ranking administration officials back in late 2003, they‘re saying, There‘s an insurgency, and we‘re on the wrong course.
Do you think that this reporting that‘s come out, not only from Woodward but also from Ricks with “The Washington Post,” could have an impact on, as you said, even conservatives turning against the president?
BROKAW: Yes, I think it‘s—I think it has raised a lot of questions in the minds of people across the country. In large businesses and small, and in schools, on teams and coaches, when they fail to live up to what they say they can promise, they lose their job. And the American people I think always kind of take the measure of things pretty carefully, and what I‘m finding is just a lot of folks are saying, Hey, wait a minute, why can‘t they admit they‘re wrong? I think that, as much as anything, Joe, is causing a lot of trouble on the Republican side of the ledger this time.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much, Tom Brokaw.
BROKAW: My pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: Greatly appreciate it.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, here with me in the studio. Pat, on Sunday, a lot of Republicans were thinking the Saddam Hussein verdict would help them out, the John Kerry gaffe would help them out. But right now, if you look at all the polls that are coming in, it looks fairly bleak for the GOP, doesn‘t it.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It doesn‘t look bleak, it looks grim. I mean, clearly, we‘ve got those four Senate seats—you‘re going to—Republicans have to hold one of them to hold onto the Senate, just one. And right now, it looks like our best bet for holding a conservative Senate is John Chafee in Rhode Island, the son of John Chafee.
So it looks very, very grim all over, and Joe, I wouldn‘t be surprised if 30 seats in the House—the way it‘s looking—and one of the problems the GOP‘s going to have is there‘s a lot of early voting. There‘s a lot of absentee balloting, and that was done when the Democratic margin was even greater than it is right now. And you‘re seeing some of the late polls showing a trend to the Democratic Party. So I think the GOP folks really ought to brace themselves tomorrow night.
SCARBOROUGH: It could be ugly. Joe Klein, of course, one of those races where 40 percent of the electorate has already cast votes is in Tennessee. And some of those polls are getting tight down there for Harold Ford, who was considered a loser a week or so ago. Things are looking especially bleak for the GOP tonight, aren‘t they.
JOE KLEIN, “TIME” MAGAZINE”: Well, yes. You know, hey, Joe, I‘ve reached the point in the election—it always happens to me the night before the voting starts—where I am just sick of the damn polls. You know, I looked at all the polls today because I am addicted to this nonsense, and I didn‘t see one single new trend or fact or anything. You know, I think that the Democrats are going to take the House. I think it‘s going to be hard for them to take the Senate.
But the most important thing that‘s happening outside of this, this week, is Iraq. I mean, you know, what Tom Brokaw was saying was very important, and I can add to that. I‘ve been speaking to some intelligence sources, and you know, the situation in Iraq is really dire. Our military is saying that we‘ve lost Anbar province to the Sunnis, that we‘re losing in Baghdad, that Muqtada Sadr, the radical cleric, is taking over Shi‘ite provinces in the south and that the government itself in Baghdad, Maliki‘s government, is near disaster at this point.
And I do think that as much as Cheney and Bush are saying “Stay the course” or whatever their replacement for “Stay the Course” is these days, they are going to be changes, and there are going to be changes very soon.
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna Huffington, what are those changes going to look like? How mobilized is the left?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Well, I don‘t think it‘s about right and left. I mean, after all, the “American Conservative” magazine had a headline yesterday, “GOP Must Go.” This is really not about right and left. I think it‘s exactly about what Joe Klein said it is. It is about Iraq. And if the Democrats win, even if they don‘t win as big as they should win, it will be because of Iraq. It will be because of the events, the facts that no amount of spinning and denying could remove from the conscience of the American public.
And what‘s happening is that if, in fact, the Democrats had nationalized the election around Iraq and national security, it would be a tsunami tomorrow, which it may not be, even if they win the House, because in the end, their message was really much muddier than it should have been. It was a little bit all over the map. Democrat leaders do not have a coherent policy on Iraq. They just at least know that they cannot simply stay the course.
SCARBOROUGH: And of course, Pat Buchanan, therein lies the problem if Democrats do take over. Let‘s not get too far ahead of ourselves, but look at the one candidate that has really stepped out and said—a major national candidate—This is where I stand on Iraq. Who is it? Ned Lamont was a hero in Connecticut a few weeks back, but now it looks like Joe Lieberman, the pro-war hawk, is going to win that race.
BUCHANAN: Joe Lieberman‘s going to win that race, but the Democrats are going to win the House, Joe. The Democrats are led by the left wing of the party in the House. And when they start to go to work on Iraq, what‘s going to happen to the Democrats is they‘re going to get partial accountability for the final results in Iraq, which I don‘t think are going to be good.
You remember the Democratic Party won in 1974, cut off funding for Vietnam. Vietnam went down. Democratic Party paid for that for decades. So the Pelosi party that takes over the House, if they start going for defunding Iraq and all the rest of it and they are perceived as undercutting the war effort, they could be held accountable and responsible by Republicans and conservatives down through the years for losing Iraq.
I think from their own standpoint, although people might think it‘s ridiculous, I think they‘d be better off if the Republicans had both houses going into 2008.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, it‘s not ridiculous at all. There‘s no doubt about it that Hillary Clinton would rather run against a Republican Congress...
BUCHANAN: (INAUDIBLE) throw them all out.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and John McCain would rather run against a Democratic Congress. And it looks, Joe Klein, like John McCain‘s going to get his wish because if things break the way that they‘re looking like they‘re going to break, Nancy Pelosi is going to be the next Speaker of the House. But what are you going to be looking at tomorrow? I know that you‘re going to be blogging throughout the day and evening with “Time” magazine.
SCARBOROUGH: What are you going to be looking at as you try to figure out the real bellwether states or the real bellwether districts? When will we know if a Democratic landslide is coming?
KLEIN: We‘re going too know pretty early, actually, Joe. I think that all you have to do is look at the—you know, the suburbs of Philadelphia. You‘ve got three races there, and if the Democrats take two out of those three or even three out of those three—and also, you have the three moderate Republicans in Connecticut, and if Democrats start piling up victories there, it‘s going to—you know, you may well be seeing a major sweep.
I suspect that, you know, they may take one or two seats in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, but even if they do that, you‘re going to see maybe a 20-seat swing.
And on the Pelosi point—this is really important. She can‘t get too far out ahead of her new members. I‘ve been traveling around the country a lot, and I‘ll tell you, one of the most interesting things about this election is that the quality of the Democratic candidates is higher than I‘ve seen among Democrats in quite a while. They are not only high quality as politicians, they are also moderates. Some of them are conservatives. And I don‘t know how much patience they‘re going to have for the Pelosi, Conyers, you know, Alcee Hastings wing of the party.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it. And obviously, you have Charlie Rangel, who told “The Hill” magazine that he would vote to defund the forces right away. That‘s certainly not going to happen.
Arianna, I want to ask you the same question I asked Joe Klein. What races are you going to be looking at tomorrow evening, early evening, to try to figure out whether a Democrat landslide is coming?
HUFFINGTON: Well, first of all, Joe, as well as looking at different races, we need to be looking at who is going to win the fight to determine the narrative of the ‘06 race. What do the results mean? Already, you‘ve seen here you having a certain narrative about the Lamont-Lieberman race which is completely different from mine. I think if Lamont loses tomorrow, a expected, it will be because he ran a campaign that took him away from Iraq the minute he won the primary. He listened to a lot of siren (ph) voices about triangulating, about covering the waterfront...
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, he basically went...
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna, he basically went Washington before he got to Washington, huh?
HUFFINGTON: Exactly. He sounded senatorial before he won the Senate seat. And in fact, I wrote a concession speech for him over two weeks ago. That‘s how that race was lost, not because he was strong on Iraq.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. So we...
BUCHANAN: So I‘m...
SCARBOROUGH: So we have your narrative on Ned Lamont. Tell me—tell me one—pick one race before we have to go. What are you looking at?
HUFFINGTON: Well, beyond that—beyond that, obviously, it looks at the moment as though Tennessee is going to stay Republican. So in terms of the Senate, I‘m going to be looking at what‘s going to happen in Montana, which is going to be key because if Talent goes, at least there will be a little bit of a chance for the Democrats to win the Senate, although I‘m not holding my breath on that.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s going to be a tough race. I‘ll tell you what, we may have to stay up a little bit for it. But that‘s certainly where the Republicans are camped out tonight, including Ken Mehlman, their hopes resting on Conrad Burns. How would you like your party‘s chances...
SCARBOROUGH: ... resting on a guy like Conrad Burns! That‘s how low it‘s gotten!
SCARBOROUGH: Arianna Huffington, Joe Klein and Pat Buchanan, thanks so much. Stay with us.
And coming up next—I have nothing against Conrad Burns, just a little quirky. They said that of me, too.
Coming up: President Bush stood up in my hometown earlier today by a guy named Charlie Crist. I‘ll give you an inside story on why the GOP gubernatorial candidate didn‘t want to be seen on the same stage with the president and why George Bush didn‘t want to be seen on the same stage with Katherine Harris.
And one of the most bitter races in America, it‘s Allen versus Webb, and it‘s the race that could decide who controls the Senate. And later:
Forget those last-minute ads in the Volunteer State, 40 percent of Tennessee voters have already cast their votes. Is that good news for maverick candidate Harold Ford? We‘ll tell you in a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democrats‘ philosophy is this. If it breathes, tax it. And if it stops breathing, find its—find our children and tax them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s President Bush rallying the Republican base in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, earlier today. The White House had initially said the rally was to help Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, but Crist didn‘t attend, saying he just couldn‘t fit the campaign stop into his schedule. Karl Rove and the White House was not amused.
NBC‘s Mark Potter is in Florida tonight. And Mark, Karl Rove had a few choice words for the no-show candidate. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Let‘s see how many people show up in Palm Beach on 24 hours notice versus 8,000 or 9,000 people in Pensacola.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, it was 8,000 9,000 in Pensacola, Mark Potter, and from the reports I got, it was a very enthused crowd, but Charlie Crist said he didn‘t have time to be there. Was anybody buying that explanation?
MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, not a lot of people. The White House actually thought that Charlie Crist would introduce the president to that large crowd in Pensacola. In fact, they even printed up brochures that said so. But Crist announced that he would rather spend the day campaigning around the state.
Now, Joe, a couple of hours ago, I spoke to a couple of Crist staffers as they were heading to a rally in Miami, including his chief of staff, who said that Crist had reasoned that he was already doing well in the Pensacola area and the conservative Panhandle and that he just needed to spend a lot more time visiting other cities on the eve of the election. So he went from St. Petersburg to Orlando, Jacksonville, down to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, back up Tampa tonight.
When I asked the chief of staff, George Lemieux (ph), whether Crist was actually trying to dodge the president, he wouldn‘t answer that question yes or no. He just said that Crist needed to go to a few other cities, and he was glad that the president came to Florida—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much. NBC‘s Mark Potter. Greatly appreciate it. It‘s a fascinating story. To help sort it out, we‘re joined now by “The Miami Herald‘s” Tom Fiedler. He‘s also the author of “The Almanac of Florida Politics.” Tom, things got kind of interesting in my hometown up in the “Redneck Riviera,” Pensacola, Florida. Are you—
I‘ve been hearing for some time from Republicans out of Tallahassee that Charlie Crist was not a happy mane from the moment that this presidential visit was announced.
TOM FIEDLER, “MIAMI HERALD”: Right. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: What was he nervous about?
FIEDLER: Well, it—the one thing that Charlie Crist has been trying to avoid throughout the gubernatorial campaign is putting himself into a situation where the governor‘s race became nationalized, that national issues crept in. And no issue, of course, would be more damaging than Iraq, and so he was desperately trying to stay away from that.
You know, the last time we spoke, Joe, you asked about whether, even though the race may have been tightening, could Charlie Crist pull this out? And I said he could if he went into the equivalent of freezing the ball, to go to the four corners and try to keep away. And I think that‘s exactly what we saw today, is that Charlie Crist went to the four corners of Florida to leave all of the—to pull the attention away from President Bush being in Pensacola.
SCARBOROUGH: And make no mistake of it—you‘re looking at pictures of the president in Pensacola—the president was treated as a rock star in 2004 when he came to my hometown.
SCARBOROUGH: He was treated like a rock star again today. He‘s extraordinarily popular. That helps drive up the vote. But Charlie Crist assumes that he doesn‘t need that vote driven up for him in northwest Florida, I guess. Does it offend voters in south Florida or the I-4 corridor if there‘s a picture of Crist standing next to George Bush?
FIEDLER: No, I think what it does is it offends Democrats and it may offend a lot of independents. I think the polls here in Florida are in step with the polls nationally, which show that a majority of Floridians believe that the United States is on the wrong track.
It‘s hard for Charlie Crist, whose campaign mantra has largely been to stay the course, to stand next to President Bush and his whole “stay the course” statements about Iraq and not have some that rub off. I think that‘s why Charlie Crist wanted to stay away, not so much because of the Republican base, but it was the independents. And he didn‘t want to fire up Democrats here.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Tom Fiedler. It‘s going to be fascinating.
FIEDLER: (INAUDIBLE) Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Really appreciate you being with us again.
And one more thing very quickly. It‘s interesting. Katherine Harris pushed her way onto the stage in Pensacola, Florida, but was told by the White House specifically that she would not be up on stage, standing with the president. Reports from my sources there say Harris had told the White House angrily that she demanded to be on stage, and they told her if she didn‘t like it, she didn‘t have to come.
Coming up next: You need the cure for the political blues? Well, we‘ve got a special pill for all that ails you next in an all-politics edition of “Must See S.C..” And later, we‘re going to head live to Tennessee for a look at one of the most closely-watched races in the country. It‘s of course between Bob Corker and Harold Ford, Jr., where 40 percent of the voters have already weighed in.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, it‘s time for a special political edition of “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see. First up, if you‘re like most Americans, this election season has really taken a lot out of you and you‘re probably in need of a boost. And Bill Maher has just the medicine for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you angry about John Kerry slamming our troops, livid over Barbara Streisand‘s potty mouth, seeing red over activist Michael J. Fox? Sounds like someone needs the Fame-Fame (ph), the pill for fake outrage. Fame-Fame works on your central bull-(DELETED) system to make you enraged about even the most inane, trumped-up issues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Fame-Fame!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the talking point is right, will you be ready? Fame-Fame—if your dander stays up for more than 36 hours, see your doctor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And finally, Pennsylvania congressman Don Sherwood had one of the most memorable ads of this campaign season, explaining that while he may have had a mistress, he never beat her. Well, Jon Stewart doesn‘t have a problem with that ad, it‘s the one his opponent is running against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This incident with Don Sherwood just cuts right at the core values of our district. I have spoken to my daughter about that incident, and she is disgusted by it.
JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”: Did you really need the picture there, fella? Yes. Yes. Don Sherwood makes my daughter sad, like this clown. I mean, honestly, the whole thing makes me to scream. I was so upset, I had to cancel my weekly dog poker game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And after the break, our all-star panel takes a look at the hottest races across the U.S., including one of the most closest and contentious in the country, the Virginia Senate race. And we are going to get you up to date with the very latest polls. And later, “The Simpsons” get political. Their episode on the Iraq war hits airwaves right before the election. We‘re going to talk to one of “The Simpsons” stars, Harry Shearer, about the controversy surrounding that show.
SCARBOROUGH: Four states are going to be keeping Americans up late tomorrow night, as Senate races in Virginia, Montana, Missouri and Rhode Island are in a dead heat. And with just hours to go before polls open, it‘s anybody‘s guess as to who‘s going to take those crucial Senate seats.
Here to help sort it out, Ana Marie Cox. She‘s the Washington editor for Time.com, and she‘s going to be liveblogging all day tomorrow on Time.com. And also, Terry Holt. He‘s a Republican strategist and former spokesman for President Bush‘s re-election campaign. We have Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com. And still with us, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst.
Ana Marie Cox, let‘s start with you. Talk about the Virginia race. It‘s certainly one of the tightest, most interesting, and nastiest Senate races in America.
ANA MARIE COX, TIME.COM: And one of the most hilarious, really.
SCARBOROUGH: It is.
COX: I think that George Allen—late-night comedians the world over owe George Allen a debt of gratitude, and that‘s one of the few reasons I‘d like to see him get re-elected. But, you know, I talked to some top Republican strategists all the time about this, and they say George Allen doesn‘t even deserve to win. He has run one of the worst campaigns I have ever seen. It‘s really kind of pitiful. He put his foot in his mouth and just kept sucking.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, but look at these polls, and this questions just how strong Jim Webb is. These are the latest polls from Virginia. Democrat Jim Webb is ahead of George Allen in two polls, but Allen beats Webb in another poll, and the candidates are tied in yet another poll.
COX: Well, that‘s true. But the thing is here is that Allen is a bad candidate. He‘s run a terrible campaign. Webb is just no one. He‘s just kind of boring. He‘s kind of a pumpkinhead. Also, he‘s a Republican, basically.
SCARBOROUGH: He is a Republican.
COX: And so the assessment that this is about—this is really a referendum on George Allen. The fact that he was a incumbent—he came in so high. Remember, we were talking about him running for president in ‘08.
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t think that is going to happen, courtesy of YouTube.
COX: It‘s not going to happen now. Right, exactly. And I think another thing we have to remember is that this state is a very different state than it was even like six years ago. This is no longer a redneck state, although Jim Webb proudly calls himself a redneck. And this is a state that‘s become much more blue, has a large population of immigrants, and I just don‘t think someone like George Allen can win a state like that in 2006.
SCARBOROUGH: Joan Walsh, Virginia‘s going to be a state that‘s going to be keeping us up late, but another state that has been close from the very beginning is Missouri and also Montana.
Now, let‘s talk about Montana first, though, because I find it interesting that the Republican Party may be, in fact, depending on Conrad Burns to keep them in the majority. One Democrat has Jon Tester ahead by 9 points; another poll has Tester ahead of Burns by two; and yet another poll has both of these people tied. I think Montana is going to be where you‘re going to see the Republican grassroots operation really kick in. What do you think we‘re going to be seeing tomorrow night in Montana?
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Well, I talked to some friends in Montana today, and they think that Tester‘s still going to pull it out. There‘s always the question about turnout and mobilization on the Indian reservations, and there‘s always a question about GOP turnout. The operation is definitely superior.
But, you know, Conrad Burns, I think, came back. He‘s actually one place—this is one place where the president‘s visit did help. And he got a little bump from that. But the bump seems to have subsided.
He also got a bump from going negative against Tester on taxes, but coming out of the weekend, Tester‘s spending money on advertising. The ads are so much better. And, you know, Conrad Burns, he smells like Abramoff. So I think that‘s a place where Democrats really have a good chance.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat‘s laughing here, because we‘re both politicos who know a good bumper sticker when we hear one.
WALSH: “Smells like Abramoff”?
SCARBOROUGH: Why the hell didn‘t—why didn‘t the Democrats come up with that, “Smells like Abramoff”?
WALSH: I also...
SCARBOROUGH: And by the way, Joan, if anybody uses that in 2008, you need to get commissions on it.
WALSH: Thank you, Joe. I know you‘ll have my back.
SCARBOROUGH: I will. I‘ll be protecting. Now, let‘s go to Missouri. Here‘s another race that I can‘t wait to see how it turns out. It‘s going to be fascinating. A lot of the polls have Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Senator Jim Talent in a dead heat.
And Terry Holt, that‘s the way it‘s been from the beginning. What‘s going to happen in Missouri?
TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It‘s been a very stable political environment from the very beginning, and I think it boils down to who wants it more? Who‘s going to get up earlier tomorrow? Who‘s going to work the hardest? Who‘s got the better personal appeal?
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s that fabled ground game, right?
HOLT: Well, and, ultimately, if you‘ve got the better list and you‘ve got the more motivated constituency, you might be able to take this one. You know, ground game and grassroots only matters when it‘s close. And when it‘s close, if the Republicans have done their work in Missouri, they ought to take this one any way.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, Terry, let me ask you a big, sort of a macro question. We‘re going state by state, but you know this weekend a lot of my Republican friends were pleased by what had happened in the polls because of John Kerry‘s gaffe, because of Saddam Hussein yesterday. They felt like things were breaking their way. A new round of polls have come out today that has them a little nervous about tomorrow being a blowout. How are you feeling tonight?
HOLT: Well, you know, I go back to 2000. Thursday afternoon, I was working for the Bush campaign over at the RNC. And Thursday afternoon, I got a call, and it was about a bad story out of Maine about the president. And I threw my phone against the wall, because we were kicking the crap out of Al Gore on Thursday afternoon. And in that time period, between Thursday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the Democrats almost stole that presidential campaign, literally.
SCARBOROUGH: They picked up about 3 percentage points, didn‘t they?
HOLT: Far more than that. They motivated their base, and they depressed our base, and it really shifted fundamentally the way that race turned out in 2000. So I think we may not have dodged all the bullets, but we‘re certainly in a much stronger position tonight than we were this time last week.
And I think that‘s why maybe Chuck Schumer this afternoon, he looked like he was holding a funeral at that press conference. He looked like he wasn‘t ready to declare victory at all. And I think that‘s because we‘ve had some momentum.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Chuck Schumer was concerned, and obviously, Rahm Emanuel told “The New York Times” yesterday that he was very nervous by what he was seeing. But, again, that‘s because everything‘s been breaking their way for the past two years.
HOLT: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: But I want to go back, though, to this October surprise. It almost won the election for the Democrats in 2000. Again, remember, five days before voters went to the polls, they heard that George Bush had been busted for a DUI back in the 1970s. Take a look at this blast from the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told the people I had made mistakes in the past. I also told the people that, in the past, I had drunk too much at times, and this was a case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, we all have those cases, Pat Buchanan, but it doesn‘t come out right before the election...
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Five days.
SCARBOROUGH: Five days before the election. Now, Pat, I remember when I heard about that, I said there‘s no way voters are going to switch their vote based on a 25-year-old DUI. They did. I said the same thing in ‘04 about the Osama bin Laden tape. They did. Will the Saddam Hussein verdict this year have an impact or that Kerry gaffe?
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think it will, Joe, honestly. But look at all the races you‘ve talked about. Pennsylvania is a referendum on Santorum. Virginia is a referendum on Allen. If it weren‘t for Allen‘s problems, he would sail home.
Conrad burns, he is the issue in Montana. In each of these races, you find the people that become the issues are real problems. How did Burns start coming back? Tester, he made him the issue, with him on taxes.
SCARBOROUGH: Attacked Tester, right.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. So if you can make the other guy the issue, go after his character, keep the cameras and the press focused on him, you can take him down. I mean, this is amazing. This whole election is a referendum on the Republican Party, Iraq and George Bush. I don‘t think it‘s any kind of mandate for Nancy Pelosi or the Democratic Party at all.
HOLT: No, in fact, people are going to wake up with a huge hangover when they find out that a San Francisco liberal is in charge of the United States Congress.
BUCHANAN: ... we voted for, right.
SCARBOROUGH: And let me just say, also, Terry, that‘s a term I haven‘t heard this election season either, “San Francisco liberal”? Come on!
HOLT: Elections are always about clear choices, and this is a clear choice.
SCARBOROUGH: Ana, tonight John McCain is praying to Jesus. He‘s on his knees that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House when he runs for president of the United States, isn‘t he?
COX: Well, I don‘t know. I mean, between your take on the DUI and the Osama bin Laden tape, it‘s no wonder you‘re not in Congress anymore, Joe. I mean, do you really know what motivates voter? I think that Nancy Pelosi...
SCARBOROUGH: Ana, do you really think—yes, you know what? Ana, I would actually step out...
HOLT: He‘s won elections, hasn‘t he?
SCARBOROUGH: ... and say I probably know a hell of a lot more about what wins elections than you.
COX: Oh, that‘s just true that...
HOLT: His name‘s been on the ballot.
SCARBOROUGH: But anyway, there‘s no way that my vote would change because somebody had a DUI 20 or 30 years ago. Let me ask you about Saddam Hussein.
COX: And that makes well of you.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think Saddam Hussein‘s conviction and the death penalty is going to impact voters out there tomorrow?
COX: I actually don‘t know.
COX: I think it only—I mean, again and again, we‘re just seeing that any news out of Iraq I think just reminds people that we‘re in Iraq and that all these people have died and that we don‘t have a plan.
I mean, I think that—I also—I think you‘re overestimating sort of the importance of the liberal—you know, San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi. And we‘ve talked about this before. She‘s an old-school politician. She may be elected from San Francisco, but her blood is from Baltimore. And she knows how to work a room. She...
SCARBOROUGH: Blood is from Baltimore? I‘m telling you, I love the phrases that are coming out of here tonight. “Smells like Abramoff”...
WALSH: More bumper stickers.
SCARBOROUGH: ... “San Francisco liberal,” and “Blood is from Baltimore.”
Finally, Joan Walsh, you know a little bit about Nancy Pelosi...
WALSH: I do.
SCARBOROUGH: ... though your blood is not from Baltimore. She‘s going to be a tactician when she gets out there, right? She‘s not going to be able to be a, quote, “San Francisco liberal” as speaker of the House?
WALSH: No, I don‘t think she‘s going to be able to, and I don‘t think she will try. I‘ve known Nancy for a long time, and I believe that she‘s a very smart politician. She has private views that she knows are not the mainstream congressional views, and she‘ll be very conservative about pushing them. I think we will see movement and agitation on Iraq. That‘s all I can say.
HOLT: I‘ll bet the biggest steak dinner you‘re wrong on that. She‘ll be conservative in her views?
WALSH: I think she‘ll be...
HOLT: Look at the Democratic caucus...
WALSH: ... conservative for Nancy. I said conservative for Nancy.
HOLT: ... it‘s way to the left.
SCARBOROUGH: Look at this, the two guys on the right are laughing. Look at that. Hold that picture up. The second you said she‘d be conservative, Buchanan and Holt, both started laughing.
BUCHANAN: You‘ve got John Conyers, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank, Waxman, they‘re going to be running this committee—
SCARBOROUGH: You always have to bring up the gay guys, don‘t you?
SCARBOROUGH: You always have to...
SCARBOROUGH: Back to Foley. Get off of Foley. Come on. He‘s just misunderstood.
BUCHANAN: I know he‘s your buddy.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, very good. Hey, and, Ana Marie Cox, you‘re going to be blogging on “Time” tomorrow night, right, Time.com?
COX: That‘s right, with Joe Klein.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good. I‘m sure Joe Klein knows a lot more about getting elected than I do, Ana Marie. Thank you, Ana. Thank you, Terry. Thank you, Joan. Pat Buchanan, stay with us. I‘m going to let you tease me more about Mark Foley.
But coming up next, we head to Tennessee where 40 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots. Which side is going to benefit from people voting early, if not often?
Plus, comedian Harry Shearer joins us with his take on the midterms, including why he hopes a new Congress will mean a new round of Capitol Hill hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB CORKER ®, CANDIDATE FOR TENNESSEE SENATE: We know the momentum it‘s with us, OK? We know that. And the most important thing is to see as many people as we can and just ask them to please go vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That was Republican candidate Bob Corker trying to get Tennessee‘s voters behind him tomorrow, as that state‘s expected to be another close race for the United States Senate. And tonight, a large percentage of registered voters have already made their choice.
NBC‘s Tom Costello is in Memphis. And, Tom, why so many early voters there?
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Joe, good evening. This is really a fascinating number. The secretary of state‘s office here in Memphis tells us it believes 1.8 million Tennesseans will, in fact, vote by the end of the election.
And get this number: They claim that 867,000 already have. That‘s 40 percent of the total electorate, they believe, has already voted. So the question is: How did they vote? It‘s quite possible that a lot of those people voted when, in fact, Harold Ford was up in the polls. At the moment, Bob Corker appears to be up in the polls. However, the numbers are all over the map.
In some cases, he‘s up by three points; in some cases, up by 12 points. The Ford camp tells us they believe it is a dead heat. All of their polling indicates that they are neck and neck going into tomorrow.
Bob Corker was on the campaign trail today. He had a lot of star power with him, includes Lamar Alexander, including Bill Frist, including John McCain, and also we had, of course, Harold Ford, Jr., canvassing the state again today.
Ford, if he wins, would be the first African-American senator from the South since reconstruction. And to do that, he has to win nearly the entire African-American vote here, but also 40 percent of the white vote. So the question is: How did those 40 percent that already voted vote? And how will the rest of the state vote by the end of Election Day tomorrow?
It could be a squeaker; it could be a blowout. These polls are kind of all over the place tonight. And we‘ll just have to see how this plays out, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, NBC‘s Tom Costello, thank you so much for that report.
COSTELLO: You bet.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Pat Buchanan, what a fascinating story out of Tennessee. I mean, this changes the whole dynamic of these races. I remember back in ‘96, when there was a Senate race in Oregon, that they did a melon ballot (ph). It was sort of the first of a lot of these states. But how does it impact like, let‘s say, Virginia, your home state?
BUCHANAN: Well, I mean, I voted absentee myself. And, look, if it‘s early voting in Virginia, and you start voting when Jim Webb is fresh and he‘s out in front, and Allen‘s got the macaca problem and all the rest of it, you‘ve got to expect the polls to come in, the returns to come in very much reflecting that, and they might not reflect the even race today.
So, frankly, I think, if voting early is heavy, I think it‘s going to benefit the Democratic Party, because they were so far out in front all the way up to the last couple of days.
SCARBOROUGH: I think you‘re right, Pat. Hey, stay with us. We‘ll be right back with more coverage, straight ahead.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back. You probably know him as the voice of more than a dozen characters from the “Simpsons,” like Principal Skinner, or from his role as Derek Smalls in the classic movie, “This is Spinal Tap.” But Harry Shearer is also an author, most recently of a new book called “Not Enough Indians.” I talked to Harry about tomorrow‘s elections, but I started by asking him why he decided to write this book.
HARRY SHEARER, COMEDIAN-ACTOR: I‘ve been fascinated a little bit with the idea of these Native Americans being the most despised people on the continent for, you know, two or three centuries and suddenly, through a quirk of the law, they‘re sitting on a money pile so huge that white folks could envy them. And so I thought of a story of a town that was so down on its luck that the only way they could figure to save themselves was get themselves declared an Indian tribe so they could open a casino.
SCARBOROUGH: And I take it that‘s exactly what happens?
SHEARER: That‘s what happens at the beginning, and then the adventure starts there.
SCARBOROUGH: Tomorrow is a big day, big day for you. You‘ve written a post on “The Huffington Post,” and you say that you‘re looking forward to the possibility of hearings. That‘s sort of the 2006 equivalent of “I want my MTV.” You want your congressional hearings. You want fear and loathing on Capitol Hill?
SHEARER: Well, I want to see guys raise their right hand, swear to tell the truth, and then lie. I also think that, you know, if you don‘t get felons from perjury at congressional hearings, there‘ll be no place for FOX News to recruit their new generation of commentators.
But it‘s also we‘re due. You know, 20 years ago was Iran-Contra; pretty much similar time before that was Watergate. I think the cycle has come due.
And I must say, you know, it‘s the only thing one can honestly hope from Democrats, because I haven‘t heard a Democrat say anything cogent in the last year about, let‘s say, you know, the aftermath of Katrina, as it affects both the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans. So I don‘t think policy is where you look for anything from a Democratic control of either house of Congress, but hearings would be nice.
And, you know, reality TV isn‘t that good, Joe. We need something.
SCARBOROUGH: Need something, no doubt about it. I remember back in the Watergate hearings being upset because it preempted cartoons, but at least I get to see John and Yoko sitting in the third row. That was pretty damn cool.
SCARBOROUGH: You had written on “The Huffington Post” also about the Ted Haggard scandal.
SCARBOROUGH: What kind of impact do you think that could or could not have on evangelical voters going out?
SHEARER: To me, what was refreshing about this was that—unlike, you know, the “Army Times” or Saddam‘s verdict—somebody was trying to affect this election who actually copped to it and said, “I was trying to affect the election,” and we had to find honesty out of the mouth of a gay hooker.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I suppose that‘s where we find ourselves in 2006.
SHEARER: Yes, sir.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about “The Simpsons,” if you will. You guys had a great episode the other night about—well, there was a parody on Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ell, the Earthlings continue to resent our presence. You said we‘d be greeted as liberators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don‘t worry. We still have the people‘s hearts and minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: I guess, with 65 percent of Americans, you would think that it would still be safe to get into politics, but it‘s really not, is it? I mean, every time you sort of dip your toe into that water, you‘re going to cause, you know, a lot of people to get upset.
SHEARER: Well, I have to say, in all fairness, Joe, I didn‘t see the episode, and it sounds like a cop-out, but I‘m on a book tour. And I was doing signings and a reading in Miami last night, so I‘ll catch up with it.
I think, yes, you know, to a certain extent, like politicians, people at “The Simpsons” may read the polls and think it‘s OK to do this, and I think some people there felt really strongly about it. But, you know, if it ain‘t controversial, it‘s not going to arouse attention, so this is sweeps month.
SCARBOROUGH: Finally, how would Tom Brokaw call this race, if the Democrats swept into power?
SHEARER: I think, in one sentence, Joe, it‘s going to be a Lollapalooza.
SCARBOROUGH: The book is “Not Enough Indians.” You‘re out on a book tour for how long?
SHEARER: Oh, God, until the cows come home.
SCARBOROUGH: Until the cows come home. That could be a very long time.
SHEARER: Yes, sir.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Harry Shearer, thank you so much for being with us. We really do appreciate it.
SHEARER: Thank you, Joe, my pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: And we appreciate you being with us tonight. We are now about two hours away from Election Day 2006, when Americans go out and decide the future of George Bush‘s presidency, what happens in Iraq, and, of course, control of Capitol Hill.
Now, we‘re going to be back at 11:00 p.m. Eastern with a special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, getting you up to date with the very latest. But let‘s continue our Election 2006 coverage with Chris Matthews and HARDBALL.
Chris, take it away.
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