Guests: Chuck Todd, Peter Fenn, Bill Press, Mike Barnicle, Ron Christie
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to our live continuing coverage of Decision 2006. We are just now hours away from a day that could determine the direction of this nation for a generation. Voters will be deciding all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Democratic House candidates need 15 victories to gain control for the first time since Newt Gingrich swept to power in 1994, twelve years ago.
In the U.S. Senate 33 seats go before voters. Democrats need to control six of those to have full control of both houses of Congress. One of the Republican incumbents fighting to hold to his Senate seat is George Allen in Virginia. He and Democratic challenger Jim Webb have been locked in one of the tightest and most bitter campaigns this season. The latest MSNBC/McClatchey poll shows Webb leading Allen by a single percentage point. That‘s within the margin of error and it means the race is completely up for grabs, or at least seems to be on paper.
For the very latest in the final hours of that campaign, we turn now to MSNBC‘s David Shuster, who joins us from Richmond. David, there have been charges and counter charges today, what is the latest?
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is, Tucker, that there have been these charges of voter suppression that are being made by the Webb campaign, alleging that Republicans are somehow trying to keep African-Americans intimidated, keep them away from the polls. The Webb campaign says that they will be filing a complaint with the Department of Justice, because they say they have documented a number of calls that came from out of state, that went to various Democrat precincts, telling voters that their polling location had changed. We talked to a number of Republicans in the last two hours. They deny having anything to do with this and suggest that it might just be some sort of effort by some independent group.
In any case, some of the calls are being identified as having coming from California, but the Webb campaign says this has caused some confusion on their part. In addition, Tucker, we mentioned in the 4:00 hour that there have been some fliers from the Republican National Committee which said, in big font, that -- not to vote in the election. Although in smaller font it said, just don‘t vote for the liberals and the tax and spend Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedys.
What has happened, apparently, with some of the flyers is that the Republican National Committee says that they sent these flyers to Republicans, but, in any case, some of the fliers have ended up being posted on light polls in African-American precincts. The Republicans are suggesting that this was an effort by the Webb campaign to take some of their literature and to essentially fire up African-Americans and create a big brew-ha-ha (ph) in heavily Democratic precincts. In any case, the charges and counter-charges flying back in forth.
Republicans deny that there was any malicious intent with these fliers. They deny having anything to do with any of these phone calls. And they also suggest that phone calls are being made the other way, to Republicans from people purporting to be Republican volunteers, saying that your polling location has changed. So, a lot of dirty tricks being alleged both ways, but the bottom line, Tucker, is that, as far as the election itself, the number one issues, by all poll numbers suggest, continues to be the war in Iraq.
Today Jim Webb, again, hammered home his theme that the troops need to come back from Iraq. George Allen, at a campaign stop, was throwing around a football, talking about a two-minute drill, a reference to the football tactic of scoring at the end to win and they believe that they are going to do it.
CARLSON: The flyers are suggesting there, of course, is that voters are so dumb that if a flyer says, don‘t vote, they won‘t. So, what is—what—give us a sense, you are down there. You have obviously been talking to both campaigns. Clearly there a lot of votes that have already been placed. Absentee ballots are in. What is the inside track on where the momentum is? Is it with Webb or with Allen or can we know now?
SHUSTER: Well, the one thing that the polling suggests is that the Webb campaign is feeling confident simply because George Allen is less than 50 percent. I mean, these polls have him at 46, 47 percent and traditionally if an incumbent—sorry for the ambulance here. That‘s actually moving (inaudible) -- if the incumbent is less than 50 percent, that usually spells trouble. So the Webb campaign is convinced that the undecideds, at least at the end, are going to cut their way.
CARLSON: They are coming to take you away, David, it sounds like. So before you get hauled off in handcuffs, we better say good-bye. David Shuster, good luck.
SHUSTER: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Virginia one of the only—only one of the places where Republicans find themselves in trouble. How close are the Democrats to seizing control of Congress? It‘s an open question, but to help us answer it we welcome Chuck Todd, a contributing editor at the “National Journal” Online. He is also editor in chief of the “Hotline.”. Chuck, welcome.
CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “HOTLINE”: Hey Tucker.
CARLSON: Santorum versus Casey; everybody says this case—this race is essentially over. How conservative—So, I think we can start to think about Casey as our next U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. How conservative is he?
TODD: I think he is cut from this sort of populist cloth, you know. One of the things out of this election that I am kind of watching for is sort of what I call potentially the death of the DLC Democrat. Because a lot of these Democratic candidates, particularly in the Senate, but also in the House, that may win, they are cut from this populist cloth, very pro-labor, not necessarily tough on trade, a little tougher on immigration, just a little less globalist, as David Brooks might say.
It‘s a different, and Casey is cut from that cloth. He is sort of a social conservative on some things. You know, he‘s pro gun, he‘s pro life, but he‘s also pretty anti-trade. He‘s really—labor loves this guy, but it‘s not just him. John Tester is like that, Claire McCaskill. It‘s an interesting little thing. Literally, the only D.L.C.er, potential new Senator is Harold Ford, and he‘s the guy that might not get there.
CARLSON: It‘s so interesting. They are essentially anti-Clintons. I mean they are—
TODD: This is the anti-Clinton Democratic party, absolutely.
CARLSON: How interesting though, considering that Clinton is still the spiritual godfather of his party, certainly the most famous person in his party, the biggest draw. What do you make of that?
TODD: Well I think it‘s this desperation to win, on one hand, with Democrats, where, you know, when you are in the minority, you stop disagreeing with each other on these little things. Trust me, if the Democrats were back in the majority, all of a sudden these little fissures, we would talk about them more, and if they get back into the majority, I think we will start talking about them.
I mean, you have some serious divides between the globalist Democrats, very much the new Democrat that Bill Clinton represented, and this populists wing, where Al Gore started touching on it back in 2000, actually saw some success. People forget that. That may be why he was able to sort of come back on George W. Bush and, you know, Kerry sort of steered away from it a little bit, ran more on the international stuff. And now you are seeing guys like John Edwards, even Barack Obama speaks in this more populist thing. It‘s sort of a throw back to where the Democrats were in the 1930s.
CARLSON: It‘s a winning position through, clearly, because you pick up independents when you do that.
TODD: You pick up Libertarians, the anti-government Libertarians.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right and also people sympathetic to Pat Buchanan. I mean, the trade stuff, you pick up some conservatives on that.
Bob Corker, Harold Ford in Tennessee. It‘s interesting, race has been an issue in this contest, or at least some have tried to introduce it as an issue, whereas the Michael Steel race in Maryland, the Ken Blackwell race in Ohio, have not been seen, at least they haven‘t in the national media, as having a racial element. Has race been significant, central to this contest?
TODD: In Tennessee, I think absolutely. I think it really—for the longest time it wasn‘t, and I think that when the controversy over that ad erupted and the Democrats really pushed hard on the race issue, then all of a sudden race became the focal point. And I actually think it threw Harold Ford off his game, because he has been trying to be the new generation, this next generation of politician that has looked beyond race. That has sort of—race is sort of a non-factor, how Barack Obama, frankly, was able to successfully win in Illinois, where race was never really a factor in his race. Of course, being in a competitive race was never really a factor for Obama in 2004. And even a Deval Patrick, who somehow was able to skirt the race issue in a state like Massachusetts, which had a history of being very unfriendly to African-Americans.
CARLSON: Yes, that‘s for sure. Michael Steele and Ben Cardin, we were laughing last hour, Ben Cardin is, I guess, born again. He was quoted in the “Washington Post” as saying in a black church that he wanted to thank the lord for waking me up, quote. Where does this race stand now? It‘s got to be tough for Steele, but does he have a shot?
TODD: I think in any other year you would actually feel like Steele has the momentum. I think he has run the more interesting campaign. Cardin has been the incumbent in this race. He sort of reminds people of Paul Sarbanes. He is just as charismatic as Paul Sarbanes.
CARLSON: Now, that‘s mean Chuck.
TODD: I am sorry. Well, I am not trying to be mean here. I think Baltimore politicians are very quiet. They are very low key politicians. That‘s just in their nature. Michael Steele has really tried to make race an issue. It‘s interesting, this is a Republican really trying to make his race, because I think he believes if he can get 30 percent, 35 percent of the African American vote, he can win this statewide. And look, it‘s possible that he gets into the 20s.
I think it‘s possible that he can get to 30 and still lose, just the way the numbers work in Baltimore, where Cardin will actually over-perform for a Democrat. I think, look, in any other year, and with any other president, on the sort of—the spiritual leader of the Republican party, Steele would have a chance in this race, but it feels like this is just one too many hurdles for Steele to pull through.
CARLSON: Finally, sum up Montana for me quickly. Would you? You‘ve got a three term incumbent in Conrad Burns. Give us some perspective, how often do three term incumbents, who haven‘t been convicted of felonies recently, lose?
TODD: Well, it‘s interesting, you say the third term. Usually If you have made it to run for your third term, you usually get there. You start seeing on the curve, Senators start losing when they go for their fourth or fifth, right? They either lose for their second or they lose in their fourth or fifth. But here‘s all you need to know, Jack Abramoff, the disgrace lobbyist, actually convicted felon lobbyist, has a name ID of 85 percent in Montana, among Montana voters. That‘s all you need to know. And Democrats have tied Abramoff to Burns. It‘s what has made Burns vulnerable.
Without Jack Abramoff, Burns would probably be eking this out. It‘s what puts him behind the eight ball. He‘s maid a come back here, but I tell you, the early vote probably is going to benefit Tester, the Democrat, because that was before, sort of, Burns got some momentum, when people were already calling him dead in the water.
CARLSON: There are going to be a lot of surprises, I think, tomorrow because of that early vote.
TODD: Absolutely, maybe in Tennessee even.
CARLSON: Who thought—just, I mean—who though when the Abramoff domino fell that it would knock over, potentially, Conrad Burns? I mean, talk about untended consequences that we never new.
TODD: The guy who is least touched by it.
CARLSON: It‘s amazing. Chuck Todd, thanks a lot.
TODD: You bet.
CARLSON: You just heard it discuss it, the numbers don‘t look particularly good for Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. Does he regret playing up his ties to President Bush? Is it too late for a comeback? We will have a live report from that state in just a moment.
Plus, shocking new numbers about the damage John Kerry may have done to his own party last week. Could a botched joke sway the balance of power in this country? We will discuss that too when we come right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA: I am Rick Santorum and I approve this message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea, close to a nuclear missile to reach America, yet Casey opposes deploying the missile defense system now. Iran, also close, yet Casey opposes creating the bunker busting bombs that may be needed to stop them.
China, drilling oil just 50 miles off of our coast. Yet Casey opposes us doing the same, putting our energy at risk.
Terrorists trying to enter our country, yet Casey comes out for amnesty for illegals. We just can‘t take a chance on Bob Casey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Pretty tough ad. It turns out it doesn‘t seem to be working very well though. The latest polls out of Pennsylvania, where that race pits Bob Casey Jr. against Rick Santorum, show Santorum trailing by 13 percentage points. That‘s the new MSNBC/McClatchey poll.
For more on this race, we go live now to Pittsburgh, where NBC‘s Alison Kartevold is stationed. Alison, what‘s the latest?
ALISON KARTEVOLD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I was just looking a on my Blackberry here Tucker, and I have a message that Santorum sent out to his people, and it cites a poll called the Molchuck (ph) poll. And he is saying that that poll shows him within four points, and he is asking people to get out and vote, saying that nothing energizes them more than being the underdog and accepting this challenge. So this is something that they have been sending out to their mailing list today, trying to make people—make sure they go to the polls and don‘t stay away. So, as you can tell, even though our poll numbers show him much further behind, the Santorum campaign is not giving up here.
Bob Casey is feeling a little more comfortable with his position, I believe, in this race. Today he was out rallying the troops as well. Both sides, the Democrats and the Republicans, have been citing repeatedly how important it is to get out the vote in Pennsylvania. And he was at a rally today with Ed Rendell, trying to encourage their side to do just that. In Allegheny County they are estimating that they think they will have a turnout at the polls tomorrow of 52 percent. That is up from 22 percent during the primary this same year. And so that could mean about half a million voters just in this state Tucker—I mean, I‘m sorry, in this county.
CARLSON: Exactly. Thanks Alison. Well, for more on the race between Santorum and Casey, we welcome the author of “How the Republicans Stole Christmas,” Bill Press. He joins us from Washington. Right near bye, also in Washington, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Welcome to you both.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hey Tucker.
BILL PRESS, AUTHOR, “HOW THE REPUBLICANS STOLE CHRISTMAS”: We love this two-on-one Tucker.
CARLSON: Oh, I love it. It‘s just barely fair odds. I figure I‘d give you guys a head start. Bill, there‘s a certain irony in this race, it seems to me. Santorum is despised, as you know, by liberal Democrats, mostly, I believe, because of his anti-abortion activism. You know, he is kind of the point man in the Senate on that subject, and has been since he got there. He is likely to be replaced by one of the very few Democratic Senators who is also opposed to abortion. Do you see the irony?
PRESS: Well, I see the irony, but I think what you see—I see what you get in Pennsylvania, first of all, you know, the Republicans are calling Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana the “Killing Fields” this year, just because their prospects look so bleak in all three of those states. I think you are going to see a wipe out in Pennsylvania, Tucker, and I think the vote is really largely an anti-Santorum vote, both because he has been the point man, not just on the abortion issue, but on the intelligent design issue and on the gay marriage issue, but he‘s also—recently, he‘s the only Republican I know who has come out 100 percent for Donald Rumsfeld, 100 percent for George Bush, 100 percent for the war in Iraq.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
PRESS: Almost suicidal, so I think the people of Pennsylvania just have had it with Rick Santorum.
CARLSON: You have to respect that though, don‘t you Peter Fenn, a bit, when ever single—every—no, literally, I am sure even Mrs. Bush is telling her friends she doesn‘t know her husband. You have a guy come out in the middle of this race that he has been losing for the last year and say, you know what, I am fully behind the most unpopular person in America?
FENN: Yes, that‘s a great strategy all right, never apologize, never explain. That does seem to be his approach.
CARLSON: There is a certain boldness you must admire, don‘t you think?
FENN: Well, there is a certain boldness, but, you know, that kind of boldness this country doesn‘t need. I think we‘ve proven that. You got a Congress that has 16 percent approval ratings. You‘ve got an Iraq war out of control. You‘ve got a vice president of the United States who is saying we are going to put our foot on the gas with this war, whatever that means, and you know, my sense of this right now is Pennsylvania, which, of course, did go for Kerry in the presidential campaign, you have got to—you have got a gubernatorial race that was supposed to be close, not at all close anymore Lynn Swan is—is unfortunately—he was a great tight-end when I was a graduate student at USC, but he‘s not going to make it for governor.
CARLSON: Well sure—in Lynn Swan‘s defense, he is running against, whatever you think of his politics, one of the most talented politicians, really, of the age, governor Rendell, who is just so charming and, sort of, hard not to like him, even if you despise what he stands for. Bill, are we seeing another realignment here though? I mean, it does seem like in that aftermath of tomorrow we‘re going to see a country that is more regionally divided than ever. The south is going to remain Republican, but states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, to say nothing of the Northeast, solidly Democrat.
PRESS: Well, you know, I don‘t it‘s going to be—I think the major realignment, Tucker, is going to be a shift in power in this building in back of Peter and that‘s going to be the biggest realignment since 1994. I don‘t think it‘s going to be entirely geographical. I think you‘re going to see the House definitely with 25 to 40 seats, Nancy Pelosi the speaker, and I‘m a citizen. I‘m the perennial optimist. I still think, if you count them up, the Democrats are going to win six seats and take control of the Senate as well.
CARLSON: You may be absolutely right. If you both stick around, please, we will be back in just a minute. But still to come, can Senate Candidate Harold Ford make up a double digit deficit in his race against Republican Bob Corker in Tennessee?
Plus, another Senate candidate, Maryland‘s Michael Steele, has backed away from ties to the Republican party. Will it be enough to win his race against Democrat Ben Cardin in overwhelmingly Democratic Maryland? We will tell you next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Luxurious five star hotels, $32,000; fancy designer Armani suit, $2,549; fine Davidoff cigars, $674; living it up on campaign cash, but pushing higher taxes for Tennessee families, priceless. Tell Harold Ford you can‘t afford higher taxes.
The Free Enterprise Fund Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: That‘s just one in a series of much talked about attack ads, some of them running against Harold Ford Jr. It looks like the spots may be resonating with Tennessee voters. The latest Mason Dixon poll shows the Democratic Congressman lagging behind Republican candidate Bob Corker by 12 points. Though, NBC News has now learned that 40 percent of registered voters in Tennessee have already voted. That means 800,000, out of 1.8 million, have casts their ballots. And we don‘t know what they have done. We are going to find out soon. All of which throws polls like that into serious question. For more on this race we welcome back Bill Press and Peter Fenn, both of whom are in Washington. Welcome back.
PRESS: Hey Tucker.
FENN: OK, Tucker.
CARLSON: I think Harold Ford has run a pretty smart campaign. Everyone who has met Harold Ford likes him. It‘s impossible not to. So this is not an attack on Harold Ford the man, but I do think he made a big mistake in allowing Barack Obama, the most famous person in the world, to come and campaign for him the other day in Nashville, and say this, quote, he said this to a black church, Mount Zion Baptist Church, he said, I know all of you are going to work the next couple days to make sure it happens, because I am feeling lonely in Washington, meaning elect Harold Ford because he is black. It seems to me a self-defeating strategy there Bill Press. Isn‘t it? I mean the whole point of Harold Ford is he transcends race, and once you tie him to race, don‘t you condemn him to losing?
PRESS: Well, I think Barack Obama transcends race too Tucker, and—
CARLSON: Well, if he transcends race, then why is he making a racial appeal?
PRESS: Because he is in an African-American church and he is talking about getting out the African-American vote, and, I think, that‘s just a side comment that doesn‘t—that is not a racial appeal. It‘s just saying, hey, we got a job here. Let‘s make sure that our members, our people get out the votes. I think Barack Obama is a tremendous guy. I think he helped Harold Ford a lot. We will find out. So did Bill Clinton. Tucker, the bad news is—I mean the good news is, about Tennessee, I think the Democrats don‘t need Tennessee to win. It would be nice to have Tennessee. It‘s the most uphill of all the races. I think, I agree with you. I think Harold Ford has run a brilliant campaign, maybe with one exception, going to that Corker news conference was a mistake.
CARLSON: Yes, that seemed—that was a little over the top, but I wonder—
PRESS: But he could still pull it out, it‘s just going to be very tough.
CARLSON: Well, you never know. I mean, if there is a wave, we were talking about this in the commercial break, Peter, I mean, there has never been a scenario in which one party took the House, but didn‘t take the Senate. It‘s never happened in American history. The two go together, and I think, you know, we‘re like—this race may not be what it seems. But just back to this comment. If a white politician was stumping for another white politician, and said, you know, this man, you may notice how white he is. Vote for him. We need more of them in the U.S. Senate, people would say, you know, that‘s a bridge too far.
FENN: Well, I tell you, I think that there are enough whites in the United States Senate.
FENN: But, here is the point, Tucker. I think it was an offhand comment. It was saying, hey, gee, I think this guy is terrific. I would love to have him by my side in the United States Senate. You know, I think you‘re—I mean, look, if someone had said to us nine months, a year ago, that Tennessee was in play for a Democrat, after Al Gore lost his own state in 2000, and plus, in fact, by the way, he is an African-American, and will be the first one since reconstruction to be elected from the south, we all would have said you are stark raving nuts.
CARLSON: The point is you run good candidates, who are sort of in tune. You know he gets—Harold Ford, the other day, gets up and talks about how much he loves Jesus. I mean, you know what I mean, you run candidates who say stuff like that, you can win. Very quickly, can I get each, starting with Bill, your predictions on what is going to happen in Virginia, the Senate race there?
PRESS: I think George Allen is toast. I think Jim Webb pulls it out. I think George Allen—Jim Webb didn‘t win this so much as George Allen blew it.
CARLSON: What do you think Peter?
FENN: You know, I agree with that, except, you know what Bill, I think that the Webb campaign, the last couple weeks, has been excellent. His ads have been good. His closing positive ad superb. I think people have got a reason to vote for this guy now. And I totally agree, Northern Virginia is coming in. Those votes are coming in and Webb is going to win it.
CARLSON: We will see.
PRESS: And Virginia is going to decide the U.S. Senate, Tucker.
CARLSON: I think you may be right there. Thanks guys.
PRESS: All right, good to see you Tucker.
CARLSON: Thanks. Tom Kean Jr. accuses incumbent Senator Bob Menendez of having ties to the Mafia, apparently not realizing that in some corners of New Jersey that‘s a compliment. We will discuss that important Senate race when we come right back.
CARLSON: Still to come, accusations of mafia ties in the U.S. Senate race, you have to love New Jersey politics. We‘ll discuss that story and a whole lot more, including porn on a campaign website. Right now here is a look at your headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Bob Menendez‘s top lieutenant pressuring a doctor in a Menendez kickback scheme? Kickback schemes, federal criminal probes, that‘s what you get with Bob Menendez.
KEAN: I‘m Tom Kean Jr., and I approve this message.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Soprano style politics in the state of New Jersey as the contest between Bob Menendez and Tom Kean Jr. enters its final day. For more on that race plus much more we welcome MSNBC political contributor Mike Barnicle, and former special assistant to President Bush, Ron Christie. Welcome to you both.
Mike, you are very familiar with big city politics. Why doesn‘t an ad like this work? I see this and I think, you know what, that‘s it, I don‘t care what else the guy is about, if he‘s—you know if he‘s corrupt I‘m not voting for him?
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: We were out with young Senator Kean yesterday and with Senator Menendez today. My guess is the reason the ad doesn‘t work is Iraq. Iraq is the overriding issue at least that we could pick up in two days of reporting here in New Jersey for a piece on this race. That corruption issue is something that Senator Kean mentioned several times during a couple of stops yesterday, he did not mention Iraq. Senator Menendez, on the other hand, in his appearances, the first thing he mentions is Iraq, and you can see it resonate with the crowd and the corruption thing does not resonate.
CARLSON: I totally believe that and I bet it‘s that bitter. But does that wound Menendez? If he does win, does he have the odor of a man under federal criminal investigation, which I suppose he is?
BARNICLE: Well, in a state where the state car is the Cadillac Escalade, you know I don‘t know—
CARLSON: That‘s a good point.
BARNICLE: I mean come on, let‘s be realistic here.
CARLSON: Ron, do you buy that, do you buy Mike‘s analysis that it‘s Iraq?
RON CHRISTIE, FMR. SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. BUSH: I think that he is right. I mean Senator Kean has tried to make corruption an issue for this entire campaign, it hasn‘t stuck. I think this ad looks a little desperate and I think people in New Jersey are tired of it. It‘s just been one negative ad after the other, and I think they‘re just ready for something positive and they just tune out.
CARLSON: It‘s funny though, I mean you wonder are they more tired of negative advertising or are they more tired of corrupt politicians, I mean because they certainly have a lot of them?
CHRISTIE: Sure, but I mean he has been under indictment, people have known about his alleged ties to the mobs.
CARLSON: Under investigation?
CARLSON: You‘re skipping ahead here.
CHRISTIE: I‘m skidding ahead, but seriously, people in New Jersey have known about Menendez and they‘ve heard about these allegations and apparently it looks like Menendez is going to the Senate on his own terms.
CARLSON: So what is he for, Tom Kean Jr.?
BARNICLE: What is he for? I think he‘s for the fact that he has a wonderful last family name, he‘s strongly for that. He campaigns, or at least when we saw him, when we were with him, he campaigns basically on the higher rate of taxation in the state of New Jersey, he has difficulty twinning that with the United States Senate. He campaigns on let‘s get the New Jersey back to the New Jersey where it was when I grew up, you know at a private school. Let‘s have young people stop moving out of New Jersey. But the corruption thing, the interesting thing, at least you sort of get a sense of, you‘re right, you know New Jersey voters are tired of it, but I think they‘re tired of the stereotype that Kean unwittingly has fed into with these corruption ads.
CARLSON: We were hearing earlier that Italian voters are turned off by the suggestion that there are Italians in the mafia or whatever.
BARNICLE: Who said that?
CARLSON: Actually I was just kidding.
CHRISTIE: This should have been won that the Republicans had an ideal shot of picking up. He was appointed, Menendez was appointed by the governor. New Jersey has some of the highest taxes in the country. This should have been won on bread and butter issues, the Republicans had an ideal shot of picking up and it just haven‘t done that.
CARLSON: Well they haven‘t done it in New Jersey since 1972. So it‘s going to be uphill in any case. Have you seen either of you, the website, the reputed Jim Talent website, not clear who put this out, it has Jim Talent in the address, and it has this photograph of two men having sex, two naked guys on it. Who did this and why, like, what‘s the point of this?
BARNICLE: It was the reverend whatchamacallit, was it? Well, you know what attracts attention more than porn these days --
CARLSON: That‘s a good point.
BARNICLE: I haven‘t seen it.
CHRISTIE: I haven‘t seen it either. It seems disgusting, it‘s based
I haven‘t looked at it. But I think that the Talent race and the McCaskill race is one that was on stem cells. I think that‘s the one where if you look at this race, no matter who wins, it‘s the issue of stem cells, the embryonic stem cell issue and Michael J. Fox coming out and the politics of stem cell research.
CARLSON: Claire McCaskill I have to say is a pretty articulate, I
mean there are some people you get kind of a ghoulish mad scientist feeling
about when they talk about stem cells. Claire McCaskill is not one of
them, I mean she does—she is able to talk about it I think in a way that
doesn‘t scare people. She said to me the other day, you know I understand
people disagree with me and that‘s ok, they‘re good people too. I mean she
CHRISTIE: In a way also the few times that I have heard her speak to this issue, in a way that you can understand what she means. Not like a mad scientist.
CARLSON: Is this a national issue? I‘m not exactly sure stem cells, you often hear it thrown into the mix of issues along with Iraq, immigration and taxes, how does it cut? I don‘t quite understand this issue.
BARNICLE: I don‘t know how it cuts.
CHRISTIE: And I don‘t think it‘s a national issue as it relates to Missouri. They have, as you know, they have a constitutional amendment on the ballot that looks at embryonic stem cell research and it became nationalized when Michael J. Fox cut the spots for McCaskill in Missouri and then went into Maryland and then cut them for Ben Cardin, so, I think that‘s how it got nationalized. But locally I think it‘s a question of what are Jim Talent or Claire McCaskill going to do for the state of Missouri with that ballot initiative.
CARLSON: Well it just feels like Missouri is changing. I thought that the anti-cloning argument would prevail, but it seems like nobody cares. Shows you what I know. Maryland, does Steele have a shot?
BARNICLE: Yes, I think he does. He‘s a very strong candidate. The only time I‘ve seen his candidacy is from Washington, D.C., watching the ads, but you hear good talk about him, he‘s—
BARNICLE: Good ads.
CHRISTIE: He ran a great campaign. I mean looking into the camera, kind of corky camera angles, but being able to resonate with people in a state where the Republicans are outnumbered almost by three to one, I think he has a strong shot with the endorsement that he picked up by the Prince Georges County folks, the Democrats, elected board of supervisors, plus some of those members there. He has a strong shot. But, in a Democratic state, you still have to think that Ben Cardin might have the edge, but that‘s my (INAUDIBLE) pick.
CARLSON: Well especially now that Ben Cardin has come out, like every other Democrat in this election, come out for Jesus, though he‘s Jewish, right. He came out the other day.
CHRISTIE: It‘s Democrats for Jesus, now
CARLSON: It just cracks me up, in this church he says, he just wants to thank the lord for waking him up. I was—
BARNICLE: It‘s not a bad thing.
CARLSON: I‘m not against it—
BARNICLE: I thank the lord for being here with you Tucker.
CARLSON: Amen, and I thank the lord you‘re here Mike. It‘s like, it‘s Alice in Wonderland. But, what‘s interesting is, he is the one candidate, I mean Harold Ford goes out of his way to say this race is not about race, Michael Steele said to me the other day on the show, he said I wish we could talk more about race in this race. What is that?
CHRISTIE: I think what he‘s saying is that the time has come now in the 21st century that African-Americans can be elected to the United States Senate, they can be elected to the governor‘s mansions around the country, and that African-Americans can stand on their own as Republican candidates and I think that‘s a very good discussion that we should be having. So I agree with Michael Steele.
BARNICLE: When you see Michael Steele on TV, or when you see Deval Patrick running for governor in Massachusetts or when you see Harold Ford Jr. campaigning, as I have seen him campaign, I‘ve seen Patrick, you get the sense that it‘s providing a lot of people, a potential wonderful moment in their voting lives that they can go into the voting booth and feel good.
CARLSON: That‘s deeply true. What you‘re saying is totally right, that‘s the key to it right there. People want that. I was actually in the make-up room today and I heard someone say, who I don‘t think is particularly liberal, boy I really hope Harold Ford wins, I want another black senator. But Deval Patrick, what else is going on there? He is creaming her, he‘s creaming his Republican opponent.
BARNICLE: She‘s a terrible candidate.
BARNICLE: She is probably a very nice person, she couldn‘t articulate, really, why she wanted to be governor of Massachusetts, in terms of what she would do for you and your family, out there.
BARNICLE: Instead she ran a campaign based largely on fear at the beginning, it got away from her, the negative ads completely backfired. She became in Massachusetts the political equivalent of an abandoned child, Mitt Romney just left there. He became a deadbeat dad out running for president going across the country, never appeared with her.
CARLSON: What does that say about Mitt Romney though, I mean if you are a Republican governor hoping to get the nomination, Ron, you sort of want as George W. did in 2000, you want your successor to be from your party, you want to show that you have control of your state?
CHRISTIE: I think that‘s right and particularly a state as liberal as Massachusetts is and one with a strong Democratic index, that you want your lieutenant governor to succeed you. I think it‘s a disappointment but we‘ll have to see what happens tomorrow.
CARLSON: All right. If you all wouldn‘t mind sticking around, we‘ll be right back.
Still to come, it may be the toughest race in the country to call, who will win the contentious contest between George Allen and Jim Webb in the state of Virginia? More on that when we come back.
CARLSON: We‘ve sifted through the most outrageous ads of this election season and chosen our three top favorites. Yes, the spot that reveals one candidate‘s support for Vietnamese prostitutes, it‘s on the list. We‘ll count them down for you when we come back in 60 seconds.
CARLSON: We‘re looking there at live pictures from a Jim Webb for Senate rally in Alexandria, Virginia. The gray-headed man at the center of the frame is former President Bill Clinton who is appearing on behalf of Mr. Webb, who is a new Democrat, by the way. Who just six years ago wrote a scathing attack on Bill Clinton as he exited office. Now the two of them sharing a stage, remarkable. Here to talk about what that might mean Mike Barnicle and Ron Christie, welcome to you both.
CARLSON: This to me points up this kind of amazing transformation that has taken place in the life of Jim Webb or is it a transformation? You really can‘t overstate how conservative this guy was, at least on cultural issues up until recently.
BARNICLE: Well that picture that we‘re looking at right now, the Webb campaign, former President Clinton appearing for Senate candidate Jim Webb, highly decorated marine, Navy Cross, Vietnam, had several, several issues with former President Clinton.
CARLSON: Some issue? Jim Webb was the guy—right, but it all began with—I remember, you know he‘s written so much about his experience there and the experience of his generation who served. He literally said, I think it was a verbatim quote, I wouldn‘t cross the street to watch Jane Fonda slash her wrists. This is a guy that feels real resentment.
CHRISTIE: But this is a transformation. Here is a guy who endorsed George Allen six years ago, who was a Republican, who served as navy secretary for Ronald Reagan and now all of a sudden the president that he called the most corrupt president in history, he now has him going in my hometown Alexandria and campaigning for him.
CARLSON: So what is this about though? I mean, this is also—
BARNICLE: It‘s about the war.
CARLSON: It‘s about the war, that‘s exactly right. But it‘s not clear that Jim Webb who you know has just written a couple years ago a very interesting book about the Scott‘s Irish and his identification with them culturally and with redneck culture. A guy who celebrated the confederacy, who names his son after Robert E. Lee, who is completely opposed to gun control, you know who fishes a lot. I mean he hasn‘t renounced any of that, has he and if he hasn‘t --
BARNICLE: No he hasn‘t. But Jim Webb at his root, off of the book, off of his career, off of his life, he‘s a tribal guy, and the biggest part of his tribe is the military, especially the Marine Corps. And he feels strongly that this war has eviscerated the American military, badly harmed it, badly harmed the Marine Corps and he is now a brother in arms with former President Clinton to help end this war by taking control of the United States Senate.
CARLSON: I personally agree with him, in the first part of your formulation. I just wonder if Democrats know who he is and know who is about to be elected, and when he shows up, do you know what I mean, with these attitudes, they abhor those attitudes.
CHRISTIE: That‘s if he‘s elected Tucker. I still think that while Webb might be very popular in northern Virginia, Senator Allen spent the day today, he was in Roanoke, he went all across the state, he was rallying the base, I mean he said that it‘s the two-minute drill right now in football, and he‘s trying to rally the base to come home. I still think George Allen has a very strong chance of winning this race. But the Democrats I don‘t think have any idea what‘s in store with this candidate if he is elected November 7th.
CARLSON: This is a man who compared affirmative action to Jim Crow, correctly in my view, but it‘s going to be hard to explain that.
BARNICLE: Tucker, isn‘t he, doesn‘t Jim Webb and Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee, if they are going to be successful for Democrats, they represent the future of this party.
CARLSON: Well you hit right upon it I think. Is this a kind of masquerade ball going on, or is it an indication that the party itself is changing fundamentally. I really sincerely truly hope it‘s the latter. I mean I hope that for the Democratic Party. It becomes a bigger party. So interesting, speaking of the Democratic Party and the things that bring it down, John Kerry, you know those comments last week that he described as a botched joke, it turns out they really hurt him. We were sort of convinced they weren‘t hurting him, but then this new Pew poll comes out, 18 percent of independents say they are less likely to vote for a Democrat because of those comments. Do you believe that Mike?
BARNICLE: I believe that it‘s 18 percent, that‘s 18 percent of the people polled have to really get a life, if they truly believe that John Kerry meant to say anything ill about anyone in uniform, I mean they are wrong. It was stupid of him to say it. It was even more stupid that he didn‘t apologize for it immediately, but no, he would never speak ill of anyone in uniform.
CARLSON: But could it be that it‘s not even about whether he—
BARNICLE: What people felt?
CARLSON: Well, it‘s just being reminded of John Kerry, or that wing of the Democratic Party maybe. And maybe Republicans haven‘t—weren‘t they going to spend the last six months scaring us about Nancy Pelosi. What ever happened to that idea?
CHRISTIE: Well I think to pick up on your point, you‘re exactly right. I think what John Kerry reminded a lot of Republicans is, that this guy might not be supportive of the military and this might represent the liberal wing of the Democrat party and is this who we want in office. The Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi‘s, they Harry Reid‘s, they have been MIA, where have they been, they‘ve been in the witness protection program, you haven‘t seen them out campaigning for their candidates. I think it‘s strong folks like Harold Ford Jr. who represent the future of the Democratic Party who are out there, the Barack Obamas. I think the Nancy Pelosis and the Harry Reids represent the Democratic Party of the past.
CARLSON: Well they have gotten a lot smarter is the truth of it I think.
BARNICLE: They better, they have a long way to go.
CARLSON: No, but don‘t you think?
BARNICLE: Oh sure. Yeah. I mean the country‘s in the middle, people live in the middle.
CARLSON: But compare this to four years ago when the party came oh so close, days away from nominating Howard Dean as the candidate.
BARNICLE: And think about four years ago as well, the reaction that John Kerry had last week to the way he was attacked, wasn‘t that just a reaction to the fact that he didn‘t do what he ought to have done in the summer of 2004?
CARLSON: I don‘t know though. I mean that is what one to two Democrats say, if we had just, you know, hit him back in the face and been even tougher. I just think the lesson of this election is they‘ve toned it down. We‘re not going to begin impeachment proceedings. They‘ve actually mollified people‘s fears.
CHRISTIE: They have and they claim they are not going to raise taxes if they take over. It will be interesting to see. Howard Dean was on earlier today and he said oh we have no plans on raising taxes. If in fact the Democrats take over the House, I want to re-roll that tape from this morning, and see when in fact Charlie Rangel is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, decides to in fact raise taxes.
CARLSON: It will be interesting. I don‘t know. I‘m wanting to answer your question, is it a different party. All right, thank you both.
CHRISTIE: Thanks Tucker.
CARLSON: You‘re welcome, appreciate it.
There is only one place to go when you need to cram for Election Day, the address you know it already, but here it is, politics.msnbc.com. The latest news, polls, video, in depth analysis from MSNBC‘s vast stable of experts, it‘s all there. Coming up, our countdown to the best political ads of the season. And what could possibly be better than one that accuses a congressman of supporting Asian prostitutes or giving pornography to school girls. It‘s the ad to beat, we have it. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Over the top political ads might be the most entertaining part of every election season, certainly the most fun for us. We‘ve been bringing you the most outrageous spots over the last couple of weeks. And today, Willie Geist has narrowed the field down to our three favorites.
WILLIE GEIST: Tucker, so many to choose from, you almost feel bad leaving some of these out. When we did our 4:00 show, we had a different number three. There has been some late polling, some absentee ballots came in. We‘ve changed number three.
CARLSON: Out of nowhere, a surprise ending.
GEIST: Senator Rick Santorum appears to be on the ropes in Pennsylvania but not for a lack of entertaining campaign ads. He kicks off our top three countdown with the only spot we‘re aware of this season that incorporates a souplex into the campaign message. Check it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM: Too often, this is what it seems like in Washington. But to get things done, you‘ve got to work together. I teamed up with Joe Lieberman to make college more affordable for low income families. And Barbara Boxer and I wrote a law protecting open space. I‘m even working with Hillary Clinton to limit inappropriate material in children‘s video games. Because it makes more sense to wrestle with America‘s problems than with each other. I‘m Rick Santorum and I approve this message.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Tucker I don‘t know what is more shocking in that ad. The fact that there is a full-fledged steel cage match going on in the background or that Santorum admitted to having worked with Hillary Clinton.
CARLSON: I know. That makes me much less likely to want to vote for him.
GEIST: I know. He compromised himself a little too much. I‘m not talking about the wrestling. Well our number two ad Tucker, comes from Ohio‘s first congressional district. Before you go and vote for Democratic challenger John Cranley, the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks there is something you should know about what he will do to your children if elected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ohio deserves ethical leaders with good judgment, but John Cranley‘s judgment ranges from bad to bizarre. On at least four occasions Councilman Cranley took thousand dollar contributions from people within weeks of voting for business they had before the city council. And Cranley voted to allow children as young as seven to be tased. Seven year olds tased with 50,000 volts of electricity. John Cranley‘s judgment, bad to bizarre. The National Republican Congressional Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this message.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: Tucker, it‘s America, it‘s a democracy, you can do whatever you want and if electrocuting children is something you think is appropriate, then you should vote for Cranley. That‘s the message here.
CARLSON: I don‘t know Willie. I‘m not so against this. I mean there are some uppity 7-year-olds. 50,000 volts might be a good thing. Let‘s think this through before we judge, shall we.
GEIST: Tucker you asked me in the last show what they meant by this exactly. There was a city council vote in Cincinnati where in that city, you‘re allowed to taser people from the ages of 7 to 70 and he voted against changing that, thereby promoting the taserring 7 and 70 y ear olds.
CARLSON: He voted for the status quo.
GEIST: Finally Tucker, if you‘ve been watching our show lately, our favorite ad of the season will come as no surprise. You see, Ron Kind loves Asian hookers and his opponent thinks it‘s important you know that before you vote tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With our servicemen and women facing death every day, what kind of congressman would try to gut military spending? The wrong kind, Ron Kind. That‘s right, Congressman Ron Kind has repeatedly voted to deprive our troops of the funding they need to fight for us. But Ron Kind has no trouble spending your money but he would just rather spend it on sex. That‘s right, instead of spending money on cancer research Ron Kind voted to spend your money to study the sex lives of Vietnamese prostitutes. Instead of spending money to study heart disease, Ron Kind spent your money to study the masturbation habits of old men. Ron Kind spent your tax dollars to study something called the bi-sexual transgendered and two spirited illusion Eskimos, whoever they are. Ron Kind even spent your tax dollars to pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia. Ron Kind pays for sex, but not for soldiers. If Ron Kind had better priorities, you wouldn‘t be having to hear this. Ron Kind is out of touch and soon he will be out of congress.
PAUL NELSON: I‘m Paul R. Nelson and I approve of this message.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
GEIST: tucker, anything I slay will only cheapen that flawless masterpiece, that work of art. So I‘m just going to let you marinade in it.
CARLSON: Transvestite Eskimos Willie, you can‘t be it. Thanks. That‘s our show. Thanks for watching, MSNBC‘s nonstop coverage of “Decision 2006” continues now with Chris Matthews.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.