Guests: Jon Tester, Richard Haass, Peter King, Claire McCaskill, Kati Marton, David Yepsen, Jay Carney, Lisa Caputo
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Make room for Democrats. With the defeat
of Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, the U.S. Congress is
now in the hands of George Bush‘s opponents. We know the losers; let‘s
meet the winners. Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews, and welcome to HARDBALL. It‘s
official: Democrats have now won control of both the House and the U.S.
Senate. Today, Senator George Allen, the last Republican standing,
conceded defeat in his re-election bid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA: My friends, sometimes wins,
political or otherwise, can blow the leaves off branches and even break
limbs. But a deep-rooted tree will stand, stay standing. It will re-grow
in the next season.
And in this season, the people of Virginia, who I always call the
owners of the government, they have spoken. And I respect their decision.
The Bible teaches us that there‘s a time and place for everything.
And today, I‘ve called and congratulated Jim Webb and his team for their
victory. They had the prevailing winds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Tonight, we‘ll talk to two of the big winners, Senators-
elect Claire McCaskill and Jon Tester.
On Election Day, the Democrats had the president and his party for
lunch. Today, a lunch of a different kind. President Bush had Democratic
leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer over to the White House. After since
years of hammering the Democrats, will President Bush become the self-
professed uniter he had once claimed to be?
On Wednesday, President Bush dumped his defense secretary. Is
Rumsfeld the president‘s scapegoat, or is the president trying to signal a
willingness to change? Tonight, we‘ll get into all of it.
But first, HARDBALL‘s David Shuster on the conclusion of the Virginia
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, canvassing teams
across Virginia said today that the results were accurate, except for a few
votes here and there. So today George Allen said that he would not ask for
a recount, and he conceded to Democrat Jim Webb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER (voice-over): Trailing by more than 7,000 votes, and with
Virginia election officials saying there were no mistakes that would change
the outcome, today George Allen accepted defeat.
ALLEN: In this season, the people of Virginia, who I always call the
owners of government, they have spoken. And I respect their decision. The
Bible teaches us that there‘s a time and place for everything. And today,
I‘ve called and congratulated Jim Webb and his team for their victory.
They had the prevailing winds.
SHUSTER: A short time later, Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb.
SENATOR-ELECT JAMES WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: I‘m walking into the United
States Senate with the independence to represent the people who have no
voice in the quarters of power, and I intend to do that.
SHUSTER: George Allen‘s loss was almost inconceivable just six months
ago. The former governor of Virginia, whose political career began in the
early 80s, had deep connections across the state. He was a powerful
Republican voice in the U.S. Senate, and he was considered a GOP
frontrunner for the 2008 presidential nomination.
ALLEN: Stand strong for freedom, because, with you, freedom and
justice will prevail.
SHUSTER: But this summer, as the war in Iraq deteriorated and Allen
started getting hammered, Allen made a series of missteps that raised
questions about his background and attitudes. All the while, Democrat Jim
Webb was gaining ground, amid the growing public criticism of the Iraq war.
Webb is a Vietnam veteran who has a son serving in Iraq and says it‘s
time for U.S. troops to start coming home. And despite taking hits for
past statements about women, Webb managed to keep the focus on Iraq.
ALLEN: I very much agree with the president. We need to stay the
WEBB: The people who failed to prevent this disaster are not the ones
you can count on to fix it. I‘m Jim Webb. We need to end our occupation
of Iraq and to bring stability to the Middle East.
SHUSTER: Going into Election Day, the final polls indicated the race
was a virtual tie. And when the votes poured in, they proved the pollsters
had been right.
ALLEN: This has been an interesting election, and the election
SHUSTER: By Wednesday, however, the results became clear: Out of 2.3
million votes cast, Webb beat Allen by about .3 percentage points. The
margin was small enough that, under state law, Allen could have requested a
recount later this month. Today, Jim Webb praised Allen and thanked him
for his decision.
WEBB: I did receive a telephone call from George Allen a few hours
ago. We had a good discussion. I want to report to you that he was very
SHUSTER: Today, Jim Webb said that he expects that his election means
and the election of other Democrats to the Senate means that there will be
a diplomatic solution in Iraq. Webb also hit today, Chris, the issue of
raising the minimum wage. And you take those two issues together, the
minimum wage and Iraq, and that is what spelled Jim Webb‘s victory in
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David. Well, what do you think this means for
the Senate? There you‘re getting—you‘re not getting old, left-wing-type
Democrats. Jim Webb, as it looks to me, the biggest straight-arrow
military guy you‘ve seen since G.I. Joe. And he comes into this Senate,
aid the Democrats to get the majority, but he doesn‘t seem like some old,
you know, even Eleanor Roosevelt Democrat. He seems like a Reagan
Democrat, if that.
SHUSTER: Yes. And if you look at who the other Virginia senator is,
John Warner, John Warner, of course, started to criticize the Iraq war and
said we may need to sort of change course.
SHUSTER: In a way, Jim Webb is perhaps more in line with John Warner
on that issue than George Allen was, and I think that‘s where you might
start to see a change, as far as Iraq is concerned. There‘s going to be a
group of moderate Democrats, perhaps moderate Republicans, who are going to
start to press for perhaps another solution. And clearly, Jim Webb is
going to be part of that moderate crowd who will say, “You know what?
There‘s another way out of Iraq.”
MATTHEWS: You know, when you look at all these cases of close
Democratic-Republican fights for the Senate—and Tim Russert, to his
credit, had them on “Meet the Press” every Sunday—every one of these
guys, I believe, had a debate, Santorum, DeWine, they all did, across the
Everyone did their best to get reelected. Everyone seemed to be a
reasonable candidate, and they all went down. Iraq, the four-letter word.
It seems to me that, after all the fighting and confusion of this election,
the dirty ads, kind of the messy politics, the macaca moment, all that,
what really brought all these guys down was the war. It‘s as simple as
that. The public at the margin said no to this war.
SHUSTER: Yes, and the war trumped—I mean, think about, Chris, $75
to $100 million was spent by the Republican Senate incumbents, who lost on
Tuesday night. They spent huge amounts of money. They outspent their
Democratic challengers, like in Virginia, and yet the Iraq war cut through
all of that. The images of the Iraq war were what trumped all of these ads
and all of these attacks.
MATTHEWS: The stupidity of going after something in a novel that a
guy wrote 10 years ago or whatever and trying to use that against Webb, I
think, in the end, the voters said, “Is this how bad it is? You‘ve got to
use somebody‘s old book to go after him?” And they said, “This must be an
empty bag of tricks, and we‘re going to vote for the challenger.”
SHUSTER: Yes, and, Chris, even some Republicans suggested that that
may have backfired at the end, because you look at George Allen, who had a
lengthy career and had a career and a record in the Senate. And a week
before election for him to be talking about what was in Jim Webb‘s novels,
enough Republicans suggest, you know, that may have been a tactical
mistake, because it may have signaled to a lot of voters that George Allen
did want to take attention away from issues that he was dealing with as a
senator and put them on issues as far as what somebody‘s biography.
MATTHEWS: Pathetic move for an incumbent to do, to reach back—I
mean, here‘s a guy, Jim Webb, whatever you think of his politics, which I
think are pretty centrist, if not conservative...
MATTHEWS: .. here‘s a guy who wrote a lot of—he wrote “Rules of
Engagement,” the movie with Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones. I mean,
he‘s an author. You know, he‘s not appealing to the league of decency on
every one of his books. Well, maybe should, but he‘s not.
Anyway, thank you, David Shuster.
The Democrats will have a 51-seat majority in the new U.S. Senate.
One of the winners who helped get the Democrats there is Montana‘s Jon
Mr. Tester, Mr. Senator-elect, thank you for joining us. Are you
going to keep that crew cut in the U.S. Senate? That‘s what I want to
SENATOR-ELECT JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: Absolutely. I like the low
MATTHEWS: I think you might be the first crew cut to hit this city
since H.R. Bob Haldeman, if you don‘t mind me saying so, not exactly a
great predecessor. Did you ever see the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to
TESTER: You know, I haven‘t. I was asked about that earlier today,
but, no, I have not seen it. I like Jimmy Stewart, but I never saw that...
MATTHEWS: Well, I would recommend it. It‘s about a guy who gets
elected to the Senate, absolutely clean, clean as a whistle guy from the
outside of politics. He goes back east, and he discovers all kind of
things he never expected, like deals, and dirty pork barrel, and people
buying up land so that they build a dam somewhere and make a killing on it,
all that kind of stuff that you read about in the civic books, that really
does, according to the movie, happen. Are you ready for that kind of a
TESTER: Well, let‘s hope we can change the system. If that‘s the way
the system works right now where there‘s backroom deals being cut, we need
to do our best to make sure this government‘s an open government, so it‘s
got the transparency of the public, so they can see what‘s going on. I
think that‘s very important to a representative government.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever been in the Senate chamber?
TESTER: I have not. I‘ve been in the one in Montana, but not the one
MATTHEWS: So this will be—the first time you walk into the Senate
chamber will be as a person who‘s been elected to the U.S. Senate?
TESTER: That‘s absolutely correct.
MATTHEWS: Pretty dramatic stuff. Do you feel that you walk in there
with a mission? And what is it?
TESTER: Well, I think the main mission is to be honest and ethical,
as we talked about a second ago, but also represent, not only the people of
the state of Montana, but of this country, the hard-working folks, small-
business people, make sure they get a fair shake and the whole policies
that go on back in Washington, D.C. I‘m a firm believer in the middle
class. I think they built this country; I think they need to be empowered
to rebuild it.
MATTHEWS: And you think that there‘s a way to protect Social
Security, improve Medicare, Medicaid, create higher minimum wage,
opportunities for tax relief for people who pay for college tuition, the
whole list of agenda items the Democrats have been talking about?
TESTER: I absolutely do. I think it‘s just a matter of priorities
and prioritizing your expenditures, and I think we can do it in a fiscally
responsible way so we‘re not borrowing our kids‘ future and opportunities
away. I think it can be done. It‘s about priorities, though. We balance
the budget in Montana every time we go into session, and I think we need to
start looking in that direction back in Washington, D.C., for this country
MATTHEWS: Do you know a way to balance budgets without cutting
spending or raising taxes?
TESTER: Well, I think it‘s about priorities and making sure we get
the biggest bang for the buck. And I know that that‘s easier said than
done, but that‘s what has to happen. Is there going to be some cuts down
the line? Probably. That‘d be my guess. But I think ultimately, if
you‘ve got the right priorities, you can do those kind of things with
minimal affect on the population.
MATTHEWS: You know you‘re in a political party that‘s not famous for
TESTER: Well, I mean, like I said, I‘ll go back and I‘ll do some best
to represent the people of Montana and the middle-class folks in this
country. And we‘ll do it in a fiscally responsible way. People do it at
their kitchen tables every morning. We do it in the state government here.
We need to do it at the federal level.
MATTHEWS: I had Howard Dean on election night, the chairman of the
Democratic Party, and he told me how the Democrats were not going to
support a “bring the troops home” position when your party controls the
Congress. And I said to him, “Well, why do you want to keep troops in that
country who are getting killed every day if you‘re not going to accomplish
something? Are you just doing this for political reasons, to say that
you‘re not cutting and running?”
Do you, sir, Mr. Tester—you‘re going to be a United States senator
• do you believe there‘s a mission for U.S. troops in the future in Iraq
that justifies the level of killing that we‘ve been dealing with over the
last three or four years?
TESTER: I guess this is why we call the show HARDBALL.
TESTER: I‘ll tell you, I think it‘s critically important, Chris, that
we get a clear objective in Iraq and we get a clear plan so that we can
bring our troops home. I think that our troops have performed admirably in
the field; there‘s no doubt about that.
But I think we need to bring in—I mean, if you take a look at the
number of retired generals that have had some real questions about this
war, I think it‘s important we bring in our military leadership and combine
that with political leadership and develop a plan for the region that works
for America and works for the Middle East.
And I think that‘s just what‘s critically important. What‘s been so
frustrating to me here in Montana is that I don‘t see a plan. I don‘t see
any end in sight, and it‘s costing us too much in blood and money. And so
I think we need to develop a plan and bring the situation to a resolution,
and the quicker, the better.
MATTHEWS: Well, congratulations, sir. You have an honor that I
couldn‘t even imagine having. To be a United States senator is such a
wonderful thing. I just hope that, when you walk into that chamber for the
first time, you‘ll feel magic, because it‘s there. And I congratulate you
on winning that seat in the U.S. Senate. Yes?
TESTER: Thanks for your time, too.
MATTHEWS: And, number two, please come back here. We have a chair
for you here, as well as in the U.S. Senate. It‘s right in front of me,
and you‘re welcome to sit in it anytime you come back here, because it‘s
really a great honor to meet you. You‘ve made the American political
system work. Once again, we‘ve had a choice, and they chose you. Thank
you very much, Jon Tester.
Still ahead on HARDBALL, another new Democrat headed to the U.S.
Senate, Missouri‘s Claire McCaskill. And up next, what does the change in
Congress mean for the war in Iraq? You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: On Tuesday, the voters spoke. Republicans are out;
Democrats are in now. Rumsfeld on his way out. He‘s on his way out of the
Pentagon. And today, Nancy Pelosi made her way into the White House.
To discuss it all, Republican Congressman Peter King, a man who knows
how to work across the aisle, friends with Bill Clinton, a man of unique
political skills, another author.
Congressman, would you like to have somebody go into one of your books
and dig up some colorful love-making material, and say, “You‘re no damn
good. Look what you wrote in this book”?
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: No, absolutely not. I thought that
was a terrible mistake. In fact, you know, just watching that from a
distance, once I saw that, I was thinking, “Senator Allen must be
desperate. I mean, his polls must be showing bad news,” otherwise you
wouldn‘t go to that.
And it had nothing to do with that. I mean, a novel—you can go to
the Bible. You can go to Shakespeare. You can take extracts out, and you
can show, you know, make it sound pornographic, make it sound obscene. And
also what Webb was writing about, he was talking about, you know, real-life
situations. And real life is not always pretty, and it can at times be
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s “Canonical of Canonical” (ph) was the racy
stuff, anyway, if I remember from school. But, Mr. Congressman, let me ask
you about this. In the comment we just heard, when Jim Webb accepted
victory in Virginia—and that is, of course, the decisive voter decision
in the U.S. Senate race. The Senate is now going to be ruled by Democrats.
He called on the president of the United States to stop all the dirty
campaigning. Do you think that‘s something that would work, to change the
rules of engagement for politics in this country?
KING: Yes, no, as far as the dirty campaigning, there was an awful
lot on both sides.
MATTHEWS: There sure was.
KING: I‘m not trying to—so, you know, to just put that aside for a
moment, yes, I think we should stop it. I think you and I may have
different political views on certain issues, but I would much rather have
the old-time stuff where you fought it out on the issues, occasionally
maybe there‘s a little bit of a personal shot, just on the edges.
But now, I mean, especially with the Internet, I mean, people taking
one line here, one line there, you know, they‘re demonizing people. I
think the problem Nancy Pelosi is going to have—by the way, you know, I
know Nancy Pelosi well. She‘s far more liberal than I would be, but I
think she wants to, you know, make things work as speaker of the House.
But she‘s going to have a very almost rabid base, which has been
conditioned to hate George Bush, the same as Republicans hated Bill Clinton
in the 1990s, you know, the real base on both sides.
MATTHEWS: And you know all about that, because you were trying to
stop that. Let me ask you, how do we get—it seems to me the Democrats
have a question before them and the Republicans have a question before
them. The Republicans have to decide—the president—whether to try to
change his policy in Iraq in a way that brings in a larger majority in this
country, gets the country behind the war as it was in the very beginning,
maybe under false pretenses, but it was together.
And the Democrats have to decide if they want to sign on or stay
critic. What do you think they‘ll decide? Sign on, which means you‘ve got
to stop complaining. You‘ve got to start forming a national unity front.
Or stick back and basically say, “Mr. President, it‘s your war. Get us out
KING: Well, let me say up front, I do support the war. I supported
going to war, and I do think that we should not leave until there‘s a
reasonable chance of stability in Iraq.
Having said that, the voters indicated real dissatisfaction with the
war policy. Now, translating dissatisfaction into a new policy is going to
be difficult. I think the president did the right thing in taking Don
Rumsfeld‘s resignation, because he had become the lightning rod.
That gives the Democrats now the opportunity to come to the table and
say what their policy is. It gives the president the opportunity to try to
incorporate that. And if they can work out a joint policy or at least a
policy where we‘re not saying, you know, “Bush lied, Americans died,” and,
you know, we‘re not saying that, you know, Democrats want to cut and run,
at least if we can narrow the perimeters of the debate and go forward, I
think it would be helpful.
And I think what the president did—and I‘m not one of these anti-
Rumsfeld people, but, you know, the reality was you cannot expect Nancy
Pelosi, and Harry Reid, and Steny Hoyer to be coming to the table to
discuss a policy if Don Rumsfeld was still the secretary of defense. And
MATTHEWS: Yes, why don‘t both parties simply state the facts? The
president of the United States, the one we have now, our president, is only
going to be in office for two more years. He can only control policy for
two more years.
So negotiate with him over the next two years about getting our troops
out and just say, “We‘re going to get them out in the next two years,”
because no other president after him is going to keep them in there. Why
don‘t the two parties agree that this is a two-year deal, we‘re going to
get our troops out? No permanent bases in Iraq. What we can do we can do
in two years. If we can‘t do it in two years, we‘re not going to be able
to do it in that country? Why don‘t we just agree on that point?
KING: Well, I think we can all agree that we want our troops out of
Iraq. I think the president though—and I agree with him on this—does
not want to pull them out in a way that‘s going to create a greater crisis
in the future.
Having said that, the current policy obviously does not have the
support of the American people. So if we can find a way, for instance, to
see what the Baker-Hamilton commission is going to have. And the fact that
Gates was on that commission sort of indicates to me, you know, the fix is
in here and that it‘s going to make it easier for him to implement that
I think what is probably going to be—the Democrats will probably
want the troops out at a faster rate than the president would, and maybe
they can find a compromise in there. But it‘s obvious. Listen, the
reality is, even though I do support the policy and I do want Iraq to be
stable, you cannot sustain a war for a long period of time once the
American people have said, you know, that they don‘t want to be there.
So this has to be made to work I think in less than two years. I think
it has to be made to work within the year, so to have a policy where we are
disengaging, and the army and the police in Iraq are able to remain some
level of stability.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we can get out in a year?
KING: Well, not so much “out.” I would say that we have to know
within a year that the policy is working. We have a year to make this
KING: And we can do it in a bipartisan way, at least narrow the
parameters of the debate. I think, you know, we can sustain it.
MATTHEWS: I only have 10 seconds here. Do you think that John Bolton
should be confirmed as the United States ambassador to the U.N.?
KING: Yes, I do. I think he‘s been a fierce advocate for the United
States and very effective and has gotten a lot of bipartisan support.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently that‘s crumbling, because you see Joe
Biden today saying he wants to kill that nomination, so kill that
KING: I know. That‘s unfortunate.
MATTHEWS: Well, he is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in
the Senate. He‘s got a lot of clout. It looks to me like that nomination
may well be deathly.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman Peter King.
Up next, the Democrats are in, and Rumsfeld is out. What‘s it mean
for the U.S. role in Iraq? You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Donald Rumsfeld said during his
resignation speech Wednesday that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are,
quote, “not well-known, not well-understood” and, quote, “complex for
people to comprehend.”
Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Richard, thank you for joining us. What in the world do you think
that Rummy was saying, that these wars are too complicated for us to
understand, or what?
RICHARD HAASS, WWW.CFR.ORG: Well, I‘ve long ago, Chris, given up
trying to decipher everything Don Rumsfeld meant. They are complex
situations, but, that said, I think the American people actually have a
pretty good fix, that the current policy isn‘t working, hence the result
the other day.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about—how do you—you know, the old
line in the Watergate days was, “How do you get the toothpaste back in the
tube?” How do you repeal a war? How do you do something, once you‘ve
realized you probably made a strategic error in putting U.S. troops into
Iraq, if you decide that, how do you fix the problem? How do you get them
out and sort of fix the problem, as if it had never happened?
HAASS: You can‘t. And not every problem can be fixed. And this is
one of those. And there‘s no option that‘s out there that can fix this.
So we‘re actually in that awful situation where we‘ve got to look to cut
our losses, to cut our costs, and then maybe look for some other way to
offset what we‘ve lost in Iraq. But there‘s no way that anyone can come up
with an option now that‘s going to bring about success in Iraq. It‘s
simply not on the table.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you to do a multiple choice, and I‘ll think this
up as I go along. First option on the multiple choice is we leave Iraq in
a couple of years, hopefully with few casualties, but as long as we stay,
we‘ll be taking them, people getting killed, killing people, innocents on
the side getting killed. Suppose we say we want a Tito-style solution, we
want a real tough, tough strongman to run that country, because it‘s the
only way to stop all these militias from shooting people, and to actually
have a government that controls the streets.
Is that a bad solution, a tough Shia leader backed by Sistani who‘s
able to bring people like Muqtada al-Sadr into the tent, disarm them, and
run the government? Is that a bad solution? Is it the best we can get?
HAASS: It might not be a bad solution, but it‘s not a viable
solution. You‘re not going to come up with any strong Shia leader who‘s
going to be acceptable to the Kurds in the north and, more importantly, to
the large number of Sunnis. There‘s, what, eight million or so Sunnis in
Iraq who are simply not going to accept that sort of an outcome. Things
have gone past that point where you can have that sort of a strong, central
MATTHEWS: Well, how about a weak, wobbly, three-way government which
is highly federalized?
HAASS: Well, you can have elements of that, but it‘s going to break
down in terms of the details. How is oil revenue going to be shared? How
is political power going to be shared? And, in the middle, in particular,
even though the Kurds dominate the north, the Shia dominate the south, one
of the many problems in Iraq is that the middle is comprised of everybody,
not just Sunnis. And there the civil war is going to continue.
MATTHEWS: Why don‘t we say we‘re going to get out in 18 months
completely? We‘re bringing everything with us, including the guns. We‘re
leaving, and you better start planning for that now. That means you got to
cut all your deals, settle all your fish now, because we‘re going to be
gone from there. So the Shia know they can‘t completely control the
government, because of Sunni opposition. The Kurds have got to protect
their interests. And everybody realizes they‘ve got to cut a deal before
we leave. Will that work?
HAASS: You can try it. I doubt it will work. But I think the people
Iraq are not necessarily willing or able to meet the kind of standards or
milestones you are suggesting.
Look, Chris, let me give you my multiple choice. One option which the
American people have rejected is more of same. Secondly, I don‘t think
there is a lot of political support for simply pulling the plug and
So what you are going to se is everybody rally around some third way,
some third option. Militarily, what it‘s going to mean are troop
reductions, not complete withdrawal, but reductions. My hunch is we are
going to get out of greater Baghdad sooner rather than later, the civil war
there will probably rage. You may have some American advisors but
essentially you‘re going see a smaller American force and one that is going
to do different things, perhaps guard the border with Syria, perhaps keep
the Kurds safe in the north and keep the Kurds from going to war.
Essentially it‘s going to be a smaller, different kind of military
presence, one that will probably suffer far fewer casualties because they
are much less likely to get involved in the civil war. Secondly you are
going to see more of a diplomatic approach. It‘s going to mean not simply
internally trying to bring about a deal which I think is a long shot, but
going to see, I believe, calls for some sort of a regional approach that
will bring countries like Iran and Syria into the diplomatic mix.
MATTHEWS: Why would Iran come to our aid seeing that we are weak?
HAASS: The reason is they wouldn‘t simply be coming to our aid, they
wouldn‘t do it for that reason but Iran does not want to see the civil war
get out of control. They don‘t, for example, want to see an independent
Kurdish state because there are many Kurds in Iran who might be attracted
to get involved. They don‘t want to see massive refugee flows.
So the Iranians, while they are happy see Americans bogged down, do
not want to see a civil war get out of control. They don‘t want to see the
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that there is a role for the United States
this today forward that justifies the loss of American lives as long as we
HAASS: I don‘t believe there is a role if by that you mean more of
the same. I think there is a case for a different role. One that would
essentially get us out of the civil war, give us more limited military
roles, essentially advising, some training, some guarding of the border.
But that‘s about it. That‘s what I could justify.
I don‘t think you can justify more of the same for months or years.
You are simply throwing good money and good lives, I believe, after bad.
Its just that the prospects for succeeding aren‘t there.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Richard Haass. He is head of the
Council on Foreign Relations.
Up next, another winner heading to the Senate, Missouri Senator-elect
Claire McCaskill. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: When I return to Washington next week,
I do so knowing that we have made a statement here tonight.
SEN. RICK SANTORUM, ® PA: As all the political pundits may be
correctly now were saying, why did you go out and talk about those
unpopular things like the war. And I did. And I‘m very proud. I do not
rescind a word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: One of the new Democrats in the Senate will be Missouri‘s
Claire McCaskill who beat Senator Jim Talent on Tuesday. I have the first
question for Senator elect McCaskill. Welcome aboard. This is HARDBALL.
I have the first question for you. Should the United States Senate
confirm the nomination of John Bolton to the United Nations?
SENATOR-ELECT CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MO: Yeah, probably. You know, I
haven‘t had a chance it review all of Mr. Bolton‘s record. But, you know,
I am a believer that the president has certain picks that he is entitled
to. As long as I‘m convinced that they are serious about beginning work on
diplomacy. Obviously that has been kind of AWOL in this administration,
that emphasis on building alliances. Now is the time to remain committed
to the United Nations. Not to withdraw. I would want to get those
assurances from Mr. Bolton. And if he could give those assurances than I
would probably be deferential to the president on this pick.
MATTHEWS: Why would a leopard change his stripes? What you just
described is the opposite of John Bolton.
MCCASKILL: I understand that is kind of his reputation. But, this is
about what policy he is implementing at the United Nations. If the
president is supportive of the work of United Nations and his appointee
assures the Senate that he will be supportive of the president‘s support of
United Nations, then I would probably vote yes. But I‘d have some tough
questions to ask, just like you ask.
MATTHEWS: What do you think the neoconservatives, the people who come
into the power and believe it is the job of the United States government,
not to protect this country but their job, their mission, their messianic
dream is to go around the world, looking for governments they do not like
and trying to democratize them by force and killing and blood and treasure,
go into those countries, overturn the leadership an try to urn them into
us. Do you think that‘s the kind person you want representing us to the
MCCASKILL: I think that that is absolutely not what we want to be
doing. I have said many times in the campaign, you don‘t build democracy
at the barrel of a gun. It has to come from the people that live in the
country. Ours is glorious democracy because it came from the people of
this country. And it has to come from internally within the nation.
We are spreading ourselves way too thin, militarily, by trying to
spread democracy at the barrel of a gun and we need to change forces that
relates to that kind of policy.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the president‘s decision to relieve
Secretary Rumsfeld of command the day after election? Was that a necessary
political move to reflect the public‘s judgment?
MCCASKILL: I think this—this shows you how out of touch Washington
is, it is a really good example of how decisions are made politically
instead of what is best for the American people. Obviously the timing of
this was political. The American people know that. And they are kind of
disgusted by it.
If he wasn‘t the man to do the job, if he had failed in the job then
as soon as the president reeled realized that, he sold have been gone.
Instead they played political games with it. And both parties.
Sometimes the senators from bright red and bright blue states are so busy
playing political games they forget we have serious work to do. That‘s why
I‘m hopeful that a senator from Missouri, this is not a bright blue place
or a bright red place, I‘m hopeful that I can maybe throw a fuel elbows
toward that goal of maybe fixing problems instead of playing politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, you do respect the bellwether state and we always
like to say the only time you weren‘t in tune with the rest of the country
of was I believe in 1956 when for whatever reason you went from supporting
Dwight Eisenhower, the hero of World War II back to voting for the guy who
you voted against in 1952, Adlai Stevenson, and by the way, while we are on
that subject, how do you explain that peculiar history of Missouri?
MCCASKILL: I will tell you that I think that election had had a lot
to do with Harry Truman‘s friendship with Adlai Stevenson and Adlai
Stevenson being from next door. I think that Truman had an influence on
Missouri in that election. I can tell you that Missourians to this day
revere Harry Truman.
MATTHEWS: This president, George W. Bush, likes to compare himself
with Harry Truman because of the Truman doctrine and uniting the country
against the communists starting with the Truman doctrine, the aid to Greece
and Turkey back in ‘47. Do you buy the parallel?
MCCASKILL: Oh, my gosh. If Harry Truman were here, you necessity, he
was known to use colorful language. I think he would have some colorful
language for this administration and I think it would drive him crazy that
President Bush was comparing himself to Harry Truman. There really are—
almost no similarities between the two of them as leaders.
MATTHEWS: You mean his attitude towards corporate America compared to
this president‘s attitude towards corporate America?
MCCASKILL: Absolutely. Harry Truman was all about kind of bringing
truth to power as it related to the little guy, the kind of families that
have made our country the strongest on the planet and this presidency
really has given those families the back of his hand.
MATTHEWS: Your final question. I‘m such a romantic about this. Have
you ever been in the Senate chamber?
MCCASKILL: You know, I had an opportunity but I declined because I
thought it might jinx me.
MATTHEWS: Ha, I love it.
MCCASKILL: I get goose bumps thinking about it. I love our
democracy, I‘m a complete nut about government, and I can‘t wait to walk in
that room and I guarantee you I will have goose bumps when I walk in.
MATTHEWS: What a wonderful opportunity. Thank you, I said before to
Jon Tester, democracy works, people get a choice and you are their choice.
Congratulations and I hope you enjoy that moment, walking in the door.
Thank you, very much, Claire McCaskill.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Headed toward the Senate chamber.
Just like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” I think. Up next, how did
these elections change the landscape of the presidential race? Coming up
next time, we‘ll bring in our panel to talk about it. This is HARDBALL
only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Where will President Bush and the Democrats find common ground and
will it include Iraq? Jay Carney is the Washington bureau chief for “Time
Magazine” and has been overseeing time.com‘s election coverage.
Kati Marton is a former ABC News and NPR reporter and author of the
new book, and it looks great, “The Great Escape: How Nine Jews Escaped,”
what is the Nazis?
KATI MARTON, AUTHOR, “THE GREAT ESCAPE”: Yeah, and changed America.
MATTHEWS: Big names. Alexander Korda, Michael Curtiz, who directed
the Casablanca, all this amazing stuff.
David Yepsen is the political columnist for the “Des Moines Register”
and Lisa Caputo, is she here, is the former press secretary for Hillary
God, you are great, Lisa, I haven‘t seen you in so long. Look, I want
to give everybody a shot at this. So what, that‘s my question. The
Democrats are in power, they control the two bodies, it‘s a big upset, the
president of the United States is being strategic in accepting the fact
that they are there, he has to deal with them. He deal with the Baker-Lee
Hamilton commission. He is accepting all kind of humility. They are all
hiding behind this guy Baker, but Connie, where is the truth here? Are we
going to get out of Iraq at some point in the next couple of years with a
minimum of casualties or are we just going to stick around another six
months or a year to make it look good? Taking more casualties
accomplishing nothing we couldn‘t accomplish if we left tomorrow morning.
JAY CARNEY, “TIME MAGAZINE”: Well, I think we can‘t leave tomorrow
MATTHEWS: Why not?
CARNEY: Because the resulting chaos in that country would make the
current chaos look like .
MATTHEWS: Well, we would stop having Americans killed. That‘s a
CARNEY: We‘d stop having Americans—But the consequences, I
understand what you are saying, but the consequences of an immediate
withdrawal would be catastrophic, I believe. But I think that the
opportunity for a quick withdrawal is greater now than it ever has been
obviously and will be two years from now when a new president takes over
who then, if we are still in there with substantial numbers, if we don‘t
take this opportunity now to get out within the next two years in a
reasonable manner, the next president will then be faced with the
possibility of having a loss on his or her watch and that president won‘t
want to do it so he may come in like Richard Nixon did in 1969 and say I‘m
not going to lose this war.
So I think with the Baker commission, with Gates coming in as defense
secretary, there is a lot of momentum with the midterm elections and the
sort of establishment that it‘s time for the realists and the pragmatists .
MATTHEWS: I just don‘t want to hear what the middle—the mid-point
between two people that are wrong somehow becomes the truth. I do not
accept the fact that leaving in six months to a year is better than now.
We could have gotten out of Vietnam in ‘63. We stayed until ‘73. We got
nothing different than we would have gotten in the beginning.
We got our POWs back that we lost in that 10 year period. If you are
going to leave eventually, Connie, and we are going to leave eventually,
why not now? And how would it be any different when we leave than leaving
now. If 10 years from now, we have the same argument and we‘ll leave then?
MARTON: First of all, I think the Democrats now have an historic
opportunity to define their goal in Iraq. Which is not to say that they
need to have a plan. We still have a commander in chief. Don‘t forget.
We may have a lame duck in the White House but he is still the commander in
He has to come up with a plan but I think with the Democrats now in
both—controlling both houses, obviously we are going to have hearings.
Obviously, this tone of conciliation and moderation can‘t last forever but
with Gates coming in, as Jay said, there is—and by the way, the world is
looking to us for a whole new day as well. And I think that if we can
transfer this conciliatory tone, not only across the aisle in the House and
the Senate, but in the region, in the Middle East and start talking to our
foes, the way this administration hasn‘t .
MATTHEWS: OK, that makes sense, try to bring in the region, if you
can get them to do it. But they know we are on the run now. They know
they don‘t have to come in. If you‘re Ahmadinejad you don‘t have to come
in and help us now. We are in trouble. We might have to beg him to come
Lisa Caputo, the big question here is Richard Nixon came in 1969, he
was elected in ‘68. He said he was going to Vietnamize the war over there.
Eventually got our troops out. We lost more guys after that than before
that. We spent the lives of 30-some thousand Americans doing what we
intended to do, leave the country but on the way out they all died. What‘s
the advantage in a slow withdrawal over a quick request drawl? I just
don‘t get the difference.
LISA CAPUTO, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: I don‘t think
it‘s a question, Chris, of slow or quick, I think it‘s a question of being
pragmatic and being methodical about it. Right now our allies are feeling
very exposed due to a weakened White House. Bush to his credit has moved
quickly by nominating Gates, the number two to Scowcroft, let‘s not forget
this, under Bush One. They are bringing a pragmatic approach back in with
a signal to the Hill that they are going to be more middle of the road. So
I don‘t think it‘s fast versus slow. Chris. I think it‘s a methodical,
logical, thoughtful approach to get out.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll get back to David Yepsen when we come back. David I
want to ask you about the politics of the new government forming right now.
You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: OK. It was inevitable, we‘re going to talk to this panel
about ‘08 politics. Jay Carney of “Time”, Kati Marton, the great author,
MARTON: “The Great Escape.”
MATTHEWS: “The Great Escape, How Nine Jews Got Away from Hitler.”
MARTON: “How Nine Jews Got Away from Hitler and Changed the World.”
MATTHEWS: The funny thing, I recognize almost all of them. Anyway,
David Yepsen of the “Des Moines Register” and Lisa Caputo who worked for
I want to start with David Yepsen because we‘re all going to Iowa at
some point soon. Is Vilsack going to run? Is his running, the governor
there, the lame duck governor, is his running going to ruin the Iowa
caucuses because obviously the home guy wins?
DAVID YEPSEN, “DES MOINES REGISTER: No. I don‘t think it‘s going to
ruin the caucuses. Other candidates have decided to come in here. It
gives Vilsack a real problem because I don‘t see how he wins anything here.
He‘s expected to win. If he does, people like you are going to shrug it
off as expected. And if he loses and he‘s running fourth place in the
polls out here, then it‘s going to be a big hit. I can tell you, the other
Democratic presidential candidates are not cutting him any slack out here.
MATTHEWS: So who‘s running right now? Barack Obama, is he going to
YEPSEN: Well, he sure t acted like a candidate. He has made three or
four visits to the state and got huge crowds on his visit. Senator Joe
Biden, John Edwards. There have been a lot of people doing groundwork out
MATTHEWS: How about Kerry. Is he limping or is he in big trouble?
YEPSEN: I think he is finished. I think a lot of Iowa Democrats were
kind of angry with John Kerry. They did give him a win in the last round
of caucuses which he rode clear to the nomination. And then he didn‘t pan
out. So he was trying to get something going, but this last statement, you
hear Democrats saying forget it. He had his chance.
MATTHEWS: How about Republicans. Is this going to be Mitt Romney
country or what?
YEPSEN: It could very well be, Chris. He is starting early. He is
organizing. He‘s reaching out to lot of different people. He‘s got
religious conservatives, he‘s also got party moderates. So in a time when
people are kind of tired of Washington, Mitt Romney I think has got himself
in a good position.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to go around the table. Since you are the only
true expert on the Iowa caucuses. Kati, you wanted to get in. Who‘s the
front running coming out of these ‘06 elections?
MARTON: I am going around the country promoting “The Great Escape.”
Everywhere I go Barack Obama has just been—it‘s a phenomenon. People
are reeling from his presence. They camp out overnight waiting to get—I
was at a bookstore in San Francisco last week where 1,100 people lined up.
MATTHEWS: OK. Can I break your romance here a little bit? Every
major African American candidate from Michael Steele to Lynn Swann, to
Harold Ford Jr., to Ken Blackwell, wipe out. And now this guy‘s going for
the top job. What‘s he basing his optimism on?
MARTON: He‘s brilliant. He‘s charismatic.
MATTHEWS: I‘m sorry. Deval Patrick won in Massachusetts. There is
hope. Keep going.
MARTON: And by the way, I don‘t think we‘ve seen the end of Ford,
either. I think .
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think so either.
MARTON: I think he was the victim of the slimiest among many slimy
campaigns and I think Harold Ford will rise again.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve give Lisa a shot. Lisa, is Hillary still the front
runner on the Democrat‘s side if she runs?
CAPUTO: Yeah. I think by far. Every poll you look at, whether it‘s
Charlie Cook‘s polls or whoever, has her at least way ahead of everybody
else. But Chris, there‘s one point coming out of these elections that I
think is important to note.
And that is look at the state legislatures across the country.
Twenty-three state legislatures are now controlled by Democrats in both
chambers. Fifteen states have one party government controlled by Democrats
and six governorships flipped to the Democratic column. That‘s major going
into a presidential election for the Democrats. You know better than
anybody, it all happens at the state level.
MATTHEWS: It sounds like, Lisa, you‘re crediting Howard dean for his
full court approach, right?
CAPUTO: I credit Rahm Emanuel for an unbelievable showing in the
House. He is my buddy, I‘ve got to give him lots of credit. But I think
it was a great Democratic collaborative effort.
MATTHEWS: So who‘s the front runner?
CARNEY: Hillary Clinton certainly. Kati and I were talking about .
MATTHEWS: Don‘t talk now about it because we‘ve got to get off.
Who‘s the front runner of the Repubs?
CARNEY: McCain still.
MATTHEWS: McCain still. Thank you Jay Carney, Kati Marton, Lisa
Caputo and David Yepsen, the Iowa man.
COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN starts right now.
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