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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Dec. 4

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Chris Catropa, Emil Reyes

CAMPBELL BROWN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Tonight direct from Fordham University in the Bronx, it‘s the HARDBALL College Tour.  Our special guest: NBC‘s Tom Brokaw. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening, everybody, and welcome. 

I‘m Campbell Brown, hosting tonight for Chris Matthews. 

Welcome to the HARDBALL College Tour from Fordham University in the Bronx. 

Tonight, a look at events here at home and around the world with NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.  For 21 years he was the anchor and managing editor of the “NBC Nightly News”, guiding us night after night through the good times and the tough times.  From Watergate to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the war in Iraq with over 40 years of skillful reporting under his belt, he has seen it all and done it all.  Today, he is busier than ever with his special reports and on-air expertise on both NBC and MSNBC. 

Tonight, we‘ll hit all the big issues, especially the war in Iraq. 

Today President Bush met with a top Shiite leader following a recent surge in sectarian violence.  Tomorrow confirmation hearings begin for the president‘s nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the Defense Department, Bob Gates.  And on Wednesday the Baker-Hamilton commission releases its recommendations for Iraq. 

We get to all of that in a moment, but first, let‘s have a big Fordham University welcome for our special guest, Tom Brokaw. 


TOM BROKAW, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  I feel like I just walked on to the set of “Deal or No Deal”. 

BROWN:  Is this the first time you‘ve been welcomed with cheerleaders? 

BROKAW:  I never had pom-poms, actually to do the—to do the nightly news. 

BROWN:  We‘re going to start tonight in a serious note and talk about Iraq.  The issue, I think, that‘s consuming all of Washington and much of the country, these recommendations coming from the Baker-Hamilton commission.  They‘ve been tasked with finding new solutions.  Is it an impossible job? 

BROKAW:  I think it‘s close to an impossible job given the expectations.  I think it‘s going to be a very useful exercise on the part of some of our most distinguished citizens led by Lee Hamilton and Jim Baker, one a Democrat, one a Republican, a very strong bipartisan committee. 

The choices are not easy in Iraq.  And the president has made it clear that he has his own continuing strong ideas about what he thinks ought to be done there.  So I don‘t think the country should expect on this Wednesday a magic bullet in which the Baker-Hamilton commission comes out and says here it is, a prescription for peace, democracy and American troops out of there.  It‘s not going to happen that way. 

This is a complex issues.  It‘s got a lot of parts to it.  And what they‘re going to do is make a number of recommendations about how we can advance the goal, but at the same time lower the risk for Americans politically, but especially physically. 

I‘m just looking at these young people here today.  And wherever I go now, I say to them and to other audiences—we‘re here at Fordham University.  It‘s a wonderful school.  It‘s teaching the working class kids a lot in the New York area.  And you have a choice.  You can come here.  You don‘t have to go in the armed services. 

But at this hour in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are young men and women who are in uniform and their families are living in a state of perpetual terror that something is going to happen to them at any moment.  And now those families are wondering, is it worth it?  And That‘s a very tough political question. 

BROWN:  One of those recommendations is expected to be a drawdown of troops.  You still talk to commanders on the ground in Iraq and you certainly talk to people in the administration, I know, to this day.  Is that the right direction?  Is your sense of the direction we should...

BROKAW:  Well, there are those believe, including John McCain, that we have to have more troops, that you have to put in more so you can have less in the short time that you have to get the situation under control.  I just think that‘s very politically difficult to do right now, given the last election, and even, I believe, that in terms of the realities of the manpower situation in the armed forces.  A lot of these National Guard and Reserve Units have been back a couple of times.  Marines are going back for a third tour.  They‘re strained. 

Moreover, they‘re not only strained, but then you have to worry about the downstream effects.  Are people going to want to get involved in the military?  It‘s a voluntary force.  If they want to join up, if they think this is what‘s going to happen to them, they keep getting pushed back into harm‘s way. 

I think that there‘s some interesting proposals out there.  You know, we‘ve been having this conversation in the last week or so.  I think could you pull some of the troops out of the interior of Iraq, put them on the perimeter in places like Qatar and Kuwait.  My guess is that we‘ll see some of that in recommendation, so we‘re in the theater but not in the line of fire. 

We‘re a red flag over there.  You know, we‘re an occupational force at this point.  And the face of America in Iraq has got a Kevlar helmet, bulletproof vest, and a Humvee, goggles or sunglasses on.  You know, we‘ve got to change that profile in some way. 

BROWN:  The cover of “Newsweek” magazine this is—talks about President Bush.  And I think the headline on is “Will He Listen?”  You are also, you know, a student of this president.  And you‘ve studied him, you know him. 

Will he listen?  We he do what they...

BROKAW:  Well, I think there are signs that he will listen now.  We got the leak over the weekend of the Don Rumsfeld memo that went two days before the election, about we‘ve got to change the pattern, the DNA here.  The election was a big signal to him. 

And look, Jim Baker and the others on that panel are people who can look him in the eye and say, “Mr. President, this is what we think.” 

I know from talking to members of the panel that he‘s been very engaged and they‘ve been having private sessions with him, that he‘s been asking smart, informed questions.  They don‘t know whether they can get past a certain threshold.  And threshold has to do a lot with whether you can expand the conversation beyond Iraq—do you get the Syrians involved?  Do you get the Iranians involved?  What do you do about the Middle East peace process?  How do you get the Israelis and the Palestinians back on another track besides war? 

And that‘s a critical issue out there.  And there‘s some resistance within the administration about putting the pressure on the Israelis and about talking to the Syrians and talking to the Iranians. 

BROWN:  To what extent are President Bush‘s hands tied, though, in foreign policy or, you know, on the domestic front, as well because his credibility took a hit? 

There are a lot of people in this audience and a lot of people who felt like the administration wasn‘t fully honest, certainly in the lead-up to the war and hasn‘t been about many of these issues.  The Rumsfeld memo, being another example, they felt, of different things being said publicly than privately. 

BROKAW:  Well, his presidency‘s at stake.  And he has to know that.  I know his people around him know that.  They‘ve got a couple of years.  This is a big indictment of him—the election when you had both the House and the Senate go the way that it did.  His disapproval rating has not moved much at all.  The goodwill that he had based on his personality is dwindling as well. 

No one wants a president to be an utter failure.  It‘s not in the best interest of any of us.  And he certainly doesn‘t want his presidency to be an utter failure.  He bet his presidency on Iraq.  It was a big, bold move.  They thought that they could pull it off.  There were a lot of skeptics. 

The military victory I always thought would happen as swiftly as it did.  I did have concerns, having spent a lot of time over there before the war, about what would happen in a year or two years out. 

The tribal lines have always been very, very clearly drawn there.  Even when Saddam was in power, he spent an awful lot of his power suppressing, for example, the Shia because he didn‘t want them to share power with the Sunnis.  And the Kurds are sitting up in the north wondering, “When do we get our share of all that oil revenue?”  So it‘s a complex situation. 

BROWN:  Let me ask you—this is sort of asking you, I think, to be more reflective for this audience—do we have any sense of the impact that this war is going to have over the long-term for this generation? 

BROKAW:  I don‘t think we do have about—in precise terms, Campbell.  What I do believe—and people should be aware of this—is that Islamic rage is real.  There is—there are too many people in the Islamic world who believe the only way they can be faithful is to join jihad against the West and attack all that we all hold dear, the Western ideal of modernity and pluralism and rule of law and tolerance for other faiths.  That has not gone away.  In many ways it‘s been exacerbated, I believe, by what‘s been going on in Iraq. 

The demographics are frightening.  The population growth within the Islamic world is exponential.  I go to Pakistan a lot, as you know, and spend a lot of time up at the border with Afghanistan.  And as I go through Peshawar and those other places outside of Islamabad, I see all of these young people in the streets, and they‘re giving getting married and giving birth to more young Muslims. 

They have not many prospects for jobs.  There is really no public education system in Pakistan that can compete with the madrassas, which are the religious schools.  And in the religious schools, the mullahs say the way to heaven is to attack the west.  So these are difficult circumstances.  And you can‘t solve it just military.

BROWN:  Before we take a break, I just want to ask the audience and show me with applause, how many people support the war in Iraq still to this day?


BROWN:  And how many believe it‘s time for the troops to come home?


BROWN:  Surprise you at all?

BROKAW:  My guess is that that‘s true around the country.  But it‘s not just a matter of reaching up and hitting the off switch.  If it‘s chaotic now if we pull out precipitously, it‘s really chaotic.

And it also says something about what is the United States commitment when it goes to someplace?  We went through this in Vietnam.  We‘re trying to learn the lessons of Vietnam in making the arrangements now.  The president has been meeting with the Shiite and the Sunni leaders in Washington and I think that was a welcome change. 

The message there is, it‘s your country.  Get it under control.  We can‘t do this job for you.  That‘s an important part of the construct.

BROWN:  All right, we‘ve got to take a quick break.  Coming up, more with Tom Brokaw here on the HARDBALL College Tour live from Fordham University.


BROKAW:  Over that ridge line and over a couple more ridge lines is Pakistan.  But before you get to Pakistan, you have the tribal regions.  Probably Osama bin Laden is somewhere in there.  Do you ever think about him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Honestly, he‘s not my focus.  My focus is this valley, the next valley and the villages that we can influence. 

BROKAW:  Afghanistan is going to be a different country because of your elections.  And young women now will have a role in the government.  Is that a good idea?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator):  That conflicts with what is allowed by God and also by the government.  We love that.  We like that. 



CROWD:  Hey MSNBC, thanks for bringing the HARDBALL College Tour to Fordham University here in the Bronx, home of the Rams.

BROWN:  Welcome back to the HARDBALL College Tour, coming to you live from the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University here in the beautiful Bronx.  Our guest for the hour is television news veteran, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.  And I want to continue a little bit with Iraq because tomorrow as you know, the Senate confirmation hearings begin for Bob Gates, the president‘s choice to replace Donald Rumsfeld. 

First, talk about whether you think his confirmation is assured, but also what the change in personnel means in terms of the change in policy, the fact that he is coming from the circle that surrounded the president‘s father and their views, especially with regard to Iraq.

BROKAW:  Well, I think he will be confirmed.  I think they‘ll rough him up a little bit.  I think they‘ll put him through the Rumsfeld filter to see if he is going to behave in the same way that Don Rumsfeld did.  Rumsfeld is a brilliant, long-serving American public servant who seems to have lost his way in the last several years. 

He was in the minds of a lot of people that had to deal with him, pretty mono-focused on his point of view.  He didn‘t want to hear other points of view, and he was confident to the point of arrogance that he could see this through on his terms.

BROWN:  Were you surprised the president waited until after the midterm election?

BROKAW:  Well, I think a lot of Republicans were not only surprised, but they were very unhappy.  There were a lot of close races out there that might have gone to the Republicans if the president had announced in September that Don Rumsfeld was leaving.

And so to have it happen the day after the election, they felt like they had been flim-flammed in some fashion.  And for the president to say the week before he‘ll be here through the end of my term, we knew that Dick Cheney would be because he‘s been elected for it.

But it kind of surprised me because I thought that there were other ways that you could answer that question.  Don Rumsfeld will be here as long as he wants to be or whatever. 

But there were lots of signs from the Republican Party that Rumsfeld had become a big liability out there politically.  And you don‘t make these judgments just based on the politics of the moment.  The war has not been going well and Don Rumsfeld now has said that in a memo.  We have to change our strategy.  Here are some things we have to start thinking about doing. 

That‘s reminiscent, a lot, for me, of Vietnam.  I‘ve listened to all the tapes of Vietnam, of Lyndon Johnson talking to Dick Russell, who is a great senator from Georgia and expressing these huge doubts about that wisdom of their policies in Vietnam, while saying to the public, things are going well, we‘re going to bring that coonskin home and nail it to the wall.  We‘re going to win this war. 

Families continued to send their children off to the war.  They were not going to win the war.  They knew it privately and kids were dying.  I have friends who were in the Pentagon at that time.  I was talking to one them just the other day and he said we believe in the domino theory.  We thought it was important to make the stand in Vietnam so that the rest of southeast Asia would not fall. 

The neocons and Don Rumsfeld among them believed that they could introduce democracy in the Middle East in Iraq and it would have a radiant effect.  And it‘s been pretty clear now for more than a year and a half that wasn‘t going well.

BROWN:  We have a minute left before I have to take another break. But I want to get your take on media coverage, but also first NBC‘s decision to...

BROKAW:  Call it a civil war?

BROWN:  ... to call this a civil war.

BROKAW:  Well, we had discussions at NBC about that. I don‘t think this is a war by nomenclature, by the way. I think you can call it a civil war or you can call it anarchy. You can call it whatever you want. There‘s too much death and destruction going on and too much chaos.

My personal preference would have been, and we‘ve had this discussion since then, to have had Matt come on, on Monday morning and say, “Is this a civil war? This is a big issue. Because it takes us to a whole other place in the political discussion. We‘re going to spend the next 48 hours here at NBC on ‘TODAY‘, ‘NIGHTLY NEWS‘, MSNBC, HARDBALL, taking you through what is the definition of a civil war and what are the objective realities on the ground to tell us if whether it‘s a civil war or not.”

My guess is at the end of 48 hours, we would have said, “You‘ve been watching us. I‘m sure you probably agree with us it‘s a civil war.”

I think the audience wants to be brought into this dialogue and debate, and I think they deserve to be. It‘s no longer just a matter of we talk, you listen. I think that would have been a helpful dialogue.

Now I don‘t have any problem with the declaration it‘s a civil war, because I‘ve thought it‘s been a civil war for at least six months now. We have that kind of sectarian violence that‘s been going on in the name of trying to get political power. That‘s a civil war.

BROWN:  All right. We‘re going to take another break. There is still much more to come from the HARDBALL College Tour tonight with Tom Brokaw, from Fordham University in the Bronx.



BROKAW:  When you were in the KGB you were serving the agency that protected the ideology of communism. Once communism went away you made a u-turn. Is there an ideology at the heart of Vladimir Putin or are you ultimately just a pragmatic man?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator):  If you mean the communist ideology, we used to live in a different country and in a different world. We were brought up with different ideals. And if you speak about my personal views, I believe the communist idea is a beautiful but harmful fairy tale.


BROWN:  And welcome back to the college tour, tonight from the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University, this fine Jesuit school here in the Bronx. And our special guest, the great journalist, Tom Brokaw.

And we just showed a clip of an interview that you did with Putin in 2000.

BROKAW:  Vladimir Putin has never gotten Fordham yell girls before, I must say.

BROWN:  But he is getting a lot of attention right now. A very gripping story. A former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko, who died recently, was poisoned after criticizing Putin. His dying words, Putin is responsible.

BROKAW:  Well, I was listening to that question I asked him about he‘d abandoned communism. He‘s been a communist. I said, “What is your ideology now?”

And I was thinking, watching him, he has two ideologies. One is Russian nationalism. That‘s who he is. And the other one, he‘s a KGB agent in his heart of hearts and always will be. And you cannot forget that about him.

Those were the black arts that were practiced. They were—the KGB ran the secret police in Russia. They knew what everyone was doing. And they kept extraordinary controls over that country. And those are his instincts. He is not a Democrat at heart.

Now, having said all that, Putin has a huge problem. He‘s got a country with 11 time zones, all those natural resources. And they‘re still in infancy in terms of being a market economy and being a Democratic republic of some kind. And he‘s trying to keep the lid on.

I don‘t know whether he has anything to do with the poisoning or not.  But it seems fairly clear that somebody in his wider network may have something to do with all that. The Russians are not subtle, as we‘ve learned when they‘ve dealt with the Chechens or anybody else. And to have a polonium poisoning of somebody who was critical of the president is pretty dramatic stuff. It kind of longs for John Le Carre to tell us what‘s really going on.

BROWN:  Yes. We‘ve only got a minute, but I do want to take a question from the audience. You guys have been so patient. And tell us your name and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, I‘m Allie from New Jersey. And I was just wondering whether or not you thought that President Bush was being disrespectful or whether Jim Webb was being disrespectful or if President Bush was looking for a photo open with regard to last week‘s incident.

BROWN:  Jim Webb, who went to visit the White House.

BROKAW:  I know.

BROWN:  Yes. Someone you know well. And spoke with President Bush, and President Bush asked him, “How‘s your son?”

BROKAW:  He said, “How‘s your boy?”

BROWN:  “How‘s your boy?”

BROKAW:  And then Jim Webb said, “I‘d like to get our boys out of Iraq.”

And the president said, “That wasn‘t my question. I said how‘s your boy?”

And he said, “That‘s between my boy and me.”

Jim Webb was a highly decorated Marine who went to Vietnam. He was a Navy secretary in the Reagan administration. He has been adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq since the beginning. He did some reporting from Afghanistan.

His son went with him at the time. He was a student at the time at Penn State and then dropped out, because it‘s a long tradition in the Webb family that you serve in the military services, especially during time of war.

I haven‘t talked to the new senator about this yet. I‘d like to hear his version. I‘d also like to hear the president‘s version of it. My guess is that the tone was as important as anything. If it was a low-key exchange of some kind, two men who have been adversaries, it could have been kind of mano-a-mano and not nearly as it‘s being portrayed.

Did they both get flushed and angry and ready to duke it out? I don‘t know.

The senator-elect‘s son was in a patrol recently, which some of his friends were killed. And I think it‘s very likely that Mr. Webb was pretty emotional at that point. I know he‘s been anxious about his son‘s welfare and about whether he‘s going to get home OK.

Jim Webb is not a guy who disrespects the president as his commander-in-chief. He called him Mr. President at the time.

But in our system, we should have these kinds of exchanges. And not just dance around protocol. People have strong feelings. That sometimes what happens is that we don‘t have those kind of exchanges.

I‘m not going to get myself in the middle of this one, however.

BROWN:  Thanks for your question.

We‘re going to take another break. We‘ll be back with Tom Brokaw, more of your questions, as well, live from Fordham University (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the college tour.



BROWN:  Welcome back to the HARDBALL college tour. Any Rams fans in the house? (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

Once again, our special guest, Tom Brokaw. And we want to talk a little bit of politics. But I want to get a read from the audience first.  Show me again with applause, how many Democrats in the house?

All right. How many Republicans?

BROKAW:  I‘m an independent.

BROWN:  All right. How many independents? Fair enough.

All right.

The reason I asked, we‘re going to talk a little bit about the presidential contenders, who we think they‘re going to be, and starting with the Democrats, those who have decided to run and those who haven‘t, also. How many Hillary Clinton supporters among the Democrats?

Give us—give us—a few boos? She—she does spark intense in emotions people, doesn‘t she?

BROKAW:  It‘s one way or the other. People are either passionately for her or passionately against her.

We‘ve got a couple of years until the election. You‘ve heard me say this a thousand times before, the UFO theory. The unforeseen will occur that will determine what happens.

Iraq could get a lot worse. It could get a lot better. The economy could begin to collapse in some fashion. The price of oil could go over $200 a barrel, and that would have a worldwide depression effect on the world, and people will be looking for different qualities in folks.

Look at just the last couple of years. Look how much damage Katrina did to the Bush administration, and their mishandling of it, for example.  Look at the last election. Congressman Foley. It was disclosed that he was sending e-mails in the closing weeks of that campaign. And that had a devastating effect. Rumsfeld coming before not after—coming after but not before the election.

So, Hillary, she knows what she‘s up against. She‘s been around a long time. I talked to her the other day. She said, “You know, I‘ve learned a lot since I first went into the White House.” She‘s obviously moving to the center politically.

She still is formidable. I saw her at a gathering just about four days ago and introduced her to a young woman who is managing a fund for microfinancing in the third world. And it was by chance that we ran into her.

Hillary knew all about it:  knew about the fund, knew who worked for it, knew about this woman, knew about the concept and had a lot of ideas about how to help her. And that makes her a formidable candidate. And she ran very strongly in very conservative areas of New York.

BROWN:  How many Barack Obama fans here?

He‘s the rock star right now.

BROKAW:  He‘s the rock star. He‘s the real deal. And I think especially for this generation, a lot of his appeal has to do with his candor, that he is not playing by the old rules of politics. He‘s kind of redefining politics and what people want.

He‘s talked about his own troubled past, his personal behavior. He has an ability to bring people together. He talks winningly about hope.

Look at his background. He lived in Kansas, in Hawaii, North Africa and was treated like royalty because his father comes from there.

The test for him, obviously, and I‘ve been at this a long time, put him on this stage with six other candidates coming after him about everything from Iraq to the economy to how to manage health care and what you‘re going to do about stem cell research and what you‘re going to do about gun control, what you‘re going to do about drugs. And you‘ve got to answer all that. You‘ve got to have some positions.

Howard Dean learned the last time that it‘s always not the best position to be in, in the cross hairs. So we‘ve got a lot to learn about him yet.

BROWN:  Let me ask you, though. Republicans are now using his middle name.


BROWN:  Hussein, which a lot of people don‘t know. I mean...

BROKAW:  Well, they‘re teeing him up, because they see him as a real threat. I mean, a lot of people say we‘re not going to elect anybody named Obama in this country at this point.

And let‘s be frank about it. This is a big reach for an African-American man to get elected president of the United States.

BROWN:  You do think that?

BROKAW:  Sure I do. Race is still a huge defining issue in this country. It‘s something I‘ve spent most of my journalistic career trying to understand and to examine and to try to get us beyond that in the reporting that I‘ve done.

But I know at this point there are just a lot of people in their consciousness or their subconsciousness, that are going to have a hard time saying, “I‘m prepared to vote for a black person.” There‘s just so much latent racism that is still here.

We‘ve made huge strides. There‘s no question about that. But we‘ve got a ways to go. And he knows that.

Look what happened to Harold Ford in Tennessee.  That commercial that ran against him was so blatantly racist in my judgment, it was such an effort to try to twin him up with a white woman in some fashion and he lost.  He couldn‘t make that work for him, his own rage about it. 

So, these are tough issues.  But the big thing about Obama is we still have got a lot to learn.  He‘s the real deal.  People who are for her, for Hillary, in Illinois, say quietly, he‘s impressive.

BROWN:  All right, before we move to Republicans, let me take a question from the audience.  And give us your name first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hi Mr. Brokaw, it‘s an honor to have you here.

BROKAW:  Speak right up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My name is Edward Smith, I‘m originally from Lindenhurst, which is out on Long Island.  I don‘t know if we have any Long Islanders here.  I‘m a proud student here at Fordham University. 

I guess my main question to you is given your extensive experience as a journalist, place yourselves in the shoes of a prospective presidential candidate in 2008.  How should they be defining themselves right now specifically with regards to Iraq?

BROKAW:  Well I think what they have to do is to acknowledge how complex it is, that the president may have had good intentions but they have gone off the tracks.  You have to remember that a lot of Democrats voted to authorize the war in Iraq.  And they have to acknowledge that. 

And a lot of people who are now very sharply critical of it because of the execution of it and what happened once they got to Baghdad are now among the most vociferous critics of it. 

My own strong feeling is that the president who will do well, the presidential candidate who will do well in 2008 is the one who says “I‘m going to bring this country back together.  We‘re going to find solutions.  I‘m sick and tired of these ideological disputes in which we get the left over here in one corner and the right over here in one corner and most of America, which is in the middle somewhere, feels left out of the process.”

I talk about this around the country.  If you go out into Kansas, they have got a Democratic governor, a very red state in presidential elections.  Arizona, Janet Napolitano, very Democratic governor, won 2-1.  Arizona, very red state in presidential states.

Mitt Romney, who is getting a lot of attention as a potential Republican presidential candidate, a Mormon, is the governor of the bluest state we have, which is Massachusetts.  You don‘t play by the same rules when you get to the state and community level.  In this city, Mike Bloomberg, second Republican mayor in a row, the most Democratic city in the world, because he‘s getting things done.  So the national leaders are beginning to get tuned in to that.  And that‘s what I think will be the key next time around.

BROWN:  All right, we‘re going to take more questions coming up, but still to come with much more with our special guest Tom Brokaw on the HARDBALL College Tour from the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University.

CROWD:  You‘re watching the HARDBALL College Tour from Fordham University in the Bronx, only on MSNBC.



BROKAW:  The potential extinction of a species such as a polar bear is just one reason to worry about melting ice.  About 10 percent of the earth‘s surface is covered by ice.  Most of that in the polar regions.  But if enough of that ice melts, the seas will rise dramatically and the results will be calamitous.


BROWN:  We‘re having a great time here at beautiful Fordham University in the Bronx as the HARDBALL College Tour continues.  Our special guest tonight, NBC‘s Tom Brokaw.  We just saw a clip of your “Discovery” special on the environment, an issue that has long been near and dear to your heart, but not one that gets a lot of attention in the political arena.

BROKAW:  It‘s starting to again.  In the ‘60s obviously, it started to get a lot of attention.  The planet and especially this country, we were letting the policies go crashing off the cliff and then we had Earth Day and environmental awareness and people were getting involved. 

My own strong impression is that the environmental movement got too spread out, there were too many groups that were not coordinating their activities in a way.  And then with Ronald Reagan and the conservative takeover of the political arena at the national level, it‘s not high on their agenda.

Although it is coming back very fast now.  And I detect a real change in America.  I think that this generation and other young people are paying a lot more attention to the environment, not just global warming, but land use and disappearing water resources and what we‘re going to do about clean air.  Biodiversity is a huge issue, about wiping out the species. 

These are critical issues.  You cannot live on a dead planet.  This is the only one we have.  My line is love your mother, Mother Earth.

BROWN:  All right, we did Democratic candidates a moment ago, so let‘s do Republican candidates now.  So let me ask you in the audience, how many John McCain supporters?


BROWN:  All right, Rudy Giuliani?

BROKAW:  Rudy Giuliani, how many people?


BROWN:  And governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney?


BROWN:  OK, we got a couple.  Give us your take on the Republican field right now.  I know it‘s early.

BROKAW:  Well, I think John McCain is the candidate to beat at this point.  He is a charismatic figure in American life.  He‘s staked himself out there pretty far on Iraq by saying we have to have more troops before we can have fewer troops there.

It‘s always hard to track him with his arm around the president one moment and standing back and lobbing grenades at him the next minute.  That‘s part of what makes him appealing. 

Again, he‘ll run the risk of getting out front and everybody will be coming after him.  The Republican Party primary is always a more difficult one to win in some regards than the Democrats because it‘s a more narrowly-cast one.  And you have to go to that Republican base.  And they have very strong feelings about a lot of issues.

BROWN:  But can Rudy Giuliani, who‘s liberal on social issues, Mitt Romney, who‘s a Mormon and trying very hard to win over evangelicals right now—given the primary system, how tough is it for those two? 

BROKAW:  Well, I think in both cases they have a tough time.  I think that the—Mayor Giuliani has a particularly tough time because of his more liberal views of homosexuality, for example, and on abortion.  Also, he goes around the country and gives a hugely successful speech.  It‘s all about 9/11 and about what happened here in New York.  And people follow him through on that. 

You know, Governor Romney, I just don‘t know how the Mormon connection is going to play.  He‘s a serious Mormon.  I mean, he‘s very close to the church leadership.  He went off to Salt Lake City and saved the Winter Olympics for them. 

There are Baptists in the Southern Baptist Convention who do not believe that Mormon is a real religion.  And that becomes a hugely important part of how they make a judgment about a candidate.  On the other hand, he‘s a very winning man.  And look how well he‘s done in Massachusetts. 

The great thing about our system is you—you know, you and I can sit here and talk about it all night long, but the people will decide in the next 24 months. 

BROWN:  All right.  We are coming back with more Tom Brokaw and more of your great questions here of Fordham University.  The HARDBALL College Tour continues, only on MSNBC. 


BROWN:  Welcome back to the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University here in the Bronx with the HARDBALL College Tour and our special guest Tom Brokaw. 

And we want to bring in the audience right now, two special guests in addition to Tom that we have with us, Chris Catropa, who‘s head of the Fordham Republican Club and Emil Reyes, who is head of the Fordham Democratic Club. 

And you guys tell us—Chris, you got first—what is the number one issue for Young Republicans on campus right now? 

CHRIS CATROPA, FORDHAM YOUNG REPUBLICANS:  Well, on campus I think the Iraq War is so important because—I‘ve seen, you know, a lot of these northeastern-type Republicans who are—who want to see less of this neo-conservative and less of this ideological “We have to change the world” and more isolationism, where maybe we should bring it back and scale down a bit, and let‘s—you know, the message that I‘m getting from Republicans on campus, is let‘s set a timetable.  Let‘s pressure the Iraqi forces to start setting up their own security forces so that they can handle Iraq and we can pull out. 

I mean, it‘s us.  It‘s the students of today that will have to pay for the soaring budget deficits of tomorrow.  And we have to ensure that this war doesn‘t get that expensive, for something that‘s losing sentiment at home. 

And as far as the larger issue, I think student apathy is something that‘s a big issue that we have to focus on in general, just to throw that out there. 

BROWN:  And Emil, for Democrats. 

EMIL REYES, PRES., FORDHAM COLLEGE DEMOCRATS:  Well, to switch gears, Campbell, I feel, in terms of the Young Democrats, ethics in the government is a strong issue today, not just on the Congressional level, but in the Senate as well in the local and the executive office. 

Right now it seems that a lot of baby boomers are leaving their seats and that our generation is coming in, taking the seats.  And if we‘re going to protect the future of this country, we need to enter in an ethical and strong and confident system that‘s based on honesty and integrity. 

If we can‘t do that, then our country will dwell into the realm of obscurity.  I feel it is very important right now that we enter an ethical system.  And it is up to us, and we‘re working on that as hard as we can. 

BROWN:  All right.  Some advice for these budding politicians? 

BROKAW:  Well, I—it‘s a very hard thing for me to come to a great institution like Fordham and see all the young people who are interested in the issues of the day, to see that they have Republican and Democratic clubs, and they‘re out there trying to come to grips. 


CATROPA:  We‘re too polarized to day.  We have to bring it back to the middle.  Let‘s get moderation.  That‘s what I hear...


BROKAW:  I think this institution has always been about the fabric of America.  I really do.  Fordham is not a place that—you know, as I said at the outset, they come from working class communities, and their parents in many instances are sending the first member of their family to college.  And it‘s a great thing. 

It‘s our country.  We can determine the legacy that we want to leave behind.  We have to get involved in the issues of day.  We can‘t leave it to others.  When I was a young man growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the way I got into this business was just like this.  You know, in college, first I did some other things I‘d rather not talk about as well, but...


BROKAW:  ... but that‘s who we are.  We‘re always greater than the sum of our parts. 

BROWN:  And no cynicism, I think at least from you guys, at least from and the audience.  We hear so much about the Jon Stewart, you know, Stephen Colbert young generation... 

BROKAW:  That‘s a good thing.  The Jon—Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert get you back involved.  You pay more attention to politics because of what you see with them.  It‘s—you know, Jon always says...


BROKAW:  As you know, I‘m a big fan.  I‘ve been on the show—both shows a lot, and I think anything that can you do to bring people into the discussion of it—and there‘s so many essential truths that you see on Jon Stewart and Stephen, that it‘s useful to society to have a broader point of view. 

There are more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes of “The Daily Show” than most political news conferences in Washington. 

BROWN:  All right.  On that note, a huge thank you to Tom Brokaw. 

Good to have you here. 

BROKAW:  Good to be here.

BROWN:  And also a thank you to the terrific people here at Fordham who helped make this show possible.

And a special thank you to Fr. Joseph McShane, the president of Fordham as well as the band and the cheerleaders. 


BROWN:  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more


And next Tuesday night we have the HARDBALL College Tour from the University of North Carolina is (INAUDIBLE) with John Edwards.

See you.   



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