Guests: Bob Borosage, David Dreier, Eugene Robinson, Jed Babbin
DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Here comes Hillary Clinton. The Democratic frontrunner clears one hurdle and stares down another as she produces yet another dramatic television moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We‘ll leave that as a non-answer. You want to fight, OK.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is good, this good ...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s start it.
CLINTON: ...you guys keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Hello, everybody, I‘m David Shuster, in for Tucker Carlson.
In a minute, we will get to that remarkable confrontation today between Hillary Clinton and MSNBC‘s own Chris Matthews. This is one of the most crucial weeks of the summer for the Democratic presidential candidates, and Mrs. Clinton‘s appearance today at a union event and the way she inspired defenders provided more evidence that the Clinton campaign is firing on all cylinders.
However, Clinton is now preparing to speak to a different Democratic audience, one that last year, showered her with boos. Tonight, we will talk with one of the leaders of “Take Back America” about what Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats can expect.
Also, family matters. You won‘t believe what we found missing today from Rudy Giuliani‘s biography on his campaign Web site. We will talk about it with the Giuliani campaign.
More harm than good. Republicans now say that‘s what Karl Rove has done to the Republican party.
And on the front lines of the Iraq war, the gun camera video you don‘t want to miss.
And a follow-up conversation with a former Pentagon official who warned me three years ago about Saddam‘s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Tonight, Jed Babbin on the past, present, and future of the Iraq War.
But we begin this hour with campaign politics, and what a day this has been. The American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees is one of the most powerful and influential unions in Democratic politics. And in just seven months, AFSCME members will help decide the Democratic presidential nominee.
So, the meeting today was huge, and one after another, the Democrats made their pitch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don‘t you think it‘s about time to have a president of the United States who will explain to the American people that collective bargaining built the middle class in the United States of America?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the record to prove long service in the Congress, at the United Nations as Secretary of Energy, on behalf of working people. I would do the same as president. Thank you.
BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We shouldn‘t compromise on the idea that every child should get a decent education, it shouldn‘t just be a slogan. So, there are some things that are worth fighting for, and if people disagree and we can‘t persuade them, then we just got to beat them, and that‘s what we‘re going to do in this next election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: It was Hillary Clinton, however, who brought down the house. She mixed a dazzling performance on union issues with a calm, confident domineer. And watch how the audience leapt to her defense when she refused to talk about pardons for perjury, and Chris Matthews tried to ask the question again.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MATTHEWS: Would you have a problem with Scooter Libby getting a pardon, getting to walk after being convicted of perjury and obstruction?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: A real question, next question.
MATTHEWS: Oh, a real question.
CLINTON: Like a question that‘s really about the people in this audience and not what goes on inside of Washington.
MATTHEWS: OK, so, we‘ll leave that as a non-answer then.
MATTHEWS: Do you want to fight? OK.
CLINTON: This is good, this is good. You guys keep going.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s start it, right here. Look, why—why—OK, let‘s have a fight, I like to fight. OK, let‘s talk—you want to fight, OK.
SHUSTER: For all the union members today who were defending Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner will face a very different kind of audience tomorrow. In fact, here‘s what happened the last time Hillary Clinton appeared in front of the Organization Campaign for America‘s Future and spoke about her vote authorizing the war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain. I do not agree that that is in the best interest of our troops or our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Joining us now to tell us in advance how the Democratic left wing is feeling these days about Hillary Clinton and what all of the candidates can expect is Bob Borosage, code rep for the Campaign for America‘s Future.
And Bob, we heard the views the last time Hillary was there. She‘s speaking tomorrow. What can she and the other Democrats expect as far as a reception tomorrow by your group?
BOB BOROSAGE, CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICA‘S FUTURE: Well, people have been getting a very good reception. Richardson spoke today, Obama and Edwards and you know, they had a crowd that was ready to go and gave them a huge reception. Hillary will be interesting tomorrow.
You know, last year, she gave a very powerful, progressive speech and she started with a crowd that was pretty hostile because of her position on the war and she had them, she really had got them going, and then at the end, she gave her position on the war, which at that time was, I‘m not for keeping the troops in and I‘m not for setting a date to take them out.
SHUSTER: Your organization has 3,000 people participating. Clearly, you‘ve been also watching the AFSCME Convention as we just rolled some tape today. What did you think of Hillary Clinton and how deftly she seemed to handle a tough question, a fair question by Chris Matthews, and also the way the audience just leapt to her defense?
BOROSAGE: Well, you know, the Democrats are feeling very unified, partly because of this contrast with this administration. These are serious issues, ending a war is tough, and all of our candidate now have moved to being very clear about it‘s time to bring the troops home.
And so, there‘s a lot of people that‘ll leap to their defense.
SHUSTER: Except that Hillary Clinton has not yet done what a lot of your members want, and that is she has not yet apologized for her vote. Must she deliver that apology to keep the boos from coming again tomorrow, or will Democrats tomorrow, just like the union members today simply applaud her and applaud the position she is taking right now?
BOROSAGE: I think she has a position that says she wants the troops out on a date certain. She voted against the second supplemental because it didn‘t have a date certain on it. I think people will respect that change. There‘s a lot of people who fell like she has not led on this issue and she hasn‘t and they wanted more from her. So we will see what kind of reception she gets. But where she is now, she is where the party is and she‘s where the American people are.
SHUSTER: I heard one of your own staffers, who works for you, say how repeatedly about how well Barack Obama did today. And watch Barack Obama, isn‘t he the real darling of the left wing activists who are represented tomorrow?
BOROSAGE: There is no question that he has a lot of support and he generates a lot of excitement among you people, among new people coming to publics, among the kind of volunteers and move on and others. But you know, so does John Edwards. John Edwards earned a lot of credibility on the front line of fights about minimum wage and about unions organizing, so he came and gave a speech.
Obama‘s speech was sort of directed to the heart and it really moved the crowd. And Edward‘s speech was more of a policy speech directed to the head and he got an amazingly good response also.
SHUSTER: But you would think that your organization would be most supportive of a guy like Bill Richard. I mean, he has all the experience and he is the candidate who says, bring the troops out now and then we can talk about diplomacy with Iraq.
BOROSAGE: Well, he made a strong speech this morning. Now, this is the first time a lot of these people have heard him. Unlike Edwards and Obama, so he‘s almost introducing himself. That‘s why this race is not over by any means. I think Richardson could make a move. I think Edwards has a strong base. There‘s no question that Obama generates excitement. I think you will see tomorrow that Hillary generates excitement among progressives. You see a strong woman up there give a strong speech and it starts to move you.
SHUSTER: A lot of people say that this is the progressive event of the summer, your event, it‘s called Take Back America. Why is it Take Back America? Why could not the campaign come up with something different? Doesn‘t that imply that some things been stolen and what has been stolen?
BOROSAGE: Well, we started this when conservatives controlled everything and were leading the country off the cliff. And so we said there has got to be a place where progressives gather, across the tribes of progressive union members and move on members and the hip hop generation and civil rights activists and feminists to put a stake in the ground and say this is what we believe in and we will turn this country around. And now we‘ve started to do that. The last election was a big change.
SHUSTER: Yes, fair enough, but what has been stolen?
BOROSAGE: Well, what was stolen was the constitution was hijacked by a president that has trampled it. Our liberties were hijacked by a president who ran over them. We were led into a war with lies that were simply inexcusable. Our economy is pitched so it works for the few and not for the many. You know, a lot of stuff has been taken away.
SHUSTER: I agree that a lot of Democrats feel that way, but there are also a lot of centrists, who when they hear that kind of rhetoric, start to get turned off. Is there a danger in the Democratic party at a time when you have a lot of independents and moderates who are looking at the Democratic party? They hear something—what you just said, which is perfectly reasonable to a lot of Democrats, but they get turned off?
BOROSAGE: I think, what we have seen, and what we saw in ‘06 is the public is moving our way. The public is understands that this war is a debacle, the worst in our nation‘s history. They understand this economy is not working. They understand the corporations are stripping away health care and other benefits that they used to have that were the building blocks of middle class families. They are looking for a different way and a different answer. I think it‘s time for us to be bold and put our positions out there.
SHUSTER: It‘s going to be very interesting to see how Hillary Clinton is greeted tomorrow morning when she speaks, and we‘ll be watching. Bob Borosage, thank you very much for coming and we appreciate it.
Up next, analysis of the Democratic race. And just ahead, the Republicans. Front runner, Rudy Giuliani has something he does not want you to know about. We will explain what that‘s all about and talk it over with the Giuliani spokesman. And later, why is a French Canadian recording artist about to play a huge role in a U.S. presidential campaign? All that and more, coming up on MSNBC.
SHUSTER: Hillary Clinton widens her lead over the competition. Is the Democratic race all but over? And what can Obama and Edwards do to close in on the Clinton machine?
SHUSTER: As you have seen on this inaugural Super Tuesday on MSNBC, the major Democratic presidential hopefuls spent today facing important constituents, union members at the AFSCME convention and liberal activists at the Take America Back 2007 Convention.
Who did well and who fell short? And, based on the reaction Hillary Clinton got today, is it time to roll out the world inevitable?
Joining us in studio are national syndicated radio host and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion” Bill Press, and “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson.
I have to say, Eugene, that, based on how Hillary handled things today, with Chris Matthews asking a tough question, the audience rising to their feet, I sensed a sea change now in the way that Hillary Clinton is conducting her campaign, but, more importantly, the way people are responding to it.
Am I wrong?
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, she is certainly a lot more comfortable as a candidate than she was before.
And, you know, she started out without a settled identity, at least in the public mind, of who Hillary Clinton was, as opposed to Bill Clinton. When they appeared together, she seemed kind of stiff. And he, of course, was—was good old Bill, you know, who is...
ROBINSON: ... the best—one of the best who ever lived at this.
ROBINSON: But she has gotten better. She has gotten—she has gotten much better.
I don‘t think, you know, a few months ago, she would have handled that moment with the aplomb that she—that she had today, and, you know, this grace, back and forth with the crowd, back and forth with Chris. She was just in the moment in a way that—that we haven‘t—haven‘t really seen before.
SHUSTER: Bill, I can‘t imagine a more awkward and, yet, fair and tough question to be asked of Hillary Clinton than the issue of a pardon for somebody convicted of perjury. And, yet, she seemed to sort of bat it away, get the audience on her side.
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, you know, I think we saw this, first of all, beginning in the last debate. I thought the last Democratic debate up in New Hampshire, that she did very well and showed a lot of poise and—and really a lot of command.
And, today, she certainly had control of that crowd. I have to agree with Eugene. She was comfortable. She was tough. And, you know, look, we all know Chris well. I mean, you take on Chris Matthews, man, you‘re talking on the best.
PRESS: I mean, he is...
SHUSTER: That‘s right.
PRESS: He is damn good. He‘s “HARDBALL,” right? And he comes at her with a really tough and fair question.
And she basically was saying, you can ask it, but I am not going to answer your dumb question.
And you can‘t lose the crowd by taking on the moderator. You take on the media, you know, you kind of win the crowd. But she did that. I thought it showed a lot of presence.
Look, it‘s not over yet. There‘s a long way to go. And Barack Obama is right in a very comfortable second place. And who knows who else is out there. But, right now, her campaign is cooking with gas.
SHUSTER: But given that it‘s comfortable for Barack Obama, is that the place he wants to be? I mean, there are such great expectations for him.
SHUSTER: He‘s the next Robert Kennedy—as Chris pointed out today -
perhaps. He—he evokes such memories and such passion. And, yet, when people see him, he is still learning.
Is there a danger for Obama that he couldn‘t possibly meet the expectations that have been set for him?
PRESS: Of course there is. And I think we saw this week that, when he puts out the word that he is different, you know, and he‘s not just like other politicians, and then his staff gets caught doing a little political dirty trick, which they all do, you know, that‘s particularly a problem for Barack Obama.
But—but, to your question, I think Barack Obama today is right where he wants to be, in second place. You know, it‘s just like the Kentucky Derby. Just hang back a little, and, at the last minute, then you sprint.
SHUSTER: Well, for our viewers, let‘s...
ROBINSON: ... that is exactly right.
And I think this morning, actually, at AFSCME, I think Obama was really quite terrific, as well, I mean, especially during the question-and-answer. He had command of...
ROBINSON: ... of the room. He got—he got probably more applause, I think, than—than Hillary did, really, had really good applause lines. He really had the—had the crowd going.
I understand, at the Take Back America appearance later in the day, he was in the total command of the room, in a—in a way that, say, Edwards wasn‘t.
SHUSTER: But let‘s look at the one thing that‘s been bothering the Obama campaign for the last couple days, this idea that they put out this memo attacking Hillary Clinton. There were some questions about how well or how poorly the Obama campaign handled it. It became a five-day story.
SHUSTER: Did that really hurt the Obama campaign as much as it seems?
ROBINSON: That‘s inexperience. And it—the whole thing was kind of sophomoric, starting with the—with the tone of the memo...
ROBINSON: ... of the memo itself. You know, Hillary Clinton, D-Punjab.
ROBINSON: That‘s just a—that‘s a dorm room kind of—kind of—kind of thing.
And, you know, it reflects the fact that there a lot of people in that campaign who are learning as they kind of go along, which a tough stage to learn on. And—and it‘s dangerous. You know, when you paint yourself as different, as kind of an un-politician, then, when you act like a politician, or your campaign acts like a political campaign acts, it‘s a—it‘s kind of a letdown.
I mean, you have to apologize and you have to explain. And, you know, if you—I mean, step back for a minute. Candidates don‘t apologize for doing opposition research these days and putting it out.
ROBINSON: That‘s—that‘s standard operating procedure.
Yet, he spent—you know, it became a five-day story, and he had to apologize, in the end, for just a standard thing.
PRESS: You know, I have to say, David, I think it was a dumb mistake
by an overzealous staff, not—not by the candidate. He should have acted
he should have acted sooner—sooner. Eugene is absolutely right.
But it‘s a lesson that is good to be learned this early in the campaign, which is, don‘t pretend to be what you‘re not, because, if you do, the truth is going to come around and bite you in the behind sooner or later.
SHUSTER: Bill Press...
PRESS: And it bit him now.
SHUSTER: Bill Press, Eugene Robinson, they are going to come back in two blocks, and we are going to talk about the Republicans next, and get your—get your evaluation of that.
SHUSTER: And, coming up, we did find something missing from the Giuliani campaign Web site. We will explain it to you and get some answers from the Giuliani campaign.
And, later, the sound of music for the Democratic front-runner—when does a campaign song hit the right notes?
You‘re watching MSNBC.
SHUSTER: The national media and the American people have an unspoken disagreement about the candidacy of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Since Giuliani took the lead months ago in most national polls, analysts and reporters have waited for the big comedown. Surely, Giuliani can‘t win the Republican nomination, with his liberal positions on social issues. Surely, being married three times will scare away most conservatives.
Well, the big comedown hasn‘t happened, but there are still some tough questions out there.
And here to help the Giuliani campaign answer them is David Dreier, congressman from California, a Giuliani supporter and spokesman.
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: Wishful—wishful—wishful thinking on your part...
DREIER: ... Shuster, I will tell you.
DREIER: Where‘s Tucker when we need him?
SHUSTER: Ah. Well, Tucker‘s taking a well-deserved break.
But, David, I have got to ask, you know, I was—I was surfing the Net today, looking at the Giuliani Web site. I went to his biography, which was called “Rudy‘s Story,” and there was no mention of his children. It was as if his two kids didn‘t exist. Why is that?
DREIER: Oh, come on, David.
You know, let me tell you something. Rudy Giuliani has been divorced, and he‘s had challenges with his family. You know what? It makes him more like Ronald Reagan, in my eyes. And Ronald Reagan was committed to focusing on very, very important issues.
And the fact that Rudy has come forward with his 12 commitments, number one being the single most important, saying he will keep America on offense in the terrorist war against us—and it‘s very important to think about that wording, David. The fact is, that is priority number one, and that‘s really what the American people are interested in.
SHUSTER: But, David, a lot of people will say—David, a lot of people will say, there‘s no better character witness than your kids.
And we have heard that Rudy‘s own children have dropped his last name, in favor of another. Is that true?
DREIER: You know, Rudy Giuliani has said the following. What he‘s said is that he has obviously had some challenges. He is remarried. And what he very much wants to do is have you and everyone else out there allow him to work through his family challenges.
A friend of mine said that 96 percent of families are dysfunctional. The other 4 percent are boring. I think most people have had challenges in their family, but that‘s not, David, what this election is about. It is...
SHUSTER: Yes, but this—this election is about the White House. And a lot of people may say, sure, there are a lot of dysfunctional families out there, including yours and mine, but a lot of people don‘t want to see that in the Oval Office and in the White House.
DREIER: Well, as I said, you know—you know, and I said at the outset, Ronald Reagan was divorced, and Ronald Reagan had challenges within his family. And Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest presidents the nation has ever seen. I‘m very proud to have come here to Congress with him.
As I look at Rudy Giuliani‘s 12 commitments, as I look at what he did in New York City, taking Reagan‘s vision for economic reform and toughening down on the crime problem, that‘s the kind of thing that the American people want to address. And that, frankly, is the reason that Rudy Giuliani is enjoying very strong support with what are mainstream conservative views.
He wants to make sure we‘re safe from terrorists. And, as my friend Dennis Miller likes to say, Rudy Giuliani is the man who those guys in the cave who want to kill us fear the most, which is what most people are concerned about.
SHUSTER: David, but how—how mainstream and how conservative is it, when you support gay rights, when you support abortion rights, and when you support gun control? And aren‘t these social views that are going to hurt Rudy Giuliani in a Republican primary?
DREIER: Well, David, I mean, I will walk through each issue for you, telling you very, very concisely and quickly on it.
I mean, Rudy Giuliani has made it very clear he opposes partial-birth abortion; he opposes federal taxpayer funding of abortion.
SHUSTER: But he supports Roe v. Wade.
DREIER: And he will nominate strict constructionists to the bench.
Rudy Giuliani is opposed to gay marriage, but he supports allowing states to have the right to grant civil unions.
He did utilize gun control when he was mayor of New York City, but he‘s not going to take that view to the federal level when he‘s president of the United States.
I believe those are the mainstream views of federalism that the American people really want to see in a president. And that‘s, I think, the reason, again, that he has not, as you said in your opening remarks, David, had this big comedown.
He‘s still ahead, and there‘s a reason for that. And it is the fact that he‘s committed to winning the global war on terror, keeping the economy growing, and reflecting what is really the view of grassroots activists, conservative Republicans, and, I believe, most Americans.
SHUSTER: But, David, there‘s another issue that‘s out there, and that is Bernie Kerik, the man who Rudy Giuliani named New York City police commissioner, and has had a lot of problems lately, including that he got charged. And, of course, he was nominated to be homeland security director, and then that—that fell apart.
I want to read you some quotes from Bernie Kerik about his now distance from Rudy Giuliani. He says: “I accept the distance created by Giuliani. I understand it. But, inside, it‘s killing me. There are times I‘m so F-ing depressed. I don‘t want to work. I don‘t want to get out of bed. You go to sleep, you wake up in an F-ing sweat.”
Was that a mistake of Rudy Giuliani, to be that close to somebody like Bernie Kerik?
DREIER: You know, David, I will tell you, one of the reasons that I was drawn to support Rudy Giuliani is his authenticity. He‘s somebody who has stepped forward and said: I have made mistakes. I hope that I have learned from them.
Right at the top of that list was the fact that he recommended Bernard Kerik to be director, secretary of homeland security. He‘s said that it was a mistake, and he regrets having made that recommendation. Many other candidates have a hard time admitting mistakes that they have made.
Now, I think that Rudy‘s willingness, desire and commitment to do that is a very, very refreshing thing in a candidate who‘s running for president of the United States. So, I congratulate him for doing that.
I‘m sorry that Bernie Kerik...
SHUSTER: David, is it OK to have a candidate running for president of the United States who has not been to Iraq? And why is it that Rudy Giuliani has not been to Iraq?
DREIER: Well, I can‘t tell you why Rudy Giuliani has not been to Iraq. You don‘t have to be in Iraq to understand the magnitude of the challenge in prosecuting the global war on terror.
Rudy Giuliani was at the base of the World Trade Center on September 11 of 2001. I think that‘s being in the line of fire, in and of itself, and I believe that that is one of the reasons that people are so attracted.
His stellar leadership, his commitment to getting things done, those are the things that are most appealing.
SHUSTER: Well, I think one of the things that many people may find appealing is the fact that he has you, David Dreier, speaking for him...
SHUSTER: ... on behalf of these tough issues.
David Dreier, thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.
DREIER: OK, David. See you.
Just ahead: John McCain stands to benefit if Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson start to slide. But why is the Straight Talk Express having such a difficult time getting traction?
And, later, there is some incredible gun camera video that has come out of Iraq. It offers audio and an amazing perspective on one fight in the war. We will show you more of the video and talk about the latest in Iraq. That‘s coming up.
You‘re watching MSNBC.
SCHUSTER: It is the first “you‘ve got to be kidding me” moment of the 2008 presidential campaign. Fred Thompson, who hasn‘t declared his candidacy yet, has overtaken Rudy Giuliani for the top spot among Republicans in the latest Rasmussen poll. Thompson has a razor-thin margin of 28 to 27, but a lead is a lead, especially when you‘re not actually in the race. What will happen when Thompson actually throws his hat in the ring and faces the rigors of the campaign trail and the venom of competing campaigns. Here again to bravely predict the future or at least talk about it, our national syndicated radio host and author of “How the Republicans Stole Religion,” Bill Press and “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson.
All right, Eugene, so the Republicans, how did David Dreier do representing Rudy Giuliani and how is the Giuliani campaign doing with all of these tough questions?
ROBINSON: I thought Dreier did a great job of explaining why having a dysfunctional family and being estranged from your kids is actually a plus. It makes you more qualified to be president. I thought that was brilliant.
SHUSTER: Bill, it‘s a vulnerability, though, you know. This is an issue that is out there that a lot of other campaigns are talking about. We just scratched the surface.
PRESS: Of course it‘s an issue. By the way, I think the first you‘ve got to be kidding me moment of this whole campaign was David Dreier‘s interview. I mean, what he said that Rudy Giuliani is the next Ronald Reagan—I knew Ronald Reagan. OK? Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. You know the rest of it.
We knew Ronald Reagan‘s kids. I knew them all, Maureen and Michael and Patty and Ron. They were there alongside of Ronald Reagan. They were in the White House with him. They were there all the way with him. Look, Rudy Giuliani, there are so many ticking time bombs. They think that the fact that he did stand with leadership on September 11 is going to be all that is needed to carry him to the presidency, but you‘ve got character (ph). You‘ve got his personal life. You‘ve got the bad judgment in his business practice. You‘ve got the question of the fire fighters about what he really did before September 11th. This guy is - it‘s just a matter of time before he implodes.
SHUSTER: You think so? You really think that he is going to implode at a certain point.
PRESS: Look, if the conservatives as David said were so excited about Rudy Giuliani, why are they running after Fred Thompson?
ROBINSON: Because they are looking for a hero. They are looking for a guy who looks like a conservative, looks like a conservative who is anti-abortion, who‘s anti gay rights and who‘s anti-gun-control, which are (inaudible) -- those are pretty basic issues, as you brought up in the interview with Dreier.
SHUSTER: But the irony with Thompson is that this was a guy who was pro-choice, at least a couple of years ago. So he‘s not as conservative—at least, his record is not as conservative as some conservatives may want it to be.
ROBINSON: There are questions about Thompson, too. He is still—he is the exciting new phase and the Republican party is looking for somebody to come in and save the day, the Democrats and Republicans recognize this and Democrats have an array of pretty formidable candidates and at the moment, any of them could probably take the White House and the Republican party doesn‘t have its candidate yet. Rudy Giuliani has issues. Everybody else has issues.
PRESS: And even politics is relative to a certain extent, so Thompson may not be the true blue on every issue conservative, but compared to the rest of the field, compared to the other 10 on the stage, people see him as conservative enough and electable because of his celebrity hood and because he was a senator, because he is a good communicator. He‘s a strong candidate.
SHUSTER: Despite all the history that Fred Thompson will have to deal with, despite the skeletons that Rudy Giuliani may have to deal with, is this an election, though, where the baggage that John McCain is carrying around, as far as his position on the immigration with Republicans and also his steadfast support of the war, do those two issues trump whatever else may be bothering another candidate?
PRESS: Here is what I don‘t understand about John McCain. Number one, he is running on the war and immigration. He is very out front on both of those. So immigration hurts him in the primary and his support for the war I think hurts him in the general. So I think it‘s a double loss for him, but the real problem I believe with John McCain and I will say this as gently as I can, that elections are about the future and John McCain represents the past and I don‘t think he can make it.
ROBINSON: I think that‘s a great point and I really think the immigration issue is just killing him right now. It really is. There is sentiment is so strong among the Republican base right now that even if you put aside the history of their questions about McCain, immigration alone is going to cost him a lot of support.
SHUSTER: If you go state-by-state, the polls are a little but different. State by state, you‘ve got Mitt Romney. He seems to be doing pretty well in New Hampshire. He is pouring a ton of money in there. At a certain point, can Mitt Romney say slip in beneath the radar on these national polls which show him doing horribly and pick up the early slingshot states of Iowa, New Hampshire and set the course of his campaign?
PRESS: If I were Chris Matthews, I could give you the numbers right like that, but I believe that at this point in 2004, John Kerry was at about 9 percent and he won Iowa and catapulted into New Hampshire. If Mitt Romney wins Iowa, no matter what the national polls show for example and then does well in New Hampshire next door to Massachusetts, Mitt Romney could turn this whole thing upside down.
ROBINSON: I think that is absolutely right. The only question here, of course - is how much time do you have for the slingshot to work? There is the big super, duper Tuesday primary comes up so fast that it might be different from earlier years.
SHUSTER: One of the other issues that seems to be hanging of course over the Republican party is the specter of Karl Rove. A number of Republicans at least back there on Capitol Hill are now suggesting that Karl Rove has done the GOP more harm than good and that that is going to be evident in the presidential campaign of 2008. This week, there was the news that tens of thousands of emails are missing, that the politicization of the Justice Department, that wasn‘t the only agency where it appears that the politicization was being carried out. How big of a problem is it for Republicans to have the specter of Karl Rove hanging over them at this time?
PRESS: If you look at 2006, you‘ve got to say that Karl Rove‘s strategy didn‘t take him very far in 2006. It took him into the toilet. I do not think the Republicans would be smart to trust him to lay out the strategy for 2008. I think he is typhoid Mary right now. You also look at every scandal in the White House from the Scooter Libby thing to the emails, to the U.S. attorneys and the guy right in the center of all of it is Karl Rove. No wonder they want to put some distance between themselves and Karl Rove.
SHUSTER: I want to talk about Hillary Clinton, we talked about at the top of our show and this magical moment with Chris Matthews. That wasn‘t the only magical televised moment that‘s out there now. There is a film that the Clinton campaign has put out as part of their introduction of their new campaign theme song where they allow people to vote. I want you to watch this sort of a film that she put together to help sort of build the drama for this decision and get your reaction. Watch.
Now in the next scene and we shortened this for time as she hands a plate of carrots to Bill Clinton instead of French fries or onion rings and at the end of this film, when she is talking about leading up to the moment when she‘s going to announce her new campaign song, it fades to black just like the “Sopranos” right after some guy gave her the evil eye. It‘s pretty creative right?
PRESS: I think it‘s very creative. I know that she‘s got Bill Clinton in the spot right to the beginning and this is where she picks her big campaign song which has been now for a month, Gene I think right, a process online on my radio show, (INAUDIBLE) where people were calling in what the favorite song should be. I think this is a side of Hillary we haven‘t seen before.
ROBINSON: I think it is good for her to do. I think campaign managers should always get nervous when candidates start messing around with popular culture. They always get it a little bit wrong, but this is not bad. This is not bad. It‘s not a bad “Sopranos” parody. There‘s not going to be any Emmy‘s given out for this, for these performances and the song that they chose is not exactly cutting edge.
SHUSTER: I‘m going to stop you right there, because we are not going to reveal on this show, we‘re not going to reveal what the song is until the end of those show.
PRESS: What is this, an embargo by the Clinton campaign?
SHUSTER: One of the things that I think is so brilliant about what Hillary is doing is there is finally the use of the Internet where you see campaigns trying to engage their supporters in active participation and then it breeds ownership. All the people who voted in the Hillary campaign song, now feel like they have an ownership stake in some small kind of hokey part of the campaign.
PRESS: Let me tell you something else, the campaign has their e-mail address.
SHUSTER: That‘s right. Bill Press, Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much. Always a pleasure, great to have you and so now that you have seen Hillary Clinton in a “Sopranos”-style short film, what is the answer to the burning question about her new campaign theme song? The one and only Bill Wolf will join us later in the segment. You don‘t want to miss that. But on the other side of this break, the gun camera video from Iraq that takes you to the front lines. You have to see this video. That‘s coming up right here on MSNBC.
SHUSTER: The Pentagon has just released this remarkable gun camera video from Iraq. Unlike previous footage, the visual quality on this one is pretty strong and it gives you a good sense about what these fights look like just above the ground. As we play this video of the war, a short story about our next guest.
Four years ago, just before the start of the Iraq war, an old friend that used to work in the Pentagon pulled me aside. He warned me and my producer Christine Jameson (ph) to be careful where we were headed and said the information he was getting about Saddam‘s weapons of mass destruction was frightening. I was warned that the WMD was capable of reaching CentCom headquarters in Qatar, the place where we were be stationed. It was a heartfelt warning from an old friend, but the intelligence, of course, was wrong. Joining us in the studio is that friend. Jed Babbin served as a deputy under secretary of defense during the first Bush administration. His latest book is “In the Words of our Enemies,” a compilation of interviews with and writings of tyrants and terrorists. First of all, Jed, back to our conversation four years ago - your intelligence was wrong. Everyone‘s wrong. How do you feel about it?
JED BABBIN, “IN THE WORDS OF OUR ENEMIES” AUTHOR: Well, I don‘t feel great about it but basically some of the intelligence was right, some was wrong and as I recall, there were a couple of missiles that Saddam launched. They didn‘t quite get as far as Qatar, but they got a long way into our guys, so they were ways he could reach out. When you hear and when you see that his people had all of the anti-sarin drugs issued to them in this field and they had anti-exposure suits in the field. There had to have been something there David. I think we were obviously wrong. I mean the CIA has not gotten anything right since before the bay of pigs, for crying out loud, so this is what we get and that‘s one of the reasons I wrote this book, because if we cannot rely on our intelligence community and we cannot, we‘d need listen to the plain words of our enemies. Americans are great talkers. We are not great listeners.
SHUSTER: So talk a little bit about the book, “In the Words of Our Enemies.” It‘s a compilation of what our enemies are saying about us. Tell us what you find most striking in the research that you did for this.
BABBIN: Basically, it is not just our enemies. It is people who might be enemies and people we need to keep our eye on. What I did was we started with this stuff on bin Laden before 9/11, going back five years before 9/11 and he was growing out of the noise level and some point after the Khobar Towers bombing in ‘96, after the embassy bombings in Africa in ‘98, after the Cole bombing in 2000, it was pretty clear this guy was not just noise, He was a real danger and what I found was that all of the things that he said were just very plain and in truth, they should have been actionable in and of themselves. I then when back a little bit into history and you go back through - Lord, after the revolutionary war, I don‘t think we saw a war coming despite the plain warnings we got.
SHUSTER: But what does it tell us about what we ought to be doing now? Because one of the arguments that is made is that this war has created more voices, more enemies who are going to come to America regardless of whether we get out of Iraq or not.
BABBIN: It may very well, but the point of this book is not to
advocate war and I say right at the very beginning, this is not a call to
war or even a war warning. What I‘m saying is if Americans read this book -
and it‘s information that the press does not report. It is usually just originally in another language. It has to be translated. These are things which people can use to make up their own mind as to who‘s a friend and who‘s a foe and maybe, just maybe, by some hawkish diplomacy if you will, we can avoid wars that might otherwise come upon us unseen.
SHUSTER: It also seems like the book offers some perspective on a culture that a lot of Americans don‘t understand. And so as a result, could people simply look at this book and also say, maybe there is something about these people we haven‘t quite figured out that we can better appreciate.
BABBIN: I hope it does a little of that, but quite frankly, I cannot claim that reading this book is going to teach you everything you need to know about this Islamic culture or Chinese culture or what‘s going on in Russia or what‘s going on in Venezuela. It‘s just—it‘s a superficial view of those things, but I think it just injects the thought that again, we just need to listen to our enemies and figure out, maybe we can head off the next war if we react and take them at their word.
SHUSTER: By listening to our enemies and understanding the differences between Sunni and Shia before this war might have helped us a lot. But Jed Babbin, we appreciate you coming in. You‘re a good friend, as always and it‘s great to see you after all these years.
BABBIN: It is great to see you.
SHUSTER: Coming up—remember this guy? He was the sobbing, over the top dramatic judge in the battle over Anna Nicole Smith‘s burial. What‘s he up to now? Our Anna Nicole expert Bill Wolf will have the answer when we come back.
SHUSTER: As compelling as it was to watch Hillary Clinton mix it up with Chris Matthews earlier today, I have a feeling that this next segment may give that segment a run for its money. Bill wolf joins us from headquarters. Bill.
BILL WOLF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No chance David, but thanks for the high expectations. Appreciate that. Those who saw Angel Cabrera win the U.S. Open championship on Sunday, and I was one of them, know that golf and insane physical beauty do not collide too frequently, but when they do, good things happen and so it is for golf‘s only apparent athlete, Tiger Woods and his supernaturally pretty wife Elin, who gave birth to a baby girl on Monday. The couple‘s first child is Sam Alexis Woods. She was born June 18th, which is a bright date, promises a bright future because she shares a birthday with Paul McCartney, hall of fame St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock and my mother. It also makes her four days younger than the number one ranked newborn in the latest national polls, Lucy Jo Geist, born June 14th, I have to say, I think this is a little bit of an attempt by Tiger Woods and his wife Elin to steal Willy Geist‘s thunder, and as Willy‘s surrogate this week, I will not allow it. Lucy Geist, everybody. Beautiful.
SHUSTER: Absolutely but I think Willy Geist‘s kid is going to be talking circles around Tiger Wood‘s kid in kindergarten.
WOLF: Certainly will be funnier and I must say Christina Geist also a great natural beauty.
Well, in with the new and not quite out with the old David. We have a new official oldest person alive. This guy was born in the McKinley administration, although he did not vote in that election because he isn‘t from around these parts. He is Tomoji Tanabe. He‘s 111 years young and his superior oldness was recognized by Willy Geist‘s arch-enemy, the Guinness Book of World Records, yesterday in his Japanese home town. Asked how much longer he thinks he will live, he simply said quote, “I do not want to die.” Asked how he has lived so long, Tanabe said he has always avoided alcohol. So he‘s always avoided alcohol and he does not want to die. He has never worked in the cable news business, Dave.
SHUSTER: I‘m also impressed that he got those flowers there. They say that some of the flowers can give off certain scents and smells that could prompt an allergic reaction. How horrific would that be? The guy‘s 111 years. A flower.
WOLF: After 111 years, his immune system is battle-tested, Dave.
Furthermore jurisprudence in south Florida will never be the same, because Judge Larry Seidlin is calling it quits. Dave, you‘ll remember Judge Seidlin from the Anna Nicole Smith custody hearing, which you covered so extensively for MSNBC—oh, you‘ were on Scooter Libby, almost the same thing. Anyway, here‘s a quick refresher on the judge‘s stylings from the bench.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN: I hope to God you guys give the kid the right shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: I told myself I wouldn‘t get emotional, but I‘ll tell you something, it takes me back to a very troubling time in this country. The judge resigned in a letter to Governor Charlie Crist. It is amazing that a guy has to write a letter to the governor, and it‘s Larry Seidlin. Does the governor have to read that letter? Anyway, the letter said in part, it is time for me to devote more time to my daily life and to own young my family and to pursue the many opportunities that have been offered to me outside the legal system and I have disregarded until now while these opportunities are varied, they all share in common a further commitment to helping my fellow citizen‘s role in the educational system, the media and nonprofit organizations. Did he say something about the media, nonprofit organizations?
SHUSTER: One thing we don‘t have to worry him about him doing is being a visiting professor at Harvard.
WOLF: You never know, the standards have dipped. (inaudible). You just never know what Larry might - I must say, he has a bright future. Judge Hackett, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown (INAUDIBLE). There has never been the neurotic TV judge. They‘re always stern. They never cry. So I think he has a bright future, David. Stay tuned.
And finally as you, sir, skillfully teased throughout this Super Tuesday edition of the show, Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton has at long last chosen her official champion song. Ladies, gentlemen and others, here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: So what‘s the winning song?
HILLARY CLINTON: You‘ll see.
BILL CLINTON: My money is on Smash Mouth. Everybody in America wants to know how it‘s going to end.
HILLARY CLINTON: Ready?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: For the record, the tune is Celine Dion‘s “You and I,” Now the Republicans have already attacked the choice because Celine Dion is Canadian but let me attack it from a non-partisan perspective. It stinks. Celine Dion? Why not Wayne Newton? Yeah, that‘s one reason why I do not want to be covering the Hillary Clinton campaign to have to listen to that song day in and day out. No thank you. I will take Howard Dean all over again.
One other troubling note, they impersonate Carmela and Tony Soprano. Tony Soprano was a - no he‘s a public servant. No he was a mobster. Come on now guys. You are smarter than that.
SHUSTER: Bill Wolf, two for two this week, that was brilliant. That does it for us. Thanks to Bill and thanks for watching. Up next, it has been a great day for “Hardball” and Chris Matthews. “Hardball” starts right now.
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