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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 17

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Cindy Sheehan, Brad Woodhouse, Pete Hegseth, John Edwards, Armstrong Williams, Charles Hurt, Ana Marie Cox

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Ernest Hemingway warned us not to confuse movement with action, so what do we make of tonight‘s all-night Senate debate on Iraq?  Is it action or just movement?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  And welcome to HARDBALL.  So they‘re war demonstrators now.  Suddenly, U.S. senators, half of them, are getting the message the country wants this five-year war to end.  So tonight, there‘s no tonight for the U.S. Senate.  They‘re staying up, debating the war right through until dawn.

Our own David Shuster‘s up on Capitol Hill right now.  Here on HARDBALL, we‘re doing the same thing, with two of the largest voices against the war, presidential candidate John Edwards and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.

Plus, we‘re covering the horse race for president.  A new 2008 presidential poll shows most Republicans now pick “none of the above.”  The AP/Ipsos poll shows almost a quarter of Republicans don‘t support any of the candidates running, and no one broke out as the frontrunner among evangelicals.

First now, the latest numbers from, which takes all the polls and averages them.  It shows that among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani leads the way with 25 percent, followed by Fred Thompson at 19 percent, John McCain at 16 percent and Mitt Romney at 10 percent.

As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner with 35 percent, Obama follows with 22 percent, they‘ve got Gore in there for some reason, at 16 percent, although he‘s not running, and John Edwards at 12 percent.

We begin tonight with the all-nighter at the United States Senate.  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us now from Senate Park up on Capitol Hill—David.

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, tonight there will be more than 100 protests across the country, including one right here on the Senate side of the Capitol by a variety of organizations who‘ll be protesting Senate Republicans, who are taking parliamentary measures to not allow a straight up or down vote on an amendment that would end the war.

Today in the U.S. Senate, the debate continued in which Democrats and a couple of Republicans are trying to pass a measure known as Reid-Levin, which would essentially start a withdrawal within four months and end it by the end of next April.  Throughout the day, the Democrats have said that they‘ve got a majority of the senators who would support this measure, but they don‘t have 60, and 60 would be the number to end a filibuster.  And Republicans are pledging they will not allow this unless the Democrats can get above 60.

So today, there was the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, on the Senate floor.  Here‘s what he had to say.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NE), MAJORITY LEADER:  We are now at a time, Mr.  President, when the time for speeches have ended.  It‘s the time for voting.  We want a vote on the Levin-Reid amendment.  That‘s what we want.


SHUSTER:  But Republicans again said no, that they were not going to change the rules this time for this particular measure.  Senator Trent Lott spoke for many of the Republicans.


SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI:  It‘s always been the case you need 60 votes.  I don‘t have 60 votes on a particular issue he was referring to.  Sixty votes are required for just about everything.  That was what Senator Reid had to say earlier this year.  Now, we‘re ready to vote.  We can have a vote on this amendment, the Levin-Reid amendment, right now.  We‘re ready to go.  Let me just say that I ask unanimous consent that the cloture vote scheduled for the morning occur at 5:30 this afternoon.



SHUSTER:  And with that objection, Senator Reid, majority leader, scheduled an all-night session of debate.  Technically, this is not a filibuster.  It‘s simply the effort by the Democrats to say to the Republicans that, If you‘re not going to allow us a straight up or down vote, we‘re going to force you to debate the war all night long.

And again, across the country, including here on Capitol Hill, there are a number of organizations that will also be staying up late to protest Republicans, to draw attention to these parliamentary tactics.  One of the groups involved is the Americans United for Change.  And Brad Woodhouse, you‘re the president of this organization.  Tell us about the event tonight.  Why are you guys out here?

BRAD WOODHOUSE, AMERICANS UNITED FOR CHANGE:  Well, let me just tell you one thing.  We want to highlight something that I think we just heard in a sound bite from Senator Lott, just how full of it the Republicans are on this issue.  They‘re not willing to allow an up or down—he said we could have an up or down vote on Levin-Reid.  What he said was, we could have a cloture vote.  We could require 60 votes.  That‘s just wrong.  Republicans are obstructing an end to the war.

This is a serious debate tonight.  This is a serious event here in upper Senate Park.  A majority of Americans and a bipartisan majority in Congress want an end to the war.  But for a stubborn president and but for a stubborn Senate minority, we would have an end to the war.  And that‘s what this effort is going to highlight tonight.

SHUSTER:  Brad, there are some tactics that the Democrats could, take if they didn‘t want to have to reach 60.  They could employ the nuclear option—in other words, a parliamentary maneuver that would force the Senate rules to change so they only need 50.  If this is so important, why not have Harry Reid use the nuclear option and say, Forget about the 60 votes?

WOODHOUSE:  Well, I‘m not at all sure that he‘s ruled that out.  And remember, this is part of a process that the Senate leader and the Speaker of the House have undertaken to chip away at Republican support.  If it had not been for what the Senate Democrats and the House Democrats have done to chip away support, challenge the president, would we have seen Lugar, would we have seen Voinovich, would we have seen Warner come out and say the things they have about the war?

So I don‘t think every piece of the arsenal necessarily has been unveiled.  There‘s still this effort in September.  But what we‘re saying, what Senator Reid is saying, what the Speaker of the House is saying, is this debate is now.  The war needs to be addressed now, not in September and not—it should not be prevented from being addressed by a Republican filibusters and obstruction.

SHUSTER:  There are a lot of different groups that are going to be out here—, your organization, veterans‘ organizations.  The way things are going to work tonight, it really is up to Harry Reid as to how much hardball he really wants to play with Republicans.


SHUSTER:  Do you believe that Senator Reid, every half hour ought to require Republicans to be in the chamber, do parliamentary tactics to keep them in the chamber all night long?

WOODHOUSE:  Well, let me tell you this.  They don‘t call him to “Give ‘em hell Harry” by accident.  He‘s a boxer.  He came by the name “Give ‘em hell Harry” honestly.  I think he will keep the Republicans up, keep them coming to he floor, and keep them defending this notion that when 70 percent of Americans and a bipartisan majority in Congress want an end to the war, that they‘re going to stand with a stubborn and discredited president and prevent it.  And so I think Senator Harry Reid will give ‘em hell tonight.

SHUSTER:  Now, if Harry Reid requires the Republicans to be there, he‘ll also require the Democrats to be there.  Are the Democrats OK with organizations like yours forcing essentially the Democratic leadership to take these dramatic steps?

WOODHOUSE:  Well, look, this was Senator Reid‘s idea, and we fully support it.  And I believe he‘s discussed it with the caucus.  We have many, many senators and House members that are coming down here tonight to support our efforts down here at upper Senate Park.  I think Senate Democrats are happy to debate this all night and into the next day.

SHUSTER:  OK.  Well, Brad Woodhouse, from Americans United for Change, thanks for joining us.

WOODHOUSE:  Thank you very much.

SHUSTER:  Thanks to the members of and other groups who are here tonight.  And Chris, their event actually is an event that starts later tonight, but they have a couple of hours to show that, in fact, this is a debate that‘s going to be raging all night long.  And they‘re going to be here, they say, all night long, making sure that, in fact, this vote, goes through the night—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, David Shuster up at Senate Park.  You can see the Capitol right behind David and those people.

Well, Cindy Sheehan is an anti-war activist, probably the most famous.  Her son, Casey, was killed during his service in the Iraq war.  She‘s currently on a 17-city, two-and-a-half-week tour called “Journey for Humanity,” protesting against President Bush and actually calling for his impeachment.  Cindy Sheehan joins us now from Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thank you very much for joining us, Cindy Sheehan.

CINDY SHEEHAN, SON DIED IN IRAQ:  Hi, Chris.  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Well, let me ask you about impeachment.  What are the grounds?  I mean, imagine you‘re a member calling for impeachment on the floor of the Senate, or conviction.  What would you say?

SHEEHAN:  Well, I would say the lies and the deceptions that led to an illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq, that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, I would say breaking the FISA laws by spying on Americans without warrants that George Bush admitted to, I would say the inadequate and tragic response to Katrina.  I would say for authorizing torture.  I would say for authorizing consolidating executive power, all the power in one branch.  And I think there are many grounds that impeachment could be started on.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that we have waged an aggressive war in Iraq?

SHEEHAN:  Well, I think that it was illegal and immoral.  There were no weapons of mass destructions.  There was no connection between Saddam and 9/11, and all evidence has shown, especially this week, that what we‘re doing is strengthening al Qaeda and strengthening hatred against us for occupying the country and destroying a country that was no threat to us.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, the other hawks in this administration—why do you think they took us to war?

SHEEHAN:  Well, I think it was a lot to do with oil.  It was a lot to do with destabilizing that region, which they have done very thoroughly.  The Iraqi refugee crisis has made the entire region compromised there.  And I think it was for profit.  I mean, it‘s for Halliburton.  It‘s for Blackwater.  It‘s for Standard Oil.  It‘s for the war profiteers.  And that‘s why war is usually waged.

MATTHEWS:  You believe that this was—this war was fought because people in the White House decided to make some money for their pals in business?  You really believe that?

SHEEHAN:  I believe that that...

MATTHEWS:  That they sent...


MATTHEWS:  That they sent 3,600 Americans to their death and 20,000-some losing their arms and legs and killed another 100,000 Arabs so that they could get richer?

SHEEHAN:  As Major General Smedley Butler said, War is a racket.  It always has been, and it always will be.  And I believe that that‘s one of the reasons.  It‘s what Dwight Eisenhower warned us of when he left office, the military-industrial complex.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but he was warning us about people like Kennedy and Rockefeller, who wanted to spend more money on the budget on defense spending.  But was he warning us about...

SHEEHAN:  Well, if we don‘t...

MATTHEWS:  ... war profiteering...

SHEEHAN:  Well, if we don‘t...

MATTHEWS:  Do you really believe that Cheney...

SHEEHAN:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.


SHEEHAN:  Cheney, and he was the CEO of Halliburton that got the no-bid contracts.


SHEEHAN:  And it is for strengthening the military-industrial complex, because they can‘t build more bombs and tanks and guns if we don‘t use them, if we don‘t deplete them.  And that‘s one of the major reasons for it.  And also, it‘s for controlling the natural resources.  And if it‘s not for that, what was it for, Chris?  It wasn‘t for...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I‘m asking.

SHEEHAN:  It wasn‘t for terrorism because it‘s just made terrorism worse.  And al Qaeda wasn‘t in Iraq before we invade.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that Cheney and the president are guilty of war crimes?

SHEEHAN:  Absolutely, for authorizing torture, which is against the

Geneva Conventions and against our own 8th Amendment, and for spying on

Americans without due process, and for detaining human beings without due

process, which is against

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think the president commuted the sentence of his former assistant for national security, Scooter Libby?

SHEEHAN:  Well, Scooter Libby, the—one of the founders and promoters of the Project for a New American Century—Scooter Libby—I think Scooter Libby knows where a lot of the skeletons are buried, that‘s for sure.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you about your plans because you‘ve became active again.  You took kind of a breather, didn‘t you, for a while there in the anti-war effort?

SHEEHAN:  I took a very short, five-week retirement, but I feel rested and ready to go, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Now, you‘ve talked about running against Nancy Pelosi.  I‘m out here in San Francisco right now.  It‘s very much an anti-war city, as you know.

SHEEHAN:  Yes.  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  Feverishly anti-war.


MATTHEWS:  Do you think you can actually take a nick out of her support, Nancy Pelosi, if you ran against her for the House?

SHEEHAN:  Well, I think that we could do very well there, and I‘ve already gotten just tremendous support from the city of San Francisco, and really from people all over the country that are disgusted with the two-party system, disgusted with the spinelessness of the Democrats, who are—they want to close up their businesses and quit their jobs and move to San Francisco to help me.  And I think it‘s going to be a real people‘s movement.  And I think that we will have a profound effect on the race there...


SHEEHAN:  ... if not win it.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s imagine you‘re a member of Congress.  How would you -

or you‘re speaker yourself.  How would you actually end the war?  What parliamentary, legal moves would you make?  These people up on the Hill are putting their sleeping bags out.  They got their cots out to, all the theatrics.

SHEEHAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  And tomorrow morning, we‘ll still have a war.  Do you have an actual legislative plan to end the war, Cindy Sheehan?

SHEEHAN:  They need to shut off George Bush‘s funds.  They need to appropriate enough money to bring our troops home, as General Odom said, as quickly and safely as possible.  And we need to appropriate money for the people of Iraq and for our soldiers and our veterans, to take care of them.  But give him just enough money to bring the troops home.  That‘s what they have, they have the power of the purse strings.

MATTHEWS:  And what happens...


SHEEHAN:  ... the power of the purse string.

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Cindy, I sympathize with that point of view, but what happens on the other side if you do that?  If you do that, then the other side, the president can say, can‘t he—the minute there‘s a casualty out there, the minute there‘s a soldier that doesn‘t get his weapons—his ammo when he needs it or his fire support or anything breaks down out there, he‘ll say it‘s because the Democrats and the anti-war people cut off the spending.  That‘s why that soldier died.  What do you do then?

SHEEHAN:  We need to appropriate enough money to bring them home, and...

MATTHEWS:  But he‘s not going to sign that bill.

SHEEHAN:  They don‘t need...

MATTHEWS:  You know he‘s not going to sign that bill!

SHEEHAN:  Chris, it‘s not a bill, it‘s taking away his money. 

Congress can do that.  That‘s the only way that they can stop it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, and then he can say...

SHEEHAN:  It‘s not a bill.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  It‘s an appropriation.  I know about how the Hill works, Cindy.

SHEEHAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  I know all about it.  You‘re right.  The people who oppose this war can write an appropriation bill.  Nancy Pelosi‘s talked about that on this show.  And it says you can only spend this money to bring the troops home.  Then, the second step, the president vetoes that bill and says, Send me a clean bill to support the troops.  If the Democrats don‘t do that, then he blames every calamity over there on the Democrats, and you, the anti-war people.

SHEEHAN:  Well, the Democrats have—the Democrats have not done a good job of making this George Bush‘s war, George Bush‘s calamity.  It has been from the beginning...

MATTHEWS:  Well...

SHEEHAN:  ... and every death, every innocent Iraqi, every American soldier is directly related to George Bush.


SHEEHAN:  And when Congress gave him...

MATTHEWS:  You know why?

SHEEHAN:  When Congress gave...

MATTHEWS:  You know why they failed?

SHEEHAN:  ... him more money—when Congress gave him more money, they made it their calamity.

MATTHEWS:  You know why they failed?  Because Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, a whole batch of them, voted to support and authorize this war...

SHEEHAN:  I know.

MATTHEWS:  ... on day one.  They‘ve never come back strong enough against their positions.

SHEEHAN:  I agree.  I agree.  And we need to support people who will be courageous in supporting our troops, really supporting our troops by bringing them home.

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  I like your passion.  I‘m very careful about motive, though.  Whenever you assign motives to the other side, you‘re in a dangerous area because you don‘t know why they‘re supporting this war.  You just don‘t like the war, and that‘s fair enough with me.  Thank you very much, Cindy Sheehan.

SHEEHAN:  Well, I—read “War Is a Racket,” Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I read so much, but thank you for that recommendation.

SHEEHAN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ll get to it.  Thank you.  I mean it.

Up next, the HARDBALL debate.  Should America get out of Iraq now?

And later, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, one of the frontrunners, is coming here to HARDBALL.

And by the way, take part in the HARDBALL campaign ad challenge.  It‘s a little bit of fun.  It‘s not as serious as war.  Make your own 30-second campaign ad for your favorite presidential candidate or the candidate you like the least.  Just upload your videos at—here it is—

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  As Senate Democrats pull an all-night session to debate a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq, demonstrators have come to Capitol Hill to rally support both for and against President Bush‘s Iraq plan.  Has the president‘s surge strategy run its course?  And would leaving Iraq make us more or less safe?  That‘s the HARDBALL debate tonight.

With us is Iraq war veteran Pete Hegseth, who‘s executive director of Vets for Freedom, one of the groups on Capitol Hill in support of the president‘s war plan.  And Ron Reagan‘s an MSNBC political analyst and radio talk show host.

So you first, Pete.  What—do you support the president‘s plan? 

Will it bring success?

PETE HEGSETH, VETS FOR FREEDOM:  I support the plan that General Petraeus is implementing in Baghdad right now.  For only three weeks, he‘s had the amount of troops that he has asked for, and he‘s starting to use them.  He‘s seen success in Anbar.  He‘s using them in Diyala province, and he‘s going to do the same in Baghdad.  So to declare success or failure on the surge is way too early.  He‘s only had his troops for three weeks.  And even in September, he‘s going to only have had them for three or four months, so it‘s going to be tough to make an assessment, but I think we‘re going to see progress.

MATTHEWS:  We have been in this war—this is the fifth summer, Pete, the fifth summer of war, maybe the longest war—I think it is—we have been in, in this country. 

And you say it‘s too early to decide whether it‘s been a smart—it‘s smart for us to put all our chips over in Iraq.  You still—when will it be smart to decide whether this was a good bet for American security, going into Iraq? 


MATTHEWS:  When do we decide? 

HEGSETH:  I can‘t answer that question, but I can...

MATTHEWS:  You have to?

HEGSETH:  I can tell you that...


HEGSETH:  ... finally have the right strategy.

MATTHEWS:  No.  You have to tell us.


MATTHEWS:  No, this is what this debate is about.

HEGSETH:  Chris, you have got to let me answer the question.

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m letting you answer.  When do we decide if this is a good bet for America, to put our troops in Iraq?  When will we make this decision, sir? 

HEGSETH:  We can make this decision when our enemy stands down, which I don‘t think they have any intent to do. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but when do we decide, or do we just fight this war indefinitely, you argue?

HEGSETH:  Absolutely not.  It‘s in our interests to deny haven to al Qaeda...

MATTHEWS:  No, no.

HEGSETH:  ... and al Qaeda‘s enemies in Iraq.


HEGSETH:  So, until we can create a stable government there... 

MATTHEWS:  No, this is a democracy, and we‘re having a debate, sir. 

Let‘s have it right now.

When should we decide that this is a—the decision we want to stick with?  You can‘t just keep putting it off and say, we will decide, we will decide.


MATTHEWS:  When do we have to make a decision to cut or run or stay and fight?

HEGSETH:  I think...


HEGSETH:  I think we have made the decision to stay and fight.  We need to make it right now.  Our enemies are there.  We have the right strategy with General Petraeus in Baghdad.  We need to give him time to implement it.  As a soldier who...

MATTHEWS:  How much time?

HEGSETH:  As a soldier who has been there...

MATTHEWS:  How much time do we give them?

HEGSETH:  Excuse me, Chris. 

As a soldier who has been there and seen what this strategy can do, this has the opportunity to bring about real change, finally.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  That‘s an argument you‘re making.

HEGSETH:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  But when will we know the results?

HEGSETH:  It‘s impossible to know when.  You can‘t sit—you cannot...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Five years from now?

HEGSETH:  You can‘t create D.C. timelines for what is going on in Baghdad. 

MATTHEWS:  I am asking you about a Baghdad timeline.  When do we decide if this war has been a smart move for us and whether we should continue with it or not? 

HEGSETH:  As soon as the Iraqi government can—can deny haven to al Qaeda within its own borders and we can take our boys home, because that is what we all want. 

MATTHEWS:  Suppose it never can?  Suppose it never can? 

HEGSETH:  Well, there is a—there is a point at which you have to determine that the Iraqis are not capable altogether.  But that is not what I saw. 

We never created the security conditions for them...


HEGSETH:  ... to be successful.  That is what we are finally doing with General Petraeus.  He needs to be given the time.

MATTHEWS:  So, you are accepting the fact, if it‘s clear at some point

you are willing to say that, at some point...

HEGSETH:  Absolutely.  We all want our troops to come home.

MATTHEWS:  ... we have to decide whether—we have to decide whether Iraq can do the job? 

HEGSETH:  Absolutely.  But it is too early to tell for what General Petraeus is trying to do in Baghdad.


Ron Reagan, your case. 

RON REAGAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, with all respect to Pete—and I—I value his service to his country, and I respect the fact that he was willing to—to risk his life for his country.

If he‘s saying that we have to wait until al Qaeda in Iraq, I suppose, is—is no longer there, we could be waiting for years and years and years.  If we are waiting for the Iraqi government to stand up, we could be waiting for years and years.  We can‘t afford that. 

We are going to hit the wall in the spring.  We are going to start doing real, permanent damage to our military by the spring of ‘08.  So, that‘s the timeline we‘re really talking about here.  If we‘re—if we have not done it by then, we really just need to be out of there. 

HEGSETH:  Chris, that is something we have been hearing for—for years now:  We are going to make permanent damage—we‘re going to commit permanent damage to our military if we stay for another six months or we stay for another year. 

REAGAN:  Well, the military has been saying that, Pete. 

HEGSETH:  Sure.  It is going to take another rotation of National Guardsmen next year if we want to continue this, but what if we‘re seeing success?

REAGAN:  And how long do you keep doing that?  You just keep stop-loss programs over and over, sending the same troops back again and again and again?   

HEGSETH:  What‘s...

REAGAN:  How long does it go on?

HEGSETH:  What‘s—what is the alternative?  What is this responsible end that everyone purports to be asking for?

REAGAN:  The alternative is...


REAGAN:  ... let the Iraqis take care of their own country, Pete.


REAGAN:  Let—it‘s their country.

HEGSETH:  Well, I think they do need to take care of it.

REAGAN:  It‘s their country.  It is their job to do that. 

HEGSETH:  But our interests are tied into their outcome. 

Al Qaeda—we saw what happened in Afghanistan when the Soviets left, and the Taliban set up their government there.  The same thing is going to happen in Iraq if we were to decide to leave precipitously now.


HEGSETH:  So, we have to commit to a secure environment there.

MATTHEWS:  Pete, who are we fighting for over there, the government? 

Do you have confidence that that government is a government that will stand up and try to try to divide up the oil, try to include all the groups?  Is it a government that the soldiers over there we‘re training will fight and die for?

HEGSETH:  You know, it‘s—it is frustrating, because the political progress has not been—has not come along as it should for the Iraqis.

But the only way for us to help them do that, because they need to stand up before we can get the heck out of there, is to create security conditions in Baghdad where these politicians can actually make it from their home to their place of work without having to worry about getting blown up. 

It‘s then that we can expect them to make the kind of political compromises necessary to create a stable government.  But, until we do that, they are not going to—they are going to continue to bicker and fight. 

MATTHEWS:  Ron, last word. 

REAGAN:  Well, you know, Pete talked about the enemy standing down. 

Who, exactly, is the enemy in Iraq?  Only about 15 percent of the foreign—the fighters are actually foreigners.

HEGSETH:  Committing 80 to 90 percent of the suicide attacks.

REAGAN:  Mostly, we are talking about the Sunnis and the Shiites at each other‘s throats.  Which one of those is our enemy? 


REAGAN:  When do we expect them to stand down?

HEGSETH:  Al Qaeda...


REAGAN:  When do we expect the civil war to end?

HEGSETH:  The civil war is not happening right now on the scale it was happening before.  And...

REAGAN:  Of course it is. 

HEGSETH:  ... al Qaeda may—it might be 10 percent of—of—as far as bodies, but, as far percentage of attacks, 80 to 90 percent of the suicide bombers come from al Qaeda.  I saw it myself in Samarra.

REAGAN:  And you know where most of them come from?  Saudi Arabia.

HEGSETH:  Al Qaeda is there and fighting us. 

From foreign fighters, absolutely.  We need to close the borders.  We need the troops to deny these guys, which is what we have got.

REAGAN:  We can‘t close our own borders.  How are we going to close Iraq‘s borders? 

HEGSETH:  Amen to that.



REAGAN:  Well, amen to that, but we can‘t close—we can‘t close our borders.  How are we going to close Iraq‘s borders?

HEGSETH:  Well, I think we need to close—we need to work on ours as well.

But we need to—we are starting in Baghdad, which is a good starting point.  General Petraeus is focusing there.  And I think it is too early to judge whether he has been successful or not. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Pete.

I wish this—this government of ours had as much brainpower behind this war as your passion for this war.

Thank you very much, Pete Hegseth, and Ron Reagan, as always. 

HEGSETH:  Thank you, sir.

MATTHEWS:  Still to come, Democratic presidential John Edwards.  Yes, he‘s coming to HARDBALL tonight.

And tomorrow on HARDBALL, former “New York Times” reporter Judy Miller.  Remember her?  She was the one that Scooter leaked to.  She‘s going to have something to say about his commutation, his clemency.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Let‘s check back with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster.  He‘s up on Capitol Hill in Washington covering that Senate all-night debate on Iraq.

David—David, I have got to ask you.  You are the expert up there.  Is this for real?  What is going to go on behind you in that Capitol dome tonight, is this going to help shorten this war?  Is it going to get a message out, or is it just more bells and whistles? 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, I think it‘s fair that the parliamentary maneuvers, having the Senate debate along—all night long, that is clearly a stunt.

But the passion that you see out here in the park, in the demonstrations, this is very real. 

And let‘s talk, for example, to Tara (ph). 

You are with Americans Against Escalation.  This is part of

Why are you out here?  You could be doing a million other things this summer, rather than holding a sign and coming to a—to a vigil like this.  Why are you out here? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am our here joining the millions of Americans across the country who want to send a message to the Republicans inside that it‘s time to stop obstructing and end the war in Iraq. 

SHUSTER:  But the message is not getting through, in the sense that they‘re still going to—they are not going to get the 60.  The Democrats are not going to get a vote on this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know.  I think we‘re making our voices loud and clear that we have had enough of Bush‘s reckless war.  And we want to make sure that we stop Republicans from obstructing a safe end to the war.

SHUSTER:  Maura (ph), where are you from?  And tell us about your organization. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am originally from Belleville, Illinois, and I work with the National Security Network, which is young professionals who work in national security. 

SHUSTER:  And do you think—do you think you are making a difference out here? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I really think...

SHUSTER:  I mean, and, if so, how—how do you measure it? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think we are making a difference.  This is going to be handed over to our generation.  And we want this to end today.  We want this to end now, so that we can get back to the real war that we need to be fighting against the terrorists who want to do this country harm.

And anybody who is standing in the way of the end to the war in Iraq is standing in the way of American security. 

SHUSTER:  And, Tara (ph), you have had some of your members going to various Senate offices today.  What has been the reaction when people come up and they see the signs?  Are the senators really listening to you guys, or are they just ignoring you? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The senators are listening.

And, you know, we have folks going to offices here in D.C.  We have folks going to every Republican Senate office in every state in the country.  And we are going to see throughout the night and into tomorrow what the reaction has been.  And I‘m really looking forward to it.

SHUSTER:  All right, Tara (ph), Maura (ph), and everybody else who is holding your signs and out here for this demonstration, thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

And, Chris, again, I mean, everybody agrees that this is Harry Reid‘s call tonight to have the Senate meet in all-night session.  But you have a lot of people who are going to be out here tonight in places like this one, saying that this is an issue that they care enough about to come out here and hold signs and to demonstrate—Chris.  

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s certainly a wholesome looking crowd for an anti-war bunch.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, David Shuster.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next, John Edwards, he‘s coming here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

It was a history-making day on Wall Street.  The Dow Jones industrial average topped 14000, before falling back to end the day slightly lower than that mark.  The Dow Jones ended at about 13971.  That‘s up about 20-and-a-half points.  The S&P also hit an all-time intraday high, before closing down fractionally.  The Nasdaq gained almost 15 points in trading. 

After the closing bell, computer chip maker Intel reported, quarterly profit rose 44 percent, after sales gained for the first time in six years.  However, profit margins decreased, and Intel shares are down in after-hours trading. 

Meantime, Yahoo! reported, net income fell 2.2 point.  Its shares are also down in the after-hours session. 

And some mixed news on inflation at the wholesale level—overall, producer prices were down two-tenths-of-a-percent in June, but so-called core inflation was up a larger-than-expected three-tenths-of-a-percent..

That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is on a campaign tour to fight poverty.  He joins us tonight from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Senator, thank you very much. 

By the way, before we get started with the questions and the answers, I want to know the—I would love your response.  We would like to formally invite you to HARDBALL Plaza, right out in front of our studios, to debate Hillary Clinton and—and Kucinich, Dennis Kucinich. 

Do you accept?

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I will tell you what I will do.  If you—as long as we don‘t exclude anybody, and if we can figure out a way—for example, if you want to do the three of us, or maybe one more, and then do the other group the same way, if there‘s a way to break us into small groups...


EDWARDS:  ... and include everybody, and have a more serious discussion, I will do it. 

MATTHEWS:  So, we will start with your group, but we will continue on, and that would be all right with you? 

EDWARDS:  Any way we can have a more serious discussion with smaller groups, I am happy to participate in.

MATTHEWS:  What do you think about this?  Why do you think it has gotten to be where they have these cattle calls, where these—you will have maybe 10 or so more.  You will have people that haven‘t been in politics for years, like Mike Gravel, getting invited.

Do you think there‘s a setup here to keep things easy for Hillary? 

EDWARDS:  Oh, no, I don‘t think it‘s a setup.  I think it is just the nature of having a lot of candidates. 

I mean, I lived through this in—in 2003 and 2004.  This is very similar to what—what we saw back then.  And I think what—the hard thing for—for people like you, Chris, who are trying to get in depth in these serious issues, is trying to find a way to not have this be a sound-bite debate.


EDWARDS:  And I think it‘s—it is a difficult task with so many people, because it requires a lot of time, but I think it‘s really important for voters. 

MATTHEWS:  Sometimes, there is an advantage in these cattle calls.  Sometimes, you can find out quickly that three candidates for the presidency on the Republican side don‘t believe in evolution.  There are some revelations, I have to tell you, along the way, even in a busy setting.

Let me ask you about this war in Iraq.  Are you impressed that the U.S. Senate, the Democrats and a few Republicans, are holding something of a—maybe it is a faux filibuster tonight, but they are trying to make some noise against the war? 

EDWARDS:  Yes.  Anything they—yes.  The answer is yes.  Anything they can do to force Bush‘s hand in this war, they should do.  And, so, I am very happy to see them doing this. 

MATTHEWS:  Today, there was an article in “The New York Times.”  I know you‘re busy.  You may not have caught it.  I did catch it.  It‘s by the conservative David Brooks.

And he given an—a rare opportunity to get in to hear the president in the Roosevelt Room just a few days ago.  And here‘s—he is a supporter of the president‘s in most ways. 

And he came back with what I found a stunning report.  The president of the United States is fighting this war in Iraq because he believes God wills it, because he believes God wills democracy on all mankind, and he is following the will of God.  That is his political and a geopolitical philosophy. 

What is your reaction?

EDWARDS:  Yes.  

Well, my reaction is, this—this war is a terrible mess.  And whatever reason is motivating George Bush to do, it‘s turned into a disaster for us and—and the rest of the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that God wishes or wills the form of democracy we have in this country or anything like it on the world?  Or do you believe that God...


MATTHEWS:  ... doesn‘t have a hand in political systems?

EDWARDS:  I do not think God is saying that America‘s political system or any other political system has to be the political system of the world.  I think this is about, you know, what governments‘ people choose. 

I think the promotion of democracy is a very good thing.  I am very much, as a presidential candidate, and, as president, would be somebody who believes in doing everything we reasonably can do...


EDWARDS:  ... to promote democracy. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you think is keeping the president at the helm, why he seems to be ignoring the fact we‘re in the fifth summer of war, the longest war ever?  Nothing has gone the way he thought it would or said it would. 

What keeps him at the helm?  What keeps him pressing, apparently until the end of his term to keep this war on? 

EDWARDS:  You know, it is impossible for me to know, Chris.  I think that he has gotten so much of himself, emotionally, personally invested in this war, and his definition of success that he‘s just not going to change.  I think what‘s more important than what‘s motivating him, because I do not see any indication of any change in his behavior, is the Congress has the power to force a change in his behavior. 

That is what you asked me about earlier.  And they should use that power, because it is important for America, important for those men and women whose lives are on the line.  It is actually important for the rest of the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your wonderful wife, Elizabeth Edwards, of course.  Her name is Edwards, as you know quite well.  She has challenged Hillary Clinton today.  She was quoted as saying that you would be a better advocate for women than Hillary Clinton. 

EDWARDS:  Well, I think it is not shocking that my wife is for me, Chris.  I am proud to have her support.  I hope I get her vote too.  I think the point she was making—I actually talked to Elizabeth this afternoon about this.  I think the point she was making is that if you look at things like poverty, there are more women in poverty than there are men.  There are more women who do not have health insurance than men.  There are more women who are affected by the minimum wage than men. 

And in these kinds of substantive areas that have a direct impact on the lives of women, I have been very aggressive.  I have been out front and lead a on those issues.  I think that is the point she was making. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the Democratic party has lost its populist streak.  I know you are trying to bring it back, senator.  Because with all the money—I mean, you have been the fund raiser.  You go to fund-raisers.  The people at fund-raisers are not average people.  They are big shots. 

There are a lot of billionaires by the Democratic party.  They do not want to hear anything that sounds too populist.  It makes them nervous because it endangers their lifestyle.  How do you get back to being the party of Hubert Humphrey, the party of regular folk, Williams Jennings Bryan, if you will, that party?  

EDWARDS:  Well, the party—My party, and the party I believe in, the Democratic party that I believe in stands up for ordinary people, stands up for the little guy, stands up for the people we do not have health insurance, who live in poverty and who do not go to fund-raisers.  That is the heart and soul of the Democratic party.  And we can never lose that, because if we lose it, we lose our soul. 

And it is going to require us to have a little backbone, and stand up for what we believe is right, regardless of who is affected by it.   

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at one of our golden oldies here.  That is the wonderful Elizabeth Edwards talking on the telephone with—well, I‘ll leave no adjective here—Ann Coulter. 


ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS:  I am making this call as a mother.  I am the mother of that boy who died.  My children participate.  These young people behind you are that age of my children.  You are asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues.  And I do not think that is serving them or this country very well. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Elizabeth Edwards. 

ANN COULTER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I think we heard all we need to hear.  The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking.  No. 


MATTHEWS:  It is interesting, senator, one of the things that I‘ve discovered in politics is that people react to what they think is unfair tactics.  And here they thought that Ann Coulter was being unfair.  Your campaign raised almost 400,000 dollars in the hours after your wife made that call.  Does that surprise you? 

EDWARDS:  It surprises me a little bit, but I am not shocked that a lot of people, particularly a lot of Democrats, like the fact that Elizabeth was standing up to this woman, this hate monger.  Go Elizabeth is what I‘ve got to say.  I appreciate her having some backbone and courage.  Somebody has got to speak out when these women—when these people use the kind of language that this woman has been using. 

MATTHEWS:  Fair enough.  Let me ask you about the poverty tour.  You are in Pittsburgh, one of the great American cities.  Can you get an audience for poverty, or is this country too focused on the Dow Jones going up? 

EDWARDS:  We can get an audience.  You need to look at the way people responded when the hurricane hit the gulf coast, volunteering and taking families into their communities, going down to New Orleans and contributing.  I think America will respond.  And we have seen already.  I have been at this about a day and a half now, starting in New Orleans, up through Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, now in Pittsburgh. 

We can see that there is a lot of attention.  I think there is a will, Chris, I really believe this—there is a will in this country to do something about this.  But somebody has got to tap into that will and we‘re trying our best to focus on the needs of folks and solutions, and pull that will out.   

MATTHEWS:  What‘s it feel like?  I‘ve never been poor.  You have.  I‘m not talking about the haircuts and all the nonsense.  I‘m talking about your own personal experience as a human being.  You know what it is like to be poor.  Tell the people watching right now who have not been what it is like.

EDWARDS:  Well, you go into a restaurant with your family and you sit down, and everybody—especially when you‘re young—that is the only time I was poor, Chris.  And you sit down, and then you start to order something, and your father says, we have to leave, because we can‘t pay for this.  And you get up and leave, and it is humiliating.  It feels humiliating when you are young.  And it is particularly humiliating to see your mother and father have to go through that.

So we do not want anybody to be treated without dignity and respect in this country, which is what is part of what motivates me to this cause.

MATTHEWS:  Well, keep talking about it, senator.  Thank you very much for coming on HARDBALL.  Senator John Edwards.

EDWARDS:  Thanks Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Up next, our HARDBALL round table.  That‘s the hot part of the show.  It‘s already been pretty hot with all the news coming out.  We‘re going to have a lot more news coming at you—political news, horse race news from Iowa, where John Edwards is the leader.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to  HARDBALL.  Time now to dig into the hottest headlines and the newest political video sweeping the country.  Here to do it, the “New York Post‘s” Charles Hurt, “‘s” Ana Marie Cox and radio talk show host Armstrong Williams. 

First up, the horse race.  We love this one.  Here on HARDBALL, we keep tabs on all the latest polls, who is sinking, who is rising, who is stuck.  Let‘s take a look at these numbers from, the website that takes all the 2008 presidential polls, averages them together to see where the candidates stand.  Tonight, let‘s take a look at the most important state in the union, Iowa. 

On the Republican side, let‘s mark these down.  Get your pencils out.  Mitt Romney‘s still ahead in Iowa, 25 percent.  Fred Thompson, whose not even in the race yet, has 16; Rudy Giuliani at 15 percent and John McCain down in single digits at nine. 

On the Democratic side in Iowa, John Edwards is up pretty strongly at 28; Hillary Clinton behind him at 24, Senator Barack Obama at 17, and Bill Richardson—look it, moving into the top tier at 13, right behind the other fellow.  Can Iowa be a big boost to Romney and Edwards?  Let‘s go to Charles first. 

Charles, first of all, do you still believe in Iowa?  Is Iowa still the key, the fulcrum of greatness?

CHARLES HURT, “THE NEW YORK POST”:  That is obviously the biggest question that we will find out here this cycle. 

MATTHEWS:  I want a prediction from you, Charles.  Does it still matter?

HURT:  My prediction is that with states like California, you have got more absentee early voters who cast their ballots than there are regular voters in Iowa.  My prediction is that it will be decided in places like—this time in places like California and Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  In other words, there won‘t be a slingshot effect, because people will have already voted absentee in the biggest states on February 5th

HURT:  I think Edwards and Romney gambled on the wrong horse this time. 

MATTHEWS:  You are so interesting.  Ana Marie Cox, do you buy the fact that it is important that John Edwards and Romney are still ahead in Iowa, or is that not the most important place to be ahead?   

ANA MARIE COX, “TIME.COM”:  Well, I think it‘s important for both of them, but I think at this point, they have sort of rigged the game so that if they don‘t both win in Iowa, their candidacies are almost over.  Romney has spent 1.5 million dollars in Iowa, which accounts for about 60,000 dollars per point in that poll.

Edwards has spent what we call sweat equity in Iowa, of course.  He is basically a senator from there.  But they put all of their chips down, in whatever form they have chips, and now it looks very bad for them if they do not wind up taking it.  Whereas, if Hillary took Iowa, for instance, that you would get a slingshot. 

MATTHEWS:  Boy, I‘m learning a lot tonight.  I never thought of this, but I am learning this—really, I am not being patronizing.  Charles, this is really important, in other words, the usual slingshot effect of winning that first big derby may not be relevant this time, because other states, which are holding very early primaries, early February, will have already gotten a lot of their absentee ballots in.

And now Ana Marie, you have added to the wisdom of this program by saying it may only being a negative for those front runners right now,  because they put so much money of their own into advertising, if they fail in that first derby in Iowa, they could be gone completely.  Let us bring in Armstrong Williams.  Do you agree with these two elements of wisdom?   

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST:  Well, they both have merit.  Listen, Senator Edwards and Governor Romney understand that they have problems within their campaign.  They need a victory, whether it‘s an apparent victory or whatever.  A victory is a victory.  It will be played up huge in the media. 

It may not need much inside the beltway and inside politics, but to the average American, it will say to them who are on the fence in deciding where to spend their money, hey these guys won.  What a shock.  I mean, Romney nor Edwards will hurt themselves by winning Iowa.  However, Mrs.  Clinton, who is not expected to win, or Giuliani, who is way behind, or Fred Thompson, who is not even in the race, they have everything to lose and everything to gain if they come in a strong second or place first in Iowa.

So listen, they have to win it.  But even if they lose it and come in second, it still shows that their candidacy is still strong, and it gives them momentum. 

MATTHEWS:  Ironically, the only people that have something to lose in Iowa are the front runners.  Isn‘t that wild?  We will be right back.  This irony continues.  Remember, we want your campaign ads—this is somewhat serious—for the campaign ad challenge, make your own ad—this is free by the way—for your favorite candidate or your least favorite candidate.  You can go either way on this.  And I have a sense, knowing our audience, you might go the other way.

Anyway,  You can upload there.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the “New York Post‘s” Charles Hurt, “‘s” Ana Marie Cox and radio talk show host Armstrong Williams.  Next up, Romney the flip flopper.  John Kerry was dogged in 2004 for charges that he flip-flopped his position on the war in Iraq.  He is now going after Mitt Romney for the very same thing. 

Kerry told the “Boston Herald” that Romney is much more of a flip flopper than he ever was.  Quote, he has changed on abortion.  He has changed on gay rights.  He has changed on guns.  And he‘s changed on the war.  That is pretty significant.  I think people are asking the question out there, who is he really? 

Charles, is this going to hurt?  You know, they used to say it takes a thief.  Does it take a flip-flopper to name one? 

HURT:  I think so.  Don‘t you know that Kerry really, really enjoyed taking the wood to Romney on that.  But I couldn‘t help but notice there was no sympathy in the tone of Kerry‘s quotes as he was listing these flip-flops. 

MATTHEWS:  You suggest that there is some animus behind this that is not explained by politics. 

HURT:  Yeah, I think that—I think that—for all things that Kerry says, I think he is clearly very bitter about not only losing the last election, but how he lost.  This is sweet payback, I think, in a lot of ways. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean he is really mad at the Clintons and everyone else

and he does not want to say so, or what?  Who is he really mad at?  Come

on, Charles

HURT:  I think that more than anybody, he is mad at a lot of the elements in the Republican party and conservatives, who, you know, called him out on a lot of things where he did flip flop.  He can say he didn‘t flip flop, but—

MATTHEWS:  He flipped on the 87.  But, you know, I think they were unfair on the war.  Because he was a war hero.  Let‘s go to Ana Marie Cox.

COX:  Yes, I think that Kerry is definitely angry.  I think he‘s angry probably at the media as well, the people that he feels brought along the storyline of being a flip-flopper.  I wish there were two different kinds of flip flops we could talk about here so we could have a pot called kettle black kind of metaphor.  But really I guess there‘s only one kind.

MATTHEWS:  Armstrong Williams, is this dangerous having a flip-flopper call you a flip-flopper?   

WILLIAMS:  Well, Kerry is definitely a flip flopper, and Romney on so many issues.  But look, I don‘t see how anybody can not change their position on the war in Iraq.  There are many people started out supporting this war because they thought it was the right thing.  They did not see this disaster.  It‘s mind boggling what has happened.  So I‘m not going to accuse him of flip flopping on that.  I just think he‘s coming to his sound judgment and common sense. 

MATTHEWS:  I love how you say that, didn‘t see this disaster.  What an honest statement from one of our panelists.  Thank you sir.  Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”



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