Guests: Jon Soltz, Pete Hegseth, Sam Waterston, Rebecca Jarvis, Adolina
Kristina, Taryn Southern, Amber Lee Ettinger
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: President Bush says we can‘t leave Iraq...
MATTHEWS: ... until we‘ve killed al Qaeda. How many lives, how many years, how many presidents (INAUDIBLE)
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to “HARDBALL Plaza.” Tonight (INAUDIBLE) the hottest stars of the 2008 presidential campaign right here on “HARDBALL Plaza.” You‘ve seen them on YouTube, three young women who are grabbing the spotlight and bringing their spark to the campaign with their own provocative political ads.
MATTHEWS: Take a look at “Obama girl,” “Hot for Hill girl” and “Rudy girl.”
MATTHEWS: We‘ll meet the girls of summer, “Obama girl” (INAUDIBLE)...
MATTHEWS: ... “Hot for Hill” girl Taryn Southern, and “Rudy girl,” Adolina Kristina.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be chatting with (INAUDIBLE) and we‘ll also be taking questions from our great audience here at “HARDBALL Plaza” later in the show.
But first, the big day of news in the news today. “The New York Times” reports that General David Petraeus is revising a classified plan for Iraq that sees a significant U.S. role in Iraq through the summer of 2009. President Bush gave one of the most provocative speeches today of his presidency about al Qaeda,, the terrorist organization that attacked America on 9/11.
Today President Bush said that some group—the same group, is making its stand not in Pakistan but in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Qaeda‘s in Iraq, and they‘re there for a reason. And surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaeda would be a disaster for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Bush‘s attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, was grilled by the U.S. Senate today by the Judiciary Committee. Let‘s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: If you want to be attorney general, you should be able to clarify it yourself right now and not leave it to a spokesperson who didn‘t—who you don‘t know what he said. Tell me how you clarify it.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Comey‘s testimony about the hospital visit was about other intelligence activities, disagreement over other intelligence activities. That‘s how I would clarify it.
SCHUMER: That is not what Mr. Comey says. That is not what the people in the room say.
GONZALES: That‘s how we clarify it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Gonzales denied he tried to pressure then attorney general John Ashcroft into approving the president‘s domestic wiretapping program during that late night hospital visit.
And a sign of the times. Last night, the Democrats debated, but took questions from the YouTube audience instead of a traditional moderator. Later we‘ll talk about the winners and losers of the debate last night.
But first, our HARDBALL debate tonight. Washington‘s been the site of demonstrations on the war from both sides, so we asked two representatives, both Iraq war veterans, to join us on “HARDBALL Plaza,” Pete Hegseth of Vets for Freedom, an organization that supports the war, and Jon Soltz of Votevets.org...
MATTHEWS: ... and anti-war group of veterans.
Now, let me ask you—first of all, talk about your service, Pete.
What did you do in Iraq?
PETE HEGSETH, VETS FOR FREEDOM: I served in Iraq from 2005 to 2006 with 101st Airborne Division. I was an infantry platoon leader and a civil affairs officer in Samarra. I worked with the government.
MATTHEWS: And you were under fire.
MATTHEWS: And what was that like?
HEGSETH: It was—it‘s scary, but it‘s reality. We‘re fighting a real enemy over there.
MATTHEWS: Jon, your action in Vietnam—in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: I‘m still in Vietnam (INAUDIBLE)
JON SOLTZ, VOTEVETS.ORG: I‘m a little too young for that. I served in 2003 with the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. I worked in transportation convoys in Ramadi, Iraq, going up into Baghdad airport, obviously a very difficult situation with the asymmetrical battlefield. And it was a situation where convoys that I deployed or that I was on were involved with combat.
MATTHEWS: Did you get hit at all? Were you under fire?
SOLTZ: It took me 20 hours to get into my first ambush in Iraq. Two RPGs shot at my convoy, and one of the trucks blown up that I was on. We had no up-armored equipment, and we were lucky that it went into the back of the truck and not in the cab.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about the war. The president said today that al Qaeda, which attacked us on 9/11, is still our number one enemy in Iraq. Is that the way to look at this war, al Qaeda attacked us, we went back and have been fighting them in Iraq? Is that the way to look at it?
HEGSETH: The way we have to look at the war now is who we are fighting in Iraq today. It is al Qaeda...
MATTHEWS: Many Americans believe that Iraq attacked us on 9/11. Is that correct?
HEGSETH: No, they didn‘t.
HEGSETH: But the reality we have to face is the enemy we‘re fighting in Iraq today, which is al Qaeda. I saw it in Samarra firsthand. I saw the propaganda. They want to win there. They believe they can win there...
MATTHEWS: What is their goal there?
HEGSETH: Their goal is to create a caliphate, an Islamic state where they can have a haven to fight us there...
MATTHEWS: OK, how do...
MATTHEWS: ... Sunni set up a caliphate state when four out of five people over there are Shia Muslim?
HEGSETH: How did they do it in Ramadi? How did they do it in Diyala? How are they doing it in Baghdad? All the places where they‘ve had havens before, they would continue to do if it were not for us.
MATTHEWS: So you—so just let me get this straight. You and the president believe that al Qaeda is taking over Iraq.
HEGSETH: I believe al Qaeda took over Ramadi...
MATTHEWS: No, is it taking over Iraq? I want to know.
HEGSETH: It seeks to—it would like to have a haven there.
MATTHEWS: And you believe that‘s the danger if we leave...
MATTHEWS: ... that they will take over Iraq.
HEGSETH: We need a government that can...
MATTHEWS: OK, Jon, your view.
HEGSETH: ... prevent that from happening.
MATTHEWS: Is al Qaeda taking over Iraq, the same people that attacked us 9/11?
SOLTZ: When I served in Iraq in 2003, there was absolutely no al Qaeda in Iraq. And if there‘s al Qaeda in Iraq now, it‘s because we‘re a magnet for them. I mean, George Bush didn‘t hand (INAUDIBLE) Iraq to al Qaeda, he handed it to Iran. And you have Shia militias, which—two of them which are controlled by Iran, which is the largest threat to stability inside Iraq and long-term in the Middle East that are aligned with Hezbollah and are a danger to Israel.
So George Bush has not only empowered Iran, he‘s emboldened the enemies inside of Iraq. He‘s let Osama bin Laden get away. And everybody in this crowd right here wants to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, and George W. Bush let him off the hook four years ago.
MATTHEWS: So are you agreeing—we agree on facts here that the al Qaeda element came into Iraq after we got there?
HEGSETH: Sure, they did. But the reality—we can...
MATTHEWS: Now, the longer we stay there, does the number of people in al Qaeda grow or become lesser?
HEGSETH: I think...
MATTHEWS: Are there more al Qaeda there every year?
HEGSETH: If we stop them from...
MATTHEWS: No, no. I‘m asking you...
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking you. If we stay four more years, will there be many times more al Qaeda by the time we leave?
HEGSETH: It depends on the strategy we implement. And General Petraeus has the right one right now. Progress is...
HEGSETH: Sectarian violence is down...
MATTHEWS: Is the number...
HEGSETH: ... from a year ago...
MATTHEWS: ... al Qaeda in that country growing right now?
HEGSETH: There‘s no way to know. But I know their influence is very high. They might have 10 percent of people, 80 to 90 percent of the suicide bombings that happening are done by al Qaeda and...
MATTHEWS: So you agree that...
MATTHEWS: ... both of you, that al Qaeda came in there because we were in there.
HEGSETH: Absolutely. They want to kill Americans...
SOLTZ: I don‘t believe the links were even very strong. I mean, what you have in al Qaeda in Iraq is someone who stole a brand name. It‘s like Ford Motor Company.
HEGSETH: All you have to do...
SOLTZ: Al Qaeda...
MATTHEWS: Are they Iraqis?
SOLTZ: Ninety percent of this al Qaeda in Iraq is Iraqis. I mean, they‘ve bred up (ph) -- the worst thing that could happen to al Qaeda in Iraq is for the U.S. pull back because the Shia militias that are controlled by Iran, that have control of Iraq...
HEGSETH: The worst thing that...
SOLTZ: George W. Bush surrendered to al Qaeda five years ago when he decided to...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you a question...
MATTHEWS: Let‘s assume that we have—President Bush is in office until the end of his term, which we all expect will happen, hopefully will happen. That‘s his job. It‘s his right to be a president. Imagine we get another hawkish president there who wants to do the same thing as he does, follow with his policies, OK? How many years of American troop presence in Iraq of, say, over 100,000 troops will it take, as you see it, to meet the objective of getting rid of al Qaeda in Iraq? How many years, roughly?
HEGSETH: History will judge us...
MATTHEWS: No, I want you to...
MATTHEWS: No, we have to make the decisions now.
HEGSETH: ... about what we leave behind.
MATTHEWS: No, we have to make these decisions. How long will it take?
HEGSETH: These decisions have to be left to generals that want to win...
HEGSETH: ... in Iraq, not politicians on Capitol Hill who want to win reelection in 2008. We‘ve got General Petraeus fighting this war in Baghdad right now with the right strategy. We‘ve got politicians on Capitol Hill...
HEGSETH: ... trying to undermine him.
MATTHEWS: ... our military should decide how long to stay in Iraq?
MATTHEWS: Do you agree, the military should decide how long we stay there?
MATTHEWS: So you say that politicians elected in this country shouldn‘t decide how long we stay in Iraq?
HEGSETH: They should decide...
MATTHEWS: Should they decide how long we stay there, Pete?
HEGSETH: Ultimately, yes. But they need to give the generals...
SOLTZ: I believe in the Constitution of the United States...
MATTHEWS: You say generals should decide.
SOLTZ: I believe in the civilians that control the military, but George W. Bush didn‘t listen to generals when we went into Iraq. General Shinseki testified we need 250,000 troops. We have one peacekeeper for every five civilians in Kosovo. Now you‘ve got 26 million Iraqis...
HEGSETH: Kosovo is not Iraq.
SOLTZ: ... and 150,000 American troops. Adding 20,000 more is like spitting in the ocean. It‘s kind of like...
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask...
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you both for your service to the country.
And in all due respect, Pete—I want to give you a minute here.
MATTHEWS: How—how big a job is it to eradicate al Qaeda in Iraq?
Roughly how many years will it take?
HEGSETH: There‘s no way...
HEGSETH: ... of putting years on it. It‘s going to take—it‘s going to take more than most people would want. I want to bring everybody home, too...
MATTHEWS: Twenty years?
HEGSETH: Not twenty years. General Petraeus has the right strategy in Baghdad. We‘re taking it to the heart of the enemy. We took it to them in Anbar. We‘re doing it in Diyala. We‘re doing it in Baghdad. We have the right strategy, and it needs to be the time to—it needs time to finish. You cannot put a D.C. timeline on what‘s going on in Baghdad in Baghdad. We really will be judged on what we leave behind.
MATTHEWS: So the American people...
MATTHEWS: So the American people should not make a judgment on this issue, just let the generals take charge.
HEGSETH: No, the American people want Petraeus to be given an opportunity...
MATTHEWS: When did—you don‘t think...
MATTHEWS: So let me ask you, Jon. When do you think this should end, and how should it end?
SOLTZ: Well, I want to kill bin Laden, so I think it should have ended yesterday. I mean, I think we need to get our troops out of Iraq so we can go back to Afghanistan and take care of business like we used to. I mean, this is absolutely ridiculous...
HEGSETH: We‘ve got real enemies in Iraq...
SOLTZ: George W. Bush...
SOLTZ: It‘s absolutely ridiculous. Five years ago...
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re going to be right back...
MATTHEWS: ... on “HARDBALL Plaza.” It‘s raining now. It‘s not raining in Iraq. We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to “HARDBALL Plaza.” For 13 years, acclaimed actor Sam Waterston has starred on NBC‘s “Law and Order” as executive assistant district attorney Jack McCoy. With co-star Fred Thompson‘s departure from the show to run for president, Waterston‘s McCoy is getting bumped up to DA next season. Waterston is also taking on a new role as an advocate for Unity 08, which is pushing for a third option in the 2008 presidential election. They want a unity ticket for president and vice president made up of some combination of a Democrat, a Republican, an independent or even a pair of independents. Here‘s Sam Waterston.
MATTHEWS: You know, why are you coming into this arena with such a clean career in acting and television and movies? Why would you want to get into politics?
SAM WATERSTON, UNIT 08: I do not know! It‘s a crazy idea. But it‘s because this opportunity was not to be missed. And thanks to you and shows like yours, the word is starting to get out that people have an opportunity to participate again directly in who will be their president and vice president, and to have a direct hand, thanks to the Internet. And so I have kind of become a cheerleader for this group. And it‘s sometimes kind of lonely being a cheerleader because you sit in front of a television set with somebody like you in another city, and you listen on a remote and you stare into the blank eye of a TV. But today there are people here!
MATTHEWS: Well, Sam, I‘m going to let them—get some questions ready, ladies and gentlemen here, because we‘re going to get you involved in just a minute. But let me ask you about this possibility of something besides Democrats and Republicans fighting with each other. You just saw those two big cartoon characters that escorted you in. Some people think they copulate, they‘re so close to each other. Other people think they‘re always fighting with each other. How do you see it?
WATERSTON: The main thing is that there—the people in the center, people—the typical American voter has been described as moderate, centrist, pragmatic and ambivalent, and that kind of describes me. And when I found out that 40 percent of the electorate regarded themselves that way and that there was another 13 percent on either side that felt that it was time for new ideas, that 57 percent of the people in the United States of America think that it is a good idea to have a third party—when Unity 08 came along, it said that they were going to be the rallying place for centrists. I just thought it was too good an idea to pass up.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about that because a lot of people—
I agree with you, they look at the Democratic Party, and if you want to be a good Democrat, you got to buy the blue plate special. You got to be a certain position on abortion rights, a certain position on gay marriage, a certain position on the war in Iraq. You got to buy the whole—the whole deal. Same with Republicans. You got to be against—for tax cuts, for the war, et cetera, against gay marriage, against abortion rights. You got to buy the blue plate special.
How would a third party be any different? Wouldn‘t you end up insisting on some sort of menu and you had to buy it or not?
WATERSTON: The menu will be determined by the members who—people like this, who go to Unity08.com and sign up and become members. They will participate in weeding out the essential from the inessential and develop their own list of crucial issues, and they will present those issues to the candidates, and the candidates will answer questions on those issues, and then the members will judge their answers and pick the team that they think is...
MATTHEWS: Will this new hero...
WATERSTON: ... most likely to represent them.
MATTHEWS: ... of the third party, the unity candidate who gets picked on line, will he or she get us out of Iraq? Isn‘t that a big question people want to answer before they vote for the person?
WATERSTON: Well, they will find out whether he or she will get them out of Iraq when they have chosen him in response to—or her—in response to whatever answers he or she gives. If they decide, as I think most of us do, that it ain‘t so simple as getting in or getting out, then maybe a more nuanced answer will be pleasing to the voters.
MATTHEWS: And you expect people to come down somewhere in the middle...
WATERSTON: Well, here‘s the thing...
WATERSTON: ... is really important to say, and that is that the Iraq situation that we are in now is a direct outgrowth of this kind of winner-take-all, head-to-head, take-no-prisoners kind of politics that we‘ve been having and that if there had been more attention to consensus before we went in, we might not be in this pickle now.
MATTHEWS: But didn‘t we have a lot of—we had Hillary and John Kerry and Joe Biden and John Edwards all voted to authorize the war. All these Democrats trooped over across the aisle and backed a Republican president when he told us we had to go to war with a country that hadn‘t attacked us. If the system is broken, isn‘t it broken because there‘s too much consensus?
WATERSTON: No, no, because—I don‘t know if you remember that famous remark by Andrew Card that you don‘t roll out a new product in August...
MATTHEWS: He was talking about a war.
WATERSTON: It was a war. And this was a program to sell a war, and some people got drawn into it, and some people got drawn into it because they didn‘t have all the information. And we can argue forever about why, but what was true was that this was an effort to sweep the board.
WATERSTON: And what we need is a foreign policy...
MATTHEWS: Well, OK...
MATTHEWS: If you put a third party candidate out there, if a Republican or a Democrat, a mixture, you do it through this balloting on line, which sounds fabulous to me—I love the fact that everybody can get to vote without having to go through some big shot or some committee meeting—don‘t you face two candidates, a Republican, maybe Hillary Clinton, a Republican, maybe Rudy Giuliani or somebody else, with a tremendous amount of federal money behind them because that‘s part of the system now. They get federal money. How do you catch up to them? How do you beat them without any money? Or do you have money? And where‘s it come from?
WATERSTON: At—at this point, right this instant, we are right on the cusp of having 100,000 members.
Maybe today, maybe some of these people here will put the organization over 100,000.
MATTHEWS: Should we collect?
WATERSTON: I think...
MATTHEWS: Should we collect afterwards?
WATERSTON: I think, if they do, and, as the numbers rise, then it will attract the attention of lots and lots of very interesting candidates.
MATTHEWS: Do you need a self-financing candidate, like Mike Bloomberg, to win this thing, to actually win it?
WATERSTON: Well, obviously, a self-financing candidate would obviously be able to bring a lot of his own money.
MATTHEWS: If he spends a half-a-billion dollars, that would change the game.
WATERSTON: But, if there are five million or 10 million people who are members of Unity08 by the time the campaign gets under way, and half of them or a quarter of them make...
WATERSTON: ... an important contribution, or not even a huge one...
WATERSTON: ... it would be enough to run a credible campaign.
MATTHEWS: Sam, how are you registered, Republican or Democrat?
WATERSTON: I‘m not registered. And I haven‘t been registered for a long time.
MATTHEWS: Do you vote?
WATERSTON: I do vote.
MATTHEWS: But you vote unaffiliated?
WATERSTON: I vote—I vote in the general elections. And I—I think this is one of the things that has contributed to the situation that we‘re in.
Lots and lots of people like me have become disgusted with the two parties...
WATERSTON: ... and said, I am going to go away, and you will miss me.
MATTHEWS: Well, I agree.
WATERSTON: And, instead, what has happened is, they have...
MATTHEWS: Well, I think your diagnosis is dead on. People are sick of the blue-plate specials.
We will come right back and talk to Sam Waterston, let the people get involved.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: We will be right back with HARDBALL from the plaza on
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We are back with award-winning actor Sam Waterston, who is daring to enter HARDBALL Plaza, and, more importantly, entered the—he has entered, this man...
MATTHEWS: ... the arena of American politics.
MATTHEWS: He is facing the lions here today.
Go ahead, sir.
CAREY CAMPBELL, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE TO DRAFT MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Carey
Campbell, national chairman of the Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg for President, and also a humble Unity08 delegate.
The key question, Mr. Waterston—thank you for the courage you—you have to get out here today.
Getting him on the ballot, if it‘s Mr. Bloomberg or whoever the Unity08 candidate turns out to be, millions of petition signatures, tell us about the plan.
WATERSTON: I‘m just the cheerleader here.
WATERSTON: But you should know that people behind this are very well-informed, very experienced people in national politics. And they know all about the 50 states and getting on the ballot. And it‘s under way.
And anybody who wants to join in and has extra a little time can help gather the petitions. So, it will be done.
MATTHEWS: And this fellow, by the way, does the announcements at Dulles Airport.
WATERSTON: He does.
MATTHEWS: If you recognize that voice.
MATTHEWS: Next, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Mr. Waterston. Thank you for being here. My name is Mitchell Kalb (ph). And I am here from San Diego, California...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... interning at “National Journal.”
And I was wondering if you think that third-party candidates, such as Ralph Nader, throw an imbalance on the system, like he did in 2000, when he took Al Gore‘s votes?
WATERSTON: Well, our—Unity08 is distinguished from that event by the fact that it is in the center, and it‘s appealing to the unaffiliated voters in the center. It is not at one extreme or another.
And I—nobody is ever going to ask me this question, so I will just say it. Abraham Lincoln was a third-party candidate. And he did an awful lot of good for the country, and it succeeded. So, I don‘t think we should think of this as a spoiler.
The unrepresented center is the plurality of the country. It may even be the majority. So, I think the other two parties, who represent minorities, might have some explaining to do.
MATTHEWS: But how many online votes did he get?
WATERSTON: How many online votes did he get?
WATERSTON: Lincoln? Piles of them.
WATERSTON: Absolutely piles of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Britney Hackett (ph). I am from Atlanta, Georgia. I am here with the Fund For American Studies.
I was wondering, how do you think Unity08 is going to help attract the 18-24 demographic of voters that are usually ignored or forgotten about?
WATERSTON: Well, that is a good question, because I—I am not 18 or 24 anymore, by a long shot.
WATERSTON: And I have watched this whole process happen over the last 25 or 30 years. And it took somebody wiser than me to point out exactly how it happened.
What I would encourage anybody 18 to 24 to do, if this looks like a pickle—and it seems to me you don‘t have to be 70 years old to see that it is a pickle—then go to Unity08.com and read up on what they have to say about how we landed where we are today, and how to get out of it.
MATTHEWS: What is it that made it a pickle? What—what makes you mad about and gets you out here today in the heat to pitch for this third option? What really got you triggered on this thing?
WATERSTON: Well, some of things that got us into this pickle are well-intended things, like the abandonment of conventions, where the idea was to go to the people with primaries.
But what has happened is that the primaries are now controlled by very small, dedicated groups, usually single-issue groups, on the fringes of both parties, funded with a lot of money. And those are determining—you know, it becomes like a steamroller from Iowa onward.
So, it is not an open convention. So, the whole country is not represented. That is one of them. Then there‘s redistricting and on and on and on.
MATTHEWS: Well, one person who is not going to be represented, apparently, is this young lady, because she has not registered to vote.
Miss, you were so honest in telling this during the break. Why aren‘t you a voter, when it‘s a free country?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I guess no one has really, like, stuck to me as, like, a really good candidate, someone who is going to everything that I want to, and...
MATTHEWS: What do you want?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not sure yet, actually.
MATTHEWS: Well, how is this guy going to sell you, if you don‘t tell him what you want to buy?
WATERSTON: Well, I am one of those people who knows what I want when I know what I want.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God.
WATERSTON: I think...
MATTHEWS: It sounds like the Supreme Court.
WATERSTON: Can I just say that I think that the deal is—I made a speech at Monticello to a bunch of people that were becoming—that were becoming new citizens. And the main message was to participate.
And I have not been a perfect participant myself. And, certainly, this is a new part for me, coming out here, sitting in the hot sun, and talking to Chris Matthews.
But I think that the situation today is bad enough that you have got to participate, because the political class is not handling it. So, it is two simple things: Register to vote and then become a member of Unity08.
MATTHEWS: Should—should we put those politicians in those headlocks they did in the old times out here?
WATERSTON: And shame them?
MATTHEWS: Yes, and shame them for what they did?
WATERSTON: No, I think there are an awful lot of really good people trying to do the politics of today.
I think that Unity08 has got it right...
WATERSTON: ... that the system for choosing them is so polluted, that they come out compromised.
Sam Waterston, thank you, sir. Thanks for coming on.
MATTHEWS: We will have more from HARDBALL Plaza...
WATERSTON: Thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: ... after this.
You‘re watching it, HARDBALL, only up on MSNBC.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Disappointing earnings fueling a pullback on Wall Street today, the Dow closing way below last week‘s 14000 high, losing 226 points, the S&P down 30, and the Nasdaq also in the red, down more than 50 points.
Shares of Dow component McDonald‘s also lower today. Despite robust sales, the fast-food giant took its first quarterly loss in five years because of changes in Latin American operations.
And a big surprise on Wall Street—AT&T reporting activations of Apple‘s new iPhone fell far short of predictions, only 146,000 activated. And analysts were looking for a number closer to half-a-million. AT&T, the sole carrier for the iPhone, also reported a 61 percent jump in second-quarter earnings today.
And we will hear more iPhone news tomorrow, when Apple reports earnings. The electronics giant is due to come in well above the expected $5.1 billion in revenue.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are fighting bin Laden‘s al Qaeda in Iraq; Iraq is central to the war on terror; and against this enemy, America can accept nothing less than complete victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘re back inside.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Of course, it was raining outside here at HARDBALL Plaza, our second day in a row of having our show outside. We are looking at it right now. See, that‘s the scene outside this building right now.
By the way, we‘re only about two blocks from the U.S. Capitol right now. And, of course, we had to move inside because of the rain.
You just saw Sam Waterston. Just to make it clear, that‘s how videotape works. We started the show live tonight. Then we went to a tape of what we did with Sam Waterston yesterday, on a beautiful, hot day. And now we are back inside here today with three parts of the show, outdoor in the rain, outdoor yesterday in the sunshine, now indoor in the rain.
Anyway, we are joined again by two very important people. They‘re Iraqi war veterans, Pete Hegseth, who is of Vets For Freedom, and Jon Soltz. He‘s with VoteVets.com.
Well, you come from different—different sides of the argument, but you both came from serving our country. And I thank you both.
Pete, this question.
You‘re talking to the American people right now, several hundred thousand people right now. Talk to them about how long you think the war is going to last. I mean, you can‘t—it seems to me, you can‘t just throw out an indefinite argument that, we stay there as long as there is al Qaeda in Iraq, because everybody assumes there‘s going to be al Qaeda there and everywhere else in the Arab world as long as we live.
There‘s always going to be pockets of al Qaeda. They don‘t like us. They‘re extremists. They—we probably have them in this country in various cities. We‘re not going to put our army into Detroit because we know there‘s some al Qaeda there.
So, what‘s this war look like, as your—describe the war that is coming.
HEGSETH: Should we have asked the same question in World War II, if it had taken more than four years to finish the Nazis? Should we have said, you know what?
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re in our fifth year here.
HEGSETH: It‘s 4.5 years, five years, six years. You know what? We need to stop and just give in to Hitler. We just need to give in to fanatical killers.
MATTHEWS: But we had a very clear plan. Get to Berlin. Get to Tokyo.
HEGSETH: We have a very clear plan now with General Petraeus.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the plan now? Well, what is the plan?
HEGSETH: It‘s secure the population to give Iraqi government an opportunity to provide security itself, so we can get our guys out.
MATTHEWS: So, you have confidence that that government will deliver?
HEGSETH: They have not delivered the way they should, but should we just step back and let them collapse?
SOLTZ: They are on vacation. They are on vacation.
SOLTZ: The Iraqi government is on vacation. And we have our kids spilling their blood in Baghdad every day for a plan that is never going to add up.
We need 160,000 combat troops just for Baghdad alone. We have 150,000 troops, not even combat troops, for the entire country. So, when we stabilize one part of the country, we move to another part.
There are men that have already died for this terrain. When I was in Baghdad in 2003, we controlled terrain that we‘re fighting for today.
HEGSETH: We‘re fixing those problems. Those problems have been fixed in a lot...
SOLTZ: And we‘re going to keep playing this game. This is a long, long war. We‘re going to be in this war 20, 25 years against Islamic extremism. We have got to fight it other ways. We have got to invest in a public school system in Pakistan. We have to defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan.
SOLTZ: We have got to redeploy our troops from Iraq, because it is a civil war.
SOLTZ: And it is the beginning of the...
MATTHEWS: How do you deal with a civil war over there we‘re in the middle of? How do you deal with it?
HEGSETH: ... tool for Qaeda would be their victory, first of all.
HEGSETH: As far as a civil war...
HEGSETH: ... the biggest accelerant...
MATTHEWS: But if it‘s simply a question.
MATTHEWS: Are we in a holding action over there?
HEGSETH: No, absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: If we leave in five years from now, will it be any different?
HEGSETH: If we apply the strategy we‘re applying now, it will be...
MATTHEWS: No. If we do it—if we stay the way we‘re fighting now for five years..
HEGSETH: I think it will. We have seen it in Ramadi.
MATTHEWS: ... how will it be different?
HEGSETH: You have a government that can control Baghdad, and, therefore, can bring peace and denies haven to al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda has already been driven out of Diyala. And the people there haven‘t seen attacks for weeks. The same thing has happened—or—excuse me—I‘m talking about Ramadi. It‘s happening in Diyala. And it‘s happening in Baghdad.
MATTHEWS: And you have confidence in the Iraqi people‘s willingness to forge a unity government? You have confidence in that?
HEGSETH: If General Petraeus sets the military conditions for it...
SOLTZ: They‘re on vacation. They‘re on vacation.
HEGSETH: We can‘t pass things on our—on Capitol Hill, Social Security, critical things that we can‘t pass.
SOLTZ: And we don‘t blow each other...
SOLTZ: I hate this argument. Let me tell you why I hate this argument. Because the Republican Party doesn‘t have a militia with guns, and they don‘t go to the Democratic side of the House and set off a car bomb.
SOLTZ: I mean, these people are fighting a war. We‘re having a political debate in this country. To compare the political debate in the United States of America with car bombs in Iraq between Iraqi militias and the Iranian interventionists...
HEGSETH: It‘s more difficult for them. So how can we expect them...
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Pete.
MATTHEWS: You fought over there. I haven‘t. So, I want to ask you a question.
MATTHEWS: When we went into this war, Vice President Cheney came on television, “Meet the Press” mainly, and he made the case that Saddam Hussein, who was then leading Iraq, had a nuclear weapon and was going to use it against us. Was that a true story?
HEGSETH: For the history books, at this point, whether or not he had...
MATTHEWS: No, was it true or not?
SOLTZ: It was a lie.
HEGSETH: ... that Saddam Hussein had—I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: A nuclear weapon and was going to use it against us.
HEGSETH: I have no idea.
MATTHEWS: You think he might have had a nuclear weapon?
HEGSETH: At this point, it—that‘s irrelevant, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, not...
MATTHEWS: No, no. I am trying to get at whether you can rely on this administration‘s veracity, from the beginning.
HEGSETH: Can we rely on General Petraeus? Can we rely on his strategy?
MATTHEWS: No, let‘s go to the point.
MATTHEWS: When this administration took us to war, a lot of Americans supported this war because they thought that there were nuclear weapons in the hands of Saddam Hussein. They were led to believe that by the vice president.
A lot of Americans believed that somehow Iraq had a hand in attacking us on 9/11. They still believe that. Almost half the Americans believe that. We have been getting a lot of misinformation and a lot of indoctrination now for five years.
Why do you now believe in what we‘re hearing from the administration?
HEGSETH: Because in the administration—General Petraeus has the right strategy.
MATTHEWS: You keep saying General Petraeus, like he is the head of the government.
MATTHEWS: We‘re getting this information from the Defense Department, from the Bush administration.
HEGSETH: We have to give our commanders an opportunity...
MATTHEWS: Everything you hear from General Petraeus comes through the Defense Department and through the president.
HEGSETH: I read it through John Burns on the front page of “The New York Times.”
HEGSETH: And he shows me that progress is happening in Anbar Province.
I was there in 2005, 2006. I saw what could happen when you apply counterterrorism...
MATTHEWS: But you keep talking like the military makes policy questions.
SOLTZ: It‘s so tactical. It‘s so tactical.
MATTHEWS: The military doesn‘t make decisions.
MATTHEWS: He has got a mission given to him by the president.
HEGSETH: ... give him an opportunity to execute it.
SOLTZ: When you put troops on the ground, you‘re going to get more checkpoints.
SOLTZ: I would never argue that.
When you put more troops on the ground, you‘re going to get more checkpoints. You‘re going to get, you know, a better sense of security.
HEGSETH: Maybe stability.
SOLTZ: But you don‘t have the amount of forces. Ninety percent of our Army is allocated to the war in Iraq.
HEGSETH: Flat-out lie.
SOLTZ: It‘s absolutely true.
HEGSETH: A flat-out lie.
SOLTZ: You have 10 component fighting divisions in the Army, 10 active (ph) divisions. Nine of them are either in Iraq, coming home, or coming to Iraq, with the exception of the second infantry division that‘s in Korea and then a division platform that we have in Afghanistan.
SOLTZ: This is a guy that stands with the president of the United
States. And as of the poll this morning, only 38 percent of the military -
front page of the “Washington Post,” 38 percent of people who served in Iraq and military members support George W. Bush.
MATTHEWS: Military families.
SOLTZ: Front page of the “Washington Post,” independent poll.
HEGSETH: They‘re reenlisting at record rates because they believe in the mission.
SOLTZ: That‘s a lie. Army recruiting was down 16 percent last month and the month before. George bush has destroyed the Army.
MATTHEWS: If we elect a hawkish president, presidential candidate next year—this all comes down to voters. It‘s not you who decide or I‘m deciding; the voters will decide what kind of administration to put in office next year. They will either put in somebody who is going to move towards getting our troops out of there, or someone who will keep the compliment troops there and even strengthen them.
If we have a tough, hard liner as our next president, do you believe that person will win the war in Iraq?
HEGSETH: I believe if we—
HEGSETH: They may have the potential to.
HEGSETH: I don‘t have a crystal ball. All I know is we can apply the best tactics and the best army we‘ve got towards this enemy that is real and vicious.
MATTHEWS: But if it‘s not a winnable mission, why do we seek it?
HEGSETH: It is a winnable mission. It absolutely is a winnable mission. We have stopped the accelerants on the civil war. That is calming down. We need to bring the political process along. The only way to do that is to --
MATTHEWS: He says if we stay there, we have a good chance of winning the war. You say we don‘t?
SOLTZ: Absolutely, the fundamental difference between Vets For Freedom and VotVets.org is they want to play in a civil war in Iraq and we want to kill bin Laden. We want to defeat the people that attacked us on 9/11. They‘re in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These guys want to play games in a—
HEGSETH: I don‘t want to kill bin Laden? Are you kidding me?
SOLTZ: You are distracted. You have 90 percent of our military in the wrong spot in the world. This is about 9/11.
MATTHEWS: I think everybody at home hears the argument. You say we shouldn‘t be in Iraq. You say we should.
HEGSETH: I think we need to win. By the way, thank you Pete Hegseth and thank you John Soltz. Thank you, by the way, for your service. And thank you for your argument, because I think this argument, as loud as it was, is going on in every home in America.
Up next, three of our Youtube‘s biggest political stars—sort of kidding—Obama Girl, Giuliani Girl, and the young woman who says she‘s hot for Hillary. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
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MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re thrilled tomorrow to be in Iowa with a special guest, Lance Armstrong. We‘ll be making a big announcement, by the way. So tune in tomorrow to HARDBALL. Now you‘ve been waiting an hour for it and now the time has come. Three overnight political Internet sensations joining us now, Obama Girl, Amber Lee Ettinger—she‘s on the left—Hot For Hill girl, Taryn Southern—she‘s in the middle—and Giuliani Girl, Adolina Kristina.
Well, you know, I don‘t always have this opportunity. I feel like I‘m
on some other kind of show. But since everyone is watching, the guys are
watching, my friends—the guys who hang out with me are watching I can
tell you right now. Let me ask you this. Amber, this is a trick question
you know, I did judge the Miss America contest this year so I know.
Amber, you are with Obama. Right? What do you like about him?
AMBER LEE ETTINGER, OBAMA GIRL: I think he is a genuine great guy.
And I really think he reaches out to a young generation.
MATTHEWS: You‘re 25?
ETTINGER: I am 25, but that is not the whole reason why I did the video.
MATTHEWS: What was the rest of the story?
ETTINGER: The rest of the story—well, I do modeling and acting full time, and Ben Relles, the creator, approached me with the idea and I thought it was going to be a funny great project.
MATTHEWS: Here you are on television. Now, let me go to Taryn Southern. I love that name. Is that your real name?
TARYN SOUTHERN, HOT HILL GIRL: It‘s my real name.
MATTHEWS: Where do you get these stage names?
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re watching you right now do this number for Hillary, Hot for Hill. Explain please.
SOUTHERN: The story behind this was I saw Miss Amber strutting her stuff in the Obama Girl video a couple weeks ago, thought it was great, and really funny, and wanted to put together my own spoof version.
MATTHEWS: And you‘re an actress.
SOUTHERN: I am an actress in Los Angeles.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re in the business too. Moving along here more quickly than I would like, Adolina Kristina—what a great name—you are with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani. Would do you like about Rudy Giuliani?
ADOLINA KRISTINA, GIULIANI GIRL: I like his leadership skills, what he was able to --
MATTHEWS: That‘s the name of the book you‘re reading. Is that where you got the word from?
MATTHEWS: Come on, I saw you with the book today, Adolina, that said leadership on it. It looked to me like a talking point.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the name of his book.
KRISTINA: No, it‘s not. He didn‘t write that one. It‘s somebody else‘s. I‘ll show you later.
MATTHEWS: OK, what do you like about him, besides what you saw on the cover of the book?
KRISTINA: Well, I really like what he did for New York City and how he cleaned up the crime.
MATTHEWS: Cleaned up the town, cleaned up that city.
KRISTINA: Yes, he did do that.
MATTHEWS: Are you all registered to vote before we move any further?
MATTHEWS: OK, great. And what party are you in?
ETTINGER: I don‘t even tell anybody. I keep it a secret.
MATTHEWS: Like this? What party are you in? You don‘t have to vote the party you‘re registered by. It‘s just a way to get in the primaries. Never mind. I won‘t ask any more questions because you won‘t say. And if you won‘t say, they don‘t have to say. Are you going to vote for the person you‘re modeling for here?
MATTHEWS: This is what is interesting. I once covered an Arnold Schwarzenegger rally in California, and went over to the band because I‘m a reporter and I had this sneaking suspicion. So I went to the bad guys who were playing for him up at Modesto at this out door rally, and I said, you guys for this guy? He said, no, we just got hired.
They were all Democrats. Is this truth in packaging?
SOUTHERN: I couldn‘t have made a video for a candidate I did not like. I will say that. It would have been impossible to write a song that would have been funny and cute. And I hope that Hillary liked it. I grew up with Hillary as first lady. That was my whole childhood.
MATTHEWS: Have you heard from her in regards to your staring role for her?
SOUTHERN: No, I have not heard from her at all. I think her people have said no comment to pretty much any press request.
MATTHEWS: Well, with no insult intended to Pat Buchanan and the other people I usually have on this show, I would rather be with these people. We‘ll be right back in a moment. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
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MATTHEWS: That‘s you, Adolina.
KRISTINA: Yes, it is.
MATTHEWS: Let me explain to the people out there. We‘re here with these gorgeous creatures of god here, Obama girl, Amber Lee Ettinger, Hot For Hill—I guess that‘s Hillary Clinton‘s girl—Taryn Southern—that really is her name—and Giuliani girl, Adolina Kristina, who we just saw in that.
These days there are new ways of communicating in American politics. It used to be you just paid for ads or did television interviews, radio interviews. Now people are putting out these—what are they called—videos. They‘re called what?
KRISTINA: Viral videos.
MATTHEWS: What does it mean?
SOUTHERN: It‘s exactly that. It‘s an organic video put together by someone with their video camera.
MATTHEWS: And it travels around like a virus because people can keep storing it and sending it away.
SOUTHERN: You don‘t have a publicist pushing it through the masses like you do on television.
MATTHEWS: Do you have a list of your hits, like top 10 hits? How many hits have you had so far on yours?
ETTINGER: On Youtube alone it‘s over three million.
MATTHEWS: Three million people wanted to watch it.
MATTHEWS: We now they did. And they watched it.
SOUTHERN: On Youtube, Myspace, Funny or Die, it‘s about over a million now.
MATTHEWS: And you Adolina, how did you do selling Rudy?
KRISTINA: The third one is two million, I think.
MATTHEWS: Two million people watched this video with you on it?
KRISTINA: Well, it‘s me and Amber fighting.
ETTINGER: We‘re gangs. We have our little posses.
MATTHEWS: What do you figure that‘s all about? Do you figure it‘s guys because you‘re great looking? What do you think it‘s all about? Do you think it‘s really political people calling up, wanting to check in, or is it just novelty, or curiosity? What is it, Adolina?
KRISTINA: On BarelyPolitical.com, if you go there, it‘s all learn more about politics at BarelyPolitical.com.
MATTHEWS: Look at this, we‘re watching it now. Look at this. We‘re watching it. Here they go. Describe this, Adolina. Describe this scene.
KRISTINA: This is me approaching Obama Girl and that‘s my man, Rudy.
KRISTINA: And that‘s Obama girl. There I am. And there I am. And then there‘s us approaching. And there‘s us at the iPhone launch beating each other up in front of people in a cute way.
ETTINGER: There‘s us on the subway.
MATTHEWS: There you all are together in real live television right now. Do you think this actually—Do you dare suggest—Taryn, you first. You‘re giving me the peepers. I can tell. What are you doing here?
MATTHEWS: You are doing it. You are flashing your incredible eyebrows at me. Look at that. It‘s awful what you‘re doing.
Look, do you think this will affect the elections? Doesn‘t it scare you if it does, Taryn?
SOUTHERN: At first I thought that just seems ludicrous that me shaking my booty in a bikini is going to impact the election. But I guess from a broader scale, we‘re getting young people more interested in politics. They‘re going on Youtube and they‘re at least thinking about the election. I don‘t think we‘ll sway votes either way. I hope not. You shouldn‘t be—
MATTHEWS: Were you in any way, Adolina, encouraged by your beauty and participation and excitement and joy and spark—encourage one mind to look up the position of any one of these candidate on any issue?
MATTHEWS: How so? Explain the transition from looking at you in one of these crazy ads taunting the—you‘re taunting the Obama Girl. How does that excite the voter into participation?
KRISTINA: Well, I think.
MATTHEWS: I feel like Larry King tonight. Why do I feel like Larry King doing this. So, do you watch yourself in the pictures?
KRISTINA: Yes, I did. I think that—like you said, I don‘t know if it is going to sway the vote for the candidate. But I think that it definitely gets people interested. And with the lyrics that are in the song, it makes people go, what? Did that really happen?
For me, I went and looked up Obama was born in Hawaii.
MATTHEWS: Amber, you‘re walking down the street. You‘re beautiful.
But do people come up to you and say I‘ve seen you in the video?
MATTHEWS: What do they say?
ETTINGER: They‘ll be like, oh, Obama girl! I‘ll be like, yes.
MATTHEWS: On site they recognize you.
ETTINGER: Yes, they do.
MATTHEWS: How many hits do thee guys have? Like 20 hits to memorize your face?
ETTINGER: I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: They must have watched it more than once.
ETTINGER: When we hear that they haven‘t seen it, we‘re like what do you mean you didn‘t see it?
MATTHEWS: Right after this show is over—we‘re on live television, believe it or not. So be careful with the advances you are making with your eyes right now. I‘m not a casting agent. Look, here‘s what I‘m thinking, after this show we‘re going to do something that we do here and we‘re going to put it on iPod so people can watch it—what do you call it?
I don‘t know what the terminology is. Put it on the web so everybody that‘s watching HARDBALL on the web on MSNBC.HARDBALL.com can check you out. They don‘t have to watch me. Anyway, we‘ve had some ads that viewers have made, submitted to the HARDBALL campaign ad challenge.
Here‘s an ad from Bonnie Bucqueroux of Mason, Michigan.
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MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My views with regards to protecting a woman‘s right to choose. I‘ve been very clear on that. I will observe and protect a woman‘s right to chose. I have voted and am dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change—
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MATTHEWS: What‘s the message, Adolina? They show Mitt Romney switching on abortion, more or less. They‘ve got Rudy in drag. They‘ve got Senator Fred Allen—Fred Thompson with a young wife. Go ahead.
KIRSTINA: I think what the message is --
MATTHEWS: What‘s the message in that?
KRISTINA: It‘s saying that the candidates—in the beginning he switched his view 180 completely from --
MATTHEWS: What‘s it say about Rudy, your guy?
KRISTINA: It says that he‘s dressing up like a clown.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much Amber Lee Ettinger, Adolina Kristina and Taryn Southern. That really is her name.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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