Guests: Amanda Carpenter, Jay Carney, Eli Pariser, Eric Egland, Mike Huckabee, Ron Christie, Ed Schultz, Bob Casey
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: War week. Republicans learned that it‘s easier to whack an ad in “The New York Times” and the Moveon.org crowd than it is to make their case about the war in Iraq.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. And welcome to HARDBALL. The big story tonight, the week at war. The week started off with the headlines dominated by former Fed chair Al Greenspan—Alan Greenspan‘s new book, in which he said the war in Iraq is being fought over oil. Quote—this is Greenspan—“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows, the Iraq war is largely about oil.”
On Wednesday, the Senate voted down an amendment calling for a period of rest for our troops before being redeployed back into the war zone. On Thursday, the president used a press conference to lead the charge against Democrats and the anti-war group Moveon.org.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Moveon.org—or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Today, Democrats failed to pass legislation that would have ordered most troops home from Iraq in nine months. And in an NRA forum, Senator John McCain puffed out his chest and took on some war protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before, we‘ll beat you today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Are Republicans gaining the upper hand in a political fight they should be losing, according to the polls? More on that in a moment. Plus: Should Iran‘s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be allowed to speak at Columbia University this coming Monday? That‘s our debate tonight. It should be hot.
And we begin with HARDBALL‘s David Shuster with this report on the war between the right and left on Iraq.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in the U.S.
Senate, Democrats again tried to force a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We‘re impatient with the dawdling of the political leaders in Iraq, who are the only ones that can achieve a political settlement.
SHUSTER: But Republicans argued that control of the war should be left to U.S. commanders like General David Petraeus, and the Democratic measure to bring most of the troops home by next spring failed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 47, the nays are 47. Under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is withdrawn.
SHUSTER: The action culminated a losing week for Democrats, who were unable to pass anything that would halt or restrict the president‘s war. The impotence of the Democratic-controlled Congress has only emboldened war supporters on the right and anti-war activists on the left, and the willingness of both sides to fight each other directly is now stronger than ever.
On Thursday, after President Bush lashed out at Moveon.org‘s ad attacking General Petraeus...
BUSH: I thought the ad was disgusting.
MATTHEWS: ... just hours later, Moveon‘s executive director hit back.
ELI PARISER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: What I think is disgusting is that the president is keeping our troops in harm‘s way with no exit planned, with no willingness to listen to the American people.
SHUSTER: And today across Washington, the battles continued. Republican senator John Thune, in a speech to the National Rifle Association, was trying to fire up gun owners when he declared...
SEN. JOHN THUNE ®, SOUTH DAKOTA: It is important that we stay on offense. And if you don‘t believe that the other side understands what the stakes are in this debate, just look at the way that they went after and tried to savage a four-star general.
SHUSTER: As if on cue...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) listen to the people!
SHUSTER: The demonstrator was a bit taller than security. Her placard had a picture on one side of dead Iraqi children, as she showed close up to the cameras in the back of the room. The irony is that the National Rifle Association has not taken a position on the Iraq war, and yet even conferences like this are now Iraq debate battlegrounds.
THUNE: And it‘s an issue that divides this country. But one thing that should not divide this country is the way that we treat our troops, those who are out there day in and day out.
SHUSTER: Fifteen minutes later, the speaker was Arizona Senator John McCain, and when he began to talk about the Iraq war...
MCCAIN: We cannot choose to lose in Iraq. And I will not choose to lose.
SHUSTER: ... another protester interrupted.
MCCAIN: And I respect your...
SHUSTER: The woman‘s T-shirt said “Troops home now.” After she was taken out of the room, McCain referred to the Senate votes this week and spiked the ball in the end zone with a new take on “mission accomplished.”
MCCAIN: We beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before, we‘ll beat you today and we‘ll beat you tomorrow. We won‘t choose to lose! We won‘t choose to lose this conflict~!
SHUSTER: McCain then tried to draw attention to the infamous full-page ad.
MCCAIN: ... this disgraceful assault on a good and decent and honorable man, General Petraeus, by Moveon.org.
That‘s an unacceptable assault on the honor and integrity of the entire officer corps of the United States military.
SHUSTER: Democrats said today the unacceptable assault was President Bush‘s order in the first place to have General Petraeus testifying about policy.
(on camera): As for the group Moveon.org, since President Bush condemned their ad, Moveon has been flooded with contributions totaling nearly a million dollars, and the group is now planning to double the number of commercials running against some of the Republicans who voted again this week to keep U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely.
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David. Another great report.
Eric Egland is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Eli Pariser is executive director of the anti-war group Moveon.org. Eric Egland, what is wrong with the ad? “General Betray Us”—what‘s wrong with that ad?
ERIC EGLAND, VETS FOR FREEDOM: Hi, Chris. Moveon.org has every right to put that ad, but the substance of that ad, that‘s a preemptive character smear not only against General Petraeus before he gives his report but against all 500,000 U.S. troops who have served in Iraq because General Petraeus is reporting the information that they‘ve observed on the battlefield.
So it‘s free speech. I‘m all for people putting whatever ad they want to put, but they should be able to—be willing to accept the criticism that comes from people who don‘t like groups that smear our military with these kind of preemptive character attacks.
MATTHEWS: So you‘re saying he—you‘re—well, you‘re saying it.
You‘re saying the ad smears the military.
EGLAND: You bet.
MATTHEWS: Well, you said so. What do you think, Eli? Are you smearing the military?
PARISER: No. Moveon has lots of members who are Iraq veterans and military families who are sick and tired of the president leaving their sons and daughters in the middle of a war without any exit strategy. And you know, we‘re not against the troops. We‘re against the lies. That‘s what this is about. There were lies that got us into this war and lies that are continuing to keep us in this war.
And unfortunately, General Petraeus has tangled himself up in a political operation in the White House and has become the front man for these misleading statements that he‘s been giving in Washington, D.C.. And it‘s not pleasant, and we know we‘re going to take some knocks for it, but someone has to call out a general when he is testifying in front of the Congress and deliberately misleading the public.
EGLAND: Chris, I mean, come on. They put this ad before General Petraeus even said word one. They can‘t have it both ways. They‘re making a policy argument, but the ad is a character smear directly attacking someone‘s patriotism. Saying that a general reporting before Congress is going to betray his country, it reflects the raw hypocrisy of some of these far-left groups, who any time they‘re criticized, say, Oh, you‘re attacking my patriotism. But when it suits their political agenda, the first thing they do is not debate policy, not debate facts, but to go after a preemptive character smear like this and attack patriotism of anyone they choose. I think it exposes that hypocrisy.
PARISER It wasn‘t a character smear. What this was...
EGLAND: Of course it was.
PARISER: ... we had a general who was going before Congress and was deliberately misleading the Congress. And we knew that well before because he was citing statistics days in advance that we knew were not true. Now, that‘s a problem.
Now, you can debate whether the tone of the ad was right or not, but I think the bigger issue here is not the tone of the ad. It‘s the fact that we are in a war that the president wants to make a 10-year commitment to and that he‘s putting a general forward and politicizing the top ranks of the military in order to continue. And that is a problem, and most of the public does not support that.
EGLAND: It‘s so offensive to have—you know, have it described as politicizing the top ranks of the military. I mean, you‘ve got to focus on the facts that General Petraeus puts forth.
PARISER: Right, and our ad did that.
EGLAND: “General Betray Us” is a direct attack...
PARISER: No one has disputed any single fact...
MATTHEWS: Is it appropriate, Eric—is it appropriate, Eric, to use a general in the field to defend a policy?
EGLAND: Look, General Petraeus...
MATTHEWS: Is it appropriate to use a general in the field to defend a policy?
EGLAND: Nobody‘s using anybody! General Petraeus was reporting to Congress per the law that everyone agreed to. So to say he‘s being used, Chris, you‘re framing it in a way that undermines...
MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking...
EGLAND: ... his credibility.
MATTHEWS: He came out and defended a policy...
EGLAND: You‘re using words that are inappropriate.
MATTHEWS: No, didn‘t he defend the policy of the president‘s?
EGLAND: The president said, Hey, we need a new strategy, which I agreed. Heck, I wrote a book about that we had a wrong strategy in Iraq. We—we—the Senate unanimously confirmed...
EGLAND: ... the new strategy, and he‘s reporting on the progress of that strategy. Let him speak and then—and then have a healthy debate. I‘m all for that. But what really concerns me is that the leading Democrat presidential candidates are so beholden to these far-left groups that they won‘t even speak up in support and defense of the integrity of the 500,000 troops who‘ve been there...
MATTHEWS: My problem with the ad is it says “betray us.” And I‘ve grown up in this country and know that the word “traitor” is a bad word...
EGLAND: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: ... and “betray us” is awful close to “traitor,” Eli. That‘s the problem that a lot of people have with this ad, not that he‘s wrong, not that he‘s misused, but you‘re calling him a traitor.
EGLAND: That‘s right.
PARISER Well, I think it is a betrayal of trust when a general goes before the public and does that. That‘s what the ad said. And you know, reasonable people can disagree about that headline, but at the end of the day, I don‘t think Eric or anyone else was going to stand up and say the general is misleading us and this is a problem, and that the White House had coordinated with General Petraeus as a part of a political strategy to sell the surge. And so if our ad got attention for that point, you know, that was our purpose here.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Eric Egland and Eli Pariser.
Coming up, presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Listen to the people! We will not tolerate (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Just a taste, we‘re listening now, of the protesters at today‘s National Rifle Association meeting in Washington right near here. While Republicans try to rally the base on God, gays and guns, can they escape the deadly reality of this Iraq war? Well, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is with us here, and he was at that rally.
What is all this? Were you surprised to walk into a—in a war situation at an NRA rally?
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
Well, I didn‘t see any of that when I was there, Chris. It was a pretty calm group of people. So I don‘t know. It must have happened before I got there, and I guess they knew that maybe they wouldn‘t have had much of an effect on me, so they left.
MATTHEWS: Well, here they are. I got to show you the tape now. Here they are with John McCain, who was there before you and what—his little tango with the protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Thank you for your consideration.
My friends, we beat you yesterday, we beat you the day before, we‘ll beat you today and we‘ll beat you tomorrow. We won‘t choose to lose! We won‘t choose to lose this conflict!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here‘s Rudy Giuliani at this same meeting you were at today, Governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FMR NYC MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for your consideration. I would love to have your report—your support in the future. Mostly, I‘d like us to respect each other because I think we have very, very legitimate and similar views, even though there may be some differences here and there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the first question, Governor, is this going to be a fight now that we‘d settle in a partisan fashion? I noticed that John McCain seemed to be relishing his chance to go head to head with the protesters, referring to them as basically the Democrats. He was saying, We beat you. I mean, the people he beat on the floor of the Senate were the people in the Democratic Party generally and some Republicans who disagree with him on war policy. He‘s putting them in the same bag as the protesters there.
HUCKABEE: No, I think he was just trying to say that those who are protesting the policy had made their case, but they didn‘t win it on the floor of the Senate. And therefore, you know, they can continue to say it. Got to respect Senator McCain for being willing to take the stand and maintain the stand. He‘s done that.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it‘s killing him?
HUCKABEE: No, I don‘t. I don‘t think it‘s killing him. I think people respect that—even if they disagree with him, they appreciate that he‘s had a consistent position and he has stood by it. And that‘s one of the things that you have to admire about John McCain. I‘m not endorsing him for president. I think...
MATTHEWS: Obviously not. But I think you‘re running on a lot of different issues, and he‘s wrapped himself around the war. He‘s getting killed. His numbers—he was a very big man in this country seven years ago. And now I find—we had him on the show so many times, and this year, he seems to be going down, down, down. He can‘t raise money, and yet he‘s the most heroic in supporting this war. You don‘t think there‘s a connection?
HUCKABEE: I think it‘s more about immigration. It‘s more about McCain-Feingold.
MATTHEWS: I see.
HUCKABEE: It‘s not just the single issue of Iraq.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about this other issue of guns. You come from a gun state. Pennsylvania—I come from a gun state. I mean, a lot of states are very pro-2nd Amendment.. Is that something you can trust Rudy Giuliani on?
HUCKABEE: One thing I have to admire about Rudy—and he was I think pretty courageous to go to the NRA because his past positions—he sued gun manufacturers. He was supportive of Brady. He was supportive of things like assault weapon bans, which really is a misnomer because it‘s really ridiculous to call a semi-automatic weapon an assault weapon. There are a lot of things that he did that angered the 2nd Amendment community.
It was courageous of him to go. I hope that he would change his positions on some of those issues and become more of the mainstream of America as it relates to the 2nd Amendment because, quite frankly, I don‘t know how a person can say I love the 1st Amendment, think we ought to have freedom of the press, freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but I think we ought to go ahead and just amend the 2nd Amendment and change it.
MATTHEWS: How do we deal with guns on the streets of big cities? I grew up in Philly. They got a huge murder problem up there, kids killing the other kids. These are gang killings. What do you do when people are walking around the streets with pistols in their pockets?
HUCKABEE: The problem is not that the law-abiding citizens have firearms. That‘s what the 2nd Amendment protects.
HUCKABEE: We need to be tough on people who commit a crime with a firearm. And the NRA more than anybody...
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Once they kill people...
MATTHEWS: We are tough on people that kill people. The question is, what do you do when they‘ve got guns in their pockets before they kill people? How do you stop that unless you outlaw guns?
HUCKABEE: No, you don‘t outlaw the guns. What you do, you make sure that people aren‘t defenseless when they are approached by somebody who does have one. That‘s why many of us have concealed carry permits.
MATTHEWS: So you think in a big city like Philly or Baltimore, where they have these horrendous murder rates right now, the secret is to put more arms in the streets, to have more people carrying with right to carry so that they can protect themselves when some bad kids come down the street?
HUCKABEE: If a bad kid thinks that he‘s the only one with a gun and that he can go unchallenged, he‘s more likely to have that gun, more likely to use that gun. If he thinks that there‘s a policeman on the corner or that there‘s an armed citizen on the corner, he‘s going to be less likely to try to use that firearm in some nefarious way.
MATTHEWS: This is unbelievable! You mean you think we‘re better off with this sort of mutual destruction approach to inner-city violence?
HUCKABEE: Well, you know, Chris, I...
MATTHEWS: I mean seriously. Seriously, Governor. When you go to a big city...
HUCKABEE: ... cowboy law with everybody strapped to six-shooters.
But here‘s what I‘m talking about...
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. In big cities—I got to tell you something. They had a crime situation in Philadelphia a few months ago, where afterwards, the police stopped five cars in a row, and every one of them were unrelated to the crime, and every car had a gun in it. It‘s become a big problem in the big cities. People are all armed. And it‘s not black people or white people, it‘s everybody.
HUCKABEE: So you think the answer is to take the guns away from the law-abiding people that trying to protect themselves from these...
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re only law-abiding until they commit the crime, and then they‘re not law-abiding. The problem is the kid who‘s...
HUCKABEE: I‘m not talking about—we‘re not talking about a crime, though, Chris. We‘re talking about a law-abiding citizen like me who wants to protect himself, or like you who wants to protect himself.
HUCKABEE: So when the thug comes up with a gun in his face, he doesn‘t just sit there and have to take whatever the kid with the gun has. That‘s what we‘re talking about in being able to protect ourselves. And the main thing is let‘s build better communities, better families and better education system so maybe these kids don‘t have guns in the first place. If we had more of them with maybe a musical instrument in their hands and we had an education system that challenged them, they might not be so quick to pick up a weapon of destruction, maybe a weapon of mass instruction.
MATTHEWS: What do we do about big cities?
And you spoke to the NRA today, and I‘m sure you spoke along these lines. And I know the point of view. My brother‘s in the NRA. I know all about it. You‘re very Second Amendment.
But what do you do in big cities where somebody shows up and sells guns for 25, 30 bucks a piece, handguns, cheap guns that kids grab because they can buy them cheap, and start using them in holdups or using them in gang warfare? How do you stop that? Because that is the nature of killing in big cities now.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think—you mean, like some pawnshop or just on the street or...
MATTHEWS: No. They‘re selling them on street corners.
MATTHEWS: I mean, it‘s not hard to get a gun in a big city. How do you do it? How do you deal with it?
HUCKABEE: Well, the answer is—is once again to make sure that, when people use a gun in the commission of a crime, that we have the harshest kind of penalties for it. And, if you supply a gun to a person who has a criminal background, then the harshest penalty needs to go to you, too.
HUCKABEE: But why should you punish the law-abiding people?
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re a Second Amendment guy all the way.
HUCKABEE: No, no, I‘m just—I‘m just telling you, there‘s no reason to punish law-abiding people and to take away their Second Amendment rights because somebody‘s abusing it.
HUCKABEE: You shouldn‘t take my free speech rights away because somebody like MoveOn.org is irresponsible with theirs.
HUCKABEE: I‘m not even wanting to take theirs away.
But you don‘t punish the good people for what the bad people are doing. And that‘s the basic premise, I think, that we argue.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m—I‘m with you. I think we got to go a little -
I think we got to be a little more aggressive, Governor. It‘s not my job to say so, but, if I see a kid walking down the street with anything like a bulge in his pocket, I consider that probable cause. And I wouldn‘t mind stopping and checking that out. I think we ought to be checking out guns on the streets, because it has become a horrendous problem in our big...
HUCKABEE: I just hope, if somebody holds you up on the street, though, Chris, you have something more than your good intentions to combat it with, because that‘s not going to be enough if the kid puts the gun in your face.
MATTHEWS: OK. You—you are definitely a country boy. In big cities, you cannot take the attitude that everybody carries a gun to solve their problems. It won‘t work.
Can you imagine the New York City subways with everybody armed? How would you like to be in that—in that rush hour? I mean...
HUCKABEE: No, it‘s not everybody. Chris, it doesn‘t—the beauty of it is, it doesn‘t have to be everybody. It just has to be that the criminal knows that he‘s not the only armed person on the street.
MATTHEWS: I know—I know the argument of right to carry. I know.
And it won‘t work in big cities, because there would be too many guns.
Anyway, thank you, Governor. You‘re very consistent.
HUCKABEE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: It‘s probably exactly what you said to the NRA today.
Governor Huckabee, everybody likes you. I think you‘re OK.
HUCKABEE: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Now I‘m joined by Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, another fellow from a pro-gun state.
But let me go on. Do you agree with what he just said? We would be better in big cities like Philly and Pittsburgh and Scranton if everybody had a gun in their pocket and they had a license?
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Chris, I‘m...
MATTHEWS: Nobody would mess with us.
CASEY: Chris, I‘m from Pennsylvania. I have always said this, that new gun laws aren‘t the answer.
One that thing that has been tried in other cities—several cities,
including Boston a couple of years ago—where they used other strategies
that didn‘t involve the taking away of weapons, but they were effective
strategies to go right at this problem—we have a lot of law enforcement
and to engage these violent predators and say to them, “We‘re going to crack down on you, but, if you agree with us, that we can provide you other help—if you lay down your arms, we‘re going to—we‘re going to help you.”
These strategies have worked, because, too often, it‘s an either/or between whether you—someone has a gun or whether you take that away. It‘s not going to pass in a state like Pennsylvania. But there are other strategies that would.
MATTHEWS: Well, one thing you do—Chief Timoney has told me what—you go out in the street when there‘s a problem. A kid has just been killed in what looks like a gang issue, a turf issue, a drug issue—you fill the streets with police in that area, because a likely situation, in a few hours, you will see kids out in groups of four or five looking for trouble to get even. And they‘re the kids you got to stop and check them out.
CASEY: Chris, the federal government can play a role here, though, because there is a role for the federal government, which is Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That division should have a lot of agents. They don‘t have enough on the ground.
MATTHEWS: You came on tonight, Governor—Senator, to talk about something, which is these kids with health care. What‘s the big fight between the administration and the Democrats over child care—health care for kids whose parents make a little bit above the poverty line?
CASEY: Chris, it‘s a basic question, whether or not the president wants to—to sign a law that will provide 10 million American children with health care. That‘s the whole issue. And he has said he will veto that legislation. It makes no sense at all.
Forget the Democratic arguments for one second about what—the moral argument for what‘s good for that—that child and the family. CEOs like this, because we know that, at the end of the road, that young child is going to be a better employee and more productive member of society if they get, as Hubert Humphrey said, at the dawn of their lives, if they get help with—with children‘s health insurance.
Sixty-eight senators voted for this. Hey, we haven‘t agreed, 68, on anything. And he‘s saying he‘s going to veto it.
MATTHEWS: But it does cost more money. It will cost more money than the president‘s plan. How do you pay for it?
CASEY: Well, here—here‘s how you pay for it. It‘s very simple. And the Senate version is the one that will prevail, I think, in the conference.
It‘s—it‘s an increase in the cigarette tax. So, you go from 31 cents. You add 69 cents. It‘s paid for. You don‘t have to increase income taxes.
But the president, yesterday, went on national television started talking about the Democrats. He‘s preventing poor children from getting health care, if he vetoes this. It‘s as simple as that.
MATTHEWS: So, you think it will pass a veto, if you have got to override this veto?
CASEY: I think we can—we can override in the Senate, for sure.
The House, I‘m not sure of.
MATTHEWS: OK. Down with cigarettes, up with guns.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Bob Casey.
I know Pennsylvania. I know the situation.
Up next—Joe Clark lost his seat over that.
We will be right back with the hot political news on the ‘08 trail—lots of political stuff coming up.
In fact, Hillary talking about her sexual orientation on the record.
What a strange thing to be talking about, but it‘s the times we live in.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Time now for the politics out there.
The latest Gallup poll shows Congress getting a worse approval rating, worse number from Democrats, than it gets from Republicans. Why? Because the Democrats, who won control of Congress because of last November‘s elections, are getting nailed by anti-war Democrats from one side, by pro-war Republicans on the other.
The good news for Democrats is that the polls also show that people would prefer to elect more Democrats next year to the Congress and fewer Republicans.
Speaking of Democrats, Barack Obama, he is still reluctant to attack front-runner Hillary Clinton, as we have seen. And his campaign seems stuck in the mud. In fact, “The Chicago Tribune” reports today that Obama isn‘t happy with his own stalled campaign and he‘s bringing in fresh blood to fix things.
Well, given his distant second-place standing in the polls out there, one thing he needs are more people out there ready to fire away at Hillary. Since he‘s not prepared to do it himself, he needs some surrogates out there.
This week, New York tough guy Peter King got caught using shorthand in describing the dangers of radical Islam. Here is his, saying there are simply—quote—“too many mosques in the country.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER:
We have—unfortunately, we have a—too many mosques in this country. There‘s too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam. We should be looking at them more carefully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today, he clarified—quote—“What I always have said, or four the last four or five years, is that we have too many mosques in this country that don‘t cooperate with law enforcement.”
But the most fascinating part of this story about Peter King and what he says is how fast his ally Rudy Giuliani backed him up—quote—this is Giuliani—“I know exactly what Pete meant. I knew before he even—I even heard the clarification.”
Well, and the questions you have to answer these days. The gay magazine “The Advocate” just interviewed Hillary Clinton and asked her—believe it or not, this is what they asked—quote—this is to Senator Clinton—“How do you respond to the occasional rumor that you‘re a lesbian?”
Hillary‘s answer: “It‘s not true. But it is something I have to—I have no control over. People will say what they want to say.”
Finally, Bill Clinton was on “The Daily Show” last night. Here‘s what he had to say about the prospect of being first gentleman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”)
JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW”: It‘s one thing when your wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was the first lady and she would disagree with you politically.
If she‘s the president, and she—how are you going—are you going to be able to handle the—the switch?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I may slit my throat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the one thing politicians never admit is raw ambition. Clinton knows very well that getting his wife elected president would be the biggest rush that he could get in public life.
Up next, the HARDBALL debate: Should Iran‘s president be allowed to speak at Columbia University this Monday night when he visits the U.N.? Should he be allowed to speak on campus, the president of Iran, Ahmadinejad? That‘s the hot one.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATT NESTO, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Matt Nesto with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks rose with, helped by strong earnings from the software maker Oracle, the Dow Jones industrials up 53 ½ points. And with Tuesday‘s fed rate cut, the Dow added 377 points for the week, the S&P 500 up seven points today, the Nasdaq up about a half-a-percent, with a 17-point gain of its own.
Oil prices finally retreated, after a string of record closes. Crude for November delivery fell 15 cents in New York, closing at $81.62.
Mattel now apologizing to China over its recalls of Chinese-made toys. Mattel admitted today that, in a majority of cases, its own design flaws were to blame. Meantime, the Consumer Protection Agency announced the recall of a million cribs made in China and sold by Simplicity. The cribs are blamed in the deaths of three children.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The New York Police Department rejected Ahmadinejad‘s request to visit ground zero while he‘s in New York next week for the U.N. General Assembly. But that hasn‘t stopped Columbia University from featuring the Iranian president as a guest speaker next Monday.
Should the leader of Iran be allowed to speak at Columbia University next week?
Ed Schultz is a radio talk show host. And Ron Christie served as a special assistant to President Bush.
Let me go to Ed first.
Ed, should the president of Iran be allowed to speak on campus in New York City next Monday?
ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Absolutely.
I think Columbia University is doing this country a favor by getting this guy on American soil, getting him on the record in an academic environment. Let‘s find out what he thinks about Israel. Let‘s—he‘s made all these outlandish comments about the Holocaust on the other side of the world.
Let‘s get him on American soil and get him on the record. The thing I like about it, Chris, is that this just isn‘t a speech. This is going to be a Q&A, an open dialogue. And this puts a little pressure on Columbia, I think, to have a robust debate and deliver the facts to this guy.
And let‘s see where it all goes. We can‘t be afraid of debate and conversation in this country. And the Bush administration is trying to go to war with this guy. Let‘s find out what he really thinks. I think it‘s a great opportunity.
RON CHRISTIE, FORMER ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Oh. Oh, how rich is that, Ed?
I don‘t even know where to start.
First of all, we know exactly what his position is as it relates to Israel. He has called for the extermination of the Jewish state. He has called for the fact that...
SCHULTZ: Not on American soil, he hasn‘t. Not on American soil, he hasn‘t.
CHRISTIE: Oh, great. So, now we‘re going to bring him on American soil and let him legitimize the concept that the Holocaust didn‘t exist and that we should exterminate the—the Jewish state.
And, furthermore, Ed, I would say to you...
MATTHEWS: Slow it down on the word exterminate.
MATTHEWS: ... says exterminate.
CHRISTIE: Well, but, Chris, but that‘s what he said.
CHRISTIE: And, Chris, I will—I will take it a step further, Mr.
Matthews. I will take it a step further.
MATTHEWS: To exterminate?
CHRISTIE: This is a guy who is a...
MATTHEWS: I have never heard him say that.
CHRISTIE: Chris, this is a guy..
MATTHEWS: He‘s obviously anti-Israel.
MATTHEWS: But this exterminate?
CHRISTIE: Chris, he has called for the elimination, the extinction of the Israeli state.
MATTHEWS: Yes, sure.
MATTHEWS: But that‘s a political—that‘s a case that most Arabs agree with, by the way.
CHRISTIE: Well, we‘re talking about Ahmadinejad.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but most Arabs agree with that position.
CHRISTIE: The other point—Chris, the other point I would say to you, this is also a man—Iraq—Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. This is a country that is, in fact, sending supplies...
SCHULTZ: Then arrest him.
CHRISTIE: Hang on a second, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Go ahead and arrest him.
CHRISTIE: Sending supplies over to kill our innocent men and women in uniform.
SCHULTZ: You know, you—you conservatives are so afraid of debate in this country, you pass resolutions because you don‘t like advertising in “The New York Times.” This is a sad state of affairs.
CHRISTIE: And you liberals—you liberals would rather allow an anti-Semitic individual who would...
SCHULTZ: Liberals are willing to have conversation.
CHRISTIE: And, Ed, and...
SCHULTZ: Liberals want an open dialogue with a country that could eliminate us, if we don‘t watch out.
MATTHEWS: I‘m going to ask you a question.
Should he be allowed in this country? You sound like you don‘t even want him in the country.
CHRISTIE: No, I wouldn‘t go that far.
He‘s a member—Iran is a member of the United Nations. He‘s coming as part of the United Nations General Assembly. I think he should go. Of course, he‘s coming here to lobby against additional sanctions being placed on Iran, because, of course, they want to proliferate nuclear weapons.
But, Ed, I‘m not going to let you get away with that.
The liberals talk about free speech and the liberals talk about not being able to shy away from a conversation.
Well, you answer me, why is it that Columbia University has kept the American military off of the Columbia University campus since 1969? Because they‘re upset with the military. But, yet, they would rather have a dictator and someone who wants to come to the United States, and openly talks about killing people and denying the existence of the Holocaust.
It‘s not about free speech. You would rather have a butcher and a dictator come over here...
SCHULTZ: The United States military is a job recruiter.
CHRISTIE: ... because you guys would rather...
CHRISTIE: ... curry favor with these folks than allow brave young men and women who want to get involved in military service.
SCHULTZ: Who—who—who are you talking about, you guys?
CHRISTIE: I‘m talking about you, because you said, “you conservatives.” So, I‘m talking about you.
SCHULTZ: OK. Here‘s the deal.
There‘s no question that the conservatives, you guys are grandstanding: We‘re tougher than you are.
This country has a chance to get this man on the record, someone from that country on our soil, for the first time in 28 years. There are some Americans that are going to view that as progress. I think I would rather hear him talk than possibly get nuked by him. Where is their nuclear program?
CHRISTIE: And—and, Ed, by way of progress...
SCHULTZ: You‘re going to interrupt me again?
Here‘s the bottom...
CHRISTIE: Ed, by way of progress, I would rather have the American military...
SCHULTZ: It is progress to get him on the record, to get him in an academic arena, speaking his stuff.
CHRISTIE: Excuse me, Ed. I would rather have the American military be able to go on an American campus in an academic community and allow those Americans who want to bravely serve their country the opportunity to do so. Oh no, but not at Columbia. The Ed Schultzes of the world.
SCHULTZ: You see, it is another straw man.
CHRISTIE: . say, let‘s bring the dictator on.
SCHULTZ: Another straw man argument. It is us versus.
CHRISTIE: That is not a straw man.
SCHULTZ: . them.
CHRISTIE: . that is the truth.
SCHULTZ: We don‘t support the military, we don‘t support the troops.
That‘s your only argument.
CHRISTIE: OK, Ed, if that is the truth.
SCHULTZ: You are out of step with Americans. The American people want a dialogue with this guy.
CHRISTIE: And you are out of step with America.
SCHULTZ: That is the bottom line.
CHRISTIE: You are out of step with America because Columbia...
SCHULTZ: No, I‘m not out of step with America.
CHRISTIE: .individual. Universities and colleges across the country bar our military, but you are going to have the audacity to sit there and say that...
SCHULTZ: You are switching the subject.
CHRISTIE: . someone who is as barbaric.
SCHULTZ: You are switching the subject.
SCHULTZ: This is all about Ahmadinejad coming on campus, taking direct questions from Americans.
MATTHEWS: How do we as a country avoid a war with Iran? Is there any way we can avoid it as you understand, and how so?
CHRISTIE: Yes. I think that we should do exactly what the United States is doing, which is to go to the United Nations Security Council, to impose sanctions against this regime, to use the international community as a strong voice and a leverage point and say to Iran, you will be isolated from the world community, we will not allow to you proliferate weapons of mass destruction. That is the way that you keep a war from going on with Iran.
SCHULTZ: Chris. This is the chance.
MATTHEWS: And you think isolation.
MATTHEWS: Will isolation of Iran work? It didn‘t seem to work with Iraq.
SCHULTZ: Well, look, isolation does work if you still have a dialogue. If you isolate them on the other side of the world and you never meet with them, that‘s a bad thing to do. This is an opportunity to get this guy out in front of the American people, to have a dialogue in an academic setting. Ask him if he‘s killing American soldiers in Iraq. Ask him where his nuclear program is. This is what the American people want. They want straight answers. Now, if you‘re going to hang an academic...
CHRISTIE: Ed, we don‘t need straight answers to that question, we know what the reality is.
SCHULTZ: If you‘re going to hang an academic.
CHRISTIE: The American military knows for a fact that he in fact is supplying weapons to individuals...
SCHULTZ: No, I know what the Bush answers are. I would like to have this guy say it for himself.
CHRISTIE: You are going to make this about George Bush. See, that is what the pathetic thing is. You would rather give credence to a dictator, and give him more moral authority than the president of the United States.
SCHULTZ: And you would rather attack the military is what you would do.
CHRISTIE: Oh, that is just pathetic.
SCHULTZ: You would rather attack academic institutions instead of having a cerebral conversation about how we can get some peace in this world. You conservatives, all you want to do is bomb everybody.
CHRISTIE: Well, I wish—I only—and again, as it relates to liberals, I only wish you would have a conversation to try to find ways to make America a greater country and a better country rather than currying favor with...
SCHULTZ: Let me tell you something, buddy, there are liberals who are dying in Iraq.
CHRISTIE: . thugs and dictators.
SCHULTZ: There are liberals who are dying in Afghanistan and there are liberals who are dying in Iraq. There are liberals with the uniform on who don‘t agree with this policy. The majority of Americans of this country want to meet with Ahmadinejad.
CHRISTIE: And, Ed, it is in fact wrong—oh, no, the majority of Americans don‘t.
SCHULTZ: Ha! I‘m not wrong.
CHRISTIE: . want people to have Ahmad—Ahmadinejad come over here.
I can‘t even say this guy‘s name, it is so pathetic.
MATTHEWS: Can I ask you a question, both you gentlemen, will this allowance of—this hosting by Columbia University of Ahmadinejad increase or decrease the likelihood of the United States going to war with that country in the next several years, Ed?
SCHULTZ: I think it depends on what his answers are. I mean, I think the guy could be portrayed to be a liar. I think the guy could put out an olive branch. He could go on the record. Let‘s find out what he has to say. I think the conservatives are very concerned about this because Columbia University.
MATTHEWS: Quickly to you, Ron.
SCHULTZ: . has got a better chance to make some headway than the Bush administration.
MATTHEWS: . will allowing him to speak increase or decrease the likelihood of war with him in the next five years?
CHRISTIE: I don‘t think it will have anything to do with us going to war.
SCHULTZ: I can‘t answer that.
CHRISTIE: But I do believe that it is pathetic to allow this terrible individual to come here, a man who hates America, who hates our freedom and our way of life. And to give him the floor.
SCHULTZ: And you hate freedom of speech, it is very clear.
CHRISTIE: . and the stage is pathetic. Way to go, Ed. You are so for—in favor of freedom of speech...
SCHULTZ: You hate freedom of speech. You have got to be real proud of that.
CHRISTIE: Why don‘t you invite him over to your house, Ed. Maybe you and Ahmadinejad can have a dialogue.
SCHULTZ: Actually, I would love to have him.
SCHULTZ: . I would love to have the guy on my radio show.
CHRISTIE: . great conversation, Ed. Great, yes, but you won‘t let the military in your house but you will let a dictator in. What a great guy you are.
SCHULTZ: This isn‘t about my house, buddy.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. We have, unfortunately known a lot of dictators and a lot of them have been on our side over the years. Anyway, thank you, Ed Schultz. And thank you for taking the courageous side on this issue. And, Ron Christie, thank you for taking the popular side.
CHRISTIE: The right side.
SCHULTZ: It is the correct side.
MATTHEWS: Up next—the easy side. Up next, President Bush says Democrats are afraid of anti-war groups like moveon.org. Is he right? Are they more afraid of MoveOn than they are of the military or what is this argument about? I think it‘s not being fairly stated. Anyway, this is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, what is worse, a nasty ad in the newspaper or a nasty war in Iraq? When HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Now it‘s time for our roundtable. We have got a great one tonight. Jay “Cah-ney” of TIME magazine—Jay Carney, of course. MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.
Hi, Craig. You are laughing. You are in a good mood. It is Friday
afternoon. And TGIF itself, it is true today, Amanda Carpenter of
townhall.com. First up, the Senate passed a resolution against moveon.org
I love that name, moveon.org, Thursday. And President Bush says Democrats are afraid of irritating the left wing anti-war group behind that. Is that right?
Craig Crawford, you know, back in the really sad ending days of the Vietnam War argument, the pro-war people knew that a lot of regular people were unhappy with the war. But the way to rouse support was to trash the long hairs, the protestors, if you will, the flag burners, Jane Fondas. They couldn‘t win the argument for the war but yet they could damn well win the argument against the anti-war people. Have we reached that stage on Iraq?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, because it is easier than talking about the actual merits of the war itself, I suppose, for the president and his supporters. I mean, they would rather demonize those who are attacking them than...
MATTHEWS: Will it work?
CRAWFORD: . get into the merits of the actual war itself.
MATTHEWS: Will it work?
CRAWFORD: I think it will work with the base. And that is what I guess Republican presidential candidates and others are worried about right now is keeping that base on the president‘s side on this war. And that so far has been seen in the polls.
MATTHEWS: This is the battle of the bases, isn‘t it, Amanda?
AMANDA CARPENTER, TOWNHALL.COM: Yes, absolutely. And if you look at what the anti-war crowd is doing now, they are making it incredibly easy for President Bush to take to it to them.
You know John McCain today, we saw him make a comment after his speech at the NRA got interrupted, saying yes, you know, after the woman was getting hauled out, he said, we beat you today, we beat you last night, and we will beat you again. I mean, they are making it almost easy by making such a spectacle of themselves.
MATTHEWS: And you think that “Betray-us” ad did it?
CARPENTER: Yes, absolutely. I think it made it uncomfortable for Democrats to criticize the president. I mean, it essentially used up all the political capital the Democrats could have had. It definitely took the wind...
MATTHEWS: You know, it is 72-25 to resolve attacking—the attack resolution, only,what was it, 23 Democrats joined in the attack.
JAY CARNEY, TIME.COM: Moveon.org made a mistake. I think they will -
and you can tell from some of the comments by the executive director...
MATTHEWS: Like tonight on the show where he said there may have been tonal problem.
CARNEY: A tonal problem. I mean, “Betray us” was a mistake and they didn‘t think it through because they do have the majority of the public on their side. They even in some states have a majority of Republicans on the side of wanting a deadline for withdrawal of troops.
But what they did was froze the momentum behind support for withdrawal measure. They will gave Republicans reason to rally behind the president. And they made it incredibly awkward for Republican allies of the anti-war movement and the allies of the Democrats in the Senate.
CARNEY: And they also did an enormous favor for Rudy Giuliani, because Giuliani jumped all over this and for the first time he changed a story line in his campaign that had been lasting for several weeks about his drop in the polls, about his problems with firefighters, about his social issue problems with the conservative base. And suddenly, he was the guy who was beating up on the left and beating up on Hillary.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Craig—I‘m sorry, Craig.
CRAWFORD: You know, this ad reminds me of the fallout from the old Willie Horton ad of 1988. Democrats dined out on that for another 10 years, attacking the Republicans and the Bush campaign—the elder Bush campaign.
MATTHEWS: You know what it reminds me of, Craig and everybody? It reminds of the Paul Wellstone funeral, where a sad event, a tragic event, the loss of a senator, a human being, was turned into a—kind of a cavalcade of partisanship and all of a sudden, the Republicans had an issue and Fritz Mondale gets beaten out there and Norman Coleman wins.
CRAWFORD: Yes. And that—I remember Democrats telling me Chris that night in the Senate races around the country, they saw the numbers falling in their Senate races all around the country that night, just almost by the minute as people were seeing that.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think it hurt all around that neighborhood. Hey, we will be right back with Amanda Carpenter, Jay Carney and Craig Crawford. You are watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, we beat you yesterday. We beat you the day before. We will beat you today. And we will beat you tomorrow. We won‘t choose to lose. We won‘t choose to lose this conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Back with the HARDBALL roundtable. Amanda Carpenter of townhall.com, Jay Carney of TIME, and MSNBC‘s own Craig Crawford.
Craig, somebody is going to have to explain to me the John McCain campaign. He has got no money, no support, no numbers in the polls. And yet he is yelling about victory. He is declaring war on the left. He is so pro-war, there has never been anybody like him. What is going on?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think he has kind of pumped up the heat and shown a little more energy on the trail lately. And you know, his polling isn‘t awful, Chris. I mean, the latest Gallup, he was about 18, I think it was, well ahead of Romney. So that I want to see McCain stay in this race and see if he can ever pull it out because I just keep thinking he can get back to that mojo that he had once before.
MATTHEWS: Yes. But you know, last time he was a maverick. This time he is the number one trumpeter of this war. I mean, he relishes this fight with the anti-war people. I mean, he is obviously—saying we won, we won. He is rubbing it in. He is just like a cheerleader like I have never seen.
CARNEY: But that is his play. I mean, he was a maverick last time and he won New Hampshire, but he didn‘t win the nomination. The play all along was to win the nomination you have to be more conventional.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but he won in Michigan last time and he doesn‘t even have anything going on there now.
CARNEY: Well, that is true. But he is—it is a long, long shot I think for John McCain. But he has re-vitalized his campaign. He has—he, I think, hands down, won the last debate. And his numbers have moved up a little bit as Giuliani‘s have come down.
CRAWFORD: And he is going on the attack.
CARNEY: His problem is he doesn‘t have money.
CRAWFORD: I mean, he‘s taking the case to Giuliani at the NRA today. And I mean, I think he is showing the kind of stuff out there on the road that if he has enough time, he might actually get something going again.
MATTHEWS: OK. Here is a theory, guys, and you, Amanda. Is it true that the older you get, the more you fight your oldest fights? That you go back to your oldest fights? Here is a guy that was stuck in Hanoi, hated Johnson because Johnson wouldn‘t fight the war all the way and get him out of there. Nixon came in like an SOB and at least he bombed like hell and the war ended.
You end up defending the positions you took when you were younger. I was against the Vietnam War, I have got a problem with this war that everybody knows. Do you just end up fighting the old fights? Is that what this is about? Nobody changes sides, you just get angrier?
CARPENTER: Well, I don‘t know if I‘m old enough to comment on that.
But there is no doubt.
MATTHEWS: But you have got to be, you have got to be.
CARPENTER: . McCain is sniffing for a fight. He wants to fight.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think he—why does he love this fight?
CARPENTER: He wants a fight on the Senate floor with Hillary Clinton, no doubt. He wants a fight with Giuliani over, you know, guns, which he can beat him on. He wants to define himself as a guy that is going to finish this war, not withdraw, he wants to but the guy that is going to finish it.
MATTHEWS: And how does that—well, we can argue that for a year. But what does it—I would like to know what it looks like if we could finish it.
MATTHEWS: Who wouldn‘t want to finish it? Everybody wants to finish it but nobody sees exactly how to do that, left, right, or center. Jay?
CARNEY: But he wants what he didn‘t get out of Vietnam, which is victory with honor, even peace with honor. And you are right that he is still—I remember going with him to Vietnam after he lost in 2000 and that is where he made that remark that the wrong side won, which of course is true to a point.
But even when McCain was appealing to Democrats and independents, there was a very hard edge to him and it goes right back to Vietnam. He hasn‘t switched on that at all.
MATTHEWS: The problem is, we.
CRAWFORD: And don‘t forget, his favorite president.
MATTHEWS: . that is what happens in these wars. We could kill everybody in our way. We can win every battle like we did in Vietnam. We won every fight in Vietnam. But eventually you come home and then the other guys who would stay there take over. And eventually we will come home from Iraq, 10 years from now, 100 years from now, and the Iraqis will take over.
And you don‘t win that battle unless you become Iraqi. How do you win unless you stay? Craig, that is the hardest fight in the world. How do you make another country do what you want it to do? It is going to end up being its own country.
CRAWFORD: I think, you know, either economic force or military force and neither one seems to be working. But I just want to point out, don‘t forget, McCain‘s favorite president is Teddy Roosevelt, who kept running for president even after he was president and lost. And I really see McCain sort of playing the Teddy Roosevelt role in this campaign.
MATTHEWS: Well, maybe he ought to take a long safari in Africa like Teddy Roosevelt. It might be more productive. I like the guy, but God, I don‘t get the anger. The anger is growing, Amanda. You are not angry, are you?
CARNEY: I don‘t know. I don‘t see that much anger. I think he is having—I mean.
MATTHEWS: You didn‘t have him on your show like I did last week.
CARNEY: Oh, well.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Amanda. It is getting late in the week. Let‘s not say anything we will wish we hadn‘t. Anyway, Jay Carney, it is great to have you on. TIME magazine. Craig Crawford, thank you, sir, my colleague.
Join us again Monday night at 5:00 or 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.
Right now it is time for “TUCKER.”
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