Guests: Josephine Hearn, Hilary Rosen, Mort Zuckerman, Tom Tancredo, Mike Huckabee
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Publisher Judith Regan‘s $100 million lawsuit against News Corporation includes allegations of sex, power, corruption and coercion. Titillating stuff, but at least two pressing questions remain unanswered. Are the allegations true? And will the upward trajectory of Rudy Giuliani‘s run for president be pulled down into the lawsuit‘s tawdry vortex?
This is “New York Post” territory, and I mean that as a compliment.
Regan accuses the News Corp. executive of advising her to lie to investigators about her intimate relationship with former New York City police commissioner and prospective homeland security secretary Bernard Kerik. Regan alleges that the pressure to protect Kerik was in fact pressure to protect Kerik‘s friend and ally, Rudy Giuliani.
Today Giuliani would not comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don‘t respond to the story at all. I have—I don‘t know anything about it, and it sounds to me like kind of a gossip column story more than a real story. The last thing in the world you want to do when you‘re running for president is respond to gossip column-type stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: We‘ll see.
There‘s also immigration news today. The city of San Francisco will issue official I.D. cards to all residents whether they are legal or not.
Meanwhile, New York‘s governor, Eliot Spitzer, abandoned his controversial plan to issue drivers‘ licenses to illegal aliens. That caused Hillary Clinton to change her position on that subject for the third, possibly the fourth time, but who‘s counting.
And presidential candidate Tom Tancredo‘s new campaign ad links illegal immigration to terrorism and it continues to evoke strong reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who‘ve come to take our jobs.
Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil. Jihaddists, who, fraught with hate, here to do as they have in London, Spain, Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Congressman Tancredo himself will join us in just a few minutes to talk about that ad.
Plus, today‘s CBS News/”New York Times” poll shows a virtual tie in Iowa among Clinton, Edwards and Barack Obama. But it also shows former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee nipping at Mitt Romney‘s heels for the lead in the Republican race there.
We‘ll give you the numbers. And then Mike Huckabee himself will join us later this hour.
But we begin with Judith Regan‘s lawsuit against News Corporation and the suit‘s potential affect on Rudy Giuliani‘s presidential bid.
Joining me now, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen, and the Politico‘s Joseph Hearn.
Welcome to you both.
Here is an excerpt from Regan‘s complaint. “A senior”—this is claim that she makes. “A senior executive at News Corp. Organization told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani‘s presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik.”
Wow, Josie Hearn. Without asking you to comment on whether or not that‘s true, since we don‘t know—I don‘t know, anyway—does all of this add to the perception that New York politics is intensely sleazy and that Rudy Giuliani is part of it?
JOSEPHINE HEARN, POLITICO: Well, in a word, yes. There are all these characters from Giuliani‘s background in New York that are going to come out of the woodwork over the next few months, and it‘s kind of a big surprise.
One of the big surprises of the campaign this far is that they really haven‘t yet, with the exception of Bernie Kerik, who‘s kind of—has the potential to become something of albatross around Giuliani‘s neck. But there are so many—you know, New York is, as we all know, kind of the center of the world. It attracts a lot of crazy characters. And if you‘re mayor of New York, you inevitably get involved in all these sagas.
So I think a lot...
CARLSON: You do, and I love it. I mean, the first paper I read every day, lands on my doorstep every morning, “The New York Post.” I‘m familiar with everybody in this saga, I know a lot of them, I like them, I think they‘re fascinating.
Does the average person have any idea who Judith Regan is or care?
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No. And I actually think the average character doesn‘t know who Bernie Kerik is either.
CARLSON: Good point.
ROSEN: But, you know, Kerik‘s reputation will be an issue here only for one reason, really. He‘s the guy that Rudy Giuliani wanted to be homeland security chief. And the fact that this is somebody who Giuliani went to President Bush and said, I attest for this guy, he‘s, you know, the right guy to lead us at this moment, I think that‘s the issue that‘s relevant for the campaign. But lord knows that, you know, Judith Regan is full of stories.
She obviously—she had long-term affair with Bernie Kerik. I don‘t think people really care about that pillow talk.
CARLSON: It‘s so—it‘s so great, though.
ROSEN: Keep away from it. But, you know, Kerik‘s been indicted, and there are a whole set of issues that really just get to Giuliani‘s judgment about people, regardless of whether this becomes sleazy or not.
CARLSON: I like Bernie Kerik a lot personally, but when he backed him for homeland security chief, about five people I knew who work in that world said to me, boy, that‘s a mistake. That‘s a big—that‘s going to come back and bite Giuliani in the butt, and it did.
CARLSON: The one group of people who will, I think, Josie, be excited by this are the conspiracy people on the left, because for them, FOX News and News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch play central roles in the ongoing conspiracy to make this a dictatorship, as you know.
The—listen to this. This is from the complaint, Judith Regan.
“The smear campaign”—that‘s the smear campaign that she alleges was undertaken against her—“was necessary to advance News Corp‘s political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giuliani‘s presidential ambitions.”
So it‘s like basically Bill O‘Reilly is in this now. I mean, are the blogs going—I haven‘t had time to check the lunatic Web sites today, but...
HEARN: Well, it certainly has the potential to fire up the left. It has all the elements of a kind of story line that they love.
CARLSON: It‘s unbelievable. Where is Dick Cheney in this?
HEARN: Yes. And I don‘t think we‘ve really seen anything like that against Giuliani yet. So, you know, we may see kind of a grassroots outpouring, a vitriol against him that we really haven‘t seen with him in particular yet, which could be interesting.
ROSEN: It seems so unlikely that News Corp. executives would actually do this. You know, they‘re too smart, it‘s too obvious. But, you know, I‘m anxious to see what happens during—during the lawsuit.
CARLSON: Well, my impression as consumer of their products, at least as an avid and close reader of “The New York Post,” is they‘re kind of for Hillary. I man, Rupert Murdoch has held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, gave her money. I don‘t know what his plans are.
ROSEN: Well, certainly “The New York Post” has been picking on Rudy Giuliani for the last three months straight, every day virtually.
CARLSON: Yes, they have been.
ROSEN: So the idea that somehow there‘s a conspiracy to elect him president I think is a little farfetched. But regardless, it‘s going to be an interesting lawsuit. Rudy Giuliani‘s right not to comment on it.
CARLSON: Can he keep doing that? I mean, if—I mean, it‘s not like Bernie Kerik—and I‘m not saying this—I have no agenda here. It‘s just true.
Bernie Kerik was a close friend, not just some random employee. He was like a close confidante of Giuliani‘s. Can Giuliani, as Kerik goes to trial—and that‘s going to happen soon—just kind of continue to say I‘m not commenting?
HEARN: No, I don‘t think he can, because as we‘re seeing here, the suit raises more questions than it answers. It kind of sets up a number of story lines that then reporters will follow. And these questions will follow him, I think, through the next few months.
I mean, both these issues are starting, right? The suit is starting. Kerik just got indicted. There are going to be more events here, more stories. I thin it‘s going to be very hard for him to avoid the question.
CARLSON: Well, I want to bring in someone now who knows Rudy Giuliani well. And I think probably knows all the players in this fairly well, and that‘s Mort Zuckerman, the chairman of “The New York Daily News” and “U.S. News and World Report.”
Mort, what do you make of this? Do you buy the central allegation that News Corp. is somehow working on behalf of the Giuliani for president campaign?
MORT ZUCKERMAN, CHAIRMAN, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”: I do not. I think that is an attempt on the part of the plaintiff in that particular case—namely Judy Regan—to, shall we say, leverage herself against News Corporation.
As for the question of the damage that it will do to Rudy Giuliani, that‘s another question. I don‘t believe it‘s going to be a serious as I think it‘s implicit in what some of the other conversations have been.
I think he handled it as well as it could be handled. He basically said, look, he did a lot of good things, I didn‘t do the right kind of job in sort of vetting the guy, and I didn‘t know all of this. Obviously I wouldn‘t have recommended him under the circumstances.
Now, some of that may be brought into question, but by and large, I think given the fact that number of the other candidates, shall we say, who have also made some dubious judgments, I don‘t think this is going to have that much political fallout.
CARLSON: Now, Regan says that she was pressured by an official, an executive, unnamed at this point, at News Corp to lie about her relationship with Bernard Kerik. It‘s a matter of public belief anyway that she had some kind of relationship with Kerik. If it can be shown that that‘s true, is that a crime? That sounds like a crime.
ZUCKERMAN: I don‘t know that it‘s a crime because I don‘t know that this is necessarily something—that is to say, the intimate relationship which everybody certainly believes she had, and certainly this was, shall we say, well covered in “The New York Daily News,” or uncovered, depending on how you want to look at it. I just don‘t think that this thing is going to carry—this is a litigation.
All of these charges are made. No names were mentioned. No specificity was put in her claim.
I think she‘s going to have a very difficult case to prove. She has got lot of things to, shall we say, be angry about. And I might say, she‘s trying to leverage her position with the News Corporation in order to make sure that she gets, shall we say, the best outcome.
They‘re going to probably want to avoid going to court, but if they have to they will. I just don‘t think she has that much in leverage other than through these unsubstantiated allegations. And I think Rudy Giuliani, by and large, given what it is—and it is a serious matter—has handled it as well politically. I doubt if it‘s going to have much political fallout in terms of the way he‘s going to do in the primaries.
CARLSON: Boy, if I can say, you‘re taking a very gentlemanly position on this, Mort, considering you are the owner of The New York Post‘s chief competitor, “The New York Daily News.” And you‘re not in there on Judith Regan‘s side. I‘m impressed.
ZUCKERMAN: I am not. No, I am not.
CARLSON: Well, good for you.
ZUCKERMAN: This, to me, is a—is more than anything else, a political judgment on Rudy Giuliani. He made—frankly, he made a bad choice.
The one thing where I think he‘s really weak is that—sort of the person in the city in charge of investigation that vets these people did say that he spoke to Giuliani before he made some of these appointments. And in fact, the—what Giuliani said, what‘s so, shall we say, incredible to this man that he said in the hearing, is it really your testimony, Mr. Mayor, that you didn‘t remember this conversation?
That‘s when you begin to know that he‘s beginning to doubt Giuliani‘s credibility. But if he can get past that point, I don‘t think the political damage is going to be that great. That‘s not what people are going to be voting for or against.
Yes, he made a mistake without question. And it‘s a big mistake considering how close he was. But, in fact, Kerik did a pretty good job as police commissioner, and, of course, he could understand what Rudy was about here.
So I don‘t think it‘s going to have that kind of political fallout. And I don‘t think News Corporation is liable on the charges that she is making.
CARLSON: Boy, you live in very zesty city.
CARLSON: Just one final, last quick question. I couldn‘t resist asking you this since you‘re a—obviously you‘re a renowned businessman as well.
She claims, Judith Regan claims in this complaint, that she has generated a billion dollars in book sales for News Corp. A billion dollars in book sales? Is that even possible?
ZUCKERMAN: Well, it is possible if you‘re name is J.K. Rowling. I would be very amazed if she was able to generate that kind of book sales. On the other hand, she was a very successful agent for long time.
ZUCKERMAN: I still—that number is just beyond my imagination. And all of this, it seems to me, is just fodder for whatever publicity I think this case is going to get. And most people like to avoid going to court.
As we say, the two worst things in life, one is to win a trial and the other is to lose a trial. Neither one of them is pleasant.
So I‘m sure that News Corporation is going to try to settle at some point. And this is way of her exerting leverage on them. If not, it will be a long time before this case is heard.
CARLSON: We should never forget that the bottom line here is Judith Regan is a genius. For good or ill, she is really smart.
CARLSON: Mort Zuckerman in New York, thanks. I really appreciate it.
ZUCKERMAN: My pleasure.
CARLSON: Tom Tancredo‘s new campaign ad is explosive, literally. Immigration is the issue, and Tancredo is serious about it. He joins us next.
Plus, John McCain encounters a supporter with unflattering words for Hillary Clinton. At least one cable news channel suggests it‘s the end of McCain.
We‘ll tell what you that means.
You‘re watching MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM TANCREDO ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi. I‘m Tom Tancredo, and I approved this message because someone needs to say it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who‘ve come to take our jobs.
Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil. Jihaddists, who fraught with hate, here to do as they have in London, Spain, Russia.
The price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Tom Tancredo is running for president. He‘s running for the Republican nomination. The campaign ad you just saw has gotten a lot of attention. Some claim it‘s fear mongering. What does he say?
Well, wait no longer, because the man himself is at the set.
Joining us now, Republican congressman from Colorado, Tom Tancredo.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
TANCREDO: It‘s a pleasure, as always.
CARLSON: So, I mean, I‘m an admirer of you‘re work, I‘m an admirer of the ad. A little over the top?
TANCREDO: Well, it certainly pushes the envelope a little bit I will agree to that. But in fact, Tucker, you if you think about it, and if you cut it up into segments and look at it, I mean, what am I saying that is not true, certainly, number one? And what am I saying that has not been said by other entities like the FBI?
Four days—five days ago now I think it was, I read an ABC report where FBI had come out with an alert to all the—to the local law enforcement agencies that said they believe they had credible evidence that al Qaeda was going to attack malls in the United States, Chicago and Los Angeles. Now, this was an FBI alert, OK?
It‘s not the first of that kind. Of course there have been others. We all know that these people are here. If you read what I read in what‘s called the national intelligence estimate, which is a compilation of intelligence-gathering activities, the stuff that‘s declassified tells you they are here, they are planning, they are planning something catastrophic.
Now, the question is, how did they get here? Who are these people?
Do they come across our southern border? Do they come in with visas and just overstay them? They‘re certainly violating if they‘re planning to do something like this.
CARLSON: But see, I watched that ad and I think, well, gee—I mean, I agree with you, I think the ad is defensible point by point. There‘s nothing in there that is, as far as I can tell, untrue. But I watch that ad and my first thought is, well, holy smokes, what about the northern border?
Canada has all these asylum policies over the years that have, in effect, let all these crazies into Canada. And it‘s pretty easy to come down to the north.
TANCREDO: You bet. Borders—borders are really the important thing to think about.
CARLSON: But all the emphasis is on the southern border.
TANCREDO: Well, it‘s because that‘s where, of course, we‘ve gotten recently a great many people coming across who are coming from countries of interest. We nabbed somebody not too long ago, it‘s my understanding, across that southern border that had—and the reason why, Tucker, is because there is a huge, huge benefit, economic benefit to people being brought.
I mean, the coyotes can charge $1,500 for a Mexican national. They charge $25,000 to $50,000 for a—for someone from the Middle East.
We got somebody. I started to say, we got somebody down there the other day they turned over to the FBI almost immediately. That guy is now in Gitmo because, of course, he is in fact connected with a terrorist group.
So it‘s not—it‘s not that we should be just concerned about the southern border, it‘s just that the huge numbers are...
CARLSON: Right. That‘s where the volume is.
CARLSON: Give me your quick rebuttal to the point that Hillary Clinton has made, Eliot Spitzer has made, other people have advocated from time to time, giving IDs, drivers‘ licenses to illegal aliens. They make the point that, look, that‘s an imperfect solution but we need to know who is in the country, and this is a way to do it.
What‘s your response?
TANCREDO: Here is a way to know. You stop, first of all, giving people jobs who are not in this country. It‘s illegal to do that, right?
So if you actually enforce that, if you truly mean what you say about caring about open borders and illegal immigration, enforce the hiring laws. That, in and of itself, begins a—you will begin a process of self-deportation. Millions of people will leave because the thing for which they came, the job, is no longer there.
In Oklahoma, they have passed state legislation that has done essentially that. And they have seen already an exodus. Some say as high as 20 percent of the Hispanic population gone because they no longer have a job.
Now, they may have gone to Arkansas or Kansas, or they may have gone home.
The fact is that we can do this.
We can do it without “rounding people up,” and then you begin to identify them throughout the system, because local law enforcement come in contact with these people all the time. It‘s the guy with the light that‘s out, and they pull him over and he has no driver‘s license, no insurance, and he can‘t speak English.
You start the process, as I say, with the employers. It goes down from there, and you can concentrate. You‘ve got to—you‘ve got to begin to drain the swamp so that you can concentrate on the people who really are very dangerous here. And it‘s not just people who are coming across the border for the job that no American would want.
Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, running for president on the Republican side.
Thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
TANCREDO: Tucker, it‘s a pleasure to join you.
CARLSON: I‘ll defend your ad, even if no one else will.
TANCREDO: You‘re about the only one on the...
CARLSON: I think I am the only one.
TANCREDO: It‘s OK. I‘ll take it..
CARLSON: Many presidents have been hated, but few have been hated as passionately as George W. Bush. We know what it‘s done to him, look at his poll numbers. But what is it doing to the haters themselves?
Plus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning music writer apologizes to former Washington mayor Marion Barry for calling him a crack addict. But wait. Marion Barry was a crack addict. Why is it wrong to say that?
You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for common sense.
CARLSON: Being hated is part of being president. It typically begins about halfway through the inaugural address and it builds from there.
President Bush though has the lowest approval rating since Nixon, and he is despised not only by the left, but by an increasing number of conservatives. Is hatred of this president bordering on the irrational? Well, an op-ed in today‘s “Wall Street Journal” strongly suggests it is.
Joining us now to tell us if it‘s right, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen joins us, as does the Politico‘s Josephine Hearn.
Hilary, here is part of what Peter Berkowitz in The Journal today.
He said, “In short, Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims—who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance—to reduce complicated events and multi-layered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument and constrains he hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.”
I have to say—this is not in defense of Bush, of course, it‘s merely an observation—I see that every day. People—it‘s like you don‘t even have to try—and I see this in the media every day—to like see the other side of it.
Because Bush is evil! So there‘s like no debate anymore. It‘s like, Bush sucks. And that‘s it.
Have you noticed this?
ROSEN: Well, I think it‘s funny that this late in the administration somebody is actually commenting about that it‘s—like it‘s a new phenomenon. I mean...
CARLSON: It‘s not good though. It‘s not fair.
ROSEN: This started with President Bush literally in 2000, when he actually wasn‘t elected president.
ROSEN: So, I think from the—from our perspective, you know, we sort of never recovered from the fact that he actually was never elected president.
ROSEN: You know, from there, then, OK, where did we go? We went to him letting the economy go south the first two years of a presidency and blaming Bill Clinton for it. Then we went to his horrible response after 9/11. Then we went to an unpopular war. Then we went to demonizing a war hero in the 2004 election in John Kerry.
CARLSON: OK, but wait. No, wait. Before you continue the litany of sins...
CARLSON: Let me just ask you, though...
ROSEN: No, “hate” is a word that I don‘t really like and use.
CARLSON: But I‘m just saying, it gets to the point where it‘s irrational.
ROSEN: This is not...
CARLSON: I remember Paul Krugman writing a column once where he blamed Bush for anti-Semitism in Malaysia. And I talked to Paul Krugman about it and I—I talked to him the other day. And Krugman, who‘s a very smart guy, an economist—supposedly a smart guy—said to me, “I think we‘re on the verge of a dictatorship.”
And I looked at Krugman and I saw a man who had been deformed by his own hatred of Bush. He had become—he‘s a joke. Paul Krugman‘s a joke now. He was a serious person once.
My only point is there‘s a consequence of being consumed, isn‘t there?
ROSEN: Well, I think there is. You know, I actually think that this notion of politics has just gone so ballistic is probably a little bit overblown. And I don‘t think you could convince Bill Clinton that he wasn‘t the subject of the same amount of enmity and the same amount of attack...
CARLSON: Oh he was. He was.
ROSEN: ... that George Bush is subject to.
CARLSON: Exactly. And isn‘t that the point?
ROSEN: So I don‘t think this is sort of new, and I don‘t think it‘s dramatically different.
HEARN: No. I think it happens on both sides.
CARLSON: But it hurt the Republicans, didn‘t it, in the end?
HEARN: It did. It did.
I mean, deciding to try and impeach President Clinton was a bad idea ultimately, right? They lost some seats in the midterm elections, the beginning of the end for...
ROSEN: And the Democrats didn‘t make again this year.
HEARN: Which is what‘s so interesting.
I think there‘s this irrational anger on both sides, but what‘s really is the determinate here is how well they deal with it, how the parties are able to control it. Can they channel it into something that ultimately benefits them?
And I think you can make the argument that Democrats did a pretty good job of that last fall by channeling all this anger into a watershed election. I mean, anger is a very potent political motivator. It‘s how you use it.
CARLSON: But in the end they got nothing from it. I man, they didn‘t do anything. They raised the minimum wage and they made a lot of noise, and that‘s kind of it.
I mean, I guess ideas are what changes reality. Hatred is not an idea, it‘s an impulse.
Just my theory.
All right. I‘m sorry to stop—my sermon ends there.
We‘re going to commercial break. Getting a little deep here for cable news. I beg your pardon.
New polling in Iowa puts Mike Huckabee within striking distance of the frontrunner. That would be Mitt Romney. Governor Huckabee himself will join us in just a minute to explain what he plans to do with his new momentum.
And if Hillary Clinton‘s position on drivers‘ licenses for illegal aliens confuses you, prepare for clarity. This, as Clinton states it unequivocally. But is her brand new statement consistent with all her many other statements on the subject?
Stay tuned for an explanation.
CARLSON: It was the subject that started Hillary Clinton‘s current cycle of political difficulties; New York Governor Eliott Spitzer‘s plan to give driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens. Senator Clinton at first appeared to support that plan. Then she opposed it. Then both supported it and then opposed it, all within about five minutes one famous Tuesday night.
Today, Spitzer scrapped that plan entirely and Senator Clinton clarified her position for all time. She said this: “I support Governor Spitzer‘s decision today to withdraw his proposal. His difficult job is made that much harder by the failure of Congress and the White House to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As president, I will not support driver‘s licenses for undocumented people and will press for comprehensive immigration reform that deals with all the issues around illegal immigration, including boarder security and fixing our broken system.”
Here to tell us what all of that means, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen and the Politico‘s Josephine Hearn. Now, Josie Hearn, we‘ll get to what that actually means in a second—I mean, literally means. But first thing it means is just it‘s Christmas and Hanukkah and New Year‘s rolled into one for her opponents.
This is Bill Burton (ph), Barack Obama‘s pretty amusing press secretary; he said, “when it takes two weeks and six different positions to answer one question on immigration, it‘s easy to understand why the Clinton campaign would rather plant their questions than answer them.”
Ouch! They came out with that within 20 minutes. I have to say, I agree with it completely.
HEARN: Well, they‘re combining a number of places where she has faltered in the past few weeks. I think it‘s an indication really that some of the attacks are—they‘re striking some blows here. It‘s the kind of final stretch into the campaign and they are scoring a few wins here and there. I think this was—will come up again in the general election for her, this issue. I think it has the potential to be fairly damaging, because it‘s such a hot issue in so many corridors.
And it also is really double-edged sword, in the sense that—on the immigration issue, because it‘s very important to a lot of Hispanic voters, which will be important in the general election. But it inflames—just the issue itself inflames so many different areas.
CARLSON: Here is what Chris Dodd said—the problem, just standing back two feet, is it allows the other candidates in the race on the Democratic side—they don‘t have to take a position on it. All they have to do is beat up on Hillary Clinton for her not taking a position. Chris Dodd said this, “it‘s flip flopping cubed. She was for it before she was against it, before she was for it, before she was against it. It has been weeks now,” he said, “and she still hasn‘t offered up a serious principled answer on the question.”
What is her position on this, do you know?
ROSEN: Well, she said her position that she‘s against giving driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens. The interesting thing is that it clearly has not been the best two weeks for Hillary Clinton. But this is what I find interesting—Everything you said—both said might be true about her activities. The problem is that the other members of the Democratic primary still can‘t capitalize on this unless they can convince voters that they‘re the better alternative.
So just the fact that she was loyal to her home state governor and just the fact that she‘s now come out and said, I‘m actually taking a position that probably a majority of Americans would take anyway—
ROSEN: The fact that that—that‘s just not going to have very much long term damage I think. In a general, there‘s not going to be much to use against her. So this is the issue, can John Edwards and Barack Obama offer themselves as a viable alternative on their own platform. I‘m not sure they made that case yet.
CARLSON: Here‘s what confuses me, Hillary: OK, so, she‘s been willing to buck her party to some extent on Iraq. She‘s taken a far more hawkish position than most Democratic primary voters would take. Why didn‘t she just say at the debate, you know what, I‘m for treating everyone with compassion and love. My Christian values will be in evidence when I‘m president. But driver‘s licenses for illegals? No.
I mean, like everyone in America who is not an activist feels that way. Why didn‘t she just say that?
ROSEN: Because her governor is Eliott Spitzer. They—it‘s
tradition to be loyal to your home state same party politician. It was
clearly a mistake. If that‘s how she felt, she should have said it. And -
but again, I think the problem is for everybody else, so what.
HEARN: It‘s interesting that I think she got hung up on this issue, because she‘s been so strong on the issue. She‘s been so prepared in relation to the other candidates. She just knows everything cold. She knows what she wants to say on each issue. It‘s odd that with something that is this kind of prominent as immigration is, that she would be tripped up on this. It seems odd, I think, that she wasn‘t prepared to say something, or to say out right, I‘m against it, at that point in the debate.
CARLSON: We‘re talking to former Governor Mike Huckabee in just a minute. Iowa more important this year than any other year in recent memory. That‘s the narrative, anyway. That‘s kind of the conventional wisdom. What if the following scenario takes place: what if Mike Huckabee, who is not considered the front runner, actually wins Iowa. And what if John Edwards wins Iowa? You have two people who most pundits think cannot be elected president winning what we‘re calling the most important state. What happens?
HEARN: Well, I think if Huckabee wins—he‘s been surging recently in the polls. If he wins, I think that‘s very damaging to Mitt Romney, because they‘re both going after values voters. They‘re both trolling in the same area. I also think that because Romney is the front runner in these states, in Iowa and New Hampshire, it‘s a blow to him because it shows that he doesn‘t have an inevitability about him in those states.
So I think it has the potential to really shake up any sense that Romney has it locked up. Plus, the fact that Huckabee is such an interesting choice for the Republicans. I mean, he‘s essentially an economic populist and a social conservative. It‘s a very fascinating combination that—
ROSEN: Which is exactly where a lot of people think the Republican party ends up going.
CARLSON: I see it moving in the opposite direction, because, of course, Rudy Giuliani is the polar opposite. Rudy Giuliani is socially liberal but economically conservative.
ROSEN: But if Rudy Giuliani can‘t—is not going to have traction in Iowa. If he can‘t catch up in New Hampshire, and all of a sudden that—the Republican race becomes wide open. I think it‘s actually less of an issue in Iowa if John Edwards wins the Democratic nomination.
CARLSON: You don‘t think it‘s over for Obama.
ROSEN: I do think Obama is the one who suffers the most. Hillary Clinton is well positioned in New Hampshire. She‘s well positioned in South Carolina. Obama is the one who is going to suffer the most. On the other hand, he also has the financial resources to last several more primaries. And John Edwards will struggle, even if he wins in Iowa, to get to the next several primaries.
CARLSON: I agree with that. I want to play you a tape of something that‘s become fairly famous on cable news over the last 24 hours. It took place at a town hall meeting with John McCain. McCain was talking to voters, taking their questions. His questions are not planted, you can tell by this exchange. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we beat the bitch?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That‘s an excellent question. I respect Senator Clinton. I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Whoo! Now this, to me, is more a story about what an incredibly insufferable bunch of weenies we are here in the press. We‘re outraged that somebody might have used the word bitch in a town hall meeting. Oh my god. And John McCain didn‘t slap her across the face and say, that‘s inappropriate. What is he supposed to do?
HEARN: I think it‘s politeness of the situation. You can‘t really go after this woman in this kind of forum. It‘s a small group. She‘s an older woman. She‘s a supporter. It‘s very hard. It‘s kind of like one of those family situations. If an older relative says something completely inappropriate, do you attack them and say, grandma, you know, that‘s totally inappropriate. No, you just go on.
ROSEN: I‘m fairly certain that if somebody had done the same thing and asked Hillary Clinton the same question about John McCain, she probably would have responded exactly the same way that Senator McCain did.
CARLSON: I hope so.
ROSEN: That‘s why I think this is sort of a non-story.
CARLSON: How is it the press—you watch cable news, people all day, unbelievable; is it over for John McCain? Because somebody used the B-word? That‘s like—
HEARN: He, in fact, said, I respect Hillary Clinton. He said that.
That was one of the first things.
CARLSON: Speaking how the press has really been taken over by serious, serious weenies, an amazing story from Washington. The “Washington Post” music critic, Tim Page (ph), won the Pulitzer prize, probably the most famous music critics in the country, wrote—got into a nasty e-mail exchange—wrote a nasty email to Marion Barry, who was a city councilman here in Washington, and described him, quote, as a crack addict to a member of his staff.
Well, the “Washington Post” finds out about this. Marion Barry throws a fit, accuses Page of being racist, all this stuff. They force—they punish the guy at the “Washington Post” and they force him to apologize. The irony is, of course, Marion Barry was a crack head. He went to jail for it. He admitted he was addicted to substances. If you can‘t tell the truth about a public figure, what‘s the point of calling yourself a newspaper again?
HEARN: Well, it wasn‘t something he was covering. It was—
CARLSON: It‘s true. See that‘s not a defense?
ROSEN: Wait a minute. I think the apology was warranted.
ROSEN: Marion Barry is a publicly elected official.
CARLSON: Yes, and he got thrown in jail while mayor for smoking crack on videotape.
ROSEN: A recovering crack addict.
CARLSON: We don‘t know that. He was just busted with cocaine in his car recently.
ROSEN: Regardless, there‘s a level of comity that you do have. You just in the last segment thought that the press was being overly aggressive, and not responding to somebody who was mean enough. Now you‘re criticizing the press for being—
CARLSON: I‘m saying we should lighten up.
HEARN: They weren‘t having any sort of dialogue. It was just in response to a press release, a mass press release. He comes back with pretty tough e-mail for this guy. Now, I don‘t think that, in and of itself, is all that bad. I think—
CARLSON: -- for telling the truth.
HEARN: I think it‘s lesson number 638, don‘t put this stuff in e-mail. Pick up the phone.
CARLSON: You‘re probably right. I was talking to a defense lawyer the other day, who said to me, you know what all my clients have in common, e-mail. Totally true. Mike Huckabee—thank you both. You were excellent. I appreciate it.
Mike Huckabee is running a very close second to Mitt Romney all of a sudden in Iowa. He‘s doing it without much money and without splashy endorsements. He‘s the story of the day in the ‘08 race. Mike Huckabee joins us live next.
Plus, O.J. may be closer to joining the ranks of the incarcerated. Stick around for the Simpson update as we hurdle towards a decision at the top of the hour. This is MSNBC, the place for politics and, of course, O.J. Simpson.
CARLSON: Mike Huckabee is a former Baptist minister who plays in rock band called Capital Offense, and served the governor of Arkansas for many years, before deciding he would like to shoot for a higher office, president. A new poll shows he is lot closer to getting there than just about anyone ever expected. Joining us now is the man himself, presidential hopeful and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. Governor, thanks for coming on.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. You know, nobody expected that I would be here at this point, but I did. I‘m surprised that everybody was so surprised.
CARLSON: If you actually got the Republican nomination, you wouldn‘t be the dog who caught the car? You wouldn‘t be so shocked you wouldn‘t know what to do?
HUCKABEE: No. I think this is something that, again—I feel like it‘s happening because people are paying attention to the message. Up until now, a lot of folks have been tuned out, except for the political insiders. They‘re the ones who have written my political obituary for the past 11 months. Now they‘re having to do some rewrites, which I think has been kind of fun for us.
CARLSON: I bet. Congratulations, by the way. It has not happened the way I thought it would. I would have expected that the leaders of the evangelical movement would have coalesced behind you. And that you would have ridden that support to where you are now. Instead, we‘ve seen, time and again, National Rights to Life came out for Fred Thompson, despite statements he made that were clearly pro choice. Pat Robertson came out for pro choice Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
The anti-abortion movement has kind of collapsed, is my reading. Is that yours?
HUCKABEE: No, not the movement. I think some of the leaders are maybe disconnected with the army. It‘s kind of like you got generals going one way, but the entire army is going a different way. You know what, I‘ll take 100,000 soldiers over one general any day. And there seems to be—if the activists are out there in the real world of America, people like Don Wildman (ph), Kelly Shackleford (ph), the three former Southern Baptist Convention presidents that have endorsed me—they‘re with me. If they‘re Washington insiders and D.C.-based they‘re not. What does that tell you?
CARLSON: It must make you a little bitter, having been pro life your entire career. You‘re a Baptist minister. And National Right to Life goes for Fred Thompson. You don‘t look at that and get a little red?
HUCKABEE: You know, I‘m disappointed, but not bitter about it. Because as long as the rank and file people who are pro life know that I‘m the only guy that did the march for life every year, actually passed legislation. They endorsed a guy at the national level that doesn‘t even support the Human Life Amendment, which has been a part of the Republican platform since 1980. They have got more explaining to do than I do on that one.
CARLSON: So, you have had this dust up with Mitt Romney over illegal immigration. He criticized you recently for a scholarship program rewarding high scoring parents—children, rather, of illegal immigrants in Arkansas. Here‘s how you responded, quote, I guess Mitt Romney would rather keep people out of college, so they can keep working on his lawn since he had illegals there.
That struck me as an awfully nasty thing to say, and ti also doesn‘t address his complaint. Does it?
HUCKABEE: Well, the complaint that he made is frankly a little bit outrageous. You don‘t punish a child for the crime of the parent. What we were proposing in Arkansas—it didn‘t get passed, by the way—I stand by it—is that if a student has excelled academically, and if that student is willing to become a citizen, which was part of the provision, then you would give them the opportunity to get the same scholarships that any other student who had done the same thing would be able to do.
That way, that person becomes a tax payer, instead of tax taker. But the idea that you‘re going to grind a child into the ground because of something that he or she couldn‘t help, which was a parent‘s decision to break the law, I just think we‘re better country than that. You know what, if somebody wants to be—let me just say this; I don‘t believe in sanctuary cities. I don‘t believe in amnesty. I believe in a strong, secure border.
But the problem is not that people have come here. The problem is our government is dysfunctional, has completely missed any opportunity to try to fix this problem, and then want to somehow grind it through the children themselves. I just think we‘re a better country than that.
CARLSON: All right. Former Governor Mike Huckabee, I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you.
HUCKABEE: Thank you, good to talk to you.
CARLSON: Thanks, governor. Well, according to his own lyrics, Jon Bon Jovi has seen a million faces and he has rocked them all. But he couldn‘t get them to vote for him. Breaking speculation about New Jersey politics coming up next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. You sat through this entire show, Tom Tancredo, Mike Huckabee, foreign policy, presidential race; what you really wanted was O.J. Now you get it. Bill Wolff joins us now.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: I was going to say, Tucker, a banner show, a lot of important people, Mort Zuckerman, Tom Tancredo, Hillary and Josie Hearn, great stuff. So I would like to apologize by reporting that the preliminary hearing in O.J. Simpson‘s kidnapping and armed robbery situation is nearing the end of its 800th and final day in a Las Vegas courtroom. In just a few moments, we‘ll learn whether Simpson will actually stand trial for his part in a September incident at the Palace Station Casino in Vegas, where the Juice and some other sophisticates either did or didn‘t break a bunch of laws trying to get some of his memorabilia back from a bunch of other people.
Stay tuned to this news channel for the live judgment at the top of the hour. I am not a lawyer, Tucker, though I may appear to be one; I will bet you lunch from a street vendor O.J.‘s going to trial. That is my official prediction, sir. Your reaction?
CARLSON: My reaction is, you use the term sophisticate with a kind of ironic inflection. Did I pick up on that?
WOLFF: You‘re a master intuitor (sic) my friend.
CARLSON: Thank you, William.
WOLFF: I didn‘t want to call them anything defamatory, but I wanted to imply that I would have if I weren‘t scared of lawsuits. That‘s how we play that one here in middle management. There were lots of interesting poll numbers out today, Tucker, but none more important than the “People Magazine” list of the sexiest men alive. In at number one, movie star Matt Damon. He‘s the star of the Bourne movies. Now, apparently, the criteria have something to do with being handsome, well built, smart enough to go to Harvard but cool enough to drop out, successful, famous, humble and charming.
Apparently, being a sarcastic, loud mouth, sported obsessed middle manager does not, as previously believed, qualify as sexy, which is extremely disappointing to me, Tucker.
CARLSON: Well, you‘ve convinced at least one woman that it does.
Congratulations on that.
WOLFF: She‘s convinced of something. God bless her for it. I know my family appreciates it. Poor girl married down. Anyway, finally Tucker, some red meat politics for you, “Page Six” of the “New York Post,” the single most reliable source in all of news media, speculates that New Jersey‘s de facto emperor, Jon Bon Jovi, quote, could be planning one day to run for governor, end quote, of the Garden State.
Why, you ask? Well, “Page Six” answers, that‘s why Jon Bon Jovi keeps a house in New Jersey, despite living with his wife and children in Manhattan. That‘s why he plays lots of Democratic fund raisers. And that‘s why he hired ex politico Ken Sunshine as his PR guy. Now, Sunshine says that JBJ has been approached many times about running for office, but that the rocker has no plans to do it.
Now, Tucker, when “Page Six” speculates, it must be true.
CARLSON: You know, I tend to agree with that. I just don‘t see Jon Bon Jovi as governor. I met Jon Bon Jovi once.
WOLFF: Nice guy.
CARLSON: He introduced himself to me as Jon; I‘m Jon.
WOLFF: He‘s Jon. Let me tell you something—
CARLSON: He seemed like a totally nice guy.
WOLFF: And he turns some people‘s legs into over cooked linguine when he‘s anywhere near. There‘s a woman named Rainy Kale (ph), works here at MSNBC, she would vote 50 times for that guy if it was at all humanly possible. And it‘s New Jersey, so it is.
I got one more story for you; Britney Spears has become a TV news category like weather and traffic, and here‘s today‘s report. Item one, there will be an emergency hearing Friday to examine Britney‘s running of a red light while texting with the kids in the back seat of the Mercedes last Thursday night in Los Angeles. Now, if that qualifies as emergency, what happens in real emergency?
Item two, “Life and Style Magazine,” never wrong, says that Kevin Federline, or K-Fed, or Fed-Ex, had to cancel a yachting excursion because the two boys they have had pink eye and a source told the magazine that the pink eye came from her dog. Take away one, gross me out. Take away two, where‘s K-Fed getting the dough for the yacht excursion? My goodness.
CARLSON: That is an excellent question. We ought to get our investigative unit in on that. Bill Wolff, asking the hard questions, the questions America wants to know, thanks, Bill.
WOLFF: You got it.
CARLSON: That does it for us. We‘ll be back here tomorrow night.
Now, “HARDBALL” with Chris. Have a great night.
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