Guests: Barbara Comstock, Melinda Henneberger, Noam Scheiber, Tom Schatz
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: The increasingly tight, increasingly venomous contest between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination dominated last night‘s debate. But Mike Huckabee may have won the night by playing affable bystander. Some say, anyway.
Welcome to the show.
Romney and Giuliani, whose back and forth has created newspaper columns and endless sound bites for days now, took direct shots, especially on the issue of immigration.
Here‘s a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you‘re going to talk
this holier-than-thou attitude that your whole approach to immigration was
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m sorry, immigration is not holier than thou, Mayor.
GIULIANI: if you‘re going to take this holier-than-thou...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: So who came out ahead last night? In a moment, Mitt Romney‘s campaign adviser, Barbara Comstock, joins us to make the case for her candidate.
No matter what anyone argues though, the consensus in the newsrooms and on conference calls up and down the northeast corridor is that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee did himself the most good last night by staying poised, genial, and mostly out of the Romney/Giuliani fray. Huckabee is certainly the candidate of the media. Has he become more than a dark horse now, and will his campaign withstand the intense scrutiny that inevitably follows legitimacy?
We‘ll tell you.
Plus, the amazing Bill Clinton claim that he opposed the Iraq war from day one becomes even more amazing. In light of new reporting from “The Washington Post,” it appears that not only did President Clinton support the Iraq invasion, he reassured at least one uncertain member of the Bush administration that the war was a good idea.
Well, we begin with the man named Willard Mitt Romney, whose performance at last night‘s Republican debate featured direct jabs at his closest competitor, Rudy Giuliani.
Joining me now to describe the feeling in the Romney camp the day after, we welcome Governor Romney‘s adviser, Barbara Comstock.
Barbara, thanks for coming on.
BARBARA COMSTOCK, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Good evening. Good to be here.
CARLSON: Let‘s replay that clip that we just showed a portion of. This is the most replayed clip of last night‘s debate. It concerns immigration and it‘s between your candidate, Governor Romney, and former Mayor Giuliani.
Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, MODERATOR: Governor Romney, was New York a sanctuary city?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. It called itself a sanctuary city.
GIULIANI: Mitt generally criticizes people in a situation in which he‘s had far the worst record. For example, in this case there were six sanctuary cities. He did nothing about them.
There was even a sanctuary mansion. At his own home, illegal immigrants were being employed.
ROMNEY: Mayor, you know better than that.
ROMNEY: To hear someone with a funny accent, you as a homeowner are supposed to go out there and say, “I want to see your papers”? Is that what you‘re suggesting?
GIULIANI: No, what I‘m suggesting is if you—if you are going to—if you are going to—if you are going to take...
ROMNEY: Let me finish the rest of my story.
ANDERSON: You asked him a question. Let him respond and we‘ve got to move on.
GIULIANI: If you‘re going to take this holier-than-thou attitude that your whole approach to immigration was so—was so...
ROMNEY: I‘m sorry, immigration is not holier than thou, Mayor. It‘s the law.
GIULIANI: if you‘re going to take...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, I sense a contradiction here, Barbara. If it‘s the law, as Governor Romney so sternly reminded us, then why not go ask your lawn guys for their papers? It‘s the law.
COMSTOCK: Well, actually, right now the law does not allow you to. What you—you hire a company or somebody to put something on your roof or come in and do your lawn, and the company—you can talk to the company, but then the company hires their own people.
COMSTOCK: So the law does not actually allow you to go and—but his point and what he has always as done as governor and what he‘s pointed out is we need to have a system that works. We‘re all victim to a system that doesn‘t work, including the people who come here illegally who are punished, including the people who try to come here legally who get stuck at the back of the line instead of the front.
So his point was we‘ve got to have a system that works. We have to have an employer identification card so employers know don‘t get stuck in this situation.
And certainly people who hire a company that you have every reason to think is legitimate should not be playing “gotcha”. I mean, one of the things that Mayor Giuliani has said, you‘re the only one with this problem. I can‘t imagine that most people haven‘t run into this situation if you had a roof fixed or if you go into a restaurant and you don‘t know who‘s working there and you give them money. There‘s not anybody...
CARLSON: There‘s not one person in America who makes more than $50,000 a year who hasn‘t had this exact problem, but that‘s not the point.
COMSTOCK: No, the point is...
CARLSON: The point is, if he cares so much, why wouldn‘t he—look, I‘m not judging him for having illegals working on his lawn. I‘m sure I do as we speak. I‘m merely saying, if you really care that much, why wouldn‘t you ask the employer?
COMSTOCK: He‘s not—he‘s not talking about—he‘s talking about having a system that works for everybody. And that‘s what we‘ve had, a broken system for over 25 years.
We‘ve got to fix it and make it work so nobody is victimized. You know, from the policy—and he vetoed in-state tuition. He, you know, opposed drivers‘ licenses for illegal immigrants. He wanted to turn off the magnet and then make the employer system work so that you know—an employer knows who they‘re hiring, people don‘t come here thinking they can get jobs when they‘re not legally here, and you get an orderly legal system working.
And that‘s what everyone has a right to expect, and that‘s something basic that you should be able to expect from our government. You know, you want to have—you know, when we go to the airport we have TSA. Now we go through—we expect those things to work in the same way our employers—we need to get that working, and that‘s what the point he is making.
CARLSON: OK. Giuliani says and said last night, pointed out that the state of Massachusetts had at least six cities that designated themselves sanctuary cities during the time Governor Romney presided over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Why didn‘t he do anything about that?
COMSTOCK: Well, he did. He turned off those magnets. He vetoed the license.
CARLSON: Did he force those cities to enforce the law?
COMSTOCK: You can‘t—he provided more police. He provided 200 more police throughout the state. He provided—crime did go down in Massachusetts, contrary to what Rudy Giuliani said.
CARLSON: Right. But, no, just on the question of sanctuary cities, he‘s pounding on Giuliani, I think fairly, for saying you presided over a sanctuary city.
COMSTOCK: Mayor Giuliani went to court...
CARLSON: Right. I‘m not defending Giuliani.
COMSTOCK: When he had the welfare bill of 1996, he went to—he sued
the Clinton administration when we had a welfare bill that said we‘re not -
and it wasn‘t about whether you‘re going to give health care or let them go to school. It was about whether they would have housing and food stamps and all these freebies...
CARLSON: No, but it‘s—it‘s also a question of enforcing the law.
COMSTOCK: But again, it was the magnets, and he turned off the magnets.
CARLSON: OK. If it is repugnant, the idea of sanctuary cities, places where the law of the land is not enforced, people get to break the law with impunity, if that was going on in six different cities in Massachusetts while Governor Romney was the governor, why didn‘t he do anything about it? Why didn‘t he say, you know, hey, stop that, Massachusetts city, now?
COMSTOCK: Every opportunity he had on—whether it was on driver‘s
license or on—he did at the end of the term because it wasn‘t—you
know, the Department of Homeland Security allowed law enforcement to help
enforce the laws. He did sign up for that program. It took the government
you know, it took the federal government six months to get it through.
But once that opportunity was available, he took the opportunities that were available.
But his point also is we need to have a better federal system. And certainly when you had something like the 1996 welfare bill, he would not have been suing the government to make sure that we don‘t enforce the law.
CARLSON: I hope not. I hope not.
We had Deroy Murdock on the other day who wrote a piece for National Review Online attacking Governor Romney‘s policies with respect to crime. The example he used concerned a judge appointed by Governor Romney called Kathe Tuttman, who is a Democrat appointed by Romney who, in effect, let this prisoner go free. He went on apparently to kill two other people.
Here‘s what struck me. Murdock dug up a quote from Eric Fehrnstrom, who was then a spokesman for Romney who said this when he appointed this female judge: “For a long time, women and minorities didn‘t even bother applying for judgeships because of the perception that the whole process was politically wired. The governor is interesting in making sure that appointments to the bench to the extent possible reflect the diversity of the community at large.”
In other words, diversity, skin color and gender, are important criteria in choosing judges. That‘s a left-wing concept, as far as I know, now a conservative one. Why would his spokesman be espousing that?
COMSTOCK: He was pointing out that having women and minorities in the process is important. The point...
CARLSON: So he‘s for affirmative action?
COMSTOCK: No. When he picked the judges, the first and foremost criteria was the law and order judge. And this woman had a record as a prosecutor. She had a lengthy record as a prosecutor. And if you go through and you read the cases about it, she is somebody who did have a...
CARLSON: But no—but why is her gender relevant? That‘s what I don‘t understand. Why—who cares what gender she is? Shouldn‘t we care whether she‘s a good judge or not?
COMSTOCK: Well, as governor, he did think it was important not to have—you know, he didn‘t have all men. He had...
CARLSON: Why? No, I‘m—who cares?
COMSTOCK: Because if you reach out for the best people, you aren‘t going to end up with all men.
CARLSON: OK. No, that may be right. But why even pay attention to the gender? The gender has no direct correlation to anything that‘s important in being a judge.
COMSTOCK: In the pool of people you are considering, you want to make sure that you have all of the best people involved and that you reach out to have that...
CARLSON: So, as president, he would keep affirmative action in place?
COMSTOCK: No, that‘s not at all what that was about. That was about
he sought law and order judges. And in this case, he had every reason to believe that the person he had selected was a law and order judge.
Her record reflected that. She‘d been a judge.
COMSTOCK: She was somebody who had been a big victims‘ advocate, worked with women and children. And she had handled numerous murder cases up in Massachusetts, where she was very tough in law and order. And so he had every reason to think that.
And she had—when he looked at her record in nominating her and in making her a judge—actually an extensive process in Massachusetts where a panel goes through it—he had every reason to think that she was first and foremost a law and order judge.
COMSTOCK: The fact that we can also note that we have a diverse cabinet or diverse appointments, that‘s something that I think we all care about and that you want to have, a diverse group of people considered for a job.
CARLSON: We could all but me. I could care less. I could literally
I‘m not interested.
COMSTOCK: Well, I would care, because if you did only have men...
CARLSON: I‘m not saying I want only men. I‘m just saying...
COMSTOCK: ... we all would agree that...
CARLSON: ... I‘m not interested one way or the other.
Thank you so much, Barbara. I appreciate it.
COMSTOCK: OK. Thank you.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton now says he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning despite overwhelming evidence that he did no such thing. Now a Bush administration official says not only did President Clinton support the war, he convinced her to do the same.
Neocon in chief—details ahead.
Plus, Barack Obama says he‘d hire Al Gore in a minute. The question is, for what job?
This is MSNBC. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 1996, I helped pass a bill outlawing sanctuary cities. The mayor went to court to overturn it. So if it wasn‘t a sanctuary city, I‘d call that a frivolous lawsuit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Nothing like an inside joke between lawyers who just happen to be running for president.
There were other amusing moments, believe it or not, during last night‘s Republican debate, but it was the nasty exchanges primarily between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani that provided the headlines. Sure, it was compelling, but in the end, does all the bickering just helping Mike Huckabee?
That‘s the theory anyway.
Joining me now, Melinda Henneberger, author of “If They Only Listened to Us: What Women Voters Want Politicians to Hear,” and a contributing writer for Slate as well. And The New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber.
We are glad to have you both. Thank you.
Mike Huckabee gets a lot of credit for being an amusing guy. Here was his widely-regarded best joke last night.
This is a Jesus joke. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: What would Jesus do? Would Jesus support the death penalty?
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That‘s what Jesus would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Pretty good. The audience not the only ones laughing. Reporters, liberal to a person, pro-choice, secular love this Baptist preacher from Arkansas.
What is that about?
MELINDA HENNEBERGER, AUTHOR, “IF THEY ONLY LISTENED TO US”: I think they love that he‘s in favor of government programs. And I think they like his personality. And they—I think that it‘s good to have a change of topic from Rudy, Romney, Rudy, Romney. So I think that‘s a lot of it, is, you know, just changing the narrative seems more exciting.
CARLSON: He‘s the underdog.
HENNEBERGER: And I think that he did step up last night and look more serious and look like—in all the previous outings he sort of just looked like, I‘m so pleased and proud to be here. And I think he‘s—he‘s looking like the guy who is being taken more seriously.
CARLSON: He‘s being taken more seriously by, from what I can tell from the numbers, evangelicals in Iowa, sincere religious voters who see him as their man, by the press, as I said. But he‘s also being taken seriously by conservatives who really don‘t like him. You‘ve seen hit piece after hit piece written against Mike Huckabee pointing out that he‘s a big-government guy.
Are they having any effects, do you think, Noam?
NOAM SCHEIBER, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: I think they‘re having a bit of an effect. And I think as we go forward, they‘re going to have more of an effect.
You know, two things in particular. One, the anti-tax crowd who‘s very, very suspicious of his record in Arkansas. With some justification, I would say.
And the other thing, I think, somewhat countertuitively maybe is evangelicals. There is a sort of elite grassroots divide I think in the evangelical movement a bit. And you have a bunch of evangelical leaders who like their role as king-makers...
CARLSON: That‘s right.
SCHEIBER: ... powerbrokers. And this guy goes right around them, or over their head, or under them, or however you want to put it, to the grassroots. So he doesn‘t need them to make him into a big deal. He‘s already got his cred, if you will.
CARLSON: That is a beautiful thing, too, because if there‘s one group that has squandered its moral authority—there are many groups, but one that has squandered, it‘s the leaders of the evangelical movement. They are no longer king makers. They don‘t represent their people very well.
I think it‘s a really smart move that few other people have made.
Are you struck though by the fact that all these reporters who have nothing in common with Mike Huckabee suck up to him? He‘s the John McCain of 2008.
SCHEIBER: Yes. You know, I mean, I‘ve been out there with him. And, you know, I have to say, there aren‘t many social issues in particular that I agree with the guy on, but it‘s fun. It‘s a romp, you know?
You feel the sort of—the kind of underdog, you know, Jedi versus Death Star, you know, mentality there. And it‘s—it‘s magnetic, you know? You really feel it when you‘re out there.
CARLSON: Why does—one of the most striking things in all of these debates really from day one has been just how much John McCain hates Mitt Romney. Hates him so much that when he looks over at Romney, I mean, the veins come out of his face. He starts working his jaw. If he could press a button and vaporize Mitt Romney, he would.
What is that about?
HENNEBERGER: I wouldn‘t begin to say. I‘m not McCain‘s therapist, but I would say that there‘s still a huge opening. So, of course, you know, Huckabee is going to be the one to step into it if anybody is. And I think that on McCain, he got off the best line of the night last night on torture.
I mean, I thought that was a very strong response. And I was happy to see that the audience liked it, saying let‘s take the high ground. This is not what waterboarding—this is not what the United States of America does. And, you know, in response to Romney saying, I‘m not sure, I‘d have to know more about—I mean, he really seemed to be saying he wasn‘t sure what waterboarding was.
CARLSON: But when he said that t o Romney, when he lectured Romney and dressed him down, you could just literally see the “F” word just hiding in the side of his mouth waiting to tumble out. I mean, his loathing of him, it‘s just palpable. You can just—you can just feel it.
HENNEBERGER: I guess I didn‘t take it that personally. I think that...
CARLSON: I replayed it again and again on YouTube. It kind of excited me.
HENNEBERGER: I think that given his personal history, McCain, as a POW, I think Americans should be outraged that we‘re being represented as a country who could resort to torture. So I was happy.
CARLSON: When we come back, Bill Clinton and Al Gore could both be working at the White House once again if one of the Democratic candidates is elected. Can you guess who that might be?
Plus, Fred Thompson entered the race for president in order to save his party from itself. How has that worked out?
Well, we‘ve got stunning new poll numbers ahead.
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: All right. Picture this. Let‘s say Barack Obama does beat the Hillary Clinton machine, gets the nomination and is elected president. Who would he hire to help him run the country?
Well, “Time” magazine asked him that question and Obama replied that he‘d hire Al Gore in “a minute,” as well as Bill Clinton, whom he described as one of the most talented people out there.
But wait. Isn‘t Obama supposed to be running against the Clinton legacy?
Here to explain, contributing writer for Slate, Melinda Henneberger, and The New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber.
Welcome to you both.
Isn‘t he supposed—I mean, look, if you‘re Obama, at least part of the rationale for your candidacy is generational shift and getting away from the legacy of the ‘90s.
Does he just have to say Clinton and Gore, or do you think he means it?
HENNEBERGER: Well, when the question is, “Would you hire Al Gore?” he can‘t possibly say oh, my god, no.
HENNEBERGER: And the same with Clinton. And more than that, the rationale for his candidacy is bringing us all together, taking the best of the country, bringing us to—to find the common ground. So I don‘t see that he could have answered otherwise.
CARLSON: It would have been pretty bold for him to do so, but here‘s why I thought the story was significant, because I think this would be the key to Obama winning, not that he‘s likely to. But I think he would win were he just to say what everyone really thinks, which is Clinton was a talented guy in a lot of ways, but we have to move beyond that.
Like, Clinton actually is the solution but also the problem. Why doesn‘t he just—he can‘t say that. He‘s not courageous enough to say that.
SCHEIBER: I think if you listen to him on the campaign trail, he‘s actually—Obama is actually holding more press conferences than he did a couple of month ago. The question comes up from time to time, what is your beef with the Clintons? Wasn‘t Bill Clinton a really successful president?
And the argument that he makes is, yes, Bill Clinton was a phenomenal political talent, a very good president, but he had his moment, the moment was the ‘90s. That moment‘s gone, and we can‘t continue to run the same playbooks that we ran in the ‘90s. We‘ve got to develop a new playbook.
And so it‘s not—it‘s not sort of completely swiping, completely stiff-arming the Clintons. It‘s just this guy was a brilliant guy and the right man for his times, but those times have changed.
HENNEBERGER: And were he to make an attack on Clinton and get the nomination, he‘d lose the—he‘d lose some of Hillary‘s people. So I don‘t think...
CARLSON: John Edwards, I must say, whatever you think of John Edwards, and I think less and less of him every passing day, but I have to say, you‘ve got to give him credit for being brave enough to say. I mean, he just comes right out and says it, Bill Clinton was a failure as a president, from a progressive point of view. And I think that that‘s true.
HENNEBERGER: Bill Clinton—I mean, John Edwards has been very critical for a long time and hasn‘t really gotten the attention for it that I think he deserves, because he has been saying the same thing all along. Even, you know, a year ago.
CARLSON: And if you‘re a sincere liberal, why would you regard the Clinton presidency as a success?
SCHEIBER: Yes. You know, I mean, John Edwards makes a great argument, he made it at the debate in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, which was, look at the first couple of years of the Clinton administration. You had NAFTA and you had health care.
SCHEIBER: And what passed? NAFTA. And what failed? Health care.
And what explains it? Lobbyists.
SCHEIBER: And that‘s a compelling argument to a lot of voters out there.
CARLSON: And not to mention literally unfettered greed on Wall
Street. I mean, and if that bothers you, if you think that‘s fine and
that‘s what the market does, that‘s one thing. But if that really gets you
and it does get a lot of liberals—why wouldn‘t that stick in your craw? Why wouldn‘t that upset you?
SCHEIBER: Yes. I mean, I think the problem—one problem for Edwards, which I somewhat disagree with but is certainly hurting him, is the messenger is a bit flawed.
In ‘04, he ran as a moderate, as a sort of new Democrat. And it‘s just sort of—he supported the war, had the most modest health care plan in the race of any candidate far and away other than maybe Joe Lieberman. So there is some skepticism about whether this guy really means it and maybe he‘s a sort of recent convert to the cause.
CARLSON: Yes, to put it mildly.
The dust is still rising from Bill Clinton—speaking of—his claim that he opposed the Iraq war from the start. Now a former Bush administration official recalls a very supportive Bill Clinton.
What‘s the truth?
Plus, in a moment we‘ll take a trip back in history to a time when a very different Mitt Romney strode the land. Relics from the former governor‘s first campaign coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Bill Clinton made that audacious claim this Tuesday in Iowa. So far, he hasn‘t backed away from it. But give him time. As if the assorted videotape evidence to the contrary wasn‘t enough, today a former aide to Condoleezza Rice adds more. Hillary Mann Leverett (ph), who worked for the then national security adviser, tells the “Washington Post” that both Rice and NSC member Elliott Abrams were, quote, literally glowing after their meetings with President Clinton before the Iraq invasion, because, they boasted, quote, we have Clinton‘s support.
In fact, Leverett recalls that her own misgivings about the war were eased by Mr. Clinton‘s positive reaction to the administration‘s plan. So how long can Bill Clinton‘s latest story stand? Here again contributing writer for “Slate” Melinda Henneberger and the “New Republic‘s” Noam Scheiber.
Melinda, this—OK, the Clinton response is, well, they lied about weapons of mass destruction. They‘re lying about this. OK, maybe they are. This rings so true. For one thing, we know Clinton supported the war because he said so. Moreover, the idea that the NSC staff would meet with Clinton and come away with believing that he supported their position in a warm glow—that‘s so perfect, it‘s got to be true.
HENNEBERGER: I think what he meant was he supported it in his heart -
opposed it in his heart and didn‘t let us know. But I remember very well, because I really did oppose the Iraq war.
CARLSON: You and like six other people in America.
HENNEBERGER: Exactly, and I know them all. No, I remember the Clinton people very specifically saying, to me amazement at the time, foreign policy has not changed that much. Our attitude toward allies and toward working together, if that‘s how it has to be for this war, is together if we can, alone if we must. They were very much in favor of Iraq.
CARLSON: As a sincere opponent of the war from day one—Again, one of relatively few and very few kind of mainstream ones, it must make you mad to watch this.
HENNEBERGER: You think I‘m in the mainstream?
CARLSON: I think you‘re in the mainstream.
HENNEBERGER: I‘m amazed that he would think that no one would know that he and all of this people were on—completely on the record in support. Or—or is he saying that he didn‘t want to voice it? If he didn‘t want to, why?
CARLSON: Yes. Then it‘s almost—I mean, at that point, right, if he comes—the difference is immaterial. This confirms—or to me confirms my long-held theory that people scoff at that he‘s not an asset to her in the general election. He hurts her.
SCHEIBER: Yes, I don‘t think it‘s at all clear that he‘s an asset. I think, as this episode illustrates, one wrong step from Bill Clinton, which there have been a lot of lately, and all of the bad feelings from the ‘90~s come gushing back. This is the guy—this brings to mind his fame, his dictum that, well, I really opposed the first Gulf War. But had I been in the Senate, I would have probably supported it if the vote was close. The having it both ways, you know, the splitting of hairs, the parsing. It‘s all stuff that in your gut you say, oh, no, are we going to do this all over again? That‘s not a great thing for her campaign.
CARLSON: It‘s also just—it‘s just plain annoying. I guess that‘s
that‘s my own response to it. I never feel infuriated when I watch Hillary Clinton. I never do. I disagree with her, but I don‘t feel angered. When I hear somebody BSing me right to my face like that, it makes be grumpy.
Speaking of, Rudy Giuliani was at the center of a relatively small but I think important controversy yesterday when the “Politico” broke the story that he used policemen from New York City to accompany him to see his then-girlfriend Judith Nation in the Hamptons 11 times from 1999 to 2001, and charged the expenses of those trips to various minor agencies in New York City.
Here‘s his response; we‘re getting it now on tape. Here‘s former Mayor Giuliani‘s response to that story. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
GIULIANI: First of all, it‘s not true. I had 24-hour security for the eight years that I was mayor. They followed me every place I went. It was because there were, you know, threats. Threats that I don‘t generally talk about. Some have become public recently. Most of them haven‘t.
And they took care of me. And they put in their records. And they handled them in the way they handled them. I had nothing to do with the handling of their records. And they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: What‘s the untrue part? I don‘t want to be mean. I don‘t want to parse this too much, but what the hell? This is his official answer in a debate on television about a story that alleges essentially wrong-doing, or implies it anyway. What‘s not true?
HENNEBERGER: Here‘s the problem; maybe adultery is not what it used to be for a person in public office. But state-subsidized infidelity I think is something the voters are not in favor of.
CARLSON: So the sis—I think that‘s probably right. I‘m not sure. Maybe—it might be that any story that pertains to sex in 2007 and 2008, people put it in another category.
HENNEBERGER: But it brings back the whole thing about the Arkansas state troopers. That was a huge issue.
HENNEBERGER: And this is the exact same thing. This is using the government to subsidize your elicit sex life.
CARLSON: Is this a denial?
SCHEIBER: I think this is—this is not quite as bad as it looks. There‘s not that much new here. We knew he was having an affair. He did, you know—he‘s right that he did have 24-hour security. Those guys went with him wherever he was. I think, to me, the most disturbing this is the way they accounted for these expenses. They started putting them in the Loft Board and some disability fund; and there were all sorts of convoluted ways that they accounted for it.
You have to ask yourself, all right, if the tax payers are subsidizing your security, shouldn‘t they at least know what they‘re paying for?
CARLSON: I think that‘s right. I‘m not attacking the guy. I‘m not even alleging—I don‘t know if he was having an affair. I don‘t want to know. It‘s not my job to know that. I will say the most unpopular thing today though. I‘m not sure a mayor of even New York City deserves to have five, six, ten guys following him around like servants or a Praetorian guard all day long. He had threats against him. OK, but if you‘re going to sneak off, hop in your Subaru and do it ourself, buddy.
Does a mayor of even a big city have a right to have all these servants around all the time, or cops, or whatever they‘re called now?
HENNEBERGER: And this was before 9/11.
CARLSON: I don‘t know. Even after 9/11. I was in a restaurant in Washington two days ago and some minor official pulls up with two SUVs filled with guys with machine guns at a restaurant in Georgetown, the safest zip code in any American city. I mean, what is that? That‘s an abuse of power is what it is.
SCHEIBER: And however you feel about it, certainly the tax payers have a right to know they‘re paying for this, right? You should be at least transparent in letting them know that they‘re paying for these five guys going off to the Hamptons. It shouldn‘t be concealed from them.
CARLSON: People say Mitt Romney has changed his views on all kind of issues. A lot is made of that. Sometimes it‘s unfair. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt for sincere changes of heart and mind. However, sometimes it is instructive to take a look at where we came from. A rival campaign is sending around a flyer from Romney‘s 1994 run for the U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy, ill-fated of course.
It‘s this. We‘ll put this up on the screen. This is “Join Mitt and Kerry”—Kerry Healey, his running mate for the—oh, maybe this is a gubernatorial run—for the Pride Weekend, the Gay Pride Weekend. So once you have this out there, would you say—if you‘re Mitt Romney, what do you say about that?
HENNEBERGER: I‘d say this issue has been so out there for so long that either people care about it at this point or they don‘t. I mean, people know that he‘s changed his position on all these social issues. So I don‘t see what he can possibly do to answer that.
CARLSON: Well, you could—here‘s why I think this is interesting. You could say, well, I‘ve changed my view on abortion. I didn‘t used to think it was the taking of a human life. Now I do. A lot of people have changed—I‘ve changed my view. I came to that same conclusion myself. That‘s a sincere thing.
But how do you account for becoming more conservative on gay rights? That‘s a kind of hard thing. What, God told me that I shouldn‘t be for gay pride at that point? How do you account for that?
HENNEBERGER: And his answer on abortion, which is that he changed his mind three years ago as a result of the stem cell debate makes no sense.
CARLSON: It sends like BS. But I‘m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that. I don‘t understand how can you change your views on the gay subject? Where‘s the epiphany there?
HENNEBERGER: See, I thought the real loser last night was Rudy. I thought he looked worse than anyone because there he was saying things like, oh, Mitt, your sanctuary mansion. You know, is saying sanctuary mansion a line that‘s going to appeal to Republicans? Is calling Mitt holier-than-thou when maybe he needs to be appealing to a couple of people for whom holier-than-thou would be an insult.
CARLSON: I think many Americans aspire to sanctuary mansion. I don‘t know how far you get attacking sanctuary mansion. I agree with you. Fred Thompson‘s numbers—I like Fred Thompson, I‘ll say it. I like a laid back candidate. I like a lazy candidate. I have high hopes for Fred Thompson. I think he is a good guy. Take a look at his numbers in New Hampshire. This Suffolk University/WHDH poll just out. Mitt Romney, 34 percent -- this is in New Hampshire, again—Giuliani 20, McCain 13, Ron Paul at eight—good for him—Mike Huckabee at seven. Fred Thompson at two.
You‘ve been out there. Does this reflect your sense that people don‘t know who he is even?
SCHEIBER: It reflects my sense pretty much to the T. I think Fred Thompson had this conceit that he was going to run a new kind of campaign, which when translated meant he didn‘t have to campaign very hard. He didn‘t have to do all of the things that are tedious and time-consuming and really—you know, really make the process not so fun. Go to local parochial events and meet local officials.
He thought he would throw up some videos on Youtube and suddenly there would be this ground swell of support. That‘s just not how it works. Youtube, as important as it is, is not a substitute for getting out there, meeting people, warming up crowds, showing people that you really want the presidency.
CARLSON: So you really think that‘s it? It‘s actually a lack of effort or initiative that‘s dooming him, not a bad message?
SCHEIBER: No one is entitled to be president. And I think voters want to see you make the case as to why you should be president. And I think they picked up on this subtle vibe of entitlement from a guy who thought, well, he played some impressive parts on TV and—and looked the part; so maybe he would just come in and fill this vacuum because no one else was really up to it.
That‘s not a very winning posture, I think, for winning a nomination.
CARLSON: I think I was the only one who liked it. I thought anybody that laid back will not want to raise my kids for me or control my life. This is the perfect libertarian candidate. Do you agree that it‘s not the message that‘s flawed, but the way he presents it?
HENNEBERGER: I think his energy is so low. I think some of his statements that, you know, I don‘t have to be doing this. I could be making a lot more money mouthing somebody else‘s lines sounds very entitled.
CARLSON: I guess now that you put it that way, it does sound a little entitled. Boy, you just burst my bubble for me. Thank you both very much. I really appreciate it.
From roads to nowhere to a museum honoring Woodstock, what is your tax money paying for next? Our next guest exposes the worst pork-barrel spenders in Congress.
Plus, oh, how they grow. San Diego‘s famous panda reaches another major milestone. But MSNBC‘s vice president and chief baby Giant Panda correspondent Bill Wolff has a warning that you and your family cannot afford to miss. We‘re on your side on MSNBC.
CARLSON: When pollsters call, a lot of us claim to be Libertarians. Pave the roads and defend the country; that‘s what we say we want from our government. But the politicians who represent us either aren‘t listening or don‘t believe us, because every year they bring us more than we say we want, billions for every conceivable project from golf courses to shellfish research. And all of it paid for with billions and billions your tax dollars.
Every once in a while it is useful to learn exactly what those projects are and how much they cost. That is the job of our next guest, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste, Tom Schatz. Tom, thanks for joining us.
TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: Thank you.
CARLSON: You know, you produce these invaluable reports periodically
on what exactly our government is doing. The one that struck me this time
we‘re going to put part of it up on the screen. This is from Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina; three million dollars for a golf course or something of that effect that will, quote, impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities, educational programs that promote character development and life enhancing values through the game of golf.
There‘s got to be more to it than that. Is there?
SCHATZ: It‘s actually worse than what you‘ve just said.
SCHATZ: This money is in the defense. This is called the First Tee Program.
SCHATZ: In the military, right. There is a little background. In past years, 4.5 million dollars added for the First Tee Program for civilian purposes. Now another three million for defense. And Congressman Clyburn was made the porker of the month for this month for this project. He defended himself by saying, I put it in. It was added in conference. He tried to get into the original bill in the House. And he actually called us bullies on another show, saying that we‘re trying to make this into a big deal.
This is just how the process works and he wanted this. He claims it‘s to help the children of our military to learn how to play golf. And by the way, it will make them into generals and, you know, military personnel. It will teach them character. I don‘t know who‘s gone from golf to being a general. Usually that‘s basic training or OCS or something like that.
But this has been his excuse. He‘s the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives and this is what he‘s defending.
CARLSON: Majority whip, I believe.
SCHATZ: Yes. Defending in front of the entire country, saying we needed it.
CARLSON: So we‘re going to be safer from the threat posed by al Qaeda when we play more golf?
SCHATZ: Right. This is a 60 million dollar non-profit organization, 60 million dollars a year, sponsored by numerous Fortune 500 companies, all the major golf associations.
CARLSON: That‘s unbelievable.
SCHATZ: This was, again, after the House and Senate passed their bills. This is what he saw as essential to defending our nation.
CARLSON: What is else in the defense bill?
SCHATZ: Oh, there‘s all kinds of projects. Senator Stevens, once again—
CARLSON: Republican of Alaska.
SCHATZ: Right. He has this high-active—it‘s a rural research program, trying to capture energy from the northern lights, lighting up the ionosphere, trying to improve communications. Millions and millions of dollars, some 60 or 70 million dollars for that project over the years. Overall, 6.6 billion dollars in defense, more than 2,000 projects. Now, there‘s some good news. That‘s less than last year, which was about 10.8 billion.
And strangely, the Democrats are making some progress in reducing the number and amounts of earmarks. But they‘re still spending more than the president asked, and that‘s really the big fight.
CARLSON: When you confront—I‘m interested, when you come out with a press release that says, Congressman Clyburn, number three Democrat in the House, wants three million dollars to help people play golf, does his office respond to that? Does he—do members seem embarrassed when Ted Stevens is caught putting money toward these ludicrous research projects? Are they embarrassed? Do they apologize? Do they explain themselves? Do they just ignore you?
SCHATZ: No, this time he went on, as I said, another show and said this was something that I thought was necessary. We had to add it. The military deserves some recreation. He neglected to talk about the Moral Welfare Recreation Fund that exists for the purpose. He said softball, baseball, they‘re all funded. The difference is those projects were added before the conference. They were for by the Pentagon.
They have, obviously, recreation. They deserve to have recreation. But this project, non-profit organization, has nothing to do with the military, nothing to do with security. And it‘s been in before and it shouldn‘t be in any of these bills. They can do it on their own if they‘d like.
CARLSON: And we wouldn‘t know about it if it weren‘t for you. I really appreciate it. Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. Thank you. Laying awake at night trying to save us money as we sleep. Thanks.
The paparazzi follows Britney Spears everywhere she goes, even to the last place in the world you would expect to find her, a book store. What was she doing there? Only our Britney Spears expert knows for sure. He joins us next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. We know you‘re Jonesing for it, today‘s Britney Spears disaster update. Bill Wolff is here to bring it to us.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: I‘d like to get to that in a moment. First, I want to know why you hate golf. Come on.
CARLSON: It‘s not that I hate golf.
WOLFF: It‘s a Second-Amendment right.
CARLSON: Is that what it is? I‘ve got to read that Bill of Rights again. It‘s been a long time.
WOLFF: Children can learn how to curse and become extremely frustrated and break metal clubs over their knees.
CARLSON: And neglect their families and become obsessive and crazy.
WOLFF: Exactly. And where is this country going if our children don‘t learn that early, Tucker? That‘s why it‘s worth a government grant. Let‘s get to the Britney. There‘s more to Ms. Britney Spears than meets the eye. What meets the eye is plenty. Last night in Los Angeles, Britney showed off her love of reading when she stopped by a local book store. A horde of pitiful paparazzi in tow. She toured the aisles through the classics.
There‘s Hemingway. Past modern literature. Henry Miller. Down the history and biography shelves to stacks of foreign language and self help. You could practically see her absorbing all of that information without even picking up a book. Now, once she‘d been sufficiently edified, her natural intellectual curiosity satisfied, Britney got what she really came for. If we can just keep watching, where is she heading there? Through the book store door. She turned in her library card because she found out at the library, they don‘t have lattes, Tucker.
She got a cup of coffee. She went to the book store, she marched everybody around. She looked at all of the titles on the shelves and then she got a cup of coffee in one of those big glasses with the rounded off top and lots of whipped cream. That‘s why Britney goes to the book store, Tucker.
CARLSON: Here‘s a sincere question, Bill. Is that all that happened?
All of those photographers were just following her around for nothing?
WOLFF: Yes, that‘s all that happened. All that happened? She walked up this aisle, then that aisle. Then she hugged a guy and went through a door and she got a cup of coffee. Come on, man.
CARLSON: Breaking news.
WOLFF: That‘s a whole day‘s worth of Britney news. But it‘s not the only Britney news we have for you, Tucker. Bonus, shame on this program and this reporter specifically for doubting the reportage of the very fine “In Touch Magazine.” IT, as it‘s not very widely called, is sticking with its story that Britney Spears is pregnant with the child of some guy named J.R. Rodum (ph).
“In Touch” boasts the photographic evidence—there it is—of the text message that appears to be from Mr. Rodum confirming the news. We call that single-source reporting, but what a source it is. That bastion of big J journalism they are; that‘s in touch.
Now, we reported that Britney‘s chief hanger-on, someone called Sam Lufdie (ph) texted his own message to Ryan Seacrest that the story just wasn‘t true and reports that Britney had undergone liposuction two weeks ago appeared to do more damage to “In Touch‘s” ace reporting. We do have something of a stand off here. The button line, you can take this to the bank, Britney Spears is either pregnant or she‘s not. Tucker?
CARLSON: But not by a man named Rodum. That‘s an elaborate—I mean, that‘s a prank, a hoax. I mean, come on. J.T. Rodum?
CARLSON: Doesn‘t seem real, does it? I‘m going to leave it alone because I‘m in management. Now, a happy story, Tucker, of a boy and his best friend; at least it‘s happy for now. The boy, who lives in Cambodia, enjoys an inter species bound with a~ 20-foot python. There they are together doing what children and voracious prehistoric reptiles have been doing since the dawn of time, relaxing after vigorous games of hop-scotch and pick-up sticks.
Tucker, I‘m neither a child psychologist, nor a herpetologist, nor a parent, but I have concerns. Not a big fan of snakes, Tucker, particularly near small children.
CARLSON: Yes, that can‘t end well. By the way, I heard that you were a herpetologist.
CARLSON: No, that is a salacious rumor that is simply not true. And I have the text messages to prove it. Now we have giant baby panda news for you. And a baby giant panda in San Diego is one step closer to being a terrifying beast today. That‘s Zhen Zhen, the pride of the San Diego Zoo. Here we see that darling beast taking its first step.
It wasn‘t long before Zhen Zhen was up and running around and veterinarians took the opportunity to give that little beast another check-up and a fresh round of vaccinations. Now it won‘t be long before this cutie is full-sized and so vicious and hungry that she‘ll be isolated in a pen and separated from adoring and unsuspecting humans by a tall fence and a deep mote.
That, Tucker, is because cute little baby giant pandas grow up to be giant pandas, whose instinct it is to mall and consume adoring and unsuspecting humans. Enjoy Zhen Zhen while you can before Zhen Zhen gets a hankering to enjoy you.
CARLSON: That‘s quite a grim way to look at it.
WOLFF: Pandas are ratings gold. I‘m not going to lie to you. Everybody loves pandas. But I think it‘s a fraud perpetrated on the American people. They‘re cute, and then they want to eat your innards, Tucker. I‘m on that campaign, buddy. I started it. I‘m going to finish it.
Finally, I want to update you on a story we brought you yesterday. It had to do with exercises. If we can go to the video now, you will remember this gentleman was working out and then—whoa, that happened. Fell over on the thing, the guy drops the—you may remember this video. There the guy is. Here‘s the update. The video is still hilarious.
CARLSON: Thank you, Bill. Waste not, want not. We‘ll play it again. Bill Wolff at headquarters. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris. We‘ll be back tomorrow. Have a great night.
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