TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Hillary Clinton machine reprograms itself to show the human side of Hillary. Mr. Self-Restraint himself, Mitt Romney, weeps in public for the third time. The contest to be most human is on.
Welcome to the show.
The three current strategies of the Clinton campaign appear to be, A, attempt character assassination of Barack Obama, B, sell Hillary as an agent of change, and C, portray Hillary as a regular person. But it‘s not so simple. First of all regular people don‘t walk into grocery stores and feign jump shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2008 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: It‘s easy to talk about myself. I‘d rather talk about magic. You know? But I think that by having people who have known me and who can talk about, you know, what I do when the lights are off, when the cameras are gone, what I do when I meet some mom who has a sick child and I do everything in my power to try to help or a family stranded because of Katrina, and the failure of our government to help, maybe that will give a little bit of insight that will kind of round out who I am as a person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: In a moment, does the race for president boil down to a race for who is the best human being? Is that a race Hillary can win? If not, who will?
Also today, Bill Clinton has another amazing quote to his expanding repertoire of this campaign. This time the former president told reporters in South Carolina that a future Hillary Clinton presidency would dispatch both him and the first President Bush across the globe to help repair this country‘s image abroad. Did Bill ask Hillary before he announced this plan? Did either of them talk to former President Bush? More of Bill‘s excellent misadventures ahead.
And another former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee mixes an overtly Christian message into the slew of campaign ads bombarding the airwaves of Iowa. Critics across the philosophical spectrum cry foul but if Huckabee‘s season‘s greetings complete with “Silent Night” on soundtrack trumped his rivals for political effect? We‘ll show you the ad in a minute and let you decide.
We begin with the action on the campaign trail and the concerted effort by top contenders to make themselves more personable. Joining me now is the man behind the fix, possibly “The Washington Post‘s” best political blog, he‘s Chris Cillizza. He‘s got a piece today about the campaign to humanize Hillary Clinton.
Chris, thanks for coming on.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Possibly the best blog?
CARLSON: I‘m trying to be diplomatic. Who are the other guys I know who blog for your paper?
So you had the good fortune of sitting in on a focus group of Democratic voters taking a look at Hillary Clinton‘s performance during the last debate. Now I want to put up the screen some of the comments that you heard because I think they‘re revealing. They were—these are first impressions of Mrs. Clinton by Democrats - “can‘t be trusted, very good at saying what she thinks we want to hear,” and my personal favorite, “I got a glimpse that she‘s got an evil side to her.”
Your conclusion: she is widely respected but not widely liked. Why?
CILLIZZA: You know, people seem to have this very deeply held impression that I don‘t know whether it‘s about facts or whether it‘s about perception but it‘s clearly very deeply held that Senator Clinton is someone who is immensely bright, immensely knowledgeable on the issues, very credible on the issues, but not someone they warm up to, not someone they like, and I think the Clinton campaign, to their credit from the very beginning, has been aware of this.
Remember, Tucker, when she announced, “Let‘s have a conversation. I‘m the most famous person no one knows,” they were trying to get at that to warm her up. They went away from it, I think, for many months during the campaign. They‘re back to it as they try and close the deal in Iowa trying to sell her as a real person.
There is a reason that in these ads now you see her mother and her daughter appearing in the ads. They‘re trying to say, look, she‘s just like you. They‘re trying to get back to that rhetoric and that logic. The question is, is that deep-seated belief people have that, yes, I respect her but, no, I don‘t like her, can that be dislodged by 2,000 or 3,000 television ads or can it not? I mean we‘re going to find out the answer one way or another.
CARLSON: We are. It strikes me as kind of counterproductive. I actually think Hillary Clinton is more likeable than people think she is and her likeable qualities are her humor, her toughness. She‘s got a good wit. It‘s trying too hard that wrecks it.
There is a new Web site that which we spent a lot of time on it, the Hillary I Know. And it‘s a series of one-camera interviews with many of her staffers, her friends, childhood friends, over soft music. You hear from her pastor, Ed Matthews, who says things like, quote, “Hillary knows her scripture. She was a guest preacher in pulpits all over Arkansas.”
That‘s where Hillary comes from. Now that‘s such—I mean she was a guest preacher? Is that going to work?
CILLIZZA: I mean I think all of this, the new Web site, Bill Clinton, the former president, sent out something saying that, you know, she was the warmest person who had the most empathy towards other people that he‘s ever met. All of this is of a piece. They are trying to reach—they know they‘re not going to reach every undecided voter or every voter who has reservations about her in Iowa. They know they‘re not going to convince all of these people. There‘s no way that they could. As I said, some of these feelings about her are held so deeply, it‘d been held for more than a decade, almost two decades now. That‘s not going to change.
They are trying to reach that segment of voters, and I think, frankly, many of them are women who are on the fence about her. They want to support her because she is a woman, because this would be a historic choice, but they just don‘t feel a real connection to her.
You know, just one quick thing. In polling that I‘ve seen and in “The Washington Post‘s” own polling, Hillary Clinton does extremely well among women generally. What‘s her weakest group of women when you do age groups? Her contemporaries.
CILLIZZA: And that‘s fascinating. You would think her contemporaries would be the people who have weathered all of these various glass ceilings in their lives and would be the most supportive, but they see her as too manipulative, too conniving, too plotting, whereas the younger women see her in an iconic role. Well, the Clintons are trying to close that gap and win over some of those women. It‘s going to be really close in Iowa so 1,000 votes here or there really matters.
CARLSON: Here‘s the kind of macro question I‘ve been pondering all day. If this is a race about who is the best human being, and that‘s clearly what—the direction she‘s trying to take it in the last couple of days, can she ever win that, A? B, does Hillary Clinton really want to open up a new conversation about her own life choices? It seems to me that‘s not a conversation they want to have and it‘s not a conversation that is going to help her.
CILLIZZA: Well, Tucker, I‘ve been looking at this race for a while. It‘s a head versus heart battle. The head, the electability argument, the who‘s the most prepared for this, that‘s Hillary and always has been.
CILLIZZA: The heart is Barack Obama. You don‘t hear Hillary Clinton‘s campaign being compared to John F. Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy. There‘s a reason for that. Obama is the charisma, the hope, the heart. Hillary is never going to be the heart candidate, just as Barack Obama will never likely be the head candidate. But what each of their challenges is to try and dip from that other pool.
Hillary can‘t win with just head voters. People don‘t vote because they feel obligated to vote for you. They want to feel like they are voting for something larger. She needs to convince a group to do that. Obama, on the other hand, people already feel like they are voting for a movement, but they don‘t want to feel as though they‘re voting for someone who isn‘t ready for the job.
CILLIZZA: So he has to convince the head, she has to convince the heart, neither are going to convince everybody in that other group. But they got it—whoever convinces more, I think, is the one who winds up winning.
CARLSON: Give me your 20-second answer to this question. Mitt Romney cried or teared up for the third time in recent days during a speech recently. I‘m wondering is there a large demographic out there that likes it when men cry in public?
CILLIZZA: You know, Tucker, I don‘t know the polling on that so I don‘t want to get into the scientific element of it.
Here‘s what I do think about Romney, though. The criticism that you usually hear of him, he‘s extremely charismatic, but people think he‘s too robotic. They can‘t trust him because he comes across as too much of a used car salesman. Again, if you can show your human side, “Things have hurt me. I‘ve had tough things happen in my life. I‘m not perfect.”
We are a culture that likes that and we want to empathize with our politicians in some way. We want to put them on a pedestal but we also want to feel like they have a trace of humanity in them that we can identify with, and so I think that‘s what that is about but, well, obviously, you know, that doesn‘t work for you.
CARLSON: No, it‘s more baby boomer sentimentality and the one candidate in this race who actually has suffered in a real way, John McCain, also happens to be the least likely to cry. I mean, I just feel like, you know what? I don‘t want to vote for a guy who watches Meg Ryan movies. Maybe that‘s just me.
CILLIZZA: No crying in politics.
CARLSON: No crying in politics. Chris Cillizza, I really appreciate it. Thank you.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton says former president George H.W. Bush will also have a role in Hillary Clinton‘s White House to help clean up his son‘s mess.
Plus, there‘s a new sparring team in Iowa at the moment. John Edwards and Barack Obama. They‘re going after each other now. Why? And does it help Hillary Clinton?
You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton says Hillary Clinton‘s top priority as president will be to repair the damage done to America‘s reputation. Bill says he‘s up for it but is former President Bush really onboard? We‘ll tell you. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: They‘ve worked together to help everybody from the victims of the tsunami to those left behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But is President Bush 41 ready to join forces once again with Bill Clinton to help Hillary Clinton?
Well, Bill Clinton seems to think so responding to a reporter‘s question about Hillary‘s number one priority. The former president said today she would send the two former leaders of the free world around the world to establish goodwill toward the U.S. As far as we know no word yet on whether Bush Sr. is onboard.
Joining me now, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May.
Welcome. Before you go, I just cannot resist throwing up the greatest line today. I read it on “The Hill‘s” pundit‘s blog.
CLIFF MAY, FDN. FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: The greatest line.
CARLSON: .written by someone called A.B. Stoddard, and I‘m quoting now, this is about the reintroduction of Hillary to voters as a decent person. “Hillary has launched her people-like-me tour, traveling the state with her husband and old friends,” were telling audiences about, quote, “The Hillary I know,” which would be, I guess, the one we don‘t know.
MAY: That‘s right.
CARLSON: I‘m not going to make you comment on your own piece.
Bill Clinton seems to kind of—have gone off the deep end a little bit. Can no one rein him in?
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: I want to be a fly on the wall when he and George Herbert Walker Bush get on the phone after he has these moments. I mean it‘s crazy that Bush wouldn‘t be calling him and saying, “You can‘t talk like this.” I mean, “We‘re friends and all but it stops at a certain point.”
I think that it‘s not—I wouldn‘t call it freelancing so much because Hillary said something just like this. She was going to send—dispatch these envoys around the world to correct every wrong before inauguration day.
CARLSON: No, but it‘s the idea that Hillary Clinton, who is running against George W. Bush, would enlist the aid of Bush‘s father to help her. I mean it‘s like, is Jeb Bush going to be the education secretary? And what is Laura Bush‘s role going to be in the Hillary White House? Do you know?
MAY: I guess that she will stay home and then talk to Hillary and they‘ll say, “What do you think they‘re doing tonight in Paris?”
CARLSON: It‘s so demented.
MAY: And Hillary would say, “I can‘t get through to him. Can you get through to Bush? Yes, I can. Is he out for a run? I don‘t know. Where is he in Paris?” Also, I mean, “We‘re getting along well with Sarko in France. We‘re getting along very well with Angela Merkel in Germany.” Where are they going to send these two to maybe see Ahmadinejad in Tehran?
Who are they going to make things up to at this point?
CARLSON: That‘s an excellent question. But did this all—well, speaking of foreign countries and, you know, hereditary monarchies, I mean, this just reminds people that it‘s just another Bush, more Clinton—Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. I mean we fought a war to get rid of this. American is for this again?
MAY: Oh, dear.
STODDARD: I think that—I think that they like to—I mean I think that obviously, President Clinton really values this friendship that he has and I think he likes to throw it around. I think he likes to—everyone likes to have important friends and, you know, it shows he‘s bipartisan and everything. But it‘s just very awkward. He—it was such a misstatement. And again, I am sure they are good enough friends that President Bush I is going to have to call him on the phone and say don‘t talk this way.
CARLSON: But it‘s one in a series of misstatements. And look, we all make misstatements, but former President Clinton has made a lot of them recently and they‘ve all hurt, I think, have hurt his wife. And yet now he‘s out there campaigning with her. He‘s on the phone trying to get Al Sharpton‘s support, which he‘s not going to get, by the way, I predict. It all looks like desperation to me on the part of the Clintons.
MAY: And maybe he‘s campaigning with her because so she wants to keep him on a pretty short leash for a while, at least so she‘ll know what it is he‘s saying.
CARLSON: Yes. Well, it‘s interesting how the joke about Clinton. I mean nobody has even talked—you know, Clinton‘s sex life, whatever it is, is not even a topic of conversation. It‘s Clinton‘s endless non-sequesters and, you know, bump message.
MAY: Can‘t you see the base movie they could make on George Bush and Bill Clinton tooling around the world together like in a Route 66. Maybe have a corvette, they can go across Europe, you know?
CARLSON: But would it be wise if you‘re Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, why would you want more of Bill Clinton since he‘s detracted from her message of the day again and again and again on the past months.
STODDARD: I really, I mean, I think that he needs to be contained. He needs to be—he needs some discipline. He‘s uncorked. Something is going wrong. He‘s panicking. But at the same time they‘ve really acknowledged now, after almost a whole year of this candidacy that he‘s really the best they‘ve got. I mean, so many people have come to her because of her husband. And we were talking I think last week about polls that show that she has half her support she‘s won on her own and the other half she‘s won because of her husband.
I mean, where would she be without it? In Iowa she‘s counting 60 percent of her support in Iowa is from nontraditional caucus goers. She is scraping in some places.
CARLSON: Then her candidacy confuses me.
STODDARD: And she camped on Bill.
CARLSON: I can‘t decide whether she‘s running as his wife, running as her own person. You point this out in your blog today. Is she moderate? Is she liberal? Is she pro-war? Is she anti-war? I mean I don‘t know what the narrative is anymore.
MAY: Well, as a Clinton, she is trying to have it all ways. I think that is the Clintonian view of things. And I think, as you say, Bill Clinton is her biggest asset and her biggest liability.
MAY: And you can see that from the way people respond to her and you can see that from the polls. She is a uniter, not a divider, of Republicans. The fact of the matter is that Republicans—even though she is more conservative than Barack Obama or John Edwards.
MAY: .Republicans oppose her with greater intensity. That‘s just the truth.
CARLSON: Well, I think she‘s actually better than her husband campaigning. I know nobody agrees with me. I think he should go away, go back to the Caymans or wherever.
Mike Huckabee wishes Iowa voters a merry Christmas. Well, sitting next to a Christmas tree and what appears to be a cross, horror of horrors, right behind him. Some are offended by this. Should they be?
Plus, Barack Obama gets a backhanded compliment from a Hillary supporter. Is it part of a smear campaign?
This is MSNBC. We‘re back in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MIKE HUCKABEE‘S POLITICAL AD)
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, 2008 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Are you about worn out of all the television commercials you‘ve been seeing, mostly about politics? I don‘t blame you. At this time of the year, sometimes it‘s nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is a celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and our friends. I hope that you and your family will have a magnificent Christmas season. And on behalf of all of us, God bless and merry Christmas.
I‘m Mike Huckabee and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: He‘s not exactly the Ghost of Christmas Past but did you see a cross floating behind past Mike Huckabee in that new ad? In the ad, Huckabee foregoes politics to wish Iowans a merry Christmas. Clever advertising? A message to Christian conservatives?
Here again, the associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard, and the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May.
Cliff, lots of people offended by this. This is the mark of the coming theocracy according to many critics. Is it?
MAY: Well, I saw the cross but did you not see the halo also?
MAY: Was that just me? No, listen, I think it‘s a very clever commercial. I think he delivers it wonderfully well. I think it is beyond reproach but it is—it cleverly gets at people like Mitt Romney, doesn‘t it? I mean, it says, “I‘m the Christian candidate.”
CARLSON: I think it does.
MAY: I think it does but I think it does so in such a clever way it is beyond real reproach and I think it‘s just clever and he has run a clever campaign. I think—where I think he falls down for someone like me is if you read his article on foreign policy magazine and see how little he knows about foreign affairs and some of the things he says that are really kind of disturbing.
But as a campaigner and as a maker of commercials, I can‘t fault him.
CARLSON: You don‘t care about the rest of the world anymore. I mean that‘s over.
CARLSON: That‘s over, Cliff. Haven‘t you seen the polls?
MAY: I don‘t think he knows much more than Dana Perino does about what happened in Cuba in the 1960s. Poor Dana.
CARLSON: That was (INAUDIBLE). That was horrifying.
MAY: That is unfair. And MSNBC just keeps bouncing on (INAUDIBLE) now.
CARLSON: Well, it is embarrassing anyway. He had a great line, A.B., when this ad was being deconstructed. It‘s not a cross behind him. Is this really an attack on Romney? And he said, if you play the spot backwards you can hear “Paul is dead, Paul is dead, Paul is dead,” like the Beatles album.
STODDARD: I agree with Cliff. I think it‘s beyond reproach because who‘s going to bust on Christmas. I mean you can say you‘re micro targeting and everything. But how do you bust on a merry Christmas ad? I mean I think it‘s hard to do.
But beyond that I think that what‘s really interesting about this whole thing with the ad is that Mike Huckabee is just—he‘s really confident and he‘s not at all afraid to be—he doesn‘t feel he needs to be conventional. He doesn‘t feel he needs to avoid any potential conflict about the Mormon thing versus—I mean he just cut a Christmas ad in a red sweater and it‘s really hokey in a lot of ways.
But you know what? It works. And he has a big smile on his face and he can make jokes about the cross in the background. But the point is, the guy has guts and he‘s really—he‘s not afraid to be himself and he‘s not afraid to be funny. He‘s not afraid to be forward and I think that it‘s just—I think it‘s one more notch in his belt frankly as it...
CARLSON: You will also notice—we were just playing with the sound off and if you—you were in the media for a long time. You watch that ad, you see his head movements, the way each word is punctuated by—this guy is a broadcaster basically.
MAY: He‘s a preacher.
CARLSON: Like he knows how to communicate. Now I work in TV. I‘m not as good as he is at all by doing that.
MAY: He is. He is a very good communicator. He‘s very comfortable at being himself. I think I‘m still (INAUDIBLE), maybe, but in a way if you look at Hillary who we were about talking earlier, and you look at Huckabee, they‘re polar opposites. He plays himself the way Cary Grant plays himself and it‘s a wonderfully interesting character. And Hillary is always looking for what part am I playing now? Am I the preacher? Am I the politician? Am I the mother? Am I the feminist? Whom I today?
And his appeal, I think, is largely on he is who he is and he‘s a likeable guy and he‘s a smart guy and he‘s a religious guy and it‘s worked wonderfully well for him.
CARLSON: Didn‘t she play the tough, funny chick?
MAY: You know what? At the end of the day, she shouldn‘t—I see what you‘re saying. But my argument would be.
CARLSON: I think that‘s her.
MAY: At the end of the day I don‘t—acting is harder than it looks.
MAY: .if you want to be Lon Cheney, if you want to be Robert De Niro, most people cannot play a lot of parts.
CARLSON: That‘s true.
MAY: At the end of the day you need to be comfortable with who you are and project just who you are and not try to do anything else.
CARLSON: And you don‘t think she‘s the tough, funny chick. Maybe I‘ve been giving her too much credit?
STODDARD: If she is behind closed doors, she‘s not enough to be that person before everybody. I mean she—then why isn‘t she with everybody else? I don‘t.
CARLSON: Because she‘s in herself and there‘s a great rap on this. She‘s written about it for the (INAUDIBLE) pretty extensively because she believes that her true self and her true ideas are deeply unpopular with the American public. That‘s the lesson of being a lefty during the baby boom generation. She‘s hiding who she really is and that‘s why she‘s different from Barack Obama who‘s just kind of out there. He is who he is. I mean like him or not, he‘s not a phony.
And I think actually Hillary Clinton is probably more appealing than she seems. Not that that‘s hard.
STODDARD: Well, if she does some things and she‘s hiding it, that‘s a real problem. The problem is that people at the end of the day really genial. They really go for affable.
CARLSON: Yes, they do.
STODDARD: And it‘s a huge deal for Mike Huckabee will be a problem for Hillary Clinton if she‘s nominated against anybody. People don‘t like feeling that you‘re uncomfortable in your skin. It makes them uncomfortable.
CARLSON: I agree with that cheery the way to go.
MAY: Think of Bob Dole. Bob Dole was not very likeable as a candidate. He didn‘t become likeable until he started doing Viagra ads.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
MAY: And then people felt they knew who he was and they like him.
CARLSON: That is not an option available to Hillary.
CARLSON: But I kind of see the point.
Hillary Clinton says she‘s the Democrats‘ best chance for winning the White House. New polls, however, tell a different story.
Plus, Bill Clinton has money tied up in accounts in the Cayman Islands but, wait a second. Didn‘t his own wife say she wants to close the loopholes and let people store money in offshore accounts? The confusion continues. Luckily, we‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Still to come, which candidate, Hillary, Obama, John Edwards, fares better in a head-to-head match-up with the Republicans? You may think you know the answer. We have the actual answer coming up.
But First here‘s a look at the headlines.
CARLSON: Not a ton of Republicans like Hillary Clinton. In fact, many loathe and fear her. But are those fears misplaced? But consider this. In a “USA Today”-Gallup poll out today suggest that Mrs. Clinton is a less formidable opponent than Barack Obama would be. Could it be that Hillary Clinton is actually the Republican Party‘s best bet to keep the White House?
Back again, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Cliff May.
Cliff, here are the numbers. “USA Today”-Gallup poll out today, who does best, Barack Obama against Rudy Giuliani, 51 to 45, against Huckabee 53 to 42, against Mitt Romney, a blow-out, 57 to 39. All speculative.
Fascinating, though, that he is winning. The key question who‘s more electable? He‘s beating Hillary on that question.
MAY: Yes, and if you talk certainly privately to Republican strategists, they‘ll all tell you, “We much prefer to go against Hillary at this point than up against Obama. Why? Because our people know Hillary. Hillary energizes our people. They‘ll get out to the polls. Obama is still a mystery. No one knows who he is. He is a change agent. He can credibly claim that and they might find him likeable. They‘re not going to find Hillary likeable.” So, yes, I would say most Republicans under waterboarding would tell you that they‘d rather have.
CARLSON: Under waterboarding.
MAY: They‘ll tell you the truth they‘d rather have Hillary than Obama for a candidate.
CARLSON: I mean that‘s so interesting. Can we say you‘re a great predictor, I will say. A.B.?
CARLSON: Yes, no, you are, you are.
STODDARD: I don‘t have a prediction.
CARLSON: Don‘t spoil it by disagreeing and giving counter evidence.
OK? You are an oracle. And given that, we know that, do you think it‘s—
I mean Barack Obama at this point could get the nomination. If Democrats think he‘s the most likely to win, why couldn‘t he get the nomination?
STODDARD: OK. If it happened I would back track and say this is how it happened. OK? How about that?
CARLSON: OK. That‘s very wise.
STODDARD: If he does well in Iowa and John Edwards does as well, the point where she has a real, you know, defeat there and New Hampshire‘s only five days away. New Hampshire is a place where a lot of Republican leading anti-war independents will likely vote for Barack Obama. They will not likely vote for Hillary Clinton. I think in the primary states once he gets to South Carolina he‘d probably clean up, if he had those two.
I also think that generally speaking the supporters of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are excited. They‘re going to get in the car. They‘re going to get there in the snow. If you‘re backing Hillary Clinton, you might not put as much into it because she‘s kind of this semi-incumbent. It‘s different. If you‘re part of the Barack Obama.
STODDARD: .movement, they‘ve told you that you‘d better get there or, you know, it‘s all going to end.
CARLSON: You mean you‘re not just doing it at gunpoint.
STODDARD: And so now, there‘s looming questions like the Edwards saturation of rural Iowa and that could really—I mean I don‘t know what‘s going to happen to Barack Obama in Iowa. I think Hillary still has a chance there. But I think it‘s—if it went well for him there, it‘s what would unfold in the weeks to come with the closeness of the calendar, the excitement he could generate, and her reaction and Bill‘s reaction.
They would have to be so stoic and so steady to stay on message and stay on the term offensive and stay on the readiness message and not panic which is what they‘ve been doing for six weeks because it will just mess her up further.
CARLSON: It will be so fun to watch.
What do you make of this report in “The New York Times” today, Cliff, that Obama and Edwards to this point have been pretty much united against Hillary Clinton. That‘s been the subtext, I think, of both their campaigns. Sniping at each other. You know, who‘s taking the stand against the special interests? Who is not? What would the purpose of that be tactically?
MAY: To let that out, to let that to “The New York Times”?
CARLSON: To snipe at each other.
MAY: Well, I can see from John Edwards‘s point of view because really he‘s fighting for second place, isn‘t he? And so he kind of has to bring Obama down if he wants to challenge Hillary. It‘s sort of working your way up to the championship level and so far, I mean, Edwards has been pretty consistently in third place. I mean he‘s been, you know, he‘s been in the race but he‘s very much been in third place. And he needs to get Obama out of the way and it‘s getting harder, not easier, because Obama is now seen more and more, I think, you tell me if I‘m wrong, a Hillary-Obama race and we‘re kind of forgetting about John Edwards increasingly.
STODDARD: Yes. But I think in Iowa, there is a problem for Obama as I mentioned before. John Edwards has spent a lot of time there. And I don‘t know all these Iowa caucus rules for the people that do say that.
CARLSON: Well, there are only about six people.
STODDARD: .with all these mathematical equations right—someone who‘s really saturated the rural areas like John Edwards has, is really in a position to do well and if you don‘t make a good showing around the 15 percent mark, et cetera, I think that Barack Obama is worried about John Edwards snipping at his heels. (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: Well, he ought to be worried because the guy with the young support, whose supporters, I mean I think the average age of the Democratic Iowa caucus goers in the 50s. OK? Not many young people go into these things and young people tend not to go to these things.
CARLSON: I want to get to the bottom of this Bob Kerrey apparent attack on Obama. First it was—he says to reporters after endorsing Hillary Clinton the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, his father was a Muslim, his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. So he says he means this as a compliment. Then the next day he goes on CNN and he says some people say he‘s the, quote, “Islamic Manchurian candidate who went to a secular madrassa.”
Why the hell would you bring that up unless you wanted to reinforce in voters‘ minds, this guy is a Muslim? Osama Obama, get it?
MAY: Well, that‘s clearly what he wants to do. This is very.
CARLSON: You think there is no question.
MAY: No question in mind. This is clever and Clintonian, a way to bring down to Obama. To say to people—those who could say that he a Manchurian candidate, I don‘t agree with that. If a Republican said any of the things Bob Kerrey said, if Rush Limbaugh had said the things Bob Kerrey said, you‘d have 10 days of stories about how awful and racist and phobic they were.
But Kerrey has cleverly gotten us by saying, “I don‘t agree with those people. I think it‘s wonderful his middle name is Hussein.”
CARLSON: He went to a secular madrassa. I thought.
MAY: I don‘t know what a secular madrassa is, by the way.
CARLSON: Well, there is no such thing as a secular madrassa.
MAY: And once I say the word madrassa, and—the Islamic Manchurian candidate. That is an amazing line. And I think it‘s—no, I think Bob Kerrey is a smart guy. He knows exactly what he‘s doing.
CARLSON: I feel like I‘m the only person who cares about this, who‘s noticed this story. It has been nowhere. Why is this.
STODDARD: Oh, no, no, no, no.
MAY: Laura Ingraham—wait, I got to give Laura Ingraham credit.
CARLSON: Look, Laura.
MAY: She was laughing over this hysterically this morning on her show.
STODDARD: I mentioned it in my blog yesterday.
CARLSON: But why.
STODDARD: This is the deal. This is the deal. It‘s—I think if it came out of nowhere it would be one thing. Bob Kerrey, as we all concur, is a smart man. But it was right after the drug story with Billy Shaheen.
MAY: Yes. Yes. That‘s right. That‘s right.
STODDARD: He‘s being—stepping down from his co-chair role in New Hampshire. It‘s right after they were saying, oh, we didn‘t mean to throw that cocaine—whoops - story, you know?
CARLSON: OK. Because you know.
STODDARD: The problem is it‘s part of—if they were—if they had given up that habit and he was coming into the big endorsement announcement, it would be the last thing he would do.
STODDARD: And so.
CARLSON: And he‘s so unbelievably sleazy like it—it‘s so sleazy you can‘t even believe it‘s actually happening.
MAY: Right. But it actually is very smart because he‘s gotten these ideas out into the discourse. There‘s not a whole lot of complaints about him. He needs to—the Clinton campaign needs to raise Obama‘s negatives and frankly Hillary and Bill better not do it because they‘ll raise their own at the same time.
MAY: So the way you do it is the cleverest way you could come up with. I can‘t think of a better way. If somebody like Bob Kerrey goes out and says, “I hope people don‘t think there‘s some problem because his middle name is Hussein.”
CARLSON: You just wonder what Bob Kerrey gets out of it since he, you know, he‘s a well respected guy. A lot of people, even Republicans, like the guy. He‘s smart. He‘s the recipient of the medal of honor, he was a college president. Why does he need to shill for Hillary in a way that is divisive and nasty and frankly kind of repulsive? I don‘t understand why.
STODDARD: Well, you want to think that it‘s not true. But I just feel like when they want to send a message, they know how to give someone a message.
CARLSON: I guess.
MAY: Politicians can do and say—they can say Hillary is wonderful or they can say Obama is terrible. That‘s all you can really do and he‘s done it in a clever way as sleazy as it may.
CARLSON: Wait, I guess the problem of the story is Obama didn‘t go to a madrassa. It‘s not his fault that his relatives are Muslims even if that were a bad thing. It‘s nothing to do with everything he did. That‘s why it‘s so deeply unfair. When you attack other people‘s families, situations over which they had no control, it‘s unfair, I think.
MAY: No, I.
CARLSON: A lot of things you could attack Obama on. They should stick to those.
Bill Clinton turns out has money tied up in a Cayman Islands account, a Cayman Islands fund, run by his pal, Ron Burkle, may be pulling the money out. The reason this caught my eye. It was Bill Clinton who campaigned in public recently, “I‘m not getting taxed enough.” It was Bill Clinton‘s wife who said this offshore stuff essentially tax dodges. Is there another reason I have an account in the Cayman Island? No. Immoral. The irony of this. The irony alarm went off. It hasn‘t gone off since.
MAY: Well, look, Bill Clinton once again was telling the truth. He‘s not being taxed enough because he‘s putting his money in offshore tax savings. That‘s one way not to get taxed enough. It‘s a very clever way that rich people can do.
CARLSON: Do you have any money in the Cayman Islands?
STODDARD: I hope.
CARLSON: Is there—the Clinton campaign has said Bill Clinton has paid all of his taxes. OK, I‘m not accusing the guy of tax evasion. I‘m really saying is there another reason that I‘m not aware of to have money in the Cayman Islands other than you support the Cayman Islands or something?
STODDARD: No, no, no, there is not. There is not. He‘s not trying to help the Caymans. He‘s helping himself. The thing is about this that‘s so tough for them is that, if you‘re of the people and then you become wealthy, you can‘t rail against the system that you used and gained.
STODDARD: .to help you become wealthy. It‘s just not going to work. I mean that‘s a nice message. I‘m not taxed enough. The Bush tax cut is a mistake. We need all these government programs to have more money. The government is being drained. We can‘t help the poor or we can‘t help the sick. But when you‘re stuffing it in buildings in the Cayman Islands it‘s hard to make that argument.
CARLSON: Well, especially since offshore tax savings have a kind of unpatriotic flavor to them. I‘m not saying it‘s unpatriotic to engage in avoiding taxes at all. It‘s not. But there is something a little different about that from just—you know what I mean? Taking a lot of deductions. Going offshore? John Edwards has basically called people who do that traitors to the country. Why isn‘t he all over this?
MAY: Well, then we went to the question why.
STODDARD: Because of (INAUDIBLE). It‘ll carry an interest.
MAY: It‘s a good question he‘s not (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: That‘s a good point.
MAY: That may be. And then he may have some, too. No, there are buildings in the Caymans that have thousands of U.S. offices registered there but not very many offices in the actual building. I mean there‘s no question this is a way of getting around the system. And that Clinton uses it, does it surprise me? Only because he knew his wife had political ambitions. You would think he might have waited.
CARLSON: Well, this is—his business affairs are just going to provide an endless fodder of ammunition for her opponents.
STODDARD: I—it‘s interesting, too, that the timing of this. If he was going to break up with Ron Burkle, why now? I don‘t—it‘s just sort of interesting for me.
CARLSON: Why now because.
STODDARD: Why not a year ago?
CARLSON: Because Bloomberg News.
STODDARD: As Cliff said they knew—oh because Bloomberg was working on the story, yes, yes.
CARLSON: My understanding was Bloomberg called over to - Bloomberg, the news service, not the mayor of New York.
CARLSON: .called over to Clinton‘s office and says, “Wait a second. According to your wife‘s financial disclosure you‘ve got money in a fund in the Caymans.”
STODDARD: Yes. And then “The New York Times” said.
CARLSON: And then they.
MAY: Yes. But every candidate does what they call self-opera research, which mean you have people who look into your own affairs.
STODDARD: No. Not that.
MAY: .and say, “You‘re vulnerable here, here, and here. You better do something about that.” Every campaign does that.
CARLSON: You got to do that to Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: That‘s the problem.
STODDARD: It‘s turning out that they‘re not as shrewd as we once thought they were.
CARLSON: Well, you are. You‘re every bit as shrewd as we hoped and thought.
Thank you both very much.
He‘s been the governor of Arkansas, president of the United States, husband to Hillary. What is next for Bill Clinton? Supreme Court? Possibly. We‘ll talk to someone who says it‘s a legitimate possibility next.
And a new species of rat discovered in Indonesia dwarfs those that linger in the New York subway. Really? Our senior vermin correspondent Bill Wolff joins us momentarily.
CARLSON: What is Bill going to do if Hillary gets elected. He‘s told that he‘d be everything from a global ambassador to the world to the first laddie in charge to the White House Christmas party? But if you thought you‘ve heard it all, you haven‘t. Our next guest will explain how Bill could wind up on the Supreme Court. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: It‘s the Clinton conundrum. What to do with Bill if Hillary wins the White House. Many people already are uncomfortable with the idea of the former president wondering around unsupervised in the West Wing conducting a shadow presidency. Instead he could finish off his wife‘s Senate term. He could also become ambassador to the world, whatever that means. On the other hand how about a seat on the Supreme Court?
Joining me now someone who has thought this through most recently in a “Wall Street Journal” op-ed, Douglas Kmiec, former legal counsel to Presidents Reagan and the first George Bush. He now teaches at Pepperdine Law School and advises Mitt Romney.
Mr. Kmiec, thanks for coming on.
DOUGLAS KMIEC, PEPPERDINE SCHOOL OF LAW: Tucker, good to be with you.
CARLSON: Is that legal? Would that be legal for Hillary Clinton to appoint her husband to the Supreme Court?
KMIEC: Well, she would be president of the United States and according to the “Federalist” papers, the president has the sole responsibility to nominate and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint to the Supreme Court of the United States. So, of course, she would need the cooperation of the Senate and one would think that she would need a rather substantial majority in the Senate to accomplish this especially since more than a few people would remember that the former president had his law license suspended because of some unpleasantness and also because of the impeachment would raise substantial objections to his appointment.
But if she had a good enough majority in the Senate, it seems to me that it is a plausible alternative for the former president especially since the federal anti-nepotism law would prevent his appointment to any position in the executive branch over which the president has supervision which is virtually all of them, and there‘s some doubt that the former president would be satisfied by being one of 100 in the Senate.
CARLSON: So just refresh my memory here. How—does he have his law license back and how long did he lose it for?
KMIEC: It was suspended, I believe, for about five years and it was restored in 2006. Now he was removed from the roles of advocates before the Supreme Court of the United States and that has not been restored but, Tucker, that‘s not a qualification to serve on the court itself.
So we have a little bit of an oddity here that someone who would not be on the—in the Supreme Court bar would be appointed to the Supreme Court but that‘s not a formal prerequisite to service.
CARLSON: Well, I mean, Bill Clinton, on this report, is an interesting idea. He‘s a famous rambler and debater, someone who likes to, you know, get into philosophical conversations late into the night and early morning. What kind of justice would he be?
KMIEC: Well, you know, I think one of the things I pointed out in the essay is that there is a former president who did serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. It was William Howard Taft. Indeed Taft saw the presidency as much less interesting than his service on the Supreme Court and Taft would be, I think, something of a model for William Jefferson Clinton because Taft utilized his position on the Supreme Court not only to have great influence on the jurisprudence of the day, and the jurisprudence of that day in the 1920s was quite judicially active in terms of the protection of economic liberties and the liberty of contract, but also to greatly expand the influence of the court by getting it its own bidding and by participating very strongly in the recommendation of who would be serving on the lower federal courts.
And I think that would be one of the things that would be actually
quite attractive for the former president and insofar as he recognizes that
one of the great prizes of the presidency is the ability to name people to
those federal positions and he would have a cat bird seat to have influence
CARLSON: I‘m sure that would be almost impossibly weird.
Douglas Kmiec, I really appreciate it. Thanks for coming on.
KMIEC: Good to be with you.
CARLSON: Just because we haven‘t seen any doesn‘t mean they don‘t exist. So says Japan‘s Cabinet secretary of UFOs. We get to the bottom of what that meaning when we come back and its implications for the Dennis Kucinich for President campaign. That‘s next.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Just when you thought this show couldn‘t get any more compelling, we bring on Bill Wolff, the vice president of primetime here at MSNBC. When you hear from him, you‘ll see why.
BILL WOLFF, VICE PRESIDENT, MSNBC: Wow. That‘s a tall order. That‘s a high bar, Tucker.
WOLFF: This was a compelling program. I don‘t have long but I‘m going to do my level best, friend.
What‘s worse than watching paint dry, Tucker? How about watching paint dry while you watch cars rust. That‘s what the Hollywood awards shows are going to be like this year because the Writers Guild of America will not allow its striking members to pen the material for the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes.
The WGA denied requests from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to allow union writers who are in the seventh week of their strike to write the jokes for either show, and so the interminable productions will not only be long and boring, Tucker, there is an overwhelming chance that they won‘t be even a little bit funny.
CARLSON: I‘m sorry, Bill. I‘ve been a writer my whole adult life. I love writers. But the fist of solidarity on those placards?
CARLSON: Unless you‘re a coal miner, you don‘t get to use the fist of solidarity. I‘m sorry.
WOLFF: Are you saying writers aren‘t a tough, tough lot?
CARLSON: That‘s exactly—as one of them, that‘s what I‘m saying.
WOLFF: Are you saying there‘s no Jimmy Hoffa in the WGA?
CARLSON: I‘m saying there‘s no George Meany in the Writers Guild.
That‘s what I‘m saying.
WOLFF: Hmm, interesting. I‘ll have to look into that. I‘ll report back to you. I‘ll check in with our Hollywood bureau.
Tucker, your old friend Dennis Kucinich has experienced a somewhat shallow sense in the race for the Democratic nomination and it might be that he‘s running in the wrong country. In the island nation of Japan the top government spokesperson said he believes in unidentified flying objects or UFOs as they are commonly known. He also said that‘s the Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura shares his belief. Earlier Machimura had given the official government position that it could not confirm any cases of UFOs but Machimura said that personally he believes in them.
In a rhetorical shout out to the American media, Japanese reporters laughed at him, Tucker. They find it humorous, too.
CARLSON: Yes, they laugh now, Bill.
WOLFF: Yes, right. Welcome invaders.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
WOLFF: I pledge allegiance to whoever you are if you have superpowers.
CARLSON: Our new masters. Exactly.
WOLFF: Well, it‘s like Dennis Kucinich says, his response, if you‘ll recall from that debate, was 14 percent of Americans believe them and according to Dennis Kucinich that‘s about what President Bush‘s approval rating is so I thought that comeback was fairly clever and overlooked.
Vermin news tonight, Tucker, from New Guinea. Scientists there have discovered two new species in the unspoiled Foja Mountains. The first is called a pygmy possum. And there he is. No, that‘s the big rat. Anyway, there‘s a pygmy possum. It‘s an entirely new species of marsupial reputed to be shy, but if we were showing the pictures you‘d see it‘s warmed to TV cameras and you hear that a lot in this business.
Now that guy is called a Mallomys. It‘s a giant rat. Unlike your subway variety northeast corridor rats, malomire (ph) are unafraid of people. They‘re also five to six times larger than the rats you see racing across the tracks on the F-Train but still not nearly the size of the rats in various witness protection programs and in some of the offices and cubicles of corporate America, Tucker.
CARLSON: Nice, Bill.
WOLFF: Not in our business.
WOLFF: I‘m talking about other businesses. Our business is wholesome.
CARLSON: Right. Less nice businesses than ours.
WOLFF: Yes. Ours is the nicest.
Finally, Tucker, some red meat politics for you. An interesting survey of this year‘s presidential field. The Associated Press asked the candidates to name their favorite U.S. presidents of the 20th century from the opposition party. Among the Democrats there was unanimous support for Teddy Roosevelt. There he is. He‘s the trust busting alpha male of the Republican Party in the first decade of the 1900s. This season‘s Republican hopefuls were nearly unanimous in their choice of Harry S. Truman with whom the buck famously stopped in the late 1940s and early ‘50s.
There was only one dissenting voice, that‘s your boy, Fred Thompson. He chose Martin Sheen who was president for several seasons of the hit NBC drama “The West Wing.”
CARLSON: Fred—just to reiterate here and we‘re going to, I think, repeat this every day. Fred Thompson‘s favorite possession, Bill?
WOLFF: His trophy wife.
CARLSON: His trophy wife. Fred Thompson may not become president but the memory of his campaign will endure forever. Like when you look at a bright light and close your eyes, you can still see the outline?
WOLFF: Happens to me every day.
CARLSON: That‘s what his campaign will be in my brain forever.
WOLFF: That‘s right. Me, too.
CARLSON: Love that man.
Bill Wolf. Thanks, Bill.
WOLFF: My pleasure.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. We will see you back here tomorrow night. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Have a great night.
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