Guests: Senator John McCain, Ned Helms, Chris Kofinis, Hilary Rosen, Bill Press, Reverend Al Sharpton, Senator Tim Hutchinson
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: The race for the 2008 White House has hit the ground here in New Hampshire at a sprinter‘s pace.
Welcome to the show coming to you live from Manchester.
Many in the media establishment doubt Mike Huckabee‘s endurance after his blowout win in Iowa. The doubters point to a two-candidate showdown for New Hampshire here on Tuesday night. That‘s between Mitt Romney and John McCain. All three of those campaigns worked the state feverishly today. At risk for Romney, the image of a well-financed but ultimately hollow candidate. At risk for McCain, his place in the race. In a moment, our interview this afternoon with McCain on the campaign trail.
On the Democratic side, the effect of Barack Obama‘s dramatic trouncing of John Edwards and third-place finisher Hillary Clinton remains to be seen. Do these poll by Suffolk University and WHDH Television showed Obama inching four points closer to Clinton overnight. Mrs. Clinton still leads that survey by 12 points. Will Obama‘s Iowa performance and his stirring victory speech motivates New Hampshire‘s vast undecided independent voting population to move his way? Bill Press and Hilary Rosen join us in a moment.
And John Edwards spun his second place finish in Iowa as a victory and immediately got himself on as many television stations as possible. Does his furious campaigning indicate buoying confidence in his chances or is Edwards running from the truth of his Iowa performance namely that he lost among union voters which is a bad thing for this season‘s big labor candidate? We‘ll talk with a senior member of his campaign, Chris Kofinis.
We begin with the Republican race, the man with the most to lose Tuesday night here in New Hampshire. That is, of course, Senator John McCain of Arizona who ran fourth last night in Iowa. Earlier today I caught up with Senator McCain as he campaigned across the state.
CARLSON (on camera): Are you surprised this is happening, your surge?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: No. But you know, I can‘t say surprise, but I‘m certainly pleased. I mean this is what we wanted to do all along. But whether we were going to be able to or not is another question. And it‘s a long—we‘re long way from there.
CARLSON: In the nine or so years you‘ve been running for president on and off, thinking about it, was there ever a time where you thought, “I don‘t really want this”?
MCCAIN: No. But I thought there were times when I had to ask myself do you want to put your family through the whole routine again, you know, and go through it again. But I didn‘t think about it until—after the 2004 election did I start really kind of thinking about it again. That‘s why I did have a four-year ambition vacation.
CARLSON: What does your family say when you decided to go again?
MCCAIN: They were very skeptical. They were very skeptical. But you know, after a lot of conversations—but also it‘s hard on them, particularly the wife.
CARLSON: You said the lesson of last night in Iowa was a negative campaigning doesn‘t work.
CARLSON: So I‘m sitting (INAUDIBLE), I flip on the tube and there‘s an ad from you calling Mitt Romney a phony.
MCCAIN: Actually, that was a quote from “The Concorde Monitor” and the “Union Leader” and it was in response to a series of attack ads that Governor Romney has attacked my record and my positions and in a—falsely. So we had to have some kind of response so we thought that the New Hampshire newspapers, the leading newspapers, what they are saying about him, is the best way to respond.
CARLSON: Do you agree with what they are saying about him?
MCCAIN: I think that people should pay attention to it and I do agree in this position, this respect that he has, changed positions on virtually every major issue, then people can make their own assessments. But I think that‘s a matter of record.
CARLSON: Definitely a matter of record. What‘s your assessment? Do you think it‘s sincere, his change of heart on abortion?
MCCAIN: I don‘t know.
CARLSON: On all this?
MCCAIN: I don‘t know. I don‘t know. I know that it isn‘t just abortion. It‘s literally every major issue, a couple of which he used to agree with me on and now is attacking me on. Sometimes that‘s a little aggravating.
CARLSON: You said the other night in Iowa.
CARLSON: .that if you become president.
CARLSON: .you will chase bin Laden to the gates of hell.
CARLSON: You will get bin Laden.
CARLSON: Why hasn‘t Bush got bin Laden?
MCCAIN: I think, well, you know, we had a couple of chances. Tora Bora was a place, one of the places as you know. And Clinton, former President Clinton had chances, too. I think the chance will arise and I won‘t miss the opportunity. And I think part of the answer is to improve our human intelligence capability which is still not good in that part of the world, as we all know.
CARLSON: Why wouldn‘t after 9/11 that be the president‘s top priority? I mean getting the guy behind that?
MCCAIN: You know, for a while it was. Remember there was wanted dead or alive. And I don‘t know what—I don‘t know frankly. I never had a discussion about that with the president. But here‘s why I worry about it. Not just because he killed 3,000 innocent Americans, but because he‘s able to get a message out twice in the last week or 10 days that instructs—recruits and motivates would-be or practicing radical Islamic extremists. He still has an effect as an enemy of the United States.
CARLSON: You said to me the other night that you believe that Americans are dissatisfied with the Republican Party, not because of Iraq primarily, but because of the spending.
MCCAIN: We let spending get completely out of control. It led to corruption. We have former members of Congress now residing in federal prison.
CARLSON: How did the party of a small government preside over something like that?
MCCAIN: I think power. I think power made people forget why we were sent there. You know, I didn‘t invent the line but I use the line that we came to power in ‘94 to change government and government changed us. It‘s really a sad story. We‘ll look back on that period as a period of missed opportunities. There‘s tipping points. Tipping point was the bridge to nowhere. And then our base just became dispirited. They didn‘t register as Democrats. They just said, “Look, you know, we‘re not going to do the things that makes parties succeed in elections.”
CARLSON: Do you think you mended fences with the evangelicals?
MCCAIN: I think it‘s not so much as mended fences. I think I have tried to reach out to every part of the party, I mean—and tried to listen to their concerns. I haven‘t changed my positions on any issues, but I understand and I hope they understand we‘re a big tent party. And we can‘t be just a regional party. We got to be a national party. I worry about the northeast. We‘ve got now one congressman, as you know, Chris Shays, in all of the north eastern part of the United States. We‘re going to have to make sure our party is a national party.
CARLSON: So you travel around and you talk to people all day long, event after event, and they never change their mind on anything?
MCCAIN: Oh I think people change their minds and I think that they may have policy changes that they may change, but in my case the principals—
Ronald Reagan changed his policies, but never changed his principals.
That‘s the role model most of us use.
CARLSON: Do you feel strongly about campaign finance reform as you once.
MCCAIN: I think it‘s done good work. I think it‘s—soft money was awash in Washington, trial lawyers, union leaders, corporate heads were given seven-figure checks and you saw it reflected in legislation. Telecommunications Reform Act Of 1996, but now it‘s the 527s obviously. And that‘s because of a Federal Elections Commission that won‘t enforce the law.
CARLSON: You‘re doing like seven events this coming Monday.
MCCAIN: Oh, sure.
CARLSON: Right. So that means you just can‘t be sleeping. Are you afraid of saying something demented on so little sleep?
MCCAIN: Listen, whether I‘m asleep, whether I‘m rested or tired, there‘s always the risk of me saying something really stupid, because you know we‘re around the media constantly. That‘s the way I operate. But having said that, if I do make a mistake, having the constant interface with the media I can correct that mistake. I only had a press, you know, encounter once a day and said something, you know, it‘s hard to fix. But—and also we‘re spending this short time in an interview but we could and probably will spend the next 45 minutes on this bus talking about a variety of issues so you‘ll really know what I‘m about, because you‘re not only doing the interview but you‘re reporting about the campaign.
CARLSON: Are you surprised that Giuliani is not a bigger force?
MCCAIN: I am surprised that he hasn‘t campaigned that hard here, apparently, but I keep reading, and not knowing, but reading that he‘s got a big state strategy to come in later on in the campaign. I don‘t know if that works or not. Historically it hasn‘t. But, you know, the campaign primaries are so crowded up early. I don‘t know. It might. I don‘t know.
CARLSON: And finally, I notice you are staying in the same hotel this week that you stayed in eight years ago when you won the New Hampshire primary, the national primary.
CARLSON: Is that accidental or is that superstitious?
MCCAIN: No. Superstitious. I am superstitious. I found a nickel the other day with the head up. I found it. I just saw it in the street. So guess what I‘m carrying around with me? That nickel. OK? I‘m sure I‘m superstitious.
CARLSON: Do you think that will do the trick?
MCCAIN: Listen. You can‘t live as long as I have without being awfully lucky.
CARLSON: Amen. Senator, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, tucker. Great to see you.
CARLSON: Barack Obama sweeps Iowa, dominating both John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. Now he‘s saying if he wins New Hampshire, he will win the presidency. Is he getting too far ahead of himself? We‘ll tell you.
Plus Mike Huckabee wins the Iowa caucus by almost 10 points. But are people taking him seriously? We are.
This is MSNBC live from New Hampshire.
CARLSON: Barack Obama wins big in Iowa and makes a bold prediction today about going all the way to the presidency. If it comes true, what about the Democratic Party? Will it ever be the same?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Barack Obama is riding high tonight after decisive, really a crushing victory over Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. But Hillary Clinton is still leading here in New Hampshire as of this moment anyway. Can Obama ride his momentum here into a knockout of Hillary?
Joining me now is Ned Helms of New Hampshire state co-chair of the Obama campaign.
Mr. Helms, thanks for coming on.
NED HELMS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN‘S NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE CO-CHAIR: It‘s nice to be with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: I was really struck. First of all, congratulations.
HELMS: Thank you.
CARLSON: It‘s remarkable.
HELMS: We haven‘t done anything yet in New Hampshire, but thank you.
CARLSON: Well, I‘m impressed. I was very struck by the candidate‘s—the Senator‘s speech last night in which he did not mention the galvanizing force of the Democratic Party. George W. Bush did mention it. Why not?
HELMS: This campaign is about the future. And I think that right from the very beginning what Barack Obama has been trying to do is say we can be angry at the other parties. But George W. Bush is not going to be on the ballot this time around. And the question is: what is going to be the motivating factor that will bring people together? And not just the traditional people who have been a part of the Democratic Party, but independents and Republicans. And what is the message that people want to hear? I think last night we found out from the people of Iowa what that message is.
CARLSON: Well, what is that? I mean sum it up for me. It‘s there—I mean I like Obama. I like change. I think he seems like a decent person. But I watch him speak and I think, what exactly does that mean?
HELMS: Well, I think if you want the details you can go into the policy statements. But I think a lot of people look down at Washington, D.C. right now and they see a place as much more polarized and divided than our nation as a whole. You walk out on the main streets of our towns, whether it‘s a red state or a blue state, and people are worried about health care. They‘re worried about the economy. They‘re worried about jobs. They‘re concerned about the war in Iraq. But they don‘t bash each other over the head about it the way they do in Washington, D.C.
And I think that right from the very beginning Barack Obama has said this is something different. We have got to look at politics as a different thing. It‘s not smash-mouth contact. It‘s about engaging with people. And as we were talking about just a second earlier, I realized with some chronological horror the other day that this is my tenth presidential primary in New Hampshire. And far and away this is the best organized campaign that I‘ve been a part of. And the reason is that because they‘ve taken a page out of Barack Obama‘s life which is about community organization. Instead of laying out a typical campaign, let‘s recruit as many office holders and endorsements as we possibly can. We have been engaging with people about the issues they care about—child advocacy and the rest.
CARLSON: But what about the fabled Clinton firewall here in the state of New Hampshire? I mean you say Obama eschews smash-mouth politics. The Clintons, you know, roll around in it like your dog does in goose droppings. I mean they love it.
HELMS: Yes, they do. But you know, politics is certainly a contact sport but it‘s really a sport in which you‘re engaging more with the voters. They‘re the ones that ultimately get to say yes or no. And right from the very beginning, this campaign has put together at the grassroots level the best campaign that I‘ve been involved in. And you know it‘s great what happened last night in Iowa. It‘s absolutely wonderful. But you can‘t put together a campaign in New Hampshire based on what might happen in Iowa.
You have to put it together based on what you want to make happen in New Hampshire. We‘ve made over 1 ½ million telephone calls. We‘ve talked to -- we‘ve knocked on the doors of over 300,000 folks. We‘ve got 16 offices. We‘re engaging people. And that‘s the kind of politics, that‘s the kind of campaign that‘s really going to turn things around. You can put together an effective, extraordinary campaign that reaches out to people without necessarily grabbing your opponent by the throat and going (INAUDIBLE). I think that‘s the reason you‘re seeing new people coming to the campaign. Look at the demographics from last night. Old, young, you know, union workers.
CARLSON: In any.
HELMS: All across the board, men, women.
CARLSON: So you‘ve got all these independents here. (OFF-MIKE)
HELMS: (OFF-MIKE) percent, yes.
CARLSON: Right. There‘s also a contest on the Republican side that has John McCain in it.
HELMS: But the dynamic is different than 2000. In 2000 it was, “Do I go over and vote for John McCain or do I vote for Bill Bradley?” You know?
HELMS: “Which one do I want to be against?” I was actually talking to Andy Smith over at the University of New Hampshire survey center. And this time around people have already made the decision.
HELMS: I‘d rather vote the Republican or Democratic side. It‘s the issue of who am I going to vote for on that side. And I think that when you look at the fact that 44 percent of the people, the voters as they call themselves undeclared, and if you look at the recent history of this state in terms of the governor that we‘ve recently.
HELMS: .chosen and re-chosen, people want the center. They want someone who can bring people together. I think that is the theme that we really have heard in this campaign and it‘s going to be (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: If you‘re right, if that‘s what they want here, you‘re going to win. Hillary Clinton will lose. We‘ll find out in Tuesday.
HELMS: We‘re going to find that out very soon in four more days.
CARLSON: Ned helms, congratulations.
HELMS: Thank you very much, Tucker.
CARLSON: Joining for joining us. I appreciate it.
HELMS: I look forward to talking to you after next Tuesday. OK.
CARLSON: John Edwards fell to Barack Obama in Iowa, essentially losing the support of union members. He thought he had them. He didn‘t. What does this mean for New Hampshire? Does he have to win here next Tuesday to stay in the race? We‘ll talk to his communications director in a moment.
Plus Mitt Romney chalks off his Iowa loss to Mike Huckabee‘s large base as a southern Baptist preacher. Everybody‘s talking about what a big win it was for Huckabee? What about how big a loss it was for Romney?
You‘re watching MSNBC live from Manchester.
CARLSON: John Edwards was counting on a win in Iowa. He didn‘t get it. In fact, he didn‘t get votes from even his base. He thinks of it as his base anyway—union members. He‘s still moving on in New Hampshire but for how long after that?
Joining us now is the communications director for the John Edwards for president campaign, the smartest man in politics, Chris Kofinis.
CHRIS KOFINIS, EDWARDS COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: So Edwards comes in third among union families. That‘s like Hillary Clinton losing abortion providers. That‘s his base, you would think.
KOFINIS: I mean, no, I mean, listen, I mean, John Edwards clearly had, I think, strong support in the labor community and the non-labor community. I mean the reality of the situation was we were going up against two candidates that collectively had raised $200 million by the end of the year, has spent tens of millions of dollars in Iowa, more offices, more staff, more advertising, more everything. And we beat one of the Goliaths. We beat the Clinton machine.
KOFINIS: We came, I think, in a very strong position.
CARLSON: I think (INAUDIBLE) for that.
KOFINIS: Yes. We obviously would like to have come in first.
CARLSON: But wait a second. I—and congratulations, by the way, for beating Hillary Clinton.
CARLSON: I think that‘s intrinsically good no matter how it‘s done. But I remember watching John Edwards speak at the fireman‘s union in Washington last year and saying, you know, I‘m your man. I‘m the only guy who‘s organized strikes, who‘s picketed. I mean I‘ve been there on the barricades for you for decades. You would think that they would repay that devotion and I think it‘s sincere devotion with votes or caucusing.
KOFINIS: Well, I think it did get repaid. And what was fascinating about last night was a record turnout of about 232,000. We had tens of thousands of new caucus goers, the caucus for John Edwards that just came out because of the strength of his message. And what was, I think, so significant and so powerful about what happened last night was basically you had the notion that it was change that won and status quo lost. And now what I think you are going to see is a fight for what kind of change America wants.
And I think that fight is going to go between Senator Obama‘s vision and Senator Edwards‘s. And they‘re very different vision in terms of how you get change. You can‘t nice people to death in terms of—or expect that you‘re going to be able to negotiate or talk nicely and I think you‘re going to accomplish the bold, fundamental change you can get this country. It‘s not going to happen. It hasn‘t worked. I think what Senator Edwards has made it very clear, you have to fight, you have to stand up and fight for the middle class and fight for that bold change that we need in Washington.
And so I think it‘s very fascinating, I think, what happened last night in that the establishment lost. The Washington establishment lost. The status quo candidate, Hillary Clinton lost.
CARLSON: So you don‘t see this as a loss for the Edwards campaign?
KOFINIS: No. I mean I—to us it‘s a victory for change. It‘s a victory for candidacies, victory for our message.
CARLSON: So I‘m reading change as anyone who‘s not Hillary Clinton.
KOFINIS: She was a status quo candidate. I think it was the fundamental weakness of how they decided to run their candidacy. That‘s their—that was their decision, that was their strategy. But what is clear in both, I would say, the Republican and Democratic elections that are happening right now is there‘s an overwhelming desire amongst the American people on both sides of the aisle, if you will, to go in a new direction. They want change.
CARLSON: So you‘re saying that your voters.
CARLSON: Those who caucus for John Edwards who will vote for him next Tuesday here are basically just not Hillary voters. What percentage—if John Edwards were not in the race, how many of your voters would vote for her?
KOFINIS: You know, I don‘t know, we couldn‘t even guess. But I—to go back to your point about, you know, non-Hillary voters, I think it‘s not just the non-Hillary voters. They‘re not—they basically want to go away from the establishment. They want to go away from the status quo. Because what has happened here is you have 47 million people without health care. You have tens of millions of people living in poverty. You have millions of jobs going overseas.
And the American people, I think, have this overwhelming desire to go in a new direction and what they want are our leaders in Washington to fight for that new direction. That‘s why I think John Edwards has that very powerful message as we go into New Hampshire into Tuesday. And then after that I think we have a very good message to really mobilize and impassion people for John Edwards and put ourselves in a strong spot.
CARLSON: OK. Just for the record, though.
CARLSON: Obama did win among voters who said health care was most important and the economy was most important.
KOFINIS: I mean listen. He deserves credit but he also has significant advantages. When you raise $100 million, I mean, what John Edwards has said this is an election, not an auction. We think that message of real change, fighting for the middle class is what‘s going to put John Edwards in a great position.
CARLSON: Chris Kofinis of the campaign, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: All right. We will be right back.
Barack Obama wins big in Iowa. Many are calling it historic. Will an Obama presidency mean the end of the civil rights activism? We‘ll talk to the Reverend Al Sharpton about that coming up.
Plus Rudy Giuliani was nowhere to be seen last night in Iowa. He said he was campaigning in the sunny state of Florida. Will that big-state strategy propel him to victory or will be left in the dust as so many before him who‘ve tried it?
You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Still to come, Barack Obama makes a bold prediction, if he wins here in New Hampshire, he will win the presidency. What would an Obama presidency mean, though, for the civil rights movement? We‘ll talk to Reverend Al Sharpton about that in just a minute.
But first here is a look at your headlines.
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SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn‘t do.
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CARLSON: Maybe Barack Obama‘s win in the Iowa caucuses yesterday was, in fact, a defining moment for the country. It was simply the zenith of his run for the Democratic nomination, but in either case it was the evening‘s most dramatic story by far as Obama ran away with his party‘s caucuses. The story appears to have been generational as caucus goers under 30 came out in big numbers and heavily in favor of Barack Obama.
So was the Democratic contest tonight neither a question of race or gender? Might it be a question of age? Here with me to talk about the results of last night the founder of the National Action Network, the Reverend Al Sharpton, a former presidential candidate himself.
Rev, thanks for coming you.
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Thank you. Happy New Year to you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Happy New Year.
So Barack Obama win, crushes two white candidates in a mostly white state.
America is not as racist as you thought, is it?
SHARPTON: Well, I think there was clearly a historic win last night. I thought it was big. I think that clearly that does not erase all racism. I think if anything it showed last night that people do want change and that people want to see some movement in an area to deal with a lot of issues. You must remember Barack Obama himself in the last several months has joined in many of the issues that we‘ve talked about. He—in the last debates in Iowa mentioned the Jena Six fight, mentioned how he had met with me and others in the coalition wanting hate crimes bill.
I think that he‘s there publicly came to Harlem and had dinner with me talking about these issues. So I think that for those conservatives that act like this is something contrary to civil rights don‘t listen to Mr. Obama and what he‘s publicly did in Iowa.
CARLSON: Oh, no, no, no. That‘s not my point at all. I do—I mean I wonder though. Do you think the Democratic Party is ready to nominate a black nominee?
SHARPTON: I think the question will be whether the voters will. And I think that the voters.
CARLSON: Well, the voters—I mean, Democrats, has the party moved beyond its segregationist history to the point where it can nominate a black candidate, do you think?
SHARPTON: Well, I think last night in Iowa it showed that many, enough will be there and time will tell. But I think we made great strides as a party last night. I think we congratulate the people in Iowa for doing it and doing it with Obama stressing that he was a civil rights organizer and that he is concerned about civil rights issues of today.
CARLSON: And so why don‘t you endorse the guy, Rev? I mean.
SHARPTON: I have said from the beginning.
CARLSON: What will be keeping you from endorsing Barack Obama right now?
Your endorsement could make a difference right now. Why don‘t you do it?
SHARPTON: First of all, Tucker, I said from the beginning that I was going to take the role when I decided not to run to raise the issues, which we raised last year. You had more people marching and active last year than you had in years. I think I could not have done that if I was with anyone‘s campaign. At the appropriate time I probably will make an endorsement, but some people have to be committed to raising the issues and changing the climate so that people like Obama and Clinton and Edwards can respond. And I think that you‘ve got to be disciplined enough to play that role. We played that role as all of them have conceded.
CARLSON: Right. But you would—no matter who you endorse, you would never stop doing what you do. I know you would never be quiet no matter what. So you‘re not really considering endorsing Hillary Clinton, are you?
SHARPTON: I‘m not really considered not endorsing or endorsing anyone since I‘ve been busy trying to make all of them respond to criminal justice and equality.
CARLSON: Come on, come on.
SHARPTON: I mean we—just four weeks ago we had tens of thousands of people marching in front of the Justice Department. Our concentration, Martin Luther King III, Charles Steele and I, has been very focused. And I think the candidates have responded to that, including Obama. I think that just as you have women advocates and environmentalists and gay and lesbian advocates, policy is our priority in our area like theirs is in theirs.
I think that at any given point you can make an endorsement. But the climate of the campaign and the policy is important to me, particularly since many of those in the Democratic Party have ignored it until last year. Last year was a defining year. And I think that a lot of those thousands of people made a difference and changed the tone which even helped in Iowa last night.
CARLSON: Do you think finally that Hillary Clinton is as committed to your agenda, what you call the civil rights agenda, as Barack Obama is at this point?
SHARPTON: I think that actions will speak louder. I think in many cases Mrs. Clinton has a good record. I think she took some courageous steps in civil rights. I think Obama has. I think John Edwards certainly from New Orleans has. I think that we will, in the end, in terms of those in the civil rights community judge those on who can best move that agenda forward. Where did we make the most civil rights progress in this country? When we had a John Kennedy and a Lyndon Johnson sensitive to civil rights.
So in election, whether Obama for that matter, Clinton or Edwards, I think revitalized the civil rights. It doesn‘t shut it down because they‘re all addressing it. The problem is why we‘re not hearing the same from the other side in the Republican primaries from Mr. Huckabee or McCain or the other.
CARLSON: Yes. It seems to me that when Lyndon Johnson was president, lots of our cities were or fire and people were getting murdered in urban riots. It doesn‘t—I mean, that‘s not progress. That‘s (INAUDIBLE).
SHARPTON: I think at the end of Johnson‘s tenure that happened. And I think that if you look at the record, that a lot of the civil rights community was quarrelling with Johnson about Vietnam and about how the funding that he had announced with war on poverty and the resources had gone awry. In the beginning of his campaign on how—when he was campaigning against Barry Goldwater, we didn‘t have that and he won overwhelmingly as a civil rights president.
So despite of the conservative columnists that act like this hurts civil rights, history says it helps civil rights. And when they betray it, that‘s when you have problems.
CARLSON: The Reverend Al Sharpton, withholding his endorsement, but joining us. We‘re always grateful to have you. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you. Happy New Year.
CARLSON: Happy New Year.
So where do the events of last night leave Hillary Clinton? And for that matter, the establishment wing of the Democratic Party? That may be the macro question to consider today.
Joining us now to considerate it Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen, as well as nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
Welcome to you both.
BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Hi, Tucker.
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: Hilary, this is—Hilary and Bill, I can never get over that. This has got to be—when you look at the numbers who voted for—who caucused for Obama over Hillary last night, Obama winning women 35 to 30, winning people who care most about health care, about Iraq, the economy, Pakistan, I mean, just across the board, spanking Hillary Clinton, this has got to have shaken her—the foundation of her campaign, has it not?
ROSEN: Well, I think it is—first of all, I think that fundamentally they didn‘t really expect to win Iowa for several weeks. But I think that they‘ve always planned that they were going to go out there and really win the larger states. They are ahead in the national polls. And I don‘t think they believe that this is fundamentally, you know, over in any, by any stretch of the imagination. I think Iowa sent a big message. I don‘t really know what John Edwards is talking about. He‘s acting like he came in like, you know, five votes behind Barack Obama. He was back there with Hillary Clinton. Obama was clearly a big leader there. And I think that people said.
ROSEN: We need an insurgency here. And let‘s find a vehicle for that insurgency. And I think Hillary Clinton heard that, saw that, experienced it. I think she‘ll be a better candidate as the race goes on.
CARLSON: Well, I wonder, Bill, what you thought of Senator Clinton‘s comments today about the state of Iowa. She said essentially no big deal. And then she went on to attack the Iowa caucuses as an institution. She said, “Look, they‘re not representative. Not everybody gets to vote. People who aren‘t in the state can‘t caucus. People who are at work can‘t caucus. No absentee caucusing.” And she basically went after the state and its most sacred institution less than a day after losing there. Can she get away with that?
PRESS: Tucker, I thought it was the lamest excuse I‘ve ever heard for not winning in Iowa. Look, twice as many people almost came out as the record Democratic turnout. And so if more people turned out as she—suggested, maybe she would have lost by even more votes. I mean the fact is it was a level playing ground. Barack Obama is one who inspired all those young people to come out and new people to come out, independents to come out, and they went for him.
You know, look, Hillary‘s got a lot of life left. She‘s got the money. She‘s got the machine. But I think her message is broken. And she‘s got to fix it or she‘s really in bad shape.
ROSEN: Well, and.
CARLSON: Hilary, what—how can she change? I mean doesn‘t she need to make some kind of—I mean, typically, don‘t candidates make a symbolic break with the past by canning say Mark Penn or, you know, some central figure in the campaign in (INAUDIBLE) their message? Will they do that, do you think?
PRESS: Well, maybe that‘s one way to go.
ROSEN: I don‘t.
PRESS: I don‘t think they will. But—and Hilary wants to jump in here, too. Let me just say quickly, look, if I knew exactly how to fix it, I‘d be making as much money as Mark Penn. But I think her message has got to be, you want change? We all want change. But you‘re not going to get change unless you‘ve got somebody who can get elected. And I can get elected. They‘ve thrown everything already at me. I‘ve proven I can beat these Republicans. I‘m the person that can win. So you get change with me and you get the experience and you get a winner in the White House. She‘s got to make that difference between herself and Barack Obama or she loses New Hampshire.
ROSEN: I actually think that Bill‘s right. The Hillary Clinton has a fundamental problem right now, but it‘s a problem—it‘s a good problem to have because it‘s solvable. The issue is if people actually understood Hillary Clinton and knew more of her history, and I think that they would feel differently. The idea that she is somehow the establishment candidate when she literally spent her career beating up against the establishment and fighting for things that five and ten years ago, Tucker, you were saying were radical and too inspirational and too pie in the sky, that‘s the Hillary Clinton that she has to show voters she really is.
CARLSON: But could it be.
ROSEN: .and the notion that she‘s just become this mainstream candidate, so she has to be careful not to change anything about her but rather be more of who she is. And I think that that‘s something.
CARLSON: But I wonder, Hilary.
ROSEN: .that‘s probably achievable.
CARLSON: But wait, she‘s been at the center of the American life.
ROSEN: Barack seems to have been better at that over the last couple of weeks.
CARLSON: Well, OK. That‘s exactly the point I was going to make. She‘s been in the center of American life for 15 years. So if you don‘t know her now, whose fall is that? Hers. Maybe the problem is, Barack Obama is just a much better candidate. It is really not her fault. Maybe he‘s just so superior to her that it‘s not a fair fight. I mean have they considered that possibility?
PRESS: You know what?
ROSEN: Well, I think it is ironic that we love the persona of Barack Obama.
ROSEN: But have no clue what it is that he‘s done or what he stands for.
CARLSON: Exactly. You‘re right.
ROSEN: We seem to know a lot about what Hillary Clinton stands for, but don‘t have as much sense of who she is. And I think that‘s fundamentally a solvable problem. And I think that the campaign is going to think about that and work on that. And I think that Hillary‘s paying attention.
PRESS: But you know what, Tucker? I—listen, you are on to something very quickly. No matter how hard they work with Hillary over the next three days, she is never going to stand up and give a speech like Barack Obama did last night. She is never going to inspire people the way Barack Obama has in this campaign. And I think this is a case where passion and hope, if you want to use the word, can overcome experience and perfection or performance or whatever.
ROSEN: Well, it may be and if that‘s a choice that.
CARLSON: And how it can be her fault, all right?
ROSE: If that‘s the choice voters have to make. And you know, I think both Barack Obama, to stay in the lead is going to have to actually be more substantive, and Hillary Clinton is probably going to have to be a little more inspirational. And so the two of them have challenges to place where they haven‘t really gone before.
CARLSON: We‘re going to take a quick break.
Back at the Republicans, Mitt Romney is still feeling the sting from last night‘s big loss in Iowa. What are the chances he could meet the same fate here in New Hampshire next Tuesday.
And the pressure is on for Mike Huckabee who, with just four days to go, will his win in Iowa give him a big enough bounce to topple Romney and McCain here?
This is MSNBC live from Manchester, New Hampshire. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Mike Huckabee comes virtually from nowhere to win big in Iowa last night. But that‘s not the only headline. The other one reads: “Mitt Romney Loses Big.” Can Huckabee capitalize on his victory? We‘re back with that in just a minute.
CARLSON: All the headlines out there today include two names, Huckabee and Obama. They won last night. But there‘s another new bulletin out there for the Republican Party, “Romney Lost.”
Joining me now Democratic strategist, MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen, as well as nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
Bill, I think Romney may be the candidate who‘s more badly wounded than we realize. Spent a ton of money. He doesn‘t win. He didn‘t win Iowa. If he doesn‘t win here in New Hampshire, if he‘s beaten by John McCain, can he go on?
PRESS: Yes. You know what? First of all, if he loses New Hampshire, I think it‘s all over. Tucker, let me predict. I think John McCain wins New Hampshire for this reason. You know, Mike Huckabee wins Iowa but Republicans are nervous about Mike Huckabee. Yes, he‘s an outsider, but he‘s a little goofy, he‘s a little bit of a loose canon. They really want somebody who can win. Romney proved, at least in Iowa, with all of that money and all that time, he could not beat Mike Huckabee.
So I think they‘re going to be looking to John McCain as the more substantive, if you will, and the more electable candidate for November 2008.
CARLSON: Hilary, take off your partisan hat, put on your pure strategist hat, Mike Huckabee. I know you don‘t agree with him. But is he—could it be that he‘s actually stronger and more durable than a lot of people in the press are giving him credit for? I mean the guy came out of nowhere with nothing to clubber much richer, much better known, much more experienced candidates. He‘s got something profound going for him, doesn‘t he?
ROSEN: Well, I think he‘s being dismissed way too often and way too significantly particularly by Republicans. And I think Bill‘s right that they‘re looking elsewhere, although traditional Republicans don‘t much like John McCain either. But Mike Huckabee for - you know, for a year and a half in the Republican primary, all any one wanted to do was talk about how they were the Ronald Reagan—the heir to the Ronald Reagan throne. In some fundamental way, Mike Huckabee achieves that through his likeability, through his charm, through his ease with himself. And I don‘t think you see that with any other candidate.
You know, John McCain is sure of himself, but he‘s edgy. And Mitt Romney is—tries too hard and Rudy Giuliani‘s smug and, you know, growly. And you know, whereas Mike Huckabee really is kind of sunshiny and he‘s the guy you want to spend time with. I think he‘s often underestimated.
CARLSON: Yes. Often the wittiest candidate does better than we think he‘s going to do. Bill, I‘m struck not by his religiousity. We‘ve had other preachers run before, a lot of Republicans run as an appeal to the evangelical base particularly in Iowa. I‘m struck by his populism. I mean when was the last time a Republican got out there and said capitalism is not the panacea. It won‘t cure all your ills. We need to manage it, and says the things Huckabee is. I can‘t remember the last time Republicans said that and did well.
PRESS: No. I can‘t either. Maybe in that sense he‘s close to your friend and mine Ron Paul. But I think that‘s why the Republicans are nervous about him, Tucker. He didn‘t govern as a conservative in Arkansas. And you know, we could be coming, again, full circle back to where we started with John McCain being the anointed candidate for the establishment Republicans.
ROSEN: Well, it.
CARLSON: Is it over, Hilary, for Rudy Giuliani?
ROSE: Well, I don‘t think it‘s over for Rudy Giuliani because he is somebody who does appeal to the larger states and to the more moderate Republicans that begin to have much more of a voice when you get to states like Florida, and California and New York and Illinois. So it‘s not over. But the thing about Huckabee that everybody is talking about today, of course, is that a Huckabee candidacy is probably the thing that catapults somebody like Mike Bloomberg or specifically Mike Bloomberg into thinking about a third party race, that you—somebody who appeals more to the mainstream Republicans on the economic side.
PRESS: Yes. Tucker, let me differ with Hillary on this.
PRESS: I think it‘s over for Rudy Giuliani. I think the strategy of waiting, it‘s sort of—it‘s such an arrogant strategy. It‘s like Charles de Gaulle. Here I am. (Speaking in foreign language). Come to me when you‘re ready, America. Nobody is going to wait around for Rudy Giuliani.
CARLSON: I think that was Louis XIV but whatever. I mean—he‘s like an arrogant frog is what you‘re saying basically.
PRESS: Exactly. Yes.
ROSEN: With the galling face.
PRESS: The worst kind of frog.
CARLSON: Not historically a winning strategy in American politics.
Hilary and Bill, you‘re the best. Thank you both very much.
PRESS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: From a relative unknown to the winner by a wide margin of the Iowa caucus in just two months time. How did Mike Huckabee do it? We‘ll ask the senior advisor to the Huckabee campaign, Arkansas senator Tim Hutchinson. He joins us next.
CARLSON: Mike Huckabee shocked us all by winning the Iowa caucuses by almost 10 points last night. How did the guy who spent the least amount of money campaigning walk away with such a dramatic win over much richer candidates? What does he have planned for New Hampshire in the primaries here on Tuesday?
Joining me now is a senior advisor to the Huckabee campaign, Arkansas senator Tim Hutchinson, by phone.
Senator, thanks for coming on.
SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON ®, SENIOR HUCKABEE ADVISOR: Sure, Tucker. Good to visit with you.
CARLSON: Well, first of all, congratulations. Really dramatic and I think unexpected, certainly no one six months ago would have believed it. Why do so many Republican establishment figures seem to have a problem with Mike Huckabee still today?
HUTCHINSON: Well, while he‘s taking a very—he‘s a very consistent conservative. He‘s taking the same kind of positions that Ronald Reagan took. But he speaks with great understanding and empathy for those struggling economically. And it‘s not a message you usually hear coming out of a Republican‘s mouth and unfortunately. He speaks eloquently about a new kind of vertical politics. And all this just kind of send shivers through the bodies of the establishment Republicans.
CARLSON: So they—is it they fear him or they disagree with him?
HUTCHINSON: I think there‘s probably a number of misgivings. I think they do not appreciate the breadth of his appeal and so they‘re concerned as a nominee he wouldn‘t be electable. I think that is a total underestimation of his—of the appeal of his message, that his message resonates far beyond his evangelical base. And I think that will be seen, you know, as an appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans. And so there is an underestimation of his electability. I actually think he is the most electable one that we could nominate next year. But that hasn‘t been accepted yet.
I think the criticisms that Mitt Romney, which those of us from Arkansas understand, are mostly rehashed criticisms of when he was governor, but the issues about his tax record, that worries establishment Republicans. So it‘s those kinds of things.
HUTCHINSON: .I hope and I believe that as they get to know him better, like the Iowans who got to know him better as they took a close look, that they‘ll warm up to him.
CARLSON: Do you approve of his choice of Ed Rollins to help run his campaign?
HUTCHINSON: You know, I don‘t know Ed that well and he hasn‘t been on board that long. But certainly I respect Mike‘s judgment and he made that judgment. And I‘ll tell you this in the week I spent with him in Iowa was the most phenomenal, political experience I‘ve ever had to see the kind of enthusiasm there. And everything that Ed Rollins said to me personally about Mike Huckabee was the absolute highest esteem of his political skills, as well as his political judgment.
And I must say also that the much dissed press conference only enhanced my own admiration for Mike Huckabee as he overruled his consultant, said this is what I think is right and this is what I am going to do, even if it‘s going to be an embarrassing press conference when I step out there.
CARLSON: Yes. Well, any way you slice it, it‘s really one of the most amazing political stories of my lifetime anyway. I‘m just—I‘m in awe watching it.
Congratulations to you, Senator, for being involved in what was an incredible night. Good luck with the campaign. Thanks a lot.
HUTCHINSON: Thanks, Tucker. Good (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: Thank you.
That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. We will return on Monday from New Hampshire. Hope you‘ll join us then. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.
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