Guests: Rosa Brooks, Peter Fenn, James Kirchick, John Harris, Paul Hodes, Chip Saltsman
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everybody. I’m Milissa Rehberger at MSNBC here in New York. Tucker is in New Hampshire having a little technical problem getting here. He’ll be here in just a minute. But first, I will start the show in his words. Here it is.
It simply doesn’t get better than this. It is one day before the New Hampshire primary and there are compelling stories in every direction. With every major poll indicating a lead of one degree or another for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in tomorrow’s vote, the Illinois senator drew overflowing crowds to his campaign events around the state today.
Mrs. Clinton suddenly scrambling to stop the proverbial bleeding? Did something she hadn’t previously done in public life? She showed genuine emotion on the campaign trail. Here it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Some people think elections are a game. They think it’s like who’s up or who’s down. Some of us put ourselves out here and do this against some pretty difficult odds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REHBERGER: Clearly emotional there. In a moment we will dive straight into Democratic race with Barack Obama’s national co-chair.
Equally compelling, though, is the Republican side where there are now numbers not just analysis which indicate John McCain’s revival. The Arizona senator shows up on top on most polls in New Hampshire. I—
Tucker has been with John McCain for most of the last few days and we will take you inside his campaign and we will review and analyze an amazing weekend of crisscrossing candidates’ debates and TV appearances from Mike Huckabee’s efforts to prove his staying power to John Edwards’s 36-hour campaign marathon to the Saturday night debates and Sunday morning talk shows.
The next hour we’ll bring you up to the second in the 2008 race for the presidency. And we will have all of that right after the break.
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back. Thanks for joining us live from Manchester, New Hampshire.
We begin tonight with one of the most compelling stories in American politics in many years. The rise and apparent imminent triumph of that freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.
We are joined now by the national co-chairman of his campaign, Democratic congressman from New Hampshire, Paul Hodes.
Congressman, thanks for coming on. Appreciate it.
REP. PAUL HODES (D-NH), OBAMA NATIONAL CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: You bet. I’m glad to be here with you.
CARLSON: Now you—I just want to get your reaction to the—really the spot news of the day, Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment, interlude during a conversation earlier today. For our viewers who haven’t seen it, here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I just don’t want to see us fall backwards. You know? So—you know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political. It’s not just public. I see what’s happening and we have to reverse it. And some people think elections are a game. They think it’s like who’s up or who’s down. It’s about our country. It’s about our kids’ futures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Now, do you think your candidate Barack Obama feels strongly enough about the future of our children to cry on camera?
HODES: Look, Barack Obama feels really strongly about the future of the country. Tears are not the issue. The issue is the country needs change. It needs to have the possibility of changing the way we do our politics in Washington. And it needs to be brought together so...
CARLSON: What do you make of that? You watch it.
CARLSON: I mean look at that. Is that in your estimation a scripted moment? Is that a genuine moment? Is it an appealing moment? Is it repugnant?
HODES: Listen. I’m going to leave it to other people to comment in those kind of terms. I can tell you that after suffering a devastating loss in Iowa and facing an imminent, compelling loss here in New Hampshire, it must be very difficult for Senator Clinton at this time.
CARLSON: This strikes me as, among many other things, a rebellion against the establishment of the Democratic Party, against the kind of Washington-centered people who’ve run the party for 16 years now. Is that how you see it?
HODES: Well, look, the people in New Hampshire sent me to Washington because they wanted a change. They wanted to change politics as usual. And I think this is a continuation of that.
CARLSON: But not just Bush. Overturning your own party’s leadership.
HODES: I think that what they want to do is see a change from the status quo and the interesting thing in this election is that the status quo was represented by a female candidate. Hillary Clinton who’s been around a while as the spouse of a president, has been there a long time, and the voters are saying we’ve had enough of the way Washington is doing things. We want something different. We want a change. We want our government back. And that’s what I think is going on in this election.
CARLSON: But there are a lot of theories about why this is happening. We’re assuming, of course, that your candidate, Barack Obama, is going to beat Hillary Clinton tomorrow. A lot of indications that’s going to happen.
What do you think it is? What was—is it that she didn’t run a great campaign? Was there a moment where the Clinton people blew it? Or is it something deeper? Is it your candidate is just fundamentally better?
HODES: You know, I—listen, I don’t think this is a question of why not. Barack Obama, who’s brought this message of change, hope and unity to the American people, is finally giving people something they can vote for. We have great candidates in the Democratic field, both the folks who are not with us anymore and the folks who are running. But Barack Obama is special and he’s different.
CARLSON: That’s the consensus. I wonder since you’re in the campaign do you have a perspective on the degree to which the press is sucking up to Barack Obama right now? I mean the press is in a thrall of Barack Obama.
CARLSON: I’m nice to Barack Obama.
CARLSON: Do you understand that’s not always going to be this way?
HODES: Tucker, where have they been for all these times he was down?
Nobody was sucking up to Barack Obama. They weren’t giving him a chance. And now all of a sudden everybody is saying it is a phenomenon. What it is is it’s a professionally run campaign that’s built on the power of people. Look, the grassroots to make some change. We saw it in Iowa and that’s what we are seeing in New Hampshire.
CARLSON: They weren’t giving him any chances. He’s a freshman senator. I mean I think I’ve given him a chance. I’m not attacking Barack Obama. I’m only saying what I’m sure you know which is it’s not always going to be this way. If Obama gets the nomination, if he wins here tomorrow big and is the frontrunner by all measures, he’s going the get scrutiny like he hasn’t gotten before. Are you ready for that?
HODES: Hey, listen, Barack told me a while ago that he was ready for the long haul. And you know what? He’s skinny but he’s tough.
CARLSON: How far do you think—has to be something you are thinking about the Clinton campaign would be willing to take this? Let’s say you win tomorrow, likely to win in South Carolina after that.
CARLSON: Do they take the February 5th? Should they?
HODES: Well, I don’t know. That’s a decision they’re going to have to make. It’s going to have to be a tough moment. Devastating loss more Mrs. Clinton in Iowa. A loss in New Hampshire. Every indication is that the momentum is with Barack. In South Carolina, she has the money to continue. Some of the emotions we’ve seen on the campaign is leaving some people to question whether or not she’s going—undergoing some changes on the campaign trail. And I—the campaign must be asking how far they want to take it.
CARLSON: Are you—I’ve asked a number of surrogates for Senator Obama this. He uses a phrase “in the fierce urgency of now.” What does that mean?
HODES: It comes from Martin Luther King.
HODES: And we’ve got a candidate, by the way, who has echoes of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and JFK wrapped in one.
CARLSON: Well, I wasn’t around when King said it. But I don’t get it when Obama says it. What was (INAUDIBLE) now?
HODES: The fierce urgency, it means we’ve had eight years of a Republican president, George Bush. We’ve had - before that 12 -- combined 12 years of a Republican Congress that have left this country in trouble. We’ve got trouble in the Middle East. We’ve lost respect in the world now. The economy is in the tank. And we’ve got health care issues, lots of major challenges. We’re at a defining moment in American history. And for somebody like Barack Obama, he probably could have waited. But what he sees is that this is a defining moment for this country. It’s time to open a new page, turn the page, see the kind of changes in Washington, see change, hope and unity.
So it’s the fierce urgency of right now, no time for him to wait. We need that kind of leadership and we need it now.
CARLSON: Congressman Paul Hodes of New Hampshire, a man unlike many other Democrats who saw this coming early and sign on early as national co-chairman, congratulations. Appreciate it. Thanks for coming on.
HODES: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Some thought John McCain wouldn’t make it this far in the primary season. But now it is a whole new ball game. He is the frontrunner here in New Hampshire by many measures. We’ve gone on the campaign trail with him. Got an interview with him coming up.
Plus Mike Huckabee is not expecting to finish better than third place in New Hampshire tomorrow. What are his chances in other primaries states after that? Could this once virtually unknown Republican win the nomination?
You’re watching MSNBC live from New Hampshire.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Coming to you live from Manchester, New Hampshire.
The race here tomorrow is widely seen on the Republican side as a battle between John McCain and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. But there is another figure on the Republican side. He is the former governor of Arkansas. He is Mike Huckabee and he won the Iowa caucuses just a few days ago. How will he do as the voters here go to the polls tomorrow?
Joining us now Mike Huckabee’s national campaign manager Chip Saltsman.
Thanks for coming on. How is he going to do tomorrow?
CHIP SALTSMAN, HUCKABEE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Tucker, I’m glad to be here.
CARLSON: So how is he going to do tomorrow?
SALTSMAN: I tell you what. I think just being here is great news for Governor Huckabee. Nobody gave him a chance before Iowa. We won Iowa. We’re here in New Hampshire. We’re competing. Right now some of the polls have us in third place which is a great place. Some of them have us in fourth. But we’re definitely moving up. And to be in front of folks like Mayor Giuliani who spent a lot of time and money here, Fred Thompson, some of those kind of folks, we’re feeling excited about New Hampshire tomorrow. We think we’re going to do better than expected.
CARLSON: Why are so many Republicans kind of writing Mike Huckabee off as unlikely?
SALTSMAN: I think some of it is it’s only the Republicans in Washington that are writing him off. Mostly because he’s not from Washington. He’s not of Washington. He’s not part of the Washington establishment.
CARLSON: I think that’s why—I mean they look at him, they’re saying, “Oh, you know, you’re one of those religious guys and we don’t like them.”
SALTSMAN: He’s also governor for 10 ½ years.
SALTSMAN: He’s got more executive experience that either person—than any person on the Republican or Democratic side. And so we’re running on our record as governor, not the time he spent as a preacher.
CARLSON: But does it - I mean do you - I guess what I’m asking is do you think that there is a reflexive bias in elite Republican circles against people who take their religion really seriously?
SALTSMAN: Well, I hope not. And I think.
CARLSON: You think there is?
SALTSMAN: I hope. And what I hope it is is the fact he’s not a Washington guy. They don’t know him. He didn’t serve in the Senate. He didn’t spend a lot of time in Washington when he was governor. He actually focused on doing his job, which is improving education, improving roads, improving health care in the state of Arkansas. That’s got—why he got re-elected four times in the state of Arkansas. That’s why when he left office he had a big approval rating. And I think that’s one of the reasons he doesn’t play the Washington game like some of the other politicians do.
CARLSON: You know it sounds—I mean you just described the way Mitt Romney describes himself.
CARLSON: Do you think, you know, these two former governors would have a lot in common? They’d get along and be friends but they’re clearly not friends. I want to show a clip from the debate. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I called for a different number. So I also supported the surge from the beginning. But look, you know, Governor, don’t try to characterize my position. Of course, this war has not.
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Which one?
ROMNEY: You know, you know, we’re wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.
HUCKABEE: Well, it’s not a personal attack, Mitt, because you also supported a timed withdrawal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Was it a personal attack?
SALTSMAN: Well, I guess, what I would say that is after getting about $10 million of negative ads from Mitt Romney in Iowa, I would say Mike Huckabee is saying, “Let’s get some of the records straight. Let’s get the facts straight.” And Mitt Romney clearly didn’t have his facts straight on that. He did support a secret timetable but he talked about quite clearly on several Sunday shows and on the newspapers like “The Hill. And that’s what Governor Huckabee was saying.
And I think the fact is, I think most people know Governor Romney has had several different positions on several key issues and I think that’s why even yesterday, one of the debates on FOX when he says—when you were flip-flopper, you know, Governor Romney basically said, “You know, I guess you kind of got me there. I am characterized as a flip-flopper.”
CARLSON: I’m just—I guess I’m trying to understand the resentment. I just spent all day on the McCain bus. Everybody you talk to, boy, that Mitt Romney makes me mad. And you know, he makes Mike Huckabee mad, too.
CARLSON: There is this kind of special resentment that the other Republican candidates feel towards Mitt Romney.
CARLSON: And it’s acute, it’s intense. What is that?
SALTSMAN: I think most of it is the fact he’s taken millions of dollars
and attacked Mike Huckabee. He’s taken millions of dollars and he talked -
and he’s attacked John McCain here in New Hampshire. I think he’s—he wants to talk more about why others should not be president, why he—instead of talking about why he should be president. I think what Governor Huckabee is trying do is run a positive campaign and talking about what he’s for, talking about what his record was for 10 ½ years as governor of Arkansas, doing the kind of things that kind of lift up this country and not tear it down.
CARLSON: Well, there’s just—there is something about him, though, that sets you guys off. That’s—maybe the way he looks. I don’t know. So obviously, you can’t get the nomination coming in third. Where are going to come in first next?
SALTSMAN: Well, I think South Carolina is a great state for us. Right now we’re polling well in South Carolina. We’re ahead in Florida. We’re ahead in states like Georgia. We’re ahead in states like Missouri, Texas. We’re doing really well in some really big states around the country. And even in Michigan, we’re doing either first or second right there. And that’s Governor Romney’s home state.
I think earlier we’ve talked about maybe Governor Romney does well where he has homes. I know he’s got a summer home in New Hampshire. He’s doing well. I’m he’s got a summer home in Michigan. He does well there. So maybe he needs to hurry up and buy some houses all around the country.
CARLSON: So the answer is more real estate.
SALTSMAN: I think that could be it for Governor Romney. Buy more homes.
CARLSON: Chip Saltsman of the Huckabee campaign. Thanks a lot.
SALTSMAN: It’s a pleasure to be on.
CARLSON: Up to now, the revival of John McCain’s presidential campaign was largely anecdotal. The national press appeared to agree it was happening and said so. Now there are polls suggesting it may be true. Senator McCain is running dead even to slightly ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney here in New Hampshire. I spent the better part of the last week with the elder statesman of this campaign and this morning I had a chance to talk to him about the wide open Republican field and his place in it.
CARLSON (on camera): .who want to, you know, be written off. Are you emotionally prepared to win?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: No, (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: No, really. Wouldn’t it be kind of weird?
MCCAIN: No, because I always felt we could do it. I always felt we could. And if I’d ever thought we couldn’t that would put the final nail and transmitted itself out to all of our people and everything. You know, so we haven’t yet. I think it is very clear that Huckabee was stung out in Iowa. You said so. But he didn’t like those attack ads. You know, when I was listening to them go back and forth, I wondered how many viewers really understood the poll increased by 731 keys or who—I don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t know really. I did not know what they were talking about.
I’ve always said I put out in the campaign than most people and I’d like to look at my schedule for the last three, four months. And we’ve been out campaigning. I have always done that and another (INAUDIBLE). I think that I can relate things well to people. Yesterday there are people that had to protest, I still have been—I said to the (INAUDIBLE), you’re not from New Hampshire. She didn’t deny it. I’m not going to lose my temper or anything. But I came there to talk to those people in Salem.
That was the purpose of it. Not to watch some group of people stand up and yell and scream. The people of New Hampshire were madder - there’s people there were heck a lot madder than I was. I didn’t come there and watch that. I think the worst thing you can do is overreact to those things and because that’s the moment that’s captured. I mean, you know, be calm. If you don’t want to hear something that you may not like, don’t do a town hall meeting. That’s what I’ve been telling myself.
If you don’t like it, if you’re afraid somebody is going to say something offensive, then don’t go to the meeting. I noticed last night, the tone—certainly mine. I saw Huckabee and Romney get into it. But I wasn’t going to get into it last night.
CARLSON: You think you got to do it (INAUDIBLE).
MCCAIN: I just thought it’s not helpful. It’s not helpful in the debate.
I think I made my point about—particularly on immigration, also taxes,
you know, to go back and forth and start, you know—people will make
their judgment about the negative advertising. They will make a judgment
on it. I don’t have to emphasize. And so I thought it was much better to
to just state the case and not get into it, into an argument.
And I also tried to make the point on immigration. You know basically play the same point. We’ve got to secure the borders, we’ve got to sit down together, and work through this thing. I mean Fred was a little (INAUDIBLE), Mayor Giuliani want it easier. Huckabee is someplace. We are all saying the same thing. You got to sit down and work this out. Call it amnesty? Want to call it banana? Want to call it—you know. It’s a compelling issue. And 12 million people here illegally is amnesty. They’ve met no amnesty. They’ve broken borders is unacceptable. And so we all realized the problem, then let’s sit down and do—and get this thing done.
CARLSON: What was the time you talked to Thompson?
MCCAIN: Last night. I said, we’re on our way out, I said, “Fred, I hope you are doing well and miss you.” Yes, he and I are very close friends. You know, and we just—in fact, I mentioned to him, I forgot to tell him, I mentioned the trip the other day. Cindy and I - he and Cherry had been on a couple years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were on their honeymoon with them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. I know. I think Fred was on our honeymoon?
MCCAIN: Yes. I’m not sure that that—they didn’t also have a honeymoon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, (INAUDIBLE).
MCCAIN: I think Fred will make up his own mind as to what he wants to do.
And he doesn’t need any prompting, you know, anything from me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he have a record of (INAUDIBLE).
MCCAIN: But we sat next to each other for several years in the Senate. We were very social friends. I always liked him a lot. And so there’s no reason for us to discuss what his future is. I know they are feeling—making a decision.
CARLSON: One more question about.
MCCAIN: That’s they way I would have done it. Everybody has got - the press is saying and so I’m sure Fred is going. I think he has a lot of support in South Carolina. From everything I have seen he does well in the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is your mother up here?
MCCAIN: She’s in France.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) in France. She doesn’t have much faith (INAUDIBLE).
MCCAIN: You know, I think—as I recall, I’m just - I’m going to (INAUDIBLE) - you’re changing the screw knot. She’ll be sidetracked. I’ll probably say something wrong here.
CARLSON: Bill Clinton has hit the road here in New Hampshire working on be half of his wife. But he’s also taken time to lash out at the media. Is he doing more harm to her campaign than good?
And there’s one thing John McCain and Mitt Romney agree on. Mitt Romney is an agent of change. We’ll explain coming up.
We’re live from New Hampshire.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton comes close to tears on the campaign trail. Were they real? Were they part of a larger strategy? In any event, will they work? We’ll tell you in just a minute. But first, here’s a look at your headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I think I am an agent of change. I embody change. I think having the first woman president is a huge change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The Hillary Clinton campaign is widely and correctly perceived to be in a scramble to clarify its message and regain its footing amid the current tide of Barack Obama ascending. Not only did Mrs. Clinton play the gender card as proof of her change bona fides, her husband hit the stump over the weekend to reiterate that Hillary Clinton is a world class change agent.
Is that the right message to right here campaign? How effectively can the Clintons sell it here, in any case? Joining us with their analysis, Rosa Brooks of the “L.A. Times,” and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. Rosa, are you as amazed as I am that Mrs. Clinton would come right out and say, I am change because I am a woman? I am a change agent just because of the way I was born. There may be lamer things to say. I can’t imagine what they would be.
ROSA BROOKS, “LA TIMES”: Tucker, I can’t understand why everybody is pandering to change here. I’m waiting for a politician who will tell it like it is and say that change sucks. We hate change. I want the anti change politician.
CARLSON: I agree with that completely. Fred Thompson might do it.
BROOKS: The thing that’s obviously kind of risky for Hillary Clinton
it would be a change. It would be huge change to have a woman president. Obviously, that would be exciting and historic. The danger that she runs in pulling that one out is it would obviously also be a big change and extremely historic to have an African-American president.
CARLSON: It is also, Peter—I think you are right, Rosa. Peter, it is also something over which she has no control. Her gender is an act of god but not an act of Hillary Clinton. It’s nothing she earned, nothing she achieved. It is something that happened. It’s like taking credit for the weather.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Tucker, I have to tell you, I really have enjoyed seeing the stage full of Democratic candidates for president of the United States and seeing a woman, a black, a Hispanic up there, and not being involved in what is—would only clarify—or call a country club group with the Republican group. You know, I think the point here is—
CARLSON: Give me a break. That’s so stupid, I can barely stand it.
FENN: No, I’m telling you that this country right now is ready. And as much as we joke about this, they are ready for change on all fronts, Tucker. I mean, the whole point of this is—
CARLSON: Hold on. Hold on. You are—I expect more from you. You are telling me that Hillary Clinton getting up and saying, I’m a girl is a campaign position?
FENN: No. I’m telling you—
CARLSON: It’s not a very interesting one.
FENN: I’m telling you that we have diversity in our party, that the other party does not have diversity in theirs.
CARLSON: Oh, please. Where’s the pro-lifer? Where’s the anti-abortion candidate? There’s no diversity. That’s ridiculous.
FENN: They are all over the place, Tucker. Here is the point that I’m making, and that is that Hillary Clinton is running with experience, with a change record, with a whole series, as is Barack Obama or Bill Richardson. And, you know, I just think for folks not to get credit to the Democratic party for putting up a group of people that represent America that, you know—just go because a woman, or a black, because you have a Hispanic. I mean, it isn’t—
CARLSON: You know, by—by that same reasoning—and reasoning is being charitable, to use that phrase to describe what you said—Rosa, couldn’t you say, on the flip side, that if Hillary Clinton loses tomorrow, that New Hampshire is a sexist state? And the Democrats aren’t ready—
FENN: That’s ridiculous, Tucker.
BROOKS: I mean, Tucker—you are completely right, Tucker, that Hillary Clinton doesn’t—she can’t take any credit for being female. I agree with Peter. I don’t think that’s what she was doing. I think she was making—I think she was making a different point. She was actually making two points. One was simply that she was arguing that her record has been a record of pushing for very specific changes in her years in public life. And two, she was making the argument that it would be an important change for America to have a woman as president.
That said, I actually don’t particularly think that either of those arguments is working very well for her at this point. It is too little too late. If she would—I think—you know, I think it is a lost cause. This is an exciting moment partly for almost the opposite reason, because I think that—this actually does dove tail with what Peter says. American that voters, god bless them, have reached the point where they are not voting for or against people because they are a woman or because their skin color is dark, one way or another. They are looking at them and evaluating on a different basis. God bless them.
CARLSON: Here’s why it’s a tragic moment, Peter. Here is—let me get right to the nub of tragedy of this impending election tomorrow. Hillary Clinton, you can say all you want, Mark Penn did a bad job. They should have emphasized this rather than that. The truth of it is—we all know this on some level—voters just like Barack Obama better. He is a more appealing figure. There’s nothing you can do to Hillary Clinton to make her more appealing than Barack obama because she’s just not on an elemental level. The dogs aren’t eating the dog food. That’s the bottom line in this election.
FENN: I disagree with that, Tucker. I will say this; look, you know,
CARLSON: Then why’s she losing?
FENN: The moment in the debate where she was asked about likability, I thought she was absolutely terrific. I thought it was hilarious. I thought she was very funny and very self-depricating. I thought it was good moment. I think that people who meet her—if you talk to the little old ladies from Buffalo who were supposed to not like her when she first ran for the Senate, they do like her. They voted for her in droves.
And the non-likability things—I’m not defending Hillary all the way here. We have great candidates. As you know, I haven’t endorsed anybody in this thing. But I will tell you that I think it is a bum wrap. You know, I think it is not fair to say that—to say that about somebody who is absolutely likable.
CARLSON: What do you think—I’m not—I’m not saying she is a bad person. I’m merely saying he’s better than she is. That’s the bottom line.
FENN: He is very likable. He has a great smile. He has a great way about him. I tell you, I like Barack Obama. Everybody is liking him. But the problem is you haven’t—you haven’t been—he hasn’t been bashed for 15 years by the Republicans and Fox News.
CARLSON: The Republicans and Fox have nothing to do right now with this primary. Here is one of the issues at stake, Rosa. Hillary Clinton is losing. All of a sudden, she comes out and attacks Barack Obama on abortion. It seems he’s insufficiently enthusiastic about abortion. He hasn’t paid for or committed any. He’s not out there protecting them enough.
He is the most pro-choice candidate I think I have ever seen. And yet, he’s not pure enough for Hillary Clinton?
BROOKS: It is not his fault he is not a woman. He hasn’t had the opportunity to have an abortion. I don’t hold that against him, Tucker.
CARLSON: That’s basically what she is saying.
BROOKS: Look, I think she’s getting desperate. She’s running scared. She is down in the polls. It has been fascinating to see as the aura of inevitability wears off. It turns out that people don’t like her all that much. A lot of people were rallying around the Clinton campaign, frankly, because they saw it as inevitable. Once that kind of pixie dust disappears, everybody starts going, actually, I was not that crazy about this candidate in the first place.
I don’t think by the way—you know, I didn’t like her that much myself. But I actually don’t think it has anything to do with whether she is likable as a human being. I agree with Peter. I think she is a very likable human being. I thought she was extremely charming in the debate. I think Obama is also a likable human being.
I actually don’t think voters are that dumb. I think voters like her or dislike her based on what they perceive her policy positions to be, based on whether they think she has been principled in her policy positions, and, you know, I think they like Barack Obama because they like his policies better. They like his principles better. And they are not crazy about hers. It has nothing to do with personality.
CARLSON: If you were to take a nationwide quiz—I wish I could afford to just commission my own poll on this. Give me five significant policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and I bet you would draw blank stares rather than informed answers. People don’t know. They don’t know. They just look and they say, he represents a break from the past and she doesn’t. And that’s it.
FENN: Tucker, this is what this campaign is coming down to, which is that people want to turn the page and move on. And that is, you know—that’s a big strength in his support. Also, he is charismatic. He says things in a way that, you know, people do have tears in their eyes. And, you know, that says a lot about a politician these days. So, you know, I really think—
CARLSON: He does not have tears in his eyes.
FENN: Let me say one thing about this—and you and I have talked about it before—inevitability as a reason for supporting someone in a campaign is totally and completely ludicrous. It was a strategy that was nuts from the beginning in my book. People were not going to buy it in New Hampshire. They sure as heck didn’t buy it in Iowa.
The thing about this—if I were Hillary Clinton right now, I would get rid of the inevitability folks. And I would say I’m—you know, we are going to February 5th. We are not going to play in South Carolina. Because that is—that would be—that’s a bad place for her. And I think she has to leap frog to February 5th to have any shot in this campaign at all.
CARLSON: It’s all rearranging deck chairs. I bet you they will sacrifice Mark Penn, the chief strategist on that campaign. They will get nowhere for doing it. Rosa, where do you see John McCain going if he wins tomorrow in New Hampshire?
BROOKS: I don’t know, Tucker. It will be—it will be interesting to watch. I’m not a very good tea leaf reader. Every time I try I read the tea leaves I get tea leaves all over the floor. I actually—I like John McCain. I think he is—of the Republican candidates, I think he has the most integrity. I think—you know, he does have, obviously, a tremendous amount of experience. I think that he has been more interesting and more sophisticated and more principled than any in that batch.
I don’t think they have a great field. I think Peter is right. The Democrats have a lot of terrific candidates to choose from. The Republicans are pretty unhappy with their candidates. I can’t blame them. I actually think it is good for the Republicans, good for the general election, the robustness of the debate if McCain does end up managing to be a viable candidate and come out as the GOP nominee.
CARLSON: Peter, I want to show you what I thought was the most amusing moment in the last debate. This is John McCain really summing it up, his views on Mitt Romney. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We disagree on a lot of issues. But I agree, you are the candidate of change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FENN: He really loved that line.
CARLSON: Ouch. If McCain can keep laughing throughout this campaign he will be president.
FENN: Look, he has a lot going for him. I do agree with Rosa, I think a campaign, whether it is Hillary Clinton or Obama, against a McCain would be an extraordinary race. I think it would be tough, rough and tumble. But I—I do think that—I do think it would be civil. And I think that you would really be discussing issues with two—
FENN: Not if it’s against Hillary.
CARLSON: She’s out here having surrogates basically calling Barack Obama a crack-head. You think they wouldn’t pull that? It would be ugly. We are out of time. Rosa, Peter, thank you very much. It is true. I’m not—that was a Democrat who said that, as you know.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton is hoping voters in New Hampshire will give her the same boost her husband got after he finished back in 1992, in second place, by the way. With the latest polls showing her slipping farther and farther behind Obama, is a surprise come back now out of reach?
And who’s the real Ron Paul? He surprised many with his unwavering popularity on the Internet. We’ll talk to someone who has written a peace that alleges he is not the man you think he is. You’re watching MSNBC, live from New Hampshire.
CARLSON: As many of you now, I have spent some time with Ron Paul on the trail. I’m impressed by his broad coalition of support. I have championed his commitment to always speaking the truth, no matter how unpopular it might be. Now, “The New Republic” is set to publish a piece on Friday that questions whether Ron Paul is really the man he seems to be. The piece cites offensive passages from news letters published under Ron Paul’s name going as far back to the 1970s.
Paul’s campaign acknowledges that their candidate did publish these news letters for years. But it says it not see everything before it went to print. The campaign has also apologized, most recently to me on phone. Joining me is the author of the new piece, the “New Republic’s” Jamie Kirchick. Jamie, thanks for coming on.
JAMES KIRCHICK, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”: Tucker, thanks for having me.
CARLSON: So, the Paul campaign says yes, some friends of his misused his name and published unattractive, slightly crazy, maybe very crazy things under his name. They are sorry. And Ron Paul never saw these passages. Do you buy that?
KIRCHICK: No. Well, when I first asked Ron Paul’s spokesman about this, Jessie Benton, he said that he actually written parts of the news letter. And then he changed his story somewhat after I read him, for example, passages where Ron Paul calls Martin Luther King a gay pedophile. And after that, he said well, he goes—this was ghost written and the offensive parts were not written by Ron Paul.
So no, I don’t believe it. You have, you know, 20 years of a news letter here, which will be available on our website starting tomorrow actually, at TNR.com -- 20 years of a news letter that is filled with racist, anti-semitic, homophobic invective, and it is called “The Ron Paul Political Report” or “The Ron Paul Freedom Report.” It is published by an outfit called Ron Paul and Associates.
So I really find that defense to be utterly unbelievable.
CARLSON: Yes. I mean, it is—there is no doubt he was at the very least negligent. It is not much of an explanation. Here’s the one—the one thing, though, that troubles me about the allegation of racism. Ron Paul seems to be the kind of guy that will say exactly what he thinks. If he was a racist, why wouldn’t he just say so?
KIRCHICK: Well, let’s keep in mind that the actual racist portions of this news letter were published we he was not in Congress. It was in between 1084 and 1996, for the most part—sorry, 1988 and 1996, when he was not actually in Congress. So when you are not in Congress, there’s less scrutiny. There’s less attention paid to what you are saying. And look—
Let’s see what happened last weekend. We have Barack Obama who is on the verge of becoming the first black Democratic presidential nominee, serious presidential contender. So, you know, racism of this sort, as readers see—racism of this sort does not get you votes anymore.
CARLSON: OK. But—I mean, some of the stuff stuff, I agree, is
offensive and weird. Some of it, though, criticizing Barbara Jordan as the
archetypal half-educated victimologist. I don’t know. I mean, you don’t -
it is not racist not to respect Barbara Jordan.
KIRCHICK: No, it’s not. But what about saying that New York City should be called Zooville, as opposed to naming it after Martin Luther King, which is what he said, or Welfaria. You no, he called black people animals and said that his readers of his news letters should move out to the country, buy guns because the animals are coming. This was a couple years before the Los Angeles riots.
Again, these are not isolated incidents. You should know that back in 1996, about two or three of the news letters were revealed at the time and Paul said that they had been taken out of context. Then five years later he said that he didn’t write them. But he took moral responsibility for them. So what we thought were just isolated examples back in 1996 now we are going to see are actually part of a two-decade long career full of this stuff.
CARLSON: Do you have any evidence he ever said anything like this?
KIRCHICK: You mean said it out loud or in person?
CARLSON: Yes, said it out loud, he, himself, Ron Paul, get out there and say something racist or sexist?
KIRCHICK: I haven’t seen that. We do know, however—I have found out that he spoke at a pro-secession conference in 1995. This was a neo-confederate organization putting this on. He spoke along with many other writers who advocate for secession. Actually, last week on MSNBC he touted a book called “The Real Lincoln” by a guy named Thomas De Lorenzo (ph), who is a neo-confederate. He has long associations with these types of people.
What he does, Tucker, is he speaks in code. He is a transmitter. He will say certain things that, you know, at fist may not appear to be overtly racist, but to certain audiences they know what he is talking about. So when he talks about secession, he says it in a way that’s not exactly neo-confederate or isn’t exactly explicitly neo-confederate. But to people who are in the know and people who are a part of this neo-confederate communities, they know exactly what he is talking about.
CARLSON: Boy, I must say it has gone right over my head. But I appreciate your coming on, Jim Kirchick from “The New Republic.”
KIRCHICK: Thanks for having me. Stay warm.
CARLSON: Senator Hillary Clinton continues to push her experience as a key factor in her battle with Barack Obama and John Edwards. It was surprising to see her get teary-eyed today on the campaign trail. Will it affect tomorrow’s primary results one way or the other? Is New Hampshire destined to be the Hillary campaign’s last stand?
Joining us now is “The Politico’s” editor in chief, John Harris, also a very well-respected Clinton biographer.
JOHN HARRIS, “THE POLITICO”: Hey, Tucker.
CARLSON: John, I mean, is—I want to talk to you because you have a remarkable piece on Friday night on “The Politico” about this campaign’s effect on the legacy of Bill Clinton. You saw the two as interconnected.
HARRIS: They do both have a lot at stake in this election. Bill Clinton obviously wants his wife to be president for her sake, but also for his sake. I think as historians look back at the Clintons 100 years from now, if you have two Clinton presidencies basically dominating the politics of the generation, that’s a must larger historical statement than if it is just Bill Clinton’s presidency governing in a comparatively tranquil time. He’s certainly destined to be known as a colorful and effective position, but essentially sandwiched between two war presidents named Bush.
His own legacy, I think, can be determined by what happens in this election, which means it can be happened by what will happen right here in New Hampshire.
CARLSON: You know Clinton very well. Is that the way he thinks?
HARRIS: I do believe that he has been concerned about his historical legacy. I believe he’s very genuine about wanting his wife to be president. I believe he felt that for a long time, probably even before he was president. I think he’s being absolutely sincere when he says that she’s the best combination of head and heart that he has ever met. So far, the Democratic voters on this contest are not agreeing with that. You can sense the frustration with him and with his—Clinton circle.
I was with some of them last night. They are just enraged, Tucker, by what they see as the profound unfairness of it.
CARLSON: It is so interesting. I think it is—it is going to take me a long time to understand exactly what’s happening right now in New Hampshire and in the Democratic party. On the one hand, 82 percent of Democrats say we love Bill Clinton; we like Bill Clinton; he is our hero. But they are clearly rejecting him when they reject his wife. He is out on the trail here. It is not helping her. It does not appear to be.
HARRIS: I can remember the number of times I heard Bill Clinton in speeches as president, you know, through the ‘90s say, look, all elections are about the future. That’s one of his favorite truisms. He said it over and over again. Hillary Clinton has not managed to make the election about the future. Bill Clinton’s presence, I think, tends to underscore that this is in part about restoration.
I would also say, Bob Shrum had a pretty good column in the “New York Daily News” where he said look, the—the campaign so far has been about her, her qualifications, her preparedness, essentially her right to be president, her time. In fact, it has not been a good case about voters. If you go back to New Hampshire in 1992, where Bill Clinton saved his career when his political future was tottering because of Jennifer Flowers and draft dodging, he did very effectively make it about the voters. He said look, all those—the press and my partisan critics be want to make this election about my past. I want to make it about your future. Hillary Clinton has not done that.
CARLSON: Neither has he. Every time I see Bill Clinton speak it is always the same speech. The subtext—sometimes these text is I was a great president.
CARLSON: So what’s the effect on the party if she loses? This is just—this is a major change for the Democratic party if the Clintons are no longer running.
HARRIS: Tucker, Hillary made herself into a pretty good politician. She is effective. She is articulate. Her message is coherent. It may be that she is as good as she ever will be. But there’s something bigger going on than Hillary Clinton, and perhaps something bigger going on than the Clinton legacy, that you have a conceivably—I don’t want to call the race over. I think that’s a big mistake. All a sudden, the press may. But conceivably what you have here is a historical wave, a generational turn of the cycle.
Bill Clinton was the beneficiary of that generational turn of the cycle 15, 16 years ago. His wife may be the victim of it this time.
CARLSON: I think you are absolutely right. I don’t think we can say enough, she’s running at about 96 percent capacity. She is doing, in my view, about the best job she is going to do. And it is a pretty good job.
HARRIS: It is way better than the average politician. She made herself into a really good politician. In some ways, obviously not in the critical way, but in some ways better than Bill Clinton. She is more likely to stay focussed, less likely to go off script. She is tight. She is disciplined. At the technical level, all the things that we tend to praise in people who are effective politicians; somehow it is all notes, no music.
CARLSON: He would have to light a joint on stage to blow it at this point.
HARRIS: Barack Obama?
HARRIS: Hillary Clinton’s own people are saying that. They expect him to win tomorrow. And the question is how do they get everybody, activists, donors, us in the news media, to say look, this race is not over. We have another month to go. That’s going to be a big—
CARLSON: I’m sure they will be calling your cell phone the second you get off the air.
HARRIS: But it is not over. February 5th, a lot of delegates.
CARLSON: I agree.
HARRIS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, HARDBALL with Chris Matthews. We’re with McCain all day tomorrow. We’ll see you then.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user’s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.’s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.