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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Jan. 8

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Michael Eric Dyson, Eugene Robinson, Katrina Vanden Heuvel

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  A different America -- 1492 to 2008 to what comes now.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL, tonight from NBC News headquarters in New York.  This is the night, the night that could be the beginning of the end of a frontrunner‘s presidential candidacy, a night that could turn a movement—or turn a moment, rather, into a movement, a night when a maverick Republican could rise from the ashes to claim victory, a night when conventional wisdom crumbles and change becomes the touchstone for this country.  Tonight is the night of the New Hampshire primary.

MSNBC‘s primary coverage begins in an hour with Keith Olbermann, the host of “COUNTDOWN,” joining me.  We have this event covered with our NBC reporters with the campaigns and our team of political pros.  But HARDBALL begins now.

So what can we expect to see tonight?  Let‘s go to the numbers.  Let‘s start with the Democrats.  The latest Suffolk University poll has Obama leading by 5 points in New Hampshire.  He‘s up 9 points in the American Research Group poll, and the Reuters/Zogby poll has him up 13 points.  That‘s Obama in the lead.  The Real Clear Politics Web site, which averages the numbers together, has Obama at 38 percent, Clinton down at 30 percent, an 8-point spread, Edwards a distant third at 18 percent, Bill Richardson all the way down at 6 percent.

On the Republican side, the Suffolk poll has Mitt Romney leading by 4 points in New Hampshire tonight, but other new polls show John McCain with the lead.  He‘s up by 7 points in the American Research Group poll, up by 9 points in the Reuters/Zogby poll.  The Real Clear Politics average on the Republican side has John McCain leading by 4 points at 32 percent to Romney‘s expected 28 percent.  Huckabee‘s down at 12 percent.  Giuliani and Ron Paul are in single digits.

We go first to NBC‘s Lee Cowan, who‘s covering the Barack Obama campaign.  You‘re at the headquarters.  What can you report, Lee?

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, you know, this campaign had promised all along that it was going to get a big turnout, especially among the young voters, just like they did in Iowa.  And we do know that turnout has been so big in some places that they actually ran out of ballots and they had to call the secretary of state to bring in more ballots to some of those places.  So it seems as though the turnout is certainly in their favor.

This campaign never particularly looked at the poll numbers of late, though.  They say they focused a lot more on the size and the enthusiasm of the crowds that they‘ve drawn over the last couple of days.  What we‘ve seen here is crowds that are anywhere between twice to a third bigger than what we saw in the last couple of days leading up to the Iowa caucuses.  Almost every place had an overflow room.  We‘re talking thousands of people in these rallies, not necessarily hundreds of people.  And that‘s what made the campaign feel relatively confident.  Again, the senator himself says, Look, we haven‘t won anything yet.  He‘s being cautious, but he says they feel pretty good.

MATTHEWS:  You know, Lee, it used to be said of Barack Obama—and you can fill us in on this—that he would walk into a room to incredible applause, and then leave the audience a bit lower than he found it or entered it.  Now, I mean, I was at one of those events this weekend.  I can tell you that I saw, heard and felt the excitement of that room growing and growing and growing throughout his appearance.  Is that the sense you get or can report on his appearances the last several days?

COWAN:  Yes.  I mean, I think it‘s fair to say that a while back, some of the speeches were perhaps a little academic.  Perhaps he fell into that professorial mode that was talked about a lot.  And you‘re right, he didn‘t sometimes end up on a crescendo.

That‘s changed.  I think he‘s now sort of high-octane from the moment he walks into these rallies until the time he leaves.  It‘s that speech that he gave in Iowa that got such a good reception there.  He‘s retooled a little bit.  He‘s said some things.  He‘s a lot more relaxed now up on the stump.  He varies it a little bit.  He seems very comfortable in front of these crowds.  So you‘re right, I think he feeds off that energy, and once it starts, he just keeps it going.

MATTHEWS:  I think I counted four crescendos in the speech I saw.  It really grew and then it grew, and then went back and grew again.  Then he chatted with the audience, then it grew again.  There was a lot of professionalism there in that oratory.  Anyway, thank you very much, Lee Cowan.

Let‘s take a look before we leave at a bit of the candidate himself. 

Here‘s Senator Barack Obama of Illinois campaigning hard at the end.


Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Imagine that, false hopes!  Imagine John F. Kennedy looking up at the moon and saying, Darn, that‘s far.


OBAMA:  We can‘t do that.  Reality check.  Can‘t be done.  Imagine Dr.  King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out at those crowds, a quarter million people around a reflecting pool, and saying, Y‘all go home, the dream has died.  It can‘t be done.  It‘s too hard.  Lost hopes.  You know, this is what this campaign is all about.


MATTHEWS:  America.  Anyway, NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell is covering the Clinton campaign for us tonight.  Andrea, I was there last night.  What a big crowd they brought in for that event.  How‘s it look today?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  There was a huge crowd.  Hillary Clinton went to some polls today.  The real newsmaker today was her husband, who blamed New Hampshire officials for scheduling this primary so soon after Iowa, saying that she didn‘t have time to recover, that that was a mistake, and that New Hampshire officials really weren‘t fair to New Hampshire voters.  So I‘m not sure what the strategy was for him to be dissing the New Hampshire people on the day of the New Hampshire voting.  But he sounded very angry, very bitter.

He was also clearly bitter last night when he went after Barack Obama, claiming that Barack Obama has not been questioned intensively in 15 debates about his claims to have always been anti-war.  Obama fired back at him today and said, I understand why the former president is frustrated, given what‘s going on, but that wasn‘t my record.  In fact, I simply was going along with what the candidate, then John Kerry, was saying and trying not to embarrass the Democratic nominee because I was giving the keynote address at the convention.  You know, this kind of back-and-forth...


MITCHELL:  ... is not the best way for Hillary Clinton to be wrapping up her campaign today, frankly, Chris.

And as you know, there‘s a lot of reports that there are going to be changes.  I interviewed Terry McAuliffe today, the campaign co-chair, and he said, Yes, we do want to bring some more people in.  We know that he called James Carville and talked to Carville, probably talked to Paul Begala, as well.  I can tell you Carville and Begala are not joining this campaign.  That‘s what they say.  So if they‘re going to bring people in—there are a lot of rumors about it—it will be other people to perhaps layer or assist some of the campaign brain trust, who are being blamed for the defeat in Iowa and for what is apparently not going well for them in New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about Bill and Hillary.  It‘s always an interesting matter, not their marriage but their politics.  Is Hillary a little bit sensitive to the charge from Bill and his people that they could do a better job than she and her people?

MITCHELL:  It‘s actually the same people.  I mean, there are some variations.  I think at this point, in what is a crisis for them politically, they are together in it.  They are jointly running this campaign and making big decisions.  Will they go to South Carolina?  Should they bypass South Carolina, where they are likely to be outdistanced by Barack Obama, should he win here tonight, if the African-American vote there does go in his direction?  Should they just focus on Super Tuesday, focus on Florida?

They claim they‘re not out of money.  They claim that they still have $28 million of the $100 million that they‘ve raised in the bank.  But there is somewhat of a money crunch, and they are sending out e-mail letters signed by Bill Clinton to ante up.  But a lot of their people have already contributed the maximum, Chris.  And you know that Barack Obama has a big advantage.  He has more individual contributors who have not maxed out and who can now come forth with more money as these 23 more primaries, the big ones, come up.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Andrea Mitchell with the Clinton campaign.

Now NBC‘s Kevin Corke, who‘s covering the John Edwards campaign.  It‘s hard for John Edwards to get into this narrative, isn‘t it, Kevin.

KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, no question about it, Chris.  You have two rock star candidates in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Of course, if you include Bill into that equation—so it‘s been tough for John Edwards to get a word in edgewise.

Now, the fact that they finished second in Iowa was something they were really hoping for, so they got a little bit of a kick.  I was told by Joe Trippi that they‘ve gotten a lot of infusion of cash, about $1 million in on-line contributions, did a little federal matching on that.  So they‘re picking up some money.  They‘re going to need that.

But they also recognize that  there is no way they‘re going to finish probably better than a distant third.  I mean, they would be happy—thrilled, frankly—if they could get 20 percent tonight.  But they‘re also telling me that they‘re not really worried about that because looking ahead, they‘s able to sit back and watch sort of the Clinton implosion, if you will.  They say, Look, if she continues to flounder, she doesn‘t even contest in South Carolina, they can go there, where, you remember, Edwards did very well in 2004.  And of course, they can go on to Nevada, where he has lots of union help and support.  That‘s the strategy right now, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Are they hoping that they could have Hillary drop out of the race?  Is that a credible probability, that she‘ll drop out and leave it to a two-man race?

CORKE:  Yes and no.  Yes, that‘s exactly what they‘re hoping for.  But do I think that‘s credible?  Not really, and certainly not before Super Tuesday.  There‘s just too much at stake.  They‘ve put in too much time, effort and money to see Hillary Clinton just sort of go belly-up between now and super—or “tsunami Tuesday.”  So I don‘t think that‘s going to happen.

If, after that point, Edwards has picked up maybe a second or a first somewhere along the line and they‘re feeling good and picking up some cash, then after that, maybe.  OK, I‘ll buy that as a possibility, but I would say it‘s a long shot, certainly, between now and then, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s funny because President Clinton said he wished his wife was—I mean, he could say something like if she were taller, younger and male, she‘d be doing better off.  Well, John Edwards is taller, younger and male, and he‘s not doing so well.  So I don‘t get the Clinton critique here, do you?

CORKE:  Yes, I really don‘t.  I think the president is frustrated.  Obviously, Senator Clinton is frustrated with what‘s happening.  I think for John Edwards, here‘s the thing to remember.  He recognizes that this is all about change.  We‘ve been talking a lot about that word, “change.”  He‘s sort of on that bandwagon anyway.  And so he‘s trying to draw this narrative, that, Look, if you‘re looking for change, it‘s Obama and me versus the old school.  If he can get into that narrative and somehow sort of push Hillary out the door, he likes his chances head to head with Obama because his message is a strong one.  But I just don‘t know if he‘ll ever get there, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a hell of a chance.  Thank you very much, Kevin Corke with the Edwards campaign at headquarters.

NBC‘s Kelly O‘Donnell is covering the John McCain camp.  Well, is Mac the back or is back Mac back, or what?  What‘s the latest slogan up there for McCain?

KELLY O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, you‘ve got it right, that‘s what supporters are certainly shouting on the campaign trail.  And while there‘s been an awful lot of attention on the Democrats, the Republicans have quite a story, as well.  And for John McCain, it‘s a mix of some nostalgia and some insurgency in his campaign.

Of course, in 2000, eight years ago, he won this primary and he became the maverick who could be a winner.  And now here we find ourselves a man who had been nearly out of the game over the summer.  He was really down on his luck.  Staffers were gone.  Money was running low.  And yet he persevered.  Voters seem to have responded to that.  He did pretty well in Iowa, and he‘s banking everything on New Hampshire.  The crowds have been huge, Chris.  The interest has been very high.

MATTHEWS:  Is it make or break for John McCain tonight?

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s the equation everyone is working off of.  Candidates never like to quite say it‘s the end of the road, but certainly, the conventional wisdom is he must win here in order to have any validity going forward.  We go—tomorrow, I‘ll be traveling with him up to Michigan, where he also won eight years ago.  But that‘s tough territory because, as you know, Mitt Romney is a son of Michigan and his father a former governor there.  So Michigan, and then South Carolina, and South Carolina was really a heartbreak territory for him eight years ago.  He‘s hoping he can do better now.  But clearly, it‘s New Hampshire or bust for John McCain.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Kelly O‘Donnell.

Let‘s go now to Romney headquarters and NBC‘s Ron Allen.  Is he having a big day today?  I‘ve never seen a guy campaign so hard on election day.

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, he‘s out there.  He‘s got a lot of energy and he‘s got a lot of optimism.  And I sensed last night and today that he seemed to have more optimism than he had in the past.  He actually predicted today that he is going to win this thing, to quote him, and he was fairly confident about that.  He is convinced that the group of undecided voters who are still out there are going to fall to him, he says, largely based on his performance in those two debates over the weekend, particularly one the Republican forum on Sunday, where he feels that he hit a home run.

So yes, they‘ve had their machine out there.  They‘ve made some—about 100,000 phone calls they said on Monday alone.  They‘ve knocked on about 8,000 doors, all these, you know, huge numbers they pump out at you.  But yes, they‘ve got a real ground game going out there, and they think they‘re going to come back and they think they‘re going to win it.

The other thing Romney is fighting is this perception that if he doesn‘t win here, that somehow it kills his campaign.  The way they‘ve been spinning it, this could be a second place finish.  Iowa was a second place finish.  Wyoming was a first place finish.  And they‘re going on to Michigan.  And as Kelly pointed out, they feel very good about their chances there because Romney was born there, because his father was a three-term governor.  He‘s already got ads up there.  He‘s in it for the long haul, he says.  And of course, he more than the others has the cash to back that—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you very much, Ron Allen, an interesting view of how Romney can be the man at the end of this whole race.

Coming up: Bill Clinton attacks Obama and Obama counters.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MITT ROMNEY (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The hands I shake here, time and again, people say, I was undecided, I‘ve now decided to vote for you.  Those are good signs for us.




JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m in this until the convention, and beyond to the White House.  And we see a huge response and momentum behind the campaign.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let‘s bring in the NBC News political director, Chuck Todd.  He‘s up in New Hampshire.  MSNBC political analyst Mike Barnicle is with him.  And “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman, who‘s sitting to my left right here.

Starting with Howard—the Clintons, how afraid are they?

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Oh, I think there‘s something bordering on panic inside the Clinton operation right now.  They‘re not sure precisely what to do.  Do they bring in new people?  There are a lot of factions inside that want to do that.  But it‘s not just the new people, it‘s what else Hillary‘s going to say.  It‘s how she‘s going to regroup.  It‘s whether she has time.  This thing is speeding up so quickly, can she build a firewall far away on February 5 in the big states?  There may not be enough time for that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, Mike Barnicle, they can‘t blame this one on Bob Shrum, at least.


No, and they can‘t blame it on a left-wing conspiracy, either, a vast left-wing conspiracy.  Howard nailed it.  The acceleration of this thing, the pace of it, the wave of it, the building, the cresting of the wave is enormous.  This is an enormous story, Chris, as you know.  It‘s basically potentially the end of two dynasties in this country, the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty.  And it‘s all happening right here this evening in New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Chuck on that, before we show Hillary—show some tape of the Clintons going to war with Barack.  What do you make of their final game here, their end game?  Do they have one tonight?

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, you know, in talking with a lot of people that are involved with the Clinton campaign but don‘t get to help make the decisions, the fear is they don‘t have a plan B.  The fear is that they had just one plan, inevitability and the hope that being the first woman president would be the change, that they could be the movement candidate.

And you know, the hard part of this is, is I think at the very beginning, they thought they had sort of two angles at this.  They had the woman thing and they had the experience, inevitability factor.


TODD:  And somehow, they lost both of them.  And that‘s what‘s hard here, is that, you know, if one was plan 1A and plan 1B, there‘s no plan 1C right now.

I mean, I‘m hearing all sorts of things.  Some folks that could get drawn into the campaign are telling me that the most likely scenario is that they‘ll skip the next two states and basically say, OK, let‘s make this a referendum on Obama as the nominee on February 5.  I‘ll—you know, that she may—you know, I‘ll drop out after February 5, if I don‘t get this nomination, but you‘ve got to know, those February 5 states, that that‘s what you‘re voting for.  You‘re voting to end it.  You‘re voting for Obama as the nominee.  And maybe that‘ll sort of jump start things.  We‘ll see.

MATTHEWS:  And it reminds me of what the Egyptian soldiers said after losing the Six-Day War to Israel:  Our strategy was to rape all the women and kill all the men. 

That‘s not very good strategy when you are in retreat. 


MATTHEWS:  Here‘s what Bill Clinton said about Obama last night in New Hampshire. 

Let‘s take a look. 


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, well, how could you say that, when you said, in 2004, you didn‘t know how you would have voted on the resolution; you said, in 2004, there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war, and you took that speech you‘re now running on off your Web site in 2004?

And there‘s no difference in your voting record and Hillary‘s ever since. 

Give me a break. 


B. CLINTON:  This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the longest argument I have ever heard. 

What is the point? 

FINEMAN:  Well, the point is that, if they were going to seriously critique Barack Obama‘s record, or lack thereof, they needed to do it months ago. 

They couldn‘t depend on the debate moderators to do it.  If they were going to make a sort of negative argument...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  ... meaning, you can‘t take him, you got to take us, they needed to do it. 

But, as Chuck said, they went on inevitability.  They went on sort of the “I am the state” case.


FINEMAN:  And they totally forgot to take Barack Obama seriously. 

And, also, the idea that the president of the United States, on the eve of the—former president—on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, is running around calling the other guy a fairy tale, I mean, that just shows what you desperation the Clinton campaign is in right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to—let me go to Chuck on that.

It seems to me, if you call the guy a fairy tale, you are saying all the voters who are voting for this guy or saying they like him now in the national polls are deluded. 

TODD:  Right.  Well, guess what?  After tonight, all of those national polls are going to flip.  After tonight, Barack Obama‘s going to be the front-runner, and he‘s going to be the one up 10 points. 

You know what‘s interesting here, Chris, is that we are actually going to see a shift tonight, in that it is going to be Barack Obama trying to become the inevitable nominee.  He‘s going to try to take tonight‘s results and not say this is a step toward winning South Carolina or Nevada.  He‘s going to try to use this vacuum that it appears that he thinks is going to be there because of the state of flux that the Clinton campaign is in, and he is going to use this to try to create his own sense of inevitability, basically saying:  Are you really going to be against me?  Are you going to stop—are you going to stop this movement?  Are you going to be against all these young people? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TODD:  Are you going to disappoint this—this crowd?  Are you going to disappoint—and that‘s how he‘s going to try to woo donors, and that‘s how he‘s going to try to woo establishment types. 

I mean, it is sort of ironic that, after tonight, Obama is going to try to become the establishment candidate.  And, frankly, he will look that way in a week. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Mike, can he throw mama from the train? 


BARNICLE:  Well, you know...


BARNICLE:  You know, the former president—you just showed the clip.


MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing, but can he do it?  Can he throw mama from the train tonight? 

BARNICLE:  No, he can‘t.  No, he can‘t.  He cannot do it.  And they cannot do it together.  And whatever reincarnation of their campaign apparatus they come up with, they can‘t do it either. 

There was something sort of sad about seeing the former president in that clip, because he was one of the greatest retail politicians we will ever see in our lifetime. 

New Hampshire and Iowa get knocked a lot.  People in the media, cynical types like myself, say it is like campaigning basically in front of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a group of all white people. 

All right, New Hampshire and Iowa are small states, largely white states.  But they are the only two states in the process where people are forced—candidates are forced to come on to the small stage and expose their candidacies, their strengths and their weaknesses, in front of ordinary human beings, before they disappear into this big media blitz we call the national campaign. 

Hillary Clinton‘s campaign was tremendously flawed from the outset because of her inability to connect in a retail way with ordinary people, something her former husband, her—boy, there‘s a slip.


MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BARNICLE:  ... something her husband, the former president, was very good at it, and she‘s just not very good at it. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Barack Obama pounding back at Bill Clinton.  This is getting very quick back and forth here. 


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I was always against the war. 

The quote he keeps on feeding back was an interview on “Meet the Press” at the national convention, when Tim was asking, given your firm opposition to the war, what do you make of the fact that your nominee for president and vice president didn‘t have that same foresight? 

And, obviously, I didn‘t want to criticize them on the eve of their nomination.  So, I said, well, I don‘t know what—I wasn‘t in the Senate.  I can‘t say for certain what I would have done if I was there.  I know that, from where I stood, the case was not made. 

He always leaves that out.  And, you know, I understand why he‘s frustrated.  But, at some point, since we have corrected him repeatedly on this, and he keeps on repeating it, you know, it tells me that he‘s just more interested in trying to muddy the waters than actually talk fairly about my record. 


MATTHEWS:  This is kind of “Alice in Wonderland.”

I mean, first of all, about a week or two ago, we were all stunned to hear Bill Clinton say that he was against the Iraq war from the beginning. 


MATTHEWS:  Now he is telling us that Barack was for it from the beginning.  This is strange. 

FINEMAN:  Well, Barack was against it at beginning, but he did make a political move at the convention. 

MATTHEWS:  To under—underscore the other guy, right.


MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  So, you know, Barack Obama‘s going to be under the microscope now. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

FINEMAN:  There are legitimate questions to ask.  It is—the issue here is whether Hillary Clinton waited too long to ask them.  That‘s the key.  Somebody‘s going to ask them. 

And if—as Chuck says, Barack‘s going to be the front-runner now, and he‘s going to have a lot of the questions asked about him that the inquisitors at the debates didn‘t ask and that the Clinton campaign didn‘t ask. 

And the question now is, will the Clinton campaign now do it, or who will do it?  Because somebody is going to do it, the Republicans, if nobody else. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we have a lot to talk about tonight, as we get the results later on.

Thank you, Howard Fineman, Chuck Todd, and Mike Barnicle.

Up next, it is the HARDBALL “Big Number,” New Hampshire style. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There‘s been a lot of talk about change.  Of course, it is about change, but it depends on change in what direction.  Do you want to change in the direction of higher taxes? 


GIULIANI:  Do you want to change in the direction of lower taxes? 

CROWD:  Yes!



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there politically? 

Well, a campaign story about a baby named Dahlia.  What‘s the great thing about living in New Hampshire during presidential elections?  Not only do you get to meet these guys and women close up, but your kids also get to meet them, even if they‘re only five months old. 

Darren Garnick of New Hampshire set out to get his baby daughter, Dahlia, photographed with every presidential candidate, except for Mike Gravel, who he said was way too creepy. 

Anyway, the guy imposed just one rule: no kissing.  He didn‘t want any presidential drool touching his little girl.  The end result, snapshots with every single candidate, except for Fred Thompson, who hasn‘t spent enough time in New Hampshire for this father-daughter paparazzi team to grab.

Last week, it was “Leno” for Mike Huckabee.  This week, it‘s “Letterman.”

Let‘s take a listen.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  You‘re in tremendous physical condition as it.  But what—what about—like, I saw some footage today of Hillary Clinton having kind of a moment in New Hampshire, where she explained that her desire to run for president was really a personal decision, because she felt so much that she owed so much to her country. 

Is that the same for every candidate, that it is a personal matter, that they want to protect the country? 

MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think it is that.  And, then, also, you get to live in that really nice house that, you know, is down there in Washington. 




MATTHEWS:  An honest answer. 

For now, it is time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.”  Here it is.  There‘s no doubt that Barack Obama has the big mo‘ right now.  We will see later if that‘s all mo‘.  But can he keep it going?  Maybe yes, maybe not. 

But consider this little number, which Obama—I mean little number -

which Obama is no doubt enjoying tonight, the number of times since 1972 that a presidential candidate has won both Iowa, the caucuses, and the New Hampshire primary, but lost his party‘s nomination.  Zero.  Zero times, it‘s happened.  Zip.  Nada.  Forget about it.  Zero, tonight‘s “Big Number.”  If you win those two, you most likely win it all. 

Up next: the first black president?  Let‘s reason together.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Major late day sell-off, with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging some 238 points.  Broad-market S&P also feeling pressure there, falling about 26, and tech stocks also taking a 59-point drive on the Nasdaq.  All three major indexes are now in correction mode once again, having dropped more than 10 percent from their October highs. 

Helping to trigger that sell-off was an announcement this afternoon by AT&T that it faces—quote—“softness” in its consumer business because of the slowing economy.  Shares of the nation‘s largest phone company fell 5.5 percent in trading today. 

Meanwhile, Countrywide Financial, the nation‘s largest mortgage lender, is denying rumors that it is about to file for bankruptcy.  It didn‘t help the stock though.  Countrywide shares fell more than 27 percent today.  Shares had fallen 79 percent last year. 

And oil prices resumed climbing, after yesterday‘s big drop.  Crude gained $1.24 in New York‘s trading session, closing at $96.33 a barrel. 

That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  you know, politics, for me, is not about, you know, the process.  It is not about who‘s up or who‘s down.  It is about, what are we going to do to actually make our country the best it can be? 

I get up every day and think about that.  And, sometimes, it just strikes me that, you know, we can do this.  We absolutely can do this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

The last five days in New Hampshire have been intense and dramatic. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster is live tonight in Manchester.  He joins us now with a run-through of the highlights. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, when you talk about highlights in New Hampshire, you have to start on the Democratic side with Barack Obama and the massive crowds that he‘s been getting at his events these last couple of days. 

All of his events have been totally jammed, overwhelming even his staff.  And whether it is because voters were intrigued or just felt like they were watching history in the making, it has been a remarkable sight. 

And Obama feeds off the crowds, and his rhetoric has been soaring. 


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We will not just win an election, but you and I together, we will transform the world.

Thank you, Dartmouth.  Let‘s go vote.



SHUSTER:  Now, in terms of possibly beating Hillary Clinton, if that happens, Barack Obama may have to thank, in part, John Edwards. 

The big debate out here in New Hampshire was Saturday night, and Edwards was the one who was the strongest argument for change.  He kept arguing very forcefully for change.  He labeled Hillary Clinton part of the status quo.  And Edwards was the one who defended Barack Obama against the Clinton jabs. 


JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Now, what I would say this: 

Any time you speak out powerfully for change, the forces of status quo attack.  That‘s exactly what happens.

It‘s fine to have a disagreement about health care.  To say that Senator Obama is having a debate with himself from some Associated Press story I think is just not—that‘s not the kind of discussion we should be having.

I think that every time this happens, what will occur—every time he speaks out for change, every time I fight for change, the forces of status quo are going to attack—every single time.

He believes deeply in change.  And I believe deeply in change.  And any time you‘re fighting for that—I mean, I didn‘t hear these kind of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead.  Now that she‘s not, we hear them. 

And any time you speak out—any time you speak out for change, this is what happens.


SHUSTER:  On the Republican side, the highlights, Chris, have been the attacks, the aggressive attacks, and counterattacks involving Mitt Romney and John McCain. 

Mitt Romney has been blanketing the airwaves with an attack ad criticizing John McCain‘s immigration plan and his votes against the Bush tax cuts. 


NARRATOR:  The truth?  McCain is not as conservative as Romney.  He voted against the Bush tax cuts. 


SHUSTER:  But McCain has been hitting back on the campaign trail with jabs at Romney like this:


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  One of my opponents, not long ago, said, you don‘t need foreign policy experience. 

My friends, look at the world.  Look at the world and see if you need that kind of experience to make the kind of judgments that are necessary. 


SHUSTER:  And back to that debate Saturday night, on the Republican side, it was Mike Huckabee who was needling Mitt Romney for not supporting the Iraq troop surge early on. 

And, when Romney complained, Huckabee delivered one of the most memorable one-liners that we have had in Iowa—in New Hampshire here the last five days.

Watch this. 


MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I also supported the surge from the very beginning. 

But look, Governor, don‘t try and characterize my position.  Of course, this war has...





SHUSTER: “Which one?  Which one?”

And it was a reminder, Chris, that Romney has had multiple positions, a point that his Republican rivals have been making repeatedly—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David Shuster. 

The big story out of New Hampshire, of course, is the stunning phenomenon of Barack Obama‘s rise.  He won Iowa.  And polls show he‘s well positioned for tonight‘s election results. 

We don‘t know if Obama will win tonight, but we do know he has changed the 2008 race.  And Hillary Clinton has to change her game plan, if she wants to stay in this thing. 

Joining us right now is Obama supporter Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown professor, and U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, the national chair of the Clinton campaign. 

Congresswoman, I want to ask you a question which you know the answer to and I have no idea what it is; what does it feel like to be African-American, facing the real prospect, even though you may be backing another candidate, of having an actual African-American president walk into the Oval Office next year as president? 

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO:  Well, I don‘t presume that Senator Obama will be the next president.  What‘s exciting about this whole race is that we have an African-American.  We have a woman.  We have an Hispanic, who are all leading candidates in this race for the presidency.  It is not that I want necessarily the African-American, a woman or Hispanic.  I want the one who is best qualified and ready to be president. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Professor Dyson.  Professor, this is an interesting test now.  If the polls are accurate, it looks like Obama will win tonight.  We don‘t know until people actually finish voting today.  But here‘s the question, can he use shock and awe to move the Clintons out of this business of presidential politics? 

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY:  I think he can use substance and he can use intelligence and he can use political savvy; and he can use a change vision for American society.  I think, as the Congresswoman has said, we aren‘t predicating our view or our politics upon gender or race or whether one is Latino or a woman or African-American. 

But Obama‘s campaign has nicely segued from a concern about progressive politics linked to an interest in the transformation of American society.  And the people have overwhelmingly said that he is the person who can facilitate that change and lead us into a different future. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Congresswoman, a lot of people tell me—I don‘t know first hand—that African-Americans are skeptical about the willingness of this country‘s majority to elect or even nominate an African-American, whether it is Barack Obama, with his unique background, or someone who is completely home-grown, in terms of having grown up with parents from the south, the usual kind of American experience for an African-American. 

And yet, if that turns out not to be the case, that this state up in New Hampshire votes overwhelmingly for Barack Obama tonight, following Iowa, what‘s that do to the mindset to the skeptical? 

JONES:  Understand this, I never accepted the question of electability.  If I did that, I would not be an elected official having been in elective office for 26 years and was the first African-American to do all of the things that I‘ve done.  But let me suggest this to you—that the people of America are looking at what‘s happening in Iowa, but they also want to see a real primary.  And this is what New Hampshire may be. 

But keep this in mind, Hillary Clinton is a fighter and we aren‘t giving up even if Barack Obama happens to win this first primary.  There are still many more primaries to go and a lot of work to do.  Mike Dyson, good evening!

MATTHEWS:  All right, do you expect—or do you want Hillary Clinton to fight the south Carolina primary? 

JONES:  We‘re going to fight—

MATTHEWS:  That one in particular, which is so heavily African-American.  You want her to win there in that state where half the voters at least are African-Americans and take on Barack Obama.  You think she should do that? 

JONES:  Understand this, that all African-Americans are not monolithic.  Surely, I am excited Barack Obama is running for president.  But I‘ve not chosen to support Barack Obama.  I am supporting Hillary Clinton because she is the best qualified person and I‘ve known her for 15 years and I think she will lead this country.  And there are blacks who support Barack, but there are also a lot of African-Americans who support Senator Clinton based on her record and their experience with her. 

DYSON:  No doubt about that.  But I think if we flip the script, there are many white Americans, obviously in Iowa and hopefully in New Hampshire, who have also given their vote to Barack Obama because they believe that here‘s a figure who‘s able to unify the country, take the best interests of not only the Democratic party but the American people to heart.  In his so-called post-partisan ideology what Mr. Obama has said to America is that we are going to move beyond the blistering battles of yesterday into a bright future that allows to us articulate a vision of hope for everybody.  I don‘t think that that is to deny what Senator Clinton has done, but I think it underscores what Senator Obama has done. 

JONES:  Let‘s talk about record of experience.  Barack Obama talks great.  He‘s—he raises people‘s inspiration, but it is not solely inspiration that we need to have done.  We need to have people who are going to get together, go to work and make a difference.  All I‘ve seen so far is a lot of conversation. 

DYSON:  I agree with that.  I think that style becomes a vehicle for substance.  Martin Luther King spoke of a dream but he worked for it as well.  I think that—

JONES:  Mike Dyson, I knew you were going to talk that stuff with me. 

All I can say is great to see you on the trail. 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, name a great leader who couldn‘t talk. 

JONES:  A number of leaders could not communicate but they could work hard and accomplish what—

MATTHEWS:  But they aren‘t great leaders if they can‘t be great talkers. 

DYSON:  We don‘t want to hold the ability of Obama to speak and act against him.  Let‘s celebrate the virtue of the two. 

JONES:  Michael, I love to see you on the trail.  We‘ll have an opportunity to discuss this a little bit later. 

MATTHEWS:  To be continued, lady and gentleman.  Thank you Michael Eric Dyson, professor at Georgetown, U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.   

What‘s at stake tonight for the candidates?  Well, the politics fix is coming up next.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


HUCKABEE:  We‘re proving all the pundits to be wrong and the people to be right.  And I‘d rather have the people on my side than the pundits any day. 




OBAMA:  False hopes?  We don‘t need our leaders telling us what we cannot do.  We need them to spark our imagination to tell us what we can do.  That is why I‘m running for president of the United States of America. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Let me talk about the phenomenon of Barack Obama.  You know what politics has become in this country?  It‘s people voting automatically for the familiar name, usually that of the incumbent for the same party, probably the same party their parents voted for, usually for the names from their own ethnic group.  It is called pattern voting.  It‘s members of Congress running again and again in districts designed and regularly groomed, gerrymandered to ensure that they are reelected again and again. 

It‘s senators and congressmen voting the way their party whips steer them to vote, obeying and avoiding trouble from the usual interest groups, the usual suspects of Washington influence, saying and being careful not to say every word according to the prescribed culture of the political system they have joined, a political system that bores more and more Americans to death, and drives young people to any other interest, grand or trivial, that offers at least some moments of surprise.  

This is why the arrival of Barack Obama is so stunning, so phenomenal.  In a world packed with professionals of various calibers of ability, too many of them schooled in how to speak without saying anything new, much less interesting or provocative, this guy stirs the air, and yes, elevates the spirit. 

It is not our job in the news business to pick candidates, that‘s for the people who get out there and vote.  It is part of our job to report the excitement and, yes, the phenomenon now daring to challenge the political way things are.  The young and the young at heart are, for the first time I can remember, being talked to, being called into action, being told don‘t be afraid to hope. 

My fellow Americans, as the president used to say, this is politics at its best. 

Let‘s bring in the round table.  Joe Scarborough is the host of MSNBC‘s “MORNING JOE,” beautiful name for a show.  Eugene Robinson is a columnist for the “Washington Post.”  And Katrina Vanden Heuvel is editor of “The Nation.”

Starting with Joe, give me your sense as we go into the evening of vote counting the Democratic fight, mainly between Obama and Hillary. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR:  It‘s just got to be huge for Obama.  You look at the crowds; everywhere you went there was excitement on the ground.  Independents were flooding there.  Then you go to a Hillary Clinton event—we went to one last night.  When Hillary Clinton got up there, I was thinking, you know what, she would have been a great standard bearer in 2004. 

But the rules of the game have changed.  And the first ten people I spoke to last night that went to Hillary‘s event in Salem, Massachusetts—

I mean Salem, New Hampshire, I asked where they were from.  Eight of them were from Massachusetts.  One was from New York.  And then one was from Chicago. 

MATTHEWS:  Why is that important?

SCARBOROUGH:  I went out and checked the license plates.  They were bringing in people from over the line to come listen to Hillary or there were people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that were genuinely—

MATTHEWS:  Packing the house to create a false enthusiasm. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No, I‘m not saying that at all.  What I‘m saying is when Barack Obama has 800 people inside, 700 people outside, you can‘t have a smaller high school gymnasium and not fill it up.  That gymnasium would have been half-full the night before the first primary in America if people from Massachusetts, New York and Chicago had not filled it.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s more a tribute to Mayor Tommy Manino (ph) of Boston than it is to Hillary Clinton.

SCARBOROUGH:  And it speaks ill of her chances. 

MATTHEWS:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel, your thoughts on this campaign as it narrows down to probably two candidates tonight, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEN, EDITOR “THE NATION”:  Barack Obama has history‘s wind at his back.  He also has something that we haven‘t seen in politics, organizers.  He understands the value, as a former organizer, of the kids on the ground who never really were there in the same way for Dean.  But he‘s done it.  They are a pragmatic and idealistic band of young kids and others. 

I think that mobilization is so exciting and it is the idealism and that kind of determined idealism and grounded realism that I think is going to reshape our politics.  Hillary Clinton, I think the media was unfair to her when she teared up the other day.  I think there is a gender bias when women tear up.  Bush, Romney, Giuliani have teared up. 

But she ran as a quasi-establishment candidate in a change year and we are seeing the outcome, I think, tonight in New Hampshire. 

MATTHEWS:  So this is a big night for Sal Linsky (ph), right?

HEUVEN:  This is a big night for—they both wrote and know -- 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s the great organizer out of Chicago, who taught everybody how to do this.  Gene Robinson, your thought on the big fight tonight. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST:  I think what‘s really radical about Barack Obama is if you listen to him speak, he doesn‘t say I, I, I.  If you listen to Hillary Clinton speak, it‘s I, I, I.  If you listen to Bill Clinton speak about Hillary Clinton, it is I, I, I. 

But you listen to Obama and it‘s you and it‘s we.  And the way, as Katrina said, with the organizing that he did.  But it‘s more than that.  It is the outreach and the way he brings people in and puts them, effectively, in charge of affecting the kind of change he says he wants to affect.  It is brilliant and it is really effective.  And it clearly has drawn people in. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what else?  It is not us.  It is not us versus them.  I have, since being in Iowa and New Hampshire—I grown to love these two states because they‘re open, because I had Republicans coming up to me in Iowa saying, I‘m voting for Barack Obama. I had Republicans in New Hampshire coming up to me saying, I‘m voting for Barack Obama. 

Barack Obama knows that.  He knows that this is generational.  It is not even ideological.  So he is not going in there bashing Republicans.  Just like John McCain, reaching out to independents and Democrats up there. 

I think that‘s—it is not us against them.  It‘s remarkable that way. 

HEUVEN:  He doesn‘t speak in John Edwards cadence.  But I do think John Edwards brings an important message to this race, which I think Obama is going to speak more and more to, and do a kind of populous pivot in his own elegant non-confrontational way.  He has to know that to make change in this country, a word if we hear more about tonight we‘ll all topple over—you got winners and losers.  The big drug companies aren‘t just going to give it up.  You have to know when to fight and you have to know when to work with others. 

I think Obama has that ability to gauge how you make change in this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Republican fight, Joe.  First, it looks like Romney is very close to McCain, at least in the talk today. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Right, no doubt about it.  Friday, Saturday, the narrative was that this was John McCain‘s race.  He was going to pull away. 

MATTHEWS:  Mac is back. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Mac is back.  And he‘s had remarkable crowds.  He had remarkable crowds today.  But I‘m telling you—we talked about this on HARDBALL a couple of weeks ago, there is something about Mitt Romney.  He is stubborn.  You have Giuliani rise, fall.  McCain, rise, fall, rise.  All these guys, Thompson, rise, fall.  Mitt Romney, he‘s got a fire wall at 25 percent.  He‘s going to be around to the very end. 

If McCain doesn‘t win tonight, he‘s gone. 

MATTHEWS:  So this is the cobra and the mongoose, right?  He‘s a mongoose. 

Thank you Joe Scarborough.  Thank you Gene Robinson.  Thank you Katrina.  You know what I‘m talking about.  Our man Keith Olbermann at the top of the hour, coming up right now on MSNBC‘s coverage of the New Hampshire primary.  We‘ll be here all night. 



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