Guests: Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Jonathan Alter, Nick Gillespie, Peter Beinart, Bruce Bartlett
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Bill Clinton is still the de facto leader of the Democratic Party and that has not stopped him from reentering the political trenches to deliver his wife‘s nastiest attacks on Barack Obama and Obama appears to have had enough of it.
As America takes a day to reflect on the life and work of Martin Luther King, the Democratic presidential candidates battle for the favor of African-American voters in South Carolina.
This morning the first black presidential candidate with a genuine chance of winning took to the airwaves to fight back. Here is Barack Obama on Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: The former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling. He continues to make statements that aren‘t supported by the facts, whether it‘s about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas. You know, this has become a habit. And one of the things that I think we‘re going to have to do is directly confront Bill Clinton when he‘s not making statements that are factually accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Which man, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, is playing wiser politics? Clinton, the statesman in attack mode, or Obama, the Democratic Party neophyte, taking on the image and the reputation of Bill Clinton? And how much longer will the former president continue his verbal assaults on Obama?
Two leading Democrats in Washington, Senator Ted Kennedy and Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, reportedly wish that Mr. Clinton would cease and desist.
What does it all mean for the campaign and for the election in November?
The man who broke that story joins us in a moment.
And the eyes of the Republican Party are on the state of Florida, where John McCain shows narrow leads in most polls, yet it remains unclear whether or not McCain is, in fact, a legitimate frontrunner or merely one of four candidates with an equal chance of winning.
Rudy Giuliani‘s all-or-nothing strategy is on the line there. But two new polls have the New York City mayor trailing John McCain by double digits in his own state, New York.
Are these are the final days of the Giuliani campaign? We‘ll get to that in just a minute.
We begin with the Democrats and the sparring between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Join us now is the national co-chairwoman of the Hillary Clinton for President campaign, Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming on.
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D-OH), CLINTON CAMPAIGN NATIL. COLMES:-
CHAIR: Hi. How are you this evening?
CARLSON: Congresswoman, when you hear.
CARLSON: Hi. When you hear Barack Obama express what appears to be real frustration at the former president for distorting his words, and I think all objective people would agree that Obama did not say that Ronald Reagan had the only good ideas in the 1980s as Clinton essentially said he did.
Is that wise politics or not? Is he smart to fight back or is she just sit back and take it?
JONES: You know what? On the Martin Luther King birthday celebration, I think he would be saying to all of us, let‘s keep our eye on the prize and get on to what‘s important. Now, clearly President Clinton has said that Barack Obama, your record speaks for itself. And Barack is trying to say, well, that‘s not what my record is. I asked all of the media to lay the record on the TV. Let people compare it and make a decision.
But it is my opinion that President Clinton is correct—that he is reporting Barack Obama‘s record and Barack can push back if he chooses to. But the record speaks for itself.
CARLSON: But, wait, I mean, really, you‘re a longtime Democrat.
You‘re a member of Congress. You‘re a Bill Clinton fan, presumably.
Should the former president be popping up at town hall meetings in small towns in New Hampshire and slandering fellow Democrats? I mean, that‘s pretty unseemly, isn‘t it?
JONES: I don‘t think that the president is slandering for the Democrats. He is campaigning on behalf of the candidate, who happens to be his wife.
Now, keep in mind, you don‘t say that when you‘re talking about the wife of John McCain or you don‘t say that when Michelle Obama talks about Barack Obama. So he happens to be the president. Hillary Clinton has a former president as her spouse. And it‘s a good for him to be out on the trail for her. She was out on the trail for him.
CARLSON: I don‘t believe I‘ve ever heard Cindy McCain say a single word in public much less anything political.
I want to get your take on something that Hillary Clinton said this morning. She appeared before a predominantly black audience. And—at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and she said this. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: We are here today to say with joy and celebration that we have come so far together. You can see that on this stage as both of my distinguished friends and colleagues have said, Barack Obama, an extraordinary young African-American man with so much to contribute, John Edwards, a son of the south, in fact, a son of South Carolina, and a woman, all of us running for president of the United States of America!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: An extraordinary young African-American man. Just reminding voters that he‘s young and black. Why is she doing that? Why isn‘t she talking about what he believes and contrasting that with what she believes?
JONES: You know, Tucker? Get a life. Get a life.
CARLSON: No. Get a life? He is being slaughtered among Latino voters partly she keeps reminding them that he‘s black.
JONES: Do you want me to answer your question? Do you want me to answer your question?
CARLSON: I do.
JONES: Tucker, you want me to answer the question?
CARLSON: Go ahead and answer the question, if you can.
JONES: I can. The distinguishing factor was that there is a woman and there is an African-American. Without making the distinguishing factor it would not be there. Don‘t make something out of nothing. It was a wonderful speech.
JONES: I was right there standing in the corridor with thousands of other people and Hillary delivered a slam dunk. So don‘t make up something that wasn‘t in the speech.
CARLSON: I was actually playing the tape. I was playing the tape of this speech. I wonder if—I wonder if you‘d be willing.
JONES: And don‘t give it.
CARLSON: I wonder if you would be willing, Congresswoman.
JONES: Don‘t give it an impression that it doesn‘t happen. I did.
CARLSON: That it doesn‘t happen. OK.
JONES: Don‘t give it that impression. She merely was saying he was a young African-American man, and it‘s true.
CARLSON: Yes. Right. So when her surrogates.
JONES: And I‘m a young African-American woman, and I‘m glad to be a young African-American woman.
CARLSON: When three of the surrogates, Congresswoman—if I could slide a question in here. When three of her surrogates reminded America that Obama had conceded using cocaine as a young man, those weren‘t coordinated attacks designed to make him look like a crackhead or anything, you‘re going to tell me that, too?
JONES: You know what? Tucker.
JONES: You remember the candidates got on the stage—wait a minute, let me answer your question.
CARLSON: I am.
JONES: Remember when the candidates got on the stage and they pleaded with their people, let‘s get on, let‘s get over this, why do you keep playing this record? Leave that record alone and let‘s move on.
CARLSON: I‘m wondering—you‘re—OK.
JONES: That‘s what Martin Luther King would say, he would say keep your eye on the prize.
CARLSON: Keep your eye—it depends on what prize—it depends what prize your eyes are on. Let me—since you‘re in a spirited mood, I‘ve always wanted to ask.
JONES: The prize is the presidency.
CARLSON: OK. Right.
JONES: The prize—you know what, Tucker? Let me say this.
JONES: We have a chance to be on a show together one night, Bill Maher, and you told me you were going to have a show, and I‘ve been waiting for you to invite me to come on the show, instead I‘m standing outside here. Give me the chance to be in the studio so we can have a good time and interact and talk.
Come on, Tucker, this is a wonderful opportunity for America.
JONES: .to look at the candidates and make a change.
CARLSON: It is. You‘re absolutely right. And you‘re welcome to come on the show anytime.
JONES: It‘s fabulous.
CARLSON: We would love it. Let me ask you very quickly a question that I‘ve been wondering about.
JONES: Please. Please.
CARLSON: You saw both the candidates, not just Hillary Clinton but Barack Obama, take to the pulpit yesterday, which was Sunday, and give explicitly political speeches in church.
Now you‘re a member of Congress, you tell me why as someone who pays taxes I should approve of those churches keeping their tax exemptions. Why should churches that engage in partisan political campaigning not have to pay taxes when I have pay taxes? Why shouldn‘t we yank their tax-exemptions right now?
JONES: The churches aren‘t engaging in partisan political activity. The engagement would be for the church to say, “I endorse Barack Obama” or “I endorse Hillary Clinton.” That‘s the reason that wonderful pastors from Abyssinian church in New York yesterday stood outside of his church and endorsed Hillary, his own individual peace. They were not in the—and the churches do not endorse.
JONES: But nothing keeps the churches from allowing a candidate to come in and speak their piece. It‘s like you do on TV.
CARLSON: So if you have a political rally in your church.
JONES: Wait a minute.
CARLSON: So we have to pay for it because they‘re not paying taxes.
The rest of us pay for your political rally in a church. That‘s OK?
JONES: Tucker, like I said, the church is not endorsing. You have to keep in mind, historically, churches were many times the only place people can congregate.
CARLSON: No longer.
JONES: It is not, in fact, an endorsement by the church. It‘s in many places it is.
CARLSON: All right.
JONES: Many places it is. The only place where their voice can be heard.
JONES: And I would guarantee you there are churches across the nation.
CARLSON: All right.
JONES: .that let people come in and talk. But the church does not endorse.
JONES: And so don‘t try and send them to (INAUDIBLE), come on. Give them a break.
CARLSON: Congresswoman, their voices can always be heard right here on cable television, in fact, right on this show and so can yours. And I hope you will come back.
Thanks for joining us, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, representing the Clinton camp.
JONES: Happy Martin Luther King Day, Tucker. Nice to be with you.
CARLSON: Happy MLK Day to you, too. I appreciate it.
Well, time for Bill Clinton to pipe down. Coming up, we‘ll talk to “Newsweek‘s” Jonathan Alter who reports the Democratic Party leaders want the former president to be quiet.
Ten Barack Obama defends his comments about Ronald Reagan in the face
of attacks from the Clinton campaign which has accused him of not hating
the other side fervently enough.
That‘s all coming up.
CARLSON: Looks like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are ready for a fight to the finish. But is Mr. Clinton hurting his wife‘s chances? The question we‘ve been asking for six months. We may now have an answer.
Back in a minute.
CARLSON: His enemies have long said President Bill Clinton could not be controlled. But are his friends now saying the same thing?
According to “Newsweek,” party leaders like Ted Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel have asked the former president to take the rhetoric down a notch and cool his attacks on his wife‘s rivals specifically Barack Obama.
Will he listen?
Joining us now the author of that piece, “Newsweek” columnist Jonathan Alter.
Jonathan, thanks for coming on.
JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: Hey, Tucker.
CARLSON: So Rahm Emanuel and Ted Kennedy talked to the president directly and said stop it? That‘s amazing scene. What did he say?
ALTER: Well, you know, I can‘t honestly tell you what he said because
I was not on the phone at the time. But I heard and confirmed that both of
them did have conversations with former President Clinton. They were
apparently rather heated. And they told him almost exactly what you said -
to take it down a notch, to pipe down, that he wasn‘t playing an appropriate role for a former president of the United States and for the effective head of the Democratic Party.
CARLSON: So does—I mean, both of those figures, Kennedy and Rahm Emanuel, have had sought-after endorsements. Neither of them has endorsed anybody so far. Does this suggest they‘re going to endorse Obama?
ALTER: Well, I did a report and put in “Newsweek” that the Clinton people fear that Ted Kennedy is leaning to Obama. His office says that he‘s making no endorsement, quote, “at this time.” But he‘s leaving the door open for making—at another time, and there some indications that he might do so.
Emanuel, I think, is going to stay neutral. He‘s kind of caught between the Clintons who are his mentors, particularly Bill Clinton. His relationship with Hillary is not particularly good because she tried to get him fired in 1993. But his relationship with Bill Clinton is very strong, almost a mentor kind of relationship. And, yet, he‘s from Chicago and has a lot of contacts in the Obama campaign.
David Axelrod, Obama‘s campaign chief strategist, is one of Rahm‘s closest friends. So I think Emanuel is going to stay neutral. Ted Kennedy, unclear what he‘s going to do.
CARLSON: I think of Bill Clinton as kind of a secular saint in the Democratic Party. With that in mind, the quote you have from Greg Craig is amazing. Let‘s throw it up on the screen.
Greg Craig, you write, who coordinated the Clinton‘s impeachment defense in 1998 and is now a senior Obama adviser.
ALTER: That‘s right.
CARLSON: . argues that, quote, “recent events raise the question: if Hillary‘s campaign can‘t control Bill, whether Hillary‘s White House could.”
It—first of all, it‘s a smart point, a kind of devastating point, and remarkably.
CARLSON: .coming from Greg Craig of all people.
ALTER: Yes. Well, Greg Craig, you know, went over to the Obama side. There are quite a number of former Clinton administration officials who are with Obama. It‘s a real division in the Democratic Party right now. You can almost call it heavy skirmishing in the party. And I think one of the things that Kennedy and Emanuel were worried about was that, you know, Bill Clinton was kind of playing by a different set of rules than they thought was right for somebody in his position.
For instance, in 2000, when George W. Bush was running against John McCain, you didn‘t see Bush‘s father, the former president, intervening to trash McCain. You did see him saying nice things about his son, of course, and everybody thinks it‘s fine for Bill Clinton to go campaign for his wife and tell everybody why he thinks she would be a better president. But to actually go after Obama is unusual and Ted Kennedy thought that Clinton contributed to injecting race into this contest.
CARLSON: Ted Kennedy thought that. That‘s—I mean, are there people—that‘s just amazing.
CARLSON: We‘re getting just word here that Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina, who was touted by, you know, everyone as this power broker in the Democratic side there, told Bill Clinton today to, quote, “chill” in his attacks on Barack Obama. Unbelievable.
Jonathan Alter, thanks very much. I really appreciate it. Great story.
ALTER: Yes. Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Is Barack Obama getting under the Clinton skin? Is Bill Clinton losing control? Are the Democrats about to form a circular firing squad yet again and lose yet another slam dunk election?
Then movie tough guy Chuck Norris says real-life tough guy John McCain is too old to be president and predicts that if elected McCain might die in office. Too much?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came together for a rare moment today to honor Martin Luther King. But their united front was short-lived before the two went their separate ways to continue their aggressive courtship of black voters in South Carolina.
In the background, as always, Bill Clinton fanning the flames of controversy. Today the controversy got a little more complicated when Barack Obama went after Bill Clinton in public on a morning show. Who did it help?
Joining me now, we are proud to welcome Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor-at-large of “The Republic,” and Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of “Reason” magazine, thoughtful libertarian publications.
NICK GILLESPIE, “REASON”: Well, I thank you.
CARLSON: Yes. No.
GILLESPIE: Obviously you don‘t read it very much.
CARLSON: No. From my point of view.
PETER BEINART, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I thought that was redundant.
CARLSON: It is actually redundant.
So was it—my initial reaction to this was an outburst, it was obviously planned. This morning on “Good Morning America” Barack Obama‘s attack on Bill Clinton was bad idea. Any time you‘re complaining about attacks on you, you portray yourself as weak. But I‘m not so sure now. What do you think?
BEINART: I kind of agree with you. I mean I do think they needed to get tougher with the Clintons after Nevada. But I think—why didn‘t they just go after her on something else? I mean, on the Iraq war, it always seems to me that‘s an enormous selling point for him particularly with white liberals who he needs to win.
And I think, you know, he should just be hammering home the fact that she supported the war and he was against it. I think that would be better than going after Bill Clinton.
CARLSON: That she supported the war and didn‘t even read the classified intelligence about the war before casting that vote - cast and, I think, in a reckless way.
BEINART: Well, that‘s what he would say.
CARLSON: It‘s true. She admitted she never read it.
GILLESPIE: As somebody who follows politics more as cockfighting or wrestling as something all that serious, I got to say I think Obama is smart to go after Bill Clinton because the more he keeps Bill Clinton in the spotlight the more he reminds people of the steamy side of the Democratic Party.
And I don‘t think that that‘s necessarily a bad thing. If you remember, Bill Clinton barely got into office the first time after he made his two-for-one offer.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
GILLESPIE: And in a reverse way, Obama is saying, “Look, you know, you vote for her, got him, too, and do you really want that replay? I do, but I‘m the (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: But I mean.
BEINHART: A lot of Democrats do.
CARLSON: They do, that‘s the sick thing. That‘s the unbelievable thing.
GILLESPIE: The other thing is.
BEINHART: It‘s not that—look at Reagan worship in the Republican Party. If Ronald Reagan could rise from the dead and run, every Republican voter—it‘s not—nostalgia is a powerful force in American politics.
CARLSON: Well, you could say Ronald Reagan won the Cold War. You can say what of Bill Clinton? (INAUDIBLE).
BEINHART: No. For things the Democrats really care about, which was, for instance, decline in poverty amongst children and amongst African-Americans and Hispanic, Bill Clinton was remarkably successful.
GILLESPIE: Bill Clinton has.
BEINHART: That‘s a big thing for Democrats.
GILLESPIE: Bill Clinton got 48 percent of the vote against Bob Dole in 1996, which is—a sign of how unpopular—the Clinton era was popular but I think that was a combination of the Republican Congress he elected which was his great thing.
BEINHART: It‘s still a three-way race to talk about Bill Clinton getting 49 percent.
GILLESPIE: No. No, no, no.
BEINHART: That he was very popular.
GILLESPIE: No, actually it doesn‘t.
BEINHART: He becomes more popular if—if you compare past presidents over the past 25, you‘ll find Reagan‘s popularity ratings exceed rate - Clinton‘s exceed rate (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: But wait a—I mean wait a second. You can‘t say—I mean if Ted Kennedy believes, as John Alter just said, that Bill Clinton himself is injecting race into a race against the—contest against a black man, that‘s, I mean, that‘s repugnant. That‘s not defensible at any level. I mean, if leading Democrats believe that, that tells you, you know, some recognize it as a major problem with Bill Clinton‘s character. No?
BEINHART: I think what they‘re concerned about is they don‘t want a big division in the Democratic Party. They don‘t know who‘s going to win and they want—they feel like the party has a golden opportunity and they want them to be able to unite behind either candidate. That‘s what they‘re concerned about.
CARLSON: But wait—I mean but just the charge in itself.
GILLESPIE: People will have completely forgotten about this flap by the time the Democrats nominate somebody.
BEINHART: I agree. I think you‘re right.
GILLESPIE: And it‘s also Obama.
BEINHART: (INAUDIBLE) Democratic voter to begin with.
GILLESPIE: But also, remember, Obama is losing. I mean, he‘s got momentum and things like that but he‘s about 10 points below or behind in national polls and need—you know, it‘s—I mean, he‘s not quite desperate. He‘s got a lot of good press but he doesn‘t have the—doesn‘t have the number.
CARLSON: See, here‘s what‘s interesting to me. If—in your former magazine, John Judis has a fantastic piece on Hispanic—on the riff between some Hispanic voters and some black voters. And it turns out this is something that‘s ignored by the predominantly white press.
CARLSON: There‘s a lot of hostility. I mean, enormous amounts of hostility between those two particularly from Latinos towards black Americans, frankly, at least according to every poll I‘ve ever seen on. Every time the Clinton people remind you that Barack Obama is, in fact, a black guy, a black candidate, I think there‘s evidence that hurts them among Latino voters. I mean that‘s part of a strategy.
BEINHART: Maybe, although I don‘t know, to be honest, how much reminding people need that Barack Obama is African-American. I think what has happened, which is surprising, which I didn‘t see coming out of Iowa, is that there has been a strong move amongst African-Americans to Barack Obama and some move amongst downscale white voters to Hillary Clinton. And some of that is about race and I think, in a way, it‘s weakened both of them because both of them are seen like more polarizing candidates than they used to be.
CARLSON: Coming up, February 5th, and we‘re talking states with huge Hispanic populations. Here‘s some of the numbers from the Judis piece I was talking about. Forty-one percent of U.S. born Latinos, 41 percent thought blacks had, quote, “too much power,” half thought that, quote, “most government programs are designed for minorities and favor African-Americans.”
That‘s, you know, that‘s a huge problem for Obama if he is cornered into being the black candidate which, by the way, he‘s not running as the black candidate.
BEINHART: No, he hasn‘t. It‘s true. But he can‘t win—but he can‘t be the black candidate because he needs a very large percentage of whites to win the election. Hillary Clinton could win the nomination with only 20 percent of the black vote, although she would rather not. But Barack Obama couldn‘t win the nomination with only 40 percent of the white vote.
CARLSON: I just see a strategy that hinges on Latino votes.
GILLESPIE: I feel like John Edwards is being marginalized.
CARLSON: He is. And why is he in the race anyway?
BEINHART: Not to mention Dennis Kucinich.
CARLSON: No. At least Kucinich, you can say Kucinich is carrying the torch of the department of peace. No matter what happens, Dennis, it‘s not about Dennis, it‘s about the ideas he represents. But John Edwards?
BEINHART: Who got 4 percent in Nevada?
BEINHART: He can‘t marginalize himself. It‘s a big union state.
GILLESPIE: Yes. That‘s right.
BEINHART: You can have—more than 4 percent there, come on.
CARLSON: It turns out that Hugo Chavez and his ideas are still not that popular in this country where (INAUDIBLE) has become. That‘s a lesson I take with.
John McCain grabs a major victory in South Carolina over the weekend.
With two wins now, is he the Republican candidate to beat?
Plus, whatever happened to Rudy Giuliani? About 20 minutes ago he was the frontrunner. Now he‘s missing in action or at least in the polls. We‘ll tell you where he went and if he can come back next.
CARLSON: It took a few hours to count it all up, but by the end of Saturday night, John McCain had won the South Carolina primary by a narrow but still indisputable margin over Mike Huckabee, and everybody else. In any other year, McCain would have significant advantages in the next contest. That‘s Florida. But polls in that state give the Arizona senator only a small, within the margin of error, lead, with Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee all still in the race statistically.
Is John McCain in fact the Republican front-runner? Here again, Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as editor-at-large of the “New Republic,” and Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of “Reason” Magazine, which you ought to subscribe to if you don‘t. Is he the front runner?
GILLESPIE: First, let me say we are online at Reason.com. McCain is absolutely the front-runner and it is a sad day if you believe in freedom of the press, since his signature legislative act was to try to control the freedom of the press.
CARLSON: How did that work?
GILLESPIE: In the McCain/Feingold campaign finance laws, which define all sorts of regulations and abridgments of the first amendment. Thankfully, the Supreme Court got rid of most of it and technology took care of the rest. But McCain definitely the front-runner.
CARLSON: So you think, from a Libertarian point—I can tell you are not a McCain fan. I mean, apart from Ron Paul, who are the libertarians voting for?
GILLESPIE: You got me. I try not to talk to Libertarians all that much. I think one of the things that you see in the Republican field is a sense of exhaustion. It‘s somewhat in the Democrat, but you don‘t have anybody who is of the stature of a Reagan or somebody who is coming up with a new way of talking about politics or looking at politics.
Ron Paul was certainly like that, and his message was very popular for a while, one where he said I don‘t want to run your life. I don‘t want to run the economy. I don‘t want to run the world. But we also see that that gets about four or five percent, even in places in like New Hampshire.
CARLSON: You are absolutely right. He still has beaten—in the first six contests, he has beaten Rudy Giuliani in five. He beat Giuliani in five out of six. And in the sixth, in New Hampshire, he was only a couple thousand votes away. And now he got, you know—he has this big endorsement.
BEINART: Yes. I mean, Paul is really—Paul, I think, is getting his support much more because he was against the Iraq war than because of his views of government domestically.
GILLESPIE: -- that is consistent with the majority of the American people. It is not a small thing. And he‘s the only significant candidate of either party who—
BEINART: Unfortunately, there is always a danger of conflating what you would like and what actually exists. The reality is, the real story in the Republican party is two candidates that are more pro-government than the Republican party has traditionally been. John McCain and Mike Huckabee are the two doing best.
The real story here is a wave of more pro-government, working class whites into the Republican party, who are less pro-free trade, more supportive of some kind of basic social safety net. I think that‘s where the Republican party is going to have to go if it is going to want to keep those white working class voters, who are no longer bound to the party on terrorism, as they were right after 9/11.
GILLESPIE: I agree that, you know, at least in the primary season, either party, the war is not a major issue. I think Obama is missing an opportunity by not hammering Hillary more. But within the Republican party, because Paul is not a major candidate, all of the candidates are basically the same, and they are all echoing one another and they are echoing a failed policy and an unpopular position of an unpopular president.
If the Republicans are interested in gaining the White House or gaining back Congress, they really have to start thinking about their—what they say their principles are and having a foreign policy—
CARLSON: It is too late for that in this election. I mean, look, the best they will do—I think a lot of Republicans have decided we are going to lose. OK? So the best you can do is rehabilitate the brand with someone that‘s not so alienating and not so mean. Then, you know, spend four or eight years in the wilderness thinking through what you want to be.
GILLESPIE: There is also a disconnect between the White House and Congress. I mean, Bill Clinton, we were talking about him before. Bill Clinton was very good for Bill Clinton and he got two terms. But he was a disaster for the Democratic party, in fact. It took a disaster—it is. They lost Congress. I mean, what—
BEINART: That was the result of a long-term --
GILLESPIE: Nobody was predicting a Republican Congress when Bill Clinton took over. And Bill Clinton, his first two years were such a disaster that he had to have press conferences where he demanded that the press understand this he was still relevant. It took Bush‘s disaster—again, he couldn‘t get 50 percent against the most pathetic candidate that the Republicans ran in 100 years.
What I‘m saying is that it took George Bush to drive the Republicans out of Congress. The Republican party can gain something back if they actually go back to what they say.
CARLSON: You called Bob Dole the most pathetic candidate in 100 years.
GILLESPIE: And I say that with a lot of love.
CARLSON: I can tell. One of the things people say about Dole, he‘s awfully old. That is clearly—every poll I have seen shows it‘s McCain‘s Achilles‘ heel. People are concerned about his age. I, for one, am not. I don‘t think it is all that relevant. But it is clearly a problem for him.
Chuck Norris, the—
CARLSON: The true life action figure who is now appearing on behalf of Mike Huckabee took this on. Watch this, Chuck Norris on John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK NORRIS, ACTOR: John takes over the presidency at 72. And if he ages three to one, how old will he be in four years? He will be 84 years old. Can he handle that kind of pressure in that job? And I—so that‘s why I didn‘t pick John to support, because I‘m afraid that the vice president will wind up taking over his job within that four-year presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Chuck is counting in dog years.
BEINART: I‘m not a math major but I—
GILLESPIE: I knew he could kick. I didn‘t know he could add.
CARLSON: I believe what he‘s saying is every year in the White House is like three years of, say, editing a magazine, I guess. OK.
BEINART: Editing a magazine is only like one-third.
CARLSON: The long lunches make up for it. Chuck Norris is basically saying, you vote for McCain and he could expire in office. Can you say things like this?
BEINART: You know, the thing about the Huckabee campaign, the truth is, they said a lot of that you would have thought would have sunk the normal campaign. I‘m still getting over the Benazir Bhutto issue was important to Americans because we have Pakistani immigrants coming across the border as a result of her assassination. He seems to not be hurt by this kind of thing. It‘s almost kind of what people find lovable about the guy. I don‘t think it is going to hurt him that much.
GILLESPIE: Actually, I think Huckabee hasn‘t gotten the scrutiny. He has a tassel of anti-gay statements, all sorts of racial remarks and things like that from the early ‘90s in his time in Arkansas.
CARLSON: Racial remarks? He won 40 percent of the black vote?
GILLESPIE: We‘ll see. But I don‘t think John McCain‘s age is an issue, really. One of the things that‘s actually kind of interesting, I think Reagan broke that barrier when he—if you remember, he had a great line. He had a lot of them against Mondale, where he said he wouldn‘t hold his competitors‘ youth and inexperience against them.
But McCain who is, you know, very screwed up from his various physical ordeals, is nonetheless, very vigorous. And I don‘t think that is a big issue.
CARLSON: Is Rudy Giuliani—is it over for Giuliani? Do you dare—let me put it another way. Do you dare predict that it is over for Giuliani? Having lost five out of six of the last races to Ron Paul. I mean, can we just say, you know, he can‘t win?
BEINART: Well, you know, if he won Florida, which is—looks unlikely but not impossible, he would be back in the race. I mean, if he won Florida and then people could say, this is a blow for McCain, and it would all of a sudden scramble everything for February 5th, and we would all be even more confused than we are today.
I don‘t think that‘s likely. But it is not impossible that he could have a really good next couple of weeks and win Florida.
GILLESPIE: Also because I don‘t think independents can vote in the same way in Florida.
CARLSON: No, they can‘t.
GILLESPIE: So that McCain—his support is probably softer there than it is seen from polls. But I think Giuliani—Giuliani in his Senate campaign, which he backed out of because he—because of his cancer scare, which I‘m sure people will be reminded of again and again. But he‘s also a pretty weak campaigner. I think he goes limp in the clinches. I don‘t think he has the spirit of a fighter.
CARLSON: It is amazing if you stand back; I mean, six months ago, eight months ago, it was Rudy Giuliani. He was the—he was the front-runner. He was the—he was going to be the nominee.
BEINART: Let me say something good about the Republicans. I think it says something good about the Republican party that people moved away from Giuliani towards McCain.
CARLSON: Of course it does.
BEINART: McCain actually has national security experience. He actually thinks about these things thoughtfully. He has a record on it. Giuliani was—it was a complete—it was a bubble, right. It was the idea that a mayor somehow was—would be a great national security leader. And it is—
CARLSON: It‘s the second toughest job in America.
BEINART: Yes, but it is not about foreign policy.
GILLESPIE: The first one is editing my magazine. I mean, one of the things that will start to bother people, and this will happen more in a general election if it is McCain, is that he is a war monger. He was a national greatness conservative. And he still talks about imminent threats from North Korea.
This is the type of thing—in the heat of 9/11, it‘s one thing to talk about threats coming from everywhere. I think in the cooler light of 2007, where we are mired in two wars that are going nowhere slow and not accomplishing their goals, I think McCain‘s foreign policy is going to become more of a liability.
CARLSON: It is so nice to hear someone use the term war monger. I‘m not criticizing. I‘m just saying—
GILLESPIE: One of the things is that—one of the great traditions of American politics is the separation of the Army or the military from civilian control. And I‘m not saying that McCain would challenge that. But he—everything he has written—and he has written a ton of books—is always about aggrandizing executive power.
BEINART: He would be great for civilian control. He would be like Eisenhower. He would be the toughest thing for the generals to ever deal with.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right, unlike Bill Clinton. That‘s exactly right. You watch McCain on the stump—I have seen this a lot recently. Someone asked a question about military spending; why are you stopping this or that program? He will say, look, I know a lot more about it than you do.
GILLESPIE: Then he has done nothing about—this entire war is being funded through supplemental spending, which mean‘s you get around fiscal constraints. You don‘t have the same kind of dialogue in open discussion.
GILLESPIE: He is an earmark hawk, but has not done anything to open up the funding of this war and put it in the budget. Even the Cold War --
CARLSON: He has the standing to stop weapons programs cold, whereas Bill Clinton was intimidated. Very quickly, we need to gush over Barack Obama. This is, you know, the mainstream media so we need to do that. I want to put up Obama‘s latest ad and get your take on this. This is Barack Obama appealing to voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m Barack Obama. I approve this message.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After college and law school, Barack Obama could have cashed in. Instead, he fought for change, working to rebuild an area torn apart by plant closings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was inspiring, absolutely inspiring, to see someone as brilliant as Barack Obama take all of the talent and devote it to making people‘s lives better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Illinois, he brought Republicans and Democrats together, cutting taxes for workers and winning health care for children.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Obama worked on some of the deepest issues we had and he was successful in a bipartisan way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the U.S. Senate, he has led on issues from arms control to landmark ethics reform.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was hard to get that ethics bill passed. This is a man that knows how to get things done. He understands that we have to move forward with a different kind of politics.
OBAMA: There is not a liberal America and a conservative America.
There is the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: OK, so, Barack Obama is kind of a garden variety liberal. On the other hand—he voted that way anyway. Look at the add. Any Republican could run that ad. There is no indication in that ad of his party identification, if you listen to it, and there is no identification with any liberal or, for that matter, conservative issue, at all. That‘s a nonpartisan ad.
BEINART: That‘s part of it. Obama is doing really well with independents and Republicans. And the message is coming at the right time. We have had two very polarizing presidencies in a row. Americans are sick of it.
CARLSON: That‘s the appeal of Obama, isn‘t it, right there?
GILLESPIE: I hear he‘s also for change.
CARLSON: OK. There maybe a nothing burger in the center of it.
GILLESPIE: First of, when you have a Harvard professor leading an ad about how he could have cashed in and he didn‘t, who is that speaking to? I mean, that‘s—
CARLSON: I will tell you exactly who it is speaking to.
GILLESPIE: Media maybe.
CARLSON: Single white women with more than one master‘s degree who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
GILLESPIE: Then he‘s going to win with 70 percent of the votes.
BEINART: If you can win Madison—
CARLSON: No, it‘s girls with long earrings and the media.
GILLESPIE: It absolutely underscores the fact that this guy has virtually no legislative accomplishment and he is an unknown quantity, certainly in the national setting, but even in Illinois when you talk to people. Everybody is like he was a good guy. I like being around him. I don‘t know what he was doing with his time.
CARLSON: Gentlemen, we are out of time. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
It is 2008. Decades after the civil rights movement and the issue of race is still central to the outcome of the Democratic primaries, or appears to be. Wait a second, is the Democratic party supposed to be above all that? We‘ll talk to a man whose new book argues the party is not so different from the way it was in 1958.
Plus, Lindsay Lohan is one step closer to adding another entry to a list of accomplishments, the Razzy Award. We‘ll tell you what that is and why he may win, coming up.
CARLSON: The Democratic party of today prides itself on being the party of inclusion and civil rights. Are Democrats hiding a history of racism? A new book reminds us the party‘s leaders defended segregation. In fact, they created it and white supremacy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Joining me now is the author of “Wrong On Race, the Democratic Party‘s Buried Past,” Bruce Bartlett joins us. Bruce, thanks for coming on. Here is something that—I mean, I‘m saying Bull Connor of Alabama, a Republican?
BRUCE BARTLETT, AUTHOR, “WRONG ON RACE”: No, he was the Democratic National Committee man from the state of Alabama.
CARLSON: So Bull Conner, sort of the living—no longer—but at one point the living embodiment of segregation and segregationist instincts was, I mean, a Democratic figure. Why don‘t people remember that?
BARTLETT: I don‘t know. Probably for the same reason that when Democrats have their annual Jefferson/Jackson day dinners, which they hold around this time every year, they forget that Thomas Jefferson owned upwards of 200 slaves and Andrew Jackson owned about 150. It is just not something people want to remember. I can‘t really blame them.
CARLSON: Why is it—I mean, the ultimate—first, second and third rejoinder to what you just said is look, you know, the vast majority of black voters in the United States go Democrat consistently in every election. So if it is such a racist party, why does it get black support?
BARTLETT: Well, the Democrats, to their great credit, switched gears in the 1960s and went from being the party of segregation to being the party of civil rights. And that was a good thing for the country and for black people. But you noted on your—the previous segment that there is some tension within the Democratic coalition between the Hispanics and the blacks. And I think that there‘s some opportunity there for Republicans to reach out for African-American votes if they make the effort to try to do so.
CARLSON: You think that—I mean, how could the Republican party ever overcome the layer upon layer of stereotypes about it as the racist party, country club party?
BARTLETT: I think my book would help. I think it will give Republicans a way of countering the smears of Republican racism that are so commonly repeated in the media. And I think that issues like immigration play in favor of the Republicans within the black community, because Hispanics are their—are rivals and competitors to African-Americans.
CARLSON: So the Republican party, by being tough on immigration, actually garners potentially black votes.
BARTLETT: Yes, the polls show that blacks are very concerned about having their jobs stolen, so to speak, by illegal immigration and losing housing in, you know, government housing projects and things of this sort. So they really—it is—they are going to have a hard time holding that coalition together.
And as you have noted, Hillary Clinton understands this very well. And she‘s decided to abandon the black vote within the Democratic primaries and let Obama have that. And in return, she‘s getting the lion‘s share of the Hispanic votes. I think that this is going to be something that‘s going to play out the rest of the year.
CARLSON: Really quickly, one party that was founded by Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator, another party that created and sustained segregation for many generations. Yet, now one is known as the exclusive party, unfriendly to minority groups. The other the inclusive party. Those are the stereotypes. Was the moment that happened?
BARTLETT: When Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But in his defense, the person who told him to vote against it, on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, was William Rehnquist, who was then a private lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona. And, of course, he went on to become chief justice of the Supreme Court.
It is kind of anachronistic to even think about voting against a bill solely on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Nobody in Congress does that anymore.
CARLSON: They don‘t care at all. Interesting. That‘s really interesting. Bruce Bartlett, “Wrong on Race” is the book. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
The script is written for the movie on President Bush‘s life and presidency. Who will score the leading role? Stick around. We will get the answer from MSNBC Hollywood producer Bill Wolff, coming up.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Joining us now with the news from the other coast, the vice president for prime time here on MSNBC, Bill Wolff.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Tucker, it is a rare night when news from the other coast involves news from this coast. Good and bad news from President Bush from Hollywood today. The bad news, filmmaker, conspiracy theorist and man about town, Oliver Stone is set to direct “Bush,” a movie which dramatizes George W. Bush‘s life and presidency. The script is written. And if he can find the money, Stone could begin principal photography in April and release the film before the November elections.
Says the director, quote, I have empathy for Bush as a human being. I want a fair, true portrait of the man. How did Bush go from an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?
That would seem like bad news for the president, but the good news is super hunky actor Josh Brolin would play Bush in the movie and presumably do for our 43rd president what Robert Redford did for Bob Woodward, convince future generations how good looking he used to be.
CARLSON: Very good point.
WOLFF: Has anybody ever traded up like Bob Woodward, with the exception of Carl Bernstein?
CARLSON: Carl Bernstein would be the exception to that.
WOLFF: Those two guys, according to the movies, were the best looking guys in the history of the world. Now, they‘re very handsome men. Please, Tucker.
CARLSON: We just spent seven years, at this point, watching this movie. Why would we want to watch it again in a year?
WOLFF: That‘s a question for the studios to answer. Like I said, if he can get the money, he will shoot the movie. In Hollywood, why, that‘s as good as, he has no shot. We will see.
I have more show business news to report. Congratulations are in order for both Lindsay Lohan and Eddie Murphy. The Razzy Award nominations were announced this morning. Those are the annual awards for the worst pictures and performances of the year. Now, both Miss Lohan and Mr. Murphy received multiple nods. Miss Lohan‘s work in a movie called “I Know Who Killed Me” was nominated for worst picture of 2007. And because she played two roles, Lilo received two worst actress nominations.
Mr. Murphy‘s “Norbit” also received lots of attention, garnering eight nominations, including five for Murphy alone. He got four nods for his portrayal of four different characters and he shared a worst screen play nomination. Both Lohan and Murphy will surely say there are just so many people to thank, Tucker.
CARLSON: I believe that actually. Los Angeles being what it is, I bet those awards will make it on the mantel as well.
WOLFF: No question and they will thank their agents and the studio head who just really got it and believed and stuck with the project.
Finally, Tucker, the Super Bowl match up is set for February 3rd. The New England Patriots won their 18th straight game without a defeat by methodically destroying the hopes and dreams of the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon. Published reports are that it was either a satisfying penultimate step towards the perfect season, or a demoralizing march towards the inevitable.
Now, in frigid Green Bay, the New York Giants beat the Green Bay Packers 23-20 in overtime to earn the right to be a two-touchdown underdog to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. For everyone between exit seven on the New Jersey turnpike and the northern tip of Maine, it sets up an epic New York versus New England match up.
For everyone else, it sets up more resentment of the northeast corridor and the feeling that nothing good ever happens to small and medium-sized Midwestern cities, Tucker. That‘s how it breaks down.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly how I feel. That‘s exactly how I feel. I would have given—if I were in charge of the outcome, I would have given it to Green Bay.
WOLFF: No question about it. Just give some hope to my people, the people of the great Midwest.
CARLSON: They are busy ice fishing. They always have the ice fishing, Bill. Bill Wolff from headquarters, thanks.
WOLFF: You got it.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. We‘ll be back here tomorrow night. Happy Martin Luther King Day. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris. Have a great night.
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