Guests: Bill Press, Ken Mehlman
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Everywhere you look in politics, drama. The Republican presidential field readies for tonight‘s debate as the final event before the Florida primary on Tuesday.
Welcome to the show.
Today‘s Mason-Dixon poll puts former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney slightly ahead of John McCain in Florida, 30-26. That‘s within the margin of error. On the other hand, there are 10 percent of voters who are undecided and 25 to 33 percent who say they might change their minds before the primary. In other words, it‘s not at all clear what‘s going to happen on Tuesday.
What might produce fireworks at tonight‘s debate in Boca, enmity and desperation, as always. In a front-page “New York Times” piece, we learn about the loathing his Republican rivals feel for Mitt Romney. Is that report accurate and might it play out in bitter exchanges tonight on stage?
On the desperation front both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee show poorly in today‘s polls with their campaigns reportedly struggling for cash. Will either one-time frontrunner pull out the verbal stops tonight?
Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman offers his insights from Boca Raton in just a moment.
Meanwhile the fireworks on the Democratic side just keep coming. Barack Obama has put up a radio ad-in response to Hillary Clinton‘s. She says he‘s a secret supporter of Republican ideas. He says she‘ll say anything to get elected.
The latest South Carolina polls indicate all the nastiness has helped Hillary Clinton. She still trails in the state but Obama‘s support among white voters has shrunk 10 points in the last two weeks, dropped by half. It‘s now as low as 8 percent among white women.
Bill Clinton himself has announced that the race between Obama and his wife in South Carolina is about race. He just came out and said it, point blank.
What does that admission/hope say about the current state of the Democratic Party? Is Obama losing because he‘s black and some Democratic voters don‘t like that?
Bring you the latest in a minute.
But we can begin tonight with the Republicans who will debate a few hours from now in Boca Raton in MSNBC. Joining us now is Ken Mehlman. He‘s the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. The Environmental Defense is among the co-sponsors and Ken serves on the Council on Foreign Relations climate change task force.
Ken, thanks a lot for coming on.
KEN MEHLMAN, FMR. REPUBLICAN NATL. CMTE. CHAIRMAN: My pleasure. Good to be with you.
CARLSON: Are we going to hear anybody defend Bush or run on Bush‘s legacy tonight?
MEHLMAN: Well, I think what you‘ll hear all of the folks do talk about their vision for the future, obviously, their areas of agreement with the president. I think almost everyone on the stage agrees that the change we made with the surge in Iraq is important to continue, that we shouldn‘t take this success and let it all go away and risk our national security.
I think folks are going to agree when the need to make tax cuts permanent and have further tax cuts. I hope people are also going to talk about the importance of education reform and continuing the system by which we‘re measuring how kids are doing. Clearly some adjustments need to be made.
But I (INAUDIBLE) of areas where there‘s disagreement but I don‘t expect people to say we‘re running for a third Bush term. They got to run for their own term, with their vision. And the public really wants change. There‘s no question about that.
CARLSON: I‘m kind of losing track of what it means to be a Republican in 2008. What are the main points in the catechism these days? What do you have to believe to be Republican?
MEHLMAN: In my opinion, our party is about the same fundamental principles, it‘s always been about. It‘s about strong national security, piece through strength, it‘s about free enterprise, less government, more freedom. It‘s about the belief that decisions ought to be made close to the people, by the people, not by judges.
But here‘s our challenge, Tucker, is to do what Ronald Reagan did in 1979. Back then, the challenges were different. People waited in gas lines. Back then there was stagflation. Back then there was a Soviet Union. What did President Reagan do? He applied those principles to the challenges of that today.
The question we have today is: how do we apply those principles to a global jihad from Islamic terrorists? How do we apply those principles to improve our health care, to strengthen the economy, to make us energy independent so that in 2005 we‘re not—as we did that year—providing Iran with $45,000 a year?
And by doing that, by the way, we also help improve our environment by dealing with problem of climate change. How do we take market forces, peace through strength and conservative principles to those challenges today? That‘s our mission, in my opinion.
CARLSON: But have you noticed that Ron Paul seems to be the only guy who ever articulates the ideas behind the small government mantra? He kind of, you know, talks about freedom and why as government gets bigger you become less free. And everyone else treats him like a freak.
CARLSON: I mean they clearly hate him. Why is that?
MEHLMAN: Well, I don‘t think they should treat him like a freak. I think that he has some important ideas. I don‘t agree with him on some ideas. Certainly I don‘t agree with him on a lot of the security ideas. But I do think it‘s very important.
CARLSON: Right. But I mean on domestic stuff.
MEHLMAN: I think it‘s really. You hit a really important point. It‘s important to take our ideas, our specific proposals, and have an architecture. What does it say about the relationship between government and its people, what your vision is on, say, education, what your vision is on, say, national security.
I agree with you. We need an architecture to politics and to our policies and I think providing that kind of ideology is very important to attracting support and attracting voters.
CARLSON: Do you think Republicans have to concede or believe that global warming is both manmade and reversible?
MEHLMAN: Well, in my opinion, what you‘ve seen happen on the issue of global warming, on climate changes, is as new information has come forward, lots of folks from the president to John Marburger, his lead scientist, to Newt Gingrich to others have said, in fact, this is a problem we‘ve got to deal with.
In my opinion, one of the things I try to push for is deal with this in a way that uses our principles, uses markets, uses profits. I‘ve always believed if something is worth doing, it‘s worth doing at a profit.
We know that in 1990 when acid rain was a problem, we were able to significantly reduce acid rain at much less cost than expected using a system called cap and trade, which essentially said we‘re going to pay people who can most effectively reduce acid rain.
I‘d like to see us adopt a similar system for greenhouse gas emissions. One it would.
MEHLMAN: .remove our dependence or oil generally and two, it‘d be good for the environment.
CARLSON: OK. But.
MEHLMAN: .good for national security and use market forces.
CARLSON: But very quickly, I mean, there was no debate about where
acid rain was coming from. It was coming from factory emissions. There is
isn‘t there still a debate about the extent to which people cause climate change and even more debate about what they can do to stop it if anything? Is—are we allowed to have a debate anymore?
MEHLMAN: No question.
CARLSON: Or are you (INAUDIBLE) we should bring that up?
MEHLMAN: I think we—I don‘t believe bring that up at all and not -
I think the science has moved. A lot of people recognize that. But I absolutely think there ought to be that debate. And as part of that debate, what we can do to reduce it, in my opinion, I say use markets, use profits as a way to reduce it.
Again, that‘s a great lesson for history. But should there be a debate? Absolutely. And part of that debate ought to be how do we have profits, how do have markets to deal with it?
One thing, though, that we know, in my opinion—and again, this ought to be a debate, but this is important. The extent to which oil prices are as high as they are we know creates instability in the world.
MEHLMAN: We know it subsidizes terrorism in the world, we know weakens our economy. So whatever we do on climate can also have a critical impact on national security, on economic security by dealing with energy security, too.
So all these ought to be debated in a robust way, and I hope we can use what I consider to be conservative principles like markets and profits to deal with it.
CARLSON: Ken Mehlman, that‘s—I think that.
MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.
CARLSON: .foreign fuel point is a really smart one. I appreciate you‘re coming on. Thanks.
CARLSON: Rudy Giuliani is losing support in Florida and the beneficiary appears to be John McCain. Can he pull off another win next week?
Plus Barack Obama explains away six of his votes in the Illinois state Senate by saying, “Oops, I didn‘t mean it.” Apparently he hit the wrong button accidentally while voting. What will voters think of that?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Six months ago we laughed at John McCain. Now we call him the frontrunner. If he wins Florida, does he have the nomination? And what happens if he doesn‘t?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: They say a high tide lifts all boats, but when it comes to the Republican race for the nomination, it‘s a little bit more like finding the right wave at the right time and riding it as far as you can.
Huckabee, Romney, McCain, they‘ve all won primaries so far, Ron Paul continues to raise a ton of money. Rudy Giuliani has put all his coconuts in the Florida basket.
When it comes down to the last candidate to have the ball on the fourth quarter, will that be the guy who gets the nomination?
Joining us now MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
I mean if, Bill.
BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Yes.
CARLSON: .you were to have Rudy Giuliani win Florida, could you even guess at that point for the nomination?
PRESS: No, absolutely not. But let me tell you something. Rudy Giuliani is not going to win Florida. I mean his whole campaign based on letting everybody else fight it out in the early primaries, he stands in Florida, and he bases his whole campaign on the snowbirds from New York or in Florida, half of whom don‘t like him anyhow. So.
CARLSON: Targeting them. Apparently the Giuliani campaign has been using the addresses of people who‘ve relocated from New York.
CARLSON: The single largest demographic shift in America, I read today, is the movement from New York to Florida. He‘s trying to get them to vote for him but it‘s not working.
Why did Giuliani collapse, Pat?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it‘s not working in Florida because a lot of those fellows—and you go to Broward County, you go to Dade, you go to Palm Beach—they are Democrats.
BUCHANAN: And coming down there are only about 100,000, I think, Republicans in Manhattan.
CARLSON: But Giuliani points out that he won huge numbers of Democrats both times when he ran for mayor.
BUCHANAN: They can‘t vote this time in the Republican primary.
CARLSON: Good point.
BUCHANAN: That would be a problem.
CARLSON: Yes, it would be.
BUCHANAN: OK. But why—I mean his problem was I think he very, very foolishly wrote off all those early states unlike McCain who at least came back and went out and fought himself to a third place finish in Iowa. And he wrote them all off and he was in the dark for four, five weeks of this hottest campaign in history, a battle on Republican bet on the Democratic side.
And he‘s been out of the news and I think he steadily disappeared while Romney has been rising, McCain‘s been rising, Huckabee has been rising, and of them, to some degree, at his expense.
If it works in Florida, I mean, we‘ll have egg on our face and he‘ll be a genius. But my guess is he‘s going to go home—he‘s going to be a laughingstock because of that strategy.
CARLSON: And then, Bill, it‘s just amazing. And things happen so quick in these primary campaigns that you don‘t have time to assess what you‘ve just seen. But Rudy Giuliani collapsing is something I don‘t think anybody anticipated.
PRESS: You know, the flip of that, I think, Tucker, is also true, that if McCain wins in Florida, I think McCain then is most likely going to be the Republican nominee. And if Romney wins in Florida, which would be really a setback for McCain, I think Romney is the most likely Republican nominee.
BUCHANAN: And I think Huckabee and Giuliani face extinction down there.
BUCHANAN: And frankly, I tend to agree with Bill, if McCain wins this he got to bump nationally. Not in Florida, but nationally, he got a real bump. He gets another bump just when the whole country, half the country votes, I think he gets an awful lot of delegates.
CARLSON: Can I state a point that has been obvious but no one ever says it? The party elders, the people who run the Republican Party strongly—there are two candidates who would change the party fundamentally, one is Huckabee, the other is Giuliani. They strongly favored Giuliani. They‘ve have always, I think not so secretly, despised Huckabee.
And this tells you the people that run the party are actually pretty darn liberal who run the Republican Party.
PRESS: They also.
BUCHANAN: They don‘t like outsiders.
CARLSON: They don‘t like—they don‘t like religious people either.
BUCHANAN: They don‘t like people from—they don‘t like Romney either, quite frankly.
PRESS: But they don‘t like McCain.
PRESS: .because McCain is such a maverick and they see him as sort of
a, you know, an uncontrolled missile. So—but I think at some point if -
certainly if McCain wins Florida, they‘re going to have to wake and say, “You know what? McCain is our guy. We‘re going to go with McCain.” And I believe this—I say this as a Democrat—I know that McCain is the one candidate that the Democrats.
CARLSON: Well, you say that. It‘s funny you said that.
PRESS: .don‘t want to run against the most.
CARLSON: OK. But—McCain has taken note of that sentiment. And I want to play now McCain‘s new ad which basically parrots your endorsement or your observation.
Here it is, John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: John McCain. If John McCain.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Senator McCain.
EDWARDS: John McCain.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: John McCain. John McCain.
CLINTON: John McCain.
OBAMA: John McCain. John McCain.
BOB BECKEL, DEMOCRAT STRATEGIST: Democrats do not want to run against John McCain.
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: If you ask Democrats privately what do you fear most, the answer is John McCain.
BECKEL: We‘d much prefer to run against Romney.
ROBERT NOVAK, JOURNALIST: The Democrats I talked to are really worried about a McCain versus Clinton race.
LARRY ELDER, TALK RADIO HOST: When you match McCain up against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, he‘s the only one of the prominent Republican candidates that wins.
BECKEL: It‘s a nightmare from my standpoint.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I‘m John McCain, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Vote for John McCain, Bob Beckel‘s worst nightmare.
What do you think of that as an ad?
BUCHANAN: I think it‘s pretty effective quite frankly. It goes right to the argument that he is the most electable Republican and he‘s moving ahead, and picking up on Bill‘s point, I think if McCain wins Florida he will be endorsed by Huckabee, he will be Giuliani, he will be endorsed by Fred Thompson.
CARLSON: Before super Tuesday?
BUCHANAN: Yes. I think what is left of the establishment will rally around him because they don‘t want Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney will become the outsider candidate, which is not a bad thing to be. The outsider candidate and the change candidate and they will all come around McCain because, I think, they prefer him to Romney.
CARLSON: Well, the loathing for Mitt Romney is so obvious, in fact “The New York Times” noted it today and quoted Dan (INAUDIBLE), other people, former McCain staffer who lives in California now, saying Mitt Romney is the guy John McCain and his friends used to beat up at the Naval Academy.
BUCHANAN: In the schoolyard. In the schoolyard.
CARLSON: That‘s right.
PRESS: But you know, I think so many people dislike Mitt Romney because he‘s so easy to dislike. I mean he‘s the kind of guy that we all knew in high school that was handsome and that was smart and that was rich and you just wanted him to fall on his face or you wanted to punch him. You just.
CARLSON: It‘s the politics of envy, that‘s what you say.
BUCHANAN: Really, it is the politics of envy.
PRESS: It is a politics of envy.
BUCHANAN: He‘s a transfer student from another school who was head of the student council.
BUCHANAN: .and your mother says to you at one time or another, “Why can‘t you be more like young Mitt Romney?”
CARLSON: Barack Obama is on the attack. He‘s firing back at Hillary Clinton. Will it help him? Or when you start complaining about attacks, is it already over?
Plus Bill Clinton says if his wife is elected president, he would be sent on diplomatic missions around the world. This is before he became an attack dog. Does the rest of the world still like Bill Clinton and will they by the time the race is over?
We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: If the bully is picking on you at recess, is it better to fight back or walk away?
That‘s the quandary facing Barack Obama, the only exception being that it‘s a popular former president of the United States who‘s doing the beating.
Can Obama punch back without alienating loyal Clinton Democrats or does he have to fight back to show he can handle the pressure of a general election?
Joining us once again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I‘m Barack Obama, candidate for president, and I approved this message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It‘s what‘s wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected. Now she‘s making false attacks on Barack Obama.
“The Washington Post” says Clinton isn‘t telling the truth. Obama did not say that he liked the ideas of Republicans. In fact, Obama has led the fight to raise the minimum wage, close corporate tax loopholes, and cut taxes for the middle class.
But it was Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Tom Brokaw, who, quote, “paid tribute to Ronald Reagan‘s economic and foreign policy.” She championed NAFTA even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. And worst of all, it was Hillary Clinton who voted for George Bush‘s war in Iraq.
Hillary Clinton, she‘ll say anything and change nothing. It‘s time to turn the page.
Paid for by Obama for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: “She‘ll say anything and do nothing.”
Back with us, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
By the way, the ad to which that was responding, the famous ad that we played yesterday, the Hillary Clinton ad trying to tie Barack Obama to the Reagan brain trust has been pulled off the air. It was so dishonest, even the Clinton people couldn‘t keep running it. So it‘s now off the air.
But Obama‘s negatives are now higher that Hillary Clinton‘s.
BUCHANAN: Yes. I know.
CARLSON: .in the state of South Carolina.
Is this ad going to help?
BUCHANAN: I think this is an excellent add. It has the insular benefit of being true.
BUCHANAN: And he brings in NAFTA very effectively. And frankly, it is a response ad which is persuasive and convincing and at the same—it‘s an attack ad that hits her on the war and on NAFTA and on the issues very softly that are really, I think, effective issues. So for a radio ad, I think it‘s a terrific ad, I really do. I think it‘s very high quality.
PRESS: Yes. Yes. My take on is I disagree that it‘s true what he says about Hillary Clinton. But I think the ad is certainly—it‘s hard hitting, it is tough, and it‘s fair. But my question is: whatever happened to the politics of hope?
And I think what we‘re seeing here is that the Clintons had a very calculated.
PRESS: .campaign to bring Barack Obama down to the level of just another politician. And I think to a certain extent they have succeeded.
CARLSON: I agree with that.
PRESS: And after this ad, there‘s kind of no coming back, you know?
CARLSON: Well, you know, there‘s a really interesting piece in “The Politico.”
PRESS: Maybe he had to do it. I‘m not saying he was wrong. But I‘m saying it‘s a different Barack Obama running today.
CARLSON: You may have—John Harris and Jim Vandehei from “The Politico” have a smart piece today and they say this. They say, “Imagine if at the next presidential debate Barack Obama said this to Hillary Clinton: ‘You know, I admire some aspects of Bill Clinton‘s presidency.
But let‘s recall it was precisely these sort of too-cute-by-half statements
that caused him to be reprimanded by a federal judge and stripped of his
law license. Senator, you may want to go back to those days and that style
of politics but I think most Americans are ready to move on.‘”
Look, why don‘t just say, “Your husband is a liar?” A court showed that he was a liar. He lost his law license. I‘m not going to take this crap from you, you‘re lying.
BUCHANAN: But look, he‘s got—Bill Clinton has 80 percent in the Democratic Party approval.
BUCHANAN: It is a legendary figure and what he‘s done he‘s mixed it up with Barack Obama. He‘s cost himself some of his support and his allure but he‘s really ripped Obama. I agree with Bill, he‘s dragged him off his pedestal down into a fistfight and Obama is now mixing it up and he‘s hurting himself. He‘s losing white votes. His negatives are rising. It is a tremendously success—well, a negative campaign, and we‘ve all been part of it, us analyzing it, talking about the race issue, everything.
CARLSON: But you got to—I mean, not fighting back—remember Bill Bradley famously.
CARLSON: .in 2000 scrapping with Al Gore and Gore just tweaked him.
Bill Bradley wanted to run a different kind of campaign.
CARLSON: .based on a new kind of politics. And Gore implied he was a racist and basically drove Bill Bradley into this frenzy. But Bill Bradley never really fought back and he was crushed as a result. I mean don‘t you kind of have to fight back?
PRESS: The guy that—man or woman, who doesn‘t fight back loses elections. There‘s no doubt about it. Yes. So I mean I think Barack Obama was in a very tough spot and he had to respond.
All I‘m saying is, it wasn‘t by accident that he was forced to respond. The Clintons knew exactly what they were doing.
CARLSON: So that‘s not a market.
PRESS: Everything is on the line for them, right?
CARLSON: That‘s not a market for hope in the end.
PRESS: No, no, I mean look.
CARLSON: Fear still moves voters, right?
BUCHANAN: Sure, look, what he did, he ran a wonderful campaign in Iowa. It was uplifting, everybody applauded him.
BUCHANAN: And they said we‘re going to ghettoize this guy. Basically, we‘re going to drive him back to race by raising the sisterhood issue and the Martin Luther King, and all of these other things, the drug thing. And what could get him now is Barack is moving to almost 100 percent of the African-American vote. It‘s hardening but he‘s losing the rest of the vote. He‘s becoming a Jesse Jackson.
And I think that was the strategy behind this. And I think that‘s the success. I think it‘s going to damage the Democratic Party but is sure going to win the nomination for Hillary.
CARLSON: This is going—I mean, this is—there will be ramifications from this, don‘t you think, Bill? I mean this will damage the party. How could it not? This is nasty. This goes to core divisions within the Democratic Party. How can they wake up after Hillary gets the nomination and not be wounded.
PRESS: Look, there are going to be bruised feelings. But Democrats have been out of the White House. Democrats want to get so badly to turn this country around and take a new direction. Democrats will come together after this. If it‘s Hillary the nominee or it‘s Barack Obama the nominee, and they‘re going to fight like hell to get back the White House.
But there are going to be some hard feelings over this. There are bound to be.
CARLSON: I hope so.
Barack Obama is leading Hillary Clinton in South Carolina among black voters. It‘s a different story when it comes to white voters. There is a profound racial divide among Democrats. Somehow we haven‘t noticed it until now.
Plus a former Clinton Cabinet leader isn‘t surprised by what he‘s seeing on the campaign trail from his former boss. In fact he said it‘s politics as usual among the Clintons. Injecting race into the race.
You‘re watching MSNBC. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton returned to South Carolina today, a day earlier than she planned to. The latest Mason Dixon poll suggests Barack Obama leads the race, but a look at the ethnic breakdown of voter sentiment reveals key erosion in support for him. In the January 17th poll, white voters broke 39 for Clinton, 28 for Edwards, 20 for Barack Obama. Today‘s poll, though, shows a 12 point jump among white voters for Edwards, a three point drop for Clinton and a 10 point drop for Obama.
What explains this change and what does it foretell? Here again, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
I‘ll show you in a minute what exactly accounts for that change. But let me suggest this; my theory is we never see things we don‘t anticipate seeing. If the Pope got caught worshipping Satan, we would not believe it, because we know the Pope does not worship Satan. The other thing we know is that Bill Clinton is not a bigot. He‘s not going to use race. We just sort of know that. That‘s what we know about him.
Yet, there‘s evidence that we‘re wrong. Take a look at this tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as I can tell, on our side, neither Senator Obama nor Hillary have lost votes because of their race or gender. They are getting votes, to be sure, because of their race or gender. That‘s why people tell me Hillary doesn‘t have a chance to win here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: You got that, Bill? His wife is not going to win because the black people aren‘t voting for her, they are voting for Barack Obama. It‘s a racial thing because he‘s black. I don‘t know if you know, he‘s black, as the Clintons keep reminding us. Hillary‘s not winning on gender. She‘s winning on race. She‘s winning because she‘s white, if you take a look at the numbers—among white voters.
PRESS: If you look at what the president just said, he said people were not voting against Barack Obama because he‘s black, they are not voting against Hillary Clinton because she‘s a woman; but they are voting for them because of that. Then I think what he‘s pointing out is if you look at the percentage, which is—I‘ve seen 55 percent of the vote in South Carolina is African-American, just on the numbers alone, Barack Obama‘s going to win, which I think is true.
CARLSON: They have made it racial for the last couple of weeks. Here are the results, Pat. Hillary now beats Obama among white Democrats by 35 points. Among white women he‘s down to eight percent. Obama is getting beaten three to one by whites by John Edwards in South Carolina among whites, three to one by a candidate who hasn‘t won anything, who is a joke.
BUCHANAN: What‘s happened is—what we‘re talking about is, if you will, it‘s like the old Progressive Party; the populist party in the south broke down along racial lines. They both had the same economic interests. This is what‘s happened to Barack Obama. His constituency, which was black and white together in South Carolina, the white part has moved off to Edwards, who is a quasi-populist and the black vote has solidified and grown.
There‘s no way you can describe this other than a racial vote. It may be they are moving toward Barack Obama, but they are also moving away from Barack Obama by race.
PRESS: If I can make this point. I think it‘s unfair to say that blacks are voting for Barack Obama only because he‘s black. I think they see him as qualified, as ready to be president, as experienced, and he‘s a brother.
CARLSON: You‘re telling me that his loss among whites has nothing to do with race.
PRESS: I‘m not saying that at all.
CARLSON: Here‘s what A.B. Stoddard said—listen to this. She said, “we must ask if Democrats are as racist as they would like us to believe Republicans are. If Colin Powell, a black Republican, were running for government and receiving more black support than his opponent, would his own party paint him as, quote, the black candidate?”
You‘ve got to wonder. Let‘s be completely honest here. There are Democrats who are not supporting Barack Obama because of his race. That‘s racist. We don‘t want to say there are racists in the Democratic party, because we know that‘s not true. It turns out it is true.
BUCHANAN: Tucker, he started off as a Democratic candidate who happened to be black. They have turned him into the black candidate now. This is why the white folks are leaving, Bill. It‘s undeniable and black folks are moving toward him in enormous numbers and hardening their support. This is a racial vote in South Carolina. There‘s no denying it.
PRESS: Two points; number one, I‘ll repeat, I think a lot more African-Americans are supporting Barack Obama because they see him as a guy they didn‘t even know—let me finish—as an incredible inspirational candidate who is ready to be president. They are excited about it. He‘s one of them. They are going to vote for him. I don‘t see anything wrong with that.
Number two, let me tell you something, we have heard for three, four months that in South Carolina 55 percent of the population is African-American, or the voting population African-American. So we in the media have set this up as a contest in South Carolina based on race.
CARLSON: Here is Robert Reich, the former labor secretary under Bill Clinton, not only labor secretary, but a life long friend of both Clintons. They rented an apartment from him. They have known him their whole adult lives. Quote, “Bill Clinton‘s ill-tempered and ill-founded attack on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former president, his legacy or his wife‘s campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic party. While it may be that all is fair in love, war and politics, it is not fair, indeed it‘s demeaning, for a former president to say things that are patently untrue, or to insinuate that Obama is injecting race into the race, when the former president is himself doing it.”
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you what‘s wrong with his statement.
CARLSON: Robert Reich is accusing Clinton of racism.
BUCHANAN: Yes, but Robert Reich is mistaken when he says he‘s not helping his wife‘s campaign. He is helping his wife‘s campaign. He may be the reason why she‘s going to win this, because he‘s the guy who messed up Obama more than anybody else.
CARLSON: I just think this is a big deal. Where are ordinary Democrats—the party of diversity, progressive values. Here is our leader using race to divide the party on his wife‘s behalf. Why aren‘t people freaking out over this?
PRESS: Tucker, look, again, and Pat, I disagree with your interpretation of what Clinton said. What Clinton is saying is again, they are not voting against him because he‘s black. They are voting actually for him.
BUCHANAN: Why are the whites leaving him?
CARLSON: Democrats are voting against him because he‘s black. That‘s just true.
PRESS: I will agree. I will admit that certainly this has become more of a race-based campaign in South Carolina. I think we in the media have helped make it so.
CARLSON: Yes, we have. I‘m not excusing our role in this. But the Clintons are at the heart of this, and you know it. The “Financial Times” today, Bill Clinton, big figure in the rest of the world; “by laying into Mr. Obama so cynically,” says the “Financial Times,” “Mr. Clinton is trashing his own reputation for idealism and hurting his image abroad.”
Even Europeans get what‘s going on. He‘s using race to win.
BUCHANAN: This is what happened to the Democratic party in the south. All the African-American folks moved into the party. And an awful lot of white folks said look, this isn‘t the old Democratic party, and they moved to the Republican party. Now you have this happening now inside a smaller Democratic party.
PRESS: Don‘t get too gleeful here, because when this is over, the differences between black Democrats and white Democrats is a lot less than between Democrats and Republicans and they will solidify.
CARLSON: -- this kind of holier than thou, you‘re a racist, I‘m a Democrat thing my whole lifetime. If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, is she going to get up next year at the MLK Day celebration and get up there and say, I‘m the heir of the civil rights movement. I‘m the head of the Democratic party.
How could she do that? Who is going to stand up and say, hold on, Mrs. Clinton? You can‘t with a straight face. Look what you did to get where you are now.
PRESS: She‘s running against an African-American. She wants to win. He‘s running against a woman. He wants to win. They both have the right to run the toughest campaign they can and most successful.
CARLSON: He‘s not using her gender against her.
BUCHANAN: He tried to avoid the gender issue and he tried to avoid the race issue as long as he could.
CARLSON: What about Barack Obama voting incorrectly in the Illinois state legislature six times. This, I think, is a fair thing.
BUCHANAN: You can do that in first grade, Tucker, but not second grade.
CARLSON: It‘s not fair to hit a man on his race. It is fair to hit him on voting. The “LA Times” said six votes, a couple of them important, he hit the wrong button.
PRESS: I must admit, up until now, whatever he did in the Illinois state Senate should not be an issue. The fact that he voted 100 and some times present and not yes or now and now that he‘s pushing the wrong button, you have to wonder what was going on in the Senate.
BUCHANAN: This could have explained what Billy Shaheen was talking about.
CARLSON: Rosa Brooks, who often comes on this show and I think is very smart—I think is a sincere liberal, very liberal but smart—has this to say --
PRESS: Not necessarily a contradiction.
CARLSON: No, it usually is. But in the case or Rosa Brooks, I will
say, she is both very smart and very liberal. She has this to say, which I
think is worth listening to—She says in the “LA Times” today; “Once you
stop comparing the Clinton presidency with the Bush presidency, it no
longer looks so great. On the whole, the Clinton era was a time of culture
war and scandal, triangulation and botched reforms”—Health care anyone
“vacillation and paralysis. On foreign policy in particular, Clinton‘s presidency was an era of missed opportunities.
Very simple question, Bill. This is written by someone who I believe voted for Clinton twice, a liberal Democrat. Why, when you have the option of continuing this very, very mixed record, which is always accompanied by scandal and anger, and the opportunity to go with something new and fresh, why would you choose the former? Why would you choose Hillary over Clinton? Why would Democrats do that?
PRESS: First of all, I read that piece. I totally disagree with that piece. I think there are too many people who don‘t realize—forget that Clinton, I believe, is the best president in our lifetime. We had eight years of economic prosperity, eight years of peace around the world.
CARLSON: The meanest president I‘ve ever even read about. Can you think of anyone nastier.
PRESS: I don‘t consider him mean at all. There was eight successful years, balanced budget, brought the fiscal responsibility. This woman is saying we don‘t want to go back there. I‘d go back there in a second. And Clinton would get reelected today if he were on the ballot for a third term.
CARLSON: Which tells you a lot.
BUCHANAN: He had a very good economic record, but she‘s right on all the rest of it. He had a very good economic record, no doubt, in terms of performance. But on the rest of it, I agree with her. I mean—
PRESS: Well, you would.
BUCHANAN: If I were a liberal, I mean, he was a triangulator and all these other things. He really didn‘t accomplish a whole lot for them. That war in the Balkans was a disaster. He should never have gotten us into that. He was a disgrace in terms of his personal behavior. He was impeached, all these things. He got wiped out. He dropped the Senate, lost the Senate and House after his first two years.
What did the guy accomplish other than a good economy?
PRESS: Peace in Northern Ireland, Pat, for one thing, which nobody else had achieved before. He just about brought about peace in the Mideast and certainly did a hell of a lot better job than George Bush did.
CARLSON: What does it mean to just about bring about peace in the Middle East?
BUCHANAN: The second Intifada started as he was leaving office.
CARLSON: I believe there was a war in Lebanon two years ago.
PRESS: Health care reform, which is something conservatives wanted a long time. I happen to disagree with it. We don‘t talk about welfare anymore because Clinton took care of it and made it an issue. And every other president said they were going to balance the budget, nobody did. Bill Clinton did. Give him credit for it.
BUCHANAN: He gutted the military from six percent to three percent of GDP. That was your savings.
PRESS: How did George Bush send the military into Iraq so fast if Clinton gutted the military. That is—
CARLSON: Let me just jump in here to say, you all are acting out the next eight years if Hillary is president. OK? We‘ll have eight more years of this. My question is, do people really want that? If Hillary Clinton is nominated on the Democratic side, don‘t you think millions of Democrats will wake up and say, I like her better than whoever the Republican may be, but we just made a huge mistake. Let‘s be totally honest here.
PRESS: I think they will be very excited about—
CARLSON: Do you really think that?
PRESS: Yes I really do. Having the first woman president, having a whole fresh start, and having somebody who has a new agenda, with new ideas and is going to go for it.
BUCHANAN: How can it be a fresh start when Bubba is walking into the White House on day one.
BUCHANAN: I think people will look back and say, you know, Barack, he had some faults and he hit the wrong buttons, but he had real promise. There‘s no doubt about it, when he won Iowa, frankly, everybody had to stand up and applaud. He did a great job, worked hard.
CARLSON: He‘s new. He‘s different. He‘s promising. He‘s inclusive in a way the Clintons are not. I have an idea, let‘s destroy him. Let‘s make him the black man and get all the racists in our party—and there are many, and the Clintons are the first to know that—to vote against him.
PRESS: You talk as if Barack Obama is dead. Barack Obama is going to win South Carolina. He could be the nominee of the party. I think the American people are going to be excited with either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the White House.
BUCHANAN: He‘s lost the White vote. He‘s lost the Hispanic vote. They have taken it away from him. He can‘t win with the African-American vote and you know it, Bill.
CARLSON: So ugly. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: There are more than enough people telling the candidates what to do and say. But we have Joe Scarborough here to tell them what not to say, which may be the most important lesson. That‘s up next.
Later, how the jet-setting lifestyle of David Beckham has sent his global warming stats into the stratosphere. Our celebrity environmental correspondent Bill Wolff has the details. You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Running for president means having to watch every single thing you say. The press used to show some restraint when newspapers were the only way for voters follow the race. But in today‘s world of blogging, Youtube, and cell phone video, it‘s impossible for candidates to go to the men‘s room without someone catching it on tape.
Is that good for the process or too much information? Back with us, Bill Press, Pat Buchanan. If you‘re John McCain, you know what‘s going to happen. You‘re going to come out, Pat, and every other candidate is going to say, I love John McCain, he‘s an American hero. But he‘s really liberal and he‘s acted against the party time and time again. How do you respond?
BUCHANAN: McCain? I think you just stay on message, don‘t get in too many fights. Frankly, if I were him, I would focus on one guy, and that‘s Mitt Romney. I would go at what you see—polls show you that his main weakness—go at him. He‘s the only guy that can beat McCain in the long run, in my judgment.
I don‘t think anybody else can go the distance. Rudy can‘t. I don‘t think Huckabee can anymore. Thompson is out and Ron Paul can‘t.
CARLSON: Ron Paul can‘t. Well, those were sad words for my ears.
BUCHANAN: It‘s over, Tucker.
PRESS: If I‘m Mitt Romney, I‘d point out that the economy is a big issue now. I‘m the CEO. I‘m the guy that can do it. John McCain is the Washington—I think this John McCain is a Washington insider is the best line that Romney has. Those two combined, the economy and the Washington insider, I think are winners for Mitt Romney. And I would focus—ignore Giuliani and go right after John McCain.
BUCHANAN: Those who created the mess in Washington cannot clean it up. Look at what‘s happened to the economy. They have been there all the time. We need new fresh ideas. Lay a couple of them out there. I think he picked that up in Michigan and I think it --
CARLSON: I think that‘s absolutely right. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
PRESS: Good to see you.
CARLSON: Joining us now, Joe Scarborough, host of “MORNING JOE.”
Joe, what shouldn‘t they do? How can they screw it up tonight?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: It‘s very easy for them to screw it up. If Mitt Romney looks stiff like he did in a lot of the early debates, he‘ll be in trouble. If it‘s Mitt Romney that, like Pat Buchanan said, we saw in Michigan, this is a guy that‘s got everything to win tonight.
John McCain can‘t come across looking angry. He has an awful lot to win, but he also has an awful lot to lose. Look for Mike Huckabee, obviously, to try to hit the ball out of the park. You hear he is not doing well, state by state by state. But an “LA Times” poll came out earlier today that showed he was in a virtual tie for first place nationwide with John McCain. So a good showing in Florida actually helps him going into Super Tuesday.
CARLSON: Who is his base in Florida? You think of the Huckabee base as being evangelicals, religious people. Is it bigger than that in Florida?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, you‘ve got those people. But value voters in the Republican primary in the state of Florida, that‘s about 25, 30 percent of the voters. Obviously, Romney is doing a lot better with these value voters in Florida than he did out in Iowa. But you combine that with the fair tax folks that are across the state of Florida, also combine that with people that just like Mike Huckabee, who understand that this guy is better talking. He‘s more relaxed than a lot of other candidates.
If everything goes right for Mike Huckabee, he could have a strong finish here.
CARLSON: Very quickly, Joe, the Cuban vote—we used to hear so much about it in Florida. We used to say it was definitive in state-wide Republican races. Is it this year and who is it going to go to?
SCARBOROUGH: The Cuban vote when I was still in Congress back in 2001, they were all unified. Now there‘s a split. The younger people say let‘s open up relations with Cuba, a lot of them do, others don‘t. That should be John McCain‘s vote, but that‘s the one area where Rudy Giuliani is doing very well right now. McCain is being hurt by Giuliani.
In Iowa, it was Romney and Huckabee going after each other. In New Hampshire, it was Romney and McCain going after each other. In the state of Florida, I think you‘ll see McCain and Giuliani have to fight each other to get each other‘s support, or else you‘ll have Mitt Romney who is running away with everything.
Just an anecdotal note, all my friends and family members in Florida tell me Romney is on the air every five minutes. His are the only ads people are seeing. That‘s going to make a big difference. This is a huge state and you can‘t win it going door to door.
CARLSON: He‘s got the dough. Joe Scarborough in Florida, we‘ll see you tonight. Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Rambo making his return to the silver screen. Now, he‘s blasting his way into the world of politics as well. Find out which candidate Sylvester Stallone says ought to be president ahead on MSNBC.
CARLSON: There‘s still more news to tell you. With it, Bill Wolff from headquarters in New York.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Tough to follow Joe Scarborough.
But here we go. Tucker, there‘s actual political news to report tonight. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who‘s presidential campaign failed to gain much traction in the race, has withdrawn his candidacy. Mr. Kucinich told the editorial board of the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” this afternoon he was ending his bid.
He had run on a progressive policy, and he vowed to win the war in Iraq immediately. He carried with him to debate and campaign appearances a pocket sized copy of the Constitution. Dennis Kucinich, of course, remains a U.S. representative from the Cleveland area. He has a re-election campaign up in March, Tucker.
CARLSON: Dennis is reading from a different Constitution from the one I have. But I‘ve always liked him and I have always thought he was a principled person who was running because he believes certain things, none of which I agree with. But I always respect his sincerity.
WOLFF: Absolutely true. I must say that if being against the Iraq war is a measuring stick for any voter, the one Democratic candidate with a spotless or at least consistent record voting against it, and voting against the funding, it was Dennis Kucinich. So a lot of people like to have fun with Dennis Kucinich, make fun of some of his eccentricities. But, as you say, he‘s authentic and he‘s a true believer. So, we‘ll miss him and we hope he‘ll come on the show. We love him as a guest.
Now, we know where Chuck Norris and Nature Boy Rick Flare stand in the ‘08 race. They love them some Mike Huckabee. Today, the man who played Rocky Balboa over and over and over again, the man who was and this Friday will be again John Rambo, Sylvester Stallone, put his hysterically sculpted weight behind Arizona Senator John McCain. Sly, as his friends call him, could influence the vote in Florida. He‘s shockingly tan, which could play in the beach front communities. He was last good in a movie in 1976, when many of Florida‘s retirees were just entering the key advertising demographic, Tucker.
CARLSON: It can‘t hurt. I don‘t know.
WOLFF: I don‘t know. Sly—Rocky was great. “Rocky One” was great. It was over when he put on the dolphin shorts and oil and ran on the beach in “Rocky III.” It was over.
CARLSON: Look, if you‘re a Republican, you‘re happy when any actor is on your side.
WOLFF: Hollywood doesn‘t really care that much for Republicans.
CARLSON: That‘s true.
WOLFF: Finally, Tucker, David Beckham has had some impact on the gossip rags, almost no impact on the American soccer scene. But the supernaturally good looking footballer with spice girl wife person may have a terrible affect on the environment. “Soccer America Daily” used the data provided by the British environmental group Carbon Trust to calculate that Beckham is responsible for 163 tons of Carbon Dioxide each year. The normal Englishman reported to produce about 9.4 tons of CO2. Estimated that he flew 250,000 miles last year just to play soccer, and he and the wife flew another 50,000 more to be more famous.
Then there are his 15 cars and homes all over the place. Add it all up, he could have the largest carbon footprint of any person alive. Tucker, that‘s not even counting his natural hotness, which couldn‘t help the environment.
CARLSON: Pretty good. I would like to know your carbon footprint, Bill.
WOLFF: It‘s big, 11.5.
CARLSON: Bill Wolff, thanks. That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Quick programming note, be certain to tune into MSNBC tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for the Republican presidential debate moderated by NBC‘s Brian Williams. We‘ll see you right back here tomorrow night. “HARDBALL” with Chris is next.
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