Guests: Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, David Frum, Chris Kofinis
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: Welcome to the show. They may have decided to settle for a tie in last night‘s debate, but Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a high-stakes battle in public and behind the scenes for the endorsement of John Edwards. Not only has Edwards‘s campaign pledge to end poverty become a regular part of both Clinton‘s and Obama‘s stump rhetoric, Obama opened last night‘s debate this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: First of all, I want to acknowledge a candidate who left the race this week, John Edwards, who did such an outstanding job.
OBAMA: Elevating the issues of poverty and the plight of working families all across the country and we wish him and Elizabeth well. He‘s going to be a voice for this party and for this country for many years to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Behind the scenes, both campaigns were exerting heavy pressure on the former North Carolina senator, whose political capital essentially expires Tuesday.
In a moment, a member of the defunct campaign‘s inner circle talks to us live about the advice John Edwards is hearing from his own people.
On the Republican side, meanwhile, Senator John McCain‘s long-standing feud with the party‘s base has driven grassroots conservatives toward Mitt Romney. Figures like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter continue to rail against the possibility of a McCain nomination. Ann Coulter said she would work for Hillary Clinton if he gets it. Former governor Romney agrees. Romney went so far as to compare McCain to an infamous liberal Republican president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: He‘s a fine person, but I think this was a major mistake, and he—a question about this, he could have raised it any time between April and now. But to raise it outside of a debate and to do it in a way with, you know, blasted out to people in Florida, was something reminiscent of the Nixon era, and I don‘t think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: In a moment, we‘ll analyze Romney‘s chances to stem the tide of McCain‘s march to the nomination.
But we begin tonight with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their struggle for the John Edwards endorsement.
Joining me now is former communications director for the Edwards campaign, Chris Kofinis.
Chris, you‘re free. Glad you‘re here. Before I ask you about who Edwards might endorse, what happens to the John Edwards campaign?
CHRIS KOFINIS, FMR. EDWARDS COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: You know, listen, I think it‘s kind of, you know, the way I‘ve explained it, he‘s the right candidate with the right message in the wrong election. Historical figures, both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton in their own right attracted an enormous amount of media coverage.
I mean I think Senator Edwards and our campaign deserve a lot of credit. We pushed the agenda in terms of policy. He led on health care, he led on poverty, he led on global warming, he even led on issues like terrorism, for example. And so, I think it was just a—it was the dynamics became, I think too overwhelming and too difficult a hill to climb.
CARLSON: What that suggest? I mean, I agree with you to this extent—
Edwards was the one candidate whose campaign was message-driven. He had something to say, whether you agreed with it or not is a separate question, but he had a discrete message, and voters didn‘t respond to it in the way that a lot of people, including me, expect they might.
So does that suggest that the personality of the person running the story of the person, the ethnicity, the gender matters more than the message?
KOFINIS: Listen, it‘s a catch-22. It‘s not just one factor. It‘s all the factors. I mean when you run, I think, especially in a presidential campaign, the media story, the narrative of your candidacy becomes so critical, and we were definitely a very message, policy-driven campaign. Senator Edwards had a very, I think compelling story in terms of coming from nothing and becoming incredibly successful and saying that, you know, the kind of president he wanted to be was to basically make sure that everyone had those kind of equal chances.
But at the end of the day, you‘re talking about I think a very unique moment in this country‘s history. We have an incredibly attractive candidate in Senator Obama and a very compelling candidate and very powerful candidate in Senator Clinton. Those, I think, were very powerful magnets for the media coverage and to some extent became a—I think a hill that was tough for us to climb.
I think the other part to it I think is also fascinating is, you know, if you look at the last, you know, months, you know, neither Senator Obama and neither Senator Clinton—they deserve credit for this—neither one of their campaigns really buckled. I mean, we really, I think we had a very serious strategy and a very strong strategy, but we also needed them, if you will, to kind of screw up.
CARLSON: Fail. Yes.
KOFINIS: To fail a little bit. And neither one of them pulled a Giuliani, neither one of them pulled a Thompson. And that—listen, they deserve credit for that.
CARLSON: Yes. No, that‘s sound analysis to me. You guys spent a lot of the campaign, you personally, but also your candidate, kind of honing in on Hillary Clinton...
CARLSON: ...and her hypocrisy, her support for free trade, for NAFTA, which always struck me as a fair criticism of her. Considering that, I and a lot of other people have been shocked to see Edwards not endorse Obama right away. Why?
KOFINIS: I think for Senator Edwards—and I‘m not, I can‘t speak for him anymore, I think he‘s going to come to terms with who he wants to endorse. I think you kind of look at it a couple ways. I think rhetorically and message-wise, obviously, I think Senator Edwards has a lot of commonality with Senator Obama. On some of the policy issues he has some commonality with Senator Clinton. I think he respects her service and experience.
I think he‘s going to, you know, decide himself what he thinks is not only best for him and for the issues that he cares about, like poverty, but also what he thinks is best for the party and the country. And I think when he‘s - when he comes to those decisions, I think he‘ll, you know, he‘ll decide to endorse her or he may not.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton has seemed to embody everything he rejected in his own party, everything he hated about the Democrats.
Mudcat Saunders came on MSNBC yesterday and said, quote, “I‘m going to do everything in my power to make sure he does not endorse Hillary Clinton.” Mudcat Saunders, of course, being a former advisor to Senator Edwards. I know a lot of people on your campaign, a lot of them disliked her personally. Is he hearing from those people right now?
KOFINIS: My guess is he‘s hearing from everyone across the party as well as within the campaign. Listen, I think it‘s, you know, he is clearly one of the most coveted endorsements that is still out there. I mean, I think Senator Kennedy was an incredibly coveted endorsement. I think you have in the form of Vice President Gore also being a coveted endorsement and I would put Senator Edwards right up there.
And how he—I think when he decides to endorse, if he decides to endorse, whoever gets that endorsement is going to gain significantly from it. I mean, he has been a very powerful, progressive voice, not only in this campaign, but for the party, and I think to their credit, both the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign have been very aggressive in their outreach and they deserve credit for that.
CARLSON: So he spent last night not watching the debate, but at a Carolina basketball game.
KOFINIS: Smart man.
CARLSON: I want to ask you very quickly about something that a lot of people in Washington are talking about.
CARLSON: And that is what happens to the delegates that are not seated—don‘t really exist at this point for Michigan and Florida, both states you guys did not campaign in by agreement, but Hillary Clinton won. If this campaign goes to the convention, people are saying that Hillary Clinton might attempt to seat those delegates and have them allowed to vote for her.
KOFINIS: She might. My personal opinion is, I‘m likely to go to that point. I mean, I think there would be a lot of questions and concerns about, you know, especially at the DNC took away those delegates...
CARLSON: How about outrage?
KOFINIS: I think there will be outrage as well to some extent, and I think
I don‘t think that‘s going to happen. I think what‘s going to end up happening is—listen, we‘re going into super duper Tuesday. We have 16, you know—actually 1681 delegates up for grabs. The dynamics coming out of super Tuesday are going to have an incredible impact.
You know Senator Clinton and her campaign, I think, go in there the prohibitive frontrunner. You‘re seeing clear momentum from the Obama campaign. If the Obama campaign, I think, can keep it close, with the incredible amount of fundraising, I mean, he raised in January all goes to mind, and that is grassroots power at its best.
KOFINIS: $32 million, but at the same time, the Clinton campaign, I think, is—they‘re a formidable machine. They‘re very disciplined, they‘re very aggressive, and I think this thing is going to come out of February 5th, my thinking is relatively split. They‘re going to go on for another few weeks and whoever I think can best themselves or best the other in those remaining states is going to gain the advantage. But I think at some point you‘re going to see someone, you know, kind of, you know, start slipping...
CARLSON: I agree with that.
Chris Kofinis, formerly of the Edwards campaign, thanks a lot for coming on.
KOFINIS: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: She‘s a machine. There‘s also a lot of rage against the machine on the Democratic side.
As we continue the countdown to super Tuesday, we want to remind you to stay tuned to MSNBC. We‘ll be covering all the races and all the results throughout the day and night. We will be in Phoenix. We‘ll also be welcoming viewers around the world in southern Africa on free-to-view and throughout Asia on Channel News Asia. So stay tuned in if you‘re abroad.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama go head to head for the first time, but instead of barking at each other, they all but burst into songs of love. It‘s not a debate, it‘s a musical comedy. Could they wind up getting hitched on the same ticket?
Plus, Rudy Giuliani spent millions of dollars trying to win Florida, about $50 million, actually. We‘ll tell you what he bought with all that dough.
You‘re watching MSNBC.
CARLSON: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton meet in Hollywood for their first one-on-one debate. It had glitz and glamour and more overt affection than your average Meg Ryan movie. Could they share the ticket?
We‘ll tell you. We‘ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Well, it did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush.
And I think it might take another one to clean one after the second Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Hollywood rich and famous gathered at the Kodak Theater for last night‘s presidential debate but instead of an R-rated slugfest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, they got a G-rated feature look more like “Finding Nemo” than “The Incredibles.” In the process, we‘ve got to look at what a possible Clinton-Obama or maybe the Obama-Clinton ticket might look like.
Joining us now, Democratic strategist Reta Lewis and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
Welcome to you both.
BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Hi, Tucker.
CARLSON: Reta, here‘s - Mark Halperin from ABC wrote something I thought very smart about the debate last night.
He said this: “Obama wisely did not revel in his palpable popularity with the theater‘s audience lest he appear ungallant yet again.”
Which is a good point. Last time he appeared ungallant right before the New Hampshire primary, dismissive of Hillary Clinton—sure, you‘re popular, Hillary had said—he lost.
How unfair is it as a male candidate he can‘t appear ungallant. That‘s not fair.
RETA LEWIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know what, Tucker, it was a lovefest in that audience last night.
LEWIS: I mean didn‘t you feel the love?
CARLSON: I did feel the love.
LEWIS: I mean...
CARLSON: Synthetic, though, it was. It was Valentine‘s Day love.
LEWIS: I don‘t think it was Valentine‘s Day love. It was a love that was felt all—in that audience. I mean we had everybody there, including 007.
CARLSON: This is like the Harmonic Convergence. Well, maybe it was the love that made him act that way. But it seems to me he understands he has to.
Here‘s what he said—I thought the big issue that came out last night was immigration. Here‘s what Barack Obama said last night when asked do illegal immigrants drive down wages for America‘s working poor, particularly for black Americans. Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: To suggest somehow that the problem that we‘re seeing in inner city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think is a case of scapegoating. But I do not believe it. I do not subscribe to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Right. That‘s what he said last night. As Mickey Couch points out today in May of 2006, he said this, it does appear that undocumented workers have a somewhat adverse affect in depressing the wages of low-skill workers, which is why in the African-American community, there were some nervousness about the number of undocumented workers. He‘s telling the truth in the latter case, he‘s BS-ing last night to say that an economic trend is somehow scapegoating. I mean let‘s be real. You may be for illegal immigration. That‘s great. It hurts low-skill workers. There‘s no doubt about that.
PRESS: Tucker, I think he was telling the truth last night and he probably had it wrong the first time around. I mean I thought it took a lot of guts for him to say that last night. I mean the fact - look, I think the point he was making is, any time there‘s an economic downturn you look for a scapegoat. And the easy scapegoat is illegal immigrants.
And the truth is, even before this wave of immigration, there were a lot of jobs that were not being filled. That‘s why they came here and that‘s why they got the jobs. Their jobs in the car washes, in the restaurants, in the fields, in the meat packing plants or whatever, that are going unfilled, Americans aren‘t taking those jobs.
CARLSON: Right. Those employers can pay less because they have people who will accept less.
But here‘s what I don‘t like, Reta, is when Barack Obama or anybody else impugns the motives of his opponents. Here‘s what he‘s saying on the stump. I think he said this yesterday.
What I don‘t like are people focusing on just south of the border immigrants. I don‘t hear about immigrants from Ireland or Poland. It‘s very important we have an intelligent debate about immigration not tinged with attitudes about what people should look like.
In other words, if you‘re against immigration you‘re a racist. That‘s not fair.
LEWIS: You know what, you know what, Tucker? I think part of the question last night was he didn‘t answer the question because Karen that was on the phone that asked a direct question...
LEWIS: ...she was African-American. And she wanted him to do exactly what I believe Senator Clinton did, she said let‘s speak to the realities. And the realities are that people are nervous. We don‘t have to play one side off against the other. We have to come up with a comprehensive plan. And I think that she‘s scored some points last night with that audience. She said I was there voting for that and when you were not.
CARLSON: So you‘re saying that black voters who are concerned or citizens of any kind, but I think it‘s particularly acute in the African-American community, they‘re concerned about the effect of immigration on wages. You don‘t think they are scapegoating, you don‘t think they‘re bigots, you think they have a legitimate point of view.
LEWIS: I don‘t think we can pit people against each other. We‘re not
trying to be divisive in this time. This is the time for Democrats to come
to offer some solutions. And I think when you have someone and Senator Clinton last night said she co-sponsored that legislation that talks about comprehensive reform. And I think that‘s where we‘re going to have to go in this next election.
CARLSON: So Obama is for giving driver‘s licenses to illegal aliens and his for scholarships for illegal aliens. You can make a case, I guess, for both of those. They‘re both wildly unpopular with people. People hate that. Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York, tried it, had to stop because people hate it so much.
That‘s going to be a problem in a general election. Don‘t you think?
PRESS: No. Let me tell you. I was just going to go there. I mean to me,
where he misstepped on immigration is when he came out four square and
behind Bill Richardson in giving those here illegally driver‘s licenses. I
look, you know what? The liberal that I am, I‘m for it, right? But the political pragmatic politician that I am, I don‘t want to run on this in November 2008.
PRESS: I know what happened to Gray Davis in California, I know what happened to Eliot Spitzer in New York. I know what the Republicans—that will be the one single issue they will hammer Democrats with in November.
CARLSON: Of course. For good reasons.
PRESS: So I think Hillary is right on the issue. I thought she had a good
she said, you know, we get comprehensive immigration reform finished, then maybe we‘ll think about that. I think that‘s one thing whatever happens if Barack Obama had better to consider.
CARLSON: Well, it‘s different because he doesn‘t need to pander to that degree to win California. I think he could win California without pandering in this very obvious Hispanic state.
PRESS: I‘m not sure that helps him in California.
CARLSON: It may not. It may not. I mean pandering sometimes doesn‘t help.
Conservative Republicans have never loved John McCain. But now that he‘s considered the frontrunner, they are having a second look and some are having a fit.
Plus Barack Obama picks up endorsements today from a California labor union and the anti-war group Moveon.org. Will it matter Tuesday?
This is MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CITIZENS UNITED POLITICAL AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One candidate voted against the Bush tax cuts both times and pushed more restrictions on gun owners‘ rights. The same candidate joined Ted Kennedy to sponsor amnesty for illegals and was even mentioned as a running mate with John Kerry.
Hillary Clinton? No. John McCain. John McCain, surprisingly liberal.
Citizens United Political Victory Fund is responsible for the content of this ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Pretty tough. For the Democrats staged a Hollywood lovefest last night, conservative elements in the Republican Party were busy hammering John McCain. The ad you just saw is just the beginning. If he becomes the nominee, can McCain heal the rifts in his own party?
Joining us now is the man who‘s thought a lot about this. Former speechwriter to President Bush and the author of a new book, “Comeback:
Conservativism That Can Win Again,” David Frum.
As you said that we have breaking news here of a sort. The “Denver Post” has endorsed Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.
DAVID FRUM, “COMEBACK” AUTHOR: Colorado will never be the same.
CARLSON: It never will be. That is a really tough ad.
FRUM: I just want to know for the record, was it you who proclaimed John McCain the coolest candidate in American history in the year 2000?
CARLSON: I still believe that. And John McCain is way more liberal than I am on a lot of things and very annoying about it, often from my point of view. But as a man, name another candidate who you‘d like your son to grow up to be. Name one, ever?
FRUM: Right. He‘s an impressive guy. He‘s an impressive guy.
CARLSON: So what is this about? Nobody seems—other conservatives do not seem to feel the way I feel.
FRUM: People tend not to love those who don‘t love them back. And John McCain...
CARLSON: (INAUDIBLE) true.
FRUM: John McCain has made it very clear over the past half a dozen years, he does not love the Republican Party. He‘ll put up with it, he‘ll tolerate it. If they will follow him, he will consent to lead them. But he does not love this party and the party knows it. Plus there‘s the substantive issues of which immigration is far and away the most important. It is a hugely important issue.
FRUM: And it especially affects people in those Republican states in the south and west. You know, there are a lot of dismissal about—we were talking just now about Barack Obama dismissing it. Think about it from the point of view of someone who owns land somewhere in southwestern Arizona and has half a million, three-quarters of a million people walking across his front yard every year. There are no bathrooms facilities, there‘re no garbage, there are no litter cans.
What does it simply do to the landscape to have people walking across like that? And you wouldn‘t care if they are blue, white, red, green, white, if they are littering your front yard and leaving human waste all over the place, you‘re going to be upset about it.
CARLSON: And I will say—I‘ve been to places you‘re describing now.
CARLSON: And it‘s infuriating.
FRUM: Of course - well, of course. I mean I don‘t blame - it‘s not that the people are acting different from other people. They act the way any group of half a million people who, you know, moving to hide would act. But it is annoying if you‘re there. And those are the issues—McCain doesn‘t just try to explain to the party why he disagrees. His method is to explain to the party why not only does he disagree but they are racist and wrong and stupid for thinking the way they do. And people never like that.
CARLSON: So you‘ve got this new book about the Republican—the conservative movement, anyway, coming back after this moribund stage. I‘m halfway through it. I think it‘s excellent. How does McCain fit into that?
FRUM: He could fit perfectly. I mean he has so many of the reform elements that the party needs, especially cleaning up government, after Abramoff, after some of the really shameful things that have happened in Washington. Perfect. And he also is able to tap into this revolution and environmental consciousness that the country is going through, whether Republicans and conservatives like it or not.
He is a leader on that issue and has been for a long time. So there again, perfect. And he‘s got the right foreign policy for the country, he‘s got the right kind of persona, someone who‘s bigger than politics. He‘s wrong, from my point of view and that of the party, about immigration. But he‘s not interested in the project of saving conservativism in the Republican Party. He is really trying to build a personal movement with the Republican Party as its vehicle.
And so the people who most need him can‘t accept his leadership, because he doesn‘t want to lead them.
CARLSON: That is so smart. And in this 30 seconds we have left, we - I don‘t have time to play it, but Ann Coulter came out yesterday and said she would work for Hillary Clinton if John McCain becomes the nominee. There are conservatives who feel not as passionately but almost. Will they come around ultimately?
FRUM: They will come around, but feebly, and with not enough energy and enthusiasm, against the Democratic that will just surge him with enthusiasm for its nominee, who will probably be Barack Obama, but even if it‘s Hillary, the Democrats will be united and enthusiastic. Hillary is - Hillary and Obama may hate each other but their followers don‘t hate each other. Whereas in the Republican Party, the party truly is divided.
CARLSON: That is a very smart point and not surprising this is a very smart book. “Comeback Conservativism That Can Win Again” by David Frum.
Thank you, David.
FRUM: Tucker, thank you.
CARLSON: Coming up Barack Obama raised a record setting $32 million in the month of January alone. But how much does that really matter? Do dollars actually determine the election despite what we pretend day in, day out on television? We‘ll tell you.
Plus just in time for super Tuesday Barack Obama breaks out the big guns, that‘s Oprah. Will she have an effect in California? We‘ll find out.
This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Just how much does it cost to win a delegate in this season‘s primary race? It all depends. John McCain‘s campaign has reportedly been broke on and off for months. He took out a loan on his life insurance and he‘s leading the delegate count. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is a walking ATM machine with no withdrawal limit and he‘s fallen behind.
The recently abandoned Rudy Giuliani campaign reportedly spent 49 million dollars in the last year. His reward, one delegate. So does money actually matter in political campaigns to the extent we all assume it does?
Back with us Democratic strategist Rita Lewis and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. Bill, you‘ve run campaigns. Everybody I know who has runs campaign, everyone I know covers campaigns, measures campaigns by the dollars raised. I‘m beginning to think that‘s not a very good measurement.
PRESS: So am I. By the way, give all that money back. I just want to point out that Rudy Giuliani spent 49 million for one delegate. Per delegate, I think Mike Huckabee in Iowa spent like 50 cents.
PRESS: With his own money. I think we‘ve seen this year—look, money still does matter. Let‘s face it, you have to have a plane. You‘ve got to get from place to place. You‘ve got to run some ads. But Huckabee, McCain, running out of money and yet coming back. And here is Romney who has all the money he can spend and he can‘t seem to make a dent in John McCain. So I think, particularly the free media, and I think these debates this year have really sort of edged out the impact of paid media.
CARLSON: It‘s cool in a way. I mean, McCain can become the front-runner on his American Express Card, which is basically what happened. Barack Obama got the endorsement of MoveOn.org, the online Democratic liberal group; 70.4 percent of MoveOn.org members who voted went for Barack Obama. It seems to me, among other things, this is a sign of his fund raising ability. He can go to them now and raise—he raised 32 million dollars last month and can do that again and again and again if this campaign goes on.
LEWIS: Tucker, you raise a very good point. Money is going to be very important. All those people that came to the table are going to be very important. I think Bill raises a point, that right now it‘s going to be about the energy and the excitement of those supporters actually get out there and turning these people out, because that‘s where we are in this ball game now. On Super Tuesday, it‘s all about who is going to get their vote to the polls.
Money is going to matter. It‘s also going to be, I believe, just the will of the people. I‘ve seen it, as I‘ve been traveling around this country. They are out there.
CARLSON: I believe that. Here is what Barack Obama said about the MoveOn.org endorsement he got, “from their principled opposition to the Iraq War, a war I also opposed from the start, to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn.org shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grass roots movement for change. I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead.”
Now, here is what‘s going on with Barack Obama. He‘s run a general election campaign up until about now. He stayed pretty moderate. In the last three days, he has moved, in my view, dangerously left and it‘s going to hurt him in the general. MoveOn.org may like Barack Obama, but they are also the ones who accused David Petraeus of betraying the country. This is just fodder for the campaign against him in the general. Isn‘t it?
PRESS: Add what we talked about earlier, the driver‘s license to that list. But I think MoveOn.org does definitely help him now. He needs the help now. Look, he‘s got to win the nomination before he can win the general. They are legion. They are the most—the greatest activist organization, in terms of getting their members organized, the most effective in the country today. My wife is one of them. I know. They can organize people. They can raise money. It also brings the war back as an issue, which is a problem for Hillary Clinton.
CARLSON: It‘s interesting, because MoveOn.org, which I think—I don‘t think much of MoveOn.org or its position, but tells you where the Democratic party is. They are practically a mainstream group now. They are hardly the craziest people on the Internet. That‘s for certain.
LEWIS: They are also the group that actually went out there and supported Lieberman and they lost. At the end of the day—
PRESS: They don‘t win everything.
LEWIS: But they are strong and that‘s important.
CARLSON: But to see a group that is not—MoveOn is no longer, I think is fair to say, on the radical fringe. There are a lot of crazy people in the Democratic party, but I think they are more mainstream Democrats than they used to be. Seventy percent of them went for Barack Obama. What does that tell you about his momentum.
LEWIS: It tells you that he has momentum to get that group on the Internet to be out there supporting him. You have to determine what‘s momentum. I think what‘s significant last night for Senator Clinton was when CNN did their dial up. You had 60 percent of those undecided voters last night saying that they were going for Senator Clinton. It was really interesting. I think, even in terms of putting momentum there on her campaign.
Then when they got the Gallup poll today, and you saw it was, I believe, 43-39 for her, that should also give them additional momentum.
CARLSON: Who are these people that feel that way?
PRESS: Just for the record, I just want to say, no offense, nor to this network, I think these dial up things I see on a couple of other networks are the craziest, most --
LEWIS: They are fun. People love it.
PRESS: They don‘t mean beans.
LEWIS: No, but they go into the tally.
CARLSON: -- on the Republican side, two words, Ron Paul. Remember after 9/11 and conservatives were accused of running around calling their opponents unpatriotic, un-American. Remember that? I never heard anybody call anybody unpatriotic or un-American. Now I‘m going to, because I can‘t help it. I am. There‘s a piece in the “New York Times” today about the city council in Berkeley, California passing a resolution that encourages residents of Berkeley to, quote, impede, passively or actively, the work of Marine Corps recruiters, which they describe as uninvited and unwelcomed intruders.
That is un-American. That is unpatriotic. These are the people—you may hate the war in Iraq. I do. But to attack the United States Marine Corps, these rich annoying people in Berkeley, who would be dead without their protection. That actually makes me red-in-the face mad.
LEWIS: You know what, Tucker, one thing about those people in Berkeley, they have been a microcosm of what‘s really going on out here. People are wanting change.
LEWIS: Change about the war. They want this war to be ended. The biggest issue though is people will not agree with you attacking the Marines. The Marines are there to protect and serve. Most Americans are going to agree with that and going to—
CARLSON: The Democratic party better get its wackos under control. I think most Democrats are infuriated when they read that. I hope they are.
PRESS: We are talking about the Republic of Berkeley, OK, which has been known for 40 years as the Republic of Berkeley, or more.
CARLSON: Voted against the war in Afghanistan. The only member of Congress to vote against that war.
LEWIS: She voted her Congressional district.
PRESS: Certainly the Marines have a right to recruit. I think this is wacky, by the way. Certainly the Marines have a right to recruit. People have a right to join the Marines. And Code Pink has the right to protest a station. Here‘s what happened, the city council gave Code Pink a parking lot for four hours a week that they own in front of the Marine recruiting station to do their protest. That goes way over the line, I believe.
CARLSON: To impede, passively or actively, the work of people who—your average Marine isn‘t political. He‘s just out there doing his job, which is to protect the rest of us, even in wars we don‘t agree with.
PRESS: They have a right to recruit and the others have a right to protest and the City Council ought to stay out of it.
LEWIS: Tucker, no one in the Democratic party is going to agree with you throwing the Marines out.
CARLSON: These are all Democrats. I would be interested—wait a second, if the Republican City Council of Houston did something like this, I suppose Democrats would say, I wonder where Mitt Romney and John McCain are on that. I bet no one will ask Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama where they are.
PRESS: If they will, both of them will say it‘s wrong. This is not the Democratic party. This is the City Council of Berkeley.
CARLSON: What is wrong with these—
LEWIS: Because there are a few renegades in every party.
CARLSON: You wish you could take Berkeley and just exempt it from the veil of protection that the U.S. armed forces provide. I really do.
PRESS: We‘re a big enough country for Berkeley.
CARLSON: I disagree with that. I think when a country has elements within it that are working really against the fundamentals of the country, I mean, that‘s cancer. This actually offends the hell out of me.
LEWIS: It offends and it is bad. Trust me, I agree with Bill. Both candidates would disagree with them.
CARLSON: I hope so. Here is what President Bush said today about the mortgage crisis meltdown and your responsibility, your morale obligation to respond to it. He was at a speech today talking about the economy, and he was asked a question about the mortgage crisis. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of our citizens purchased mortgages that they can‘t afford now. Hopefully the reason—hopefully they didn‘t get deceived. If they did, the government has a responsibility to take care of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: The government has a responsibility to take care of that.
Everybody on both sides, with the exception of Ron Paul, agrees with this. If people feel like they were deceived somehow, if they borrowed more than they could pay back, you and I have an obligation, a responsibility to pay their mortgage for them. How does that work? Where does the responsibility come from?
LEWIS: I think the responsibility comes from two things. We do not want to fear our government. We want our government to be there to help us. What he was stating was kind of interesting, since the first time he really didn‘t really want to have the government do it, help the average American. I think that‘s one of the things—
CARLSON: He‘s saying—
LEWIS: He is now, Tucker.
CARLSON: Why—I still don‘t understand, why are the rest of us responsible of paying the mortgage for someone who can‘t pay their mortgage.
LEWIS: I don‘t think we‘re responsible for paying --
CARLSON: But the president just said --
PRESS: Doing something is what he said. First of all, Tucker, look, your party has become the party of the Nanny State. Deal with it. George Bush has. He‘s turning the Republican party—
CARLSON: I completely agree with that. It‘s not as out of control as it is on the left, but it‘s terrible.
LEWIS: His party also needs to help average Americans.
CARLSON: Wait a second. I‘ve got a car loan that I can‘t pay; how about my student loans; I‘m serious, how about my bar tab? Why doesn‘t the government have a responsibility to pay those?
LEWIS: It doesn‘t have a responsibility to pay them. It has a responsibility to make sure that things are fair. What has been seen, I think, in this mortgage experience that all Americans have been going through, is that they did get into situations where it was out of control and this government was not there to protect them.
CARLSON: I‘m not sure what‘s unfair about them. I‘ve taken sub prime loans myself because I had to, because I wanted a house, or I decided I wanted to and I paid them back. I don‘t understand the unfairness here.
PRESS: There‘s a big difference between the people in our category being able to pay those—
CARLSON: I made 30,000 a year. That‘s why I had to make a sub prime loan. I‘m totally serious.
PRESS: Tucker, here is the problem, Rita just touched on it. These practices were going on. The banks were ripping people off. The savings and loans were ripping people off. And the mortgage industry—and the government did nothing about it. There was no oversight, no protections given. So there is an obligation now to help people. But nobody is talking about paying off the mortgage. They are talking about freezing the interest rate at the current rate so they can—
CARLSON: I‘m sitting at a bar and they keep serving me, even though I‘m drunk, and I wind up being sold on a very expensive bottle of wine, and I can‘t afford it. They deceived me into buying that wine. Why shouldn‘t you as a taxpayer have a responsibility to pay my tab.
PRESS: The fact is, if somebody in a bar knows your drunk and keeps serving you, they ought to—
CARLSON: We‘re in fairy tale world. This is just a fundamental disagreement. I think it‘s deranged. Oprah Winfrey is going to be on the stump, we have just learned, with Caroline Kennedy, on behalf of Barack Obama this Sunday in Los Angeles. Will it work? Will it help?
LEWIS: It‘s good that we have a lot of Kennedys to go around.
CARLSON: There are a lot of them.
LEWIS: There‘s a lot of them. If you‘ve seen the recent ad where you have Bobby Kennedy—the ads with Bobby Kennedy in it, where his kids are supporting Senator Clinton—and on the other side you have Ted Kennedy with ads about John Kennedy. Now you have Oprah on the stump.
CARLSON: Not really a fair fight. We have one Kennedy daughter on—
LEWIS: One Kennedy to three Kennedys.
CARLSON: I think Obama wins the Kennedy race. Oprah, does she help?
PRESS: I think she helps. I think Teddy Kennedy helps in California. I also know, as former state chair of California, the Clintons have worked that territory for years.
PRESS: So I think Obama has got some catching up to do.
CARLSON: If he can win, it will be a revolution not seen in our lifetimes in the Democratic party. Thank you very much.
PRESS: Tucker, good to see you.
CARLSON: Later, John McCain hits the late night circuit. There was talk of a VP spot. Our late night comedy correspondent Bill Wolff has all the details on that meeting ahead. This is MSNBC.
CARLSON: Welcome back. There is so much residual gossip built up in Washington. The city is about to burst. Here to tell us what it is, Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, the ladies from the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column, “The Reliable Source.” Welcome.
ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I love that phrase, residual gossip.
AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: I have some residual gossip on me.
CARLSON: That‘s what happens when you ad lib your incoming scripts. State of the Union; apparently you all know the juicy details about the State of the Union. It seemed boring to me, but you got to the truth of it. What happened?
ROBERTS: You‘re not looking in the right places.
ARGETSINGER: It happens ever year. It‘s like the big homecoming dance. You know, it‘s not so much about the game. It‘s about who is there, what they are wearing, who is sitting with who, who says hi to who. So we had a bunch of great things, like there was the very eerie image of what looked like Barack Obama turning his back on Hillary Clinton when she walked past.
ROBERTS: So Junior High, right?
ARGETSINGER: Turns out that‘s not what it was, so they say.
ROBERTS: The trick here, at least the Obama camp says that when Hillary came over to say hello to Ted Kennedy, who, as everyone knows, gave a glowing endorsement of Obama earlier that day, Obama turned and appeared to turn his back. Well, his camp says, look it, we know they are friends. He didn‘t want to look like he was gloating by standing over them. He wanted to give them a little space.
The senator says that he was responding to the question from another senator. But it was not, not, not a snub, a la high school or junior high.
ARGETSINGER: Meanwhile, the other juicy thing was that Barney Frank was talking on his cell phone, Congressman Barney Frank, when the president walked by on his way into the chamber to give his speech. The president does the jocular thing that a politician does. He nudges Barney Frank and says, tell them I said Hi. Well, Barney Frank loved it, had to catch up with the president afterwards and tell him, Mr. President, that was my boyfriend on the phone.
ROBERTS: To which the president said, tell him how open minded I am.
CARLSON: That‘s actually pretty good.
ARGETSINGER: Barney Frank instantly tells reporters. The mystery of
ROBERTS: The designated survivor. This is for real, real Congressional geeks. But one cabinet member is always left out, just in case there‘s some catastrophe so the government could go on. This year, it was the Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of Interior.
ARGETSINGER: Dirk Kempthorn.
ROBERTS: Pretty good bet.
ARGETSINGER: Not there, not in the room.
ROBERTS: It‘s the fifth time in 20 years that the Interior has been selected to stay away, which means, in the case of nuclear meltdown, the trees are going to be just fine.
CARLSON: So you‘re saying, if something were—if the Capitol were to vaporize in the middle of the State of the Union Address, and there was no government of any kind, Dirk Kempthorn would be the man.
ARGETSINGER: Yes, was in a secure, safe, undisclosed location.
ROBERTS: He‘s eighth in line of succession. They are in line of succession based on when their departments were created. So this would be the guy.
CARLSON: That is great news for those of us who like Dirk. I‘m definitely one of them.
ROBERTS: You‘re in his camp.
CARLSON: He‘s actually a great guy, very smart, former governor of Idaho. Tell me the kind of coda to the story of John Sununu, Senator Sununu and Al Hunt of Bloomberg, who was saved by John Sununu.
ARGETSINGER: John Sununu saved Al Hunt of Bloomberg. A couple weeks ago, they were at a dinner in New Hampshire. Al Hunt start to choke on a piece of chicken. Senator John Sununu rushes over, gives him the Heimlich maneuver, up pops the offending chicken.
Anyway, we wrote about that a couple weeks ago. Coda to that story is that John Sununu made a surprise appearance to the Bloomberg offices last week to present Al Hunt with a signed poster on one of those “how to do the Heimlich maneuver,” that was actually signed by Dr. Heimlich. Sununu had it for years.
ROBERTS: They met years ago. Heimlich found it. It was like in his closet for 16 years. After this happened—so he surprised Al Hunt in front of his entire staff by presenting him with this poster, which Al is now looking for a place to put in a place of honor somewhere in his office.
ARGETSINGER: It‘s Sununu‘s way of saying, Al Hunt, it‘s now your turn to save someone‘s life.
CARLSON: In his office. I would think that would displace the family portrait over the fireplace in the living room. Ladies, thank you so much. Roxanne Roberts, Amy Argetsinger, I appreciate it. Happy Friday.
Coming up, bad, bad dog. The old excuse the dog ate my homework taken to a whole new super sized level. Our all knowing NFL guru Bill Wolff has all the pre-Super Bowl details coming up.
CARLSON: Welcome back. And now to send us off to the Super Bowl, as if on a magic carpet, Bill Wolff.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Just like a magic carpet, Tucker.
Have you, sir, ever covered a more compelling campaign?
CARLSON: Not even close, nothing, ever.
WOLFF: Mitt Romney pulling out the Richard Nixon card.
CARLSON: Pretty heavy duty.
WOLFF: Pretty heavy duty, fairly loaded. Remember what party Nixon was in, after all.
CARLSON: There are just so many amazing things that happening every single day that it‘s going to take about a year to unpack them all.
WOLFF: Quickly, do you think it calms way down after Super Tuesday or does it stay this intense on into March.
CARLSON: Not on the Republican side. I think it‘s going to be very quiet after Super Tuesday. On the other side, I personally think Obama has momentum that we‘re only beginning to understand. I think he could win California.
WOLFF: Huh. Well, I can‘t wait. It‘s actually as compelling as football, which is saying something, Tucker, because football is incredible. But we‘ll get to the football after we get some politics. Noted funny man John McCain continued his uproarious comedy tour of California last night on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, which is on our sister station, NBC. Here, Tucker, you have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”: Been looking for vice presidents? Who do you like? Anybody any good?
MCCAIN: Well, I know that your contract is up. If there‘s anything we could use, it‘s a little humor in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFF: I don‘t like the choice. Leno is from Massachusetts. That could work in the primary, but once we get to the general, it seems to me that Massachusetts is a Democratic state. Not going to happen. Leno doesn‘t help you regionally, Tucker.
CARLSON: I would put that in the lost cause column on the Republican side. That‘s like a Democrat campaigning in Utah, probably not worth the effort.
WOLFF: Love me some Jay Leno, but probably not a good choice for vice president on the Republican side. Now, Senator Arlen Specter, speaking of the Republican side, of Pennsylvania, is a busy man. Not too busy to make a publicly funded spectacle over a football game his favorite team lost three years ago. Specter had a press conference today to call out NFL commissioner Roger Gaddell (ph). At issue is the spying scandal of September, in which the New England Patriots were caught video taping New York Jets defensive signals during their game, which the Patriots won, the so-called Spy-Gate.
Specter Suspects that the Patriots also spied on his beloved Philadelphia, Eagles during the Super Bowl three years ago. The NFL reportedly destroyed the spy tapes from earlier this year. Specter, for some reason, is outraged. He wants a meeting with the commissioner to discuss the destruction of the Patriot‘s tapes and, it seems, to whine about the Eagles lost Super Bowl three years ago.
Tucker, your tax dollars at work.
CARLSON: I‘d complain, but I‘m afraid to say anything bad about Arlen Specter for fear of being called in.
WOLFF: Fair enough. Senator Specter is a dear friend. Come on, over a football game. You‘re really going to spend public money doing that? I‘m not into it, Tucker. I‘m not into it.
Finally, football. Man‘s best friend is the dog, the loyal canine who brings a man slippers, waits until he‘s outside to do his personal business, and fetches tennis balls, and sometimes he eats a man‘s Super Bowl tickets. Chris Gallagher paid 1,800 dollars for two seats to Sunday‘s big game. A courier slipped them under Mr. Gallagher‘s front door in Avendale, Arizona, and Buddy, Mr. Gallagher‘s three-year-old pooch, had at it.
By the time daddy got home, his seats to the game looked like they had been on fire and somebody had put them out with a track shoe. Not to worry, the guy that sold Gallagher the seats said they can be replaced. As retribution, Gallagher gave Buddy‘s to last night‘s Democratic debate to Fran Drescher, answering the question how did she get in.
CARLSON: Eighteen hundred bucks for two tickets? I don‘t believe that story. Nobody bought them that cheap. Bill Wolff, have a great Super Bowl weekend.
WOLFF: You too buddy.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.
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