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'Tucker' for Feb. 15

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guests Kiki Mclean, Richard Wolffe, Roger Simon, Amy Argetsinger, Roxanne Roberts, David Boaz

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR:  You‘re not going to beat Barack Obama on his oratory or personality.  Whatever vulnerabilities there are in his campaign are on policy and politics.  That‘s where Hillary Clinton and John McCain suddenly have begun to turn their attention.  Welcome to the show. 

The emerging narrative about Obama recognizes his great and inspiring speeches, but questions him on substance and on judgment.  The Clinton campaign characterizes Obama‘s foreign policy, specifically the promise to meet with our enemies in Iran, Venezuela and Syria as naive.  Mrs. Clinton questions Obama‘s health care plan, which she correctly points out does not mandate insurance by penalty of law.  The Clinton campaign has merely had to quote the John McCain campaign to accuse Obama of lifting his economic plan from her like a plagiarist. 

So where does Obama really stand on the issues.  Which ones play to Hillary Clinton‘s strengths.  Clinton senior adviser Kiki Mclean is here with her view in just a moment. 

Meanwhile, whatever the affect of Senator Clinton‘s attack against Senator Obama, it will be reflected in delegate counts, and ultimately Super Delegate counts.  Long time Clinton supporter John Lewis, a hero of the Civil Rights movement has endorsed Hillary Clinton, but he may instead cast his Super Delegate support to Barack Obama.  That he says would reflect the popular vote in his Congressional district. 

What will he do and who are the Super Delegates?  How will they fall and, perhaps most interestingly, when?  Roger Simon and Richard Wolffe join us in a minute.

We begin with the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and the fresh Clinton strategy of hitting Obama on substance or at least appearing to.  Joining me now with her invaluable insights on all of this is a senior adviser to the Hillary Clinton campaign, the great Kiki Mclean.  Kiki, welcome. 

KIKI MCLEAN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER:  Glad to be here on a Friday night. 

CARLSON:  So how many people called John Lewis from your campaign to tell him, what the hell is this? 

MCLEAN:  I think we understand that Mr. Lewis‘s staff told folks this morning that the report in the “New York Times” was inaccurate.  We‘re moving ahead on the campaign today. 

CARLSON:  Well, OK, that‘s right.  That‘s absolutely right.  But the reporter in the “New York Times” was not a guess.  It was definitive.  It said, we‘ve spoken directly to John Lewis and he‘s said directly, while he‘s not endorsing Barack Obama, he does plan to cast his vote as a Super Delegate for her --  

MCLEAN:  That‘s the “New York Times” reporting.  I can‘t speak to that.  You‘ll have to talk to the “New York Times” reporters. 

CARLSON:  Right, OK.  That Associated Press reported the same thing. 

Something happened in between. 

MCLEAN:  The other reports are this morning from Mr. Lewis‘s staff that those were inaccurate.  You‘ll have to talk to him and his team about that. 

CARLSON:  He‘s not talking to anybody, which suggests he‘s been talked to. 

MCLEAN:  Just like you said, I‘m Kiki Mclean here with the Clinton campaign. 

CARLSON:  Do you know of any context between the Clinton campaign and Mr. Lewis. 

MCLEAN:  It‘s not a project I‘ve been working on so I don‘t know of anything like that. 

CARLSON:  Do you think it‘s legitimate for Super Delegates to reflect the will of their Congressional district? 

MCLEAN:  I think it‘s legitimate for Super Delegates to use their judgment and support the person they believe would make the best president and nest represent this party in the general election.  That‘s what it‘s really about.  We can get into all kinds litmus tests about where people are and should be.  If you say that, will Senator Kerry and Senator Kennedy change their position of support, where they have been, because Senator Clinton won Massachusetts handily? 

There‘s a lot of back and forth.  First and foremost, a Super Delegate‘s responsibility is to support and stand behind the candidate they believe will make the best president and best represent the party. 

CARLSON:  I know there are a lot of politics behind that statement, possibly, but I think that‘s a legitimate thing to say.  Use your good judgment. 

Let‘s talk about the new tack against Barack Obama.  I want to play a sound bite from the major surrogate on your campaign, that is the husband of the candidate herself.  This is Bill Clinton talking about why his wife is the one.  Listen. 


WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This election is not just about change.  It‘s about whether you choose the excitement of the new over the empowerment of all.  It‘s about whether you choose the power of speeches over the power of solutions.  Solutions will unlock the future. 


CARLSON:  When I first heard this, I laughed out loud.  Here you have Bill Clinton attacking Barack Obama for being glib, saying that it‘s not enough to be a great communicator. 

MCLEAN:  But Bill Clinton is saying that solutions and the plans you have for the future matter.  It‘s what Senator Clinton says—you know, Tucker, that on the campaign trail her town halls have been called Solutions for America.  She‘s been focused on the kinds of solutions she wants to bring to America.  That‘s a legitimate thing. 

There‘s a record of her solving problems.  She has answers for the problems we‘re facing now, that she‘d like to pursue as president. 

CARLSON:  But he is also saying and she is also saying that Barack Obama, by contrast, is an empty suit. 

MCLEAN:  No, what she has said and what she said yesterday in talking about the economy and what she wants to do to close some of the corporate loopholes, and bring 55 billion dollars back into feeding our economy, the mainstream economy, are the differences.  Here is the thing; we have to make choices.  We‘re voters.  We have to make a pick who we‘re going to support to be the nominee of our party.  So it‘s important to understand what the records are.  His health care plan leaves 15 million people uninsured.  Mrs. Clinton‘s does not. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s talk about substance then.  You point that out that you believe his health care plan will leave millions uninsured, hers will not.  The primary difference and the reason you‘re saying this is because her plan mandates health coverage.  You have to buy it. 

MCLEAN:  Her plan says everybody has to be involved in this.  This is important not just for health care itself, which is an issue that deserves that, but it‘s about our economic future as well. 

CARLSON:  Hold on.  She has also said—some reporter asked the obvious question, if you‘re going to mandate health insurance, what if people don‘t obey.  She has said, maybe we‘ll garnish wages.  Which wages and how much?  She‘s the substance candidate. 

MCLEAN:  She is a substance candidate and she‘s looking at the options.  She has also said—you know, Senator Obama‘s team has tried to put out an attack saying that she‘s going to force people that can‘t afford it to pay for it themselves and that‘s just not true. 

CARLSON:  But she said herself that she would be willing to garnish wages?  I think that‘s pretty much exactly what she said. 

MCLEAN:  She said in one interview that‘s something to look at.  I think the reality is that she‘s also focusing on bringing everybody—here is the thing about universal coverage. 

CARLSON:  -- answer to the question.  The question is, how do you enforce this, what‘s the penalty?  There‘s no answer? 

MCLEAN:  I think that penalties are that you focus in the people that don‘t have it.  What are the routes to bring them in to the process.  She answered a question at one point, saying that there are a couple of things to look at.  You know what, I‘ll come back to you. 

CARLSON:  If she‘s running as the candidate who has thought it through, who has a plan—I think the phrase is on day one—then, you know, you really do get down to the nuts and bolts, which are how are you going to punish the recalcitrant people who don‘t want to go along with her master plan? 

MCLEAN:  Here is the other part of the plan, Tucker, and that is what she said very clearly in a debate, which is, if you want universal coverage, you have to start at the beginning with that being the goal, to get everybody in the process, getting everybody covered.  That‘s the difference.

CARLSON:  She‘s selling the carrot.  She‘s not talking about the stick, the punishment for not going along with her vision of the brave new world. 

MCLEAN:  The reality is that we are going to have to bring everybody in to the plan.  There is going to have to be—

CARLSON:  Punishment.

MCLEAN:  There is going to have to be an outcome for people that don‘t participate because it all affects us.  Remember, we are a community that lives here. 

CARLSON:  I love that, an outcome.  Is that what you call it when you spank a child, this is the outcome. 

MCLEAN:  I don‘t spank my children. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Very quickly, Wisconsin, it seems to a lot of people watching this race that it would be very, very helpful for Senator Clinton to win in Wisconsin.  What‘s your prediction? 

MCLEAN:  My prediction is that‘s a state where Barack Obama has been ahead.  There‘s some polls out today that that tightening there.  This is the reality that we‘re on a hunt for delegates.  Here is the dirty little secret; Barack Obama, even if he sweeps everything, cannot get the nomination without support and participation from Super Delegates.  He‘s in the same position that Hillary Clinton is in. 

This is a hunt for delegates.  We‘re campaigning like crazy in Wisconsin.  She had been to Wisconsin this weekend.  She will be there until Tuesday.  President Clinton has been in there.  We‘ve had surrogates in there really engaged in the issues, the things that are important.  There is advertising going on.  Even though Senator Barack—excuse me, Senator Obama refuses to debate her in Wisconsin—I‘m not sure why he doesn‘t want to do that.   

CARLSON:  He must be afraid. 

MCLEAN:  But, to your point, it‘s a hunt for delegates and we‘re going to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get out of Wisconsin. 

CARLSON:  Kiki Mclean, an able spokesman for the campaign.  Thanks for coming on. 

MCLEAN:  You bet. 

CARLSON:  It‘s all but inevitable that John McCain will become the Republican nominee.  Party officials are throwing their support behind him, but not all Republicans are.  Mike Huckabee still has a lot of support and he‘s giving McCain a run for his money in the state of Texas.  How long will that go on? 

Plus, Super Delegates could decide who wins the Democratic nomination, which is between a female and an African-American.  It turns out the balance of power belongs to that dreaded group we call white men.  Irony, irony, irony.  More irony ahead. 


CARLSON:  You‘ve heard a lot lately about how the Democratic nomination may be in the hands of people called Super Delegates, some of whom recently appear to have switched their support from Hillary to Barack Obama.  According to NBC‘s political team, Obama has gained 12 since Super Tuesday, while Clinton has lost of net of three.  Who are they, these Super Delegates, and how will they be wooed. 

In today‘s “Politico,” Josie Hearn examines that question, and reports on this ironic twist; quote, “in a contest between an African-American and a woman, the balance of power may be held by a more familiar face, the white male.” 

One of Obama‘s Super Delegates describes that dreaded group this way, contempt dripping his or her lips.  He or she says, quote, “it‘s still the old guard, the white man.  They always want to control the outcome but this time they won‘t be able to do it.” 

Wow, that‘s the view from the Obama campaign apparently.  Joining me now to make sense of this, we are proud and honored to welcome “Newsweek‘s” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe and chief political columnist at “The Politico,” Roger Simon.  Roger, white men, you can‘t get rid of them.  They are everywhere, pulling levers behind the scene. 

ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”:  Does it surprise us they control the country?  Look around us.  But I have to say that it‘s not going to matter. 

CARLSON:  Really?

SIMON:  Yes, I find it unimaginable for the future of the Democratic party that Super Delegates or the non-existent delegations of Michigan and Florida will be able to overturn the choice of people who actually cast votes. 

CARLSON:  You mean, essentially, the popular vote will determine that? 

Is that what you mean? 

SIMON:  Yes.  Because—let‘s just take one aspect of it, an aspect we were just talking about, race.  You‘re going to the most loyal voters the Democrats have, black voters, and say, you know, remember when we said a black guy really had a chance for the nomination of the presidency?  Well, we changed our mind.  We‘re gaming the system.  Yes, he won the most delegates in the primaries and caucuses.  But we have this little extra rule.  We‘ve got these 796 people and more of them like Hillary, so she‘s going to be the nominee. 

I find that unimaginable for the future of the Democratic party.  I don‘t think they will go with that route. 

CARLSON:  I tend to agree with you.  Here is a math question.  I‘m sure you‘ve thought this true.  Is it possible that Obama gets more delegates, Hillary gets more votes overall or vice versa.  Each could have a semi-legitimate claim to the affections of Super Delegates. 

RICHARD WOLFFE, “NEWSWEEK”:  Mathematically possible, but on the current basis, highly unlikely.  Look, there have been weird situations like Nevada, where she won the popular vote and he got more delegates, very strange.  But across the nation, as it‘s playing out right now, with these big wins that he‘s had, I think that‘s going to be hard to see come out. 

One thing I would follow up with, the story about John Lewis.  Not a white man, but a big African-American iconic leader.  That “New York Times” story, no matter what the dispute is about did he, didn‘t he, what did is say, is he really going to switch; that is a seismic moment, because that is really a statement saying, you cannot stop the hopes and the dreams of these African-American voters that have come out, if Barack Obama wins. 

Of course, that‘s the if that everyone is hanging on.  That was a very, very important—

CARLSON:  I agree with that.  I think, Roger, the Clinton people, on some deep level, understand that, which accounts for their desperation and the desperate tactics they‘re using.  You‘re watching former President Clinton get out and accuse basically anybody who doesn‘t support his wife of being sexist.  He has been crying sexism in recent days.  You watch the press team over there on the Clinton side, Howard Wolfson in particular, calling and trying to bully news organizations when they say things he doesn‘t agree with. 

I think they know they are going to lose.  Do you think they do? 

SIMON:  I don‘t think they know they are going to lose.  I don‘t think we actually know she‘s going to lose.  She‘s obviously in trouble.  When your campaign is based on inevitability, and you‘re the underdog all of a sudden, things fall apart.  Things really spin out of control. 

You‘ve got Bill Clinton saying—I think you used a different clip a few seconds ago.  But there was a clip—He‘s in Texas campaigning today.  He says, quote, Obama excites more Americans, but would deny us universal health care.  To me, when you‘ve got the chief surrogate saying the other guy is more exciting to people, you‘ve ceded a lot of ground.  You are telling people, yes, go to his speeches, hear him on TV, and there‘s a palpable excitement that‘s real and you can feel, but you should trade that for this promise about covering an extra however many million Americans it is.  I think most people will take the excitement deal.  

CARLSON:  Sure, because his message is look, don‘t believe your sense, because you‘re excitable.  You‘re emotional.  Maybe you‘re PMSing.  Who knows what it is.  But you‘re getting carried away a little bit with this Obama guy.  The truth is, you‘ve got to sober up, grow up, and get behind Hillary Clinton.  That‘s basically what they are saying. 

WOLFFE:  It‘s not just a strategic move by the Clinton folks.  This is what they have been saying all along.  Do these people really believe it?  What‘s in this guy‘s head?  Does he think he‘s some sort of messiah?  The truth is no.  But they have been finding it difficult to understand the whole phenomenon.  What is going on.  Is it the media going crazy?  Is it Some sort of cultish thing that Obama has? 

It‘s none of those things. It‘s an unexpected shift because it wasn‘t part of the game plain.  That doesn‘t mean to say it‘s crazy or outlandish.  It means they are struggling at this late stage to figure how to respond and deal with it. 

CARLSON:  I must say, part of me feels some sympathy for Hillary Clinton and for her staff, because she does have experience and she is smart and she has thought this through.  She had the support of every living Democrat in the establishment. 

SIMON:  Your staff, it‘s not hired guns.  These are people who believe in her and are devoted to her.  Sometimes when you believe or are devoted to your candidate, you can‘t see the flaws of that candidate.  You have to say, she can‘t be losing because of anything she‘s done wrong. 

CARLSON:  That‘s exactly right.

SIMON:  It‘s got to be Obama has spread this pixie dust. 

CARLSON:  Or people are sexist, that‘s why. 

SIMON:  Whatever.  Sometimes your most loyal supporters can serve you less well than if they could step back and say here is a flaw you have.  What do we do about it? 

CARLSON:  Or the consultants start fighting, the message is wrong.  No, it‘s the candidate isn‘t as appealing as the other candidate.  That‘s my view. 

John McCain and Hillary Clinton don‘t have common enemies, many of them anyway, but my next guest says they both pose a threat to your liberty.  Which one more? 

Plus, former President George Bush is set to endorse McCain on Monday.  Bill Clinton is already hitting the campaign trail for his wife.  The battle of the former presidents.  This is MSNBC.


CARLSON:  Critics of the Bush administration have harshly rebuked the president for what they call a roll back of civil liberties in the wake of 9/11.  Our next guest says that not only the Bush administration, but also politicians from across the political spectrum are doing the same things, infringing on our freedoms.  Among his many targets, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

He is David Boaz of the Cato Institute in Washington.  He is the author of “The Politics of Freedom, Taking on the Left, the Right, and Threats to our Liberties.”  He joins us now.  David, we‘re honored that you are here. 


CARLSON:  Nice to have a Libertarian here every once in a while.  So how exactly is John McCain a threat to our liberties. 

BOAZ:  Well, he really doesn‘t seem to like the First Amendment.  He gave us the McCain/Feingold Act, which not only limits what people can stand to attack to advance their political ideas, but it actually limits what organizations can say about political candidates 60 days before an election, even if they are not talking about the election.  I think that‘s a real infringement. 

He‘s also talked about so-called First Amendment rights, and if I have a conflict between clean government and so-called first amendment rights, I‘ll go with clean government.  Then, of course, he is the biggest supporter of the war, even bigger than President Bush. 

CARLSON:  Hillary Clinton? 

BOAZ:  Hillary Clinton calls herself a government junkie and I think that pretty well tells you all you need.  She is totally hooked.  She says I have a million ideas.  The country can‘t afford them all.  I‘m glad she knows that part at least.  But really, she has a million ideas for what the federal government should do. 

CARLSON:  You know what?  Almost all those ideas are popular.  That did he presses me.  I look at the “New York Times” survey on her health care plan.  It shows that people would be willing to give up their freedom and their money, as long as they had guaranteed health care from the government.  Do you think America wants limited government anymore?  

BOAZ:  I think there are different levels.  I think at a basic level, Americans want limited government.  If you do a poll and ask, is government too big?  They absolutely think it is.  It‘s also true, if you do a poll ask, would you like somebody to give you something?  It‘s hard to get people to say no. 

There‘s a lot of dissatisfaction with the health care system, so if you say, would you like somebody to give you free health care that‘s always available, which is the way she puts it, then people do say yes.  I wish they didn‘t.  If they understood it better, they wouldn‘t.  I still think, at a basic level, especially compared to the rest of the world, Americans do believe in freedom and individualism and less government.  It‘s just on these specific operational levels that they sometimes have trouble. 

CARLSON:  Where does the mystery man of the moment fall into all of this, Barack Obama? 

BOAZ:  Well, Barack Obama is incredibly eloquent and inspiring, and he‘s getting better all the time, and he‘s really showing—four years ago, he was a state senator.  Because he‘s a good speaker, he‘s now the leading candidate for president.  When he gives speeches, he‘s inspiring and eloquent and he talks about wanting to end business as usual.  But then he lists what he‘s actually going to do, and it‘s exactly the same thing Hillary Clinton wants. 

I don‘t think that‘s what people are hearing.  What they are hearing is transcend polarization, move beyond partisanship.  What he‘s saying is.  I will move beyond partisanship and put together a coalition to overcome America‘s resistance to big government.  In fact, what he‘s threatening is to be a very effective Hillary Clinton.  I find him a little scary.  I understand why independents and centrists and moderates are attracted to him.   

CARLSON:  Very quickly, you said overcome America‘s resistance to big government.  Again, I‘m very much a pessimist on this question.  Give me one quick example of America‘s resistance to big government.  Make me feel better. 

BOAZ:  Bill Clinton wanted a stimulus package in 1993.  He didn‘t get it.  Hillary Clinton wanted universal health insurance in ‘94.  She didn‘t get it.  So, those are two big things.  If you look at the rest of the developed world, they have higher taxes, higher spending, higher transfers than we do.  There a lot of individualism.  There‘s a lot of leave me alone attitude still in the United States. 

CARLSON:  I hope you‘re right.  David Boaz, the book, “The Politics of Freedom, Taking on the Left, the Right and Threats to Our Liberty.”  David, thanks for coming on. 

BOAZ:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  John McCain is OK by Mitt Romney.  He‘s OK by the first President Bush.  Why does Rush Limbaugh still despise him. 

Plus, Hillary Clinton says words are cheap.  In truth, they are free.  But they‘re not without value.  Can Senator Clinton overcome Senator Obama‘s masterful use of words?  This is MSNBC.




SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There‘s a big difference between speeches versus solutions, talk versus action.  You know some people may think words are change.  You and I know better.  Words are cheap. 


CARLSON:  Words are cheap, free, in fact.  But Barack Obama‘s words had value enough to put him slightly ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination and to make him a political phenomenon.  When his stirring oratory echoes through silence, though, what is left?  Who is Barack Obama?  What are his policies?  What sort of president would he be after the glow of his possibility faded into the reality of leadership.  Poetic. 

Here again, “Newsweek” senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe and the chief political columnist at Politic, Roger Simon.  Richard, I think you‘ve thought about this and I think you‘ve written about it as well.  What happens if Barack Obama becomes president?  What kind of president—Is he a conventional liberal?  Is he something bigger than that?  Who is he? 

WOLFFE:  You know, conservatism made a lot about his voting record, saying that it is conventionally liberal.  On many issues, it really is.  But there‘s something unconventional about what he‘s trying to do and how he approaches government.  What he would say is he‘s not looking for bold ideas.  There‘s plenty of bold ideas out there.  What is lacked is a consensus and agreement to get it done. 

That‘s where the compromise comes in.  This is more of an incrementalist than someone who is going to take over, as David Boaz was saying, big government and stuff it in your face.  He has a lot of respect for conservatives.  He likes George Will and David Brooks, not something you talk about now in the middle of a Democratic primary.  But that cautious Mid-Western approach, incrementalist is really at the heart of it. 

I think, look, it‘s been played out in the health care debate.  The reason he doesn‘t go for a mandate is pretty telling.  It is a philosophical difference between him and Hillary, and it speaks a lot to what he wants.  Health care, very important for him, a top priority, but not to the extent that he‘s going to garnish people‘s wages for it. 

CARLSON:  I think what you said is very smart.  At least I agree with it anyway.  It‘s interesting, Roger, if Richard is right—and I think he might be—and Obama turns out to be an incrementalist, if he were to become president, boy, I think a lot of the people who support him aren‘t looking for incremental change.  They‘re looking for revolution.  How disappointed are they going to be? 

SIMON:  Even if they are not looking for revolution, they‘re looking for more than incremental change.  if he gets elected—if gets nominated and elected, he will get elected largely with Democratic votes.  In the Democratic party, Democratic voters are looking for some stuff.  They are looking for an end to the Iraq war.  They thought they were going to get that last time when they elected a new Congress.  They haven‘t gotten it yet.  They are going to look at a president to really end it. 

They are looking at a country that we assume will still be in a financial crisis.  They are looking for a president who will do something about that.  And even though I think the argument between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over how many people are covered by health care is one without a lot of traction, it reminds me of the endless wrangling that Al Gore and Bill Bradley—

CARLSON:  Lock box?

SIMON:  It was the same subject of how many millions of people.  Americans want a health care plan that works, so when they get sick, they are not wiped out anyway.  Largely, health care works until you need it in this country.  They are worried about if they lose their jobs, they lose their health care.  They want a president who will do something about that.  Whether you cover an extra 14 million or 15 or 26 million, or whether it‘s mandates or non-mandates, that‘s so deep in the weeds for most people, including me, that they are saying, how about a plan that we‘re going to get through Congress and is going to make a change in the first four years of the next president.

I think Barack Obama has to deliver on this stuff. 

CARLSON:  Or on something.  It seems the highest highs deliver the most profound hangovers.  You wrote a piece about expectations.  I mean, boy, are they worried about this in Obama-land. 

WOLFFE:  I think they are worried about winning the nomination now. 

CARLSON:  That was a stupid question.  Of course they are not worried about it.  You‘re absolutely right. 

WOLFFE:  Boy, that first 100 days. 

CARLSON:  Exactly.  Midnight on Friday are you worried about anything? 

Of course you‘re not. 

WOLFFE:  Look, it‘s interesting, on Iraq I don‘t think there‘s any—

I think you could fit a cigarette paper between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama here.  There are some differences in the sort of hawkishness of their tone towards Iran, and the preconditions of their meetings with various leaders.  But really, this is marginal discussion.  There is going to be a clear change, a clear choice between Democrats and Republicans in the general election. 

But interesting, again, picking up the comments from your last guest about big government versus small government, I think the way Obama would look at it is saying, it‘s actually just about good government, a working government and an incompetent government.  Is it the ‘90s debate about big government and small government or is it about actually getting stuff done. 

CARLSON:  That‘s rhetorical slight of hand.  That‘s what Obama specializes in.  It‘s not about big government or small government.  It‘s about good government.  Look, you‘re going to grow it in the aggregate or aren‘t you?  In the end we can measure this. 

WOLFFE:  What is the crisis that conservatives are going through right now?  It‘s that George Bush has grown government.  What does conservatism stand for? 

CARLSON:  You don‘t need to tell me.  I have a bald spot on the back of head from pulling my hair out over that.  I‘m fully aware of that. 

WOLFFE:  Where is the ideological debate here right now?  That‘s where someone like him finds space. 

CARLSON:  Because the right has abdicated—I‘m not sure the—maybe they have a responsibility to live up to their own rhetoric and they certainly didn‘t at all.  Nobody is carrying that banner except Ron Paul, and he‘s being ignored.  Yes, I agree with you completely.

Here is one difference though, Roger, between the two campaigns. It‘s aesthetic.  The Obama people have had a pretty successful kind of under the radar Youtube campaign.  They and their supporters have produced all these kind interesting Youtube videos that one gets in one‘s inbox fairly regularly.  Hillary campaign, not so much. 

We do have one video, however, from supporters of the Hillary campaign, a musical number.  You may not have seen it.  I think it‘s worth watching.  Here it is. 




CARLSON:  Roger, it‘s really hard to pick my favorite part.  I‘ve watched this about 15 times on Youtube in the solitude of my office.  I think it may be the guy playing the flute.  But there are so many things to choose from.  I‘m not sure where to start.

SIMON:  The worth cringe-worthy was invented for this video.  Talk about a video that old people think young people would like.  You get this up with Hillary.  How many decades old are those dance moves?  I don‘t know if those kids are going to ever be able to walk on the street again. 

WOLFFE:  The last time I saw dancing like that involved—well, you. 

CARLSON:  I completely admit it.  I‘m not running for president.  I called the Hillary campaign.  I talked to someone I know and like on the Hillary campaign and said, did you produce this?  One word answer: no.  So clearly this was produced by someone close to the campaign.  Who knows where it came from? 

WOLFFE:  That‘s exactly why she‘s winning among older votes.                  This is for the people who last bought a long playing record in the 1980s and haven‘t purchased any music since.  That‘s her demographic.  Will, who is he? 

CARLSON:  All I can say is get thee to Youtube.  It gets better on the fifth viewing.  Trust me.  The world is getting hot, but our global warming plan is not.  And other lyrics—

SIMON:  You can do it. 

CARLSON:  What is going on, Roger, with Mike Huckabee at this point?  The former President Bush is coming out for John McCain on Monday.  Every Republican figure is coming out for McCain.  What‘s Huckabee‘s plan?

SIMON:  I figured it out.  If the Grand Cayman Islands were actually part of the United States and they had 137 delegates and he won them all, it would --  

CARLSON:  You‘ve got to explain what you mean. 

SIMON:  Mike Huckabee, inexplicably, in the true sense of the word, in that I cannot come up with an explanation for it, has decided to give a paid speech in the Grand Cayman Islands this weekend, while much of America is plunged into sub-zero temperatures, instead of campaigning, although he‘s continuing his campaign. 

I don‘t get it because there are a couple of reasons why Huckabee would continue.  One, he really hasn‘t gotten from the McCain campaign what he wants.  Perhaps it‘s the vice presidency, perhaps it‘s something less.  But he hasn‘t heard the right words.  Secondly, I thought at one time he was seriously planning to do what Ronald Reagan did in 1976, when Ronald Reagan ran unsuccessfully against Gerald Ford, fought to the end, gave this dazzling speech at the convention, spent four years rebuilding a new Republican party and reshaping conservative politics in America and becoming president of the United States. 

CARLSON:  That‘s Mitt Romney‘s plan. 

SIMON:  The old plan.  Maybe Huckabee thought he could do this around some kind of evangelical fair tax base.  But nowhere factored in this is the Grand Cayman Islands. 

CARLSON:  It is the one that doesn‘t go with the others.  What do you think?

WOLFFE:  I think we should take him at his words.  He needs the money.  He‘s found a business model whereby you can increase your speaking fees by being a live, running—

CARLSON:  Now, now, now.  Everyone said that about Allen Keyes. 

WOLFFE:  And your point would be? 

CARLSON:  I think there was probably a great deal of truth in that.  But mike Huckabee, you listen to him and think, first of all, the guy‘s such a great speaker, he has to be making tons giving speeches anyway.  He doesn‘t need this.  You‘ve got to think there has to be some plan.  He‘s a smart guy.  He‘s still in for some reason.  Let‘s crack the code.  What is it.  Do you really think it‘s speeches?  Do you think he‘s that venal. 

WOLFFE:  He‘s a very effective communicator.  He has a serious platform and a constituency within the party.  But he has no hope of winning the nomination.  So, yes, there‘s a political leverage here.  Why do you go to the Cayman Islands?  He needs the money.  He has a value, and there‘s a market for him.  So market forces, isn‘t that what conservatives are about? 

CARLSON:  I guess that‘s right.  There‘s also propriety and good taste, though, which is another element of the conservative platform. 

SIMON:  Maybe he‘ll do a video. 

CARLSON:  So Bush 41 -- it‘s hard to remember—but was once the bette-noire of conservative.  They really didn‘t like him.  Now time has taken the edge off.  Does his endorsement end the problem about John McCain and the right? 

SIMON:  No, because, as you way, I don‘t think George H. W. Bush was ever—ever had the affection of the right.  I think he has cemented what he already has, the party establishment.  The party establishment is saying, this is the guy.  This is the guy who deserves it, who we usually give the nomination to.  He‘s punched his ticket.  He‘s the next guy in line.  He was the best known of the candidates.  It‘s logical for 41 to now endorse him. 

I don‘t think it helps McCain with the right wing of his party, who still hates him over McCain/Feingold, immigration and a number of other things. 

CARLSON:  You‘re probably right.  Gentlemen, thank you so much.  I found that really interesting anyway.  Barack Obama hopes his hard work on the campaign trail will eventually lead him to the Oval Office.  But he may not have to wait.  We‘ve got a glimpse coming up of what could already be drawing crowds in an unexpected place. 

Remember this guy?  Gary Condit was the congressman at the center of the Chandra Levy (ph) episode.  That case solved.  You won‘t believe what the former congressman is up to now.  This is MSNBC. 



JAY LENO, “THE TONIGHT SHOW”:  Very awkward moment in the Hillary Clinton campaign today.  I guess Hillary told her staff to call Democrats with money and they called Barack Obama. 


CARLSON:  Welcome back.  We told you what‘s happening in national news.  And now for the seamy underside, the dark furry underbelly of Washington, D.C.  We are joined by Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, the ladies of the “Washington Post‘s” universally read gossip column “The Reliable Source.” 

ROXANNE ROBERTS, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  It‘s like the cute little soft underbelly. 

CARLSON:  You make it sound like a stuffed animal.  I don‘t know if I can vote until I find out what Susan Sarandon is up to. 

AMY ARGETSINGER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  I think we all feel the same way.  We‘ve been closely tracking the big celebrity primary of 2008 to see where the Ted Danson‘s are going to go, where the Chuck Norris‘ are going to be.  The big question, of course, every since John Edwards dropped out of the race is where are Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins going to go?  They were serious Edwards partisans.

Susan Sarandon now came out this week, gave an interview and said that even though she is a very strong feminist, she is going with Barack Obama.  She had a very interesting explanation.  I think she said something to the extent of, she likes the fact that it confused people who hate America because they think America hates Muslims.  Not that Barack Obama is Muslim, but she thinks it would be interesting.  Then there‘s some analogy about how it‘s like being out there marching for pro-choice even when you‘re pregnant. 

ROBERTS:  I think the big news is that it‘s not Hillary.  I think everyone assumes she‘s always been very liberal and very much a feminist.  So the fact that she‘s going for the black guy instead of the woman is interesting and newsy. 

ARGETSINGER:  Now you know before you make your choice. 

CARLSON:  But do the Obama people—So her rational, to make sure I have this right, is he‘s not a Muslim, but people think he is, so it will confuse people who think we don‘t like Muslims. 

ARGETSINGER:  I think it‘s that it will send a positive message to our enemies and friends overseas. 

CARLSON:  So good.  She‘s not obviously not reading off the talking points in the campaign.  Gary Condit—we just teased this.  I don‘t know the answer to it.  Where is Gary Condit?  I need to call him and offer an apology on behalf of the entire media. 

ARGETSINGER:  Gary Condit resurfaced—he lost his congressional seat after the Chandra Levy scandal.  That‘s the missing intern who he was later alleged to have an affair with.  He was never named a suspect in her disappearance.  She was later found dead. 

But he has kept a very, very low profile about this whole episode that ruined his career.  He just came out and gave an interview in a very small California publication called “California Conversations,” talking about his entire career.  But they did smartly get around to topic A.  They asked him, did you have a romantic relationship with Chandra Levy.  He said no, absolutely not.  They followed up, did you have a sexual relationship with Chandra Levy.  He said, I‘m not going to answer that. 

ROBERTS:  Because it‘s private and he‘s a private person.  That made me want to smack him. 

ARGETSINGER:  -- talk about this thing then all of us lose our civil liberties. 

ROBERTS:  He‘s lucky he‘s not in jail for life. 

CARLSON:  Boy, I thought he was running a Baskin Robbins in Phoenix.  Somebody told me that.  As always, you have straightened me out.  Roxanne, Amy, that you so much. 

Coming up, some couples tie the knot during hockey.  In question, do you want to start your marriage on thin ice.  Get it?  More puns after the break.


CARLSON:  It‘s been a pretty entertaining show, I would say.  That‘s not all. let‘s make it more entertaining.  Bill Wolff joins us from New York. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  That Youtube stuff is hard to top, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It really is.  It‘s unbelievable. 

WOLFF:  It‘s a good thing we vote on substance and policies, not Youtube. 

CARLSON:  Sure we do.

WOLFF:  Michael Bloomberg seems less and less likely to enter this race for president.  But he still has duties as mayor of this fine city, New York City.  Those duties include visiting with some of the city‘s school children, which he did yesterday.  Here is his honor with a group of third graders, Tucker. 


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  I‘m not going to tell anybody who I‘m going to vote for.  Can I tell you and you keep it secret?  You won‘t tell anybody else, right? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have a million dollars. 

BLOOMBERG:  I don‘t have.  I have a wonderful birthday card.  This is really nice.  OK, well, I better get going. 


WOLFF:  Yes, I better get going.  Do you have a million dollars?  Do you mean in my pocket?  Slightly less.  Only 950,000 in my pocket, Mayor Bloomberg. 

CARLSON:  He kept it together though. 

WOLFF:  Guy is quick on his feet and worth a few shekels.  You don‘t think he‘s getting in. 

CARLSON:  No chance. 

WOLFF:  No chance?

CARLSON:  What‘s the rational?  America wants to elect a New York City mayor?  I think we disproved that theory? 

WOLFF:  Fair point.  Tucker, I‘ve got more hard core politics from America‘s heartland, this time Kansas City.  There the governors of Missouri and Kansas, Matt Blunt and Kathleen Sebelius, respectively, met at an economic summit, where they were to settle a bet made on the Missouri-Kansas football game in late November.  You‘ll recall the Missouri Tigers pummeled the previously undefeated Kansas Jay Hawks in that game, known as the border war.  Governor Sebelius was to wear a Tiger tail to that summit as further shame of her beloved team. 

She chose instead to wear some Kansas emblem on the back of her jacket having to do with the Orange Bowl.  There it is.  She appears to believe that settles the bet. 

Now, I am a native of the state of Missouri.  May I say, Tucker, that does not settle the bet.  I want to see the tiger tail. 

CARLSON:  I think perhaps the tiger tail would be considered by some to be mildly demeaning. 

WOLFF:  That‘s the point.  She lost the bet.  She lost the bet. 

CARLSON:  It‘s kind of cute.  Who can resist a tiger tail?  Come on. 

WOLFF:  M-I-Z-Z-O-U, baby, they beat Kansas, one of the greatest moments of my life.  Anyway, like so many others, Tucker, Frank Renderneck (ph) saw the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” in the mid-1970‘s.  I believe it was about ‘76.  He dreamed of having an underwater car.  Frank lived to see the day.  There it is.  He‘s constructed this amphibious vehicle, called the Squba, spelled with a Q, Tucker, which can go 75 miles an hour on land and then be submerged where it goes about two miles an hour.  There it‘s goes. 

The Squba does not come with all the (INAUDIBLE) of the original James Bond model Lotus.  For one thing, the Squba has no roof, so you have to breathe compressed air and you get soaking wet.  And, importantly, the Squba does not come with a beautiful Russian spy named Hamasva (ph), by the luminous Barbara Bach. 

CARLSON:  Yes, I‘m not sure I get the idea.  So basically you drive into the water and your car fills with water, but you luckily have a scuba tank on so you don‘t drown.  Isn‘t that what all cars do? 

WOLFF:  You really know how to rain on the parade, Tucker.  It‘s an under water car.  Kill joy.  Man, you‘ve been spending a lot of time covering politics.  No, it‘s completely senseless.  You get out and you‘re soaked.  Horrible.  Anyway, god bless that guy.  It was my favorite James Bond movie. 

CARLSON:  Barbara Bach is about 70 now, by the way. 

WOLFF:  Still looks great and is beautiful, and was at that time married to Ringo Starr. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.

WOLFF:  Anyway, finally some mid-winter romance from Cleveland, Ohio, the home of mid-Winter romance.  In the Quicken Loans Arena, there, during a minor league hockey game between the Lake Erie Monsters and the Hershey Bears, six loving couples, Tucker, were married last night in a group on ice ceremony. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here in the que, in the presence of the Lake Erie Monsters and with all these incredible fans, now, therefore, in accordance with the laws of the state of Ohio, and by virtue of the powers invested in me, I now pronounce you married.  You may kiss your spouses. 


CARLSON:  Yes.  As always, we wish the couples a happy, healthy and prosperous union.  May the men avoid life‘s penalty box for unsportsman like conduct, Tucker.  I know the thing that my wife gets mad at me about;

I cannot even imagine the kind of doghouse all those guys are in. 

CARLSON:  Yes, women don‘t appreciate the old hip-check. 

WOLFF:  Got married at a hockey rink, a minor league hockey rink. 

CARLSON:  I think it‘s kind of appealing.  I don‘t know.  I‘m for marriage, even in the hockey rink. 

WOLFF:  I‘m for marriage and for those people, who, by the way, will vote in the Ohio primary.  But good lord, a minor league hockey game, Tucker, tough. 

CARLSON:  Bill Wolff from 30 Rock.  Thanks a lot, Bill.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  As always, have a great weekend.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  See you Monday.



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