Guests: Lanny Davis, Peter Fenn, Peter Beinart, Roger Stone
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST: The Hillary Clinton campaign has found an unlikely soft spot in Barack Obama‘s armor, his masterful eloquence. And they‘re hammering him for it.
Welcome to the show.
The issue of today involved Obama‘s use of words that have been used before, specifically by Massachusetts governor and Obama friend, Deval Patrick.
Was if plagiarism? Judge for yourself. Here are two speeches back to back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: All I have to offer is words. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. I have a dream.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Don‘t tell me words don‘t matter. I have a dream. Just words? We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. Just words? We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Just words? Just speeches?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Deval Patrick says he and Obama share lots of ideas with one another including the ones in question. They also share a political consultant, that may have a role, too. Obama says he probably should have credited his friend Patrick, but Clinton campaign and its spokesman Howard Wolfson insists this is plagiarism.
How serious of a problem will it be for Barack Obama on the eve of tomorrow‘s primary in Wisconsin? Clinton friend and advocate Lanny Davis is here to tell us.
Also today, the role the presidents past and present in the ‘08 campaign trail. As President George H.W. Bush endorses John McCain, reports from inside the McCain camp suggest the likely GOP nominee would like the current President Bush to help him raise money both for further limit Mr. Bush‘s appearances on his behalf.
How should John McCain employ President Bush in the run-up to November?
And how close to the edge is Bill Clinton? Two separate incidents over the weekend saw Hillary Clinton‘s husband/running mate confronting hecklers, one heckler from Barack Obama‘s camp, another a pro-life activist. Mr. Clinton did not take kindly to the opposition in either case.
And so we ask again: is the former president helping or hurting his wife? More on that in just a minute.
We begin with Barack Obama‘s use of Deval Patrick‘s rhetoric on the campaign trail. How serious an offense is this? And to what effect can the Clinton campaign exploit it?
Joining me now is former special counsel to President Bill Clinton and ardent Hillary Clinton supporter Lanny Davis.
LANNY DAVIS, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER: Hi.
CARLSON: Come on. I mean come on. Of all the things you can hit Barack Obama on, plagiarism?
DAVIS: Well, first of all I agree that right now Hillary Clinton is talking about the economy, about foreclosures, she‘s reminding people that Barack Obama voted for the Cheney energy bill. She opposed it. He‘s against universal mandated healthcare. She‘s for it. That means a lot more.
CARLSON: Those are all fair.
DAVIS: That means a lot more than this.
CARLSON: Why doesn‘t someone tell Howard Wolfson this?
CARLSON: I mean this guy is believable.
DAVIS: I know that Wisconsin voters care about the fact that Obama voted for the Cheney energy bill more than his being plagiarism. But he is the one who set the standard for turning the page, for being transparent, for being everybody—better than everybody else, the new politics.
DAVIS: He holds himself to what I think is a sanctimonious tone and judgment of others. Then he‘s got to be held to this standard. Why didn‘t he simply quote Governor Patrick? It‘s clearly turning the page doesn‘t mean plagiarism page. And it doesn‘t mean saying someone gave you permission to copy without attributing.
CARLSON: OK. But wait a second, once you go down this road, and I agree, if you butt those speeches back to back, you know, clearly Obama took it from Deval Patrick. There‘s no question.
CARLSON: The question is: does it really matter? But once you go down that road, it‘s, I think, fair to look into your record. Take a look at Hillary Clinton campaigning in Iowa and tell me if you recognize any of the words she uses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I haven‘t been traveling. My good husband has. And so we have seen thousands and thousands of Iowans over the last week. And we are fired up and we are ready to go because we know that America is ready for change and the (INAUDIBLE) it starts right here in Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Fired up and ready to go. You know I‘ve heard that somewhere. You know, that should be a copyrighted. That like “Have a Coke and a smile.” I mean that is Barack Obama and there she is plagiarizing from Barack Obama.
DAVIS: Or “Yes, we can.” But I think it‘s a matter of degree. But I really do believe.
CARLSON: But wait a second. I mean if you‘re mad about one, how come you would see the other..
DAVIS: He copied every word in every selected text.
CARLSON: I don‘t know what‘s so different.
DAVIS: And she had a phrase that was the same as his that everybody knows is the same as his. But here‘s the point. He has judged in a personal level in a sanctimonious, meaning I‘m holier-than-thou level that he‘s turning the page on a new politics of transparency. This was contrary to the standard that he‘s held himself to. That makes it an issue.
CARLSON: But wait a second. I remember way, way back, ancient history, like several months ago even, Hillary Clinton saying that she believed there were real questions to be raised about Barack Obama‘s character. I don‘t remember Obama ever saying anything even remotely like that about her. So I do think in all fairness it‘s hard to call him the sanctimonious candidate.
DAVIS: Actually, you know I respect you greatly. I don‘t think she ever said that.
CARLSON: She did say that.
DAVIS: But if she did, you‘ll correct me on another occasion.
DAVIS: But here is what Barack Obama did in August when he was being criticized for not going after Hillary Clinton. On the front page of “The New York Times,” the very first attack made in this campaign was a personal character attack where he accused Hillary Clinton in a voluntary sit-down for “The New York Times” of being dishonest or rather untruthful and misleading people. And from that point on, he has personally attacked her in a way that she has not attacked him. And I‘ll stand corrected if you tell me she said that.
CARLSON: Boy, I don‘t know. That—I‘ve missed that famous speech.
DAVIS: I‘m holding in secret.
CARLSON: OK. So now that we‘re talking about the credibility of the candidates‘ words respectively, here is something that Mrs. Clinton said in Kenosha, Wisconsin at a Brat Stop restaurant on Sunday. She said, quote, “You know, you may not believe it, but I‘ve actually gone hunting. My father taught me to shoot a hundred years ago.”
DAVIS: A hundred years.
CARLSON: Yes, hundred years, yes. I assume she‘s exaggerating there. Is she a hundred now? Hillary Clinton, the big gun person, a second member for life of the NRA? I mean come on?
DAVIS: No, I agree that she‘s not a hunter. But here‘s Barack Obama, the one that nobody knows about in the Republican Party right now. In Idaho where he won and actually the media was impressed that he won in Idaho with 2 percent turnout, he said to Idaho audience, I believe in the second amendment. In 1996 he filled out a questionnaire that he supports the ban on the manufacturer, sales and possession of handguns. Now, will you please put those two statements together?
CARLSON: Let me.
DAVIS: This is what people don‘t know about Barack Obama, and there‘s a whole blank slate that nobody knows that when people say name one achievement, and there‘s silence in the room, as occurred on national television last week, we have a problem in the general election.
CARLSON: I love this. Hillary running as the second amendment gun candidate and if Barack Obama signed that and said he‘s against the possession of handguns, that‘s a huge problem, I agree with that completely.
DAVIS: He signed it and he introduced legislation. The point is he‘s saying one thing to Idaho audiences and another thing—and he‘s the one who criticized Hillary Clinton for saying anything to get elected.
CARLSON: Speaking of sanctimony, very quickly, there has been all sorts of kerfuffle about the role of Chelsea Clinton in this campaign that Hillary campaign attacking anybody who mentions her name.
DAVIS: No, no.
CARLSON: She—hold on, hold on. She is campaigning, and I personally think she should campaign. She‘s her daughter. Of course, she should campaign. But she‘s campaigning in Hawaii as we speak. She‘s been in Connecticut, but she‘s been in Ohio. She‘s called only super delegates. She‘s not giving any interviews. I believe the campaign, if you call and say I‘d like an interview with Chelsea Clinton, barks at you.
Will you concede that it‘s at least fair if someone is working on behalf of a presidential candidate to ask questions, like what does she think? Where does she work? Questions like that. Is that out of bounds?
DAVIS: First of all, I don‘t think the campaign should bark. It‘s a legitimate question for journalists. I‘d like to interview her. She‘s out there making speeches.
DAVIS: She is a daughter of a former president.
DAVIS: .who lived in the White House under pretty brutal media pressure.
DAVIS: And she chooses, as her choice, not to want to be interviewed. And reporters need to respect that. And certainly the only criticism is the use of a mistaken word.
CARLSON: OK. But.
CARLSON: I‘m just merely saying those are legitimate questions. And they are treated by the Hillary Clinton campaign, by Howard Wolfson in particular, as out of bounds, beyond the pale, outrageous that anybody would even ask. I admire the fact that Hillary is campaigning for her parents. Good for her. I‘m just saying the reporters shouldn‘t be attacked for asking.
DAVIS: I completely agree with you. Howard Wolfson is one of the best press secretaries around. And I don‘t believe that he‘s critical of the desire to ask. I think he‘s critical of people who get angry when Chelsea Clinton chooses not to do that. They need to respect her privacy. But I don‘t think there‘s anything wrong with reporters wanting to interview her.
CARLSON: Amen. Lanny Davis, thank you very much.
DAVIS: Thank you.
CARLSON: The first President Bush endorsed John McCain today. What role does Senator McCain hope the current President Bush will play in his campaign? Tricky politics there.
And former president Clinton let loose on the campaign trail over the weekend. Is his passionate support of Hillary Clinton‘s run for the nomination in his own third term helping her?
This is MSNBC.
ANNOUNCER: TUCKER is brought to you by.
CARLSON: Barack Obama has gone 8-0 since Super Tuesday with two more contests coming up tomorrow. He has chance for a perfect 10. Can Hillary Clinton afford that, to loose to Obama once again? We‘ll tell you when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: My husband didn‘t wrap up the nomination in ‘92 until June. And usually it takes a while to sort all this out. And that‘s why there are rules, Democratic Party rules, that if there are contested delegations, the convention votes on them. Those are the rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: As if there were ever any doubt, Senator Clinton will, in fact, go all the way, do whatever it takes to get the Democratic presidential nomination. (INAUDIBLE) Pollster tomorrow‘s Wisconsin and Hawaii primaries. Obama is, of course, expected to win Hawaii, his home state fairly easily. But the Wisconsin polls are pretty tight. An Obama win will give him 10 straight, a Clinton win will be tangible evidence of her resilience.
What are the consequences no matter which way it goes?
Joining us now Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and senior fellow at
the Council on Foreign Relations and editor-at-large of “The Republic”
Peter Beinart, is Hillary predicting reality? I mean do you think this could actually go to June?
PETER BEINART, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Yes, I think it could. If she has big wins in Ohio and Texas and then has another big win in Pennsylvania, she still might be behind in pledge delegates, but it‘ll be close enough.
CARLSON: But it would take that, I mean, it would take a pretty dramatic turn in momentum right now.
BEINART: I think it‘ll take three big wins in those three big states.
But she is leading in the polls in those states.
CARLSON: By big margins?
BEINART: Well, in some polls by big margins, in Ohio.
CARLSON: Let‘s take a look at the Wisconsin margin, because, I mean, Wisconsin, I think, is a state that is sort of intrinsically pro-Obama. It‘s got a.
PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.
CARLSON: .fairly sizable black population and there are a lot of—no, it‘s—I‘m serious. And there are—Milwaukee.
FENN: No, no. But the state doesn‘t have a lot.
CARLSON: Well, there‘s much to say, and more important, it has a lot of.
CARLSON: Baristas at Starbucks. That‘s exactly right. So look, you saw—you just saw the numbers there. They are within two points of each other. Does she need to win there to win?
FENN: I don‘t think she has to win there. In fact, that was supposed to be an Obama state. And she said in the University of Wisconsin at Madison, there‘s a lot of students. There are a lot of folks that thought that was gone. The latest polls were within five points. There was one poll that came out today that showed her up by a few points. So it looks like it might be pretty close. But—if she wins it, I think that would be a surprise.
You know, I think, Tucker, on this that what‘s going to happen, and I may be wrong, but I think this will start to go, you know, either folks will look at Obama and say, gee, you know, maybe I‘m with Hillary, I think she‘s got a better shot. I think she‘ll be a better president and stuff will start to move or go the other way around.
So that by the time, as Peter said, by the time you get to April 22nd, which is Pennsylvania, one of the other candidates is going to be moving. I just can‘t imagine that it‘s going to go back and forth, back and forth all the way until June.
CARLSON: Where are the Republicans in this, Peter? I mean, if you were a Republican thinking about winning in November, why wouldn‘t you get a 527 together and start hammering Barack Obama to help Hillary win?
BEINART: There may be such a thing as we speak. But you know, while at the—at the elite level some Republicans might think that. But the problem is actually at the math level in states like Wisconsin where independents and Republicans can vote, and they don‘t feel there‘s much need to vote in the Republican primary.
BEINART: The truth is a lot of those people actually are going to vote for the Democrat they like, which is one reason that Obama was considered to have an edge in Wisconsin because it‘s an open state where independents...
CARLSON: No, I‘m just saying, I‘m just saying if you‘re—I mean I don‘t think—I haven‘t met anybody who believes it would be harder for John—who doesn‘t the good thing for John McCain would be for Barack—for Hillary Clinton to get the nomination.
BEINART: You know, it‘s—no, no, that‘s—has really conventional wisdom of really change. If you ask Republicans, you know, in the fall when Hillary Clinton was doing better, they were terrified of Hillary Clinton. It‘s really been in the last few months this is completely turned around that she would be the much weaker candidate.
CARLSON: Boy, I was sold on that one.
FENN: I‘ve heard it going both ways.
CARLSON: You really.
FENN: Yes, yes, yes, look, look, look, yes.
BEINART: Now it‘s much more to (INAUDIBLE)
FENN: In fact, look—let me tell you, Ari Fleischer is talking about that 527 having $150 million. They love the idea of going after Barack Obama on national security issues, on foreign policy issues, on inexperience. They think that would be great. On the other hand, there are folks that argue, look, no one galvanizes this party more than Hillary Clinton.
CARLSON: I agree with that.
FENN: No one bring the conservatives back in more than Hillary Clinton. So they play it both ways. But if you look at your question, which I think is a really good one, Tucker, but if this thing becomes pretty clear and it‘s going to be Barack, before Barack, you know, can take a 24-hour vacation, they‘re going to be on them. The ads are going to be prepared. You‘re going to see 527s come in. And I must say the Democrats are going to be doing the same thing, and especially if they both decide that they‘re going to accept public financing.
FENN: I mean that‘s the biggest joke in the world, because, you know, everybody will put that money into those 527s then.
CARLSON: We‘ll be right back.
A year ago President Bush was in—was political poison in this race. Has the improved situation in Iraq or the perception that it‘s improved anyway changed the president‘s effect on the Republican Party‘s chances this fall?
Plus Barack Obama‘s effect and his supporter goes over the top as one of them compares the one-term senator to Nelson Mandela. At what point do lofty comparisons damage Obama‘s taste for the nomination or do they ever?
This is MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: His character was forged in the crucible of war. His commitment to America is beyond any doubt. But most importantly, he has the right values and experience to guide our nation forward at this historic moment. And so I‘m very proud to endorse John McCain for the presidency of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: President Bush the first throwing his support behind Senator John McCain this morning. Just how closely tied does the Bushes does McCain really want to be? Joining us now is senior McCain advisor and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli.
Frank, thanks for coming on.
FRANK DONATELLI, SENIOR ADVISOR TO JOHN MCCAIN: Nice to you, Tucker.
CARLSON: So is it—I mean, to what extent is it a mixed blessing, the support of the Bushes?
DONATELLI: Well, I think, you know, the interesting thing here is how does the potential nominee of a president‘s party work together with that president to maximize the possibility.
DONATELLI: .that that president will have a successor of his own party? You know, in my—when I worked in the Reagan White House, President Reagan basically said to us, whatever George Bush wants, we‘re going to try to do it. I think we‘re going to have the same type of good working relationship with this President Bush. There‘s the other extreme, too, when Bill Clinton and Al Gore didn‘t see eye to eye on a lot of things and they basically went their separate ways, that‘s not a good thing.
CARLSON: Well, Gore didn‘t want him, is my understanding out there.
DONATELLI: It‘s my understanding, too.
CARLSON: Right. But there‘s a piece over the weekend that suggested that some McCain advisors realized that President Bush, while he‘s popular with some members of the Republican Party, he‘s great at raising money and so are his people, he‘s got a pretty low approval rating. I mean very low.
DONATELLI: Well, you know, I would the revolutionary position that we would respectfully ask President Bush to do those things that he‘s most comfortable doing where he can help us the most. I think that‘s what you ask for any incumbent president. President Bush is very good at raising money. I think, you know, in some of the conservative states he would be very, very good there.
But in the final analysis, you know, what Reagan realized, I think what every president realizes is it‘s up to the nominee to win this. No one else is going to win this for you. It‘s up to John McCain to close the sale with the American people.
CARLSON: So there was this piece in “The New York Times” from Mark Leibovich over the weekend write, very funny piece. Also I thought it described the way McCain really is, another least with the press. And it has this kind of amazing vignette where he‘s sitting talking about his traveling press secretary, Brooke Buchanan.
Here we put up on the screen, a quote from this piece of the “New York
Times,” quote, “Mr. McCain volunteered that Brooke Buchanan, his
spokeswoman who was seated nearby and rolling her eyes, quote, ‘has a lot
of her money hidden in the Cayman Islands,‘ said that she earned it, quote,
‘by dealing drugs.‘ Previously Mr. McCain identified Miss Buchanan as,
quote, “Pat Buchanan‘s illegitimate daughter,‘ ‘bipolar,‘ ‘a drunk,‘
‘someone with a lot of boyfriends,‘ and ‘just out of Betty Ford.‘”
OK, so here‘s my, here‘s my concern, that as McCain goes forward in this process, he‘s the nominee, he‘s going to stop talking this way because you guys are going to push him to stop saying things like this.
DONATELLI: Brooke has always struck me as a very quiet young lady. I‘ve got to ask her the next time I see her about all this. You know, I mean, he—Senator McCain has a wicked sense of humor. I would expect that that would not change. Obviously you need to tone it down as you go forward. And people are more—you know, really want you to talk about the issues.
But remember in the midst of the 1984 campaign, Ronald Reagan found time to outlaw the Soviet Union and say bombing would begin in five minutes in that famous—in that famous statement that was caught on tape. So, look, John McCain is going to be who he is. He has this sense of humor, but.
CARLSON: But he‘s also running, according to the Associated Press and just by everyone you talk to, running around telling people in Washington to “F” off. So instead—but now he‘s apologizing for it. He‘s saying, you know, I‘ve got my temper under control. Why doesn‘t he just stay and say, you know, a lot of people need to be told to “F” off and I‘m going to continue to say that to them.
DONATELLI: Well, I think that‘s the element of leadership that really makes him such an attractive individual. It‘s why people.
CARLSON: Just profanity?
DONATELLI: No. The fact that he speaks his mind, but the fact that at the proper time he can bring people together and he can crack the whip and get things done. I mean that‘s a very attractive quality for John McCain I think that endears him to moderates as well as conservatives.
CARLSON: I like the profanity, I‘ll say that pointblank. But Frank Donatelli, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
DONATELLI: OK. Thanks very much, Tucker.
CARLSON: It‘s the same question with an ever-evolving answer. After a weekend of blaster on the campaign trail, Bill Clinton, is he doing more good or harm to his wife‘s run for president?
Plus influential Republican advisors say they fear an Obama presidency more than a Clinton. How serious are they? How will they attack Obama in a national campaign? The legendary Roger Stone joins us with answers. Coming up.
CARLSON: Still to come, Bill Clinton makes a comeback on the campaign trail barking at anyone who suggests he does not deserve a third term. We‘ve got details coming up. But first here‘s a look at your headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. CLINTON: I gave you the answer. We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I am against abortion.
Tell the truth. Tell the truth. If you were really pro-life—if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. You won‘t say you want to do that because you know you wouldn‘t have a lick of political support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, former President Bill Clinton‘s role in Hillary Clinton‘s campaign had taken on more muted tones since his forceful participation in the lead up to South Carolina, when he injected race into the race. But Mr. Clinton‘s back to his expressive self over the weekend, directly confronting a pro-life activist on the stump, as you just heard, and also encountering vociferous Barack Obama supporters at another stop.
At this crucial moment, what is the effect of Bill Clinton on the fight of Hillary Clinton‘s political life. Here, once again, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor at large of the “New Republic,” Peter Beinart.
Peter Fenn, that is such a telling clip there of Bill Clinton. The part we didn‘t play -- he goes on to say, when I was president, I reduced the number of abortions. It was about his presidency. There was no mention in the extended version of that clip of his wife. It was you are questioning my presidency.
FENN: I‘ll tell you, there was part of that I loved, and that was his anger and his engagement and his taking on a protester. That was fine. I think, however, Tucker, and I said this before, that he does better when he is the supporter in chief, not the attacker in chief. I think he‘s trying to do that—
CARLSON: The protester had a sign that said, abortion kills children.
Why would that make him so mad?
FENN: Look, he was in there with a protester defending—I didn‘t hear what the protester said. I think he did a little more than that because they had a little discussion back and forth. But, you know, this was engagement and debate. The thing that gets bad is when it gets uncivil and ugly. That to me was not uncivil and ugly. I gather that the other protester was, the Obama protester.
CARLSON: You‘ve got the former president of the United States—
FENN: He‘s fighting for his wife. He‘s doing everything he can for his wife.
CARLSON: He‘s fighting for himself.
FENN: No, Tucker, I totally agree. It shouldn‘t be about Bill Clinton. It shouldn‘t be about Bill Clinton‘s presidency, and the sense that two-for-one or any of that stuff. She‘s running.
CARLSON: If she loses, Peter—I think he understands that if she loses, it hurts him in some permanent way. It hurts the way people see him. But I think he‘s hurting her. I have thought that from day one and I think it still.
BEINART: He‘s hurting her, but he‘s also helping her a lot. You can‘t think about the Hillary Clinton campaign without thinking about Bill Clinton. First of all, the ability to have a second a person who can go and have huge crowds, a surrogate unlike any other surrogate, a guy who can raise a lot of money, give her the ability to be two places at one time. He remains extremely popular amongst Democrats.
Is he hurting her? Yes. But he‘s also helping her a lot. You can‘t take that out of the equation.
CARLSON: Do you think, if she were to get the nomination, his role in the White House wouldn‘t be the central issue of the campaign? I mean, if she got the nomination—
BEINART: I don‘t think it would be the central issue. I think it would be a significant issue. It would be both good and bad.
CARLSON: Wouldn‘t people be thinking holy—would they get one independent to vote for them?
BEINART: Yes, because Bill Clinton is very popular amongst independents. Some people would be weirder out. But some people would be saying, gosh, those were really good times.
CARLSON: Peter, ever since he got there and compared Obama to Jesse Jackson, have they told him to be quiet?
FENN: He‘s a smart enough politician. He‘s figured out his job is not to attack Barack Obama, not a good move. But in terms of what happens if Hillary is elected president of the United States, he‘s got his foundation. He‘s going to be all over the world. He‘s going to be doing all kinds of things. My advice to the campaign was to make that very clear from the get-go, what his role is going to be outside that White House, because I think, look, she can stand on her own two feet. She does superbly on her own two feet.
CARLSON: Really, why hasn‘t she?
FENN: She has been.
CARLSON: Since when? Why is he out there right now?
FENN: Just exactly—
CARLSON: You‘ve got to be kidding.
FENN: Look, Tucker, I think this is a real problem. If you do a balance sheet on this, his campaigning for her, it‘s an easy one. It‘s very helpful.
CARLSON: Boy, I—Maybe it‘s just me, but it‘s not just me. Look, she‘s at her best when she is tough, in my view, when she actually makes the case that she is tough enough to be president. I think she is tough enough. Every time he gets out there and starts barking and emoting and gets so emotionally engaged, he makes her look weak when he does that.
BEINART: I don‘t think so. Him getting into a confrontation with the anti-abortion protester doesn‘t say anything about her. I agree that I think they made a mistake in not making it clear for people right away what his role would be once she won, to kind of clear up some of the mystery.
CARLSON: How could you clarify that? He‘s going to run around doing business deals with people you haven‘t heard of.
BEINART: Remind people that he‘s not going to have an office in the White House, that he has a lot of other stuff going on. Obviously, he‘s going to be an advisor. Look, George W. Bush‘s father is advising his son all the time, but there‘s some distance between him and the office.
CARLSON: But there‘s no comparison between the relationship of the two Bushes, father and son, and the relationship between any husband and wife, particularly these two who are a team. They are running together here.
FENN: He‘s got his library and he‘s got the foundation. The foundation is huge. There‘s a lot to do.
CARLSON: The one the donors haven‘t been identified yet? That‘s what I‘m saying. Come on.
FENN: Here we go again.
CARLSON: Those aren‘t talking points, it‘s just true.
FENN: This was a crucial point in the campaign, because when he went after Obama, when we dealt with the South Carolina stuff, all of us talking here, everybody said, big problem, big mistake, because that did this whole business, as Mark Shields said, I boy, I hate to see Bill Clinton around the White House with nothing to do. Well, the point is, that‘s not what‘s going to happen. But that‘s what was brought back—
CARLSON: I think he‘s got a lot of brass after comparing Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson to actually go out in public and talk again. He should take a year off.
FENN: No, that—
BEINART: Look, he wants his wife to win. He‘s still an asset for her.
CARLSON: That‘s a pretty low thing to do, don‘t you think?
BEINART: I agree. I thought that was a really mistaken comment. I think it hurt the campaign. Look, if the Clinton campaign loses, people will look back at two turning points. The first was that debate with the illegal driver‘s license. The second will be the way they attacked Barack Obama in South Carolina. It basically drove the black—along with other things—it drove the black vote 80 or 90 percent to Obama.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right. Now, if this does come down to the end, if it goes, as Mrs. Clinton said earlier, to June, Harold Ickes, I who is the head delegate counter on the Clinton campaign, gave a conference call recently in which he said, look, we will get those delegates from Michigan and Florida seated. It turns out, as a reporter on the call pointed out, that Ickes had voted against that very thing as a member of the Democratic National Committee, voted for disenfranchising Florida and Michigan.
FENN: Look, these were the rules. Everybody went by the rules. The question now becomes, if you‘re going to seat some delegates from those two states, which are critical states in the general election, how do you do it? You know what I think? I‘m crazy. I say, seat them, but make them half Hillary, half Obama. That‘s it. Get rid of it.
CARLSON: The voting in the state doesn‘t reflect that.
FENN: No, but you‘re not going to have re-votes. You‘re not going to have caucuses in those states. My point, at the end of the day, Tucker, is this will not matter. This will not be an issue. If it does matter, then Democrats ought to—then we do have our circular firing squad. Then we do have 1968 Chicago all over again.
CARLSON: I think this is the one year where Democrats will not be true to type and will not have a circular firing squad. If it comes down to it, though, Al Gore, it is said, is now positioning himself as the party elder, to sort of be the ref in all this. Do you think that‘s an accurate description of what his role will be?
BEINART: I think it is going to be like Florida in 2000. What‘s really going to matter is in pledged delegates, at the end of the day, who is ahead. Even if it‘s by a small margin, that person will have a lot of moral authority to be able to say, look, I could have won it if Super Delegates weren‘t part of it. I could have won it putting aside Michigan and Florida. I think that‘s going to be the single most important thing.
CARLSON: Is that the same as saying the person with the popular vote, with the most votes in the end—
BEINART: No, not the popular vote. To be fair, it‘s the delegate thing. It‘s the number of pledged delegates. It‘s the number of delegates who come out of the process aside from the Super Delegates.
CARLSON: It‘s possible, thanks to the way Texas apportions, that one candidate will have more votes and one will have more delegates.
FENN: That is possible.
CARLSON: Then you will have 2000 redux.
FENN: No, you won‘t, because, first of all, I think you‘ll have a swing one way or the other. Secondly, I think we have to remember, these Super Delegates, they‘re elected officials, half of them. They are solidly for winning in November. They‘re not going to do any self-emulation operation at the Democratic Convention in Denver. They‘re not going to create a situation where they ruin—
CARLSON: If Hillary loses. If Obama loses, I disagree with you, because I believe the Obama support is religious-based. This is a religious movement, because people passing out at his rallies. They‘re not going to stand for it.
FENN: Here is what‘s going to happen. If Hillary begins to win states and win delegates, and they‘re split, and it could be very even going in, and Hillary gets the nomination, I will tell you, I think there‘s no question that Obama is vice president on that ticket. There is absolutely no question.
BEINART: No—No, I think if you did that, then it would be clear
that Obama would be the heir apparent for whenever there was an open chance
CARLSON: No way, no way.
BEINART: Democrats are very hungry. One of the fundamental realities of this year is that Republicans are not hungry and Democrats are ravenous.
CARLSON: You‘re absolutely right, but I think you‘re underestimating the extent to which the Obama support is about Obama the man. It‘s this movement. Bill Keller, executive editor of the “New York Times,” just compared him to Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela, I guess Jesus is busy, so it‘s Nelson Mandela.
BEINART: I don‘t think that helps Obama. Obama is a remarkable political figure, one of the most remarkable in terms of his potential. Nelson Mandela, we‘re not talking about potential. We‘re talking about a guy who has achieved more—
CARLSON: There was that whole Robin Island thing.
FENN: He was in prison for a while.
CARLSON: I mean, you don‘t see this?
FENN: Of course, of course. That‘s my point.
CARLSON: The support for Obama is bigger than politics. It‘s touching some emotional need in his followers.
BEINART: But the Obama people don‘t hate Hillary Clinton.
BEINART: Some people in the media—
CARLSON: They don‘t like Hillary Clinton—
FENN: If you look at the polls, you‘re absolutely right.
CARLSON: I disagree with you completely. I think those Move-On people, they didn‘t just vote for him, they voted against her.
FENN: Thank you, we won‘t have to talk about Move On.
CARLSON: All right. Gentlemen, thank you. The two Peters, thank you. I appreciate it. Up next, a weekend meeting of leading Republicans outlines a strategy to beat Barack Obama in the fall. What are those plans? How effective will they be? The legendary Roger Stone up next.
And all the hard feelings in all politics don‘t add up to the feelings between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, his ex-wife. Will she get a gazillion dollars in there divorce or merely a zillion. An ugly divorce report coming up from Bill Wolff.
CARLSON: Senator John McCain is riding the Straight Talk Express right to the Republican nomination. But what happens when Barack Obama starts cutting over from the fast lane in a general election campaign? For years, the Republican party assumed it would be running against Hillary Clinton. Can they shift gears now in time to mount the same kind of campaign against a candidate like Obama? What would that campaign look like?
Joining us now, the legendary Republican strategist Roger Stone from Florida. Roger, welcome.
ROGER STONE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Tucker, glad to be with you.
CARLSON: How do you hit Barack Obama?
STONE: Well, it‘s difficult. There‘s no real record of achievement there. There‘s no real solid proposals there. There‘s very inspiring rhetoric. Either Barack Obama will fill in the blanks on himself or the Republicans, in the course of a campaign, will fill out the empty space. I‘m convinced that once people learn that he is from the McGovern wing of the Democratic party, that despite his very lofty aspirations about hope and a better America, which is almost Reagan-esque, that there is no, as Walter Mondale said, no beef.
If we find the beef, it‘s going to be pretty liberal beef.
CARLSON: Yum. Do people care? It seems to me what we have now is a lot of evidence that people aren‘t even really interested in detail. They like how Obama sounds. They like what he represents and that‘s kind of enough for them.
STONE: This is just the beginning. First of all, only Democrats have essentially voted in the Democratic primary. Let‘s wait until this contest goes to the entire electorate, including conservative leaning independents and Republicans.
Secondarily, when people do learn more about him, I don‘t think they will like it. For example, Barack Obama unequivocally supports driver‘s licenses for illegal immigrants, the Spitzer proposal in New York. Now, 15 of 19 9/11 hijackers had 38 driver‘s licenses among them. They used them to rent cars, rent trucks, rent hotel rooms and board airplanes to attack this country. You saw what it did for Elliot Spitzer, whose numbers are in the toilet and have not recovered.
Barack Obama unequivocally supported the governor and supported the concept. Even Hillary Clinton had the good sense to back away from it. I don‘t think that will sell to those suburban Catholic Democrats who may be swooning about Barack Obama right now.
CARLSON: I actually—I agree with you. I wonder, though. I think you probably take it as a matter of faith that it would be easier to beat Hillary in the general than it would be to beat Obama. Is that right?
STONE: There‘s no question. She‘s a pol. She‘s a hack. She believes in virtually nothing. It would be a race to the center by both candidates. Bill Clinton is smart enough to know you don‘t win a presidential election on the far left or on the far right. There will be an attempt to push McCain to the far right. He will resist that. There will be attempt by the Republicans to properly place Hillary Clinton on the far left. She‘ll resist that. It‘s a race to the middle.
CARLSON: Why haven‘t you seen really any commentary on either one of the Democratic candidates from Republicans. You have seen no independent expenditures of note. You haven‘t even seen Republican talking heads coming out there and attacking either one in a systematic way. Is it that there no energy on the Republican side or is this part of the strategy?
STONE: I think it‘s not a question of energy. I think it‘s a question of mechanics. I do think you‘ll see Republicans surrogates and Republican leaders start to go out and question Barack Obama on the policy side. But, Tucker, don‘t lose any sleep. There will be plenty of time to properly portray the issue positions of Barack Obama before this November election.
You‘re still very early in the process. You may remember that Jimmy Carter was a phenomena that came out of nowhere. He talked about an America as good as its people. He talked about restoring confidence in the post-Watergate period. He had very little specific to say about the issues, other than the fact that he pledged to balance the federal budget, sounding like a conservative Democrat.
Ford pounded away on his lack of specifics, his lack of being pinned down. On election day you had a photo finish. Now Ford lost by a handful of votes. This election I think will be very similar, in that once you strip away the rhetoric and you strip away his effectiveness on TV, people do want to know where the candidates stand. When they see the tax increases that he‘s proposed and the way that it will slow this economy even further. And when they see the naivete of his foreign policy views—
I‘ll sit down with terrorists.
By the way, I‘m not sure how you avoid assassination in those instances. When they see how naive he is, I think the American people will make a correct judgment.
CARLSON: Roger Stone, I really appreciate it, Roger. Thank you.
STONE: Glad to be here.
CARLSON: You think all the “American Idol” contestants are amateurs looking for their first ever record deal? Well, Idol fans, get ready to be shocked and amazed. Breaking news from chief reality television and investigative correspondent Bill Wolff coming up.
CARLSON: And now for the rest of the story, Bill Wolff.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Tucker, how are you?
WOLFF: I‘m glad to hear it. Great show today. Today, you missed a little bit of news when New York Yankee left handed pitcher Andy Pettitte spoke publicly for the first time since testifying under oath for a Congressional committee investigating baseball‘s performance-enhancing drug scandal. That‘s the Mitchell Report.
Pettitte today said, in essence, that he was sorry for being desperate and stupid enough to use human growth hormone in order to recover from injury. As for his friend and former teammate Roger Clemens, who Pettitte reportedly swears took HGH, the big lefty had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
ANDY PETTITTE, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: I did not watch the Congressional hearings. I really didn‘t want to watch it. And as far as the situation with Roger and that, will be one of the questions that I really—I‘ll leave out there. I had to testify. I testified under oath. And Roger said what he had to say. And that‘s really all I‘ll say about that whole situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFF: Shakespearean, the friend who indicts the friend. Tucker, may I ask you sir, you aren‘t a huge baseball fan, but you are a consumer of news and information; what is your view of the performance-enhancing drug scandal? Are you outraged, disappointed.
CARLSON: I do like baseball. I was actually at Spring Training yesterday, at the Red Sox in Ft. Myers. I‘m a fan. I‘m outraged.
WOLFF: At whom?
CARLSON: At the Congress. It‘s not clear what the Congress has to do with this. I watched the hearings or part of them. They were giving some guy a hard time because he takes B-12. It‘s some senator‘s business what his vitamin regimen is? It‘s a revolting over-step on Congress‘ part. It‘s none of their business.
WOLFF: It was, pardon the pun, a grandstand opportunity.
WOLFF: On to less important news, despite reports to the contrary, over the weekend, there is no settlement in the divorce dispute between former Beatle Paul McCartney and former second wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, Heather Mills. The six-hour court hearing today failed to resolve the terms of their legal split. A weekend rumor had McCartney paying Miss Mills about 110 million dollars to be gone. Now we don‘t know what will happen.
A judge will mull the case for a while longer and then rule. If either McCartney or Mills disputes the judge‘s decision, the case would go to the Court of Appeal, where it would be heard in public. Sir Paul is said not to want to make a more public spectacle of the matter. If 110 million dollars ain‘t enough, it would appear that Ms. Mills has no problem with public spectacle.
Given his fortune and the kind of life she could live on a ton of it, one must wonder if these two don‘t like the drama? Do you know what I mean?
CARLSON: Now, if Congress wants to do something useful, why don‘t they set up hearings on that woman?
WOLFF: You know, if I were offered 110 million dollars to go away, move to Czech Republic or whatever she plans to do, I‘d be gone that day, no problem, before the ink was dry. I‘m not in her position.
There is news that has broken—or broken news in the on-going misery of famous person Britney Spears this evening. No, Miss Spears hasn‘t stopped being a mess, but a man named John Eardly (ph), who claims to be Britney‘s lawyer, has officially entered the argument that the restrictions placed by the California Superior Court on Britney violate her civil rights.
Specifically and reportedly, Mr Eardly argues that Ms. Spears isn‘t being allowed to visit her friends, use phones or hire an attorney of her own choosing. And the court imposed conservatorship means her dad still has co-control of her 40 million dollar estate and of hiring and firing employees. The old man has the right to file a restraining order on her behalf.
It all adds up to civil rights violations, according to this lawyer. If history is any guide, Tucker, expect sit-ins at the Ivy, the Four Seasons of Beverly Hills and Fred Segal (ph) in Santa Monica? Get it?
CARLSON: It‘s so depressing.
WOLFF: It‘s pathetic and disgusting. They should think of a new term besides civil rights violation.
Finally, American Idol” remains a TV juggernaut watched by billions galaxy wide on a weekly basis. But the program may not be what it‘s devotees have believed it to be. The singing contest is supposed to be a chance for waitresses in fondue restaurants and guys right off the oil rig to sing their hearts out for a chance at fame and fortune. But at least three of this season‘s final 24 have already had record contracts.
That tattooed Irish songstress Carly Smithson made a record for RCA, which spent two million bucks on it before it died. There‘s another one named Michael Johns, who had a band called The Rising. They were on Madonna‘s label. And one called Kristy Lee Cook, who was once signed by Britney Spears‘ record label, but that doesn‘t count anymore. Does it?
Warning to viewers, not everything on TV is what it appears to be, Tucker.
CARLSON: With today‘s news from nowhere, Bill Wolff. That‘s exactly right. Thanks a lot, Bill.
WOLFF: You got it.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris. See you tomorrow.
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