'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Feb. 29

Guests: Ron Brownstein, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Wayne Slater, Michael Fauntroy, Dee Dee Myers, Steve McMahon, Jennifer Palmieri

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Hillary Clinton raises the fear factor against Obama.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  Hillary Clinton goes for the fear factor, warning that Barack Obama is not the one to trust at 3:00 o‘clock in the morning.  Early this week, the Clinton camp warned they were going to throw the kitchen sink in an all-out effort to stop Barack Obama‘s momentum and beat him back in Texas and Ohio.  Just four days before the primary, check out this tough new ad from Hillary Clinton that she‘s running in Texas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s 3:00 AM, and your children are safe and asleep, but there‘s a phone in the White House, and it‘s ringing.  Something‘s happening in the world.  Your vote will decide who answers that call.


MATTHEWS:  Today Barack Obama himself hit back with this comment.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We‘ve seen these ads before.  They‘re usually the kind that play upon people‘s fears and try to scare up votes.  I don‘t think these ads will work this time.


MATTHEWS:  Or will it?  We‘ll have more on the Democratic fight in a moment.

Plus: What do Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Tyra Banks and Jay Leno have in common?  Well, they‘re all playing big roles in the 2008 presidential campaign.  The candidates are flocking to their programs, and Clinton even brought up “Saturday Night Live” during this week‘s presidential debate.  Later we‘ll talk about the increasing influence these shows are having on this particular election.

And with an African-American and a woman battling it out for the Democratic presidential nomination, guess who the newest swing voters are?  We‘ll look at how white men may actually decide the nomination and the election.

But first we begin with the Clinton campaign strategy ahead of the

March 4 primary.  Dee Dee Myers served as presidential press secretary

during the Clinton administration.  She‘s also written a smash—well, a

smashing new book, “Why Women Should Rule the World.”  Jennifer Palmieri is

a former John Edwards adviser, and Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist


I want you all, in the order I introduced you, to say what you think of that ad.  Dee Dee Myers?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think it‘s tough.  You know, I‘m sort of predisposed not to like ads that play on people‘s fears, and I think this one does that a bit.  But I think it gets to a central question, which is, Who do you trust to be commander-in-chief and who do you trust to lead the country in a time of national crisis?  That is one of Hillary‘s strengths.  She‘s had a really difficult time getting voters to focus on it, and this is clearly an attempt to do that in the closing days of these final two primaries.

MATTHEWS:  Jennifer, why at 3:00 o‘clock in the morning?  Why is that a significant sort of impulse to play on in this discussion?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER EDWARDS ADVISER:  Well, I think you want to make it seem as dire as possible and as urgent as possible.  And I think that it‘s probably geared towards two demographics, mothers and women in general, and then also Democratic voters that think about this so hard that they worry about how are swing voters going to think in the general election about the Democratic nominee.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s take a look at this 3:00 o‘clock in the morning ad from Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s 3:00 AM and your children are safe and asleep, but there‘s a phone in the White House and it‘s ringing.  Something‘s happening in the world.  Your vote will decide who answers that call, whether it‘s someone who already knows the world‘s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.  It‘s 3:00 AM and your children are safe and asleep.  Who do you want answering the phone?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m Hillary Clinton and I approved this message.


MATTHEWS:  Steve McMahon, what‘s the dog whistle in that ad?  What are they really talking about?  Why 3:00 o‘clock in the morning?  Why her going in to see her children?  Why this dread language, this sort of menacing tone of the announcer?  What‘s it all about?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  I think Jennifer is right.  They‘ve basically been trying to deliver the “who‘s ready on day one, who has the experience, who‘s been tested” argument for a long time now, and it hasn‘t taken.  I think this is a new way to present it.  You know, 24 years ago, Walter Mondale ran a similar kind of ad, and in fact, the same ad maker, Roy Spence (ph), made that ad.  It worked for Walter Mondale.  The question now is whether, with four days left with Barack Obama having the momentum that he has in Texas and now apparently maybe in Ohio, too, is this going to be enough?  And you know, we‘ll know on Tuesday.

MATTHEWS:  Is this scorched earth, Dee Dee?  Is this going to hurt in the general, if Barack wins the nomination?

MYERS:  Well, I it‘s funny.  I think any of the three candidates in the race could sort of run the ad, or certainly, Hillary Clinton or John McCain could run the ad against their opponent.  So it‘s the kind of ad that we will see in the general election.  It‘s the kind of question that voters are going to face.

But I do think the question is, Is this too little, too late, and will it work?  I do think one of the things we‘ve seen in this election is that as one candidate comes to the brink of elimination, the voters seem to step back and say, Wait a minute, maybe we want this to keep going.  And I think perhaps that works a little bit to Hillary‘s benefit.


MYERS:  Well, (INAUDIBLE) every step of the way.


MYERS:  You know, each time we‘ve come to that point where this thing is about to end and there‘s a lot of focus on, “Isn‘t this the end,” and this is a test or it‘s going to end, voters have pulled back and said, Let‘s keep it going.

This may—you know, I think we‘re seeing this question coming up not just from the Clinton campaign but the cover of “Time” magazine today is, you know, Does experience matter.  And I think as we start to focus on the fact that Senator Obama may be the nominee, and in fact, is the likely nominee at this point...


MYERS:  ... the question becomes more relevant.

MATTHEWS:  Jennifer, is this playing on the fact that Barack Obama is the change candidate, he‘s the new kid on the block, if you will, politically?  We don‘t know a whole lot about him.  Is this playing on the suspicion of the new guy, the dude in town, as they used to say on the Westerns?


MATTHEWS:  The dude in town.  You know, who is this guy?

PALMIERI:  Right.  I think it is.  I think that, you know, Hillary‘s best shot at this point is if people think that  he‘s unvetted and untested.  And you know, a lot of people say Hillary has so much baggage because she‘s been attacked so much.  But you know, you could also say Hillary survived.  Hillary went through the—the...


PALMIERI:  ... you know, the ringer by the right wing, and she survived.  You know, John Kerry did not survive that test.  Al Gore did not survive that.  So I think they want people to, you know...

MATTHEWS:  So you agree with me that this is a—this is a preview of coming attractions.


MATTHEWS:  This is what the Republicans will run against Barack, so we might as well run it now.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at how he responded.  I want you to respond to this, Steve.  This is how Senator Barack Obama responded to Senator Clinton‘s ad, and he did it today.


OBAMA:  The question is not about picking up the phone.  The question is what kind of judgment will you exercise when you pick up that phone.


OBAMA:  In fact, we have had a red phone moment.  It was the decision to invade Iraq.  Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer.  George Bush gave the wrong answer.  John McCain gave the wrong answer.  I stood up and I said that a war in Iraq would be unwise, would cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there you have it, Steve.  What is the response?  Has he got enough firepower to go back at what she was doing in terms of raising the fear factor?

MCMAHON:  Well, I tell you what, it‘s a pretty effective response.  And given—you know, given the fact that this came late, I think it puts it in perspective.  In fact, you might see an ad over the weekend where Barack Obama answers the phone.  Someone comes in and says, It‘s the president calling.  And he says, No, we‘re not going to invade Iraq, No, it‘s bad thing to do.

I mean, I think—I think they‘re trying to spin this the way that‘s most advantageous to them, obviously, and the Clinton campaign is trying to get back in the game.  There was a poll in Texas that showed Barack Obama, in “The Houston Chronicle” this morning, with a lead in Texas.  And given the expectation that‘s been set by President Clinton that they have to win both Ohio and Texas in order for her to go on, I think they‘re trying to, you know, make sure that they do win Ohio and Texas, and this is their shot to do that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look at the two new polls we‘ve got.  These are Fox polls.  The first one is in Ohio.  That says Hillary up by 7, 45 to 38.  In Texas, as you point out, Obama‘s up by 3.

The question is, Dee Dee, if this splits next Tuesday, which a lot of people think it might well do, based on these numbers, what happens?  What happens?  Does the Clinton campaign continue after losing in Texas?

MYERS:  I don‘t think so, no, If that should happen.  And I think the answer to the question, Why are they running this in Texas, is because they feel like Texas is closing and that they‘re still...


MYERS:  ... they‘re still enough ahead in Ohio that they haven‘t run the ad yet.  They‘re close enough in Texas that they‘re running the ad.  They have to win both.  President Clinton has said so.  Harold Ickes has said so.  James Carville has said so.  And I think if she doesn‘t do that, there‘ll be tremendous pressure both from her own supporters and from the Democratic establishment for her to get out.  And I think she‘ll do the right thing.  But if she wins both states, you know, we move one step forward on the game board.

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of the analysis by the Clintons?  Will they withdraw if they can‘t win both these tests in Ohio and in Texas?

PALMIERI:  I think—I just—I—I think it‘s—I don‘t know.  I feel like when we actually get to Wednesday morning, it‘s going to be really hard for her to have won Ohio and say, I‘m walking away.  I mean, after—they take such a long view of things, and after everything the Clintons have been through, and if she‘s doing well and Pennsylvania polls are holding—I mean, yes, they said they were going to do it, but I think (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  Steve, I want you to calibrate this.  The bar keeps lowering.  First of all, for the analysts like Chuck Todd here at NBC, it was they have to win both significantly to even begin to pick up in the fight over delegates.  Then it was they have to win both.  That was the former president‘s assessment, Senator Clinton has to win both.  And then it became, according to Ickes, well, he has to win one—she has to win one.

Here‘s the latest in the bar lowering.  This came out from the Clinton campaign.  It‘s a mailer.  “Should Senator Obama fail to score decisive victories with all the resources and effort he‘s been bringing to bear, the message will be clear.  Democrats, the majority of whom have favored Hillary Clinton in the primary contests held to date, have their doubts about Senator Obama and have having second thoughts about him as a prospective standard bearer.”

It seems to me the bar is lowered so far now that if Hillary Clinton wins any one of four, or even stays close in any one of four—I mean, this is a little bit like opera bouffe here—anywhere she‘s even close, she beats the band and deserves to continue the fight.  Has the bar been successfully lowered that far?

MCMAHON:  You know, that‘s a good question.  I tell you one thing the Clinton campaign is better at than any campaign maybe I‘ve ever seen, and that is playing the press and setting expectations for Barack Obama that Barack Obama has to meet or exceed, or somehow people think he failed.  You‘re right, this is a very, very aggressive move on their part to completely reset expectations, to say that if he doesn‘t win all four, that‘s good enough reason to go on.

And while they may have come up with a rationale—I‘m not sure it‘s a very persuasive one, but they may have come up with a rationale to stay in the race, they still haven‘t come up with a rationale about how they‘re going to overcome the 100, 150-delegate lead to get themselves to 2,025 before Barack Obama does.  That‘s the question that they‘ve got to ultimately answer.

MYERS:  I think Steve is exactly right.  And I think that Hillary Clinton is a reasonable person and a smart person.  And you know, she has a life beyond this campaign, and she has to figure out—you know, she—first of all, she doesn‘t want to hurt the party or, you know, be a spoiler and only make it harder for a Democrat to win.  And she has to think about what would come next if she‘s not the nominee.  So you know, if she wins both states on Tuesday, this conversation is moot.  If she loses one, I think she has to think seriously about stepping aside.

PALMIERI:  (INAUDIBLE) she will.  I wonder about—it‘s the people around her that...

MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s the boss, so how do the people around her...


MATTHEWS:  ... campaign if she quits?

PALMIERI:  It‘s hard when you‘ve invested so much emotionally and so many years and so much money and everyone‘s telling—your close friends are telling you to keep going.

MATTHEWS:  Let me try this by all three of you, starting with Dee Dee.  I think to continue, she has to not only hold her own in at least one of the major states, like Ohio and Texas, and she has to find some theme, something that shows some pushback against Barack Obama, something that says something is developing, a seedling of something that will grow in Pennsylvania and in Puerto Rico and later in Mississippi and those states.  I think she has to have not just a victory in one of these states, but something in the polling data, something in the exit strategy that she can point to and says, People are beginning to doubt, even fear this guy, Barack Obama.

MYERS:  Well, I mean...

MATTHEWS:  Does that work for you?

MYERS:  I think what we‘re seeing with the ad in Texas is maybe the beginning of what they‘re trying to capitalize on, which is as Barack Obama moves closer to being the nominee, the country steps back, Democrats step back and say, OK, now he‘s the nominee.  And we all know that comes with a different test.  The threshold test for being the nominee means you have to be credible as commander-in-chief.

That hasn‘t really been the theme of the Democratic contests.  It‘s been about change, who can most bring a different spirit and a different way of doing things to Washington.  The Clinton campaign‘s strategy here is to capitalize on those questions, is to drive right into the heart of that and say, Is he ready?

MATTHEWS:  But we polled—NBC polled in the exit polls in Wisconsin, as an example, of who would be the better commander-in-chief.  He won that hands down.

MYERS:  Yes, that‘s one state and it‘s two weeks ago.



MYERS:  I think we‘re starting to see a change.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, really.  What evidence do you have?

MYERS:  My golden gut!


MATTHEWS:  Thank you for being so good!  Your thought, Jennifer.  Is there a changing atmospheric out there that suggests more of a higher test for Barack, now that he looks like he‘s the winner?

PALMIERI:  Right.  I think there‘s a little bit of that, probably—maybe not enough.  Maybe it‘s too late to save Hillary.  But I think there‘s a little bit of that.  It‘s not the most inspiring thing to turn your candidacy around.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with Steve McMahon, Dee Dee Myers and Jennifer Palmieri.  They‘re all staying with us.

And when we come back: With record-breaking turnout and huge campaign war chests, the 2008 election is generating a whole new lot of interest—that was (INAUDIBLE) whole lot of...


MATTHEWS:  ... plenty of late-night laughs.  They‘re doing all the talk shows.  We‘ll talk about why they‘re doing it when HARDBALL returns, and we‘ll have the best of the bunch, including Hillary Clinton on David Letterman, after this.


CLINTON:  My fellow Americans, I pose this simple question to you. 

Are you better off now than you were when this disappointing show began?





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  “Sunday Night Movie” will not bee seen tonight so that NBC—the Nothing But Censors network—can recall a moment in history when they wouldn‘t even let us say “Buttafuoco” on television.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Richard Nixon made that cameo on “That  Was the Week That Was”—on the variety show “Laugh-In,” actually, on September 16, 1968.  Less than two months later, of course, he was elected president.

Forty years later, one wonders what Nixon would think about the approach the candidates are taking now.  McCain, Huckabee, Clinton and Obama are delivering late-night laughs almost as often as they‘re introducing new policy speeches.  HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster reports.


DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Another day, another appearance on David Letterman.

CLINTON:  If you want my snickerdoodle recipe, go to Hillaryclinton.com right now!


SHUSTER:  Just hours earlier, Barack Obama danced once again with Ellen Degeneres.  Then he noted...

OBAMA:  We were kind of in a slump until I was dancing on the show. 

My poll numbers skyrocketed after that.


SHUSTER:  Primary seasons used to captivate only political activists and news junkies.  But this campaign has been different.

OBAMA:  I just wanted to let the American people know that live from New York, it‘s Saturday night!

CLINTON:  Number six: My vice president will never shoot anybody in the face.


SHUSTER:  Fueled by a historic race and candidates on both sides who are eager to play along...

JON STEWART, “THE DAILY SHOW”:  Please welcome to the program Governor Mike Huckabee!  Governor!

SHUSTER:  ... there have been more entertainment show appearances than any primary season in memory.  It‘s been hard to miss Mike Huckabee.  Last weekend, he starred on “Saturday Night Live.”

MIKE HUCKABEE (R-AR), FMR GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But I‘m afraid that you‘ve overlooked the all-important superdelegates.  Don‘t forget about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I won‘t forget about them, but the superdelegates are only in the Democratic primary.


HUCKABEE:  They can‘t vote in the Republican primary?




SHUSTER:  The invitations started being issued and accepted even before the candidates entered in the race.

OBAMA:  I would like to announce to my hometown of Chicago and all of America that I am ready—for the Bears to go all the way, baby!

SHUSTER:  Fred Thompson actually got into the race on the “Tonight” show.

FRED THOMPSON (R-TN), FMR SENATOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I‘m running for president of the United States.

JAY LENO:  All right!

SHUSTER:  And then he joked...

THOMPSON:  But it‘s a lot more difficult to get on the “Tonight” show than it is to get into the presidential...

LENO:  Exactly!  Exactly!  All right!

MATTHEWS:  But even Ron Paul was able to make an appearance.

RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I lean toward a flat tax, but I want to make it real flat—like, zero.

SHUSTER:  On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton welcomed back David Letterman.

CLINTON:  Dave has been off the air for eight long weeks because of the writers‘ strike.  Tonight he‘s back.  Oh, well, all good things come to an end.

SHUSTER:  John McCain recently made this appearance on “Conan.”



NARRATOR:  Secrets. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I will tell you what courage is: standing between Ted Kennedy and a tray of Little Debbie snack cakes. 


SHUSTER:  Now that the writers strike is over, the comedians are again having their monologue fun. 


JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”:  Hey, Kev, what do you call it when Bill and Hillary get together on Valentine‘s Day?



LENO:  A fund-raiser. 




DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  John McCain, on the other hand, he looks like the guy who has to be told to close his robe. 



SHUSTER:  But, this year, some of the funniest punchlines are coming from the candidates themselves. 


LETTERMAN:  And the number-one Barack Obama campaign promise. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Three words: Vice President Oprah. 




SHUSTER (on camera):  All of this is helping the candidates reach potential voters who otherwise might have no link to the political process at all.  And it‘s an especially important way to reach younger voters, who are increasingly turning to entertainment programs for the latest news. 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, David. 

We‘re back with our panel right now. 

I want to start with Steve, who has written a lot of ads for television. 

Why go into the soft—well, that‘s answer, isn‘t it?  Why go to the soft interviews?  To get a soft interview, right? 

MCMAHON:  That‘s exactly the answer. 

And, you know, for instance, Hillary Clinton has done best in this campaign when she‘s appeared vulnerable, human and herself.  And I think this is the best opportunity and the best venue for a lot of these candidates to do that. 

There‘s an old adage in politics.  It‘s a poll question.  You know, president—people who tend to vote for people for president who they think they would like to have a beer with or like to share a long car ride with or who might stop and help them fix their flat tire.  And this is a better way to communicate those kind of attributes than a—than a television ad or a stump speech or anything else you could do in politics. 

MATTHEWS:  How does reading one of your staffer‘s jokes show that you will stop to fix somebody‘s car tire? 

MYERS:  Because you make yourself—you‘re usually—when they‘re successful, the politician is the butt of the joke.  And I think people like to see self-deprecating humor.  It always—I think it always works.

I also think the increase in appearances shows how much less effective advertising has become...


MYERS:  ... because people no longer believe a paid advertisement.  But they believe—you know, they see David Letterman or Jay Leno in their home every night.  They feel like they know them.  So, they become a stand-in for the questions that they might want to ask. 

MATTHEWS:  So, they—they—they lend their trust?

PALMIERI:  They do.  Well, they—the—the—I think the hosts lend their trust. 

And then one interesting thing that I have seen develop is, normally, back in the day, when you would put politicians on TV, you—the staff would script what the politician was going to say.  And now you let the writers on the show do it. 

And it‘s like politicians have really kind of...


PALMIERI:  So dangerous, so dangerous. 



MYERS:  Right. 

PALMIERI:  And politicians have really kind of let go. 

Back when Dee Dee and I were at the White House with President Clinton, we were real careful about what he was going to say. 

MYERS:  Right. 

PALMIERI:  But—and they‘re more willing.  And they‘re a lot loser, and I think that they come off better. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look at an early pioneer in this field.  Here is President Clinton, before he was president, on “The Arsenio Hall Show” back in June of ‘92, a day after he won the California primary, and was clearly on the way to winning the whole nomination. 




MATTHEWS:  Now, that‘s an interesting—that—that would be my idea of the fear factor. 


MATTHEWS:  I mean, showing a guy that‘s so cool, like him, and one of the Blues Brothers, it must have shown that we were really bored with former President Bush, the really—because you were talking about what sells.  You were talking a minute ago about the future.  People wanted a guy that was cool. 


MYERS:  Well, or they wanted somebody who was real.  I don‘t know.  That was panned by official Washington.  It was like, oh, my God, that‘s so terrible.  How could the staff have let that happen?  It‘s horrible. 

And I think that was the beginning of Clinton turning around—you know, at the end of the primary season, remember, he was running third.


MYERS:  And it was—a brokered convention was the story.  And that was one of the first stops in the kind of ability to—in the effort to tell the broader story of who Bill Clinton was. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I remember the angle of the campaign was to try to kill the idea he was some Ivy League swell...


MATTHEWS:  ... that everything was handed to him, that he was, in fact, a guy who grew up in a hardscrabble existence much more than they thought.

PALMIERI:  I think they went ahead and did that.  I think we got rid of...


PALMIERI:  I don‘t think anybody thinks that Bill Clinton is an Ivy League scrub anymore, right?


MATTHEWS:  Let me go—let‘s take a look at this other one.  This is George W. Bush, the president, appearing on a late-night show, “The Late Show With David Letterman” back in March of 2000.  This was right before that year‘s Super Tuesday. 


LETTERMAN:  You look like a million damn dollars. 


LETTERMAN:  How do you do that?  Because I know that campaigning is difficult work.  How do you look so youthful and rested? 

BUSH:  Fake it. 


LETTERMAN:  And that‘s pretty much how you‘re going to run the country? 


LETTERMAN:  Yes.  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  Steve, that looks like a Bush imitator.  That doesn‘t look like the president. 


MATTHEWS:  That guy looks so—I know, he looked kind of waxed in there.  Maybe he was a little nervous.  Do you think that helped him? 

MCMAHON:  Listen, I think, any time you go on and you show yourself as a human being and not a politician, it helps you.  And any time you can communicate that you‘re a genuine, authentic person, it‘s only going to benefit you, every single time. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s a lot more fun to do softball than HARDBALL, right?  How‘s that for a dig? 


MYERS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  I just wonder.  They don‘t want to take tough questions.


MATTHEWS:  They would just rather sit and tell jokes that somebody wrote for them.  Of course they like the easy route.

MYERS:  Well, it‘s not just the easy route, though.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why we‘re getting—we‘re not getting the best lot of presidents the last few times maybe. 

MYERS:  The culture has changed so much. 


MATTHEWS:  Right.  I know.

MYERS:  Everybody has their Facebook, or, you know, everybody‘s like birthday party is on YouTube.  And, so, I think people expect to see everybody in unscripted moments.  And, if they don‘t, they‘re not sure if they believe who that is.

MATTHEWS:  And try to find a newspaper around here today.  Go look for a newspaper in the studio.  Go find one where we work in the producer‘s section. 


MYERS:  ... go look it up online, right.

MATTHEWS:  Nobody has a newspaper.  Everybody watches this stuff. 

Anyway, thank you.

What kind of a world is it we live in?


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Dee Dee Myers, who knows her stuff.

The name of your book?

MYERS:  “Why Women Should Rule the World.”  But it‘s not anti-men. 

It‘s very pro men and women. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, it sounds delightfully pro-men.

MCMAHON:  Men should buy it, too.


MYERS:  Yes, they should.  Thank you, Steve.



MATTHEWS:  Oh, how about a subtitle, not for women only?

MYERS:  Not for women only. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  John McCain lets out a slip of the tongue.  Or does he?  A little Freudian slip here?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new in politics?

Well, movie stars are doing good.  Angelina Jolie wrote a “Washington Post” op-ed yesterday about the refugee problem in Iraq.  She says that Syria and Jordan are carrying too much of the burden of displaced Iraqis, that the U.S. should step up our financial and material assistance, so they won‘t have to.

As she puts it, “We‘re missing an opportunity to do some of the good in that country we always stated we intended to do.”

The problem is, after Senator McCain mentioned our role there lasting 100 years, many Americans may just see Iraq as one giant money pit. 

Remember all that fuss about John McCain being born to a military family serving in the Canal Zone?  Well, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an Obama supporter, has just introduced a Senate bill that would declare any child born abroad to citizens serving in the U.S. military a natural-born citizen. 

Well, I think that‘s a completely unnecessary bit of legislation.  Natural-born does not mean native-born.  When you are born to an American, you‘re an American, period.  Anybody who has a problem with that has a problem with common sense. 

Speaking of McCain, was this a Freudian slip?  Decide for yourself. 

Take a look. 


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am a proud conservative, liberal Republican—conservative Republican. 


MCCAIN:  Hello.  Easy there. 



MATTHEWS:  Don‘t make Rush Limbaugh‘s job too easy, Senator.

And now it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number” of the night.

If you have been bombarded with campaign ads on TV every time you turn on the tube, you‘re not alone, especially if you live in Texas or Ohio this week.  The presidential campaigns have more money than ever before.  And I‘m chalking it up to the intense interest and excitement in this election, of course. 

The Clinton camp is reporting raising $35 million this month, this from a campaign that not long ago was considered broke.  Estimates for Obama‘s fund-raising, about $50 million, breaking the previous record for the most money raised in a single month, $44 million for John Kerry.  That was the record back in March 2004. 

So, how much total money did the Clinton and Obama campaigns raise in the month February?  More than $80 million.  At that rate, this campaign for president is costing a billion dollars a year.  Is that still a lot of money?  Eighty million a month—tonight‘s “Big Number.”

Up next;  In a race between a woman and an African-American, is the key to this election winning over white guys? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


REBECCA JARVIS, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Rebecca Jarvis with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

A bleak Friday—the Dow Jones industrials plunge 315 points.  That pushed the Dow into negative territory for the week, down 114 points.  The S&P 500 fell 37 points.  The Nasdaq dropped 60. 

Today‘s sell-off triggered by news consumer spending, which helps drive the economy, was essentially flat in January, for the second straight month.  That raised new fears about a possible recession. 

Also rattling the markets, dismal earnings reports by American International Group—that‘s the world‘s largest insurer—and computer-maker Dell.  Shares of both companies plunged today. 

Meantime, oil prices eased slightly.  Crude fell 75 cents in New York trading, closing at $101.84 a barrel.

And Northrop Grumman, the maker of Airbus, beat out Boeing for an Air Force contract to build 179 aerial refueling tankers.  That contract is worth about $40 billion. 

That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Are working-class guys the swing vote that will decide who wins the White House this year?  These perhaps one-time Reagan Democrats represent a quarter to a third of the electorate in the upcoming primary battle in those states like Ohio and Texas.  Will this make or break be the factor for these candidates? 

Chuck Todd is NBC‘s political director.  And Ron Brownstein is with “The National Journal.”

We have to now give you an update.  Here is the latest ad.  It‘s just come out.   It‘s Barack Obama with his version of what we should worry about at 3:00 in the morning.


NARRATOR:  It‘s 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep.  But there‘s a phone ringing in the White House.  Something is happening in the world.  When that call gets answered, shouldn‘t the president be the one, the only one, who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start, who understood the real threat to America was al Qaeda in Afghanistan, not Iraq, who led the effort to secure loose nuclear weapons around the globe? 

In a dangerous world, it‘s judgment that matters. 

OBAMA:  I‘m Barack Obama, and I approve this message. 


MATTHEWS:  So, what is Senator Clinton selling, if not judgment?  He‘s selling judgment.  He opposed the Iraq war as a bad idea, which should sell with most Democrats.  What is—what is her offering here in those middle-of-the-night ads that she just ran? 


I mean, I that she is—it‘s very reminiscent, in some ways, of what George W. Bush was doing in 2004, that she‘s—look, you know that she can mind the store.  You know that she isn‘t going to make a big mistake.  She isn‘t going to make a rookie blunder. 

And I think that that‘s what she‘s trying to—to sell folks.  I just question, in a primary, where voters are more likely to vote their heart than their head—general election, different story—but, in a primary, it usually is the heart that overrules the head, which is why sometimes you get liberals beating more electable candidates or conservatives in Republican primaries beating more electable moderates. 

MATTHEWS:  Why are Democrats fighting on Republican territory?  Fear of terrorism, fear of the middle-of-the-night stuff is Rudy Giuliani territory. 



MATTHEWS:  Why are they playing on that field, where they‘re not the strongest?

BROWNSTEIN:  Well, because she feels that her strongest advantage vs.

is relative to him, which is what we‘re talking about, the contrast here is strength, experience, certitude, that you can count on her, as Chuck said.

I mean, obviously, the antecedent for this ad is Walter Mondale‘s famous red phone ad against Gary Hart in 1984 in the New York primary, a very similar kind of ad to this, about who do you trust to be there in the middle of the night. 

Even as early as Iowa, Hillary Clinton was arguing that, you know, we need to elect a president not only for the crises that we can foresee, but for those that we can‘t foresee. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is this aimed at, women or men?   

TODD:  I think this is aimed at women.  I still think this is about rallying women.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s why it was a woman who got up in the middle of night...


MATTHEWS:  ... husband stayed asleep.


TODD:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  No, seriously.

TODD:  Because it was a woman, it‘s like, you know, look...

MATTHEWS:  She took charge.

TODD:  Who is the one that worries about the emergencies inside the house?  Who is the one that takes the kids to the emergency room?  Who is the one that‘s going to be there to answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. in the morning?

MATTHEWS:  Well, who goes downstairs and checks if there‘s a noise in the middle of the night is another interesting question.  But she asserts that that would be her. 


Well—well, look, and—and, you know, the reality is that there‘s a significant gender gap in this race, as there is a significant class income gap in this race. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BROWNSTEIN:  And both factors are playing at once.  And, so, you have this very complex kind of...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BROWNSTEIN:  ... four-way distribution of who is for who in these states.  But she is clearly trying to shore up what has been her down... 


MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about an area that is play now.  Let‘s talk about the swing voters this time, the white guys. 


MATTHEWS:  This is strange material here. 

Here is Hillary Clinton, the candidate, promising new jobs in Ohio. 


CLINTON:  We ought to be focusing on those parts of our country, like here in southern Ohio, that need help from the federal government to get the economy going, to create new jobs. 

That‘s why, when the stimulus debate was going on, I said, we needed to invest money right now in new jobs, $5 billion in clean-energy jobs.  Start putting people to work.  The unemployment rate is going up.  Inflation is going up.  Consumer confidence is going down.  So, many of the indicators raise a lot of red flags. 


MATTHEWS:  Can she win the argument over meat and potatoes, bread and butter, put the food on the table, get you a job?  He wins the more idealistic, let‘s think of the future? 

TODD:  Well, I think, with the last name of Clinton, she can win that argument, I mean, because that‘s why she can go back and say, look...


TODD:  Even with NAFTA, because she can say, look, in the Clinton administration, we created 22 million jobs.  You know, they say those figures so many times over and over again. 

MATTHEWS:  Does she look like—is she the one that looks like she gave us the jobs or does Bill Clinton, who is now off the stage, look like he did it? 

TODD:  That could be part of the problem in why she‘s having a tough sell.  But Obama hasn‘t exactly connected on the economy yet either.  That, I think, has been what‘s helped her stay even on this turf. 

BROWNSTEIN:  She‘s not having a tough sell so far until Wisconsin.  She has won this argument.  If you look at white men, Gary Langer of ABC has accumulated all the exit polls up until Wisconsin.  She is winning white men without a college degree by 19 points up through Wisconsin.  College educated white men, he‘s winning by 17 points. 

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s almost even. 

BROWNSTEIN:  It‘s almost even.  Then in Wisconsin, everything moved towards him.  The question is, can she get it back.  The polling in Ohio has her getting it back among the down scale white men.  The thing to keep in mind here is that this is a diminishing piece of the pie.  In the “National Journal” today, I have a long piece looking at how the Democratic coalition is evolving this year.  White men as a share of the vote are down in every state—

MATTHEWS:  I love your report.  Older people are down too. 

BROWNSTEIN:  Older people are down. 

MATTHEWS:  Latinos are up.  Blacks are up.

BROWNSTEIN:  The big increases are young voters and voters over 100,000 K a year, way up in most states.  In some ways, they are steering this campaign through the rear view mirror.  Their rhetoric is not really in line with what the coalition—

MATTHEWS:  Danger sign, you put up a big red flag for the Democrats.  If the people participating in these primaries are more Latte, more educated than the average Democrat or independent, come November, Jimmy Brez (ph) used to say, those regular people think voting is patriotic.  They don‘t vote for political taste.  They show up because they believe in it as Americans. 

what happens when the regular voters, the non-college person, the older voter, the people that vote regularly, they show up?  Do they blanket out what has happened here in the primaries and kill Obama, if he‘s still the nominee? 

BROWNSTEIN:  If he‘s the nominee, he‘s going to continue the trend of Democrats running better up scale in the general. 

MATTHEWS:  You think this trend will continue?

BROWNSTEIN:  It will continue in the general.  But he may have a lot of—there are warning signs for Democrats about his ability to compete for down scale voters, especially women, especially on the security issues. 

MATTHEWS:  Has Hillary Clinton brought the races together? 

TODD:  I don‘t want to—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m serious.  White men choosing Barack Obama over her, what‘s going on here? 

TODD:  Well, I was just going to say, we don‘t know for sure if this trend from Wisconsin about down scale white men also moving over. 

MATTHEWS:  We don‘t know that. 

TODD:  I think what I‘m going to be fascinated to watch is, if it is Obama/McCain, McCain will plant himself in three states, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Those three states with a ton of down scale white men, they become that swing vote.  Two of those three states have been reliably Democratic, two of the three Kerry and Gore both carried, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  It‘s going to be a different map. 

BROWNSTEIN:  A class inversion. 

MATTHEWS:  Another case for putting Eddy Rendell on the ticket with Obama.  It mixes it up ethnically.  It‘s brilliant.  The guy with the Barack name, a Jewish guy running with him.  It‘s perfect.  What am I?  A king maker.  Anyway, thank you Chuck Todd.  Thank you, Ron Brownstein. 

Up next, the politics fix.  With just four days left, by the way, before the big primaries make or break events in Texas and Ohio, who is going to be the nominee on Wednesday morning.  Can Hillary Clinton come back and soldier on?  Is this Barack‘s to win?  Can Hillary still win this baby?  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Time now for the politics fix.  Wayne Slater is with the “Dallas Morning News.”  Katrina Vanden Heuvel is with “The Nation,” and Michael Fauntroy is a professor at George Mason University and author of the new book “Republicans and the Black Vote.” 

I thank you all for joining us.  Here is Senator Obama with some tough love down in Texas last night. 


OBAMA:  So turn off the TV set, put the video game away, buy a little desk or put that child at the kitchen table, watch them do their homework.  If they don‘t know how to do it, give them help.  If you don‘t know how to do it, call the teacher. 

Make them go to bed at a reasonable time.  Keep them off the streets. 

Give them some breakfast.  Come on, can I get an amen here? 


MATTHEWS:  So, Michael Fauntroy, why now?  Why that message of self reliance?  It‘s a bit of softer version of Bill Cosby.  What is it about?  Why now in this election? 

MICHAEL FAUNTROY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY:  This is from the church of Obama.  I will tell you that message has no particular public policy implications.  He was speaking to voters not necessarily in that room, but to voters in suburban Dallas and suburban Houston. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he talking to whites or blacks? 

FAUNTROY:  He‘s talking to moderate independent white voters, because he didn‘t say anything in that clip that we saw, at least, about any policy that may come out of these things he‘s discussing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Wayne Slater.  Why would that message of kind of a tough love, pull yourself up by your boot straps, get your act together, why would that sell?  Among which communities would that work between now and Tuesday? 

WAYNE SLATER, “DALLAS MORNING NEWS”:  It would work best among African-American communities and maybe moderate and lower middle class white communities.  These are two communities that are important, because he‘s got the African-American vote, 80, 90 percent here in Texas, certainly, and among those lower middle class whites, that‘s Hillary territory. 

So you talk to these folks and get them.  Having said that, I‘ve got to sense having gone to some Barack Obama rallies here and elsewhere, he could be reading the phone book and could be getting responses like that. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Katrina.  What do you think of that message?  That‘s an unusual message to unearth—unveil right before a major primary, to give this self help message, not about what the federal government is going to do in terms of programming, not about foreign policy at a time of war, but how the average family should get its act together.  I think that‘s unusual to do right before an election. 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  I think he‘s talking to all Americans, Chris.  One thing that‘s always struck me about the speeches Obama has given, and the one in Houston, one of the great lines he gets, and it‘s not about change from below, or we‘re all in this together, it‘s let‘s stop in this country having teachers teach to a test, this no child left behind. 

I‘m telling you, the applause lines are huge.  I also think he does both though, Chris.  He was like the father preacher there, and having a good time.  I think he‘s looking awfully comfortable in his skin as he moves into these two primaries.  But he is also—does speak to the structural unfinished business of this country, where you have schools that are crumbling, and African-Americans and Latinos, particularly in Texas, who are being hurt by the lack of government attention and community attention.  So it‘s both.  It‘s both.  He does both messages. 

MATTHEWS:  But Michael, he‘s not saying the government is on the way with more help for education at the lower, middle level or upper level.  He‘s saying to people, get your act together.  You can solve these problems.  Give the kids a decent breakfast, help them with their homework, bring the teacher in, get involved in school.  It‘s all hortitory (ph).  IT‘s what you‘ve got to do. 

FAUNTROY:  Well, there are two things here.  First, these comments are curiously Cosbyan, if you will. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, they are.

FAUNTROY:  These exact same comments were levied by Bill Cosby and he got vilified by some segments of the black community in that regard. 

MATTHEWS:  Whites love to hear it. 

FAUNTROY:  By the way, by the way, there‘s nothing wrong with the actual message, the question is the context.  What are the public policy implications?  Why is he saying this in the context of a political campaign, as opposed to --  

MATTHEWS:  What are the politics, not the policy, but the politics? 

FAUNTROY:  As I said earlier, he‘s speaking to suburban voters, not just in the primaries in Texas and Ohio, but also around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and perhaps around St. Louis and other places like that in a general election. 

MATTHEWS:  I think, Katrina—you may disagree.  Go ahead.  I think he‘s saying to voters, more conservative Democratic voters, don‘t worry, I‘m not a radical.  I basically share your bourgeois values. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  What‘s bourgeois about wanting to build a community of family and kids an teacher to have -- 

MATTHEWS:  Taking personal responsibility.  That‘s not what he‘s saying.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  That is not bourgeois.  I think it speaks to African-Americans.  It speaks to Latinos. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s not pushing more government. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You‘re listening to part of his speech.  It‘s one event.  He does speak about No Child Left Behind. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking about that part.

VANDEN HEUVEL:  That‘s one part.  I does speak about others.  You can‘t have everything in one.

MATTHEWS:  I ask you to respond to what he said right there, and what he said right there was self help.  It was conservative.   

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Why is it conservative?  I‘m a liberal and I want my daughter to go to sleep tonight and go and take her SAT test tomorrow.  I want her to be safe.  Public security, good education, families involved with government partnerships, communities; why is that conservative? 

MATTHEWS:  Because he‘s talking about what the people have to do for themselves, not what government can do for them. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Both, Chris, both.  That‘s called movement politics.  You have people organized to do—make change in alliance with good government. 

MATTHEWS:  All right.  I‘m with Michael on my assessment.  We‘ll be right back on the round table and more of the politics fix.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with a round table for more of the politics.  Here we are on a Friday right before the big Tuesday elections in Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Texas.  I want to ask—I want to go to Wayne on the question down there in Texas; what do you think is the significance of the Hillary Clinton campaign running that ad about 3:00 in the morning, a woman answers the phone?  Who do you trust at 3:00 in the morning to deal with an international crisis?  What‘s that about now? 

SLATER:  I think this ad is a good ad down here.  She‘s got to differentiate herself from Obama.  One of the ways you do that is to say that she‘s got the experience.  He responds, I‘ve got the judgment.  This is aimed clearly at women, although it could be aimed at all Texans.  It‘s an ad basically that I think is important. 

What‘s interesting to me is the way the ad was made.  It‘s a scare tactic, in a sense.  But it reflects, as Ron Brownstein earlier said, the 1984 ad by Walter Mondale.  Who made that Mondale ad?  Roy Spence of Texas, who is now advising the Hillary Clinton campaign.  It worked in that primary and I think it will help here bring those voters to Hillary Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the ad really pushed the idea at 3:00 in the morning, who do you trust? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You know, we‘ve lived with too much fear in this country in the last seven years.  Fear can be used to divide people against each other.  I‘m not sure those traditional security moms are there to be tapped the way they were in 2000.  You know what, a mother could be picking up the phone to be told that her family‘s home is about to be foreclosed.  I mean that.  I think we need a new definition of security in this country at this time.  It‘s both economic security and national security, but not fear-mongering all over again. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, Michael, the same question.  The ads, they both have—in her case, especially, a kind of a menacing—you know what that voice sounds like.  The other is a little more reassuring.  They are both talking about fear at 3:00 in the morning.  I wonder how many dog whistles are going off, how many secret messages are being sent here about 3:00 in the morning, worried about being burglarized, worried about the usual things.  They‘re not worried about, you know, nuclear conquests. 

SLATER:  No, but Hillary Clinton is playing the only card she can play, and that‘s the experience card.  I think she‘s at a point right now where she doesn‘t play these cards now, she‘s not going to have them next week or the week after to play them.  This is part of the kitchen sink. 

MATTHEWS:  This is my question.  Back to you, Katrina, why do you think the two Democrats are playing on what looks to be Republican territory.  This is Rudy Giuliani kind of advertising, it seems to me. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Hillary Clinton is playing this card.  I think, again, Michael is right.  She‘s trying to throw, like FDR style, everything up against the wall to see what sticks in terms of a tactic or strategy.  I don‘t see it working.  I think, again, this may backfire.  People in Texas, you‘ve got a lot of economic anxiety.  You do in Ohio, too. 

MATTHEWS:  Certainly.  We all know that.  We live in a very dangerous economic situation right now.  I watch the stock market crash again today.  Wayne Slater, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Michael Fauntroy, join us again Monday night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”



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