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'1600 Pennsylvania Avenue' for Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show


Guests: Luke Russert, Dylan Ratigan, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O'Donnell, Anne Kornblut, Steve McMahon, Mike Murphy, Tim Pawlenty

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, HOST: Tonight, the treasury secretary says trust me with your taxpayer dollars. New word tonight on how the Wall Street bailout money will be used. It's different.

What to do with the failing auto industry. Is there yet another bailout on the way?

And Sarah Palin says it would be good for the GOP to put a woman at the top of the Republican ticket. Is this the start of the next race for 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE?

Sixty-nine days to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Welcome to the show. I'm Mika Brzezinski, in for David Gregory.

My headline tonight, "Bailout Bait-and-Switch."

Today Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson did an about-face on the bailout, saying he doesn't want to use any of the $700 bailout fund to buy up bad mortgages and help homeowners. Instead, he plans to use the money to buy more bank stocks.


HENRY PAULSON, TREASURY SECRETARY: My focus is on the financial sector getting credit going, getting lending going. I can't imagine anything else will have a bigger impact and a bigger positive impact and a bigger stimulus impact than getting credit flowing again, getting lending flowing again, some of the things we're talking about. And that's where my focus is.


BRZEZINSKI: OK. Well, the news sent the markets into a nosedive, with the Dow dropping more than 400 points to close at below 8,300. Paulson's about-face could have political shock waves as well since his new plan seems to be a bit at odds with the vision President-elect Obama laid out on Friday.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We will review the implementation of this administration's financial program to ensure that the government's efforts are achieving their central goal of stabilizing financial markets while protecting taxpayers, helping homeowners. It is absolutely critical that the Treasury work closely with the FDIC, HUD and other government agencies to use the substantial authority that they already have to help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.


BRZEZINSKI: OK. So will the president-elect step in? And how much control, if any, does he have at this point?

Let's get right to Dylan Ratigan, host of CNBC's "Fast Money."

Dylan, thanks for joining us.

First of all, Dylan, what do you make of Secretary Paulson's about-face?

DYLAN RATIGAN, CNBC'S "FAST MONEY": I mean, at this point, the level of outrage sort of has to simmer back. And you have to basically try to look forward.

The fact of the matter is, the treasury secretary is putting up his best efforts. He's not inspiring confidence. He is not conducting this business in a transparent way.

The problems continue to pop up in places he doesn't even expect them, and he's made it clear that he's going to try. He's trying to give you a bunch of messages telling you to trust him when he's given you no action up to this point that suggest that he or anybody else in charge of this money ought be trusted. We need to start to move to looking at the systems, not the people, because the people at this point can't handle it.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, you brought up a key word that I wanted to ask you about, Dylan. We've talked about this on "MORNING JOE" at length. How does anyone trust that this money is being used well, that is being regulated, in a sense? When we bail out Wall Street or we bail out the auto industry, that we'll ask that money be used in the right way?

How do we know we're just not throwing more money out the window, which I believe is what got us into this problem in the first place?

RATIGAN: Yes, you don't know. The only way we're ever going to get any accountability here is if we actually have legislation that demands some transparency as to how this money gets dealt with and how it's processed, who is getting it, where it is going. As long as we have basically an executive situation where we've given the Treasury a blank check, the Congress a blank check, we have no transparency to either Congress or, for that matter, to the Treasury.

It is beyond my imagination how we can get around this, which is why I harp on the use of transparency and the use of the Internet, Google for Government, all those things, Mika, over and over again. The reason I do that is because, absent that, it is beyond my imagination how this will work.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes. And my question would also be-and we're already hearing from some lawmakers on Capitol Hill probably feeling pretty dumb right now, feeling like they passed a bill that's now being switched around, that they did not necessarily do the best in terms of their constituents.

RATIGAN: No, it's-listen, you're also dealing with a bunch of people that changed their vote and stuck a bunch of pork in the bill.

BRZEZINSKI: That's right.

RATIGAN: Congress has failed us. Period. This Congress has failed us. The Congress before them failed us. And the Congress before them failed us.

It is time for us to stop trying to get these people to serve our interests, and it's time for the people to start to demand a system that guarantees that no matter who is in there, we will be served. In other words, absent a system that demands disclosure of everything that is going on in Washington, D.C., with our money, Mika, it is beyond my comprehension how we'll get anything good to come out of there.

And for the first time in American history, the technology is there to get it done. Unless we overwhelm both sides of the aisle with this demand, I don't see how things get any better.

BRZEZINSKI: All right, Dylan.

I want to bring our panel into this conversation. And let's move on as well. We'll talk about Paulson's about-face today, as well as what's going on with the auto industry.

Joining us now, Pat Buchanan, former Reagan White House communications director, Nixon speechwriter, and presidential candidate; Lawrence O'Donnell, Emmy-winning "West Wing" producer and former chief of staff to the Senate Finance Committee. Pat and Lawrence are both MSNBC political analysts. And Anne Kornblut joins us, political reporter for "The Washington Post."

OK, panel. Let's talk about the potential of the auto industry being bailed out. First let's hear what Secretary Paulson had to say on that front earlier today. Take a listen.


PAULSON: We care about our auto industry in the U.S. They're a key part of our manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is critical.

So when you look at autos and you look at that whole food chain, and what it means to manufacturing, it's critical. And I've said very clearly, and I think the administration said that, you know, we need a solution, but the solution has got to be one that leads to viability.


BRZEZINSKI: All right. Pat Buchanan, is that solution ultimately a bailout?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the government is going to have to step in. You cannot let your three great auto manufacturers go under. Hundreds of thousands of jobs, million of jobs connected to it. The heart and soul and fiber of manufacturing, which is really the muscle of any nation. And so I think you cannot let that happen.

I think what we did with Chrysler, get warrants (ph), get the people something out of the investment. And don't just give them money.

I do agree that you've got to make the industry viable. But one thing we can say, Mika, is the conservative Republican who voted against that bailout, $700 billion to by the contents of a septic tank of the banks, and then try to sell it, were proven right. And the entire establishment of the nation, both parties, had said this is vital, we have to do it. Paulson is now admitting they were wrong.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, Lawrence O'Donnell, chime in, because I guess at this point, I can understand how we can't let the auto industry fail. Two things though.

Number one, how do we trust that the money is going to be used well? We're not doing well on that front. And also, what are the ramifications of propping up the auto industry once again?

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is the most difficult problem I think that's come their way, because the real problem with the American domestic automobile manufacturer is on the demand side. It's on the consumer side.


O'DONNELL: It's, how do you get Americans to buy American cars?

There are some very successful automobile manufacturers in the United States: BMW, Honda, Toyota. They have plants here. They are part of the now domestic American automobile industry.

And so, you know, General Motors executives who said within the last year that the Toyota Prius is a bad idea, that that's not the way for them to go. That turned out to be, once again, the hottest car of the year when gas prices went up over $4.

And so this is a very difficult conflict for the Obama administration, because what they're looking to do is to actually get the Detroit automobile manufacturers to produce a more green product. At the same time, forcing them to do that now might hurt them competitively in the short run.


O'DONNELL: So what do you address here? Do you address the short run in the auto industry, or do you address the long run? And is addressing the short run a waste of money?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, there's two things. We've got to address this Wall Street bailout and exactly where that money is going.

Anne Kornblut, I want to bring you into this conversation.

Let me just ask my producer, John Nichols (ph), do we have that Jane Harman sound bite? I would like to play that for her.

This is from one of the lawmakers on Capitol Hill responding to the possible bailout bait-and-switch, as some might be calling it, by Secretary Paulson earlier today.

Take a listen.


REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I just the conversation on Hank Paulson's new announcement and my mouth is open. We had a long debate in Congress. It was a very hard vote for many of us who voted for that package. And now all of a sudden, we have an audible and we're spending it on something else.

The first priority still needs to be helping folks stay in their homes. I'm amazed that this is happening.



And Anne, I mean, I can't even think about the potential of a bailout of the auto industry when the Wall Street bailout seems to be changing shape after all these lawmakers, including that one, pushed this through in such a rush. Because the economy was on the verge of collapse-well, Wall Street still tanked.

ANNE KORNBLUT, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I do think you have to separate the two.


KORNBLUT: I do think that certainly the Wall Street bailout happened, the first package failed, then they got it through, they passed it. I think at this point, what's going to be most interesting to watch is how President-elect Obama handles this.

On the one hand, he's got a bailout package that he did support. You know, remember that whole thing during the campaign when he and John McCain came back to Washington, when it finally passed? So he supported that, and now there are questions about it.

On the other hand, there is this auto industry bailout that his campaign has said is necessary. They really-what they said, and you heard Rahm Emanuel say it over the weekend-they want to put the auto industry on sort of a long-term sustainable footing.

So, the questions that Lawrence was raising about how you help them in the short term, help them in the long term, without, at the same time, seeming to forget the American voter who just elected him president of the United States is really going to be this difficult needle for him to thread over these next few weeks when there is almost nothing he can do about it.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, we're going to have to talk about this more.

OK, Pat, quick point. Want to hear from you. Real quick.

BUCHANAN: Quickly, look, you cannot put the American auto industry on a sustainable basis as long as they are carrying these enormous costs of laws, regulations, rules, taxes, health care, and the rest of it, that Honda and these other companies don't carry. Globalization is what is killing Detroit.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I mean, the bottom line is though, if you're making bad products and you're falling apart, the question, should we be bailing them out?

BUCHANAN: Mika, take a Korean car. Does it carry Social Security costs, environmental costs, health and safety costs? Any of these costs that we put on in Detroit, then we bring them in free of charge on the coast. And yes, they can undersell American cars. Of course they can.


Lawrence, go ahead.

O'DONNELL: Pat, people are paying more for Mercedes-Benz and BMW than they are for Cadillacs and Lincolns. That's a product choice. That's a demand side issue.


BUCHANAN: It is. And there is no doubt about it, they make an outstanding car, Lawrence. But they bring their stuff in. Their engines and things like that, still coming in from Germany.

O'DONNELL: There's a lot of health care costs in a BMW. There's a lot of health care costs in a Mercedes. Very big health care costs.

BUCHANAN: Yes, but they're not costs to the American government. You let these things go under and the American government will lose all that Social Security revenue, all that tax revenue. Unemployment will surge and soar. We'll be utterly dependent. This is the heart of American manufacturing you're talking about.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, and the ultimate cost is apparently going to be on us at some point when it come to Wall Street and the auto industry.

We'll talk about this more throughout the show. Our panel hangs on here.

And coming up, some are calling it the first race for 2010, the run-off for the Senate in Georgia. The Republican incumbent already warning of the danger of sending another Democrat to the Senate, but could the Democrat ride the president-elect's coattails to victory?

Plus, Sarah Palin is back, and now she's talking about 2012 and putting a woman at the top of the Republican ticket. Is she looking down the road to a run for 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE?

Stay tuned.


BRZEZINSKI: Welcome back to 1600.

The biggest problem facing President-elect Obama right now may be high expectations. Check out this new Quinnipiac poll, the latest to show Americans' soaring confidence in a man who hasn't even taken office yet.

Nearly two-thirds of voters, 62 percent, say they think Obama will be a good or a great president. Just 22 percent say he will be so-so or bad, while 16 percent simply don't know. And on the economy, 70 percent of voters say it will be better at the end of Obama's first term, a view shared by half of Republicans and two-thirds of Independents.

Obama is coming into office with voters' confidence, but has he prepared them for the difficult challenges ahead? That's a good question. And how do Republicans respond to all this good will? How do they harness some of it as they seek to redefine their party and draw contrast with the Democrats?

Let's go "Inside the War Room" with Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and Republican strategist Mike Murphy.

Gentlemen, thanks for joining me this evening.

Hello, Mika.

BRZEZINSKI: Interesting problems that Obama has, and great expectations can add to the pressure, and I think also make the criticism more harsh when things don't happen as easily as they could.

Steve, could that be a problem?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think there is a process that he has to go through here where he sets some expectations and makes people understand that, in spite of these poll numbers, he's a change agent, not a miracle worker. And it sounds like based on the 62 percent that have already concluded he is a great president, that they're expecting miracles and they're expecting them fast. And that could be a little bit of a challenge, but I think it's just another challenge that he will meet.

BRZEZINSKI: Mike, you're a reasonable guy. Look at this poll. Look at this poll.

It's AP, believe. Democrats, one-party rule, is it good for the country, or is it bad for the country?

Good for the country, 42 percent. Bad for the country, 34 percent.

Doesn't matter, 20 percent.

Where do you rank on this? And give me I guess both sides of it. Why could it potentially be good, and what are some of the pitfalls of having so much power?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, the one-party rule, the problem with it is ideological cranks can run wild. The plus side of it is you have enough power to get a lot of stuff done.

So I think if Obama decides he is going to govern from the center, he's going to bring Republicans in and be bipartisan, and try to create kind of a unity government here in the middle of this economic crisis, I think he can do pretty well. If he's going to be Santa Claus to the left wing of the Democratic Party and their interest groups, I think he's going to have a lot of trouble.

My guess is he'll do the former. I think he's smart. I think he's studied history. And I think he knows you have to govern from the center.

You know, you get elected with a presidential campaign, but your reputation as president, whether you're a success or failure, is based on government. So now it's time to put the campaign hocus-pocus away and I think get serious, which mean bipartisan, center and pragmatic.

BRZEZINSKI: Steve, do you agree with that? It seem to me there are all indications that he'll govern from the center.

MCMAHON: Yes, I think that's absolutely right. You can see the other day when he assembled his economic team and he brought them all out on the stage, he didn't stand by there by himself. He brought some real heavy hitters, people who have experience in these areas. I know he consults, for instance, with Warren Buffett, who wasn't there but is another heavy hitter in the financial area.

And I think Mike is absolutely right. The danger of one-party rule, of course, is that it's one-party rule. And the extremes of your party might get things to the floor that are going to be voted on that maybe you don't want or that don't fit your governing from the middle view. But I think that Senator Obama has set a very responsible mid-course here.


MCMAHON: Rahm Emanuel is a pragmatist. Obama's a pragmatist. I think that's what you're going to see.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, let me show you guys, because there is one more number they can get in the Senate in Georgia. And they have a race still going on there. And Saxby Chambliss is trying to win. He has got some ads here invoking Obama.

Let's run the GOP ad running in Georgia. Take a look.


NARRATOR: Barack Obama has been elected president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: We're going to be increasing our majorities in the House and in the United States Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Martin wins, that gets the Democrats that much closer to 60 in the Senate. And at 60, they can do just about anything they want.


BRZEZINSKI: OK, the rubberstamp ad.

Mike Murphy, Obama has got 25 of his Georgia field offices kept open. He is trying to help his candidate, if not being there on purpose. Could that kind of ad work at this point?

MURPHY: Well, remember, Georgia is a red state. McCain carried it. I think Pelosi is a big negative down there. And the Obama guys of course want that seat, so they're going to put a lot of resources in.

My guess is that the incumbent, Saxby, has a sight advantage in the run-off. He finished ahead. And we're going to have kind of Halloween in November here. Both are going to try to scare the hell out of the voters. That's kind of, I guess, how campaigns are totally run now.

But I have to give the advantage to the incumbent senator right now.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes, I would say so. We'll be following this.

Steve McMahon and Mike Murphy, thanks very much. Look forward to seeing you guys early, early, early on "MORNING JOE" someday soon.

Thanks for coming on in the evening.

MCMAHON: We'll be there, Mika. Thank you.

BRZEZINSKI: Up next, ex-lawmaker Mark Foley arguably set off the Democratic rout in the 2006 election. Now the disgraced congressman is speaking out, trying to turn the page on the page scandal.

It's next in "The Briefing Room."


BRZEZINSKI: We're back with a look at what's going on inside "The Briefing Room."

We're starting off with news about former congressman Mark Foley. The disgraced congressman is breaking his silence more than two years after resigning in disgrace. The Florida Republican left office after his sexually explicit messages with underage male pages became public. He told reporters he is sorry and promised to "find my way back."


MARK FOLEY ®, FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Oh, I'm sorry. I apologize. I don't even want to be crying on set, but they deserve to know that my failings and my actions are so embarrassing to my family, to my partner, and to them. And they trusted me, and I'm sorry I let them down.


BRZEZINSKI: Foley now invests in real estate and lives in Florida with his partner who is a dermatologist.

This item in tonight's "Briefing Room" actually comes from the White House briefing room.

The dean of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas, was back in her seat in the White House briefing room today after being absent since May because of an illness. Before beginning the noontime briefing, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino welcomed Thomas back to the pack of the press.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're happy to welcome back Helen Thomas.

We're glad to have you here. We missed you a great deal, and we'll let the sparring begin here in just an instant.


BRZEZINSKI: Thomas has been away recovering from a serious gastric infection. The Thomas got back in the driver's seat, asking a question about the auto industry.

A lot of questions to ask about that.

Up next, the GOP struggles to regain power. I'll talk to one of the party's rising stars, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, once mentioned as a possible McCain VP pick. Does he think Governor Palin helped or hurt the ticket?

And later in the show, will Barack Obama be the first YouTube president? I'll ask Luke Russert.

1600 returns right after this.


BRZEZINSKI: When it comes to the next election, you may see a new Republican party with a new vision and maybe even a younger face. Will Sarah Palin be in the picture? She's already talking about the next race for 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE.

Welcome back to 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE. What could be the future of the Republican party, is in Miami, Florida, of all places, discussing what went wrong this year and how to turn the party around. That includes winning a broader group of voters and maybe even putting a younger face on the party. John McCain talked to Jay Leno last night about some of those names.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I really believe that Sarah Palin is amongst some like Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal, the governor Louisiana. There's a group of young Republican governors, mainly governors, but also some in the Senate, that I think are the next generation of leadership of our party.


BRZEZINSKI: OK. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty joins me to talk about this. Governor, thanks for joining us.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA: I thought I was here to report on the weather conditions in Miami with this wind.

BRZEZINSKI: You can do that as well. I can see the wind. At least you're not freezing. I hope not. It's great to have you on the show. We appreciate it. I want to look at a map with you. I'll describe it in case you don't have a monitor there. This map shows how the votes went down. And what we see are the counties that voted more Republican, Appalachian and Louisiana contain many of those counties. Everywhere else seemed to go more blue.

The question is, how does the Republican party, governor, reclaim the rest of the country or at least the part that used to be red?

PAWLENTY: Well, in short, you're exactly right. We can't be a majority governing party if we lose all of the northeast, most of the Great Lakes states, all of the west coast, increasingly western states and some of the Mid-Atlantic states. That's not a formula for success. We also can't be a majority governing party if we have a deficit with women, with Hispanics, with modest income voters, with African-Americans and others. So we need to do a better job.

It is going to have to be a younger, more pragmatic, more diverse, more energetic, more populist party, geared towards addressing the real bread and butter concerns of every day Americans.

BRZEZINSKI: Where did the party, do you think, really fall off track?

PAWLENTY: It's not so much that the party fell off track. It wouldn't have been easy for Superman or Superwoman to win this year with the backwash from being eight years of power in the White House, the party with that power, the war, the bottom dropping out of the economy. It was a very challenging environment. You combine that with Barack Obama's huge advantage in finances in the campaign and his-the fact that he is a gifted orator. That's a lot of head wind to buck up against.

Even beyond all that, I think the Republican party, it boils down to this. We have to be getting the Sam's Club voters. We have to do better with women and Hispanics and others. We have to be able to say, our ideas, our values, here's how they are going to help you in your everyday life, in education, in health care, in energy and others. We have good ideas in that regard, but we have to do a better job of presenting them.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes, but how to channel them. You mentioned women. Let's talk about Sarah Palin. She's back in the news. And let me read what she says. This is as quoted by the Associated Press. She says, "everyday hard working American families, a woman on the ticket perhaps represents that. It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party."

She's talking about a woman potentially at the top of the ticket. Is she talking about herself and would that be a good thing?

PAWLENTY: Well, Sarah Palin, Governor Palin is a very talented person. She is going to be one of the voices that will help lead the party for months and years to come, clearly. But we're going to need lots of voices in that regard to grow this party and regrow this party. And it is outreach to women. It's outreach to the others groups that I mentioned.

I also think it is too early to be talking about 2012. My goodness, we just had an election. People are sick of that. We should at least give President-Elect Obama some breathing room, and wish him well before people start declaring or posturing for the next time around. By the way, we have elections in 2010.

BRZEZINSKI: We have elections right now in your state that we need to talk about that are not over yet. Either we're getting ahead of ourselves or Sarah Palin is. We can talk about that on "MORNING JOE" at some point. OK, governor, let me read from the "Wall Street Journal." You have this recount going on between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Here's what the "Wall Street Journal" talked about-says when they talk about the Minnesota recount, "you would think Democrats would be content with last week's electoral rout. But judging from the odd doings in Minnesota, some in their party wouldn't mind adding to their jackpot by stealing a Senate seat for left wing joker Al Franken."

Is that what's happening there? What is the status of the recount there? Why isn't it finished? When will it be? When will we know who won?

PAWLENTY: Under Minnesota law, the secretary of state has almost exclusive authority over this process. The recount begins in earnest when the State Canvassing Board finalized the tally. The recount itself will be done in December. I'm sure there will be some litigation after that. But, Mika, the system in Minnesota has a tradition and a reputation for being clean and fair and transparent. We want to keep it that way.

There have been a couple concerning developments. I won't go into those. One, for example, is a box of ballots that were found in somebody's trunk. So we want to make sure that the process is secure, that it is transparent, and that the result are what they're supposed to be.

BRZEZINSKI: Who do you think is going to win? What does it look like? You're close to the situation.

PAWLENTY: Well, Norm won, at least by the preliminary count, Norm Coleman. When you have 206 votes separating these two candidates, with probably tens of thousands of ballots --

BRZEZINSKI: Did we lose the governor? I talked too long, I guess. That always happens to me. Our thanks to Governor Tim Pawlenty. We'll have him back on soon. For a rapid response to all this-Oh, he's back. He can join the panel.

Let's bring back our panel, Pat Buchanan, former Reagan White House communications director, Nixon speech writer and presidential candidate Lawrence O'Donnell. Pat is the presidential candidate. Lawrence O'Donnell is Emmy Winning "West Wing" producer and former chief of staff of the Senate Finance Committee. Pat and Lawrence are both MSNBC political analysts. And Ann Kornblut back as well, political reporter for the "Washington Post."

Governor Pawlenty, are you still there? I lost him? That's too bad. OK, Pat. I'll start with you. I don't know if you heard my reading Sarah Palin's quote. The governor thought perhaps we were getting ahead of ourselves. It sounds like she might be, Pat. She's talking 2012, isn't she?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. I think clearly Governor Palin and all the other candidates, even if they weren't going to be a candidate-Governor Palin does the right thing in sort of leaving the idea that she might run, because it makes her more interesting, gives her more influence and more time on TV. This is really too early for that. If President-Elect Obama has a successful term and deals successfully with this economic disaster, and gets us out of those wars abroad, one of which is Iraq, I think was one of the main reasons Bush went so low-if he gets us out successfully without some kind of disaster, he'll be very difficult to beat, just as Richard Nixon was when in 1972, it appeared Vietnam was a success and everybody was home.

If he is a failure of sorts, I think the Republicans will have a golden opportunity. That is way down the road.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes. They have a golden opportunity, clearly. They have at least four years out in the wilderness to sort of reenergize the base and reinvent their message, which may go back to some of the old classics. There's nothing wrong with that. The question is how to do that? Where is the organization? And who is going to lead it? Are there people that stand out, who-Ann Kornblut, I'll throw the question to you-who are really beginning to at least attempt to emerge. Who is writing the editorials? Who is trying to spearhead had next movement? Or is it too early to tell?

KORNBLUT: It really looks like a jump ball at this point. Obviously, the RGA, the meeting where Governor Pawlenty was speaking to you from, the first gathering of Republicans since the convention, if you discount election night. You see them trying to sort of elbow each other out of the way. Charlie Crist today, the governor of Florida, talking about what he thinks the party needs to do to get a little more serious on some of the issues.

I heard from one attendant at the meeting who said it felt like a wake, that it was so depressing being there. I think they're all trying to sort of jockey for position at this point. We heard Newt Gingrich's name. Bob Novak had a column the other day, saying maybe he would emerge as the savior. So all of these names being thrown out there. It is really no surprise that Sarah Palin, who has just been on the ticket, would feel that she has a claim to it and start reaching for it, even though obviously the next presidential is so far away.

There is going to be a big void in the meantime. Next we'll have to see what happens to the RNC chair itself, whether somebody new tries to move in like a Mitt Romney. I will be interesting to see what Governor Pawlenty himself does in the days ahead.

BRZEZINSKI: Lawrence O'Donnell, first of all, who do you think the potential stars could be? I also need your opinion-Pat, hold back-on Sarah Palin's comments about 2012. It sounds like she's talking about herself in 2012.

O'DONNELL: I think Tim Pawlenty is one of the possible front-runners for 2012. But Sarah Palin is up against history on 2012. There is nothing worse than losing in the vice presidential slot on a national ticket for preparing yourself to get on that ticket again. Take a look at the name, in reverse order, John Edwards, didn't come close this time in the primaries. That's before he ran into scandal trouble. Joe Lieberman before him, same trouble. Jack Kemp was a losing VP. And Dan Quayle; Dan Quayle ran for president after losing in the VP slot.

There is absolutely no future coming out of a loss in the VP slot. I don't know how far back we have to go to find one. There's-certainly not in my lifetime has anyone-the most successful loser in the VP slot was Walter Mondale, who did after that manage to get a nomination. But he got wiped out by Pat's candidate in that election.

BRZEZINSKI: Pat Buchanan, when I utter Sarah Palin's name, I immediately get just absolutely bombarded with hate mail. It's already begun. One writer saying, "this is ridiculous. She is a narcissistic self-promoter who has no humility or sense of timing." Is it possible that maybe she shouldn't have said that today?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think-yes, look, if were advising her, I would tell her not to have said that. But I really don't understand, still don't understand the passions and hatreds and obsession-whatever you say about the woman, she is extraordinarily talented. She had a great success in Alaska. She has a great personality. She didn't seem to have the information base to really deal with it, but I thought she came off the debate well. Why? The election is over a week and they're still obsessed.

My buddy Lawrence. I think we're going to have to get an injunction against stalking here if he keep going after her.

BRZEZINSKI: Lawrence, I think you and I-

O'DONNELL: I didn't book her with Matt Lauer on "The Today Show." Sarah is going out there and begging us to talk about her, and it is fun to talk about her.

BRZEZINSKI: She likes the attention, I think.

BUCHANAN: She loves it.

BRZEZINSKI: She is politically tough. I am just going to say for the record, because the emails need to stop at some point, I did not think she was prepared for the job, but I think she is politically tough and I think she is ambitious. And those are two very, very important aspects of someone who may run for office someday.

BUCHANAN: And she's arresting and interesting. I saw on another one of her cable channels, a long interview for an hour. I thought she handled Matt Lauer fine. She is a very interesting person, an interesting family, an interesting story, principled person, lives her beliefs.

BRZEZINSKI: Final word. Give to it Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Let's do something that is good for America, Pat. I will bet you the General Motors car of your choice that Sarah Palin will never be on a national ticket again.

BRZEZINSKI: OK. Hold on. Let's get this on tape.

BUCHANAN: I think that's probably-I would have to basically agree with you, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Come on, Pat.

BUCHANAN: I think she would have to win the nomination. To do that -

She's not going to be VP again. And she would have to go through Iowa, New Hampshire. Can she do it with five kids? If you have to bet anybody -

I thought Muskee was going to be the nominee. Lawrence, you probably did to. He would have been a strong one. He collapsed.

BRZEZINSKI: Do the bet.

BUCHANAN: Lawrence, you got to give me some odds.

O'DONNELL: A Cadillac. The Cadillac of your choice. Two to one, Pat. Two Cadillacs, two to one.

BRZEZINSKI: I'll do the bet.

O'DONNELL: You get two Cadillacs. One for Shelly, one for you.

BUCHANAN: OK, I'll take it.

BRZEZINSKI: Yes. All right, I love it. I want in as well just because I'm kind of a poker player. I could do it, Lawrence. I'll bet you as well.

O'DONNELL: Mika, I'll get you a Cadillac anyway, no matter how this turns out.

BRZEZINSKI: Thank you. OK.

BUCHANAN: If Cadillac is still alive.

BRZEZINSKI: This is true. There could be a little problem with that. Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ann Kornblut, once again, thank you. Up next, at home with Governor Sarah Palin, talk about multi-tasking. Take a look at this woman. She's cooking. She's taking care of the kids and she's taking on Matt Lauer. She's got her casserole going during the interview, talking about all the challenges of turning her party around.

Plus, let's hear what she has to say about her plans between now and 2012. More from Sarah Palin next when 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE returns.



JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": It's been a week since the election.

How are you doing?

MCCAIN: Well, I have been sleep like a baby. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry.


BRZEZINSKI: That was Senator John McCain on NBC's "Tonight Show" last night, in his first interview since the election. Sarah Palin is also speaking out again, this time about the race for 2012. She says putting a woman on the Republican ticket would be a good thing and that a woman should be at the top of the ticket. Palin says she is ready to do anything to help out. What does that mean about her future?

Back Now, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ann Kornblut. Thanks to you guys for joining me again. I have to play some of these sound bites from this interview with Matt Lauer. Here is Sarah Palin talking about the future of the GOP and her future. Take a listen.


LAUER: People are saying after this election, a lot of work needs to be done to get this party back on track. Can you be part of the solution?

PALIN: Well, I've never been an obsessive partisan. If I can be part of a solution to help this nation, certainly, I want to be a part of a solution in those term.


BRZEZINSKI: Ann Kornblut, what are you hearing in Washington about how serious a contender she is, in terms of any part of revitalizing the Republican party?

KORNBLUT: Look, there has been a lot of consternation about her from the Republican establishment since the day she was picked. I think she is going to have a lot of competition if she decides to go that route. Certainly, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal. There's a lot of names of a lot of people who have been in the national politics and on the national scene a lot longer than she has.

That said, she's been on the ticket. Despite the historical odds that Lawrence was pointing out early in the show, you would think she would have a claim to do it. It sounds like she is setting the stage for that. How she does that from Alaska while being governor is going to be a tricky question, but she sounds interested.

BRZEZINSKI: Real quick, Ann, on the potential she could run for Senate. That is still there. Is this Alaska situation settled?

KORNBLUT: No. It is not. If that seat turns out that Ted Stevens doesn't end up keeping it, she could potentially run for that. That would be a really interesting way-

BRZEZINSKI: There would be a 60-day special election if Ted Stevens wins, which we're still waiting to hear. Then she could run for senator. Pat Buchanan, there it is. There's your opening of.

BUCHANAN: She could do that, certainly. I don't know if I would advise her to do it. I'll tell you what she's going to get. CPAC is this conference they hold in about January. They get about 5,000 conservatives. I can tell you right now, I bet they are calling and calling and calling. She will a sensation there because she is more electrifying as a personality right now. Jindal is a terrific conservative. Pawlenty's a good man. Mitt Romney did a great job there. But I think she would be the sensation coming down there. She can help in the 2010 elections in a lot of conservative districts, raising money and things.

Again, I think Lawrence has a good point. When you go to 2012 and the big job, it is an up hill climb for anyone. If I had to put one guy ahead right now, frankly, I would put probably Mitt Romney.

BRZEZINSKI: OK. Lawrence O'Donnell, do you agree with Pat?

O'DONNELL: I think Mitt Romney suffers-yes, I think Mitt Romney suffers, too. We're not good at advancing losers after they've lost, even when they've lost in primaries, like Mitt Romney has. My personal bet will be on someone like Pawlenty, someone who hasn't been out there and gotten defeated in the 2008 campaign.

BRZEZINSKI: So I just-I'm going to bet a Cadillac again. Let's whip around here. Ann Kornblut-are you guys going to come drive me around in your Cadillacs when this is all over? Mine will say Palin 2012. All three of you, I'll ask, if you think she will-if we will right now, six months from now, see Senator Sarah Palin on the way to 2012. Ann, you go first. Just wondering if it is in the realm of possibility? Yes or no?

KORNBLUT: I'll leave it in the realm of possibility, but I wouldn't take it all way to over 50 percent.


O'DONNELL: I think if Ted Stevens gets expelled, she has a great shot at being senator, but that's where her career ends.


BUCHANAN: If I were her, I would not take the Senate seat. I would get a stand-in, and wait and let someone else fulfill this seat or have the election-have it themselves, quite frankly, and maybe go after Lisa Murkowski, if she wants to go to the Senate. I wouldn't go to the Senate, if were her. I think she ought to go-if she's going run again, go for the big one.

BRZEZINSKI: OK, and you'll be right there, Pat. Won't you. All right, Pat Buchanan, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ann Kornblut. I'll be driving my Cadillac to look Alaska to cover the story.

Coming up next here on 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, Luke Russert join me to talk about the youth vote. Will President-Elect Obama bring the White House to the web, and how can the GOP get young voter back to the party? 1600 returns right after this.





BRZEZINSKI: Wow. Young voters fell solidly in line for Barack Obama. That was on Youtube in an ad there. Despite the hype though, there was only a modest gain in turnout. Thanks to technological tactics like e-mail blasts, text messages and even Youtube, the Obama campaign changed the way campaigns are run for sure. Now the Obama administration in waiting wants to keep young voters involved, and the Republican party is trying to learn real fast how to win that new generation of voters.

With us to talk about how both parties will deep millennial generation engaged, or try and harness them, NBC correspondent at large Luke Russert. Luke, thanks for joining me. You're in Washington, I see.

LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT AT LARGE: I'm in Washington, D.C., the new home of Joe Scarborough.

BRZEZINSKI: You got it. Yes, take care of him. I think they just moved in. Young voters voted for Barack Obama. There was a lot of ability to connect with these voters on the Internet, with these text messages, through the website, which was amazing. How now does the White House, the Obama White House, keep tabs on those voters, on those young people for many different reasons, beyond just votes.

RUSSERT: Well, I will say the election of 2008 was the first social networking election. What President-Elect Obama has to do is make his presidency the first social networking presidency. There is over one million people, many of them young on, over a million on his Facebook fan page, and million of people sign up for emails and text messages.

What he must do is continue to make them feel like they're a part of the team. He has to be open with them. He has to have an open dialogue with them. And he has to constantly inform them of the decisions he makes, why he did a piece of legislation the way in which he did it. And above all else, make them feel that they are still very much a part of this, quote/unquote, movement, a movement to change America.

And he has the technological capabilities to do it. The question is whether or not young people respond to the technology after the election.

BRZEZINSKI: Sure. The way they texted and emailed and worked the Internet and the web as a whole was pretty brilliant. A lot of the text messaging was really casual. People really felt like they were part of the conversation, as opposed to getting some sort of press release or official comment.

RUSSERT: Yes. And the fact that it was laid back, I think, really appealed to young people. Senator Obama, or President-Elect Obama now, he would send out text messages or emails, Mika, could you do this, so and so? Thanks a lot, Barack. Not any of that formal, sort of, concerned citizen, could you do this, your president.

BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. They enlisted them. Real quick, now the GOP has to deal with trying to harness a group of voters that they really didn't connect with that well. How do they catch up at this point? They need to.

RUSSERT: Well, there's a few thing they need to do. Number one is they have to get tech savvy. They have to copy what the Democratic party, specifically the Obama campaign, did in this past election. They need to grow their social networking. They need to organize young Republicans, inspire them.

And I think, as a whole, the party should really take a cue from what's going on across the pond with David Cameron, the conservative party in the U.K. David Cameron has made the conservative party hip and trendy. He has sort of told the party to come back from the hardcore issues like abortion and gay marriage, and more care about poverty and stuff like Darfur. I think really that's the generational approach that is needed for the Republicans now.

BRZEZINSKI: All right, Luke Russert, good insights there. We'll have to have see how this plays out, because certainly both parties have a challenge trying to get attention-

RUSSERT: Get some sleep. You're doing double duty. Get some rest.

BRZEZINSKI: I know. You'll call me that name if I don't. OK, I will, Luke. We'll see you on "MORNING JOE." That does it for 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE. I'm Mike Brzezinski. I'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning on "MORNING JOE." David Gregory will be back here tomorrow night, same time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews starts now.



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