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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Monday, November 16, 2009

Read the transcript to the Monday show


November 16, 2009



Guests: Jay Newton-Small, Jan Schakowsky, Judy Biggert, Karen Tumulty, Fred Malek


Let's play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews, out in Los Angeles. Leading off tonight: By the book. Want to see the fault line in the Republican Party heading toward the next election? You're in luck. Sarah Palin's out promoting her new book, "Going Rogue," with a big appearance on Oprah today. As an author, she's on the attack. We know this is a good book for sales, but she's also, well, not so good for the Republican Party. But we'll find out.

Also, what are we to make of Rudy Giuliani? He's condemned the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed up in New York as a threat to safety. Yet when he was mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani saw nothing wrong with trying the first World Trade Center conspirators back in 1993. Now Republicans are making the same security argument against a proposal to move the Guantanamo prisoners to Illinois, to prison there. Do they really believe this, or are they just playing politics?

And abortion and health care. It's possible this may be the Waterloo, the abortion issue for health care reform, and that just may be the point for conservatives because they may want to see this kill the issue.

Also: Going after their own. Could Florida's Charlie Crist, the governor, become the latest victim of the right wing in the GOP, who've just managed earlier this month to lose a New York congressional district for the first time in more than a century?

Finally, is George Stephanopoulos on to something? Is Hillary Clinton thinking of giving up Foggy Bottom, the State Department, to run for governor of New York? Does she really want to be governor of New York and is going to run next year? He asked her about it. He talked about said governors saying that's what she's up to. That's in the "Sideshow."

We start with Sarah Palin's new book with Palin adviser Fred Malek and MSNBC, the inimitable Pat Buchanan. Gentlemen, thank you. Fred, I want you-thanks for joining us tonight. You're an adviser to Governor Palin. Let me take a look at her-bring us all up to date on the book that's just out, well, tomorrow, but we got a look at it today.

Palin recounted a conversation about evolution that she had with McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt during the vetting process. "'But your dad's a science teacher,' Schmidt objected. 'Yes.' 'Then you know that science proves evolution.' 'Parts of evolution,' I said. 'But I believe that God created us and also that he can create an evolutionary process that allows species to change and adapt.' Schmidt winced and raised his eyebrows. In the dim light, his sunglasses shifted atop his hair. I had just dared to mention the 'C' word, creationism. But I felt I was on solid factual ground."

Why do you think Sarah Palin is raising the issue of creationism in this battle with the McCain campaign, which she blames for all the screw-ups in the last year election, Fred Malek?

FRED MALEK, SARAH PALIN SUPPORTER: Number one, let me clarify one thing. I'm not an adviser to Sarah Palin, I'm a friend of Sarah Palin's. I think she takes her own advice and does things the way she does, and so far, it seems to be working.

In terms of the campaign and her criticism of it, look, I think she was very kind to most people in the campaign and most elements of the campaign. She was particularly effusive in her praise of John and Cindy McCain, and I think she was really good to the people around her. There were issues she took with various elements of the campaign, obviously. This particular issue, I don't know why it's in there, Chris. It doesn't seem to me to be a central part of her book or a central part of her theme of-for the future, but it was discussed.

MATTHEWS: Pat, I think she's trying to raise an issue. She's a traditionalist. She wants to take on the new breed, middle-of-the-road Republicans like John McCain, who says he does believe in evolution. This evolution, as you know, is a thunderclap issue with traditional right-wing people, evangelicals, et cetera. She wants to side with them. I think that's what she's up to. What do you think she's up to?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I kind of agree with you, Chris. I mean just say, to put that in there and that discussion with Schmidt-incidentally, her position that if evolution occurred, it was God's way of working in the world, is very consistent, frankly, with Pope Benedict XVI. And it's, frankly, what we were taught in college, that, you know, these processes may have been the way, but there's a first mover and a prime creator who moved it alone. And I think it works very well for her.

And frankly, Schmidt is simply being used as a foil here, frankly, and he comes off, basically, as, you know, someone who's outside the mainstream of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think she's trying to get it both ways. If you read the quote, she's not quite saying what you're saying and what you and I were taught in school, that there is an evolutionary process with God behind it all. That's what most Christians and Jews believe. But she's not saying that. She's questioning the whole-she says "parts of it are true." I think she's trying to raise the issue.


MATTHEWS: We'll see more-let's take a look. I think she's up to a nice fight here, with what she considers the modernity crowd in the Republican Party.

Here's what Palin said when Oprah asked her if she was disappointed that she wasn't allowed to give a concession speech the night they lost the election. Let's listen.


SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Not so much disappointed that I wasn't allowed to speak, but disappointed that the explanation that I was given why I wouldn't be able to speak...


PALIN: ... A, that VP candidates never give a speech on an election night, and I knew that that was false because I've seen it happen over all the years. In fact, four years prior, of course, that had happened.


MATTHEWS: Well, Pat, what's she talking about?

BUCHANAN: Well, she's talking about that situation out there in Arizona, where she wanted to speak on the night, as I understand it, of McCain's concession, and she wanted to come out and thank the troops and the rest of them. And frankly, I think-of course, it's McCain's call, and he made the call, or he and his people did, that she wasn't going to speak. I think that was a mistake.

And look, this book-Chris, she's got to explain all these controversies she was involved in back in that 2008 campaign that vaulted her to worldwide attention and made her the person she was. Now, that may not be advancing her cause if she wants to run in 2012, but I think she's trying to tell the truth as she sees it because she feels pretty much pressed that she has to do it.

MALEK: Chris, can I get in here on this?

MATTHEWS: Sure. You're in. Go ahead.

MALEK: I was there. I was there. And let me tell you, she did want to get out there and thank the troops. She had a lot of people to thank for this campaign, and she wanted to go out and express her gratitude to the campaign people, as well as the people around the country who supported this ticket. Look, 60 million people voted for us.

By the same token, John McCain had a great, great speech, and it was his, really, night to concede. There was no real need for a second speech, and that's why the decision was made.

I do not agree with Pat. This is not some part of a grand strategy of hers to kind of position herself for 2012 or anything like this. I think you've got to take it at its word. You've got to take her at her word. She's not planning a grand strategy here for 2012. She's trying to tell the story of her life and the campaign.

BUCHANAN: Let me correct my old friend here, Fred. I'm not sure she's going to run in 2012...

MALEK: Right.

BUCHANAN: ... but I do agree with Chris when he says she wants her views on the record about an issue like creationism.

MALEK: Yes, I agree with that.

BUCHANAN: Not only about her constituency, that's what this woman believes. I generally believe that. And frankly, I happen to agree with her about micro and macro evolution myself.

MALEK: Yes, I think she does want to get her views on the record.

MATTHEWS: Well, we don't know what she believes, Pat. Pat, you're assuming a lot on her belief system. I think she's still holding back.

But let's take a look at what she said on Oprah today about 2010 and 2012, which sounds exactly like Dick Nixon back in the mid-60s, when he said, First '66. Pat, you reminded me of that more times than Dick Nixon reminded you of the Alger Hiss conviction.


MATTHEWS: Here she is, talking about the election she's focusing on.


PALIN: I'm concentrating on 2010 and making sure that we have issues tackled as Americans to make sure that we're on the right road.

WINFREY: You would even tell me if you were thinking about it?

PALIN: No, I wouldn't.


PALIN: But 2012 -- Trig's heading into kindergarten in 2012. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to affecting positive change between now and then. I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2012.


MATTHEWS: Pat, it sounds like you.


MATTHEWS: It sounds like Dick Nixon.

BUCHANAN: I just...

MATTHEWS: You run around the country and get a good record for Republican elections, you claim credit for any Republican who wins an upset race in a House race anywhere, and then you run for president. This is a set-up. Clearly.

BUCHANAN: Well, it is, but OK. But it was also true about Nixon, that-look, Nixon said, If we get clobbered in-forget it if we get clobbered in '66. It ain't worth it. Let's see how we do first.

But you're right here, Chris. I don't think that Sarah Palin has made a decision about 2012, and I have my doubts whether she's going to run. I think she is focused on 2010 right now. But I do think after 2010, she will make that call, and she won't make it before then.

MALEK: Chris, he's right on all counts. She's made no decision. I don't expect her to make any decision until after 2010, when she's going to run hard for all the candidates and support all the candidates in 2010. If I had to guess now, I would guess she probably isn't going to run. But you know, all options are open to her. That's the great thing about it.


MALEK: Nobody draws crowds like she does.

BUCHANAN: Nobody...


MATTHEWS: I'll tell you, she's dynamite in terms of that. We're talking about her. And Fred, let's talk a little political history in your party, the Republican Party. Back in '52, Everett Dirksen gave one of the great speeches of all times about the Dewey defeat in '48. He said, The last time we ran a moderate, we got killed. You took us down the road to defeat. Don't do it again. He was pushing for Taft.

I hear her giving that speech over and over again in this book. She's saying, basically, if the Republican Party makes the mistake of trying to go for the middle, it'll get clobbered again. We've got to go with our true beliefs. You don't hear that? You don't hear her saying that every time she talks?

MALEK: No, I don't at all. I think you're reading everything through a political lens. How about looking at this through a grass roots...

MATTHEWS: Yes. That's what I do here.

MALEK: How about looking-how about looking...

MATTHEWS: What other lens would I look through, Fred Malek?

MALEK: Well, how about the real world?

MATTHEWS: What lens are you looking through?

MALEK: How about the real world? I mean, this is a woman who grew up in Wasilla...


MALEK: ... Alaska...


MALEK: ... and she's-and she's making a life for herself and her family. I don't think she's looking at 2012.

BUCHANAN: You know, Chris...

MALEK: I think she's looking at doing good for the party and doing good for herself and her family.

MATTHEWS: Fred, Fred, Fred!

BUCHANAN: She's right, though, Chris!

MATTHEWS: She ran for vice president of the United States last year! She's running for president next time. Let me ask you, Fred, if you had to choose between the-just sheer competence and ability to be the next president, Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin? Who is more competent to be the next president, the next Republican nominee for president?

MALEK: Oh, come on. You know I'm not going to answer. I think we've got-I think we've got four or five...


BUCHANAN: We've got four or five...

MATTHEWS: But you said she's not even running! But Fred, I caught you!

MALEK: I'll tell you, Chris...

MATTHEWS: I caught you!

MALEK: ... we've got four or five...

MATTHEWS: We've caught you!

MALEK: ... really good people...

MATTHEWS: You said she's not even running! You-I caught you right there, your hesitancy.

MALEK: No, you didn't.

MATTHEWS: You said she's not a candidate!

MALEK: I don't think she is.

MATTHEWS: And you won't tell me who's the best candidate!

MALEK: You said, Who's more qualified? Who's more qualified?

BUCHANAN: Chris...


BUCHANAN: Chris, what you've got to understand-what you've got to understand, it's better to lose with Goldwater than to win with Rockefeller. When the pendulum comes your way, you want the people you believe in, who are going to do the things you went into politics to get done, to be there, not just to be in power and say, We've got an R by our name in the White House.

MATTHEWS: OK, here's the question for you, Fred. And you have been in those campaigns. You know more about politics than I do. You really know this. Don't accuse me of looking through a political lens. You do all the time!


MATTHEWS: When you're not a successful business guy. Let me ask you this question. Why does she pick fights with little people like Nicolle Wallace in the McCain campaign, people like Steve Schmidt? It's an old political trick, and you know it. Don't blame the principal, just put your dagger in the back of every one of the staff people and say, Oh, they were misdirected. The candidate would never have done that. It's a direct way of starting an intramural fight with the moderate wing of the Republican Party. You don't see that?

MALEK: Not at all.

MATTHEWS: Well, then, why is she doing it?

MALEK: Not at all.

MATTHEWS: Why is she writing this book?

MALEK: Well, look, undeniably, there were leaks from the campaign right before and right after the election that went after her unfairly. I think those attacks were unfair. They were lacking in loyalty and they were lacking of any semblance of chivalry. And if she wants to kind of fire back a little bit at those who attacked her, whoever they are, you know, it wouldn't be the first time it's happened in this town, Chris.


BUCHANAN: You know, Chris, I think she's...

MATTHEWS: Well, to make your point-to make Fred's-to make Fred's point and your point you're about to make, here it is. In early September, Steve Schmidt tells Palin, quote, "The numbers don't look good and we've got to change things." And Palin says, "You've told me how to dress, what to say, who to talk to, a lot of people not to talk to, who my heroes are supposed to be, and we're still losing. And now you're going to tell me what to eat?"


MATTHEWS: Now, is that what you-is that the point you're making, Fred, straightening out the record here?

MALEK: Look, most of her commentary on people in the campaign was pretty darn positive. I think it was-I've been in four of these, as you point out. We've won two and we lost two. When you win, you're heroic. When you lose, you look pretty bad. And it's a lot more fun to win, I must admit. But here you have a situation where we didn't and we looked a little bit bad. But people forget the great campaign that was run to bring John McCain back from the dead in the summer of '07 to the nomination, run by Rick Davis. This was a good campaign. I was proud to be a part of it.

BUCHANAN: Chris, don't...

MATTHEWS: Do you believe the campaign failed to-I've got to ask Fred this question. It's rare we get this kind of-Pat, I get you more often than I get Fred.


MALEK: Oh, God!

MATTHEWS: Fred, do you think-she makes a very strong point in her book that the campaign for John McCain could have done better, may not have won-but would have done much better-had it pivoted after the election issue shifted from Iraq to the failing economy, that John McCain never really (INAUDIBLE) when he said things like the fundamentals of the economy are good. He didn't really react to the changing situation, and that's why they lost so badly. Your thoughts?

MALEK: Oh, I think that's correctly-it's correct. When the economy tanked on us, it just looked bad for all of us. I don't think it wasn't that McCain didn't react to it. He did. He even suspended his campaign for a while to come back and work on the economy. But once Lehman collapsed and the rest of the dominoes started to fall, this changed the dynamic. We were 3 points ahead when that happened. And once that happened, all the blame, all the fingers pointed at the Republicans because we were the ones in office and we were the ones who were blamed for a lot of it. That changed the dynamic of the election and we were never able to recover from that.

MATTHEWS: If she chose to run for president, Fred, would Sarah Palin make a good candidate for the Republican Party?

MALEK: I don't know. We...

MATTHEWS: If she chose to run.

MALEK: You know, it's so far off, it's very difficult to answer. We have some really good governors and ex-governors who are out there who are likely to run. I think Mitt Romney is terrific. I think-I think Haley Barbour, if he decided to run, is terrific. Tim Pawlenty is a fine leader in Minnesota.


MALEK: And we have others like Mitch Daniels...


MALEK: ... and Sarah who would also be good, solid candidates.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK, here's the question. Sixty percent of the American people say she's not qualified to be president of the United States. Are you among the 60 or among the 40, Fred Malek?

MALEK: I think...

MATTHEWS: Friend of Sarah Palin.

MALEK: I think you got to look at her record as governor. She was a reform-oriented governor who actually achieved reform. She accomplished a lot. When you look at her record and you compare it to somebody else, who four years ago people didn't think he was qualified, that guy became president of the United States. His name is Barack Obama. I would not underestimate her. The last time we underestimated somebody who was a governor...


MALEK: ... was 1980. Pat, you remember that well.

BUCHANAN: I sure do. Let me...

MATTHEWS: One more bite at the apple, Fred.

BUCHANAN: Chris, let me say something...

MATTHEWS: Is she qualified-is she qualified to be president, Fred Malek? Your friend.

MALEK: Nobody-nobody...

MATTHEWS: Is she qualified to be president?

MALEK: Hold on. Nobody at this...

MATTHEWS: Can't you answer this one?

MALEK: Nobody at this stage of the game has the qualifications to be president. It's something you grow into over a period of time as you get out there and meet with people and get into the issues and develop your positions in more detail.


MALEK: To say anybody today, three years out, is qualified would be -

would be disingenuous.

BUCHANAN: Chris, let me just say...

MATTHEWS: We got to go. Thank you.

BUCHANAN: Let me say, Nixon said, You've got to be tested in the fires of the primaries, and that is what shows whether or not you're the most qualified or the really qualified...


BUCHANAN: ... person to be president. And frankly, Obama made it.


MATTHEWS: OK. Put this down. Fred Malek and Pat Buchanan are not ready to say that Sarah Palin is qualified...

MALEK: Well, that's-you didn't...

MATTHEWS: ... to be president. Coming up...

MALEK: That's not what we said.


MATTHEWS: ... first Republican-thank you, Fred, for being on the show. We've got a tape of what you said. Thank you. Republicans criticize the Obama administration's plan to try the masterminds of 9/11 in New York City. But why did they do it before? We'll get back to that, and the question of whether we should take the prisoners to Illinois, another hot one. We'll be right back with that one on HARDBALL.



HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was a senator from New York. And I want-I want to see them brought to justice.

The-the most important thing for me is that, you know, they pay the

ultimate price for what they did to us on 9/11. And, if the attorney

general and-and veteran prosecutors think this is the best way to

achieve that outcome, then I think that, you know, they should be given the

the right to move forward as they see appropriate.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a very strong, I think-very strong appearance yesterday on "Meet the Press."

Did the Obama administration make the right call in bringing these people to trial in New York? And should they send Guantanamo prisoners to Illinois?

We have members of the House of Representatives from Illinois. U.S.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is a Democrat from Chicago. And U.S.

Congresswoman Judy Biggert is a Republican from somewhere else.

Let me go with Congresswoman Schakowsky-Schakowsky.

Are you confident that the-that this is the right move, to bring these guys, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the other four, to trial in New York in criminal court and prosecute them, perhaps convict them, perhaps execute them after the trial? Is that the smart move?


I think to say anything else is to pander to irrational fears, and, actually, it's insulting to our law enforcement and our judicial system, the professionals that-that work there.

There are already 216 individuals who have been convicted of terrorist-related activities in the United States in federal prisons. And we certainly could-could-could use prosecutions of those individuals. And we also could use the jobs in Thomson, Illinois.

BLITZER: Let me go to Congresswoman Biggert.

Do you think it's the right thing to do...


MATTHEWS: ... to try these people in criminal court?

BIGGERT: No, I don't think it's the right thing to do. That's why we had the military tribunals.

When we have them come into the United States, they are granted the same rights as-as citizens or those that are here on a permanent visa. And that's-and that's not right, because it's going to change the whole way an enemy combatant is tried.

They're going to-what is going to happen with the Miranda rights?

What's going to happen with our secrets at the CIA and how they operate?

What's going to happen with all of the things that we're going to give up? The witnesses, who is going to-and the jurors, are they going to be subject to reprisals if they are in on this jury? I think this is the wrong way to go.

SCHAKOWSKY: You know-you know, Chris...

MATTHEWS: You know, back in the early part of our country-I want to go back to-stick with Congresswoman Biggert for a second and see if she is consistent here.

Back in the beginnings of our country, we had a trial for the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, and we gave those British soldiers a real trial. And John Adams was their defense attorney. And a lot of them got off.

Do you think that was a mistake, to give them a real trial, or should we just have executed them? What should we have done?

BIGGERT: Well, I'm talking about having a real trial.

MATTHEWS: I mean, was it wrong to give-was it wrong to give a real trial to people who shot down our people in the Boston Massacre? Or was that a good emblem of the kind of country we were going to be, a country of laws?

What was...


BIGGERT: I-I think...

MATTHEWS: John Adams was their defense lawyer. Should he not have taken that job? Should he have not defended the enemies of our country and shown that we have a good system of law in this country? Was that a mistake, historically?

BIGGERT: Well, yes, but they were-yes, but they were involved in the Boston Massacre that was on this soil.

We're talking about bringing in...


BIGGERT: ... enemy combatants that were international, that they were not here, bringing them in for the trials. We have-we have-we're at war. We have war criminals, and we should try them with the military tribunal, as we always have done.

MATTHEWS: Where did-where did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed go to college. Congresswoman Biggert, stick on this point. Where did he go to college?

BIGGERT: Probably Harvard.

MATTHEWS: No, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, where did he go to college?

BIGGERT: I don't know.

MATTHEWS: Well, he went to school, and he got a-he got his degree in North Carolina. So, go on.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, make your point, because I think this is a complicated case. But make your point. I don't think it's as simple as Rudy Giuliani makes it sound when he's playing to the crowds.

I want to-here is typical Giuliani. Let's listen to him playing to the crowds on CNN this Sunday.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: First of all, it's an unnecessary advantage to give to the terrorists. I don't know why you want to give terrorists advantages.

And, secondly, it's an unnecessary risk to the city of New York, which already has any number of risks. If it was necessary, if this were the only option, well, of course I would be in favor of it.

It's part of-it's part of Barack Obama deciding that we're not at war with terrorism any longer.


SCHAKOWSKY: You know, the...

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Biggert suggested Khalid Sheikh Mohammed went to Harvard. I know what that means.

It's sort of the anti-intellectualism of the Republican Party. I think it's mindless talk. But he went to college in the United States. He speaks English. He came out of our country. It drives me crazy that somebody like that could be an enemy of our country. How do we properly try him?

Congresswoman Schakowsky, what's the right way for...

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... an American to try this bad guy?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know-you know, Guantanamo Bay has been such a blot on the reputation of the United States around the world, that it has also been a recruiting tool for terrorists.

I think the fact that now we use the best justice system in the world in order to try these individuals makes all kinds of sense.

Look, we were able to try Zacarias Moussaoui. We were able to-to try the Blind Sheik. And we have incarcerated them in supermax prisons, where there is no chance of their getting out.

There is no threat. It-I think it's irresponsible to scare people in-in communities and to say that we cannot, the United States of America cannot handle these individuals, and our justice system just isn't up to it. Of course we can do it. We can give them a fair trial.

Look it, we executed Timothy McVeigh, a domestic terrorist. The-all of the options are open for these international terrorists.


SCHAKOWSKY: And I think we restore our respectability around the world.

BIGGERT: I don't think that we're really talking...


MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Biggert, your thoughts.


BIGGERT: We're not talking the-the same thing. You said that-have a fair trial. I believe we can give him a fair trial in the civil courts, no question of that.

The difference is that even though Khalid Sheikh Mohammed might have gone to school here, he's not a citizen, doesn't live here. But even the U.S. attorney general has already said that he's going to be convicted. I don't see that that's fair.

This is just grandstanding, so that we can prove to the world what a wonderful judiciary system that we have. Let's get back to the basics. Let's have the military tribunal, where this belongs.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of that, Congresswoman Schakowsky?

You know, Secretary of State Clinton is a brilliant woman in many ways, besides being a politician, and she said on TV, on "Meet the Press" yesterday, that we're going to execute-we're going to try him, then execute him; he's going to pay the ultimate penalty.

It sounds like one of those old cowboy movies, where we're going to give him a fair trial and then hang him. I mean, if we're going to hang him, why is the trial important, if we have already decided that, that he's guilty?

SCHAKOWSKY: Because-because that's what we do in the United States of America. And even the most heinous criminals who are arrested for horrible crimes like molesting children are given trials in order to hear the-hear the testimony.

I think it's very important that we-that we do that. But I think, at the end of the day, all of the options-I'm not for the death penalty, but including the death penalty, would certainly be-be available.


SCHAKOWSKY: There is absolutely nothing to fear, and there is no reason for us not to do that. And I think that we actually look better when we do, do that.

MATTHEWS: Are you against the death penalty in these cases?


SCHAKOWSKY: I'm against the-I am against the...

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Schakowsky.

SCHAKOWSKY: I am against the-the-the death penalty.


SCHAKOWSKY: I think the state committing a murder is a-is a murder.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you, both, Congresswoman Biggert and Congresswoman Judy Biggert.


MATTHEWS: Thanks for joining us.

BIGGERT: From...


MATTHEWS: Coming up: Is Hillary Clinton thinking about running for governor of New York? That's next-that's right, in Illinois-next in the "Sideshow."

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL, and time for the "Sideshow."

First, Hillary back in politics? George Stephanopoulos told Hillary Clinton on Sunday that a lot of governors think she's been talking to a lot of people about running for governor of New York next year. Here is her response.



Talking about running for governor yourself next year.

CLINTON: No, no, no. I-that's another one of those stories that never will die. And-and I hope maybe we can put it to rest today. No, I am committed to the job that I have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, that rumor is dead; you're not running?

CLINTON: I-that rumor is dead. And, if you could please, you know, like, put in a little box and send it off somewhere, I would appreciate it.


MATTHEWS: Well, George suggests it's more than a rumor. A lot of governors are talking about a lot of her talking to a lot of people about it.

Anyway, what do you make of that? I wonder which governors told George that one, that Hillary is actively talking about a run for governor of New York next year?

Now for the "Big Number." What are Governor Palin's odds of being the Republican presidential next time, 2012? According to traders over at, 20 percent. And it's rising. And guess what? Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, are also at 20 percent. She is right there at the top, according to the bookies.

But better check these numbers next week. I will bet, I will bet, that she is not-she is alone at number one after this week and all this hype. In fact, bet on it. Bet on it. Hillary-I mean, well, Sarah Palin is going to be number one for 2012 after this book hype-tonight's "Big Number," 20 percent, Sarah Palin's bets for winning the nomination next time.

Up next: abortion and health care. Will the anti-abortion Stupak amendment in the House health care reform bill be the Waterloo of that reform? And can President Obama do to convince Senate Democrats to go along with some kind of a reform deal?

You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. We're into deal-making.


BRIAN SHACTMAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brian Shactman with your CNBC "Market Wrap."

Stocks logging some solid gains today. The dollar continues to weaken

the Dow Jones industrial average surging 136 points, the S&P 500 adding about 16, and the Nasdaq jumping almost 30 points-today's markets benefiting from that now-familiar tradeoff, a weaker dollar lifting commodities. I can tell you energy, material stocks moving higher as well, gold, in particular, hitting a new record high today, but silver, platinum, palladium moving even higher, at least in terms of percentage gains.

These moves all coming after the Federal Reserve made a rare statement on the value of the dollar today-Chairman Ben Bernanke saying the central bank is monitoring the dollar's decline, especially the link between inflation and job growth.

And in a live interview with CNBC, respected banking analyst Meredith Whitney warning of the possibility of what we're calling a double-dip recession-Whitney saying stocks appear overvalued across the board, with no fundamental rooting to back them up.

That is it from CNBC, first in business worldwide-now back to Mr.

Matthews and HARDBALL.

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Could the Stupak amendment halt health care reform?

Joining me now, "The Washington Post"'s Eugene Robinson, an MSNBC analyst, and Katrina, who covers politics for "TIME" magazine.

This is so tricky. We're getting into the Senate vote on health care. They're going to the floor, Karen, and they're carrying on their back what came over from the House, a basic ban on any subsidy of any insurance policy that covers abortion. Where are we going to go with this? What's going to happen?

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Well, I think the dynamic in the Senate is a bit different than it was in the House.

One difference between the Senate and the House is that senators have to raise their campaign money from national Democratic donors. These people tend to be more liberal. And, for them, the choice issue is a big one. It matters a lot to them.

So, I think a lot of these Democrats are going to be under a lot of pressure in the Senate to not pass any further restrictions on abortion funding.

MATTHEWS: And-well, are they going to take what the House did or not?

TUMULTY: Well, at this-I think that the amendment is going to come up, and I would be surprised if it passes.

MATTHEWS: You know, Gene, we have got a couple senators I'm wondering about. I'm wondering about Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who is pro-life and always has been. I wonder about Ben Nelson of Nebraska. I just wonder about Mary Landrieu and others, because they have a-a more conservative base down in Arkansas and Louisiana.

And I wonder whether they're going to be so easy to bend back to the true cause here of the pro-choice Democratic position.


TUMULTY: Well, I think, Chris, what's going to happen is likely to be what happened in committee, where you saw Senator Casey, Senator Lincoln vote for the restrictive amendments on abortion, but, in the end, they voted for the bill, even though it didn't include that amendment.


Your thoughts, Gene.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think the-the key in the Senate is going to be the phrase status quo.

And I think-I think that there will be an effort to reassure everyone that, without the Stupak amendment, the status quo is somehow maintained on abortion, this sort of uneasy detente that we have in this country about abortion.

And-and-and it's quite possible, I think, that in-you know, despite misgivings, senators like-like Casey and the others will, in the end, not vote against comprehensive health care reform in order to-to preserve the Stupak amendment.

MATTHEWS: Well, I hate to be the ant walking across the picnic table, but I really don't agree with either one of you, because I think this is one of those situations like the...

TUMULTY: Well, you're wrong, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... Civil War-no the Antebellum-I could be wrong, but the Antebellum fights we had in Senate before the Civil War, both the North and the South did try for the status quo. They didn't want a war, I don't think. And yet every time one side did something, the other side saw it as aggression.

And I just want to ask you-back to you, Karen, you covered this. I have to ask you this. What happens if they have to vote on the simple question, should any of these programs, any of these policies, be subsidized if they carry abortion as part of their coverage? How do you avoid that fight? I don't know how you skip around it.

TUMULTY: I don't think you avoid the fight. I think you have the fight on the Senate floor. But the fact is, if you look at the practical effects of this amendment-first of all, there is no status quo. There is a government program called Medicaid, where federal funding is banned on abortion. There is a gigantic private insurance system where a lot of policies cover abortion. But there is no status quo, no hybrid mixed program that mixes government and private funds the way these exchanges would.

But the fact is, this is a relatively small issue that will effect a relatively small number of people that has really just become more than anything else, I think, a fight between a small number of people on the left and a small number of people on the right.

MATTHEWS: Well, I disagree. They used to tell that to Ted Kennedy, and they would say, Chappaquiddick was only 3 percent of the vote. It's the difference between 48 percent and 51 percent.

My argument, Gene, and we all cover the same story here. There are 20 to 30 House members who are going to vote this way. They're going to vote on this issue alone, Stupak. If it's not in there, they're not voting for the conference report. They're not going for any deal that doesn't have what they want, it seems to me.

On the Senate side, I think there are a couple of senators, and you need all the Democratic senators to be aboard, that are going to say no. But you guys say it's going to pass. I'll let you say...


ROBINSON: It seems to me that if you go down the road of the Stupak amendment, then the logic takes you to, well, what any sort of government subsidy that could be construed as subsidizing abortion or making it possible for someone to have an abortion. And so then you have to get into, well, why do we give a tax break on insurance, on health insurance at all to women who might, after all, just use that tax break to have abortions or to get a plan that has abortions in the private sector.

I mean, it's-there's no end to that rationale. You could end up, you know, with an extreme hypothetical in which, you know, somebody who needed to buy a new car and also wanted to have an abortion, you could end up by saying the "Cash for Clunkers" program was an abortion subsidy if you go down that road. And so...

MATTHEWS: Yes, you could do it. Yes, and, Gene...

ROBINSON: ... you've got to stop it at some point.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, we'll see. I think the vice president of the United States may play a role here, because he's one of those who supports abortion rights, but not abortion funding. And the president said no subsidizing of abortion.

Karen, I think it's going to be a fight. I just think so. But you may be right. I don't think you are. Thank you, Karen Tumulty, so much...

TUMULTY: There will be a lot of fights.

MATTHEWS: ... for coming on. I think this bill could die because of this issue, unless you get some smart political thinking here. And I haven't seen any of it on either side. It's just like the Civil War. If neither side really, really comes up with a solution to avoid the fight, there's going to be a fight. Thank you very much for joining us very much, Gene Robinson and Karen Tumulty.

We'll be right back with more HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Will this picture of the president being hugged by Charlie Crist of Florida cost Crist his fight for the Senate? Be right back with HARDBALL.


MATTHEWS: Time now for the "Politics Fix" with TIME magazine's Jay Newton-Small and Michelle Bernard who is president of the Independent Women's Voice, and of course, an MSNBC political analyst.

Let's take a look, here is Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, a very popular fellow down there, on the front page of today's New York Times. It's a big national story. Now there he is. That picture says-the headline, a sure-fire Florida Republican becomes a right-wing target.

Michelle, it looks to me like where it was reasonable to be a Republican trying to cut a deal on a stimulus platform or program back in January when the country was really shaky about whether we're going to face a Great Depression, the politics of last January, just six or seven months ago, is dead now.

Today you want to be a right-wing Republican, if anything. Your thoughts.

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I don't know if anybody-who wants to be a right-wing Republican? I think what we can say is that the war within the Republican Party continues to go on. It is a battle between pragmatists who want to win elections and people who believe in political orthodoxy and feel that if you are not-you know, if you don't meet a certain litmus test of what it is to be a Republican and what it is to be a conservative, certain people want you out of the Republican Party. That's what is happening with Charlie Crist.

It will be very interesting to see what is the future of the Republican Party and who is going to be on the ticket in 2012, precisely for this reason. I mean, Chris, it's almost as if there are a lot of people who believe that they would rather lose elections than have somebody who is a representative of the Republican Party who is not a political ideologue on a certain-you know, almost checklist of issues.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It's interesting, Jay, that the people want to beat Obama really badly on the right, they really don't like the president, they don't like his policies, they may not like him personally, although that's hard to figure. But they clearly want to win against him, but they also want to be right-wing against him. They want both.

They want far right and smart politically. Can they get both done?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME: Well, you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Come on. You know, it's very difficult to win a majority back in either-in either house of Congress without appealing to the center, without appealing to the independents and the moderates. And if you're going to continue to have such a purist party, then you're never going to get the majority back and you're not going to win, frankly.

MATTHEWS: Is Florida a right-wing state or a moderate state, where would you put it politically?

NEWTON-SMALL: Politically it's a pretty moderate state, I mean, look, it was the closest state in the 2000 election, what was it, 457 votes? And, you know, it has always been a close state. It always swings. And, you know, if you're in a swing, it's really those key independents and moderates, again, that always deliver Florida. And so if you're losing those, then you're losing the state.

BERNARD: But the majority of the country, Chris, is in the center. And all I can think is, what has gone wrong in this country where even if you are a Republican or a member of the party that's not in White House, then all of a sudden you have leprosy because you have hugged the president of the United States.

He is the president of the entire country. You know, Charlie Crist is a politician. It's really-it's absurd and I keep thinking people who are just right of center and just left of center have to be wondering what is happening with the entire country. It looks as if the Republican Party and others are eating their own. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: Yes. They're making it seem like he's kissing Arafat. Let's take a look at poll's trend line for the Republican primary down there in Florida between Crist and Marco Rubio. He is the former speaker, a very attractive candidate, 50 to 32 now. It's still five to three. But look where he came from. Rubio has come from practically zero over these months and there's a long way to go, almost a year to go in this primary fight.

Jay, as you look at this, the trend looks very good for Rubio and it looks like Charlie Crist is actually not gaining, in fact, losing his portion of the vote.

NEWTON-SMALL: Certainly. And, look, Rubio came from-a year ago he was polling at 6 percent, he had no money. And now he's polling even with Crist in terms of fund-raising. And that's even with all of the help that Crist got from the NRCC, which is, you know, from John Cornyn in the Senate. Rubio is raising a ton of money, there is a lot of energy behind him.

And if-you know, if momentum keeps on that same track, it looks like he could actually win the nomination.

MATTHEWS: Did you see that the National Republican Committee under John Cornyn of Texas is cutting off the money? They're not going to give any money to either side now. That's fascinating. They're hedging their bets, I think.

We'll be back with Jay Newton-Small and Michelle Bernard. We want to talk about Sarah Palin's incredible week. I've never seen a hype like this, I guess we're helping it. We're back with HARDBALL on MSNBC in just a minute.


MATTHEWS: We're back with Jay Newton-Small of TIME magazine and Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women's Forum with the "Politics Fix."

Let's take a look at these numbers. They're fascinating. The Washington Post and the ABC News have new numbers on Sarah Palin. Her favorability numbers are about the same as they were a year ago, about 43%. And he unfavorables are a bit above 50 percent.

Let's take a look at this other number, only 9 percent say they would definitely vote for her if she ran in 2012 for president. More than half say they definitely would not vote for it. Here's a big number, 60 percent say she's not qualified.

Michelle, your familiarity with the Republican Party, does that give you the impression that she could still squeak it in an evangelical-driven caucus in Iowa and then go on and win in South Carolina and win the nomination of the Republican Party, could she still do it?

BERNARD: Well, you know, based on those numbers right now-but, again, it's just a snapshot in time, the answer is an absolute no. But before we can even think about that, you know, she has got to think about rehabilitating her image and her reputation. And I think that's what she is doing with the book tour.

And depending on how things go with the book and the book tour, and all of the people that she is meeting with, mostly in red states and battleground states, I think then she'll decide what it looks like for 2012.

MATTHEWS: Jay, I wonder if anybody is going to be as effective at opening her up as Katie Couric was. And I'm not sure what Katie Couric's strategy was going into those interviews, but clearly the effect was to open her up to the charge that he doesn't read.

Is anybody else going to try to do that? Or is everybody going to be aboard the bandwagon the next couple weeks and help her sell books?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, certainly the Oprah interview today was not very hard-hitting, it wasn't very tough at all on her. We have got, I think, a couple of hours now coming up with Barbara Walters. We'll see how tough Barbara Walters is on her.

But, I mean, frankly, if you give her enough time, if you give her an hour of two hours, even, you know, when I interviewed her, I found that she will often say things of her own volition if you just make her feel comfortable and just let her talk. And if she keeps talking and talking and talking, she'll say something interesting. She is bound to.

MATTHEWS: But what about all of these-she seems to like the focus on sticking it to the McCain campaign, and then when she has any extra space in the book, going back and talking about her hockey mom status which she seems to still celebrate.

It seems to me if we get a lot of this People magazine kind of coverage, she wins. Michelle?

BERNARD: She definitely-on that, she wins. Sticking it to the-

I don't know if it's sticking it to the McCain campaign as much as it is sticking up for herself. She came off as an absolutely-you know, she didn't have any credibility, particularly after the Katie Couric interview. People thought that she was an idiot.

I think it has been very important for her to say what a lot of women were wondering and were questioning, which was really, was this a woman who had no idea what she was talking about or was this a woman who was so absolutely controlled by the McCain campaign that you never really got to see who the real Sarah Palin is?

She's trying to do that now, whether she is the person that we saw on the Katie Couric interview or person we saw on Oprah Winfrey-on the Oprah Winfrey interview today, or someone else, time will tell. But the American public, they're still fascinated with her and we still want to know, who is she? Is she intelligent? Does she read? Does she really think that she can see Russia from her home in Alaska? People want to know.

MATTHEWS: You're getting to the question I'm about to raise with Jay. Is the Republican Party now driven by anti-intellectualism? Not sort of regular guy or regular woman intellectualism, but anti any credential that shows academic ability?

I had a U.S. congresswoman on a while ago on the show tonight, who, I asked where did KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, go to college, and she said, probably Harvard. Well, that attitude of stupidity, really, about education, as if there is something wrong with it, I mean, who wouldn't want to go to Harvard? I mean, I don't understand this stuff.

What's going on with the Republican Party blasting the worse enemies of this country as having gone to Ivy League schools, as if that's the worst thing you can say about somebody? What is going on with these troglodyte thinking?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I mean, they love to-look, I mean, they love to paint Obama as this intellectual effetist (ph) -- you know, elitist kind of guy who went to Harvard and-you know, and that's just-I mean, that's sort of the stereotype, right?

And in many ways Sarah Palin reminds me a lot of George W. Bush and, you know, she's this very...


MATTHEWS: You got it.

NEWTON-SMALL: ... you know, very simply spoken...

MATTHEWS: How many mistakes do we want to make along this same line? We keep making the mistake of thinking if you're anti-intellectual you somehow have got street smarts. Thank you, Jay Newton-Small. Thank you, Michelle Bernard.

Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. Right now it's time for "THE ED SHOW" with Ed Schultz.



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