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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Thursday, Oct. 28th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Pat Buchanan, Julia Boorstin, Sam Stein, Susan Page, Clarence Page, Larry Sabato, Ron Reagan, David Corn, Joe Klein, Willie Brown

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Palin ain‘t bailin‘.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in New York. 

Leading off tonight: It‘s got to be me.  It‘s not an official declaration, but Sarah Palin just told “Entertainment Tonight,” “If there‘s nobody else to do it, then of course, I would believe that we should do this.”  She‘s laying down the predicate for running.  We‘ll show you how plausible it is for Palin to win the Republican nomination, if not go all the way.

Also, time to break out the crystal ball.  We‘ve seen the polls, watched the debates and heard the sound bites on the campaign.  Now it‘s time for predictions here on HARDBALL.  Can the Democrats hold the Senate?  Will Republicans win the House?  And who will surprise us on election night?  All that in our lightning round tonight on HARDBALL.

Plus, President Obama‘s appearance last night on “The Daily Show.”  Why did he do it, and what did he get out of it?  And when you hear a politician say the only poll that counts is the one on election day, you know what that means?  It means the candidate know he‘s a goner.  Tonight, we‘ll clue you in on when a candidate knows it‘s over and lets you know it.

And wait until you hear what the three Alaska Senate candidates said when they were forced to answer my favorite political question, Is Sarah Palin qualified to be president?  All that‘s ahead.

First, let‘s check the latest poll numbers on the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”  We‘ll start with Pennsylvania, where Republican Pat Toomey is pulling away from Joe Sestak in the Muehlenberg “Morning Call” tracking poll.  It‘s Toomey 48, Sestak 40.

In Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet has a slim 1-point lead over Ken Buck in a new RBI poll, 43 to 42.  Now to Florida and the new Quinnipiac poll.  This is a big one.  In that Senate race, Charlie Crist is gaining ground.  He now trails Marco Rubio by just 7, with Kendrick Meek way behind.  And in the Florida governor‘s race—big surprise here—Alex Sink has a 4-point lead over Rick Scott.  I guess people are discounting that kerfuffle the other night on that debate.

And the latest Field poll of the governor‘s race in California—look at this—Jerry Brown up by 10 over Meg Whitman.  She is not doing well, 49 to 39.  We‘ll continue to check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard” on all the big races each night leading up to election day.

Now to Sarah Palin.  Sam Stein covers politics for The Huffington Post and Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief for “USA Today.”

Here‘s Palin talking about a 2012 bid with “Entertainment Tonight‘s” Mary Hart in an interview set to air tonight.  Let‘s listen.


SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE:  You know, I have not decided what I‘m going to do in 2012.  I don‘t think any of the potential candidates have.  I think that still, it is too early for anybody to get out there declaring what their intentions are.

For me, Mary, it‘s going to entail a discussion with my family, a real

a real close look at the lay of the land, and to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion—whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job and I‘ll get to be the biggest supporter and their biggest helpmate, if they will have me.  Or whether there‘s nobody willing to do it, to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just—just going forward according to what I believe the priorities should be.  If there‘s nobody else to do it, then, of course I would believe that we should do this.


MATTHEWS:  Wow!  You know, I read that, Sam Stein, as a go, that this woman, this candidate, the former governor of Alaska, is saying, I have to do it.


MATTHEWS:  It‘s not about ego.  It‘s not about me.  There‘s nobody else who can really carry the crusade forward.  I‘ve got to do it.  It sounds to me like a countdown to action.

STEIN:  Yes.  It reminded me of my own mindset when I ran for 7th grade president.  If there was no one else, then why not me?  But in all seriousness, it sounds sort of like she‘s a go.  It sounds like the Fred Thompson angle, where she‘s going to wait it out, let people duke it out, and swoop in there with her sort of crystallized 25 to 35 percent of support of the Republican base, and try to wrestle the nomination for herself.

MATTHEWS:  How do you read it, Susan?

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”:  Yes, I think, you know, this is very consistent with something she told an interviewer last month.  But she‘s definitely leaning forward, it seems to me.  And you know, I‘ve assumed that she‘s a go since she endorsed Terry Bransted (ph) for governor of Iowa, not really a new wave kind of Republican, but somebody who could be very helpful to her in the Iowa caucuses.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Karl Rove, who tried to throw cold water on this.  Here‘s a quote picked up by “The London Telegraph.”  Quote, “With all due candor, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery channel—I‘m not certain how that fits in the American calculus of that helps me see you in the Oval Office.”

Well, he‘s a wise guy, sarcastic, one of the boys‘ club, if you will, Susan.  Is that the way that‘s going to strike a lot of women Republicans out there, another wise guy putting down a woman candidate?

PAGE:  You know, I think that voters who are looking, number one, they want gravitas in a presidential candidate, are not Sarah Palin‘s natural base.  People who like Sarah Palin like the fact that she is genuine, that she‘s different from the others, that she connects, that she‘d go on a reality show about Alaska.  You know, I think it is one more interesting, brilliant, different, unconventional step that she‘s taken, to do this show on the Discovery channel.  And I think Karl Rove is missing the point of why some voters are really drawn to her.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I want to underline that because you knew me back in the old days, Susan, when I worked for Tip O‘Neill a hundred years ago.  Remember?

PAGE:  Yes!


MATTHEWS:  And you know what took him from being a successful Democratic political leader—and he left office with about a 65 percent popularity—is when he went on “Cheers.”  And all of a sudden, something cultish began, Sam.  All of a sudden, you go, you step into that grand part of American culture and you do well there.  And people say, yes, this is where you belong, in America.  You‘re not some weird geek from politics.”

You know, we can look down on it.  I would never look down on it because I‘ve seen how it works.  Ronald Reagan came from “Death Valley Days.”

STEIN:  Yes, but—

MATTHEWS:  Ronald Reagan came from “GE Theater,” one of the most popular—in fact, it was number three on television back in the ‘50s, one of those years in the late ‘50s.  So coming from popular culture or going to it doesn‘t seem to be, like, a misstep to me.

STEIN:  Sure, but there is one element that we‘re not discussing, which—and I think what Karl Rove‘s focused on, which is that there‘s this perception that she quit the governorship of Alaska for the sort of the grand aspects of Hollywood, of reality TV, of book tours.  And you know, what Karl Rove is getting at is that in that in the premiere of that show, she says, I‘d rather be doing this than sitting in some stuffy old political office.  Well, voters aren‘t going to—are going to be a little skeptical of that.  They‘re going to say, Well, you were in a stuffy political office and you quit that stuffy political office.  Why should we trust you for president if your heart‘s not really in it?  And I think that‘s what Karl Rove is focused on, and I don‘t think he‘s wrong to focus on that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take an ad (ph) for how she‘s advertising the show herself.  This is on the Learning channel, by the way, Karl.  You got that one wrong.  Let‘s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sarah, you ready?

PALIN:  Oh, gosh!  We are somewhere that people dream about!

Family comes first.  It‘s just got to be that way.

No, boys, go upstairs.

This is flipping fun!  How come we can‘t ever just be satisfied with tranquility!

I‘d rather be doing this than in some stuffy old political office. 

I‘d rather be out here being free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  An all-new eight-week television event, “Sarah Palin‘s Alaska.”  Premieres Sunday, November 14th, at 9:00 on TLC.


MATTHEWS:  Susan Page, one of the real sparkling delights of this election year—and I think progressives don‘t like it at all, but it‘s a reality, and I like anything that gets people involved in politics, to be honest.  I want democracy to flourish—are grizzly moms.  If you look at the women candidates, and they are largely women candidates on the Republican side, the conservative side, the Tea Partiers, are women, whether it‘s Nikki Haley down in South Carolina, who‘s probably the next governor down there, or it‘s Michele Bachmann, who just goes further and further out, successfully, or this candidate—with the exception of Christine O‘Donnell, they‘re doing fine.

And my question is, will women like this new robust image they have?  It is not the frail flower.  It‘s not the girl that gets saved in the monster movies, it‘s the one who saves herself.

PAGE:  You know, I think it is appealing, although, women—of course, women voters are very engaged in the substance of positions, too.  So I think there are probably a lot of liberal women who are not going to be attracted to the conservative “mama grizzlies,” and some moderates might be put off, too.  But it does go to the point of how things are falling into place for a potential Palin candidacy.

You mentioned Nikki Haley.  She‘d be governor of South Carolina, if she wins.  That‘s one of those early states right after—right after New Hampshire.


PAGE:  Nevada, where Sharron Angel, looks like she may well topple the Senate majority leader.  You know, Nevada is also one of those first four states in the presidential nominating contest.  (INAUDIBLE) states where very conservative women with unconventional—


PAGE:  -- political backgrounds—


PAGE:  -- are doing well.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s why I like having a pro on like you, who‘s been through this.  You know, Sam, I will make the point she made equally strongly.  Number one, if you go into the fight for the presidential nomination in the Republican Party, the first big fight is Iowa, where the Christian evangelicals are very strong.  One woman candidate against four or five guys, some of them secular candidates, maybe one like Huckabee, somewhat of a Christian conservative.  She wins that right (ph) state.  Maybe she only wins with 28 or 33 percent, but she wins that hands down.

Then she goes to New Hampshire.  She does OK.  She gets a strong third.  As they say in horse racing, she shows, at minimum.  Then she gets down to evangelical—I should say Baptist South Carolina, with the help of the governor down there, the one she helped become governor, and kills them all down there in South Carolina, where Bush beat McCain back in the old days.

Then goes up for the kill.  She goes to the mothership.  What‘s ever left of Mitt Romney, if there‘s anything left of him then, she goes up and finishes off the guy in Michigan, who started “Obama care” up in Massachusetts, the establishment candidate.

At that point, the boys club meets somewhere in the South.  All the governors get together, Chris Christie and Haley—Haley Barbour and a bunch of them get together, and they try to talk Huntsman into the race or they try to talk Thune into the race, if he‘s not in, or they try to talk Jeb into the race.  That‘s my scenario right now, her against the boys‘ club.

STEIN:  I think you‘re right.  I mean, there‘s two distinct features that portend (ph) itself to a very successful Palin run (ph).  One is the geography, and you‘ve laid that out pretty clearly.  Iowa sets up very well for her.  I think New Hampshire does, as well, with its Libertarian leanings.  And of course, South Carolina.

The other thing is she has sort of ingrained in her something that differentiates herself from every other candidate, and that is that she‘s female and she‘s been there been before on the national stage.  You know, while all these others candidates are going to be duking it out, she can be elevated from it all.  And she has a 30 percent base that will flock to her no matter what.  The key is, can she get beyond that?

And on the issue of female voters, you know, you have to look at the substance, as well, as Susan noted.  I think a lot of female voters actually are repulsed by her.  But that said, you don‘t need to rely on female voters to win this.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s repulsed by her on the right?

STEIN:  On the right?  That‘s tricky, but we‘re talking about a general election—

MATTHEWS:  No, I‘m talking about winning the nomination right now. 

Let me go back to Susan—

STEIN:  Oh, well, the nomination—my point is that the nomination does lay out pretty well for her—


STEIN:  -- and largely on the back of male voters, I think.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, you win the nomination, you‘re in the game.  Let me ask you this, Susan, one question.  I think a lot of male conservatives like her style.

PAGE:  You know, she‘s—she‘s—she‘s fresh.  She‘s into sync with this Tea Party movement that‘s going to be the big story next Tuesday night.  Now, you know, two years, even a year from now—it‘s a lifetime.   We don‘t know—

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but the thing starts—

STEIN:  -- where the economy‘s going to—

MATTHEWS:  -- in a couple months, Susan.


MATTHEWS:  Don‘t be doing that!  Don‘t be doing that to me!


MATTHEWS:  I haven‘t finished this.  You have so many times—you know this election starts Tuesday night next week.  You know it starts Tuesday night.  And you will have the field shaped up by the end of this year.  You will know who‘s running.  So don‘t be putting it off in three years from now.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m in the business of talking about what‘s going on, and that‘s going on this season, guys.  Sam, it starts Tuesday night!

STEIN:  Totally agree.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, guys.  We‘ll be writing about it Wednesday, by the way.  Who are we kidding ourselves?  Thank you.  Front page “USA Today,” with Susan Page.  She‘ll have the tout right there for us.

Up next, prediction time.  Will the Democrats hold the Senate?  We‘ve got some experts.  We‘ve got a panel coming up to predict who‘s going to win all these top races and answer the big questions.  Will the Republicans get the Senate?  Will they win that 10-seat win they need to win, net?

You‘re watching HARDBALL.  And it‘s all coming up here in a minute. 

Don‘t miss it.  MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, as if that revelation that Joe Miller up in Alaska was disciplined for lying on the job wasn‘t enough, here‘s more good news for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.  The Alaska supreme court rules that state election workers at polling places will be allowed to hand out lists of write-in candidates to voters who request them.  That‘s a huge boost for Murkowski, who‘s running as a write-in candidate against Miller, the Republican, and the Democrat, Scott McAdams.

We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Well, this is a segment we‘ve been talking about here for weeks now.  Should we or shouldn‘t we?  Well, we‘re going to do it.  Let‘s go to our panel with the predictions for next Tuesday night.  Here it is, Thursday night the week before.  We‘re going to do it.

Pat Buchanan‘s an MSNBC political analyst.  Professor Larry Sabato is director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of “The Pendulum Swing.”  And Clarence Page is a syndicated columnist for “The Chicago Tribune.”

Gentlemen, I want you to make the predictions in this order (INAUDIBLE) Clarence, Pat and then Larry.  I want your predictions.  Connecticut Senate race.

CLARENCE PAGE, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  I figure Blumenthal is going to squeak ahead of—or should I say wrestle his way ahead of Ms. McMahon there.


PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Blumenthal by a pretty good margin.




MATTHEWS:  OK, all three for Blumenthal, unanimous.  Let‘s go to Pennsylvania, the same question, U.S. Senate race.  Clarence?

PAGE:  Sestak.


PAGE:  I‘m sorry.  Toomey.  I was looking at my own list here. 



BUCHANAN:  I persuaded him before the show.  It‘s Toomey.

PAGE:  Right!


MATTHEWS:  Two Toomeys.  Larry.

SABATO:  I don‘t think there‘s any question.  Toomey.  It‘s a Republican trend in Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS:  OK, another unanimous for the Republican.  Let‘s go to West Virginia, a tricky one.  You first, Clarence.

PAGE:  I‘m going to give that to Manchin.

MATTHEWS:  The Democrat, the governor.  Pat?

PAGE:  That‘s right.

BUCHANAN:  Very tricky, but I‘m going to pick Raese, Chris, because I think he‘s coming on and I think there‘s going to be a bigger wave than I thought.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You predict him to win or are you just rooting for him?

BUCHANAN:  I predict Raese to win.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s go to—let‘s go to Larry.  The question, who—are you going to break this tie?  Who‘s going to win that race?

SABATO:  I think it‘s going to be Manchin.  It‘ll be close, but I think Manchin‘s popularity‘s going to enable him to pull it out.

MATTHEWS:  OK, the Democratic governor to win there 2 to 1.  We call that a split decision.  Kentucky, a tough one.  Clarence.

PAGE:  Tough one.  I think Ron (SIC) Paul‘s going to pull that out. 

The state is with him right now, or the enthusiasm is on his side.

MATTHEWS:  Rand Paul.  Pat?

BUCHANAN:  The Aqua Buddha moves to the Senate.



SABATO:  Paul by a surprisingly wide margin.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Illinois.  Clarence?

PAGE:  Oh, boy, that‘s a tough one, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s your state, friend.

PAGE:  It‘s going back and forth every day.  But I‘ll give it to Kirk.

MATTHEWS:  The Republican, Mark Kirk.  Pat?

PAGE:  There‘s so much anti-incumbent feeling there right now.

BUCHANAN:  I think—Giannoulias has got a lot of problems.  I think you‘ve got to give it to Kirk.


SABATO:  It‘s a squeaker, but Kirk.

MATTHEWS:  Another unanimous one for the Republicans.  So far, as we go down here, I‘ve got Blumenthal winning, the Democrat winning in Connecticut.  Toomey winning in Pennsylvania.  I‘ve got Manchin winning narrowly in West Virginia.  I‘ve got Rand Paul winning in Kentucky.  And I‘ve got Mark Kirk winning in Illinois.  Let‘s go to Wisconsin, Clarence.

SABATO:  I‘m going to say Feingold.  This is one where I might be surprised because he‘s having a really tough race there.

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think Feingold‘s going to win it.  I go with Johnson.


SABATO:  Russ is an old friend of mine.  I hope he‘ll forgive me, but I think Ron Johnson is going to win.

MATTHEWS:  Ron Johnson, the self-financer, knocking off the cleanest of all senators, Russ Feingold.  Let‘s go to Colorado.  This is a heart-breaker one way or the other here.  You do you call it for, Clarence?

BUCHANAN:  I‘m going to say Mr. Buck is going to survive his dust-up over whether he believes in the separation of church and state or not.


BUCHANAN:  I think the Tea Party brings Buck home.


SABATO:  Like many of the Tea Party candidates, Buck is actually running against his own mouth, but I think he will close it in time to win.


MATTHEWS:  Another unanimous for the Republicans.  Let‘s go to Nevada.  Everybody‘s been watching this race, the majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid.  Go to you, Clarence.  Who wins?

PAGE:  Boy, another tough race—

MATTHEWS:  Sharron Angle?

PAGE:  -- but—I‘m saying Sharron Angle is going to pull ahead.


BUCHANAN:  Sharron Angle, the next Margaret Chase Smith.

MATTHEWS:  Oh, that is absurd!


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to Larry.  Larry—predict the election, not history!  Let‘s go to Larry Sabato with that one.

SABATO:  Chris, I‘m least certain about this one, but I give a tiny edge to Angle.

But, remember, there are eight ways to vote against Harry Reid.  Angle is only one of them.  There are six candidates—other candidates, plus none of the above. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, California, another one we have been watching.

Clarence Page, Boxer? 

PAGE:  I think Barbara Boxer is going to pull it out.  It just is a Democratic state. 


BUCHANAN:  It‘s too Democratic, and she‘s had a bad week, because she‘s been ill, so I think Boxer will probably win in the end. 

MATTHEWS:  Larry. 

SABATO:  Not sure of the margin, but Boxer. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go to Washington State, the state of Washington, Patty Murray vs. a very impressive candidate, I‘m told, Dino Rossi. 

Clarence, make your call.

PAGE:  I‘m calling it for Patty Murray.  She‘s having a tougher race than she ought to have, but I think she‘s going to make it.


BUCHANAN:  Dino Rossi.  He‘s up by one and the wave will take him higher. 

MATTHEWS:  Larry Sabato. 

SABATO:  I‘m very—I‘m also very unsure about this one.  I give a tiny edge to Patty Murray, but, remember, Dino Rossi surprised us before and nearly won the governorship in 2004.  So, don‘t be shocked if he wins.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  The net effect of your all predictions, by the way, so far suggests, in fact, it dictates that the Democrats will lose 10 -- lose eight seats net.  That means that they will lose—not lose the Senate.  That‘s the way it‘s going so far, gentlemen.

PAGE:  By one seat.

MATTHEWS:  Let me go through the whole thing again.  Let me go through the whole—I should have—here it is.

You have—you all say the Republicans take Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Illinois.  You all say Democrats take Connecticut.  You have a split decision on West Virginia, but going to the challenger—or, rather, to the incumbent.  Let‘s go.  And here‘s the second half.  It‘s unanimous Republican picks for Colorado, Nevada, and unanimous Democrat in California, split decision in Wisconsin.  Pat and Larry say Johnson, while Clarence says Feingold.  Also a split decision in Washington State.  Clarence and Larry say Murray, while Pat says Rossi. 

All told, you have got six of those races going to Republicans, four to Democrats.  And the net effect on the composition of the United States Senate is that the Democrats will lose eight seats.  They will not lose 10.  They will continue to hold control.  That‘s the prediction.

So, let‘s go to the surprises. 

What do you expect is the big surprise election night, Clarence? 

PAGE:  Well, I—


PAGE:  I think the entire election is going to surprise us with how strongly the Republicans do.

But one surprise I‘m looking at potentially is Tom Tancredo out there in Colorado.  He is running undecided the American Constitution Party, but the Republican candidate, Dan Maes, is putting up such a weak showing, that it‘s possible Tancredo could beat Hickenlooper, if he can pull those Maes votes. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what?  I think you‘re right. 

Let‘s go to Pat for a surprise.  That‘s a hell of a prediction, that Tom Tancredo wins the governorship of Colorado.

Pat, your big one. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I thought Clarence was going to pick Christine O‘Donnell‘s upset in Delaware.  Since he didn‘t—

PAGE:  I was tempted.


BUCHANAN:  -- I wasn‘t going to—I‘m not going to repeat that.  but that was mine.  Tom Tancredo wins the governorship, although, Chris, he‘s got a bit of an uphill fight on the weekend, because he‘s a few points down.  And Maes is still staying in the race.  But I pick Tancredo as governor of Colorado.

MATTHEWS:  OK, two picks for Tancredo. 

What‘s your pick, Larry Sabato, surprise?

SABATO:  Well, it‘s—Hickenlooper is going to win the governorship of Colorado.

Sorry about that, guys, but my surprise—


SABATO:  -- is this—this is a wave election.  And that means that senior Democrats are going to lose, including committee chairmen, like John Spratt from South Carolina, the Budget Committee chair.  He‘s been in since 1982.  He even survived 1994 in South Carolina.  But I think he‘s going to lose this year. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Spratt goes down.

By the way, last-minute pick here.  Is the House going to go Republican, Pat? 

BUCHANAN:  I think—you know, Chris, I have changed my opinion overnight almost.  I think it‘s going to be about 45, and maybe closer to 50, because I have got conservative guys who never go out on a limb who are telling me it‘s 60.  I will go with 50 seats. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, 50 seats, so the House goes Republican.


PAGE:  I underestimated back in ‘94.  I think I‘m underestimating now by thinking under 50.  So, I‘m going to say more than 50 seats also. 

MATTHEWS:  More than 50-plus.

And Larry?

SABATO:  In August, I said Republicans would win and they would pick up 47 seats.  After $4 billion and half-a-million TV ads, I‘m just to 55.  I barely changed the prediction.  Republicans will win.  They will gain 55 seats. 

MATTHEWS:  So, there you have it.

Pat, Clarence, and Larry, it looks like, according to our panel, that the House will go Republican by about 10 seats or so, majority, that John Boehner will be the next speaker starting January 3.  And the Senate will remain Democrats by only two seats, which will make it very hard for the Democratic majority leader, who will be probably Chuck Schumer, the way we‘re predicting it, to carry control of the Senate. 

Up next;  Why is John Boehner, the would-be speaker of the House, campaigning alongside a congressional candidate who likes to dress up like a Nazi?  There he is in his fine uniform.  Check the “Sideshow” coming next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

First tonight: the great Palin divide. 

Last night, during their Senate debate up in Alaska, Democrat Scott McAdams, Republican Joe Miller and Senator Lisa Murkowski all faced the newest gotcha question in American politics:  Is Sarah Palin qualified to be president. 

Here are their three answers. 


SCOTT MCADAMS (D), ALASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  In a strict sense, she is.  She isn‘t somebody whose ideology I support and I agree with.


JOE MILLER ®, ALASKA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  Of course she is.  You look at who we have in office right now and compare the two, there is no comparison. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Senator Murkowski. 

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI ®, ALASKA:  If she were to run right now, I wouldn‘t support her as president. 


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Palin is up in Alaska just today to campaign for Miller, who‘s fallen to third place in the latest poll up there, perhaps the reason why you saw Miller there give a very hearty endorsement of a Palin presidency, much heartier than we have heard him in the past. 

Next, a picture worth 1,000 words.

Remember Rich Iott, that Republican congressional candidate up in Ohio, the guy whose idea of a weekend fun is dressing up like a Nazi for reenactments?  Well, you would think party leadership would stay away from this guy, right?  Wrong.

Iott on Saturday is getting the thumbs-up from a big party pooh-bah.  Here‘s the invite on Iott‘s Web site—quote—“Please join us for this very special pre-election rally with House Minority Leader John Boehner.  What a great way to start off our pre-election weekend.  Please wear any Iott gear you may have.”

Well, we didn‘t make up that last part about bringing the gear with you.  Boehner‘s office confirmed this upcoming appearance, noting that it was part of the Republican leader‘s get-out-the-vote efforts. 

Note to Mr. Iott:  That‘s not break out the uniforms. 

Finally: beat the press.  Delaware‘s Christine O‘Donnell has criticized her opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, on his handling of the budget as New Castle County executive. 

Well, this Tuesday on a local radio station, O‘Donnell was pressed on what she would have done differently, a question O‘Donnell was evidently unprepared for. 

Watch as the would-be U.S. senator snaps her fingers and calls to an aide twice to—well, to bring on—or, actually, during the questioning.

Let‘s see what she does here. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What would you cut? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But what would you cut?

O‘DONNELL:  I don‘t have the budget in front of me.



O‘DONNELL:  And nor should I, because I‘m not running for county executive.  I‘m running for U.S. Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But you‘re criticizing him on running for county executive.


O‘DONNELL:  I want to talk about what matters to the Delaware voter. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, you don‘t really have the answer what you would do differently?

O‘DONNELL:  No, I just gave you my answer. 


O‘DONNELL:  I would not have created sweetheart slush funds.  I would not have spent money on private casino nights, private catered dinners—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But there‘s still more money to cut.  And how would you make us—


O‘DONNELL:  And I would look—


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How would you make us actually economically feasible in 2014?  What? 

O‘DONNELL:  I‘m not running for county council, Rick.


O‘DONNELL:  I‘m running for U.S. Senate.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there she is going for the lifeline. 

Anyway, don‘t think that performance didn‘t hurt.  The station says O‘Donnell‘s campaign manager called up and threaten to crush the broadcaster with a lawsuit if the station didn‘t destroy that video we just saw.  The station later received an apology from O‘Donnell‘s campaign lawyers.

Wow.  I love these phrases:  I‘m going to take you out.  I‘m going to crush you.  Great language this year, if we don‘t stomp on your neck.

And the “Big Number” this year, this week, Frank Caprio, Rhode Island‘s Democratic candidate for governor, told President Obama he would take his endorsement and shove it, another great piece of American English there, after learning the White House would not take a stand in his race.

Well, there‘s a new NBC 10 poll.  That‘s the local affiliate up there in that three-way race.  Here it goes.  And how many percentage points has Caprio, the Democrat, fallen in just the past two weeks, since the last time the poll was taken?  Twelve points, he‘s down.  Independent Lincoln Chafee, who I have said a long time, is going to win this thing, with Republican John Robitaille in second, and Caprio way down in third.

He was in first until he started getting a little tough.  Voters turn cool on Frank “Shove it” Caprio, down 12 percentage points in the latest poll.  I guess people don‘t like this Thabo perhaps—tonight‘s big, bad number.

Coming up:  President Obama goes on “The Daily Show,” and that brings up two questions.  Why did he do it, and what did he get out of it?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Another rocky session, another mixed close, the Dow Jones slipping 12 points, the S&P up about a point, and the Nasdaq adding four points.

Halliburton shares plunging 8 percent on a report showing it knew the cement used to seal that faulty BP well was unstable.  Multinational 3M tumbling as well on better-than-expected earnings, but a weak outlook.  And Microsoft reporting after the close, topping expectations on the top and bottom lines on strong software and video game sales—now back to HARDBALL. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Larry Summers did a heck of a job trying to figure out how to—

JON STEWART, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART”:  You don‘t want to use that phrase, dude. 


OBAMA:  That‘s right.  I was—


OBAMA:  Pun intended.


STEWART:  All right. 



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was President Obama last night taking a little ribbing on “The Daily Show” from Jon Stewart, as he defended his former economic adviser, and he defended the gains his administration made.

Let‘s listen to the real stuff here.


OBAMA:  If we‘re making progress, step by step, inch by inch, day by day, that we are being true to the spirit of that campaign, and—


STEWART:  So, you wouldn‘t—you wouldn‘t say you would run this time as a pragmatist.  You would not—it wouldn‘t be, yes, we can, given certain conditions—



OBAMA:  No, I think—I think what I would say is, yes, we can, but it is not—


OBAMA:  But it is not going to happen—it‘s not going to happen overnight.


MATTHEWS:  Well, last night‘s interview on “The Daily Show” was the third biggest audience they ever had, behind Senator Obama‘s 2008 appearance and Michelle Obama‘s appearance in ‘08.  So, you could say that they‘re bringing a lot to the show there. 

Will this get the youth vote out for the president, though?  Will he win on this transaction of going on “The Daily Show”?

Ron Reagan is an author and political commentator.  David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine and a political columnist for

Ron, thanks for joining us. 

I have got to get your view on this.  First of all, why did he do the show, and did he gain in terms of voter turnout, young voter turnout? 


RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Yes.  He did—Well, he did the show because a lot of young people watch the Jon Stewart show.  And that‘s a big part of his constituency and hopefully the Democratic constituency.

I don‘t know if he gained anything by going on or not.  I guess the proof will be in the pudding when Tuesday comes around, if we see—you know, if Democrats do better than expected.  But I think it was a good move to go on, and I think he did pretty well. 

MATTHEWS:  David, what do you think of the—it‘s easy to be a critic.  And Stewart‘s got a better job.  He‘s a critic of critics. 


MATTHEWS:  I mean, he is—he‘s way back in the benches.  You don‘t have to really do anything, just whack away.

Saying the president was timid when he pushed through the biggest health care bill in history, did something that no president has been able to do before, what is he talking about? 



MATTHEWS:  I just don‘t get what he‘s talking about. 

CORN:  Well, I thought it was a good question, in the sense that the president ran under the banner of audacity, hope—


CORN:  -- the fierce urgency of now.

A couple days ago, he gave an interview when he said we have to have some humility when we proceed—



CORN:  -- now, looking forward, looking forward.

So, I think there is some disconnect with some Obama supporters out there, people who think he hasn‘t been as bold, rightly or wrongly -- 


MATTHEWS:  Well, sure, but they have never been senators or congressmen, nor have any of those critics ever pushed a bill through Congress.


CORN:  Exactly.  Now, I think this goes to the problem Obama is having.


MATTHEWS:  Can I ask the question?  I get agitated by this one.  I admit I get agitated by it.  Compared to what?  Compared to what other president is this guy timid?

CORN:  No, I think he‘s being compared to his own rhetoric and what he promised ahead of time.  And if you look at the way he‘s governed, he hasn‘t convinced his own people, let alone—let alone independents. 

MATTHEWS:  They are unconvincible (ph).

CORN:  He hasn‘t convinced independents.


MATTHEWS:  How do you convince someone who‘s never had a president that they liked that he‘s better than they expected? 

CORN:  That‘s a tough sell.


MATTHEWS:  OK, Ron, I get agitated.

Your thoughts here, because I think you‘re never going to convince Stewart you‘re right, because his job is to be a satirist.  He‘s brilliant at it.  He puts down all institutions.  He doesn‘t give out—it‘s not “Success” magazine.  It‘s “The Daily Show.”  So, how do you go in there and get him to give a—to put a halo over you?  He‘s not going to do it. 


REAGAN:  Well, he‘s not going to do that.  And you shouldn‘t go in there expecting that that is going to happen.

I think that the problem that President Obama has in these sorts of discussions is that he came to office promising all sorts of things, but he promised, among other things, that he would change the culture of Washington. 


REAGAN:  Now, that‘s not a promise anybody can keep. 

And part of the culture of Washington that needs to be changed, of course, is the institutionalized system of bribery that we have up there.  And that‘s the reason we don‘t have the health care plan we should have.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

Well, let me ask you this.  When is the last time—when is the last time John Boehner or Mitch McConnell went through a cultural change? 


MATTHEWS:  These guys are as static as wood.  They‘re never going to change.  They‘re—


MATTHEWS:  They‘re bourgeoisie, burghers from middle of America.

CORN:  But that‘s part of the problem, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  They‘re essentially Americans.  They‘re Jerry Ford incarnate.  There‘s nothing wrong with them as individuals, but they‘re not exactly progressive people with good ideas.

CORN:  Of course not.  Of course not.  But the issue I think is, that Obama said for so many months, until just recently, that he could work with these guys.  And the real question is can he or not?  And if he can‘t, then he has to do something different with his time.


MATTHEWS:  Suppose you walk into a situation where you‘ve got 40 percent of the Congress, 41 percent, that says we‘re going to screw you every day of the week.

CORN:  Exactly.


CORN:  What do you in response to that?

MATTHEWS:  What do you do about that?

CORN:  Well, I think you put up your dukes and you have to fight—

MATTHEWS:  And then what happens?


CORN:  Well, then you‘ll see.

MATTHEWS:  And then what?

REAGAN:  We‘ll call them out.

CORN:  It won‘t be worse than what you have now.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you wouldn‘t get a health care bill through.

CORN:  Well, they got health care without any Republican support.


MATTHEWS:  Because he did it his way.


MATTHEWS:  Ron, (INAUDIBLE) a good job, this president, or bad job, the last two years?

REAGAN:  Do I think he‘s done a good or bad job?


REAGAN:  I think he‘s done a good job overall against enormous odds.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s my—what‘s your reading, Mr. Progressive, critic, Mr. Jon Stewart lover.  I‘m going to be in a parade, too.


MATTHEWS: -- a reasonable standard here.

CORN:  Yes, I think he‘s had some tremendous accomplishments, tremendous, and he has lost out on the political side of the equation.  So, he‘s accomplishments are now at risk.

MATTHEWS:  This is great conundrum, Ron, and here‘s the conundrum of all times.  The business community hates his guts.  The Republican Party calls him a socialist, even if they—sometimes, they call him, American, but usually, a socialist American at least, at least the moderate ones.  They think he‘s been absolutely socialist, absolutely left wing.  And yet, the left, the progressive people out there say he‘s been timid.

What he done wrong when he has both sides—

REAGAN:  The Republicans don‘t think—really think he‘s been a socialist.  Not the people who are, you know, in office and know better.  That‘s just rhetoric to get the crowd geeked up so they‘ll start stomping on people‘s heads, you know?  They don‘t really believe that.

MATTHEWS:  But the left tells the truth and the right lies, you figure out that way.

REAGAN:  Mostly.

CORN:  Most of the left is going to come out and vote for Democrats, you know?


CORN:  They are—I think they are dissatisfied because Obama hasn‘t fought harder.


MATTHEWS:  They‘re going to show up in Volkswagens and the Republicans are going to show up on buses.  That‘s the difference.

Thank you, guys.

Jon Stewart, you‘re a genius.  I think you‘re critical.  That‘s your job.  This guy has to govern.

Thank you, Ron Reagan.  Thank you, David Corn.

Up next: we heard President Obama say this week that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.  There is a leading indicator of trouble when you start saying don‘t believe the pundits, don‘t believe the polls, because that means they‘re saying I‘m going to lose and I think they‘re right.

We‘re going to look at the lines that you can tell when you hear a politician say them that you know they‘re going down the drain.  We‘re going to give you the lines to look for over the weekend.



MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ve seen a growing number of Democratic congressional candidates distance themselves from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Now, North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, the old football player, in fact, quarterback for the Redskins, is going one step further.  In a radio debate, Shuler said, quote, “If there is no viable alternative to Pelosi, I will be running for speaker of the House myself.”  And that makes Shuler, the former quarterback, as I said, of the Redskins, the first Democrat to say he‘ll run against Pelosi for speaker.  This guy‘s running hard and maybe running scared.  I think he‘s scrambling, as they say in football.

HARDBALL—back after this.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

And how can you tell when a candidate knows that he or she is going to lose?  When he or she starts talking in standard one-liners and cliches.  And you‘re going to look at some of them right now, the most overused of those lines, with former mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, and Joe Klein, columnist for “TIME” magazine—which has a special election issue preview this week.  There it is.

Let‘s take a look at this.  Speaker Pelosi used this famous line about polls last month.  Let‘s listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  You have one poll, you have another poll.  But yesterday, we were up, what, three or four points today in “A.P.” poll.  So, there are polls and there are polls.  And the only one that matters, of course, as we always say, is the one on Election Day.


MATTHEWS:  How many times have you heard that, Mr. Mayor?  The only poll that matters is the one on election—you‘ve probably used it yourself.  But then again, you‘ve never lost.  So, you never had to use it.

WILLIE BROWN (D), FMR. SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR:  No, but you hear it from politicians all over the country and you only hear it, Chris, during the time that it‘s near the end when the polls really do count.  And that‘s when you hear a person says the polls don‘t count, only one on Election Day.  And it‘s a standard, comfort level for your campaign, for you, your supporters, and it just says judgment day is near.


Let‘s take a look at this one.  I want Joe to look at this.  Here‘s John McCain, he used these several losing candidate cliches in one interview with Chris Wallace a couple of weeks before the 2008 presidential election.  He got it all in here.  Let‘s listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  I‘m the underdog.  I‘ve always been.  I‘ve been the underdog in a number of races and we‘re very happy with the way the campaign‘s going.  Look, I‘ve been on enough campaigns, my friend, to sense enthusiasm and momentum, and we‘ve got it.  And again, I don‘t have to look at polls.  But polling numbers have closed dramatically in the last few days.  We‘re going to be in a tight race and we‘re going to be up late on election night.  That‘s just—I‘m confident of that.  I‘ve been in too many campaigns, my friend, not to sense that things are headed our way.


MATTHEWS:  Joe, my friend -- 


MATTHEWS:  But what about this, about I‘m an underdog?  Everybody‘s an underdog. Everybody is Harry Truman—you know, he came back, I came back.

JOE KLEIN, TIME:  Yes, I‘m underdog and that‘s why I‘m going to lose actually.

I remember, you know, Fred Harris, when he lost the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, said it was because the little people weren‘t tall enough to reach the voting.


MATTHEWS:  Because they said the little people were on their side, but all that they had was little people.

Let‘s take a look.  Chris Van Hollen happens to be my congressman from around Washington suburbs.  He said this, quote, here‘s a familiar line, Mr. Mayor, quote, “I think the pundits have been wrong before and they‘ll be wrong again.  Democrats will retain a majority in the Congress.  I‘m very confident of that.”

The pundits have been wrong before.  Have we heard that before?

BROWN:  Well, yes we have.  He should have dropped that part.  If he really believes that they‘re going to retain control of the House, he simply should have looked her in the eye, responded to the question by saying, “We will retain.”  You did not need to denigrate pundits.

MATTHEWS:  Let me give you some of the other examples to look for out there.  I want your comment, because you got a theory about, it has to do with countenance and what they look like and act like.

“I‘ve been counted out before.  They said the same thing about Harry Truman.  People are beginning to understand what‘s at stake in this election.”

I love that—everybody says people are finally getting to the issues, like it‘s Thursday before the election.  And they say, well, people are finally paying attention to this election and they‘re going to change it.

When election‘s ever change at the end?  The trends tend to continue.

KLEIN:  Well, sometimes they break, but the keyword here—and the president used this last night on Jon Stewart is but.  We‘ve had disagreements in the past, but.  Well, I saw Linda McMahon do an ad, the same ad, in the Connecticut Senate race the other day.

MATTHEWS:  OK, you said—you‘re going to talk about it, because you told me before it‘s about anger.

Here‘s Bob Dole going after George Herbert Walker Bush with an interview with Tom Brokaw on that famous New Hampshire primary night back in 1988.


TIM BROKAW, VETERAN REPORTER:  And, Senator Dole, is there anything that you‘d like to say to the vice president?

BOB DOLE ®, FMR. U.S. SENATOR:  Yes, stop lying about my record.



MATTHEWS:  Mayor, he didn‘t smile when he said it.  He looked like (INAUDIBLE) there.  He was so angry and maybe rightfully.  But, boy, that‘s one way to know which way the wind‘s blowing.

BROWN:  There‘s no question.

But I have to tell you though, having been in this business, having lost lots of races, not of my own, but of people that I was supporting, you just can‘t find the right words, four, five days out when the deed is done.  You know you‘ve lost.  All of the resources, the money, the blood, the sweat and tears have gone down the drain, you‘ve got say something.

What I‘ve always done is I‘ve taken off—if I‘m in California, I take off for a show in New York.  That way I don‘t have to explain why I lost.


MATTHEWS:  I know everybody goes away election night.  The Chinese restaurants, anywhere you can go hide from everybody, because you don‘t want to hear those early returns.

I got to ask you why where you are, Mr. Mayor.  The California races for governor and the United States Senate maybe the only race in the country where there‘s been some real movement and especially the governor‘s race.

What is going on out there, because some of these other races seem to follow a predictable pattern in the polls?  Yet, the governor‘s race out there with Jerry Brown now pretty well ahead, a 10-point spread tonight.  What happened?

BROWN:  Well, as you‘ll recall, she had a clear field all by herself from the primary to about the first day in September.  And I said, repeatedly, on this program that if she didn‘t go 10 points or more better than Jerry Brown, she would lose, because he would start spending on September 1st, and if he could match her, dollar for dollar all the way through, he would beat her.  She‘s that bad of a candidate.

I didn‘t realize how really bad she was because she was only even with him on September 1st.  And he has just soared, and her problems with Latinos really presented a major hurdle which she could not overcome.

MATTHEWS:  We work out of New York here, Joe.  I‘ve got it ask you a proper question.  I‘m going to surprise you with this one.  If she spends 163 million bucks and loses the California governor‘s race, does that bode ill for Mike Bloomberg, the mayor of this town, to run for president, spend a couple of billion?  Will people resent it?  And in the end, when they see that money being peeled off by an individual, will they vote against the guy?

KLEIN:  I don‘t know if he‘s going to do it.  But there‘s a difference, he‘s a politician.  Politicians make the best politicians.  The guy has won three times here in a very, very tough political environment, as a Republican and Democratic—

MATTHEWS:  So, people don‘t mind Nelson Rockefeller‘s spending the money.

KLEIN:  Yes, they just don‘t—they don‘t like lousy politicians spending money.

MATTHEWS:  As your view, Mayor, out there, that Bloomberg could run three-way next time?

BROWN:  He certainly could because Bloomberg is a very good quality candidate.  I think the whole country, at least the ones out here, know that Bloomberg is smart.


BROWN:  Bloomberg is attractive.  Bloomberg is interesting.


BROWN:  He seems to be post any politician or any candidate or campaign.

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Mayor, I love that sports jacket you‘ve got on, by the way.  I love it.  I‘m loving it.

BROWN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  I love it!  Anyway, thank you, Mayor Willie Brown, a former speaker out there.  And Joe Klein, dressed in black (ph) pinstripes.

When we return, let me finish with some thoughts about erstwhile Governor Sarah Palin and now wants to be president of the United States.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with what Sarah Palin started tonight.

She started laying the groundwork for a presidential run.  She started the countdown, if you will.  She‘ll talk to her family and then decide whether any candidate running can match her own, common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion.  That‘s what she said.

So that‘s what it‘s about.  Not her qualifications to be chief executive of the United States, not her readiness to play the premier post in world leadership, or to grapple with global economics and strategic policy—but her degree of common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion.

I wonder if the great majority of the American people view the country‘s top office this way, as a ramrod of rightist ideology.  I wonder to take if we don‘t take a wider view of it, that it‘s the president‘s job to look out for the country‘s best interest.

I‘m not sure where the phrase “common sense” fits in here.  Though I do see the appeal, it would be nice to think that the average Joe or average Jane could solve the problem of illegal immigration, energy—not to mention the challenge of a global economy that puts American workers increasingly in the same big hiring hall as those in the most desperate places on the planet, the ability to fix the conflict in the Middle East, to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the dangerous states like Iran.

What are the common sense solutions to all that?  Do we put someone in the White House who doesn‘t listen to the experts, who relies on her or her own common sense to get us out of such messes?

By early next year, when people like Governor Palin make their decision to run or not, there‘s an excellent chance the unemployment rate would be still higher, the anger of the economy greater, the fear of a long term downturn spiking far higher than it is even today.  And what was Sarah Palin offers the solution then, tax cuts, budget cuts?  Does anyone seriously believe that we can create a modern 21st-century American economy by going back to the economic thinking of the early ‘30s?

That‘s for HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.




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