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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for July 14

Read the complete transcript to Wednesday's show

Guests: Gov. Bill Richardson, James Bamford, Tony Blankley, Molly Ivins, Tim Pawlenty

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Tonight: unconventional wisdom.  The Democratic stars are not out speaking at the party‘s convention in Boston, but where‘s Hillary Clinton?  We‘ll ask the events chairman, Governor Bill Richardson.  Plus, amid suicide bombings and assassinations in Iraq today, a British report finds its pre-war intelligence on Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction relied in part on, quote, “seriously flawed” or, quote, “unreliable sources.”  And Bush-Cheney versus Kerry-Edwards, the latest from the front lines in the battle for the White House.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  With less than two weeks to the Democratic national convention, the Democratic party is parading their top guns to speak in the days leading up to John Kerry‘s nomination.  But notably absent is one star, Hillary Clinton, the junior senator from New York.  HARDBALL‘s David Shuster has a preview of both convention line-ups - - David.


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Political conventions are always the greatest show on earth.

AL GORE, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE:  And I stand here tonight as my own man, and I want you to know me for who I truly am.

SHUSTER:  And this year, the Democrats will be highlighting what they call their diversity.  More than 40 percent of their 4,000 delegates will be minority.  And the key note speaker is Barack Obama, the Senate candidate from Illinois, already described as a rising star.  The convention theme is “Stronger at home, respected in the world.”  The praise of John Kerry and the attacks on President Bush will be delivered by Reverend Al Sharpton...

REV. AL SHARPTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Real patriots don‘t lie to American soldiers, and they don‘t misuse American troops‘ lives.

SHUSTER:  ... Howard Dean...

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You have the power to take our country back.

SHUSTER:  ... and home-town hero Ted Kennedy, whose prominence at Democratic conventions is legendary.

SEN. EDWARD M. KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

SHUSTER:  The speaking list also includes stem cell research advocate Ron Reagan, son of the late president,  and Bill Clinton, whose walk during the 2000 convention had the image of resurrection and prompted delegates to go nuts.  Not on the speaking list, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK:  The next president and vice president of the United States...

SHUSTER:  Officials said Mrs. Clinton didn‘t ask to speak, though speculation is rampant among her supporters the Kerry-Edwards campaign feared she would steal the spotlight.

The Republican convention one month later is also taking shape.  It will begin in New York a week before the third anniversary of 9/11.  The convention will emphasize the president‘s leadership since the attacks.  The first night‘s speaker, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.  Other prime-time speeches will come from Arizona senator John McCain, the president‘s former rival, who is popular among independents.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  If you believe America deserves leaders with a purpose more ennobling than expediency and opportunism, then vote for Governor Bush.

SHUSTER:  California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will also deliver a major speech, and Democratic senator Zell Miller, long frustrated with his own party on taxes and foreign policy, has also been given speaking time by the GOP.


These events have become highly choreographed, but they are important because to many voters, they will only be paying attention to this election through conventions and the debates.  And the conventions have a very rich history, both to the journalists and the politicians.  And of course, Chris, perhaps one of the best nights of coverage, in my view, are some of the clips that I‘ve started seen from the special that and you and Tom Brokaw put together the Sunday night before the convention.  We want to give some of our viewers a sample.


MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the big fight between Ronald Reagan and Jerry Ford at the decisive ‘76 convention.  That was one of the last ones that could have gone either way, right?

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  That was a real battle royal.  And the Mississippi delegation, led by Clark Reed (ph), was pivotal to all that.  They ended up going with Jerry Ford.  Reagan hung in there to the end.  I had the last interview with him up in the booth, and he was very reflective.  And it was clear, at that point, that he knew that at some point, he‘d get his crack at the presidency.  And he felt that it was part of his destiny.


SHUSTER:  That is going to be a great hour.  And two have, what, like, 100 years of experience between you!


SHUSTER:  But Chris, that‘s going to be terrific stuff.

MATTHEWS:  Sunday night before the convention, right before, the eve of.  Anyway, thank you, David Shuster.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico is the chairman of the Democratic national convention this year.  Governor Richardson, why not Hillary Clinton?  She‘s a—she‘s a big Democrat, well know, probably the best known woman Democrat.  Why not her speak at the convention?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO:  Well, Chris, she is going to participate the first night, along with a segment on the nine women senators.  Senator Mikulski is going to lead that event.  And of course, President Clinton speaks on Monday.

I—it strikes me that she‘s a major star in the party.  She‘s going to be all over, speaking the state delegations at events.  You know, Chris, how some of these conventions are.  It‘s very hectic.  Final plans haven‘t been completed.  But also, sometimes when you speak at these conventions, you have a litany of speakers.  So I don‘t think she‘s been diminished at all.  And again, I don‘t make these decisions.  I‘m just the convention chairman.

MATTHEWS:  Well, who does make the decision, Terry McAuliffe?  Because their Democratic Party chairman in New York, Judith Hope, who‘s a big Hillary booster, is complaining like hell right now that Hillary‘s not getting to speak.  She said this is a slam against all women, denying Hillary a chance for the platform there.

RICHARDSON:  Well, Judith Hope‘s a very good former state chairman.  Look, this is something that is going to be sorted out.  But right now, Chris, she‘s going to be part in the first day of a segment of our nine women senators.  They‘re all very strong players.  They‘re going to be highlighted.  And she is going to participate.  So again—there‘s the other issue.  Apparently, when you get these conventions, a lot of people ask.  They all want to speak.  Apparently, she didn‘t ask.  Now, again, this is something that is fluid, but she is participating.  We‘re very proud of her.  She‘s a major star in the party.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think this is going to be taken by people like me, for example, as evidence that Hillary Clinton really doesn‘t want the Democrats to win this year because she wants the seat open next time for her to run for president.  She doesn‘t want Kerry and Edwards in there.

RICHARDSON:  No.  Chris, I mean, Hillary Clinton has been campaigning strenuously for the ticket.  She put out a statement yesterday saying all she wanted to do was help the ticket, that this was not a serious problem.  So again, I think you guys are reading a little too much into it.

MATTHEWS:  Well, no, the only thing I‘m reading into this—either you didn‘t invite her but she wanted to come, or she didn‘t want to come.  Which is it?

RICHARDSON:  Well, she...

MATTHEWS:  If she wants to come (UNINTELLIGIBLE) time for it, in other words.

RICHARDSON:  No, but she is participating.  She‘s going to be there the four days.  Her husband, the president, is going to speak prime-time on Monday.  She‘s a major player in the party.  No one‘s taking that away.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  One Clinton—one Clinton is enough, according to you.  Anyway, Bill, I get it.  One Clinton enough a night.  You know what‘s interesting, if you look at the convention, it‘s mainly during the times, Bill Clinton, that the broadcast networks, as well as the cable networks like MSNBC—and we‘re covering the whole shebang.  But all the networks are going to be covering from 10:00 to 11:00, I think, three nights, prime-time for a candidate or a big shot who wants to speak.  For example, former president Jimmy Carter, former vice president Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Obama, Barack Obama, the guy running for the Senate in Illinois, Ted Kennedy, Edwards and Kerry—are they all going to get to speak during that magical broadcast as well as cable hour between 10:00 and 11:00?

RICHARDSON:  Well, Chris, we‘re disappointed that NBC is only going to broadcast a few hours, and we‘re counting on cable, on you guys...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s fine with me.  I‘m just wondering whether you guys are going to try to shoehorn in all those big-time speakers into those precious three hour or not.

RICHARDSON:  No.  I think that there‘s going to be an effort to diversify that.  We‘ve got a lot of good speakers.  We‘ve got a lot of messages we want to get through.  This is going to be a convention with a lot of pizzazz.  The speeches are going to be shortened.  It‘s not going to be like the old conventions, where everyone gets three minutes.  So you‘re going to see those major players...

MATTHEWS:  Gotcha.

RICHARDSON:  ... in time that guys like and you very positive news outlets and cable outlets can broadcast.

MATTHEWS:  Ron Reagan told me the other day—I interviewed him—he said that he‘s going to get about eight minutes.  Does that sound right to you?

RICHARDSON:  That sound right to me.  You know, he is a major, major star.  He is going to talk about science, stem cell research.  It was mutually arrived at, about him speaking.  He is somebody that feels very strongly that the Bush administration policy of not spending research funds on stem cell research is affecting diabetes, Alzheimer‘s.


RICHARDSON:  And so he is going to be—he‘s going to get a lot of attention.  We‘re delighted.

MATTHEWS:  Speaking of the life issue, are you going to let anybody who‘s pro-life, who opposes abortion rights, speak on the convention floor?  Are you going to do what you did to Bob Casey back in ‘92, no pro-lifers allowed to speak?  Is this party going to be a one-point-of-view party.

RICHARDSON:  No.  You know, this is a very broad cross section...

MATTHEWS:  Name one speaker who is pro-life at the Democratic convention coming up.


MATTHEWS:  One speaker.

RICHARDSON:  The final set of speakers haven‘t been finalized.  So you may be surprised.  But I...

MATTHEWS:  I will be very surprised if you guys let a pro-life speaker speak at a Democratic convention.

RICHARDSON:  Yes.  Well, we‘ll see, Chris.  We still have a few more announcements in the days ahead.

MATTHEWS:  Well, plenty of opportunities to diversify on that issue.

More with Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic national convention when we return.  And later, James Bamford on the rationale for war with Iraq.  He doesn‘t think there was one.  Plus, Molly Ivins and Tony Blankley will be here to duke it out.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Governor Bill Richardson. who‘s the chairman of the Democratic national convention.  He also served as ambassador to the U.N., later—after that, secretary of energy during the Clinton administration.  As secretary of energy and now as former secretary of energy, Mr. Richardson, Governor, do you have any evidence one way or the other whether Saddam Hussein tried to buy uranium from Africa?

RICHARDSON:  No.  No, I think that has been very firmly established, Chris, that that never happened.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why are the Brits still sticking to that, even as we speak?  Why are they saying there‘s evidence that that was, in fact, the case, that he was were trying to get uranium from Niger?

RICHARDSON:  I remember seeing those reports.  They were not deemed credible.  I don‘t see why it keeps popping up.  I don‘t think there‘s any evidence of that.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about a very strong statement that your candidate, Senator Kerry, made in a “New York Times” interview on the record in one of those things—you know how they put the whole text in the paper—on Sunday.  He said because of the war in Iraq by the United States, there is more recruitment of terrorism around the world and more targeting of the United States.  It sounds to me like that is finally a bottom-line pronouncement by your candidate that we shouldn‘t to have gone war because it‘s made us more vulnerable to attack.

RICHARDSON:  Chris, he didn‘t mean that, obviously.  What he meant there was that what we have now is a situation where by not paying enough attention to the international terrorist threat, by shifting many of our resources in Iraq, we now are unable to deal as effectively as we could have, had we put all our resources into intelligence of terrorist networks, into cells, into all kinds of tracking of some of the terrorists.  That‘s what he simply was saying.  He voted for the war.  I supported it, too, going in.  But there was no exit plan, and that‘s where a lot of the concerns...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s why...

RICHARDSON:  ... are right now.

MATTHEWS:  By the way, that‘s why this show‘s called HARDBALL because I think there is a contradiction here.  He refuses to say he was wrong in voting for the war, even yet—even today.  But yet, in that interview, he specifically said, Our war with Iraq has triggered more recruitment of terrorists against the United States, not that we failed to go after bin Laden and therefore he‘s still alive, but more people are joining his outfit and outfits like it because we went to war with Iraq.  That‘s what he told “The New York Times” this weekend.

RICHARDSON:  Well, I think, Chris, what has happened in Iraq is by the fact that we don‘t have international U.N., NATO legitimacy there, peacekeeping troops from Muslim countries, that has been harder for the U.S. presence to be established within Iraq.


RICHARDSON:  Therefore, you see a lot of these dissidents joining forces very much against it.

MATTHEWS:  Any chance that Ralph Nader will—I‘ve heard once again some buzz that he may be willing to pull out of this race and leave it a two-way race between the Democrats and the Republicans, between Kerry and President Bush.  Have you heard any word that he might be willing to come aboard and perhaps show up at the Democratic convention and say, I‘m throwing in with you guys?

RICHARDSON:  Chris, I haven‘t heard that, but we obviously would welcome that.  Senator Edwards on the ticket—you know, Ralph Nader several times said that he would be the strongest because of his consumer orientation, the fact that he was a trial lawyer, was involved on product liability cases.  Our hope is that Ralph Nader sees that if he stays in, he‘s going to elect George Bush for a second time.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

Coming up: the reasons for war.  A British report find its pre-war intelligence on Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction relied in part on seriously flawed sources.  James Bamford will be here.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  On a day when insurgents gunned down an Iraqi governor and a car bomb killed at least 10 people in Baghdad, another report finds that Iraq had no significant stocks of chemical or biological weapons before the war.  A just-released British report concludes that British intelligence on Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction program was flawed, but it absolved the British government of deliberate distortion and culpable negligence.  Despite this, Prime Minister Tony Blair took personal responsibility for the flawed intelligence.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy.


MATTHEWS:  So why did both American and British intelligence get it wrong on Iraq?  James Bamford is author of the book “A Pretext for War:

9/11, Iraq and the Abuse of America‘s Intelligence Agencies”

James, let me ask you the question why both we and the British got it wrong in the same way?  We thought he had lots of weapons of mass destruction.

JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, “A PRETEXT FOR WAR”:  Again, I think both the reasons are the same for both of them.  They both wanted the war.  They pushed the war as hard as they could.  They pushed every excuse they could for having this war.  And the intelligence community pretty much on both—both in Britain and the United States, went along.  One of the people I interviewed at CIA said the supervisor of one of the units looking for the weapons of mass destruction called all his group together and said, Look, if the president wants a war, it‘s your job to give him a reason to go to war.  And I think that‘s the kind of pressure there was.

MATTHEWS:  Who said that?

BAMFORD:  It was supervisor of one of the units looking for weapons of mass destruction at the CIA.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ve been thinking about this for the last day or so, flying on a plane from California.  And my simple question was, was that it we were taken in by flawed intelligence or that we were so determined to go to war, we‘re willing to take risky and uncertain intelligence to justify it?

BAMFORD:  Well, it was both.  And the ironic thing was at the time we went to war, we had more intelligence agents on the ground in Iraq than anywhere else in the world.  We had all those inspectors, and they were going everywhere.  We were having U-2 planes flying overhead.  We had all the list of places that had suspected weapons, and rather than having the inspectors go there and look for them, the Bush administration pulled them out.  And we went to war, and now we‘re paying the price.

MATTHEWS:  Tony Blair was pretty dramatic in selling the war to his own people—and to us, because we always like Tony Blair.  Americans like the Brits, usually, generally.  He said there was biological weapon could have hit Britain in 45 minutes.

BAMFORD:  That was an outrageous claim.

MATTHEWS:  Where‘d he get such a specific time?

BAMFORD:  Well, there was a report that he read from one of the intelligence organizations.  But again, like in the United States, they didn‘t put the caveats in there.

MATTHEWS:  Like, did they have the weapons?  How‘s that for a caveat?

BAMFORD:  They didn‘t—if they had the weapons, if they were available, if they were ready to be fired, they could have done that.  But the problem was, they didn‘t have the weapons, they weren‘t ready and they weren‘t ready to fire.  So no, it couldn‘t have happened in 45 minutes.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m wondering whether all this intel, the bad intel that went to the British government, Tony Blair, and to our president, all came from the same garbage dump of bad intel.  According to the British report today, some of this bad intel they had was received from another government‘s intelligence agency, and it was seriously flawed.  Could it be we‘re all dipping out of the same bad well when it comes to info?  Like the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, other people supporting the war?

BAMFORD:  Exactly.  In Israel, there were two commissions that came out, and both of them concluded that Israel didn‘t have any good intelligence.  And they were passing that on to the United States.  We got bad intelligence from the Italian intelligence service on Niger that led to the suspicion that Saddam was buying nuclear material from West Africa.  So there was a lot of bad intelligence floating around.

MATTHEWS:  Were we?  Was that true?

BAMFORD:  No.  They found there was no evidence that he was buying...

MATTHEWS:  So no ability to hit us in 45 minutes, no uranium bought in Africa, no mobile biological weapons, no nuclear program.  I mean...

BAMFORD:  No connections to al Qaeda.

MATTHEWS:  No connections to—it seems like they batted zero, in baseball terminology, a zero.

BAMFORD:  A zero, and people are paying with their lives now for that

·         that bad move, where they could have left the inspectors in there and nobody would have been killed, at this point.

MATTHEWS:  A couple questions, lingering questions here.  And you‘re the expert with your book, “A Pretext for War,” James.  Let me ask you this.  Why did the British still hang onto that Niger notion, that uranium was going to be bought by the Iraqi government in Niger in Africa?

BAMFORD:  Well, they‘re claiming that they have independent sources beyond the forged documents.  And they‘ve never revealed those sources, and theoretically, they haven‘t told the CIA what those sources are, which seems incredible to me.  So they‘re claiming they have this information, but they‘re not willing to give up the...

MATTHEWS:  So they won‘t die on that one.

BAMFORD:  ... the information...

MATTHEWS:  They‘ll never give that one up.

BAMFORD:  They aren‘t even giving it to the CIA.

MATTHEWS:  So everybody basically agrees that there‘s no WAD there, except two people.  They‘re still saying there‘s something to this uranium deal.  And Dick Cheney says there‘s still a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq, and he suggested it‘s a prominent, important connection.  It‘s not just they met once in a while, but they were connected in the operations, which would suggest they had something to do with 9/11, the Iraqi government.

BAMFORD:  Well, I would suggest that he come—hold a press conference and tell the public because there are American that are dying every day on there on this phony intelligence.  And if he has some real intelligence, he should tell people what it is instead of being very coy about it.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think he‘s doing it?

BAMFORD:  Well, he has a base out there, and he‘s got to give the base something to go on.  The base has very little, his political base—very little to go on, at this point, so he‘s got to give them something.  So you hear on the Rush Limbaugh show or something that the vice president is saying that there still is a connection.  And those people, if they hear their only news from the Rush Limbaugh show, they‘re going to believe it.

MATTHEWS:  Were we facing any real threat from Iraq?

BAMFORD:  No.  Every report that‘s come out has said that we haven‘t been facing any threat from Iraq.  Iraq had nothing to threaten us with.

MATTHEWS:  Well, why did our people think so?

BAMFORD:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think they deluded themselves?  Do you think Colin

Powell deluded himself?  Do you think Rumsfeld deludes himself, Wolfowitz,

Feith, the whole gang?  Do you think the administration sort of war cabinet

·         do you believe all of them, including the president, said, We don‘t really believe this stuff, but we‘re going to force ourselves to believe it to sell this war?

BAMFORD:  Well, I think they had planned this war long before the administration came to power.  The neocons, particularly at the Pentagon, had dreamed up this plan in 1996 and were trying to give to it Israel, to Benjamin Netanyahu.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, it‘s called the clean break...


MATTHEWS:  Right.  I know.

BAMFORD:  They were working as consultants for him.  And it never went anywhere.  Netanyahu never did anything with it.  And then September 11 came up, and all of a sudden, as one of the members of that group wrote, Crisis is our opportunity.

MATTHEWS:  Was that Richard Perle?

BAMFORD:  No, that was David Wurmser (ph), who...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, Wurmser, Feith and Perle were all in on both, both trying to sell it to Netanyahu...

BAMFORD:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  ... head of Likud at the time and head of the Israeli government, and also now head—trying to sell the same package of arguments to us.

BAMFORD:  Well, they brought it with them, and they became...

MATTHEWS:  Years later.

BAMFORD:  ... high officials at the Pentagon, and they‘re the architects of the war.

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve read all about it.  Thank you for putting a lot of this in the book, James Bamford.  The book‘s called “A Pretext for War:

9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America‘s Intelligence Agencies.”

Up next, Minnesota‘s traditionally—at least, it used to be a Democratic liberal state, but president Bush is hoping to steal it away from the Republicans this time—for the Republicans.  We‘ll talk to Minnesota‘s governor, Tim Pawlenty.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  This half-hour on HARDBALL, battleground Minnesota.  We‘ll ask Government Tim Pawlenty whether President Bush will be able to turn the Gopher State from blue to red.  Plus, Molly Ivins and Tony Blankley on why Hillary Clinton isn‘t speaking at this year‘s Democratic Convention.

But, first, the latest headlines right now.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

To give you an idea how tight this election is and how every vote counts, yesterday, President Bush visited the 11,000 residents of Marquette in Michigan‘s Upper Peninsula, whose last presidential visitor was Howard Taft 90 years ago.  He also traveled, the president did, to Duluth, Minnesota. 


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The other day, my opponent said that a bunch of entertainers from Hollywood conveyed the heart and soul of America. 


BUSH:  I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places like Duluth, Minnesota. 



MATTHEWS:  Joining us from Saint Paul is Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, who accompanied the president in Duluth.

Is Minnesota in play for the Republicans this year, Governor? 

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY ®, MINNESOTA:  I think it is, Chris. 

The public polls would document that and verify that.  It still leans a little toward in presidential elections towards the Democrats, but it‘s certainly within range for the Republicans to take.  And this is a year it would be great to do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Does taking shots, like the president just did today, with you there at the Hollywood left, does that resonate well in the heartland there? 

PAWLENTY:  It sure does.  And, you know, you come to the Midwest, particularly the Upper Midwest, and people kind of view the folks out in Hollywood as a little bit off, both culturally and politically.  So it is a kind of layup politically to take shots at them.  And I think the president is wise to do so, not just for political reasons, because it is also not a good reflection of the heartland of America to have those folks described as the speakers for us when they‘re not. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought this election was going to revolve primarily around—I may still be right, Governor—you tell me—around the war in Iraq and whether it gets bloody or stays bloody or gets worse or gets better—people are pretty practical in this country—and about the economy, whether it is coming back strong enough and if it is fair enough, the policies of the administration.

This week has been a week for a lot of discussion of cultural issues. 

There‘s Ron Reagan speaking to the Democratic Convention on stem cell.  There‘s the vote on the Senate floor this week on the marriage—the anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution, this Hollywood mess, these people not really speaking properly when they‘re speaking to the American people.  How much of this cultural piece is going to be in play in this election and how much of it is going to be jobs and the war? 

PAWLENTY:  I think, Chris, it is fair to say that the economy, jobs, the war, and I would add a third one, health care, are the three big substantive issues that actually sway votes, that people are thinking about, with health care emerging. 

But, beyond that, that values cluster of issues, while it‘s important, it doesn‘t really get played out issue by issue or slice by slice.  It becomes kind of a measure of the person, their character, their leadership strength.  And I think, in the end, a lot of people, particularly in the heartland, don‘t have a full measure yet of John Kerry.  And I think when they start to figure out a little more about him and also kind of “Who do you want to go have a beer with?” test, that last 5 percent, they may not be issue-driven people. 

That last 5 percent may say, what is the measure of the person?  Is he or she strong?  Do they have my values?  Do they have some guts?  Do they have some heart?  And that‘s not about issues.  That‘s just about measuring the person.  And I think President Bush is going to fare pretty well on that measure. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I might give you rather have a beer with the president—with the president, clearly.  I‘ve met him.  I‘ve been lucky to meet him.  He is certainly a likable guy and he is certainly a guy.  And Kerry can be a bit cold, although I think he is better in person. 

But how do you say to the women, who are the majority voters, would you rather have a beer with Dick Cheney or John Edwards? 


MATTHEWS:  I think a lot of women would say give me a couple of minutes on a bar stool with John Kerry—or John Edwards.  I would sort of enjoy that more, with this sort of occasionally grouchy guy who says bad words, Dick Cheney.  What do you think?

PAWLENTY:  Now, in fairness to the president, he doesn‘t drink anymore, so it would probably be a Coke for him.  And for you, it would probably be a big mug. 

MATTHEWS:  No, it‘s a—I quit 10 years ago.  I‘m with the president on that one.

PAWLENTY:  All right.  All right. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Dick Cheney—you brought this thing up. 


MATTHEWS:  Would you rather have a beer with John Edwards or Dick Cheney? 


PAWLENTY:  Well, I‘ve had a refreshment with Dick Cheney.  And he is actually a very engaging individual. 

But I think the real thing is, people don‘t vote for vice president.  With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, there‘s no objective evidence that people cast their vote for vice president.  So it‘s interesting to talk about, but it‘s irrelevant statistically.

MATTHEWS:  So you won‘t answer my question, who you would rather have

a beer with.  Let me ask you.  You‘re speaking for


PAWLENTY:  I would rather have a beer with Dick Cheney.  I would rather have a beer with Dick Cheney. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re speaking for the entire state of Minnesota now, men and women both.  Who would the people of Minnesota as a group, men and women, who are the majority voters in every state, I think, who would they like more, Edwards or Dick Cheney? 

PAWLENTY:  I think it‘s probably...


PAWLENTY:  I think it‘s probably split.  And people view this through the lens of their own partisan leanings.  And it is easy to say on the surface John Edwards is dynamic.  He‘s charismatic.  Somebody the other day on television called him the Breck Girl of politics.  That‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think it was Maureen Dowd did that, yes.

PAWLENTY:  In the end, people want to see genuineness, particularly in middle America.  And it remains to be seen whether John Edwards is going to be viewed as genuine or whether he‘s going to be viewed with this kind of overly flashy, kind of smart, quippy person. 

But does he have any genuineness to him?  And that‘s—I think people in the mid-heartland of America take a pretty good measure of that.  But, beyond all that, it doesn‘t matter for vice president.  People don‘t vote for vice president, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, when I was growing up—I think I‘m older than you—when I was growing up, Minnesota was Scandinavia.  It was a lot of people from that part of the world, Denmark or Sweden or Norway, a lot of people from Northern Europe who had come over to this country, farmers especially, very Nordic in its politics, very liberal, very almost social democratic, to use a European term, Hubert Humphrey, Mondale, Gene McCarthy.

PAWLENTY:  Gene McCarthy, yes.

MATTHEWS:  Wendy Anderson. 

And now it is a state that you represent.  It seems like more of a Republican state.  What happened to Minnesota to switch from left to middle or right? 


PAWLENTY:  A few things happened.  I think it is fair to say that culture and demographics matter.  Politics matter. 

On the culture side, the state has become more diverse.  It has become more suburbanized.  And so it has been more open to other kinds of political messages.  No. 2, classic liberalism unchecked has been discredited.  So the pendulum had to swing a bit the other way.  Minnesota, along with Massachusetts and Hawaii, were the most liberal states in the nation. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

PAWLENTY:  Coincidentally, all three of those states now have Republican governors.  So it‘s a reaction.

MATTHEWS:  Would Hubert Humphrey get elected in Minnesota today, with his old-style social democracy, a relatively big government, that kind of thing? 

PAWLENTY:  If he was a new candidate and he was unknown, probably not. 

But if he was the legendary Hubert Humphrey and was an incumbent, probably. 

And Wellstone demonstrated some of that as well. 

But the—I guess the point, Chris, is, it is now a politically competitive state, because the demographics have changed.  But, more importantly, people figured out that unchecked liberalism doesn‘t work.  You got to have a counter balance. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you thinking the war right now is a plus or a negative for your party or your government, your president in this election?  The fighting of this war, rather than the not fighting of this war in Iraq, is that a plus for the president? 

PAWLENTY:  I think, at the moment, it‘s probably a wash in Minnesota and for much of the rest of the nation politically. 

But I think, between now and November and more importantly in the long run, it is going to be a very significant plus for the president, because he had to make a tough decision and he did—took the decision towards defending America proactively.  And I think...

MATTHEWS:  And it was the right decision to go to Iraq, you believe. 

PAWLENTY:  Given the information that he had before him, you bet. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, given the information we have now, should we have gone? 

PAWLENTY:  I still think so, Chris. 

I think the information that we have, while the intelligence community could have done a better job, if the net result of this is, we end up stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, that is an historical moment and one that I think will be reflected positively in history. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I can‘t argue with that.  If that‘s the case, I think we‘ll all agree.

Thank you very much, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, the formerly liberal Minnesota. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, more on the Hillary snub at the Democratic National Convention.  It looks like it was a snub.  And Senator Edwards takes a shot at Vice President Cheney.  We‘ll talk to political columnist Molly Ivins and “The Washington Times”‘ Tony Blankley.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC. 

ANNOUNCER:  Follow all the action in the battle for the White House.  Sign up for our free daily e-mail.  Just log on to our Web site,


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Molly Ivins and Tony Blankley on the battle for the White House and why Hillary Clinton has been cut out of speaking at the Democratic National Convention—when HARDBALL returns.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tony Blankley is “The Washington Times”‘ editorial page editor.  And Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist and author of the new book, “Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I Have Known.”

Today, the former New York state Democratic chairman—chairwoman, rather—expressed outrage that Hillary Clinton would not be a prime-time speaker at this year‘s Democratic National Convention in Boston—quote—

“It‘s a slap in the face, not personally for Hillary Clinton, but for every woman in the Democratic Party and every woman in America.”

Do you feel insulted, Molly? 

MOLLY IVINS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  No.  I feel like maybe I‘m flunking the feminist test or something.  I can‘t even work up any outrage over this. 

MATTHEWS:  Weren‘t you surprised, though?  I thought she was going to be one of the stars. 

IVINS:  But—but—but—then if you—if you—if you‘re going to have a woman in the lineup, don‘t you have to have Dianne Feinstein?  Isn‘t it like, she‘s a junior senator problem?

MATTHEWS:  Well, I do like Dianne Feinstein. 

But go ahead. 

TONY BLANKLEY, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON TIMES”:  Look, there‘s a different reason.  And I don‘t blame the Democrats for not inviting her. 

Hillary is a little bit like my old boss Newt.  The base loves her.  The opposition‘s base hates her.  And the Democrats this season already have their base energized and ready to vote.  So if she goes up and speaks, she just gets conservatives angry. 


MATTHEWS:  You must be a Republican to think the Democrats are that strategic.  That sounds actually brilliant. 


BLANKLEY:  I‘ve been several—as you have, several national conventions.  And well managed conventions are very calculated affairs.  When they make a mistake, as, for instance, when they let Pat Buchanan speak at the Republican Convention, it creates problems.

You have to understand what each...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BLANKLEY:  This is a production.  Each person has a symbolic role to play.  And you‘re trying to tell a story.  Now, what we can learn from it is what story they want to tell, each party.

MATTHEWS:  And with the media watching, they‘re looking for those gotcha moments when the person says what doesn‘t help the party. 

IVINS:  No, but the media is always fascinated by Hillary. 


IVINS:  Hillary


IVINS:  ... at least once a week.  And the right just loves to see her as this power-hungry, manipulative Lady Macbeth-like person. 


MATTHEWS:  Molly, let me ask you about gender, because I love to get these fights going, because it reaches home when I make these comments.

Men—and I‘ve known this—I‘ve been trying to stop—tend to shout when they‘re on television or at public events.  And they get away with it.

IVINS:  Chris, no.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.

And men can sort of get away with it, because we‘re not all Reggie Van Gleason, but you can raise your voice.  “The McLaughlin Group” is like that.  The men yells.  When Eleanor yells, it sounds high-pitched.  Is that just a problem for Hillary, because I‘ve seen so many women in politics, like Barbara Boxer, who in person have moderated, wonderful tones.  They‘re very charming in their presentation.

IVINS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  They get behind a microphone and they start to yell.  It doesn‘t work. 

IVINS:  Well, not all of us have those high, shrill voices, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, you‘re giving me the, what, Raymond Burr now? 



MATTHEWS:  You know what I‘m talking about. 


MATTHEWS:  Hillary Clinton can squeal right so the dogs are going crazy, OK?  Right?


MATTHEWS:  I know.  You love her.

Let‘s go right to the big points of this convention. 


MATTHEWS:  It seems to me this is going to be one crowded dais up there.  You have got on—just to start, you‘ve got Barack Obama, this hot shot guy.


MATTHEWS:  He is half-Kenyan.  He‘s a Harvard Law Review guy.  He‘s probably going to be the next Illinois—although Mike Ditka may go against him in Illinois.

You‘ve got Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, former President Bill Clinton.  You have got Ted Kennedy.  You‘ve got—who am I missing?  They‘re all going to be up there.


MATTHEWS:  You have Ron Reagan up there.  You‘ve got Edwards and Kerry. 


IVINS:  They‘ve had conventions where they didn‘t let Jimmy Carter speak.  I thought that was interesting.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he‘s going to speak this time. 

IVINS:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  What is the cacophony message going to be of all these voices of the past?  You have got the very over-the-top Al Gore now, who speaks with pure passion.  He is beginning to sound very much like Howard Dean. 


MATTHEWS:  And then you have the very carefully modulated message coming out of John Kerry.  He is so careful. 

BLANKLEY:  It will be interesting to see whether the Democratic Party insists on editing or seeing the text before it goes into the teleprompter, which usually...

MATTHEWS:  For Gore. 

BLANKLEY:  For Gore, exactly, because Gore has the capacity to say things that will be very unuseful for Senator Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean he could sound like Michael Moore up there.


IVINS:  ... Republican Convention, when they made Newt speak about beach volleyball? 

BLANKLEY:  I was actually there.  And although they tried to get him -

·         and we were typing the stuff ourselves into the teleprompter with nobody supervising. 



MATTHEWS:  ... says things like men like to go out and hunt giraffes. 

I have no idea what that meant, by the way.



BLANKLEY:  That was not at a national convention.  It was at a national press conference, though.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about this convention coming up right now.

You have got the Republicans who are putting on an all-star cast.  They have got real heroes to put on their convention floor podium.  You have got Giuliani in New York.  Can‘t beat that.


MATTHEWS:  Schwarzenegger, from the other coast, even though he is having his fights with the legislature out there.  He said he is kindergarten cop now because of all the kids.  I don‘t think that was a smart move.  You have got Mike Bloomberg.  You have got Pataki.  It seems like the Republicans—and they have got Zell Miller. 

BLANKLEY:  And McCain.  And McCain. 

IVINS:  Yes, but, then, they‘re hiding all of their right-wing fan grippers. 

BLANKLEY:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  You mean the crazy aunt in the East Wing they never open the door to?

IVINS:  Exactly.  

BLANKLEY:  Well, I wouldn‘t call him the crazy aunt, because, in fact, a lot of us think that that‘s a tactical mistake.  I think there‘s nothing wrong with...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, who are the red-meat folks?  Would you put Tom DeLay up there? 

BLANKLEY:  I don‘t like the phrase red meat.  I would like to see someone like a Senator Santorum speaking. 

IVINS:  I‘d love to see Senator Santorum.


MATTHEWS:  Why not Santorum?  He‘s the hot kid on the block. 

BLANKLEY:  Santorum, yes.


BLANKLEY:  Yes.  I said I would like to see somebody—I believe that the party needs to speak to cultural issues, as well as to other issues. 


BLANKLEY:  Now, I like the idea of McCain there.  I like the idea obviously of Giuliani, Schwarzenegger.  I probably would drop Bloomberg, who is...

MATTHEWS:  Barely a Republican. 

BLANKLEY:  Barely even—he converted to Republicanism for the sake of getting elected mayor of New York. 

Pataki is a fine man, but he is a pretty boring speaker. 

IVINS:  Yes. 


BLANKLEY:  I would like to see a couple of conspicuous leaders in the cultural movement speaking there, because, right now, the Republican conservative base would like to hear a bit more of that coming from the party that needs—whose votes they need.


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Can I challenge that, even though I‘m not in your party?

BLANKLEY:  You‘re welcome to.  You‘re the host. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, because, logically, if you‘ve already got the South locked up, you have got the Rocky Mountains locked up, the more conservative part of the West, what you‘re trying to win is Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Missouri, those kind of states.  Don‘t you need to get moderate voices, like the John Glenn, middle-of-the-road kind of guy? 

BLANKLEY:  But the truth is that Bush is a little cross-pressured. 

He has got to reach to the moderates.  At the same time, although the polls don‘t show it yet, anecdotally, a lot of us believe that there‘s a risk of leakage on the right.

MATTHEWS:  Like his father suffered.

BLANKLEY:  As he reaches to either side, he risks losing votes in the other one.  Kerry is not so cross-pressured, because the left is so anti-Bush that they‘re going to come out and vote no matter what. 


IVINS:  Maybe the problem is just that we get different anecdotes,

because I get the absolute different one, which is that what‘s leaking is

the sort of civilized, pro-choice Republicans, who just


MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘ll ask the same question to you.  And I always think it is a great question, coming from my Catholic background.  And we have different points of view about the law, by the way, even in that—even our community. 

But the fact of the matter is, the Democrats never let a pro-lifer speak.  The Republicans have occasionally let pro-choice women speak, right? 

BLANKLEY:  Well, yes.  And they‘re going to have I believe Secretary Ridge speaking.


MATTHEWS:  But not on the issue of life. 

BLANKLEY:  No, but, look, the Republican Party is overwhelmingly right to life.  But they do let people who have the other position speak, because Giuliani is choice.  I assume Bloomberg is.

MATTHEWS:  Bloomberg, Pataki. 

BLANKLEY:  Schwarzenegger is.  So there‘s not the exclusion of people

who stand for that, unlike


MATTHEWS:  Are they allowed to come out and say it? 

BLANKLEY:  I have no idea.  It depends how tightly managed the scripts are. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s where it gets really dishonest, because if you have people out there with a different point of view than the majority in the party, they should be allowed to express it, in both parties.  There‘s a lot of pro-life people in the Democratic Party.  They don‘t get to speak. 


MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t they?  Why don‘t we have honest conventions?


IVINS:  ... don‘t talk about choice. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, if they don‘t talk about choice.  These conventions are not conventions.  They are not places where people haggle out issues and fight about issues.  They are television shows. 


BARNICLE:  They‘re mosaics.  They‘re mosaics presented to the public.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming back.  I think we agree.

We‘re coming back with Molly Ivins and Tony Blankley.

And tomorrow morning at 7:45, Don Imus will be joined by John Kerry and John Edwards right here on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Molly Ivins, the great author and columnist, and Tony Blankley, the great editor of “The Washington Times,” of the editorial page.  He‘s moving on up.

BLANKLEY:  And columnist.

MATTHEWS:  And a columnist.


MATTHEWS:  This morning on “The Today Show,” Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards was asked his thoughts on his new rival, Vice President Dick Cheney.  Here‘s what he said. 


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think he is out of touch with the lives of most Americans.  I don‘t think he has any idea of the struggles and problems that people face most days in their lives.  I think, as a result of that, it is very hard for him to—going forward, to provide the kind vision of hope and opportunity that this country, I think, is entitled to. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s the debate, Tony, I want to see.  I don‘t care what else is on TV that night or what else is planned.  I‘m going to sit there with popcorn to watch that young guy, the good-looking, young, smart lawyer, go after Dick Cheney, the man who has had every job in the United States government. 

BLANKLEY:  Well, it is going to be a good debate, because, obviously, he is an able, very smart guy.  He‘s good on his feet.  So he is not going to get slaughtered. 

On the other hand, Cheney is going to try to probe him, I assume, to reveal the relative lack of depth of policy knowledge that he invariably will have. 

MATTHEWS:  How would you do that if you were him? 


MATTHEWS:  How do you trick a guy?  Like, remember that reporter from Boston who asked President Bush who are the heads of these different sort of second-rate governments?  I shouldn‘t say that, but that is what they are, like, who is the head of Taiwan or who is the head of this country.

He knew one of them, by the way.  He knew Taiwan.  I think he guessed. 

It‘s like saying O‘Brien in Ireland.  He said Lee in Taiwan. 


MATTHEWS:  I would have known that.  But I would have guessed generically, you know, Lee sounds right. 

Do you think there‘s any way to check a guy and prove he doesn‘t know what he‘s talking about? 



MATTHEWS:  It‘s dangerous because he might know the answer. 

IVINS:  Exactly.  You‘re right.  It is going to be fascinating.  Here is Edwards, who never stops smiling, and Cheney, who has never tried it.  It‘s just going to be wonderful.


MATTHEWS:  You‘ve read the joke, haven‘t you, to John Kerry?  If you‘re happy, tell your face. 



IVINS:  I do like that. 


IVINS:  I did have to laugh when the vice president let fly with the F-word recently.  He said afterwards, he felt much better after he had done so. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sure everybody who uses it does.

IVINS:  And I thought, anything to make Dick Cheney the sunny, funny personality we all know and love. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s kind of


MATTHEWS:  That isn‘t a sunny comment.  “F you” like shows he‘s cool? 

It shows he‘s a troll.  I don‘t want


MATTHEWS:  ... to use a term like that.

BARNICLE:  I‘d rather say that John Edwards talk about Cheney doesn‘t understand the real people.  This is such a sort of a “Grapes of Wrath” kind of a—the same thing he said about Cheney of course could be said about Kerry, who is worth a half-a-billion dollars, whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, who went to finishing schools and all this. 

And it is irrelevant because Roosevelt was an aristocrat and he was in touch with the people.  Hoover was a commoner and he probably wasn‘t as in touch with the people.

So it is not where you come from.  And this kind of


MATTHEWS:  I wouldn‘t make this argument too hard, because the Democratic ticket is a lot richer than the other ticket, if you add it up, thanks to Teresa Heinz and John Heinz.



I‘m saying, I don‘t think the fact that you inherit money or the fact you‘ve earned money—in Cheney‘s case, he earned it.  He didn‘t inherit it.  He was just a middle-class person who did well and—just like Edwards, who was a middle-class guy who did well.

By the way, Edwards, his father did work in a mill, but he was a production manager.  He was on the management side. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, here it comes.  Here it comes, the talking points.



MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you something.  The voters are a lot smarter than just checking the financial records of these guys. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, let‘s watch—last night on the—thank you, by the way, Molly.  It‘s great having you back.  Tony Blankley.

Good luck with the book, “Who Let the Dogs In?”

IVINS:  Thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Last night, I was on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” 

Here‘s a clip. 


JAY LENO, HOST:  I remember it got a little contentious in the primaries, because Edwards is doing well.  And there was a little nastiness.  Is that just water off the back?  What happened there?

MATTHEWS:  Remember the old phrase, politics makes strange bedfellows? 

LENO:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they‘re strange bedfellows.  They‘re buds now.  This is like Starsky and Hutch or Danny Glover and Mel Gibson.  They‘re buds now. 

Did you notice that picture you showed on TV?  We were all watching it on our show.  We played it on our show, where they‘re going up this ramp up the stairs to a plane.  And they got so caught up into it and Kerry got so much into liking other guys that he grabbed the guy‘s rear end ahead of him going up the stairs.



MATTHEWS:  I said, he is just overwhelmed.  He‘s been—be nice to guys.  And he was programmed.  He grabbed the guy‘s rear end.  I thought it was amazing.


LENO:  But let me—apparently, you haven‘t been in Hollywood very long. 



MATTHEWS:  Did you like that double-take of Sharon Stone?

Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Our guests will include Senator Joe Biden.  What a rising star he is.

Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.


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