Guests: Robert Marshall, Steve McMahon, Barbara Comstock, Rudy Giuliani, Hendrik Hertzberg
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight Bill Clinton is recovering from heart bypass surgery. We‘ll have the latest on the former president‘s health. Plus, a shakeup in the Kerry campaign, as former Clinton aides try to reinvigorate Kerry‘s candidacy. And my interview with one of President Bush‘s biggest boosters, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Former president Bill Clinton underwent successful quadruple bypass surgery in a New York hospital this morning, and his doctors say he‘s now resting comfortably. NBC News chief medical correspondent, Robert Bazell, has more.
ROBERT BAZELL, NBC CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By all accounts, Mr. Clinton‘s surgery succeeded as well as anyone could have hoped.
DR. CRAIG R. SMITH, CARDIOTHORACIC SURGEON: Well, there are always a few minor anxious moments during heart surgery. There was nothing in this case that was outside the realm of routine.
BAZELL: The operation lasted four hours. For an hour and 13 minutes, Mr. Clinton‘s heart was stopped, and he was kept alive on a heart-lung machine. Doctors decided that because of the condition of his arteries, they could not operate on a beating heart. Still, they say, nothing frightening occurred.
SMITH: We left the operating room around noon, and he is recovering normally at this point.
BAZELL: The goal of the surgery was to bypass the arteries that supply critical blood to heart muscle that became clogged with cholesterol-containing plaque. Doctors used blood vessels from Mr. Clinton‘s leg and chest to make the bypasses from the aorta, the body‘s major artery, to the heart muscle. Doctors say Mr. Clinton was experiencing the symptoms of heart disease for months.
SMITH: He had attributed his shortness of breath initially to, you know, deconditioning, and more importantly, interruptions in his exercise schedule because of his being so busy.
BAZELL: They said when he arrived for treatment, his arteries were more than 90 percent clogged with severe heart disease.
DR. ALLAN SCHWARTZ, CHIEF OF CARDIOLOGY: There was a substantial likelihood that he would have had a substantial heart attack in the near future.
BAZELL (on camera): Mr. Clinton should be here in the hospital for four or five days. After that come several weeks of recuperation at home. And then, doctors say, with a serious program of diet, exercise and cholesterol-lowering medication, he should have a normal life expectancy.
Robert Bazell, NBC News, New York.
MATTHEWS: Joining me now is Dr. Robert Marshall, a cardiologist who practices here in Washington. He‘s on the faculty of Georgetown University Hospital. Well, you work at a great hospital.
DR. ROBERT MARSHALL, CARDIOLOGIST: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: My kids were all born there. You must be great. Let me ask you, what were the symptoms that caused him to have such a major operation?
MARSHALL: From reports both in the press and with brief conversations that I had with President Clinton prior to his coming to see his cardiologist, he had very subtle symptoms. But—and I think a good message to the listeners is listen for anything that interrupts your exertional capacity, especially for someone like him, who was active, exercising, although not quite regularly, exercising to a point that he wasn‘t quite reaching that he thought he should be able to reach. And those are some of the...
MATTHEWS: Boy, that‘s subtle.
MARSHALL: It‘s very, very subtle. And those were the earliest signs, in retrospect. And obviously, it wasn‘t picked up. Whoever...
MATTHEWS: Knock it down. You mean he got tired a lot?
MARSHALL: Pretty much. He was—he described, you know, not being able to run that—run beyond about a mile. And he‘s used to somebody who‘s—he‘s somebody who‘s used to...
MATTHEWS: In other words, an abrupt drop in his ability.
MARSHALL: Well, no. And that‘s the other thing because he has had...
MATTHEWS: You‘re scaring me here!
MARSHALL: He has had up and down activity levels.
MARSHALL: During the time that he wrote his book, he was very inactive.
MARSHALL: And then he tried to get exercise—get active...
MATTHEWS: So this for a guy who wasn‘t attentive, even scrupulous about checking with doctors—in other words, somebody who is Irish—they wouldn‘t have checked. Most people wouldn‘t have checked, the symptoms he had.
MARSHALL: That is the biggest fault among...
MARSHALL: ... amongst the population, is people ignore it. They deny it. They just say—they attribute it to other things. I‘m not exercising as much as I should be. But finally—he was aware that something was wrong. And finally, he was smart enough to go forward...
MATTHEWS: Tell me about your chest pains because that‘s what we always hear. Is that a big—because everybody out there who‘s my age is probably watching this damn thing and trying to figure out what they can learn from it.
MARSHALL: That‘s a great point. The chest tightness is what he described. And that is an early sign.
MATTHEWS: That‘s the feeling that you have something, like, a car parked on top of you.
MARSHALL: There‘s various degrees. But the point is that it‘s a squeezing. It‘s a tightness.
MARSHALL: And in his case, it was associated with shortness of breath, which is also an early sign that the heart is starving for oxygen at a certain point of demand.
MATTHEWS: Oh, gosh. And he was really making an effort. He was looking pretty thin. He looked trim. I mean, he looked, by most standards, healthy.
MARSHALL: He looked fantastic. And you know, that‘s in his favor. The fact that he was in such good physical shape going into surgery made the surgery risk a lot lower.
MATTHEWS: He calls you up tomorrow and says, Dr. Marshall, you‘re my pal. Help me out here. He even calls you Bob. And you say, I‘d like to help this guy, Kerry. He‘s getting killed out there. I‘d like to go out and do some rounds for him, especially among the minority community, where they really like me. Can I go out and barnstorm or not? I‘m talking about October. Can he barnstorm the month of October?
MARSHALL: Well, he‘s three weeks away from October. I think in October, early to mid-October, he should be able to do that. I think the primary issue is getting him healed, and safely healed so that he‘s not going to reinjure himself...
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what campaign rallies look like. You get caught up in them. And I get caught up in them here. You start yelling. You start getting excited. Is that—that‘s really dangerous, isn‘t it.
MARSHALL: The recovery period is variable, based on the person—personality, previous health, age. He‘s in a position where I think he can recover early.
MATTHEWS: So if he spends the next three weeks eating carrots and lettuce and no fries and calmly rests, then he‘ll be able to be out there and raise hell in October.
MARSHALL: It‘s even more important to get as active as he was before, not—I mean, not to the level of exercise, but walking immediately, range of motion exercises with his upper body strength as his bones heal...
MARSHALL: ... but not sitting in a chair, waiting for something to happen, getting out and doing things and being proactive about...
MATTHEWS: Right. Were you surprised he was on the phone over the weekend, advising Kerry how to get back in the race?
MARSHALL: Not one bit.
MATTHEWS: But is that—is that unhealthy? I mean, can he get on the phone in the next three weeks—maybe not hit the big rallies but (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but can he get on the phone and say, John, you‘re blowing it again. You got to get off this veterans thing and start talking about the future. Can he do that?
MARSHALL: With my patients, I try to get them to keep their routine leading up to bypass surgery.
MATTHEWS: That means—afterwards...
MARSHALL: With him, being active and doing this and participating in a campaign is going to be stress-relieving, as opposed to stress...
MATTHEWS: So in other words, if he gets out there and works it out cathartically over the next three weeks and giving advice to the guy on the phone and talking to all those people like Tad Devine and Shrum and all those guys, he will be better off than if he sits quietly in his room and blusters.
MARSHALL: Absolutely. Because...
MATTHEWS: You‘re making news tonight, Dr. Marshall.
MARSHALL: He should be out there...
MATTHEWS: Clinton would be better off doing it than not doing it.
OK, thanks. Great having you in. Thanks for coming in on short notice.
MARSHALL: Good to see you.
MATTHEWS: Dr. Robert Marshall from a really great hospital, Georgetown.
When we come back: How will John Kerry‘s presidential campaign fare with Bill Clinton on the sidelines? Although we just learned here not necessarily mentally on the sidelines. The guy can still talk.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Fifty-seven days to go before the election now, and both candidates hit the campaign trail today. President Bush was in Missouri, while Senator John Kerry made stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Here‘s the newest Kerry ad, the TV ad out today. It focuses on Medicare. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Bush touting his Medicare bill to the nation.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America‘s seniors. Now seniors are getting immediate help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The very next day, George Bush imposes the biggest Medicare premium increase in history, while prescription drug costs still skyrocket. The wrong direction for America. John Kerry, a plan to lower the cost of health care and take America in a new direction.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I‘m John Kerry, and I approved this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist, and Barbara Comstock is a lobbyist who was—she‘s actually a member of a law firm now in Washington. She was a spokesperson—or the spokesperson for the Justice Department just recently.
Let me go to Steve on this campaign. This campaign is rocky for Kerry right now. We‘ve got the latest poll out now that shows—the Gallup poll shows him falling—going behind by about 7 points among likely voters. That‘s probably a realistic picture of what‘s going on after the dust is settled from the Republican convention. What‘s he got to do?
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think the first thing he has to do, which he‘s starting to do already, is frame the race in a way that works for him. And what we‘re starting to see now in his ads is a framing statement that simply says a stronger America begins at home. That‘s what Senator Kerry wants to talk about, the loss of jobs, rising health care costs, the fact that the president gives a speech on Thursday and says we need to honor senior citizens, and the next day hits them with a 17 percent Medicare...
MATTHEWS: Begins at home. It sounds to me—if I was an average viewer, I didn‘t watch this every day, I‘d go, He‘s dodging the bullet. He‘s saying, I can‘t handle the debate over terrorism and defense and security, I want to go talk about something else. Barbara, is that the way it sounds to you?
BARBARA COMSTOCK, FORMER BUSH ADMINISTRATION SPOKESPERSON: I mean, Kerry‘s problem is he doesn‘t know who he is. I mean, he‘s a flip-flopper...
MATTHEWS: Well, just stick on this point. That‘s a nice general assault, Barbara, but let‘s get to the question of Kerry‘s predicament right now. If you saw an ad on television, as an average viewer, and it said, “Strength begins at home,” would you think this guy was trying to dodge the terrorism issue?
COMSTOCK: Well, he‘s trying to change the issue, sure, and...
COMSTOCK: ... but the problem is, he hasn‘t defined himself. I mean, he spent his whole convention talking about his four months in Vietnam. And he did not set out a domestic record. He did not talk about what his domestic record for the 20 years he was in the Senate, what that was, which is a problem. We‘re happy to talk about that. We‘d like to talk about how he spent 20 years wanting to raise taxes, how he has not had any major legislation that he supported, that he, you know...
COMSTOCK: ... voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, even though Bill Clinton signed it. He, you know, voted for the...
MATTHEWS: Well, what was the toughest...
COMSTOCK: ... heinous practice of partial-birth abortion. Has a horrible domestic record!
MATTHEWS: Pick one. What was the worst charge made against Kerry that stuck this week in the Republican convention? What was the damming punch?
COMSTOCK: Well, I think, you know, Giuliani starting out with just his entire flip-flopping record, and he...
MATTHEWS: OK, indecisiveness. Can Kerry deal with indecisiveness by changing the subject to domestic?
MCMAHON: Well, first of all, I don‘t think he‘s changing the subject. I think that, you know, different campaigns are going to emphasize different things. He spent his convention, Barbara‘s right, talking a lot about Vietnam because he needed to get over a threshold qualification requirement for the commander-in-chief‘s position.
MCMAHON: But fundamentally, what his campaign‘s about is changing the direction of this country. You know, we‘ve lost over a million jobs. Health care costs are rising dramatically. The budget deficit, which—you know, Republicans normally are fiscal conservatives, and George Bush told us that‘s what he is. It‘s now the biggest deficit in the history of the world. So I mean, those are kind of—those are the things John Kerry wants to talk about, a change of direction. If you think the president‘s doing a good job, if you like the fact that we‘ve lost jobs...
MATTHEWS: Yes, but...
MCMAHON: ... then you should vote to reelect...
MATTHEWS: ... economy in the world and still have the World Trade towers attacked.
MCMAHON: That‘s right. You can have the World Trade towers...
MATTHEWS: What good would having...
MCMAHON: ... attacked.
MATTHEWS: How would a good economy have protected us on 9/11?
MCMAHON: A good economy wouldn‘t have protected us from 9/11. But how does going into Iraq have any impact on 9/11?
MATTHEWS: Is your candidate against...
MCMAHON: How does—how does going into Iraq...
MATTHEWS: ... going into Iraq yet?
MCMAHON: Pardon me?
MATTHEWS: I haven‘t heard that. Is he against Iraq, the war?
MCMAHON: He thinks the president misled us and shouldn‘t have taken us into war when the entire world was aligned against us. He would have done it a different way. He‘s said that repeatedly over the course of this campaign. And we‘re going to—you know, we‘re going to be dealing with...
MATTHEWS: What conditions did he want met? What conditions did John Kerry want me before he went to war with Iraq?
MCMAHON: Well, first of all, he wanted to go back to the U.N. He wanted to get the world to agree that...
MATTHEWS: But they disagreed.
MCMAHON: ... this was a good idea.
MATTHEWS: The Security Council disagreed. The Russians, the French -
· the Germans don‘t have a Security Council, but they disagreed. I understood the Japanese disagreed...
MATTHEWS: ... he would have waited for them to line up because you need a united vote on the Security Council. One veto would stop you. Isn‘t he guilty of the thing the Republicans charged him with, waiting for the U.N. to approve a war?
MCMAHON: No. Here‘s what he‘s guilty of. He‘s guilty of basically learning a lesson that President Bush didn‘t learn, which is, Father knows best. The way George Bush, Sr., or George Bush I put that coalition together to go do Desert Storm is the right way to do one of these things. That‘s not the way...
MATTHEWS: But John Kerry was the person who didn‘t have it because Kerry voted against that war, even after all those countries agreed to it.
MCMAHON: He did vote against it because...
MATTHEWS: Well, then, how can you say that‘s the way to go, when Kerry voted against it, even though all those countries did?
MCMAHON: John Kerry didn‘t think that we should have gone into Desert Storm at time we went in. But he believes, and he‘s stated repeatedly, that the way the president put that...
MCMAHON: ... coalition together is the way the war should have been conducted. And now...
MCMAHON: ... we have to deal with an entire world that hates us because of what we did.
MATTHEWS: A lot of that‘s true. The question is what the voters are going to decide. Let me ask you this, both, in this order. You first, Barbara. What could—is Kerry beaten?
COMSTOCK: No, well, listen, we‘re going to have...
MATTHEWS: Is he beaten?
COMSTOCK: Well, I do think—definitely, I think the president‘s going to beat him, but I think his fundamental problem is that he doesn‘t know who he is. He keeps bringing in new staff.
COMSTOCK: He‘s firing staff because he doesn‘t like the message they‘re giving him, which is, Boss, you got to stick to something and not flip-flop all over the place.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with—excuse me. I‘m sorry. Do you think Bill Clinton was right, and that he has it right, he‘s got to go to domestic strength? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) play his strengths?
MCMAHON: Yes, I think he has to, and I think he wants to. And I think that‘s what we‘re going to see.
MATTHEWS: Looks like he‘s doing it. Looks like he‘s doing it. Thank you very much, Steve McMahon, Barbara Comstock. By the way, Steve agrees with the president, presidential candidate, which is you got to go domestic. I‘m not sure.
Up next, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. One of President Bush‘s biggest boosters is former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. I caught up with Mayor Giuliani at the Republican convention last week. I asked him about his big speech, and of course, we got to his big ambitions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I felt like I had a chance to really explain what President Bush has been doing, why it‘s so important. And it‘s very personal with me because of, you know, what happened on September 11. And so there are a lot of personal feelings about it. And I think that was all—I was able to get a lot of that out and...
MATTHEWS: Did you really say at the time of 9/11, that very day, Thank God for...
GIULIANI: Sure. I did. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Those words?
MATTHEWS: Thank God George Bush is our president?
GIULIANI: I said it then, and I repeated right afterwards on a number of interviews, some of them going way back to 2001.
MATTHEWS: And what did you mean? I mean, were you thinking of alternatives that wouldn‘t...
GIULIANI: I‘ll tell you...
MATTHEWS: ... have been so good...
MATTHEWS: ... or who were you thinking of?
GIULIANI: I‘ll tell you exactly. It wasn‘t—it was—we were trapped in a building, the police commissioner and I and a number of our staff. We got out, and we had our first press conference. and then we were walking up the street, watching people. And I had just called the White House before—right before the building came down, I was on the phone with the White House, asking for air support for the city. And that thought came back into my head, and, Do we have air support? Do we have planes?
And I leaned over to Bernie. And I was really thinking about the election, which was only eight months earlier—I mean, that big, contested election was eight, nine months earlier. And I was thinking, from my point of view, the way I look at what has to be done with terrorism, thank God George Bush is in the White House instead of Al Gore, who I thought would have reacted differently to it, more of the kind of symbolic way in which we were dealing with terrorism, which I had objected to very strongly when we were doing it.
I thought he made a mistake with Yasser Arafat. During the time we were doing it, I thought we were making a big mistake by romanticizing him and not taking a good look at how he was undermining peace, and we were making concessions to him. And I thought we had to engage terrorism more. And I had a feeling that George Bush would do that, that he‘d be stubborn, he‘d be tough, he‘d be determined.
GIULIANI: And that was—that was—I mean, I—that probably describes the feeling even in more detail than I had it. It was more of intuition.
MATTHEWS: Street-level thinking, right?
GIULIANI: Yes. Tough guy. You know, he‘s not—when they start criticizing him, he‘s not going to worry about “The New York Times” editorial that says the war is going—every war goes on too long. Abraham Lincoln had editorials telling him to end the Civil War, it was going on too long. Every president has to face that.
GIULIANI: Franklin Roosevelt had to face that. And I thought George Bush had a better chance of facing that than somebody like Al Gore, that it would have been a mistake.
MATTHEWS: You know, watching you, Mayor, over the years, when you wouldn‘t let Yasser Arafat come into the Opera House and you wouldn‘t take the 10 million bucks from the Saudi Arabian crown prince and whoever it was. It‘s kind of like a Sharks and Jets thing with you, right? You‘re a Jet, and they‘re the Sharks?
GIULIANI: No. No.
MATTHEWS: It‘s very street level, it seems to me.
GIULIANI: It‘s an objection to the moral equivalency that we used to practice. There are people that shouldn‘t be at the international bargaining table because they kill too many people. If you‘re a terrorist, there is a chance you can overcome it when you get a chance to create a decent government for your people.
GIULIANI: That can happen. Yasser Arafat, there was a chance maybe he could have done that. But very early, he made it clear he couldn‘t.
GIULIANI: And we didn‘t notice it. We didn‘t watch it...
GIULIANI: ... because we have—Americans have a tendency to want people to be good people.
GIULIANI: And we make this mistake a lot. And that‘s...
MATTHEWS: Did you ever see—have you been on a subway and somebody comes on and sits next to you with a boombox?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about terrorism. I noticed in your remarks the other night, you dated the beginning of terrorist attacks against the United States with the attacks on Israel with regard to the horrible events of Munich, and of course, the Achille Lauro, you mentioned. Why didn‘t you start with the senator from New York, Robert Kennedy, when Robert Kennedy was hit by Sirhan Sirhan. Basically, Mideast politics.
GIULIANI: Yes, it could be. You could go back to that.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that terrorism?
GIULIANI: Yes, you could go back. I mean, I thought of that as more an individual act and didn‘t want to revive the debate over, Was it an individual act or some degree of anger on the part of Sirhan Sirhan, or was it some kind of a conspiracy? I don‘t really know the answer to that. So it seemed to me that the PLO bombings, hijackings, rather, were the—would be the start of it. But yes, you could—I mean, you could go further back than that, even.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about fighting terrorism and the role of the commander-in-chief. President Bush, who you support so dramatically, made a decision, Let‘s not wait until we catch bin Laden. Let‘s go down to Iraq and take on Saddam Hussein. Now, that‘s like those decisions that presidents make. It‘s, like, Roosevelt said, Europe first, remember...
MATTHEWS: ... not Japan, even though they attacked us. Why do you think that was a good decision?
GIULIANI: It was a good decision because you have to deal with terrorism on a group of levels. You can‘t just deal with it in one place. And the president predicted it. You know, on September 20, 2001, he said, We‘re going to have to deal with al Qaeda, but it won‘t begin and end with al Qaeda. There are other groups, a number of other groups that we‘re going to have to deal with. When he said that, I knew, sitting there next to George Pataki and Mrs. Bush, I knew for sure he was going to deal with Iraq.
If you‘re going to take apart world terrorism, you have to take out Saddam Hussein. It was just a matter of time. Could have done it a little earlier, he could have done it a little later. But you‘re not going to be able to destroy international terrorism without getting rid of one of their pillars of support.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you only have so many policemen, only so many armed forces, wouldn‘t it make more sense to deploy them into Afghanistan and catch the guy in Tora Bora, rather than step aside and move down to the Iraqi front?
GIULIANI: No, I don‘t think so. You know, everybody‘s sort of a creature of their own experiences. I saw it more like the way we dealt with organized crime. You had five families.
GIULIANI: If you just took out one family, the other four might even get stronger. So you had to go after all five at the same time, even if it diverted your resources a little. I mean, I think it made sense to try to pursue it in a number of different places. And I think the side benefit we got was we got Qaddafi to surrender without having to use arms, without having to use resources.
MATTHEWS: And I had a little tussle with himself myself, Senator Miller, the Democratic senator...
GIULIANI: I‘m willing to sponsor a duel in Weehauken (ph). We‘ll use fake guns.
MATTHEWS: How about spitballs?
GIULIANI: We‘ll use fake guns. Spitballs would be great.
GIULIANI: We‘ll do it for charity.
MATTHEWS: ... that very point. I said, You really mean it when you say that the Democratic candidate for president really wants to reduce our armed forces in the war against terrorism to the use of spitballs? And he said, Well, that‘s a metaphor. And OK, we can go from there. But do you think that speech was a little too red-hot?
GIULIANI: Well, you know, you can only give that speech if you‘ve got a Southern accent. If I gave that speech, I‘d have been in deep trouble because they would have said I was being too tough, or whatever. Look, it was a very dramatic moment. He‘s a member of the Democratic Party all his life.
GIULIANI: He‘s making a very dramatic statement. So I think a lot of emotion would be attached to it. Yes, I thought it was an appropriate speech. It was tough, tough speech, but an appropriate one. And I think his point is all based on the record. John Kerry has voted against defense spending so often that you have to have the sense that he really doesn‘t appreciate the need for a very strong national defense. And you can raise that—nobody‘s talking about his Vietnam service.
GIULIANI: We respect...
MATTHEWS: Do you believe he would disarm America if he were president?
GIULIANI: He did!
MATTHEWS: Would you believe he would do it?
GIULIANI: He did it.
MATTHEWS: How‘d he do it?
GIULIANI: By voting for it. And he voted—he voted for the peace dividend. He voted for many, many things that would have taken weapons systems away from us. Now, when I said he did it, he didn‘t succeed very often because members of his own party voted against him.
MATTHEWS: And they weren‘t decisive votes he cast.
GIULIANI: Right. So I shouldn‘t say he did it. I‘d say he indicated on record that he would do it. And all we have to go by—you know, what‘s the best indication of what kind of a commander-in-chief he‘s going to be?
GIULIANI: He‘d like you to think it‘s what he did in Vietnam for four months. I kind of think it‘s what he‘s done as a mature United States senator for 20 years, which is to vote against defense spending.
MATTHEWS: Didn‘t you ever, as mayor of New York, veto or refuse to sign an appropriation because you thought it was too much, but you weren‘t against the whole appropriation?
GIULIANI: Absolutely. I vetoed...
MATTHEWS: But you meant to signal the legislature or the city council that you wanted to sign it 20 percent less because you needed to protect budget.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that what Kerry did? Or anybody does when they vote.
GIULIANI: Were there times he did that as a senator? Of course.
GIULIANI: But he voted against defense spending so often...
GIULIANI: ... that he was on the outer fringe. Look, this is not meant, again, to use the L-word as a bad word, liberal or conservative. But he was the most liberal member of the United States Senate.
GIULIANI: One of the reasons he was was he probably voted against defense spending more than any other member of the Senate, including Teddy Kennedy and other liberals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re coming back with more of my interview with Rudy Giuliani.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and part two of my interview with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
I ask Mr. Giuliani if he felt more at home in the Republican Party today than he did a couple of years ago.
GIULIANI: When I started in 1989, I was all by myself almost. There was no George Pataki, Christie Whitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I mean, there are a lot of us now who are what you guys all call moderate Republicans, conservative on fiscal policy, conservative on foreign affairs.
MATTHEWS: You know what they call you downtown? A Yankee.
GIULIANI: Well, here...
MATTHEWS: A Yankee. You‘re a Yankee.
GIULIANI: Well, in some parts of the country, I‘m too—I‘m too moderate. In some parts of the country, like New York, I‘m too—here in New York, you know, I‘m too conservative.
MATTHEWS: Can I make a prediction? You‘ve got a lot of invitations right now to give speeches.
GIULIANI: Yes, I do.
MATTHEWS: Will you be a major road show for the Bush-Cheney ticket?
GIULIANI: Well, I certainly am going to be out there campaigning for them, as I have been. I mean...
MATTHEWS: But will you be going to Cleveland, will you be going to Philadelphia, will you be going to St. Louis, all those very close-call states?
GIULIANI: Wherever—some are scheduled already. I Have a trip to St. Louis scheduled and some others. The rest—it‘s up to the campaign. I mean, I‘ve campaigned with the president. In 2002, I was in 30 states for Republican candidates. So I hope I can do, you know, at least as much for the president.
MATTHEWS: I thought it was the best big city speech I ever heard in my life. I thought it was better than anything Cuomo ever did or Hughie Carey ever did. It was about ethnic diversity. It was dynamite. You think it‘ll sell on the road?
GIULIANI: Well, I‘ve given it...
MATTHEWS: In a place like Jackson, Mississippi, is the Rudy Giuliani message going to sell?
GIULIANI: I‘ve given it on the road many times.
GIULIANI: Maybe not quite that one.
GIULIANI: But I‘ve been in all those places and I think it is one America. I mean, I think it‘s one—definitely...
MATTHEWS: Do you think Zell Miller contributed to that unity?
GIULIANI: I think Zell Miller made a very, very compelling statement that John Kerry...
MATTHEWS: Was it a unifier for the country?
GIULIANI: Yes. For those of us who believe that the defense of this country can‘t be compromised...
MATTHEWS: Right. OK. The reason I ask that is not because I had a tussle with him last night, which is boring, but because...
GIULIANI: I think it was—actually thought it was some of the funniest television that I‘ve seen in a very long time.
MATTHEWS: It‘s funny how when you‘re trying to be serious, it looks funny.
GIULIANI: ... you weren‘t together, so you couldn‘t use...
MATTHEWS: Here‘s my point. John McCain, who‘s another one of the leaders of your party, went on the other night and gave a wonderful speech at the end about—at the end of his remarks, and he said, We have to learn how to compete with other Americans as friends.
And I didn‘t think that the—well, do you think that the Zell Miller remarks were the same tone as the McCain remarks?
MATTHEWS: OK! That‘s what I‘m asking.
GIULIANI: There were two different purposes. He was not...
MATTHEWS: Different versions?
GIULIANI: He was not—he was trying to point out why he disagrees with the candidate of his party, which is a very dramatic—very dramatic thing. And John was trying to give an overall view of foreign policy and how we should approach it and how—now that we have some of these differences, how we can bring some of these people back into being—you know, having a strong alliance with us.
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re going for—I think you guys are going for the roll-up. I think McCain, you, Zell Miller, the president, the vice president have decided—maybe you haven‘t said this openly—that you‘re not interested in some close election without a mandate. You want to give this president and this vice president, this ticket, a mandate to rule the next four years, which they really didn‘t get electorally the last time.
I want to ask you—are you guys going for a roll-up, bring back the Reagan Democrats in Scranton where the president‘s going tomorrow night, bring back the ethnics, bring back the Reagan people from the Democratic Party?
GIULIANI: I think—and I said this this morning to the Missouri delegation—we have to approach this as a very close election, fight for every state and hope that we can get the kind of momentum that we make it even bigger than that, and I think...
MATTHEWS: What are you going for?
GIULIANI: You know, I hope it isn‘t just the optimism of coming out if here, but I have a feeling that maybe it‘s going to be a little bigger than we thought a week ago.
MATTHEWS: Something like ‘80, a big Reagan roll-up?
GIULIANI: I‘m not giving any predictions. Once Frank Luntz did that to me. He predicted I was going to win by 60 percent, and I won by 18 points and 59 percent. And The New York Times began by saying I didn‘t reach expectations.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, there was one advantage. Nobody‘s heard of your opponent since.
Let me ask you about Reagan Democrats because you and I were raised Catholic. We‘re Catholic. We know that‘s a big part of the country, the people who grew up in big cities. You call them ethics. It‘s a stupid word, but—because everybody‘s ethic, but the idea that a lot of people who have been voting Democrat their whole life—do you think they‘re going to break with Kerry and Edwards and go with your party this time like they did for Reagan in ‘80 and ‘84?
GIULIANI: I think—a lot of it has to do with personal attachment to the candidate. It was Ronald Reagan who spoke their language and was able to reach them, and I think George Bush has that appeal.
I think the thing that‘s missing here—George Bush is a terrific candidate, and I think people are going to see that tonight. I saw it on the stump many, many times. But he‘s a terrific candidate. The more he gets out there and the more he reaches people, he‘s going to be able to bring those people along with him. And he talks their language.
I was really happy that he got the New York City firefighters‘ endorsement last night. I mean, I was really happy because they belong on each other‘s side. They‘re the same kind of guys. And that‘s the kind of person he can reach.
MATTHEWS: Did he get all the firefighters?
GIULIANI: He got the New York City Fire Department, yes. The—they‘re...
GIULIANI: The fire union, which is, you know...
MATTHEWS: I know it‘s tough for Democrats. But most firefighters are Republicans. You know that.
GIULIANI: Well, I think—no, the unions don‘t reflect that. I think they‘re reflecting their membership...
MATTHEWS: I know they don‘t.
GIULIANI: ... the way their membership...
MATTHEWS: I agree with you completely.
Look down there at that center down there, the stage. It‘s going to be a theater in the round, and George Bush is going to show that he can really take on the challenges of leadership and be almost really the leader of the country, I should say.
MATTHEWS: Would you like to play that role in four years?
MATTHEWS: Would you see yourself down there someday, Mayor?
GIULIANI: I have—I‘m not—I‘m trying my best not to create any speculations beyond 2004. I mean, you don‘t want to do that.
MATTHEWS: Are you afraid of Hillary?
GIULIANI: Pardon me.
MATTHEWS: Are you afraid of Hillary?
GIULIANI: Am I afraid of her?
MATTHEWS: You‘re afraid of Hillary.
GIULIANI: Come on.
MATTHEWS: You‘re afraid to take her on.
GIULIANI: Come on. You‘re trying any way you can get me.
MATTHEWS: I‘m like Zell Miller.
GIULIANI: I‘m still sponsoring that duel, if you keep this up.
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘ll tell you we had—we have made—will you join me in a town meeting this fall?
GIULIANI: I will. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll do it at the college of your choice.
GIULIANI: I would enjoy doing that very much.
MATTHEWS: It‘s almost like giving a big contribution to a college.
GIULIANI: It‘s great.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘ll do that. Thank you very much.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, probably the most impressive mayor in the history of this country. Someday president, maybe.
MATTHEWS: When we come back, former Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg on his new book, “Politics.”
And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing. Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, former Jimmy Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg on his new book, “Politics.”
HARDBALL is back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Hendrik Hertzberg is an editor at “The New Yorker” magazine. He was President Carter‘s chief speechwriter, as well as twice editor of “The New Republic.” He has put his over 40 years of political work into a new book, “Politics: Observations and Arguments 1966-2004.”
I began by asking Rick about the differences between the fight over the war in Iraq and the fight over Vietnam three decades ago.
HENDRIK HERTZBERG, AUTHOR, “POLITICS”: Well, yes, there are some differences. There are a lot of echoes between the fight over the Iraq war and fight over the Vietnam War.
But the Vietnam War was an order of magnitude bigger than this war. The casualties were higher. And I think in many ways the disagreements and the debates were even more bitter than the ones over the Iraq war. We had violence on the streets between proponents and opponents of the Vietnam War. And we have not had that so far, thank God, over the Iraq war.
MATTHEWS: But there is a difference in terms of cadence. It seems to me that since we began this war in 2003, there‘s been a radical movement to an almost evenly divided country from a country that was about 70/30 or 75/25 for the war. It‘s now roughly 50/50 in only a year.
HERTZBERG: Yes, and it took—it must have taken six or seven years for it to get to that point with the Vietnam War. And that‘s a measure of how trust in government has eroded over the years and how people have learned lessons from Vietnam, that you don‘t give the government an endless line of credit when it comes to what it is telling you about a war that it has gotten involved in.
People want to be shown that what the government says is true.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about the possible comparisons, Rick. Your new book is called “Politics,” appropriately, 40 years of journalism basically about politics.
Let me ask you about what might be a seedling of connection between Iraq and Vietnam, the forces of nationalism. When we went into Vietnam in the 60s, we thought that a huge advantage in firepower would give us victory and help us fortify the South Vietnamese government, which we had to prop up. And then we went into Iraq and we had a sense we could overwhelm the resistance forces because we had firepower. It seems to me in both cases, we found nationalism, local nationalism, if you will, maybe unexplained nationalism, but resistance at the local level. Is that a commonality here?
HERTZBERG: Yes, it is.
We went into both of those wars for what you might call ideological reasons. We believed in Vietnam and we believed in Iraq that people want democracy and that if you go in and overthrow what they have got and offer them democracy, they‘ll be grateful and that will be the end of the story. And that‘s true as far as it goes. The problem is, it doesn‘t go very far.
It completely ignores all the local conditions.
And, in Vietnam, just as in Iraq, the policy-makers had contempt really for the people who knew about the peculiarities of the situation. The old Vietnam hands, the old China hands, who understood that Vietnam was a historic enemy of China, who understood that this was a civil war, essentially, more than ideological East-West war in Vietnam, they were shunted aside because what they had to say was not welcome.
And, similarly, in the Iraq war, the State Department experts who tried to prepare for the aftermath of the war, they were pushed aside because they weren‘t completely with the program and the ideologues thought they knew better. The ideologues had the big generalizations and they thought those generalizations would apply. And it‘s not worked out particularly well from their point of view.
MATTHEWS: But what about the question as to whether the people are really being offered democracy in either case? General Eisenhower or President Eisenhower when he became president noted that if there had been an open election in South Vietnam in the 1950s, the people would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, the leader or the North, the man we associated with the communist around the world. In fact, he was a member of the communist member generally speaking.
And the same thing in Vietnam. Are we going to allow an anti-Israeli, an anti-Western, government to get a foothold there, even in an open election? Or are we offering a very constricted notion of democracy, vote our way?
And vote our way because if you don‘t vote our way, you will only vote once. It is a constricted definition of democracy. Democracy is not just a vote. If democracy were simply a vote, then all these South American dictatorships that have referendums to OK the maximum leader would be democracies.
Democracy is a way of life. Democracy goes—is a culture that goes a lot deeper. And you can help bring democracy to countries, but can you do it at the point of a gun? That‘s a real question.
MATTHEWS: Do you buy the notion of forward-leading domino theory that you can construct a democracy by force perhaps in Iraq and it will spread as a set of dominoes leading throughout the Arab world?
MATTHEWS: That seems to be the argument of the ideologues.
HERTZBERG: That is the argument and that is their central argument. For them, that argument trumped everything else. The arguments about weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda were really secondary. Those were just debating points for them. The real heart of their argument was this domino theory, this idea that it would transform the whole Middle East.
And that‘s quite a bank shot on which to bet thousands and thousands of lives, 1,000 American lives and many, many more thousands of Iraqi lives.
MATTHEWS: It seems to me dominoes seem to be going the other direction. We are losing favor in Egypt, in Jordan, I would assume in Algeria, and certainly in—and perhaps in Morocco. All over the Arab world, the polls are showing us in the single digits in terms of favorability now.
Where we were, at least we had a fighting chance in terms of the future of the world. It seems to me now, one of the results of the Iraq war, a direct result, is, they hate us.
HERTZBERG: Yes. I think the administration would probably argue that this is a short-term problem and that over time their theory will prove out. But how much time is the “over time” they‘re talking about?
MATTHEWS: How long did it take Napoleon to become popular in the rest of Europe?
HERTZBERG: Right. He is still working on it.
MATTHEWS: I think he is still working his way up that contour.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, we‘ll be back with Rick Hertzberg. His book is called “Politics.” It‘s a great read, great stories, great columns, great thinking.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Rick Hertzberg.
Rick, I know you have a very strong feeling about the 2000 election. How do you think your assessment of what really happened in 2000 is going to affect what happens in 2004 come Election Day, November 2?
HERTZBERG: Well, I think it‘s one of the things that has really energized the Democrats.
That election, in which Gore got a half million more votes than Bush, and yet Bush is the one who took office, was a deep, deep affront to what we have come over the past century to understand as basic democratic principles. The last time that kind of thing happened, it was the 19th century. It was the 1880s. And there‘s a lot of water under the bridge then. And it‘s a very simple democratic principle that the guy with the most votes should win the election.
MATTHEWS: Well, what should we have done? Confounded with an election that was in many ways too close to call in terms of electoral votes, because Florida was so messed up generally by almost every county, how did we get a popular election? Just throw out the Electoral College? How could we have done it?
HERTZBERG: No. No, we couldn‘t have done it. No, we couldn‘t have done that, certainly.
Bush could have softened the blow by recognizing that something extraordinary and unusual had happened and that his claim to a political mandate was not as strong, shall we say, as his claim to the office itself. I‘m pretty sure that‘s what Gore would have done had the shoe been on the other foot.
HERTZBERG: That he would have recognized that this was a special set of circumstances requiring a special kind of government.
Instead, Bush behaved as if he had received a big majority of the popular vote. And I think that, even more than the actual outcome, the undemocratic outcome of the election, that is what angered Democrats and has gotten their dander up.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess it‘s—not to be too obnoxious here, but it‘s probably like—if you get into Yale, you don‘t write the admissions board and ask them how come.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t that the issue here? Why would he want—why would he want to question his own election, even if it was questionable by others? What interest would he have in saying, you know, I know there‘s a lot of questions about the Supreme Court getting involved in our finalization of what happened in Florida or whatever, and I know I got 600,000 less votes than Al Gore, so let‘s talk about it.
Do you think he should have just put together a split Cabinet?
HERTZBERG: I do think so. I think he should have had a kind of
government of national unity. I see what you‘re getting at, although
MATTHEWS: But I‘m getting at his personality, too. I‘m being somewhat tough on him.
I agree with you completely. It seems to me the other half of this story is Al Gore‘s acting like he had been defeated. Why didn‘t Al Gore—let‘s put it on the other foot. Suppose George W. Bush had gotten 600,000 more votes and Al Gore had won the election through a complicated process which led to the Supreme Court, as Bush had. Would Bush have acted like a loser or acted like a winner who had certain claims on the office still?
HERTZBERG: I think that the Republicans were actually prepared for that. They thought that was a possible outcome, and that, yes, there would have been, not necessarily by Bush himself, but the whole talk radio Limbaugh universe would have launched an immediate and overwhelming attack on Gore‘s legitimacy and his right to serve as president.
MATTHEWS: Would they have asked him to step aside, given the fact of the popular majority for—or the popular plurality for Bush?
HERTZBERG: Yes, I think they would have asked him to step aside. They would asked electors to change their votes to conform with the popular vote. But we‘ll never know.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
I‘m sure that George W. Bush would have walked around the country as if he had won a mandate from the American people if he had gotten a 600,000 vote plurality over Gore. He would have acted like he was the most popular kid in class, and, yes, technically, technically, Al Gore was president, but he was really the leader of the nation because he had gotten the most votes.
I think his pride, his self-confidence—I‘m saying this nicely—would have allowed him to do that.
HERTZBERG: Yes, I think you‘re right about that. But I think—but there‘s no equivalence there.
HERTZBERG: I mean, let‘s not blame the victim here. Gore did what you, among other people, urged him to do.
MATTHEWS: Right, concede.
HERTZBERG: To concede, to be gracious about it.
MATTHEWS: In fact, I thought, going back further, Rick—and we‘re good friends, of course, but we go back for a long way, back to the Carter administration. But I have to tell you, I actually did think that once it was clear that one guy had won the most votes that the other guy would step aside.
If you think about it in the rear-view mirror, which is easy, then I am amazed that Al Gore stepped aside so nobly and so easily and the other guy took the office with equal ease, without any sense of shame or uncomfortableness about the whole process.
HERTZBERG: And I do think and I have written that Gore should have said—after the dust had settled, he should have said I recognize that Bush is legitimately the president, but I also recognize that more people expressed a preference for the policies that I stood for than the policies that he stood for, and, therefore, I‘m going to be speaking out on a regular basis to—on behalf of the interests of that majority of people who voted for me.
I think he should have established himself in that way as the leader of the opposition.
MATTHEWS: And I think but for the screw-ups in Florida, which are not entirely the fault of Jeb Bush and the governorship down there, but in many cases, especially in Palm Beach, the fault of the local Democratic organization and their poll experts or election supervisors, that most people in Florida wanted to vote. They went to the polls that morning to vote for Al Gore.
They just didn‘t—either didn‘t know how to do it, the machines were messed up or their votes weren‘t counted. Is that your assessment, too?
HERTZBERG: Indeed it is.
I also think that because all the focus went on to Florida, who won Florida, there wasn‘t any oxygen for the other debate, which was, who won America?
HERTZBERG: If the vote had been clean in Florida, if Bush had won cleanly by a few hundred votes in Florida, then I think we would have had a national debate over the larger question, which is a more important question.
MATTHEWS: That‘s interesting.
You think the mess-up in Florida by all involved, I would argue, including the counting of military votes and the lack of even apparent opportunity for postmarks on a lot of these guys who were offshore to even vote within a guaranteed legal fashion, because there‘s no way to put a postmark on the vote, that, if that hadn‘t been the case, then the focus would have been clearly on the discrepancy between the popular vote and the electoral vote?
HERTZBERG: Absolutely. Absolutely.
And that controversy never came. I‘ve been waiting all my life for this result to happen, because I thought that that would mean we‘d finally have a serious reexamination of the whole Electoral College, an 18th century idea. It didn‘t happen.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Hendrik Hertzberg.
Join us again tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL. And every Friday between now just election, join me for “HARDBALL: The Horse Race,” all the polls, speeches, ads, in the campaign for the White House.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.