Guests: Bob Kerrey, George Pataki, Karen Hughes, Annette Mandel, Joy Roggow, Hillary Clinton
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Saddam Hussein didn‘t attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaeda attacked us.
BUSH: First of all, what my opponent wants you to forget is that he voted to authorize the use of force and now says it‘s the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place.
KERRY: Iraq was not even close to the center of the war on terror before the president invaded it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. And welcome to MSNBC‘s unconventional coverage of the second presidential debate. We want to extend a special welcome to those of you joining us right now from NBC.
We are live from the campus, as you can see, of Washington University in Saint Louis, where we just had the debate. We‘re surrounded by the students, faculty, political activists and citizens of this great on this incredibly beautiful campus.
The debate is over, but you can still participate online. MSNBC is taking a survey of who you say won. It will give us an indication of where voters stand also and how the political parties are mobilizing their vote online. Go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
Our panel tonight, from NBC News, Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan, Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg, and MSNBC political analyst Patrick Buchanan.
Well, here, we‘re going to take a look at some of these amazing moments in this debate tonight.
But, first of all, we‘re going to—no, actually, we‘re going to go to Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, the moderator of “Meet the Press” and Washington bureau chief for NBC News.
Thank you, Tom. I got a direct fire there to go over to you. I guess I have to ask you the big question. How did you see the debate tonight? Do you think it was decisive or not?
TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: There you go again.
MATTHEWS: I know.
BROKAW: Well, I think the president stepped up his game tonight. And I think that he came with a game plan in mind and tried to execute it on that stage.
It really did remind me of a prizefight. They were off the stool and into the middle of the ring before the bell rang on a couple of occasions. But you had a real clear distinction here tonight about where these candidates stand on a wide range of issues, not just Iraq and terrorism, but social issues as well, including taxes and deficits and Medicare and prescription drugs.
And I thought it was the most useful debate that I have seen in a long, long time. Tim and I have been talking here about the great value of having these voters ask those questions—Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I loved the questions.
RUSSERT: They were right to the point. They came from the heart. And you could hear people all around the country saying, yes, that‘s what I wanted to ask, nodding your heads.
And these candidates didn‘t try to morph their answers or their differences. This is where I stand on taxes, I stand on Iraq, I stand on stem cell research. The country now has to make a decision. It couldn‘t be clearer. I think George Bush was more energetic this debate, played to his base. I think Senator Kerry appealed to his base.
How do those undecided voters, Tom, make up their minds? What is in their minds? Are they more disposed to be against the war in Iraq and do they play into the populist rhetoric of John Kerry. And are they undecided because they just don‘t like George Bush at this stage of the race? We don‘t know, but we will know a whole lot more over the next five days.
My guess is, Tom, Wednesday night‘s debate will also be widely viewed.
People are into this campaign and so are these candidates.
BROKAW: You know, Chris, this is a reminder again, which I think has been an enduring truth during this campaign, this campaign is driven by events, driven by events in Iraq and in Afghanistan and here at home on the big issues about the deficit and what we are going to do about Medicare and what we are going to do about tax cuts.
Four years ago, they were kind of making it up as they went along about where they were going to take the country. This time, they are dealing with real complex issues that are out there. And the country is troubled by the choices. And I don‘t mean that in terms of just Republican or Democrat. They don‘t break down along ideological lines, necessarily.
RUSSERT: Chris, the other thing I‘m very curious is to hear your panel later and throughout the night, in 2004, do the labels work? Can you call someone a liberal? Is that a pejorative term that will cause people who are undecided to vote against them?
Or if you say someone is naive or dangerous, does that stick? Or if someone is not telling the truth or lying, does that stick? I just don‘t know and I‘d love to find out. I guess I‘ll know a whole lot more in 23 days.
MATTHEWS: Tom, it seemed to me that the questioners were highly sophisticated. They are obviously newspaper readers. They keep up with events. They knew the nuances.
But it wasn‘t—wasn‘t it surprising to see how little they integrated the events of the last several days? There wasn‘t a lot of questions about the jobless rates that came out today in terms of new jobs, created only 96,000. There wasn‘t a lot of focus really on the absence of WMD or Bremer‘s complaint there weren‘t enough troops.
It seemed to me that their questions were bigger than those events, bigger than the daily news output.
BROKAW: Yes, we ought to be listening to them more, Chris.
I think that‘s what they‘re saying to us. We get to breathing kind of heavily and shallow during the course of a week, when there are all these developments coming out. And it‘s always been my experience as you‘ve gone around the country and you ask people what they are thinking about the political campaign, they have a much longer view than we do in the course of our daily coverage.
They take in what we report, what you talk about on your broadcasts and others, but they‘re looking at a longer future than we are. And they‘re thinking about the big impact on their lives. And, yes, they probably know who Jerry Bremer is and what he had to say about more troops, but they are saying, that was yesterday. What are we going do about tomorrow?
So I think the voters are really engaged this time and, as they always do, they showed great wisdom about how they come to making their decisions. And a lot of them, as my experience has been, will make their decisions in the closing five days of the campaign. After the debate in Tempe, they will take it all in. They will read the papers again, go over the reports. They will talk to their friends, and then they will decide.
Tim, do you agree with that?
RUSSERT: It couldn‘t be more clear to me, Tom.
These people really have an understanding what‘s at stake. And they wanted to find out specifics from these candidates. They haven‘t made a decision yet. And they‘re going to let this play out, hear another debate, see what‘s going on in the ground in Iraq and then figure out just how they are going to vote. They are taking the measure of these men. They‘re taking their time because they want to get it right.
MATTHEWS: Tom, do you, and, Tim, do you expect that the pledge that John Kerry was forced to make tonight on television before maybe 50 million people that he wouldn‘t raise taxes in the course of one- or two-term presidency on people who make less than $200,000 a year, will he get an unfortunate headline out of that?
RUSSERT: I never thought I would see another, read my lips, no new taxes, Chris, ever in my lifetime.
BROKAW: Especially with deficits the size that they are today.
RUSSERT: Well, you saw it tonight.
And in the rules for the debate, it specifically says, a candidate cannot make a pledge and challenge another to meet it. Well, a questioner raised the question, so they didn‘t break the rules. But John Kerry is now firmly committed to never raising taxes on anyone who makes less than $200,000, period.
BROKAW: What may have been playing in his mind was the tape of President Bush the 41st saying that and then remembering he also won after he said that. He paid the penalty later.
MATTHEWS: Right. And I just wondered—I think we can predict there will be one more codicil to the agreement of four years hence, right?
MATTHEWS: It will say no pledges from the audience either.
Any final thoughts, gentlemen?
BROKAW: No. I just—I wish we could have a debate every night between now and Election Day, because I think it‘s so useful.
I think it‘s good for the candidates. I think it‘s good for the system. It‘s good for the country. We can stand back from it and watch these two men out there in their peak form exchanging their heartfelt and intellectually-arrived-at positions about these great, complex issues that are before this country. It is the most vital part of our democracy in an election year.
And we, I think, owe it to ourselves to give it the very best that we have.
RUSSERT: And, Chris, you saw what can happen if you don‘t have these tight rules. When George Bush popped off that chair like a jack in the box and John Kerry ready to go, it‘s what we need desperately, have someone ask the question and let these candidates debate it.
BROKAW: Stand back.
RUSSERT: Ask each other questions. Stand back. Lincoln-Douglas, it worked so well. It could work even better than we had tonight. These men are capable of having a real, robust debate. Forget these dumb rules.
BROKAW: Hey, Chris, you know all about asking a question and standing back. We‘ll just follow your model?
MATTHEWS: Well, I think Charlie Gibson had to get out of the way tonight at one point.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Tom and Tim.
Let‘s go back to the panel.
That Charlie Gibson moment was one of the great moments tonight, when
Charlie tried to put—he was like the Polish cavalry trying to stop the
MATTHEWS: He said, no, and the president went right through him.
Let‘s take a look at that amazing moment. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we‘re going alone. Tell Tony Blair we‘re going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we‘re going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we‘re going alone.
There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we‘re going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you‘re going alone. And people listen. They‘re sacrificing with us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we missed a little bit of it right before there.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It really happened, though.
MATTHEWS: The president of the United States exerted his authority as commander in chief on the spot.
MITCHELL: That was one of those moments where, I mean, Bush came to play tonight, absolutely aggressively, combatively.
He knew he had to really push back against what John Kerry had achieved last week. I agree with what we were saying earlier and what Tim and Tom were saying. This was a really solid debate. And with all due respect, I don‘t think the failure to connect to people is as important as the fact that we heard them speaking so passionately about what they believe.
RON REAGAN, NBC CONTRIBUTOR: To pick up on what Tim said, too, these two guys really wanted to go after each other. You could tell. As everybody was saying, they were jumping up off the...
REAGAN: Let them. For God‘s sake, next time, at least—it won‘t happen this time around, but next time, could we just throw out that stupid 32-page rule book and let these guys have at each other? They‘re big boys. They‘re grownups.
MATTHEWS: I think Zell Miller likes that, too.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to go right now to the—I think it‘s still the junior senator from New York, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Are you there?
Hi, Senator. How are you doing?
CLINTON: I‘m great. How are you tonight?
MATTHEWS: Oh, there you are. Thank you.
Well, you are smiling and happy. I guess that means you think John Kerry did well tonight.
CLINTON: I think he did really well, Chris.
I think that, just as we saw last Thursday a commander in chief standing there on the stage, tonight, we saw a person with plans and vision and an understanding of what needed to be done here at home. And I was very excited, because it really gave the voters who were watching tonight a chance to weigh what the two men were saying and to understand that the president has no new plans and John Kerry has some very thoughtful ones.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the debate tonight over stem cell was crystal clear?
CLINTON: Well, it is such a complicated issue. I don‘t know that, in a short period of time like that, it could be made crystal clear.
There is an obvious difference and I think that both the president and the senator did their best in a short period of time to explain that difference.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that John Kerry supports tort reform?
CLINTON: I do, the right kind of tort reform.
And, you know, Chris, this is another one of those complicated issues.
And it‘s something that I hope after this election, we can take it out of the partisan, political spin room and put it on the floor of the Senate and have the kind of the solution that many of us have been trying to work toward.
The real answer doesn‘t like on the extreme of this issue. It lies in
· where most answer in America lie, the kind of mushy middle, where we can do what needs to be done with insurance reform, tort reform, try to make it clear that we want to support our doctors and our health care professionals, but we also need to be sure that people in our country, where, unfortunately, we don‘t have health care for everybody, if they have some kind of grievous injury or other problem that needs to be taken care of, that they will be.
And there are solutions there. There‘s been a lot of—there‘s been a lot of work done on this. Unfortunately, it‘s always thrown into the partisan political mix, instead of being looked at in a more common, thoughtful way.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about President Clinton. Was he up and watching tonight?
CLINTON: Oh, of course. Are you kidding?
You know, Senator Kerry‘s performance last Thursday—we were at home in Chappaqua—I think accelerated Bill‘s recovery. He was thrilled by how well John did. And I spoke with him tonight. And he felt equally excited, because he thought that the contrast was very clear. Once again, the president couldn‘t think of one thing he had done wrong in the last three and a half years.
He stuck to the tried-and-true formula that doesn‘t offer solutions or plans for the future. And anybody watching would have to either agree that everything has gone perfectly and therefore we don‘t need any change or that John Kerry was the only person tonight that offered change for the future and to put us on a new direction for the country.
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think—did you think that the president would say, yes, you are right, Charlie Gibson, and the questioner, I really did blow a couple things in the last four years, admit he made some mistakes? He has been kind of consistently rejecting that counsel.
CLINTON: Well, that‘s right.
And I think that‘s a little hard to maintain in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. You know, I think that the president‘s stubbornness on the issue of Iraq, the failure to plan and the willingness to blame everyone but the people within his administration is a real problem for the future, if that were to be continued.
You know, I said the other day, Chris, that people have criticized John Kerry for changing his position to suit the facts. But the president tries to change the facts to suit his position. I think that‘s dangerous. And I think, you know, he gets high marks in some quarters for being consistent. But, unfortunately, that consistency is often wrong. And we can‘t afford that.
And I think the president has never given an inch on it. And I guess maybe that gets him a lot of high-fives from his team, which never brings him bad news, never presses him, never asks any hard questions. I think they are doing him and the country a disservice.
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of town meetings, Senator Clinton, we‘d love to have you back for another one. We could go upstate. We could go to Manhattan. We could go to Staten Island. We could go anywhere with you.
CLINTON: I would love that.
MATTHEWS: It sounds like a song, doesn‘t it? Let‘s...
CLINTON: It does. We could dance our way around New York.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Senator Clinton.
We‘ll be right back.
Well, we‘ll go back with our panel right now.
Hey, what do you think, you know? They are pretty good. And everybody seems to be happy tonight. I haven‘t seen a sad face yet tonight. Could this be an optical illusion, that both sides think they won?
Pat is frowning.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, I just—I do not—look, as I say, Kerry did a tremendous job in Miami. He was standing up there as president.
Tonight, every answer, he was hectoring. Every answer he had was, the president did this. The president did that. He‘s looking at him. I think he was boring. I think he was repetitive. Where was Kerry‘s vision? Did you see any of it tonight?
Tim Russert made a good point. The president walked out and said twice, this guy has got the most liberal voting record. He got an award for it, said it twice. What did Kerry say? Listen, we‘ve got to get away from these labels. We‘ve got to get away from these labels.
This shows that the Bush people have probably tested this line and it works. And the Kerry people have tested this line and they‘re afraid it works. Kerry‘s only answer was, he came back. He said, well, he calls himself a compassionate conservative. But something was working there and the president was doing it with great confidence.
MITCHELL: Tim asked the question, do these labels still matter? Does calling someone a Massachusetts liberal hurt them in an election campaign?
And that is a really interesting issue. And if Pat is correct and they have tested that, then Kerry is in trouble.
BEN GINSBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think Kerry must have said about a
half -dozen times, I‘m fighting for you, I‘m fighting for you, as a way to,
I think, try and connect with the people out there. And it just didn‘t
work. It seemed so wooden and sort of almost aristocratic, the way he was
trying to make that
MITCHELL: I‘m not sure
MATTHEWS: Ben and everybody else, hold back for a second. We have to go back right now to NBC‘s Tom Brokaw. He has been following two Missouri voters, one from each side of the issue—Tom.
BROKAW: Thanks very much, Chris.
In fact, we‘re going to hear from two voters who we have been following for eight months now. And, as you know, voters in Missouri have picked the winner of the presidential election every time but once in the past 100 years.
Earlier tonight on “Nbc Nightly News,” we profiled these two families that we have been following since last spring to see if people on each side of the voting divide can now find some common ground.
Joining me tonight is a schoolteacher from Springfield, Massachusetts
· Springfield, Missouri—Joy Roggow, and Annette Mandel, who is a lawyer here in the Saint Louis area. They have gotten to know each other pretty well, but they are 180 degrees apart.
Let me begin with you, Ms. Mandel.
What did you think about President Bush tonight? What was his best moment, in your judgment? I know that is a bit of a reach for you.
ANNETTE MANDEL, KERRY SUPPORTER: Well, I think President Bush did a very good job compared to his last debate.
What was his best moment? I think the line about, do you want to buy some lumber?
BROKAW: And what about you, Ms. Roggow? What did you think about John Kerry? What was his best moment? Or did he have one, in your judgment?
JOY ROGGOW, BUSH SUPPORTER: No, he is a very good speaker, but I just really believe that he‘s going to say anything that will get a vote.
BROKAW: So there was nothing about his performance tonight that moved you in any way toward him?
BROKAW: And, Ms. Mandel, what did you think was John Kerry‘s best moment tonight?
MANDEL: Well, I thought he had a stellar performance. I like watching him each time. I think he gets better at the debate and seems more presidential. I just think he‘ll be a great president. And I thought he did a great job.
BROKAW: Were you happy, Ms. Roggow, with the discussion on stem cell research?
ROGGOW: Yes, I was. I thought that was a very relevant topic.
And I think that the president reiterated that it‘s not that he is opposed to scientific study, but that he had to weigh the ethics involved. And I thought that he made a good choice.
BROKAW: And what were the issues that he did not talk about tonight that you would have liked to have heard him talk about, or John Kerry, for that matter?
ROGGOW: Are you asking me?
ROGGOW: I thought that the president covered everything that he needed to cover. I was pleased with the questions that the citizens brought. And I was pleased with the depth of their thought behind them. And I thought that he answered them all very well.
BROKAW: The two of you were sitting in the same room watching the debate. Did you have your own exchanges between you while it was going on? Or did you just deal with your own thoughts?
MANDEL: A few.
MANDEL: No, I think we had some...
ROGGOW: There were a couple moments where we were both really confused by...
MANDEL: ... both of our candidates.
ROGGOW: Yes. And we weren‘t sure that they heard the questions that we were hearing, because it didn‘t seem that either of them addressed the questions that we heard.
BROKAW: Joy Roggow and Annette Mandel, thank you very much for being with us tonight. And thank you for all the time that you have given to us here in the path several months. And we‘ll see whether you stay in touch, either personally or politically, in the coming months. Thanks very much.
MANDEL: We intend to.
BROKAW: Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Tom. We‘ll see you in Tempe, Arizona.
You know, I was wondering, while watching those two ladies who seem to come from different cultures, how many of them have, how many Annette—how many friends like Joy does Annette have and how many friends like Annette does Joy have? And do people like that actually talk to each other anymore in America?
MATTHEWS: We are so balkanized. Pro-choice women hang out with pro-choice. Pro-life women hang out with pro-life women. And pro-gun people hang out with gun owners. And nongun people and gun control people hang out with gun control. I wonder if we ever have a cotillion in which people actually don‘t really agree on these issues?
MITCHELL: That is a French word, you know.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MITCHELL: Seriously, in watching Tom‘s profile on “Nightly News” tonight, they are so very different. They have similar lives, in that they‘ve got their families and their obvious issues, but they are so different in their approach.
And you are right. They don‘t share the same universe philosophically at all.
REAGAN: I am not familiar with these two women, and you are. What is that difference, though? What is the crux there? What is this red, blue, liberal, conservative? Where does it break down?
MITCHELL: A lot of it comes to religious faith. They come from very different places. One is deeply involved in an evangelical church, choir singer, goes twice weekly, the other from a more agnostic, Lutheran-plus, a marriage that involves a Jewish husband, Lutheran wife.
REAGAN: More multi-culty.
MITCHELL: More multicultural, yes.
BUCHANAN: But, you know, Chris, the key thing here was two issues. One of them is stem cell research, where Kerry is very out front on and Bush seems somewhat more equivocal, and right to life.
Now, under the radar in Ohio and all these states, the Bush people are running strong right-to-life ads. And you notice, Bush spoke out on right to life, it seemed to me, much more clearly and emphatically on his position, than Kerry did, who was being very sympathetic to that woman‘s point of view. Clearly, in states like Missouri and parts of Pennsylvania, some of these swing states, they believe the life issues works.
MITCHELL: And Ohio.
MATTHEWS: ... pro-choice position works in the states they have to win now.
Anyway, NBC‘s Brian Williams joins us now with a look at the accuracy of some of the statements that were made in tonight‘s debate—Brian.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Well, Chris, good evening.
We were at it again tonight. We watched the debate while surrounded by our own experts on all the issues. And we begin here with the issue of job. As you know, as was discussed, new job figures came out today, and it is against that backdrop that we heard the following here tonight. Now, listen to these two competing claims on jobs from Senator Kerry and then President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: The president has presided over an economy where we‘ve lost 1.
6 million jobs.
BUSH: We just got a report that said, over the past 13 months, we have created 1.9 million new jobs. We‘re growing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now for the heavy-lifting. Those figures are both correct, but only partly so.
You heard the figure from Senator Kerry, 1.6 million jobs. That applies to private sector jobs only. That is just one category. The 1.9 million new jobs the president mentions were created he says over the past 13 months, a lot to take in.
The latest and best job figures show that, since President Bush took office in January, 2001, that despite those 1.9 million new jobs, there has still been a net loss, over and above that, in other words, a net loss of 821,000 jobs. That‘s expected to shrink, to go down. The 821,000 is expected to be revised downward closer to 600,000 in the end.
This next charge came about 11 minutes into tonight‘s debate. It came during a critique of the Bush administration by Senator Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: He can‘t come here and tell you that he‘s left no child behind, because he didn‘t fund No Child Left Behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now, that charge that the president didn‘t fund No Child Left Behind and, at another time, Senator Kerry also charged that it was underfunded—wrong.
The truth is that education funding has increased dramatically in the Bush administration, though it has not lived up to the levels that the No Child Left Behind legislation called for.
We also heard quite an argument on the topic of taxes tonight. As you may know, Senator Kerry‘s plan calls for rolling back tax cuts for the top 1 percent of income earners, those who make $200,000 per year or more. Now, you saw President Bush immediately counter that doing that would negatively affect 900,000 small businesses. In truth, now, according to a reputable think tank, the Tax Policy Center, that 900,000 small business number is inflated. Mr. Bush, in fact, has doubled it. This group says it would negatively affect about 470,000 small businesses.
Now, you heard both men joke about timber, the timber business and a piece of wood. Well, all of that came out of the fact that President Bush once owned a small share of a timber business. According to the Web site FactCheck.org, he reported $84 of business income from that in 2001. The reason they were joking about it, that $84 would have qualified him as a small business owner.
Chris, that is it from the spin room for now—back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Brian Williams.
When we come back, Bush senior adviser Karen Hughes.
And we have to, by the way, send our best wishes to our colleague and friend Joe Scarborough, who is having a back problem.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Joe, we miss you tonight. Hope to see you back here very soon.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the second presidential debate live from Washington University in Saint Louis on MSNBC.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the second presidential debate.
MSNBC‘s Chris Jansing is right now in the spin room with Bush senior adviser—and what a great person she is with—Karen Hughes.
KAREN HUGHES, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Thank you, Chris.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: And I‘ll tell you, she came bounding up on to the stage, Chris.
I sense that, from the first debate, you‘re a little happier than you were after that one. You seem very enthusiastic right now.
HUGHES: Well, I think President Bush dominated this debate tonight.
And he is a real people person.
And so I think the presence of real fellow Americans in that hall tonight made the debate really a lot of fun for him. Now, I noticed him smiling at people and occasionally winking at him. And we were talking about the kind of things that real Americans care about, health care, their jobs, their safety. And so I thought the questions were terrific and the president had a great debate tonight.
JANSING: He was also pretty aggressive at times. He took some pretty tough shots at John Kerry.
The spin on it from the Democratic side is that he was looking angry, he was looking mean. They said at one time he almost charged Charlie Gibson.
HUGHES: Well, I think anybody who watched this debate tonight saw which candidate looked mean. President Bush looked friendly.
JANSING: Well, is it a fine line to watch, to be tough, but also to be friendly to the people in the audience?
HUGHES: Well, I think it was very—I think President Bush was clearly very friendly. You saw that twinkle in his eye and he smiled at people.
Senator Kerry, on the other hand, looked very defensive and I think kind of haughty almost. He didn‘t like having to answer to his 20-year record in the United States Senate and the inconsistencies between that record of, for example, voting over and over and over again to raise taxes and his claim now, when he tried to look in the camera tonight and say that he wouldn‘t raise taxes.
Well, you know, the problem is, I think Senator Kerry came out of tonight‘s debate with a couple of credibility problems. First of all, he said he‘d never changed positions on Iraq. And everybody in America knows that‘s simply not true. I mean, I think back to when President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. Senator Kerry said it was the wrong—that it was the right decision. Now he says it‘s the wrong war.
Everybody knows that is a change of position. Then he said that his plan had nothing—his health care plan had nothing to do with the government, when, in fact, eight of 10 of the new people enrolled in health care under Senator Kerry‘s plan would be enrolled in a government program. That is having a lot to do with the government.
And so I think he‘s got some credibility problems on the issues of taxes and spending as well.
JANSING: But we saw after the first debate that the polls showed a lot more people felt comfortable with John Kerry. They thought he had explained himself very well. And the polls moved in his direction.
If indeed George Bush won this debate tonight, will the polls move back in your direction?
HUGHES: Well, we‘ve said all along, both when we were up in the polls and down in the polls, that we expect this will be a very close election. The country is divided. We recognize that. We saw that in the 2000 election. I remember. I know you remember those 36 awful days during the recount.
JANSING: We were there.
HUGHES: You sure were.
And so the country is divided. And this has been a hard time. And that is one of the things the president talked about tonight, was that we have had—this has been a very difficult time for our economy. This has been a very difficult time for our national security. And so I can understand.
The stakes in this election are very high, but I continue to believe and I think tonight‘s debate only reinforced for the American people that, when it comes to who can create jobs, who has got a plan for the future, who can keep our country safe, that the American people are going to decide President Bush, particularly after tonight‘s debate, where I think the president did a very good job of explaining that Senator Kerry‘s approach to the war on terror is naive and dangerous, that he views it as a very limited thing, as opposed to recognizing the nightmare scenario, which is that terrorists are able to team up with weapons of mass destruction.
JANSING: There are so many levels to a sophisticated campaign in the year 2004. You‘ve spent millions and millions, more than ever before, on advertising. Both sides have a more sophisticated, more extensive ground game than ever before. You have huge numbers of people watching these debates. There‘s one still to come. Where do the debates fit in the importance level?
HUGHES: Well, I think they are an important factor in people‘s decision. So the American people kind of—they are watching and they‘re judging and they‘re thinking.
And I think it‘s interesting you mention the polls after the last debate. What those polls also show was that the American people that watched the debate thought President Bush was more likable, more sincere, a stronger leader and better able to wage the war on terror. And those, I think, are going to be the fundamental issues in this election.
JANSING: Karen Hughes, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming by.
HUGHES: Thank you for having me.
JANSING: Thanks very much—Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris Jansing and Karen Hughes.
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us now with a look at tonight‘s debate, as we‘ve done before, as he puts it, by the numbers—
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, there were 18 questions in this debate.
And just to show how much ground was covered, there were three questions about Iraq and a fourth question that ended up being a discussion about Iraq, three questions about economic policy, two about health care, and then one question each about abortion, stem cells, the Supreme Court, the Patriot Act, Iran, the military draft, terror, and the environment.
Now, just like the first debate a week ago, both candidates said some key buzz words, some key phrases. Here, for example, is one that demonstrates some of the key phrases from President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I don‘t think my opponent has got the right view about the world to make us safe; I really don‘t.
First of all, I don‘t think he can succeed in Iraq. And if Iraq were to fail, it‘d be a haven for terrorists, and there would be money and the world would be much more dangerous.
I don‘t see how you can win in Iraq if you don‘t believe we should be there in the first place. I don‘t see how you can lead troops if you say it‘s the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Now, you heard the president say the word wrong there. He actually used the word terrorist as well in the little clip. And when you look at the numbers, Chris, here are the numbers.
He used the word terrorist 17 times, wrong seven times, my opponent—and we‘ll see why my opponent is significant when we get to John Kerry. But he referred to my opponent seven times. He talked about taxes 26 times in some sort of reference to cutting taxes or raising taxes, 26 for taxes. He talked about threats 10 times. And he was forced to talk about Iraq 10 times. They didn‘t mention Iraq very many times in the first debate.
Now, here is an example of John Kerry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Five million people have lost their health insurance under this president. He‘s done nothing about it.
I have a plan. I have a plan to lower the cost of health care for you. I have a plan to cover all children. I have a plan to let you buy into the same health care senators and congressmen give themselves.
I have a plan that‘s going to allow people 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare early.
And I have a plan that will take the catastrophic cases out of the system, off your backs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Now, you heard John Kerry mention the word plan several times there.
But, actually, Chris, when you look at this debate, this was a debate where John Kerry, through his key words and phrases, repeatedly tried to make this a referendum about the president.
In fact, when you look at the numbers, he mentioned the president 68 times. He would say, the president wants to do this. The president has done that, 68 according, to our number. That is huge. He talked having plans 33 times. John Kerry tried to get in the word Iraq 11 times. Kerry talked about lost jobs 10 times, although he mentioned lost jobs four or five times in one particular sound bit. And then he talked about alliance nine times, a word that he also used very much in the first debate.
But, again the key here, Chris, John Kerry trying to make this a referendum about the incumbent by using the word the president 68 times—
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, that is amazing. Thank you very much, David Shuster.
You know, I think when these—you watch this thing for an hour and a half and you try to keep your mind focused on every point. And I guess we often—we don‘t accumulate these scoring points. But is it your sense, David, that people watching a program like tonight‘s report and tonight‘s debate are noticing that it‘s that indictive an evening as it was for John Kerry? He said 68 times the name of the president because he wanted to nail him 68 times.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think they do notice that.
And I think they notice that there are key themes that come out. Some people I‘ve been talking to tonight—I called people who were watching this—they said, well, you know, sometimes, these guys didn‘t really answer the question that was posed to them. I think people understand that there are key points that both of these candidates want to drive home.
And for the president, as David points out, it was taxes. It was liberal. I didn‘t hear the president use weakness as much as I‘ve heard him earlier in the week, but certainly not having a good enough vision or view of how to fight the war on terror.
You heard a lot of that from the president, the ideology of hate and so forth. So, yes, I do think people pick up on that. And I think that they reinforce key points for people watching at home. I think there‘s a point to it all.
MATTHEWS: The president said you can run, but you can‘t hide.
But you can hide. There is a certainly way you can—for example, we pointed out tonight, someone did very effectively, that I have talked to young people out here, young women, who have said, why doesn‘t the candidate—their favorite candidate, John Kerry, talk more about abortion rights, about the pro-choice position that he advocates and they share?
And I said to them—and I think I was right based upon tonight—because the states in which we are competing, the two parties are right now, Missouri, right here, a culturally conservative state, Ohio, southern Ohio especially, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, states where the Democrats might pick up, they‘re all...
MATTHEWS: Western Pennsylvania, outside of Philly and Pittsburgh.
They are relatively pro-life areas. Isn‘t that right, Ben?
I mean the whole map is really sort of tilting the president‘s way in terms of the battlefields and the issues. They are more naturally his issues.
MATTHEWS: Pro-guns, pro-life.
GINSBERG: Pro-gun, pro-life.
MATTHEWS: Anti-gay marriage.
GINSBERG: Yes, family, values generally.
MITCHELL: Except for the economic issues, the jobs issue.
MATTHEWS: But they did get to the jobs question, but they did not get
to the issue of abortion rights very effectively. I didn‘t think they got
GREGORY: And John Kerry was a little bit obtuse on that point.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think the president was purposely obtuse on the issue of stem cell. I thought that was the most complicated thing.
If you had to write a term paper, like you got to take an SAT and they give you those paragraphs as the basis to answer questions, you would be finished.
GREGORY: But I think Senator Clinton was right. It‘s a pretty tough issue to distill in a minute-and-a-half response or even two minutes, to begin with.
MITCHELL: But Democrats think it is a very good issue for them right now.
MATTHEWS: I think they lost on stem cell tonight because they couldn‘t communicate.
GINSBERG: Yes, they failed to communicate it.
And this was really the president tying John Kerry to what he‘s saying as president and then his 20-year voting record in the Senate. And I think he did that effectively on a number of issues.
Back to the cultural question, which—and all we do is fight about these issues in America now. It‘s almost like biblical times. We‘re arguing about basics like, should two gay people be allowed to get the sanction of marriage, those kinds of things.
I think the word liberal is used to lash at that. I think the word liberal doesn‘t meet voting record on taxes and defense. It means, you are for gay marriage. It means you are for stem cell. You know what I mean?
MATTHEWS: We are joined right now by one of the president‘s close advisers and friends, New York Governor George Pataki. He‘s with former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who is now the president of the New School University in New York, interesting duo there.
It‘s great to have you, Senator Kerrey and Governor Pataki.
BOB KERREY (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: How do we look?
MATTHEWS: Governor Pataki, you first.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI ®, NEW YORK: Well, we‘re both New Yorkers now, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Did you man do well tonight?
PATAKI: I think the president hit a home run.
He was a true commander in chief. He took charge of the debate. He laid out not just a strong defense of his record, but he contrasted it to Senator Kerry‘s record. And it‘s been interesting. Throughout this campaign, Senator Kerry has tried not to talk about his 20 years in the U.S. Senate. The president did tonight and I think it was very effective.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Senator Kerrey, what did you think of John Kerry‘s performance tonight?
KERREY: Well, I thought he did exceptionally well.
My guess is, it‘s probably a draw. But, luckily, Senator Kerry did talk about his record. He voted for the balance budget in 1985. He helped balanced the budget in ‘93 with a Democratic president and then finished the job with a Republican Senate in 1997.
And he did a substantial amount of work in trying to do a lot of things that have been undone by the president. He got very emotional about it. And I think the president is going to have a difficult time as a consequence, not because the war is unpopular with our allies, but because the war has become unpopular in the United States of America.
And I personally, as somebody who supported the war, I believe the only guy of the two who is going to be able to finish it successfully is Senator Kerry.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Governor Pataki, is tax cutting still a strong Republican advantage?
PATAKI: Well, job creation is a strong Republican advantage.
MATTHEWS: No, tax cutting.
PATAKI: And if you look at this president‘s record—well, I believe you create jobs by cutting taxes and you lose jobs when you raise them.
And I think the contrast between this president and John Kerry is very real on taxes. This senator has voted time and again in Congress in the Senate to raise taxes ever chance he‘s had. The president has put in place tax cuts that, over the last 13 months, have created almost two million new jobs.
And when you talk about our economy, it wasn‘t just the recession. It was also the attacks of September 11. The terrorist didn‘t think they could defeat us militarily, by they thought they could defeat us economically. And that cost 100,000 job within an hour and 1.5 million over the next year.
Now we see the economy coming back, the fastest rate of growth in 20 years. This president‘s policies are working. We have almost two million more jobs. And I‘m confident the American people are going to want those tax-cutting, job-creation policies for four more years.
KERREY: Well, the fact of the matter is, President Bush‘s father signed a tax increase in 1990. President Clinton did the same thing in 1993; 1997 included tax increases and it set off one of the most impressive recoveries the United States of America has ever seen.
I favor tax cuts. There are times when it‘s necessary to do it. But to make it ideologically a necessity of an economic plan I think it defies the observed facts of the 1990s. The fact of the matter is, I think what President Bush‘s greatest vulnerability is, there has not been any serious response to the effective globalism on middle-income families, on their wages. The latest job numbers show the only growth in the economy in terms of jobs is the government, 37,000 new jobs. Manufacturing jobs are down. Service jobs are down. That is, I think, where the president‘s greatest weakness is, not just the job growth.
MATTHEWS: Governor Pataki, are you
MATTHEWS: Governor Pataki, are you comfortable with the positions the president took tonight on abortion rights, on the issue of stem cell research?
PATAKI: Well, I‘m not just comfortable. I‘m proud of the leadership that this president has provided over the last four years.
I think Senator Kerrey mentioned that the global war on terror is, I believe, the most important issue. And, in contrast to the senator, I think this president is providing strong, principled leadership. We are safer than we were.
Senator Kerry, John Kerry, said during the debate that the terrorists wait to attack. Well, they don‘t wait to attack. They have attacked schoolchildren in Russia. They attacked yesterday in Israel. We have not been attacked since September 11, while the rest of the globe has seen horrible attacks, because this president‘s principled leadership has made us safer and it will continue to make us safer.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Senator Bob Kerrey, Governor George Pataki.
Here is an update on our live vote, by the way. With over 500,000 people taking part, 73 percent said John Kerry won tonight‘s debate; 27 percent said President Bush.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: You can vote. Just go to the Web site at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com. And keep in mind, these results are not scientific.
When we come back, we‘ll find out what our group of undecided Pennsylvania thought about the debate.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the second presidential debate live from Washington University.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: This president has made, I regret to say, a colossal error of judgment.
BUSH: He voted to authorize the use of force and now says it‘s the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage from Washington University in Saint Louis.
Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst Joe Trippi. He was also campaign manager for the late, great Howard Dean campaign.
Let me ask you, Joe, we have just been getting in this amazing report and it has stirred the hearts of the Kerry people here, a 70-30 edge among bloggers for Kerry winning tonight. What do you make of that?
JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It just shows how much energy there really is on the Democratic side we are seeing—across the Internet, I mean.
We‘re seeing the same kind of response we saw to Kerry in the debate after Miami, the debate in Miami, overwhelming. And this is after both parties sent out all kinds of e-mails today, saying, make sure you vote in these online polls. And this is after the Republicans have been bragging all years that they have a seven-million-member e-mail list that dwarfs the Democrats‘.
So it is amazing that you just can see this vibrant energy that‘s out there on the Democratic side. It‘s been there all year and it‘s continuing. And...
MATTHEWS: Who is winning in—who is winning in the blogger world?
Is it the left or the right?
TRIPPI: Oh, definitely the progressives are. There‘s no two ways about it.
You can see it—and these polls aren‘t scientific, by any means, but
somebody somehow is creating that energy to drive these more progressives
and Democrats to the online polls than the Republicans and conservatives
MATTHEWS: Is there more than one Internet? Because the president referred tonight to Internets.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I am just kidding. I am just kidding, because when he said that tonight—when he said that tonight.
MATTHEWS: All these kids behind me who are Kerry people all started laughing. And I realized they were the most sophisticated when it came to the Internet.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Joe.
TRIPPI: Even the Bush—even the Bush stalwarts on the Net cringed when—cringed when they heard that one. The “Internets” gaffe is floating all over the Internet right now.
But the one thing that‘s interesting is, across the board, regardless of what side you are on, people really, you know, approved of this debate format. They really liked the American people, Missourians, asking the questions. They‘re saying—there are comments all over the Web, let‘s get rid of the lame moderators. Let‘s let real people ask real questions that affect us, one of them saying tonight, Missouri done itself proud.
They really—this format really worked and you can see it all over the Net on both sides.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Joe Trippi.
NBC‘s Ron Allen joins us now with a group of undecided voters.
Are they still undecided?
From Allentown, Pennsylvania, a key swing region of the big battleground state, the Keystone State itself—Ron.
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, here at Muhlenberg College, Chris.
And, yes, they are all undecided, except one person, Greg Shala (ph), who works in the I.T. business. He is a father.
And you are going to vote now for President Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two things, primarily, his stance on terrorism. I think he‘s done an excellent job, as well as on the economy. I just don‘t feel Kerry‘s numbers add up.
ALLEN: Angie Hawks (ph), you are a new physician and you are more undecided. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
I felt John Kerry was more charismatic on issues such as stem cell research and the Supreme Court. However, I still like George Bush‘s stance on the war in Iraq. And I think his health care policy is more feasible.
ALLEN: A lot of you were concerned about taxes.
Chris Porter (ph), you were saying as well Kerry‘s numbers don‘t add up. Are you concerned about him raising your taxes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am. I don‘t think that there‘s any way he can implement those programs without raising taxes.
ALLEN: I should say, Chris, that the people in the front row are Democrats. The people in the back row are Republicans. And they all voted that way in 2000.
Dan Boscan (ph), you have a son who is in the Army Reserves. You‘re concerned about the war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s right.
My son was in college when he got called up the first time. He is back in school now, but I don‘t believe that President Bush has a plan to fund the troops that are needed to end the war, and I think that he‘s going to have to call him back up again. And I‘m concerned about that.
ALLEN: Wendy Yega (ph), you are a single mom. You work hard to make ends meet. Your issue was education. Did you hear enough about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty much I think Kerry is going to try to finish what Bush started, but didn‘t do, didn‘t give us the funding for.
ALLEN: And, Walter Schmidt (ph), you are a retiree. Who are you going to vote for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neither of them right now. I just don‘t have my mind made up yet.
ALLEN: Who do you think can protect your retirement better?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry.
ALLEN: But you are not going to vote for him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not yet.
ALLEN: Chris, basically, it was rated even, expect for our one decided voter now. That is the story here from Allentown, PA—back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Ron in Allentown. Tough crowd.
We are going to hear more from that crowd here at Wash U., our own crowd here, when HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the second presidential debate continues after this.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: We‘re watching our doughnut parade. There, they go by. We‘re giving out Krispy Kremes. Stacy Edsel (ph) giving them out. We‘re giving them a sugar rush.
Look, kids, you all get your sugar rush. I want to ask you a question tonight. How many thought that the president won the debate tonight?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: How many thought that John Kerry won tonight?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: How many thought it was a draw?
We have got this guy. We‘ve got a smart guy over here.
You are all sugar-rushed up now. You have got that doughnut. Why do you think it was a draw tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought both (INAUDIBLE) their good points. And I thought George Bush, he came out strong at the beginning. But at the end, towards—talking about the judges and stuff, I thought he kind of faltered a little bit, but I thought Kerry the same way. I thought that he came on. He knew what he wanted to say, but, at the same time, put too much on Bush and what Bush...
MATTHEWS: Put this man on the panel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Bush did.
MATTHEWS: He‘s great.
MATTHEWS: You‘re great.
MATTHEWS: I think that‘s right. There was a change in cadence there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
MATTHEWS: From the guy who was doing well.
Anybody else have a thought of nuance here, a French word? Who thought it was a draw tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo!
MATTHEWS: Over here.
Tell me why you thought it was a draw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was a draw. I really thought they should have been closer to people when they were talking to them. They both protected their points and they didn‘t get to what everybody wanted to listen to.
MATTHEWS: Are you surprised they weren‘t more up close and personal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They should have been more up close and personal. And that‘s a shame.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the challenger, John Kerry, was wrong to walk in at the president like he was a prosecutor in a criminal case?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really.
MATTHEWS: You thought that was OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was...
MATTHEWS: Did everybody think that was all right?
MATTHEWS: Did anybody think it was a lack of respect?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is what a lack of respect is when the president challenged the moderator. That was a...
MATTHEWS: You mean the time he ran over Charlie Gibson?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a pretty big lack of respect.
MATTHEWS: I thought I was watching—I thought I was watching a very strong defender going in past the offensive line right then, didn‘t you?
MATTHEWS: You want to say something, don‘t you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I had a blast. That‘s all I‘ve got to say.
It was fun.
MATTHEWS: This is not an entertainment show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. I know. I know.
MATTHEWS: I‘m not interested in your blast. Did you get a—is that a bigger blast than this debate was, that sugar?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, definitely.
MATTHEWS: OK.What do you think? Who won tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I think it was a draw. I think that Kerry did a good job of putting Bush on the defensive once again, like he did in the first debate. So that is what I thought.
MATTHEWS: So are you like me? If the guy you sort of liked did badly, you say it‘s a draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I thought so. That‘s a lot of guys today.
You—oh, you said it was a draw. Do you think it was a draw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush won big.
MATTHEWS: Bush won big.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No! Kerry!
MATTHEWS: OK. I want to thank everybody, thank everybody.
Look, this is a great night. We‘re going to be back—we‘re not going to be back until next week. We‘re going down to Tempe, Arizona, where the air is dry, the women are beautiful, and everybody loves Arizona.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll be back next week.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
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