Guest: David Dreier, Fran Lebowitz, Tom McSweeney, William Donahue, Pedro Sevcec
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Will Catholic voters let what they hear in the pews on Sunday influence how they vote at the polls on Tuesday, November 2?
Plus, both campaigns are sending their superstars into the battleground states going into the final days before the election. Can former President Bill Clinton, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger energize voters and break open this tied race?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews.
With a dozen days to go before the election, we begin tonight‘s show with a look at the electoral map from the NBC News polling unite.
Twenty-two states are considered solid for President Bush, they comprise 187 electoral votes, of the 270 votes needed to win. An additional four states are leaning toward the president, and their worth 35 electoral votes.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia are considered solid for center John Kerry, and their worth 168 electoral votes. Four more states worth 39 electoral votes states are leaning toward Kerry.
And 9 states worth 109 electoral votes are still to this toss up.
And a new “Associated Press” poll shows that John Kerry has a three-point lead over the president among likely voters, 49 percent to 46 percent, which is within the poll‘s three-point margin of error.
One of the most sought after voting groups is Catholic voters.
Joining me right now is Monsignor Tom McSweeney, who‘s director of communication in evangelization for the diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. And is an MSNBC religious analyst.
And William Donahue is president of the Catholic League.
Thank you very much father, and thank you both for joining us. It‘s a very tricky issue.
Let me show you the latest polling we‘ve got from the Pew Research Group. It shows that Kerry now leads the president 50 percent to 43 percent among Catholics. Earlier this month he was behind 49-33.
So Kerry has picked up 17 points, the president has lost six points in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Bill, how do you explain it?
WILLIAM DONOHUE, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Catholics are looking for clarity. The fact of the matter is John Kerry has a record of being somewhat inconsistent. There‘s also the question of why...
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. I‘m asking you the question, Bill, why has Kerry picked up 17 points in a couple of weeks among Catholics?
DONOHUE: I find this to be rather scurrilous, because quite frankly, if you look at the Bonner (ph) Research, it shows just the opposite. As matter of fact, the latest polls that I‘ve seen is it‘s extremely fluid but is leaning much more toward Bush. So, I have to...
MATTHEWS: What‘s the poll—I don‘t know that poll.
DONOHUE: The Bonner Research. Yes, the Bonner Research.
MATTHEWS: The Bonner?
DONOHUE: Yes. They‘ve shown just quite the opposite trend has been going on here. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) up all kinds of conclusions based on whatever the data might says, I think quite frankly, the—there‘s a major difference between the practicing Catholics and those who are not practicing Catholics. Those who are practicing Catholics, which are really the critical voice here, are the ones who are going to make the decision as to whether this election goes to Kerry or to Bush. They tend to put the life issues as paramount. The none practicing Catholics tend not to.
So, the question is can Kerry sell himself as being a—what he says, a practicing and believing Catholic, one who believes that life begins at conception and then tell Catholics, that if he‘s elected president, he‘ll do absolutely nothing to protect the unborn from being killed.
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re saying the definition of a practicing Catholic is someone who doesn‘t vote for a pro-choice candidate, because Kerry does go to church every week. So what do you mean by practicing Catholic.
DONOHUE: What, I‘m saying people who take their religion seriously, the fact of the matter is, you can vote for Kerry and still be a good Catholic. There‘s no question about that. Unless of course, you were to vote for Kerry precisely because you like his position on abortion, which is to defend abortion on demand. I suspect there are not too many Catholics like that. That would be to formally to cooperate in evil, because abortion is not like the minimum wage or killing trees, it‘s about killing kids which is evil. It‘s a very big difference.
MATTHEWS: OK. Lets go for another view. Let‘s go to McSweeney.
McSweeney, I want to go back to this poll, because the Pew Poll is a valid, very well known and respected poll. And it shows a substantial—I haven‘t seen many movements like this, this has been a very tight race. But if you‘ll hold the numbers up there, look at this, Kerry‘s at 50 percent now, which is moving up from 43 percent—I mean from 33 percent. He‘s gone up 17 points in just a few weeks. The president‘s gone down six points among Catholics. What—white Catholics, that means non-Hispanic Catholics, basicly the way they do these things. I don‘t particularly like it, but that‘s the way they keep count.
McSeeney, what do you make of those numbers?
MONSIGNOR THOMAS MCSWEENEY, MSNBC RELIGIOUS ANALYST: Chris, I‘m speaking to you from Pennsylvania. I‘m up in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. My diocese is the Erie Diocese, 13 counties. I‘ve been around the diocese. I‘m in charge of evangelization. Doing a lot of talking to people and getting a lot of counseling for this election because of some of the issues that are concerned here. And I tell you, the poll that you have quoted, the first one, not the one that bill Is referring to, resonates completely with the voices that I‘m hearing here in Pennsylvania.
They want to know first of all, if they can vote for a candidate who
clearly is, you know, pro choice and we talk about that. In talking with
these people I‘m finding that they are wanting to expand the conversation,
the discourse to be all of the life issues, to develop a consistent ethic
of life. And so some of them are liberating themselves from feeling badly
about voting for Kerry, because they feel that, in fact, Kerry is offering
· offering more opportunities to expand the notions of life.
This is what I‘m hearing. So the new polls that are indicating that there‘s some success rate with Catholics seems to indicate that there‘s a shift in the pro life movement in a way to expand that conversation to include all of the life issues. In other words, to connect violence of abortion with violence of poverty, violence of capital punishment, violence of war.
MATTHEWS: Let me get back to Bill, who‘s political shrewd, as well as up to date on church philosophy.
Bill, if you followed that argument you just made that Catholics should not vote for Kerry, right? Is that your argument?
DONOHUE: Well, no. I‘m saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights, that is to cooperate in evil. And the fact of the matter is the Catholic church does not have an absolute prohibition against war or capital punishment. That‘s why it has distinctions, it‘s called a just war as opposed to an unjust war. The Pope has never declared this war to be unjust war. He didn‘t like the war, he‘s never said that. Look, this is confusing the issues to make it like a piece of putty, and say that poverty is on the same plane. We‘re taking the scissors and putting into our kids head.
MATTHEWS: Lets talk about the president‘s position.
What is the president‘s position on abortion rights, Bill?
DONOHUE: The president is a opposed to abortion. The president is a pro life person. The president understands and if a women is pregnant and carrying a child, then if you kill that woman, you‘re also killing the child as well. John Kerry doesn‘t understand that. The president understands that life begins at conception, as does John Kerry, except that the president is willing to take it a step further and say that is why you cannot destroy an embryo. Because if you destroy and embryo, your destroying life.
MATTHEWS: There are two ways—Bill—
DONOHUE: Kerry, is the one that is really the problem.
MATTHEWS: There are two ways, Bill, to outlaw abortion in this country. One is to have a constitutional amendment to change the constitution overturn Roe v. Wade. Well, you know this as well as I do, just reciting the obvious. And the second is that you appointment Supreme Court justices, a couple of them at least and that shifts it back against the Roe vs. Wade position, the Scalia position.
Very clearly, the president of the United States has not promised to do either of those. He‘s not promoting a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, to overturn Roe v. Wade. He‘s not saying he‘s going to pick pro life judges. How can you say he‘s pro life, then, I don‘t get it.
He‘s not pro life.
DONOHUE: Take a look at the judges he has appointed already. I don‘t think there‘s any question about it, Kerry‘s the one says there‘s a litmus test. You can‘t be pro life to be on a bench.
MATTHEWS: The president has not said he‘s going to outlaw abortion. You know that, he makes a point of saying that all the time. I‘m not going to outlaw abortion, he said. The country is not attuned to right now. He says it all the time.
DONOHUE: But Christians know as well as I do, most Americans don‘t want to go back to the Roe v. Wade day, but they also don‘t like abortion on demand. There‘s a consensus in this country which neither the conservatives or liberals are paying attention to.
MATTHEWS: Don‘t call the president pro life—don‘t call the president pro life if you mean it...
DONOHUE: He is.
MATTHEWS: But he doesn‘t want to outlaw abortion.
DONOHUE: Look, there are a lot of—the pope himself has said, he has come out and said it‘s OK for a legislature to vote for a law which doesn‘t outlaw all abortion, provide that it‘s more restrictive than the current law. He didn‘t say you have to get all or nothing.
MATTHEWS: I just think. I‘m only interested in the politics of this.
The president‘s getting vote from pro lifers because he‘s pro life.
I don‘t think they should be voting for think he‘s going to outlaw abortion if he gets another years. Bill, if the president gets another four years is he going to outlaw abortion, is he going to be pro life president?
DONOHUE: No, I don‘t think he‘s going to -- I don‘t think he‘s going to outlaw abortion. But what I think what he‘s going to do is put people on the court who won‘t have reflexive tendency to say that, if in fact, you‘re pro life you‘re not allowed to get on the bench. That‘s what Kerry wants to do. It even gets into the question of anti-Catholicism.
MATTHEWS: You know, Bill, you bought that from Ronald Reagan. I think these guys are very clever at suggesting a philosophical agreement with your position, fair enough they never deliver.
We‘ll be right back with upon Monsignor McSweeney and Bill Donahue.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Bill Donahue of the Catholic League and MSNBC‘s religion analyst, Monsignor Thomas McSweeney. Monsignor, I want to ask you about the church position, not your personal analysis—but actually, try to give me what you think is the view of the Church hierarchy on abortion rights. Do they believe that abortion is homicide?
MATTHEWS: Do they believe that, therefore, they must believe that it should be outlawed, abortion, right?
MCSWEENEY: Yes indeed.
MATTHEWS: What is the criminal sanction for having an abortion? The way they‘d like to see it. The ideal purpose—if they had their way in this country, if it was old Spain and they could control the law completely, what would they do to a woman who got an abortion?
MCSWEENEY: I could not answer that question?
MATTHEWS: I really want to know the answer to this, because when you say you‘re going to use the law—if you‘re going to use the law to stop somebody from doing something. The way you traditionally use the law is to punish them by putting them in prison, or fining them heavily for doing it. What would be the sanction, under the ideal Roman Catholic Church rule, if they ruled this country as a theocracy, what would they do to women who had abortions? That‘s all I‘m asking.
MCSWEENEY: They would offer them every consolation of the church.
Try to persuade their conscious to forgiveness.
MATTHEWS: Well, why don‘t they do that and try to talk them out of—well, why don‘t they use that approach of counseling to prevent them from having an abortion, rather than using the force of the law?
See the problem, the church is using the law...
MCSWEENEY: I agree with you.
MATTHEWS: No, father, this is the way it‘s being discussed. It‘s being discussed as if the church believes it‘s homicide, and therefore murder, and therefore, we should have condemn nation under the law. But the problem is, they‘re treating it like running numbers.
In the old days in the big cities where I grew up, you could buy
numbers, you couldn‘t sell them. In other words, they‘re going to get the
· take away the license of the doctor, fine him or put him in prison, but they‘re not going to do a thing to the woman who goes to the doctor. These guys don‘t do abortions door to door, people go to the doctors to get a abortion.
And yet the church—and nobody seems to have the moral confidence in this issue to say if a person commits murder, or homicide, gets an abortion, they should be punished as severely as somebody who knifes somebody to death, or shoots somebody on a street corner. They don‘t want to give any punishment to the woman.
And all I‘m trying to get to is the distinction between moral law and criminal law. And constantly talking about this as if it‘s a criminal act I don‘t think, helps the argument. That‘s my thought. But what do you think, Monsignor? You‘re the expert.
MCSWEENEY: I think that the Holy Father said it‘s not simply enough to remove unjust laws, what is needed is to persuade the public conscience to transform the culture of death in all of its venues, into a culture of life. Even the most veteran of pro-lifers are now argue that we have to move to what the late Cardinal Bernadine called, the consistency of life ethic. That it has to—from cradle to grave, we have to be arguing for all of our citizens, and not just the unborn, but also those who are on the other end near death.
MATTHEWS: Do you—Bill...
MCSWEENEY: We want to transform the culture in this way, in a more holistic way.
MATTHEWS: Bill, why don‘t the people who are most pronouncibly for outlawing abortion by punishing the doctors, because they never want to punish the person who wants an abortion, or gets one, why aren‘t they just as hot on the issue of capital punishment or war. Some of the biggest hawks in this country on the war in Iraq are also the biggest opponents of any kind of legalized abortion.
DONOHUE: Well, I believe pacifism is inherently immoral. The only reason a pacifist is alive in this country today, to talk about the virtues of pacifism, because of guys like me who, during the Vietnam War, served in the armed forces, OK. I think that war is horrible. The Catholic Church thinks it‘s horrible. It is not absolutely opposed to war, because it understands from Augustine, at least, that there‘s such a concept of a just war.
Capital punishment is wrong in almost every case. There might be instances where, for the of national security, you want to keep the door open.
Now to get back to the question of abortion, the Catholic Church—let‘s get rid of the mythology here, the Catholic Church says it is wrong to procure or to perform abortion. It understands the gradations of culpability. The woman who has the abortion, the first thing the Catholic Church does today, not in some mythical worlds in the future, they reach out to her.
Yes, there should be forgiveness and she should feel repentant. We even have a Project Rachel, it‘s institutionalized in the Catholic Church. Planned Parenthood doesn‘t reach out to these women who have been rejected, the Catholic Church reaches out to them.
And too many people have the impression that the Church is anti-woman. The Catholic Church is pro life. It understands that young women in particular, they make mistakes. We throw our arms around them, but we ought to keep our eye on those people who are out there making money, exploiting young women so this—that they...
MATTHEWS: How do they do that?
DONOHUE: How do they do that? Well, through Project Rachel right now, reaching out to the woman.
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking this: if you believe that the law should be used to stop abortion, that‘s a perfectly legitimate issue, and it‘s a hot debate this country, why don‘t you use it ferociously? Why don‘t you stay that if a woman goes to a doctor to seek—to procure, to use your word, an abortion, why shouldn‘t she be sent to jail for 5 or 10 years? If you think it‘s homicide, why don‘t you act on that? I‘m just asking a question. If you believe that.
DONOHUE: We have questions like slavery and segregation, which are also evil, Chris. Anybody in his right mind would understand, Lincoln certainly understood it, and even the people who were against segregation in the 20th Century understood it. You don‘t get everything at one big leap. You take what you can at the time.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this: if a woman lives in Detroit, Michigan and goes across the bridge to Canada to get an abortion, should that be against the United States law?
DONOHUE: No. If that‘s what the Canadians want.
MATTHEWS: No, but if a person goes to the Dominican Republic, or goes to Mexico, or goes to Europe and has an abortion, should that be against the law?
MATTHEWS: So, the only issue is whether you have a bus ticket or a plane ticket, whether you have broken the law?
DONOHUE: Well, according to your logic...
MATTHEWS: No, I‘m asking. These are all questions, these are all questions. Why is it wrong to have an abortion in this country, but not wrong to have one in France for an American? Or Canada?
DONOHUE: You might as well ask me why is it wrong for somebody to get on a bus in Detroit and take crack heroin over in Holland and they won‘t care about it.
MATTHEWS: No. I‘m just to get at the disconnection between the law and trying to enforce a moral order. If you cannot use the law the way you use it for everything else, then you have to say to yourself, maybe there‘s a distinction here between the law and my moral code.
If I‘m not willing to punish the woman for having an abortion, maybe I should stop punishing the doctors and go to where Monsignor McSweeney is and says, it really comes down to counseling, and encouraging people to make the right moral choice, not punishing somebody if that person makes the wrong moral choice, as you see it..
DONOHUE: So this is...
MATTHEWS: This is a tricky issue. I admit. I do not have an answer.
I see a lot of inconsistency on both sides. Folks like you are hawks.
That‘s your right. A lot of my friends are hawks. They love this war.
They don‘t take the same position...
DONOHUE: I don‘t love this war.
MATTHEWS: The culture of life. We‘ve lost 1,000 guys over there.
We‘ve killed 10,000, perhaps. Is that part of your culture of life?
That‘s all I‘m asking. Is it consistent?
DONOHUE: Well, Chris, there‘s a major distinction between a war which one could argue is just or unjust, and the intentional killing of innocents. The intentional killing of innocents in war is a form of terrorism, and that is immoral, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Bill, if anybody came into this country from anywhere the world for any reason whatever, moral or immoral, and tried to take over this country, you‘d be out on the frontline trying to stop them, and you‘d be killed first. The people in Iraq, you say, are not morally significant. All of those guys that got killed, when we went in there, they‘re not all bad people. They‘re not morally reprehensible. War kills people. You know this more than I do. You were in the marines. Look...
DONOHUE: Yes, but...
MATTHEWS: This is inconsistency here.
DONOHUE: Yes, but Chris, not all the Japanese and all the Germans would be bad people, either. So, you know as well as I do that you make distinctions in war based on other kinds of principles.
MATTHEWS: I just think if you use the term as the president does so effectively, culture of life, I think you just got to be consistent. Maybe I‘m wrong. I‘m just raising this issue, because it‘s my job to stir you up and make you think, although you probably already decided a lot more than I‘ll ever decide, but thank you.
DONOHUE: Well, you‘ve certainly succeeding in stirring me up.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, that is part of my work, too.
Anyway, thank you Monsignor McSweeney from Erie, Pennsylvania. And thank you Bill Donahue of the Catholic League.
Up next, Telemundo‘s Pedro Sevcec is his interview with President Bush. He got a big one today. He got the big—the big get. The president himself. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Our sister network Telemundo scored an interview with President Bush today. With me now is Telemundo anchor Pedro Sevcec who spoke with the president at the White House. So what makes you such a big shot? How did you get this interview? What‘s going on here? We can‘t get an interview with this guy? What‘s going on?
PEDRO SEVCEC, TELEMUNDO ANCHOR: There‘s a reason. They‘re looking for Hispanic voting November 2. There‘s two networks in Spanish in this country, so we scored an interview with the president.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at a portion of it. So when you talk about the accusations that the man you‘re talking with is stubborn. Interesting question. Let‘s look at it. The answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It‘s very important for people to know that I listen to very smart capable people. Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez, my lawyer. I‘ve got really smart people here. I listen to them. And I—as I make a decision, I listen. But on big matters when I make a decision I stand on principle and it‘s very important for people to recognize that in this dangerous world America must not show weakness or uncertainty. That will lead to tragedy. And so I—I‘m thoughtful. I listen. I respect the opinions of others. But this is a job where there‘s—where the buck stops here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What did you make of that answer?
SEVCEC: The buck stops there, and he‘s very, very confident in what he thinks. He doesn‘t care if it‘s not popular. He thinks that something is right and he will go to death with that position. And if you see the last NBC...
MATTHEWS: But you were trying to get out of him intellectually, not in terms of some macho notion, you were trying to get an answer when you get new information like regarding Iraq, you should adjust your position. He said, no, it‘s a matter of principle.
SEVCEC: Uh-huh. He moves in that direction with several lines of question. When he starts—there are some situations where you are a little bit not confused but surprised, because he says I listen to people around me but at the end, when you say I stand on principle, basically you‘re saying if I don‘t agree with them, I don‘t care. Right?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about a big issue. The Mexican government has been issuing in effect I.D. cards for people coming here from Mexico without documentation to come into this country.
MATTHEWS: Where does he stand on that?
SEVCEC: Right now there‘s a big fight in the Capitol Hill. You have
a conference between Senate and the House. Some Republicans in the House
put an amendment in the intelligence bill trying to kill what is called
Matricula Consular (ph), that idea that you referred to. President Bush
says that that‘s wrong. That they have to have an opportunity to have some
kind of identification, but he goes beyond that and he says a profound
reform in the immigration system is necessary and his way of doing it is
not amnesty. He says specifically, I do not support amnesty. But I
support, if you have a willing employer at one place and you have a willing
person trying to get that job and there‘s no American interest in that job
· and I can tell you about thousands of situations like that—we match them.
MATTHEWS: Is either party, either candidate, President Bush or John Kerry getting tough on illegal immigration?
SEVCEC: I don‘t think so.
MATTHEWS: Because of the election or because of long-term desires to get this big Latino complement in their party?
SEVCEC: Part of both situations.
MATTHEWS: Historical—I love politics. I recognize that Cuban-Americans are generally Republican because they‘re anti-communism and having lost their country. Puerto Ricans come to New York and they tend to be poor people, they tend to be Democrats, Mexican Americans, where are they lining up politically?
SEVCEC: To the Democrats, by far.
MATTHEWS: By far. So what‘s the president up to?
SEVCEC: Last election, 62 percent for Gore, 35 percent for President Bush. And President Bush with...
MATTHEWS: Among Hispanics.
MATTHEWS: Generally speakling?
SEVCEC: In this country, yes.
MATTHEWS: How about among Mexican-Americans, the largest group? Is that splitting 2-1 or 3-2?
SEVCEC: 72-30, it will be something like that MATTHEWS: So Bush gets 35, he‘s in good shape?
SEVCEC: Very good shape. The governor of New Mexico says if the Republicans get 40 percent of the Hispanic vote we are dead.
MATTHEWS: In that state?
SEVCEC: Yes. In the country.
MATTHEWS: I think in New Mexico, it‘s going to be a real nail biter.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. Congratulations.
SEVCEC: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Tell me how to get in the door.
Up next, the campaigns are on the big guns. Bill Clinton will be campaigning for John Kerry. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnold himself for President Bush. Who better to talk about the power of the campaign on the trail for them than the man who was co-chair during Arnold‘s run for governor, Congressman David Dreier and former Clinton White House press secretary Dean Myers. They‘re both going to be here in any minute now. You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: This half-hour on HARDBALL, new poll numbers from the battleground states that Al Gore won in 2000. Can John Kerry keep them for the Democrats? And which states does President Bush have the best chance to pick up, to poach from the Democrats?
But, first, let‘s check in with the MSNBC News Desk.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Bill Clinton will be campaigning for John Kerry Monday in Philadelphia, my hometown. Meantime, the Bush campaign is sending California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ohio, another battleground state.
Dee Dee Myers is an MSNBC political analyst and was President Clinton‘s press secretary. U.S. Congressman from California David Dreier is the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney Leadership Commission.
I got to pick up on a little fight. This is going to be a fight between us here, Congressman. You know, I was just watching Bill Donahue take on the fact that people shouldn‘t be voting—or Catholics shouldn‘t be voting for Kerry because he‘s pro-choice, or especially not because he‘s pro-choice. And yet there you have got Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Catholic pro-choicer, going out to campaign in Ohio for the Republican ticket.
MATTHEWS: Isn‘t this inconsistency?
REP. DAVID DREIER ®, CALIFORNIA: We have got a massive tent, Chris. You‘ve got to understand that. And we welcome the support all the way across the spectrum.
MATTHEWS: So it‘s OK to vote—it‘s OK to vote for a Catholic who supports the president.
DREIER: Chris, Arnold Schwarzenegger—I‘m not Catholic, OK? We already had that discussion.
MATTHEWS: We were talking about that off camera.
DREIER: I will tell you that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a guy who knows George Bush‘s position on the issue of abortion.
DREIER: And yet he has chosen to provide very strong support for him and to campaign for him.
And I‘ll tell you, I‘m very happy that Bill Clinton is healthy and on the road to recovery and is headed to Pennsylvania. You an Dee Dee and I remember Bill Clinton‘s speech very well to the Democratic National Committee. But I will tell you, every place I go, people talk to me about Arnold‘s speech to the Republican Convention.
MATTHEWS: It was a hell of a speech.
DREIER: It was a hell of a speech.
MATTHEWS: He has the best story, clearly. His coming-to-America speech is inspiring. But the best speaker, I would have argued, was Rudy, Rudy Giuliani. And there‘s another pro-choice-on-abortion-rights Republican. And you guys hang him out there as a hero.
DREIER: No. He‘s chosen to support George Bush. That‘s what‘s happened, OK?
Rudy has decided to do that. Arnold has decided to do that. This is something that is unique about the Republican Party. Your former governor, the late Governor Casey, tried to address the Democratic Convention. And Governor Casey could not talk to your party‘s convention.
MATTHEWS: I have pointed that out myself.
MATTHEWS: It may not be my party, but let me tell you, I‘ve often pointed out the inconsistency, the inconsistency of any party not letting somebody who speak who is so successful politically. Wins by a million votes in the state and can‘t talk to the convention?
DEE DEE MYERS, NBC ANALYST: Yes. Well, neither Mayor Giuliani, nor Arnold Schwarzenegger, if Arnold were eligible to run, could win the Republican nomination for president. So, you know, both parties have...
DREIER: How have you come to that conclusion?
MYERS: Because you haven‘t had a pro-choice candidate ever.
DREIER: Let me just tell you that—I mean, well, the issue of abortion really came to the forefront in 1980. And so when you say forever.
MATTHEWS: Because President Bush I was pro-choice before.
MYERS: No. When he ran in 1980, he was. Then, when he ran and actually won the nomination, he was no longer pro-choice.
MYERS: So both parties are exclusive on the position on choice. And maybe we need to move beyond that, but neither party has.
MATTHEWS: Can I move beyond this argument?
MATTHEWS: ... the question is moot.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s move on to these battleground states. Do the Democrats—I‘m just going to ask you the tough one. Do they need to carry Ohio to win this election?
MYERS: Probably, yes. There are scenarios. But I think that...
MATTHEWS: Do you have any must-win states in this battleground group that have voted...
DREIER: Well, I think the focus is Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: If Kerry wins Florida, is he likely to win the whole thing?
DREIER: Well, it is going to be tough. But Bush is going to win Florida.
MATTHEWS: How do you know that?
DREIER: I think that‘s pretty clear.
I know that based on the way Martinez is doing in the race down there for the Senate.
MATTHEWS: Is he doing well?
DREIER: Yes, he‘s doing well.
MATTHEWS: Republican candidate, former Cabinet member.
DREIER: He‘s doing well. He‘s doing well.
MATTHEWS: I think the big factor down in Florida—let‘s just suggest one thing that I do know, which is that Jeb Bush is very popular now because of his handling of the hurricane. And that‘s better than he was four years ago. Four years ago, he was a weak sister to the president. Now he‘s a strong brother.
MYERS: Now he‘s a strong brother.
MATTHEWS: ... gender comments.
We have new MSNBC/Knight Ridder/Mason-Dixon poll numbers. Five battleground states that Al Gore won four years, here they are. In Pennsylvania, it‘s virtually tied, with Kerry at 46, Bush at 45. In Michigan, another virtual tie, with Kerry at 47, Bush at 46. These numbers are amazing. Same story in Oregon, where Kerry has 47, Bush has 46. Unbelievable. In Wisconsin, the candidates are tied at 45, dead even. But in Iowa, President Bush has opened up a six-point lead. The polls have a margin of error plus or minus four.
Dee Dee, I‘ve never seen numbers like this. Everything except for Iowa is just there.
MYERS: And I‘ll tell you, the Kerry campaign is encouraged about one thing about these polls, which is that in virtually none of them—I saw one poll in Nevada and one in Colorado that showed President Bush above 50 percent. In every other poll, he is below 50 percent.
And that is bad news for an incumbent fighting on red state turf in a lot of these states.
MATTHEWS: Just to get at your philosophy here, your methodology, if the president gets 48...
MATTHEWS: And 48, 48, and Kerry‘s got 45 and then you split the undecideds, isn‘t the president still...
MYERS: Because you don‘t split the undecideds.
Usually, in a case where an incumbent president is well known, has been president for four years and people are undecided, they usually break in very large numbers for the challenger. They break for change. That‘s an historic pattern.
MYERS: Now, the question is does the war on terror sort of disrupt this traditional pattern? And we don‘t know the answer to that.
DREIER: Sure. Well, I think that people understand that this election is about the war on terror.
But the states about which you just spoke, Chris, are clearly states where John Kerry has—his party has traditionally won. You show a dead heat in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. What did Gore carry Pennsylvania by?
MATTHEWS: Well, the Democrats have to carry Pennsylvania.
MYERS: ... three toughest battleground states, and I think John Kerry has opened up a pretty good lead there.
DREIER: Well, but the point is if you—well, it was just one vote based on the poll that Chris just showed.
MYERS: I think he‘s opened up a...
DREIER: Yes, well, you think it is, but the poll numbers show that it‘s not the case.
MATTHEWS: What‘s going on in Iowa? We were just in Iowa interviewing the vice presidential candidate, John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: Iowa is a tough one. I don‘t know how the Democrats will win without Iowa.
MYERS: Well, you have to win Ohio.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to come back with Congressman David Dreier to hash this out. It‘s getting too close to call for both of them. Anyway, Dee Dee Myers joining us again.
Plus, a look at how the candidates are spending what‘s left of their war chests in the final days of the campaign.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, what‘s left in the candidates‘ war chests and how are they planning on spend it in the final days of this campaign? HARDBALL is on the money trail after this.
MATTHEWS: Behind both presidential campaigns, there is of course money, a lot of it. But this is the time when so much of it gets spent in a flash.
HARDBALL election correspondent David Shuster is following the money trail. And he joins us now live from Washington—David.
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we‘re in that strange period of the election where the goal for both campaigns and all those interest groups is now to make sure that all of the money they‘ve raised gets spent and spent effectively.
SHUSTER (voice-over): After starting the postconvention battle with $75 million in federal funds, strategists and advertising experts believe the Bush campaign is left with just $10 million to $15 million, and the Kerry campaign has $15 million to $20 million.
For both sides, some of the money will pay for campaign stops and rallies through Election Day. But most of the money will be spent on a final barrage of advertising in these 10 battleground states. And of the top 10 markets where the ad war will be the fiercest, two markets are in Florida. Three are in Ohio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: John Kerry and his liberal allies, are they a risk we can afford to take today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: We see it for ourselves, the mess in Iraq created by George Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Independent groups are also on the air. The Democratic MoveOn.PAC has seized on comments made this week by Pat Robertson about a conversation with President Bush before the Iraq war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: The Reverend Pat Robertson warned the president to prepare the American people for casualties. George Bush actually said, oh, no, we‘re not going to have any casualties. No casualties?
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SHUSTER: And while television commercials on all sides fill the airwaves, a larger, more massive amount of money is now being spent by get-out-of-the-vote organizations. Strategists estimate that an army of interest groups is spending more than $350 million on voter turnout. The efforts include door-to-door drives, mass e-mailings and telephone campaigns. And it‘s all part of what everybody agrees is the most expensive and hard-fought voter drive ground war in history.
HAROLD ICKES, FORMER CLINTON DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: America Coming Together has raised over—close to $100 million.
SHUSTER: One hundred million dollars makes America Coming Together the most powerful get-out-the-vote effort on the left. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which won‘t disclose how much it is spending, is believed to be the most powerful get-out-the-vote effort on the right.
The fervor on both sides has even reached cities including Baghdad.
An estimated 100,000 American contractors work across the Persian Gulf. Republicans and Democrats have been trying to make sure the contractors know how to file absentee ballots.
SHUSTER: And for Election Day and beyond, the independent groups are trying to help the campaigns get ready for any possible recount. Unlike four years ago, the campaigns already have legal teams in place, jets ready to go, office space rented just in case in any one of these half-a-dozen battleground states, the race simply cannot be determined—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Back with David—thank you, David Shuster.
We‘re back with Congressman David Dreier, a top man for the campaign of the president, and Dee Dee Myers, a Clintonite.
Let me ask you about Bill Clinton. This is fascinating. He is coming to Philadelphia, where I grew up, noontime, going down that great corner of Broad and Chestnut, where they always have the big rallies; 50,000 people they‘re talking about getting in there.
Impact statement, please.
MYERS: I think it‘s going to have great impact. It‘s going to be a big new story. People are going to be very enthusiastic to see the president out, both because people genuinely are rooting for him out there.
MYERS: They want him to recover.
MATTHEWS: So he‘s going to be Lazarus rising from the grave.
MYERS: And I think the best thing you can say about it is it reminds
people that there‘s a difference. There‘s a difference between a Democrat
· when a Democrat is president and when a Republican is president.
MATTHEWS: But you already have an edge in Pennsylvania. Why put him there? Why not put him in Cleveland or put him in Florida?
MYERS: I don‘t think that‘s the last stop. I think that‘s the first stop.
MATTHEWS: ... hearing the buzz that he might go to Florida, South Florida?
DREIER: Yes. Yes.
And I also heard Nevada, which doesn‘t make any sense to me. But I think to see him in South Florida, that makes tremendous sense.
DREIER: We want Bill Clinton to get well.
DREIER: We want him to recover well.
MATTHEWS: You‘re chuckling. Why?
MATTHEWS: Why do you want him to get well, I mean in political terms?
No, listen, I like Bill Clinton. And Dee Dee knows that. And I get in trouble when I say it, but I worked with him on trade issues when he was president.
MATTHEWS: So you weren‘t pulling those tubes out during that operation?
MATTHEWS: Just kidding.
DREIER: Actually, I got a very nice note from him the other day.
MATTHEWS: Come on. Can we get to the political thing here? Will he help the party or not help the party, the Democrats?
DREIER: Well, you know, I look at the juxtaposition of Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That‘s really what I look at.
Sure, Bill Clinton going out and campaigning, he is a great campaigner. We all acknowledge that and recognize it. But, remember, he campaigned hard for Al Gore in a number of states.
MYERS: He didn‘t.
DREIER: Sure he did.
DREIER: He campaigned a hell of a lot harder for Al Gore than he is going to be able to for John Kerry, in large part due to his illness.
MYERS: You would have to add up the hours. I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: Suppose you put him down in South Florida in the condos for three or four days to bask in the sun of Turnberry or one of those estates down there one of those nice resorts? That is what I would do with him. I would put him down there and just talk to the old people. But I guess they‘re going to move him around the whole country.
DREIER: But what I look at, Chris, is what is it people are talking about today?
We had a hearing in the Senate about the prospect of amending the Constitution to allow Jennifer Granholm and Arnold Schwarzenegger to possibly run for president of the United States. That‘s the future that people are talking about that. That great pro-immigrant speech that you were talking about that Arnold gave...
MATTHEWS: Are you for that?
DREIER: Of course I am.
And if you look and juxtapose that to Bill Clinton‘s presidency, it‘s clear that Arnold offers...
MATTHEWS: I think Jennifer Granholm is a great salesperson for anything. But I‘m just kidding. Schwarzenegger is good, too.
MYERS: No, I‘m Arnold Schwarzenegger is great. I don‘t care what he has to say.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve got to go. We‘ve got to go. Hard break.
MATTHEWS: Thanks to David Dreier. Thank you, sir. Please come back.
Dee Dee Myers, always welcome.
MATTHEWS: Up next, “Vanity Fair”‘s Fran Lebowitz argues that religion has impeded progress and democracy in America. That‘s a hard sell. And she‘ll make her case when we return.
And don‘t forget, you can keep up with the presidential race on Hardblogger, our election blog Web site. Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, we‘ve talked about how both presidential candidates, Bush and Kerry, are going after religious voters.
“Vanity Fair”‘s Fran Lebowitz has argued that religion has impeded progress and democracy in America.
Here‘s what she had to say when I asked her to make her case.
FRAN LEBOWITZ, “VANITY FAIR”: First of all, for the first time in the history of this country, we have public money in parochial schools. We have public money in so-called faith-based initiatives, and we have a very activist president in this regard who appoints activist judges, which Republicans all pretend are, you know, activist judges are Democrats.
MATTHEWS: What federal money goes to parochial schools?
LEBOWITZ: In these school voucher plans, in these charter plans.
MATTHEWS: You mean in these experimental plans?
LEBOWITZ: Well, it may be experimental, which it means that simply experimental means not proven or, you know, temporary in some way. But it should never happen.
MATTHEWS: Why‘s that?
LEBOWITZ: Because we have a Constitution that prevents it from happening, because we have separation of church and state, which means no public money in religious organizations.
MATTHEWS: What about when the federal government or the state municipality has to pay for a public school and the kids go to Catholic school or some other religious school, and that‘s one less expense the public has to pay for? Shouldn‘t there be some compensation for not costing the state or the city that much money?
We don‘t get a line-item veto in life like that, Chris. I mean, putting your children in private schools or parochial schools is your choice. it doesn‘t mean you get to opt out of society. And it is to the advantage, by the way, of every member of the society that we have good public schools. Whether you‘re 80 years old and your children are grown up or you don‘t have any children, you still live in the same world.
MATTHEWS: Do you feel that we‘re moving more towards a theocracy of some kind?
LEBOWITZ: I think the world is moving backward at such a dizzying rate that people are mistaking it for forward movement.
Just for today, you watch the news and you see consistently words like beheading. This is—the most recent usage of this word before this year was in the 17th century. We hear warlords. These are words from fairy tales. These are not words for 2004.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the fundamentalist movement in the Arab world is being matched by one here?
LEBOWITZ: Well, certainly not from the point of view of violence. I don‘t mean to suggest that.
But I think that wherever in the world you look, the more religion there is, the less progress there is. No one certainly would point to the Arab world as a beacon of progress. In fact, many of the problems there are caused by the lack of progress.
MATTHEWS: Could it be that there is another parallel, which is the more a country or society or culture feels repressed or set upon, the more they rely on religion as a kind of—not so much a consolation, as a support.
For example, you have the people of Eastern Europe are extremely Catholic, largely, I think, because of the pressure on them of a Soviet system which was so anti-Catholic, that that was their way of rebelling all these decades.
LEBOWITZ: Well, I think that‘s probably true, the totalitarian governments in the communist world.
Let me make very clear that I don‘t care if people are religious. I just want them to be religious in their religious institutions. I don‘t want them to bring the religion into public institutions.
MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you or let me ask you about the president and the first lady. They are transparently religious. They go to church. They seem to be a traditional American couple with traditional values. And the president does cite God quite often. Is that a bad thing?
LEBOWITZ: I find out deeply offensive, deeply offensive.
MATTHEWS: Who does it offend?
LEBOWITZ: It offends me, first of all.
MATTHEWS: Tell me how.
LEBOWITZ: Because I‘m a civic minded small-d democrat and that‘s not what I want to hear from the president. If I wanted to hear about God, I would go to a religious institution.
I would to hear a little from the president about civic life, about the real world. He‘s supposed to be the president, not the pope.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we should knock under God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?
LEBOWITZ: This is just the kind of thing I don‘t care about.
To tell you the truth, in this piece in “Vanity Fair,” I say, you have to remember that things can be wrong without being important. And it‘s not important. It doesn‘t matter to me. They could have it. They could have a cross in the town square.
LEBOWITZ: These to me are not problems.
MATTHEWS: Like chaplains in the military, you have no problem with that? You don‘t care about that?
LEBOWITZ: I don‘t care about that.
MATTHEWS: How about chaplains in the Congress? Do you think we should get rid of them?
LEBOWITZ: If these things are brief things at the beginning, they‘re traditional, that really isn‘t the problem. To me, that isn‘t the problem. You know, of course, it‘s not strictly correct, but it doesn‘t really bother me.
MATTHEWS: You make a hard case, and then I look at this country and I think this country is so libertarian. I look at the decisions we make about medicine, about guns, about abortion rights, and it seems like we always choose freedom over this kind of doctrinaire approach.
We do have a pro—what do you call it—a pro-choice law on the books, Roe v. Wade. You don‘t see any big effort to overturn it. If the theocrats were in charge of the country and it was all by driven these conservative Christians or conservative Jews or whatever, they don‘t seem to have much clout, do they?
LEBOWITZ: I don‘t agree with you.
MATTHEWS: Tell me where their clout is. Where‘s the conservative religious people‘s clout being shown in our country today? Where are they winning the case?
LEBOWITZ: Well, one way they‘re winning the case is that this is a topic of—I mean, a legitimate topic of conversation. You know, this is something that you can see easily, you know, persisting in public life. I don‘t know. I‘m 53.
MATTHEWS: But I‘m older than you. And let me tell you, Fran, I don‘t see any successful move to outlaw or to change the Constitution to say you can‘t have a same-sex marriage, for example. Despite all the talk and kibitzing about it, there‘s no movement for it. Where is it? If this country is being run by the theocrats and the right-wingers, how come they can‘t change the Constitution?
LEBOWITZ: Well, first of all, they haven‘t—to me, those are two separate issues.
I did hear the president in his acceptance speech at the convention say, in a kind of bizarre segue, I will make a place for the unborn. Now, I read that to mean, you know, he‘s going to appoint at least two judges to the Supreme Court.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the country is being run right now or potentially by religious extremists? Is it a potential problem or is it a current problem?
LEBOWITZ: You know, I think it‘s a current problem, maybe not in the extreme way that you‘re phrasing you.
You know, it‘s a current problem that people accept the fact, first of all, that public money goes to religious institutions that run drug rehab programs, that run programs for the homeless. Public money goes to the Salvation Army, which preaches to people. That is unconstitutional. This isn‘t a gray area. It‘s completely wrong. It‘s anti-democratic.
MATTHEWS: You‘ve got a strong view and a lot of people share it.
Thank you very much, Fran Lebowitz, for coming on HARDBALL.
LEBOWITZ: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Join us tomorrow night at 7:00 Eastern for THE HORSERACE, our Friday roundup of all the week‘s electioneering.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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