Guest: Chris Doherty, Chaka Fattah, Ed Rendell, John Kerry, Jim Matthews, Rick Santorum
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: In his first political appearance since undergoing major heart surgery, former President Bill Clinton came to Philadelphia today to campaign for John Kerry. And we‘re here to cover it.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
We‘re here at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where today, Bill Clinton, the former president, entered the home stretch of the 2004 presidential election. But first, let‘s to go my exclusive interview with the man he came to help, Senator John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: How is President Clinton doing? You talked...
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fabulous, great, he is really doing well. In fact, he‘s energized enough. He is going out to several other states. He‘s not just doing this. He‘s going from here to Nevada. I think he‘s going to do Colorado. He‘s going to Florida. He‘s going to be out there working.
MATTHEWS: How about Ohio?
KERRY: I think he may go. I‘m not sure. But I think he may.
MATTHEWS: But he feels good. Because a lot of people say...
KERRY: He feels good. No, no, no, no, he really feels good. He‘s lost a little weight, obviously. He wants to. He wants to lose a little more. And he feels terrific.
MATTHEWS: Did he give you any big advice for the last week?
MATTHEWS: Did he say push Iraq? Go domestic? What did he—give me a hint here. What did he tell you to do?
KERRY: No he just—you know, he really was very concerned about this ammo dump thing that‘s happened today. He thinks that and I think that represents the way in which this administration has miscalculated again and again and again in Iraq.
And this is serious. Because just a small amount of that—I mean, if only a few tons of it fell into the hands of terrorists, it‘s more than enough to blow airplanes out of the sky, buildings to the ground. It‘s deadly serious.
And it‘s so basic, it‘s so basic to what we should have been doing over there.
MATTHEWS: Is this the source of all of these IEDs that have been blowing the legs off our guys?
KERRY: I can‘t tell you that. I don‘t know the answer to that.
But I can tell you this, that there‘s an awful lot of explosives and weaponry in the hands of insurgents that shouldn‘t be. And it‘s because we didn‘t do the planning, we didn‘t do—we needed—do you know this ammo dump is put in a second tier of category of protection below the ministry of oil, below other buildings in Iraq? And they didn‘t do what was necessary to protect America and our troops? I think it is deadly serious and so does President Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Was this a failure of the high command or the president himself not to give the specific orders to protect that ammo?
KERRY: I believe that all of those decisions—the president sits and leads the war council. You sit at that table and you ask your generals and you ask your secretary of defense, “Have we major—what‘s the order of priority? What are our lists? Do we have enough troops? Are we going to be”—the fact is the army chief of staff said, “You need several hundred thousands troops.”
He listened to Don Rumsfeld, who was wrong. He didn‘t listen to the professional military. I think that‘s a failure of the commander in chief.
MATTHEWS: This president has said—President Bush has said, over and over again we‘re going to turn the country over to the Iraqis, we‘re going to turn security to the Iraqis, security forces.
This horrible event of the weekend, Senator, does that show that the Iraqis are in no shape right now to protect the security of their own outfit?
This was apparently an inside job. It‘s been reported, 50 guys executed on our side. And they were sold out by somebody within the unit, apparently. What does that tell you?
KERRY: Well, first of all, we know that the administration has misled Americans about the numbers of troops that are being trained. Donald Rumsfeld said several months ago to Congress, there 200,000. Then he corrected it to 100,000. That has now been re-corrected by fact to 22,000.
So they haven‘t been training people adequately.
Secondly, when you train people, you don‘t just leave them in an unprotected status in a state of war. You do what is necessary to guarantee that you‘re protecting what you‘re investing in.
They haven‘t done that for the contractors. They haven‘t done that for the people doing the elections. And they haven‘t even done it now for the military.
It underscores the utter—look, these aren‘t my words. These are Senator Lugar‘s words, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican. He‘s called it incompetent.
Senator Hagel has called it beyond pitiful, beyond embarrassing. It is in the zone of dangerous.
Now, we can have more of the same with President Bush, or we can move to have somebody who knows what they‘re doing, who knows how to get this training done, who can bring allies back to the table and get this job done.
We have to get this job done. Make no mistake.
MATTHEWS: Do you feel you can take this job right now?
MATTHEWS: That‘s all I need.
MATTHEWS: That was John Kerry right after his big lunchtime rally here with former President Bill Clinton. When we come back, we‘re going hear from the number one ally of John Kerry in Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell.
MATTHEWS: We‘re sitting here at one of the most historic spots in America, where in fact American began. I‘m a block from Independence Hall here in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and my home town. I‘m sitting here with the governor of the state, Ed Rendell.
Governor, thanks for joining us.
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Nice to be here.
MATTHEWS: You were in the room with President Clinton when he made his amazing sort of arrival today. Tell us about how he looks.
RENDELL: Well, he looks weak, and he looks like he‘s had a serious operation, but he‘s the same Bill Clinton. I mean, we were sitting there and he was going through electoral map like crazy. Boom, if we take Nevada, take New Hampshire, this is what has to happen. He hasn‘t changed a bit, and he‘s ready to go. I mean, this is an ambitious schedule he is about to embark on for a guy who just recovered from heart surgery. He is going out to Nevada, New Mexico. I think he‘s going to be a real force in this last week.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk impact. What was it here?
RENDELL: A tremendous impact. We‘ve never had a rally in the 27 years I‘ve been in Philadelphia that had anywhere close to the turnout here. Over 100,000 people, it was pretty incredible.
MATTHEWS: Who else can draw like him? Anybody in the Democratic Party?
RENDELL: There‘s no one. There‘s no one, not even Senator Kerry.
MATTHEWS: What‘s it do for Kerry next Tuesday?
RENDELL: I think it will help the turnout. And I think President Clinton also made a very persuasive case, fairly short, eight or nine minutes. He made a great case for why President Bush has failed and why John Kerry has better plans for America. A great case.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the name of the game here in Philadelphia?
Is it TV ads?
Is it publicity like the president today, former president?
Or it‘s street money?
What is it, organizations? What is it?
RENDELL: The former president helps because he‘s got a tremendous, tremendous bond with minority voters, with African-Americans, Latinos, et cetera. And they‘re the base vote here in the Democratic Party. But right now, television I don‘t think matters much anymore. We‘re pouring all this money into it, but right now it‘s getting the vote out, making sure the new registrations vote. As you know, we had a 9-1 advantage in over 130,000 new registrations here in Philadelphia. If we get them out, I don‘t think there‘s any way we‘ll lose the state.
MATTHEWS: Bob Casey, the former—the last Democratic governor of the state, said Pennsylvania is a John Wayne state, it‘s not a Jane Fonda state.
Do you think all those attacks during the summer by the swift boat people hurt in this state?
RENDELL: Oh, I think there‘s no question they hurt John Kerry. But I think the momentum has switched back to us. People are starting to focus on domestic issues, again. And when you look at the domestic issues, really the president doesn‘t have a very supportable record. Kerry‘s hitting hard on that. We‘re hitting hard as we go around. I think that‘s going to take the day.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk constituency. Everybody knows that Pennsylvania is one of the oldest states in the Union. It‘s not, you don‘t have the snow birds here with houses in Florida. You‘ve got people who live here, live here, retire here, die here. Social Security, Medicare, how big are those?
RENDELL: Those are very big. I think they made a big mistake when they raised the Medicare premiums by 17 percent. I think that really showed a disregard for older voters here in Pennsylvania.
Older voters talk to me about that all the time. So, the Social Security stuff resonates, because they showed such little care about Medicare.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that John Kerry has shaken off the flip-flop issue or is it still there—a problem—where he stands. I mean, he‘s not quite for the war, he‘s not quite against the war.
Does that still hurt him here in Pennsylvania?
RENDELL: No, I think the fact that there were three debates and he did so well. I mean, such a terrifically even performance in all three debates, I think that killed the flip-flop issue pretty effectively, except for the Republican base.
MATTHEWS: Is there any other candidate that might have done better than Kerry up here? Would Gephardt have done better?
RENDELL: No, the only candidate that would have done better than John Kerry...
MATTHEWS: Is Bill Clinton.
RENDELL: ... spoke—introduced him today.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Bill Clinton, where you see him going right now. You were in the room, you were in the huddle with him. Can you share, I know it was sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in there, and omerta (ph) was the rule, but can you tell me what Clinton thinks are the prospects for Kerry to win?
RENDELL: The president believes we‘re going to win. He believes we‘re going to carry Ohio, carry Pennsylvania, carry Nevada, carry New Hampshire.
MATTHEWS: That‘s what I think, by the way, if you‘re going to win.
That would be a winning group.
RENDELL: Scenario. Because we might—we might lose in Iowa. We might lose Minnesota.
MATTHEWS: You can afford to lose one of those babies, but where else are you going to pick up?
Because if you do that scenario you just gave me, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, you can only really afford, as I‘ve done the math, to lose one big Midwestern state with 10 points.
RENDELL: Right, but there‘s also a significant chance that take Florida out, and take Ohio out and put Florida in, that‘s seven more electoral votes.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think the Democrats might not carry Florida this year?
RENDELL: Well, I actually think there‘s a great chance. Although, having an incumbent governor who‘s been there as long as Jeb Bush...
MATTHEWS: Helping with the hurricanes.
RENDELL: I think the hurricanes probably helped the Bush administration. Their response was pretty good. On the other hand, the flu vaccine is starting to resonate against them in Florida. People are now beginning to feel there was negligence, and we weren‘t on our toes in looking after the flu vaccine. And nowhere in Florida are there more people scared about the shortage of the flu vaccine.
MATTHEWS: I‘ll bet. You notice the campaign strategy seems to be a bit wide ranging, Governor. I mean, every day for the last week, it‘s been a different topic. As you mentioned, flu vaccine was a huge issue, then it was Social Security. And now today, of course, he‘s talking about that horrible situation in Iraq where they got all that ammo that they stole when we came in.
Is that a better approach than just hit one or two buttons?
RENDELL: Well, I think that it is tied together by the competency issue. You know, Senator Hagel and Senator Lugar said the administration was incompetent in not getting enough money to build up the Iraqi infrastructure.
Today‘s events, I mean, incredible incompetence. If you or I were president, that baby would have been guarded by the most elite people we‘ve got.
MATTHEWS: We would like to think. But you know, the president doesn‘t make on-site decisions. He‘s not in country.
Is that a presidential decision to guard the ammo site?
RENDELL: Well, I think it shows the level of preparation. If I were president, and I have no intention of ever running. But if I were president, I would...
MATTHEWS: That‘s the first thing you‘ve said that I don‘t quite believe, but go ahead.
RENDELL: If I were president, I would look at the major challenges confronting us in Iraq. I would have done it in the beginning. Number one, get the infrastructure money out there spent, so the Iraqi people could see new things happening. Number 2, I would have given the Iraqi people a cut of the oil proceeds. I would have given everybody, even if it was only $20 a year. We‘re not doing stuff like that. We didn‘t look at the big picture. We were unprepared. We were basically incompetent.
And Senator Hagel and Senator Lugar, two good Republicans, said the administration was dangerously incompetent.
MATTHEWS: OK. Last question. Would you, running for governor of Pennsylvania, ever walk around with a 12-gauge to show that you‘re a macho man?
And why does John Kerry have to do?
Putting on camouflage, walking around, obviously a photo opportunity. Have we reached that point where the only way you get elected president of the United States is to walk around with a gun?
RENDELL: No. There‘s a difference between John Kerry and I. He is a legitimate hunter. He‘s hunted all his life. I‘ve never hunted. I was in the Army and I carried an M-16 and a 45, I know what damage they do. But I wouldn‘t carry them.
MATTHEWS: OK. We‘ve got to look out for the policemen too here, right?
MATTHEWS: OK, we‘re going to have—U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, from Philadelphia coming up in just a moment.
And we‘re also going to have Chris Doherty, the mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania. That‘s a great duo coming up.
More coming up from Pennsylvania. It‘s Pennsylvania night on
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with HARDBALL. We‘ve got Congressman Chaka Fattah from Philadelphia here, a good buddy of ours on the show for many years. And we have the Chris Doherty, the mayor of the last Irish city in America. Scranton, Pennsylvania. Why do all the Irish stay in Scranton? What is that story about?
MAYOR CHRISTOPHER DOHERTY (D), SCRANTON, PA: We‘re a friendly city.
People like to come there.
MATTHEWS: And I spoke at your dinner there (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It truly is one of the historic places on the universe.
DOHERTY: It was a great dinner and a great night. We loved having you.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about this state. It has become the focus of the country. Congressman, Pennsylvania. What do you think about the results next Thursday?
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: As it was with Clinton twice and Gore, I think it is competitive. But we‘re going to win it. Senator Kerry is going to carry Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: Is it slightly to the Democratic side of the national average? How would you put it in terms of other states? It‘s not a bellwether, exactly.
FATTAH: In a presidential race, it is a competitive state but one that leans slightly to the Democrats. We‘ve had a significant registration drive here. Republicans have worked hard. Bush has come 41 times. He‘ll be here a couple more times. But it‘s been a hard selling point, and I don‘t think it will be sold by election day.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think, Congressman, that the president has spent so much of his quality time in a state that you think normally tilts the other way? So why is he so hopeful?
FATTAH: I think that there‘s a real concern in the rest of the electoral map, that they could have some losses in some places that they won before.
MATTHEWS: Like Ohio?
FATTAH: Ohio, and maybe Florida.
And that they need to make it up somewhere. And because it was only a four-point differential last time, they decided long ago when the president first got sworn in to office, to put Pennsylvania on their radar screen. He‘s been here more than he‘s been in Crawford, Texas.
MATTHEWS: That‘s good. Because this is work, and that‘s play.
FATTAH: As the president will tell you, this is hard work.
MATTHEWS: That‘s right. Congressman, tell me about the old northeastern part of the state. Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, that part of the state, coal mining, Molly Maguires, all that history?
DOHERTY: Predominantly a Catholic area, and conservative Catholic, but an area that has always voted Democratic. As the congressman was saying, we went with Clinton twice. We went with Gore. And I think the senator is going to win comfortably up there.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of the president heading there right after—didn‘t he head there right after the Republican convention? Why do you think he went right to Scranton, President Bush?
DOHERTY: I think because he figures he can tap into that conservative Catholic movement. But I think he misjudged it because people up there, they vote for the party because they‘re true Democrats. And there are other issues besides abortion.
MATTHEWS: How does a man or a woman, 55 years old, some average age person, decide between voting values? Because you‘re really not talking about changing the law much on these abortions. It never really changes much. And the courts challenge it if you try to change it, and the economic issues of jobs and outsourcing and those kinds of current issues. How do people tell you that they‘re deciding it?
DOHERTY: I think what you hear most about is jobs. People in Pennsylvania, and northeast of Pennsylvania are concerned with where their kids are going to stay. And they want to see opportunities for their kids.
MATTHEWS: They don‘t want the kids to head to New York.
DOHERTY: They don‘t want them to go to New York. They want to see their grandchildren raised in Scranton or Wilkes-Barre or in Philadelphia. And they want to see their kids get jobs and good jobs.
MATTHEWS: You know, I heard the same thing. HARDBALL, we had the show out in Iowa—I forget the name of it, it was right near Sioux City, Iowa and I asked some people about it, and their big, key concern was keeping the kids at home.
DOHERTY: And that‘s the number one issue I always hear about. We want our kids to stay here. It is a great quality of life in Pennsylvania. Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have a low crime rate, good education, but we‘ve always had a tough time keeping jobs. Now we‘re starting to see that resurging. We are starting to see jobs come to the area. But more importantly, we think the Democrats, we think that John Kerry is the guy who can make the difference.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you could have a zero-sum situation in a state like Pennsylvania, where you appeal to the minority crowd in Philadelphia, that was a mixed crowd today certainly, and you appeal to people who are secular in their politics. And also, be able to hold a more culturally conservative people like up in Scranton out in the middle part of the state. How do you do both?
FATTAH: I think it is important that you talk about health insurance. We have hundreds of thousands of people in our state who are not covered by health insurance and have lost it since Bush took office. People who had jobs when he was elected the first time, or selected by the Supreme Court, they don‘t have their job today. I mean, I think the conditions, when they see the national budget deficit, when they see all these issues, and there is a concern about the war.
Pennsylvania has been very high up there in the number of casualties that we‘ve suffered, both in terms of fatalities and wounded in the war. So there‘s a lot going on here. And I think the synergy of that and the Kerry message, that is much more hopeful, less based on these scare tactics, and the fact that underneath it all, Pennsylvania is a state where we elected Ed Rendell, where we elected Bob Casey, where you can see a conservative Democrat win, a more moderate Democrat win. This is a state that Clinton carried, Gore carried, Kerry can carry.
MATTHEWS: Both of you, you start, Congressman, and then Mayor Doherty, if you had asked the people of your constituency, your congressional seat and your city, up or down, should we have gone to Iraq, what would they be saying? Is it too close to call?
FATTAH: The answer is no.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Mayor?DOHERTY: I think they‘ll be nervous about it. I think their biggest
· what they comment is that we weren‘t prepared once we got there.
MATTHEWS: But would they answer the yes or no? Was it a blunder? Was it a mistake? Or should we have done it or not? Was it smart for the United States?
DOHERTY: I think they would lean more that it was a blunder.
MATTHEWS: That it was a blunder. Has that been growing?
DOHERTY: Yes. Because as the casualty rises—as the wounded rise -
· the congressman talked about, a lot of people from Pennsylvania, a lot of people from Scranton, this is the Army, the military, is a way they make the bills meet. They‘re weekend warriors. And now they‘re over there fighting for their lives.
MATTHEWS: So being a reservist doesn‘t mean being a reservist anymore. It means being in action, or not getting back.
DOHERTY: I have five city employees that are over there right now.
FATTAH: When you hear Senator Lugar say this is worse than incompetence, and Chuck Hagel and others—these are Republicans. So you know, there‘s enough concern in a bipartisan way. And it has gotten through. People are paying attention. They see the problems over there. They see when a group of soldiers say, wait a minute. We don‘t have armored trucks so we don‘t want to go on a suicide mission.
MATTHEWS: That‘s pretty weird. Wasn‘t it? That happened in Israel a few months ago where they would not go out past the green line.
FATTAH: There‘s a real question now about the competence of how this has been put forward. And when Pat Robertson comes on TV and says, Bush says there weren‘t going to be any casualties. Then there‘s a question about whether he is facing reality.
MATTHEWS: OK, gentlemen. Thank you. We‘re going to have enough of you Democrats for a while now. Chris Doherty, great guy. Nice Mick.
FATTAH: HARDBALL, right here in Philadelphia.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to change the theme here and we‘re going to bring in some new cohorts, my brother, Jim Matthews, county commissioner, Montgomery County is coming in. He‘s a big-time Republican in this part of the world. And then we‘re going to have Rick Santorum, the United States senator from Pennsylvania, join us by phone. The changing of the guard is about to occur in Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From time to time I have been called the comeback kid. In eight days, John Kerry will make America the comeback country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We‘re back here at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, just a block away from Independence Hall. Our guests in this segment, both Republicans, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, he‘s won a couple of statewide elections himself and knows what the contours of this state are all about politically. And also we have my brother Jim, James Matthews, formally said, the chairman of the County Commission of Montgomery County, the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania.
Let me go right now to the senator.
Senator Santorum, you‘re out there campaigning for the president in Ohio. Does he need to take both Ohio and Pennsylvania?
SEN. RICK SANTORUM ®, PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don‘t think he does.
I think Ohio is obviously a very important state. And I will tell you, the enthusiasm in eastern Ohio, I was there today at three different stops, is just—is palpable. And I think I feel it also in Pennsylvania. But of the two states, there‘s no question that the president is running stronger in Ohio and has a—I think as a solid lead there and one that I think he will build on.
I know he has come into the state three or four times this week. And he‘s going to reestablish I think a pretty solid and a firm grip on Ohio. And I think he has to. And Kerry is the same way. Kerry has to win Pennsylvania. I mean, Bush can get to the presidency a lot of different ways without Pennsylvania, but Kerry cannot. And that‘s why I think it is the most important state in the election.
And, right now, we feel we‘re ahead in Pennsylvania. We feel like the momentum is all on our side. And I can tell you, Chris, I have never seen an organization like we are putting together in Pennsylvania to get our vote out. And Jim knows that, because, Montgomery County, which everyone was worried about six months ago, has just done a great job in really pulling together a terrific organization to get the Bush vote out in Montgomery County.
C. MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go to Jim tonight. Excuse me. We‘ll get back with the senator on the phone.
Jim, you had—you spent the day. We had Bill Clinton here. You had Barbara Bush campaign in your county. Tell me what she was like. What is she thinking about?
JIM MATTHEWS, ® MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSIONER: She lit up the room.
She talked about the whole family investing everything into this right now, how, when they‘re not out on the road, they‘re in front of the TV. She said that George 41 is reading every word in every newspaper in the country he can get his hands on and doesn‘t miss anything in the evening. She said, as a consequence, though, he‘s doing a lot of screaming at the television at night. He hasn‘t thrown anything yet.
C. MATTHEWS: Is he screaming at what his son is saying?
C. MATTHEWS: You know he disagrees with his son about going to Iraq, that George Bush Sr. would have never gone to Iraq. Scowcroft wouldn‘t haven‘t done it. Barbara wouldn‘t have done it.
J. MATTHEWS: No, the fact that he went after the—I don‘t necessarily agree with that. I think that he saw him as the No. 1 --
Saddam as the No. 1 candidate for who was truly going to bring down on us the second attack, be it a suitcase bomb, or something, chemical weapons., He was the No. 1 suspect.
C. MATTHEWS: What is Barbara Bush‘s attitude towards the media coverage of the campaign? You said you were talking to her about HARDBALL. I need to know this. What did Mrs. Bush say about this show, anything?
J. MATTHEWS: She said, it is extremely difficult to sit and watch your son being criticized. And she feels unduly—and this is not just you. This is everybody. And she feels it is so personalized.
And the one thing I hear repeatedly anymore on the airwaves and just thrown around loosely is that George Bush lied to the American people. And that hurts, because he is not capable of lying. He is a real genuine individual. He is a chip off the old block from his father.
C. MATTHEWS: Well, who lied to him, then? Who told him there were weapons of mass destruction, the Iraqi National Congress? Who did it?
J. MATTHEWS: Somebody jumped from—again, they knew that the Syrians and other channels were being hit to put together nuclear materials. And I think, at that point, one assumption led to another.
C. MATTHEWS: Yes.
J. MATTHEWS: That if there working on it, it could be so. Ergo, let‘s go after him.
C. MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Senator Santorum.
Pennsylvania is an interesting state. You‘re a cultural conservative. The state is culturally conservative. It is also, you know, it is a working state, as you know. It‘s a union state to a large extent. How do people make up their mind between cultural values and economic need in this state?
SANTORUM: To be honest with you, Chris, I think that the issue that‘s dominating the election in most parts is going to be—is the security issue.
And I just don‘t think John Kerry has got across that he is going to be a credible commander in chief, that he has the integrity and the decisiveness to be able to lead our country in a time of war. And I think that issue—certainly out here in Western Pennsylvania, where I am, that issue one that I hear over and over again. And the economy, people out here don‘t believe the economy is going that well.
But the bottom line is, the president is someone—he has a small impact on the economy. But the economy is much bigger than the president of the United States. But the president of the United States is the war—is leading the war. He is the man that is not a drop in a big lake, which is what (AUDIO GAP) impact is on the economy. He‘s a cannonball in the backyard swimming pool.
He is the guy that makes the big splash. And that‘s the guy that—that‘s the issue you really have to elect a president on. I think people understand that. And I just think that advantage the president has of being much more credible, as much more of a decisive leader is really what is going to pull him through in Pennsylvania.
C. MATTHEWS: Do you think Pennsylvania, if you asked them to vote not on the presidency or on the senator‘s race or the governor‘s race, but, say, an up-or-down vote, should we have gone to Iraq, what do you think the result would be today or next Tuesday?
SANTORUM: I think it would be probably pretty close.
Look, the issue as to whether we have gone or not, to me, that‘s sort of Monday-morning quarterbacking. We know things now and there‘s been a lot brought up that we should have known this or we didn‘t know this.
C. MATTHEWS: Yes.
SANTORUM: And you can‘t make decisions based on that, because you‘ve got to make them based on the facts you have.
And Jim was right. The fact is, he was given this intelligence. We were all given the same intelligence. We made the best decision we could. And everybody likes to Monday-morning quarterback. That‘s America. But that‘s not relevant. What is relevant is, do we have a strong leader who has the courage of his convictions, who doesn‘t say, I am going to do something or I believe in something and then set it aside for political purposes?
C. MATTHEWS: Right.
SANTORUM: He follows through and does it.
C. MATTHEWS: But Monday morning is a good time to decide which quarterback to put in next week, isn‘t it?
SANTORUM: Well, yes, it is. And I think that‘s a good analogy.
What we can look at is, in John Kerry‘s case, it‘s someone who, in the case of the Cold War, got it wrong. He was on the wrong side of the Reagan defense build-up.
C. MATTHEWS: Yes.
SANTORUM: In the case of the Gulf War, he got it wrong. He was on the wrong side. Saddam Hussein would still be in Kuwait if John Kerry was president.
And I would argue that, in the case of Iraq, I believe the jury is still out. But I‘m convinced that we did the right thing by removing Saddam, that Jim was right when he said that Saddam was the great next threat out there in working with some other bad actors in the region. And I think he got it wrong there, too. So I would agree that there may have been some misinformation or—that was given the president or bad information given the president. But I think, in the end, he made the right decision.
C. MATTHEWS: Let me to go Jim.
The last question. When you talk to your people in Montgomery County, which is right nearby here, this big county, this big—the president calls it a collar county. It‘s a suburban county. What are they thinking about? What is driving them when you watch their faces going into the voting booth?
J. MATTHEWS: I think it is a split between economy and the war right now. I think they‘re desperately afraid that that tax cut will be history, the tax cut that we have now.
C. MATTHEWS: If Kerry comes in.
J. MATTHEWS: If Kerry comes in.
And because we‘re struggling as it is right now to recover to our March of 2000 levels in the economy, we‘re the No. 1 manufacturing county in the commonwealth, and we have 25,000 jobs in biopharmaceutical and biomedical. So we‘re deathly afraid of a Kerry win. We think it would set us back on our heels terribly.
C. MATTHEWS: Because of fiscal policy, tax policy?
J. MATTHEWS: Fiscal policy, because, if he keeps his word, when he looked in that gentleman‘s eyes and said he will not raise taxes on those under $200,000, where is going to he raise it? He‘s going to have a big bracket jump for those in that 1.5 percent group. We think he‘ll do away with the capital gains 15 percent, too.
C. MATTHEWS: He‘ll also go after the small business money, too.
J. MATTHEWS: He‘ll up the capital gains.
J. MATTHEWS: Right.
J. MATTHEWS: That will go from 15 back to 40. And we‘re afraid also the 87.5 limit on Social Security will go away as well if he is going to keep his promises to everyone.
C. MATTHEWS: OK, smart politician, Jim. Glad you‘re my brother.
J. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Chris.
C. MATTHEWS: Jim Matthews, chairman of the County Commission of Montgomery County, the largest county around here.
And, of course, Senator Rick Santorum, who‘s on the show, and we love him coming on all the time, thank you, Rick, for coming up.
He‘s out there campaigning for the president.
We‘re here at the National Constitution Center, one of the real wonders of Philadelphia these days, just a block from the most historic spot in the country, Independence Hall.
C. MATTHEWS: Coming back, the latest polls that show a significant move toward Kerry over the weekend—when we come back with more HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the closing days of this election—and, you know, I‘ve been home watching it, so I see all this stuff.
CLINTON: The other side, they‘re trying to scare the undecided voters about Senator Kerry. And they‘re trying to scare the decided voters away from the polls. We know about that, don‘t we? It worked so well in Florida, they seem to be trying it elsewhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
C. MATTHEWS: That‘s President Clinton here in Philadelphia this afternoon. We had a great interview with John Kerry, which we showed earlier in the show. We‘re going to be talking to Howard Fineman and Andrea Mitchell in just a minute.
But, first, from here at the National Constitution Center, let‘s to go right now to David Shuster with the latest in the ad wars between the president‘s campaign and John Kerry‘s—David.
CROWD: Kerry! Kerry! Kerry!
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC ELECTION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his final three campaign commercials, John Kerry speaks directly to the camera as he talks about defending America and fighting for the middle-class.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe it is the middle-class that needs a tax cut. I believe in creating opportunity, so I‘ll end tax breaks for companies that ship job overseas. I‘ll lower the cost of prescription drugs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: One commercial includes a misleading jab at the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
KERRY: The president is satisfied with an economy of lower-paying jobs. I‘m not. I believe America can do better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Another commercial responds to Republican claims that Kerry would give allies a veto over the military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
KERRY: They‘re misleading Americans about what I said. I will never cede America‘s security to any institution or to any other country. No one gets a veto over our security, no one. I will never take my eye off Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and the terror in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: As for the Bush campaign, today, they released this commercial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: President Bush and congressional allies, strong leadership to protect America, tax relief, commonsense health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: But the rest of the ad is misleading.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: John Kerry and liberal allies, higher taxes, voting to tax Social Security benefits, government-run health care, a record of slashing intelligence, and reckless defense cuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: The fact is that Vice President Cheney as secretary of defense wanted those same defense cuts. CIA Director Porter Goss as a congressman once proposed a larger slash in intelligence than John Kerry, and John Kerry‘s health care plan would not be government-run. Meanwhile, independent groups continue their attack commercials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: ... and to the men who spend years in North Vietnamese prison camps, tortured for refusing to confess what John Kerry accused them of, being war criminals, because, to them, honesty and character still matter, especially in a time of war.
SHUSTER: MoveOn PAC is doubling its buy to $2.5 million for this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.
BUSH: Nope, no weapons over there.
BROOKE CAMPBELL, SISTER OF KILLED U.S. SOLDIER: My brother died looking for weapons of mass destruction.
NARRATOR: Over 1,000 troops like Ryan have died in Iraq. Yet there
never were any weapons. George Bush, he just doesn‘t get it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER (on camera): Even Republicans are calling that ad the most brutal of the campaign. The question is, at this stage of the race, will any commercial on either side really make any difference?
I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
C. MATTHEWS: I like the way David digs those dirty ones up. But that was a tough one, because I was at that press dinner. Were you all there? And the president was laughing about weapons of mass destruction.
Let‘s talk about the interview I had with Kerry today. You were listening in on that.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well...
C. MATTHEWS: Kerry is getting really focused on the president‘s handling of the commander in chief role.
MITCHELL: They know that they have got to close that gap. That is the one remaining thing. They think they have got good arguments to make on domestic, economic issues, but they have to persuade people that this man, John Kerry, is tough enough to protect the homeland, to be commander in chief.
And so they have zeroed in, following the news of the day, which is the 380 tons of explosives found unguarded, now disappeared.
C. MATTHEWS: I love it. The tone of this campaign seems to be, he‘s worse than I am.
C. MATTHEWS: Each guy is pointing at the other guy saying, hey, you think I‘m bad? He‘s worse than I am.
C. MATTHEWS: That seems to be the attitude.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If you don‘t like me, you really won‘t like the other guy.
FINEMAN: But John Kerry, it‘s an amazing thing to watch. And Republicans in this state were telling me somewhat sadly from their point of view tonight that George Bush is still the issue. They‘ve been trying all campaign to make John Kerry the issue.
C. MATTHEWS: Positively.
FINEMAN: No, no, the Republicans.
C. MATTHEWS: Oh.
FINEMAN: The Republicans have been trying to attack Kerry, make Kerry the issue, Kerry‘s weakness, etcetera.
C. MATTHEWS: I see.
MITCHELL: With the flip-flop...
FINEMAN: With the flip-flops, everything else.
But one of the top strategists in Pennsylvania for Bush told me tonight, sadly, from their point of view, they haven‘t done it, that George Bush is still the issue. And to the extent that‘s the case, that‘s Kerry‘s opening. Kerry is almost incidental to his own campaign. If he wins it, as you were saying earlier, he‘ll be the guy with the least political skill, at least theatrical, theatrical, skill. But, tactically...
C. MATTHEWS: You‘re quoting me from the green room now. That‘s very dangerous. Go ahead.
FINEMAN: No, but, tactically, tactically, he‘s put himself in a position to be the only available alternative.
C. MATTHEWS: Right. Right.
FINEMAN: And it seems, if you look at the latest polls—and I‘ve been in Ohio, here in Pennsylvania, reading the polls. From the latest polls, Kerry might be catching a little breeze at the end, if he can convince people that he can be trusted as commander in chief.
C. MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s a little bit more than a breeze this week. And I think it is little bit of a gust, because I‘ve been following the numbers. You‘re better than I.
Let‘s go over these numbers. The very tough poll, “The Washington Post”/ABC poll, had the president ahead, substantially. All through the weekend, Kerry picked up until the latest report we have now, ready to go tonight for tomorrow in “The Washington Post,” the president is behind by a point. Your own “Newsweek” poll was a six-point spread, with the president leading. Now it is down to even money on registered voters.
FINEMAN: Right. Right.
C. MATTHEWS: What is going on the last four—is it—well, you were talking about Iraq today. Is that it?
MITCHELL: I think Iraq may have some impact on this. The news out of Iraq has been uniformly...
C. MATTHEWS: It‘s horrendous.
C. MATTHEWS: That woman, who may well be beheaded, the 50 guys on our side who were executed mob-style.
MITCHELL: Kerry made the point in his interview with you and made it very—I think very pointedly, that, if you say that your policy is to train the local guys to take over and then you don‘t protect them, you leave them unprotected in a war zone, then you‘re not doing your job.
That at least was his message in his interview with you. And that‘s a message that he tried to also give out at this rally today. Look, Kerry is beginning to get some momentum. He was badly beaten up by the Republicans with first the swift boat attacks from the 527 groups.
C. MATTHEWS: Right.
MITCHELL: And the flip-flop attacks and also, of course, coming out of the Republican—late Republican Convention. He was badly damaged. He had a lot of catch-up to do.
Now they feel at least moderately hopeful about Pennsylvania and also Ohio. And they think they‘ve got a shot at Florida.
C. MATTHEWS: Do you think the Republicans—remember old Nixon thing, don‘t peak too early, his profound belief in that?
FINEMAN: Right. Right.
C. MATTHEWS: The president and vice president have been hammering this guy Kerry hard for weeks now. And yet, could it be that the pounding is beginning to get—we‘re getting immune to it? That‘s what you don‘t want to happen in politics.
FINEMAN: I think that‘s partly true. And I think they have pounded and pounded and pounded Kerry, but Kerry didn‘t go away.
The flip side of being a flip-flopper...
C. MATTHEWS: Right.
FINEMAN: ... is that you slip the punches and you‘re still in there at the end.
And what‘s happened is that George Bush‘s handling of the war may become a metaphor for his mishandling of other things. People in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where I have spent a lot of time, say, wait a minute. He doesn‘t really understand our lies. He doesn‘t really have a hands-on grip on things. He doesn‘t know what‘s going on here. And they‘re using the evidence about the war in Iraq as evidence for his domestic lack of stewardship.
C. MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s come back.
FINEMAN: Which is a killer, potentially.
C. MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, hang in there. Hang in there, Andrea Mitchell.
We will come back with both these guys right after this break.
We‘re at Independence Hall at the National Constitution Center, a beautiful new building as part of the Independence Plaza. We‘ll be right back from Philadelphia.
C. MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Howard Fineman and Andrea Mitchell. We were out here watching the former president.
Interesting. He didn‘t do that big seduction thing that Clinton is so good at, the biting of the lower lip. Policy, policy, policy, like he was an Office of Management and Budget guy, Howard.
FINEMAN: Well, not only policy, but conservative. He talked about deficits. He talked about cops on the street. He talked about a larger Army, not speaking to the inner city, but speaking to the suburbs of Philly.
C. MATTHEWS: Sure.
FINEMAN: And basically saying George Bush isn‘t competent to handle the job. The guy standing behind me is. It is a very conservative, cautious suburban appeal.
C. MATTHEWS: Is that because people in the latest polling, 55 percent, don‘t like the way policy is taking us?
C. MATTHEWS: It is not like personality. They like the president. They like him as much as anybody they like in politics. They particularly like Kerry one way or the other.
C. MATTHEWS: But it‘s policy.
MITCHELL: I was also struck by how—quote—“presidential” he was.
He didn‘t get personal about George Bush. He didn‘t mention his name.
C. MATTHEWS: He said two good men are running here. He said two good men are running.
MITCHELL: Exactly. He‘s kind of...
FINEMAN: Which elevated Kerry by comparison on the personal—no, on the personal level, on the personal level.
MITCHELL: But he‘s keeping—Bill Clinton was keeping himself above the fray. He‘s not going to get down and dirty. He‘s going to preserve his options as a former president of the United States.
C. MATTHEWS: But on this point, this is great, because, Howard, I love to think about this thing. It was fascinating that he said two good men. And you heard it differently. I thought, oh my God, Kerry is mad at him now. He is saying he is equal to guy he‘s running against.
FINEMAN: No, no, no, no. No, it was opposite. Bush (sic) was saying, look, Kerry is a good guy, too. Kerry can be in the club, too.
But he is a smarter, shrewder, more responsible leader. It was a very suburban-oriented appeal by Clinton. I thought it was fascinating.
MITCHELL: And if you looked at that crowd, that was largely a suburban crowd. That was a commuter crowd.
C. MATTHEWS: OK.
Can I ask you both, is this election now, eight days off, about who wins what state? Or is it really about that water line that goes up for Kerry and keeps going up or not? Is it really about the national vote that will is going to dictate the results in five or six or 10 of these states? Or is it each state have to be fought on its own?
MITCHELL: I think it is ground wars in nine states. And we are seeing...
C. MATTHEWS: Street money, in other words.
MITCHELL: It is street money. It is voting...
C. MATTHEWS: There‘s going to a lot expended out here in these streets in the next week, you can bet.
MITCHELL: You saw that the new registrations number were higher than the number of people who even lived here.
C. MATTHEWS: Philly is going to have the highest paid voters in American history this year, from what I hear.
FINEMAN: It‘s good for the local economy. Bush is going to be—the president is going to been here three times between now and Election Day, including, I think, Sunday or Monday in Western Pennsylvania, where they‘re counting on the Santorum conservative cultural vote to somehow bring Bush through in Pennsylvania.
MITCHELL: We call it walking-around money here on Election Day in Philadelphia. Watch it.
C. MATTHEWS: OK.
I think Rick is Italian-American. He‘s a Philadelphia, a Pennsylvanian. I think a lot of that stuff explains why he wins, not that he is a right-winger or anything like that.
C. MATTHEWS: Or that‘s what I would say, anyway.
C. MATTHEWS: Let‘s show a bit from Darrell Hammond, who did a wonderful job. I always appreciate it, no matter how much he ribs me.
Here he is doing me again on “SNL” this Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”)
DARRELL HAMMOND, ACTOR: Welcome back to HARDBALL. I‘m Chris Matthews. Less than two weeks...
HAMMOND: Less than two weeks from Election Day, and we have got ourselves a dead heat. Five weeks ago, Bush had this thing wrapped up. Now Kerry is creeping up behind him , like Kobe Bryant backstage at the Teen Choice Awards.
HAMMOND: Joining us now is someone who might be able to shed some light on how Bush can regain some of that post-convention momentum, keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention and a guy who would have chilled the crowd at the Nuremberg rallies, Democratic Senator Zell Miller.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It‘s good to be here, Chris.
HAMMOND: Senator Miller, some have said that your appearance at the convention may have backfired for the president, saying you came off as angry. How do you respond to that?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You want to know what makes me angry, Chris? Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden makes me angry. John Kerry makes me angry with his $200 haircuts and fancy ketchup wife and his big (INAUDIBLE)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I don‘t want my president to be some liberal senator from Massachusetts. I want a president who protects my family with big old bombs and airplane and spaceships!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: John Kerry wants to give our soldiers spitballs, Chris, spitballs!
HAMMOND: You don‘t seriously believe that, Senator Miller.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What did you say to me, boy?
HAMMOND: I said you can‘t honestly suggest that Senator Kerry would arm our troops with spitballs.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: It was a metaphor, Chris!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, I‘ll tell you what, I wish we was in the days when you could still challenge a man to a duel! I‘ll come down there and the slap yellow off that head of yours!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
C. MATTHEWS: “Saturday Night Live” strikes again.
Here from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, I want to thank everybody that made this a great day in Pennsylvania. It is certainly a political state, an important political state for this presidential election.
By the way, I have to quote the great words of former Justice Louis Brandeis. In a democracy, the only title superior to that of president is the title of citizen.
See you tomorrow night from Washington.
Coming right up, the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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