Guest: Rev. Al Sharpton, Jon Meacham, Ed Rollins, Trent Lott, Hilary Rosen, John Fund
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: President Bush wins the majority of the vote and a mandate for his second term. Live from Democracy Plaza in New York‘s Rockefeller Center, let‘s play HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith. I see a good day coming for our country, and I am eager for the work ahead. God bless you, and may God bless America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. And welcome to MSNBC‘s post-election coverage live from Democracy Plaza in New York‘s Rockefeller Plaza. Yesterday voters went to the polls and reelected President George Bush, giving him a mandate in his second term.
My panel tonight—it‘s a big one—Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, Jon Meacham, managing editor of “Newsweek” magazine, Democratic advocate the Reverend Al Sharpton, who‘s from New York City, and Republican consultant Ed Rollins.
In his acceptance speech, the President Bush what he called the architect, Karl Rove. Andrea, is this what this is about, a successful political move by an incumbent president? Is this what this election was about?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Karl Rove has to be the most brilliant political campaign manager since Ed Rollins...
MITCHELL: ... was doing it for Ronald Reagan. I mean, he said he wanted to get four million more evangelicals out, and he did. And if you look at the fact that they had gay marriage bans on 11 state ballots, including Michigan and Ohio, two very important battleground states, what they did was they energized their base and they outmaneuvered and out, you know, field-marshalled the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: You think so? We‘ll see.
MITCHELL: I really do.
MATTHEWS: I wonder how much this genius thing goes to the fact that he got—he won.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you another question because, you know, everybody says Karl Rove‘s a genius, and of course, everybody‘s going to go with that because he‘s a winner, and in Washington, everybody goes with the winners, of course. But let me ask you a question, Ed Rollins. He spent four years developing a campaign to win Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those were his main targets. Huh?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, he basically wanted to get a majority of the vote, which he did, and win electoral vote, which he did. He ran a very disciplined campaign. And you know, whether you‘re a genius or not, it depends on your last race. Karl has now won three very big—presidential election, the second election and the mid-term. He knew where his voters were. The constant message from day one—and that campaign was running inside that White House for four years—was to get to yesterday. It was a very disciplined campaign.
ROLLINS: A lot of second-guessing. And I think you got to give him a lot of credit for it.
MATTHEWS: Can you give me a list, a long or short list of the states he carried this time he didn‘t carry last time?
ROLLINS: It is a short list, and...
MATTHEWS: Name them.
ROLLINS: He didn‘t...
MITCHELL: He didn‘t carry any.
ROLLINS: ... carry California.
MATTHEWS: No, did he—did he carry any states he didn‘t carry last time?
ROLLINS: Not yet.
ROLLINS: Not yet.
MITCHELL: But he got—but he...
MITCHELL: But won the popular vote.
ROLLINS: He won the popular vote, and he...
MATTHEWS: But that map is a duplicate of a four-year-old map we saw four years ago. What did he accomplish?
ROLLINS: Well, what he accomplished is very difficult times, a war in which half the country was not for him, he basically was able to get his voters mobilized against a very, very well-funded and very aggressive Democratic Party, and I think he deserves credit for that. He came back—a duplicate win is OK, Chris. It doesn‘t have to be expanded.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me—let me hold up a standard for you.
ROLLINS: Let me say one thing.
ROLLINS: I ran Reagan‘s campaign. We won 49 states. Jim Baker, the chief of staff, said we did not have a mandate. Your old boss, Tip O‘Neill said we did not have a mandate. They have a mandate. They stepped forward today and claimed it. They have more senators, they have more House members...
ROLLINS: ... and they now have the agenda. That‘s a mandate.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this—let me go to Jon—Reverend -
· let me go to Reverend Al Sharpton. You know, most of our second-term presidents, certainly starting with Ike, Nixon, Reagan, when they won reelection, they won California. They won New York. They won the Northeast. They won this part of the country. They were truly the national leaders of the country. This guy,, the president of the United States, has won reelection. He can‘t seem to break past Maryland or D.C. and win anything up North, and he can‘t win the West Coast. Why can‘t he run and become president of all the people?
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that‘s true. I think that they‘ve gotten away with defining their victory, and I give them credit for the victory, but they‘ve gotten away with defining their victory like they got away with defining the election We‘ve been reacting to them. They call it a mandate is a mandate. I don‘t see it as a mandate. It‘s clearly a victory.
And they have not proven they have national leadership in terms of really breaking beyond where they were four years ago. I think the problem is that we keep reacting. We let them set the tone. I think Karl Rove is good at that, He sets the tone, and I think that that‘s where we‘re really going to have come back and...
MATTHEWS: But wasn‘t it a “divide and conquer” strategy? Because—
I ask you this, Jon Meacham. Can you imagine the president of the United States, like so many presidents before him, like Nixon and Reagan and Ike, coming up to New York for a week in this beautiful, cheap city of ours and just enjoying a weekend and seeing a couple of plays and going to some dinners? He—you‘re laughing because he‘s so antithetical to that. That‘s like saying, Why don‘t you spend a weekend in Boston or L.A. or San Francisco? He doesn‘t seem to like a big part of this country.
JON MEACHAM, “NEWSWEEK” MANAGING EDITOR: No, the president‘s a curious—he‘s one of the few politicians I‘ve studied that—who doesn‘t like people very much. It‘s an interesting thing in a politician. And I do think, though, that we should not take away from Rove and Bush‘s achievement here. Two numbers: 50 years, which is the last time there was a House, a Senate and...
MEACHAM: ... and a White House in Republican hands, and 16 years, the last time somebody got 50.1.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s slow down there. Didn‘t he inherit that? The Republicans really began their dominance of Congress back in ‘94.
MEACHAM: But you can‘t—you know what President Kennedy said, you know, A few more thousand votes in Ohio, we‘d all look like idiots.
MATTHEWS: No, but what did he—he didn‘t—he didn‘t create the congressional majority, George Bush.
MEACHAM: But he got—look, they got 50.1 percent, which Bill Clinton never did, you know, this defining figure of the age. And he certainly didn‘t last time. The last guy to do it was his dad. And so in a country this divided, to get to 52 is a good—is...
MATTHEWS: I just wonder because I think a lot of this thing in the South is historically developing. Ever since the passage of the Civil Rights bills, it‘s been easy for a white Republican to win in the South. It just is. And it‘s just finally been completed this week, the end of the white Democrat—or the Democratic Southern senator‘s, basically, gone. It‘s all now—all the old Dixiecrats have been replaced by...
MITCHELL: The other fact is that because of the population shifts and their clever gerrymandering, Tom delay and all the rest in Texas...
MITCHELL: ... they have the same states, but they‘ve got a lot more power. They‘ve got more congressional seats now out of the same states.
SHARPTON: ... started with Newt Gingrich in ‘94. I mean, I don‘t think your point is a bad point. I think the problem is, we‘ve not come with the right counter-strategy, as Democrats. I think they brought out and energized their base. I think ours came out but not in the same numbers. And I think hat you‘ve got to define your message and go for who does it (ph). I give Karl Rove credit. They were was very disciplined. They played to their crowd. They brought their crowd out, rather than get distracted and rather than react. I think we have to start reacting to Ed Rollins and Karl Rove.
ROLLINS: No, their crowd is now a majority of the country. And just the fact that...
SHARPTON: I don‘t think so.
ROLLINS: Well, they are.
SHARPTON: The majority of the people that voted yesterday...
ROLLINS: That‘s correct.
SHARPTON: ... not necessarily (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ROLLINS: Well, that‘s how we pick people in this country.
SHARPTON: This time. We didn‘t pick it that way last time.
ROLLINS: Well, he‘s...
SHARPTON: It‘s funny how the majority matters this time.
ROLLINS: Well, it does matter. It does matter, and I...
SHARPTON: It mattered last time, and you got into office anyway.
ROLLINS: Well, we have an electoral system. And winning electoral votes is the key here. The bottom line here is they know their base. There are a whole lot of people who live between the two coasts of this country, and those people have values and those people care and they basically are rewarded when they go out and turn out and get the people they want to elect them.
Your whole issue on the change in the demographics in the country is very important. The Congress was controlled, when you were there, by Southern Democrats.
ROLLINS: Those people didn‘t fit the makeup of the region anymore. The old Southern Democrats were conservative on all issues. They‘re now—there‘s no place in their party for them. And the bottom line is that Bush understands his party, and Rove has been an architect of the next majority, which I think will be here for the foreseeable future.
MATTHEWS: So the main success yesterday—and it certainly was a success. I‘m being argumentative because I want to sculpt it, so people really know what did happen yesterday. The success was turnout. The success was not winning new states, taking new territory for the Republican coalition.
MATTHEWS: It was bolstering. It was not having somebody with a baseball hat showing up Thursday before the election with a 30-year-old DUI ticket. That‘s part of it. And that—and the president benefited from that.
MITCHELL: I mean, you know...
MEACHAM: But you don‘t govern—you govern the country, you don‘t govern states. You govern people.
MEACHAM: And he—he—you know, three million votes. He came—you know, closed the gap in California. I mean, I think he did much better here in trying, and thank God he did—in trying to get us together and...
MITCHELL: Let me make a suggestion about what the Democratic Party, with all due respect, Reverend Sharpton, has to do. The Democratic Party has to figure out what it is, what is its identity. It can go left and follow Howard Dean and follow the people I‘ve spoken to today who say, We should not have moderated, we should not have accepted John Kerry, we shouldn‘t have equivocated, we should have just followed our passions, or it can try to find some way to communicate with the red states.
There has to be a common ground somewhere in this country where people can live...
SHARPTON: I agree with that.
MITCHELL: ... and govern together.
SHARPTON: I agree with that.
MITCHELL: And I cannot accept the fact that on moral values, we‘re defining moral values so narrowly that when voters say they‘re voting on moral values, that means they‘re against this, they‘re against that. There has got to be more...
SHARPTON: ... that‘s my point. I think that we‘ve allowed them to define moral values...
SHARPTON: ... and I think that we should have said, No, that is not moral values, this is moral values, and taken them on. I think at the convention, we should have taken Bush on, which I tried to do.
MITCHELL: I think you did.
SHARPTON: I think that...
SHARPTON: I think that those are all errors. And I think—I do not think he‘s expanded his party. I mean, the last time I was on with Chris, they were saying they were going to get 18 to 20 percent of the black vote. They didn‘t. They got almost what they got last time.
MITCHELL: The last time I was on with Chris, which was some time—
MATTHEWS: Four or five hours ago...
MITCHELL: ... we were talking about the youth vote expanding, which it didn‘t beyond 17 percent. All of us, myself included, were wrong. And we were talking about a much bigger turnout. Democrats were telling me 122 million. It didn‘t happen. They didn‘t turn it out. They spent more than $100 million, the 527s, the unions, they didn‘t produce the votes.
ROLLINS: Your message is also very important. And as long as Democrats want to keep picking Massachusetts liberals...
MATTHEWS: You got it~!
ROLLINS: ... you couldn‘t elect Kennedy...
MATTHEWS: You got it!
ROLLINS: ... you couldn‘t elect Dukakis...
MATTHEWS: You got it!
ROLLINS: ... and no offense to you, Reverend Sharpton, If you‘re going to be one of the major candidates of the party and if Dean‘s going to be one of the major candidates of the party, we will expand beyond the base that we have today.
SHARPTON: We‘ll see. I mean, the question is...
MATTHEWS: No, we‘ve seen!
SHARPTON: ... I think that a lot of people...
MATTHEWS: We‘ve seen, haven‘t we?
SHARPTON: I think that a lot of people felt if we had a harder, firmer, clearer message, it would have been different. Again, I think that the Republicans did. I don‘t agree with that message at all, but I give Karl Rove credit for doing that.
SHARPTON: I don‘t think he‘s a genius.
ROLLINS: Give George Bush some credit, too. George Bush went out and campaigned very, very aggressively, unlike his father, who basically went, like—sleep walked through his reelection, this guy went out every single day and fought...
ROLLINS: ... and met and argued...
MATTHEWS: He also danced with the one that brung him. He fought for his base. He held to his base. The best line of the campaign was, Well, you know where I stand, at the convention. I will never forget that line. He threw it in, and everybody loved it.
When we come back, from South Carolina to South Dakota, the Republican Party won some huge battles all across the country last night. Let‘s talk about it with Senator Trent Lott. He knows all about the Senate fights. He‘s going to be one of the beneficiaries of a big majority in the U.S.
Senate for the Republicans.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage from Rockefeller Plaza. It‘s still called Democracy Plaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I don‘t think any country in the world has as beautiful a downtown as New York City. Welcome back to this special edition of HARDBALL, live from Democracy Plaza here in New York.
Certainly, it was a big night for the Republican Party last night. Besides holding the White House, which they did handily, they increased their margins in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Senator Trent Lott is a Mississippi Republican. Senator Lott, you‘re going to have a lot of company down there in Dixie in the Republican side of the aisle. It‘s a wipe-out—North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana. It seems like the day of the old Dixiecrat Democrat conservative is gone.
SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI: Well, they‘ve all become Republicans in the South. And I must say it, I think we‘ve won in all those five states. First it was a situation where they were all open Democrat seats. But we had outstanding candidates that did a good job, paced themselves and came on very strong at the end. That victory in Louisiana, where Congressman Vitter won with over 50 percent of the vote in the first what I call jungle primary in Louisiana was a tremendous achievement.
So we are going to have a net pickup of 4, and we‘ll have 55 again, which we had in the 1996 to 2000 bracket. It does make a huge difference. Those three additional states will give us a lot more opportunities.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the two parties. I mean, I was talking the other night, which went on a long time, as you know, you‘re nice to watch last night—that if you looked at a map of the United States right now—we should put it up there now—and you took it on the road around the world, take it to Africa with you, take it to Asia on a goodwill tour, and try and explain that map to the rest of the world—it‘s all red in the heartland. It looks a little like the old East and West Pakistan, with India in the middle.
How would you explain that to the rest of the world, those differences that separate red from blue state?
LOTT: Part of it, I guess, is attributable to the large metropolitan areas, although that‘s not the only thing. But when you look up there in the Northeast, you‘ve got the influence of New York City and the media up there and Philadelphia and Boston, the bigger cities. On the other coast, California, you‘ve got San Francisco and Los Angeles. People do seem to have different perspectives on the coasts.
Now, I live on the Gulf coast, and we share the values of President Bush. It‘s hard to explain the differences, but when you look at that map, that large red sea in the middle of the country, that‘s a huge portion of the country. And of course, the president wound up getting a percentage of the vote that was surprising to a lot of people. That was a very large vote in historic terms. And I think he deserves a lot of credit.
I think you‘re giving too much credit to the Svengali. The president was the one that showed discipline. He stuck with his message. He showed leadership an strength. He had a strong team, yes, including Laura Bush. There are a lot of people right here in Jackson, Mississippi, that would have voted for George Bush just because of Laura. And the package was...
MATTHEWS: Well, I understand.
LOTT: ... very strong.
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s talk about the president. He is, in fact, a Texan. That means he‘s a Southerner. If he had been running out of Connecticut, he wouldn‘t have had the same appeal, would he, if he had grown up and stayed in Connecticut?
LOTT: No, he wouldn‘t have. I mean, he does have a swagger. He is a Texan. He group in west Texas. He views the world from that standpoint. There‘s a lot of great people down there. They have good, solid conservative values. Faith is very important to them. They work hard. Not that people don‘t work hard in other parts of the country. But remember...
LOTT: ... George W. Bush went to school at Yale and at Harvard. He‘s been in the beast‘s belly.
LOTT: He understands that part of the world, and he...
MATTHEWS: Well, you showed a little attitude right there, I think, Senator. The beast?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you—I think that‘s right. He had certainly a swell upbringing, with prep school and boarding school, the whole routine.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was just thinking, you know, I do focus on that. I went to school at Chapel Hill, and that‘s a hell of a wonderful place...
MATTHEWS: ... very liberal, I guess, compared to the rest of North Carolina.
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you...
LOTT: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: ... have you noticed that the Democrats can‘t win a presidential election in any state where people speak with a Southern accent? Not just the old Confederacy, they lost early last night in West Virginia. They lost early last night in Missouri. It seems like—and I guess southern Ohio, where—even in Cincinnati, anywhere you even sense a Southern accent. What‘s going on? I mean, the Democrats have lost anything like the South, any part of it, it seems.
LOTT: Well, but you know, Chris, when they have a Southerner on the ticket that understands Southerners and speaks to them in a way that they understand, like Jimmy Carter did back in, I guess, 1976, and like Bill Clinton did twice...
LOTT: ... they do pretty well. But you know, I...
MATTHEWS: Well, then John Edwards was worthless, right?
LOTT: ... think a candidate...
MATTHEWS: You‘re saying Edwards was worthless.
MATTHEWS: He didn‘t help at all.
LOTT: No, no, no. I‘m not saying that at all. He just—you know, he wound up—he took on the mantra of the Democratic Party. That‘s my point. It‘s not just how you talk or where you‘re from, it‘s what you say that matters.
LOTT: And the message has—I think they‘ve lost the message, in some respects. I think you could have a very strong candidate from Indiana or even from places like Minnesota. I was really pleased that the president really went after Minnesota and Wisconsin. I thought those states might come through for him. Iowa...
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to mark you...
LOTT: ... the old belt buckle of America...
MATTHEWS: Senator, I‘m going mark you down for Evan Bayh. You‘re going to be pushing Evan Bayh, the moderate Democrat from Indiana. That‘s your candidate!
LOTT: He‘s a very attractive candidate. He‘s very attractive...
MATTHEWS: And thank you very much. It‘s always...
LOTT: ... and he‘s one we‘ll...
MATTHEWS: ... great.
LOTT: ... be working with. OK.
MATTHEWS: Well, congratulations, Senator.
LOTT: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You‘re going to have a lot of Republican help up there on passing bills.
After the sweeping Republican victories last night, where do the Democrats go from here? HARDBALL post-election correspondent David Shuster and Joe Trippi are coming up next. This is HARDBALL, our final night here in Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s an old reality about politics. When someone loses, someone gets blamed. And I‘m going to go right now to HARDBALL‘s post-election correspondent, David Shuster, to tell us who the Democrats are going to blame for losing this big one—David.
DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL ELECTION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Democratic Party, there is not even a silver lining because despite John Kerry‘s praise for supporters...
KERRY: And I say to them now, don‘t lose faith. What you did made a difference.
SHUSTER: ... the Democrats in this election got rolled. In addition to the battle for the White House, the party lost four seats in the U.S. Senate, including the one held by minority leader Tom Daschle.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Earlier today, I called John Thune to congratulate him and...
SHUSTER: And in the House of Representatives, where Democrats have been in the minority now for 12 years, the party lost more seats Tuesday night. Exit polls showed that Democratic support continued to erode against women, Hispanics and rural voters. It all sets up a leadership civil war. A Southern populist approach could mean John Edwards.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I want you to hear me. That campaign may end today, but the battle for you and the hard-working Americans that built this country rages on.
SHUSTER: If the party wants to stick with Northeastern liberalism and wants to add a dash of celebrity and nostalgia, all eyes may soon focus on Hillary Rodham Clinton.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: We need to rededicate ourselves to the task of providing health care coverage for the 44 million Americans who don‘t have it, and we have to do more to lower the cost for all the rest of Americans who are facing increasing health care insurance premiums and drug prices.
SHUSTER: But key Democratic constituencies are not about to be ignored. In this election, the African-American community added a million more Democratic voters, and the Congressional Black Caucus gained four new members, including Illinois senator Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS, SENATOR-ELECT: We stand here as one people, as one nation proclaiming ourselves to be one America with a capacity to work together to create a better future for each other.
SHUSTER: Still, for every Democratic star of the future, the party is littered with both liberals and centrists from the past, who inspired specific groups and still fell short. Howard Dean had younger voters.
HOWARD DEAN (VT), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And then we‘re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yes!
LOTT: Richard Gephardt had the unions, and Bob Graham had Florida. The questions are everywhere. Should the party move from the left to the right?
(on camera): And never mind the party‘s identity, now there will also be battles over who should run and finance the Democratic National Committee. And if there‘s one certainty in the wake of defeat, it‘s that a bloodbath is coming. I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.
MATTHEWS: We‘re here with Joe Trippi. One of the things that was—
I had to say, disappointing last night was the failure of young America to really get out there and compete with older America in terms of voting. What do you think happened?
JOE TRIPPI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it wasn‘t a fair fight (UNINTELLIGIBLE) The young votes came out. They added 1.5 million more of them came out this year than last time. It gave 1.7 million votes to Kerry over what they did for Gore in 2000. So they did their job.
MATTHEWS: Do you think...
TRIPPI: The problem was the...
MATTHEWS: ... after all the excitement—I mean, I talked about it all the time. You talked about it.
TRIPPI: Yes. Sure.
MATTHEWS: We were all hopeful that the younger people would get engaged in the process.
TRIPPI: Well, they did. I mean, look, John Kerry owes the fact that he was even close last night to that generation. They really fundamentally delivered 80 million bucks to him over the Internet. They were there delivering more votes for him. What happened, though—Rove had a plan. They were disciplined about this. They said they were going to go for four million Christian evangelical—evangelical Christians—excuse me—and that they were going to get them and they were going to get them out. And he did.
The Democratic Party said it had a plan to get four million other
folks out. It didn‘t happen. The only new voters for Kerry last night
were young voters. And you can—that‘s what the amazing thing—it was
the big Democratic organizational efforts that just really didn‘t pay off
in the end
MATTHEWS: Do you think that the liberals, not necessarily the party Democrats, but liberals, by pushing gay marriage and getting in all these initiatives, all these states, didn‘t they get energized against the liberals?
TRIPPI: Exactly. You look at what happened, nine million new voters came out in the age group 45 and older, these married couples. I mean...
MATTHEWS: Just to vote against that kind of stuff.
TRIPPI: Just to vote against that kind of stuff because there was more energy, actually—it was Rove‘s plan, and it worked beautifully. And I think in the end, Kerry played right into it.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to be working for a long time together. Joe Trippi—and we‘re all in this country going to try to figure out why one party is a little sick right now and the other one‘s doing OK. We‘re trying to figure that out. It‘s good to have a good rivalry in this country.
We‘re back with more on HARDBALL from Rockefeller Center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to be your president for four more years to make our future brighter and better for every one of our citizens.
I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed and the greatest force for good on this earth.
MATTHEWS: Well, they all laughed at Rockefeller Center. And now they‘re all trying to get in, according to Cole Porter. Look at this crowd. It is a beautiful part of manmade America, this part of Midtown Manhattan.
Welcome back to this special post-election edition of HARDBALL live from Democracy Plaza in New York City.
Despite all the talk about Iraq or the economy deciding this election, the issue of moral values played a prominent role in President Bush‘s reelection. According to our exit polls, 22 percent of the people who voted said that moral values was the most important factor in casting their vote.
Here to talk about that is Hilary Rosen, CNBC analyst and Democratic strategist, and John Fund, a columnist with OpinionJournal.com. His new book is called—well, maybe he‘ll have some expertise to offer us on this front—“”Stealing Elections.”
Let‘s me to go to Hilary Rosen first.
Did that stun you, that such a high proportion of people went to the polls and voted on values?
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I‘ve been studying these exit polls, Chris, all day. And a couple of things are clear about this.
One is that the moral values sort of has not swept the nation as a new criteria. That same one-in-five voter, that 20 percent that said that this was important, simply raised it up on their priority list. So what really did happen is what you said before. This was sort of a turnout issue, not an increase in the spread of this issue of moral values.
The second important issue that I think is worth noting from the same exit polls is that their definition of moral values is not so clear. It‘s not really about gay relationships or, if it is, there‘s a disconnect, because a significant majority, over 60 percent of those same voters, said that they support legalizing gay relationships. And fully half of those that did voted for George Bush. So it‘s clear that that...
MATTHEWS: Just to clarify, Hilary, half of the people who said...
ROSEN: Half of the people who supported civil unions.
MATTHEWS: But not the word marriage.
ROSEN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: You could argue it the other way, that three-quarters of the people said, no way are we going to let gay people call themselves married. Look at the 26 percent figure there.
ROSEN: But, remember, John Kerry and George Bush both talked about civil unions. There was no candidate in this race for marriage.
And so what we didn‘t see was this issue taking votes away from John Kerry. The base was stayed strong. That African-American slippage never happened.
ROSEN: What really did happen was that those votes turned out for the president who either were occasional voters and would have stayed home. They never would have gone to John Kerry.
Do you think that George Bush—I try to watch the incidental comments these fellows make when they run for office, not the big, obviously underlined statements that are so clearly meant to be applause lines. I remember during the campaign, in one of the debates, the president said—and during the convention, he said, well, you know where I stand. And I thought that was a powerful line. The other one he said was, I‘m going to protect the sanctity of marriage.
You don‘t think that was a successful point for him to make, I‘m going to protect the sanctity of marriage, Hilary?
ROSEN: Well, I do.
I think one of the issues that we have to figure out going forward is this—how moral values plays into this issue of marriage and what people‘s impression of family values is. They‘re—unlike some other issues that have historically dramatically divided liberals vs. conservatives, there are gay people in conservative families, as we know, as we know too well.
ROSEN: And so I don‘t think that those issues will break out so clear going forward.
The issue of gay marriage, though, you said before liberals putting it on the ballot measures, that, in 13 of those 14 states, there was no effort by the gay community to ever seek marriage. Oregon was the only place.
MATTHEWS: I see.
ROSEN: Those issues were on the ballot because the right wing was looking for increased evangelical turnout. That wasn‘t an agenda of the gay community.
MATTHEWS: Fair point. Fair point.
Let‘s go right now to John Fund.
John, I look at the map and I say it again. Try explaining this map to somebody overseas. It seems to me it‘s got to be almost—it seems almost tribal. It‘s so marked when you look at the red, all contiguous, by the way. Look. All those states are connected to each other, except for Alaska. And the rest are sort of like the old Pakistan, East and West Pakistan, forced over to the side. Isn‘t it about culture and isn‘t it helping the Republicans win a bigger and bigger majority each time?
JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, it‘s also about people‘s respect for faith, Chris.
If you look at those states, the states that vote for Kerry are primarily secular. They‘re also with a couple of exceptions losing population. Only one out of six voters now live in the Boston-Washington metropolitan corridor. Now, I don‘t think that people who voted for moral values were all voting on gay marriage. There‘s a whole of other range of other issues that John Kerry was wrong on.
He was opposed to the partial-birth abortion ban that Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle voted for. He was opposed to the death penalty for everyone except terrorists. There are a lot of issues involved here. Look, I think the American people are very tolerant. But on the gay marriage question, Chris, this became a national issue. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court by a narrow vote of 4-3 put it on the front burner, every other state talking about it.
Hawaii and Alaska had already voted on it. California had voted on it years ago. This became a national issue. And the liberals miscalculated. They should have gone for civil unions first, as they did in Vermont, and then built on that. They miscalculated. Look in Ohio. Look at the increased voter turnout. Hispanics were 65 percent for Gore, conservative Catholic community. They are only 55 percent for Kerry. That is a big pickup for Bush.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Hilary.
How does the Democratic Party keep its sense of purpose, at the same time find ways to win states like—well, like Arkansas, like West Virginia, like Missouri? How do you keep your base feeling you‘re out there with something important to fight for and at the same time obviously have to recruit more support geographically?
ROSEN: You talked about it extremely well before. And, frankly, you have been talking about it really well all day.
The issues that I think—this is so much about personal demographics of candidates as much as it is about geographic demographics. How else do you explain a Ken Salazar, in effect a liberal progressive, winning in Colorado, where the president swept, and an Erskine Bowles, a conservative Democrat, losing in North Carolina?
I think that this really is about the sort of—the Starbucks crowd vs. the Dunkin‘ Donuts crowd. It‘s much deeper than just sort of where you are on any one position.
ROSEN: It‘s how connected people feel to those candidates.
And I think, you know, a Bill Clinton is as comfortable on Broadway, like you talked about, as he is eating barbecue in Joe‘s down in Mississippi.
MATTHEWS: Yes, sure is.
ROSEN: John Kerry wasn‘t. That doesn‘t mean he wasn‘t a good candidate. I think he was. But those people are very rare.
MATTHEWS: You know. You‘re right. And it works—I know you don‘t share this philosophy. But it works the other way.
People like Ronald Reagan were very much at home in the living rooms of Kay Graham, going to a play in New York.
ROSEN: I do believe that.
MATTHEWS: And you know what is interesting, what you said? Do you know that Dunkin‘ Donuts now sells lattes?
ROSEN: And Starbucks sells doughnuts.
MATTHEWS: So maybe that‘s—that‘s how we should all try to find a synthesis here.
Well, of course, the doughnuts are all—by the way, I always thought Dunkin‘ Donuts had the best coffee anyway.
Anyway, thank you. John Fund, thanks for joining us.
Hilary Rosen, you‘re a great person. We have got to figure these things out.
When we come back, the panel, Jon Meacham, Ed Rollins, Al Sharpton, Andrea Mitchell.
This is HARDBALL at Democracy Plaza on MSNBC.
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BUSH: We must work to move America forward. I want to be your president for four more years to make our county safer.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
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MATTHEWS: We‘re back with more post-election analysis at Rockefeller Center.
Let me ask the Reverend Al Sharpton.
You‘ve been on this show many times in this last long struggle. When did you first announce for president in this cycle?
SHARPTON: Two years ago.
MATTHEWS: What did you get out of it? What did you...
SHARPTON: I learned a lot about the country.
I don‘t think that we‘re not as divided and we are disconnected.
People in Iowa are not much different from people in Brooklyn, New York. We think we are, but we really want the same things. I think, culturally, we‘re different. I mean, your whole Starbucks-Dunkin‘ Donut thing might be true, if I added also Sylvia‘s restaurant in to really mix it up.
MATTHEWS: ... Harlem...
SHARPTON: But I think that once people hear each other and talk, we‘re not as divided as we are disconnected.
And I think a lot of the right wing has benefited from playing on that disconnect, so we fear each other more out of not knowing each other than we really are different from each other.
MATTHEWS: Well, did John Kerry use fear? He talked a lot about a draft coming. He talked about Social Security being cut off. He used that tactic, didn‘t he?
SHARPTON: I think Rove and Bush used it much better.
I think this whole nebulous, undefined moral stuff, nobody even knew what it was.
SHARPTON: Is it really moral to talk about marriage and not talk about things like war and talk about things like nonbid contracts? Who defines morality?
One of the successes of the civil rights movement, I will always say, is Dr. King wisely took the Bible and the flag as our weapons. The right wing took it back.
SHARPTON: And I think some kind of way, the Democrats are going to have to find a way to get the Bible and the flag back in front of our movement.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Jon, what did the country get out of this campaign? They got a clean finish.
MATTHEWS: They got a reelected president with no fights, no lawyers.
MEACHAM: Right. Right. No lawyers. No lawyers.
I think that what we have now is a majority president, cleanly. You can love him. You can hate him, but he got to 52 percent. That is—we have to remember, close elections are the rule, not the exception, more or less. Nixon was 0.7 percent. You know Kennedy-Nixon better than anybody. And usually there‘s a landslide that follows that. And actually, in terms of what happened in 2004, this almost follows that pattern.
But I think, just to go to this question about division, maybe I‘m being too optimistic, but I tend to think that this is less division than it is about liberty. That is, that certain people choose to believe certain things and the line we have to walk is not forcing those beliefs on other parts of the country, but not looking down on those parts of the country that decide to do things a certain way. It‘s the whole nature of the American system. And I think that...
MATTHEWS: I think you‘re being hopeful. I think a lot of people on the gay marriage issue say, fine, do what you want to do alone, but don‘t ask me to sanctify it.
MATTHEWS: It does involve people.
Go ahead. You want to have abortion legal. I consider that murder. I don‘t want you doing it legally and I‘m certainly not going to pay for it with my federal tax dollars. It‘s very hard to disaggregate people‘s freedoms and say, this will be my freedom, but I‘m not going to trespass on yours. It‘s hard.
MEACHAM: It is. But we‘re not shooting at each other. This isn‘t Gettysburg.
MATTHEWS: Yes. No, it‘s not. It‘s Appomattox for about three days.
MEACHAM: Well, that‘s right.
MITCHELL: The problem that I have with this election is the cost, the obscene expense of all that advertising, which I don‘t think moved American public opinion a single point, other than the swift boat adds, some of the really negative stuff from outside the regular parties and did redefine John Kerry, to his detriment.
But if this doesn‘t get controlled, McCain-Feingold absolutely backfired, and much to the embarrassment I think of its sponsors.
ROLLINS: It‘s never going to get controlled. The genie is out of the bottle.
ROLLINS: The whole federal election, both sides had all the money they needed and they could do things in addition to spending $1 billion on television. They had volunteer programs. They had phone banks. They put people back in the streets again, which they haven‘t done in a long, long time.
The good thing about this, at the end of the day, people want to vote for someone they trust and someone they like. And whether you like George Bush or not, a whole lot of Americans today trust him, and they like him. And John Kerry has never been a guy—you go around the Senate Cloak Room. He‘s not everything‘s favorite guy to go have a long weekend with. George Bush was head of the Governors...
MATTHEWS: Well said. Ed Rollins, you‘re great. You‘ve said it as a man. You‘ve said it as most people think, actually, and feel.
Anyway, thank you Andrea Mitchell, Ed Rollins, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who I‘ve gotten to know very well, Jon Meacham, a man of destiny.
MATTHEWS: And all the panelists and correspondents and all the great people in this room you can‘t see now, and all the people outside.
And don‘t forget, the election is over, but our bloggers keep going.
Go to Hardblogger dot—Hardblogger, actually, at HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
I‘ll be right back with something special from Rockefeller Center.
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MATTHEWS: One of the great things about working for NBC and MSNBC and other ways, on “The Today Show” and other obligations, is to work with a guy who‘s a real first-rate pro, the man at the top of our news organization, Tom Brokaw.
Here‘s how Tom Brokaw, who‘s retiring this year as anchor of “The Nightly News,” here‘s what he had to say as he finished his coverage of his overnight report on this Election Day.
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TOM BROKAW, NBC ANCHOR: I want to take just a moment or two here, Tim, and just say something about being in this chair for the last time, because it is my last time.
This is not how I wanted it to work out. It has nothing to do with who won and who lost. I just thought that it would be better if we could have a cleaner result for you tonight. But that‘s how this system is in this country. It‘s very often uneven.
And what has been a real privilege for me is to be here, not just every four years, but every two years as well on congressional election nights. It‘s always reaffirming because of you, because when the system goes off the tracks—it didn‘t go off the tracks as completely tonight as it did four years ago—you‘re there. You‘re patient and you take your time. And you have forbearance with all of us and with the politicians as well.
And at the end of a night like this, what I am really struck by is that, for all of the emotion in the Kerry campaign, there are no troops in the streets in Boston, no tanks rumbling anywhere around his hotel. No one is going to go to jail as a result of what‘s going on in this contest in Ohio.
We‘ll work it out. Not everyone will be happy with the results, but, somehow, they‘ll find a way to deal with this country and whoever wins and that agenda for the next four years and try to put their party back together again.
And, for me, having done this for 42 years, I find it nothing less than awe-inspiring to sit here and share that information with you. And I am so grateful to you for not just the opportunity to do it, but the graciousness with which you have accepted me into your homes, into your lives.
I‘ll be around for a while yet, but this is my last election night in this chair.
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MATTHEWS: Well, Tom was a little bit wrong there. The election turned out later in the day to be quite clean in its result.
And nobody ever doubted that about his career, from the beginning of his career to right to the last months, which are coming up right now, clean, clear, smart, honest. What a great and brilliant, wonderful and positive American career, Tom Brokaw. What a tribute he is to the business that I‘m in right now, the news business.
Anyway, thank you for joining us tonight from Democracy Plaza. We‘re at Rockefeller Center. You ought to go visit this place even when we‘re gone. What a great part of manmade America.
We‘ll be back tomorrow from Washington with HARDBALL, which never ends. It continues, the election, whatever. We keep arguing. We‘ll be back tomorrow night.
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THOMAS MATTHEWS, SON OF CHRIS MATTHEWS (singing): America, America, God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for patriot dream that stands beyond the years. Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears. America, America, God shed his grace on thee, till nobler men keep once again thy whiter jubilee.
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