IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 16

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Guest: Steve McMahon, Dana Milbank, Rick Davis, Phill Kline, Doug Wead

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Doug Wead secretly tape-recorded conversations with George W. Bush back in 1998 and released some of them to the media recently, starting with “The New York Times.”  He subsequently apologized to the president and turned over the tapes to the White House.  But, tonight, he tells me why he did all of it—tonight, an exclusive interview with Doug Wead, the author of “The Raising of a President.”

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

At the time of his book release, Doug Wead was decided—he said he decided to disclose his secretly taped conversations with about to be President Bush because history, as he said, is more important than a personal relationship.  He has since done an about-face and publicly apologized to the president. 

In a moment, I‘ll ask him about the tapes, why put them out, why he‘s apologized, the whole story here tonight on HARDBALL. 

Let‘s take a look right now at David Shuster‘s package on the whole story. 


DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  The conversations first broadcast by ABC News were taped beginning in 1998, when George W.  Bush was governor of Texas and considering a run for president. 


DOUG WEAD, AUTHOR, “THE RAISING OF A PRESIDENT”:  He‘s saying that you promised you would not appoint gays to office.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No.  What I said was, I wouldn‘t fire gays.  I‘m not going to discriminate against people.


SHUSTER:  But there are also intriguing discussions about drug use. 


BUSH:  I wouldn‘t answer the marijuana question.  You know why?  

Because I don‘t want some little kid doing what I tried.


SHUSTER:  Did Mr. Bush try cocaine?  On tape, It isn‘t clear. 


BUSH:  The cocaine thing, let me tell you my strategy on that.

WEAD:  Yes. 

BUSH:  Rather than just saying no, I think it‘s time for somebody to just draw the line and look people in the eye and say, you know, I am not going to participate in ugly rumors about me and blame my opponents and hold the line and stand up for a system that will not allow this kind of crap to go on.


SHUSTER:  Wead himself, though, gives an unusual characterization in his book “The Raising of a President”—quote—“George W. Bush apparently experimented with cocaine.  He has never spoken about it publicly and so we can only speculate on if and when it happened.”

Critics have blasted Wead over that passage.  Others have simply focused on the larger controversy of taping Mr. Bush without his knowledge.  Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan said—quote—“These were casual conversations with someone the president considered a friend.”

Last month, the response had an impact.  Wead said he would turn over his tapes to the White House and he ditched his book P.R. campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  I got the message late in the afternoon that, basically, one, he is going to stay off TV.  He couldn‘t do this show or other shows.  We‘ll see if he sticks to that.

SHUSTER:  This week, Doug Wead apologized to the president, writing in “USA Today”—quote—“I was foolish and wrong to tape-record Mr Bush without his permission.  I cannot undue the hurt I have caused, but I can, with God‘s help, take the heat I deserve and move on.”

(on camera):  Doug Wead, however, has not apologized for anything in his book.  So, the question is, is this another case where, in Washington, you get in trouble not for telling lies, but for telling the truth? 

I‘m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  We‘re back with Doug Wead. 

Thank you for coming on the show.  We tried it before.  You‘ve been very nice to come back in a very hot situation. 

Let‘s imagine President Bush is watching right now.  Maybe he is. 

Talk to him. 

WEAD:  I‘m sorry.  I‘ve apologized privately even before the story ran and publicly.  I can‘t make right what I did wrong, but it was wrong to tape-record the president without his permission. 

I can make right decisions from now on.  And I‘ve canceled the speaking.  I think I have a Smithsonian Institute speech, but there‘s no remuneration.  If there is, that will go to charity.

MATTHEWS:  Were you pushed into doing this?  Or this was a decision you made on your own to publish, to use parts—I have read parts of the book.  I like it.  I want to talk about the book in a minute, even though you are not here to promote it, you told me.

But when did you make the decision to give interviews or give away some of the tapes that talked about the touchiest stuff in these tapes, the drug usage? 

WEAD:  Well, let me just finish by saying that I‘ve—I‘ve assigned the future royalties of the book to Red Cross and Convoy of Hope.  My agent is supposed to take care of that.  And turns the tapes over to...


MATTHEWS:  What is Convoy of Hope? 

WEAD:  Convoy of Hope is tsunami relief, food to poor sort of thing, similar to Red Cross. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you about—about with this whole decision you made to release the tapes to the press in the first place.  Why did you do it?

WEAD:  Well, it was a wrong decision.  It was incremental...


MATTHEWS:  Why did you do it?  What was your motive? 

WEAD:  It started incrementally. 

It wasn‘t just like one decision.  It started with, my publisher said, it‘s not good enough, anonymous sources.  I said, why not?  The previous book had all kinds of anonymous sources.  They said the atmosphere has changed.  After CBS, after the documentary controversy, we have got to know your source. 


MATTHEWS:  So when you said in your book, the president apparently experimented with cocaine, your source was the tapes you had with the president.  That is your source for that book.

WEAD:  That was the anonymous source.  And the attorneys felt that the publishing company, they had to know what the source was.  I let them know what the source was. 

This took place over a period of months.  “The New York Times” challenged that quote, wanted to know—I was encouraged to let...


WEAD:  I made a mistake.  I shouldn‘t have...


MATTHEWS:  But, actually, your book is softer than you knew, because if you—let‘s listen—and we can all do the same kind of judgment.  You heard it on the telephone.  We‘re going to hear it now.  Here‘s the president talking about his strategy on the issue of cocaine use. 


BUSH:  The cocaine thing, let me tell you my strategy on that.

WEAD:  Yes. 

BUSH:  Rather than just saying no, I think it‘s time for somebody to just draw the line and look people in the eye and say, you know, I am not going to participate in ugly rumors about me and blame my opponents and hold the line and stand up for a system that will not allow this kind of crap to go on.


MATTHEWS:  Now, when he talks about this crap, he means asking candidates for office all about their drug use.  But he had a different tactic.  Let‘s take a look at what he said to you on the telephone about possible—about use of marijuana.  It‘s totally different. 


BUSH:  I wouldn‘t answer the marijuana question.  You know why?  

Because I don‘t want some little kid doing what I tried.

WEAD:  Yes.  And it never stops, the question.

BUSH:  But you‘ve got to understand, I want to be president.  I want to lead.  I want to set—do you want your little kid to say, hey, daddy, President Bush tried marijuana; I think I will?


MATTHEWS:  Well, there you have it.  What is your assessment on listening... 


WEAD:  I...


MATTHEWS:  What was your assessment on the marijuana part when you heard him say it?

WEAD:  I was wrong to have tape-recorded the president‘s private conversations.  And I regret it.  And I‘m suffering the consequences from it. 


MATTHEWS:  Golda Meir calls these new facts.  It‘s a new fact.  You have a tape.  We just played it.  You have put it out, the president saying I tried marijuana.  Now it is an historic reality. 

WEAD:  Well, there was a reoccurring theme, a historical theme that went all the way back to Washington.  That was in my pride and my arrogance.  This was too rich, too good, too colorful not to include. 

MATTHEWS:  Because it is part of growing up? 


WEAD:  No.  There‘s a theme that there is a very ambitious apparent and there‘s a child on the receiving end that‘s anointed, like Joe Kennedy Jr. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  Sure.

WEAD:  And there‘s another child that‘s in the shadows looking on with envy.  And, again and again, it is the child in the shadows who becomes president.  It is not Joe Kennedy Jr.  It is Jack.  It is not Milton Eisenhower.  It is Dwight.  It is not Lawrence Washington.  It‘s George Washington.

And what I saw in George W. Bush, very dramatically, is that he put himself in the shadows.  He was the first-born. 


WEAD:  But, by his irresponsible behavior, he was putting himself in the shadows, disqualifying himself to be the leader of the family or to fulfill this destiny.  I am not going to be a senator, like grandpa.  I‘m not going to be a public figure like my father.

And the spotlight turned to Jeb.  The expectations were on Jeb.  And once the spotlight was off George W. Bush and he was in the shadows, he thrived.  He found Laura.  He found his faith.  He recovered from his drinking problem and other problems, whatever they might be. 

MATTHEWS:  But during that interesting period of growing up, sort of the Prince Hal period from “Henry V,” where he is going, messing around, chasing whatever, drinking, using drugs, you‘re saying that period was a period in which he was trying to say, I‘m not doing it my old man‘s way. 

WEAD:  I think it was his salvation.

When I did the first book, “All the President‘s Children,” I thought, you know, his irresponsible behavior saved his life.  John Adams II dies an alcoholic at 31, William Henry Harrison Jr. at 25.  All the juniors, they died.  Calvin Coolidge Jr. was 16 when he died.  But when Jon F. Kennedy Jr. disappeared over the Atlantic, I had chills go down my spine. 


WEAD:  Because I had seen this research. 

MATTHEWS:  Doug...

WEAD:  So, how did George W. Bush escape it?  I believe he escaped it because there was no pressure on him.  There was no expectations for him to do anything. 

MATTHEWS:  Was his renegade behavior—and we‘ve been through it.  You‘ve been through it.  It‘s in the book here, this drug, the whole thing, the alcohol, too much alcohol, the drug use, the clearly admission that he used marijuana, the suggestion, as you say, apparently—and you can—everybody can judge the tapes whether he‘s saying, I‘m not going to deny it, or I did, but I did do it, however you want to read that—was that all part of his anger that he wasn‘t the select successor, that he wasn‘t Jeb, that they had picked a better looking, taller, cooler guy and he wasn‘t the pick of the litter?  Is that why he behaved like that?

WEAD:  No doubt, there‘s something beneath the surface.  I don‘t know what it is.  Nobody could know what it is.  But I can tell you this. 

MATTHEWS:  But you‘re laughing because it is a fascinating question. 

WEAD:  It is a fascinating question.

MATTHEWS:  Was his generation, was his growth, was his decision to throw away the drugs, throw away the booze, marry Laura, become this sort of grownup Christian guy, was that all because he said, damn it, dad, you didn‘t pick me, but I‘m picking me?

WEAD:  Did you see the movie “Journeys With George”?

MATTHEWS:  I read your book.  I know what you‘re saying in here.

WEAD:  Yes, “Journeys With George,” she brings him to the front of the bus.  This guy might win the presidency.  She sits down with him, Alexandra Pelosi, and she says, what about the little guy?  If you are elected president, what are you going to do for the little guy?  You know what his answer was?

MATTHEWS:  I am a little guy. 

WEAD:  I am the little guy.  Jeb is 6‘4“.  I‘m 5‘11“.

So, yes, it is there.  I remember walking into the Oval Office in 1990.  And Barbara was in the office with 41.  And she turned to me and she knew I was talking to George and said, tell him not to run.  This was running for governor in 1990.  They didn‘t want him to run.  And that spilled out in public when Barbara said, let‘s face it.  Jeb is like his dad.  George is too much like me. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, a lot of my guys of my generation—I‘m almost the same age as the president, a little older, actually, which bugs me once in a while, but I‘m a little older.


MATTHEWS:  The fact is that a lot of guys of our generation who saw themselves going into the civil service, going into top government jobs, not even thinking about the presidency, obviously, were very careful not to use drugs, because they never wanted to be asked the question, did you ever use drugs? 

If he used them and you say—well, he clearly, on that tape said I tried marijuana, at least.  He wasn‘t even thinking about becoming president at the time he was doing that, right? 

WEAD:  And that was his salvation.  I don‘t want to say whether he used drugs or not.

MATTHEWS:  That was his salvation? 

WEAD:  It was his salvation, because it took the expectations off. 

These—these baseball players, they get these big contracts and they walk out there and everybody in the crowd is saying, this at-bat is $6,000.  He strikes out.  It costs us $6,000. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Right. 

WEAD:  Everybody thinks they‘re corrupted by the big contracts. 

I believe from this 17 years of study, they‘re not corrupted.  They‘re

under enormous pressure.  And his irresponsible behavior, whatever it was -

·         I won‘t get into arguments over whatever it was.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WEAD:  But, whatever it was, it took him out.  In 1987, Allen Ginsberg was eliminated for the Supreme Court because he had used marijuana. 

MATTHEWS:  Marijuana.

WEAD:  And, in George W. Bush‘s mind, there was no chance.  There was no pressure on him.  And I think that was his salvation. 

MATTHEWS:  So, your basic thesis of your book is, because he was lying fallow, because he was not being trained to be president, he was able to grow up his own way and become himself today. 

WEAD:  He didn‘t have the pressure. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that it?

WEAD:  He didn‘t have the pressure.  Well, that‘s one of the theses of the book. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s a lot.

WEAD:  The other big one is the role of the mother.  You look at John Fitzgerald Kennedy, named after his mother, Rose Fitzgerald.  We all know.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the only thing he had in common with her.

WEAD:  Richard Milhous Nixon was named after Hannah Milhous, Lyndon Baines Johnson after Rebecca Baines, Ronald Wilson Reagan after his Nellie Wilson.  On and on it goes, Woodrow Wilson. 


MATTHEWS:  What odes that do?

WEAD:  The psychologists say that, in the first months of life, that, even the candidates, John Forbes Kerry was name after Rosemary Forbes.  That the love of the mother, the perceived favorite of the mother, very Freudian, empowers the child.


MATTHEWS:  And the absent father, the fact that the father either dies young for a president or, in the case of Bush, was never there, causes the son, empowered by a love of a mother, to reach out to get the approval of the father. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ve got to come back.

LBJ used to say, if the mother married up, the kid is going to run for president to catch up to the old days.

We‘ll be right back with this interview, interesting interview with Doug Wead, who made those secret audiotapes of President Bush.  We played some before.  We‘ll play them again.

And, later, the attorney general of Kansas wants medical records of women who have had late-term abortions in Kansas.  He says he‘s looking for evidence of rape and other crimes.  Critics say he‘s on a fishing expedition.  He‘s invading women‘s privacy.  Attorney General Phill Kline is coming here to play HARDBALL.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, why did Doug Wead betray his friend, George W.

Bush, by secretly recording those conversations?

More with HARDBALL with Doug Wead after this.



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Doug Wead, the man who secretly taped George W. Bush as he prepared to run for president. 

Let me ask you about you and the president.  Were you close friend? 

WEAD:  Yes.  We were close friends.

MATTHEWS:  Are you now?  Where would you—have you heard from him at all through Rove or anybody at the White House?  Have you heard from him directly?

WEAD:  Through intermediaries, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Have they spoken for him?  Have they said, I‘m talking for the president, here‘s what he wants you to know? 

WEAD:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And what did they say?


WEAD:  I‘m here to apologize for having revealed old conversations with the president, not reveal new ones. 


WEAD:  ... trouble.

MATTHEWS:  I understand.  That is how you got into trouble.  We‘ll go into that in a second again.

But why—can you reach the president?  Could you reach him?  Do you know for sure you got to him after this came out? 

WEAD:  Sure. 

MATTHEWS:  And he did he say—because you say in your letter—the reason I‘m bringing this up is, in your letter, which I read in “USA Today,” you said you know you hurt him.  How do you know that? 

WEAD:  Well, I know him.  I know he is human.  And it would be hurtful.

MATTHEWS:  Is he hurt because you betrayed him or because this makes him look bad? 

WEAD:  Oh, it doesn‘t make him look bad. 

MATTHEWS:  Because I have a hard time figuring out, by the way...

WEAD:  No.


WEAD:  He‘s probably the only person in the world outside of my own family who could appreciate the fact that this didn‘t come out, that this survive two presidential elections and two books.  So, he knows that I didn‘t try to hurt him. 

He‘s hurt that I tape-recorded him without his permission.  See, I started tape-recording him with his permission.  And some of the tapes that were played on national TV...


MATTHEWS:  When your story came out, when you gave this to “The Times” or however you got it to “The Times,” all the Arab countries and the Arab people in the world, the street that doesn‘t like us, think we‘re heathens and we‘re whatever you call, the infidels, the president of the United States used drugs?  He‘s one of the evil ones. 

You gave them ammo, the other side, didn‘t you?

WEAD:  No.

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean you didn‘t?

WEAD:  Look, I was wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  How can you say you didn‘t give them ammo?  These guys who don‘t like us are dying for evidence that the man they don‘t like politically and geopolitically is a bad guy.  You gave them the ammo, didn‘t you? 

WEAD:  Did you read those papers?  He got very good press.  I was wrong to tape-record the president without his permission. 


MATTHEWS:  No, no, but the fact that the president—they just took your word.  And, by the way, the tapes speak for themselves.  He did try marijuana.  He said so on the tapes.  And you can read for yourself.  He probably, according to the tapes—make your own judgment about the coke part.

But the Arabs out there, the people that don‘t like us, the terrorist crowd, the anti-American crowd, they‘re reading your tapes.  You don‘t think that hurts us? 


WEAD:  I don‘t think that anybody was hurt by the tapes except me, in my arrogance, in my pride, by revealing them. 


MATTHEWS:  The knowledge now that the Americans and the world has, our enemies have, that Bush tried an illegal drug, what they consider bad for you. 

WEAD:  Our policy in the Middle East is what governs how they react to us.  Our culture is offensive to them.  I mean, MTV is all over the world.  If you do a video for MTV, you have to have a separate video for Europe, one for North America.


WEAD:  And one for Indonesia.  And they‘re—they‘re offended in Islamic countries by our motion pictures, by our pornography that can be pulled out of the sky.  It is much too complicated than this story. 


MATTHEWS:  It is complicated.

Some of the tapes—first of all, I think everybody assumed what you have in there about drug use, because of the way the president didn‘t deny or denied or didn‘t—no, nondenial denial throughout the campaign.  His strategy he laid out to you of how he was going to handle the cocaine question is the way he carried it out.  He never denied.  He just didn‘t speak on the subject, which is what he did. 

So, he followed the strategy on cocaine use he laid out to you.  Fine.  I thought it was interesting—and probably a lot of liberals or people who usually don‘t like this president were probably well—well—received well the notion he wasn‘t going to be anti-gay. 

WEAD:  Yes.  They were stunned.  I mean, I kept asking a reporter from “The New York Times,” I don‘t see the story in this.  I don‘t see the story. 

He said, well, my editors are very surprised that he is in private what he is in public.  So, that was...

MATTHEWS:  Because he is against gay marriage. 

WEAD:  Because he is against gay marriage and because he talks the same in private that they did—this is nine hours of Bush being Bush.  There‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he is anti-gay? 

WEAD:  Oh, no.  I mean, no.  This is a two-edged sword.  There‘s a question, are you anti-faith or are you anti-gay? 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WEAD:  And people of faith, I don‘t know of one Catholic cardinal, I don‘t know of one leader in the Jewish Orthodox faith or one evangelical leader who is advocating anti-sodomy laws in states or any anti-gay legislation.


WEAD:  They‘re concerned that government-subsidized programs are undermining their right to share their values with their children.  They don‘t want to have to compete with government and programs in the school that promote an opposing view.  They‘re not anti-gay.

MATTHEWS:  You and the president share a lot of cultural values, right? 

WEAD:  Yes, we would. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think you‘ll get back together with him eventually because of those shared values? 

WEAD:  Eventually, I‘ll see him.  If I had...

MATTHEWS:  He‘ll forgive you?

WEAD:  If I had—I‘m sure he forgives you.  I mean, he knows my intentions were not evil. 

If I had kept these tapes and given them back to him after he left the White House, and said, hey, guess what, you can burn them or you can—you have a record of what you were thinking. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But they have got all the originals now?

WEAD:  They‘ve got—I‘ve turned them all over to the president‘s.... 

MATTHEWS:  All the originals?  You don‘t have a copy of anything? 

WEAD:  I don‘t have a copy. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he—they‘ve got power over this to do whatever they want to do. 

Is there anything else in there embarrassing on those tapes? 

WEAD:  No.  No.  It‘s him. 


MATTHEWS:  There‘s nothing else embarrassing on those tapes? 

WEAD:  There‘s—embarrassing to third parties.  And that would be his greatest concern and my greatest concern. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, to make sure he doesn‘t hurt anybody.

WEAD:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  So, there‘s no more tapes at all of him?  They‘re all gone. 

WEAD:  They‘re—he has them.

MATTHEWS:  Did you turn them over to the White House or...


WEAD:  I turned them over to the president‘s attorney, Jim Sharp. 

MATTHEWS:  And he has got them. 

WEAD:  He‘s got them. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he letting the president listen to them? 

WEAD:  I don‘t know.  Whatever they want to do with them is fine. 


MATTHEWS:  I think you underestimate the power of these tapes. 

We‘ll be right back with our exclusive interview with Doug Wead just after this.

And tough guys week continues tomorrow on HARDBALL.  Tommy Lasorda is going to join us to talk about Congress‘ subpoenaing of those seven baseball players on the issue of steroid use.  And also tomorrow, I‘ll have an exclusive interview with San Francisco‘s Mayor Gavin Newsom on gay marriage.  He‘s the guy that issued all those thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples when it wasn‘t legal.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Doug Wead, who secretly taped George W.

Bush as he considered running for president. 

I went through that before.  I‘ll do it again.  It is now on the public record, the president taped.  The tapes are around now and all over the world that he tried marijuana, a very suggestive quote from him about the use of cocaine. 

But let me ask you this.  I love rules.  I love to learn politics. 

I‘m always learning.  What did you learn from this? 

WEAD:  Well, I learned...

MATTHEWS:  Having released it and then apologized?

WEAD:  I learned that relationships are not only the most important thing in life.  They‘re the only thing of life.  And...


MATTHEWS:  What about your earlier argument that history must be served? 

WEAD:  You know, as a student of history, I love that niece of the Kennedys who sits there at the breakfast table with Rose and with Joe after his stroke.  And it is just color so rich.  It makes Rose such a complicated person.  I love her.  I love William Herndon                 and all that he‘s given us about Abraham Lincoln.  But this is too personal for me right now.  I was wrong.

MATTHEWS:  Should you have waited five or 10 years? 

WEAD:  Yes.  I should—well, I should never have recorded him in the first place.  That was wrong.  I was naive.  I was enthusiastic. 

MATTHEWS:  But you defend yourself.  You say you that started to tape-record him because you were trying to get it clear, because you were giving messages to reporters. 


WEAD:  That was my justifiable reason at the time and it made sense at the time.

MATTHEWS:  Do you buy that now?

WEAD:  No.

MATTHEWS:  Is that still your reason?

WEAD:  I was wrong.  I was wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  That wasn‘t a good reason? 

WEAD:  It wasn‘t good enough.  And I had many other reasons, too, ghostwriting a book, like I did, for his dad, and many justifications, but they were wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  When you were talking to him on the phone, you had to take two steps, pick up the phone, talk to him.  Then you had to push a button.  When you were pushing that button to record the future president of the United States, who you supported, what was going through your head as you pushed that button? 

WEAD:  At the time, great, that I‘m going to be able to serve him better and right.  But it was wrong. 


MATTHEWS:  You never had a dark side that said, I can make some money on this or I can promote this later? 

WEAD:  No, because, in my pride, in my arrogance, I thought, I can protect these tapes.  I know my good intentions justify making the tapes.  But there‘s a part you‘re missing. 


WEAD:  There‘s a part you‘re missing. 

And that is, I began tape-recording him in 1987 and ‘88 with his permission.  And that was sometimes aired as if it was without his permission.  And so, when I began talking in ‘97, I spent a whole year without tape-recording, just taking notes. 


WEAD:  It was finally in ‘98, I thought, I better tape-record this or

·         to do my job.  I felt inadequate at doing my job.  But I was wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  You never talked at the end of these conversations—the president never said to you, as he was getting elected, all those conversations we had, Doug, don‘t ever put that out?  He never came to you and said that, did he?

WEAD:  No.  But he wouldn‘t have to say that.  And, as I said, the tapes have survived two elections.  There was certainly not a malicious intent. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You‘re sorry you did it?

WEAD:  I‘m sorry I did it. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Doug Wead.  You made history, for better or worse.

Still ahead, we‘ll get reaction to what Doug Wead said here about his secret taping. 

Plus, the attorney general of Kansas wants the medical records of women who received late-term abortions in his state.  Is he upholding the law or is he on a fishing expedition?  He‘s coming here when we come back.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, I‘ll play HARDBALL with the attorney general of Kansas.  He wants full medical records on women who have gotten late-term abortions in his state.  Critics call it an invasion of privacy.  He‘s coming here to defend his actions. 

But, first, let‘s check in with the MSNBC News Desk. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The attorney general for the state of Kansas recently requested the medical records of almost 90,000 Kansas women and girls who had late-term abortions.  He says the records are necessary to prosecute criminal cases involving illegal late-term abortions and also statutory rape. 

Planned Parenthood of Kansas issued a statement today which read in part: “He,” the attorney general, “doesn‘t have the right to invade the privacy and confidentiality of women who are not subjects of an investigation.  It‘s simply wrong to expect any doctor to turn over the medical records of dozens of patients based on the hunch or the hope of the attorney general that he might find evidence of crimes.”

Phill Kline is the attorney general of the state of Kansas.  He joins me now. 

Why do you need those records to do your job? 

PHILL KLINE, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, first of all, the Planned Parenthood statement, interestingly enough, is correct.  This isn‘t based on a hunch.  It is a court subpoena after a judge found probable cause to believe that a crime, including crimes of child rape, have occurred, and that evidence of that crime is within the clinics‘ files. 


MATTHEWS:  Excuse me, General.  If you have evidence of a crime and a late-term abortion was done against the law of Kansas, why don‘t you prosecute it? 

KLINE:  Absolutely.  Well, we need more evidence. 


KLINE:  You don‘t file charges without complete evidence. 


KLINE:  Subpoenas are used—now, Chris, you need to hear my answer. 


KLINE:  Subpoenas are used in virtually every type of criminal prosecution. 

And, in fact, I would say medical records are used in all of our homicide cases, all of our rape cases.  Everybody complies with a subpoena, hospitals, doctors, clinics.  Only one group says, we‘re above the law and because of the privacy of the child, we have to allow a child to continue to be raped. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KLINE:  And that‘s abortion clinics.  And that‘s wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You have a case you‘re investigating. 

KLINE:  We have several cases we‘re investigating. 

MATTHEWS:  And these are particular cases, particular evidence you have of particular crimes?

KLINE:  Specific cases. 

The judge—the judge has subpoenaed these records, not Phill Kline, not the attorney general.  A judge has reviewed evidence for over a year.  He says there‘s probable cause to believe that there‘s a crime and that evidence relevant to this crime is in these records.  And the judge said, bring the records to me.  I will hold them.  I‘ll protect the privacy of all involved.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KLINE:  You never read the name of a child rape victim in the paper. 

Why?  Because I wrote the law that shields their name from being published. 

Yet, these clinics are saying, despite the fact that we have an 11-year-old who is pregnant, and under Kansas law—I don‘t know what it is here—under Kansas law, that‘s rape.  I have the obligation to investigate that.  Despite that, they‘re saying, we‘re not providing you this information.

MATTHEWS:  Why are the records being sought of women who are over the age of 16, above the age of consent?

KLINE:  That‘s a good point.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you need the information? 

KLINE:  Because we‘re also investigating potential criminal late-term abortion.

MATTHEWS:  What evidence do you have of that having occurred? 

KLINE:  I can‘t get into the specific evidence, but it‘s...

MATTHEWS:  But you have a particular case you‘re looking at?

KLINE:  Absolutely.  There‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Well, then, why are you seeking the records of every woman in the state who had a late-term abortion? 

KLINE:  That‘s not true.  We‘ve had over 25,000 abortions since I‘ve been attorney general in Kansas.

MATTHEWS:  No, no, of late terms.

KLINE:  That‘s not true as well.  We‘ve had over 1,000 late-term abortions.  This is a very narrowed subpoena to two specific clinics after a year of evidence was presented to the court. 

You will never get the names of these women from us, because I‘ve not asked for them.  The judge is going to shield the names of the women.  And the clinics know this.  They have never offered the information to us.  They said, you do not have the right.  They have even argued, it is unconstitutional to require us to report child rape. 

That‘s a flat-out wrong interpretation of the Constitution and a dangerous precedent as it relates to our ability to... 


MATTHEWS:  Do you have evidence of more than one case or more...

KLINE:  Absolutely we do. 

MATTHEWS:  More than one clinic involved? 

KLINE:  Well, the subpoenas went to two clinics, one clinic in Wichita.

MATTHEWS:  Why those two?

KLINE:  Well, the evidence led to that particular subpoena.  I did not know the evidence would lead to these clinics at the time the investigation started.  Neither did the judge. 

But the investigation and all the information provided in over a year led the judge to believe, these 90 records, as it relates to these specific files, which will never be released to the public by us—and we won‘t even get most of it—the judge gets it—are relevant.

MATTHEWS:  Why do you believe that—why do you believe that Planned Parenthood, which is obviously pro-choice, doesn‘t like the idea of these records being collected? 

KLINE:  Planned Parenthood always says and responds in this fashion.  I can‘t predict that.  I haven‘t seen the records.  I know they recently sued the attorney general of Indiana because he was investigating child rape and requested records from them, and they‘re trying to stop him in that case as well. 

It‘s a very good question for Planned Parenthood.  Why do you believe that your clinic should be a sanctuary for child rapists?  I don‘t understand it. 

MATTHEWS:  How many abortions were performed in the state of Kansas in the year 2003, the year in question?

KLINE:  Over 12,000. 

MATTHEWS:  Twelve thousand.  And how many were late-term? 

KLINE:  I can‘t answer that.  I think it was about 600.  And 78 of those were performed on children 14 years of age and younger. 

MATTHEWS:  Late-term?

KLINE:  No, abortions, 78. 


MATTHEWS:  What is it—in your experience, what is—what is—what is the nature or what is the prevalence of late-term abortions?  How many people get abortions, say, in the last three or four months? 

KLINE:  It is a low percentage of overall abortions.  But Kansas...

MATTHEWS:  Is it a problem in the state as a whole? 

KLINE:  I believe it is a problem, because Kansas has a doctor—and, of course, and I‘ve mentioned this and they‘re criticizing me for this although it is not about—I‘m pro-life. 

But Kansas has a doctor who specializes in late-term abortion and advertises that he has the most experience in late-term abortion in the Western Hemisphere. 

MATTHEWS:  He calls it that?  He calls it late-term?

KLINE:  Yes, absolutely.  And people...

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t—but isn‘t there a general rule under Roe vs.  Wade?  Each state gets to customize the way they want to deal with it.  But once you get into what is called viability...

KLINE:  Post-viability. 

MATTHEWS:  Post-viability, when the argument—it‘s based upon a court decision that—the court decision is such that, if the baby can live outside the womb, then it should be treated differently than if it can‘t.  That‘s the...

KLINE:  That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to argue for or against.  That‘s the court ruling. 

KLINE:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  But do doctors generally have a rule that says they can‘t do that unless there is the—the health or life of the mother involved? 

KLINE:  In Kansas, the law says only if the mother‘s life is in jeopardy can...

MATTHEWS:  Only life?

KLINE:  And if there is substantial likelihood of severe and irreversible damage to a major bodily function of—the law.  That‘s a direct quote of Kansas law.

MATTHEWS:  So, it can‘t be a psychological concern?

KLINE:  Well, psychological concerns are reversible, or the entire mental health industry would fall. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I meant. 

KLINE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  So, in other words, a woman can‘t go in and say, it‘s the seventh month.  I really can‘t deliver this child because I‘m just too upset about it.  That wouldn‘t pass muster with the law. 


KLINE:  In my mind, that is not substantial likelihood of severe and irreversible damage of a major bodily function.  And that‘s how Kansas law reads.  And we will enforce the law. 

MATTHEWS:  And you believe that would be appropriate; that‘s a good law to enforce because what? 

KLINE:  Well, that‘s the law of the state of Kansas.  I‘m the attorney general.  That‘s my job. 

MATTHEWS:  And you want to enforce...

KLINE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And you believe that has been violated? 

KLINE:  We are investigating possible criminal late-term abortions.

MATTHEWS:  Do you have probable cause?

KLINE:  Probable cause has been found by a judge who issued subpoenas for those records. 

MATTHEWS:  That some women have been getting abortions later than—in late-term and without that qualification met?


KLINE:  You‘ve got it, absolutely. 

And it is important to point this out.  The women are not in any legal jeopardy.  They‘re also not in any jeopardy of their privacy being violated.  We will not see the names of the women.  We have not asked for the names of the women.  The judge is going to get the records and redact this information.  The clinics...

MATTHEWS:  So you—you respect the right of the women of privacy? 

KLINE:  Absolutely.  I was chairman of a privacy committee and I wrote the Kansas rape shield law.  It is a legitimate concern.  We have protected it.  The clinics are causing the hysteria and the fear as it relates to this. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think abortion should be outlawed in the country? 

KLINE:  I believe it should be. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the women should be prosecuted for it? 

KLINE:  Never. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much, Phill Kline, attorney general of Kansas.

When we come back, from rivals to running mates to rivals again.  John Kerry and John Edwards both have their eye on the White House next time.  But should Edwards step back and give Kerry another shot?  We‘ll see. 

And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing.  Just log on to our Web site,


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, did John Kerry and John Edwards make a deal, clearing the way for another Kerry presidential run, or will the former running mates run against each other in 2008? 

HARDBALL returns after this.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Tonight, in a HARDBALL exclusive, Doug Wead, who secretly taped George W. Bush as he was considering running for the presidency, told me he believed President Bush has accepted his apology.  Here‘s what he said earlier tonight. 


WEAD:  I‘m sorry.  I‘ve apologized privately even before the story ran and publicly.  I can‘t make right what I did wrong, but it was wrong to tape-record the president without his permission. 


MATTHEWS:  Dana Milbank is with “The Washington Post.”  Rick Davis is a Republican strategist.  And Steve McMahon is a Democratic strategist. 

Let‘s start with Dana. 

You have covered this, the president.  What do you think went on here in terms of eliciting that apology from Doug Wead? 

DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Oh, I‘m sure that he got plenty of pressure, as he alluded to, from the White House officials. 

But he also seemed pretty genuine, to me at least, in his explanation and feeling that he was feeling downright bad about it.  Anyway, his explanation seemed to ring true, in the sense that you and I know that you get pressure from an editor to go that one step further. 


MILBANK:  And he did something that he obviously regrets doing. 

It also seemed clear that Bush was angry at it in concept, that the real bad stuff that Wead was saying was in the third person, the nasty things Bush may have said about other people.  And I think that it goes toward a lot of forgiveness now that Bush is sitting on those and he knows those won‘t get out. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I never thought of that, Dana, but it‘s possible that those tapes included the president making, oh, negative comments about their friends, people they share in common.  And I never thought of that.  It may have been the president was more worried about that. 

Let me ask you, I was pushing him hard, as you saw, on the international implications of this, to have the president of the United States basically admitting using illegal drugs, for the world to know and be sure of.  Do you think I pushed it too hard?  Do you think that—I noticed, in the press, the Muslim press, the Islamic press over in the Middle East, they were playing that up. 

MILBANK:  Well, they may be.  It‘s not as—in Wead‘s defense, it‘s not as if they don‘t have enough things to be angry at us about over there in the Middle East.  So, I think it was possible to take that a bit too far. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go right now.  Let me go and bring some other people in.  We‘ve got a great—first of all, I want to ask, what—you know the president. 


MATTHEWS:  Rick, you‘re in the Republican circle of things.  How do you think this thing evolved, from making the charges, putting the tapes out on another network, apologizing, going away, basically disowning the book, as he tried to do tonight, although I said the book is interesting, what I‘ve read of it?  What do you think happened here inside? 

RICK DAVIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Oh, I saw a man tonight on your show basically come in to reality and come in to grips with something he knows was wrong, something he wishes he hadn‘t done, and something he is trying to basically set straight. 

And I think, probably, it will affect him for the rest of his life, that he‘ll think about a relationship he had with a powerful man who trusted him, and he betrayed it. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you notice that President Bush, even before he took the office, Rick—let‘s start with you—even before he took the office, ‘98, a couple years before, was careful in the way he talked about cocaine in that conversation?  He may have trusted Doug Wead, but he didn‘t trust him that much. 


MATTHEWS:  Did you notice? 

DAVIS:  Well, I don‘t think anybody trusts anybody enough to want to talk about illicit drugs or anything they did. 

MATTHEWS:  Crimes. 

DAVIS:  Crimes they might have committed in their life. 

I—look, the one thing I would agree with, from what I‘ve seen of the book and of the transcripts of the tapes, is that it shows George Bush is a regular guy, someone who was having...


MATTHEWS:  He‘s a man of his times.

DAVIS:  ... a conversation with a man, and it was a very relaxing thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go—let‘s go over to Steve McMahon. 

Steve, if this had broken, this tape had been released by Doug Wead during the 2000 election regarding the drug use, especially, would that have cost Bush the election? 


You know, there was that allegation at the end about drunk driving arrest, which I think did hurt the president somewhat in the final days of that campaign.  But you know what?  At the end of the day, I think the way he was answering the question sort of led people to believe that this might be the case anyway.  And I, frankly—I‘m sure that haters of America around the world are shocked by this revelation. 

But I wasn‘t.  I think most Americans aren‘t.  And I think Rick is right.  Those tapes mostly show George Bush as a regular guy. 

MATTHEWS:  I think—I agree.  In fact, I think a lot of what he showed in the campaign showed that he was a man of his times.  And everybody has a kid or a relative from those times. 

MCMAHON:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Coming up, are John Kerry John Edwards back to being rivals?  I think so.  We‘re going to talk about that when we come back.  That‘s real HARDBALL between the two Democratic candidates from the last—last election. 

And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site.  Just go to


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Dana Milbank, Steve McMahon and Rick Davis.

Tomorrow on HARDBALL, my exclusive interview with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  I interviewed him yesterday about a San Francisco judge‘s ruling that a ban on gay marriage there is unconstitutional.  And he told me that prominent Democrats have told him privately that they support gay marriage, despite what they say in public. 


GAVIN NEWSOM (D), MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO:  And let me assure you, there are people that would shock you that I would never divulge in private conversation that say one thing privately and say another thing publicly.  You want to know the biggest problem in this party is just that.  This party, there‘s a perception...

MATTHEWS:  What about John Kerry? 

NEWSOM:  I don‘t know John Kerry... 


MATTHEWS:  Do you think he was for gay marriage, but wouldn‘t admit it?

NEWSOM:  I know his daughter was.

MATTHEWS:  How about Hillary? 

NEWSOM:  I have no idea. You have got to ask her. 

MATTHEWS:  But I‘m going through the big names, because you‘ve just...

NEWSOM:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  This is like the baseball players.  Tell me some names. 

NEWSOM:  Exactly.  I‘m not Canseco.  I have a little bit more loyalty. 

MATTHEWS:  Name me some names.  Name me some big names.  You‘re saying there‘s big-name Democratic people who are two-faced on this.  Give me some names.

NEWSOM:  Of course there are. 

MATTHEWS:  Give me some names.

NEWSOM:  Well, there are big-name Republicans that are two-faced on this.

MATTHEWS:  I think you might be right.  I would just to love who they are.

NEWSOM:  Of course, because it‘s good ratings.

MATTHEWS:  Did you swear secrecy to these guys? 


NEWSOM:  No, I don‘t share private conversations, because it would be wrong. 

MATTHEWS:  What, did you have meetings with these guys?



MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the way it goes tomorrow night. 

Let me to go Dana Milbank—what do you—I mean—Steve McMahon first. 

Big-name Democrats.  He was talking about all these Democrats who are privately with him on what he thinks is the rightness of gay marriage.  And then he says they publicly support all these restrictions and the old ways.  Steve...

MCMAHON:  Yes, I guess we‘re going to have to wait...

MATTHEWS:  Is that your appreciation?

MCMAHON:  I guess we‘re going to have to wait for the book.  We‘re just going to have to wait for the book, I guess, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re so sarcastic. 

MCMAHON:  He‘ll be promoting a book at some point.

MATTHEWS:  Dana Milbank, you cover these Democrats.  Are they two-faced on this issue? 

MILBANK:  It‘s a shame the mayor didn‘t have Mr. Wead‘s taping system at the time, or we‘d be in much better shape now. 


MILBANK:  I‘m shocked, shocked to hear that Democrats could—or Republicans or anybody could be two-faced. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I think it is a reasonable assumption, having watched these people, men and women both, that if the people of the state of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, want a position on gay marriage, that the senator will come around.  And it is the same with just about all these guys. 

Let me ask you—let me start with Steve on this bigger, more fun question, even more fun than that, two-facedness on gay marriage.  Kerry and John Edwards, John Kerry, John Edwards, the team from just a few months ago is now engaged in an intramural struggle.  They apparently both want the shot in 2008.  How hot will this get, Steve McMahon? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I mean, I think it could get pretty hot.  I think they both want to run.  They both understand that there‘s probably one slot as the alternative to Hillary Clinton, assuming she does run.  And they both want to be in that position. 

I mean, I think, for Senator Edwards, it is unfortunate and it is maybe a little unbecoming, because he is in a position where he has the potential to look both disloyal and unappreciative for what Senator Kerry did.  I mean, remember, John Edwards ran against John Kerry once before and he won one primary.  So, you know, I think that this is not a fight that Senator Edwards needs right now. 

MATTHEWS:  Do we know, Dana Milbank?  I vaguely remember hearing about some sort of deal.  Do you think there‘s a deal that means anything between the two of these guys, that Kerry—if Kerry runs in 2008, that, somehow, John Edwards has bound himself not to challenge him? 

MILBANK:  No.  I don‘t think we have the sort of Gore-Lieberman deal, where Lieberman genuinely wasn‘t going to do this. 

These guys were rivals to start with.  Edwards went—he was glad to be on the ticket, but only to further his future ambitions.  The two never really meshed entirely.  And it is only reasonable that they would go back to being rivals now. 


DAVIS:  These two guys remind me of Oklahoma and Alabama fighting over trying to get to the 16th seed, just to be beat by North Carolina in their first chance at the dance. 


MATTHEWS:  So, you figure Hillary is going to knock either one of them off. 

DAVIS:  I think Hillary is the only story worth reading about or talking about in the Democratic primary of 2008.  The rest of it is all just...


MCMAHON:  I‘ll tell you what, though.  I‘ll tell you what, though, Chris, what might be interesting.

You know, you roll the tape and you start, of course, with Senator Edwards and all the wonderful things that he said about John Kerry and what a fine president John Kerry would make.  And I suspect there‘s some of that footage around that has Hillary Clinton on it as well.  So, I mean, this whole thing could be pretty interesting if Senator Kerry decides to go again. 

MATTHEWS:  Could a guy like Edwards—it‘s always speculation here. 

But, Dana, you cover these guys.  Is it possible to run for president the way that John Edwards is doing, being totally out of the limelight, totally out of government, no job, really, and going out to the public and say, make me president; I had one term in the United States Senate?

MILBANK:  Well, if history, recent history is any indication, the best way to get elected president is with the least amount of legislative record.  So, at least he won‘t be—have to get himself on record in a lot of votes. 

But, sure, it can be done.  But the fact is, Rick is probably right and that these guys are all fighting for the right to challenge a formidable front-runner. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think, Dana, that the issue of gay marriage and the whole question of gay—gay relationships, the Democrats are going to be able to shake that thing for the next 20 years?  Is it always going to be a Republican sledgehammer against them? 

MILBANK:  Well, some people were surprised that it was this time around, that you would think the swing voters would go more towards the tolerance issue. 

But Hillary Clinton, for example, is working very hard on abortion and other general issues like that to move in a more centrist vein.  I wouldn‘t be surprised to hear her try to split the difference on that, and expect to see her in an awful lot of church services each Sunday. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, Gavin Newsom is convinced that, deep down in her soul, she supports gay marriage.  You‘re going to hear that tomorrow night.

Anyway, thank you, Dana Milbank of “The Washington Post.”  Thank you, Rick Davis.  And thank you, Steve McMahon.

Tomorrow on HARDBALL, my exclusive interview, as I said, with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  He‘s the guy that married all those gay couples out there when it wasn‘t legal.  He says many mainstream Democrats have told him privately that they support gay marriage, despite taking safer positions in public.

Anyway, baseball legend Tommy Lasorda is coming on tomorrow to talk about congressional hearings on steroids in the Major Leagues.  It‘s going to be a hot show tomorrow night, more tough guy, this guy, Tommy Lasorda.

Right now, it‘s time for Keith.  


Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant,Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.