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Transcript: Play from the Back

The full episode transcript for Article II: Inside Impeachment, Play from the Back.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton reaches for support while on a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 13, 1992.
Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton reaches for support while on a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 13, 1992.Stephan Savoia / AP file


So You Wanna Be President? with Chris Matthews

Play from the Back

Bill Clinton: (MUSIC) Let me say that while the evening is young, and we don't know yet what the final tally will be, I think we know enough to say with some certainty that New Hampshire tonight has made Bill Clinton the comeback kid.

Chris Matthews: Bill Clinton hadn't won anything when he gave that speech in New Hampshire during the 1992 race. It's why that moment is what we're talking about for lesson four in this podcast. (CROWD NOISE) So You Want to Be President, know how to play from the back, know how to translate a loss into a win. (MUSIC)


Matthews: Susan Del Percio and Beth Fouhy joined me this week. Susan's a Republican strategist worked for both New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. She's now a political analyst for NBC News. Beth Fouhy is the senior editor of politics at NBC News.

Now I had a slight cold when the three of us sat down to talk. It reminds me of what Ronald Reagan once said, "I did turn 75 today, but remember that's only 24° Celsius. By the way, it's been in the 20s this week in New Hampshire. All right, let's set this up, when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992, and he was governor for many years of Arkansas.

Clinton: I got into politics to change people's lives for the better. And for eleven years that's what I've worked to do, for better jobs, and better education, for healthcare, to solve social problems, to bring people together. That's what we need to in America today, put our own house in order, restore the middle class, reduce poverty, organize this country to compete and win again. I've got a fine, national economic strategy, but in the end a plan is still a piece of paper. To change lives you need vision and leadership, and action. That's the work of my life, and that's why I'm running for president.

Matthews: How did he stack up in the beginning of that race as he went into it, Beth, against, well, people like Bob Kerry, in Nebraska, Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, Tom Harkin of Iowa, and of course, Jerry Brown was making another comeback?

Beth Fouhy: Right, so we were coming out of the Gulf War, that first Gulf War that President George H.W. Bush managed flawlessly.

George H.W. Bush: Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

Fouhy: He had stratospheric popularity ratings. I think at one point he hit almost 90% popularity across the general public.

H.W. Bush: Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait. Tonight, the battle has been joined.

Fouhy: A lot of Democrats just looked at that and said, "There is no way that President Bush is vulnerable this time." So a lot of Democrats sort of took a pass on this race, most notably Mario Cuomo, then the Governor of New York, who had looked like he was getting in and then at the very last minute pulled back and decided not to. So enter Bill Clinton.

Archival Recording: This is the story of a young man born in a small town called, Hope, Hope, Arkansas. The son of a widow--

Fouhy: He at that point was this sort of up and coming, hotshot, young governor of Arkansas. He had been selected to keynote the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta.

Clinton: You might ask if you're looking at this on television, what has this got to do with me, if I've got a job or my business is in good shape, or my kid's in college? Why should I worry? I'll tell you why, because the children that are in trouble tonight are the workers of tomorrow. And if they can't do the jobs of tomorrow, we're all gonna suffer, and America will not be able to fulfill its dream and its destiny.

Fouhy: People recognized his talent, they recognized his intelligence, they recognized his gift of speaking very beautifully. He was running against a bunch of characters who weren't necessarily the A list of Democrats at that point; Tom Harkin, very revered senator from Iowa, but also very, very liberal at a time when Democrats were trying to tack to the center.

Tom Harkin: In grade school, Sister Rose Angela taught me, "You can't be all things to all people." Well these other candidates say they're for the middle class, yet they all want more tax breaks for the wealthy, and the big corporations. Well, they can't have it both ways.

Archival Recording: Jerry Brown, former Governor of California, the one the political establishment fears most.

Fouhy: Jerry Brown had run a couple of other times for governor in 1976, in 1980, had been a fairly successful Governor of California, but he was still kind of tagged as Governor Moonbeam. And then Paul Tsongas, who was coming off a cancer diagnosis. He was a thoughtful, smart, intelligent law maker, but was kind of a Debbie Downer. He talked all the time about debt, and deficits, and not a lot of magic, not a lot of poetry.

Archival Recording: Paul Tsongas, he'll take change from the start. Paid for by the Tsongas committee.

Fouhy: So that's kind of the field that Bill Clinton was working into.

Matthews: Susan, it was a race that began with people thinking they could, as Beth said, you couldn't beat George Herbert Walker Bush. He was the war hero.

Susan Del Percio: That's right. And when in January of 1992, he was at 46%, which was almost a 40% drop from where he was at August in 1991, where candidates were starting to make that decision. I think that the Democrats underestimated just how weak Bush was at that moment in time. Because they kept thinking about his popularity in the summer, even into the fall. But then the economy started to turn, and there were two other people who were kind of nipping at his heals.

Pat Buchanan: Hi, I'm Pat Buchanan. Together we can change the course of America.

Del Percio: You had Pat Buchanan, and then you also had Ross Perot.

Ross Perot: If we were just planning a picnic, instead of trying to plan a future for our children, chicken and potato chips might be exactly what we need.

Del Percio: He was coming in Third Party. He didn't formally announce until two days after New Hampshire, the New Hampshire primary. But he was out there talking a lot. He had done a lot of radio and CNN, and he was there talking. So, but they didn't think it was that serious at the time.

Harkin: But I want to tell you that I'm a fighter for people.

Matthews: Let's talk about Tom Harkin. Here he is, he was the Senator from Iowa. He's a liberal, I think, by most standards.

Harkin: Sometimes I use strong language. Sometimes you've got to use strong language to get it through their thick skulls. What's going on in this country?

Matthews: Very big on labor. I would say an unashamed liberal, all the way. A progressive, as we say today. Let's listen to him now, before the Iowa caucuses.

Harkin: If you want to move this country forward with big changes, I need your help and your support. You here in Iowa at these caucuses, as I said, can fire that first shot. Fire it loud and clear, and send a message to the rest of the country that we've had enough of Bush, we're proud to be Democrats. It's those traditional values and new ideas, traditional values and new solutions that we bring to the American people that will defeat George Bush and win the White House for us.

Matthews: So did he win the Iowa caucus? He ended up getting, I just checked, 76.5% in the Iowa caucuses. Did he do it because of geography?

Del Percio: Oh, he was absolutely the hometown favorite. He was favorite son. All the Democrats decided not to play in Iowa, so he had the field to himself. He also had a large war chest going into this as a senator.

Harkin: So if you remember nothing else of what I told you today and this evening, remember one thing, I can whip George Herbert Hoover Bush. (APPLAUSE)

Matthews: Hey, I was out there, Beth, I was out there the night of the caucuses. The only other person in the political world out there was Joel Swigcover (PH), one of the great boys in the bus. And nobody else was covering it because the home state guy, the favorite son was supposed to win it.

Fouhy: Yeah, and that actually was a great blessing for these other Democrats in the field, because as you guys know, the Iowa caucuses are so labor intensive, they're so money intensive. It's so hard to play in Iowa to win. And if you have an excuse not to, if you can say well, that guy's the hometown favorite. He's the favorite son. I'm not even gonna both. And then shift your resources over to New Hampshire, and to those later states; it's a huge advantage for other Democrats not having to compete there.

Matthews: Well, since we're studying Bill Clinton who was a political genius in many ways, still is I think. How did he know that he could skip Iowa?

Fouhy: Well, he knew because Harkin was gonna win it. And he knew that the action was gonna be in New Hampshire. That that was where he had the chance to prove his case, to make the case that he could be electable across a broad spectrum of voters. We forget now, 'cause we think of New Hampshire as being kind of a blue or a purplish blue state.

At the time, New Hampshire was fairly conservative, because in New Hampshire independents can vote in either primary and there's so many. Such a large percentage of New Hampshire voters are independents. It could potentially attract sort of these moderate, middle of the road folks who lived in Iowa, but could respond to Bill Clinton's message. So that's why he thought that was fruitful ground for him.

Matthews: And here is Tom Harkin, the winner in Iowa, Iowa caucuses in 1992, on CSPAN after his win in Iowa. He was asked at that point about his plans as the campaign moved to New Hampshire the following week.

Harkin: Well, I'll be in New Hampshire all week, and my wife and I campaigning. Getting my message through to the people up there. And I think that message has been a little, oh, muted perhaps, distorted because of all the static that's been in the air because of, well, some of these other things that've been happening in the campaign, if you know what I mean?

Matthews: Wow, what was the static he was talking about, Susan? We all know now.

Fouhy: Yeah, it was Gennifer Flowers.

Gennifer Flowers: I will start by explaining why I came forward to tell my story about my affair with Governor Bill Clinton.

Del Percio: There was rumors at the time that he was having an affair.

Flowers: Yes, I was Bill Clinton's lover for 12 years. And for the past two years I have lied to the press about our relationship to protect him. The truth is, I loved him. Now he tells me to deny it. Well, I'm sick of all of the deceit, and I'm sick of all of the lies.

Matthews: Wow, that was dramatic. I'm not sure he got a big press pickup, like the New York Times, but I'm sure it was around in the tabs. But getting the jump on that press conference, the very night before on 60 Minutes, I think one of the top, if not the top rated television show there was and is, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton showed up together in a united front. And here they are.

Steve Kroft: Who is Gennifer Flowers? You know her?

Clinton: Oh yes.

Kroft: How do you know her? How would you describe your relationship?

Clinton: Very limited. But until this, you know, friendly but limited. I met her in the late '70s, when I was Attorney General. She was one of a number of young people who were working for the television stations around Little Rock, and the people in politics, and the people in the media knew each other then, just as they do now. She left our state, and for years I didn't really hear from her, and know what she was doing. Then she came back, I don't know, sometime a few years ago and went to work again in the state. So that's who she is--

Kroft: Was she a friend, an acquaintance? Does your wife know her?

Clinton: Yes.

Hillary Clinton: Sure.

Clinton: She was an acquaintance, I would say, a friendly acquaintance.

Kroft: She's alleging and has described in some detail in a super market tabloid, what she calls a 12 year affair with you?

Clinton: That allegation is false.

Matthews: This caused a concussion in Bill Clinton's campaign. It wasn't long before a second scandal broke. We'll see how it set the stage for the emergence of the comeback kid in a moment. Stick around. (MUSIC) Just before the New Hampshire primary in 1992, ABC News broke a big story, that young Bill Clinton had written a letter to the commander of the ROTC at the University of Arkansas thanking him for quote, "Saving me," close quote, "From the draft." Draft dodging should've been a critical challenge for the Clinton campaign. He somehow got through that and that Saturday, right before the New Hampshire primary, I and a lot of other reporters were following him around as he decided to go door to door, handing out disks, I think they were DVDs of a campaign message that he said he couldn't get through the regular media.

That the mainstream media was holding him up, not letting him get back to the real issues of the campaign. And of course, we trooped along like lemmings and covered him saying that we weren't letting him get his message across. It was the best things that I've seen--

Fouhy: Very meta.

Matthews: Very meta? My kids tried to explain meta to me. Explain what that was, because it was something beyond the norm in politics to use jujitsu style, use the critics, or the people he's posing as his critics as a way of foils. And we all played our parts.

Fouhy: Well, President Trump, of course, does that with great success now. But this is, you know, many, many years later. Bill Clinton, doing what you're describing, was quite novel at that point. But it really also speaks, Chris, I think, to the fact that he was not going to quit.

Despite these double-barreled, huge accusations at the time. One of, you know, this long-lasting, extra-marital relationship, and then that he'd taken steps, and had elicited help in getting out of going to Vietnam, and being saved from the draft. Normally, that would kill any candidate. Probably one or the other would kill a normal candidate. Both of them coming double-barreled, Bill Clinton was not giving up.

Matthews: He's bullet-proof, he's bullet-proof.

Fouhy: He is sticking with it, and he's taking you guys on this crazy walk through New Hampshire, dropping off DVDs.

Clinton: It's not just humanitarian, (BACKGROUND CONVERSATION) there's a lot--

Fouhy: He's in talking to every voter, at every Dunkin Donut, you know, open 24 hours in New Hampshire. He was not gonna quit. That is a huge reason why we're having this conversation. Just his durability and his focus.

Matthews: And all the techniques we know in politics, like his answers. It was Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson said, "The hallmark of politics is the art of telling the truth." And here he said, that allegation is false. The 12 year affair is false. It may have been eleven years, it may have been three weeks, who knows? But he wasn't denying the whole thing. It was just the way he was denying it. And everybody got the message, they were friendly, blah blah blah. The draft letter was a harder spin, much harder.

Fouhy: It was a much harder spin, but just to go back about how he handled the Gennifer Flowers interview on 60 Minutes. He didn't just have his wife sitting nicely beside him, which we typically see the spouse do. She was advocating and basically saying, I'm here next to him, so if I can forgive him, if there's any issue to be forgiven, so can you. So let's move on.

Hillary Clinton: You know, I'm not sittin' here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I'm sittin' here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through, and what we've been through together. And you know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him.

Del Percio: Now, the dodging the draft was huge, because let's not forget this would've been, he would be the first president if elected, who didn't serve. And that was something of big concern, especially as Beth points out, going into the New Hampshire where you have a more conservative base, if you will. So he just plowed through it, he would not hear no.

And in a lot of ways, it is like Donald Trump in that, you can have all the noise you want but he went through it. The only thing that I wonder today, looking back is, there was no FOX News. FOX News didn't come around until four years later. There was, the media and how it followed it was very much mainstream, network news, newspaper articles. I don't know if he could've survived with that constant badgering in today, you know, if like it happens today.

Matthews: I think history helped a bit, because the Cold War was over. When Yeltsin stood up to the tanks, the Red Army, that was the end of the Cold War. And the idea of you have to have a soldier as commander in chief, which had, as you said, the pattern since Ike, all the way since World War II everybody had been a military person of some sort. Anyway, New Hampshire did have its say in 1992. And this is the man New Hampshire chose in the New Hampshire primary of 1992.

Paul Tsongas: 'Cause I think, finally the American people want economic truth. There comes a point, it's like having cancer, there comes a point when you get over being scared, you go to the doctor and you say, "Tell me truth." Let's deal with it, let's recognize it, let's deal with it, let's overcome it.

We've gone through 12 years of voodoo economics, debt, debt, debt. It's gonna kill us. And now we're being offered Democratic Twinkie economics. Enough. Let's deal with the reality. Let's face up to it. We can be the greatest economic power on earth, without question, as long as we have the leadership. And I intend to provide that leadership. Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)

Matthews: Well, that wasn't Bill Clinton, Beth. That was Paul Tsongas, the former senator from Massachusetts. You said, running on a neo-liberal, somewhat downer message that we gotta cut entitlements and all that stuff. No Democrat wants to hear that. He won by eight points.

Ed Jesser, who we know, was his press secretary, and they used to run, they ran those ads of him diving into a pool. And they, I think it was looped, so he dived three times. It was like a four second tape of him diving into a pool. He had been diagnosed with cancer. It was very precarious his health. It turned out he was really sick. He died, what, five years later. But it was a real issue, and as my friend Ed Jesser said, "He had to not just prove he was a good candidate, he had to prove he was alive." (LAUGHTER) Which was pretty rough.

Fouhy: Right, you kind of want to start from table stakes that you're alive. But yeah, all that video that we saw of Paul Tsongas doing his daily mile swim was smart. It did sort of camouflage the fact that his health was quite precarious. But honestly, I think the bigger issue, I mean yes, he did win New Hampshire.

He was from Massachusetts, so that you know, sister state connection helped. It definitely was a bit of a loss for Clinton, one could argue, because until the whole Gennifer Flowers, dodging the draft stories came out, he was leading Paul Tsongas by double digits in that state. So Bill Clinton did have a precarious fall.

But he did well enough, and because he is that political genius, as you described, Chris. He could grab that moment and say, hey, comin' in second here really is like comin' in first. And not many people can pull that off. But in Bill Clinton's case, he could. And he was of course, helped by the fact that as we were just saying, that message from Paul Tsongas, you know, debt, debt, debt, and we're drowning in debt; that's not a winning message for Democrats going into a national race. And it was pretty clear that night that it was not going to be that kind of winning message.

Matthews: So I'm sitting there in New Hampshire that night, and I was hanging around with Jerry Brown, and he was a pal of mine, I liked him. He was at a pool room somewhere. He wasn't gonna play that night. Bill Clinton was the star. And the reason I think he grabbed the media, and he got the comeback kid message out.

He came out early, 10:00, he had a big rally all set up to come out before the evening news, local news. He came out and said, "I'm the comeback kid," before anybody else. And as you pointed out, he did lose by eight points to Paul Tsongas, but there's a lot of spin here. The way he just declared himself the winner, and the media wanting an early headline, gave it to him.

Del Percio: Well, that's what a great politician does, they change the narrative to what they want it to be. And his message was, they threw everything at me, and they didn't knock me down.

Matthews: That's Beth's point.

Fouhy: And it worked. It's what allowed him to go forward with it. And he was also--

Matthews: What was his line? To the last dog dies?

Fouhy: (LAUGHTER) Just like that, it sounded just like that.

Clinton: This has been a tough campaign, but at least I have proved one thing, I can take a punch.

Matthews: Anyway, there it is, Bill Clinton. I was at the Good Morning America studio, right across the river there, along all those factory buildings there and I was sitting there with Bill Bennett, the conservative commentator. And in walks a guy with about eight guys around him, all in blue suits, all looking like winners.

I mean, they looked like winners. It was Bill Clinton, and he came in, and he saw some doughnuts sitting there on the table. And he grabbed like a handful or so of them, and he was a winner. And he came on as the winner. A little bit later a very quiet, skinny guy came in with a bookbag over his shoulder and one staffer with him. It was Paul Tsongas, acting like he didn't actually win. And he came over to me and said, "Do you think I could have a doughnut?" (LAUGHTER) And I said, "Sure, champ." I thought that--

Fouhy: That's amazing.

Matthews: How much of this, Beth, is just sheer physical body English? Just, I won, look at me?

Fouhy: He knew how to leverage that moment for all it was worth. As you described, you know, coming out early, calling himself the comeback kid, going on TV the next morning on one of the major morning shows with this swagger. It's as important as that night. You have to come out looking like a winner, sounding like a winner, behaving like a winner. He was doing that, Paul Tsongas was not.

Matthews: Yeah, well, let's listen to part of that speech that he began with that night at 10:00, election night, New Hampshire primary, 1992.

Clinton: There are so many people I have to thank, beginning with the person who's up here with me tonight. (CROWD NOISE) Without whose love and friendship over nearly 20 years, I wouldn't be here tonight and wouldn't be fit to be here tonight.

Matthews: What do you make of that? There's so many levels to that Bill Clinton, "Wouldn't be fit to be," in other words, if she hadn't done the 60 Minutes show, whether you could say it was one interpretation. The other is, they're just lovers, and they were husband and wife, and what's new pussycat? I mean, this is the way it is?

Del Percio: Yeah, this may have been the original art of the deal. The fact that he and Hillary were so much of a team, and seen together, and basically joined at the hip, saying, we are the team, we are the winners. That gave him a lot of credibility going forward--

Matthews: And it's also happens to be true.

Del Percio: Well, exactly.

Matthews: Beth, it is true, they were a political unit?

Fouhy: They were a political unit, they continue to be. They continue to be today a political unit. But honestly, once you think about it, you know, in retrospect her campaigns for president were always sort of shadowed and dogged by the fact that she had stuck with him. While that helped perhaps with a lot of voters who admired the loyalty and that marriage is marriage, and you know, till death do you part.

To others, it looked a little calculating, and looked a little too ambitious, and that she needed to be in his life because she had ambitions that went beyond him. And she could not fulfill those ambitions if she left him. So there was a sense of being a little bit too transactional with the two of them. But you know, we look at it now, all these many years later, 28 years later; they're still together. A lot of political couples who seem to have more traditionally loving marriages have since split up, and the Clintons are still there.

Matthews: So true, Al Gore, people like that, marriage, divorce is normal. Let's take a look how he came out of that New Hampshire "win". I'll put the quote marks around it, air quotes. And let's hear (UNINTEL PHRASE) say about how he pivoted to the rest of the campaign, which by the way, they won big. They beat an incumbent president pretty dramatically, they won it with the help of Ross Perot, you mentioned, who took away a good chunk, 19 points of the votes. But they won, and they had a pretty successful presidency. Here we go.

Clinton: We began this campaign in New Hampshire, fighting for the forgotten middle class, the people who've been left out, and left behind here. People who never gave up on me or themselves, or their country. You people here in New Hampshire have continued to fight in the face of layoffs, and cutback, and foreclosures, and a president who hasn't cared. And I want to say this to you, for the first time in my life after being in 17 other campaigns, three days in a row I have met three Americans who broke down crying tellin' me about their problems. And I want you to remember this, whatever the final outcomes of the vote, unlike this president, I will never forget New Hampshire. (CROWD NOISE)

Matthews: Well, Bill Clinton went on the stack up wins, especially in Super Tuesday that year. He won the nomination, of course, and the White House, of course, that November. Was he a winner because of his approach in the beginning? And what happened to all the other guys running against him? What happened to Bob Kerry, and Harkin, and Tsongas? They all seemed to fade quickly after that, after that night?

Del Percio: Yeah, there were a few smaller primaries, but Super Tuesday is what did it, because there was that Southern strategy. They grouped, I think it was nine or eleven primaries together, to show their strength and Clinton sweeped up. But in that clip you just played, what really stands out to me is he changed yet again the narrative to say, I am going to take on President Bush, and here's how. And he changed the conversation to the economy, and he was relatable. We talk a lot about who's genuine on the campaign trail, and he had that and people were drawn to it.

Matthews: Now, I think, two questions we love to ask people in voting. Are we going in the right direction? A great NBC question. And the other one, does this candidate care about you, people like you? And I think Clinton always won on that one.

Del Percio: He did, I mean, Bill Clinton was the master of the biting of the lip, looking deep into a voter's eyes when responding to a question. I mean, he was very gifted at that. People wore out a little bit on that shtick after awhile when he was, you know, in office for eight years, and eventually went through impeachment. And suddenly all this behavior that seemed to authentic when we were all first getting to know him as a national figure, started to seem a little calculated.

But there's no question that in his initial stage as a first time candidate, when all of us as Americans were viewing him, he did seem to possess this sort of usually empathetic style. Particularly in that case, where the incumbent president, George Bush, seemed very patrician, very, very haughty, a little kind of old school in that he didn't really have the personal touch. Bill Clinton was younger, he was a different generation, plus that empathy that you described, Chris.

Matthews: Let me get back to something about empathy and Bill Clinton's ability to be the person that people watching wanted him to be. I think they wanted and Susan, I think they wanted him to be the comeback kid? A lot of that campaign, as I remember was generational, and all of us were gathering around Bill Clinton in those high school gyms, and field houses, college field houses, would see him stand in the middle of the room as long as the audience would stay there with him.

And he would, like the point you were making about I'm not gonna quit. And he was the only one, I remember, I was sitting there with Rick Hertzberg (PH), who I'd worked with at the White House, the Carter White House. And he said, "Nobody of my generation can do that," what Bill Clinton could do.

Which is just stay there and sustain against all this personal stuff, you know, going at your love life if you will. Going after your draft record, for men that's awful, personal stuff. And he just stood there, and he went, and I think your point about durability, Beth. I think made people begin to root for him?

Fouhy: Yeah, they loved, everybody loves the comeback story. It's hard to remember this now, because we're so used to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, and the Clintons have been in our political life for decades now. But at the time, this was all very new. People were seeing something they hadn't seen before; somebody who was on the one hand, very relatable, who were stand there and answer your questions until everybody left the room.

Going into the Dunkin Donuts and talking to the person sweeping the floor, to get their vote. That was all so new at the time, and it was fascinating, it was gripping. And voters responded to it, certainly the media responded to it. But I will say, to Susan's point about, you know, the lack of FOX News existing then.

I think it's safe to say that the election of Bill Clinton and the emergence of Hillary Clinton at the time was one of the most galvanizing moments for what would become conservative media. Because a lot of conservatives hated the two of them, and it was very easy to sort of make them the boogeyman for conservative commentators, and ultimately when FOX News went on the air, they were a very easy target. By that point, conservatives were very fed up with the Clintons.

Matthews: F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "There's no second acts in American life." I think the Clintons beat that one.

Del Percio: By a lot. But there's also something else. I mean we talked about the generational thing. Let's not forget, President Bush at the supermarket with the scanner? Do you remember that moment, Chris?

Matthews: Oh yeah.

Del Percio: Yep, and it showed how out of touch he was? But he was also being treated like a piñata. (LAUGHTER) He had it coming from--

Matthews: But back to my point, he was not the media favorite in that campaign?

Del Percio: No.

Matthews: He wasn't.

Del Percio: He was dealing with the Democrats, he was also dealing with the Republicans, and he was dealing with Ross Perot. And especially the, "Read my lips, no new taxes." And that was the economic message that hurt him, people going to Ross Perot for it.

Matthews: And his time was up. (LAUGHTER) I think you guys are great. I loved talking about this, 'cause I think we're talking about a person, a strategy. It worked for that person. I wonder if anybody else will ever be able to do it as well as Bill Clinton did the night of the New Hampshire primary, 1992. Thank you both.

Fouhy: Thank you, Chris.

Del Percio: Thanks, Chris.

Matthews: So You Want to Be President, these are the lessons learned from campaigns that win. Next time, lesson five, winning candidates know to mount the galloping horse of history.

John F. Kennedy: I'm not satisfied until every American enjoys his full constitutional rights. I think we can do better. I don't want the talents of any American to go to waste.

Matthews: So You Want to Be President? I'm Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC. Thanks for listening.