Announcer: This is THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW. Today...
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
Beating the boys. They said she couldn't do it: keep up with the anti-war
crowd and stay tough on terrorism, couldn't hold the Democratic base and
fortify herself for the fight with he Republicans. But look at her go!
I am woman! Has the front-runner circled her wagons with women? Can anyone
beat her with so many women loving her?
And living on leftovers. If Barack can't make it and Rudy can't sell it,
where will those demanders of change and searchers for street smarts go? Is
Mike Bloomberg their ticket?
Interview: Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius, Washington
Post Writer's Group Columnist Kathleen Parker, The New York Times'
Elisabeth Bumiller, and Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel speak
about Hillary Clinton running for president, Michael Bloomberg
possibly running for president as an Independent, scoops and
predictions, immigration bill goes back to the Senate
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host:
Kathleen Parker's a columnist with The Washington Post Writer's Group, Richard
Stengel's the editor of Time magazine, Elisabeth Bumiller's a reporter with
The New York Times, and David Ignatius writes a column for The Washington
First up, one year ago Hillary Clinton was resisting the anti-war drumbeat.
Senator HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: (June 13, 2006) I do not think it is a smart
strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment,
which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government; nor do
I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain. I do not agree that that
is in the best interest of our troops or our country.
MATTHEWS: But this week, anti-war Democrats embraced her declaration that she
will end the war.
Sen. CLINTON: (Tuesday) If our president doesn't end our involvement in
Iraq, when I'm president I will.
MATTHEWS: She has avoided falling into the same pit that John Kerry got into.
Senator JOHN KERRY: (March 16, 2004) I actually did vote for the $87 billion
before I voted against it.
MATTHEWS: And she's done it by moving along with the country. Take a look at
how the polls have moved in the last year. Exactly a year ago, nearly
half--48 percent--said they thought the Iraq war would be won. Now just 30
percent see any chance the US can prevail. Even though Hillary has
masterfully navigated the anti-war waters, she's also been careful. Defense
hawks find comfort in her support for keeping a US military force in Iraq
after the war, as she told me this week.
Sen. CLINTON: (Tuesday) We may still have remaining vital national security
interests that are important to America. You know, we cannot let al-Qaeda
have a staging ground in Iraq.
That doesn't take a lot of American forces, but I think we have to look
carefully about continuing that.
MATTHEWS: David, a year ago, nobody thought she could be both an anti-war
Democrat, which most Democrats are, and keep her foot solidly on the security
Mr. DAVID IGNATIUS (The Washington Post Columnist): She has done something
very smart, which is basically say to the country, `Elect me president and I
will deal with Iraq.' And she's leaving a lot of the details fuzzy. I think
it's an ideal position. Just to watch that tape of John Kerry trying to
explain his back and forth vote, just to remember that's not the way to go.
Mr. IGNATIUS: I do think that something's happening in the Democratic Party
and in the country now, which is that even though the numbers of people who
are unhappy with the war, that percentage is growing, I think there's also a
growing realization that if we pull out quickly and leave a vacuum, we could
have even worse national security problems.
You had a couple of really interesting events recently. This week Senator
Carl Levin wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post--he's the chairman of
the Senate Armed Services Committee--saying that we should not cut off funding
for the troops. He got hammered by the left in the Democratic Party, but he's
happy he did it, nonetheless. Barack Obama a few weeks ago did exactly the
same thing. He said we're not going to cut off funding for the troops. He
was the left's bad guy poster child. You know, he doesn't care, either. I
think that all these candidates are seeing that, you know, it's being pushed
too hard by the left of the party and that too strident of an anti-war
position is a mistake.
MATTHEWS: But, Kathleen, she has moved over with the polls. We looked at the
polls a moment ago, and they are moving anti-war. She's with them. Is that
leadership or is that smart politics, to just go with the polls as the polls
have moved anti-war?
Ms. KATHLEEN PARKER (Columnist, Washington Post Writers Group): Well, she's
very, very careful in building this narrative. She's never going to
apologize, that's clear. But she has, each time she's made a statement, built
a little bit on the previous one, but always putting the blame, sort of
shifting it elsewhere. You know, she shouldn't have trusted Bush when he said
he was going to try to do a more diplomatic approach. And she keeps building
on that. But the left--the far left is never going to be satisfied with her,
you know, until she's on her knees begging forgiveness. But anyway, she is
very, very smart. She's very, very shrewd. And she continues to look like a
statesperson every time she's on the--on the podium. There are a couple of
questions going to have deal with. The Code Pink people are not going to
leave her alone. And I...
MATTHEWS: Who are they? Code Pink people?
Ms. PARKER: You know, the Code Pink are these ladies who run around in pink
slips and are really anti-war, fiercely anti-war. They've demanded an
audience with her a couple of times. But they want to know--they're going to
ask her things like, `Why did you not support the Levin amendment that
would've required a more diplomatic approach?' that she now claims she wishes
MATTHEWS: Back in '02, right.
Ms. PARKER: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: But Elisabeth, essentially--there's almost a sister soldier moment
here. She plays against the left. In other words, she makes herself into
almost a Scoop Jackson of the Democratic Party.
Ms. ELISABETH BUMILLER (The New York Times): Right, right.
MATTHEWS: A hawk by not being on the left. In other words, isn't this just
shrewd politics to use those people, the anti-war whoopers, and making herself
seem like a rock of stability?
Ms. BUMILLER: Well, that's true, but the campaign has made the calculation,
as Kathleen just said, she will never get the left. And right now, the party
also knows that, you know, no Democrat on the left has won the presidency
since, you know, time began. And, you know, this was--this was the plan from
the very beginning to run to the right of some of the Republicans.
MATTHEWS: Hm. I'm looking to this thing as, `Don't be John Kerry.' You know,
Kerry, was over there on the--on the right supporting the war, then when
Howard Dean challenged him in Iowa, he voted another way and ended up by
saying, `I voted for the money and then I voted against it,' looking like he
had flipped a couple times.
Mr. RICHARD STENGEL (Time Managing Editor): Well, of course she wants to
avoid that. But she's in a position that none of the other Democrats are,
which are she's got to have a primary strategy. And she's also has to have a
general election strategy at the same time. She's the only one in that
situation, so she just wants to box the others out and be a little bit more to
the right because when she gets the nomination, she's got to run in the
general and she's got to get some independent, Republican voters. That's her
MATTHEWS: OK. Let's put the gender thing in her. I love gender politics,
guys. We have two women here all the time to make sure we're balanced on this
show. But, Elisabeth, I know you're a feminist in the best possible sense of
that word. You probably are in a more traditional way.
Ms. PARKER: (Unintelligible). I pay my own bills.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Well, let's talk to Elisabeth. I am stunned that, at
these last supper scenes, where the last supper in history was all men. Every
scene you see with Hillary is a lunch and it's all women. She is advertising
her sisterhood. Is that something that she can use to help sell herself as a
future strong person defending this country, or does it get in the way?
Ms. BUMILLER: No, I don't think it gets in the way. It's the base of her
support. That's how she won in New York. She won because of the women. It's
not elite, you know, women that she appeals to. It's much more a broader
MATTHEWS: Women with needs.
Ms. BUMILLER: Anyway.
MATTHEWS: Who work.
Ms. PARKER: Yeah.
Ms. BUMILLER: But that is--that's a source of her strength, and she's in a
place--and I don't think that being a, you know, conservative, more
conservative than others on the war is going to hurt that at all.
MATTHEWS: Kathleen, being surrounded by women, does that make a case for
commander in chief? Or does it make a case against it?
Ms. PARKER: It makes a case with a certain demographic. And I noticed the
picture on the front of The Washington Post the other day showed her with all
of these women and her crew, and did you notice there was only one blonde out
of about 15 women? So it's sort of--I thought that was very telling.
Mr. STENGEL: What are you suggesting, Chris? Yeah.
MATTHEWS: What does that mean? Yeah, what are you suggesting?
Ms. PARKER: I don't know, but it was definitely noticeable. You know, it's
MATTHEWS: What am I suggesting?
Mr. STENGEL: What are you suggesting by saying does that diminish her as
commander in chief, being surrounded by women?
Ms. PARKER: No, and it helps her.
MATTHEWS: No, the idea was never--well, let me just be historic. We've never
had a woman commander in chief. I can play defense.
Ms. PARKER: As soon as men start picking on her.
MATTHEWS: But isn't that--but isn't that a challenge because, when it comes
down to that final decision to vote for president, a woman president, a woman
commander in chief, will be an historic decision for people.
Ms. PARKER: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Not just men, but women as well.
Mr. STENGEL: She's kind of an...
MATTHEWS: Elisabeth, you're always thinking about these things.
Ms. BUMILLER: But with Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher, I mean, we all
remember these women. I--you know, I think we can get there.
MATTHEWS: But we got Patton and John Wayne on our side.
Mr. STENGEL: That's why she had to be so strict about the war.
Ms. PARKER: Right.
Mr. STENGEL: Because, like Nixon can go to China, the woman has to seem like
she's more militaristic even than the men.
Ms. PARKER: Right.
Ms. BUMILLER: Right.
Mr. STENGEL: And that's part of what she...
MATTHEWS: So she can put it together, Richard, is what you're saying. If
you're looking at this. You don't want to make a judgment, but...
Ms. PARKER: (Unintelligible)
Ms. BUMILLER: (Unintelligible)
Mr. STENGEL: Yeah. (Unintelligible).
MATTHEWS: You're all saying she can put it together. `I can be a woman and I
can be tough, I can be strong and still'...
Ms. PARKER: Polls show that gender and race matter less than cigarette
Ms. PARKER: Serious. The Washington Post/NBC poll showed that people care
more about whether a person smokes, whether a person's been divorced, whether
a person is a Mormon than they do about race or gender. Isn't that
MATTHEWS: It tells me people aren't telling the truth. Anyway, we put it to
The Matthews Meter, 12 of our regular panelists: Has Hillary Clinton's move
to an anti-war position compromised her credibility on national security for
the general election against a Republican. Wow. The meter is agreeable with
this panel. Nine say no, it has not been compromised. Three say it has.
Rick, final word here, she can be a true blue Democrat, happy with the base,
them happy with her and also be a real tough national security defendant?
Mr. STENGEL: You said it. Female Scoop Jackson. What's wrong with that?
MATTHEWS: David, you agree?
Mr. IGNATIUS: You know, the fact...
MATTHEWS: You're a columnist, you can express an opinion here.
Mr. IGNATIUS: The fact that she is now prepared to show the soft feminine
side, show herself surrounded by women advisers, shows that she thinks, her
advisers think that on these tough national security issues, she is a
credible, you know, defender of the national...(unintelligible).
MATTHEWS: So she can risk being feminine?
Mr. IGNATIUS: She can now risk it because people think she's tough.
MATTHEWS: OK. And she's never said `I'm sorry.'
Mr. IGNATIUS: And she's never said she's sorry.
MATTHEWS: Republicans don't have the 30-second ad that they've always
treasured to have, right?
Ms. PARKER: Right. It shows she's not weak, she's firm in her convictions.
And also, once people start picking on her, the women are going to rally.
MATTHEWS: That's what I'm thinking. That's what I'm thinking.
Ms. PARKER: It's going to happen.
Mr. IGNATIUS: When people ask if she's too tough to be president, you know
she's making some progress.
Ms. PARKER: Yeah.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think you guys are really sharp. Because I think she really
is saying, `Go ahead, attack me for being a woman. I've got them all around
me. Go ahead, make my day.' Has she settled her fish with the left on the
war? The anti-war crowd?
Ms. PARKER: No. I don't think so.
Mr. STENGEL: No, I mean, look, they thought--everybody thought it would be
unsustainable for her to not to apologize. I mean, she's made so much headway
by muddying the waters about it, but I don't think it's over.
MATTHEWS: Who won? Did the left win or did she win?
Mr. STENGEL: Well, right now, she's winning.
Mr. STENGEL: Because nobody's saying to her to apologize anymore.
Ms. BUMILLER: They are, though.
MATTHEWS: Because they know she's wining. How about real politics--they know
Mr. STENGEL: (Unintelligible).
Ms. BUMILLER: What's interesting to me is that, you know, the--she--some of
the generals like Hillary. Some of these...
MATTHEWS: I've heard that.
Ms. BUMILLER: Yeah, they like Hillary and they think that she's done her
homework on the war, and you can be sure she's going to trot that out.
MATTHEWS: That's a great story to tell.
Ms. BUMILLER: You know, the...
MATTHEWS: That's a great...
Mr. IGNATIUS: When she's 10-15 points ahead in the polls, she does not have
to worry about what the left thinks of her--of her Iraq position.
MATTHEWS: I think she's getting better as a politician. I think she gets
better all the time.
Before we break, Hillary got possible company in the race for president this
week from another New Yorker. Mayor Mike Bloomberg has made the moves and
sent the signals he might run as an independent. But we know he wouldn't even
do this lightly. He's a guy who likes to win. Last month, Rick Stengel's
Time magazine picked Bloomberg as one of the world's 100 Most Influential
People, and at the ceremony--I was there--Bloomberg was asked to name his
biggest inspiration. And he went with the Boston Celtics Coach Red Auerbach,
a guy who won a lot.
Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: (May 8) Red Auerbach was, to me, the kind of role
model we all should have. He was a guy who cared about one thing. He cared
about winning, but he cared about winning in the right way. Red Auerbach
cared about winning, but if you looked at the Celtics, they always wore their
jackets with pride. There wasn't any false arrogance. There wasn't any trash
talk. There was an understanding that they represented the best things in
America, and they were role models to all of us. Red Auerbach unfortunately
died about a year ago, but who will forget that when Red Auerbach lit up the
cigar in Boston Gardens, saying, `We've won this game' and he won it the ways
we all want to win: honestly, with talent. We need more people like that in
this country. My role model was Red Auerbach.
MATTHEWS: Rich, what's that tell you?
Mr. STENGEL: Chris, never in American history has a New York City mayor
praised a coach of the Boston Celtics. Why? The New Hampshire primary.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you're unbelievable.
Mr. STENGEL: Boston...(unintelligible). OK.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you something. I was so impressed, he said that he was
the first guy to bring in African-Americans into the NBA.
Mr. STENGEL: That's right.
MATTHEWS: It's hard to believe we had the NBA without the African-Americans
at any time. He did the first coach, named the first coach. K.C. Jones.
Mr. STENGEL: And Bill Russell preceded him, the first black player coach in
MATTHEWS: That's right. It wasn't K.C., it was Russell.
Mr. STENGEL: That's right.
MATTHEWS: When we come back--what a great player he was--we're going to talk
about why Bloomberg might see--see--actually see it right now, this market
research genius, a third party winning this election. Could he actually blow
apart the two-party system next year? I'm thinking about it.
Plus, scoops and predictions right out of the notebooks of these top
reporters, TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW. Be right back.
Announcer: THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW is brought to you by...
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week joined
the ranks of the almost candidates. Is this flirtation a gambit for making a
dull guy bloom? It reminds you of the classic movie "Hud" and this great line
from Paul Newman.
Mr. PAUL NEWMAN: (From "Hud") I'll remember you, honey. You're the one that
MATTHEWS: "The one that got away." Is this flirtation all about making us
wish for someone we don't have or might not have? David, he loves me, he
loves me not.
Mr. IGNATIUS: You know...
MATTHEWS: Is this a clever seduction by Michael Bloomberg...
Mr. IGNATIUS: It is.
MATTHEWS: ...to have us want him?
Mr. IGNATIUS: Watching that clip, all I could think of was Tom Ewell in "The
Seven-Year Itch" and his flirtation with Marilyn Monroe. I mean, you know,
Bloomberg is a very kind of ordinary guy. He looks like, you know, your
accountant. The idea that he's going to excite the public seems so remote.
And yet, all you do is--have to do is, you know, is chum the water for a
little bit, suggest that you might run, that you're a billionaire and we're
all, you know, chasing the story. I think it's really unlikely as he looks at
this carefully that he'll see...
MATTHEWS: Unlikely he'll make the move.
Mr. IGNATIUS: Unlikely that he'll see a possibility that he has a chance at
winning. I mean, Bloomberg is the guy who started an incredible business that
blew the newspaper I used to work for, The Wall Street Journal, out of the
water with the Bloomberg News Service. So he's a risk taker, but in this
case, I just think this is a risk he'll think won't pay off.
MATTHEWS: Well, let's talk about that. It seems to me the two parties are
not very popular these days. The numbers that you look at on right way/wrong
way, are terrible. The country is not happy with the way we're going. And
particularly not happy about the Democrats in Congress, the Republican
president. Isn't it time for somebody to grab that 1/3 of the vote out there
and go for it? Kathleen?
Ms. PARKER: Of course. Oh, I think the time is absolutely right for that.
We have a whole new third party organization with the Unity08 already, and
they're excited about Bloomberg. So there's clearly a spirit out there that
everyone's frustrated, and I think the ratings for Congress are as low as
they've ever been. But I want to amend something David said, and that is that
I have it on good authority that Bloomberg will make a decision in March. And
his best bet is if Hillary and McCain are the candidates, then he will go.
And otherwise he probably won't.
MATTHEWS: Hillary and McCain create an opportunity where?
Ms. PARKER: Yep. Because he's looking for people with high negatives.
MATTHEWS: High negatives.
Ms. PARKER: And they both have the highest negatives. If it's Obama, he
Mr. IGNATIUS: Yeah.
Ms. BUMILLER: (Unintelligible). Sorry.
MATTHEWS: Oh, here's where--here's where Bloomberg would have to draw from in
a race. Let's talk about that again. Hillary and, say--we'll say Fred
Thompson or Mitt Romney, also. First, he'd want the disappointed Obama
Democrats. If Obama doesn't make it, they're going to be waiting out there
for a change candidate. Next he'd want the Rudy moderate Republicans, people
who are looking for maybe a street smart urbanite rather than one of these
cultural conservatives. He also has all those independents out there. David
Ignatius, you're looking very serious here.
Mr. IGNATIUS: Well, you know, you can say those are target voters that
you--that you might get. Right now, we have--we have Hillary strong and
getting stronger. And you know the idea that Obama Democrats are going to
race to, you know,--we're not running for city manager here. What is--what
does the guy stand for? What is he going to say that's going to excite the
Obama Democrat and make them say, `That's my guy.'
Ms. BUMILLER: And I think you're going to...
Mr. IGNATIUS: Ross Perot had a more passionate alignment than this guy does.
Mr. STENGEL: Yeah, I mean, we're more excited about it than the voters are,
I think. I sat and talked with him about this a few months ago, and he asked
me what did I think of what a third party candidate could do. I said, `Man, a
third party candidate could change the dynamics of the race. He could insert
all kinds of issues,' and he started looking more and more disgusted with me.
And I said, `Why?' He said, `Because I want to win. I don't just want to
Ms. PARKER: Right.
Mr. STENGEL: He is a winner, but I think he realizes you have to draw an
inside straight to win as a third party candidate.
MATTHEWS: Sure, win 270 electoral votes.
Mr. STENGEL: And win states like Michigan with 34 percent of the vote and
Minnesota and Wisconsin. He just can't do it.
Ms. PARKER: Yeah.
Ms. BUMILLER: There was a--there was a Pew poll, I think a Pew Research
poll, and it's interesting. Sixty-five percent of those polled, you know,
knew him, recognized the name, but there's very little interest in him as a
MATTHEWS: OK. We put it to The Matthews Meter, 12 of our regular panelists.
Which party would Bloomberg hurt the most? Eight said it would hurt the
Democrats like Nader did to Al Gore back in '00, and four think he would hurt
David, hurt the Democrats?
Mr. IGNATIUS: Yep. Democrats.
Mr. IGNATIUS: Because, you know, he is the man in the center who's going to
correct the mistakes of the Bush era, you know, the polarizing Bush era, and
he's going to siphon off a lot of those Democratic votes.
MATTHEWS: Why would he want to do that, Richard?
Mr. STENGEL: He doesn't want to do that. He said he didn't want to
necessarily hurt Hillary.
MATTHEWS: He doesn't want to be Nader.
Mr. STENGEL: And he also--he's transparently a Democrat.
Mr. STENGEL: Even when he ran for Republican mayor of New York. The reason
he won is because people realized he was a Democrat.
Ms. BUMILLER: I think he hurts the Democrats in the East, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania. He hurts the Republicans in the West. How about that?
MATTHEWS: I think if there's a Hillary running against a conservative
Republican, there's a tremendous opportunity in the center. I don't know if
Bloomberg's the one, but I think this country's dying for somebody in the
center who will appeal to the suburbs, to the moderates, not particularly
ideological. And I don't know if he's the one, but I think the market
research is going to tell him there's an opening.
We'll be right back with scoops and predictions right out of the notebooks of
these top reporters. TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW. Be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
Kathleen, tell me something I don't know.
Ms. PARKER: Well, you do know, probably, that the state treasurer in South
Carolina, Thomas Ravenel, has been charged with possession of cocaine for
distribution. He was also heading up Giuliani's campaign in South Carolina.
So this was bad news for Giuliani. It may be worse news as things move along,
because talk is that Thomas is going to have to make some decisions about who
else may go with him in the next few weeks. And some of these campaigns that
are coming down--taking advantage of this may have their own holes to patch.
Mr. STENGEL: I have some more bad news for Giuliani. In the next few weeks,
people are going to start questioning his national security credentials.
They're going to say, `Look, here was the guy--he was in New York City on
9/11. He knows how to do something after terrorism strikes, but does he know
how to do anything to prevent terrorism from striking?' Which is what the job
of the president is.
Ms. BUMILLER: Switching to foreign policy, there's a big debate right now in
the--in the administration about what to do about Iran and its nuclear
ambitions, and right now the debate is should we...(unintelligible)...it up
and leave it to the next administration in 2009 or should we do something
first, late 2008? And that might be military action.
MATTHEWS: Where's Cheney?
Ms. BUMILLER: Where do you think?
Mr. IGNATIUS: Where's Cheney? The answer is that Cheney is being exposed
this weekend. In my newspaper, The Washington Post, we're running a four-part
series, 20,000 words, shining a light on what is the most mysterious face in
this administration. The series will show that on key issues, surveillance
and detainee policy, those policies were effectively made by the vice
MATTHEWS: So is he the Dr. Strangelove of this administration?
Mr. IGNATIUS: He is--he is the Kissinger, the Strange--he, you know, he is
the decisive voice on some key issues.
MATTHEWS: Is he the decider, not the president?
Mr. IGNATIUS: He is the--he is--yes. He's--you know, read the series.
MATTHEWS: I'll be right back with this week's BIG QUESTION. Immigration
reform goes back to the Senate next week. Will it pass the Senate this time?
Be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. THE BIG QUESTION this week, the president's gotten
immigration reform back on the Senate agenda this time. But this time, will
Ms. PARKER: Well that is THE BIG QUESTION.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, that's a big answer this week from you.
Ms. PARKER: My crystal ball is on the blink, but it looks like it may.
MATTHEWS: Looks like it may.
Mr. STENGEL: I think it will not pass. They've just been on recess.
Mr. STENGEL: They have a 15 percent popularity rating, they're not going to
MATTHEWS: One to one, Elisabeth Bumiller.
Ms. BUMILLER: No.
MATTHEWS: "No." One to two.
Mr. IGNATIUS: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Two to two.
Mr. IGNATIUS: The White House thinks that they've got 60 votes. A top
Democrat is advising the White House to get a war room, Clinton style, pull
every vote, pull every chain and they win.
MATTHEWS: I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't think they're
going to pass anything that matters.
Anyway, thanks for a great roundtable. Kathleen Parker, Richard Stengel,
Elisabeth Bumiller and David Ignatius.