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updated 8/3/2008 12:43:32 PM ET 2008-08-03T16:43:32

MR. TOM BROKAW: Our issues this Sunday: The battle for the White House takes on the most negative tone yet.

(Videotape)

Narrator #1: (From political ad) He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?

(End videotape)

(Videotape)

Narrator #2: (From political ad) John McCain: His attacks on Barack Obama not true, false, baloney, the low road, baseless.  (End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: As the McCain campaign claims Obama is playing the race card with this remark.

(Videotape)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): They're going to try to say that I'm a risky guy. They're going to try to say, "Well, you know, he's got a funny name, and he doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills."

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: And U.S. deaths in Iraq at their lowest point since the start of the war. Is the surge working? And what now? Both sides weigh in on Obama vs. McCain, an exclusive debate. For the Obama campaign, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. And for the McCain campaign, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, now an Independent Democrat, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

Then, insights and analysis on campaign strategies and the search for vice presidential nominees with our political roundtable: NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell; NBC News political strategist, who worked on McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, Mike Murphy; NBC News political director Chuck Todd; and senior correspondent for PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," Judy Woodruff.

But first, here with us, the top two surrogates from each campaign, Senator Joe Lieberman for McCain and Senator John Kerry for Obama.

Gentlemen, welcome.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I/D-CT): Glad to be with you.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Thank you, Tom.

MR. BROKAW: The line, of course, is that politics makes strange bedfellows. In this case, bedfellows make strange politics, I think that it's fair to say. There you were, the vice presidential candidate at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2000, John Kerry was the presidential candidate. Now you describe yourself as an independent Democrat and you're a leading advocate for Senator McCain. This is going to be a discussion of issues, but also of tone...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Sure.

MR. BROKAW: ...because tone is an important part of any presidential campaign, and this campaign is running at full throttle already before we have a vice presidential candidate and before we have the conventions.

Senator Lieberman, let me just share with you and with our audience as well what Senator McCain had to say earlier about the tone of the campaign.

(Videotape, April 14, 2008):

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): This will be a respectful campaign. Americans want a respectful campaign.

They're tired of the attacks. They're tired of the impugning people's character and integrity. They want a respectful campaign, and, and I, and I am of the firm belief that they'll get it and that they can get it if the American people demand it and reject a lot of this negative stuff that goes on.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: And just this past week you said to the Palm Beach Post, "There's a problem in Washington. That problem is partisanship, grown people going to Washington acting like children having a mud fight." Do you think running a campaign ad in which you feature Britney Spears and Paris Hilton with Barack Obama is respectful?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I do. First off, you know, we all ought to relax a little bit. It's, it's a bit of humor. It's a way to draw people into the ad. Incidentally, the McCain campaign has another ad up in which they seem to be comparing Obama to Moses. So, in my book, that's about a good comparison as you can ask for. I should say, in "The Book," it's about a good a comparison as you should ask for. But, look, there's a very serious point to that ad, and it, and it gets right to it, which is, is, notwithstanding his celebrity status, is Barack Obama ready to lead? And my answer is no, that Barack Obama is a gifted, eloquent, young man who can and I hope will give great leadership to America in the years ahead. But the question is who's ready to be president on January 20th, 2009 with the economy in a crisis and facing dangerous enemies abroad. It's clearly John McCain. We only have two choices here: John McCain, Barack Obama. John McCain is ready to lead.

MR. BROKAW: But in the ad, let's stay with the ad for a moment. By including Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, two lightweights who are known primarily as just the targets of paparazzi around the world, with Senator Obama...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: ...isn't that demeaning?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: No. I think it raises a question. First, though, I think it's cute, and a lot of people...

MR. BROKAW: What does he have, what does he have to do with, with Paris Hilton or Britney Spears?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: The point here is, particularly after the trip to Europe, essentially holding a political rally of 200,000 in Germany--in Berlin, bigger crowd than he's gotten anywhere here in America, and he's gotten some big crowds, this ad raise the question we're, we're not deciding who's our favorite celebrity, who, who we are fans of. We're doing something very serious at a time when our economy is hurting a lot of people, energy prices are sky-high, and we still are in a war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Look beyond the celebrity status, is what this ad is saying. This is a good, young man. Is he ready to lead? Or as ready as John McCain? No. In fact, the ad goes to a specific point, which is Senator Obama is against offshore drilling for oil, to try to do something to stop the flow of $700 billion a year to the Middle East and other places around the world and to try to stop the painful increase in gas prices and home heating oil prices. John McCain is for both of those. John McCain is for alternative energy, for nuclear power, for offshore drilling. Barack Obama, notwithstanding what he said over the weekend, is not. What he--what Barack Obama did over the weekend about offshore drilling is a tease. He still hasn't said he's for offshore drilling.

MR. BROKAW: We're going, we're going to get to that in a moment.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK.

MR. BROKAW: But we want to play out this controversy over the two ads because this is what Senator Obama had to say in response to the ad that included Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

(Videotape)

SEN. OBAMA: Since they don't have any new ideas, the only strategy they've got in this election is to try to scare you about me. They're going to try to say that I'm a risky guy. They're going to try to say, "Well, you know, he's got a funny name, and he doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five dollar bills."

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: And right away the manager from McCain campaign said that's the "introduction of the race card," As he described it, Rick Davis, "Barack Obama has played the race card, he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Senator Kerry, by using the language that he did, saying, "I don't look like the president on a dollar bill or a five dollar bill," wasn't he, in effect, saying, "They're picking on my because I'm black"?

SEN. KERRY: No. What he was saying is they're trying to scare you. They're trying to scare the American people. And, believe me, I'm an expert on how they do that. They are engaged in character assassination, even John McCain's partner in a number of initiatives in the Senate, Russ Feingold, said yesterday, "They've decided they can't win on the issues, so now they're going to try to destroy his character." And that is exactly what this ad is calculated to do.

MR. BROKAW: But it's not, it's not just...

SEN. KERRY: The New York Times--well, but let me just...

MR. BROKAW: Yeah.

SEN. KERRY: Tom, The New York Times said this is the low road express. John McCain himself, you just quoted him, John McCain said, "I want to have a campaign not of insults, but of ideas."

I mean, Joe, what's the idea in that?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well...

SEN. KERRY: What is the idea--no, wait, let me just finish. What is the idea...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: The idea is that Barack Obama's not ready to lead, and he's against offshore drilling.

SEN. KERRY: Well, I'm going to come to that. I'm going to come to that.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's pretty direct and clear.

SEN. KERRY: No, it doesn't mention not ready to lead...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yes it does.

SEN. KERRY: ...and it doesn't mention offshore drilling. What it talks about--it tries to insinuate that his celebrity is somehow all he has. Now, I'm going to get to the other, but this is, you know, this is a complete contradiction in John McCain. John McCain has said he wants a campaign of ideas, not insults. John McCain has said the American people want a campaign that's respectful.

Even you, Joe, 10 years ago, you went to the floor of the United States Senate, and you said that our public life is coarsening. You said that the society's values are shrinking. That's an ad that plays to the worst instincts in America, which is to diminish someone's character.

MR. BROKAW: But what the senator--but...

SEN. KERRY: And then Karl Rove turns around, and Karl Rove brings up another statement, saying, "Obama's like the guy at the country club with the beautiful date and a martini and a cigarette in his hand." What are they trying to do? They're trying to say to America, "Somehow, he's not like you. He's not like us." Now, last point, Joe brought up...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Joe doesn't work for the McCain campaign, that's the first thing that's...

SEN. KERRY: Well, they just hired Karl Rove's top protege to help produce these kinds of ads. And, believe me, they talk to Karl Rove. All right?

MR. BROKAW: Let me just ask, when Senator Obama responded, he didn't talk just about his character. He also talked about his appearance, and that's what prompted the McCain campaign to say he's playing the...

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, but the McCain--everybody has commented, Tom...

MR. BROKAW: I mean, when he, when he was talking about a dollar bill or a five dollar bill, he wasn't talking about whether he was not wearing a wig and wooden teeth.

SEN. KERRY: No, he was talking--what he was talking about is this campaign to scare about the person, and that's what they do. They try to scare about the person. They try to attack the character. They can't win on health care. They can't win on the economy. Eighty-five percent of the people in the nation know the country's moving in the wrong direction. They can't win--in fact, and I want to take Joe on on this, he just said the question is, is he ready to lead? Barack Obama has proven that he has the right judgment. What people are electing here is a president who has the judgment to do what's right for America. Barack Obama is right about Iraq. Now George Bush, Prime Minister Maliki think we ought to set a deadline. He was right about Afghanistan. John McCain has been the slowest person to come to the question of Afghanistan and adding more troops. He was right about Pakistan, that we ought to have the ability to go in and take out a terrorist. And John McCain criticized him for taking that position. He's been right about North Korea and Iran and the notion that we ought to negotiate. Now the Bush administration is negotiating. The Bush administration has moved towards Barack Obama, not John McCain. And John McCain's judgment has been wrong, and it's dangerous for America.

MR. BROKAW: We're going to get to all those issues, but I also want to raise what a surrogate for Senator Obama had to say to my friend Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation." This is former General Wesley Clark talking about John McCain. He said, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." He described him as untested and untried. With all due respect, Senator Kerry, he could have been talking about your qualifications. You're a Vietnam veteran...

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, I, I don't agree. I don't agree with Wes Clark's comment. I think it was entirely inappropriate. I have nothing but enormous respect for John McCain's service. I had the privilege of standing with John McCain in the, in the cell in Hanoi when we visited there together, when we worked on the issue of Vietnam together. It was an emotional moment. I, I have awe for John McCain's experience as a prisoner of war, and he, and he does understand duty and service. But...

MR. BROKAW: But unless...

SEN. KERRY: But...

MR. BROKAW: Unless I missed it, though, Senator Obama has not specifically rebuked Wesley Clark's comments.

SEN. KERRY: Oh, I think they--I thought--I did, and others did, and I thought Obama had at the time. But here's what's important, Tom. Let's not get lost in this, you know--John McCain said this ought to be about big ideas. Medicare is about to implode. You know, John McCain has a health care plan that every expert has said does nothing for the people who have no health care.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Not true.

SEN. KERRY: It does nothing for the people that have no health care. It doesn't have a plan that's comprehensive to provide universal health care to all Americans. He doesn't--he's against the energy plan for tax credits for people in order to help them with the energy crisis today. Why? He just came out against this plan of the people in Congress on energy because he wants to protect Exxon.

MR. BROKAW: Let's, let's talk about energy for a moment, if we can, because there have been several developments this past week that are important. A bipartisan coalition of 10 senators...

SEN. KERRY: Yes.

MR. BROKAW: ...five Democrats, five Republicans--want to expand offshore drilling and they want to end a tax credit on oil companies. Senator Obama, in the past, has often said that he's opposed to offshore drilling. And, in fact, we have some comment from you as well. You said, "Selling off our nation's coastlines to the oil and gas companies won't make a dent in gas prices. If you started drilling tomorrow, you wouldn't even see a drop of oil until 2017. This is a fraud policy and a false choice." Now, having said that, here's what Senator Obama had to say over the weekend: "My interest is in making sure that we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices. ... If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage--I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done." I can already hear the bloggers saying, "Flip-flop." Here's a guy who just...

SEN. KERRY: Sure.

MR. BROKAW: ...a couple of months ago said, "No way we're going to do this," now he's opened the possibility of it again. Two weeks ago on this program Vice President Al Gore, who's the godfather in the Democratic Party of energy policies, said, "No way should we drill offshore."

SEN. KERRY: I agree with Al Gore, and I don't want to. But, but Barack Obama...

MR. BROKAW: You, you--so you don't agree with Senator Obama?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I don't agree--here's, here's what I think his position is demonstrating. He still believes we should not drill offshore.

MR. BROKAW: But he's prepared to do it if necessary.

SEN. KERRY: He has not changed--what he's prepared to do, Tom, is break America's gridlock by honoring a bipartisan effort if that is the only way to move us towards alternative and renewable fuels and, and, and an energy policy that's comprehensive. I think what you see in the response on this drilling is really the difference in how they might govern. Barack Obama doesn't want to drill offshore, doesn't believe it's the thing to do. There's a very--there's a four-state carefully circumscribed proposal in that, that, in that initiative that, that could conceivably allow some drilling. He doesn't want to do that. But if that's what gets us to the energy independence and to the other efforts, I think Joe Lieberman actually supports--now, he didn't support drilling. He's changed and moves in that direction. But here's the bottom line. Guess what? John McCain, out of hand, just rejected that proposal, telling The Wall Street Journal that it would result in raising taxes on the oil companies, on Exxon. ExxonMobil made $12 billion last quarter alone. No American corporation has ever made that much money in history, and John McCain wants to protect them.

MR. BROKAW: Let's give Senator Lieberman...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Look...

MR. BROKAW: ...a chance to respond to that.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: In fact, that's what Senator McCain said, he didn't want to have a rollback of those taxes.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: Those taxes were originally designed to create jobs.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Look...

MR. BROKAW: In fact, ExxonMobil did make $11.68...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right. Which...

MR. BROKAW: ...billion.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Which is outrageous. But look, here, here's the point: The question is offshore drilling. We've got a crisis here. We're not only sending more than $700 billion a year to the Middle East and other places that don't like us very much every time we go to the pump, people are hurting, $4 a gallon gas, $4 a gallon-plus home heating oil coming. John McCain sees the crisis. And watch the reaction of McCain and Obama here, and it'll tell you what kind of president they, they might be. And it tells you why McCain's experience gives him judgment and strength of decision that we need in a president. John McCain says we need alternative energy. Yes, we're moving toward a low hydrocarbon future. But John McCain says we need to drill offshore. That's American oil, we need to bring it into the market to help lower gas prices and make us energy independent. Barack Obama says, this weekend, maybe, and, and, if, but. He did not endorse--he did not come out with a strong decision, Obama, and say, "I'm for offshore drilling." And I predict to you he'll find reasons not to be for it if this comes to a vote in the Senate.

SEN. KERRY: Are you for it now? Have you changed?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I am for it...

SEN. KERRY: You've changed.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...because of the crisis. That's...

SEN. KERRY: You're now for it.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...absolutely right, because of the facts.

I want to take a minute from a personal perspective...

MR. BROKAW: Are you--you're--and you're not for it, Senator Kerry, under any circumstances.

SEN. KERRY: It is an absolutely fraudulent offering to America.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: It, it is not.

SEN. KERRY: Drilling--let me tell you why. We only...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: My buddy here is filibustering this morning.

SEN. KERRY: We only have, we only have 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Sixty-five percent of the oil comes from the Mideast. The problem with global climate change is oil. The problem for our security is our dependency on oil.

MR. BROKAW: So what you're saying...

SEN. KERRY: If we go out and drill more oil, even temporarily, when it doesn't come to the pump for about seven years, you're not dealing with the real crisis, which is moving America's innovation...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well...

SEN. KERRY: ...and creativity, the creation of new fuel.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...here, here's the difference. Here, here's the difference. Senator Obama, Senator Kerry say no to offshore drilling, no to nuclear power and...

SEN. KERRY: No, I don't say no to nuclear power.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK, hold on. Senator Obama certainly does. John McCain says we got to have all of the above. In the short term, we need to drill for American oil where we can find it and get it safely. That's offshore. Secondly, John McCain has presented--and we need nuclear power. Secondly, John McCain has presented the most bold alternative energy--wind, solar, electric car, hydrogen car--proposals that are around today.

I want to say just a word about the, the racial question here. And I, I speak personally. In the first place, the McCain campaign is, to use Barack Obama's words, raising the question is he a risky guy? But it has nothing to do with his name or his skin color. It has to do with his lack of experience and bad judgment, his unreadiness to be president. When you use the expressions that Senator Obama did three times this week, you're making a personal insult to John McCain.

I, I know John McCain. I've been with him for 20 years, private and public. This man does not have a bigoted bone in his body. His wife and he adopted a baby from Bangladesh, who, who they love. It's just wrong for Senator Obama to have done that. It was right for the campaign to call him on it. Let me just add a final word, Tom. In 2000, Al Gore gave me the extraordinary honor of being the first Jewish-American to run for national office, and Al Gore said he had confidence in the American people that they would judge me based on my record, not on my religion. And I urge Barack Obama to have the same faith in the American people that they will judge him on his record, or lack of record, certainly not on his name or his race.

MR. BROKAW: All right. We want to move on if we can. Among other things, Senator McCain has been very adamant about never raising taxes under any circumstances. That prompted this headline in the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal from the commentator Daniel Henninger. He said, "Is John McCain stupid? Is John McCain losing it? He said on national television that to solve Social Security `everything's on the table,' which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 ... he said: `Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't.'" Daniel Henninger concludes, "This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation."

SEN. LIEBERMAN: First, let me say that John remains all male. There's no question about that. Secondly, he, he's, he's as smart, curious and intellectually alert as possible. That's why he loves these town hall meetings. That's why he keeps challenging Barack Obama to come and do a town hall meeting with him, but Obama says, "No." He wants to stand side by side in real confidence with Obama and have a good discussion.

MR. BROKAW: But if everything's on the table...

SEN. KERRY: Can I...

MR. BROKAW: ...for Social Security reform, that does include a raising of payroll taxes, does it not?

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Look, there's two main reasons why I'm for John McCain.

SEN. KERRY: Now, don't dump the question.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: No, no. I'm going to come to it. You gave such a preface to your earlier comments, buddy.

SEN. KERRY: Well, I have to, Joe, because...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK, let me--here--there are two main reasons why I'm for John McCain. One is that he's ready to be commander and chief and to deal with our problems at home and abroad. Secondly, we've got a big problem here in Washington that we have to solve before we get to solve Social Security, health care, jobs, gas crisis, environment, everything else. It's partisanship. And John McCain certainly, as compared to Barack Obama, has a record--he's a restless reformer. He fights the status quo. He reaches across party lines to get things done. That's why he's been one of the most productive senators in recent years. Senator Obama, with all respect, has no major legislative accomplishments.

SEN. KERRY: Joe, Joe.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: What I'm saying is...

SEN. KERRY: Again...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...we need to fix Social Security so it's there for the next generation.

MR. BROKAW: And that may include, and that may include an increase in payroll taxes.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: John McCain has said very clearly he doesn't want to raise any taxes, but he's also said, because he's a great negotiator, "I want to sit down with everybody the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did in the '80s, and we're going to solve this problem." Just like we're going to make progress on health care and the energy crisis and climate change by breaking through the partisan gridlock. He's going to demand that we start to act not like Democrats or Republicans, but like Americans. That's what the people want us to do.

SEN. KERRY: Can I...

MR. BROKAW: Let's move on, let's move on, if we can, to foreign policy, to Iraq, because this past week President Bush talked about the possibility of drawing down troops, and he's going to shorten the tours from 15 months to 12 months in Iraq.

Senator Kerry, why is it so hard for Democrats to say the surge worked? It made a lot of this possible.

SEN. KERRY: Well, components of the surge made a difference. I'm just going to answer two things very quickly. First of all, and this is important, he just said that Barack Obama hasn't passed any major piece of legislature. He just passed the most landmark, comprehensive ethics reform in the United States Senate. It's now the law.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Excuse me...

SEN. KERRY: So it's just in effect. And secondly...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...that was Susan Collins, me...

SEN. KERRY: He...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...and Dianne Feinstein and John McCain.

SEN. KERRY: ...Barack Obama led the fight on the Democratic side on that. Secondly, secondly, the reason the gas effort is so fraudulent, Tom, is that the oil companies have 68 million acres currently, leases, available to them now, 40 million of them offshore, and they're not drilling there. Ninety-five percent of the Alaska oil shelf is open for drilling today, they're not drilling. It's a fraudulent issue.

Now, let me come to Iraq.

MR. BROKAW: But, nonetheless, Senator Obama may endorse the idea of offshore drilling.

SEN. KERRY: No, he doesn't personally, but if it takes a compromise to get America together...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's what I said.

SEN. KERRY: ...he's going to have to compromise.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: He, he really hasn't endorsed it.

SEN. KERRY: Well, anybody's going to have--he's not--he doesn't believe that that's the right course for America. He believes alternative energy is.

But let me come back to Iraq. On the surge, Joe and John McCain have both alleged that the surge created the "Anbar awakening." It did not. The Anbar awakening began in 2005 and 2006. One of the local leaders in a tribe in Anbar province, a fellow named Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi put together some 32 sheiks who came together. They organized what was called the Anbar Salvation Council. They then went out and took on al-Qaeda, and our military personnel adjusted with that at the time. The fact is that the Ramadi construction conference took place, and the administration didn't get a troop in there till after they'd made the political decision to become involved with the Americans. The surge added to that. If you add American troops to the equation, American troops can always provide some measure of security.

MR. BROKAW: Many people believe it wouldn't have been possible for it to be as successful as it was without the surge, however.

SEN. KERRY: I, I, I, I...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: It, it would not have been. It simply would not have been. I mean...

SEN. KERRY: But, but what's the precondition...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: John, in saying this...

SEN. KERRY: Joe, let me finish.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I know you don't intend this...

SEN. KERRY: Let me just finish. Let me just finish.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...but in saying this, you're showing disrespect for the contribution and service and sacrifice...

SEN. KERRY: No, I just--excuse me.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...of the American soldiers because the...

SEN. KERRY: No, you just cut me off when I was saying our soldiers did an extraordinary job.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well please, answer to that, because the awakening would not have gone forward without the strength and support that Colonel McFarland...

SEN. KERRY: Which I was just saying.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...the Army, the Marines gave them.

SEN. KERRY: Which I was in the middle of saying when you interrupted me.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's what the sheiks told us. That's why the sheiks don't want our troops to come home on a fixed timetable today. They want us to stay...

SEN. KERRY: Well, the prime minister of Iraq...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...as long as...

SEN. KERRY: ...believes we ought to set a timetable. The president, Mr. Talibani, thinks we ought to set a timetable. I've heard countless numbers of Iraqis say we'd be better off with a timetable. In fact, I met with the governor of Anbar province and all of the sheiks, who said to me they're very comfortable to have a timetable, providing it, obviously, is one that works in the context of their ability to...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Providing it's based on conditions on the ground.

SEN. KERRY: All right.

SEN. KERRY: That's the big difference. Maliki and Obama are not on the same page on this.

MR. BROKAW: I have, I have, I have the small fleeting feeling we're not going to resolve that here this morning, so let's, if we can, move on to the parlor game of...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Except we should all agree that the surge worked, and I don't know why John Kerry and Barack Obama just can't say that. And the fact...

SEN. KERRY: On the contrary, I said the surge made additions...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK.

SEN. KERRY: ...but it wasn't the cause of the awakening. It was a political decision. And here's--this is critical. Joe just said that judgment is what is critical here.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

SEN. KERRY: Well, John McCain was wrong about Iraq. He was wrong about why we ought to go there. He bought into a whole liberation theology about the Middle East with Paul Wolfowitz and others. It's wrong. He was wrong about oil paying for the war. He was wrong about our being greeted as, as, you know, as liberation leaders.

MR. BROKAW: Well, here...

SEN. KERRY: He's been wrong about Afghanistan not being a center of activity against us. He said no one threatens us in Afghanistan. He...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, John McCain was right about the surge, and he had the guts...

SEN. KERRY: He's been wrong...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...to go up against President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and, and public opinion in America because he didn't want America to lose in Iraq and al-Qaeda in Iran to win. Senator Obama took the opposite position...

SEN. KERRY: Let me comment.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...wasn't concerned about losing in Iraq. Today...

SEN. KERRY: No, he is always concerned about it.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...we're in much better position there because of the guts of John McCain, and that shows you what kind of president each will be. One has experience.

MR. BROKAW: Can we talk politics for a moment?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Oh, no, no, we're having a good time talking issues.

MR. BROKAW: People, people, people are--people--I know, well, I...

SEN. KERRY: We can, but we have to understand what the cause--the surge was designed to give the Iraqis the opportunity to make the political decisions till we could, you know, resolve the fundamental difference between Sunni, Shia, a constitution, etc. That hasn't happened, Tom.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yes it has. They're, they're reconciled.

SEN. KERRY: And most people, most people in Iraq...

MR. BROKAW: It seems closer as a result of the surge.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Oh, sure they are. They...

SEN. KERRY: There are certain steps that have been taken, but the oil law isn't passed, the election law isn't passed, the reconciliation...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: But, John, you know they passed 15 or 16 of the 18 benchmarks we gave them. This has been an extraordinary success.

MR. BROKAW: People want...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: If you leave it to Obama as president and he pulls out on a fixed timetable without regard to conditions on the, on the ground, I'm afraid there's going to be chaos again, and he has already said if there's chaos again in Iraq, he'll send the troops back in.

SEN. KERRY: You know, you know, you know...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: When John McCain brings American troops home from Iraq, they're staying home. That's the man I want as president.

MR. BROKAW: People who are, people who are, people who are looking in on this who don't pay a lot of attention to politics may find it hard to believe that you sit on the same side of the aisle...

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, also we're, also we're friends.

MR. BROKAW: ...and that you're in the caucus. Is he, is he going to, is he going to be welcome at the Democratic caucus?

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. This...

MR. BROKAW: Next year...

SEN. KERRY: Sure.

MR. BROKAW: If there's a Senator--if there's a President Obama?

SEN. KERRY: I think he's going to want to be part of the stronger Democratic majority. I'm confident of that.

MR. BROKAW: Incidentally, can we show you a Joe Lieberman Web site that he may not be welcoming?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: There's a Web site out there in which they say, "Get rid of Joe. Lieberman must go." More than 50,000 signatures have been signed so far. Do you think you're going to be comfortable next year in the Democratic caucus as a self-described Independent/Democrat?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, look, I, I've crossed party lines to support John McCain because this is not an ordinary time in our history, it's not an ordinary election, and I just felt, more than following the party line, I had to go with the guy that I thought would best serve this country, and that's John McCain.

MR. BROKAW: So are you...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I'm making...

MR. BROKAW: So, are you going to speak...

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I'm making...

MR. BROKAW: Are you going to speak at the Republican convention?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: ...that decision--I'll let the future of politics take care of itself. I feel very good about what I've done. Am I going to speak at the convention? It's not--that decision hasn't been made. If Senator McCain feels that I can help his candidacy, which I think it's so important to elect him our next president, I will do it. But I assure you this, Tom, I'm not going to go to that convention, the Republican convention, and spend my time attacking Barack Obama. I'm going to go there really talking about why I support John McCain and why I hope a lot of other independents and Democrats will do that. And frankly, I'm going to go to a partisan convention and tell them, if I go, why it's so important that we start to act like Americans and not as, as partisan mudslingers here in Washington.

MR. BROKAW: Sounds, sounds like you're going to go.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, we'll see.

SEN. KERRY: Sounds like that to me, too.

MR. BROKAW: Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, thanks very much for being with us today.

SEN. KERRY: Great to be with you.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Tom.

SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Tom.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Good discussion.

MR. BROKAW: And we'll continue this conversation throughout the course of the next several months.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: OK.

SEN. KERRY: We sure will.

MR. BROKAW: OK.

SEN. KERRY: Thank you.

MR. BROKAW: Coming up next, all eyes on the vice presidential sweepstakes. Who's in, who's out? Our political roundtable will weigh in: Andrea Mitchell, Mike Murphy, Chuck Todd and Judy Woodruff, right here next on MEET THE PRESS.

(Announcements)

MR. BROKAW: Our Decision 2008 political roundtable right after this brief station break.

(Announcements)

MR. BROKAW: We're back.

Welcome all to our roundtable. NBC's political correspondent Andrea Mitchell, my longtime colleague. My former colleague, Judy Woodruff, nice to have you with us.

MS. JUDY WOODRUFF: Great to be here.

MR. BROKAW: Senior correspondent now for the Jim Lehrer "NewsHour" on PBS. Mike Murphy, an NBC News consultant, former Republican strategist for John McCain in the year 2000.

MR. MIKE MURPHY: Right.

MR. BROKAW: And Chuck Todd, who's our political director.

Good to have all of you with us.

Let's begin with you, Mike Murphy. Was the Senator McCain ad a good idea?

MR. MURPHY: No, I think it was a dumb ad. Not because it asked the question "Is Barack Obama ready for the job?" That's a very legitimate criticism, and I think Barack Obama made it a little bit worse by his stumbling response later. The problem is that McCain--McCain's strategy has to hinge, in my view, on one thing. How does a Republican survive in October/November, a huge anti-Republican vote? Luckily for the party, McCain is a different kind of Republican. So everything in the campaign ought to build toward that case. And when you get off into small juvenile stuff about Britney Spears, you distract from it. So I think part of the ad, the real charge about Obama, pretty legitimate, but that execution, clumsy, juvenile and a mistake. Now, it's only one ad in a campaign of many, it'll go away. I don't see lasting damage, and I think Barack Obama by stumbling into race a little bit and now being, I think, in--a bit defensive about that, almost made a bigger mistake next week. I think that ad was an error.

MR. BROKAW: Mike Murphy, you on MEET THE PRESS, other Republican strategists, not necessarily directly associated with the campaign and other Republicans that I've been talking to around the country are very concerned about the McCain campaign. They think it's improvisational by a factor of about 100. They get every morning and try to decide what they're going to do at the end of that day.

MR. MURPHY: Well, I, I'm still betting on McCain in many ways. I think it's going to be a competitive election. I think it's kind of a--it's almost an irony. I think in some ways the Obama campaign as a machine is a little stronger than Obama as a candidate. I think McCain as a candidate's a little strong than the McCain campaign as a machine. And I think this year people are going to look through all the campaign stuff. I don't really care, and I don't think they will, who has the best, you know, teleprompter or makeup or speech writers, and get to the guys after Labor Day. We'll see. I think it's going to be close. But it has been a bumpy time so far. I'm hoping they'll be improvement, but they've got to get a theme and message that's not about sarcasm.

MR. BROKAW: Chuck Todd, in your column, you said that the McCain people are beginning to define Obama in a way that may not be helpful to him.

MR. CHUCK TODD: Well, and look, the good news for the McCain campaign is they may have found the right strategy, which is--of how to defeat Obama, how to bring him down a notch. Hit him as an elitist, hit him as soft, sort of on, on his readiness to be president. But the problem is, McCain isn't the contrast. It's--McCain is junior Obama or senior Obama, however you want to match them up. You know, McCain wants to be the sort of the new guy, the post-partisan guy. McCain likes to talk in generalities, doesn't like to get specific. Obama doesn't--likes to talk in generalities, doesn't get specific. So I think the, the problem they may run into is that they have the right strategy and just McCain isn't the right candidate to implement it. He can't--I just don't know if he's going to be able to contrast with sort of Obama's weaknesses when they get on stage because the best way to get at Obama now, after they've sort of softened him up as a, as a--on character on some of these things, is to prove that, you know, there's isn't much underneath or that he doesn't know a lot about certain issues. The problem is McCain doesn't go 20 PowerPoint presentations--20 pages deep in his PowerPoint presentation, either.

MR. BROKAW: There have been a lot of truisms in American politics that have been challenged in recent years, but this one remains intact: Money is the mother's milk of politics. And a lot of that money is going for commercials right now. Where are the campaigns spending their money at this point in the campaign before the conventions and before we really begin in the fall?

MR. TODD: Well, I think it's interesting, when you watch, is, is I think the thing that might surprise particularly Mike at this table is that McCain's actually outspending Obama in a lot of key states. In Pennsylvania, McCain has outspent Obama. In Ohio, McCain has outspent Obama. In Michigan, McCain has outspent Obama. All those red states that we have on our map is where McCain has outspent Obama. Now you look on the other side on those blue states where Obama's outspent McCain, it's in some nontraditional battlegrounds. It's Montana, it's Florida, where McCain has put up zero, not a single TV ad yet in Florida. Obama has outspent him there. So they're really sort of--they're, they're both trying to, to do two different things. McCain's trying to keep these Rust Belt battleground states, the traditional battlegrounds, as close as possible, and Obama's trying to expand the map. And they're both--actually, they're both being successful right now.

MR. MURPHY: It's interesting. Obama has the luxury of a lot of money, so he's running one and a half campaigns. You know, planning to litigate the traditional swing states, the Michigans, but also trying to grab a Montana, a North Dakota, even the huge prize of Florida, which is what you do when you have enough money to do one and a half campaigns. Although, you have to--everything has to go pretty well for those kind of long-reach strategies to work.

MR. BROKAW: We're not playing by junior high rules here, by the way. We don't have the boys on one side and the girls on the other side.

MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: It just looks that way.

MR. BROKAW: It just worked out that way.

Judy Woodruff, we haven't heard from Hillary Clinton at all. We have heard from former President Bill Clinton, however, saying you can have dinner with Hillary if you'd just give us a few bucks. He's going to be seen recently--or seen before too long on those interstate off ramps holding up a sign, "Have dinner with Hillary, give here."

MS. WOODRUFF: I think, Tom, that, that Hillary Clinton is going to end up playing ball in this, in this election, if you will. She's going to do what she needs to do for Barack Obama. I think Bill is sending a signal by this trip to Africa that he's, he's ready to, to play his part. I'm one, I'm one of those people, after talking to a lot of Democrats, who don't think that Barack Obama's going to pick her as his running mate. She's been asked to give what's the equivalent of the keynote speech at the convention. So I don't see her as the running mate. I think the--frankly, what I'm hearing on the vice presidential front, and far from--if you're expecting me to give you the answer of who, I don't know. I mean, I'm...

MR. BROKAW: Yeah.

MS. WOODRUFF: I wouldn't bet a cup of coffee on it. But I think there's a real struggle in the Obama camp right now between those who say Obama's got to pick somebody who will bolster his inexperience in national security credentials, argues for a Joe Biden or for somebody he even likes personally better, Jack Reed, 82nd Airborne division veteran who says he's not into it; or on the other hand, somebody who just reinforces that change, anti-Washington mantra. That's, you know, there you're talking about Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, maybe even Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

MR. BROKAW: Before we--Andrea, I want to come to you in a moment, because last week I had a chance--as you know, you were there--to talk to Senator Obama about his criteria for picking a vice presidential candidate. He dismissed the idea, by the way, of getting a national security person. He said he had other criteria. Let's just share what he had to say last weekend, and begin our discussion there.

(Videotape)

SEN. OBAMA: I'm going to want somebody with integrity. I'm going to want somebody with independence, who's willing to tell me where he thinks or she thinks I'm wrong. And I'm, I'm going to want somebody who shares a vision of the country, where we need to go, that we've got to fundamentally change not only our policies, but how our politics works, how business is done in Washington.

I think the most important thing, from my perspective, is somebody who can help me govern. I want somebody who I'm compatible with, who I can work with, who has a shared vision, who certainly complements me in the sense that they provide a knowledge base or an area of, of expertise that can be useful.

(End videotape)

MR. BROKAW: The flavor of the week last week was Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia.

MS. MITCHELL: Right.

MR. BROKAW: We just had Joe Lieberman here, and a lot of people don't know that Tim Kaine was the chair of his presidential campaign in Virginia, Senator Lieberman's, in 2000. They've been effusive in their praise of each other as Independent/Democrats. Is Kaine still in the running?

MS. MITCHELL: I think very much so, and I think that it does come out of your conversation with Barack Obama, because he was talking about someone who is not of Washington. The problem with Kaine, though, is that it does double down on inexperience. When you combine the two of them, they've both been only in public life on the national level for a couple of years. Tim Kaine, very popular. Used to drive a red pickup truck when he was lieutenant governor, was a volunteer with the Jesuits as a Catholic missionary in Honduras. There are pictures of him, a bearded Tim Kaine, which reinforces the community organizer. So that is clearly someone with whom he would feel very comfortable.

Then you've got Evan Bayh and Joe Biden on the foreign policy front, and I think that there is, as Judy says, some tension in the campaign that they need to expand this field. I think the most telling thing about it not being Hillary Clinton is Bill Clinton. He's off in Africa, he's only had one conversation with Barack Obama, he is not going out of his way to praise Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton has been, you know, "the good partner." She's done everything right as far as the Obama campaign could hope for. She's going to campaign, she's doing fundraising with them. But Bill Clinton is still standing off on the side. And you can't have a running mate with a former president who is so clearly uncomfortable with the nominee.

MR. BROKAW: But what are they going to do about all those women who voted for Hillary Clinton that they don't want to lose in the fall? Not that they have a lot of other places to go, obviously, but they don't want to anger them or make them sit at home.

MR. TODD: I think they think that this is--the idea that they have a problem is a creation on the Upper East side of New York, that if you look at some polling, it's actually not there. That, you know, I think there was a Pew study that said 78 percent of, of Clinton supporters, excuse me, it's a Lifetime poll, 78 percent of Clinton supporters are already in the Obama camp. So what does that say? It's one, one out of 10. Well, and then you suddenly look and you realize, "Oh, 10 percent of Democrats always vote across the aisle." So I think suddenly you realize he's, he's not losing any additional things.

But on the vice presidential, a couple things. First of all, this week, expect that we'll see some face-to-faces between Obama and some of these prospective candidates. Joe Biden and Evan Bayh apparently will have some face time at some point this week. Of course, we have our...

MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama's going out to Indiana.

MR. TODD: He'll be out in Indiana, and so we're trying to figure out where Joe Biden is going to be meeting him. But that's why we have all of our fine folks on the ground to keep, keep spying on these, on these individuals. But I think another thing we overlook here and why he may end up going with somebody without too much experience is, remember '88? I mean, sort of '88 was a--showed how to mess up two vice presidential picks. Dukakis picked somebody too qualified and made him look like he was underqualified to be president. Lloyd Bentsen looked like he was for the part. Then George Bush picked somebody way underqualified for the job. So you don't want to--those are the two extremes, and I think both campaigns are looking at those extremes of '88 and saying, "OK, how do we not pull that extreme off?" That's why the, the Tim Pawlenty thing for, for McCain seems odd or Eric Cantor out of Virginia. And that's why I think, at the end of the day, maybe Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton doesn't work as well for Obama. Because you don't want to pick somebody who seems to have more qualifications.

MR. MURPHY: Yeah, that's part of it.

MS. MITCHELL: And, in fact, one thing about that is that Joe Biden was very willing to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and...

MR. BROKAW: And he wasn't invited.

MS. MITCHELL: ...he was not invited. He was pointedly not invited because it was feared by the Obama people that he would overshadow Obama on foreign policy.

MR. MURPHY: Yes.

MR. BROKAW: In the final analysis, Judy, how much difference does it make? You and I were in Omaha when Dan Quayle went up against Lloyd Bentsen, lost the debate in a dramatic and famous moment in which Lloyd Bentsen said, "I knew Jack Kennedy. He was a friend of mine. You're no Jack Kennedy." And it didn't make any difference in the fall.

MS. WOODRUFF: It didn't make any difference. I mean, Lloyd Bentsen cleaned Dan Quayle's clock, and it had no effect in November. But, you know, look even farther back. Richard Nixon picked Spiro Agnew. He still won. I think a lot of these arguments that people talk about, you know, the, the "first do no harm," you can do a little harm and still cross the finish line. The other one is the--is you know, pick up a state here, red state, blue state. But, you know, OK, for all those who argue that, that, you know, picking Evan Bayh is going to help you in Ohio as well as Indiana, picking Mitt Romney is going to help you in Michigan, the last time somebody on, on the--as a running mate pushed somebody across the--helped somebody win his own state was Texas.

MS. MITCHELL: LBJ.

MS. WOODRUFF: Lyndon Johnson helped John Kennedy, and that was almost a half a century ago.

MR. MURPHY: Yes.

MR. TODD: I think Al Gore would argue that he did help carry Tennessee.

MR. MURPHY: Well, the vice president, hugely over-rated politically, but it's a fixture of the process. So, therefore, what it really becomes is a way that you can talk about your own candidacy. Which is where all the peril is, because, if you're Obama and you pick somebody superexperienced, the next thing you're going to hear is, "He's trying to offset his own inexperience." That's the problem. You can't have the asymmetrical thing where you pick somebody too young, well, "the ticket's too young." You pick somebody too old, well, "you're too young." So you got to be very careful. As weak as the state argument is, ultimately, in my view anyway, it still boils up to a pretty good argument. If they--if Tim Kaine can carry Virginia and help him do well in North Carolina, that's a heart attack problem for the Republicans. If a Tom Ridge can help in Pennsylvania or a Mitt Romney in the industrial Midwest, that's tremendous. So they may not be able to deliver the state, but they can help make an argument there, there is some advantage.

MR. BROKAW: Let's talk about issues for a moment. Where's the fault line in this campaign? Is it national security or the economy?

MR. MURPHY: It's the economy. Though I think it's in McCain's interest to make national security bigger. Two ways to win a campaign. Either litigate the issues that are number one, or take the issues you win and make them number one, either way. And that's one last vice presidential point of view. One strategy the McCain guys could do is pick somebody who's all about national security to try to move the campaign more there. Go pick a Bob Gates, I mean, somebody totally out of the politics world to say, "We are the competent adults on national security," and try to make the election more about that to play to McCain's strengths, which, because of the surge, are getting stronger and stronger. Not what the Democrats would've thought a year ago on Iraq.

MS. WOODRUFF: But, Tom, it's about the economy, but now more and more it's about energy as well. And, and so telling in Obama's changing his position in the last few days. You just talked to Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman about it--Lieberman about it. It's striking. I mean, he's saying, "OK, I'll only go along with environmentally sensitive drilling under certain conditions and only if we can tax the oil companies." But this is a, a striking change for him.

MS. MITCHELL: And he's also...

MR. MURPHY: He's the candidate of change, no doubt about it. He's been moving to the center with rocket speed.

MS. MITCHELL: He's saying it's not a change.

MR. TODD: One warning on energy. How many times, how many summers of a president--of a, of a an election year do we say, "oh, energy" because the gas price thing pops up, "energy." You know, what happens when--gas prices are going to continue to drop. We've seen--we know the price of oil has finally fallen a little bit. Gas prices are going to go down, too. And we see--to 3.40, 3.50 a gallon. And we've seen, the American public always seems to absorb it. They absorbed--we thought $3 was going to be...

MS. MITCHELL: I think this is different, though.

MR. TODD: I know we keep saying it's different.

MS. MITCHELL: I, I really do think that this is an exponential...

MR. TODD: But I'm just saying, don't be surprised if it falls...

MS. MITCHELL: There have been behavior changes. People are really using less, driving less. This has affected people's lives, people's employment who are not able to drive where they need to drive. I think this is exponential.

MR. BROKAW: It's a combination of the economy and energy prices at this point.

MS. MITCHELL: Exactly. And I do think that the fact that Obama changed, as McCain had earlier changed, in Florida, on offshore drilling, they're looking at the polls. And, in fact the, the House Democrats are behind the curve on this because they fled for their August recess, and Nancy Pelosi was playing to her home base in California and not permitting a vote on offshore drilling, trying to protect Barack Obama, the candidacy, the platform against offshore drilling. And now Obama has shifted, even though he says it's not a shift, which is yet another example of him trying to...

MR. TODD: By the way, President Bush could help here.

MS. MITCHELL: ...tweak that on a Friday night.

MR. TODD: President Bush could help here and call Congress back and force them to pass something...

MR. MURPHY: And that's going to...

MR. TODD: ...and he's not doing that.

MR. MURPHY: That's going to be a bigger issue in the fall, when this thing gets serious after Labor Day, is Obama plus the House Democrats, all that pent up kind of liberal energy they're going to have if they run up the number in the Senate, the idea of one-party government in Washington, all Democrat, all liberal. Look for that as an emerging theme out of McCain. I think it'll be effective.

MR. BROKAW: Why wouldn't Senator McCain be in favor of rolling back the tax credit for oil companies, given the profits that they have just turned up? And it was a tax credit that was designed to create jobs, after all. They've got plenty of money to create jobs.

MR. MURPHY: Right. Well, I think he argues that beating up on the oil industry beats up on exploration and sources of new oil. And, you know, Exxon just paid, like, $30 billion taxes. So there's two sides of the story. But the politics of it are very attractive. I think what the McCain guys are trying to do is harness kind of the energy politics right into "more drilling equals lower gas prices," which policy people kind of argue about, but the politics of it are pretty good. And that's where Obama was feeling the pain, and that's why he moved, I think, on drilling. Or moved to hint that he might do drilling.

MR. BROKAW: Who's going to be the keynoter at the Democratic convention?

MR. TODD: Oh, my money's on Chuck Hagel. And I, I think it would be a Republican. That's the message that Obama wants to send. I mean, the whole idea of the Democratic convention, I think, is going to be two parts. One is you are going to see them be more aggressive on McCain than John Kerry was on Bush. I mean, I talked to an Obama person, and I asked them what they thought of that 2004 convention as a whole, was it too soft on Bush? And immediately said, "Oh, absolutely." So expect--in fact, don't be surprised if Obama starts ratcheting up rhetoric against McCain this week. Forget the convention. But I've always--my money's always been on Chuck Hagel as the, as the keynote. But it's not--you know, technically Hillary Clinton may dominate that night because she's, she's the, she's the big speaker that night. But you send a message with your keynote, and I think we may have seen the other keynote on this, at this desk.

MS. WOODRUFF: Yeah.

MR. BROKAW: What's your money on Joe Lieberman for keynoting the Republican convention?

MS. MITCHELL: Especially after today, pretty good money. You know, Joe Lieberman is actually, you know, leaving--he's left his party, he has infuriated--look, look at some of the reaction shots from John Kerry looking at Joe Lieberman. I mean, he's infuriated his former Democratic colleagues. But he is a great argument...

MR. BROKAW: But he did say at the end he would still be welcome, which was quite surprising to me, frankly.

MS. MITCHELL: Well, they, they're looking at breaking filibusters, and depending on what happens...

MR. MURPHY: Sixty, yeah.

MS. MITCHELL: ...they need 60 votes. They're looking at Alaska, they're looking at edging up that Democratic majority in the Senate. But Joe Lieberman--you know, Florida and going--cutting into what would normally be the Jewish-American vote for a Democrat to bring them back over to the Republican Party, that's a pretty compelling message.

MR. BROKAW: What do you think the chances are that Joe Lieberman will stay a D, Democrat, come the next term?

MR. MURPHY: I think he probably will. I take him at his word. But I think it'll be a very icy welcome. You could hear a little bit of that iron in, in Senator Kerry's remark of, `Well, I think you're going to be one--be part of our new big majority.'

I will make one convention prediction. I think Hillary Clinton will give a pretty well-received speech, actually. I don't think she'll be the keynote. But--and I can't ever prove this, but I'll predict she votes for John McCain. I'm going to be watching those Chappaquiddick poll results very closely. She wants an adult...

MS. MITCHELL: Chappaqua.

MR. MURPHY: Chappaqua, excuse me. She wants--yeah, still politics.

MR. TODD: You Republicans are programmed...(unintelligible).

MR. MURPHY: No, no, no, no. I believe it. I would bet money if there's a way to prove it, because she wants to race in four years. She'll be back. She'll never stop running. And she wants an adult on foreign policy, and that's OK.

MR. BROKAW: One minute left, around the table. Judy Woodruff, who is Senator Obama's choice for vice president?

MS. WOODRUFF: Oh, my gosh. It's either going to be...

MR. MURPHY: Good answer.

MS. WOODRUFF: ...Evan Bayh, Joe Biden or, or...

MR. BROKAW: Oh, come on, this is not multiple choice.

MS. MITCHELL: Yes, it is.

MS. WOODRUFF: ...or Tim Kaine.

MS. MITCHELL: I'd say Bayh or Biden.

MR. TODD: I'm in Biden or Kaine, if you're going to--we get to do two.

MR. MURPHY: Kaine, unfortunately.

MS. WOODRUFF: We're all in the same...

MR. BROKAW: And...

MS. WOODRUFF: ...ballpark, Tom.

MR. BROKAW: ...for McCain?

MR. MURPHY: Boy, I, I think Romney or Pawlenty, though I'm pushing Ridge.

MR. TODD: I think none of the above on the short list, I think we're going to continue to see new people. I think the person--we're not talking about him.

MS. MITCHELL: I think he's going to end up with Romney, as much as he, he'll hate it. But he'll have to do it.

MR. BROKAW: Judy, one choice this time, not three.

MS. WOODRUFF: Come on, conventional wisdom, Pawlenty or, or Romney. But the new name is Eric Cantor, the young congressman--46-year-old congressman from Virginia.

MR. BROKAW: Thanks very much to all of you.

Next Sunday, I'll be here on MEET THE PRESS. We'll be talking about what's going on in China with the Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson from Beijing. I'll be right back.

(Announcements)

MR. BROKAW: That's all for today. Another reminder, I'll be back next week from Beijing with the secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. Plus, I'll have the very latest on Decision 2008. And we'll be airing at a special time in some areas due to NBC's Olympic coverage, so please check our Web site this week or your local listings for special airtimes for MEET THE PRESS. If it is Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.


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