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updated 10/26/2009 11:22:16 AM ET 2009-10-26T15:22:16

Guests: Julia Boorstin, Pat Buchanan, Joe Conason, Michael Long, Susan Page, Jonathan Martin, Steve Kornacki, Terry Jeffrey

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Should Fox hunting be legal?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in New York.  Leading off tonight:

The president‘s people versus Fox News.  It‘s getting serious.  First the White House staffers began trashing Fox.  Then they decided to skip over Fox when it comes to those Sunday morning news interview shows.  Then escalating further, the White House refused to give them an interview at a Treasury Department press event.

Well, given its choice of weapons in taking on an adversarial news organization, is the White House smart to be playing hardball with Fox, or is it right in singling out for denial—well, denying Fox the usual press access every news organization gets?  Is this anything more, by the way, than the usual attempt by politicians to manage their news coverage—they all try to do it—or has the White House now crossed over into a line they shouldn‘t be in?

Plus, look at what Sarah Palin‘s up to now.  She‘s joined the tea party crowd in endorsing the conservative third party candidate in an upstate New York congressional race over the Republican candidate.  It may be just what the Democrats need to win that district—catch this—for the first time since the mid-19th century.  Is this really what Sarah Palin wants to be doing, causing Republicans to lose congressional elections?

And did former vice president Dick Cheney give the White House a nice big gift in the form of himself?  When Cheney called President Obama—accused him of dithering and waffling on Afghanistan, does he become—

Dick Cheney become the great reminder of the mess that he and George W.  left behind?

Also: Back from the dead.  Is the public option making a comeback?  It looks as if some form might—might—repeat, might—make it through the Congress.  We‘ll see if it really has or could have the votes in the “Politics Fix” tonight.

Finally, remember when President Bush couldn‘t think of one thing he had done wrong?  Well, that‘s all changed.  W.‘s venial sins—well, that‘s all he‘s admitting—coming up in the “Sideshow.”

We start tonight with the war between the White House and Fox News.  Joe Conason writes for “The New York Observer”—that‘s a big paper up here in New York for smart people—and Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst.

Here‘s President Obama, by the way, talking about this issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think that what our advisers have simply said is, is that we are going to take media as it comes.  And if media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that‘s one thing.  And if it‘s operating as a news outlet, then that‘s another.  But it‘s not something I‘m losing a lot of sleep over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the president may not be losing a lot of sleep over it, but “The New York Times” reported today, and Charles Krauthammer reported on today, there‘s a big discussion now whether the White House has escalated this battle beyond where it should be.

Here‘s what Jim Rutenberg, a respected straight reporter in “The New York Times,” reported today about Fox News‘s competitors and the fact that, apparently, the competitors of Fox News in Washington covering the White House have refused to go along with a Treasury Department effort this Tuesday to exclude Fox from a round of interviews with Ken Feinberg.  He‘s, of course, the White House paymaster now for the high-priced people up in Manhattan here.

Pat, did they cross the line by excluding Fox from a regular series of interviews that everybody else was getting?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, you exclude him from the pool, I think that‘s a—that‘s crossing the line and it‘s a real mistake.  It sounds to me, though, like, from what the president said, Chris, and you just carried, the president wants to really deescalate this conflict.  And he ought to because the White House is looking petty and whining and obsessed and it is looking very small.  And a battle with Fox News—and Fox News, I think, is winning the battle, quite frankly, and many journalists, I think, who aren‘t with Fox, may disagree with it, I think agree with that assessment.  I don‘t know what the benefit the president or White House has gotten out of this affair.

MATTHEWS:  Does the president have a right to decide who he gives an interview to?

BUCHANAN:  Sure.  He‘s got a right to decide who to give an interview to.  He‘s got a right, if he wishes to, to go on national television and say press coverage has been bad.  He‘s got every right and he‘s got the power to do that.  He‘s free up there.  A lot of media have attacked presidents in the past, and they got a right to respond.

What I‘m saying, Chris, is this is a case of terrible, terrible judgment and pettiness.  It looks absurd.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go with Joe Conason.  You write for “The New York Observer” up here in New York, a fine newspaper.

JOE CONASON, “NEW YORK OBSERVER”:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Is the president smart to be singling out and perhaps celebrating as an enemy, Fox?  And by the way, did he go past in it terms of 1st Amendment concerns to say, All right, you guys can all have interviews with me today.  You‘re all here.  Fox is also here, but they‘re not going to get the interview.

CONASON:  Well, I think as far as an interview with the president is concerned, or him going on Sunday shows, that is definitely his call.  And if he feels he‘s not going to be treated fairly by any news organization, he doesn‘t have to go there.

Interfering with the pool arrangements of the networks is another matter.  I think that was probably a mistake because it means you‘re then trying to control what everybody is doing in terms of their coverage, and there‘s going to be a pushback against that.

As far as the strategy in general is concerned, I‘m not sure it‘s so bad.  I don‘t think it‘s so bad for people to start to identify the Republican Party and the conservative viewpoint with Glenn Beck, from the point of view of the White House, because I think you see the Republican Party shrinking as a result of that and dividing, as you‘re going to talk about later in this congressional race we have here in New York, where Gingrich is on one side and Palin‘s on another.  And who knows where Glenn Beck is, but we‘ll find out.

That part of the strategy makes some sense.  What doesn‘t make sense is pushing too hard into the arrangements that news organizations have and trying to get them to take sides against each other.

BUCHANAN:  But Chris...

MATTHEWS:  Pat, where‘s the line in terms of looking bad?  When do they begin to look bad?

BUCHANAN:  Well, the White House staff looks bad already, I think, very bad.  They look petty, the three of them going out there, saying the same thing.  but the problem is, Barack Obama, Chris, the greatest asset this presidency has is Barack Obama, the fact that he‘s a—he‘s a pleasant guy, that he‘s got persona and he‘s very attractive.  He‘s the greatest political asset in America today.

And you depreciate and minimize that asset by getting him involved in this urinating contest with Fox News.  And they‘re dragging the president down into it.  And you can see from your clip today that the president said, Look, I‘m not losing sleep over this.  This isn‘t my problem.  He wants to be...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Can he keep...

BUCHANAN:  ... up and away from it.

MATTHEWS:  Joe, can he keep his troops out there, firing away on Fox, and keep above the battle and get away with it?  Or sooner or later, does some reporter say to him, Are you singling out Fox for denial of press privileges here at the White House?

CONASON:  Well, I—look, I think...

MATTHEWS:  Are you doing that, Mr. President?

CONASON:  First of all, I think it‘s funny to hear Pat, who worked in the Nixon White House, which constantly attacked the press in the pettiest, meanest and sometimes illegal ways, to suddenly complain that the Obama White House is doing something wrong here.  That‘s number one.

Number two, look, it‘s best to let the president be above the fray.  On the other hand, when you have a network that is organizing rallies and has Glenn Beck as the anchor for the coverage of the tea party rallies...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

CONASON:  ... then you‘re going to have some pushback, and you better have some.

MATTHEWS:  So Nixon‘s your standard of morality.

BUCHANAN:  Chris...

CONASON:  Not mine.  Not mine.

(LAUGHTER)

CONASON:  No, I don‘t think there‘s...

BUCHANAN:  Let me respond to that...

CONASON:  I don‘t think there‘s a viable (ph) comparison.

BUCHANAN:  ... the Nixon...

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me take a look.  Here‘s what the White House says it‘s doing.  And Pat, I think they make their own case here, which you will respond to, I think.  David Axelrod, who‘s a smart guy—and I think he‘s a mensch—but here he is saying something I think we can argue about.  Quote, “This is a discussion that probably had to be had about their approach”—that‘s Fox—“to things.  Our concern is other media not follow their lead.”

So here‘s Axelrod, who‘s a good guy and I think a straight shooter, Pat—I think you‘d agree...

BUCHANAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... admitting that they‘re concerned.  It‘s not that Fox is Fox, but that other networks like NBC, ABC, CBS, et cetera, et cetera, AP, will begin to follow their lead in going after people like Van Jones, by looking for ACORN stories, by focusing on stories that help the right.

BUCHANAN:  Well, but wait a minute...

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an amazing admission on his part.

BUCHANAN:  The question is—the question is not whether those stories help the right but whether they‘re valid criticisms of the administration.  And I don‘t think what Axelrod is doing here is very bright.  The reason is, he‘s suggesting what the other networks, smaller networks and the big networks and the newspapers ought to do and not do.

CONASON:  Yes, I agree with Pat about that.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s not his job.  They can determine whether ACORN is a story.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  They can determine whether Van Jones is a story.

As for Nixon, let me say this.  That was a premeditated attack on all three networks in 1969, which the president reviewed and I wrote and nobody else in the White House was aware of.  And it was a major public open assault.

CONASON:  It went far beyond that, Pat, and you know it.

BUCHANAN:  It wasn‘t petty in the least.

CONASON:  It went far beyond that.  They—look, they audited Bob Greene‘s taxes...

BUCHANAN:  That was a big attack and it succeeded.

CONASON:  Come on.  It went way beyond that.  You helped—there was an enemies list that was drawn up.  Dan Schorr was on it.  They were going to audit all their taxes.  They tried to get Scaife to buy “The Washington Post.”  They attacked the “Post‘s” license...

BUCHANAN:  What is wrong...

CONASON:  ... when it came up for renewal.  Come on.

BUCHANAN:  Welcome to politics!

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  None of these guys were audited.  Nobody was indicted for that.  And quite frankly, Nixon continued that up until 1972 and won 49 states.

CONASON:  Well, until the IRS commissioner...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Pat, if Roger Ailes were in a situation compared right now to Barack Obama, would Nixon be auditing Roger Ailes right now?

BUCHANAN:  Well, we didn‘t audit—if they had audited somebody, they would have caught them.  Somebody wrote up a list and said, This is who we ought to go after...

CONASON:  They audited Bob Greene at “Newsday”...

BUCHANAN:  and nobody did anything.

CONASON:  ... as a matter of fact.

BUCHANAN:  But you know, Chris...

CONASON:  For investigating Bebe Rebozo.

BUCHANAN:  ... your hero is FDR.  What did they say about FDR?  We love him for the enemies he has made.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Well, let me ask you, Pat...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  ... real enemies.

MATTHEWS:  Let me get this straight on your thinking.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  How far do you go with enemies lists?  Is it all right to -

·         it‘s all right to do some trash talking.  Everybody does it.  You say who you don‘t like.  Fine.  Is it OK to audit people?  Is it OK to deny them licenses, to say, We‘re going to do something to Katherine Graham at “The Washington Post,” which I can‘t say on television, which John Mitchell said?

CONASON:  The attorney general of the United States.

MATTHEWS:  Can you make those kind of threats and still be legitimate?

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you what I think you can do.  I think auditing somebody is probably illegal and you ought to be caught for it, but having friends of yours challenge a license, or frankly, going with anti-trust, breaking up the networks—Chris, they were an enormous power.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BUCHANAN:  They were a major adversary.  How do you deal with them? 

You should do it aboveboard.

CONASON:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s OK...

CONASON:  ... it wasn‘t aboveboard.

MATTHEWS:  ... to keep Rupert Murdoch from getting his hands on “The Boston Herald” and things like that, and “The New York Post.”

BUCHANAN:  Well, Teddy Kennedy put that in a bill!

MATTHEWS:  I know.  And so it goes on...

BUCHANAN:  You remember that, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  ... doesn‘t it?

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  It‘s the name of the game.  Welcome to the NFL!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s get back to something we‘re better on than morality here, all of us here at this table, I think.  Skip the morality, skip the right and wrong for one moment.

BUCHANAN:  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Is it smart for this president to be caught with his hands going after people like—here‘s something like the Feinberg—this isn‘t the choicest (INAUDIBLE) history.  Here‘s the president‘s Ken Feinberg, the guy who‘s cutting the salaries of rich people up on Wall Street...

CONASON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... which is a popular thing to be doing.  Is he stupid to be caught saying, We‘re not going to give Fox an interview with this guy?

CONASON:  Well, as I said before...

BUCHANAN:  Sure...

MATTHEWS:  Is that a stupid thing to be doing?

CONASON:  As I said before, I thought that was a mistake for a lot of reasons.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You agree.  So you both agree on that.

BUCHANAN:  It is stupid, Chris, because it detracted from a popular story.  Whether you agree with him or not, it‘s a favorable story and you detracted from it by kicking Fox out.

CONASON:  Well, that‘s the down side of this whole thing, Chris, is that it starts to change the narrative, which—away from what they ought to be...

CONASON:  ... wanting to talk about.

MATTHEWS:  OK, now I‘m going to talk about something I can‘t believe I‘m doing, but it‘s television.  Pat, what do you make of these calls by his friends and associates for Roger Ailes, who‘s been the genius, the mad genius some would say, behind Fox, running for president of the United States the next time?  Is this something that Frank Luntz has cooked up to sweeten himself in the favor of Roger Ailes and some sort of May queen exercise that seems to be going on here, or is this for real?

BUCHANAN:  Chris, I worked with Roger Ailes in the ‘68 campaign...

MATTHEWS:  I know.

BUCHANAN:  ... very closely, and I‘ll tell you, he will not like Iowa for one full year.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  I don‘t think Roger—he lives too good a life for that, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  What is this thing of pushing—I don‘t know how these things get on the wires.  It got out there today on some legitimate wire that Frank Luntz, the pollster, is pushing...

CONASON:  I think it was a “Politico” story, wasn‘t it?

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It‘s a serious little piece of work.  I mean, I don‘t know what to make these things.

CONASON:  Very amusing.

BUCHANAN:  I can‘t—I don‘t believe that‘s serious, Chris.

CONASON:  Obama would love it, wouldn‘t he?

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Anyway, I got to tell you, the fact that the head of our rival network has their president running for president is certainly an interesting development.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I think it‘s in “The Life of Reilly.”  I think—what did he say, “What a revoltin‘ development this is.”

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, congratulations, Roger, for that endorsement by Frank Luntz.  It‘ll be a great weekend.  Have a great time.  Thank you, Joe Conason, Pat Buchanan.

Coming up: Sarah Palin jumps into a new congressional race, endorsing the conservative third party candidate against the Republican candidate.  Is she helping the spoiler?  Are Palin and the tea bag protesters helping the Republican Party drop dead?  Is that what they‘re up to here?  Are they guaranteeing victory for the Democrat in a race the Democrats haven‘t won since 1850?

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  I‘m up here in New York, which is about to be clobbered by the Phillies, if they get that good.  We‘ll see.

A special—just kidding.  A special—not really.  A special election, by the way, coming up in upstate New York has become kind of a proxy fight for the direction of the modern Republican Party.  Now Sarah Palin, recently of Alaska, has endorsed a third party candidate in that race who‘s a conservative siphoning off votes right now in the polls from the Republican candidate.  Palin criticized the whole Republican Party, by the way, recently in making her endorsement on her FaceBook page.

Quote—this is Governor Palin—“When Republicans were in the wilderness back in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of blurring the lines between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections.  Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate who more than blurs the lines.  This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party‘s ticket.”

Michael Long, by the way, joins us right now.  He‘s chairman of the New York Conservative Party, which is a force up here in New York state, the Empire State.  Good luck with the Yankees, by the way, should they make it up against the world champion Phillies.

MICHAEL LONG, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF NEW YORK:  You‘re wrong on the Phillies, so...

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘ll see.

LONG:  You know, we‘ll be fine.  We‘ll be fine.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll see.  We have batters and we have pitchers.  Let‘s talk about this.  What is a conservative in New York?  Are you guys for outlawing abortion?

LONG:  We are for—we‘re a pro-life party.

MATTHEWS:  What?

LONG:  We are a pro-life party.

MATTHEWS:  You want to outlaw abortion.

LONG:  We are a pro-life party, therefore...

MATTHEWS:  Come on.  What is this?  This is HARDBALL.  We talk English here.

LONG:  We believe...

MATTHEWS:  You want to outlaw abortion?

LONG:  We are pro-choice and we believe that the child has a right to the decision.

MATTHEWS:  Do you want to outlaw abortion?

LONG:  We are pro-life.

MATTHEWS:  Why don‘t you speak English?

LONG:  I am speaking in very clear English.

MATTHEWS:  The law right now...

LONG:  I think everyone understands...

MATTHEWS:  ... legalizes abortion.

LONG:  I think everyone understands what—and we—and I disagree with the law.  I believe a child has the right to live.

MATTHEWS:  Should a woman be put in jail for having an abortion?

LONG:  No, I don‘t believe a woman should be put in jail, so...

MATTHEWS:  Should a doctor be put in jail?

LONG:  ... I don‘t believe that a woman...

MATTHEWS:  Should a doctor be put in jail?

LONG:  He wouldn‘t be put in jail because the law allows him to perform abortions right now.  But the other side of the coin is, they‘re also performing late-term abortions...

MATTHEWS:  OK, should...

LONG:  ... which is breaking the law.

MATTHEWS:  ... doctors be put in jail...

LONG:  If, in fact, they break the...

LONG:  If they break the law...

MATTHEWS:  This is the biggest issue in this race up here in upstate New York.

LONG:  Chris, you are so off base on this one.  It‘s not the biggest issue in the race.

MATTHEWS:  The reason you don‘t like the Republican candidate up there in upstate New York is because she‘s pro-choice.

LONG:  No, no.  The reason I don‘t like the candidate up in upstate New York, Dede Scozzafava—she got a 15 out of a possible 100 in a rating of the Conservative Party.  Sheldon Silver, the liberal state...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

LONG:  ... speaker in the assembly, got a 10.  Forty-three percent of the Democrats in the assembly voted...

LONG:  ... to the right of Dede Scozzafava.

MATTHEWS:  OK, we got three—three candidates.  Keep the picture up there.

LONG:  She‘s wrong in—she‘s wrong in economics.  She‘s wrong on spending.

MATTHEWS:  Dede Scozzafava is the Republican—is the Republican candidate he doesn‘t like.  She‘s too liberal.  Bill Owens is the Democratic candidate, who may well win this race in the three-way race.  And Doug Hoffman is your candidate.  You like him because he‘s pro-life, he doesn‘t like same-sex marriage.  What else do you like about him?

LONG:  I like him because he understands that government is spending too much, that we pay too high taxes, that property taxes are really ruining upstate New York, and in fact, that he is a rallying point for the tea party people across the nation.

LONG:  Cross the nation.  And that‘s why Dick Armey came up yesterday to campaign for Doug Hoffman...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, you got all the winners up there!

LONG:  That‘s why—that‘s why Steve Forbes came up.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  And you‘ve got Sarah Palin now.

LONG:  OK?  And Sarah Palin and Fred Thompson—Fred Thompson...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me—let me go to a couple.

LONG:  ... Jeri Thompson both involved.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s find out what you guys stand for.

Are you for Social Security? 

LONG:  Naturally, I‘m for Social...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Are you for Medicare? 

LONG:  You know, Chris...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking. 

LONG:  Well, why don‘t we talk about what the race is about?

MATTHEWS:  Because I‘m trying to figure out what you believe in. 

LONG:  Why don‘t we talk about the fact that...

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe...

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  No, no, Chris, why don‘t we talk about the fact that Dede Scozzafava had the Working Family Party endorsement four years, which is the political arm of ACORN.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just trying to figure out what you believe in. 

LONG:  No, you‘re trying to put me into a box. 

MATTHEWS:  No, I think—I think you‘re in that box. 

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  No, no, it has nothing to do—well...

MATTHEWS:  All right.  Your candidate, Doug Hoffman—let me ask you about your candidate, Doug Hoffman. 

LONG:  Go ahead.

MATTHEWS:  Does your Doug Hoffman—is your candidate, Doug Hoffman, is he pro-choice or pro-life?

LONG:  He‘s pro-life. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he‘s against—he‘s for outlawing abortion?

LONG:  He‘s pro-life.

MATTHEWS:  He‘s for outlawing abortion?

LONG:  I answered the question.  He‘s pro-life.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You won‘t give three answer. 

Is he for same-sex marriage or against it? 

LONG:  He is for traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which, in fact, is the norm of our society. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, he is against same-sex marriage?

LONG:  He is against same-sex marriage. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Where is he on climate change? 

LONG:  Well, in what...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does he believe there is climate change going on right now? 

LONG:  I believe he is for responsible issues that would not hamper businesses and put them out of business and cause us to lose jobs in our state and across the nation. 

MATTHEWS:  So, no controls on CO2 emissions?

LONG:  Well, I think, look, when we look at what has happened in America, where are the controls coming from?  Government.  Government is causing the loss of jobs.  Government is causing...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, are you for environmental controls? 

LONG:  OK?  I am for having responsible responsibility...

MATTHEWS:  In other words, nothing. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t want to do—you guys use the nice language.  But when I get down to reality, and say—I‘m asking you, you are going to outlaw abortion, but you won‘t actually say it.  You are against climate...

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  No, I have stated very clearly I am opposed to abortion.  And we‘re pro-life.   

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to stop it?  Say it.

LONG:  Change the law.  You have to change...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How are you going to do it?  Outlaw abortion. 

LONG:  We have to change the law.

MATTHEWS:  Then you‘re afraid to say what you believe. 

LONG:  No, I‘m not afraid to say it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re laughing, but you won‘t say it.

LONG:  Listen...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Abortion is legal now.  You want to make it illegal. 

LONG:  Are you a parent, Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

LONG:  Aren‘t your for parental consent?  Wouldn‘t you want to know if your child is going to go have an abortion? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Pennsylvania has a very good you law on that.  It is fine.  I accept it completely.  Parental is fine with me.  Reflective consent is fine with me.  But, ultimately, the decision goes with the woman.  And you don‘t agree with that.

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  Look, I believe the law of the land right now allows a woman in the first three months—I disagree with the law. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  This is the problem people have with the far right.  You will not speak English.  You want to outlaw abortion.  You want to prevent same-sex marriage.  You really don‘t want to do climate change, no matter what you say, because you really don‘t want to do it.

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  Chris, you‘re not plugged in to what‘s really happening to the country. 

There‘s people across this nation, including in the 23rd C.D...

LONG:  ... that understand that they‘re losing their right to speak out how government should treat them. 

LONG:  Government is telling them what to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you rather Owens win, Hoffman win, or Scozzafava? 

LONG:  I‘m going to come back on the show, because Hoffman is going to win this race. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  He‘s going to win.

LONG:  We‘re moving up.  Scozzafava is moving down.  And Owens is moving up slightly.  But he doesn‘t have the momentum we have.  We‘re on this race real solid. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Where are you on evolution? 

LONG:  Oh, come on.  Let‘s stick to the...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  See, you guys, because you‘re troglodytes, and you don‘t want to admit it. 

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  I‘m not going to play this game with you. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  No, because you guys won‘t answer the question.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I moderated the Republican debate last year. 

LONG:  This is your show, but I...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And they—and three guys stood up and said they wouldn‘t even—they don‘t believe in evolution.  They don‘t believe in science.  You guys are so far...

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  What has that got to do with the 23rd C.D.? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It has to do with the kind of thinking of a person you want

representing you in Congress/

LONG:  What does that have to with Dede Scozzafava, who has the most liberal record in the Republican Party in the...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s bring in Steve Kornacki of “The New York Observer.” 

Steve, I‘m trying to get to the bottom line of what this Conservative Party in New York believes in.  And I‘m having a hard time with this wonderful gentleman here, because he doesn‘t like speaking English. 

LONG:  We believe the government spends too much and tax...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They have a strange cultural view of the world, which is probably out of the mainstream, even in Upstate New York. 

But your thoughts?  Give me a sense of what the Conservative Party in New York believes in. 

STEVE KORNACKI, COLUMNIST, “THE NEW YORK OBSERVER”:  Well, at a very pragmatic level, what the Conservative Party believes in is its own relevance.  And this race is very important to them, because if we get to the election, and the story is Democrat wins congressional seat because Conservative siphons off Republican votes, the man sitting next you, Chris, is going to be very powerful within the Republican Party in New York State. 

People nationally have to appreciate—there‘s a very interesting dynamic in New York State politics, where you have the major parties, Republicans, Democrats, and you have the minor parties, except the minor parties here are allowed to cross-endorse candidates on the ballot. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

KORNACKI:  So, going into the future, if the Conservatives cost the Republicans this election, Mike Long is going to be able to basically have a veto power over Republican nominees for important offices in New York State, because they don‘t want the same thing that will happen here to happen in that race. 

MATTHEWS:  So, what are you going to do with your new power, sir? 

LONG:  No, it is not new power we‘re going to have.

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  We have had this power before.  We‘re elected Jim Buckley on the Conservative Party line. 

MATTHEWS:  In 1970. 

LONG:  1970.  Two million votes. 

MATTHEWS:  That was 40 years ago.  That was 40 years ago. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

LONG:  This is a mini-Jim Buckley race. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Forty years ago, you did this.

LONG:  We provided the margin of victory for Ronald Reagan in ‘80 and ‘84. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

LONG:  We defeated Mario Cuomo, if you remember, in 1994

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Where are you on President Obama?  What do you think of him?

LONG:  I think he is changing the face of our nation.  He is taking the rights away.  He is creating—making car companies now government car companies. 

MATTHEWS:  Is he a socialist?

LONG:  Yes, I think he is on the socialist level. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  He is a socialist.  Do you think he is a legitimate American?  And do you think he was born here?

LONG:  Oh, yes, I think he was elected.  I think...

MATTHEWS:  Do you think he was born here? 

LONG:  Let me—look, he was born here.  I‘m not even going to get into that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, you‘re not a birther?  You‘re not that far out?

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  The people of this country wanted change.  OK?  They didn‘t expect the kind of change they‘re getting.  They didn‘t expect that the president of the United States, namely Barack Obama, was going to take the change out of their pocket, change their health care coverage, take the health care coverage away from senior citizens. 

MATTHEWS:  Just so they don‘t—you don‘t forget, you are a reasonable person.  Just so you don‘t forget, why did they want change? 

LONG:  Because of some of the policies that George Bush created.  OK? 

There‘s no question about that.

MATTHEWS:  You know what Cheney‘s numbers are right now?  Twenty-six percent. 

LONG:  Cheney didn‘t run for president. 

(LAUGHTER)

LONG:  Yes, Cheney didn‘t run for president. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, OK.

These guys on the right were not exactly left out of office by a happy America. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You left will Barack Obama a near depression.  You left him unemployment going up to 10 percent.  And then you blamed him for what you left him. 

And, by the way, I still suspect you want to put people in jail for abortion.  I really do think you would like to do that. 

LONG:  Do you think that?

MATTHEWS:  I really believe it.  And you won‘t deny it. 

LONG:  If the law says abortions were prohibited, depending on what the legislation, how it was written, then that‘s what—we would have to live up to the law, right? 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Right.  Put them in jail.  Throw away the key. 

LONG:  Well, that‘s your—that‘s your statement. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, that‘s your word, because that is what you‘re up to. 

(CROSSTALK)

LONG:  That‘s your statement.

MATTHEWS:  You are up to the most right-wing, draconian methods, sir. 

Michael Long, chairman of the Republican Party of New York, which is about to split the Republican Party in half. 

LONG:  No, we‘re about to elect—we‘re about to elect the next congressman for the 23rd.

MATTHEWS:  For its own gratification.

But this guy, according to Steve Kornacki, is going to be a powerhouse in New York State.  So, we may not be able to book him anymore after this election. 

Thank you, sir, Mr. Long. 

LONG:  You‘re welcome. 

MATTHEWS:  Happy Halloween. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next:  Is George W. Bush...

LONG:  Happy Thanksgiving.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... a changed man now that he is out of office?  He does something he didn‘t do eight—for eight years.  He is actually talking about making mistakes the last eight years, something Mr. Long here won‘t admit.  But George Bush will at least admit he had some venial sins—like Katrina.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

I‘m just kidding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Time for the “Sideshow.” 

Regrets, I have had a few.  George W. Bush gave a speech for money up in Montreal yesterday, where he offered up something we saw so little of the past eight years.  It‘s called reflection. 

Here‘s “The Vancouver Sun”‘s account.  On the biggest natural disaster to hit America on his watch, Bush said—quote—“I spend a lot of time thinking about Katrina, and whether I could have sent in the federal troops right away, even though it was against the law.”

Well, the delay, of course, led to tens of thousands being stranded in flooded areas.  Besides that, and that sort of revisionism, the real Bush problem with Katrina is that he had to have someone in the White House staff show him a copy of “NBC Nightly News” on the disaster, so that he, who apparently didn‘t bother to watch it on television, could finally be caught up on the horror that had been going on down in Louisiana that he missed entirely. 

Anyway, the former president also says he regrets the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner in may of 2003, though he mistakenly called it the “Mission Impossible” banner.  That‘s what you might call a Freudian slip. 

Anyway, that banner came to represent the Bush team‘s all-too-rosy outlook on the Iraq war, which he started. 

Anyway, President Obama (sic) said, however, that he has no second thoughts on the decisions to invade Afghanistan or Iraq.  Well, them was slam-dunks, I guess he thought. 

Anyway, next up: title flight.  By now, you have heard of Sarah Palin‘s much-hyped memoir, “Going Rogue,” coming out next month.  Well, her critics on the left-leaning magazine “The Nation” have responded with this.  They‘re writing a book called “Going Rouge: An American Nightmare,” featuring critical essays about the former governor.  And that‘s coming out the exact same day as her book. 

Well, I wonder if Sarah will read either book. 

On a lighter note, we all know that one of President Obama‘s biggest assets is his beautiful young family.  Well, this morning, we got our first look at the official family portrait of the Obamas, taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz in the Green Room of the White House. 

Annie takes beautiful pictures, doesn‘t she?  Everybody should get their family taken—they are amazing pictures.  Annie Leibovitz, good luck to her. 

Now for tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Think money can‘t buy you a seat?  Big Apple Mayor Mike Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine both made huge fortunes on Wall Street.  And now, in politics, both are known for waging campaigns that outspend the competition many times over.

And almost all that campaign cash comes out of their own pockets. 

Catch this.  Since the year 2000, how much have the campaigns of Corzine and Bloomberg spent combined? -- $338.8 million -- $338.8 million, just two guys running for public office, money buying love, an amazing amount. 

Is it true love, though? -- $338.8 million spent by these two fellows in the pursuit of public office, if not public affection—tonight‘s unreal “Big Number.” 

Up next:  Are Dick Cheney‘s attacks on President Bush actually having the opposite effect?  Are they helping the president politically?  We will get into that with the politics of the Dick Cheney recovery, if you will, sort of like Freddy Krueger.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks giving back early gains, as investors locked in profits from the week‘s earnings-fueled rally.  The Dow Jones industrials lost 109 points, the S&P 500 down 13 points, and the Nasdaq fell nearly 11 points. 

Cautious sales forecast from railroads dragging down stocks today—

Union Pacific‘s CEO says he expects the economy to—quote—“limp along” until unemployment turns around.  Microsoft held on to a 5 percent gain after being as much as 10 percent this morning.  The software giant beat earnings expectations on strong demand for their Windows software and Halo video games. 

Amazon shares soaring more than 26 percent today—the online retailer reported blockbuster third-quarter sales in revenue driven by robust demand for its Kindle reader. 

And existing home sales saw its largely monthly increase in 26 years, as buyers scrambled to beat the deadline for a first-time homebuyer tax credit.  That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Former Vice President Dick Cheney launched a blistering critique of President Bush this week for taking some time to decide what strategy to pursue in Afghanistan.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Having announced his Afghanistan strategy in March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete the mission. 

It‘s time for President Obama to make good on his promise.  The White House must stop dithering while America‘s forces are in danger. 

(APPLAUSE) 

CHENEY:  Make no mistake.  Signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries.  Waffling while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy endangers them and hurts our cause. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  But do Cheney‘s attacks really help the White House?  Is he a reminder of the mess he left behind in Afghanistan? 

David Corn is Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine, and Terry Jeffrey is editor in chief of CNSNews.com. 

Gentlemen, I just want to put a couple facts on the table before we discuss this.

First of all, the latest NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll admittedly was out this summer, earlier in the summer.  But it has Cheney at 26 percent positive in public estimate right you now.  Number two, during the buildup of the war in Iraq, he said that we would be greeted as liberators.  That was his foresight going into that war, greeted as liberators into a war that cost us thousands of dead Americans and cost tens of thousands on the other side in a war that he said was over before it got started. 

He also said that the insurgency, as he called it in Iraq, was in its last throes about four years ago.  That‘s good news for soldiers who are still fighting it. 

His facts have been wrong.  His history has been wrong.  His predictions have been dead wrong.  He is not liked in America.  And here he is coming back like Freddy Krueger at Halloween time.  I don‘t know why he is doing it, except he must be a mole for this administration, because it has got to help Barack Obama. 

Your thoughts, Terry Jeffrey. 

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE:  Well, Chris, no, I don‘t think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is—is he helping Barack Obama secretly? 

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFREY:  No, no.  I don‘t think so, Chris.  I think the short term political problem that President Obama has with Afghanistan is he is almost assuredly going to significantly increase the number of troops he deploys there.  He may not give the 40,000 that General McChrystal wants.  But he is going to increase the troops.  And that is going anger the left wing base of the Democratic party.  It is not going to appease the Republicans. 

His long term political problem, Chris, is what happens substantively in Afghanistan?  This is going to be Barack Obama‘s war.  Everybody is going to know that this was his strategy.  And ultimately, he‘s going to be judged, both politically and in history, by whether his strategy actually works. 

MATTHEWS:  So he will be blamed for Afghanistan the way that Nixon was blamed for Vietnam.  He inherited the war.  And no matter what he does with it, it will be his war, you‘re saying. 

JEFFREY:  Well, I think what really happened in Vietnam is the Democratic Congress cut off Vietnam after Nixon was out of office. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, in other words, we would have won the war if we had continued to fight it. 

JEFFREY:  It might have turned out differently.  If President Obama wants a model right now, he ought to look at what George W. Bush did after the 2000 elections.  The Republicans got thrown out of Congress.  The war looked like a disaster.  Many people thought it was lost.  Casualties were very high. 

He doubled down with the surge.  Very politically unpopular, but it worked.  President Obama needs to find a strategy that works, whether it is politically popular or not. 

MATTHEWS:  Before we move on, we lost 58,000 guys in Vietnam, and we lost a lot more, lost more legs and limbs and lives were ruined, millions, perhaps, hundreds of thousands on the other side.  You were saying, we should have continued that mayhem and continued to fight, losing more men, right? 

JEFFREY:  No.  What I said is when the war in Vietnam was lost was when Democrats turned and ran out on the whole country. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you.  Let‘s go back to David Corn.  David, do you think Dick Cheney is weirdly helping Barack Obama, perhaps against his will.  But he comes back with a black tie on, with a tuxedo.  He and Scooter Libby both celebrating their latest trophies they got from one of these right wing front groups. 

Celebrating what?  It is like Little League.  Everybody gates trophy. 

You get completely wrong about everything.  You lose it all.  You‘re

completely wrong on every prediction.  People hate you.  And they give you

·         wear your black tie tonight, and make sure you‘re in a mood to receive an award. 

What god damned award—I‘m sorry.  I shouldn‘t say—what award are they giving these guys?  What for? 

CORN:  Chris, he got the Keeper of the Flame Award. 

MATTHEWS:  It just seems so outrageous.  You give a guy an award for taking us into a war that he claimed victory in before we even got started.  It cost thousands of lives.  He was dead wrong on every front.  Go ahead, your thoughts.

CORN:  He got the Keeper of the Flame Award.  In accepting that award, he accused this administration, the Obama administration, of dithering.  This is after they had—he and George Bush were in charge of the Afghanistan war for seven years.  And you can go back and look at the record again and again and again.  It was an effort—whether it was right to get in or not in the first place—it was an effort that they neglected repeatedly. 

I remember back in 2006.  I did a story, a very simple story.  I wanted to know who in the Bush administration was in charge of Afghanistan Policy?  You know what the answer was, in 2006, after five years of being there?  Nobody.  The one National Security Council person who came closest had it as a part-time position.  Her other responsibility was the war in Iraq. 

Now he comes along, because Barack Obama is spending six months, or even less, reviewing strategy.  And he accuses this administration of dithering?  Just a couple weeks ago, Bob Gates, secretary of defense—he worked in the Bush-Cheney administration.  He came out and said that Barack Obama‘s strategic review is the first we‘ve had any strategy in Afghanistan since the 1980s.  That covers the entire Bush-Cheney period. 

So it is kind of laughable.  But you‘re right.  And Terry is right.  Let me say this.  Barack Obama has a tremendous problem, both policy wise and political in Afghanistan.  It is a mess.  It‘s very hard to figure this out. 

If you look at Barack Obama alone with the Afghanistan problem, it‘s a very difficult situation.  But you bring Dick Cheney into the equation, and put him next to Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama, he looks great on almost any matter. 

So the more Cheney talks, the more political space and the higher standing Barack Obama is going to have. 

MATTHEWS:  Terry, You and I probably agree on this.  When we aren‘t on the show, we‘ll probably agree, when we‘re together.  Isn‘t it amazing that guys who are all these hawks, these guys at the American Enterprise Institute, Scooter and Dick Cheney, the whole rest, they always celebrate each others‘ the warrior talk. 

When it comes time to be drafted, they dither.  Four deferments.  They‘re all for all the wars, but other guys have to fight them.  Their real war policy is dithering, not fighting, sending other kids, working class kids, to fight these wars. 

How can Cheney be such a hawk if he‘s never had—he said he had other priorities during Vietnam.  He was a hawk back then.  This country wouldn‘t be feared, by the way, if everybody fought as hard as Dick Cheney, because then nobody would fight. 

The bottom line is these are chicken hawks who love to talk war.  He wants to double the troop levels in every war.  More wars.  If you let Cheney, we‘ll to go war with Iran next.  Give me the point here.  What do you really feel toward these guys? 

JEFFREY:  First of all—

MATTHEWS:  Are they the real warriors or just pretend? 

JEFFREY:  Let me respond to what you said.  First of all, I want to defend the Center for Security Policy, which awarded this Keeper of the Flame Award to Dick Cheney. 

MATTHEWS:  And to Scooter Libby.

JEFFREY:  Excuse me.  It is run by Frank Gaffney, who was the deputy secretary of defense during the Reagan Administration, the administration that won the Cold War.  Frank Gaffney is in part responsible for the policies that defeated communism. 

Secondly, no matter what you say about the policies of the previous administration on national security—and I did have some disagreements with where they went.  I‘m not a Wilsonian.  I do not believe in promoting democracy around the world.  Dick Cheney and George W. Bush can say this: in the eight years following September 11, 2010 attacks, there was not another terrorist attack on the United States.  They succeeded. 

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  If that‘s your score keeping, who is

responsible for 9/11?  If you go by that score keeping?  If it happens on

your watch, you‘re responsible for it.  If it doesn‘t happen on your watch

--

JEFFREY:  Al Qaeda, an enemy of all Americans. 

MATTHEWS:  No, wait a minute.  Who is responsible—by this score keeping, they‘re responsible for 9/11. 

JEFFREY:  -- the policy that kept us safe.  Not another terror attack

--

MATTHEWS:  If that‘s the way you keep score, then they‘re responsible for 9/11. 

JEFFREY:  Security for the American people, Chris, is how you keep score.  Zero attacks. 

MATTHEWS:  No, wait a minute, 9/11 was on their watch. 

CORN:  Right, and we have the—

MATTHEWS:  Who was responsible for 9/11, Terry?  It was their watch.  By your score keeping, if it is on your watch, you‘re responsible.  Were they responsible for 9/11? 

JEFFREY:  Chris, you and I have talked before about the 9/11 Commission Report.  I think we both believe that was an excellent investigation.  The sequence of events that led up to the 9/11 attacks and why this country was vulnerable.  I think there was a lot of blame to go around.  It went back a long time in history. 

Would I say that the Bush-Cheney administration can totally be absolved for blame for what happened that day?  No.  Nor could the Clinton administration. 

MATTHEWS:  You called this award giving and everybody is getting black ties and getting trophies for defending the country.  Just remember who was there when we got hit. 

JEFFREY:  But they did defend the country. 

CORN:  You know that if a Democrat—

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with other people.  David Corn, thank you.  Terry Jeffrey, have a nice weekend.  Up next, is there life left after the public option?  Well, the public option looks very much alive.  Harry Reid seems to be pushing it, still.  The politics is coming back.  We‘re going to talk about that and this war on Fox.  Fox hunting is back in season.  HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Time for the politics fix with Susan Age of “USA Today” and the “Politico‘s” Jonathan Martin, who is everywhere these days.  Jonathan, I don‘t know when to stop listening to you.  But I‘m not going to stop now. 

Let‘s go to some fun stuff here.  Bottom line, you two straight journalists—no opinion here.  I‘ll suspend my own for a second or two.  Susan, you first.  Who‘s winning this battle, this range war between Roger Ailes and the president of the United States and his people? 

SUSAN PAGE, “THE USA TODAY”:  I think Fox is winning. 

MATTHEWS:  How so?  Explain the battle lines here. 

PAGE:  You know, the White House has elevated Fox to being the center of the opposition.  It‘s I‘m sure reinforced the sentiments of Fox viewers.  Maybe they‘ve ginned up people on their own side as well.  But I think—I think it‘s been a mistake by the White House.  I think what they did yesterday at the Treasury Department, where they tried to exclude Fox reporters from interviews that were going on there—a round robin set of interviews—I think that was a mistake.  And kudos to the network bureau chiefs of the other networks that refused to go along. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Jonathan?  

JONATHAN MARTIN, “POLITICO”:  I think Susan, as usual, is closer to the truth here.  I agree yesterday was a mistake. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, Jonathan, cool it on the courtesy, will you.  Just get to the point.  Just kidding. 

MARTIN:  She‘s always right.  Here‘s the bottom line, though.  The fact is the central goal here is to shame the mainstream media into not picking up some of the narratives, some of the news nuggets coming out of Fox.  That‘s not going to happen I don‘t think. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, that‘s—let‘s get everybody—catch up everybody.  It‘s not just about the trash talk you hear in baseball, trashing the other team.  It‘s about, apparently, according to Rudinburg (ph), who is a hell of a reporter with the “New York Times,” and Krauthammer, the columnist—apparently the strategy coming out of Axelrod‘s office is we have to be careful here because Fox is picking up on stories like Acorn and Van Jones at the White House.  They‘re picking on these stories, sort of cherry picking the bad news in the Barack Obama administration.  And other news organizations are going to start following their lead. 

Is that what they‘re afraid of?  Is that really the story?  Or is that just the spin coming from the right. 

MARTIN:  No, that‘s really the story.  They‘re worried about the stuff going down stream, so to speak, and being picked up by other mainstream news outlets, and then becoming more of a story.  If it‘s only isolated on Fox, they can live with it.  It‘s when it gets to the three networks, when it gets to the elite papers.  Then they have a political problem on their hands. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we‘ll be right back.  I want to talk about this surviving of the public option.  A lot of people on the liberal side of things really want this public option.  We‘re going to see in what form it might survive.  I thought it wasn‘t going to make it.  Now I‘m beginning to think something might make it.  Another part of me says the whole thing might come down on this thing. 

Susan Page and Jonathan Martin, we‘re going to get back for a couple minutes.  Will health care include a public option that keeps us competitive, in terms of pricing?  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back to find out, at the end of the week, if there‘s any chance for this public option, in any form, to get past the Congress on to the president‘s desk.  Susan Page, Jonathan Martin, what you hearing now?  Susan? 

PAGE:  I think it‘s possible.  A couple weeks ago, we thought it was not possible.  It‘s still threading a needle though.  I‘m inclined to think it‘s more likely you end up with this trigger that Olympia Snowe supports.  The White House thinks that might work.  It‘s not good enough for some liberal Democrats, who want something they call more robust. 

But it‘s in a play in a way now.  It‘s a little bit surprising.  We thought it had been pushed off the table. 

MATTHEWS:  Jonathan? 

MARTIN:  Yes.  I think you‘re going to see some kind of public option, but you will almost certainly see a trigger or an opt out deal, where states individually cannot accept the public option.  I think that‘s almost certainly the way they go, Chris, to sell those Senate moderate Democrats on it, and to also keep the House liberals as well. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the push back from Republican moderates, Snowe and Collins from Maine, and the moderate Democrats, Landrieu, Nelson and Lieberman, Susan?  Are they going to be able to push this off the table, or just push it back to a trigger? 

PAGE:  I think they may well be able to push it back to the trigger.  If you go with even the provision that lets states opt out of it, you definitely lose Snowe.  She‘s made that clear.  So you lose your only sure Republican right now.  And you probably don‘t hold some of these Democrats.  And you don‘t have the numbers to get to the 60, and avoid a filibuster without them. 

In a way, it‘s more about the moderate Democrats.  The White House is also pretty interested in keeping a Republican on board, so this is not a 100 percent Democratic health care plan. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there any chance in the House there‘s going to be disruption?  I keep hearing Pelosi, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, doesn‘t quite have the 218 she needs.  Jonathan first?

MARTIN:  I think that there‘s truth to that, Chris, and it‘s in large part because you have House progressives that are very wary of anything that‘s not a robust public plan.  There are some of those folks that have nothing politically to lose, that are going to very much cue to that, and are not going to support anything short of a full public option.  That‘s going to be a real challenge for the speaker. 

MATTHEWS:  Susan, I hear there‘s a problem with abortion rights.  It‘s getting to be a fly in the ointment here at the last minute.  It could cost them 20 Democratic supporters, usually liberal.  Is that a problem, do you know?

PAGE:  It‘s been a very delicate issue up to this point.  I thought they had pretty much agreed on a provision that was acceptable to the pro-life—

MATTHEWS:  No, they haven‘t.  I think I‘ve heard the opposite.  Susan, we will have to keep reporting that one.  Susan Page, Jonathan Martin, have a nice weekend.  Right now, it‘s time for “THE ED SHOW” with Ed Schultz.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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