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updated 11/2/2010 9:40:55 AM ET 2010-11-02T13:40:55

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Haley Barbour, John Heilemann, Donna Edwards

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  It‘s just before the battle.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in New York on the eve of the mid-term elections.  Leading off tonight: SOS for progressives.  For those on the left, watching tomorrow night‘s election returns promises to be like the battle of the Alamo as seen from inside the mission.  The latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll has devastating data for Democrats.  According to one of our pollsters, the question is whether Democrats can hang onto the Senate and win enough key governor‘s races to have a respectable night.  We‘ll take a last pre-election look at what we can expect tomorrow at the top of the show.

Plus, we‘ll talk to the Democrat who‘s been leading the effort to fend off Republican control of the House of Representatives, U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, about what they expect to see Tuesday night.  He being a Republican.

Also, what about that coalition of young and first-time voters and minorities that catapulted President Obama to victory in 2008?  They hold the key to a better-than-expected night for Democrats tomorrow night.  Will they show up?

And perhaps the juiciest political story of the day comes from Politico, which reports a growing “stop Palin” movement among Republican leaders.  The reason, they fear she‘ll win the nomination and they‘ll get crushed then by President Obama.  That‘s the fear out there, according to Politico.

“Let Me Finish” tonight, by the way, with a tribute to a man for what he wrote and what he refused to write.

All that‘s ahead.  First, a final look at polls from tight races around the country.  For that, we check the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”  Let‘s start with Nevada, where Sharron Angle holds a slim 1-point lead over Senator Harry Reid in the new PPP poll, 47-46.  In Colorado, it‘s Republican Ken Buck over Michael Bennet by 1 point, 49-48.  In California, Senator Barbara Boxer has a 4-point lead over Carly Fiorina, 50-46.  Now to Washington state.  Senator Patty Murray is now up by 2 over Republican Dino Rossi in that back-and-forth, 50-48.  In Illinois, where Republican Mark Kirk now has a 4-point lead over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.  And in West Virginia, Joe Manchin now leads Republican John Raese by 5, 51-46.

Now to some governor races around the country.  In Florida, Democrat Alex Sink up 3 over Republican Rick Scott.  She‘s 49-46.  In a tight race in Ohio, Republican John Kasich‘s lead over incumbent governor Ted Strickland is at 1, 47-46.  Finally to Colorado, where Democrat John Hickenlooper has the lead, but look at Tom Tancredo of the American Conservative Party.  He‘s within striking distance.  Look at him, 43.  You know, he may win this thing.

Now to the man responsible for getting Democrats elected to the House of Representatives, Maryland congressman Chris Van Hollen, who‘s chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Congressman, I want you to look at something—an audio, actually, from something President Obama said to Univision on October 25th, 19 -- or rather, 2010.  Here he is, President Obama, on the radio interview with Univision a week ago.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And if Latinos sit out the election, instead of saying, We‘re going to punish our enemies and we‘re going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us—if they don‘t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it‘s going to be harder.  And that‘s why it is so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And here‘s John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House‘s response.  Quote, “When Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush used the word ‘enemy,‘ they reserved it for global terrorists and foreign dictators, enemies of the United States.”

Was the president, Congressman, ill-advised to refer to Americans as enemies?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD), DCCC CHAIRMAN:  Look, Chris, this is an effort by John Boehner to once again distract people from the big issues in this race that separate the two parties.  The president‘s been trying to draw the contrast between what Democrats have done and will do and the fact that Republicans want to take us back to the same old policies.

And look, they want to make a lot of hay about this.  I think what we need to do is move on.  It‘s a distraction just before the election.  We need to make sure that people get out and exercise their civic responsibility and vote.

MATTHEWS:  Should Latinos punish their enemies?

VAN HOLLEN:  The president was just speaking politically.  And you know, the irony here, Chris, is here are these guys who‘ve just been pounding and pounding the president day after day, trying to make hay about this.  The fact of the matter is that people need to understand whose side the president is on with respect to his policies.  And when it comes to policies, the fact of the matter is the president has been working to try to have a more inclusive society and not a narrow society.  And that‘s what this is all about.

And again, this is an election eve distraction.  Let‘s get on with this election.  It‘s about the issues.  It‘s about the future.  And we‘re confident that when you look at the early vote and you look at the fact that undecided voters don‘t like what they see when it comes to some of these far-right Tea Party candidates, that we‘re going to hold onto the majority.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the way the polling is showing this and your review of it.  Is this a review or a referendum on Nancy Pelosi around the country?  I was in Philadelphia recently, where I grew up, and I noticed a weekend ago or so that all the ads are—I mean, they‘re outrageous, I think.  They‘re dumping on people who are running for Congress, who aren‘t even members, and saying they‘re “Pelosi-o-crats,” basically.  It‘s very personal, going after this woman leader of the House from San Francisco as if she‘s running for the House in the suburbs of Philly and Delaware and places like that.

What‘s it all about?  I mean, this is very personal.

VAN HOLLEN:  It is.  And look, the Republicans have spent millions and millions of dollars trying to demonize Nancy Pelosi, and I don‘t think the voters are going to fall for this at all because at the end of the day, they care about the things that matter in their lives.  And we had a very recent example of this, Chris, in the special election in Pennsylvania, where...

MATTHEWS:  Critz won, yes.

VAN HOLLEN:  Yes.  Well, you had—this was Jack Murtha‘s open seat, and the Republicans did exactly what they‘re doing in the other races.  They tried to make it all about Nancy Pelosi, all about Barack Obama.  Mark Critz made it about issues people care about, trying to make sure that we shut down these subsidies, these perverse subsidies that actually reward multi-national corporations that ship jobs overseas.  He talked about the issues.

The other point about that race is, Chris, all the pundits had it wrong.  The same guys in Washington who are predicting this, you know, massacre of Democrats...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

VAN HOLLEN:  ... all of them predicted that the Republican would win that race, and they were all wrong.  This thing is not over, and I think the pundits in Washington are in for a big surprise.

MATTHEWS:  So the Democrats...

VAN HOLLEN:  People need to get out and vote.

MATTHEWS:  The Democrats will hold the House?

VAN HOLLEN:  Yes, they will.  And the early vote shows that Democrats...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

VAN HOLLEN:  ... are energized, and the undecideds don‘t like all these Republican candidates, who‘ve been recruited by Sarah Palin, who want to abolish the Department of Education, who want to privatize Social Security.  They just don‘t like that extreme agenda.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Good luck tomorrow night, Chris Van Hollen, my congressman.

VAN HOLLEN:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Now to Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, who‘s the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.  Governor, thanks for joining us tonight.  It‘s a rare opportunity, and we‘re going to seize upon it.

This question—is the president wrong to refer to people who disagree with Latinos on the immigration issue as enemies?  Is he wrong to use that term?

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR (R-MS), REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOC. CHAIRMAN: 

Well, of course he is.  It‘s not appropriate for a president.  But you know, the good thing is Congressman Van Hollen‘s going to get his wish.  This election, more than any mid-term election I can remember, is a referendum on the president‘s policies and Speaker Pelosi‘s policies.

And the American people don‘t like those policies.  They don‘t like outrageous spending.  They don‘t like the skyrocketing deficits.  They don‘t like the trillions of dollars of debt that‘s being poured—piled up on our children and grandchildren.  And they don‘t like the tax increase that‘s around the corner in January that the Democrat Congress wouldn‘t even vote on before they went home.

So if he wants this to be a race about public policy—more than anyone that I can ever remember in a mid-term election.

MATTHEWS:  So if you‘d been president the last two years, you would have proposed balanced budgets.

BARBOUR:  Well, I...

MATTHEWS:  You would have proposed balanced budgets because you‘re talking about the evils of deficit spending.  Would you, as president, have proposed balanced budgets the last two years?

BARBOUR:  Well, as governor for seven years...

MATTHEWS:  No, no, no!  As president, would you do it?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re criticizing the president here.

BARBOUR:  As governor for seven years, I have had balanced budgets.

MATTHEWS:  No, no.  But you‘re criticizing...

BARBOUR:  George Bush...

MATTHEWS:  ... the president.

BARBOUR:  Let‘s—let‘s compare...

MATTHEWS:  Would you have proposed balance budgets the last two years?

BARBOUR:  Let‘s compare presidents, Chris.  George Bush...

MATTHEWS:  No, that‘s not the issue.

BARBOUR:  Now, wait a minute!  George Bush, eight years, the national debt went up $2 trillion.  In two years and Obama‘s first three budgets, the national debt‘s gone up an additional $4 billion.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BARBOUR:  Two billion in eight years, four billion in three years! 

We‘ve had a gigantic increase...

MATTHEWS:  Had you come into the presidency...

BARBOUR:  ... in the deficit and debt!

MATTHEWS:  Haley Barbour, Governor, you know what I‘m talking about.  Had you come in under the conditions Barack Obama had come in under, with a free-falling economy, with Wall Street in chaos, would you have offered up balance budgets like Hoover did?  Would have you offered balanced budgets in the last two fiscal years?  It‘s a reasonable question.  You know the issues.

BARBOUR:  Well, I‘ll tell you what.  I wouldn‘t have...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not going to say yes, are you.

BARBOUR:  I would not have had $800 trillion (SIC) of new spending.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  I would have had several hundred trillion (SIC) dollars of tax cuts...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BARBOUR:  ... so that we could grow the economy.  We don‘t need more spending, and we sure don‘t need more taxes.

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s a matter of degree.  It‘s not a question of having deficits the last two years.

BARBOUR:  Well, it‘s a matter of direction.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  OK.  Let me—what taxes has Obama raised?

BARBOUR:  Obama has in place a 3.8 percent increase in the capital gains tax, dividend tax, interest tax to help pay for health care, on top of what we already pay for Social Security and Medicaid...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  But he hasn‘t—he‘s raised taxes?

BARBOUR:  ... and...

MATTHEWS:  I didn‘t know he had raised taxes.

BARBOUR:  Well, what did they not do?  They did not vote before this election on whether or not there‘s going to be a huge tax increase in January.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:   The American people should assume, since they didn‘t vote...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  ... to keep taxes down, that they‘re going to let...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  ... taxes go up, shouldn‘t they?

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, let me ask you about this...

BARBOUR:  Shouldn‘t they?

MATTHEWS:  Look, you‘re arguing the policy.  I‘m just asking you to be consistent.  When you trash the president for having deficits, I‘m asking you would you have proposed balanced budgets?  And you hesitate to say so because you know how bad the economy was when he came in...

BARBOUR:  I would have proposed...

MATTHEWS:  ... and what he faced and what was left to him.  You know how tough it was.

BARBOUR:  I would have proposed (ph) going (ph) in a totally different direction from me that would have ultimately led to a balanced budget.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  But we weren‘t going to have a balanced budget last year. 

No.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BARBOUR:  The direction is totally different.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask but this whole Sarah Palin thing.  The word is out that the boys‘ club is meeting, scared to death that Sarah Palin‘s going to be nominee of Republican Party come 2012.  Are you worried that she might be the nominee, if you don‘t run or somebody like you from the governors?

BARBOUR:  I‘m not worried.  And the idea there‘s some cabal of some boys‘ club—I mean, I would know if the boys‘ club was out meeting.  The idea that they‘re trying to keep Sarah Palin from running for governor (SIC) is foreign to me.  If that‘s true, I‘m not aware of it.

Sarah‘s got a big following in our party and in our country.  If she would run, there would be a lot of people that would support her.  I don‘t know whether she‘s going to run, but she ought to decide.  And I‘m sure over the next year or so, she‘ll decide.  But I don‘t buy this idea that there are a bunch of people secretly...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  ... who are trying to keep her from running.

MATTHEWS:  You know political history better than I do, probably. 

We‘ll bet on that, maybe, at some point.  But I want to ask you this—

I‘ve never seen a political party that‘s faced a good chance of winning back the White House that hasn‘t taken it seriously and put the best man up.  Of course, the years like Goldwater couldn‘t beat Johnson, so they ran Goldwater.  And McGovern couldn‘t beat Nixon, so they ran McGovern.

But when you have a shot, like in 1980 or years like this, 2000, you run your best person.  You get together, you run George W.  You get together, you back Reagan.  You got a shot next time.  Is there any chance you‘re going to let this election just go to whoever wins the nomination, whoever happens to win it‘s going to win it?  You know, whoever—well, we‘re just loosey-goosey here.  Whoever happens to get the people in the primaries in—in Iowa caucuses, oh, you get to be the nominee?  Or are you going to get together like you do in the big years and make sure you win it?  I‘m just asking.

BARBOUR:  You know, Chris, I...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re an organized political party.  Are you going to be organized?

BARBOUR:  I have been the biggest advocate in the country that Republicans should not be distracted by 2012...

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BARBOUR:  ... until after tomorrow.  We can‘t wait until 2012 to start taking our country back.  This election, November 2nd, tomorrow, is the election that counts.

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you.

BARBOUR:  It is the critical election for redirection of American policy.  After that, we‘ll start talking about who might run for president and who might be for whom.  But I hope there‘s not one Republican between now and when they quit counting the votes...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

BARBOUR:  ... tomorrow night that‘s worried about it.

MATTHEWS:  When‘s the first meeting of the boys‘ club?

BARBOUR:  The old fat boys‘ club?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You‘re the king of the boys‘ club!  What are you talking about?  You‘re the meeting caller!

BARBOUR:  It‘s dark in the studio.  I can‘t read my watch.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Haley Barbour, are you running for president?

BARBOUR:  We‘ll decide after Tuesday.  I‘m going to sit down and see if there‘s anything to think about.  But I don‘t feel any rush.  I‘ve been working to help elect governors, and I think we‘re going to elect 30 or more.  And then I‘m going to take a deep breath, and then Marsha (ph) and I‘ll have a chance over the next few weeks or months to decide whether that‘s the right thing to do or not.  But I really haven‘t given it any serious thought and won‘t until after tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  So a fully developed white male from the South with a heavy accent, the scent of Dixie all about him, would be an attractive candidate for a country that may well be ready for a new president, you‘re telling us.

BARBOUR:  Did you mention lobbyist?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  You just did, brother!  That‘s what I always say.  As Bobby Kennedy once said, hang a lantern on your problem, and you‘ve just done it.  Thank you, sir.  All that‘s true.  Thank you, Haley Barbour, a very attractive fellow.

Coming up, we‘ve got the final NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll before tomorrow‘s mid-term elections, and it suggests the Republicans will have a very good night, tomorrow night at least, maybe not in 2012.  All the numbers next.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We‘ve got to get Cleveland out to vote!  We‘ve got to get everybody in Ohio out to vote.  And in Ohio, you can vote early.  There is early voting just a few blocks from here.  So you can go right after this rally, if you haven‘t voted, because if everyone who fought for change in 2008 shows up to vote in 2010, we will win this election.  I am confident of that.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  People that drop their Gs are not elitists.  Read that, Mr.  President.  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was the president dropping his Gs in Cleveland on Sunday.  He‘s rallying the base the best he can.  Will his party settle for a drubbing tomorrow night if they can avoid a total wipeout?

Chuck Todd—well, that‘s an interesting set-up.  Chuck Todd‘s NBC News chief White House correspondent and political director, and John Heilemann covers politics for “New York” magazine.

Gentlemen, we just got the word late this afternoon—in fact, a minute or two ago—that the president has walked back that way in which he represented the people who oppose the Latino community on the immigration issue, generally speaking, as “enemies.”  He‘s been hit for calling them that, saying you got punish your enemies, saying now, I should have used the word opponents.  Is that going to be a newsmaker?  Is that going to make him look like he‘s backing off now with the tough talk?

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIR./WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  No.  I think anything inside this sort of 24, 72-hour window, bubble (INAUDIBLE) will, when it comes to campaign—nothing really can—every hour, it‘ll feel like that, Oh, wow, that could be a big story, and then the next hour, something else happens.  So...

JOHN HEILEMANN, “NEW YORK” MAGAZINE:  But he did the right thing.

MATTHEWS:  He did the right thing.  I agree with that.  Let‘s take a look at the new poll.  We‘ve got the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll just out late last night.  It‘s got a 6-point advantage over Democrats now.  People tell me who‘ve studied these generic polls over the years—and I have somebody here with me to do this—that‘s significant.

TODD:  It‘s very significant.

MATTHEWS:  Six-point advantage for Republicans.

TODD:  Six points.  Well, I always say (INAUDIBLE) say I‘ll take the number.  Let—let‘s extrapolate 6 points.  You go 53-47 in a congressional race, that‘s a close race.  You go 53-47 nationally, that‘s a 50 to 55-seat pick-up for the Republicans.  That‘s a landslide in a 6 -- and that‘s assuming all the undecideds break the same way in this two-party vote.

Right now, we are redistricted pretty fairly as far nationally—as far as the two party vote‘s concerned.  So there isn‘t—remember back in the ‘80s, it used to be, you know, Democrats automatically had sort of a 3-point advantage in these generic ballots and it didn‘t really match.  Now it matches.

So if this undecided vote, say, goes 75-25 to the Republicans, which all signs are pointing to that, then you are looking at—that‘s why you see people like Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg start saying, You know what?  It could be 60 seats.  It could be 65 seats.  And you can paint the 70-seat scenario.

HEILEMANN:  Yes, 53-47.  You remember where you remember that number from, 19 -- 2008. That was...

TODD:  That was a landslide.

HEILEMANN:  That was...

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  We called it a landslide for Obama.  And that‘s how far we have come.  The numbers have—are upside-down now.

MATTHEWS:  I read a phrase today which I think captured my sense of the election, not that the country has all of a sudden become ideologically right-wing or all of a sudden Republican.  They don‘t like the name Republican much in most cases.

In most cases, they don‘t like the name Republican.  But this kick-in-the-pants idea, I love the phrase.  Somebody the Democrats need a kick in the pants.  We have got a new poll out, again the “Wall Street Journal”/NBC poll, that shows people voting Republican this time are making—or generally voting making a temporary decision 62 percent, making a long-term switch in party allegiance only 28 percent.

Tells me it‘s an impulsive reaction, rational reaction to bad times, John Heilemann.

HEILEMANN:  Well, and it‘s perfectly consistent with everything that we have seen for the last 12 months, which is that the Republican Party is not actually that popular.  It‘s still a party that has only got a 25 percent to 30 percent approval rating. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the vote this time will reflect what?  The conditions. 

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  Exactly this kick in the pants you‘re talking about.  The people are voting for this party not because they want Republican rule forever, not—because they‘re trying to register disapproval of what they have seen over the last two years, more than they are some kind of long-term affection for the Republican Party or approval of their policies. 

MATTHEWS:  I wish we had a woman on the panel this second because the question is Pelosi.  Why is Pelosi becoming the target of all of this villainy?  I mentioned it with Congressman reaction Van Hollen.  I was up in Philly this last—two weekends ago.  And what I saw was people who were running for Congress who weren‘t even members being tagged with Pelosi.  Why has she become a target? 

TODD:  Well, first of all, she has been a target—a target by Republican...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What did she do wrong?

TODD:  Because she‘s the head of the House. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s it?

TODD:  She‘s the speaker of the House. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, not Harry Reid as a target?  Why isn‘t Steny Hoyer being attacked?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  Because she‘s the face.  They love the idea of making her a San Francisco liberal.  So you have the whole San Francisco...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is that part of that?

TODD:  You add that into it.  But she‘s the face. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Does she look rich?  Does that bother people? 

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  I have had some say that theory that maybe she‘s too put together. 

MATTHEWS:  Too swank?

TODD:  All this. 

But the issue here—and this comes from Pelosi apologists, who say to me, you know what?  We let two years go without ever responding.

And the thing that has always surprised me about Nancy Pelosi‘s poll numbers is her lack of support with women.  And I have talked to some pollsters, both Democrats and Republicans, who say they have done focus groups.  And they will tell me—they say women will say, will actively say, you know what?  I was really excited about the idea of a woman speaker of the House, really excited about a woman that high up in power.

And then Speaker Pelosi did nothing to cultivate that.  That‘s her style.  Her style really is sort of behind the scenes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Very inside.  I agree.

(CROSSTALK) 

TODD:  She sort of—she would always say, I will let it go. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I worked for a speaker.  He was much better on the outside. 

But she‘s better on the inside.  She‘s really good on the inside.

TODD:  She‘s a really good inside player.  And she was just awful...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Really good on the inside. 

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  Republicans have been trying to do this since back in 2006, when it was harder to do, because she wasn‘t in charge of anything. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Has power turned off men?  She‘s so good at it, so regimented...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  This isn‘t gender.

MATTHEWS:  No?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  Don‘t get caught up in the gender. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking.

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  I really think she‘s paying a price for her effectiveness. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s what I think.  She‘s tough.

HEILEMANN:  Because Harry Reid was seen as not as effective for the Obama agenda.  It‘s much easier to tie her to the Obama agenda because she did so well for him. 

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  She got it all done.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Every vote she needed.  She brought cap and trade in, which hurts.  It‘s amazing, what she‘s done.

HEILEMANN:  This is her title.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s look at the negative rating.  President Obama and the Democratic Party both at 42 percent, Speaker Pelosi at 50 percent.  So, She‘s leading the battle in terms of getting the most unpopular. 

TODD:  That‘s right.  And among likely voters, it‘s 56 percent, meaning the people who are going to the polls tomorrow, they really are motivated by firing Pelosi. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  In your condition as chief political czar of our network, are you allowed to make a prediction? 

TODD:  No, I‘m not allowed to make a prediction.  That‘s why I stayed out of the crystal ball.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  And neither are you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t make predictions, but I do look at them for favorability. 

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  What am I predicting?

MATTHEWS:  Are you predicting a House victory for the Republicans, how big it‘s going to be? 

HEILEMANN:  Oh, yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  How big?

HEILEMANN:  I think over 60 seats now.  I‘m on the bearish side. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Is the Senate reachable? 

HEILEMANN:  I don‘t think so.  I think eight or nine in the Senate. 

But I think—I wouldn‘t be surprised by...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What are you looking at tomorrow night the first hour?  We go on 6:00, with everybody sitting at this table.  We are going to be starting to guess. 

I‘m looking at—I will tell you what I‘m looking at, a possible upset in Massachusetts of the governor, Deval Patrick, a possible upset.  I think Charlie Baker is getting close.  The Cahill candidacy is shrinking to nothing.  I think you might see an upset there, because of anger, the old Ed King vote. 

TODD:  It could be.  I think Kentucky...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What are you looking for, an early... 

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  The first poll closing in Kentucky, Ben Chandler, Happy Chandler‘s great-grandson.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right, the former baseball commissioner. 

TODD:  This is a guy who everybody in that district knows.  They have a personal connection with the Chandler name in Kentucky.  He can‘t survive a wave like this, I think that tells you, you are in the 50s of Republican seats. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s a Democrat.

TODD:  He‘s a Democrat.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And what‘s the most famous phrase from Happy Chandler? 

TODD:  Well, hit me with it.

MATTHEWS:  What did you do for me lately? 

TODD:  What did you do for me lately? 

Well, that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Former baseball commissioner. 

TODD:  That‘s number one in the House.  And then at 7:30 poll closing is West Virginia Senate, because the only way...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  By the way, which is a great line for the Democrats.  What did you do for me lately is what the voters are asking. 

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  The only way Republicans take the Senate is they have to win West Virginia. 

HEILEMANN:  Yes.  And I think West Virginia...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  What are you looking for as an early surprise?

HEILEMANN:  Well, West Virginia Senate is the one that I‘m looking, because I think that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  It tells us everything.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  If Manchin loses, a horrendous bad night?

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  Correct.

(CROSSTALK)

HEILEMANN:  It tells you that the House wave has washed into the Senate. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK, we got all three, Kentucky House race, Chandler. 

Looking at West Virginia.  I‘m looking at Massachusetts. 

Chuck Todd, John Heilemann, the best in the business. 

Up next—although he does me his picks when you‘re not watching.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Would-be House Speaker John Boehner went out on a limb and campaigned for a candidate who dresses up like a Nazi, an S.S. costume.  Why did he do that?  The guy won‘t even commit to him.  Where‘s the deal here?  Where‘s the relationship politics?  The “Sideshow” is next. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL, and now to a great “Sideshow.” 

First tonight: a pitch-perfect return.  Father and son duo George W.  and H.W. took to the field at game four of—the Rangers/Giants game last night, that World Series game.  The elder Bush watched his son throw out the first pitch to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.  Let‘s take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  When you are ready, Mr. President, fire a strike to Nolan Ryan. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That was a pretty good pitch.  We‘re all good at something. 

Rangers Ballpark, remember, is the familiar grounds for George W.  He was a controlling owner of that team, the Rangers, before heading to the governor‘s mansion back in ‘95.  And he can throw the pitch. 

Next:  He will not just be obeying orders.  John Boehner went out on a political limb this Saturday by campaigning for Rich Iott.  He‘s the congressional candidate who, in his free time, likes to put on those S.S.  uniforms.  Iott then was asked whether he would support Boehner for speaker if he got elected.

Well, you would expect him to say, I will return the favor, of course. 

Well, wrong.

Iott‘s response: “I don‘t know.  We will have to wait and see.”

Wow.  Iott, a Tea Partier, wouldn‘t comment on who he would support. 

Wow.  I would be careful there with that one. 

Anyway, finally, a primer on how not to close out your campaign.  Last week, Philip Storey, a write-in candidate for Iowa Senate, saw a student worker at the University of Nebraska removing his campaign signs on a campus.  Well, Storey allegedly threatened to kill the student or send someone in to kill her if she continued to take down his signs on campus. 

Storey was arrested Friday on suspicion of making terroristic threats.  It‘s still unclear why Storey, an Iowa Senate candidate, was campaigning in Nebraska.  I guess it‘s across the border there.

Up next:  Can the establishment of the Republican Party do anything to stop Sarah Palin?  They would like to, apparently, and they are trying.  Sarah‘s response to the boys club when we return. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TRISH REGAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Trish Regan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Another volatile session leading to another mixed close.  Take a look at the numbers, the Dow Jones industrial average adding on six points, the S&P ending up a point, and the Nasdaq slipping 2.5. 

Investors on the sidelines today ahead of both the elections and this week‘s policy meeting by the Federal Reserve.  However, the Dow did reach its highest levels of the year around midday on news of manufacturing growth in China, as well right here in home—at home.  Construction spending and personal spending also moving higher in the month of September, but personal incomes fell a tenth of a percent. 

The dollar strengthening today against the euro as a result of that solid manufacturing report, while oil prices jumped nearly 2 percent on comments from Saudi Arabia that consumers will tolerate as high as $90 a barrel. 

Meanwhile, General Motors says it hopes to raise about $10.5 billion with an IPO starting around 26 bucks a share.  GM is promising more details on that one tomorrow, so stay tuned.

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  If the country needed me—and I‘m not saying that the country does and that the country would ever necessarily want to choose me over anyone else—but I would be willing to make the sacrifices, if need be, for America. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

That‘s of course Governor Sarah Palin saying that, if she‘s needed, she will run in 2012.

But today, the lead piece in Politico ripped the scab off a simmering conflict in the Republican Party.  Its headline, “Next for GOP Leaders:

Stopping Sarah Palin.”

It cites establishment figures in not-for-attribution saying—quote

“Palin‘s nomination would ensure President Obama‘s reelection.”

Sarah Palin reacted to the article last night on FOX News.  Then the article‘s co-author, Jim VandeHei, responded this morning.  Let‘s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)

PALIN:  So, politico, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, they are jokes.  This is a joke, to have unnamed sources tearing somebody apart limb by limb. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM VANDEHEI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, POLITICO:  The truth is, it‘s probably the worst-kept secret in Washington that top figures like Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, people that are part of the Washington establishment that feel Obama is beatable, are increasingly worried that she‘s going to get into the race, could win the nomination because she captures the imagination and passion of the Tea Party movement. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, Pat Buchanan is an MSNBC political analyst, of course, and Michelle Bernard is president of the Independent Women‘s Forum.

I want to start with Pat, because there‘s a real truth factor here.  She makes fun of the VandeHei.  I guess his name is too long for her.  I don‘t know what her problem is, making—he‘s a very serious journalist—making fun of the guy‘s name?  What level are we at here? 

The fact is that if you go backstage in a green room and you talk to regular Republican leaders, they do have a little chuckle.  They are not going to get quoted on it.  They do think she‘s not prepared to be president.  They think they are.  So now it gets reported on and she denies the whole thing.  Well, I guess you have to deny it if you‘re her. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  The point you made, they don‘t want to be quoted.  They‘re too afraid to be quoted.  They‘re not going to stop Sarah Palin if she gets in it. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You didn‘t stop Barry Goldwater with a bunch of guys in a back room.  If you‘re going to beat her, Chris—and she can be beaten—you have got to have one candidate out in the primaries who goes up against her and does it. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And so the boys club has to meet early, then?

BUCHANAN:  Oh, the boys club doesn‘t mean a hill of beans. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m talking about the Republican governors.  Let‘s give them their formal name.  They all got together and they picked George W.  Bush.  They pushed him out there.  They can do it again. 

BUCHANAN:  The Republican governors in ‘68 got behind Nelson Rockefeller. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  Nelson Rockefeller got beat by Nixon, because Nixon went into the fires of the primaries. 

And to beat Sarah Palin, if she runs...

MATTHEWS:  Because Mary Fitler Murphy dumped her four kids.  That‘s the problem, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  That‘s 1964, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  All right.  All right.  OK.  But it still was the problem back then.

Let take a look at Politico‘s response.  They say: “None of these Republicans would speak on the record for obvious reasons.”  They—as Pat said, “They fear the backlash from Palin and their very passionate supporters around the country.” 

Let me go to Michelle on this.

Michelle, you talk to a lot of Republicans.  The establishment moderate Republicans may fear that Palin would win in Iowa, would go on and win in South Carolina, would very possibly win the nomination and blow it for the Republicans, giving the president an easy shot to take on the far right. 

But, when you meet them, they say different things behind the curtain than in front of the curtain.  Your view and your history of that?

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, and absolutely.  And that‘s probably the politically correct thing to do. 

We first started seeing fractures in the Republican Party in 2007 and 2008 leading up to the 2008 presidential election.  The Republican Party is even more fractured today.  You have got your far-right religious conservatives.  You have the Tea Party. 

Many of their members are now registered Republicans or voting—leaning Republican and voting for Republicans.  You have got your establishment Republicans.  The party is going in so many different directions that, publicly, no one is going to want to give the nation and particularly Democrats the impression that you can come into the Republican Party and divide and conquer. 

But I would very, very, very much suspect, just as we heard rumors of Bill Clinton speaking to Meek over the weekend and possibly discussing the possibility...

MATTHEWS:  Rumors?

BERNARD:  ... of him dropping out of the race, you might see...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I think a little stronger than that, Michelle.  I think we got reports from these guys.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD:  Well, moving right along, I would not be surprised to see something similar happen...

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD:  ... as we move forward towards 2012. 

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, here‘s your point.  Mitt Romney, he is defending Sarah Palin now earlier today on Laura Ingraham‘s radio program, good place to go, actually, conservative radio, to make his point that he‘s one of them.  He‘s trying to make the point that he‘s also a Palinite.  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, “THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW”)

MITT ROMNEY ®, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR:  But the story is nonsense, because, first of all, I know Sarah Palin pretty well.  And if she wants to run, there‘s no group of elites in Washington I know of that are going to stop her. 

And, secondly, she would be a great thing for the Republican primary process. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That is such a fraud, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  That is...

MATTHEWS:  He‘s referring to elites.  He went to St. Paul‘s.  I mean, elites he‘s talking about.  Who is this guy Mitt Romney pretending to be Palinite?

BUCHANAN:  He‘s talking about—and he‘s talking about your boys club, Chris, that you‘ve been talking about.

MATTHEWS:  All right.

BUCHANAN:  But that is very smart what Romney is doing.

MATTHEWS:  Is he a fraud?

BUCHANAN:  No, I don‘t believe he is.  But—

MATTHEWS:  But is he a conservative?

BUCHANAN:  Chris, to win the presidency, you‘ve to get all three legs of Reagan stew.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  You‘ve got social conservatives, economic conservatives.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

BUCHANAN:  Here, you‘re going to have to have Tea Party people.  And Romney knows, if he goes out and wins the nomination and beats her, he will need every single one of her people if he‘s going to win.  So, he doesn‘t trash her.

MATTHEWS:  She‘s dying for him to run against her.  She‘s going to take him on.  She‘ll beat him in Iowa, beat him in South Carolina and then take him on in Michigan and knock him off.

BUCHANAN:  Who do you think can beat her then?

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know who can beat her in the primaries.

BUCHANAN:  Well, it isn‘t a bunch of boys down the road.

MATTHEWS:  I think we‘re going to get—the Republican Party is an organized party.  Your thoughts, Michelle.  You know the Republicans.  They‘re an organized party.  They‘re not like Democrats.  They have meetings.  They have leaders.

BUCHANAN:  Who have they stopped, Chris?  Who have they stopped?

MATTHEWS:  Well, they got George W. out last time.

BUCHANAN:  He won.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They put him out there to win.

BUCHANAN:  But he must have won the primary.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Michelle?

MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I‘m throwing some estrogen into the conversation.  I‘ve done this with you and Pat before.  I think last time two years ago.

Bottom line is: we have seen this before.  The Tea Party has completely turned the Republican Party upside down.  You‘ve got Sarah Palin with her Tea Party followers.

Don‘t forget you‘ve got mama grizzlies.  You have Democratic and Republican women who are absolutely disgusted with Washington politics, and a lot of these women like Sarah Palin and they like her ilk.

And Mitt Romney and the entire boys club is going to want the women‘s vote.  The Democratic gender graph, it shrunk in 2004.  You know, we saw it come up in 2008.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

BERNARD:  A lot of women are trending Republican right now.  And those boys want to be part of the women‘s club.  Times have changed.

MATTHEWS:  You introduced the word.  I‘ll ask you about it.  Do you like her ilk?

BERNARD:  Not particularly.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I thought by your choice of vocabulary you might not.

Your thoughts, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Look, I mean, you‘ve got to put them all together.  I mean, if the Republicans are going to win in 2012, they‘re going to need Mitt Romneys and the Pawlentys and the governors and Haley.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s the cart?  Who‘s the horse?

BUCHANAN:  I—listen, the primaries decide that.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s the cart and who‘s the horse?

BUCHANAN:  I think the driving force

MATTHEWS:  Those people or the regulars?

BUCHANAN:  You call them wild.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  They‘re going to win 60 seats.

MATTHEWS:  OK, the charismatic people, excited people, the evangelicals.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s the wild people who are going to kick the butts of 60 Democrats tomorrow night.  That‘s where the fire and energy is now.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  And you‘re one of them now?

BUCHANAN:  Chris, I‘ve never been anything else.

MATTHEWS:  So, the pitch forks have joined the Tea Party.

BUCHANAN:  They‘re older people with pitch forks.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.

I think this is an interesting development here.  This is like coalition politics.  I always thought the pitch forks were out there, by the way.

A little more social issues with you guys.  And trade issues.  They don‘t run on trade issues like you do.

BUCHANAN:  Immigration issue.

MATTHEWS:  But they don‘t run on the trade issue like you did.

BUCHANAN:  Let me tell you, the Democrats have a real winner if they pick up the trade issue.  They really do.

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think, we‘ll see.  Thank you.  I think Sherrod Brown‘s already with you on that one.

Thank you, Pat Buchanan.  Thank you, Michelle.  I think Ed Schultz is with you.

Up next: We‘ve seen all the polls.  We‘re expecting big Republican gains.  Can Democrats blunt the pain by getting out the vote?  Can they do decently well tomorrow night if they show?

Woody Allen said 80 percent of life is showing up.  Actually, he did say 80 percent.  Everybody forgets that.  But will it work tomorrow?

Will President Obama‘s base—young people, liberals, minorities, will they show up enough to hold the base tomorrow night?  That‘s what we‘re going to talk about when we come back in one minute on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

President Obama has been courting minority, of course, and young voters with university rallies, a “Rolling Stone” interview, an MTV town hall, and appearance on “The Daily Show,” of course, which had mixed reviews.  And tomorrow morning, he‘s even scheduled to do a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest.

So, can the president hold back some of the Republican‘s tide away, but at this point by getting out the good old coalition that won for him just two years ago?

Eugene Robinson is an MSNBC political analyst and “Washington Post” columnist, of course.  A great refute.

And Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, a favorite of ours, from Maryland.  Right across, near the city the vice chair of the Progressive Caucus.

So, I want to ask the office holder, the only one in this conversation to tell us: Can you get out what we call so charitably the base?

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND:  I think absolutely.  I know that across the country—I was out on the eastern shore of Maryland in one of those tight races.  And you know, where, in some of these places, it‘s 10 percent or 11 percent African-American population, young people surrounded by universities, and it‘s really important for us to turn that base out and it‘s very energized and I think it‘s been helped actually by having the president out on the road over these last couple of weeks.

MATTHEWS:  Well, looking at these numbers now, Gene, 95 percent of African-Americans we know on intuition are going to tell us, I voted for the president last time, the first African-American to really be a serious contender for the first job.  Sixty-nine percent of first-time voters went for him, that‘s seven out of 10.  Seven out of 10 Hispanics.  Seven out of 10 young voters.  Those 18 to 29.

The disturbing number, I want to jump down to this to get to early enough—if you look at an age cut, Congresswoman—now, this is got to be a concern to the Democratic Party this election tomorrow.  If you look at people under 30, it‘s only 31 percent expected to vote -- 31 percent.  If you look at those over 30, it‘s 53 percent.

It‘s almost two to one.  It‘s almost the opposite of their age group you see in a movie theater these days that‘s going to vote tomorrow.  Not a good sign for the Dems.

EDWARDS:  Well, I think—I think it‘s actually really hard to read that because, as you know, a lot of these voters, voters like my young person who‘s 22, carries around a cell phone.  He‘s never been polled in his life.  It‘s really hard to project that.

That‘s why I think it has been really critical for the president to

be out around universities with young people—in venues where young

people see him and be encouraged to come out and finish what they started -

what they started in 2008.

      

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

EDWARDS:  And I think that they‘re getting that message.  I can see it all around me and I‘ve been traveling around the country and I can see it around the country, too.  I think we‘re going to be surprised by that electorate which is very tough to measure.

MATTHEWS:  gene, the questions, I guess, for Democrats and for the people who are trying to figure out this election is: was 2008 an exception to the rule that young people just don‘t vote as much as old people do?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes.  I mean, I kind of think it probably was.  I mean, if young people come out in larger than expected numbers, or in numbers great enough to make a difference in the outcome tomorrow, and then it will be a surprise, you know?  And we‘ll be asking what happened.

It usually doesn‘t happen.  You know, you said 53 percent, you know, over 30 percent and 31 percent—I mean, the fact is that‘s probably not far off from where things usually fall.  Young people don‘t vote in such large numbers.

You know the other big question is: will African-American voters come out in the numbers and percentages that they did in 2008?  Now, that could make a difference.  That could make a substantial difference in some hotly-contested races.  It could make a difference in the Sestak/Toomey race in Pennsylvania.  It could make a difference in the Kirk/Giannoulias race in Chicago.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me give you the number on that.  It might be helpful.  This is positive, Congresswoman, for the Democrats.  I‘m not sure it‘s a complete picture.

But if you look at registered voters, all people who are registered to vote—among African-Americans, 62 percent show a high interest in this election, 62 percent of white voters—exactly the same—and 50 percent of Hispanics, which surprises me that Hispanics aren‘t more excited about this race, given the stakes for them, especially among the people who are here without papers.

And the question is: will that translate to likely voters?

EDWARDS:  Well, I think in some of these states, take Nevada, for example, where you may not be meeting the national—where the national trends are, the Hispanic interest is very low.  In some of these states in California, in Nevada and Arizona, the interest is actually quite high.

I look at districts like Tom Perriello‘s district down in Virginia where the president visited just this last week.  It has 22 percent African-American population in that district.  There you see minorities, young people around the University of Virginia, actually could make a huge difference in that race.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And he‘s one of the Democrats who‘s really fighting hard being south of Mason-Dixon line, in a difficult season, right?

EDWARDS:  I like it that he‘s fighting as a Democrat, and he‘s, you know, proud to stand up for the things that—that he supported, that we supported, that are good for the American people, and to tell that story.  And you can see in his race that it‘s a very close race.  I think there‘s a story to be told there.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the president‘s performance in the last year and a half, and we can always be critical of every politician.  It‘s the easiest thing in the world.  That‘s when they‘re facing a tough election, obviously, and everything they did was wrong and everything they could have done, they didn‘t do.

ROBINSON:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Did he start early enough to court the young vote?  Did he start early enough to begin courting minorities who helped elect him?  Has he been a good politician the last two years?

ROBINSON:  You know, as you said, things don‘t look good.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s a question unanswered.

ROBINSON:  So, you know—so, no, he didn‘t start early enough.  I mean, I think—

MATTHEWS:  OK, particularly—

ROBINSON:  It might have made a difference but it might not have made a huge difference.

MATTTHEWS:  OK.  You tell young people they got a better deal on student loans.

ROBINSON:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  You tell people, working, poor people, that don‘t have a great employment package, they don‘t have the union contract deal, that they got Health care now.

You tell parents that their kids can now be on their insurance plans.

Are these too small bore to get elected on?

ROBINSON:  No.  Now, that is a question and the answer.  And, you know, I think—I think the White House and the administration just has not done a good enough job of getting out the news of just what they have done.  And certainly, they want to cast it in the most positive light, but just letting people know what they‘ve accomplished.  I mean, you know, most people said Obama‘s raise their taxes.  He cut their taxes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know.  You know, who‘s at good this?  Bill Clinton, the most popular thing he did didn‘t cost the government a penny.  It was family home live (ph).  And everybody in America, Congresswoman, knew about it.  That guy knew how to market—anyway, as you know.   I don‘t have to tell you, Congresswoman.

Thank you, Donna Edwards.  Good luck.  And thanks for coming on

HARDBALL.

EDWARDS:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Good luck tomorrow in your re-election tomorrow.

Thank you, Gene Robinson.

Tomorrow, join us at 5:00 Eastern for HARDBALL.  And then, after our first edition which will be our last actually, we‘re going to be join by—

I‘ll be sitting right there, Keith will be sitting here, Rachel Maddow will be sitting there.  Lawrence will be sitting there.  Gene will be where he almost, pretty much, for fall election coverage.

When we return, let me finish with some thoughts about a great American, Ted Sorensen.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me finish tonight with a tribute to one of the great Americans in my lifetime.

In late 1952, Ted Sorensen sat in the hallway of the old congressional office building.  He was in the midst of a job interview.  A young congressman, 35 years old, had just been elected to the United States Senate, and wanted someone to help him write legislation.  That hallway interview and how well it went, changed history.

“I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans,” Sorensen was to write a half century later, “can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes.”

The man young Ted sat across from the hallway six decades ago was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, war hero and future president of the United States.

It is always hard to separate the writer from the one who inspires the writing.  I didn‘t think that the speech of John F. Kennedy, so central to his iconic career, could had been written without both Ted Sorensen and the man who gave those speeches.

Ben Brownlee (ph), the newspaper man and pal of Ted Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, rather, was riding in the car with the president as he approached the West Berlin city hall in 1963.  He remembers the president‘s struggling with some words in German.  Within minutes that “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech would rally the free Germans as nothing before or after in the Cold War.

I am a Berliner.  It‘s not just the words.  It‘s the grander of the statement, the inspiration of it.  An American president saying that he stood with the people of the West, confronting the reality of the Berlin Wall, brutal and at the same time pathetic as it was.

“Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect,” he said that day, “but we‘ve never had to put up a wall to keep our people in.”

I think in the words Kennedy spoke at meeting with protestant ministers in Houston when he said, “So, it is apparently necessary for me to state once again, not with what kind of church I believe in, but for that would be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in.”

But Ted Sorensen‘s greatest achievement as a speechwriter was when he was assigned the task in 1962 of running a presidential statement defending the invasion of Cuba.  “How can you write a speech attacking a small country?” he said.  “It would be like Pearl Harbor, only us in the role of the Japanese.”  That‘s what Sorensen decided.  He came back to the president, said he could not write such a speech and his friend could not deliver one.

For the speeches he helped write and for the one he said he could not, Ted Sorensen, a hero, too.

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

END   

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