MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript
MR. MATTHEWS: Barack Obama and his former rival, Hillary Clinton, will make their first joint campaign appearance Friday -- that's three days from now -- in Unity, New Hampshire. Isn't that a great town? It's called Unity. But Bill Clinton will be a no-show. The former president's spokesman did, however, issue a statement that reads -- catch this language -- "President Clinton is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do to ensure Senator Obama is the next president of the United States." You always wonder who writes these things -- not a person, really.
Does Bill Clinton really want to campaign for Obama, and does Obama really want Bill Clinton out there campaigning with him?
Florida U.S. Congressman Robert Wexler is an Obama supporter. He's also written a new book called "Fire-Breathing Liberal." Hmm, you don't look like a fire-breathing liberal. Anyway, and another -- I don't know if this other person is a fire-breathing liberal or not, the Florida congresswoman, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
How would you describe yourself if you wrote a book?
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, you know, I'm right up there with fire-breathing liberal, Robert Wexler; no question.
REP. WEXLER: (Laughs.)
MR. MATTHEWS: I like this.
REP. WEXLER: We should have done it together, now that I hear that.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I know. I know.
MR. MATTHEWS: Wexler, you're easy to cast on this show.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm going to have to come up with my own cool book title.
MR. MATTHEWS: "Get me a liberal!" You're not one of these vague people.
Let me ask you about Bill Clinton, because Bill Clinton, I thought, was the greatest politician of our times -- I mean, the greatest. After Mrs. King's funeral, when he went there and said there's a woman in there, and he beat out the black minister, he was more in touch with the situation than anybody was. I said nobody can do it like he can do it.
Congresswoman, has he still got it as a politician?
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think Bill Clinton could campaign anywhere in this country and he would be warmly and widely received. And I think he's going to do exactly that. And, you know, Chris, you kind of just alluded to President Clinton's statement as if it was, you know, not enough or not meaningful.
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah, it seemed a little vague. It seemed like it was written by a staffer without heart.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, my God, what else do you want him to say? He's willing to campaign anywhere that he's asked and he's wholeheartedly supporting Senator Obama in the campaign for president.
MR. MATTHEWS: But he doesn't sound like he's randy to help the guy, does it?
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, he does -- he's been out on the campaign trail for, you know, over a year with Senator Clinton, and he's got a foundation and other things to do. So whenever they ask him, I'm sure he's going to step up.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, you two would be better informed than I am; I will say that as a gesture of kindness and generosity. But we all know that Bill Clinton's ripped at Barack Obama because he holds him responsible, it is said in the caverns of this city in politics, that he suggested he was a racist by the way he identified Barack Obama with Jesse Jackson, sort of belittling him as a marginal candidate. We know all this. So Bill Clinton's silence doesn't betoken love. It betokens silence.
REP. WEXLER: There is nobody more persuasive than Bill Clinton. I actually talk about it in my book, "Fire-Breathing Liberal," about how persuasive Bill Clinton can be.
Give Senator Clinton and Senator Obama a chance. They're having their unity event on Friday in Unity, New Hampshire. Let Senator Clinton and Senator Obama together bring the party together, as they already have. Senator Clinton has been brilliant in doing so. And I think you will find a very smooth transition to President Clinton then weighing in in a very positive way.
MR. MATTHEWS: I'm hearing, Congresswoman, about a conflict, a real friction going on over the issue of money. And a lot of marriages break up over money. Here we have a campaign, it seems, having a hard time coming together with another campaign over money. Hillary Clinton apparently wants help in paying off her huge campaign debt which she rolled up near the end, mainly. And the Barack people figure, I hear, that if she'd quit a couple of weeks before, she could have dealt that. She could have gotten some credit for quitting early. But since she dragged the thing out to the very end, and then some, they figure why should they pay for her long goodbye. That's the way they look at it.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I mean, I'm hearing different things than you are, Chris, because --
MR. MATTHEWS: Are you hearing that they're willing -- that the Barack people are happy to pay Hillary Clinton's -- for her long goodbye in the campaign?
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think they want to make sure that Senator Clinton is financially in a strong enough position to be able to get out there and travel the country for him and be the strongest advocate that she can possibly be. And obviously with the need to retire her debt and his ability to help her do that, they're going to work together to raise money for Barack Obama's campaign for president and also retire Senator Clinton's debt. But the focus here is going to be on electing Barack Obama president. The rifts that you're talking about, I really haven't heard.
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. Will Bill Clinton help? Will he help?
REP. WEXLER: I think he will help enormously. I think he'll help in our home state of Florida.
MR. MATTHEWS: Where would you put him?
REP. WEXLER: I would put him in South Florida. I'd love him to be in my district.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Oh, absolutely.
REP. WEXLER: I couldn't think of a better person to come, other than Barack Obama.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'll fight you for him. (Laughs.)
REP. WEXLER: I think he would be terrific in Central Florida. He clearly -- I think he'd be very helpful in North Carolina. I think he would be helpful in states like Missouri. He certainly would be helpful in Arkansas. He would be helpful in Nevada. He would be helpful in Pennsylvania --
MR. MATTHEWS: Nevada. (Changes pronunciation.)
REP. WEXLER: Nevada. He'd be helpful in Pennsylvania, Ohio. President Clinton is --
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Colorado.
REP. WEXLER: -- a phenomenal spokesperson.
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah, I agree. I agree. He had a bad couple of months, but he's back, right?
REP. WEXLER: He is back.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, there's one theory out there we'll talk about in the next segment that Barack Obama may be the guy who brings him back like Lazarus, because he may give him another shot this year to prove he's the greatest politician of our time. I always thought he was. I think he's had a bad season. Anyway, he's had a slump, as we say in baseball.
Anyway, Congressman Robert Wexler, author of "Fire-Breathing Liberal" -- I know a lot of fire-breathing liberals watch this show. There it is. What a great guy. You know, you're clear. You're a clarion call, a certain trump. Thank you, sir, for coming in.
Congresswoman Schultz, we'll help you. We'll get you a ghost. We'll get that done. You can have a book like that too. Just kidding.
REP. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I need a few more years in Congress. (Laughs.)