MR. MATTHEWS: With me now is U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam, who's the Republican Conference chair, one of the House leadership, and Mike DuHaime, who's McCain's political director. We've got two young guys here.
Look, what do you make of a one-day, day-before vetting, Congressman, of Sarah Palin? Is that risky?
REP. PUTNAM: Well, first of all, Sarah Palin has been vetted by the voters of Alaska. She has executive experience. She's one of the most popular governors in America. She did it by taking on her establishment. The people that she represents currently have the faith in her to make her one of the most popular elected officials in America at a time when Washington has a 9 percent approval rating. I think she's passed the most important test and she's ready to lead.
MR. MATTHEWS: Is she ready to be president if necessary?
REP. PUTNAM: If necessary, she is.
MR. MATTHEWS: How do you judge that? How did you come to that conclusion?
REP. PUTNAM: Well, I think there's a lot of factors. I think that people look at executive experience. She managed the workings of government, multiple agencies, multiple stovepipes. Does she bring the kind of character and vision for a better America that we need if, heaven forbid, she was called to step into that position on a moment's notice? Does she bring the kind of people around her to analyze crises and make the right decision? I think there's a whole host of factors there that go into that, and she passes them all.
MR. MATTHEWS: So you're comfortable with her as the next possibly president of the United States in the next eight years.
REP. PUTNAM: If I weren't comfortable with that, I wouldn't be supporting her for vice president. I'm entirely comfortable with her.
MR. MATTHEWS: Mike DuHaime, let's talk about the politics of this thing. A lot of people were passed over for this job, a lot of big names; not exactly flashy names, but big names -- Pawlenty, Huckabee, Mitt Romney. None of them passed muster. Why did he go with a total unknown?
MR. DUHAIME: I wouldn't say none of them passed muster. I don't think this is a comment on anybody else.
MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, it isn't?
MR. DUHAIME: We're in a good position. We have a number of good people that could be considered for this. I think the fact that this is a testament to her and her leadership --
MR. MATTHEWS: Rudy.
MR. DUHAIME: Rudy's a great guy.
MR. MATTHEWS: He could have been on the ticket.
MR. DUHAIME: Rudy's a fantastic guy, as you know. I think we both agree on that. Bottom line, this is about Governor Palin, her leadership, her executive experience, as the congressman said.
MR. MATTHEWS: Did you ever hear of her before?
MR. DUHAIME: (Laughs.) Yes, I -- (inaudible).
MR. MATTHEWS: Did you? What did you know about her?
MR. DUHAIME: I knew she was a very successful governor.
MR. MATTHEWS: Did you know how to pronounce her name?
MR. DUHAIME: Yes, I knew how to pronounce her name.
MR. MATTHEWS: I didn't know how to pronounce her name.
MR. DUHAIME: I couldn't even pronounce Matthews, though, so I'm not --
MR. MATTHEWS: No, no, come on. That's right out of the Bible. Come on. Don't give me that nonsense.
Let's take a look. There's an interesting little side fight here. And, this being "Hardball," I'm always looking for interesting things. Congressman, watch this. This is Joe Biden, the VP nominee of the Democratic Party, talking about what he thought of Joe Lieberman's speech last night to your convention. Here he is.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE, Democratic vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) My friend -- and when I see him, I'm going to ask him to go down to the gym with me -- Joe Lieberman talks about surrender. But look, they use phrases like that, about surrender and putting country first. If Barack Obama is the agent of surrender, George Bush is the one signing the surrender papers.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, this isn't George Carlin here. This is Joe Biden, who's running for vice president of the United States. When he says, "I'm going to ask him," Joe Lieberman, his Senate colleague, to go down to the gym with him -- you're a member of Congress -- what would that mean? Help me explain that to the people. Go down to the gym with him -- does that mean, "I want to go outside with the guy and fight with him"? What does it mean?
REP. PUTNAM: I have no idea what that metaphor means. It's just kind of a rambling Joe Biden speech. The bottom line is the guy that was the vice presidential nominee for the Democratic Party eight years ago was here in Minneapolis and St. Paul last night to say that John McCain is the right man to be president of the United States right now. That is a historic moment.
MR. MATTHEWS: Why do you think he did that?
REP. PUTNAM: You know, they had Jim Leach. We had the guy that was the number two guy --
MR. MATTHEWS: Why do you think --
REP. PUTNAM: -- eight years ago.
MR. MATTHEWS: Why do you think he did it?
REP. PUTNAM: Because he believes it in his heart. I mean, Lieberman is a guy who has the courage of his convictions, calls them like he sees them. There's no question.
I mean, the Democrats have said, Jimmy Carter said, the Senate leadership has said they're going to strip him of his committee leadership because he had the courage of his convictions to say, "I'm going to put my country first and say that John McCain is the right guy to be president right now."
MR. MATTHEWS: He also endorsed Governor Palin. Do you think that was -- what was that based upon? Does he know Governor Palin?
REP. PUTNAM: Does Joe Lieberman --
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. He's doing the full monty here.
REP. PUTNAM: I'm sure they've gotten to know each other on the campaign trail.
MR. MATTHEWS: He's endorsing everybody in your party. Why do you think he's doing it?
REP. PUTNAM: Hey, if you're endorsing John McCain, you're endorsing Sarah Palin. They're on the same --
MR. MATTHEWS: Why do you think he's doing it?
REP. PUTNAM: -- (inaudible) -- the entire ticket.
MR. MATTHEWS: Do you think he's doing it because John McCain agrees with him on the war in Iraq? Do you think so?
REP. PUTNAM: You know, these guys --
MR. MATTHEWS: Do you think that is the reason he's doing it?
REP. PUTNAM: -- have a long history of going against political orthodoxy.
MR. MATTHEWS: Who?
REP. PUTNAM: These two guys -- Joe Lieberman and John McCain together have been through a lot of battles in the Senate, and they have consistently put the country above their party on a variety of issues, on a host of issues, not just Iraq. So I think that they've had a unique opportunity, forged in the fire of Senate leadership battles, to get to know one another, to have a respect for one another. And that came through in Lieberman's speech last night.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, this isn't exactly a novelty, Congressman, anymore. Mike DuHaime, four years ago they pulled Zell Miller out of somewhere, out of some cave, and they brought him to the convention. He gave this fire and brimstone. It seems like it's a regular feature at Republican conventions now -- get some fire-breathing conservative in the Democratic Party to attack the Democrats.
By the way, I haven't seen Zell Miller since he challenged me to a duel. They put him on Fox Television. They must have put him in a refrigerator somewhere. I haven't seen him since.
REP. PUTNAM: No, I don't think anybody --
MR. MATTHEWS: Is this going to be the Joe Lieberman express? You disappear once you join the Republican Party?
REP. PUTNAM: They are not comparable.
MR. MATTHEWS: Where's Zell Miller today?
REP. PUTNAM: They are not comparable. Joe Lieberman was the vice presidential candidate in 2000.
MR. MATTHEWS: Right.
REP. PUTNAM: He came within 572 votes, or whatever it was, of being the vice president. And he, eight years later, says John McCain should be president of the United States. John McCain and Sarah Palin should be the ticket that has the vision for this country to lead. That's historic.
MR. MATTHEWS: And you're impressed by this. You're impressed.
You're impressed, Mike DuHaime, by people that switch parties?
MR. DUHAIME: In terms of Joe Lieberman, I think nobody would accuse him of being a fire-breathing conservative. He's somebody who's very independent-minded.
MR. MATTHEWS: On the war he's a hawk. He's a hawk. He's a fire-breathing hawk.
MR. DUHAIME: He's somebody who's independent. He's somebody who doesn't just follow the party. I know the Democrat Party doesn't like that.
MR. MATTHEWS: He's more hawkish than most Democrats, to say the least. But you don't mind people crossing the aisle and pushing the other party's candidate. You think that's healthy.
MR. DUHAIME: I think it's good for the country. I think the more people that do that -- I mean, these are two independent-minded guys. And the bottom line, John McCain's going to win because he has the appeal to reach out to independents as well as Democrats.
MR. MATTHEWS: I'm getting nowhere here, gentlemen. Let me ask you this. Tonight's speech -- is it possible conceptually -- and, if so, define it -- that Governor Palin could fail her test tonight? I keep thinking it's impossible, because people will root for her. She's a rookie. Americans root for rookies. Is there any way, the way this thing is set up dramatically tonight, that she won't be (a wow ?) anyway? Do you want to try this, Mike?
MR. DUHAIME: I think it'll be great. I think it's --
MR. MATTHEWS: No, is there any way she couldn't be?
MR. DUHAIME: I don't think so, because she's fantastic.
MR. MATTHEWS: No, no. I mean conceptually. Is there any way she could not look good tonight?
MR. DUHAIME: Well, only if the media piles on and --
MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, no. Look --
MR. DUHAIME: -- (inaudible) -- against her. She's going to be great.
MR. MATTHEWS: Who's piling on? The media's just trying to figure out who she is.
MR. DUHAIME: She's got 80 percent approval ratings, as the congressman said, from Alaska. You don't do that by accident. So I wouldn't even classify her as a rookie.
MR. MATTHEWS: Do you think the media's been piling on Governor Palin?
MR. DUHAIME: No, I think they've been asking --
MR. MATTHEWS: Who's been piling on? Give me some names.
MR. DUHAIME: If you look at some of the tabloid headlines, some of the magazines.
MR. MATTHEWS: The tabloids. Come on, give me a break. Mike, you know --
MR. DUHAIME: Chris, give me a break. I mean, you're on MSNBC. You're going to act like MSNBC gives a fair shake to Republicans every single day?
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, good. Fine question. Who has piled on from MSNBC or anywhere else on Palin?
MR. DUHAIME: I've been asked questions about whether or not she could campaign and be vice president, given the fact that she has children.
Do you think they would ask that question of Barack Obama, who has two young children, or Senator McCain or Joe Biden?
MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible.)
MR. DUHAIME: I've been asked that on ABC, a major network. I've been asked that.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, good -- not me. Do you think they pile on, the media, on Palin? I think they've asked questions about her.
REP. PUTNAM: No, they have gone beyond the pale as it relates to her family situation.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, who's done that? Who's done that?
REP. PUTNAM: I would say US Weekly. I would say -- I watched a segment on CNN a few days ago where they did the same thing. I would say it is, you know, really across the spectrum.
MR. MATTHEWS: Who else besides US Weekly?
REP. PUTNAM: People have dwelled too much on someone who is not on the ballot. People are talking too much about a family member who's not being asked to be the next vice president. People are talking about, you know, the proper role of women and questions that never came up when Hillary Clinton was running a historic race for president of the United States. So has the media piled on? I think that they've tried to. But I think that she --
MR. MATTHEWS: You've listed US Weekly. And who else has piled on?
REP. PUTNAM: Look, Sarah Palin -- your question was, can she fail tonight? She won't fail, because she is the right person to be vice president. She has captivated the imagination of America. I think that this is the hottest ticket on that convention floor thus far this week. Everyone wants to be more introduced to this fantastic governor who gets up to go moose hunting, who defeated a legend in her own party to become the governor of that state, who's taken on wasteful Washington spending and told Washington what they could do with their Bridge to Nowhere.
I mean, she's a remarkable political figure at a time when people are sick of Washington. And here she is, coming out of a great western state that just captures the whole rugged individualism of the country, and she's running against a ticket that's two senators.
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. I just wonder. I like -- you're great at doing this. I just wonder; I haven't heard any of this until the last couple of days. I've never heard anybody come on our show or any other show anywhere politically and talk about how great Governor Palin is. I've never heard you have to do a Nexus search and see how many times you've said this before, but I doubt if you ever said it before this week.
REP. PUTNAM: Before this week?
MR. MATTHEWS: Yeah. Have you been raving about the greatness of the governor of Alaska before, or is this something new?
REP. PUTNAM: Well, I've never been asked about the greatness of Alaska's governor, being that I'm from Florida.
MR. MATTHEWS: No, but have you ever just thought it was worthy of -- did you ever think she was worthy of note until this week?
REP. PUTNAM: She was on the political radar --
MR. MATTHEWS: Did you ever talk about her before?
REP. PUTNAM: -- as someone who took out an incumbent governor.
MR. MATTHEWS: No, did you ever talk about her before?
MR. DUHAIME: Chris, I can tell you I have. She is somebody --
MR. MATTHEWS: I'm asking you, Congressman. Have you ever talked about Governor Palin before?
REP. PUTNAM: I haven't been asked about Governor Palin before she became vice president.
MR. MATTHEWS: I just think that all this excitement and glorification of a newcomer is basically politics. I don't think anybody was singing her praises until she was nominated.
MR. DUHAIME: Chris, I don't think that's fair.
MR. MATTHEWS: If I do an exit search on you, Congressman, will I find you ever having mentioned the name --
REP. PUTNAM: If you do a Nexus search --
MR. MATTHEWS: Have you ever mentioned her name before?
REP. PUTNAM: If you do a Nexus search on whether people have been talking about Governor Palin and what a great leader she is for the country before becoming the vice presidential candidate, she will pop up, absolutely. If you see -- you know, there's no question that she's been the buzz out there about who took out Frank Murkowski, this incredible former mayor who took on her party establishment, who's an up-and-coming leader in the western United States as a Republican leader who's hanging on to the Rocky Mountain states.
MR. MATTHEWS: I just follow the news, Congressman. I never heard her name in the context of potentially being vice president. I've never heard you rave about her before. I've never heard John McCain rave about her before. All of a sudden she's hot and cool politically, and fair enough. But I think it's politics. I think this buildup is hoopla.
REP. PUTNAM: Kind of like Barack Obama giving a speech a few years ago at the convention.
MR. MATTHEWS: He's been part of our national discussion for years now. But fair enough -- you can say what you want. It's a free country. But you never said anything about her before. That's all I'm saying.
MR. DUHAIME: Bottom line, you talk about -- she is somebody who the American people are going to love. She's somebody who is an exceptional governor. You don't get 80 percent approval --
MR. MATTHEWS: Mike, by the way, that's a good argument, because I may fall in love with her tonight. Everybody may think she's great tonight.
MR. DUHAIME: She's fantastic. I think you're going to see that.
MR. MATTHEWS: I'm just saying that nobody talked about her before, and all of a sudden she's going to be almost the next president of the United States. That's a pretty bold statement.
MR. DUHAIME: Very few people were talking about Barack Obama before four years ago when he took the national stage here. This is somebody who, in two years, in two years in the U.S. Senate, did he do anything even comparable to what she's done as governor?
MR. MATTHEWS: The difference between four years and four days is a lot of time. Thank you, U.S. Congressman --
REP. PUTNAM: Thank you.
MR. MATTHEWS: -- Adam Putnam, and Mike DuHaime.