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MSNBC Hardball - Transcript

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MSNBC March 9, 2004 Tuesday
Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media
(f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.)
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
MSNBC
SHOW: HARDBALL 19:00

March 9, 2004 Tuesday

TRANSCRIPT: # 030900cb.461

SECTION: NEWS; INTERNATIONAL

LENGTH: 8136 words

HEADLINE: HARDBALL For March 9, 2004

BYLINE: Chris Matthews; Howard Fineman; Pat Buchanan; Joe Scarborough; Norah O'Donnell; David Shuster

GUESTS: Ilean Ros-Lehtinen; Robert Wexler; Mel Martinez; Bob Graham

HIGHLIGHT:
Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi hold Democratic primaries. Polls show a dead heat in these battleground states between Kerry and Bush, such as Florida.

BODY:
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, with 465 delegates at stake. Polls show a general election dead heat in the battleground states with President Bush directly engaging his opponent earlier than any incumbent in modern times.

Let's play HARDBALL.

I'm Chris Matthews.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. ILEAN ROS-LEHTINEN ®, FLORIDA: Well, we've had a campaign season where the Democrats have been out in front, talking and smashing George Bush every day. Seventy-nine percent of the attack ads, the ads of John Kerry, have been attacking George W. Bush.

So now it's time for the president to engage in this debate, point out the liberal tax-and-spend record of John Kerry while in the Senate, talking about how he has slashed intelligence funding in the billions of dollars. That was his intention.

And now John Kerry says George Bush is at fault because we had bad intelligence. If it were up to John Kerry, we...

MATTHEWS: Hold that thought, Congresswoman.

The latest poll, "The Miami Herald," which I saw this weekend down there-It's also put out by "St. Petersburg Times"-has Senator Kerry leading the president by six points.

I mean, you build this big case up for the president. Why don't the people of Florida like him?

ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, pretty soon they'll get the message that John Kerry is for gas tax increases. John Kerry voted for the Clinton taxes. John Kerry has a long record of decimating people's pocketbooks, and now it's up to us to get that message to the voters.

So this very slight lead that John Kerry has, it's going to disappear in just a matter of months.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

ROS-LEHTINEN: John Kerry has a clear-cut position, depending on which audience he is addressing. He can say that he's for it and then not vote to fund the war. Well, what kind of explanation does he give to the troops?

And then he faults President Bush because he says, "Oh, those poor guys, they didn't have enough body armor." Well, he voted against giving those guys the body armor they needed to fight the war in Iraq.

MATTHEWS: OK.

ROS-LEHTINEN: He's voted to decimate the military. He's voted to decimate the intelligence services and then he says President Bush is at fault. He wants it both ways, and it ain't going to happen.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Congressman Wexler-Yes.

WEXLER: I can't wait to see President Bush look at Senator Kerry and tell him he's not voting to give the right armaments to our people.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Congressman Bob Wexler. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. Thank you for joining us.

END

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