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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: A class-act as always, that"s Ed. No, I actually modeled my campaign style on him. You know 6:00 a.m. in the morning at a train station and then go to a Wawa. Chris, you know Wawas.

MATTHEWS: I love Wawas.

SESTAK: And to a hoagie shop at noon and V.A. or even a bar at night to shake hands. It was a great way he campaigned, trying to get to know the people that he knew them.

MATTHEWS: You know, I got to hand it to you, because you had a lot of opposition. You fought it, a very tough year--Pennsylvania in a normal year, you"d be the senator. It was an abnormal year, a recession year, an angry year. Did you get that feeling that you were up--that you were sailing against the wind, basically?

SESTAK: Without a question, it was a tough environment. But, you know, just like we talked about, 6:00 a.m. the next morning, I went down to west Philadelphia, African-American neighborhood, very pretty tough area, started shaking hands to say "thanks." I"ve now been to 49 of the 67 counties to say thanks, because as I said, if we can do this well in such a tough environment when tsunamis are sweeping people overboard, it means that voices of reason can break through.

And, you know, it"s just like I said, I think people in this election didn"t want to know who the politicians were. They wanted to know if they knew them. Did you know what I went through?

MATTHEWS: OK.

SESTAK: And how can we begin to trust you. And I think that"s the important message to take out of this.

MATTHEWS: OK. HARDBALL question: how do the Democratic Party nationally win back Democrats, and I mean win them back, because they"re going right now, like the ones who live in Westmoreland County, the ones who live out near in Pittsburgh and those tough neighborhoods which are hard hit economically.

How do you win them back?

SESTAK: You know, Westmoreland or Washington, will become more like the T, the center of Pennsylvania. And what happened this past few weeks, with the Hatfields and McCoys at least began to talk to one another is the first step.

The second step, Chris, is, the Democrats show they"re willing not just to beat up on the other side but take tough positions and willing to lose your job over doing what"s right, even working with the other side, taking some--some real hat from your base. I think that"s the way to do it in Pennsylvania, I really do.

MATTHEWS: OK. Admiral Sestak, thank you for your service--both as a congressman and as a member of the United States Armed Forces. Sir, I"ll see you again soon on this show talking politics. Thanks for coming on tonight. Have a happy holiday.

SESTAK: Thanks, Chris. Happy holidays.

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