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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Senator Tester, welcome.

You always struck me as the most Montana guy on the planet. I don`t know why this is an issue, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: Well, I don`t know either, but I can tell you that we have got a close race going. It`s going to be close at the end.

We knew that since the very beginning, but it`s all about what kind of person I am vs. my opponent, and what kind of records we have, and what our vision is for the future, not only the great state of Montana, but the country.

But it`s going to be an interesting -- it`s been an interesting race. It`s going to continue to be an interesting race. I feel good about my chances.

MATTHEWS: OK.

We have a new poll from Montana in the HARDBALL scoreboard right now. It`s from PPP. And you`re leading Denny Rehberg 43 to 45, with Libertarian Dan Cox coming in at eight. I guess that adds up to 48, 48, 98, 48 -- what, there`s four left.

Not a lot of undecideds up, are there, in Montana?

TESTER: Not really.

This race has been -- it`s been going on for 18 months. We have seen incredible amounts of secret out-of-state money coming in trying to buy Montanans. And as we have talked before, Chris, the whole Citizens United
thing is really I think a threat to our democracy, and we have got the secret money coming in trying to buy votes.

They`re spending about right now about $1 million a week in Montana on TV ads. I can tell you that Montana was here. It was here back in 1912.

Montanans can`t be bought and they won`t be bought in this election either,
and so hopefully it comes down to who we are as people and what we have
done and our records as we have served in Congress, me for the last six
years, the congressman for his record for the last 12.

MATTHEWS: Why is Karl Rove gunning for you?

TESTER: You know, I don`t know. I really don`t have any idea. I have never visited with the man, but obviously they`re pumping more money into this state than has ever been pumped before into Montana. And they`re trying to make me into something that I`m not, Chris, quite frankly.

They know they cannot beat the Jon Tester who is the farmer from Big Sandy, Montana, and the record that I have.

MATTHEWS: I know.

TESTER: But if they make me into something that I`m not, which is what they have tried to do with their negative ads for the last 19 months, then they have got a chance.

MATTHEWS: But you`re back on your tractor every weekend. You`re out there with the people doing the job that you had before you got this one. And how does a guy from out of state without a hunting license -- by the way, why don`t you check on Karl and see if he has got a hunting license? I actually had one last year with my daughter fishing in the Madison River out there.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: But do people buy that? Do they know that he`s out there
gunning for you?

TESTER: Well, I...

MATTHEWS: Do they know that Karl Rove the guy -- he`s not exactly a popular guy. Do they know a guy, that sort of a villainous guy like him is involved in your state`s politics? Do they know that?

TESTER: Well, I don`t know that they do, but it absolutely is true. Karl Rove is the guy that is pumping the money into the state. And, quite frankly, I don`t think he cares about Montana. I think he`s got a whole different agenda, doesn`t care about the middle class, doesn`t care about working families, small businesses, kids getting a good education. He`s got his own agenda, and I think it`s unfortunate.

And it`s why Citizens United is such a threat to our democracy. I don`t think it`s good for Democrats, it`s not good for Republicans, it`s not good for our democracy.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think the architect, as he called himself, is good for anything.

Anyway, thank you, Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Good luck.

TESTER: Thanks, Chris.

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