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Is Hillary's new book the groundwork for a presidential run? Al Sharpton discusses his campaign and whether he has a chance to take any of the Democratic primaries.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I am Chris Matthews. Let's play HARDBALL.

The "Big Story" tonight, Senator Hillary Clinton. Her memoir, "Living History" hits bookstores on Monday. And in it, she said her husband lied to her about his affair with Monica Lewinsky up until the weekend before his grand jury testimony. Will people buy her story? And is this book laying a groundwork for the presidential run? A familiar face from the Clinton impeachment era, Lucianne Goldberg, will be here to answer those questions.

Plus, Democratic presidential candidate, Al Sharpton, will be here to discuss his campaign and whether he has a chance to take any of the Democratic primaries. And later, from Sammy Sosa to Jayson Blair to Martha Stewart, has cheating become the way to get ahead in America? Our panel will be here later on in this show.

First we begin tonight with Democratic presidential candidate, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who recently attacked President Bush for failing to capture Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.


REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Bush will not be in a Sharpton administration, the head of missing persons. He can't find bin Laden. We don't know if Hussein is living or dead, and we can't find the weapons of mass destruction. We need to go after those that went after us.


MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is the Reverend Al Sharpton. You have the best lines of the campaign so far. But let me ask you this, Republicans go into this campaign for president next year with almost clear-cut bumper sticker solutions. Lower taxes, less government, stronger defense. What's the Democrats' response to those?

SHARPTON: I think, that, one, we can turn those around. They are shifting taxes, because working class people now are paying more in taxes with sales tax, property tax, mass transit going up. I think that we can talk about jobs. We can talk about security. And we can talk about we want to give health care to everyone. I think that we got to take their message, turn it around on his head and show how they have not delivered what they promised the American people.

MATTHEWS: OK. Show how you're going to produce more jobs.

SHARPTON: I think you produce more jobs first by repealing Mr. Bush's tax cut.

MATTHEWS: How will that produce jobs?

SHARPTON: Well, you invest the money in job creation. I proposed, in the Sharpton campaign, a $250 billion, five-year infrastructure redevelopment plan. Rebuild bridges, highways, tunnels in the name Homeland Security ports.

What did Roosevelt do? We created public works. That creates taxpayers. Taxpayers not only will have jobs, but we will be able to pay back the deficit that you are creating by investing in job creation. This administration has lost two million jobs since it has been in office. How can they talk about anything other than that in this year's election?

MATTHEWS: But isn't that tax and spend, raise more taxes, spend more money.

SHARPTON: No. To repeal the tax cut is not to raise taxes. It's to cancel the tax cut they gave to the rich. If I owned a department store and I cancel the sale that I had for this Friday, I'm not raising the prices. I'm just not giving you a discount in the prices.

What I'm saying is, don't give the rich a discount at the cost of state deficits, at the cost of poor people having to pay more in mass transit and it other things. I'm saying, don't give anyone a tax increase. But don't give the wealthy a tax cut.

MATTHEWS: How you going to produce, as a Democratic leader, a stronger security for this country?

SHARPTON: I think the first way you produce a stronger security is you look at the military budget. You cut the fat in terms of a lot of these contracts to many corporations that's are just friendly with people in the administration.

MATTHEWS: Name a system that you eliminate. Name one.

SHARPTON: You've had these F-9s, these F-11s, the lot that have been used that are obsolete. Some we didn't even use in Iraq. Why are we buying weapons or buying crafts that we're not even using? This is huge amounts of money that we're spending for obsolete military material. I would cut them immediately.

MATTHEWS: How much can you save doing that?

SHARPTON: I think—I've seen studies that you can save cutting administrative fat, cutting F-9s, F-11s, and other obsolete weapons, up to 11 percent to 13 percent, which is significant money.

MATTHEWS: Let's talk about health care. Everybody wants better health care for the people who don't want insurance right now. But who is going to will pay the piper? Where does the money come from to provide income for doctors and nurses and hospitals to provide that health care? Where does that money come from?

SHARPTON: First thing in the Sharpton campaign, we start at basics. First, as you know, I've been pushing for three constitutional amendments. One of them calls for health care as a right. The reason that's important, Chris, is before you can get to a program, you have to first have a constitutional right given to all Americans that would then make those in health providing services industry have deal with the fact that it is a constitutional right that Americans have health care so the prices have to be regulated.

You can deal with making pharmaceutical companies and other people respect constitutional rights. I think, clearly, we can afford out of government, if we make a commitment, to pay for health care of Americans.

MATTHEWS: Who pays for it?

SHARPTON: The United States government.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but where does the money come from?

SHARPTON: The money is there. If we look...

MATTHEWS: We have a $400 billion deficit right now. We don't have the money to pay the bills now. Where does the money come from for health care?

SHARPTON: We have a $400 billion deficit because many of the things we are spending in health care has nothing to do with providing health care. A lot of it has to do with advertisement. A lot of it has do with other things that has nothing to do with health care.

The first thing would I would do is have the money deal directly with health care services. If you look at what we're spending in the health care area, over a quarter of that budget has nothing to do with providing services directly to the citizens that need health care.

MATTHEWS: But the budget would go up for health care under a Sharpton administration, wouldn't it?

SHARPTON: The budget would first be tailored down. And then the serviced would go up. Because I just told you, I wouldn't be spending a lot of overage in administration and advertisement and cutie deals with pharmaceuticals companies. So the budget would actually dwindle. And the services would increase because we would be getting more of a bang for our buck under the Sharpton administration.

MATTHEWS: Why is the other appeal winning so much in public debate, and in all the opinion polls, people say they want lower taxes. People say they want less government spending. They want a stronger military. Why does the Republican bumper sticker appeal seems to work with the majority of Americans?

SHARPTON: Because...

MATTHEWS: Bush says it every night, and everybody says, yes.

SHARPTON: One, he says it every night and that is all you hear. But secondly, because there's been no opposition. I think one of the problems the Democratic Party has had is we've not been opposing Bush. So when you are giving a lighter version of the same message, everybody thinks the message is right. That's why we need a nominee that say, no, this is wrong.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let's talk about that. You have to wings of your party - at least two. One is the wing that might call itself moderate, which is trying to be down the middle of the road, and one is more traditionally liberal. Where you?

SHARPTON: I'm the body of the bird in the middle that's trying to get both wings to understand that if we get back the constitutional rights and serving people, we can fly. Without that, we can't. The moderates, who you call moderate, I call it right-wingers on one side, have failed. Let's remember now, they have been...


MATTHEWS: How do you unite people that you're calling right-wingers? You just said you'll unite the Democratic Party and mealy kiss off the two wings.


SHARPTON: Well, you said there are two wings. I was giving the right-wing of the body and the left wing of a body. I am not necessarily...

MATTHEWS: But how do you bring about...

SHARPTON: ... doing that as derogatory chair.

MATTHEWS: Be the preacher, be the god of the Democratic Party. How do you bring together—Howard Dean, a man running again the war, running against the military, the use of American power around the world? On the other hand, you have Joe Lieberman, as big a hawk as George W. Bush. How do you put them in the same team? They disagree 180.

SHARPTON: I think what you have to is you have to raise to the Democratic Party and then the country as a whole, the principles that will make this country work. You may never get...


MATTHEWS: Well, give me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that unites your left and your center in your party. You put Howard Dean in that chair. You put Joe Lieberman in that chair. How you get them together on policy?

SHARPTON: The right to vote. One of the things that I'm hearing around the country more than anything is we have not resolved why we had the debacle we had in 2000. We've got...


MATTHEWS: All right. So in other words, go back to complaining and crying about Florida again. Is that the only thing that unites the Democratic Party?

SHARPTON: Complaining? No. What we go back to is to say that we must have a legal remedy to assure this never happens again. That's a uniting of all Americans...

MATTHEWS: But if you have to go back to the bitterness over Florida to unite Lieberman and Dean, that's a pretty grim campaign platform, isn't it?


MATTHEWS: We're going to undo what happened in 2000?

SHARPTON: No. What you have to go back to is how we did not have the right to vote protected that would undo Mr. Bush.


MATTHEWS: Was Bush legitimately elected president?

SHARPTON: It is not about Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Dean.

MATTHEWS: Was he legitimately elected president of the United States?

SHARPTON: I think there are serious questions in the minds of many Americans.

MATTHEWS: Well, come on. You've never talked like that. You're talking like one of the careful moderates now. Is he a legitimate president or not? That man we are looking at.

SHARPTON: I think that George Bush did not legitimately win. But why? Because the Supreme Court used a states rights decision, saying the State of Florida had the right to supervise the election. That's why I'm saying we need an amendment to say, no states rights, the federal government must protect everyone's constitutional rights.

MATTHEWS: Why did the Supreme Court intervene in Florida?

SHARPTON: Because the Supreme Court intervened using states rights like they do...



MATTHEWS: Why they do it?

SHARPTON: Because they—why? Because that is the law.

MATTHEWS: But why did the Supreme Court get involved in an election dispute in Florida?

SHARPTON: Well, that's a good question.

MATTHEWS: I want your answer?

SHARPTON: My answer is...


MATTHEWS: Was it partisan politics by Sandra Day O'Connor and the rest of them?

SHARPTON: I think it was absolute partisan politics. But I think the fact that there was nothing there to prevent that only embellished the fact that they could do it.

MATTHEWS: OK, give me a law that would stop the Supreme Court from reviewing state actions.

SHARPTON: The right to vote because of the constitutional right and the federal government has the right to protect it.


MATTHEWS: Does that overwhelm the Supreme Court citing due process in that case?

SHARPTON: Yes. Because you don't kick it back to the state. It would have been—the federal government would have had to count the votes, which means you would have had to wait until all votes were counted. The fact the state was given the right, Catherine Harris said, great. You got two hours to count them all.

MATTHEWS: I want to ask you about the biggest man in the Democratic Party, present company exception. This is what I asked John Edwards, one of your competitors for the Democratic nomination this year. I asked him on a HARDBALL "College Tour" down at NCCU - down in North Carolina, Durham. I asked him whether a simple question, I want your answer to it after he doesn't give me answer. I asked him John Edwards of North Carolina whether Bill Clinton was good president or not. Let's here what he says.


MATTHEWS: Was Clinton a good president?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. Clinton did a good job of moving this country forward. He had issues about his personal behavior, which we all perfectly aware.

MATTHEWS: But was he on good president?

EDWARDS: I think the things he did for the country were very good.

MATTHEWS: Was he a good president?

EDWARDS: I think the things he did for the country as president were very good, yes.

MATTHEWS: Why do you hesitate to say he was a good president?

EDWARDS: Because, I mean, you have to—the thing did he personally, we don't approve of. He himself has admitted that he's not proud of.


MATTHEWS: Why couldn't he - well, let me ask you. Was Bill Clinton a good president?

SHARPTON: I think he was a good president. I disagree with him on some policies...


MATTHEWS: Well, why did this guy have such a problem answering - No. that is a simple answer to a direct question. I think most people would give me a direct question. Yes or no. Why do your competitors have a problem with their tongues? Their inability to say something clearly yes or no? Are they being too cute?

SHARPTON: I have no idea about why my competitors do whatever they do. I'm very clear on what I do what I do. I'm saying Bill Clinton left this country a surplus with low unemployment.


SHARPTON: And I think the country is moving in the right direction despite the fact I disagreed with him on certain policies. But unquestionably he was a good president. And every day we live under Bush, he looks better and better to me.

MATTHEWS: Well, you do, too, Reverend Sharpton. I will blow your horn for you. You're tied for fourth in the race. How is it looking right now? Your race for president? How's it going?

SHARPTON: I think we're doing very well. No one thought in the field of nine we would be doing this well. And they're going to be surprised because we're going continue to raise issues to the people. People will respond to a message if you have the courage to raise it.

MATTHEWS: Historically, this country has early primaries, which to be blunt about it, has been lily white. New Hampshire, Iowa, states like that. Very few African Americans in the states that decide our presidential primary politics. This year for the first time, South Carolina. Early on, a mixed white and black population. Is that your best shot to make some noise in this campaign?

SHARPTON: I think the best shot is that we are going to have a lot of diversity. But I don't think blacks should vote for me because I'm black, and I don't think whites should not vote for me because I'm black. I think we should listen to everyone's message. I think we should have everyone come as early as possible in diverse areas and vote, which makes us stronger to beat George Bush in 2004.

MATTHEWS: Are you the best man for the Democrats in 2004?

SHARPTON: If I didn't think I was, I wouldn't be running.

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, the Reverend Al Sharpton. Thanks for joining us on HARDBALL.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton's book hits the shelves Monday and already has - it is making news. We will talk about that with literary agent, Lucianne Goldberg and author David Brock.

And later, Martha Stewart is facing criminal charges, and possible jail time.

And Sammy Sosa was suspended for eight games after he was caught using an illegal bat.

Have we become a nation of cheaters? We will talk about that when the Political Buzz hits us.

You are watching HARDBALL.


Content and programming copyright 2003 MSNBC.
Transcription Copyright 2003 FDCH e-Media

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