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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript


Location: Unknown

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY, Democratic presidential candidate): Well, obviously I've said many times that although my vote on the 2002 authorization regarding Iraq was a sincere vote, I would not have voted that way again. I would certainly, as president, never have taken us to war in Iraq, and I regret deeply that President Bush waged a preemptive war which I warned against and said I disagreed with.

TIM RUSSERT (NBC News): To be clear, you'd like to have your vote back.

SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. I've said that many times.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball." Joining me now are two U.S. congressmen from Pennsylvania, both Democrats, both supporting different candidates. U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy supports Barack Obama. His new book, by the way, is called "Taking the Hill: From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress" -- we're going to have him on to talk about that at some point -- and Congressman Joe Sestak. He's also from the Philly suburbs. He supports Barack -- no, he supports Hillary Clinton.

Let me go with Pat Murphy.

Congressman, first of all, were you impressed by what Hillary Clinton said last night about the war, wishing she could have her vote back from 2002?

REP. MURPHY: I was happy to hear her say that, because I do think that we took our eye off the ball on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And that's what we need to refocus on, and that's why I enthusiastically support Barack Obama, because I think he gets it.

MR. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Admiral Sestak, you were involved in the Afghanistan campaign running the Navy SEALs operation. Do you think that Senator Clinton's remark last night, responding to Tim Russert, saying she wished she had that vote back again, is significant, or is it familiar?

REP. SESTAK: I've heard many four-stars and three-stars say that they wish that they had spoken up more strongly. I think there are people out there -- and she was forthright, like she is, and said, "I wish I had that vote back."

I hope this nation understands that that type of experience and candidness can take us a long way in the challenges that we're going to meet in the future. Let me just give you one quick example, Chris. When we were in the White House and I was serving for the president -- Clinton at the time -- China dropped missiles off north and south of Taiwan. We moved two aircraft carrier battle groups off there to stop that.

Seven years later, when I was an admiral and I testified before the senator, she remembered that and learned from that and said, "Admiral, tell me, what does it mean to us, now that there's a Navy that's emerging from China, for us as Americans, as a maritime nation?" And that's why (your ?) Foreign Affairs article said the most important bilateral relationship we have this century is China. This is a woman whose experience will give her the understanding to lead this nation as commander in chief.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you think she's bigger picture than Barack Obama about the world?

REP. SESTAK: I think -- it's interesting. Yes, I think she has a great understanding of the strategy of engagement, which her husband pursued, and she believes in talking (with us ?).

But second of all, I think Mr. Obama would be a fine president, but what I need down here is a partner in the White House -- is a partner who, from day one, will be a marvelous president. She understands the processes of Washington. And the USS Washington, D.C. is aground. We need someone who can get us underway, not just give us, as the captain on the ship said, "This is the way we go," but can go down to the boiler room in Washington, D.C., put the piping back together, and understand the processes and get us underway to follow that hope, that dream she's laid out.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, the question to you, Congressman Murphy, is, do we need an improvement over President Bush in terms of ability and political and international savvy, or do we need deliverance to a whole new approach to foreign policy? Do we need something dramatically different than what we have, or do we need something smarter? What is it we need?

REP. MURPHY: Chris, I actually think we need both, and that's why I support Barack Obama. I think Barack Obama has gotten it right since day one; the fact that he's shown the judgment to speak out against the war when a lot of people had a knot in their stomach about it to begin with, including myself, but weren't -- you know, didn't come out and really speak out like he did, where he showed the courage, the personal courage, to speak out against it when it wasn't politically popular.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of the fact that when you were over there as a JAG in Iraq that this fellow we're looking at right now was opposed to that policy of you being there? How did that feel to be in the service of your country on a war front that someone else back home had opposed?

REP. MURPHY: Listen, when I was a captain with the 82nd Airborne Division, Chris, you know, I was there to execute the foreign policy of the United States, and we left it to the folks in Washington, D.C. to make the best decision. And if Barack Obama was there, you know, maybe we wouldn't have went in there. He would have spoken out against it. But he was a state senator in Illinois at the time. But in his time in the state senate in Illinois and his time in the U.S. Senate, he has shown the judgment to speak out.

And the thing that -- why I so enthusiastically support him, Chris, is that he reaches out to Democrats, but also Republicans and independents. My wife, for example, is a Republican all her life. She voted for George Bush twice. She's going to vote for the first time for a Democratic nominee for president, and that's going to be Barack Obama. And I couldn't be more proud about that.

MR. MATTHEWS: How's she going to vote in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania? It's a close primary.

REP. MURPHY: Well, no, not in the Democratic primary, not April 22nd, Chris, but this November, when the nominee is going to be Barack Obama.

MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, I'm always checking on you guys. That's my job here. Let me ask you both, starting with you, Admiral, Congressman Sestak -- Pennsylvania. The vote numbers now -- we're looking at the latest polling coming out of Pennsylvania right now. It's fascinatingly close. It's six points in the latest poll up there in Pennsylvania, only six points between Senator Clinton at 49 and Barack Obama at 43, and closing fast. It had been 16 points just two weeks ago.

Is this really going to be a race up there? Do you think Senator Clinton may not make that race? How do you see it right now?

REP. SESTAK: No, I think it's going to be a race. Here's what we're seeing. You know, in the military there's this saying that war is politics by other means. I think Pat and I have learned that politics is actually war by other means. And what you're seeing here is exactly what you should see -- two people who care passionately about their country and care so much about it.

But what we also want to see is the perseverance. Here's a woman for 15 years that has had perseverance and taken all the onslaught. This is where we're seeing her at her best, right down there gritting it out.

And number two, think about where she went as first lady -- China; China, who will probably be the most important relationship; India, which will be the number two economy in this world if we don't change how we're going; and third, Africa, which will come from behind its veil of tears. And right now we have terrorists going down there. Here's someone with vision and understands the processes to take us there as commander in chief.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, it's so great to have two Pennsylvania guys from the Philly suburbs, U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak, former admiral -- always an admiral, I suppose -- and U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, another fighting man. Thank you both for joining us.

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