Hardball with Chris Matthews

January 27, 2004

BYLINE: Chris Matthews; Campbell Brown; Joe Scarborough

GUESTS: Jacques DeGraff; Howard Fineman; Ron Reagan; Howard Dean

New Hampshire primary results.

MATTHEWS: Senator John Kerry, of course, receiving the accolades of those who elected him today. He's won the New Hampshire primary quite handily, a double-digit victory it looks like, according to NBC, over Howard Dean, the man who's going to continue his struggle against John Kerry, who won from his northern state in New Hampshire. He's, of course, a long time senator from New Hampshire. He was expected to win here a long time ago. He overcame the lead of Howard Dean and won big tonight. We're going to go right now to Howard Dean, who's waiting to talk to us. Governor Dean.


MATTHEWS: Governor, tell me about this. You were-you and your wife were on the program last night, and I think everybody who saw it thought you were delightful, you were very calm about the situation you had confronted. Were you ready for tonight's results psychologically?

DEAN: Yes. Actually, I would have liked to have done a little better, because the exit polling was a little better today. But I'm very happy. If you had asked me a year ago would you be happy with a third in Iowa and a second in New Hampshire, I would have said absolutely, I'll take it right now. We kind of went on a circuitous path that way. The “TIME” and “Newsweek” and the “U.S. News” and all those guys said we were all the frontrunners all summer. So we have a few darts to pick out of our backsides.

But we've done it, we've gotten where we need to go, and now this is going to end up as a contest between whether you want a Washington insider as the Democratic nominee or somebody who's going to stand up and fight for ordinary working American families. I think middle class people have taken it on the chin from George Bush's administration. I think Washington basically caters to corporate and special interests, and my campaign is 89 percent of our funding comes from small donors from all over America, which is how we can just keep going and going and going, because they're not going to back away from wanting real change in this country. And that's what we're going to deliver.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, when John Kerry got into big trouble in the polls about a month ago, after Christmas or around, actually, before Christmas, he was way down in the dumps. He made some major changes. He got a new campaign manager, a new approach to the campaign. Are you making those kinds of changes now to get back in the winner's circle?

DEAN: Well, we've just got to keep doing what we've been doing. We-we're going to go-start in Michigan, go to South Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington. We've got 12, 13 states, if you include Washington, D.C. In 12 days we've got a lot of work to do.

MATTHEWS: But what will you do different, Governor? Because what you've been doing is costing you election results. You've been losing two in a row. What are you going to do to change your approach...

DEAN: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... you can win the next couple of...

DEAN: I think we've gotten kind of unsteady right before Iowa. We were the target of every campaign and most of the media outlets in the country, as the frontrunner often is. We're certainly not the frontrunner anymore. That belongs to Senator Kerry. And now it's going to be a different kind of campaign. We're going to talk about really-real change in America.

I don't think you can really change America if you spend all that time in the United States Congress, and that's what the debate is going to be about. It's going to be about standing up for what you believe in, not for just what's popular. We're going to talk about Iraq. We're going to talk about “no child left behind”. It's going to be...


DEAN: ... about who funds your campaigns. These are real issues and they're going to be will be differences between myself and some of the other folks that are still left in the race.

MATTHEWS: But looking ahead to the schedule, Governor, and I understand a lot of the electricity of your campaign and the appeal of it, because you were, in all fairness, the one candidate who stood up against this president as a 180 alternative to George W. Bush, when the others were to various extents hedging their bets. But when you look at the calendar ahead, you look at South Carolina, you look at Missouri, you look at New Mexico, Arizona, they're not exactly wild and wooly states. They're pretty conservative states. Can you make it to Wisconsin, a state that might be ready to try somebody with some edge, somebody who might be a little more exciting as a candidate?

DEAN: You know I actually would argue that I'm more conservative than everybody I'm running against, I actually balance budgets. Nobody has done that that's running for president, including George Bush. You know, so when you look at my record, you can say whatever you want about it, but I take care of people's money. And I think people care about that.

MATTHEWS: Do you think that John Kerry deserved the victory tonight based upon what he has said in public about public policy issues, or did he simply win because you had a bad week and he's from the Northeast?

DEAN: No. I think John deserves credit for a victory. You don't-you know, he won by a good margin. He deserves credit. Look, I-when Saddam Hussein was captured, I congratulated President Bush and I didn't say anything about his war policy for a couple of days. The capture of Saddam was a victory. It was a victory for Americans. It was a victory for Iraqis and it was a victory for the president.

I don't think you begrudge people successes, and I think John Kerry deserves credit for his success tonight. That doesn't get him off the hook on the differences we have in our positions, and the biggest difference is I think you need somebody from outside Washington who will balance the budget, stop promising people health care, middle class tax cuts, college tuition and all that stuff. It's not going to happen. Let's face up to the real problems we've got in Washington and get somebody in there who's like Harry Truman, who will say what he thinks.

MATTHEWS: Six people were killed, American people, GI's were killed in Iraq today.

DEAN: Yes...

MATTHEWS: Why is it not...

DEAN: ... and one yesterday from New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: And why isn't it not-why is it not a front burner issue with the Democratic voters with this kind of casualty rate?

DEAN: Well, because I think it is an important issue, but I think jobs and health insurance are a bigger issue. There are a lot of people suffering out there, not just Democrats. We actually started to see a fair number of Republicans come to our rallies at the end of the time...


DEAN: ... this time through. They couldn't vote in the primary, but they'll be able to vote in the General Election. We saw a lot of-seen a lot of Independents. We did well among the Independents here. So, you know I actually believe that we're a much stronger candidacy than John Kerry's in the General Election, but I think the Democratic primary voters will have the final say on that.

MATTHEWS: Well Governor Dean, I know you don't have cable in your home, but I hope you consider this cable network a home to your speeches in the weeks ahead, if you have something to say and you want to say it, please come to HARDBALL and make it your podium. We want an exciting campaign. We want you to be a big noise in this campaign. Thank you very much...

DEAN: Chris, I have to...

MATTHEWS: ... sorry about the loss tonight.

DEAN: ... I have to admit, I had such a great time on HARDBALL last time, I'll definitely come on again, and I don't consider it a loss tonight. I consider it a win.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont...

DEAN: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: ... came in second tonight. He's struggling on. He's going to go to all the big states. He made it clear in an earlier statement tonight. Joe.

Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.


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