updated 2/13/2008 2:18:13 PM ET 2008-02-13T19:18:13

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  The polls in Virginia close in an hour.  Those in Maryland and the District of Columbia in two hours.  And statistically Republican voters today could eliminate Governor Mike Huckabee. 

Statistically Democratic voters could lighten the burdens of Hillary Clinton by only rejecting her by a margin of 10 percent or so. 

Not Super Tuesday, but the first Tuesday of the rest of your life. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN (voice over):  An eight-vote winning streak, even when you’re favored to win all of them would still be an eight-vote winning streak.  At a big loss, a close loss and a squeaker victory, followed by trouble tonight of any kind, after you’ve all but mathematically clinched the nomination, that would still be a bad thing. 

But yes, Virginia, there are other candidates and you might provide them surprise victories they desperately need.  Mike Huckabee’s hope for a miracle.  Hillary Clinton’s topic changer after a week of loans and salary moratorium and managerial change. 

With Norah O’Donnell and the latest exit polling, Kevin Corke at Clinton headquarters in Texas, Lee Cowan with the Obama campaign in Wisconsin, Kelly O’Donnell from McCain HQ in Virginia, and Ron Allen at the Huckabee camp in Arkansas, with the analysis of NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, Brian Williams of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, Tom Brokaw, Andrea Mitchell at the listening post, Howard Fineman in Washington and David Gregory with Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson. 

And among our scheduled guests, Senators John Kerry and John Warner, Washington mayor Adrian Fenty and the Reverend Al Sharpton.  The challenge by the Chesapeake covered by the best political team in the universe.  Certainly the largest.  This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac primaries. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

OLBERMANN:  And good evening from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in New York.  Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann.  Here we go again. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Well, you know, Super Tuesday was last week but it seems like something is starting now.  I think we’re beginning hat may be the fourth quarter of this big fight for the nominations.  And what happens tonight, I think, what happened today is going to affect where we head right now into Ohio and Texas and in Pennsylvania.  I think April 22nd in Pennsylvania could be the Super Bowl. 

OLBERMANN:  The final – well, for the Republicans this could be the finale here tonight, too. 

MATTHEWS:  It could be, because of the numbers. 

OLBERMANN:  And much of what will be determined tonight will be determined by Virginia.  Norah O’Donnell is here with us.  She’ll be tracking our exit polls throughout tonight, has a quick forecast of the exit polls.  Is that correct? 

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  You might call it a tease, I guess, as we do in this business.  Both of you know, Virginia, key battle ground for both sides. 

On the Democratic side we are finding there’s a large number of first time voters.  We’re going to have a preview for you of just who’s turning out on the Democratic side. 

And on the Republican side, one key question, of course, we’re looking at how conservative is the electorate in the Virginia Republican primary.  We asked a new question this year.  How many of those who voted listened to conservative talk radio?  So we’ll have an answer for you on that shortly.  Of course, as you know, conservative talk radio has been very tough on John McCain. 

OLBERMANN:  Huckabee’s hope, Virginia tonight, if there’s any tonight at all. 

Thank you, Norah.  OK, you go now into the virtual room, right? 

O’DONNELL:  That’s right. 

OLBERMANN:  Wow.  3D Norah. 

Let’s turn now to NBC’s Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, moderator of “Meet the Press,” for our big opening here of what to watch for tonight. 

Tim, good evening. 

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Keith, good evening. 

Yes, Keith, you were right on the money when you talked about these states. 

It’s not only who wins but the magnitude of the victory.  That’s what people are looking at.  Why?  One, for momentum.  But two, and most important, the proportional allocation of delegates. 

If you win by big margins, and that’s what Obama did over the weekend, you vacuum up more delegates.  And why is that important?  Because if you pull ahead in the elected delegate count, you can build up a lead that is very difficult to overcome by your opponent. 

Elected delegates is where people are focusing their most attention, because if you don’t win the elected delegates, then the only way to win the nomination is by dipping into the super delegates. 

The second thing we look for tonight, did either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama on the Democratic side reach in to the other’s coalition?  Was Obama able to bring in white men, white women, voters who make under $50,000? 

Was Hillary Clinton able to bring in younger voters, African-American voters? 

It is essential that each of these candidates be able to broaden their coalitions. 

On the Republican side, look for the evangelicals in Virginia.  How many showed up to vote and how did they divide between John McCain and Mike Huckabee?  That is so essential for John McCain to begin be able to reach out to values, voters, evangelical voters. 

OLBERMANN:  All right.  What’s the over-under number on the margin of defeat, if it’s that for Hillary Clinton, in which it is still tantamount to a victory or at least not losing significant ground for her tonight? 

RUSSERT:  Well, it’s interesting.  You know, they kept saying in both camps they thought Virginia would be closer than Maryland, they hoped to keep it close.  If you can keep something at 55-45, you share the delegates practically equally.  If it gets beyond that, if it gets into the 60s, then you begin to have a disproportionate distribution of those delegates. 

I think that was the concern of the Clinton campaign over the weekend. 

They thought that Maine might be close and they lost it by 20.  You cannot lose states by big margins because you then begin to sacrifice too many elected delegates.  So keeping it close, a margin of 10 or 12, is what the goal of the underdog campaign would be in any of these races. 

OLBERMANN:  And what does Mike Huckabee do?  Can he possibly come close or even upset McCain in Virginia and still be finished as of tonight? 

RUSSERT:  He’s been working very, very hard in Virginia, particularly with the evangelical Christians.  Keith, if he can do well in Virginia, he hopes to take his campaign on to Texas, another place where he can do well with the evangelicals.  He wants to stay alive and live off the land. 

OLBERMANN:  Tim Russert will be with us throughout the evening.  Tim, thanks greatly. 

NBC’s Ron Allen in Little Rock with the Huckabee campaign speaking of what could and could not happen in the Republican race. 

What are the expectations there, Ron? 

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I just heard Tim talking and I don’t think Mike Huckabee really cares that much about the outcome tonight. 

At least, he says that.  Yes, he’d like to be competitive in Virginia.  But he says that he is in this race until someone gets the 1191 delegates needed for the nomination.  This is what he’s saying publicly. 

You know, when you talk to him—you know, the more you ask him about when is he going to pull out, the more defiant he seems to gets.  You know he does have a lot of support in the conservative community and this has become as much of a cause, I would say, as a campaign.  He still gets big crowds.  He’s been more critical of John McCain in the last few days, for example, saying that he should support conservative causes like constitutional amendments for --  on human life and on traditional marriage. 

But he’s being very careful about how much he goes negative or tries to contrast his position with McCain.  But he says that he’s in this and he doesn’t spend a lot of money.  For example tonight, there’s no big election party.  We’re in the public lobby of a bank building in downtown Little Rock. 

Another example of how he goes along, as Tim put it, living off the land and not spending a lot of money. 

And he gets a lot of attention.  He’s – you know, he’s a very entertaining campaigner.  He gets big crowds.  And at least today he is saying that he’s going to be in this for a while.  As he put it, hoping for a miracle and not worrying about the electoral math so much. 

OLBERMANN:  Ron Allen near the ATMs at the Huckabee headquarters in Little Rock. 

Thank you, Ron.  We’ll check back with you throughout the evening. 

Andrea Mitchell at NBC has been covering the Clinton campaign.  She is in Washington for us tonight to give us the view from that perch and the Democratic race in its entirely and later on from our notorious listening desk. 

Andrea, good evening. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Keith.  As you know, Hillary Clinton way behind in these three areas and hoping against hope that the margins are not too big in terms of Barack Obama’s margin of victory because they are expecting, and this is not spin, Keith, they’ve been looking at the numbers, they’ve been looking at their own internal polling, and they really feel pretty defeated here. 

So they are looking forward towards Texas and Ohio.  She was inside campaign headquarters today doing satellite interviews with stations in Texas and Ohio.  She’s already en route to Texas where she will be tonight.  She’ll be in Texas tomorrow, Ohio on Thursday, sort of bypassing Wisconsin which votes next week because she feels, the campaign feels that they really don’t have that much of a shot there.  But Chelsea Clinton has been there for two days. 

Bill Clinton will be in Wisconsin tomorrow. 

She’s put advertising up in Wisconsin but they’re really focusing now on their firewall, and their must-win states, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, on April 22nd.  They have been reassuring the donors, Keith, that they can keep this going, that they can stop his momentum in the March primaries.  They have very little hope in February. 

OLBERMANN:  It’s already March for Hillary Clinton.  Andrea Mitchell, great thanks.  We’ll be back with you shortly.  Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  Polls in Virginia close at the top of this hour.  But let’s get some numbers from exit polling.  And here is Norah O’Donnell. 

O’DONNELL:  And that’s right, Chris and Keith.  As you know, Virginia is a key battle ground in this contest.  And at this hour we’re getting a good snapshot of who is coming out to vote today.  Women.  They make up a majority of the electorate.  Fifty-six percent of those who have come out so far are female. 

And this is similar to what we’ve seen in other Democratic primaries. 

The make out turns out – makeup, I should say, turns out to be about the same as it was four years ago.  And as you know, in past contests, women have favored Hillary Clinton.  Race has also been an important factor in the primaries thus far. 

Today the percentage of whites is the same this year as we saw in 2004 in Virginia.  But there’s something interesting when it comes to black voters. 

The percentage of black today is somewhat less than it was four years ago. 

It’s 29 now compared to 33 percent.  As you can see we’re still on the gender graphic here.  But that’s what we’re learning about race.  And in the past we know Barack Obama has won black voters overwhelmingly. 

Age has been another fascinating demographic thus far in the Democratic primaries.  The proportion of both the youngest voters and the oldest voters is up from four years ago.  In fact, youngest voters up from 8 percent to 11 percent, oldest up from 23 to 28 percent.  We know Barack Obama has done well among the young voters while Hillary Clinton has done well among the seniors. 

And new voters are turning out in big numbers today.  I think this is one of the most interesting things.  More than a third, 35 percent of the voters on the Democratic side say this is their first time voting in a primary that is significantly more, then came out the first time and even New Hampshire. 

And again, you guys both know, Virginia’s choice today is important because the state could be the one this year that helped put a Democrat in the White House.  Now although Virginia has not supported a Democratic nominee for president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the state, as both of you know, has been turning more and more Democratic, especially in the Washington suburbs. 

So party leaders believe Democrats could carry the state if the nominee can solidify the party’s expanding base, and especially northern Virginia and reach out to Virginia’s many rural voters. 

Chris and Keith, back to you guys. 

MATTHEWS:  Norah, let’s talk about a little about the younger voters showing up and new voters.  I was struck by that. 

O’DONNELL:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The large numbers.  We’ve always given up on people joining the political process but they seem to be joining this season. 

O’DONNELL:  We have seen this throughout the primaries and caucuses.  A large number of young voters.  That has helped Barack Obama in the past.  New voters turning out.  And that’s one of the interesting things that I just reported from these exit polls, a large number of new voters.  If Barack Obama wants to do well, he’s going to continue those kinds of trends in the future because Hillary Clinton usually does well among the Democratic base, women and seniors. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Norah O’Donnell. 

Let’s bring in now NBC News political director Chuck Todd with a look at the Potomac primaries tonight. 

Chuck, it seems like – well, let’s talk about the Democrats.  How will the scorecard be written as we go into the numbers tonight? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, let me walk through the numbers and I’ll go systematically. 

Here’s what the hard count is right now, 958 to 904 delegates allocated to date.  If you go with an estimate that we’ve done, we’ve got Obama, we’ve got Obama at 1025 to Clinton at about 954, margin of error plus or minus three or four delegates there.  This is going in tonight pledged delegates.  And this is important.  Because if Obama can get 15, 20, 25 delegates, add that to his total, let’s say it’s 25, suddenly that’s 1050.  That’s nearly 100 pledged delegate lead.  That would be a big talking point for the Obama campaign. 

If you factor in the supers right now, this is based on the totals we get from the campaigns on the super delegates, we’ve 1215 for Clinton and 1190 for Obama going in to tonight.  So he’s about 25 delegates behind in the overall count, counting being very generous on the super delegates.  So that’s what he would need to net tonight to take or to pull even or possibly take the overall delegate lead.  So that’s what we’re going to be watching for tonight and sort of how many delegates does Obama get. 

Anywhere you can see a conservative estimate of 10 to 15, if he does as well as some of these polls have shown previously over the weekend or if it’s – you know, he can get as high as 20 to 25.  So that’s – that’s why watching this tonight, this pledge delegate lead, the Obama people are forcing this big, because they believe super delegates aren’t going to overturn the pledged delegates. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that’s a new religion, isn’t it?  This is going to be a Democratic process.  Thank you very much. 

TODD:  You got it. 

MATTHEWS:  Chuck Todd. 

Now it’s time to introduce our panel tonight, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory, MSNBC political analyst Patrick J. Buchanan, the “Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation” magazine. 

David. 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  All right, Chris.  Thanks very much. 

Pat Buchanan, let me start to you.  Talk about the Democrats first. 

What does this night mean to the race overall? 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think Barack Obama is threatening to pull away dramatically.  He won five victories over the weekend.  If he gets three more tonight and a lot of early polls suggest he might, I think he could really break away and start threatening any kind of base that Hillary has got in Texas and Ohio. 

Frankly I think this is going to be a very tough night and a very tough month for Hillary.  And it could be the decisive month in the run-up to the convention. 

GREGORY:  Katrina, this is momentum day now. She’s lost five in a row, she’s lent her campaign money, she’s fired her campaign manager. 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, THE NATION:  February has been the cruelest month for Hillary Clinton.  But what’s exhilarating for me to watch is you have first time, 25 percent first-time new voters. 

GREGORY:  Right. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You an expanded electorate, first time maybe since 1988.  You have turnout, you have enthusiasm. 

GREGORY:  Is that just Obama bringing in those new voters? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, I think there are women coming out. 

GREGORY:  Right. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  The idea of a woman president.  I think for Hillary, moving forward, I wouldn’t discount Hillary in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. 

Obama needs to sharpen his economic message and connect, to me, the war with the bread and butter issues going into Ohio.  I don’t know why the Clinton campaign isn’t contesting Wisconsin. 

GREGORY:  Working class voters.  That’s her strength. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Yes. 

GREGORY:  Does she hold that tonight? 

ROBINSON:  Well, we’ll see if she holds it tonight.  If she doesn’t, she could have a very tough evening.  You know, I’m of the school that says you never count out Hillary Clinton until the last dog dies, you know?  Until the end of the road.  And she is a really formidable candidate.  But it could get really tough because if he wins, you know, let’s say he wins big tonight, what -

what does the super delegates do? 

GREGORY:  Right. 

ROBINSON:  They—you know, they watch this, they have their fingers stuck up into the wind.  They want to know which way it’s blowing.  And if it looks like Obama is on a roll, they are going to start defecting, they’re going to start announcing in his favor.  And it creates its own dynamic.  It could be difficult for her. 

GREGORY:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  Let me say, look, if Barack Obama wins the raw vote total for the nomination and he wins the pledge delegates, it seems to me impossible that the super delegates would step in and take the nomination from the guy who won it.  I mean that is Antonin Scalia stepping in… 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  The super delegates are like the mini electoral colleges meet the Supreme Court that selected our – the (INAUDIBLE) president. 

But the other danger, which we have to look at, is Michigan and Florida. 

ROBINSON:  Right.  If they get – you know, true. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  If the Clinton tries to seat those delegations, that is theft.  And that is a fight that the party needs to have.  It is. 

GREGORY:  All right.  Republicans quickly.  We got 20 seconds. 

Pat Buchanan, Virginia is a state Mike Huckabee can make a stand.  If he does well there, he can keep going. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, he should keep going.  I would expect him to get 33 to 40 percent.  If he doesn’t get that, then it becomes is this Mike Huckabee just on a tour of his own ego.  But if he gets that, what it suggests is Republican Party is un-reconciled to the nomination of John McCain. 

GREGORY:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  They don’t want to go to the alter. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Ideological division in the Republican Party. 

GREGORY:  A lot to talk about.  We’ll keep talking about it all night. 

Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  I love Pat Buchanan’s precision. 

Anyway, the panel is staying with us.  And when we return, Senator John Kerry who’s supporting Barack Obama for president, plus Republicans will—will John McCain get his winning streak going again tonight against Mike Huckabee?  The polls close in Virginia in less than 45 minutes. 

You’re watching MSNBC live coverage of what we’re calling the Potomac primary. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  On the Republican side, Senator John McCain has only won one of three states since all but locking up the nomination after Mitt Romney dropped out of the race.  Conservatives have yet to rally behind him.  And for more on McCain and the Huckabee race tonight, we’re joined by Michelle Bernard at the Independent Women’s Voice. 

Michelle, it seems to me—let me run this by you and take a minute to answer it—the only impact of Huckabee staying in this race is the extent to which he can drag John McCain screaming and kicking further to the right. 

MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S VOICE:  I think, Chris, you are absolutely right.  I mean, you know, I’ve listened to everything that Huckabee is saying and he clearly is in the race to stay in the race as long as possible.  But I think the numbers tell the story and the story is that he can’t possibly be the Republican nominee. 

The question all along since day one and particularly after Mitt Romney dropped out of the race is who is going to be the standard bearer of the Republican Party?  Many people in the Republican Party are still looking back nostalgically at the days of the optimism of Ronald Reagan, at the base of limited government, free markets and personal responsibility. 

And the big question within the Republican Party is whether or not John McCain will be that man.  But I really believe that ultimately if the choice is between living in the wilderness for the next four to eight years and not being in the White House and rallying around John McCain, you will eventually see the vast majority of conservatives in the Republican Party join John McCain’s ranks. 

MATTHEWS:  Huckabee keeps urging McCain to come out for a human life amendment to the constitution, in other words, constitutional ban on abortion in this country.  A friend of mine, a top Republican in California, says you do that, you kill the guy in California.  Isn’t it the danger? 

BERNARD:  Yes, you absolutely do that.  And I mean Governor Huckabee is also the person who said that he wants our constitution to be – you know, to be based on the bible.  You know, it’s a ploy.  I understand why he’s trying to do it.  But that is not where the vast majority of Americans are. 

And quite frankly we know John McCain’s appeal within the Republican Party and even outside the Republican Party are moderates and independents. 

You know, we’ve said it before, 2006 – the 2006 midterm elections were a real wakeup call for the Republican Party. 

And yes, there is that solid conservative pro-life base within the Republican Party, but, you know, it is the question between pragmatism… 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

BERNARD:  … and wanting to win or sticking by your – you know, your ideology and losing at all cost. 

MATTHEWS:  It’s like fighting over the blanket at night.  If you pull the blanket too far to one side to cover your feet, somebody else’s get really cold.  And I think that’s what’s happening to John McCain.  He’s being asked to pull the blanket the other way and he’s going to lose a lot of centrists. 

Anyway, thank you, Michelle Bernard, for joining us. 

When we return, Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee four years ago, now he’s supporting Barack Obama. 

This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac primary.  More in a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We rejoin you with MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac primaries.  Senator John Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president four years ago.  And this year, of course, he’s come out in favor of Barack Obama. 

Senator Kerry has joined us now from Capitol Hill. 

Senator, thanks for your time tonight. 

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), OBAMA SUPPORTER:  Good to be with you.  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  What do you read tonight, what do you look for?  Is it just wins and losses?  Is it margin of victory?  Is it exit polling information? 

What are you looking for as somebody who is a supporter of Senator Barack Obama? 

KERRY:  Trust me, I certainly don’t look at the exit polling.  I promise you that.

MATTHEWS:  I know why. 

KERRY:  The—I think we look for who won and we look for how much. 

And obviously both count.  I think it’s important.  But look, I think just the fact that Barack Obama is in this place where Hillary Clinton has skedaddled out of town and is down in Texas, already just saying good-bye to these primaries, is a remarkable situation, it’s a remarkable statement. 

And I think that people really need to step back and measure the full weight of what tonight means.  Just winning, whether he wins by one point or by more points is a big deal for the Barack Obama campaign. 

OLBERMANN:  What, in terms of practical politics, I mean, I use an analogy that probably is a little unfair.  But the whole Rudy Giuliani scheme on the side of things was wait, wait, wait, wait until you see what I do in Florida, and while he was waiting and his supporters were waiting, the entire campaign got away from him.  Is there any kind of analogy or is that unfair to Senator Hillary Clinton about this month? 

KERRY:  Well, it’s premature.  I’ll put it that way.  There’s three weeks now and this is a fight.  I mean nobody underestimates the 20-year machine that has been built up around the president, then ex-president, first lady, the people who have been in the Cabinet, the people who are connected, who are friends.  It’s a powerful machine, which is why I say that these last days are so remarkable. 

I mean the fact is, that Barack Obama has built a new coalition across the country.  People like Ben Nelson of red state Nebraska, Kathleen Sebelius of red state Kansas, Arizona, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Tim Kaine in Virginia, moving all the way from Maine to Washington in the last few days, the Virgin Islands. 

This is a big movement that is happening.  And I think that, you know, it’s important for everybody to take stock of the nature of that coalition. 

Don’t just look at how many delegates there are, look at the mosaic of different people who are coming to the table to vote for Barack Obama—young, old, rich, poor, middle class.  You know, all across the demographics. 

And I think that that’s impressive, and it’s something that is really going to change the situation as we go into November.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m convinced he is the more powerful candidate to change the country as well as win in November.  And how you win is essential as to how you change the country, what you’re able to do. 

OLBERMANN:  You mentioned the mosaic.  To that point, I apologize for the first flashback to 2004 but there’s another one here.  In a press release from Senator Clinton’s campaign today that referenced you, it makes the case that she is, quote, “the Democrat to beat Senator John McCain in Ohio and Texas,” because, again quoting, “she’s built a strong coalition of women and Latino voters.  These two groups made the difference in 2004 swinging the election from Senator John Kerry to President George Bush.” 

First of all, Senator John Kerry, do you take issue with that assessment and do you take issue with the argument that Senator Obama can’t compete against Senator McCain in those states for those reasons? 

KERRY:  I take issue with both, with the assessment and with the assertion that Barack Obama can’t compete with John McCain there.  First of all, Barack Obama, I believe, will have an enormous ability to be able to motivate and energize and have credibility with voters that John McCain will not be able to reach because it’s the Republican policies that have lost their jobs.  It’s the Republican policies that have shut some of those schools.  It’s the Republican policies that built up the deficit.  It’s the Republican policies that have prolonged this war and got us in it in the first place, and spent billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars that could have gone into America’s infrastructure and competitiveness. 

I believe that John McCain is going to have a lot to answer for in a place like Ohio, where they have lost unbelievable numbers of jobs, where the middle class is getting ground down by the cost of health care, energy costs, tuitions and their wages are frozen if they have them at all.  That’s going to count a lot. 

I think Barack Obama against John McCain is a generational shift that Hillary doesn’t bring.  It is also a dramatic contrast on the war.  You know, John McCain can turn to Hillary and say, you voted for that, just like I did. 

And he can turn to her on Iran and say, you voted for that, just like I did. 

He can draw, I think, a clearer line because he’s been a leader on some of the reform issues. 

The fact is Barack Obama had a different position, a clarity to it on all of those things, including ethics reform, where he championed the broadest ethics reform we’ve had in the Senate in the entire time I’ve been here. 

That’s change.  That’s what the American people want.  And I believe that’s a clear contrast. 

Now, can you pick any number of things.  As you know, I lost by one state and a few votes in Ohio.  And the fact is that it wasn’t Hispanics there or women that made that difference.  So I do take an issue with that particular assertion.  And I think we’re going to have to see what happens in the next days.  Barack has several weeks to go to Texas, to go to Ohio, to compete on the ground just the way he did in Iowa and elsewhere in the country.  I think he looks forward to that.  I think the campaign wants that contrast, and I think he’s ready for it. 

MATTHEWS:  You mentioned reform and ethics.  Senator, it’s Chris Matthews.  Should Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—I believe he already has -

release their tax returns to the public as part of their transparency in offering themselves for president. 

KERRY:  Chris, first of all, with that voice, you don’t have to identify yourself.  But secondly, yes, I think everybody should.  I did.  I always have, every race I’ve ever run for the Senate and otherwise.  I think one should, yes. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much.

OLBERMANN:  One question here, just sort of wrap it up since we gave awe hard time, basically, senator.  Is this true that your old SUV is for sale in Virginia?  What’s this all about?  Do you want to do a sales pitch for it or anything? 

KERRY:  This is true.  I understand that that somehow got onto a blog. 

It’s sitting out there at Koons Chevrolet or Koons Ford. 

OLBERMANN:  Falls Church, Virginia.

KERRY:  I get nothing for it.  There’s no money to me.  It’s their car.  Good luck to them. 

MATTHEWS:  This is like Jon Voight’s car on “Seinfeld.”  I think Jon Voight owned this. 

OLBERMANN:  You can look the phone number up.  There’s no 800 number. 

Senator John Kerry speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign.  Thank you, sir. 

Good to talk to you.

KERRY:  Thanks a lot.

OLBERMANN:  Up next, new numbers from our exit polling, plus inside the Clinton-Obama fight.  Other used cars of major American politicians available. 

You’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac primaries.

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OLBERMANN:  We continue with MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac primaries.  In just over 22 minutes and 20 seconds polls will close in Virginia, critical to both sides of the equation, Republican and Democrat.  An hour later at 8:00 Eastern, the polls close in Maryland and Washington, D.C., also critical to what happens tonight.  What we do have for you so far, the exit polling.  Norah O’Donnell keeping watch over all of it, as usual.  We go back into the 3-D simulation that surrounds her for some more information. 

Norah? 

O’DONNELL:  Good evening to you, Chris and Keith.  We’ve all been watching Virginia and what’s going to happen in this contest between John McCain and Mike Huckabee.  Well, before the polls close, here is what we’re seeing.  In today’s Republican primary, which is an open primary, our exit polls show a very conservative electorate.  In fact, there are far more conservative voters turning out today than the primary eight years ago. 

Those who call themselves conservatives make up 68 percent of those who cast ballots today.  In 2000, they were just a little more than half those voting, 55 percent.  There are also fewer moderates this year than eight years ago.  That can be interesting, because as we’ve seen in past races, conservatives have been a mainstay for Mike Huckabee, moderates John McCain. 

In edition to describing themselves as conservative, this electorate enjoys listening to conservative talk radio.  In fact, 62 percent say they listen at least occasionally.  It’s pretty interesting numbers since conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have questioned McCain’s conservative credentials. 

Also today, almost half, 46 percent, describe themselves as evangelicals, while 18 percent say they are catholic.  Also, more than one in four, 27 percent, are military veterans, exactly the same percentage as eight years ago.  Now, traditionally McCain, of course, a former POW, has done well among veterans. 

Finally, I was interested to learn that a quarter of voters made up their minds in just the last few days.  Our polling desk says this could be important because remember, when Mitt Romney dropped out, many assumed McCain was the presumptive Republican nominee.  Just on Saturday we saw that Mike Huckabee scored well in those two contests.  Chris and Keith? 

OLBERMANN:  All right, we’ll see how things go in the Shenandoah and the western part of Virginia, not West Virginia, but the thing that’s east of West Virginia.  You know what I’m saying.  Thank you, Norah.  Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the first state of this three-state Potomac Primary is Virginia, where polls will be closed at the top of the hour.  NBC News political director Chuck Todd is here for a look at what to watch for in the mother of presidents, I think it’s still called. 

TODD:  That’s right.  It is.  Let’s take a look at Virginia here and see where each of the candidates are hoping to draw much a bunch of their support. 

We’ll start with Obama, who is hoping to make northern Virginia very big.  Here is northern Virginia here.  If that’s the size of northern Virginia, as far as the vote is concerned tonight, that’s probably pretty good news for Clinton.  If northern Virginia is growing the way we think it’s growing, and the white affluent voters turn out in bigger numbers and it’s closer to where it’s basically going all the way to Charlottesville, which is over there, that could be good news for Obama. 

He also wants to do well with African-American voters in Richmond, as well as the Hampton roads.  That’s where he’s hoping to run up his totals. 

As for Senator Clinton, her goal is to do well basically along—not sure how well folks know Virginia, but it’s along I-81.  Along I-81 here, which is more like Tennessee than Virginia.  She did really well in Tennessee.  She wants to do well with rural white voters.  Like I said, she wants to keep northern Virginia very small, and more importantly hope that there’s a lot of federal workers that end up voting that have fond memories of the Clinton years. 

We already got a traffic report from one our embeds tonight who said traffic is horrendous tonight.  If the Clinton campaign is hoping federal workers are coming home and going to make it in time for polls closed could be a long night. 

Now, when we look at the Republicans, I want you to keep in mind one thing about the Republican primary tonight.  That is, if Mike Huckabee wins the primary, he will pass Mitt Romney in delegates.  Why is that important? 

Because the candidates who finish second place in Republican presidential primaries end up nominees four or eight years down the road, or so the pattern has held.  So let’s take a look at what each of these guys is going to do. 

First McCain.  McCain’s goal tonight, run up the score with veterans here in Norfolk and the Hampton Roads area, do well in northern Virginia with moderate Republicans, and do well with the country club Republicans in Richmond.  Those are the places he can run up his score. 

As far as Huckabee is concerned, he wants to do well in the Tennessee portion of Virginia, or the West Virginia portion of Virginia, same place that I was talking about with Hillary Clinton, basically along that I-81 corridor. 

You know, this is where Lynchburg is, over here.  That’s where the Jerry Falwell congregation is.  If this is a big part of the turnout tonight, and this is where a lot of Republican voters are coming from—we saw those exit polls that showed it’s a very conservative electorate.  That could be good news for Huckabee and this is where he would be getting that vote.  Chris?

MATTHEWS:  It’s amazing stuff.  I love that Virginia map.  I love all those different little niches there.  Let’s go deeper inside the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland supports Senator Obama and former Maryland lieutenant governor, the great governor—almost Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend joins us.  She supports --  in that very mixed and hard to figure Kennedy family, you are with—I’ll let you start first, Kathleen.  You’re with Senator Clinton.  Give me the best case for the senator. 

KATHLEEN KENNEDY-TOWNSEND, FMR. MARYLAND LT. GOV:  You know, I really think Senator Clinton can walk into the Oval Office on day one and start solving problems.  She’s got a plan on for foreclosure, on health care, on bringing the troops out.  She’s had 35 years of experience getting the job done.  She knows how to use the levers of power of government.  This is what we need. 

We’ve had the worst president we’ve ever had in our history and we need somebody who can clean up, start on day one and start the process going and succeed. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Cummings, the case for Obama in Maryland. 

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND:  Clearly Senator Obama is ready. 

I’ve noticed so many pundits have tried to discount his experiences, but he’s definitely ready.  I think that his appeal is that he has been a community organizers, he’s been a state senator, he has been a civil rights attorney, and he’s done a lot of things where he’s touched people. 

That’s why he’s in Wisconsin tonight.  He didn’t skip by Wisconsin.  As he told me yesterday, when he was appearing before 25,000 people at 10:30 in the morning, he wanted to make sure he touched every single voter and fought for every single vote.  So I think he’s a man who has already shown that he can inspire. 

The other thing, a lot of people think he’s just a good orator.  No, he’s a great organizer.  He’s a great administrator.  It’s already been shown, as evidenced by the things that Senator Kerry said, he came right into the United States Senate and done something most first or second-year senators just can’t do, made sure a major piece of legislation was passed with regard to ethics. 

I think his history has been one of that.  The main thing, as I have said on several occasions, Obama’s campaign—if you’ve been to any of his rallies, Chris, you will see, it’s not just a campaign for the presidency of the United States.  This is a movement.  And again, he appeared before 25,000 early yesterday  in College Park, Maryland, then three hours later came to Baltimore, where people waited two and a half hours, many in the cold, 15,000, because they wanted to see him, because they knew they wanted to be inspired by him. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me go back to Kathleen Townsend.  I’ll ask you a wide open question, why is this a tough race?  In your state of Maryland, in Virginia, and D.C., why isn’t Senator Clinton with her tremendous appeal of her and her husband throughout the years, 20 years of political capital, why is she having a hard time beating a neophyte, someone fairly new to the political process nationally. 

TOWNSEND:  You know it, Chris.  Senator Obama is a fabulous orator. 

He’s a very talented senator.  There is no question he has a bright future. 

And people are looking, as you’ve heard over and over again, for change. 

There’s just a dream that somebody who is really different can come into the White House and make that change. 

My belief is that we need Senator Hillary Clinton, who also believes in change, but who has the experience to really make it happen.  First of all, to go across the aisle and work with, as she has before, Senator Lindsey Graham. 

So she knows how to work with Republicans.  But also to really help people in their own community. 

You look at what she did in upstate New York, which had always voted Republican, hadn’t voted Democrat in years.  They saw this Hillary Clinton come into their community, say what is she?  Why would we trust her?  Then they saw her listen, pay attention to their needs, come back after the election, help out.  And for the first time in years, upstate New York goes Democratic, because this is a person who believes in helping people, who believes in change, who believes in making it happen, and more importantly than just believing in it, can actually do it. 

MATTHEWS:  Kathleen, is there going to be a Kennedy primary one of these days, where the whole family gets together, you and your mother, who is for Barack—I think one of your younger sisters is for Barack.  Your brother Bobby is for Senator Clinton.  I don’t know where Joe is.  He’s in business now.  He’s selling oil.  He has no time for this stuff.  Uncle Teddy is one way.  Vicky is—

TOWNSEND:  Are you going to go through the whole family.  Are you going to use up the time mentioning every member of my family.  You’re just going to show how good you are. 

MATTHEWS:  I just find it fascinating that the Kennedys are in disarray.  Anyway, thank you very much Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend, U.S.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, here for Barack Obama. 

Up next, NBC’s Tim Russert and U.S. Senator John Warner of Virginia, one of the grands of the U.S. Senate, as we await the results from the polls at the top of the hour.  This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac Primary. 

That’s what we’re calling it.  Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland.  Back in a moment.

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OLBERMANN:  Polls closing in Virginia at the top of the hour.  Probably Mike Huckabee’s last and best stand, at least certainly for tonight, and perhaps Hillary Clinton’s best chance on the evening.  This, we’re reminded, is the anniversary, incidentally, nine years to the day, the end of the impeachment process. 

The key for the Clinton campaign at this point is obviously not tonight, nor is it next week.  Let’s turn to NBC’s Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.  It’s T-O-P, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania?

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Keith, it’s amazing.  It’s very seldom you have a campaign that says we need to win Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania. 

Well, guess what, they do, and they know that.  Why?  They need those delegates desperately in order to overcome Barack Obama’s advantage with elected delegates. 

Number two, it’s a way of saying to the press and to their own supporters, you know those five caucuses and primaries over the weekend, you know those three primaries tonight, you know those two primaries next week, that’s not the story.  The story is Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  A lot of that is wishful thinking, but it’s the best hand the Clinton campaign has right now. 

OLBERMANN:  But as I suggested earlier, if we’re looking at this on a fair basis, when the Giuliani campaign came out with something similar to this, you know, don’t pay any attention to the voters behind the screen here for the first month of the campaign, just worry about Florida, it was questioned at the start as strategy, and it was then proven kind of disastrous.  This requires—to concentrate on Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania requires people to just sort of wish into the corn field ten consecutive Obama victories over Clinton.  How is that—even in the sometimes rarified lack of reality air of politics, how do you wish ten consecutive losses away. 

RUSSERT:  It’s a problem.  There’s no doubt about it.  That’s why the phone calls were made to the donors and the supporters saying, hold on.  Help is on its way in the names of Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania.  If you’re right and there are ten in a row, you would look up and say, OK, after next Tuesday, Obama has won 23 state primaries and caucuses and the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, and Senator Clinton has won ten.  These three important are big states and most important. 

In the end, Keith, it’s all about elected delegates.  Both campaigns privately will say that.  They believe the candidate that gets the most elected delegates will win this.  The farther you fall behind in this proportional allocation, the bigger you have to win Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

OLBERMANN:  As we begin to discount the role of the super delegates. 

That’s clearly the conventional thinking now.  Tim Russert will rejoin us again after the polls close in Virginia.  Thank you, Tim.  Chris?

MATTHEWS:  Senator John Warner of Virginia is a Republican who has been supporting John McCain for president.  It’s great to have you on, Senator Warner, one of the grands of the U.S. Senate, as we’ve all agreed.  It’s great to have you on. 

What do you think about the results tonight?  Do you think that it will be a McCain victory of any dominance tonight in Virginia? 

SEN. JOHN WARNER ®, VIRGINIA:  We’ve certainly been working very hard.  I’ve been privileged to travel with my friend of 35 years.  I reiterate,

35 years John McCain and I have been working partners throughout his public service career.  And we finished up last night in Richmond, having spent Friday in Norfolk.  It was such a heartening experience for me to travel my great state and see the overwhelming support he received at every stop. 

So we’re working hard in that direction.  The verdict will be in in about six minutes. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the problem that very conservative Republicans, in fact, people that call themselves conservatives, have with this senator who is in so many ways a conservative. 

WARNER:  You know, that’s really puzzling to me because there’s nobody in the Senate that has fought harder to eliminate excessive government spending, excessive wasteful spending, who has been a stronger advocate of our national defense side by side.  Last six years I was chairman of the committee.  He sat right on my right arm throughout this.  He’s fighting to extend what we call the tax laws that Bush put in. 

I just don’t understand it.  But in the last 72 hours, you’ve seen major conservative figures like George Allen and Jim Gilmore and Gary Bauer. 

All these people are coming to clearly document his long-standing credentials as a conservative. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Commonwealth of Virginia.  You know it so well over the years, senator.  Do you think Barack Obama would be a competitive candidate with the Republican John McCain If he were to win the nomination of the Democratic party in Virginia? 

WARNER:  I think the Democrats have two very strong candidates in Mrs.

Clinton, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.  I’m not about to pick and choose between the two.  Senator Clinton has been a member of the Armed Services Committee, on which Senator McCain and I served, and I’ve gotten to know Senator Obama quite well in his short tenure in the Senate. 

Let them call that shot.  I’m going to call now that I’m hopeful there are people still arriving at the polls to cast their vote for John McCain, to put in a strong showing for this candidate who really needs no on-the-job training to become commander in chief of the armed forces. 

MATTHEWS:  One question, last question.  Does Hillary Clinton know her stuff when it comes to the military? 

WARNER:  I’ve seen her before our committee these past six years well prepared, good solid questions.  So that’s the best evidence I can say fairly and objectively. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much Senator John Warner of Virginia. 

WARNER:  You bet.

OLBERMANN:  Polls in Virginia close.  We’re just at about the two- minute warning there.  We’ll have the first results of the night.  We’ll be able to tell you something about what happened in Virginia for the Republicans and the Democrats when MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac primaries continues after this. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSBNC ANCHOR:  It’s 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast and the polls are now closed in Virginia.  The first state of tonight’s Potomac Primary.  On the Democratic side, NBC News projects Barack Obama is the winner over Hillary Clinton.  According to our exit polls, he is projected to win a substantial victory tonight in Virginia.  On the Republican side, the race is too close to call between John McCain and Mike Huckabee, based on exit polling they are in a close race. 

Well.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSBNC ANCHOR:  Yes.  And both—they are exact opposites in terms of stories, and they are both big news, because that probably was Hillary Clinton’s best bet of the night of the three of them to begin with.  And obviously that was Mike Huckabee’s best bet.  And if we can’t call it with a nomination virtually assured for John McCain, he has gotten something of the job he wanted to get done in Virginia. 

MATTHEWS:  Whereas Hillary Clinton’s people—Senator Clinton’s people were saying they were hoping to keep it close in Virginia.  Based on our exit polling, they haven’t achieved that goal so far.  Norah O’Donnell is with us for a quick look at what’s ahead to us in learning from the exit polls—

Norah. 

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  That’s right.  And Barack Obama won in part because he won handily among white men.  And in fact, his support among whites is the highest in any southern state thus far.  We’re going to go inside the numbers, we’ll show you a little bit more of that.  Also, he’s maxing out his base in Virginia among African-Americans, young, and the more affluent.  Those are the key headlines.  We’re going to show you all the numbers in just a bit. 

OLBERMANN:  But what’s the number? 

(LAUGHTER)

N. O’DONNELL:  You have to wait and stay tuned. 

OLBERMANN:  Would you write it down before you leave and give it to me so I can put it in the book?

(LAUGHTER)

OLBERMANN:  Thanks, Norah. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Norah.  All right.  Let’s get more now, talk more about Obama’s projected win now in Virginia with NBC News political director Chuck Todd.  He’s with us. 

Chuck, that’s pretty astounding, Norah just teased us with that fact white men—I hate doing it like this, white men, that’s how we talk now, voting for Barack Obama. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, I think what you do is take both of our calls together.  OK.  Don’t forget, Virginia, no party registration.  Here we have the Republican primary too close to call.  The Democratic primary was easily called.  Well, what does that tell you?  It tells you independents flocked to the Democratic Party.  It tells you we have a very conservative electorate on the Republican side. 

So you know, as Obama went up, my guess is so did Huckabee’s number went up.  So you have a—it’s a fascinating thing when you take both calls together because it means we have the possibility of basically a Republican electorate, became very conservative.  Thirty percent, by the way, of the Democratic electorate was either independent or Republican.  So that tells you a lot of people crossed over and decided to participate in the Virginia Democratic Primary. 

MATTHEWS:  What you’re saying, Chuck, is the people that would normally or otherwise have voted for John McCain, voted for Senator Obama. 

TODD:  I think that’s right.  I mean, you have heard Obama say this, we saw this phenomenon, we thought this was going to happen in New Hampshire, where you had the same phenomenon, where independents could pick each ballot.  Well, this was a case where you had independents and moderate Republicans. 

And I wonder this Northern Virginia number, I’m going to be fascinated to watch the returns, you know, how many Tom Davis Republicans—and for those who don’t know Tom Davis, he’s the retiring very moderate Republican out of Northern Virginia.  How many of those moderate Republicans said, you know what, McCain doesn’t need my vote today, I’m going to go vote in the Democratic primary. 

And boy, that could have cost McCain some votes.  And if that means that evangelicals ended up a larger share of the Republican primary because independents and moderates are a smaller share, I mean, it’s just fascinating, the two—you know, the two correlate, the two calls that we made tonight, the one for Obama and the non-call on the Republican side. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Chuck Todd.  The governor of Virginia is Tim Kaine.  He’s a Democrat.  He backed Senator Obama. 

Governor Kaine, thank you very much for joining us.  You’re an interesting kind of Democrat.  I find you—you are Roman Catholic, you are a populist.  You have got other overlays.  Is it possible that within the numbers we just saw, Governor, that some Republicans chose to vote for—independent Republicans—leaning Republicans, chose to vote for Barack because they simply want him to be the next president? 

GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  Chris, I absolutely think that’s the case.  When I endorsed Senator Obama a year ago, one of the reasons I endorsed him was because I thought he would have huge appeal to the independent electorate in Virginia.  And it seems like at least from the exit polls that may be borne out this evening. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about your state, the conservative side of things.  Do you believe that your conservative Republicans are so conservative that they will have a hard time backing John McCain in a general election? 

KAINE:  Well, you know, there has certainly been some turmoil on the other side about Senator McCain.  And I’m no expert on the internal divisions on the Republican side.  But what I do know is this, I know the independent electorate well in this state, because you can’t get to be governor if you don’t know them.  And I also know the moderate Republican electorate pretty well, got a lot of their support in 2005. 

I have just found them very, very open to Senator Obama’s candidacy at all points along this election so far.  And so I think that makes him a very strong candidate for the general election here in Virginia and elsewhere. 

MATTHEWS:  Explain to somebody who doesn’t live in this area what Northern Virginia means.  What is it? 

KAINE:  Well, Northern Virginia is basically Fredericksburg, which is 60 miles south of Washington, north.  It is 30 percent of the population of the state and growing.  When I was—when I moved to Richmond in 1984, Fredericksburg was thought to be halfway to Washington.  Now Fredericksburg is really in some ways seen as the beginning of Northern Virginia. 

It is the most economically successful part of the state, highly diverse, great education system and real value on education, and obviously it’s a part of the state that is pretty affected and pays close attention to federal politics because many of the individuals either work for the military or they work for the federal government in civilian capacity. 

MATTHEWS:  Where do people start speaking southern?  How far south? 

(LAUGHTER)

KAINE:  Well…

MATTHEWS:  I sometimes go over to Virginia, my wife used to be at the TV station over there, I didn’t feel like I was in the Confederacy over there, although I saw the Confederate monument over there in Alexandria.  But generally you feel like you’re somewhere in middle part of the country—Mid-Atlantic states down there. 

KAINE:  Well, there are a couple of different accents.  I mean, the Richmond is accent different than a Roanoke accent.  My wife is from Roanoke. 

And she sounds a good bit different than the Richmond accent.  But again, this…

MATTHEWS:  Can you do them?

KAINE:  This Northern Virginia…

MATTHEWS:  Can you do them, Governor?  Do some accents. 

KAINE:  No, I really can’t.  I’m a Kansan by birth and I seem to have

missed the accents.  But no, Virginia, look, it’s a microcosm state, it’s

intensely urban and suburban.  But it’s—you know, agriculture is our biggest

industry.  We have the coal fields of Appalachia and the watermen on the

Eastern Shore and Northern Neck.  We’re a heavily military state.  One in 10

Virginians is a veteran, with active military installations.  It is a very

diverse state in a lot of ways.  But politically it is…

MATTHEWS:  And you’re ready to outlaw smoking there, aren’t you?  The home of tobacco. 

KAINE:  Well, those bills are still alive in the general assembly.  It’s changing.  And we’ve gone from a very reliably red state to a truly competitive state in statewide races.  And I think the results tonight suggest that we’re going to be very razor thin competitive come November. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Let’s check in with the—what would appear to be the victorious Obama campaign, victorious and then some, to repeat that news.  NBC is projecting a substantial Obama victory in the Virginia Democratic Primary.  And the exit polls, which we’ll be getting to in a moment are backing it up. 

The terms are, in fact, substantial. 

The Obama campaign has already moved to Madison, Wisconsin, as its base, looking ahead towards next Tuesday.  NBC’s Lee Cowan is in Madison with the Obama camp. 

Lee, good evening. 

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, good evening, Keith.  Yes.  It’s a bit of a muted response here, because the doors just opened here at the University of Madison—University of Wisconsin in Madison where there’s supposed to be a big rally for Barack Obama tonight.  This holds about 17,000 people and they are expecting, once again, to fill it, as we’ve seen all week long. 

He’s going to spend a lot of time here in Wisconsin over the next couple of days.  He’s not taking anything for granted, despite what looks like a pretty convincing win in Virginia tonight.  He’s also thinking he’s going to do pretty well in the District of Columbia and in Maryland as well.  But he’s not taking anything for granted.  He’s going to be campaigning here very hard. 

That’s in stark contrast though to Hillary Clinton.  She is not here.  She is already focusing her attention on Texas tonight.  She will be here, we’re told.  She will campaign in Wisconsin, but not anywhere near the amount of time that Barack Obama is going to be spending here over the next couple of days—Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Lee Cowan, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  We’ll check back with you as we try to assess how substantial that victory is for the Obama camp.  Thank you, Lee.

All right.  Now to the exit polling, as promised.  Norah O’Donnell with numbers that you might in fact want to write down as she shows them to us—

Norah. 

N. O’DONNELL:  Yes, these are really interesting.  In fact, Barack Obama won big in Virginia tonight by doing well among whites.  In fact, this has been his best showing in any southern state thus far, he is maxing out his base among African-Americans, young voters and affluent voters. 

Let’s go inside the numbers, here they are.  It was a landslide for Barack Obama among black voters.  In fact he took 90 percent of those who cast their ballot.  He also just about split the white vote with Hillary Clinton.  He got 48 percent of the white vote while Clinton got just over half. 

And taking a closer look at those numbers, and you see Obama won very strongly among white men.  This is interesting, in fact, he’s winning them by double digits, which is countering Clinton’s edge among white women.  Now remember when John Edwards dropped out of the race, what we were looking for is where his supporters would go?  And what we’re seeing from these figures is Barack Obama has picked up some of them. 

Obama is also racking up big numbers among those who have been key for him in earlier contests.  He did best among those under 40, 66 percent of their vote.  He took independents, 62 percent of that vote.  Voters who make over $100,000 voted for Obama.  And those with postgraduate degrees showed up solidly in his camp. 

Also Barack Obama got support from the D.C. suburbs, which was also a key to his win.  Chris and Keith, back to you guys. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Norah.

OLBERMANN:  Norah, thank you.  Good grief, he won white men 55 percent. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Let’s turn to the Republicans now, the race in Virginia is too close to call between John McCain and Mike Huckabee, as we said.  Let’s check in with the McCain campaign itself with NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, who’s over in Alexandra, Virginia, right across the river from Washington with Senator McCain. 

Are they worried over there, Kelly? 

KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I think in the moment they may be worried about the terrible weather in the neighborhood tonight, which may make it more difficult for some of the supporters to get here and fill this ballroom. 

The bigger picture, this, of course, is not something that they would want to see with Huckabee being able to perhaps continue to rack up delegates.  They would like to sort of shut this down and seal the deal. 

At the same time they certainly see very clear evidence that Huckabee is an attractive candidate, people like him.  Senator McCain says that quite freely.  And he’s very strong among the group of voters the nominee the need in November. 

So they really have to kind of gut their way through it, which is really kind of McCain’s story on many, many parts of his political life.  So they are trying to get through this, trying to project the inevitability.  He has had a much lighter campaign schedule than Huckabee. 

And so they hope that tonight when the numbers finally do come in, that McCain, who was polling well, will still come out on top—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Kelly O’Donnell, with McCain, who can’t seem to shake Huckabee.  But let’s go right now to NBC’s Ron Allen who is in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the Huckabee campaign. 

Boy, this guy is game, isn’t he, Ron? 

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  He is.  He’s quite an interesting guy.  I’ve had a chance to spend a couple of days with him now.  And I frankly think he’s going to be around for a while.  You know, he runs a very low budget campaign.  We’re in the lobby of a public building where he’s going to hold a press conference tonight.  He’s not spending much money.  And he gets out there and he still gets big crowds. 

We were with him in Virginia, in Roanoke yesterday, and he had a huge crowd spilling out of the lobby of a museum in downtown Roanoke.  He said that he doesn’t care what the numbers are tonight, that he’s going to stay in this race until John McCain or someone else, perhaps himself, gets 1,191 delegates. 

And he’s not very specific, of course, about how the math will add up for him.  And my take on this is that this campaign for president has become as much a cause for conservative issues.  He has been stepping up his criticism of John McCain on some issues, gently—for example, this issue of constitutional amendments on marriage and the right to life.  I think we’re going to hear more of that. 

He has been critical of McCain-Feingold, campaign finance reform bill, which conservatives see as an infringement on free speech.  I think you’re going to hear more of that as Huckabee continues to position himself.  And he gets a lot of encouragement from the crowds out here. 

And with that encouragement out there, and with McCain still feuding to some extent with conservatives, I think Huckabee is going to be out there for a while, whether he has a realistic shot at it, you know, as we see it or not, he’s out there to be out there and to enjoy it.  And he gets more satisfaction the more people try and push him out of it. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you, Ron Allen. 

OLBERMANN:  Let’s turn to our “Campaign Listening Post.”  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell joins us from Washington. 

And this discussion about the role of race in terms of projecting victors and where bases are and who has got which kind of demographic.  This may have been just thrown into the proverbial cocked hat (ph), Andrea. But unfortunately for Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania, this was the time he chose to talk about it. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, we

don’t know exactly until we see a transcript whether he was asked a question

and was responding.  But this is, of course, the former Democratic national

chairman, the most important Hillary Clinton supporter in Pennsylvania, an

April 22nd primary, and one she has got to win big. 

And, Governor Rendell, in an editorial board meeting with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, said that he thought that race—that Barack Obama’s race would be taken into consideration by a lot of voters—white voters in Pennsylvania.  He pointed out that he had run against Lynn Swann, whom you know well, and this in 2006.  And he said, frankly, he thought that Lynn Swann would have had a lot more votes as the popular football hero from Pittsburgh if he had not been a black man. 

So those are comments he was saying, according to his press secretary, that it was unfortunate that people take this into consideration.  But given how people have focused on race in this campaign and blown up any comment or interpreted accurately any comment, this could be sort of igniting another fire in a state where Hillary Clinton has to win and has to win with big turnouts of African-Americans in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

OLBERMANN:  Yes.  But of course, those exit poll numbers may tell—may render those comments from Governor Rendell—put a little different context on them, I suppose, if, while he’s saying that, the white vote in Virginia went 51-48 Clinton, and white male vote went 55 percent in favor of Obama, so maybe—I don’t know if firestorm as much as people might be saying, gee, I wonder if the governor still knows what he’s talking about now? 

MITCHELL:  Well, you know, he thinks he knows his state.  He’s a real professional politician from Pennsylvania.  And in Pennsylvania you’ve got a lot of Pennsylvania which is really red in between those two metropolitan centers.  And that’s the voter that he’s talking about, you know, your pal there, Chris Matthews, knows this better than anybody. 

MATTHEWS:  I know all about it.  My brother was, of course, Lynn Swann’s running mate in that election.  He’ll be glad to hear that it was all an ethnic battle, that they lost it naturally or something.  Anyway, Eddie Rendell is famous for being candid.  Maybe he shouldn’t have been so candid on the eve of this big fight in Pennsylvania—in April, anyway.  Thank you. 

Let’s go right now from Andrea to NBC’s chief White House correspondent, David Gregory, and the panel to talk about this and other issues that are coming out of this event. 

DAVID GREGORY, NBC CHIEF WHIITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Chris, thanks

very much.  Let me start with Eugene Robinson. 

Ed Rendell—Governor Rendell has now laid another one out here for us to talk about, the idea that white men will not vote for Barack Obama.  Look at what’s happening in Virginia.  We’re seeing it.  It’s happening. 

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Yes.  That doesn’t seem quite

operative.  Now of course, the old…

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY:  Here’s his quote, by the way: “I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.” Not just men. but women. 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know, that’s probably true, actually.  But you know, how many whites are there who will not vote for an African-American candidate?  That’s partially what this campaign is about.  We’re finding out, apparently in Virginia, there don’t seem to be that many. 

But you know, the old line about Pennsylvania is that it’s Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Alabama in the middle.  So it is a very red, kind of, middle part of the state. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, yes, on the one hand,

you look at Rendell’s comment and you think, duh.  And on the other hand you

think, well, you know what, all of the easy common wisdom is turning out to be

more complicated than you would think in this election.  Because yes…

ROBINSON:  Yes, basically wrong.

MADDOW:  … maybe white men won’t vote for a black man, but maybe they won’t vote for a white woman more.  I mean, when you get into uncharted political territory, you end up with the common wisdom being less than useless.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  The question is, will black people vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the wife of the first black president?  She’s getting 10 percent of the black vote.  That’s astonishing. 

MADDOW:  I love to hear you quote Toni Morrison.

ROBINSON:  Yes, but…

BUCHANAN:  Really, I mean, why—I mean, look, he’s getting an enormous benefit out of being a black candidate, because an enormous 90 percent of the black vote is obviously compensating for the 4 or 5 percent of the white vote that’s not voting for him because of race.  Race is a benefit to Obama in the Democratic Party. 

GREGORY:  The gender gap problem we’re seeing in this race, that there are men who are moving away from Hillary Clinton, they are not voting for her. 

MADDOW:  Well, gender is more…

ROBINSON:  That is kind of an interesting dynamic, yes. 

MADDOW:  Well, gender is more important numerically than race is in the Democratic Party, because there are more women than there are non-white voters. 

BUCHANAN:  But you’ve got to go to geography.  Northern Virginia as well—Fairfax County, like the richest county in the United States, it’s very, very liberal.  You get down to Alexandria and Arlington, I mean, we’re in Marxist country down there almost. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Yes, very liberal, extremely.  They want to go out and they vote their conscience.  You know, this is could be wonderful.  So what this does, it does show greater strength than I’ve seen Obama have.  And it does suggest that maybe he’s competitive in Virginia.  We haven’t seen that. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  … Virginia, but see, that’s the confederacy.  This was a red state.  Democrats have learned to win in Virginia. 

(CROSSTALK)

GREGORY:  Quick question before you go, Gene Robinson, is this Ed Rendell putting something out there that hurts Obama before what could be a critical state? 

ROBINSON:  Not if he gets—not if he splits the white vote in Virginia with Hillary Clinton 50-50.  I don’t think that necessarily hurts.

BUCHANAN:  And if he gets 90 percent of the black vote in Philadelphia, for heaven’s sakes, game, set, match. 

GREGORY:  All right.  A lot more to talk about, guys. 

OLBERMANN:  Pat has got the Confederacy and U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in one short analysis. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, and he has got the politburo meeting down there in

Alexandria…

OLBERMANN:  Right, and the socialists.

MATTHEWS:  … where they have the Confederate Memorial right there on the main drag on Washington Street.  Anyway, the panel—it’s hard to read the politics of Virginia, it has got communists, Marxists, whatever, according to Pat.  It has also got some good old “Murkins” like Pat Buchanan. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, the panel will be back with us.  And when we return, Tim Russert reacts to Obama’s win in Virginia.  The polls close in Maryland and D.C. in less than 45 minutes now.  You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage, and it is lively, of the Potomac Primaries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  A substantial victory projected for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary at Virginia tonight.  Indeed, trailing, according to the exit polls, Hillary Clinton by just 3 percent in the white vote, winning the black vote 90 to 10 percent, the women vote 58 to 42 percent in Virginia.  The white women vote 58 percent for Clinton, 55 percent Obama among the white men. 

A lot of numbers.  Let’s bring in NBC’s Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” who said at the beginning as we started about an hour-and-a-half ago what to look for, and he has found it. 

Right, Tim? 

Well, there’s an audio problem with Tim, so we will not have those

answers, as disappointing as that might be.  Do you have the answers? 

MATTHEWS:  No, but I know what the big news so far tonight is—and that is John McCain is fighting for his life in Virginia, yet another state causing him trouble.  It seems like ever since he got the nomination more or less locked up, people have been seeing this as an opportunity for buyer’s remorse, to see a chance to stick it to the guy.  We don’t want to endorse McCain. 

It’s a situation that they’ve got to worry about come November.  Things are not good about this victory in John McCain.  He seems to have just won it without winning the hearts and minds of the conservatives, and that’s a problem. 

OLBERMANN:  How long does that last though?  There is a shelf life to it, because the moment that it’s mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win the nomination, which could be as early as tonight, although Virginia suggests it will not come to pass this quickly, does that not shut down at least for some period of time and give McCain the breathing room that you think he needs? 

MATTHEWS:  Well, just as long as the radio red hots (ph) out there, they’re on all day, you’re in your car two to three hours a day in most of America.  And if you’re listening to non-stop conservative contempt for him, I think it does have an impact with the voters, as we did tonight—I thought Norah’s number was fascinating that three out of five Republican voters listen regularly to conservative radio. 

OLBERMANN:  Sixty-two percent listened to them, 68 percent who voted in Virginia considered themselves conservative, and 26 percent considered themselves moderate.  And we had those two presumably opposed numbers, 46 percent evangelicals, 46 percent evangelicals voting in the Republican primary. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Michelle Bernard is joining us now.

Michelle, you’re sort of center right in your politics, aren’t you?  Is that fair to say?  Or where would I put you?

MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM:  I’d say that is fair to say. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about the center-right of the Republican Party, which is a big chunk of it, the suburban part, the moderate part, and you could argue just as important to victory as the conservatives, very conservative.  How do the two get together in this marriage? 

How do the people in the suburbs of big cities who are pro-choice, who are open to the idea perhaps someday of same-sex marriage, who have questions perhaps about the war, how do they get in the same political bed with people who are just red hot on every conservative issue? 

BERNARD:  I think, you know, it’s like what any probably marriage counselor would tell you, compromise, compromise, compromise.  I think this is going to be a very difficult race for John McCain despite the mathematical probability that he will be the Republican nominee. 

You know, he runs the risk of losing in the general election.  If you go back to 1976, for example, Ronald Reagan stayed in a protracted race against Gerald Ford.  Ted Kennedy did it later on with Jimmy Carter.  Both incumbents lost in the general election.  And I think that is the risk that the Republican Party runs tonight. 

The longer Huckabee stays in, the greater the probability is that his staying in the race is going to detract from McCain and cause him to lose the general election. 

MATTHEWS:  But Mike Huckabee goes around state to state now with very little money, except Frequent Flyer points, and all he does is go to voters and say—he’s almost like a corporate headhunter, he’s saying, are you happy where you are?  Are you sure you’re happy there?  Just looking for people to recruit to vote against the front-runner. 

BERNARD:  Well, you know, let’s face it, he’s a likable guy, he’s a good speaker.  You know, I watched his talk last week at CPAC here in Washington, D.C.  He’s kind of sweet in a sort of “aw shucks” way, gosh, I wish I was smart enough to think about things that way. 

And a lot of voters are finding him quite appealing.  And it think that’s going to be difficult for John McCain.  John McCain is known as a maverick.  He’s not someone—I mean, people—the whole nation (INAUDIBLE) -- saw him speak before CPAC last week.  He is not capable of having a “come to Jesus” meeting with the deep, deep, deep conservative part of the Republican Party and I think it’s going to cause him a lot of heartburn in the next few weeks. 

MATTHEWS:  Looking at what has come out of Arkansas over the last 20 or 30 years, you would think they grow them like water melons down there.  Anyway, Michelle Bernard, she is talking about the sweet-talkers, thanks for joining us.  We’ll be right back when we get to Tim Russert, plus more with our panel and results from Maryland and the District of Columbia, about 35 minutes off right now, and those should be coming in at 8:00.  This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac Primaries.  More in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  We continue with our live coverage of the Potomac Primaries on this Tuesday night.  Barack Obama, the projected winner in Virginia.  The terminology we’re using is a substantial victory.  Now, we’re beginning to get a trickle in of the hard numbers, and that would be substantial.  At just four percent it’s a two-thirds to one-third, roughly, vote between Obama and Clinton.  On the other side of the dime here, the GOP primary is too close to call between John McCain and Mike Huckabee based on exit polls too close to call.  And polls in Maryland and Washington, D.C. will close in 29 minutes and 25 seconds at 8:00 Eastern Time. 

All right, we’ve corrected our audio glitch and NBC’s Tim Russert is with us again now and I’ll say the same thing I said when we introduced you previously.  You said at the start, we’re looking for answers from Virginia and you have found both the answers and a microphone, I see. 

RUSSERT:  Exactly right, Keith.  First, here is the headline for Pat Buchanan:  Obama wins Catholics in Virginia 50-49.  I want to hear Pat chew on that one.  But Keith, we talked about broadening coalitions.  You gave some of the numbers.  Barack Obama carried white men significantly, carried women, but lost white women, but made some in roads into that.  But look at the voters who make less than $50,000, he won those 59-40.  That’s been a constituency that’s been tough for him, he cracked it tonight in Virginia. 

And the other thing I found in the numbers, Keith and Chris, Democrats made up about 70 percent of the electorate, tonight, he won those 59-41.  But, look at Independents, 66-33 and they made up a fifth of the electorate.  Republicans made up about eight percent of those voting in the Democratic primary in Virginia and Obama is winning those 70-26.  Look for him to say to states all across the country, this proves, in a state like Virginia, which could be a swing state in the fall, I can bring Independents and I can bring Republicans over.  In his stump speech he makes a joke about Republicans, well tonight in Virginia he demonstrated there is some crossover appeal, which I look, obviously, for him to underscore time and time again. 

OLBERMANN:  So, we’re going to have to accept a spelling here whether it’s with the “I” or the “A” of this term “Obamacans?” They exist?

RUSSERT:  Right.  Yeah, I think the other thing, Keith, you’re watching the raw vote and I’m going to watch that very carefully because the higher that raw vote is the more delegates are elected, which means that when Hillary Clinton gets to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, we talked about this earlier, she’s going to have to win those states by bigger margins in order to make up the delegates that Obama is taking out of Virginia, tonight. 

OLBERMANN:  And Virginia was thought to be, again conventional wisdom going in here, was thought to be the best of her opportunities, tonight. 

RUSSERT:  Absolutely, because there are pockets in Virginia.  Our Chuck Todd loves to say to us parts of Tennessee that seems to be in Virginia.  But, there’s some very conservative voters in the Democratic party in southern Virginia and it looks like Obama has been able to put together a coalition that he’s been talking about and dreaming about and who knows, it happened in Virginia.

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, those pockets would seem to be turned out for Hillary Clinton in Virginia, tonight, there’s nothing in them from as near as we can see, from any of these numbers, there’s no solace in any of them, even from that the overall white percentage vote which is a slim victory for her and might at well not be at those numbers. 

RUSSERT:  And the headlines, that’s the biggest fear from the Clinton campaign, over the weekend the five states.  And now tonight with Virginia, they’ll watch Maryland and the District of Columbia.  They know what those kinds of headlines mean not only to their supporters, but their donors.  They need money to continue to fuel and pay for heavy media advertising in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. 

OLBERMANN:  And Obama beat her women with—beat the women—her in women voters both kinds, as well.  Tim Russert, we’ll check with you later on.  Thanks, Tim. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let’s take a closer look at the Democratic race in Maryland, which has yet to report.  Let’s look at the numbers, the polls there will be closed at the top of this hour, 8:00 Eastern, NBC NEWS political director, Chuck Todd will give us a tease, right now, what to expect. 

TODD:  Well, it’s interesting, we should look at where we expect Barack Obama to do well, here in Maryland and I’ll start where it’s interesting watching the returns come in and the exit poll in Virginia and you think, wait, that could be Maryland because the coalition he wanted to put in starts right there in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.  Those are sort of the two of the collar counties of Washington, D.C. Montgomery County, affluent, white suburban voters.  Prince George’s County, affluent African-Americans, but a heavy African-American county.  And then he wanted to do well with African-Americans in Baltimore and that’s where Obama hoped to run up his numbers. 

With Clinton, she’s trying to do well with the white ethnics, my apologies, there.  She’s trying to do well with the white ethnics in Baltimore.  You have governor, Martin O’Malley, used to be mayor, he’s got an Irish band, hoping to do well with the Irish and the Greeks and them also do well here on the shore, Eastern shore.  I don’t have a good Baltimore accent—

I can get Barbara Mikulski up there, you know—but where they get the crowds

and then also do well in sort of the West Virginia part of Maryland, there that

touches, it’s a little more rural and a little more white working class.  So,

that’s where she hoped to do, but frankly, Maryland was going to be an uphill

battle for Senator Clinton simply because of two counties right there,

Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.  Normally in Democratic

primaries, Montgomery County usually goes one way, Prince George’s County

usually goes another way.  Obama has that unique coalition of upscale white

voters in Montgomery County and African-Americans in Prince George’s, that’s

just a coalition that’s probably close to unbeatable in Maryland, guys. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, Chuck, you’re up there, I’m looking from down here, just to get the right perspective of where we’re all sitting, here.  You know, I have to ask you about Maryland because a lot of Maryland, the accent is familiar to Philadelphians, it’s very similar, it’s a Bulmor (ph) coats (ph), as we use to say.

TODD:  Right, Balmor (ph).

MATTHEWS:  Bulmor (ph).  Is there not a different—a comparison, I think, of Philly and Baltimore ethnic neighborhoods, all row house people, suburbs are similar.  Why do we assume Maryland won’t have a leading indication tonight if we get the results in of what’s coming in Pennsylvania? 

TODD:  Well, it’s funny you say that I tend to agree with you because we also had the Delaware results and you know, there’s a little bit of that Philadelphia suburban feeling there and you know, so now we’ve got the whole Delmarva Peninsula.  Now, we’re getting real parochial here for everybody.  But, over mid-Atlanticizing (ph) the night, but it will tell you, I think, at least about where southeastern Pennsylvania is going to go and I think when you start carving up Pennsylvania, I think James Carville’s saying on Pennsylvania, right, it’s Pennsylvania on the west, Philadelphia in the east, and Alabama in the middle.  And frankly, it’s that Alabama portion of Pennsylvania that Clinton’s going to want to do well with, I mean, obviously you know this state so well, Chris.  And then Obama is going to really want to do well in the Republican suburbs of this old Republican suburbs which, of course now, vote like Democrats. 

MATTHEWS:  I don’t know I don’t have  a lot of that internalized here, but think Governor Rendell is probably wrong.  We’ll see as the results come in April.  We have no idea, it’s way off, but to prejudge the voters of Pennsylvania and say they are not ready to vote for an African-American, I mean, you could have said that about the whole country two or three months ago, times are changing, governor and we don’t know how people are going to vote.  That’s my editorial opinion, I don’t know and neither do you.  Anyway, Chuck Todd, thank you very much. 

OLBERMANN:  But, you don’t know less than he doesn’t know.  OK, what ever.

MATTHEWS:  We’ll have think how to calibrate that.

OLBERMANN:  All right, continuing our look ahead to Maryland, let’s get the newest numbers from our exit polling for Maryland.  For that again we turn to Norah O’Donnell. 

Norah, Maryland. 

N. O’DONNELL:  That’s right, guys.  We are still talking about Maryland, in part because the polls are going to close in a half an hour, so we want to know what kind of Maryland Democrats are coming out today.  We heard a little about this earlier from Tim Russert.  In fact, 55 percent in the racial breakdown were white, about a third of those voting are black, I should say.  And it’s going to be very interesting, just as we saw in Virginia, to see where both blacks and whites cast their votes. 

Next, religious affiliation, 22 percent of Maryland voters are Catholic.  This is that significant number and Catholics have been a key swing vote in the general election.  In the past Hillary Clinton has won among Catholics.  We’ll find out in just about half an hour from now if those Catholics stayed with Hillary Clinton. 

Another key Democratic constituents across the country, of course, union voters -- 27 percent in Maryland identify themselves as part of a union household.  Unions have been heavily courted by both of the Democratic candidates.  And finally we’re seeing change wins out over experience in this electorate.  Voters went for change, were 58 percent of the electorate and those who wanted experience, just about a quarter.  And then you can see electability 10 percent, eight percent “cares about me.” What’s interesting here is that “cares about me” has been about the third.  We’re seeing now electability start to inch a bit higher, at least in Maryland among the Democratic electorate.  So, that’s a little bit of an interesting change, there.  Chris and Keith, back to you guys. 

OLBERMANN:  All right Norah.  There’s a hugely important number that’s just come in from Maryland, has nothing to do with the exit polls or the polls themselves.  The number is 9:30, voting has been extended by an hour and a half, due to bad weather, which is an apropos time here to call in Maryland congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Representative Chris van Hollen. 

Congressman, thanks for your time.  We don’t have the—Congressman, can you hear us? 

REP CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  I can hear you. 

OLBERMANN:  OK, there you are.  We’ve been having audio problems everywhere.  The polls are not closing in minutes, it will be until 9:30.  What can you tell us about conditions that require such drastic steps? 

VAN HOLLEN:  It’s very icy weather out there.  There was—projecting big turnout and when I went to the polls this morning, you had lots of people waiting in line throughout the Montgomery County and Prince George’s parts of this state, but as the icy weather came in, the roads were slippery and I think they decided that in order to give everybody a chance to get there, we’d better extend the time, projecting big turnout.  When I went to the polls, you had lots of people waiting in line throughout the Montgomery county, prince George’s parts of this state.  As the icy weather came in, the roads were slippery.  They decided in order to give everybody a chance to get there we better extend the time. 

OLBERMANN:  What do you think of the Chris Matthews’ positing here that we might be able to use not just for what happens in Maryland as an indicator for what’s happened in Maryland, but as a predictor for Pennsylvania, which seems to be down the road, a considerable indication of how this Democratic race is going to turn out? 

VAN HOLLEN:  I really do think that one thing we’ve learned this cycle is it’s very difficult to make predictions like that.  If you just go back, as you know, and look at the earlier races, people got it wrong so many times, I would hate to make a prediction.  The one prediction I think I feel safe in making is that given the fact that Virginia clearly went big for Obama, even though the polls haven’t closed, I think he’s going to be doing very well in Maryland.  I should say as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee we work closely with both these candidates, terrific candidates and our goal is to make sure when we have a new Democratic president, we also have a big Democratic House that can go with them. 

OLBERMANN:  What does—you head these same exit same numbers that we’re now getting out of Virginia and this panoply of demographic breakdowns in exit polling, all of it going seemingly very heavily for Barack Obama, dispelling, I mean, notion after notion being thrown out the window, here, the white vote virtually a tie, the women vote heavily Obama, the white male vote heavily Obama.  Another point that Chris made about just the theoretical conventional wisdom from a year ago about this demographic supports this kind of candidate and no other.  Do we have to throw everything out the window in terms of this Democratic race? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, this is clearly a big win for the reasons you say-for-Obama.  Look, in my district, I represent Montgomery County, Chris lives in Montgomery County, Michelle Obama came to Bethesda Chevy Chase High School just the other night, there were over 900 people who turned out in a diverse community, but it’s a predominantly white community, in Montgomery County.  So, clearly he’s able to draw on all groups.  But again, look, it ain’t over until it’s over, we all know that.  This is obviously a big night for the Obama campaign, but let’s just wait and see how things go. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I want to thank you, Congressman, for keeping the polls open.  My son took the Chinese bus down from New York, he’s a student at NYU.  You know, that Chinese bus, there’s the Hasidic  bus you can take, too.  He took the Chinese bus all the way down to Washington after he had lunch, just so he could vote.  So, I’m glad he made it on time down there.  Thank you, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who is my U.S. congressman. 

VAN HOLLEN:  It’s good to be with you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Now, the District of Columbia, the polls will also be closed, they will be closed at 8:00 on time.  Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington supports Barack Obama. 

So, is the weather marginally better in D.C., Mr. Mayor, than you guys can get the job done by 8:00 and Maryland’s got to hold it open until 9:30. 

Oh yeah, it’s always sunny in the nation’s capital. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I know it better be, because if it snowiest, all hell brakes lose in that district. 

MAYOR ADRIAN FENTY (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.:  They mayor’s got to pick it up, you’re right, you know that.

MATTHEWS:  Well, tell us about the district, the politics.  You know it as well as anybody.   Everybody thinks it’s a largely African-American city, but tell us about it, about the politics of D.C.

FENTY:  Yeah, just about 60 percent African-American, approaching 20 percent Caucasian, about 15 percent Latino.  I’d say what you’d consider a very diverse big city in the country.  And then I think a lot of new people moving to the city, but still a lot of longtime residents.  And I just got to say, having been at the polls all day, it really is a type of turnout that I think has captivated the nation around this campaign, it’s been great to see. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I’ve heard that over at the Palisades where Tucker lives, a nice neighborhood, I must say, the old State Department hangout for everybody.  And then over in Georgetown where Sally Quinn called me today, they say in those swanker areas of Washington, the lines are incredible.  Is that true around the city? 

FENTY:  Yeah.  I was over at precinct eight in Tucker’s neighborhood, but then I was just over on say, First in Rhode Island, which is right off of North Capital, a little edgier, it was unbelievable, I mean, the auditoriums, or rooms are filled with people as we speak, waiting to vote.  And I think, obviously, I’m supporting Barack Obama, I think he’s had a lot to do with the turnout.  But it’s also important that the cities and states, like D.C., Maryland and Virginia, are so important this late in the election cycle. 

MATTHEWS:  You grew up in an interesting environment in that wonderful shoe store down there on Columbia and 18th, which I felt the multi-racial environment you grew up in.  I was over there one time with my son, buying some shoes, or one of my kids, and I said, this is interesting in Washington which tends to be socially segregated, it felt really integrated, that area you grew up in, your family, of course.  Is this what Barack Obama is benefiting from, the unique experience he comes from? 

FENTY:  I think he is and to be honest with you, though, I think it’s part of a new way of doing politics, definitely in city and state, but I think it’s moving to national politics.  Most people are just tired of politicians who cater to one particular race, cater to one particular age group, cater to a red state or blue state.  It’s just so exciting when a candidate says I’m going to be the mayor, governor or president for everyone. 

MATTHEWS:  Yeah, it sure is.

FENTY:  And he’s been saying that since day one. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that’s the kind of mayor you are, sir.  Thank you.

FENTY:  Well, I appreciate it. 

MATTHEWS:  Adrian Fenty in Washington, D.C. Up next, NBC’s Tim Russert, plus our panel as we await the results in Maryland at 9:30 and Washington, D.C.  at 8:00, a little differential, there.  Somebody not shoveling the snow faster.  This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac Primary.  Back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  All right.  We have two bits of breaking news, here.  One after being unable to call and declaring too close to call the Republican primary in Virginia, Mike Huckabee has apparently taken some solace or encouragement from that.  There is an e-mail listing his campaign events in Wisconsin, the vote in Wisconsin is next week, so the Huckabee campaign will apparently continue to at least that point, regardless of what happens this evening.  And, as we’ve been telling you, weather is so bad in the district area, particularly in Maryland, polls have been extended from 8:00 p.m.  Eastern Time to 9:30 stretching out this evening for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to some degree.  NBC’s Tim Russert is joining us once again. 

And that changes the length of the game here.  Does it necessarily change anything if some people were going to vote early in the evening were not able tots there or gave up getting there because of bad weather? 

Well now, we now have a perfect match, because earlier we couldn’t hear Tim, now Tim can’t hear us. 

Now, the panel—wait a minute.

RUSSERT:  I’ve got you. 

OLBERMANN:  All right, you’re there.  Did you hear about the—you obviously didn’t hear the question.  I’ll do it again.  If the weather is bad, is that perhaps, change at all, the results out of Maryland or is it just the time of the results?

RUSSERT:  Well, this is why it’s important and why they delayed the voting.  It’s not just a matter of who’s going to win Maryland, but the margins are very important, Keith, not only statewide but each of those congressional districts.  Because, if in fact someone wins, as we’ve talked about it during this whole primary season, if you win a district, say, 58-42, and it’s an even delegate district, you get the same number, you split it two-two.  But, if you win big 65-35, then you get more of those delegates.  That’s why every one of these minutes the polls stay open and everyone who votes is important, because it means delegates, delegates, delegates and this race is so tight as a tick, and that’s why these extra 90 minutes are so vital to both these campaigns. 

OLBERMANN:  To whom is it more value at this point, given the projections were in the polling was, going into Maryland, was it better for—more of an impact for Hillary Clinton if it had closed on time or more of an impact for Barack Obama if they stay late?

RUSSERT:  Traditionally in these state primaries, Hillary Clinton voters have been over the age of 50 and make under $50,000, and they vote later, because they are working through the course of the day.  If it, in fact, helps her voters by getting out between the hours of 6:00 and 9:30, it will be a benefit to her.  If, in fact Obama, and the polls leading up to today, showed dominance in Maryland, then it doesn’t really make much of a difference if, in fact, they vote in the same proportions they have all day and all afternoon. 

OLBERMANN:  Virginia exit polls as an indicator as to what might happen in Maryland?  Is there similarities?  Are there huge differences?  Is one at all an indicator for the other? 

RUSSERT:  Yes, that’s a great question.  Our pollster from Mason Dixon leading up to today, Keith, we had two polls out, they were almost exactly identical in what we found Obama over Clinton leading up to today.  And he wrote a little memo saying:  these states have become very close, they resemble each other in terms of their geographic distribution of voters and their makeup.  And so, can we look at Virginia and say:  that’s exactly what’s going to happen in Maryland?  No.  But, could it be similar based on the polls leading up to tonight, and what we’re seeing reflection of these exit polls?  The answer is yes. 

OLBERMANN:  Headline then, if the numbers come back similarly for Maryland, obviously, we know what that means in terms of the delegate count, or what it could mean in terms of the delegate count, certainly in terms of primary victory count, but what does it mean, again, using that phrase for the third time with you, tonight, “conventional wisdom,” is there no more conventional wisdom at all in terms of projecting who is supposed to be whose constituency’s candidate in the Democratic race? 

RUSSERT:  Yeah, absolutely.  If we see inroads by Obama, in Maryland, the way we saw them in Virginia, we’ll watch the Catholics carefully, we’ll watch white men and women carefully.  We’ll look at voters making less than $50,000, that will tell us, I think, what we can anticipate in Wisconsin and then the following week Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania.  It’s never a pure indicator, but certainly is an interesting base of information to make some intelligent deductions. 

OLBERMANN:  Boy, isn’t it?  Tim Russert, NBC NEWS. And from now on I’m going to play it safe and just submit all my further questions in writing.  Thank you, Tim—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, where are we going, right now? 

OLBERMANN:  The panel?

MATTHEWS:  We’re going to go to the panel, right now.  David Gregory is attentive and ready. 

Take over, David.

GREGORY:  My son says, I’m open, I’m open, I’m open. 

(LAUGHTER)

Gene, what are we seeing here, tonight?  We’re looking, as Tim says, at delegates, we’re also looking at inroads for Barack Obama.  We’ve seen it already in Virginia, we’ll wait on Maryland. 

ROBINSON:  We’ll wait to see on Maryland.  Well, I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails from the Obama campaign.  As you can imagine, they are giddy at what we know of the results from Virginia, and they are saying there’s some real surprises coming up in the exit polls, in terms of how well they did with Latinos, how well they did with women, overall.  And what they want to do, what they say they’re doing, essentially, is rewriting the storyline, this narrative of how Obama is weak with this group and weak with that group, they say they’re showing strength across the board, that perhaps we haven’t seen before and perhaps we’ll see again among these states. 

GREGORY:  This is a big night for Obama.  If it’s a big night and if it’s 8-0 against Clinton, are we going to see a new frontrunner, here?  It is going to be clear—Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Look, I think this is like a basketball team that is hotter than it can be, everything it throws up goes in.  If it’s 8-0 for Obama and he is now clearly reaching into Hillary’s base, white women, white men, he is increasing his lead among African-Americans, I think Hillary’s campaign, frankly, is in real crisis going into Texas and Ohio. 

MADDOW:  I think what high clouds is banking on is that the momentum won’t matter as much as the math.  But as we get later in the process, as the calendar—as the months keep slipping by, Democratic voters are starting to think more about who can beat John McCain, they’re starting to think more about electability.  So, with each one of these, it’s not only another state in Obama’s column... 

GREGORY:  But, I think that’s the Rudy Giuliani’s strategy, which is wait until we get you here in Ohio and Texas.  That didn’t work. 

MADDOW:  It didn’t work for Giuliani.  If we—but listen, there is something that’s different, here, in that Obama is winning these, but he’s also—I mean, tonight in Virginia, 66 percent of the Independents, 70 percent of the Republicans who are voting.  It starts to look like he’s going to win the voters that John McCain is going to have to depend on in the general, because John McCain has no base voters. 

GREGORY:  Is this a face-off, Pat Buchanan, and Virginia?  Look at McCain’s votes, look at Obama’s votes, tonight. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, the person who will win Virginia is the one who gets Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remnant in Virginia, if Obama’s the nominee.  The bad news for McCain is this, if Huckabee is running strong in Virginia, if, for heaven’s sake, he could win in Virginia, the entire right wing will be on fire, the radio talk shows on fire.  They’ll say, now is the chance to do to McCain what he did for us for 10 years, let’s take him down everywhere we can. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  But, there’s the real bad news for Republicans so far, out of Virginia. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  You’re smiling, gene. 

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON:  Yes, I am, Pat, actually.  You and I both live in Virginia, so we’re kind of the opposite poles of the electorate, there.  Turnout—

Democratic turnout is running roughly two-to-one over Republican turnout, so,

you know, some of those Republicans voted in the Democratic primary, some

stayed home. 

GREGORY:  All right, we’re going to leave it there, more to talk about as we go on through the night—Keith.

OLBERMANN:  David, thank you.  And in just a few moments, 8:00 Eastern, the polls will be closed in Washington, D.C. They’re not closing as timed in Maryland, they’ve been held open due to inclement weather until 9:30.  So, a call from Maryland will have to wait until after the polls close, necessarily.  However, Washington, we should be able to give you an answer to that.  Virginia, as you know, Obama for Democrats, too close to call for the Republicans.  Our live coverage of the Potomac primaries continues after this. 

KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST:  Barack Obama is two for two.  It is 8:00 p.m. on the east coast.  The polls were scheduled to close in Maryland at this hour, but the judge has kept them open for an additional 90 minutes until 9:30 Eastern time due to traffic problems caused by bad weather.  The polls though are now closed in the District of Columbia and the results are in.  NBC News has projected that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois will be the projected winner, hence, the use of the term projection three times in one sentence, in Maryland rather in the District of Columbia just as he has been in Virginia.  The Republican race between Mr. Huckabee and Mr. McCain is considered too close to call.  To give you what happened an hour ago, when it closed in Virginia, the Democratic primary there is a substantial victory based on the NBC News projection and all the exit polls say that term substantial, there’s substantial reason to use that term.  The Virginia Republican race is too close to call.  So, so far, it’s 2-0 for Mr. Obama with one still open in Maryland.  And zero, zero and zero; too close to call both in Virginia and the District of Columbia with Maryland still open in the Republican race.

Good evening, alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann; this is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Potomac primaries.  Norah O’Donnell will be following the exit polls for us and the latest information as it pertains to D.C. and Maryland and still some from Virginia and has a quick preview of this hour’s selection.  What’s on the menu?

NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  This hour, we’re going to talk about Republicans in Maryland and Virginia.  Interestingly about Maryland, a very conservative electorate too, more conservative than 2000, just like we saw Virginia was more conservative.  We also have the talk radio question in Maryland and almost 2/3 say that they listened occasionally to talk radio.  But we’re going to show you numbers coming up in just a little bit that may suggest that people are not listening to what they’re hearing on talk radio.

OBLERMANN:  So, radio ratings plus radio retention ratings.

O’DONNELL:  Yes.

OLBERMANN:  Oh, boy.  For us broadcasting walks (ph).  All right, Norah, we look forward to that.  Thank you much.  Let’s turn to the scene at Obama headquarters tonight.  We’re out with Lee Cowan in Madison, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin.  Among the badgers earlier this evening, hadn’t gotten that noisy, obviously, it’s gotten noisy now, Lee.  Good evening again.

LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS – WISCONSIN:  Yes, very.  They’re expecting about— this stadium holds about 17,000 people.  And it’s already full, almost all the way of the rafters.  And there’s people lining up outside.  This is the kind of crowd that we’ve seen really for the last several days actually.  Displaying (ph) to these big stadiums, very enthusiastic crowd, but there were some speculation on the part of the campaign even as we think, you know, just because we get these huge crowds showing up fairly that means it’s going to translate into votes.  It’s certainly seems like he did in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., of course, we’re going to have to wait but he’s going to be spending a lot of time here in Wisconsin over the next couple days.  He’s actually giving a big speech at the General Motors plant tomorrow on the economy which Norah was talking about little early, the economy is actually ending up to be the main issue on voters’ minds.  So, I think, his speech tonight maybe a little bit different too because he has a teleprompter out.  We don’t he’s going to use the teleprompters obviously when he’s on the road.  So, we’re not sure what the speech is going to be like tonight.  He’s in the air now flying from Washington D.C. where we saw that brief meeting today actually between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain on the floor of the Senate today.  He should be here in the next 45 minutes to an hour or so and this rally expects to last about an hour tonight and expected to get even louder than it is now, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  (INAUDIBLE) Lee Cowan at Madison, Wisconsin at Obama headquarters.  Thank you, Lee.  We’ll be back in touch with you.  One correction here, I had said that it’s too early, too close to call in the D.C.  Republican race where the polls closed three minutes ago.  In fact, it’s too to close.  There is a difference.  Ask you local prognosticator if you’re not sure exactly what that is.  Back to the Democratic side, NBC’s Kevin Corke at El Paso, Texas where the Clinton campaign has already moved in advance of the events of next month.  Kevin, good evening.

KEVIN CORKE, NBC NEWS – EL PASO, TEXAS:  Good evening to you, Keith.  As you might imagine, there is a rather large crowd here.  Hillary Clinton enjoys broad support, not only among Latino voters, but also here in Texas.  She continues to lead the polls.  And as you know, having been to places like El Paso where they love their basketball, they are so passionate about events that take place in this building.  We are seeing a great deal of emotion here tonight.  There have been dancers; there have been lots of children, and lots of young people in and around the building.  I should also point out though, Keith, it’s not just all about Hillary Clinton here tonight.  I saw quite a few Barack Obama signs outside, supporters, as folks were walking into this particular arena, walking outside, making sure that they have their signs and banners here as well.  This is a critical place for the senator to perform.  She has to do well here tonight and sort of selling her ideas that she has to hang on to that support, Keith.  As you know, right now, she is in the midst of a losing streak of sort, of streak that could get pretty long between now and March 4th.  She’s trying to drum up and maintain some support here in the Lone Star State right now.

OLBERMANN:  Right, Kevin, if our projections are correct, that streak is 0-7 with one more final to come in tonight.  Kevin Corke with the Clinton campaign in Texas, thank you, Kevin.  Now to the Republican side of things.  As we’ve said, it’s too close to call in Virginia, it’s too early to call in D.C.  that cannot be good news at the McCain campaign headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia where we find NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.  Kelly good evening to you.

KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC NEWS – MACCAIN HQ:  And hello, Keith.  It’s nice to see tonight.  The patience factor will be important for McCain supporters here tonight.  They believe that as votes come in, the shift toward McCain will be more pronounced as the night goes on.  We’ll have to wait and see.  These three primaries are very important for McCain to try to extend that delegate lead.  While the staffers and people close to McCain recognize that Huckabee factor is something to watch and he is certainly a popular figure among many Republican voters and has accomplished a great deal so far in this campaign.  They would like to really seal the deal and do it more quickly.  They expect that it may take awhile to get to the mathematical point of nomination, the 1,191 delegates.  But each time they add to that of course, it makes the inevitable seem more believable even the Republicans who may not be as enthusiastic about John McCain.  Here on Virginia, the senator did very little campaigning in the retail sense.  He was certainly on TV and accessible to media, but shook fewer hands than he has in other places.  That was also true for Maryland.  He does have a schedule up for the next group of states, so, he’ll be getting back in the sort of the campaign mode.  And even if he does have the extended lead tonight, his top advisers say, they want to keep the campaigning spirit going so, that it doesn’t appear that he’s taking anything for granted or taking his foot off the gas especially with Huckabee still in the race.  Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Too close to call in Virginia, too early to call in D.C. 

Kelly O’Donnell at Alexandria, Virginia, thank you.  All right.

The beneficiary of those golden words from his view no doubt is Mike Huckabee.  Too close to call ,too early to call, I’ll take either one of them.  NBC’s Ron Allen at the Huckabee headquarters at Little Rock, Arkansas.  Ron.

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS – HUCKABEE HQ:  Well, Keith, I think what tonight is going to mean is Huckabee is going to feel validated by his decision to stay in the race and by his vow to stay until somebody has 1,191.  A close race in Virginia, whether he wins it or not is something that he wanted to accomplish and I think that the McCain camp is going to probably have to adjust to the fact that Huckabee is going to be around for awhile.  What Huckabee does from here on out, he goes to Wisconsin tomorrow.  He’s also got his eye on Texas which both March 4th, again, Texas is a southern states, a state on some part of the at least that where he thinks he can make some inroads.  But again, he’s going to be around for a while.  He keeps chipping, chipping away.  You have no idea what impact that’s going to have on McCain.  Is the right wing of the party going to become so excited, so energizes, they’re going to rise up?  And you know, the daunting problem Huckabee still has of course are these numbers.  The delegate count that is really daunting for him to make up.  But in talking to him this afternoon about all of this, he—there’s a part of him that I think believes there can be a brokerage intervention that he forged.  And then, of course, anything happens now if goes with second ballot.  But of course, we’re getting way, way ahead of ourselves.  He hasn’t even won Virginia or anything else yet, tonight.  But again, I think he is an unusual candidate.  He does get the crowds.  He does emotional and favorable (ph) support particularly from social conservatives.  And this is going to be a factor going forward that McCain is going to have to adjust to.

OLBERMANN:  Ron Allen, where the Huckabee camp perhaps are putting the cart for the horses goes to simply avoid being mathematically eliminated which would be suggested although not confirmed by the two result or non-results we have from the Republicans in Virginia and D.C.  Thank you, Ron.

The schedule here for tonight: Voting in Maryland has now being extended at 9:30 Eastern time, an extra 90 minutes ordered by a judge because on behalf of voters who have been hampered by the weather in their efforts to get to the polls and we’re expecting Hillary Clinton to speak from El Paso at about 8:40 Eastern time, about a half an hour from now.  Back to Maryland and to talk about what to expect there, we’re joined by, Kweisi Mfume, the former Maryland congressman.  Thanks for your time tonight, sir.

KWEISI MFUME, (D-MD) FMR U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Have you decided to endorse anybody in the Democratic race?

MFUME:  No, I’ve not endorse anybody like everybody else.  You know, I went out and voted today.  I have an opinion about it.  I think what you’ve seen here in Maryland are people who have either lined-up on one side or the other, some too early in some instances, trying to figure this out.  But it’s clear, I think to me and others that Senator Barack Obama has this momentum going that is not just Maryland, it’s just the Chesapeake are, clearly, it’s nationwide.  And it may be insurmountable at this point and time.

OLBERMANN:  To that point, the NAACP traditionally does not endorse a candidate.  But its current chairman, Mr. Bond sent a letter to the DNC chair, Governor Dean, asking him to sit the delegates in Florida and Michigan because refusing to sit them would be a reminder of, quote, sorted history of racially discriminatory primaries.  The first question on that, why wait until this point to raise those concerns?  Do you know?

MFUME:  I don’t know.  I can’t speak on behalf of the NAACP.  But I can tell that there are a lot of people within the party in general who believe that those persons ought to be seated.

OBLERMANN:  Would there be a perception then that given that there’s usually no endorsement from NAACP that that would be a de facto endorsement of Hillary Clinton by seating those states concerning what did and did not happen there?

MFUME:  I don’t know.  I haven’t been with the NAACP in three and a half years.  You have to ask Mr. Bond.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  We will if we got the opportunity to do that.  Here’s something more to your current circumstances.  The former congressman, Martin Frost, wrote on Politico.com that the history of racial division in Maryland, that’s his terminology, could upset Barack Obama’s chances in his state.  He pointed what happened to you in your race against Representative Cardin in 2006.  He also went on to defeat the lieutenant governor, Mr. Steele on the general election for the U.S. Senate.  Is that assessment fair that there’s racial divide in Maryland and if there is one, could it hurt Obama’s chances or is this all past tense?  Is this all the standard wisdom of 1000 years ago that just happen to still be in force 10 months ago?

MFUME:  Yes, not unless Maryland is different from the rest of the country.  I think there is racial division in every state, we have racist unfortunately and that’s the real issue that as Americans, we’ve been trying to overcome all these years.  If anything I think, the numbers here play to Mr.  Obama and play to the fact that there’s a large base here.  You know, when I ran here, a year and a half ago, I got 40 percent of the white vote. I got 80 percent of the black vote but the voting totals was so low because of turnout in some jurisdictions that it didn’t help me as much as it should have and hence, it was a 3 percent difference between my opponent and myself.  But I think those numbers really helped the Obama campaign.  And let me tell you something, Keith, my 18-year-old, my youngest, this is his first election.  At his school, droves of kids because they were off today, were just lining up to vote.  Now, I think that’s playing out across the country.  They’re black, they’re white, they’re Latino and as a result of that, I think more than anything else, Maryland is a state that’s has been play for the senator and will continue to be in play for him.

OLBERMANN:  Last question: When you see exit polling numbers, and we obviously know this could be slightly variable from reality but it’s usually a pretty good indicator to some degree, when you see a result from Virginia where the white vote went Clinton 51 percent, Obama 48 percent, with all the pluses and minuses and all the margins of errors there, does that give you reason to take a sigh of relief that we might be voting now based just on candidates?

MFUME:  Well, I tell you, I sure would like to believe that.  And I think most Americans would like to believe that because we really have I think, to some extent, come of age.  You know, I was there for Jesse Jackson in ’84 and ’88 and I remember how those galvanized and some instances polarized.  But this instance, I think with Senator Obama has built on that foundation and I’m hoping at least that people are making up their minds, most people, at least, based on the energy they feel about this candidate, based on his likability, based on his ideas and based on the fact that he’s probably as they consider it the best one to beat the Republican in the fall.

OLBERMANN:  Former Maryland congressman, Kweisi Mfume, great thanks for your time, sir.

MFUME:  Thanks, Keith.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST:  Let me give a break here, to Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania, you read exactly his words.  You can read this for intonation.  It’s so tricky on this time of ethnicity and gender and race.  Here’s what he actually said in that board meeting with the Pittsburgh paper.  And you can read this with different intonations – “I think there’s some white who are probably not ready to vote for African-American candidate.”  Well, that’s certainly non-exceptional (ph).  It could be read dramatically like; I think there are some whites who would vote for a black candidate.  And you can give that more punch.  But if you read it sympathetically, the Governor Rendell, which maybe we should be doing at this point of the evening.  I think there’s some whites who are not probably ready to vote for an African-American.  That is an unexceptional statement.  It’s not propaganda.  Let’s get more from our exit polling right now from Norah O’Donnell.

O’DONNELL:  One of the key questions, if John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, is whether he can attractive that core group of conservative voters.  Let’s take a look at conservatives tonight in Maryland GOP primary.  This is a far more conservative today than it was in 2000 when McCain last ran for president.  Voters who called themselves conservative were 68 percent of the voters in this primary.  They made up just 55 percent of the voters eight year ago.  Again, as in Virginia, we are also seeing a drop in the percentage of moderate voters.  In our exit polls, we checked on whether these GOP voters listen to conservative talk radio.  And in Maryland, become 32 percent said they tuned in frequently, 34 percent listen occasionally.  That’s a pretty good audience for Maryland for talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham who’d been saying that John McCain is not conservative enough.  So, we ask these voters if what they’re listening to is what they are buying.  And we found that among this very conservative electorate, less than half think he’s not conservative enough.  Nearly the same percentages actually think he’s about right.  So, these numbers show that while these voters are listening, they may not be buying what they hear.  It’s very interesting Chris and Keith.  I think you know, a lot of them listen to conservative talk radio, but a lot of them don’t think that he’s not conservative enough.

OLBERMANN:  They fell asleep listening to it.  I think.  That’s the only natural conclusion to draw from that.  Norah, you can smile and don’t say anything because I’m the one who gets to trouble for that.  Thank you, Norah.  We’ll get back to you with more exit polls.

I thought it was interesting.

We’re going to continue our coverage here. D.C.: too early to call for the Republicans.  Virginia is too early for the Republicans.  Obama in D.C. and Virginia projected and Maryland staying open late until 9:30 due to the weather.  Our coverage – MSNBC coverage of the Potomac primaries continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Barack Obama, the projected winner in Virginia and the District of Columbia tonight.  To the Republicans, it’s too close to call in Virginia and too early in D.C.  Let’s bring in NBC’s Washington bureau chief, Tim Russert; he’s also of course, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS.  Tim.

TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS:  Hey, Chris, I’ve been sitting here working on some numbers on the Republican side.  And this is interesting.  Wisconsin, Mike Huckabee has announced that he is going to Wisconsin.  It really does mirror Virginia in the following way.  It’s an open primary.  And if Barack Obama can get a huge independent turnout in Wisconsin like he did in Virginia tonight, nearly a quarter of the voters were independents and if he can get say, 8 percent turnout of Republicans crossing over, he leaves a very conservative Republican base behind for Mike Huckabee to imitate what he did tonight in Virginia.  Number two, if Mike Huckabee wins Virginia tonight, it means that John McCain cannot lock up the Republican nomination numerically until May 6th.  And Huckabee had said, he will not leave the race until McCain reaches the magic number.  That’s why Huckabee’s presence in this race can really drain resources, exposure and unity from John McCain’s candidacy.

MATTHEW:  Tim, let’s look at some demographic things on the Democratic side of these two states.  I’m looking at both Maryland and Virginia.  Look at the oldest age category, 60 and over.  Now, we thought that was Hillary Clinton country.  In this case, in the exit polling in Virginia and Maryland, Barack Obama won in both states in the oldest age category.  We thought that working people, regular people, who make under $50,000 a year wouldn’t go for Barack because he’s the candidate of the college crowd and yet, here he is in both those states, rather handily carrying those economic groups below $50,000 a year, just about as strong as he carried the people above $50,000.  There’s no class difference.  Is this going to be noted nationally?

RUSSERT:  Yes, it’s broadening of the coalition.  And in fact, the white ethnic, blue collar Democrat is voting for Obama in Virginia and Maryland, what does that mean for Wisconsin? To places like Milwaukee and Green Bay?  And what does it mean for Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania?  I think it’s too early to suggest it guarantees his success in those states, but it’s indication that his coalition is broadening in a big way tonight.  Even if it does so incrementally in the states I mention, it will be enormously helpful to him.

OLBERMANN:  Tim, one news development in the last few minutes from our friend, Chris at “The Washington Post,” who is reporting that now the deputy campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, Mike Henry has resigned.  That he tendered his resignation morning, worked on the last two days on a volunteer basis.  Is that anything more than a follow up to the change in managers because he was brought in the campaign by Patti Solis Doyle or is there something more to that?

RUSSERT:  Well, it’s clearly not the news that a campaign wants to be putting out on a night like tonight, Keith.  Remember, as we started tonight at 6:00 o’clock, the Clinton campaign has been calling supporters, calling donors, reassuring them the ship has been righted.  It’s going to be OK.  Hang on for Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania.  And now, a ranking and respective member of the campaign like Mike Henry leaving, it’s further indication of in-fighting within the campaign and disarray.  And that’s not what you want to be communicating on a night like tonight.

OLBERMANN:  All is well.  Do not follow the gentleman who’s leaving the ship.  Tim Russert, great thanks.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Tim.  Time to bring in David Gregory for our panel for some more fire works.  David.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS:  I’m thinking about the Republicans and the question panel, of what does Mike Huckabee want from John McCain if he stays in the race?  I’d a chance to talk to Huckabee earlier today; he was on the phone here on MSNBC.  This is what he said to that question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I’d like to see him support the human life amendment for one.  I’d like to see him reject human embryonic stem cell research and be really truly pro-life all the way.  I’d certainly like to know that we can work on getting rid of McCain Feingold.  It’s one of the worst thing that ever happened to election law on this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREGORY:  Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee to John McCain, start running on my platform.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Mike Huckabee’s running to be Mr. Conservative in the Republican Party and the longer he goes on, the less likely because of McCain’s personality that he will be picked as vice president.  I credit Mike Huckabee, if he’s doing this.  You never stop and try to appease the guy, go out, get as much strength, win as many contests as you can.  I think he’s going to go right on through.  What he’s done now is he’s eclipsed Mitt Romney who dropped out of the race.  He’s the remainder man.  He’s getting all the anti-McCain votes.  And there are a lot of them out there.  I’m astonished however in Virginia, where you have two former governors and George Allen endorsed McCain.  He’s been down there.  Huckabee just shows up, he’s running in a dead heat in Virginia.  It shows you the depth of hostility among conservatives and Republicans to the idea of a McCain nomination.  McCain won initially frankly, by you known, clever scheduling and the right people –

GREGORY:  But when does it get old?  When does the party say enough? 

You’re a clear number two enough.

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  I think John McCain says enough when you ask McCain to go back on McCain-Feingold.  It’s really in your face to McCain.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  You tell the party where to go, if you’re wanting to be the leader.

ROBINSON:  But you’re not going to have an impact on John McCain.  No.

BUCHANAN:  Forget McCain.  Look, if you’re running yourself and somebody calls you up, you forget the phone calls, you run as hard as you can, pay no attention to them.

RACHEL MADDOW, MNSBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I feel like what Mike Huckabee

is trying to get from John McCain here is John McCain’s head.  If he wins

Virginia and that means, as Tim just said, if that means that McCain cannot

lock this up and he cannot ascend until May 6th, that’s three months of hell,

he’s playing for keeps.

BUCHANAN:  No, you don’t want to take his head.  You don’t want to be responsible for the defeat.  Once Huckabee drops out and this thing is over in May, he steps out there, he endorses McCain and he asks for nothing but a speech at the convention and he endorses him strongly, all of this will be in the past.  If you don’t want to take McCain down if you want to be the leader of the party.

GREGORY:  But is it realistic to ask John McCain to take parts of your platform.  John McCain is not going to pander to the right.  He did that once, he didn’t work.

ROBINSON:  He’s not going to do it.

BUCHANAN:  He shouldn’t do it.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  What’s going to bring it around to McCain is Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, it’s ain’t John McCain.

MADDOW:  Yes, what’s going to be really interesting to watch here is if Huckabee wins Virginia tonight and the right wing continues, as you were saying Pat, to be incredibly gleeful over the pain and humiliation of John McCain, is there a chance the pain that John McCain pain is exciting to them as the prospect of supporting Mike Huckabee, will they get behind Huckabee?

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think the right wing talk show hosts will be delighted over what’s happening in Virginia.  Paul Warwick (ph) did.  I had a column that maybe a minor figure but I had a column today saying stay in there.  Stay in there.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I want McCain to raise—look, the Republican establishment fought the party to where it’s 30 percent.  Now, they forced NAFTA down our throats and taxes down our throats.  The party went along, that’s why the party is in trouble.  It went along with the establishment.

ROBINSON:  When do you call this off or do you pull the trigger.

BUCHANAN:  And the long you can and when McCain’s got it, then, you shut it down.

GREGORY:  There you go, the final word from diminutive, Pat Buchanan.

MATTHEWS:  I think he’s going to fight for his party, block by block. 

Anyway, David Gregory in the panel if I’d use an old expression.

Up next: More about what was on the voters’ minds tonight in the exit polls.  We’ll also be joined by Clinton advisor, Lisa Caputo.  What a nice person she is and I mean it.  She’s a friend of mine.  They’re all my friends.  And of course, former Maryland governor, Bob Ehrlich is here.  He’s is coming back to push for John McCain who Pat Buchanan who is giving a hard time to tonight.  You are watching on Howard Cosell fashion.  MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac, we’ll be right back.

OLBERMANN:  Right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  John McCain is the projected winner in Virginia and the Republican primary in the old dominion.  We’re one hour away from the polls being closed in Maryland.  A judge has extended the voting there until 9:30 Eastern and now an hour and a half later than usual.  But so far, it’s two for two for Obama.  Senator Obama has won Virginia and he’s won the District of Columbia.  By the way, his Virginia victory was substantial according to our exit polling.  On the Republican side, it’s too early to call in D.C. although that is very small Republican electorate in D.C.  We expect to hear from Hillary Clinton – Senator Clinton in El Paso, Texas, where she is.  In just about 10 minutes we’re going to cover a big chunk of that speech.  I’m joined right now by Lisa Capito, a senior advisor to the Clinton campaign and of course her former press secretary when Senator Clinton was of course first lady.  Lisa, it’s so great to have you on tonight. 

LISA CAPUTO, SR. ADVISOR, CLINTON CAMPAIGN:  Chris, you’re so nice to have me, thanks. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me ask you about tonight. Give us the best portrait you can of the events tonight we’ve been covering. 

CAPUTO: I think the portrait has been painted.  I don’t think anybody inside the Clinton campaign expected to win any of the states today.  Clearly coming out of super Tuesday, it was expected that Senator Obama would take the states he’s taken.  All eyes quite frankly are on Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Senator Clinton has to win those states.  They’ve mobilized quite an organization in those states and all eyes are focused on that. They’re very focused on that right now.  She’s also headed out to Wisconsin.  Chelsea Clinton has been out in Wisconsin for the past two days and is campaigning on college campuses and Senator Clinton will be out there over the weekend. 

MATTHEWS:   It seems to me a selective effort now on the part of Senator Clinton. She’s focused at least on the public relations.  It seems like your campaign has really been focused already now, even though it’s several weeks off, on Ohio and Texas on March 4.  Of course, Senator Clinton is in Texas tonight and then of course looking ahead to Pennsylvania on the 22nd of April.  Does that mean that Wisconsin is not really going to get the full Senator Clinton treatment?

CAPUTO: No I think, Chris, again as I said, I mean Chelsea Clinton is out there, Senator Clinton is going out there.  Wisconsin is very much in play.  But I think you’re right. The campaign is clearly focusing its resources on the big states where the big delegate count is because let’s remember, at the end of the day, this is about delegates.  So they are focused on the big states. 

MATTHEWS:  Does Senator Clinton need the Trifecta? Does she need to win a hat trick, pull a hat trick there, in hockey terms, win all three?

CAPUTO: She absolutely has to win Texas and Ohio and I would also argue Pennsylvania, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Is that official campaign rhetoric that you have to win all three?  Usually, that gets you in trouble when you say you have to do something. 

CAPUTO: No, because I’m not on the Clinton payroll. 

MATTHEWS:  Well then they can’t fire you. Let me ask you about the shake ups in the campaign. Patti Solis Doyle has left, has been replaced by an old pro, Maggie Williams, former chief of staff to the first lady when she was first lady and the we got Mike Henry, the number two fellow. He’s pulled out of the campaign.  What does it feel like inside the campaign with this restiveness?

CAPUTO: Well, I think what Maggie Williams brings to the campaign is a strategic mind.  She’s a great communicator.  She’s opened up the lines of communication within the campaign and outside the campaign and she brings also the trust of the candidate.  That’s key.  I would also say Maggie is a get it done person.  And I think what you’re seeing Chris is Maggie getting her arms around the campaign and really focusing the campaign in the right direction with the states and mobilizing resources accordingly and making decisions and getting execution going.  So, you know, in troubled times, as you know, Maggie has always been a stalwart who has been there through thick and thin.  And I couldn’t think of a better person quite honestly for the campaign to bring in than Maggie. 

MATTHEWS:   Do you think that the shake up is reflective of the concern the candidate really has? I think it’s fair, most people would say on the outside of the campaign that Senator Clinton has perhaps made a strategic error in focusing on her experience saying 35 years of public service would win the day at a time of demand for change.  And Obama has come along and the new kid on the block with much less experience and has said, no the issue is change.  Was that a missed opportunity for Senator Clinton to say no, look, I’m a candidate. I’m a politician who knows how to bring change quickly and dramatically.  I’m going to do it.  Why can’t – was that a mistake?

CAPUTO:  I think honestly Chris, I think that they were—the campaign was late in making the connection between experience and change, that you have to have the experience and understand how Washington works. You have to understand how to legislate, how to understand what levers to push in Washington to affect change.  And I think that they were perhaps a little slow in making that connection.  When they started making that connection, it resonated with voters and we are seeing it in the exit polls with the late deciders who are going with Hillary Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  Any chance you’ll take over communications for the campaign?

I think they can use some shake up in that department. 

CAPUTO: I love coming on your show. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Lisa Caputo, thank you very much. Once again, John McCain the projected winner in the Republican primary in Virginia.   That’s our big announcement this segment.   Joining me right now is Robert Ehrlich, the former governor of Maryland and a supporter of John McCain.  Governor, thanks.  Fellows like you, people like you and of course Governor Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania—are you still allowed to say moderate Republican or is that now a bad word in the party?

BOB EHRLICH, MCCAIN SUPPORTER: Libertarian Republican, slightly right of center Republican, doesn’t matter.  It’s OK. 

MATTHEWS:  It just seems like, unless you’re an arch conservative, a Pat Buchananite, you aren’t really acceptable in the Republican hinterlands. 

EHRLICH: I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t necessarily say Pat Buchanan holds down the right wing of the party; he holds down a wing.  But we’re a party of free trade obviously.  A lot of us believe in free trade. A lot of us believe free trade built the country.  That’s not exactly Pat’s view as you just heard.  So we obviously have true moderates. We have religious conservatives. We have traditional conservatives, libertarian conservatives.  I know you’re going to get to the whole thing about McCain, but I think this is good for him.  It’s not necessarily bad for him at this point to get beat up a little bit, to engage, to defend.  He’s a tough guy.  He’s faced a lot worse than this in his life as we know. 

MATTHEWS:   Is Mike Huckabee his sister soldier, the guy that makes him look – I mean this.  You know exactly what I mean.  Is he the guy that makes him look like a center rightist rather than a rightist if you will?

EHRLICH: You know what, I got to tell you, look, I voted against McCain-Feingold and obviously I’ve had issues of ANWR. Bu the bottom line is look at his AFL-CIO rating, look at his Chamber rating, look at his scores over the years.  You know this very well. By any measure, he’s a right of center.  He’s a maverick. He’s certainly been tough on the Republican establishment at times over his career, but by any measure, he’s a right of center candidate.  Anyone who thinks otherwise, you have to look at the whole thing.  And this is coming from someone who served in Congress with him, who despite my great respect for him, has had significant disagreements on issues.

MATTHEWS:  Is there any chance you would vote for Barack Obama if he’s the Democratic nominee?

EHRLICH: Listen, I got to tell you (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  I mean any chance, any chance?

EHRLICH: This is boring.  I love watching the Democratic side on this race. 

MATTHEWS:  I just wondered because we noticed tonight that (INAUDIBLE) and the others are reporting that a sizable – well a sizable chunk, but Republicans, known identified, self-identified Republicans tonight in Virginia are recorded as 8 percent said they vote for Barack Obama.  And I’m coming across the strangest thing in this country, which is you can’t predict everybody anymore. 

EHRLICH: Here’s the deal.  This guy is a good looking guy, family, charismatic.  He’s transparent.  Contrast that with Hillary Clinton.  He’s going to look good as we know and he’s run a great campaign.  He’s a fun guy, exciting guy.  I like to watch him, but again, this is all going to go to the past at some point.  We’re going to get down to what do you feel about six party talks?  What do you feel about the West Bank? Where are you on stem cell research? Where are you on the budget? How about the tax cut? At some point, we’re going to engage on issues.  And I don’t think this country is as far left as Barack Obama has been in the U.S. Senate. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, former Governor Robert Ehrlich, who pulled an upset himself a couple years ago. Thanks for joining us. 

EHRICH: My pleasure, Chris. 

OLBERMANN: They may bring up Iraq and the economy and other issues like that too.  We’re waiting for Senator Clinton to speak in El Paso as well as results from Maryland..  Voting has been extended there until 9:30 so we have almost an hour’s worth still to go there.  The Democratic race already a battle royale for each and every delegate that the candidates can win. There are 168 of them up for grabs tonight.  Our NBC political director, Chuck Todd back with a look at how the delegate map is shaping up already tonight.  Chuck is uncannily good at this. I don’t want to put pressure on you, but what are the early numbers, number man?

CHUCK TODD, NBC: We got 83 of them in Virginia and we think we’ve got a pretty good idea of how it’s going to split.  I’m going to give a range so I don’t have to have a margin of error.  I know we like that.  I think we’ve got Hillary Clinton with somewhere between 34 to 31 and I’m doing it this way so people can see it.  With Obama, it’s 49-52.  If he gets on this upper side here, 52, that’s a net of 20.  Why is this important? Because before we started the night, we said my estimate had it as 1025-954.  If he nets 20, then our new number, just Virginia, we haven’t even gotten to Maryland and DC.  It’s going to be 1077 to 975.  This means that Obama is going to have already 100 pledged delegate lead just come out of Virginia that makes up for the about 85 super delegate lead that Hillary Clinton – so he’s overtaken her on the overall delegate lead. 

But this pledged delegate lead is very important and we’re going to get to it later in the night.  But suddenly, the percentage of delegates that Hillary Clinton is going to have to win as this primary season goes on, particularly if she comes up on the short end of the delegate stick next week as well in Wisconsin and Hawaii.  Suddenly, the percentage of delegates she’s going to have to win is going to look very daunting.  It could be somewhere near 55 to 60 percent of all delegates remaining starting on March 4th.  We haven’t seen any candidate been able to win 60-40 in a lot of these places and you’ve got a lot of states left that Obama is going to win.  So suddenly the number gets even higher and so she would have to win in places like Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  She may have to win 62-63 percent of the delegates in those states, very difficult as we’ve seen going forward. 

OLBERMANN: I’ve got an extra credit question for you. You can take as much time as you want if you don’t have it now.  What’s that margin—how is that changed if Florida and Michigan were seated without second votes in either of those states? Figure that one out.

TODD: Well, that’s the big thing.  We’ve been doing the popular vote total.  If you just do it among states that have awarded delegates, Barack Obama has gotten the most votes.  If you do it – if you add in just Florida where both Obama and Clinton were on the ballot, then she has a narrow popular vote lead, but I bet you that is much narrower after we get the final totals in Virginia.  And then you also have if you throw in Michigan, where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot, so it’s a tougher one, that a real apples to oranges thing.  But as far as delegates are concerned, she would close the gap, but it wouldn’t quite be enough actually to make up the gap, either. 

OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd working the delegate numbers, thank you, Chuck. 

MATTHEWS:  Senator Clinton is scheduled to speak in El Paso, Texas in just a few moments now, but the Texas primary of course, it looms now three weeks from tonight and we want to take a closer look at that brewing battle in the Lone Star state. Joining me now to help us out in Austin is political reporter Jim Moore co-author of the book, “Bush’s Brain.” I say it darkly – and Arnold Garcia, columnist for the “Austin American-Statesman.”  Jim, and let me ask you both, is Texas a typical state? I know that’s an insult, but I’m trying it. First of all, Jim.

JIM MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, “BUSH’S BRAIN”: Well, it’s not a typical state in the sense that the demographics are so diverse.  It’s mean it’s probably more like a real American population than Iowa, New Hampshire certainly is.  But Senator Clinton’s goal here, she’s not being very subtle Chris about what she’s doing.  She’s going to El Paso, Corpus, San Antonio and the Rio Grande valley over the next 24 hours. She’s clearly going for the community or the part of the state that is about 80 percent Mexican-American voters.  And the problem however is that historically, they have voted in lower numbers than anticipated in spite of their high registration numbers and delegates under the Texas system are allocated according to the turnout in the last election.  And the senator could very well run up some big numbers down along the border and come away with only about a dozen delegates. So she’s playing a very risky game by spending all of her time down there. 

MATTHEWS:  Arnold, what’s the excitement level in the community the Latino community?

ARNOLD GARCIA, “AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN”: Well, I think it’s very high and people are excited and remarkably enough, the Latino community is breaking about the way that the rest of America is.  By that, I mean the younger, first time voters, which is a huge part of that Latino demographic by the way.  Our median age is 27 compared to the rest of the country which is, median age is 36.  Anyway, they are breaking for Obama based on some anecdotal evidence and the traditional Democrats, the older Democrats are breaking for Senator Clinton.  I think it’s going to be a lot closer than people are predicting.  And just to follow up on Jim’s comment about the lower turnout in the valley, there’s some very sophisticated politicos down there who understand that Houston and Dallas are going to turn out big and because delegates are selected on turn out, are going to be working overtime to get those numbers up. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about, Jim, tell me about  Texans who are not Latinos or not African-American, are white if you will. I hate these phrases, but white Texans who are Democrats. Do they tend to be liberals or moderates like the rest of the Democrats in the country or they are sort of old (INAUDIBLE) conservatives?

MOORE: I think everybody used to joke that you could take a Texas Democrat north of the Red River and they would be immediately mistaken for a Republican.  It is still a very conservative state on both sides of the aisle and I think that Arnold and anybody else who’s watch this in Texas, knows that there is some sort of inexplicable, very deep disdain among white male voters for Hillary Clinton down here.  I expect that businessmen and white male Democrats are going to go for Barack Obama in big numbers.  Her challenge is going to be to offset that and the expected big turnout among African-American voters who are going to go for Barack Obama.  That’s the big challenge for her in the Democratic party in Texas. 

MATTHEWS:   Do you think if that is the penchant of white men in Texas, will they stick with Barack if he wins the nomination against it a John McCain?  Will they stick with it or just to get rid of Hillary?

MOORE: I think the Democrats are probably going to stick with her, but they’re going to go over in the general election. He would—Obama would lose some of those people in the general election to a John McCain or a Mike Huckabee down here. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you see that Arnold? Do you think people would vote for a Barack Obama in the primary three weeks out and then vote for Republican against the very person they got nominated?

GARCIA: No, I think Democrats, Texas Democrats are going to stick with the Democratic nominee.  I did however hear a most remarkable thing with one of the guys I play golf with on Sunday.  He said man, I am all for Obama.  I am with him 100 percent.  If he doesn’t win the nomination, I’m going with John McCain and the poor man is being treated for whiplash. 

MATTHEWS:   I think there’s going to be a lot of surprises next November depending on who wins, what’s going on right now.  We’ll be right back.  Thank you very much Jim. We hope to hear from you guys again and Arnold Garcia down in Texas. 

OLBERMANN: All right, we’re continuing to await Hillary Clinton’s speech to her supporters in Texas in El Paso, also, the results from Maryland, where the polls have been extended until 9:30 due to inclement weather and bad traffic.  We’ll rejoin Tim Russert after this. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac primaries.  We’re back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the results of the Potomac primaries, Virginia, Maryland and DC. The latest scheduling conflicts to come, John McCain is expected to speak at about half past the next hour, about 40 minutes hence.  We are still waiting for Hillary Clinton to speak from Texas.  Whether or not she will even address what happened tonight in the capital district remains to be seen.  But in the interim, we told you that Andrea Mitchell would be spending the evening at the listening post, the campaign listening post and the sound that she’s been hearing from the Clinton campaign has been somebody else packing.  The deputy campaign manager, Mike Henry has followed his former boss out the door.  Andrea, do you have more on this?

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Mike Henry, famously wrote a memo

that was leaked back before Iowa saying it was their weakest state. They should

skip it, maybe a wise decision.  It hurt her as she was going into Iowa, hurt

her badly with people down there in the field.  Mike Henry has now resigned. 

Apparently the resignation was effective yesterday, but he hung around another

24 hours.  He was the top deputy to Patti Solis Doyle, and this clears the way

for Maggie Williams to put her own people in.  Already, you’re beginning seeing

a lot of shaking and shaking out over there.  I talked to a couple of

supporters, top supporters and contributors who say that they’re not running

scared, but say there’s a lot of shaking down.  One top aid said look, we’re

mounting up and heading to Texas whereas you know she is about—Hillary

Clinton is about to speak.  They know now that they have to win big there as

Tim Russert has made it very clear.  They need to roll up big margins now in

Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Chuck Todd laid out the delegate map for you. 

It’s a daunting challenge.  So this is a campaign well behind the curve in

these coming weeks and I think the real story out of Virginia, if you look at

the exit polls is that Obama has made the inroads among white men.  He proved

that white men can jump to a black candidate.

OLBERMANN: Superb, superb, thank you Andrea?

MATTHEWS:  Woody Harrelson…

OLBERMANN: All right, Andrea, we’ll check back in with you later on and speaking of Texas and more on tonight’s results, how they change the Democratic race as we jump forward, specifically to Texas. In just three weeks from now, We heard Lisa Caputo say Tim Russert, that all eyes are on Texas.  It’s all eyes in the Clinton camp that are on Texas, not everybody else’s eyes, right?

TIM RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It’s interesting Keith.  Texas in a Democratic primary, I was stunned when I looked at the numbers.  In 2004, 21 percent of the voters in the Texas Democratic primary in 2004 were African-American.  That was with John Kerry and the fellow candidates in ’04.  My sense is an Obama candidacy will increase that number significantly. It almost rivaled Hispanic voters.  And the people I’m talking to in both campaigns tell me, that with the significant black vote, your previous guest saying Hispanics are splitting along ago differences, what happens with those white Texans voters? The affluent, the higher educated and the University of Texas is one of the largest employers in Texas, begins to suggest it may be a little more fertile ground for Obama than people had first anticipated. And I think it’s going to be a state really worth watching. Obama is on the air already. He has accepted a debate along with Senator Clinton in Texas. It’s going to be a shoot out, but if you have a significant black vote, and he’s making the kind of inroads he is, he has tonight with white men, if he can hold that margin down, he can hold the delegate count down for Hillary Clinton and that’s the goal.

OLBERMANN: If that last bastion of supposedly, impregnable bastion of Clinton support among Latino voters, if that can be neutralized or countered by a large African-American base in Texas, what do we have to rely on left to predict anything the rest of the way in the Democratic primary race?

RUSSERT:  The women.  It will be – white women are standing firm with Hillary Clinton. She won them in Virginia and Maryland.  Another tidbit here Keith because I always like to get Pat Buchanan more ammunition, but it now looks like the Catholics in Maryland have also gone for Obama.  So two states, Virginia and Maryland, where Catholic voters have preferred Obama over Clinton.  That is significant because prior to this, white Catholic ethnics had been opting for Hillary Clinton in pretty significant numbers.

OLBERMANN: If I’ve ever heard of a segue to go to the panel, that was it.  Thank you Tim. We’ll get back to you in a minute. Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Actually Maryland was founded by the Catholics. Let’s bring in David Gregory and our panel David.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, thanks very much. Pat Buchanan, you heard Tim Russert talk about the Catholics, but what he’s talking about overall is Barack Obama poaching into Hillary Clinton’s coalition.

PAT BUCHANAN: That’s exactly what’s happening. Catholics are a swing vote. They’ve been going almost two to one for Hillary Clinton and now he’s moving into there.  He’s moving into the white males and he’s holding his professionals and African-Americans, he’s rising there. Her campaign is really in crisis now because he’s moving clearly into her territory.

GREGORY:  You have a different way of looking at it.

MADDOW: Yeah, I feel like to get too much into the leads on the exit polls here about who’s going for Obama by how much, we’re looking at these states like Virginia and possibly Maryland when he may be racking up big wins.  When you win everybody, the differences, the minor difference which is which (INAUDIBLE) become less important. He’s won every single group we’ve looked at except for white women, because he clobbered her in Virginia.

GREGORY:  So we shouldn’t look at his success? We shouldn’t analyze his success?

MADDOW: His success – we are parsing it, when we ought to be marveling at the magnitude of it.

BUCHANAN:  … (INAUDIBLE) for the general election.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: You have to parse it.  If for example, he did make significant advances among Latino voters, that is interesting if he has done really well among white men and if as seems to be the case from the exit polling, you got independents and even Republicans, these are the Barack-efeller Republicans.

BUCHANAN: It’s crucial for the general elections. If you take his voter profile in South Carolina, there’s no way he’s going to win the state of South Carolina, 24 percent of the white vote and 86 percent of the African-American vote. If you take the profile in Virginia, it becomes an open question. This is what’s important about it.  There’s no doubt, Hillary’s getting beat badly. But what Virginia says is Obama is moving to a point where he can contest a state that’s part of the Republican base.

GREGORY: How about our previous guest who said on the golf course he finds a friend, another Latino friend, who says I’m for Obama. If he doesn’t get it, I go for McCain.  He’s not going. He’s not going.

BUCHANAN: Take a look at the “USA Today” poll that show Hillary Rodham Clinton favorable at 48 percent nationally, unfavorable 49 percent. That’s the bumping of the head at 50 percent. That is her problem despite the fact she gets more centrist votes.

MADDOW: What we’re going to see though in the general election is that if Barack Obama is the candidate, what we’re going to get is an onslaught against him to bring his unfavorables way up. Right now his unfavorables are negligible. That will rise in the general.

GREGORY: Is it harder, Gene, to attack Barack Obama as an African-American than it is to attack Hillary Clinton as a woman?

ROBINSON: In the current atmosphere, I think it is more difficult, especially since we are more sensitive now to racial code in campaign tactics. 

MADDOW: In the general election, if you’ve got a Martian running,

they’re going to bring up…

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: Republicans are going to go negative because how else are they going to win the general election? There’s no other way to win it. 

BUCHANAN: It’s not a secret that Obama is an African-American.  They are going to go after him on all his left wing votes, 100 percent ADA.  You watch them define him.

MADDOW: (INAUDIBLE) They are going to call him a Muslim. They’re going to say he doesn’t salute the flag.  They’re going to make up all this stuff.  That’s the way they’re ….

BUCHANAN: The flag pin (ph) will come up. 

GREGORY: We still have big states to vote, big states to vote where Hillary Clinton’s strengths have not played out yet and Texas and Ohio are two of those states.  That’s the important thing to remember as well. Back to you Keith.

OLBERMANN: David Gregory and the panel, great, thanks.  Too close – too early to call in DC, the Republicans. McCain in Virginia. Maryland is open another 30 minutes. Virginia and DC for the Democrats, Obama and Maryland, still voting. We’ll get back at the top of the hour.

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  At 9:00 p.m. in the east and at 6:00 p.m. in

the west, with polls still open for another half an hour for provisional

voting in Maryland due to bad weather and inclement weather, the judge

having extended voting there.  We are watching Senator Hillary Clinton

in El Paso, Texas where she has already begun to campaign for a vote

that will not take place until the first days of March, the fourth of

March, as we wait for the actual speech to begin, which we would bring

most of it to you.

The results elsewhere so far in the Potomac primaries, in the Republican races, we have declared John McCain the winner in Virginia.  In District of Columbia, it’s too early to call.  Maryland as we said is open late until 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time, half an hour or so from now among the Democrats and again, the question here has to be: Will Senator Clinton mention any of this or make any reference to Virginia or D.C.  tonight where there’s been a substantial victory based on our projections by NBC News for Barack Obama in Virginia?  And the exit polling is astounding, is the only way to describe what we have seen so far.  The District of Columbia—no characterization of the nature of the vote there; nor the numbers as of yet but Barack Obama will be the victor there again, according to our NBC News predictions.  And Maryland delayed by an hour and a half, delayed due to inclement weather.

Senator Clinton, as you can see, with a bouquet of flowers and a child on stage.  There will be a little bit more of a delay before she begins to address her faithful there.  Tom Brokaw is with us in the interim.  And Tom, I’m wondering, as we get to tap your perspective for the first time tonight, what’s your headline tonight?

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS:  My headline tonight, Keith, is that Senator Obama is doing very well, probably better than a lot of people expected him to do in the so-called Potomac primaries.  And alright, because of the nature of the votes that he is attracting.  However, I’ve been talking with some people in the Obama campaign, these are senior, you would call them mature political advisors and they’re a little concerned that he’s the frontrunner; he’s being flying as one of them put at 35,000 feet and he’s about to take a lot of incoming.  And they don’t know how prepared the campaign is for that.  They think it’s time now for him to expand his circle of advisors and to begin to talk more specifically about what he is going to do in the fall.  There may still be time for that.

As for Senator Clinton, a lot of the people who have been with her from the very beginning, their shoulders are drooping and their heads are beginning to kind of nod if you will.  They’re worried about what the prospects are for her.  But we got to remember there are still debates, she has been formidable in this campaign from the beginning.  Her base now is contracting, it appears.  But she still has, based on what we’re seeing so far, a lot of women who are very strong for her and they become even more passionate about her if she finds herself in the corner.  I think the debates are what we’re going to look for here in the next month or so.  They’re going to be a big factor in determining the phrase that I’ve overused I know over the year, the UFO factor, the unforeseen.  Will it occur between now in Ohio and Texas?  And even if she wins both states, will that be enough to counter the combination of his numbers and buzz which he has going now at the moment at almost nuclear level.

OLBERMANN:  To those demographics that we got from the exit polls in Virginia qualify as your UFO’s?  The Clinton camp preordained from their perspective that what happened tonight was not going to matter to them, is not going to change things for them, they aren’t anticipating wins.  But are those exit polls things, they won’t be able to deny come tomorrow morning?

BROKAW:  Yes, I think that’s a lower case UFO.  Look, he’s campaign has the rockstar quality at this point; there’s no question about it.  He’s not only winning, but he’s winning impressively and he’s winning demographically in the internals.  But now, we’ll begin to hear of issues from more on the Republican side, but who is this guy and what does he think he can do to straighten this country out and as we heard from the formidable Mr. Buchanan just a few moments ago, they’ll be going after his more liberal positions and he’s going to have to answer not just to Hillary Clinton, but from some of those operatives on the right as well.

I mean, we’ve already begun to hear the buzz about his associates in Chicago, his early days as an organizer, the elements that he may have been associated with.  There will be a good deal more of that coming up.  So, this is Barack Obama, the first third of the campaign.  He’s finishing in a very strong position.  The next third will determine who the nominee is and the final third will determine who the next president of the United States is.  As he goes into the next third, he’s going to have to steal himself for a closer examination it seems to me.

OBLERMANN:  Does it seem to you though that to some degree, I mean, this was part of the Clinton logic on this was that there had never been a negative attack ad run against Senator Obama, yet to some degree but there had been one run by the Clinton’s in Carolina and there was much of that campaign that they’d have objections to the Obama people did, that to some degree, he has gotten a taste at least of what he might face in a general election from this primary campaign?

BROKAW:  Well, I think he has.  All though, as I indicated earlier, some of the people who have been through these campaigns before and are in his campaign now think that maybe they have been riding so high and so fast at this point, they may not have an entirely clear idea.  They may have it intellectually, but do they have it realistically about what’s coming their way.  Look, he has run a phenomenal campaign at this point.  He has captured the attention of this country.  I’ve heard more Republicans and conservatives inquire about who is Obama.  And they’ve indicated to me that they may be able to vote for him come the fall because they’re so fed up with what’s going on.  At the same time, Senator Clinton has been counted out before and notably in the New Hampshire primary.  She’s still is a formidable campaigner and I’m going to be watching these next debates with great interest.  Those have not been his greatest strength.  My guess is that she’s going to take it up a notch.

OLBERMANN:  If this introduction goes on longer, those debates are in peril by the way and I’m sorry to interrupt, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  I’ve been thinking about when in the history of the Democratic Party going back to ‘60 that the establishment has been beaten, the sort of the frontrunning establishment candidate, I mean, it would have been, of course Ed Muskie in ‘72 and of course, and the rest of them, at verge (ph) by the risk of losing in ‘76 to Jimmy Carter.  Does it seem like that where the challenger has clearly got something going in the sight (ph), something in the atmosphere that makes it hard even for an impressive person like Ed Muskie or Mo (ph) or an impressive person certainly like Hilary Clinton?

BROKAW:  Well, I felt that from the beginning of her campaign when everyone said it’s a slam dunk.  I said, you know, when you’re a front-runner, just ask Howard Dean, you’ve got crosshairs all over you.  I don’t care how much money you have on the bank.  And when Senator Clinton came into the race, she’d brought with her a fair amount of baggage.  She was well-known.  She didn’t have the best possible relations with the campaign press, the political press in the country.

And Barack Obama, who started slowly, still had great personal characteristics, great personal story that worked well for him.  And then he became a great platform performer in all of his speeches and yes, I can and we want to change America.  And his own personal resume, I suppose played to the instincts of a lot of people that she was appealing to.  I have been struck by a number of people who have stuck with Senator Clinton all those time who will say, in the second half of their conversation with me that if we end up with him, what a great thing it would be for this country.  So, that’s what she’s facing, she is a formidable candidate, however, and we still have a month to go before we get to those big states.

MATTHEWS:  So, that’s of course the great irony, Tom, that people like Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton had spent their lives advocating opportunities for people like Barack Obama and you know, he is seizing the opportunity on her watch.  Let’s bring in Tim Russert, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS and of course, the Washington bureau chief of NBC News.

TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS:  Hey, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Your thoughts along these lines, Tim?

RUSSERT:  Yes, Tom is exactly right in terms of what Obama has put together tonight and will try to repeat again next Tuesday in Wisconsin and Hawaii to try to run up the score in terms of states and popular vote and elected delegate count.  But, as we found out, in the debates, debate in Philadelphia with Senator Clinton when she stumbled, the debates in other places where Senator Obama has stumbled; that can freeze a campaign.  It can freeze momentum.  That’s why that candidates are sometimes are reluctant to agree to a whole lot of debates.  They realize that it’s something that can be wheel, a spoke in their campaign wheels and they have to react to and sometimes change the entire tenor and tone of the discussion.

MATTHEWS:  Well, back in 1960, Richard Nixon—there she is.  No time to talk history.  Here is Senator Clinton in present time.  Here she is.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Oh, it is so wonderful to be here.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I want to thank the congressman so much.  He does an extraordinary job representing you.  And I know how proud you are to have him as the chairman of one of the most important committees in the United States Congress.  Thank you so much.  He and his wife, Carolina, have been friends and colleagues for a long time and so, it is especially a privilege to be introduced by him tonight and to be part of this extended family because it is family and I am proud to be part of the El Paso, Texas family starting right now.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  There are so many people who have come tonight and who have helped make this extraordinary event possible.  I want to thank Rick and Luis Bolanios (ph).  They are part of Texas Veterans for Hillary and the Bolanios family is so well known because of their service to our country and I am honored to have them supporting me.  Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I want to thank my old friend, Alicia Shacom (ph), the former county judge.  To you (ph), young Democrats for hosting me tonight.  Norma Flores Fisher, Danny Antondo (ph), Aaron Rosas (ph), Senator Elliott Shapleigh.  I want to thank the students and staff of the university and I want to thank my huge Texas size steering committee.  Well, I can’t think of any better place to start our campaign for Texas than right here in El Paso.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  And, I am honored to be an honorary minor.  And, we’re going to sweep across Texas in the next three weeks bringing our message about what we need in America, the kind of president that will be required on day one to be commander in chief to turn the economy around.  I’m tested, I’m ready, let’s make it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  You know, there’s a great saying in Texas.  You’ve all heard it.  All hat and no cattle.  Well, after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and a lot more cattle.  Texas needs a president who actually understands what it’s going to take to turn the economy around, to give us universal health care, to save hard working American homes from foreclosure at the abusive practices of the mortgage companies.

We have a lot of work to do and I know that El Paso understands that picking a president is one of the most important jobs we’re going to do in this country in the next couple of weeks.  When I think about Texas, I think about, as the congressman said, coming here 35 years ago.  I was working for the Democratic National Committee and I was going along the border, registering voters.  And we had the greatest time.  I met some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life.  We had a chance to go into people’s homes.  We ate a lot of great food.  We listened to some wonderful music and we registered a few voters, too.  Well, her I am back in Texas and I’m asking the children of those voters to vote for me for their future.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  You know, some people, when they run for political office, they only think about the next election.  But I like to think about the next generation.  Because, that’s what I think this election is about.  It is about what kind of country and world we’re going to pass on to the young people who are students here, to that beautiful young boy who came up and gave me the flowers.

For each of our children and grandchildren, are we going to give them the same shot at the American dream that many of us were given?  Well, if we make the right decision in this election, we sure are.  We’re going to give our young people not only confidence and optimism, but real results --- 21st century solutions for what we need to do to fix our problems, meet our challenges and seize our opportunities.  As I travel around the country, I know, from what people tell me that a lot of really hard working folks are concerned.  You know, they’re working as hard as they can, but don’t feel like they’re getting ahead.  They’re not getting the kind of health care and educational opportunities that they want for themselves and their children.

I hear the mothers who tell me they don’t know what they’re going to do because they can’t afford health care and they have sick children and the only place they have to turn to is the emergency room.  I’ve been in the homes of families that are on the brink of losing the American dream because they got sucked in to one of the sub prime mortgages and they can’t afford to stay in their home and they’re looking for somebody to say this was wrong and we will help you.  I meet the people who work hard every single day but can’t pay their energy bills; they can’t fill up their gas tank.  They’re looking for answers.  And then, I meet the people who want to solve the problems, the young people who are focused on a better future and want to make it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  There isn’t anything America can’t do if we make up our minds to do it, every one of us.  Every single one of us knows that tomorrow can be better than today.  But it doesn’t happen just by wishing it or hoping for it.  It happens by working really, really hard to make it a reality to give everybody a better chance.  I see an America where everyone willing to work hard has a job with a rising income.  And, if you’re willing to work full-time, you have wages that lift you out of poverty.  I want to make sure every American who works full-time has a minimum wage of at least $9.50.  In fact, I would require that Congress cannot raise its own salaries unless it raises the minimum wage.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I see an America where health care is a moral right, not a privilege.  Where every man, woman and child has access to quality, affordable health care.  We can do this.  We can have a uniquely American solution.  We already have a plan that we can make available to everyone.  It’s the plan that provides health care to members of Congress.  And it works well for members of Congress and our staff and federal employees.  It has lots of choices.  I want to make sure you have the same choices as your member of Congress does.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  And, we will help people pay for it because I want everybody, everybody to have quality, affordable health insurance.  And I also see an America where we and our dependence on foreign oil and we start growing and making our own energy right here in Texas and America.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  Aren’t you tired of paying those exorbitant costs at the gas pumps?  Aren’t you tired of sending billions of our dollars to countries that turn around and use it against us?  Well, why don’t we get smart and start creating our own energy?  We have the sun, we have the wind.  We can grow the products.  We can turn what we have here in Texas into the energy of the future.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I think that if we do this, we will create millions of new good jobs—jobs with rising incomes, jobs that will be right here in El Paso, right here in Texas, jobs that will give a family a good potential opportunity to raise their kids and send them to school and feel like they’re part of the American dream.  Energy can be the key that unlocks our economic future, makes us more secure in the world and if we do it right, we will begin to deal with the problem of global warming, which is a real problem that has to be attacked.  You know, I see an America where children are better prepared before they ever go to school, where we help families prepare their own children, where we have a universal pre-kindergarten program, so that our 4-year-olds can get off to a good start.  I see an America where the federal government doesn’t tell the teachers and the principals and the superintendents in El Paso what they’re supposed to teach and what they’re supposed to test.

OLBERMANN:  Senator Hillary Clinton speaking at El Paso (INAUDIBLE), I guess is reminiscent of most of the other stump speeches and does not pertain to the events tonight in Virginia and in the District of Columbia which we have projected for Barack Obama and substantially, in Virginia, no characterization in D.C.  Maryland polls are still open until 9:30.  We hope to have a call both in the Republican and Democratic races or at least, the characterization.  As soon as those polls left open late because of weather are indeed closed.  They are backing up again, like planes in bad weather, like in Washington.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to speak sometime in the next half hour, also Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee.  So, we’re going to have quite a crowd of people visiting with us and the people we are going to hear from in the next few minutes.  In that interim, let’s return to Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert.  Tim, you and I talked about this—Tom is with us, I’m sorry.  Tom, I talked to Tim about this previously, the strategy of not referencing something that you don’t like, it’s not exactly campaign of denial but there was nothing in the speech to note that we really expect anything in this speech that suggested that anything happened tonight in the great District of Columbia area.  That there were any primary whatsoever in the Potomac.

BROKAW:  No, but I think you saw the pattern of what is to come.  She came dangerously close to saying that Barack Obama is all hat and no cattle.  She laid it off on President Bush, but - she let it lingered there, her response maybe, I’ve got 21 states and more delegates than you do, I may not have hats or cattle at this point.  And then, as you saw, she emphasized very strongly on economic matters, health care was at the top of the list.  She gave a specific minimum wage that she would like to see in this country.  She talked about her long history in Texas, she said, 35 years ago, that would have been 1973, I think she meant 1972 when both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton worked in Texas for Senator McGovern at that time and talked about that area.

She plainly identified as the Latino vote is something that she has to hang on in that area.  It’s worked for her in California and other southwestern states up to this point.  And it’s now getting down, as it often does in the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party of one block against the other.  Most encouraging information tonight for Senator Obama obviously is that he appears to be doing well with white males and it’s offsetting her strength among white females.  And of course, he offsets the female vote with his extraordinary high numbers in the black female vote.  So, I think we saw the beginning of a pattern here tonight without talking about what happened in the so-called Potomac primary about what we’ll be hearing from Senator Clinton’s campaign in the days and weeks to come, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  That one point that keeps being hammered home, not just by Senator Clinton, but everybody who speaks on her behalf, she’s ready on day one.  There’s never been an outright statement, you know, Senator Barack Obama will not be ready on day one but I think the implication is pretty clear.  It gets a little louder, it gets in their a little bit earlier in each speech.  Is it necessarily a good sales tool or does it reflect poorly considering that it is a Democratic Party that’s heard similar things about itself from the Republicans for the last seven or eight years?

BROKAW:  Like she said, a point in her campaign what she wants to reinforce the strongest planks in her campaign.  And in poll after poll after poll, the voters do indicate that they think that she is the most experienced and is best equipped to be the commander in chief.  What is offsetting of course are those high numbers that Pat Buchanan mentioned a few moments ago.  She has never been able to drive those down on the negative side.  And that has continued to haunt throughout this campaign.  She’s now running against somebody with a lot of momentum as well as a lot of delegates and a large line up of states in his column.  And this is a tough position for a candidate to be in.  This is a lot different than New Hampshire.  At that point, she made a great comeback in New Hampshire after Iowa.  It was the beginning of the campaign.  But now, we’re late in the fourth quarter here and time is beginning to run out.

OLBERMANN:  Andrea Mitchell is with us again as well.  And Andrea, again, walk me through how this is still a good selling point.  It seems to be that the candidates are somewhat as we are often well behind the electorate.  The voters know that the president is in out there by himself, they’re not the only person working the phones or in-charge of anything, that responsive in the event of an emergency of any kind from day one onwards—does this idea, I’m ready on day one and inference of the other guy isn’t, the implication the other guy isn’t, is that really selling?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  It has been her best selling point.  It’s clearly not selling to the voters for instance in Virginia who voted tonight and as Tom pointed out, you go with what has been your strength.  But it’s not working for her.  She has to figure out a better way of representing herself.  And of tapping in to this thirst in this country for change, for something new, for something different, because clearly, being the experienced one, being the old hand in Washington is not working in a year where people seem to be saying, we’ve had it with Washington.  Even though, Barack Obama is clearly a Washington figure, he is a much newer figure to Washington among Democrats.

OLBERMANN:  The thought though, has not changed.  There’s nothing, have you seen this?  Let me rephrase this instead as a question rather than a statement for somebody who doesn’t know it as well as you do, Andrea.  Has there been any tonal change in the Clinton campaign as this thing has gotten less and less under her control?

MITCHELL:  No, there has been.  In just a last few days since Maggie Williams took over, there’s been a little more poetry in her delivery, mostly.  Not in this event in El Paso tonight, clearly, but in some of her speeches, she’s been quieter and she’s been more thoughtful and more thought-provoking in talking about the inspiration that people need.  Tonight, she’s going through what has been her stump speech which is a litany of pet programs, very strong arguments about the education for the teachers.  Those are good selling points in Texas but she’s going to have to solidify that base on Texas because as she said tonight, I am so glad there’s no place I’d rather be than El Paso.  Well, that is never more true than tonight after the thumping she took in Virginia.

MATTHEWS:  Tim, you and Brian will hold another debate on the couple of weeks now. I think exactly two weeks from tonight. And I just was wondering, Tim’s not here, well, I’m going to ask Tom and Tom, let me ask you about the debate.  Usually, historically, when a candidate seeks more debates, as Richard Nixon did back when he had come out rather battling new debates with John Kennedy, when you want more, it’s because you think you’re falling behind.  But it seems to me, Senator Clinton is going to need a strategy, do you think she wants further debates, series of debates to be aggressive and taking on the man who may now become the frontrunner?

BROKAW:  Well, it’s hard to know what they are going to do at this point.  It’s a very delicate time for them.  Look, within the Democratic Party, there’s no question about the fact that a lot of people, wherever they come down in terms of candidates, are very proud there’s an African-American man who’s doing so well in running for president.  And that becomes a delicate issue in terms of how you go after him at this point.  Here’s a man, who 40 years after the death of Dr. King in 1968, with the Harvard degree, he’s excited the country and now, if he seems to have a chance and you’re seen as the aggressor going after that chance, the conventional rules of politics have changed.

And that’s what made this so tricky.  I mean, a lot of the Clinton

people thought that President Clinton in South Carolina was not entirely

inappropriate in raising a lot of the issues that he did but

necessarily, it became part of the racial overtones that are

unmistakably, inescapably are going to be part of those campaign.  My

guess is that she’s going to have to be more aggressive or at least more

specific in how she goes after him in some of these issues.

OLBERMANN:  And Tom, the polls are just closing at this hour in Maryland, completing the Potomac primaries.  We’ve given you the results so far from Virginia and D.C. as our projection has suggested.  And now, as the polls close in Maryland at 9:30 Eastern Time, NBC news is projecting a victory for Barack Obama in Maryland by a significant margin.  So Obama three for three in Maryland and the District of Columbia and Virginia, the earliest to be called.  Among the Republicans, we are projecting John McCain the victor in Maryland by again a significant margin.  So let’s recap what we have so far.   It’s pretty easy on the Democratic side.  No characterization of the District of Columbia, but other than Obama the projected winner, Obama by a substantial margin in Virginia, Obama by a significant margin in Maryland.

And among the Republicans after some delay, Virginia was called for John McCain.  The state of Maryland has now been called even with the extended voting at 9:30 Eastern time by a significant margin for John McCain and the District of Columbia still considered too early to call between Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee.  So we are, with the exception of the Republicans and the Democratic side and the Republican side in District of Columbia, we are done.  And it is a sweeping victory for Barack Obama principally and also John McCain.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It looks like Barack did everything he wanted to do tonight, substantial victories, especially in Virginia where it was touch and go to have a big majority. It looks like we’re calling it a big majority for him down there beyond the margin of error, beyond the spread, the political spread as we describe it.  But it looks like John McCain continues to be hectored by the presence of Mike Huckabee as the alternative to him. It seems like he is magnetically pulling anyone who has any problem with John McCain, has this outlet opportunity to vote for Mike Huckabee and they’re doing it and they’re continuing to do it.

OLBERMANN:  At times tonight it certainly looked like it and we had speculated and a lot of our analysts had suggested that the fact that when the polls close, with a de facto nominee running against the guy who almost mathematically could, would have to get nearly every remaining delegate opposing him, that we could not call that race for about an hour or so was a moral triumph for Mr. Huckabee, but in the end, McCain won Virginia anyway and McCain is going to win Maryland and McCain is - well, again too early to call in the D.C., but a very small vote one way or the other.  So as much as he’s being hectored, he has managed even under those circumstances to silence the hectoring.

MATTHEWS: On behalf of a guy who appears on our program, yours and mine, relentlessly, Mike Huckabee, I have to give him a little credit here. He’s running on frequent flier points.  He’s been able to get on an airplane relatively free after all these miles he’s picked up.  He’s not, I don’t see any advertisement in this area or anywhere else for Huckabee.  He just runs because he’s running and he’s charming and he’s fun.  And he keeps the thing busy and I think Republicans want to keep it busy for a while.  By the way, it may help McCain because it keeps him in the news.  We’re talking about him.

OLBERMANN:  But to the same degree that it slows down launching, truly launching the national campaign.

All right. We’re expecting Senator Obama to speak momentarily after a three for three night, putting him at eight in a row for those of you scoring at home and those who are alone.  In the interim, let’s go over to the all star analysis desk provided by our panel led by David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And even Pat will yield Keith.  If we hear Barack Obama, we will shut down the panel.  We are talking about a sweep for Obama tonight Rachel, 8-0.  That’s what he’s up to now, but it’s not just spin to say that Hillary Clinton sees a path to the nomination despite what’s happened tonight.

RACHEL:  Sure, and it’s not just super delegates.  If she wants to get to the nomination, she obviously needs to win Ohio and Texas and women big. She needs to pull off a minor miracle in Wisconsin.  In order to set herself up for those kinds of wins, she needs to start create buyers’ remorse among Democrats about Barack Obama as the general...

GREGORY: How does she go about doing that?

PAT BUCHANAN: She’s going to have to go on the attack.

RACHEL: No, that’s not the only way.  There’s two ways.

BUCHANAN: Explain it to me, please.

RACHEL:  She needs to go on the attack, but she can also do it by landing some very solid blows against John McCain, thus showing that she would be a better candidate against....

BUCHANAN: I don’t think you can do it with this short of time.  Obama is getting 17,000 at Cole field house, enormous crowd.  He’s got momentum. He has the look of a winner about him.  You got to call time out and you got to change your strategy. My guess is, in the debates, she’s going to have to really sharpen the distinctions with him, be much tougher, no more love bombing as they had that one debate and that’s what I would do.

GREGORY: No more of this we’re one family, we’re a Democratic family, you’re not ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She’s got to sharpen the contradictions and she’s in the right place, Texas.  I don’t think she needs to spend a lot of time in Wisconsin because I don’t think that’s going to happen for her.  I think she needs to be in Texas.  (INAUDIBLE) go to San Antonio (INAUDIBLE) and the Alamo.

BUCHANAN: She’s going to have to land some punches and knock him down.  Otherwise, he’s going to roll throw.

RACHEL: But the Clinton campaign has already felt some very strong blowback in this election season from going negative against Obama with the rest of the country is not ready to hear (INAUDIBLE).  Go after McCain in a way that shows—

BUCHANAN: Forget the blowback.  If she doesn’t do something, it’s going to be over.

GREGORY: Let me interject this point, we heard it from Tom Brokaw earlier, which is that if Barack Obama is now 35,000 seat (ph), if he is the front-runner, he’s going to take a lot more flack now and that could hurt him and she could amplify that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything can happen.  He’s going to take hits as now as now I think he will become the frontrunner.

GREGORY: He’ll become more fashionable (INAUDIBLE) .

RACHEL: The easiest way to hit him is to say he can’t beat McCain.

BUCHANAN: It looks like he’s running higher in the polls than she is, so you can’t very well say that.  You got to take some positions of his which are outside the mainstream and which do not sit well with the white males and white females and others like that and Hispanics and hammer those, because the African-American vote is gone.

GREGORY: There is the idea that, the idea of hope and inspiration is not a real selling point in troubled times and that they have seen this kind of experience the Clintons have.  They’ve had it themselves when they came into office.  They can actually deliver the goods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What issues do you go after?

RACHEL: Democrats don’t work that way (INAUDIBLE).

BUCHANAN: I know they don’t.  She’s going to find a reason why, where people are moving to him for the nominee.  They should not move to him.

RACHEL: She’s not going to be able to find those places to attack him on if she picks positions of his that seem too left.  Hillary Clinton is not going to attack him as being too left wing.  That’s not the way Democrats fight.  They don’t fight for liberal purity the way the conservatives fight for conservative purity.

GREGORY: Well then what are they fighting about right now? They’re not really fighting.  They’re fighting about personality.

BUCHANAN: They’re fighting about charisma and personality, she loses.  If it’s not policy, she loses.

GREGORY: Well, what is it? What are they fighting about?

RACHEL: They’re fighting right now, what she’s trying to make the fight about and I think she’s going to have to get sharper on it is that he doesn’t have the practical knowledge of how to get things done in Washington.  She’s saying I’m the better technocrat.  Guess what?  That’s not very—

GREGORY: She’s made that argument forcefully now for months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The danger is that if she defines this fight, that’s a good question. What are they fighting about?  If it becomes defined as past versus future as Obama would like to define it, then that’s not good for her.

GREGORY: They are not having a real fight about whether you’re getting complete coverage in universal health care are they? (INAUDIBLE) 

BUCHANAN: What you need to do is he is not ready and he’s too far out of the mainstream and he’s not equipped to be president.

RACHEL: She’s never going to (INAUDIBLE)

BUCHANAN:  If she doesn’t, she’s going to lose.

RACHEL:  Democrats don’t fight on the basis of who’s too lefty.

That’s not the grounds on which Democrats fight.

BUCHANAN: They better learn.

RACHEL: Look at the (INAUDIBLE) look at the outliers in the campaign, Ron Paul on the Republican side.  All of the Republican other candidates piled on Ron Paul and used him as a punching bag.  But Dennis Kucinich, they were falling all over him on the Democratic side to compliment (ph) him.   Democrats and Republicans fight differently.

GREGORY: It’s a difficult fight for her in any event because in many ways, she’s to the left of him on a lot of things, so it’s kind of difficult.

BUCHANAN: Of course it’s difficult and of course it’s risky, but you’ve got to put the ball in the air or she’s going to lose.

RACHEL:  It’s a cartoon and it costs $15 to make. You make Barack Obama a little bunny and then you make the Republican slime machine a snowplow and you show him getting bowled over because he doesn’t know how to cope with what’s about to happen (ph).

BUCHANAN: She better get behind the snowplow herself.

GREGORY: In this moment of levity, we see Barack Obama entering the arena in Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin.  A huge crowd there as he prepares to speak.  We are also hearing tonight Gene (ph) from the Obama campaign that he will make a major address tomorrow in Michigan to General Motors about the economy, time he feels to get a little bit more specific on the issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, it is a good time to get specific on the issues.  It’s a good time to have a message for again, Obama, a message for those blue collar Democrats.

BUCHANAN: Why would you get specific on your message when you’re on a roll?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well maybe he’s listening and he’ll decide (INAUDIBLE)

RACHEL: (INAUDIBLE) is that he can fight.  He’s going to pick a fight. I’m not afraid of the other side.

GREGORY: More to talk about as we continue. Keith, to you.

OLBERMANN:   David, we are probably not going to get quite as long an introduction for Barack Obama as we heard for Hillary Clinton in El Paso, Texas where that went on for about seven or eight minutes with her standing there, none too comfortable, Senator Obama making a leisurely and then sprint like dash for the podium and about to address this crowd at the University of Madison, University of Wisconsin at Madison where next week the Democrats will reconvene after what appears to be the projection say three victories, at least two of them by substantial or significant margins in the Potomac primaries for Senator Obama over Senator Clinton.  And now with most of the applause over and the senator seeming to tap it down, let’s listen to Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you guys doing in Madison? What an unbelievable crowd.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  The governor tells me the three point line is right about here, right about on this spot.  I am so grateful to all of you for taking the time.  Those of you in the overflow room, thank you so much for your patience.  Thanks for all of you who stuck around.  I know we are running a little bit late.  We had to come in from Washington, D.C.  But I just want to say that you have lifted my spirits.

Just a few thank yous I want to say very quickly.  First of all to your outstanding governor, somebody who was working tirelessly on behalf of the working families of Wisconsin, Governor Jim Doyle.  I am so proud to have the governor’s support.  I am grateful for the first lady, Jessica Doyle, the governor’s two sons Gus and Gabe who have worked on our behalf as well.  I want to thank the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for driving over to Madison.  He’s been a great supporter.  But I especially want to thank our host this evening, the mayor of Madison, your own Mayor Dave who endorsed me here today, thank you Mayor Dave (INAUDIBLE).  Thank you Mayor Dave Jeslovich (ph) for your outstanding work.  I always love this city.  And I want to thank also my director of Wisconsin Students for Obama, Bryan Egan (ph) who’s been working like a madman to help get this organized here tonight. Thank you.

OLBERMANN:  We’re going to give you the entirety of Senator Obama’s speech, but while he’s still in the thank you’s, we now can project that John McCain has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia.  The hard numbers suggest the total vote count may be about 4,000.  We now we rejoin Senator Barack Obama already in progress.

OBAMA: We won the state of Maryland.

We won the commonwealth of Virginia.  And though we won in Washington, D.C., this movement won’t stop until there’s change in Washington, D.C.  And tonight, we’re on our way.  Tonight, we’re on our way.  Tonight we’re on our way. But we know how much further we have to go.  We know it takes more than one night or even one election to overcome decades of money and the influence, the bitter partisanship and petty bickering that shut you out, let you down and told you to settle.  We know our road will not be easy, but we also know that at this moment, the cynics can no longer say that our hope is false.

We have given young people a reason to believe and we have brought and we have brought the young at heart back to the polls who want to believe again.  We are bringing together Democrats and independents and yes, some Republicans.  I know this.  I meet them when I’m shaking hands afterwards, there’s one there, an Obamatin.  That’s what we call them.  They whisper to me. They say Barack, I’m a Republican, but I support you. And I say thank you.

We’re bringing Democrats, independents, Republicans, blacks and whites, Latinos and Asians and Native Americans, small states and big states, red states and blue states all into the United States of America.  That’s our project.  That’s our mission.  This is the new American majority.  This is what change looks like when it happens from the bottom up.  And in this election, your voices will be heard because in a time when so many people are struggling to keep up with soaring costs and a sluggish economy, we know that the status quo in Washington just won’t do.  Not this time.  Not this year.

We can’t keep playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and somehow expect a different result because it’s a game that ordinary Americans are losing.  We are going to put this game to an end.  It’s a game where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits while you pay the price at the pump and our planet is put at risk.  That’s what happens when lobbyists have the agenda and that’s why they won’t drown out your voices anymore when I am president of the United States of America.

It’s a game where trade deals like NAFTA ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wages at a local fast food joint or a Wal-Mart. That’s what happens when the American worker doesn’t have a voice at the negotiating table, when leaders change their positions on trade with the politics of the moment.  That is why we need a president who will listen not just to Wall Street, but to Main Street, a president who will stand with workers not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.  And that’s the kind of president I intend to be when I’m president of the United States of America.

It’s a game where Democrats and Republicans fail to come together year after year after year while another mother goes without health care for a sick child.  That’s why we have to put an end to the divisions and distractions in Washington so that we can unite this nation around a common purpose, around a higher purpose. It’s as game where the only way for Democrats to look tough on national security is by talking and acting and voting like Bush-McCain Republicans while our troops are sent to fight tour after tour of duty in a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.

That’s what happens when we use 9/11 to scare up votes instead of bringing together the people around a common purpose.  That’s why we need to do more than end the war.  We need to end the mindset that got us into war and that’s the choice in this primary.  It’s about whether we choose to play the game or whether we choose to end it.  It’s changed the polls well (ph) or change we can actually believe in.  It’s the past versus the future.  It’s about whether we’re looking back wards or whether we’re marching forward.  And when I’m the Democratic nominee for president, that will be the choice we have in November.

Understand this.  John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, is an American hero.  We honor his service to our nation.  We honor his service, but his priorities don’t address the real problems of the American people because they are bound to the failed policies of the past.  George Bush won’t be on the ballot this November.  George won’t be on this ballot and my cousin Dick Cheney won’t be on this ballot.  But the Bush-Cheney war and the Bush-Cheney tax cuts for the wealthy, those will be on the ballot.  When I am the nominee, I will offer a clear choice.  John McCain won’t be able to say that I ever supported this war in Iraq because I opposed it from the start.

Senator McCain said the other day that we might mired for 100 years in Iraq, 100 years which is reason enough not to give him four years in the White House.  If we had chosen a different path, the right path, we could have finished the job in Afghanistan and put more resources into the fight against bin Laden.  And instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Baghdad we could have put that money into schools and our hospitals, rebuilding our roads and our bridges and that’s what the American people need us to do right now.

I admire Senator McCain.  When he stood up and said that he defended his conscience (ph) to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in a time of war, that he couldn’t support a tax cut where some many of the benefits go to the most fortunate.  That’s a quote.  But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, the straight talk express lost its wheels because now he’s all for those same tax cuts.  Well I am not.  We can’t keep spending money that we don’t have in a war that shouldn’t have been fought. We can’t keep mortgaging our children’s future on a mountain of debt.  We can’t keep driving a wider and wider gap between the few who are rich and the rest who are struggling to keep pace.  It is time to turn the page and write a new chapter in American history.  Yes, we can.  We need a new direction in this country.

Everywhere I go, everywhere I go, I meet Americans who can’t wait another day for change.  They’re not just showing up to hear a speech.  They need to know that politics can make a difference in their lives, that it’s not too late to reclaim the American dream.  It’s a dream, a dream shared in big cities and small towns, across races and regions and religions, that if you work hard, you can support a family, that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford, that you can retire with dignity and security and respect that you have earned, that your kids can get a good education and young people can go to college, even if they are not rich.

That is our common hope.  That’s our common hope.  That’s why we don’t call it Joe’s dream or Sally’s dream or Susan’s dream or Jim’s dream.  We call it American dream because it’s the dream we have for ourselves and our own families, but it’s the dream we have for everybody.  It’s the dream of the father who goes to work before dawn and lies awake at night wondering how he’s going to pay the bills.  He needs us to restore fairness to our economy by putting tax cuts into the pockets of working people and senior and struggling homeowners.  It’s the dream of the woman who told me she works the night shift after a full day of college and still can’t afford health care for a sister who is ill.  She needs us to finally come together to make health care affordable and available for every single American. That is long overdue.

It’s the dream of the senior I met who lost his pension when the company he gave his life to went bankrupt.  Hi doesn’t need bankruptcy laws that protect banks and big lenders. He needs us to protect pensions not CEO and to do what it takes to make sure that the American people can count on Social Security today, tomorrow and forever.  That is what he needs.  That’s his dream.  It’s the dream of the teacher who works at to doughnut shop after school just to makes ends meet.  She needs better pay and more support and the freedom to do more than just teach to the test because we want our children learning art and music and science and literature and history.

And if her students want to go on to college, they shouldn’t fear decades of debt, which is why I will make college affordable, with an annual $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, but you won’t get it for free, young people.  You’re going to have to invest in community service, work in a homeless shelter, work in a veterans’ home, join the Peace Corps, learn a foreign language, join the foreign service.  We will invest you. You invest in your country.  Together America will move forward.  That’s what we dream of.  That is our calling in this campaign.  That’s our calling to reaffirm that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper, that belief that makes us one people and one nation. It’s time to stand up and reach for what is possible because together, people who love their country can change it.

When I start talking like this, I have to say some people will tell you that I’ve got my head in the clouds, that I’m still offering false hopes, that I need a reality check, that I’m a hope monger.  But, you know it’s true.  My story tells me that in the United States of America, there is never been anything false about hope, at least not if you’re willing to work for it, not if you’re willing to struggle for it, not if you’re willing to fight for it.

I should not be here today.  I should not be here today.  I was not born into money or status.  I was born to a teenage mom (INAUDIBLE).  My father left us when I was two.  But my family gave me love, they gave me an education and most of all they gave me hope, hope that in America, no dream is beyond our grasp if we reach for it and fight for it and work for it.  Understand this, hope is not blind optimism.  Hope is not ignorance of the barriers and the challenges that stand between you and your dreams.  I know how hard it will be to change America.  I know it won’t be easy to provide health care for all Americans like I propose.  If it was easy, it would have already been done.

I know that it won’t be easy to change our energy policy.  ExxonMobil made $11 billion last quarter.  They don’t want to give those profits up easily. I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that’s built up over centuries.  I know how hard it will be to improve our schools, especially because improving our schools will involve more than just money and will require a change in mind set, a belief that every child counts, that it’s not somebody else’s problem, a belief that parents have to parent and turn off the TV set and put away the video game and that our students have to raise their standards of excellence.  That’s not easy to do, changing attitudes, changing culture.

I know it’s hard because I fought those fights.  I fought on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer to bring jobs to the jobless in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant.  I fought in the courts as a civil rights lawyer to make sure people weren’t denied their rights because of what they looked like or where they came from.

I fought in the legislature to take away power from lobbyists and to provide health care to those who didn’t have it and to fix a criminal justice system that was broken.  And I have won some of those fights, but I’ve lost some of them too.

Because I’ve seen good legislation die when good intentions weren’t enough, when they weren’t backed by a mandate for change.  When the American people were not enlisted in the process of change.

Yes, I know how hard these things are.  The politics of hope does not mean hoping things come easy.  But I also understand that nothing worthwhile in the country has every happened unless somebody somewhere is willing to hope and somebody is willing to stand up.  Somebody who is willing to stand up when you’re told no, you can’t.  And instead they say, yes, we can.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  That’s how—that’s how this country was founded.  A group of patriots declaring independence against a mighty British Empire.  Nobody gave them a chance but they said, yes, we can.  That is how slaves and abolitionists resisted that wicked system and how a new president chartered a course to ensure we would not remain half-slave and half-free.

That is how the greatest generation, my grandfather fighting in Patton’s Army, my grandmother staying at home with a baby and still working on a bomber assembly line, how that greatest generation overcame Hitler and fascism and also lifted themselves up out of a Great Depression.

That’s how pioneers went West when people told them it was dangerous.  They said, yes, we can.  That is how immigrants traveled from distant shores, when people said their fates would be uncertain, yes, we can.

That is how women won the right to vote, how workers won the right to organize.  How young people like you traveled down South to march and sit in and go to jail and some were beaten and some died for freedom’s cause, that’s what hope is.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  That’s what hope is.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  That’s what hope is.  Madison, that moment when we shed our fears and our doubts, when we don’t settle for what the cynics say we have to accept, because cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.  When we instead join arm and arm and decide we are going to remake this country, block by block, precinct by precinct, county by county, state by state.  That’s what hope is.

There’s a moment in the life of every generation when that spirit has to come through if we make our mark on history and this is our moment.  This is our time.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  And where better?  Where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin where a century ago the progressive movement was born.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  It was rooted in the principle that the voices of the people can speak louder than special interests, that citizens can be connected to their government and to one another, and that all of us share a common destiny, an American dream.

Yes, we can reclaim that dream.  Yes, we can heal this nation.  The voices of the American people have carried us a great distance on this improbably journey, but we have much further to go.  Now we carry our message to farms and factories across this state and to the cities and small towns of Ohio, to the open plains deep in the heart of Texas and all the way to the Democratic Convention in Denver.  It’s the same message.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  It’s the same message we had when we were up.  It’s the same message when we are down that out of many we are one.  That our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, and that we can cast off our doubts and fears and cynicism because our dreams will not be deferred and our future will not be denied.  And our time for change has come.

Thank you very much, Madison, I love you guys.  Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Senator Barack Obama after a huge night in the Potomac Primaries, speaking to the crowd at the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, about 18,000 people all told there for that.  Senator John McCain, the big winner among the Republican in all three primaries there has been speaking for a few minutes and we now join him from Alexandria, Virginia.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  ... the millions of people in this world for whom American and global progress of our ideals has long been the last, best hope of earth.

We will offer different ideas based on a better understanding of the challenges we face and the resolve to confront them with confidence in the strength and ideals of free people.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  We believe that Americans, not our detractors and certainly not our enemies, are on the right side of history.  We trust in the strength, industry, and goodness of the American people.  We don’t believe that government has all the answers.  We believe that government must respect the rights, property, and opportunities of the people to whom we are accountable.

We don’t believe in growing the size of government to make it easier to serve our own ambitions.  We believe that what government is expected to do what we cannot do for ourselves individually.  It must be done with confidence, resolve and wisdom.  The American people don’t send us to Washington to serve our self-interest, but to serve theirs.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  They don’t—they don’t send us to fight each other for our own political ambitions, but to fight together our real enemies.  They don’t send us to Washington to stroke our egos but to help them keep this beautiful, bountiful, blessed country free, safe, prosperous and proud.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  And they don’t send us to Washington to take more of their money and waste it on things that add not an ounce to America’s strength and prosperity, that don’t help a single family realize the dreams we all dream for our children, that don’t help a single displaced worker find a new job and the security and dignity it assures them.

That won’t keep the promise we make to young workers that the retirement that they have begun to invest in will be there for them when they need it.  They don’t send us to Washington to do their job but to do ours, to do it better.  To do it better...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  To do it better, and with less of their money.

My friends, the work we face in our time is great, but our opportunities are greater still, in a time of war and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear.  But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism, and determination of Americans.  My friends, we are the makers of history, not its victims.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  Hope, my friends, hope is a powerful thing.  I can attest to that better than many.  For I have seen men’s hopes tested in hard and cruel ways that few will ever experience.  And I stood astonished at the resilience of their hope in the darkest hours because it didn’t reside in an exaggerated belief in their individual strength, but in the support of their comrades, and their faith in our country.

My hope...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  My hope for our country resides in my faith in the American character, the character that proudly defends the right to think and do for ourselves, but perceived self-interest in accord with a kinship of ideals which when called upon, Americans will defend with their very lies.

To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas, the trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope, it’s a platitude.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  When I was a young man, I thought glory was the highest ambition and that all glory was self-glory.  My parents tried to teach my otherwise, as did the Naval Academy.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN:  But I didn’t understand the lesson until later in life when I confronted a challenge I never expected to face.  In that confrontation, I discovered that I was dependent on others to a greater extent than I had ever realized.  But that neither they nor the cause we served made any claims on my identity.

On the contrary, I discovered that nothing is more liberating in life than to fight for a cause that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.  And that has made all the difference in the world, my friends, all the difference in the world.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  I don’t seek the presidency on the presumption that I’m blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need.  I seek the presidency with the humility of a man who cannot forget that my country saved me.  I’m running...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  I’m running to serve America and to champion the ideas I believe will help us do what every American generation has managed to do.  To make in our time and from our challenges a stronger country and a better world.

I intend to do that by fighting for the principles and policies I believe best serve the interests of the American people, for a government that takes and spends less of your money and competently discharges its responsibilities, that shows a proper respect for our rights and values, that provides a strong and capable defense, that encourages the enterprise and ingenuity of individuals, businesses and families who know best how to advance America’s economy and secure the dreams that have made us the greatest nation in history.

As I have done any entire career, I will make my case to every American who will listen.  I won’t confine myself to the comfort of speaking only to those who agree with me.  I will make my case to all of the people.  I will listen to those who disagree.  I will attempt to persuade them, I will debate and I will learn from them.

But I will fight every moment of every day for what I believe is right for this country.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN:  And I will not yield.  And my friends, I promise you, I am fired up and ready to go.  Thank you and God bless you.  Thank you and God bless you.  Thank you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: John McCain speaking after his three victories in the Potomac Primaries tonight, from Alexandria, Virginia, to the tunes of “Johnny B. Goode,” instrumental only, and in a statement which I hope transcends political orientation and party affiliation and all of that, I would think, Chris, as we start to analyze what we have heard here, the rule has to be, if you can, always speak before Barack Obama, not after Barack Obama.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My—I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.

OLBERMANN: Steady.

MATTHEWS: No, seriously, it’s a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. That has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.

John McCain is a hero. I thought it was very appropriate that Barack Obama extended that fact to his audience.

OLBERMANN: And very savvy.

MATTHEWS: To an audience of people who were very probably liberal and probably anti-Republican. He said, this is an American hero I’m running against. And then, of course, he went in to delineate his differences with him. It shows a lot of class. I think there will be class—and if there is such a contest come next—this coming summer.

But I just think that McCain’s problem is, he’s over 70. He’s standing with there John Warner, who is much older than him.

OLBERMANN: And about to retire.

MATTHEWS: He’s standing there with Tom Davis, who is retiring.

OLBERMANN: About to retire.

MATTHEWS: He looks like an army in retreat in Virginia. That’s what it looks like tonight. The Virginia Republican Party used to own that state. They could elect people that are not particularly likable. They were able to do that in the past. Now they are having a hard time even fielding a candidate against Mark Warner, the former governor who is going to run for that Senate seat of John Warner’s, no relation.

And it’s going to be very tough for them and I think the fact that Barack Obama was able to carry so much of that, the primary down there today, it tells you that he has a fighting chance to carry the general.

That is going to be a tough state. Any southern state is tough for the Democrats, Virginia has always been a Republican state, going back to the John Kennedy days.

And but I do think it’s competitive. I think so much is happening this election, so much that is unpredictable. And every night we come on here, we are surprised.

OLBERMANN: By something, at least. At least in the details. All right.

Let’s widen this out, let’s bring in Brian Williams, the anchorman of “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS,” Tim Russert, our Washington bureau chief, and of course, Tom Brokaw.

And where do we start with this? Brian, we haven’t spoke to you tonight.

Simply on the results here, are we clearer about where each of these primaries are going? Where—how soon we will get to the nominees in both cases?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Well, let’s talk about the feeling Chris gets up his leg when Obama talks, for starters. That seems to be the headline of this half hour.

OLBERMANN: No, no, no, no, no.

WILLIAMS: No, I…

MATTHEWS: No, let it stand then, ha!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Don’t tread on it, Brian, if it’s a good line.

WILLIAMS: Keith and Chris, what Tim and Chuck Todd and I have been doing for the last four hours is these live versions of “NIGHTLY NEWS” as the time zones go West. And it is always so interesting to look at the chronology of all of these election nights we’ve now covered, these separate primary as election night events in this election cycle.

It seems to me that the veteran Naval aviator tonight pulled off a carrier landing. John McCain had to really stick it. And you know, the tailhook had to hit the arresting wire or the math wasn’t going to look good for him. It was going to be a kind of long, dark late winter into spring with Mike Huckabee being, as a member of the McCain camp called him today, an irritant to the presumed nominee of the party.

And Barack Obama—you know, you have heard Tim and Chuck Todd tonight so expertly run through the math, 56 percent. That is the number for Senator Clinton. She now has to win, and that’s the starter number, 56 percent of the remaining electable delegates from here on out. So this has moved the board tonight, three and three for both of these men.

OLBERMANN: And what does it say, Tim, that we thought going in here that the likeliest chance for her to make some sort of beachhead, to continue with some military analogy here, some sort of stop, some sort of line in the sand, was Virginia and with nearly the whole thing reporting now, that has been from the first set of actual numbers, is about 63 percent for Obama, 36 percent for Hillary Clinton, there is no beachhead there.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: None. The breadth and depth of Obama’s victories in Virginia and Maryland is quite striking. Able to reach in and take white men, able to reach in, voters who make less than $50,000, able to reach in with voters over 60.

It’s an indication of his broadening coalition. And, Keith, listening to Obama’s speech tonight, there were some new tones he played, a much more populist appeal. He is in Wisconsin. He knew Robert La Follette and the populist progressive movement. He talked about main street versus Wall Street. He talked about the Bush tax cuts.

And I thought he did—in a very interesting way now, began to bring John McCain into the conversation by calling it the Bush-McCain Republicans, the Bush-McCain war, the Bush-McCain tax cut. And that that he is the one Democrat that can take that on because he is pure on the war.

It indicated to me that this is a campaign that knows exactly where it’s headed in Wisconsin, and then Ohio and Texas, by hitting those economic issues for populist Democrats. And I must say, John McCain recognized that Obama is a potential opponent by talking about hope, dismissing him as rhetoric and platitudes, and then having some fun at the end by saying that he is fired up and ready to go.

OLBERMANN: Yes. But, Tom, in a campaign against hope, can you be anti-hope, can you come out and say, as he did again, this line—McCain did, a promise of a better future is not always clear? It is—it may be more reflective of reality. I’m not arguing the merits of it.

But just as a sales tool, it’s a comparative downer after the Obama speech.

TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: Well, sure. But the fact is what we saw tonight between Senator Obama and Senator McCain was the outlines of a campaign that they expect to run this fall. But I could almost hear Hillary Clinton knocking on the window, saying, hey, guys, I’m still out here.

Tim is correct. Obama did begin to I think probably firm up the themes that we’ll be hearing more about. He reintroduced Iraq as a principal theme. And then he did tie John McCain to George Bush. But he talked as well about taxes and jobs and health care and tuition.

A lot of Republicans and maybe even Senator Clinton as well will get the adding machine out and saying, OK, we’d like to know specifically how you are going to accomplish all of that.

We have had the litany of these promises before from Senator Obama on the nights that he has won. Now that he is in the frontrunning position, what he is going to have to do is be more specific how he can address that.

John McCain tonight, in having watched him for a long, long time, I think what we saw was the tenor of his campaign from here on out. I’m a humble man who has served my country. I learned the failure of personal glory, my life has been dedicated to a greater cause since then. And I know what this country needs to do. It’s not about hope, it’s not about finding the answers in Washington. It’s about finding the answers in the country itself and in the people who have served this country.

So I think some themes are beginning to develop here tonight. And when we began this campaign, I daresay we expected it to be rock ‘n’ roll.

But it has exceeded all of our expectations at this point. It has become kind of an epic American political season.

MATTHEWS: Tim, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how the battle, block by block goes on in states like Ohio, where you went to school, and Pennsylvania. And when you go to those neighborhoods, Marcy Kaptur’s neighborhoods, Kucinich’s neighborhoods, ethnic neighborhoods where people don’t have a ton of money. How does Barack and Hillary—how does that fight go on? How do people choose sides there?

RUSSERT: Oh, that’s a great question, Chris, because the themes that Obama talked about tonight are the ones that he has to talk about in Ohio, in Pennsylvania. Those economic themes, health care, livable wage.

You said something a few years ago that has stayed in my mind for a long time. White guys with guns and boats. In Pennsylvania, in Ohio, where do they come down on this? Their more conservative blue color instincts have been tilting towards Hillary Clinton.

If we can listen to the exit polls in Virginia and Maryland tonight, it seems as though Obama is making inroads. He has to continue that task, not only for the primaries in Ohio and Texas and Pennsylvania, but in a general election.

And one last point. If it is McCain and Obama, it will be 72 versus 46 years of age, the biggest difference in age in the history of a presidential election. It will be a true generational choice and both sides will point to the strengths and weaknesses of that choice.

OLBERMANN: Extraordinary. What an extraordinary statistic that will be.

All right. Our thanks to Brian Williams, to Tom Brokaw, to Tim Russert, and especially to Tim for the Fighting Bob La Follette reference. Our friends in Wisconsin will be great—gratified to hear the senator being referenced.

MATTHEWS: Don’t forget Joe McCarthy too.

OLBERMANN: All right. Well, steady on that. Coming up, new exit numbers about the Barack Obama victories. We’ve seen Virginia already, we’ll look at Maryland. And plus, the Reverend Al Sharpton will join us. You are watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the primaries in Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But we also know that at this moment, the cynics can no longer say that our hope is false. We have now won east and west, north and south and across the heartland of this country we love.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN: Barack Obama winning by, at this point, 61 percent of the vote in Maryland, 63 percent of the vote in Virginia, 75 percent in the District of Columbia. More perspective on what we’re learning from the exit polls. And one more time to Norah O’Donnell—Norah.

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Keith.

It was a big win tonight for Barack Obama, especially in Maryland, across a broad range of voting groups, including: men, every age group, every income level, and some key constituencies like white Catholics and union households.

Let’s take a look inside the numbers. First on race, he got an overwhelming majority, 88 percent of black voters. But look at the white vote here. This is what’s interesting. He just about split that with Hillary Clinton. It was 46 percent for Obama, and just a bit higher, 51 percent for Clinton.

And just like in Virginia, Obama in Maryland got more than half of the white male vote. In fact, 54 percent. Now Hillary Clinton is still winning among white women.

Very interestingly, also in Maryland, Obama won among union households.

This has been a group in the past that has supported Clinton, for instance. So he is making some inroads.

Also in Maryland, Catholics make up a fifth of the vote and Barack Obama won the Catholic vote with 49 percent. And in fact, this is his best showing among white Catholics since his home state of Illinois.

And tonight, for the first time this season, more than eight in 10 said they would be satisfied with Barack Obama as the party’s nominee, two-thirds said they would be satisfied with Clinton. The point here is that fewer said they would be satisfied with Hillary Clinton as the nominee. That’s new. That’s interesting.

OLBERMANN: It sure is, Norah. Let me just amplify your numbers there, the numbers from Virginia, the white vote was 51, 48. The number in Maryland, 51, 46 Clinton. The number in white men 54, 44 Obama in Maryland and 55, 43 in Virginia. So they are holding—the sets of numbers holding, Chris, holding consistent.

MATTHEWS: I think the two big things that grab me tonight, looking at these exit polls that Norah has been giving us—one of them is the older voter, over 60, has been traditionally, at least in the tradition of this campaign season, been for Senator Clinton. Tonight, we’re looking at numbers coming in from these states that show, for whatever reason, Barack Obama is carrying people over 60.

Also, we were told for a long while that the people that make under 50,000 dollars a year as a family were going to go to Senator Clinton.

Tonight, we’re looking that they went just as handily to Senator Barack Obama. In fact, no class distinction, if you will, between those above and below 50,000.

OLBERMANN: Yes, 59,40 in Virginia was that exit poll number, in favor of Obama.

MATTHEWS: So it’s fascinating that some of these lines are crossing. And certainly, I think Barack Obama started to do something, we’re watching

you’re so familiar, as I am, to his stump speech. Yet tonight, he did say something kind of different. He started to talk about the cost of the war in Iraq, which is his strong suit, talking about the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in Iraq could have been better spent, could be better spent today for hospitals.

And I know as he goes toward Pennsylvania that health care is huge issue up there. If you have one of those jobs called accordion jobs, meaning the industry hires and fires on the business cycle, as the business cycle goes down, and you’re getting laid off—an old expression, laid off instead of fired—you’re worried you are not going to have health care. So if you speak of health care, you’re speaking to the actual needs of people, the way Hillary Clinton does relentlessly.

Again tonight in Texas, she goes through the particulars in every regard of health care, education, child development and every particular. She’s so well versed. We’ll see if that works in Pennsylvania. I think that is going to be a close contest up there, close contact sport.

OLBERMANN: I agree with you.

MATTHEWS: That’s all I have. Let’s go to Reverend Sharpton now. I forgot that was my job, not to think, but to talk. Reverend Sharpton, are you OK tonight? You look angry. What’s going on. There you go.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I’m fine.

MATTHEWS: What is your emotional reaction, Reverend Sharpton, having ran for president yourself, when you see the results tonight, sort of a trifecta, if you will, a race track term, for Barack Obama?

SHARPTON: I think it’s great. I think it shows that here’s someone who can appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans and has grown his base even since the last vote. I think this is an amazing American story and I think the results speak for themselves. I think this is what many of us have seen generations before us fight for and what many of us on the battle field today are still fighting for. And I think that this expression that we’re seeing at the polls brings that home in a very dramatic and real way.

MATTHEWS: You fought the hard fight in New York on a lot of issues, police behavior. Sometimes you were right, sometimes you were wrong, as well all know. But you have always been fighting for the poor people in this country, black people mainly. What do you think? Do you think something is changing or is it just the unique personality of this fellow Barack Obama? Is there something changing in the cosmos, in the way we are as Americans, younger people especially?

SHARPTON: I think that we are seeing some change. I think it’s not as much as some of us would like. But clearly there’s change. And I think even the fact that you have a unique personality in Barack Obama, the fact that there is less resistance shows progress. But does that mean we won’t have to continue the fight? Yes, we certainly we will. And he knows that as well as any one else in this race.

I think that it shows some progress and we’re fighting for progress. I don’t that any of us are naive enough to think, even if he is ultimately president, we will not still have issues of police or issues of civil rights, but it does show that many Americans are not foreign to raising an inclusion in this society that all of us need if America is going to survive.

MATTHEWS: Someone once wrote that the final decision is always a different decision than anyone leading up to it. It’s like getting married. You can go out with somebody, when you finally propose, that’s the big decision. Do you think when we get down to November, if Barack is on the ballot, do you think that will be a tougher decision than voting for him in a primary or caucus or not?

SHARPTON: I think it may be a tougher decision, but I don’t know that it won’t be an unsuccessful one. I also think that we are looking at numbers now in Democratic primaries and those numbers are usually much different in a general setting, because some people that are not voting now will vote in the general. So the challenges are still going be there to mount higher and higher as you go. But I think at this stage, it’s very promising and I think that it is a good picture for this country all over the world.

MATTHEWS: What do you think when you look in these kids, I mean kids.

You’re a bit younger than me. But you look at these kids, 21 years old, smart kids, going to good schools like Maryland tonight, and you see the glee in their faces. That’s what grabs me. The black kids and the white kids both, standing next to each other; there’s a lot of glee there.

There’s something going on. It’s not about elections. It’s something about something. What is going on?

SHARPTON: I think it’s about people feeling they can be involved. I think they are feeling they can make a difference. And I think what is more important to me, Chris, is to see kids going to good schools and then kids not going to school at all standing in the same crowd, having the same glee in their face. I think that kind of joint enthusiasm is what is good. And I just hope that we protect this process and don’t pollute it and poison it with any poli-tricks, as I would call it, that would take the glee out of their eyes.

OLBERMANN: Reverend Sharpton, one last question, are you prepared to make an endorsement in this race between Senators Obama and Clinton?

SHARPTON: What I said is I was going to stay out so that I could fight from a neutral position on some of the civil rights issues and I’m glad I have. It doesn’t mean I’m not proud of Senator Obama. I talked to him today.

I’m also concerned, as a neutral part, in that the Democratic party doesn’t change rules along the way. There are some that are trying now to seat the states of Michigan and Florida. I think if there are neutral parties that can weigh in when we’re seeing attempts to change the rules, no one can say you are doing that because you’re with a candidate. We are doing it because the process must be protected and the voters respected.

MATTHEWS: Do you think Julian Bond (ph) is working for the Clintons here?

SHARPTON: I don’t know who anyone is working for. I do not understand how you can say that you are going to have primaries that are not going to be regarded, not going to be respected, candidates are not going to campaign, many voters not come out, and then later change the rules.

That is like getting to the third quarter of the Super Bowl and the referees get together and say we’re going to change everything.

That is a civil rights issue. Because I am neutral, I will weigh very heavily to resist that, because I think that disenfranchises voters and that is a civil rights violation, and it will turn off a lot at young people that are trying to clean the process, not have back room deals made in the process.

MATTHEWS: It’s late tonight, but I think you made some news. Reverend Al Sharpton, thanks for joining us on MSNBC. We look ahead to the next rounds in the Democratic battle, next week in Wisconsin and three weeks from now, big state fights in Ohio and Texas. Your watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac Primaries held today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Potomac Primary. Three states today, two sweeps. Barack Obama won Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. On the Republican side, same trifecta for Republican John McCain. So it’s all done tonight. The Democratic race now moves on to the Wisconsin primary next Tuesday. That’s a week from today. Three weeks from tonight, two more big states, Ohio and—I’m reading Keith’s lines—Pennsylvania and Texas.

OLBERMANN: Let’s take a closer look at next week’s contest in Wisconsin.

Thank you for setting me up in that way. Eugene Kane, columnist of the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” joins us, as does Jeff Mayers, who covers Wisconsin politics for WisPolitics.com.

Mr. Kane, we start with you. Do the events in the Potomac region today impact the Wisconsin race in what way, or does that speech that Barack Obama gave tonight at the Cole Center impact it in a greater way?

EUGENE KANE, “MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL”: I think for the people in Wisconsin is get more excitement going in the state about the way the nation is looking at the impact of our Wisconsin primary. I really do think this is a year in which people really feel that Wisconsin has something to say about the presidential race, and that is something people are really excited about.

OLBERMANN: Mr. Mayers, the presumptive front-runner here, at least statistically, is Barack Obama. Is there in this next week—do we see that sort of campaign that we saw in New Hampshire, where everything is condensed and you get as much demand for specifics, as much fluctuation in support for a candidate or for both candidates, as we saw, say, in New Hampshire, where in four or five day, we got the old equivalent of what a month or two of campaigning used to buy us?

JEFF MAYERS, WISPOLITICS.COM: That is what we would hope from the spectator standpoint here in Wisconsin. You get the feeling, because Obama was here right off the bat, he started TV earlier—Mrs. Clinton isn’t going to be here until the weekend. Now, Bill Clinton is going to be here on Thursday and Chelsea has been here laying the ground work, but it’s not quite the same intensity as New Hampshire.

OLBERMANN: To that point, Eugene Kane, is Wisconsin going to feel snubbed? Is Wisconsin going to feel ignored? Because everything we’ve heard from the Clinton campaign has been they’re talking about March 4th and next week is seemingly being thrown in as an after thought, as a hope, but nothing that the Clintons seem to be ready to exhaust themselves for.

KANE: Well, I think here in the Midwest there is a desire to be part of this national narrative, particularly in terms of the way Mid-western states are turning towards Barack Obama. It wasn’t a surprise when he won states that were a major minority like in South Carolina. Wisconsin is only six percent African American. If he wins in Wisconsin, it can’t be said that he basically attracted all of the minority votes in the state because there are not that many to begin with. I think it will be a sign that he is breaking through to basically white voters all over, and that is starting the tidal wave of Obama-mania, so to speak.

OLBERMANN: Eugene Kane of the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,” Jeff Mayers of WisPolitics.com, we’re sorry it was so brief. We thank you for your perspectives looking ahead next week to Wisconsin.

MATTHEWS: Now to the upcoming fight in Texas three weeks off. I’m joined by U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, the national co-chair of Clinton campaign, and U.S. Representative Al Green, also of Texas, and a supporter of Barack Obama. Congresswoman, you first. You’re reaction to the events here in the Washington area, all three states, including the District, rather, all for Barack Obama?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Let me say how great it is to be with my great friend Congressman Al Green. Congratulations to Senator Obama. We understand that this was going to be a tough area. We did what we wanted to do tonight. That is we collected delegates. I think the important point is that Americans and Democrats are getting a chance to vote. I think this is one of the most outstanding primary seasons that we have had in our lifetime and the point of listening to candidates, listening To senator Clinton talking about universal access to health care and her economic plan, listening to Senator Obama, it means that Americans are making their choice.

I’m excited about it. We look forward to going on to Hawaii and Wisconsin. I just heard the previous discussion. The Clinton campaign is coming into Wisconsin. Chelsea has already been there. And I don’t believe we’re going to leave any vote unturned.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congressman Green. Same question to you. I heard tonight that your candidate in Madison, Wisconsin talked about winning deep in the heart of Texas. Is that a reasonable proposition for him?

Can he actually win down there, not just do well?

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: First, let me thank you for having me on the program and it’s on honor to be with colleague, Sheila Jackson Lee.

Barack Obama deals in the politics of positive possibilities. He really does present a can do attitude. Si se puede really means something to him. He offers people an opportunity to experience the notion that we can make real the great American ideals. And I think he is now in position to come into Texas. He should have some momentum.

But he is still an under dog with a lot of fight in him. I think that we have to compliment Senator Clinton. She has a great machine and they are doing well. I think that he cannot underestimate what they have done and can do. I think he must continue his idea—with his ideas of positive possibilities, continue his message of hope and also make it very clear to people that he really does love this country and that he wants to bring us all together.

He seems to want to span the chasms that divide us. He wants to cause us to understand that we really are the United States of America and that should mean something to us. You can see it in the eyes of the young.

You can see it as people sit there are they watch him and they marvel at what he’s saying. He really is an inspirational candidate.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman Jackson Lee, just one question at the end here.

We’re out of time. Is this going to be a close fight in Texas?

LEE: We are going into Texas looking for every vote. We feel very good about Texas. This is history and a woman president will make history.

Senator Clinton loves America. She loves the people in Texas. She loves the people in Ohio. She wants to come and bring the vision of American, of speaking for the voiceless and un-empowered. I think she is inspirational and I think we are going to have a tough battle in Texas.

But it is Senator Clinton that can bring everybody together and, yes, unite Texans, unite Ohioans, unite those in Rhode Island, and yes, unite American.

It’s a great time in America. We shouldn’t divide against each other. We should be united with each other and be able to take back the White House in November 2008.

MATTHEWS: Thank you both, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green, both of Texas.

Up next, Howard Fineman with our campaign listening post, and more with our panel. This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Potomac Primary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN: Losing by nearly two 2 to one in Virginia and nearly three to one in the District of Columbia, where we have nearly 100 percent of the vote in, Hillary Clinton’s delegate strategy becomes a delicate strategy. As we continue with our live coverage of the 2008 primaries in the Potomac, “Newsweek’s” Howard Fineman, MSNBC political analyst, has been working the phones for us tonight in our campaign listening post in Washington, and has a little bit on the delicate delegate strategy.

Howard, good evening.

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE”: Hi Keith. In talking to top officials of both the Obama campaign and the Clinton company, here is what I think is really going on behind the scenes. The bottom line is that I think both would agree it’s highly unlikely—both sides would agree that it’s highly unlikely that Hillary Clinton is going to finish this primary season with a lead in pledged delegates, virtually impossible.

The game for Hillary Clinton is to some how keep the distance behind that she is as minimal as possible. The highest number they could probably expect is to be behind by maybe 30 pledged delegate. It could be as many as 200. Now, the key difference here is this; if it’s a relatively small and manageable number, which may just be a pipe dream for the Clinton camp, but that’s what they’re focusing on, they will then argue that they are free to use the Super Delegates to try to somehow rest the nomination from Barack Obama, even though he led in pledged delegates.

But the bigger that number gets, politically, strategically, the more difficult it would get to Hillary Clinton to rely successfully on Super Delegates because if she did so and somehow managed to take the nomination that way, she would unleash a real fire storm within the Democratic party. That’s what’s going on here. And the reason Hillary is fighting everywhere she can is not because she thinks she can win, but because she is trying to shrink that number, even as the Obama campaign tonight is telling me that they are 125 delegates ahead in terms of pledged delegates.

OLBERMANN: Yes or no, we’re seeing the Super Delegates begin to surrender their super-ness?

FINEMAN: Yes, they are really not the issue. They are not the issue.

It’s the pledged delegates. I think the notion that Hillary is somehow going to come within 20 or 30 by the end of this process is probably unlikely, but that’s what the Clinton people are desperately hoping for as they look ahead.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, great thanks. As you heard, Chris, some of the Super Delegates falling—their influence falling in the background.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I just heard one fall. Hard headed delegate.

OLBERMANN: David Gregory and the panel.

GREGORY: I was just rearranging the pots and pans. Thank you very much.

We conclude the panel tonight on a serious topic, which is, what has changed, Pat, for Barack Obama tonight? If he has become a front-runner, are there more guns trained now at him? Is there more flak coming his way if that’s the case?

BUCHANAN: If he is going to be stopped, there better be more guns than are firing right now. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech was just her basic stump speech, which isn’t doing the job. It wasn’t terribly exciting. I think you sort of cut away from it to Obama. I don’t think even McCain

McCain looked like he was briefing a flight crew, frankly, rather than a speech. Behind him you’ve got John Warner—I know all of them.

They’re all good buddies of mine. What are these old guys doing there?

And Obama gave a terrific speech. What, he’s got 17,000 people out there? Something like that.

GREGORY: Rachel, McCain did make a point of going after Obama tonight, talked about, I used to think that all glory was self-glory. That was a jab at him.

MADDOW: Absolutely. If Barack Obama was still the under dog, his speech would have been about Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t. it was about John McCain if it was about anything. And then John McCain repaid the favor and made his speech all about Obama. His attack on Obama was a little esoteric, this idea that it’s self-glory, that—he’s basically labeling as a platitude Obama’s optimistic attitude about the country. I think Hillary Clinton has already learned the hard way about running as the tamping down hope candidate, the oh, no, we can’t candidate, running against the yes, we can candidate. I think that’s a hard place to talk from.

GREGORY: What changes for him now?

ROBINSON: What changes is that he is—you can’t call him the presumptive nominee the way you can with McCain. But, I think you do have to call him the front runner now. And I thought the two speeches were fascinating, because was as if the two men were sizing each other up and trying to lay out how gingerly they were going to go after each other. McCain was quite gentle, in terms of drawing the philosophical distinction between all about himself and all about the country.

BUCHANAN: It was poetry versus prose and prose lost.

ROBINSON: Obama was ginger in the way he went after McCain, saying this is a hero.

MADDOW: Obama is a better poet.

ROBINSON: Much better.

GREGORY: Pat, final word, ten seconds left; Does Obama think about changing anything?

BUCHANAN: Why would you change when you’re winning strategy and you’re moving the ball up the field? You’re eight and on zero? You start changing your ground game?

GREGORY: That’s a big good night for us, at least for this hour, guys.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, David. Poetry verse perhaps instruction, to mix the metaphors there.

MATTHEWS: Rights, I think it was like a flight crew prep.

OLBERMANN: Again, I’ll repeat it, I think it’s absolutely apropos; I think if you’re going to speak with Barack Obama, let him speak last.

It’s easier that way. Norah O’Donnell will pick up our coverage, along with the panel, after a break. For Chris Matthews—pleasure always, sir. I’m Keith Olbermann. Thanks for being with us and good night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NORAH O’DONNELL, HOST:  And welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of a big night for Barack Obama.  As he has swept the primaries in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  Also, John McCain fights off a scare in Virginia and here’s how the results played out. 

For the Democrats, Barack Obama won over Hillary Clinton in Virginia by a substantial margin.  He beat Senator Clinton in Maryland as well and also in Washington, D.C.  Here’s what Obama told his supporters in Madison, Wisconsin tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The change we seek, swept through Chesapeake and over the Potomac.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  We—we won the state of Maryland.  We won the common wealth of Virginia.  And though we won in Washington, D.C., this movement won’t stop until there’s change in Washington, D.C. and tonight, we’re on our way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL:  And now to the Republican, John McCain hung on for a close win in Virginia.  Then beat Mike Huckabee in Maryland as well as in Washington, D.C.  And here’s McCain earlier tonight in Alexandria, Virginia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:  We don’t yet know for certain who will have the honor of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.  But we know where either of their candidates will lead this country and we dare not let them.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL:  And let’s take a look at how tonight’s contest changed the delegate race.  And for that, we’re joined by Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News.  Hi there, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Hello, hello.  Let’s start with what we know the hard count.  Our new hard count from our election unit is Obama at 1,078 to 969 for Senator Clinton.  That’s more than 100 pledged delegate lead.  An estimate—the estimate that we’ve come up with when you factor in all the unallocated is going to be approximately

1,128 for Obama after all is said and done to 1,009.  So 120, almost 120 delegate lead going in to the next round of primaries and I’ll get to why that’s important in a few minutes.

But the most important thing about tonight, and we’ve talked about this on Saturday, Norah, I think you and I talked about this on Saturday, and that is when you factor in the superdelegates, who’s got the lead now?  Well, at 261 superdelegates, 261 for Senator Clinton, 178 for Senator Obama, our new totals, everything included: 1,306 for Obama, 1,270 for Senator Clinton.

So, tonight is the first night that Barack Obama can say, including the superdelegates; that he has the delegate lead.  And it’s actually a fairly healthy delegate lead, even with the supers at 36.  Now, what does this mean and what does that 100 plus delegate lead mean going into the next round of primaries?  Well, look, we’ve got Wisconsin coming up next week and Hawaii.  Hawaii is a de facto home state for Barack Obama.  Wisconsin, similar rules as to what we saw in Virginia: Same day registration, hint, hint, youth vote.  Independents can move in, Republicans can go vote.  Not as large as an African-American population as Virginia, but you get the picture.  There’s a possibility that Wisconsin could look a lot like Virginia tonight.  Probably not the same margins but he could get another net 15, 20 delegates out of next week.

So, that means going in to those March 4th primaries with Texas and Ohio, Senator Clinton has to start winning with some 60 percent.  I’ve done the math here.  After tonight, she’s got to win 55 percent of the remaining delegates.  If she loses by the margins that she could lose next week in Wisconsin or Hawaii; that number edges up to 57.  When you realize that Barack Obama is still going to win some primaries, between March 4th and end of the primary season, then you look at the places that she’s planning on winning.  She’s got to win big.  She’s got to win with over 60 percent in all of these remaining races and she’s got to get large numbers, large chunks of numbers.

Now, she’s done that in a few states.  Now, she got a net 45, 46 delegates out of New York, she did it out in California.  But she’s got to do it in every place she wins, she’s got to win big.  The problem is that the curves are going in the wrong direction.  Just when she needs to get hot, it’s Obama that has the momentum, and so it’s hard to imagine that at a time when she’s got to get 60 percent of the vote let’s say in Texas and 60 percent of the vote in Ohio, he’s the guy that won just 10 straight primaries.  He’s the one that the national primary vote is going to start showing him edging ahead.  He’s the one that’s going to look like he’s matching up better with John McCain.

So, the math is starting to get very difficult.  I heard Howard Fineman earlier that those folks are just hoping to keep it close.  It’s 120 something pledged delegate lead now.  It could climb to as high as 150 after next week.  Then all of a sudden, you know, what happens on the week of March 4th?  How much can they cut that deficit?  Don’t forget superdelegates can climb aboard and by the way, here’s another fun fact after tonight.  We’ve been doing the total popular vote.  I don’t have the number.  You know, we’ve been gathering all the data, some 20 million people have voted in the Democratic primary.

Well, we’ve done a total popular vote of just states that awarded delegates and Barack Obama had been winning that number.  We’ve also been keeping track of Florida and Michigan; you throw those in that didn’t award any delegates, two places Hillary Clinton won.  Well, she had a 400,000 vote advantage over Obama when you factor in Michigan and Florida.  After tonight, that advantage is wiped out.  That’s how big Barack Obama’s victories were in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  That he’s going to possibly have the total popular vote lead, even when you factor in Michigan, where his name wasn’t on the ballot, so, she got a free 250,000 votes there.  And Florida, a place he didn’t campaign.  It was a big, big night for Barack Obama.

O’DONNELL:  A very big night, Chuck.  I think the two most important points you made just that he’s now winning in the popular vote.  Because I’ve heard Senator Clinton pointing out, she said, I still won the popular vote and as you pointed out, this is the first night that Obama takes the lead in the overall delegate race.  Key question for you, you point out how difficult it is and how much Hillary Clinton has to win in these future contests.  Did it get more difficult because his wins were so big in Virginia and Maryland tonight?  Had she had a better showing, would it have been as tough for her going forward?

TODD:  Well, there was one estimate that the Barack Obama campaign, you know, this Bloomberg chart that everybody got their hands on, that they doubled what they expected to get out of Virginia.  They thought Virginia would be a narrow victory for them and they would get maybe a net 10 delegates out of it.  Instead, they got a net 22 delegates out of Virginia.  In Maryland, they expected a net 12 or 13.  Instead, it looks like they’re going to net 20.  Even in the District of Columbia, he’s going to net some nine delegates I believe it is.

So, every one of his margins were huge and that probably added 20,

25 delegates to his count tonight, that, you know, she can’t afford to give up anymore.  And he’s just piling up these victories.  Because when he wins, as you pointed out, Norah, he’s winning big when he’s winning in these areas, winning huge when he did it in Washington State.  So, he’s able to just pile up these margins and instead of 3-3 splits, they become 4-2 splits and you know, you start going inside the numbers and, you know, those delegates pile up.

O’DONNELL:  Chuck Todd, thank you so much.  The math is so interesting and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is our campaign listening post in Washington and joins us now.  And Andrea, given those numbers that Chuck just pointed out, what does Senator Clinton’s campaign have to do now?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS - WASHINGTON:  Well, they have to win big as Chuck was just saying and win in all of these places.  And that is a very tough order.  They’re trying to put on a good face.  They’re saying now we ride into Texas.  She’s there tonight.  She’ll be in Ohio after Texas and then is stopping in Wisconsin over the weekend.

But, you know, this is a very tough map for her.  They have to try to persuade people with an argument they have not yet been able to mount, that people should take another hard look at Barack Obama, that he is somehow not the best—the most electable nominee against most likely John McCain.  And make that argument on national security grounds, make that argument on experience and it’s an argument, Norah, that as you well know, especially looking at the exit poll all night as you have, that people are just not buying.

The fact is, it’s not only the size of the margins but it’s where he is winning.  He’s winning now with white men.  That he’s really eroded her margin with white women.  That overall he won women; that he won union households.  You’ve been laying it out better than anyone could all night and that is the really, you know, tough argument that she has to make against exit polls indicating that he has a much broader base and it’s a base in all of her strong holds.

O’DONNELL:  And making in roads which evolve of sort of watching very closely.  So given that, Andrea, do you think we see a shift in tactics by Senator Clinton’s campaign?  We have debates coming up in Ohio, one here on MSNBC as well as one in Texas.  She’s challenging Obama to one in Wisconsin.  Do we - you know, there’s that truth that went on for a while, that kumbaya sort of moment between the two senators on the Democratic side.  Do you think she starts hitting hard?

MITCHELL:  Well, for one thing, that didn’t work.  We saw what happened before South Carolina.  And he has been proving to be so popular with disparate groups among the Democratic Party base, for one thing, that didn’t work.  We saw what happened before South Carolina. 

And he’s been proving to be so popular with disparate groups among the Democratic Party base; that going after him hard is probably the wrong strategy.  She has to somehow make confidence (ph) interesting.  The debates have been her strong card, but she’s been challenging him to debates one a week and he’s been turning them down because he’s no longer acting like the challenger, he has been acting like the front-runner even though he doesn’t want to take that label.  So, I think he is now less likely to accept debates than he was before tonight’s victory.

O’DONNELL:  And finally, Andrea, of course, the big news this week was that Hillary Clinton had replaced her campaign manager.  We learned tonight, as you’ve been reporting, that the deputy campaign manager has offered his resignation and is leaving the campaign.  Campaigns are always full of shakeups and people go on and win after shakeups, sometimes it actually helps the campaign to some degree.  But does this suggest that there is trouble inside the campaign?

MITCHELL:  Well, both.  It suggests trouble and it does give her an opportunity under Maggie Williams, the new manager, to assemble a different team, a stronger team perhaps, a team best able to cope with the challenges that they now face.  We saw this in an earlier time frame with Ronald Reagan firing John Seres and coming back and winning in 1980.  But this is much farther down the road and a much more desperate situation I think in terms of the matchup against Barack Obama, delegate for delegate, state for state.  So, I think that she really has a bigger challenge now.  This isn’t New Hampshire.  We’re, you know, much farther down the road in the primary process.  It’s not the calendar.  And whether or not they can pull this together, I do think there are other shoes to drop now that Mike Henry, the deputy campaign manager, who had been hired by Patti Solis Doyle, has also given his resignation.

O’DONNELL:  All right.  Andrea Mitchell, thank you so much.  And let’s turn to our panel for the next hour.  MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan, “The Washington Post” - Eugene Robinson and MSNBC political analyst, Rachel Maddow, also of Air America.  Welcome back to everybody.  Gene, I want to start with you, those numbers that Chuck Todd just went through.  I mean, it’s really fascinating when you go through the delegate count how tough it becomes for Hillary Clinton ahead.  In the overall lead, including the superdelegates, she’s got to win, he said 55 percent, 57 percent, 60 percent in these upcoming contests.  How does she do it?

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST:  Well, she probably doesn’t.  I mean, it would be very, very difficult.  Barring some unforeseen circumstance, something happens, something happens to really shake up the race, I think it’s unrealistic to expect that she’s going to get these 60 percent margins in the big states at a point when Obama is on a roll.  And he’s racking up the huge margins.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  But Gene, you’re predicting Hillary Clinton’s demise.  Everybody who has ever done that in the past has gone down in flames.  She’s been counted out a lot of times before and of course, she’s still kicking.

O’DONNELL:  Her campaign has made the point, and Mark Penn, her chief strategist, Howard Paul Wolfson, her communications director said, listen, we know this is going to be a good month for Barack Obama. 

We’re going to have a better month than Barack Obama next month, talking about Ohio and Texas.  But she’s got to have a superb month next month.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Good luck.  Look, they’ve got to stop this momentum.  Now, I disagree somewhat with Andrea.  They did stop his momentum when he won that enormous victory in Iowa and they roughed him up and again and again they tripped him up in New Hampshire, which he lost.  They tripped him up in Nevada.  He won big in South Carolina but they beat him in Florida.  And they beat Bill Clinton and everything.  Look, I mean, when Andrea said they got to make confidence

(ph) interesting.  Can anybody do that in three weeks?  I don’t think so.  I think they got to make a case where Obama ought not to be the candidate.  It’s a huge risk but I’ll tell you, if you don’t take a risk now, according to this current thing, as Gene said, the way this is rolling, he’s going to roll right through.

MADDOW:  If I were the Clinton campaign, I would pivot on my heel, stop giving up on Wisconsin, get into Wisconsin, start running some ads there, fight it out there that’s an electorate that -

BUCHANAN:  I agree.  You got to stop this momentum.  And I would go right to Wisconsin, exactly.

ROBINSON:  There’s another factor, though, and that’s the Obama ground game, which is really suburb.  I mean, the Obama organization, going into this campaign, everybody said, oh, the Clintons are going to have the machine.  You know, they’ve had it for 20 years, it’s going to be—they’re going to know how to do everything.  And you know, in point of fact, Obama and his people put together an incredible machine. 

They have all the money in the world to run it.  And it’s been very effective.  And they learned from their mistakes.  I mean, they believe that they could have won Nevada for example if they hadn’t made some mistakes in the way they approached some of the caucuses and didn’t really realize what was going on, they kind of got out new (ph).  But they vowed that that wouldn’t happen again.  And so, I think that’s another factor.

O’DONNELL:  Are we seeing - you know, we talk about momentum because he’s winning these contests.  Is there another form of momentum, which is the size of the wins?  We were all together on Saturday night; they were big wins on Saturday night.  They’re big wins tonight and it also in terms of white voters making in roads; union households in Maryland; Catholic voters in Maryland.

BUCHANAN:  The superdelegates, they’re all looking at that, they’re saying, wait a minute.  He’s moving here, did you see that crowd at Cole Fieldhouse?  Did you see that crowd at Cole Center?

O’DONNELL:  In Maryland, yes.

BUCHANAN:  What it’s going to do is freeze the superdelegates.  You got guys, Edwards, Biden, who are the others?

O’DONNELL:  Richardson.

BUCHANAN:  Richardson, those guys are going to pull back now, I mean, they’re not the kind of guys who ride into the Alamo and this thing looks like it’s not going well for Hillary.  You know, and so they will hold off and say, wait a minute.  Maybe I ought to be the first guy aboard with Obama.  He’s got a lot of jobs that maybe given out.

MADDOW:  I agree with you about what the impact would be on the individual superdelegates.  But I don’t think that the Democratic electorate in Hawaii is saying, well, you know, if we add up the exit poll totals on white voters, especially white women between Georgia and South Carolina, I think the momentum—I don’t think people split hairs like that.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  People don’t split hairs like that but we do, because it gives us a sense of where the electorate is moving.

BUCHANAN:  Her only hope is Michigan, Florida and superdelegates. 

If he’s ahead in the popular vote and then in the delegate count, then it’s Florida, Michigan and superdelegates and superdelegates do look at who’s winning and who’s going to be aboard.  I don’t think they’re going to contradict the vote of the people.

ROBINSON:  I do think people do look at you know, the difference between a narrow two or three-point victory and a you know, 27 point, 28-point victory.  I mean, the kind of thing we’ve been seeing.

MADDOW:  Obama wins 10 straight states, that’s what people absorb. 

But if you win some 70 percent or 51 percent, winning all these states in the row, the momentum is there, I think splitting hairs doesn’t get us any further to understanding what that’s going to do.  The superdelegates -

BUCHANAN:  Look, everything is going his way.  The momentum, the headlines, the delegates and the talk.  The talk—it’s all going to be that and she’s got to interrupt it.

O’DONNELL:  There’s a lot of big news too on the Republican side, McCain doing well.  We’re going to talk about that right after this break.  Our coverage of what’s happened tonight continues right here on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O’DONNELL:  And looking ahead to March 4th, the Texas primary will be crucial for Hillary Clinton’s strategy of stopping the momentum building in the Obama campaign.  A key demographic will be the Latino vote.  Joining me out of that constituency in Texas is Maria Theresa Peterson, the founding director of Voto Latino.  Maria Theresa, thank you so much for joining us.

MARIA THERESA PETERSON, VOTO LATINO:  Thank you, Norah.

O’DONNELL:  How big is the Hispanic vote in Texas?

PETERSON:  Twenty percent -- 25 percent of Latino vote is in Texas. 

And it’s interesting because Obama’s had a jump start opening offices in Dallas, in Houston, and in Austin.  A week earlier than Clinton has.

O’DONNELL:  We know that Hillary Clinton has traditionally in these past contests done better than Barack Obama among Latinos or Hispanics, in fact, beating him by 2-1.  Any sense that Barack Obama is making any in roads in that constituency?

PETERSON:  I think a perfect example what happened tonight in Virginia, he won the Latino vote by 10 points, so, it was 55-45.  So, if that’s any indication, I think that Hillary has done her homework a lot longer and has definitely established in Texas in the Latino roots as far as the establishment is concerned.  But Obama is making headway and he just got the endorsement of the state representative from Dallas, where, you know, Dallas is 40 percent Latino.

O’DONNELL:  What do you make of what has been suggested in the past, that there may be some dislike of African-Americans to Latinos, to Latinos and African-Americans and that may be why he faces a tougher hurdle with Latino voters?

PETERSON:  I think just point to the fact when he ran for the Senate, he ran against a Jerry Chico (ph), Latino developer and he swept with the Latino vote.  So, I think it’s the more the ability to do his homework.  In the Latino households, Barack has only been around for 18 months.  As far as the Clintons are concern, they’ve been around for 15 years.  So, it’s a matter of him playing catches (ph) and really delivering the issues and the policies that concern him.

O’DONNELL:  So, why wouldn’t Latinos specifically, Latino women stick with Hillary Clinton?

PETERSON:  Again, I think it’s a matter of understanding the issues.  And when you start looking at, you need to start dividing the Latino community and recognizing it’s not homogeneous.  Individuals above 60 are very much, very strong supporter of Hillary, individuals under 30 are very strong supporter of Barack.  Where it starts getting a little messy though is between the ages of 30 to 45 and that’s the area that’s up for grabs.

O’DONNELL:  Yes, you make an excellent point.  We have seen that among young voters that Barack Obama does very well, whether it’s you know, in South Carolina, whether it’s white voters.  He won among the whites there and wins the younger Latino voters.  But generally speaking, older voters turn out in larger numbers.  And so, that’s why Hillary Clinton wins.  Do you expect sort of a similar generational divide in Texas?

PETERSON:  I think so, and I think you’re starting to see it again as far as individuals that are coming out in support of him in strong ways.  And again, the establishment is very strong for Hillary.  Again, she’s done her homework, she knows the folks that are the players in the area and that’s very vital and very important to her.  But I think again, what’s interesting, Texas is very reflective of the Latino population across the board, where 50 percent of the populations of eligible voters are under 40 and exactly 50 percent are over 40.

O’DONNELL:  Great statistics.  Maria Theresa Peterson, thank you so much.

And up next: We’re going to have more with our panel.  We’ll talk about the Hispanic vote and we’ll check in with Howard Fineman, also at our campaign listening post.  You’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac primaries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Of course they are. 

This is a Republican deal, man.  You don’t think I’m wearing donkeys on this tie, do you?  I may even let you borrow it if you’re really nice to me.  This would look good on you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL:  That was Mike Huckabee of course joking with reporters. 

Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Potomac primaries.  Clean sweeps across the board for Senator John McCain on the Republican side and for Senator Barack Obama on the Democratic side.  Time once again to bring in our panel.

And let’s talk about the Republicans because we were looking at Virginia as essentially potential bellwether.  Seven out of 10 voters there describe themselves as conservative, this was a very conservative electorate more than we saw in 2000 for instance.  And yet John McCain was able to win in a very conservative electorate.  What does that mean for Mike Huckabee, Pat Buchanan?

BUCHANAN:  Well, you know, before we came in tonight, I told Keith if he got 40 percent he would be doing well and I guess, he got slightly above it.  But frankly, McCain swept all three and it means, McCain’s going to be the nominee.  We knew that.  It may mean, Huckabee may be earlier than we thought.  If Huckabee had won, however, in Virginia, I think it really would have ignited something and we would have gone through Pennsylvania and I think that would have been dramatic.  I got to think now that they’re going to continue on.  But if they start going down, that would be the time to cut it.

O’DONNELL:  Rachel, we asked an interesting question in the exit polls tonight in Maryland and Virginia, whether they listened to conservative talk radio.  And almost 2/3 said they listened to it at least occasionally.  And yet, despite all the bashing of McCain on conservative talk radio, he was still able to win some conservative votes.

MADDOW:  What it says is liberal talk radio is much better than conservative talk radio.  When you talk to right wing talk show hosts they will say this, we’re entertainers, we’re in the business of giving our opinions but we don’t give marching orders.  We don’t tell our listeners who to vote for, we entertain them.  And that’s what they’ve been to the defense...

ROBINSON:  Well, they do tell them who to vote for, they just don’t expect them to listen.

MADDOW:  Well, we have proof tonight that their listeners don’t listen.

BUCHANAN:  Wait a minute, wait minute, conservative talk shows have been down on Huckabee as well as on McCain.

O’DONNELL:  Good point.

BUCHANAN:  Romney...

MADDOW:  But way more against McCain than...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Romney was their guy.  And if Huckabee weren’t in it and Romney, say, had won Virginia, they would be going wild.

MADDOW:  You know, but wait, right-wing talk radio, I have to say this, as a person who is a radio broadcaster, they are much better at taking people apart than lifting anybody else up.  They may have been pro-Romney, but they were pro-Thompson before they were pro anybody else.  They were pro-Tancredo.  They weren’t pro-anybody.

They are much more fiery, much more effective when they’re beating somebody down than when they’re lifting somebody up.  And so far the guys they have beaten down is John McCain and John McCain is still winning.

O’DONNELL:  Huckabee has stayed in this race saying, you know, I didn’t major in math, I majored in miracles.  And he has been amusing to many people because he is fun to have around.

BUCHANAN:  He’s not amusing to a lot of Republicans right now.

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  In fact, McCain’s campaign is calling him an irritant. 

So what happens then with the...

BUCHANAN:  It rises, after irritant, there’s a couple above that.

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  So what happens now to Huckabee?  It has become increasingly difficult for him to continue this quest that doesn’t lead anywhere.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  I think he goes—I think Texas is winner-take-all for Republicans, is it not?  I think he’ll go there and see what votes he can get.  Look, he has got the southern base, he has got some border states, he has got Iowa.  I think  he goes on at least through Texas and then he takes a look at it.  But what you don’t want to do here is you want to keep running and him going down and get into the teens, the low teens so you look like you’re irrelevant.

ROBINSON:  Did he get to that plateau...

BUCHANAN:  An irritant, fine, irrelevant is not.

ROBINSON:  Did he get to that plateau where he’s now officially in second place...

BUCHANAN:  No, he is not ahead of Romney in delegates, I don’t think.  And I don’t know about raw votes, but he’s not in delegates.

ROBINSON:  But he would like to get there so finish second.

BUCHANAN:  He would like to get there, sure.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  That’s right.  Romney still has more delegates, 282 to Chickadee’s 240.

MADDOW:  I think there is a human factor with Huckabee, which is that—and he has admitted it himself, we joked about it on Saturday night, us four, but he has admitted it himself.  He’s like, I don’t have much better to do.  He’s having a wonderful time.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  He’s spending no money.  His campaign is incredibly cheap. 

He’s—even if he starts going down in terms of the proportion of the vote he’s able to get, he’s still a beloved figure and he is going to get a talk show host gig out of it.

BUCHANAN:  Been there, done that.  Frankly, look, in 1992, after I was beaten, I told them we are going to run in California in June 6th

Get the Secret Service to scout out all the good restaurants and go all around the country.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  Aren’t there a number of Republicans who are looking and saying, wow, whoever it is going to be on the Democratic side, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, wow, they’ve got an energized Democratic base.  That turnout has been huge.  We have got to coalesce around one person.  We’ve got to raise money.  We’ve got to fill the coffers.  We’ve got to get our game plan.  Let’s stop jacking around here.

BUCHANAN:  It’s going to be over by May, obviously.  And you have got plenty of time then.  The truth is, the only way the Republicans are going to win this, they are going to have to take down Barack Obama. 

You saw the energy and fire he has got.  You saw McCain, it’s an old party, frankly.  It’s an old leadership and if they don’t take down Barack Obama, I just think the sheer momentum and enthusiasm and

(INAUDIBLE) turnout will kill them.

O’DONNELL:  All right.  Pat, Eugene, Rachel, thank you.  Up next, more with our panel.  And we’ll also be joined by Howard Fineman of Newsweek and MSNBC to take us inside the campaigns tonight.  You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Potomac Primaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is the new American majority.  This is what change looks like when it happens from the bottom up.  And in this election, your voices will be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O’DONNELL:  And we are back with our continuing coverage of the Potomac Primaries.  And if you’re just joining us, here are the results from tonight.  Barack Obama, the projected winner in Virginia.  He beat Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin.  In Maryland, again, Barack Obama with another double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton.  And in Washington, D.C., Senator Obama with a 3-1 victory over Senator Clinton.

On the Republican side, it’s John McCain getting his groove back. 

He beat Mike Huckabee in Virginia by 9 points.  McCain also won in Maryland.  And he won in the District of Columbia.

And one additional winner on this night, Uno the beagle has won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show here in New York.  He is the...

(DOG BARKING)

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  I love it.  Let’s have that bark again.  He is the first beagle...

(DOG BARKING)

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  ... to win Best in Show in the history of the contest. 

And what a cute dog.  And of course, our own Lester Holt was there, I’m sorry we all missed it.  But what a nice looking...

(DOG BARKING)

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  All right.  From that note, we are now going to turn to Howard Fineman.

Howard, to the serious matter tonight.  Really significant...

(DOG BARKING)

O’DONNELL:  They are doing this to hear me laugh, I know.  Really a significant night, not only for the Democrats, but certainly the Republicans and John McCain.  Let’s start first with the Democrats. 

What are you hearing about—from Barack Obama’s campaign and what is the Hillary campaign saying about how they’ll go forward?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, the Hillary campaign I think is privately conceding that it’s unlikely that they’re going to end this season ahead in the number of pledged delegates.  Now neither Obama nor Clinton is going to have enough delegates just from pledged delegates to lock up the nomination.  They’re going to need the so-called superdelegates.

But the key here politically and then sort of morally is who has the lead and by how much in terms of pledged delegates, which are the ones picked officially in primaries and caucuses.

The name of the game for Clinton is to somehow stay close to Obama in that number.  As Chuck Todd was saying, it’s now up to about 120. 

The Clintons desperately want to get it down in the low double digits. 

Then they figure they might be able to muscle the superdelegates and somehow win it without causing a firestorm at the convention.

That’s their hope, maybe their dream, that’s what they’re going for.  The Obama people have already pivoted in many ways as you saw tonight to the general election, Norah.  That was a general election speech that Barack Obama gave in Madison, Wisconsin, tonight, where he really was taking Hillary out of the slot of old versus new and putting McCain in the slot that Hillary has taken up, talking about turning the page, new versus—the future versus the past.

And talking specifically about some of McCain’s policies.  That was a general election speech with a general election feel and a big game finals kind of idea.  So that’s where those two campaigns are.  Obama turning to the general, Hillary’s people madly looking at their calculators, trying to figure out how to stay close in terms of pledged delegates.

O’DONNELL:  You hit the nail on the head.  Barack Obama tonight talking about the McCain-Bush Republicans, the McCain-Bush tax cuts.  He had that line on Saturday night and he expanded on that tonight, sort of shifting and tying John McCain to this Bush administration, which of course this president has very low approval ratings.

It’s going to be difficult to entangle John McCain away from the president.  It’s sort of ironic given that the two men had many differences once before but had—recently of course remember that bear hug embrace.  And once again, McCain is very closely tied to the president’s Iraq strategy.

FINEMAN:  Well, the thing is that McCain has to be close to the president to try to do as best as he can among conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians who doubt McCain, fear McCain on other grounds.  They like him on foreign policy, they like him on the war, and they like him on taxes now that he has pledged to make George Bush’s tax cuts permanent.

So in order to do well in the primaries, Bush has had to embrace McCain—McCain has had to embrace Bush.  But every embrace that he performs causes problems for McCain in the general election.  McCain still has got to worry about getting rid of Mike Huckabee, which he will eventually, but he hasn’t done it yet.

O’DONNELL:  How does he get rid of him?

FINEMAN:  Well, he waits him out.  And I’ve talked to the Huckabee people tonight who are down in Little Rock.  They had a brief moment of elation, Norah, when they heard that we were saying that the Virginia exit polls were too—the Virginia race was too close to call.  They were dreaming big dreams about winning Virginia, they didn’t get it and that pretty much is it for Huckabee, as Pat Buchanan was saying.

But he has a half a dozen fundraisers scheduled.  He has got couple of big fundraisers in California.  He’s getting money online.  He’s getting money in direct mail.  He’s going to have enough money to continue at least until Texas.  If he loses Texas, then I think he’s going to have to hang it up.

Now interestingly, the McCain people, even though they call Huckabee an irritant, I don’t think are all that upset about having Huckabee around.  First of all, they’re still in the news.  And secondly, Huckabee can be the person to try to lead those people, the evangelicals, the conservative republicans back into the tent on McCain’s behalf.

Huckabee can be McCain’s ambassador to those constituencies.  The question is, what does Huckabee want out of it?  He wants changes in the platform that he likes.  Dare he argue that he be put on the ticket, he’ll probably make that argument at some time in private down the road.

O’DONNELL:  All right.  Howard Fineman, from our “Listening Post,” Howard, thank you.

FINEMAN:  Thank you, Norah.

O’DONNELL:  And let’s turn once again to our panel.

And, Gene, again, this question, you know, what does Huckabee want?

ROBINSON:  Right.  And it’s a good question.  He laid out the changes he wanted in the—in the platform.  One of which is that McCain renounce the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, which is not going to happen.

And other things are not going to happen either.  One thing he clearly wants is to make a point.  I think it’s reasonable to assume that he also wants to advance and secure his standing in the party.  If it goes on too long, he jeopardizes that.

Does he realistically expect a place on the ticket?  I don’t think that’s realistic.  So I don’t know what else he wants.

O’DONNELL:  It’s truly a new—I mean, this is unprecedented.  I mean, we have an open seat election the first time in more than half a century, where we don’t have a president or a vice president on the ticket.  But this would never have happened in years past that someone like Huckabee could hang on and continue to quote-unquote frustrate the presumptive Republican nominee, right, Pat?

BUCHANAN:  Well, no.  Frankly, we right on out to convention against Dole (ph) in 1992 (ph).  And we went out for the platform.  Frankly—and this is what Huckabee could do, I mean, he talks about a human life amendment.  That’s very important to conservatives.

The marriage amendment, that’s very important to not only evangelicals, but to conservatives.  He could go out there and insist that the following things remain in the platform and I can’t see John McCain saying, no, we’re going to tear them out.

I mean, what Dole and some of those other people did, said we didn’t read the platforms.  And of course, I think they hurt themselves.  But what Gene says is very true, you’ve got to do this the right way.  You run a high-level campaign, you make changes and then you try to bring people aboard and you get back in.

He’s going to endorse, he’s going to be a loyal soldier.  Because he sees himself as a possibility down in 2012 if McCain loses, just as Romney does.  And I think Huckabee, by staying in, has, if you will, jumped ahead of Romney to a certain degree.

MADDOW:  I think if Huckabee had really wanted to impact the platform, he would have picked stuff that John McCain would say yes to. 

And I think he didn’t pick anything that John McCain will say yes to. 

So I think that’s a bit of a show.  I

think that Huckabee is staying in this, as you say, to become a national figure, to become somebody who is elevated within the movement, within the party hopefully, possibly to get another shot at this down the road.  But I’m telling you, I think he’s having a good time and I think it’s making him a political celebrity, and that’s, I think, the endgame.

(CROSSTALK) 

ROBINSON:  I think that Pat is right that the pro-life amendment is really important to Huckabee.

MADDOW:  But McCain will never do that.  McCain is...

(CROSSTALK)

MADDOW:  ... on ideological grounds, he doesn’t want to change the Constitution.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  Making that point is important to Huckabee.

BUCHANAN:  Make it in the platform.  Whatever McCain does, you make it in the platform, you make the marriage thing in the platform, you get all of the things you can in the platform.  His delegates and McCain’s delegates will vote for that.  The conservatives will vote for that and McCain will put McCain on the spot, but he’ll say, look, this is what we have got to do to get our party to support you in the fall.

MADDOW:  I think if that’s what he was going for, he would have asked for stuff that McCain will say yes to.  I don’t think McCain will say yes to any of the things that he is demanding.  And the platform gets shredded the day after the convention anyway.

BUCHANAN:  Well, but, what, he’s going to ask for mush?  He’s going to ask for, you know, ANWR or something?  Come on, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  All right, guys.  Stand by.  We need to take a quick break.  And when we come back, we’re going to have more with our panel, its analysis on the wins of Barack Obama and John McCain tonight.  You are watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of what Pat Buchanan has branded right here on MSNBC, the Potomac Primaries.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  But we also know that at this moment, the cynics can no longer say that our hope is false.  We have now won east and west, north and south, and across the heartland of this country we love.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’DONNELL:  And welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Potomac Primaries.  For the final time tonight, let’s turn to our panel and let’s talk about the Democratic race in Virginia.  I think we all kind of looked at Virginia as a bellwether, what went on there.

Amazing numbers if you look inside these exit polls.  First of all, white men, Barack Obama winning by 14 points among white men.  Hillary did win among white women.  Among whites overall, Barack Obama won 50 percent to her 49 percent.  Of course, he won nine out of 10 blacks. 

Does this suggest he’s gaining, making inroads into her constituency and benefiting from John Edwards being out of the race?

ROBINSON:  I think both things.  I think it has got to be heartening news—these have to be heartening figures for the Obama campaign because these are the groups that we kept saying they were weak in and that he didn’t seem to be appealing to.  And, you know, that number for white men is—you know, is encouraging from his point of view.

O’DONNELL:  I was also...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  We saw Louisiana where he didn’t—anything, didn’t do anything like this.  What it means is, as you move out of Dixie and move across through Fredericksburg and you hit Northern Virginia, that thing that obtained in South Carolina is gone.  You move into north Virginia and he is getting white voters in Northern Virginia.  And once you move across the Potomac River, he is.

And also in Northern Virginia, which is important, because that makes Virginia in play, which it usually is not.  That’s a red state in play for the Democrats now.

O’DONNELL:  One other thing we saw in Maryland in the exit polls among Democrats, remember Hillary Clinton has won when it comes to the economy and other issues, of course, which voters say is the number one issue.  Barack Obama now winning on every issue, the economy, health care, terrorism, all of them.  That has got to be a sign for Hillary Clinton, because her campaign had pointed out and tried to make the case, she’s better on economic issues.

MADDOW:  You can look down the list of all of the exit poll results tonight and pick any one of them as a bad sign for Hillary Clinton because Barack Obama trounced her in these states.  And so he won on every issue.  He won with every demographic group.

O’DONNELL:  Because the margin was so big, yes.

MADDOW:  Because the margin was so big.  And I think that really is the big story out of tonight.  I mean, it is not shocking that Barack Obama did well among white men.  He got 48 percent of the white men in Georgia.  You know, he has won a lot of white states.  He has won a lot of red states that have majority white populations.  And so, yes, he got

55 percent there tonight in Virginia, but it’s not the headline.  The headline is the margin of the victory overall.

ROBINSON:  And also Maryland is a reliable Democratic base state in a lot of ways.  I mean—and to be trounced...

O’DONNELL:  And he won union households in Maryland.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  Right.  For Hillary Clinton to be trounced in that way, with that sort of margin in a state like Maryland has got to be a real blow.

O’DONNELL:  OK.  Well, let’s look forward, Texas and Ohio and the demographics in those states.  Doesn’t she still have an advantage, in particular in Texas, where there is, as we heard earlier, about 25 percent of the voting electorate is Hispanic.  She still wins 2-1 among Hispanics.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  The problem is, you have got 20 percent is African-American or something like that.  And he’s winning that 90 percent, 85 percent and she’s not winning the Hispanic vote anymore than

2-1 at best and not even that much now.  And so then you get into the white vote.

I think—I would still bet on her in Texas but it’s much more of a problem right now after looking at what happened in Virginia.

ROBINSON:  Well, he appears to have won the Latino vote tonight, although it wasn’t...

O’DONNELL:  It was so small to...

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON:  Right.  I mean, it has been readjusted now, it’s something like 53-47, or something like that, not 55-45.

BUCHANAN:  A lot of them up there in our neck of the woods there are illegal my friend.  They weren’t voting.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Or if they were, we’re in trouble.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON:  There’s actually a large legal Latino population in Northern Virginia, especially—and in other parts of Virginia, that seems to have voted...

BUCHANAN:  You haven’t been down to Herndon lately.

ROBINSON:  ... for Obama over Clinton.

MADDOW:  In Texas, where we’re looking at...

ROBINSON:  (SPEAKING SPANISH)

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  Si se puede.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  If we are looking at similar numbers of African-Americans and Latinos voting in Texas, and they’re not that different in terms of proportions that vote in the Democratic primary, and Barack Obama, as you mention, has locked up a much bigger portion of the African-American vote than Hillary Clinton has locked up the Latino vote, then numerically, the way you do the algebra, he wins.

O’DONNELL:  And great point, because, as Chuck Todd said tonight—huge thing, because Barack Obama has done so well in these past contests, and he might do well in Wisconsin and Hawaii, Hillary has got to hit about 60 percent, win by 60 percent in these future contests. 

Can she win by that big of a margin?

BUCHANAN:  I don’t think she can.  If we get down to the point where he is ahead in pledged delegates and he is ahead in raw vote totals, which I think—which Chuck said he is, even if you’re including Michigan and Florida, how do superdelegates take it away from Barack Obama?

And unless—the only way they can do that, I think, is if they got down to the convention and something awful happened and it looked like Barack Obama was a sure loser.

(CROSSTALK)

O’DONNELL:  Gene, how does that happen in a party that believes the election was stole from them by the Supreme Court in 2000?

ROBINSON:  Yes—no, I don’t think that happens, and I think—but I think Pat is right.  I think, you know, as we look ahead, Obama clearly has an advantage.  He has the clearer path to the nomination. 

And I do not think the superdelegates would take it away.

But we don’t know what’s going to happen.

MADDOW:  We don’t know what’s going to happen, three weeks is a long time.

ROBINSON:  We are surprised every week by something that happens.

MADDOW:  That’s right.  Three weeks is a long time between now and Texas.

ROBINSON:  We sit up here and we say, gee, I didn’t quite see that coming, you know?

MADDOW:  Hillary Clinton’s campaign, they need to start drinking Red Bull.  They need to change their ideas.  They need to change their plans.  And they need to kick it into high gear or they’re going to lose.

O’DONNELL:  And they are very formidable.  So we will continue to watch.  And of course, a big thank you to our panel tonight.  Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC and Air America.  And Pat Robertson of MSNBC—Robertson, thank you.

BUCHANAN:  Yes, Hampton Roads.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O’DONNELL:  That’s because I just read the—Pat Buchanan.

MADDOW:  God spoke to you there.

BUCHANAN:  One too many tonight, one too many tonight, Norah.

O’DONNELL:  All right.  And thank you for our coverage of the Potomac watching.  We’ll be back here in one week as voters go the polls in Wisconsin and Hawaii.  Stay with MSNBC.  It is the place for politics.  Good night. 

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