updated 2/21/2008 11:30:32 AM ET 2008-02-21T16:30:32

Guests: Kiki McLean, A.B. Stoddard, Bill Press, Marion Barry

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  The good news for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, last night Barack Obama‘s margin of victory in the Wisconsin primary was the smallest of any of his last 10 consecutive wins.  The bad news, that margin was 17 points.  So what does the Clinton campaign do now? 

Welcome to the show. 

Mrs. Clinton gave no quarter in her non-concession speech jabbing at Obama‘s readiness to be president among other things.  But what separated her speech from Obama‘s and John McCain‘s was the distinct and notable absence of anything remotely like this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  Houston, I think we‘ve achieved lift off here. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  Thank you, Wisconsin, for bringing us to the point where even a superstitious naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party‘s nominee for president of the United States. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Today‘s developments included two big blue-collar endorsements for Obama, one from the teamsters union, the other from the brotherhood of boilermakers, a well as a new national Zogby Poll that puts Obama a whopping 14 points ahead of Hillary Clinton, 52 to 38.  So the ever more daunting challenge is clear in the Clinton campaign.  Here‘s the co-candidate today talking to supporters. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  If she wins in Texas and Ohio, I think she‘ll be the nominee.  If you don‘t deliver for her, I don‘t think she can be.  It‘s all on you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Also today Michelle Obama tried to explain her comment earlier this week that she is now for the first time in her adult life proud of her country.  We‘ll show you her explanation and tell you what it means. 

We‘ll also hear from key Obama ally Congressman Adam Smith from Washington city councilman and mayor for life Marion Berry, and from Bill Press and A.B. Stoddard. 

But we begin with the Clinton campaign‘s difficult position.  Joining us now is Kiki McLean, senior adviser to the Clinton campaign. 

Kiki, thanks for coming on. 

KIKI MCLEAN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR:  You bet.  I‘m glad to be here. 

CARLSON:  So what happened last night? 

MCLEAN:  What happened is Barack Obama did what we knew he would do in the month of February, which have a very good calendar.  So it was no surprise to us or to most people.  And it‘s what we‘ve said to you all month, Tucker.  It‘s on to Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island and Vermont. 

CARLSON:  So there‘s something about February because. 

MCLEAN:  We told you—no, we told you coming out of Super Tuesday where we had huge wins in Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arizona, California, New York. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MCLEAN:  .New Jersey, I mean the states just go on and on, east to west, north to south, blue and red, that the calendar had a very leaning favorably to Obama schedule in February and that we‘d be focusing into Ohio and Texas. 

CARLSON:  This is a tough one, though.  I mean when the Clintons lost the Iowa caucuses, their explanation was it‘s a caucus, real people can‘t vote in caucuses, because they don‘t have time.  They‘re busy building America.  When. 

MCLEAN:  That‘s part of it.  And a lot of the—a lot of the issues this month were caucuses, frankly. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Right.  This was not a caucus, though, last night. 

MCLEAN:  That‘s right. 

CARLSON:  When the Clintons lost South Carolina, Bill Clinton said, well, there are too many black people.  So of course we lost.  Not a lot of black people in Wisconsin.  So what—I mean what was it—is there any way to read this other than as an expression of Obama is building momentum? 

MCLEAN:  Look, Obama had a good night.  He had a good calendar this month.  We told you after Super Tuesday he would have a good calendar. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MCLEAN:  We‘re going to Ohio and Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont and then obviously Pennsylvania after that.  These are big states.  These are states that Hillary Clinton can win and plans to win.  We intend to campaign hard there.  As you know, tonight she‘s already in Hidalgo and Brownsville, Texas.  You know I‘m partial to that because I‘m a Texan, right? 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

MCLEAN:  I like the fact that we‘re in Texas.  In fact, Chelsea is in north Texas today.  I think President Clinton was going along the coast and then to eastern south Texas as well.  So there‘s a lot of work to be done in both states and we‘re going to campaign it. 

CARLSON:  Here‘s what Hillary told me. 

MCLEAN:  OK. 

CARLSON:  .in an e-mail that I and several million other people got today.  And I‘ll read it. 

MCLEAN:  Because you are a supporter and contributor at that. 

CARLSON:  Because I‘m an interested party, I‘m an observer. 

MCLEAN:  Right.  OK. 

CARLSON:  “Let this remarkable two-person contest for the Democratic nomination be determined by the strength of our ideas, the quality of our leadership, or the depth of our experience.  But whatever you do, don‘t let the outcome of these crucial March 4th contest be decided by a lopsided spending advantage for the Obama campaign.” 

So is that the explanation?  That he‘s got more money?  That he‘s like the rich guy? 

MCLEAN:  Well, that‘s part of it.  Well, that‘s part of it and that he spent a lot more money in Wisconsin. 

But look, she came out today with a major speech in New York, at Hunter College today, where she really talked about the choice before the American people in this election and what‘s at stake.  Who‘s ready to be commander in chief on the first day?  Who‘s really going to turn this economy around?  Who‘s going to move us forward on health care? 

You and I have talked about that before.  And these are issues that people are going to hear about as we move forward.  And it is an important understanding to understand the differences between these candidates. 

CARLSON:  But it didn‘t work. 

MCLEAN:  .to understand her record of experience. 

CARLSON:  See, that‘s (INAUDIBLE).  I personally—I think. 

MCLEAN:  Look, I think. 

CARLSON:  I think negative campaigning is fine, hitting the other guy on the issues, great. 

MCLEAN:  No. 

CARLSON:  I‘m not criticizing that at all. 

MCLEAN:  But I think today she laid that out in as clear a way as it‘s ever been laid out before and we‘ll continue to talk about those issues in that comparative framework. 

CARLSON:  But what she‘s doing isn‘t working.  And last night exit polls showed by 20 points people thought her attacks on Obama were unfair.  I personally don‘t even think they were unfair.  But people—it doesn‘t matter.  Voters in Wisconsin did. 

MCLEAN:  In Wisconsin, the discussion was about whether he was going to debate or not and he didn‘t. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But it‘s also on health care. 

MCLEAN:  Which she talked about today. 

CARLSON:  She hit him on health care.  And people thought it was unfair. 

MCLEAN:  Well, what she talked about today—she defended herself on health care from some mailers that have gone out from the Obama campaign.  What she talked about today in her speech at Hunter College, about this choice that‘s in front of people, is a real way of talking about what the differences are, what the comparison is so that people can make their choice.  They can make their decision about who they want to be for the next president.  And she‘s laid out why she believes she‘s the better choice.  And we‘ll hear more about that over the next two weeks. 

CARLSON:  Well, let‘s hear what the co-candidate has to say.  So we played the sound bite but I thought it was so interesting.  Let‘s play it again.  This is Bill Clinton on the future of his campaign and his wife‘s campaign.  Watch. 

I‘ll read it. 

MCLEAN:  What?  And Tucker, would you like to do his voice. 

CARLSON:  OK.  Here we go.  I‘m not going to imitate him. 

MCLEAN:  All right.  Come on. 

CARLSON:  Here is the man himself.  Bill Clinton. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  If she wins in Texas and Ohio, I think she‘ll be the nominee.  If you don‘t deliver for her, I don‘t think she can be.  It‘s all on you.  You know we need every delegate.  You know we fought everywhere for every delegate.  You know until just the last few days we‘ve been at a terrible financial disadvantage.  It‘s in your hands and you get to decide.  You have to choose. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  You heard it straight from the man himself.  If she doesn‘t win Texas and Ohio, cancel Christmas, kitchen is closed.  It‘s over. 

MCLEAN:  The reality is these are two big important states for either team to win.  Both teams want to win.. 

CARLSON:  So were you admitting that?  She‘s actually going to get out.  We‘re not going to go to Puerto Rico.  I mean. 

MCLEAN:  No, we‘re—no, I didn‘t say that, and neither did he.  What we‘re saying is. 

CARLSON:  Yes, he did. 

MCLEAN:  No, he didn‘t.  We said we‘re going into Ohio and Texas.  These are important wins.  The number of delegates are very important and we‘re going to campaign hard for them. 

CARLSON:  If she wins Texas and Ohio, she‘ll be the nominee.  If she doesn‘t, I don‘t think she can be. 

MCLEAN:  Well, he just said Ohio and Texas are important.  OK. 

CARLSON:  Right. That‘s right.  Well, actually not important, deal breakers.  That‘s what he said. 

MCLEAN:  No, and I told you, we‘re going for Ohio and Texas.  They are important. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

MCLEAN:  I mean you can. 

CARLSON:  Well, she‘s not really going to quit.  I mean, Hillary, you can‘t stop Hillary Clinton. 

MCLEAN:  Tucker, Tucker, you can mince words all you want. 

CARLSON:  I‘m only quoting the co-candidate here.  Come on. 

MCLEAN:  No, you seem to be upset because I‘m telling you Ohio and Texas are important.  She‘s going to play hard for them.  She‘s laid out the choices.  I‘m answering your questions.  It‘s important. 

CARLSON:  Look, I‘m enjoying this.  I‘m not trying to force Hillary Clinton out of the race. 

MCLEAN:  I know.  President Clinton believes it‘s important.  Senator Clinton believe it‘s important and I think the voters of Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island and Vermont and Pennsylvania and the other 15 states that haven‘t voted yet all believe it‘s important. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

MCLEAN:  OK? 

CARLSON:  Kiki McLean, an able defense.  I appreciate.  Thank you coming on. 

MCLEAN:  Tucker, glad to be here any time. 

CARLSON:  Barack Obama has a perfect 10-10 record since Super Tuesday.  Supporters are flocking to him.  He tells he wants to bring change.  What does that mean exactly? 

Plus Hillary Clinton talks about gun control, and then makes a remarkable claim she used to be a hunter?  A duck hunter.  Who knew?  The question is: did she dip Copenhagen while she did it?  Details ahead. 

You‘re watching MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  The new Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama is all about change.  What exactly does that mean, change?  Maybe it‘s time to find out.  We‘ll do that.  Coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I think you understand and the American people understand that the last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things making the same mistakes over and over and over again. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Speaking of over and over again, Barack Obama is 10-0 since Super Tuesday, a roll, a winning streak, momentum, call it what you want, Obama is basically just a state away from securing the Democratic nomination.  A win in Ohio or Texas two weeks from yesterday will likely do it for him, even the Clinton campaign now concedes that.  Exit polling from last night shows Obama is gaining steam among white voters and women, the two groups until recently Clinton had dominated. 

So what next for Hillary?  Does she have any options? 

Joining us now, associate editor of “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated talk show host Bill Press. 

Welcome to you both.  Bill. 

BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST:  Hi, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  The one thing we‘ve learned in this election is that. 

PRESS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  .Chuck Todd is good at math, the NBC political director. 

PRESS:  Yes. 

CARLSON:  He‘s the guy I go to to figure exactly, you know, where we are with (INAUDIBLE).  Here‘s what he says.  There are 16 races left.  Obama is heavily favored in seven of them.  Clinton needs to win 65 percent of the pledge delegates in those remaining nine races just to overtake Obama‘s lead in pledge delegates.  On Obama‘s side, 65 percent, if he gets 65 percent in those pledge delegates in all 16 races, he can literally win the nomination just in pledge delegates. 

PRESS:  Right. 

CARLSON:  That‘s—that‘s actually a bigger problem for Clinton even than I realized. 

PRESS:  Same here.  When I say that, I was stunned.  I also am stunned to think that—did you ever think we‘d see the day when Puerto Rico would decide the nominees for the Democratic Party? 

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  It‘s not (INAUDIBLE) 

PRESS:  No, I don‘t think it‘s going that long either.  I was just say with 10 in a row, with Texas and Ohio, we just heard President Clinton say it himself, Hillary Clinton not only has to win those states, she has to win those states big.  And she hasn‘t been winning big.  Where she has won she barely eked out a victory.  Barack Obama is the one who‘s been winning big.  Seventeen points from Wisconsin.  Not as much as Maryland and Virginia but still a huge win. 

I never count the Clintons out.  They are at their best when the odds are totally against them.  But you‘ve got to say right now, you know, Obama is the odds on favorite to take the nomination. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s—see, here‘s the number that. 

PRESS:  Before Puerto Rico. 

CARLSON:  .kind of seals the deal.  The Zogby Poll, who‘s got a better shot at beating McCain, the Republican nominee.  Hillary Clinton at 38, McCain at 50.  In the match-up with Obama, Obama wins.  I mean that‘s kind -- you know, if you‘re talking about a party, Democratic Party that really wants to win above all, that‘s a deal ender. 

STODDARD:  But I really wonder if, I mean, on electability last night he did beat her.  I wonder if that‘s the primary concern.  I think they are voting on hope and the economy and some other things.  They probably also think he‘s a better match against John McCain. 

But I would say as to her road ahead in Texas, I think it‘s going to be her hardest state yet because of the way—and it‘s complicated.  The delegates. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  .are apportioned in those districts.  The African-American districts are going to give him more—that he‘s going to win are going to give him more delegates.  And the Latino she‘s going to win that didn‘t vote as much as the African-American districts did in the 2004 presidential election are not going to give her enough delegates.  So any kind of landslide that we talked about, 70 percent, that kind of a win in Texas, which would be an uphill battle anyway. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

STODDARD:  .still might not give her... 

CARLSON:  Well, let‘s just stand back for a second. 

STODDARD:  .the win. 

CARLSON:  So let‘s say—I mean every person who watches us for a living seems to be in agreement Obama pretty much has it sewn up at this point barring an act of God.  How did that happen?  We know nothing about Obama?  He‘s, you know, widely appealing on the stump but things—has never done anything and we don‘t know anything about him. 

My theory is, this is largely about Hillary Clinton.  And the Democrats would have voted for Hillary Clinton against any Republican, but they didn‘t really want to.  And the second they had an actual option, someone who could really win, they went to that person no matter who it was. 

PRESS:  I think it‘s more than that.  And I think we‘re dealing with a phenomenon that none of us have ever dealt with before in the media.  I mean we‘ve never seen a candidate like this.  This is like.

CARLSON:  But like what?  I don‘t understand. 

STODDARD:  Nineteen thousand people in the. 

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  I like the guy, too.  But let‘s be totally real, he‘s coming close to becoming the president of the United States.  I mean, slow down, America.  Who is this guy? 

PRESS:  No, exactly.  I think that‘s a point I‘m saying, that we are dealing with a phenomenon we‘ve never had to measure before.  And you know what I think it is?  I do think that there is this yearning for change that those of us in the media maybe didn‘t capture.  And Barack Obama does speak to that and he embodies that the way she never could.  Now. 

CARLSON:  But he doesn‘t.  See, that‘s—Robert Samuelson has a really interesting. 

PRESS:  Yes, he does.  Why is he winning 10 in a row? 

CARLSON:  No.  Of course, he—right.  But he‘s a cipher.  He‘s a metaphor.  In terms of actual change, as Samuelson points out in the “Washington Post” today, you go through his positions, and it‘s more of the same.  I‘m sorry.  On entitlements, for instance, Samuelson goes in and says, look, here‘s what the candidate would actually say who was committed to change.  He would say to older people, to retirees, I‘m sorry, we‘re going to have to delay your retirement benefits.  He‘s never even consider doing anything like that. 

STODDARD:  But no one is going to, including Hillary Clinton, who also wanted to give babies -- $5,000 bonds and then had to scrap that after Rudy Giuliani mocked her.  Look, they all. 

CARLSON:  So you got to my theory because. 

STODDARD:  No, wait.

(CROSSTALK)

STODDARD:  No, my point is this, they all play what Samuelson calls goody bag politics. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

STODDARD:  They all play it.  What the voters are saying is, listen, you know, they probably are the same on policy.  I need the hope.  I want to be moved.  He‘s going to shake things up. 

PRESS:  Let me tell you.  If Obama ran and let Samuelson—he had to write his platform, he‘d lose.  So who cares what Samuelson says?  But let me tell you, you‘re right about the specificity.  What I‘m saying is, I think we realized, it doesn‘t matter.  It‘s like so what? 

CARLSON:  Well, that‘s right because. 

PRESS:  Borama—Barack Obama, Borama, keeps winning without putting out the twelve-point platforms. 

CARLSON:  Of course, because actually people don‘t care because it‘s almost never about issues, it‘s almost never about ideas.  It‘s about metaphors. 

PRESS:  But they do know that it‘s not—they do know that he, more than anyone else, is a change from the policies of George W. Bush and that‘s what they are going for. 

CARLSON:  Yes, but you know who hates change?  You know who profoundly hates change?  Americans.  They hate change.  They don‘t want real issues. 

PRESS:  No, they want it now, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  No, they don‘t. 

STODDARD:  You don‘t really know that. 

CARLSON:  No, they don‘t.  They don‘t want change.  They want things to be slightly better, slightly more efficient.  If you said to Americans, well, we‘re really changing things.  We‘re going to abolish marriage, for instance, or change the days of the week, the French Revolution type of change.  They hate that.  They are deeply, deeply opposed to real change. 

PRESS:  Nobody is suggesting bringing back the guillotine. 

CARLSON:  I‘m just saying all this change stuff is so ridiculous. 

PRESS:  Obama is (INAUDIBLE) 

CARLSON:  They just want (INAUDIBLE) to work better.  You know what? 

America to be liked in Belgium. 

STODDARD:  They don‘t have to worry because there won‘t be that much change. 

CARLSON:  All right.  No, it‘s true. 

John McCain isn‘t quite the Republican nominee just yet but he‘s already gearing up for the November election and he‘s taking the direct aim at Barack Obama.  Is this a preview of the general election?  It looks that way. 

Plus Mike Huckabee has no plans to drop out of the race, at least not until after the Texas primary.  He also has no shot to win virtually.  Why is he sticking around?  What‘s his plan? 

This is MSNBC.  We‘ll return in a moment. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN:  I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change.  That eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  John McCain is offering Barack Obama the biggest compliment in politics.  He‘s treating him like a rival.  This being a presidential campaign McCain is doing that by attacking him.  But does Obama have the nomination into the bag?  What if Hillary doesn‘t feel like going gracefully into that good night?  What then? 

Joining us now is Obama‘s supporter, long-time Obama supporter, he saw this coming a long time ago, Democratic congressman from Washington state, Adam Smith. 

Congressman, thanks for coming on. 

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON, OBAMA SUPPORTER:  Thanks for having me, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  And congratulations.  You‘ve been coming on this show for a long time on behalf of Barack Obama and it looks like you were right all along.  Looks like he‘s going to get the nomination.  But what if Hillary Clinton doesn‘t buy into that program, doesn‘t feel like ending her campaign, what are you going to do? 

SMITH:  Well, I don‘t think we should start celebrating just yet.  Certainly we‘re a lot further along than we were six, eight months ago when you and I first started talking about this and we‘re very pleased with that. 

But this campaign continues in Ohio and Texas and perhaps beyond.  And I think, you know, regardless of what Senator Clinton does, Senator Obama is going to continue to deliver his message, he‘s going to continue to keep working hard.  This campaign is far, far from over and we know that. 

CARLSON:  But he said—Senator Obama said last night, he said, look, you know, this is going to be wrapped up pretty much on March 4th.  At that point the party is going to want to—this is a paraphrase, it goes pretty close—going to want to declare a nominee and it‘s going to be over.  But what if Hillary Clinton says, you know what?  No.  And he doesn‘t have the number of delegates needed and we‘re going to take this all the way to the convention. 

Do you think that the elders, such as they are in the Democratic Party, will stand back and let that happen? 

SMITH:  Ultimately I don‘t think they will and I don‘t think the voters will.  As you pointed out, Senator Obama has won 10 straight contests by overwhelming margins.  And the more the voters do that, the more delegates Senator Obama lined up, and then it becomes simply a fact that he has the delegates necessary.  And yes, I think these so-called superdelegates—hard to think of myself as an elder, by the way, Tucker, I know I‘m getting there, but as one of those superdelegates, I think increasingly those delegates will throw their support to Senator Obama until he has those numbers. 

And—but again, I think this is a little premature. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

SMITH:  You know we‘ve got 13 days to campaign now in Texas and Ohio. 

And we‘re going to work very, very hard on that on the Obama campaign. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s one of the questions people are going to be asking in those 13 days.  Some time ago Barack Obama said this, quote, “Yes, if I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” 

In other words, I will take public funds, not private funds.  That‘s a pretty direct statement from a guy who‘s running on his own personal integrity.  Now he seems to be hedging on that and saying, well, maybe I won‘t run with public funds.  Why doesn‘t he just stay true to his word? 

SMITH:  Well, I think you‘re a little bit overstating the importance of that commitment.  This is a decision that every campaign has made in a variety of different ways.  I mean, frankly, we‘ve never been in a position where a candidate had the breadth of support that Senator Obama has.  I mean he has seven, 800,000 contributors.  I think the average contribution is still around the hundred dollars. 

CARLSON:  Well, wait. 

SMITH:  .and you‘re talking about the average folks in the country who are giving to his campaign and he‘s weighing whether or not to take their contributions or federal money. 

CARLSON:  No but—talk about throwing principle overboard.  I mean he said this is about principle, it‘s not about what‘s politically. 

SMITH:  I don‘t. 

CARLSON:  Of course, it‘s easier, it‘s better for him.  He‘s raised more money than anybody in the history of American politics, ever, bar none. 

SMITH:  Right. 

CARLSON:  But he said the publicly financed campaign system is worth preserving.  And for that reason I‘m going to participate. 

SMITH:  Right. 

CARLSON:  He said, yes, I will do that.  Can he really go back on that?  I mean that is in contravention of everything he claims to stand for. 

SMITH:  I don‘t agree that it‘s contravention of everything he claims to stand for.  I think you‘re way overstating the case. 

CARLSON:  Well, quite a few of (INAUDIBLE).  He claims to stand for anyway. 

SMITH:  Well, come on, Tucker, I mean to say that this is going to contravene all that he stands for and everything that he‘s worked on from being a community organizer, working for health care in the state legislature, to what he‘s worked on in the United States congress, as United States senator, I think that overstates it.  And again, this is a decision that hasn‘t—has not yet been made as far as I know. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

SMITH:  And I think there are other, other far more important issues in this race.  And I look forward to the debate, you know, listening to Senator McCain‘s comments.  I look forward to the opportunity to have Senator Obama debate Senator McCain on those issues, on Iraq, on the economy, on the economy which interestingly Senator McCain barely mentioned until the end of his speech after Wisconsin. 

CARLSON:  Well, here‘s a question very quickly.  We‘re almost out of time.  But I—this is a sincere question. 

SMITH:  Sure. 

CARLSON:  .but I don‘t know the answer.  I‘ve read a number of accounts on where Obama stands on school vouchers.  Is he for it, the possibilities of school vouchers, or is he not? 

SMITH:  My understanding is that he does not support school vouchers, but I‘d have to go and look at a variety of different accounts.  That‘s not an issue that I‘m, you know, personally 100 percent certain on. So you‘d have to check elsewhere in the campaign. 

CARLSON:  All right.  Congressman Adam Smith from Washington.  Thanks so much for coming on. 

SMITH:  Thank you. 

CARLSON:  Michelle Obama is making headlines on the campaign trail once again not necessarily in a good way.  Just this afternoon she had to clarify her comment about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.  We‘ll tell you what she said and what it might mean. 

Plus Bill Clinton says if his wife wins Ohio and Texas she‘ll be the nominee.  But Obama is on a roll, he‘s won 10 in a row.  What does he need to do to stop Hillary Clinton before this thing goes all the way to the convention?  We‘ll tell you in a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

CARLSON:  Michelle Obama ruffled more than a few feathers earlier this week when she told a gathering of supporters that the movement surrounding her husband‘s candidacy made her proud of her country for the very first time in her adult life.  Reactions were split between indifference, the feeling of a lot of Obama supporters, and indignation, the publicly expressed feeling of people like John McCain‘s wife Cindy.  Today Mrs.  Obama elaborated on her original remark.  Here is part of what she said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA:  I‘m proud of this country and I‘m proud of the fact that people are ready to roll up their sleeves and do something phenomenal.  But let me tell you something, I know I wouldn‘t be here, standing here—Barack and I, our stories wouldn‘t be possible if it weren‘t for fundamental belief and pride in this country and what it stands for. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Here again, associate editor of the hill, A.B. Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.  A.B., I know that we‘re not allowed—look, the press is so deeply in the tank for Barack Obama that there‘s like hostility if you mention this.  I thought from day one that Michelle Obama, impressive as she is, clearly intelligent, very handsome, self-possessed—I think that she‘s got a chip on her shoulder.  I think it‘s very obvious and I think she‘s a distraction from her husband‘s campaign.  And I think this is going to be a significant problem going forward. 

I thought her remark was telling.  I‘m in the minority on this, but I did think it was telling. 

STODDARD:  I disagree.  I think that I would put it this way; there‘s always strong resistance to strong personalities in these potential first spouses.  And Hillary Clinton experienced this herself in 1992.  I think there have been some comments throughout the year 2007 from Michelle Obama that ruffled—didn‘t sit well with people. 

CARLSON:  Strong personalities. 

(CROSS TALK)

STODDARD:  She‘s actually not the most popular person ever, Barbara Bush. 

CARLSON:  Not among people that know her, but she‘s popular with the public. 

STODDARD:  I think that speaking her mind can get her into trouble.  I think that what she said was unfortunate, because it can be read like she‘s never been proud until this moment. 

CARLSON:  It can be read, that‘s what she said.  That‘s what she said point blank. 

STODDARD:  It is true and she‘s trying to sort of back track and so is the spokes-team for the campaign.  But I think that she needs to be aware that strong personalities in that spouse role always run up against trouble. 

CARLSON:  I respectfully disagree.  I don‘t think it‘s a question of a strong personality.  I know that I like strong personality, particularly in women.  I‘m married to one.  I like that.  I don‘t like the sense that she has a sense of aggrievement.  That‘s the feeling I get from her. 

PRESS:  I would have to give her credit—I criticized her this morning on my radio show and took a lot of crap from Obama supporters for it.  I think what she said was really outrageous.  Even Ralph Nader could find something about America that he‘s proud of in his entire adult life.  For her to say that—

I give her credit.  She corrected it today.  She realized she over stepped.  She‘s a strong personality.  She‘s also new at this.  I think she‘s a huge asset to Barack Obama.  She‘s new at it.  She‘s going to make some mistakes, but I think she‘s learning fast. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t remember her comment where somebody said, are you worried about you husband‘s safety.  She said, as a black man, he could be killed pumping gas in his car.  I don‘t know, is it true?  He‘s not just a black man, but a rich black man with an Ivy League education, who is a United States senator.  Either she‘s saying that America is so racist that being black at a gas station is a mortal risk or I don‘t know what she‘s saying. 

STODDARD:  I‘ve heard her interviewed on this topic and she‘s a very practical person.  She says, I can‘t let myself be guided by fear, because this whole effort was against the odds.  And the fact is, he could get killed walking across the street.  And so could she and so could I and so could you.  I‘ve heard her talk about this several times.  She‘s not talking about anything being racist.  She‘s saying, we need to be guided by hope, not fear. 

CARLSON:  In other words, it‘s more a healthy fatalism.  If that‘s the way she meant it, I agree with that.  That‘s a healthy attitude.  I took it to mean, her view of America is a country that is so deeply screwed up and hateful that people get killed because of their skin color every day at gas stations.  That‘s just not the America I live in. 

STODDARD:  No.  I have actually—

CARLSON:  I will give her the benefit of the doubt because she seems like a perfectly pleasant person.  There‘s a time—every once in a while, Bill, we come across a piece of tape that is so compelling that we have to play it for its own sake.  This is an example.  Hillary Clinton was explaining the other day—you may not know this, but she actually is a life member of the NRA or should be.  Watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I hunted.  My father taught me how to shoot, you know.  I went duck hunting in Arkansas.  I remember standing there in that cold water.  It was so cold.  You know at first light.  I was with a bunch of my friends, all men. 

They were playing a trick on me.  They were saying, we‘re not going to shoot, you shoot.  You know what they wanted to do.  They wanted to embarrass me.  So the pressure was on.  So I shot and I shot a banded duck.  And they were as surprised as I was. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Now in the end, for the next five years political scientists will be wondering what happened.  The most powerful campaign assembled stumbled.  I suspect it‘s things like this that people will look to.  You know, when you‘re that inauthentic—I like Hillary Clinton in some ways.  I believe a lot of things she says.  She‘s a duck hunter?  I don‘t buy it. 

PRESS:  I think she‘s a more authentic hunter than Mitt Romney was. 

CARLSON:  OK, but that‘s a low bar. 

PRESS:  All I‘ve got to say is look, god bless her.  I remember the very same experience.  My father took me duck hunting and I remember—I don‘t know, I was six or something, standing in that duck blind with my feet in cold water.  All I wanted to do was get home and put on a dry pair of socks.  I shot when the first ducks came in, I didn‘t come close.  If she shot a duck, she‘s—

CARLSON:  You‘re saying Hillary Clinton is more of a man than you are?  That‘s what you‘re saying?  OK.  That‘s fair enough.  Should Barack Obama be hitting John McCain?  Should he pivot at this point and just make his campaign all about John McCain? 

STODDARD:  I think that‘s what you do when you are the sort of presumed front-runner, presumed presumptive nominee.  I think he‘s trying to make the case to those wavering in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, and also the Super Delegates within the party that he is tough enough to take on Mr. Experience, Mr. the best national security credentials in the entire Republican field. 

I think that Barack Obama—Hillary started taking on John McCain. 

It‘s not too early for Barack Obama to do that. 

CARLSON:  It just seems easier.  I know that the lineup from Zogby, and I believe this, has Obama way out ahead of McCain and Hillary losing to McCain.  But I think—McCain said last night.  He said, look, we have the problems in Venezuela, turnover in Cuba.  We‘ve got profound problems in Pakistan potentially.  The world is a pretty unstable place.  If any of those incidents become crises, can Barack Obama really look into the camera and say, I‘m going to be better at handling that than John McCain? 

PRESS:  Sure, that‘s John McCain‘s argument.  First of all, I think it‘s very smart of Barack Obama to fire back at John McCain.  John McCain‘s firing at him.  He‘s not going to stand there.  He‘s going to strike back.  What I find interesting, Tucker, is that John McCain is using the same arguments against Barack Obama that Hillary Clinton has been using; eloquent but no substance there. 

Well, it really worked for Hillary, didn‘t it? 

CARLSON:  Let‘s be real.  Let‘s say Obama gets the nomination and four months from now Musharraf is forced from office.  That could very well happen.  There is some low level—maybe not even so low level war within Pakistan, a nuclear armed nation.  That does not help Barack Obama.  No way that will favor Barack Obama. 

PRESS:  He‘s already said he will bomb Pakistan.  McCain is criticizing him for it.  I don‘t think there is any doubt on security issues, Barack Obama will be as tough as John McCain.  If John McCain wants a run on that issue, I think it‘s a losing issue for him. 

CARLSON:  Do you agree with that? 

STODDARD:  I think John McCain has to work with what he has.  If I were John McCain, I‘d run—Barack Obama didn‘t mention Pakistan or Cuba last night.  John McCain needs to expose any weakness he can in Barack Obama. 

The thing is this, for John McCain his challenges are great.  I think what he‘s doing now is talking to the Republican National Committee and donors and media.  To go after Barack Obama and find a narrative on that is good.  He doesn‘t know yet how to talk about the economy and expand his message. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think he‘ll win on that.  I don‘t think McCain will ever win on the economy.  I‘m just saying, if the country doesn‘t care about foreign policy, we don‘t pay attention to anything outside our borders.  We‘re very self-absorbed.  We always have been.  Every once in a while we‘re shaken out of that coma by dramatic things that happen abroad.  Let‘s say something dramatic does happen abroad.  I just don‘t think people will vote for Barack Obama if they feel like there‘s a real war going on. 

PRESS:  Probably that‘s the only hope that John McCain has. 

CARLSON:  I agree with that. 

PRESS:  Because that‘s the only issue he‘s got.  We‘ve heard his argument.  It‘s going to be protect America or surrender to the al Qaeda.  That‘s going to be his MO.  I don‘t think the American people are just going to buy that line anymore, Tucker.  The other thing is what‘s interesting here, for the last year, the Republicans knew they were going to run against Hillary.  They had their whole game plan.  She was going to unite the party. 

Now, they are facing maybe the reality that they are going to have to totally reconfigure to run against Obama. 

CARLSON:  It‘s a huge problem.  In tends seconds, should Obama pick Tony Zinni or a military figure as his running mate. 

STODDARD:  I think he should.  I think that‘s preferable to a woman without foreign policy experience. 

CARLSON:  I completely agree with that.  Thank you both very much.  Quick programming note, tune in to MSNBC tonight for the premier of our Decision 2008, the Candidate series.  At 10:00 p.m. get an inside look at Barack Obama‘s personal and political journey, from long shot to presidential hopeful.  At 11:00, a close look at the life of Hillary Clinton, the first woman who could win both her party‘s nomination and the presidency, theoretically. 

Coming up, Barack Obama makes inroads with white male voters, leading many to ask, does race still matter in the Democrat (sic) primary.  We‘ll talk to Obama supporter, former D.C. Mayor for life Marion Berry, coming up. 

Plus, two cops above and beyond the call of duty by risking their own lives to save another.  The daring rescue you have to see to believe.  Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  But now some are suggesting that I must be naive, that if you talk about hope, it means that you‘re fuzzy headed, you‘re not realistic.  You‘re pedaling in false hopes.  You need a reality check.  The implication is that if you talk about hope, that you must be passive and you‘re just waiting for good things to happen, and you don‘t realize how mean and tough the world can be.  But I also know this, Houston, that nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened except somebody somewhere was willing to hope. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  So many remarkable things have happened in American politics over the last six months.  It‘s going to be years before we sort them all out.  Why wait?  Joining us now for tomorrow‘s analysis today is a man who has forgotten more about politics than most of us ever knew, the former mayor and current city councilman from Washington, D.C., Marion Barry. 

Mr. Mayor, thanks for coming on. 

MARION BARRY, FMR. MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Thank you, Tucker.

CARLSON:  So Hillary Clinton has been here for 15 years in the District of Columbia, very popular with black voters throughout that time, she and her husband.  She gets slaughtered in D.C., losing 24 to Obama‘s 75. 

BARRY:  It wasn‘t just D.C.

CARLSON:  That‘s right, in the whole Potomac region. 

BARRY:  Look at Wisconsin last night.  

CARLSON:  What happened? 

BARRY:  Well, several things happened.  One, there was a number of undecided voters period, but certainly among the African-American community, a lot of undecided people.  Two, these pollsters have been wrong.  I haven‘t seen one they‘ve called right yet.  I have a pollster of my own that does my polling for me.  I say, how do you poll, who do you talk to.  They are talking to people—sometimes people will tell you anything when they call them up.  Why should they tell you the truth?  They mislead you. 

I think that Obama was taken—I mean, I think Hillary, Senator Clinton—be respectful—underestimated Barack, underestimated him.  And when you underestimate somebody in politics, you get what you got, what she got.  You can‘t underestimate anybody.  He‘s a fresh face with fresh ideas, moving ahead and he appeals to the inner self of people, not just hope.  He has very concrete ideas about what to do about America.  We‘re tired of the same old thing. 

Senator Clinton seems to represent the past, while he represents the future. 

CARLSON:  Are we underestimating her now?  Of all people, you know a lot about comebacks.  Is it possible for her to stage a comeback from where she is? 

BARRY:  Absolutely. 

CARLSON:  What should she do? 

BARRY:  I‘m not going to tell her that.  I‘m support Barack.  I‘m not giving away trade secrets.  I‘ve got some ideas about that.  I tell you what has to happen.  Really, Tucker, I‘m surprised at the campaign and how badly it‘s been run, Senator Clinton‘s campaign.  It has the most veteran campaigners, people I know personally, who have been at this a long time, know the ins and outs of politics, and they have just not done it right. 

Here is what happened; Barack is expanding his base, and he reached into the undecideds and to the independents and a few Republicans.  The only way he can go is to get votes from her.  So her base is bleeding.  And rather than apply a tourniquet politically, they put a Band-Aid on it.  It‘s a Band-Aid.  That‘s ridiculous to talk about that.  What we need to do is talk about the issues that affect the American people, et cetera. 

CARLSON:  Have they also been—I agree with you, the campaign has not been well run.  It‘s also been pretty savage.  At one point, a bunch of surrogates for Hillary Clinton got out there and brought up Obama‘s youthful drug use, as if that defined him as a man. 

BARRY:  That was ridiculous. 

CARLSON:  You think that was ridiculous?

BARRY:  Johnson implied that, which was ridiculous.  We‘ve got to stay on the issues.  One thing I‘ve learned in politics—and I‘ve been at it a long time—you‘ve got to stay on the message.  You can‘t flounder all over the place. 

CARLSON:  But for the Clintons, the message was clearly that Barack Obama is black.  They played the race card.  Bill Clinton went out there and compared him to Jesse Jackson.  Were you offended by that? 

BARRY:  No, in the sense that I didn‘t worry about that.  I knew that Barack was not going to be put in that kind of bag.  They almost got him off message in South Carolina.  He‘s back on now, talking about the kinds of things that we want to do, in terms of the economy, health care, education, the quality of life. 

CARLSON:  What about DC statehood? 

BARRY:  He‘s for that, solid for that. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t want you to shake my faith in Barack Obama.  But you‘re saying that if Barack Obama becomes president and there is a Democratic Congress, you think D.C. could actually become a state. 

BARRY:  He can work as hard as he can for it.  On the other hand, Bill Clinton was for statehood.  He didn‘t work as hard as I think he should have.  Hillary Clinton is for statehood.  And so—but the issue is how do you get the Congress.  We fell three votes short of giving Eleanor Holmes Norton her vote.  So we‘re going to get it this coming session, because the climate has changed. 

But again, back to this, what happened is people don‘t realize that this whole thing about changing and change, it didn‘t start this year.  It started when the Democrats took over the House and the Senate.  That was about change.  Right across the river here in Maryland, Donna Edwards beat a long time friend of mine, Albert Wynn, about change. 

CARLSON:  That, which was almost not noticed in the presidential campaign, was a sad race.  Albert Wynn was a really --  

CARLSON:  He was decent.  Again, about change.  You can‘t underestimate people.  I‘m not going—it would be a mistake.  I heard your earlier commentary on your show, maybe Bill Press, said we can‘t—no, it was the representative—that you cannot rest on your laurels.  Barack cannot stop being aggressive, cannot be energetic.  He‘s just as fresh at 9:00 p.m. as he is at 9:00 in the morning. 

CARLSON:  Mr. Mayor, I appreciate it.  Marion Barry, thank you for joining us. 

BARRY:  Thank you, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  So much for housing bust, this Manhattan property is going for royal prices.  It could be yours for just a couple tens of millions.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON:  From Marion Barry to the Marion Barry of the news business, we welcome Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  You say the sweetest things.  Thank you so much.  That‘s one comparison I never thought I‘d hear, but I accept it graciously.  Tuesday nights, Tucker, mean two things in this country, presidential primaries and “American Idol.”

Last night, the juggernaut singing competition continued on another network.  And despite having no hard data, experts believe tons and tons and tons of people watched it.  The news for Idol is not all good, though, Tucker.  Two of the leading “American Idol” indicators were down sharply overnight. 

First, I couldn‘t sleep not one lick after working late, but I did not feel compelled to watch the show on DVR.  That‘s very bad for “American Idol.”  Second, MSNBC‘s single most obsessed “American Idol” fan, who shall remain nameless until after the show, did watch and said to this reporter, quote, I don‘t know; it‘s just kind of missing something, end quote. 

Idol futures sank on that news.  Prediction, history will show that the show, Tucker, is past its prime.  You heard it here first. 

CARLSON:  End of an era, Bill. 

WOLFF:  Well, it‘s the beginning of an end of an era.  It‘s such a huge era, it will take a while for people to recognize it.  You know how the ‘80s actually started in ‘83. 

CARLSON:  It‘s like the fall of Rome.  There was a Visigoth here, a Vandal there, but no one added it up. 

WOLFF:  The ‘50s lasted until like ‘63.  The ‘60s lasted until ‘72.  So “American Idol” is kind of done, but it will be another few years, but you heard it here first. 

Now, more senseless, dehumanizing progress to report tonight, this time from the nation of Israel.  A company has devised computer software that allows diners in actual sit down restaurants with knives and forks and all the fixings to order food without interacting with a pesky waiter or waitress.  Critics call it a gimmick, but developers, surprisingly, disagree.  They say it will cut staffing costs for restaurants and increase businesses with savory pictures of food and desert.  It‘s true that there‘s nothing more appetizing than two-dimensional computer images of food. 

Restaurants pay 100 dollars per terminal.  Still in the works, Tucker, the Los Angeles area version of non-human waiter/waitress, which has an audition most afternoons. 

CARLSON:  Very, very good. 

WOLFF:  I do my best work making fun of show business. 

CARLSON:  You definitely do.  I‘m open to the idea. 

WOLFF:  I‘m not.  Talk to people and also tip big.  Those folks work for a living and go home smelling like food.  Believe me, tip your waiters and waitresses generously. 

Now, the subprime mortgage crisis in a housing market that simply could not realistically sustain itself has left the world economy teetering on something very scary and very bad, except on the tiny island nation of Manhattan.  That‘s right.  There you can purchase this modest home for a mere 64 million dollars U.S., which is about 12 bucks in London. 

It‘s on the city‘s Upper East Side with all the modern conveniences.  It‘s five stories tall, has 15 bedrooms, a ballroom, an elevator, 17 bathrooms, in case you have (INAUDIBLE) and then triplets.  With all the money you have left over after you pay the 15 million dollar down payment, go down to St. Vincent and furnish it. 

Finally, Tucker, very quickly, a little dash-cam video that might not make you proud of America, but ought to at least make you proud of human beings.  We are going to Interstate 35 near Ft. Worth, Texas nine days ago.  That‘s an SUV on fire.  Those are police officers Adam Coleman and Victor Tapia (ph) walking right into the smoke and flames and getting the driver out. 

The guy was stuck in the car by his seat beat.  One of the officers used his knife to cut him out, pulled him out, saved his life.  The driver went to the hospital and was released shortly after, at work this very day.  Next time you need a little inspiration, Adam Coleman, Victor Tapia. 

That‘s a hell of a thing they did.  You‘ve got to salute them. 

CARLSON:  Good for them.  Nice way to end the show.  Thank you.  That‘s terrific.  Bill Wolff at headquarters.  That does it for us.  Thanks for watching.  We‘ll see you right back here tomorrow night.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris.  Have a great night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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