updated 3/4/2008 11:35:37 AM ET 2008-03-04T16:35:37

Guests: Jeanne Cummings, Hilary Rosen, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Jim Warren

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST:  If the measure were her on the presence on television and the vigor of her campaigning, Hillary Clinton may have mustered some last-minute momentum heading into tomorrow‘s critical primaries in Ohio and Texas.  But if you measure by Democratic Party elders like Bill Richardson, Senator Clinton‘s performance tomorrow is virtually irrelevant.  It‘s over, according to them. 

Welcome to the show. 

As the Clinton campaign gained media traction with the measures that Barack Obama isn‘t prepared to deal with international crises, Governor Richardson went on television and said this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I

just think that D Day is Tuesday.  Whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be, in my judgment, the nominee. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That would most likely be Barack Obama.  By most campaign map, Obama will almost certainly lead the delegate count after Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas when those results are in.  But the Clinton campaign shows no signs of quitting at this point. 

So what should we expect tomorrow and what should we expect in the days that follow? 

Hillary Clinton‘s national campaign co-chair Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones joins us in a minute to tell us. 

Meanwhile, Barack Obama‘s fans has become distinctly defensive.  In Ohio he told a crowd that, quote, “he prays to Jesus every night.”  Another effort to refute the whispered campaign that he is or was a Muslim, asked directly about Obama‘s Christian faith on “60 Minutes” last night, Senator Clinton responded this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “60 MINUTES”)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I take him on the basis of what he said.  And you know, there isn‘t any reason to doubt that. 

STEVE KROFT, CORRESPONDENT, “60 MINUTES”:  You said you take Senator Obama at his word that he is not a Muslim.

CLINTON:  Right.  Right. 

KROFT:  You don‘t believe that he‘s a Muslim or implied, right? 

CLINTON:  No.  No.  Why would I?  There is no—no, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  How badly does the question of religion and the time spent addressing it hurt Obama‘s campaign?  Or does the opportunity to proclaim his Christian faith and appears a victim of political smears actually help him? 

We‘ll talk about it with Jeanne Cummings of the “Politico” and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen. 

We‘ll also examine the trial of Tony Rezko in Chicago.  He‘d the indicted developer and former friend of Barack Obama‘s.  What should we look for in that trial and what political danger to Rezko‘s legal troubles pose for the Obama for president campaign. 

We begin tonight with the Hillary Clinton campaign on the eve of another supposed make-or-break round of primaries.  Joining us now is Hillary Clinton‘s national—campaign co-chair, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio. 

Congressman, thanks a lot for coming on. 

So here‘s what—here‘s where we are now, as far as I can tell.  Barack Obama leads the delegate race by 162 delegates.  Let‘s just do the math really quickly.  Where do you expect to be, the Clinton campaign expect to be Wednesday morning and will it be enough? 

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES, CLINTON CAMPAIGN NATL. CO-CHAIR:  We expect to win Ohio and win Texas, and be in a position to move on to Pennsylvania, and win in Pennsylvania as well. 

And it‘s pretty exciting to have the opportunity to see the polling move our way.  When it moves our way it makes a difference on behalf of the voters in Ohio who are looking to say, hmm, undecided, where should I go?  Hillary Clinton is right on all the issues that are important to Ohioans, like the economy, like foreclosure issues, around jobs, around brining green jobs back to Ohio, around reducing the college cost. 

So I think that when it‘s all said and done, at the end of the day, Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island are likely to be ours. 

CARLSON:  Likely to be yours.  What if they‘re not?  I mean your campaign has made the argument from the beginning that it‘s about delegates.  It‘s not about the popular vote.  It‘s not about who‘s the better person, even about who has better ideas.  It‘s about the delegates.  It‘s about the math. 

Do you really expect that you will be close to closing that $ 160-odd delegate gap? 

TUBBS JONES:  With just—Texas and Ohio, sir, is that the question? 

CARLSON:  Yes, and Rhode Island, which you (INAUDIBLE) as well. 

TUBBS JONES:  Well, Texas, Ohio—Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, that will give us a significant number of delegates that we need.  We‘ve got superdelegates. 

See, you want to close out the possibility that the other states that still have yet to vote won‘t count in this number.  We believe every voter should count. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t want that at all.  I believe every vote should count.  I‘m enjoying this.  I‘m not trying to shut down the process, not that I‘m able to even if I wanted to.  I think this is great.  I just want a straight answer on mathematical grounds on how this continues.  Make my day.  Tell me how it works. 

TUBBS JONES:  You know what?  The straight answer should come from the mouth of Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

TUBBS JONES:  I‘m just one her persons, one of her co-chairs, and I‘m with her until the election is over with.  The straight answer is the numbers must come from her.  I cannot give you that. 

CARLSON:  OK.  You were quoted in “The Washington Post” as attacking, quote, “the Harvard arrogance of Barack Obama‘s supporters.”  What do you mean by that? 

TUBBS JONES:  Let me tell you, this was right after the Iowa caucus.  And my colleague and good friend Artur Davis says, well, Senator Clinton now should decide that she‘s going to get out of race and go into—and give it over to Barack Obama.  And I called it Harvard arrogance because this young man from Harvard and many of the other Harvardites involved in the campaign have an arrogant belief that they are entitled. 

And I say to them let‘s finish this.  Let‘s get through the election.  Let‘s see where the numbers are.  Let‘s see where the delegates are.  And then we make a decision and that‘s what I call Harvard arrogance. 

CARLSON:  So if Barack. 

TUBBS JONES:  And I even told Artur Davis before he read about it, I said I called you Harvard arrogance so you know it came directly from me. 

CARLSON:  So if Barack Obama and his Harvard buddies take the White House, how will their arrogance be manifested in his administration, would you say? 

TUBBS JONES:  Well, you know what?  I can‘t necessarily speak to that.  But what I—I used the term based on his belief, not his, Artur Davis‘s belief that Senator Clinton should have given up after to Iowa caucus. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  You are also quoted as saying—I‘m quoting now.  “I say shame on anyone who is engaged in that conduct to put that kind of pressure on John Lewis,” that being Congressman John Lewis of Georgia who was sort of—appeared to be waffling now that he has come out foursquare for Barack Obama as a superdelegate. 

Do you believe he was pressured into that decision? 

TUBBS JONES:  Absolutely.  And there‘s information that will verify what I‘m saying.  He had to change his cell phone number twice.  You saw—initially the question, am I going to do it, am I not going to do it?  I love John Lewis and John Lewis fought for all of us to enjoy the rights that we enjoy, and he‘s laid down, got beat in the head, for us to be able to stand up. 

And I‘m suggesting to you that he‘s earned to be able to take a position any way he wants to with the Barack, without Barack, with Hillary. 

CARLSON:  Oh I agree. 

TUBBS JONES:  And no one to put pressure on him because. 

CARLSON:  I agree completely, but you‘re suggesting that John Lewis can‘t handle the pressure and that he cave to that pressure, and that he‘s not standing by. 

TUBBS JONES:  No, I did not. 

CARLSON:  You just said he was pressured into it.  He‘s not standing by principle.  He‘s caving to pressure.  You just said that. 

TUBBS JONES:  No, I—you know what?  You‘re not going to put words in my mouth.  I do not say. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

TUBBS JONES:  I did not say John Lewis caved to pressure. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

TUBBS JONES:  He made his own decision. 

CARLSON:  All right. 

TUBBS JONES:  He used—said words that caused—what caused it to change and so be it.  But I‘m not John Lewis. 

CARLSON:  OK. 

TUBBS JONES:  And I‘m standing by the person that I support.  I am standing by the woman I gave my word to.  And you see, in politics, that‘s what everybody expects.  In business, in friendship, if you give your friend your word, then you should stick by your word. 

CARLSON:  Well, I agree.  And. 

TUBBS JONES:  And that‘s integrity. 

CARLSON:  I agree with you.  You should call Mark Penn and remind him of that, Mark Penn, the chief strategist of the Clinton campaign, quoted, as you know, today in the—“L.A. Times” saying, basically, yes, there‘s this Clinton campaign, don‘t know too much about it, not that involved in it.  Here‘s a guy who took $10 million from the campaign you‘re co-chairing, and now he is distancing himself from that campaign before it‘s even over.  Why is he still working there? 

TUBBS JONES:  You know what?  That‘s not my decision to make.  Mark Penn was hired by Hillary Clinton and the people early on in the campaign.  I‘m doing my job.  I‘m not worried about Mark Penn.  We‘ll deal with him later. 

CARLSON:  OK.  All right.  I bet you will. 

Congresswoman, I appreciate your coming on.  Thank you very much. 

TUBBS JONES:  It‘s always good to be with you, having me back. 

CARLSON:  And good luck dealing with Mark Penn later.  Oh, I love the

the ominousness of that. 

Barack Obama declares again that he is not a Muslim.  He says he prays to Jesus every night and goes to church as much as he can.  Is he an evangelical now? 

Plus Gloria Steinem, not an evangelical, campaigning in Texas for Hillary Clinton.  She calls into question John McCain‘s time as a POW in North Vietnam.  We‘ve got the details on that coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Barack Obama says he‘s not, was not, and never has been a Muslim.  And like oral Roberts he says he prays to Jesus every night.  More on that coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  I‘m a devout Christian.  I have been a member of the same church for 20 years.  I pray to Jesus every night. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  More than year into his campaign for the Democratic nomination, having restated and restated his Christian beliefs, Barack Obama is still answering questions about his faith and trying to rebut rumors prevalent on the Internet that he is a Muslim. 

Who‘s behind the whisper campaign?  What effect it will have on Barack Obama‘s chance to be president? 

Joining us now the Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen and senior correspondent from the “Politico” Jeanne Cummings. 

Welcome to you both. 

Hilary, he prays to Jesus every night.  Not often you hear a Democratic candidate say something like that. 

HILARY ROSEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  It‘s good.  I mean I think it‘s helped him that he is—he‘s genuinely talked about his faith throughout the campaign. 

CARLSON:  Do you remember all the (INAUDIBLE) Bush took in the debate in 2000 when he was asked who his favorite philosopher was and he said Jesus.  And every liberal I know went, barf, that‘s terrible.  He‘s some snake handler, Jesus freak nutcase, and now Obama has said and once against it‘s great. 

ROSEN:  I just think that‘s because people just didn‘t find it credible, not because people don‘t like Jesus.  That you know. 

CARLSON:  They just didn‘t believe it when he said that. 

ROSEN:  Yes.  It was because he couldn‘t actually think of another philosopher.  I think that‘s what people assumed.  But there‘s a—or he was playing to a base he was looking for.  But it was just—it seemed cynical.  I think Obama seems more genuine. 

But I think this issue of, you know, this constant having to say that he‘s a Christian and not a Muslim, it‘s just outrageous.  I feel awful for the guy that he has to keep doing this.  And, you know, we saw the Cunningham the right wing last week continuing to push the Hussein thing. 

And frankly, the straight, you know, legitimate media is picking up on

this.  You know for Steve Kroft to ask Hillary Clinton whether he thought -

she thought Barack Obama was a Muslim was just—that perpetuate the story. 

CARLSON:  Let‘s get that.  Jeanne, take a look at something you‘ve probably have seen already from “60 Minutes” last night.  This is Steve Kroft asking Hillary Clinton her view of Barack Obama‘s faith. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KROFT:  You don‘t believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim? 

CLINTON:  Of course not.  I mean, that‘s—you know, there is no basis for that.  You know, I take him on the basis of what he says.  And you know, there isn‘t any reason to doubt that. 

KROFT:  You said you take Senator Obama at his word that he‘s not a Muslim. 

CLINTON:  Right.  Right. 

KROFT:  You don‘t believe that he‘s a Muslim or implied, right? 

CLINTON:  No, no.  Why would I?  There‘s no—no, there is nothing to base that on as far as I know. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  See, I think this is actually a pretty sophisticated campaign being waged by the other side against Hillary Clinton.  So she says of course not.  There is no basis for that.  There isn‘t any reason to doubt that.  No, why would I?  But it‘s the last line, as far as I know, that she‘s getting hammered on.  I‘m actually kind of satisfied with her response. 

Do you think she is calling into question his faith? 

JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO:  No, I don‘t.  But, you know, it is kind of a lawyerly thing as Hilary and I were talking about, that she adds this sort of qualifier at the end. 

CARLSON:  Yes. 

CUMMINGS:  But I do think she was forceful up until that point.  The problem with the answer is that we had so much discussion about this question and how you respond to it.  You know, is he a Muslim or not?  It‘s been brought up and brought up and the answer is no.  The answer is just no.  And so why she hadn‘t gotten that answer out just as clean as she could. 

ROSEN:  Why is he even asking her?  I mean—what. 

CARLSON:  Why do the Democrats care?  Wait a minute.  Hold on, wait. 

Why is it offensive?  See, why would it be offensive if he were a Muslim? 

ROSEN:  Is it true that Tucker Carlson is an Episcopalian?  Do you know if it‘s true? 

CARLSON:  Absolutely it‘s true.  And it‘s mildly embarrassing, I‘ll admit it, but in the end I‘ll concede.  But my point is, since when have Democrats. 

ROSEN:  But the answer is how are—you know, nobody knows another person‘s religion unless they say it.  Let him speak for himself. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  I agree. 

ROSEN:  If Steve Kroft thinks it matters, ask Barack Obama. 

CARLSON:  I agree completely. 

ROSEN:  Leave Hillary Clinton out of that. 

CARLSON:  OK.  But I agree and I think that it‘s unfair and all that.  But on the other hand, Democrats are acting like it‘s a slur that he might be called a Muslim.  Since when is it bad to be a Muslim?  Is that a new position now? 

ROSEN:  It‘s not.  I mean that‘s the whole point.  It is this. 

CARLSON:  Then why is it bad to ask if it‘s not bad? 

ROSEN:  Because—why is it relevant over and over and over again? 

CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  It‘s not—if it weren‘t intended as a slur it wouldn‘t be relevant over and over and over again. 

CUMMINGS:  And to get back to your original question about the I-pray-to-Jesus kind of comment. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

CUMMINGS:  .this, in this cycle, I think Democrats took away a big lesson from ‘04. 

CARLSON:  Oh yes.  Definitely. 

CUMMINGS:  And that‘s clearly to speak openly about their faith.  But nobody, I think, really integrated that lesson better than Barack Obama has.  When I went down into North Carolina he has been holding these religious campaign—not him personally—but his campaign has been holding religious seminars, organizing in a way that Bush did with evangelicals in 2004. 

He‘s doing it more than any other Democrat.  And I think that that‘s what we saw in Texas.  That was one of those seminars.  He‘s had gospel, choirs, gospel concerts going on where they collect signatures of people at that time.  They get volunteers from those sorts of events.  He has surrogates and himself in the case in Texas go in to talk about his faith.  Very similar to the way Bush did. 

CARLSON:  I agree.  You are absolutely right.  And I think he is probably smart.  On the other hand, you think, well, they‘re not that dumb, the Christians.  This is a guy who supports legalized post-viability abortion.  They‘re going to vote for him anyway?  Do you really think that?  I don‘t think so.  Maybe they will.  I mean aren‘t they interested—aren‘t there some issues that attach to the identity, the political identity of even—being an evangelical that are (INAUDIBLE)? 

CUMMINGS:  Well, all churches aren‘t evangelicals.  I think. 

ROSEN:  And I‘m not saying. 

CUMMINGS:  I think the—you know, (INAUDIBLE) evangelicals. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  He‘s not. 

CUMMINGS:  There‘s a whole—he‘s organizing other denominations. 

ROSEN:  You know—and I think in some respects taking a page out of the Bill Clinton playbook, who spent a lot of time in black southern Baptist churches. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

ROSEN:  You know, energizing the African-American community for his campaign.  That‘s an excellent place.  We saw it in Ohio in 2004.  We‘re seeing it now in Texas. 

CARLSON:  I mean look,, I‘m terribly surprised Jimmy Carter won a ton of evangelicals.  And I mean, you know, we‘ll probably be surprised on Election Day. 

ROSEN:  I don‘t think we‘re going to be surprised about that issue. 

CARLSON:  You don‘t think we will?  OK. 

ROSEN:  No. 

CARLSON:  Just a couple of weeks ago, John McCain said no new taxes if elected president.  It turns out maybe he didn‘t really mean no new taxes.  Did McCain set a trap for himself in which he‘s already caught? 

Plus Hillary Clinton is keeping 170,000 grand in donations from people at a company accused of sexual harassment, a company whose boss is a disbarred lawyer with a criminal record.  We‘ll tell you the rationale for keeping that money. 

This is MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  Read my lips.  No new taxes. 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:  On taxes, are you a read-my-lips candidate? 

No new taxes no matter what? 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL:  No new taxes. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, the first President Bush, you‘ll remember, went a long way towards sinking his reelection bid with his promise not to raise taxes.  He went on to lose to a young, unknown from-middle-of-the-country, who promised voters change and hope.  Does the same fate await John McCain or did McCain wiggle out of it with this recent statement? 

Quote, “I‘m not making a ‘Read my lips‘ statement.  In that I will not raise taxes.  But I‘m not saying I can envision a scenario where I would.”  Whatever that means. 

Back with us now Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hilary Rosen and senior correspondent for “Politico” Jeanne Cummings. 

Jeanne, what does that mean? 

CUMMINGS:  Well, what that means is that McCain has yet to firm up his economic message.  When you say. 

CARLSON:  I would say. 

CUMMINGS:  We got a little work to do there.  You know, it‘s sort of. 

CARLSON:  Was that a weaseling out or a predicate to weaseling out? 

CUMMINGS:  Yes.  It was a weaseling out. 

CARLSON:  That‘s what I thought. 

CUMMINGS:  Yes.  He‘s not signed the pledge.  And then, you know, Stephanopoulos asked the question in kind of a funny, different way than it‘s normally asked.  Are you a kind of no-new-tax. 

CARLSON:  Right. 

CUMMINGS:  .kind of pledge sort of guy?  And he said yes.  So then he had to go and clarify it because he doesn‘t want to make those kinds of commitments.  That‘s why he has refused to sign the pledge.  And so—I mean this is all really tricky turf for him and it just demonstrates how far their campaign has got to go to solidify what his message is going to be on the number one issue to voters. 

CARLSON:  Certainly to Republicans voters.  Absolutely.  They really care. 

ROSEN:  It looks like John McCain has kind of woken up this week and said, oh my god, I‘m actually going to be the nominee. 

CARLSON:  The dog who‘s got the cards, I‘ll say. 

ROSEN:  Now I have to figure out all these positions I‘ve had on so many different sides of issues over the year, which, of course, senators are allowed to have with very little consequence, you know, and turns their views constantly. 

CARLSON:  Sure. 

ROSEN:  But as nominees, you don‘t get that leeway.  So he has changed his position on taxes.  He‘s now changed it on Social Security saying maybe he‘d even consider a little bit of increase in the—decrease in the growth of Social Security.  He‘s kind of a regulator.  I mean he‘s into regulating cable TV and broadcast. 

CARLSON:  Kind of a (INAUDIBLE), yes, he‘s actually an accomplished regulator.  Yes. 

ROSEN:  I‘m thinking if you‘re an independent or, you know, a moderate Republican, who wants to protect Social Security, and wants to, you know, keep things clean on taxes and other things, are you going to vote for McCain or you actually going to start looking at the Democrats. 

CARLSON:  Well, I don‘t know.  Actually I think that those nuances, if they are even nuances, those differences from the (INAUDIBLE) Republican orthodox that help him with independents and moderates would be my view.  But we‘ll see. 

ROSEN:  But this notion of running away from his primary voters is not going to fly.  I mean. 

CARLSON:  Well, everyone does that every time. 

CUMMINGS:  He did all this to the middle.  But I think his bigger problem is that he‘s so inconsistent.  I mean in that one interview, he backed off a position on his Web site and he changed his position on no new taxes.  This is all ammunition for the Democrats 527s, whatever for the general election. 

ROSEN:  And Social Security like that third rail. 

CUMMINGS:  These are the kinds—it‘s a huge issue. 

ROSEN:  You can‘t mess up your comments and views on Social Security. 

There‘s just no room there. 

CARLSON:  Really—one that people who‘s been rooting hardest for Hillary Clinton, I believe, tomorrow night is John McCain and his staff.  They want to run against her and for good reason because the Hillary Clinton people send people like Gloria Steinem, the 73-year-old feminist icon, out on the road to say things like this.  She said this in Texas the other day. 

Quote, “Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain,” the odd experiment never occurred to me, “and John McCain got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years.”  It was actually only five and ½ but still.  The press would ask, she said, “What did you do wrong to get captured?  What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?” 

Huh?  So Gloria Steinem is suggesting that John McCain is responsible for his own capture and did bad things while in prison? 

ROSEN:  If you think I‘m going to defend that you‘re wrong.  But. 

CARLSON:  That‘s demented. 

ROSEN:  What was interesting was some of the other things she said, actually, rang a little truer to me which, you know, I think the point that people are making is that, you know, women have this sort of perception that people like us to be in this victim role.  And, you know, men are loved if they win, she said.  And women are only loved once they lose.  I thought actually in politics that‘s kind of a. 

CARLSON:  Well, that maybe a deep point about life.  Let me just make the obvious point that women are often loved when they lose by other women, by the way, which is the key to the success of the “Oprah” show, wouldn‘t you say? 

ROSEN:  Maybe so but there‘s also this sort of protective piece.  I also thought she has some interesting things to talk—when she talked about racism in that part of Obama‘s appeal might be that, you know, we are looking for redemption and --  for America‘s horrible past. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t think there is any question about that. 

ROSEN:  But the rest of it I think you don‘t take on John McCain. 

CARLSON:  Yes.  She‘s not a. 

Hillary Clinton‘s chief strategist, Mike Penn, he says he has no direct authority in her campaign.  He‘s merely an outside message adviser.  But that‘s not what her campaign says.  What in the world is going on inside Hillary world?  And does it matter tomorrow? 

Plus Bill Clinton is holding more campaign events today than his wife is.  He told the crowd in Texas he‘s just a pawn on her political chessboard.  A free campaign aide.  Is her campaign getting what it‘s paying for in that case? 

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMY POEHLER, “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”:  It is going to take a fighter, not a talker.  Someone who is aggressive enough and relentless enough and demanding enough to take them on, someone so annoying, so pushy, so grating, so bossy and shrill, with a personality so unpleasant, that at the end of the day, the special interests will have to go: enough, we give up!  Life is too short to deal with this awful woman!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Total genius.  Written by a total genius too, Jim Downey (ph) of “Saturday Night Live.”  Very good.  The Clinton campaign is pulling out every last stop in an effort to win in Ohio and Texas tomorrow.  As that is happening, Clinton adviser Mark Penn, long understood to be a key figure, a central figure in that campaign, essentially abdicated responsibility for most of what has happened there in the last year. 

According to the “L.A. Times,” Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend, quote, “that he had no direct authority in the campaign.”  He described himself as merely an outside message adviser with no campaign staff reporting to me.  I have—“had no say or involvement in four key areas,” he wrote, “the financial, budget and resource allocation, political organizational sides.  Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes, Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas.” 

No finger prints, in other words.  How does it all add up when the campaigning stops and voting starts in four states tomorrow?  Here again, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst Hillary Rosen, and senior correspondent for “The Politico,” Jeanne Cummings. 

I think that violates every rule of good manners and decency and campaign etiquette and tradition.  He is bailing on the campaign before it is even over. 

CUMMINGS:  Truly shocking.  It is at this critical time that her top adviser would start to, you know, put some air between him and the campaign.  Let‘s keep in mind this guy has been paid eight million dollars so far that we know of, and he acts like he‘s like the grounds keeper, you know.  That they are having these big meetings inside and he‘s just outside clipping the hedges, you know. 

It‘s just incredible.  He‘s—her messages are messages that he helped develop.  The polling analysis, he is in the heart of all of the important strategic decisions that are being made by that campaign.  And it is—he simply cannot disown it in this way.  It is evidence of the kind of rife and dissension that‘s now at the top of that campaign.  It is not help to Hillary. 

CARLSON:  Yes, Hillary, how long before Bill Clinton starts writing e-mails like that?  I didn‘t know what was happening.  He bails, too. 

ROSEN:  Short of Bill Clinton, there was no bigger foot in that campaign. 

CARLSON:  Thank you for saying that—

ROSEN:  -- then Mark Penn. 

CARLSON:  We didn‘t imagine that. 

ROSEN:  No, there‘s no imagining that.  It is disgusting for him do this, particularly since Hillary Clinton is actually doing well pretty well these last 48 hours. 

CARLSON:  All of a sudden, yes. 

ROSEN:  I think most people on her team would say that actually everybody is getting along better and that over the last couple of weeks, people are looking at more strategy and people are feeling—and Hillary herself is feeling most optimistic.  That‘s just disgusting. 

CARLSON:  Thank you for being—I mean this.  Thank you for being so honest about that.  Sometimes you cover campaigns, it‘s like you live in this parallel universe, where nothing that‘s obviously true is actually true, and no one admits it.  That comports with everything I heard. 

Let‘s say Hillary—just to game this out very briefly—let‘s say she wins Ohio tomorrow and Rhode Island, but loses Vermont and Texas.  She is going to stay in.  Isn‘t she?

CUMMINGS:  I think so.  I think the margins are important.  I think there was a time when the campaign was saying, we have to win them both.  And then they continued to move that goal post over and over again, to the point where people are saying she might have an upset by winning in Ohio.  I mean, she was up by double digits, you know, not too long ago.  But it would be, you know, a great victory for her to simply survive and win. 

So they moved expectations.  They moved their own strategic thinking quite substantially, so that it would not surprise me if, even though she did lose Ohio, and her—her husband, President Clinton said, got to have them both.  But let‘s say she lost Texas and won Ohio, it wouldn‘t surprise me that she would go on to Pennsylvania. 

CARLSON:  Is the strategy, Hillary, that they are waiting for the Obama campaign to blow up?  They have been saying since the beginning, you don‘t know this guy.  There is a lot more here.  The press has abdicated its responsibility to dig into the past.  Is the idea that—stay in, people may mock them, but he could explode? 

ROSEN:  I don‘t know the strategy, if there is one.  I‘m assuming there is one.  A couple of things; Ohio is really important.  Ohio is a general election state.  So winning Ohio matters.  I think it matters to Democratic voters.  If she ends up having won Ohio and having won Florida and having won Tennessee and having won a whole bunch of states that matter a lot in the general election, you know, I think it is her decision.  She has a lot of credibility for whichever way she decides. 

I think that something else has happened here, which is that in some respects, because Obama has done so well over the last month or month and a half, that, in essence, a little bit of a veil has been lifted, like we have to protect him.  And, you know, he—for all—

CARLSON:  On the part of the press, you mean?

ROSEN:  On the part of the press and on the part of the public, sort of the freshness.  We are not going to ruin this guy by making him stand up to, you know, the same kind of scrutiny all candidates stand up to.  In some respects, I think some of the Clinton people feel like the campaign has just king of gotten going.  Obama may feel like he has been through the wringer for eight months, and he would be legitimate in feeling that way. 

I think that there is this sense among a lot of folks that people are just starting to scrutinize a little bit more.  And I don‘t think there is going to be, you know, a clear cut decision tomorrow. 

CUMMINGS:  I don‘t think that—I don‘t think that the press has protected him all that much.  Let‘s face it, a lot of the stories that we are reading now that are viewed as oh, now, they are getting tough on him are reruns, of which—what has already been written. 

CARLSON:  The basic facts of that story that Obama bought his house on the same day as Rezko, or actually his wife bought the parcel of land next door, and that Obama would not have, by the seller‘s instructions, been able to buy that house without Rezko‘s help, suggests a pretty close relationship that is not reflected in the stories I read.  It‘s like, well, how close is the relationship?  Pretty darned close, judging by those facts, which were not clear to me until yesterday‘s “New York Times” or Saturday‘s “New York Times.”  I don‘t know. 

CUMMINGS:  A lot of that was written last fall.  There were a lot of Rezko stories last fall. 

CARLSON:  I missed that detail. 

CUMMINGS:  People are going after the trial.  I mean, we are—we are doing our job.  I think those stories now are taking on much more meaning because of where he is. 

ROSEN:  I don‘t think the press has been kiss ass and now everybody is finally doing their job.  I think it is a little more subtle than that.  I think that it is people saying, all right, now we are really down to the wire.  We are really choosing.  I think the Clinton campaign has done a much better job focusing her message on the real points of differences, and the Obama campaign isn‘t responding quite as quickly as they might on some of these things.  The waffling on the NAFTA meetings, not dealing with it.  I do think that people are saying, all right. 

Most importantly of all, John McCain took after Obama.  And so how he handles the Republican attacks is now all of a sudden a relevant thing for Democrats. 

CARLSON:  I think for Republicans the sincere heartfelt hope is this will continue forever.  I mean, on to the generations that Hillary Clinton 20 years from now—

ROSEN:  You know, one unfortunate fact for our party is that we have raised 85 million dollars for Democrats in the last month to fight Democrats, and five million dollars for the DNC to fight Republicans. 

CARLSON:  But that‘s the Democratic way.  It‘s the circular firing squad.  That ought to be your logo.  It is always this way.  Here is Charlie Crist, the very wily governor of Florida, was asked yesterday by Wolf Blitzer what about Florida?  Is it going to count?  Will you help it count towards the ultimate delegate results in the Democratic primary?  Here is what he said. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR:  Are you as the governor ready to let the Democrats have another primary if necessary to seat those Democrats—those Democratic delegates at the convention in Denver? 

GOV CHARLIE CRIST ®, FLORIDA:  That would be fine with me.  I think it is very important, though, that those delegates are seated.  I am hopeful that the national Democratic party, the Democratic National Committee comes to the conclusion it is the right thing do.  Every vote must count.  Every vote should count. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Those are almost Hillary Clinton talking points right there from one of John McCain‘s closest political allies.  What does that tell you?

CUMMINGS:  This is so much, you know, the cat that ate the canary here.  Here is the governor who threatened to veto any legislation that did not have the date that was going to penalize the Democrats.  And so they had to pass it.  His legislature, Republican legislature, passes it.  And then—now all of a sudden, well, of course they can have their do-over.  We would love to see that.  But we won‘t pay for that do-over. 

CARLSON:  But it extends the primaries.  Even the second part of what he said, those votes should count.  You can almost hear Howard Wolfson say that because those votes went to Hillary.  She won Florida, even though it didn‘t count.  I really believe that this is another example of Republicans just wanting to keep it going.  It‘s like the 12 days of Christmas.  We are only on day four. 

ROSEN:  I don‘t think either the Clinton or the Obama campaigns want a do-over. 

CARLSON:  She does want those delegates. 

ROSEN:  She wants the delegates and he doesn‘t want the delegates.  I haven‘t heard either one of them say they want a do-over. 

CARLSON:  That would be so great.  Maybe in October or something like that.  Thank you both so much.  Hillary, Jeanne, you‘re excellent.  Thank you.  Up next, a Chicago businessman with close ties to Barack Obama went on trial in federal court today.  Asked about it on the trail, Obama got a little testy.  That tape, the trial, and the impact right after the break. 

Nervous moments lead to nervous stomachs for passengers on this German passenger jet.  Strap on your seat belts.  This landing will have you reaching for the air sickness bag.  You‘re watching MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  I literally stood there and took as many questions on this issue as people could think of. 

I took every question.  I was there until everybody had satisfied their questions.  So I mean, I just want to make that point initially.   You may still have questions which I‘m happy to answer.  But I don‘t think it is fair to suggest somehow that we have been trying to hide the ball on this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  That was Barack Obama today on the campaign trail responding to a barrage of questions about the corruption trial of his former friend Tony Rezko.  Rezko went on trial today in federal court.  Not so long ago, he and Barack Obama were friends and partners in a real estate deal, the purchase of Obama‘s house.  Is the story of Barack Obama about to be rewritten by a federal trial that is certain to raise his name repeatedly?  Joining is the managing editor of the “Chicago Tribune,” Jim Warren.  Jim, thanks for coming on.  

JIM WARREN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  Tucker, very depressing day.  Can I start by telling you so far a vast majority of prospective jurors have claimed that they do not know the name Tony Rezko?  They have claimed they tend not to read newspapers or look at television news.  As disheartening as the sate of America media is, one had some manifestations of our basic economic problems in that courtroom today.  And this story has gotten so much publicity in this town. 

To have many of these jurists saying no, Rezko, don‘t know the name? 

CARLSON:  Hopefully they are all faking so they can—that actually is a relevant to my first question to you, which is this: Obama has said and he said in January in an interview on CBS that he had no inkling that Tony Rezko may be in trouble when he entered into that arrangement that allowed him to buy his house on south side in 2005.  But the “New York Times” claims, and maybe your paper, too, that Rezko was well known and that it was well known he was in trouble for years before that. 

What is the truth? 

WARREN:  Not for years.  It was well known that a Grand Jury was looking into a lot of allegedly kinky deals that Rezko had with the state of Illinois, none of them involving Barack Obama.  Just for a little context, after Obama, you know, got out of Harvard law school throughout the ‘90s and began his professional assent, at the same time Rezko had a very good reputation here as an up and coming sensitive developer. 

It wasn‘t until about 2004, a year or so before the land purchases, that there started to be investigative reporting on Rezko‘s involvement with the Democrats running the state of Illinois and his involvement in various boards, perhaps some suspect dealings with contractors, some suspect involvements with other people on those boards and how he benefited from them. 

It is in 2005 that the business of this land purchase in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago comes up.  There was a doctor at the University of Chicago who was looking for 2.2 million bucks for a mansion and an adjoining garden lot.  And if the Obama story is to be believed—and I should say parenthetically,  there are a fair number of questions he has not answered.  But if his story is to be believed, Tucker, separately he and his friend, Rezko, put in bids, Obamas for the mansion, Rezko for the adjoining lot, and there‘s only subsequently that they made this sort of side deal, whereby Obama got a ten-foot strip of land and paid Rezko something like 125,000 grand. 

And Rezko spent 14,000 grand of his own money to put up a wrought iron fence so that the local preservationists would be happy. 

CARLSON:  Wait.  I guess I missed this detail.  It is even more remarkable than I though.  Obama is claiming that he and his friend both bid on adjoining pieces of property at the same time by accident?  Or that there was no sort of agreement between them to do this, to get the land and the house. 

WARREN:  If you believe it, that independently Obama put in a bid.  It was—the mansion was listed for 1.9 million.  He put in a bid for 1.6 million.  Rezko put in a bid for 625,000 for the adjoining garden lot.  Critical to all of this is the—why one does have to get more answers from Obama is knowing exactly what the timeline is. 

In our initial discussions with him, he led us to believe that the two guys were going on very separate tracks.  He has subsequently of late mentioned that he invited Rezko to some walk-through at the mansion.  Again, we just don‘t know the timetable of that and that‘s critical and goes to the question of was there some implicit or explicit strategizing by the two of them to get the two parcels of land.  The Obama claim is that there was not. 

CARLSON:  That‘s going to be a hard claim to stick with, as far as I can tell.  Jim Warren from the “Chicago Tribune,” thanks very much.  That was interesting.  Thank you. 

WARREN:  All the best, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Jack Nicholson has played rebels, lunatics and every form of bad guy in Hollywood.  His latest turn as a Hillary Clinton advocate.  The videotape evidence coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I‘m glad to be here.  Thanks for having me. 

POEHLER:  Thank you for coming.  I love your outfit. 

CLINTON:  I love your outfit. 

POEHLER:  Thank you.

CLINTON:  I do want the earrings back. 

POEHLER:  Oh, OK. 

CLINTON:  Do I really laugh like that?  . 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Welcome back.  Now to a man with a better laugh than Hillary Clinton, Bill Wolff. 

BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT:  I don‘t know if that‘s true.  I must say, self deprecation never fails, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  That‘s right.   

CARLSON:  It never fails.  It‘s commandment number one.  Tucker, as if horror movies and political campaigns weren‘t proof enough, there‘s fresh evidence this time from Germany that everybody loves to watch other people endure survivable danger.  If you have not seen this, where have you been?  That is a big old jet airliner, specifically a Lufthansa Airbus A320, trying to Land in Hamburg. 

Look at that.  It‘s amid strong but invisible cross winds.  That‘s reason number ba-zillion I would rather drive no matter what the statistics tell me.  The plane obviously couldn‘t land.  It lifted off again and in what had to be the all-time Schfilcus (ph) inducing do-over, landed safely on the second try.  All 131 passengers safe and sound. 

Not for me, friend.  Not for me. 

CARLSON:  Buy that pilot a drink.  Let‘s get that guy‘s name.  That man is a hero.  That‘s really impressive. 

WOLFF:  I‘m guessing people did find religion in along there somewhere.  I would have.  Sports is most useful, Tucker, when it provides grown ups the opportunity to act like sniveling, snot nosed school yard punks.  The old says you, if you will.  So it is for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. 

There is an amorphous entity discussed in national sports media and in New England called Red Sox Nation.  The idea is everyone loves the Red Sox.  Speaking to the “New York Times‘” “Play Magazine,” Yankee owner Hank Steinbrenner said Red Sox Nation was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox Fans.  This is a Yankee country.  We are going to put the Yankees become on top and restore order to the universe.  He actually said that and he meant it. 

Proving he is up for a game of I‘m rubber and you are glue, Red Sox owner John Henry replied, quote, just to ensure Mr. Steinbrenner knows how cool Red Sox Nation is today, we officially inducted him as a member of Red Sox Nation.  There you go.  Red Sox and Yankees hot at it, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not really much of a contest, Bill. 

WOLFF:  No, it‘s Cardinal nation and everybody knows it.  Everybody knows that, real Americans love the St. Louis Cardinals, your 2006 World Series Champions. 

Finally, Tucker, some red meat politics courtesy of Hollywood legend Jack Nicholson.  This video appeared on the Internet.  I think it speaks for itself. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR:  And now folks, it‘s time for who do you trust? 

Hubba, hubba, hubba.  Money, money, money.  Who do you trust? 

Things could be better, Lloyd.  Things can be a whole lot better. 

Maybe we as officers have a responsibility to this country to see that the men and women charged with its security are trained professionals.  Yes, I‘m certain I read that somewhere once. 

What can I tell you?  You are right.  When you are right, you are right.  You are right. 

OK, I will make it as easy for you as I can. 

There‘s nothing on this Earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman you have to salute in the morning. 

I‘m Jack Nicholson and I approve this message. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFF:  There you have it, Tucker.  I wonder which lines they left out.  The part about where he‘s talking about the waitress in “Five Easy Pieces,” you know how that ended up. 

CARLSON:  Nothing sexier than a woman you have to salute in the morning? 

WOLFF:  I have no comment. 

CARLSON:  I don‘t either.  That‘s just unbelievable. 

WOLFF:  They put tonight the ad and seemed to have gotten away with it.  So for whatever Jack Nicholson is worth, Hillary Clinton has that much more invaluable momentum heading for tomorrow, Tucker. 

CARLSON:  Good for Jack Nicholson. 

WOLFF:  He‘s participating in the process, Tucker.

CARLSON:  God.  I bet you 20 bucks he is secretly voting for Obama.  But anyway, thanks Bill.  That does it for us.  Thank you for watching, as always.  Have a great night.  Be certain to stick with MSNBC all day tomorrow and tomorrow night for around the clock coverage of the Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont primaries.  Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great night.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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