updated 3/12/2008 11:01:39 AM ET 2008-03-12T15:01:39

Guests: Barack Obama, Howard Fineman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Love that music.  Anyway, good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  This is late night—a late night edition of HARDBALL.  The results are in from Mississippi.  The NBC News report now has projected that Barack Obama is the winner of the Mississippi Primary today. 

He has scored a decisive victory over Senator Hillary Clinton and with 33 delegates at stake tonight, it appears that Obama will get a net gain of perhaps seven delegates or more.  Mississippi is the 26th state that Senator Obama has won now, not including the District of Columbia, versus 14 states for Senator Clinton.  We‘re joined right now by Senator Barack Obama, winner of  the Mississippi primary today. 

Senator, thanks for joining us.   Congratulations.  How does this fit into the end game of this fight for the  nomination?  

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, you know, we‘ve had a terrific week.  We won Wyoming and  we won Mississippi, and we now have accumulated more delegates.  And I think  that we just continue to campaign on the message that we‘ve had throughout  this campaign. 

We need to change how business is done in Washington; we need to push back some of those special interests, bring the American people together, and start solving problems like health care and education and dealing with the home foreclosure crisis, problems that ordinary folks are trying to grapple with all across the country.  

MATTHEWS:  Well, one of the concerns people have is this war in Iraq.  The Department of Defense is going to report tomorrow, Senator, that after reviewing 600,000 Iraqi documents—this is our occupying forces have done that, after reviewing a thousands of hours of interrogations, they have not found any connection between the old Iraqi government we overthrew and al Qaeda, the organization which attacked us on 9/11. 

What‘s the significance of that failure to find any connection between the country we overthrew and the people who attacked us on 9/11? 

OBAMA:  Well, I think it just confirms what I knew before we went in, which was there was no connection.  And unfortunately, President Bush and Dick Cheney insisted there was a connection.  Senator Clinton, on the floor of the Senate, suggested that there was such a connection.  

I think it was part of a series of misjudgments that have not only cost us dearly in terms of lives lost and people who are injured, has distracted us from Afghanistan and our ability to pin down bin Laden and al Qaeda, but has also cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.  

And I think that one of the things that we haven‘t talked enough about in this campaign is the connection between the enormous expenditures we‘re making in Iraq and our inability to deal with some critical pressing economic problems here at home. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you have to say to the working-class person, the white person if you—I hate to talk ethnically, but I‘m going to, who lives up in Scranton, who lives out in Wilkes-Barre, who lives in Erie, who is very sort of enamored of the Clintons because of the job that President Clinton did back in the ‘90s.  How do you get them to vote for you in this Pennsylvania primary? 

OBAMA:  Well, I think what I tell them is, is that President Clinton deserves credit for some of the work that he did.  But that the trends of growing inequality, of jobs being shipped overseas, of wages and incomes flat-lined so that people are having a tougher and tougher time keeping pace with rising costs of everything from gasoline to health care, that many of those trends started even before George Bush took office. 

And the problem we‘ve got in Washington is that a lot of people recognize the problem but we‘re so paralyzed with the bitter partisanship, the government is so gummed up because of the influence of big money and lobbyists and special interests that the voices of those folks you are talking about are never heard. 

That‘s not the priority.  And what this campaign has been about is to try to restore that sense that Washington is fighting for the working family and is actually trying to get some things done.  And I‘ve got a track record of doing that over 20 years. 

You know, my first work as—in public service was as a community organizer with—working with churches that were trying to deal with the steel plants that had closed in the South Side of Chicago, the same way that they closed in parts of Pennsylvania. 

And so these are the folks I‘ve been fighting for since I got into public service.  Hopefully, when they know that track record, and they see the plans we‘ve got to actually invest in infrastructure, invest in clean energy, create a trade system that actually works for American workers, hopefully they‘ll have confidence that I‘m going to be fighting for them when I‘m in the White House. 

MATTHEWS:  U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who is a Republican, said that the radical Islamists will be dancing in the streets if you‘re elected president.  He said your middle name does matter.  What‘s your response? 

OBAMA:  Well, you know, I think this is the way a guy like Steve King gets on TV or radio.  But, let‘s look at the facts.  You know, terrorist recruitment has increased significantly since we went into Iraq.  You know, if anything, the policies that George Bush has followed and that John McCain and Hillary Clinton supported, in going into Iraq, has been an enormous boon, and al Qaeda has been able to strengthen itself because the pressure was taken off them and they are now stronger than any time since 2001. 

So what we‘re advocating, what I have been talking about throughout this campaign, is changing the conventional wisdom in Washington and going after the terrorists in a ruthless and systematic way in Afghanistan, in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

But also, using our diplomacy and our ability to build alliances to restore that sense of trust so that we can start winning hearts and minds.  That‘s how, ultimately, we‘re going to defeat terrorism around the world. 

MATTHEWS:  In The New York Times today, Senator, Harvard professor Orlando Patterson said that the Clinton ad, the one that‘s about 3:00 in the morning and what we‘re going to do and who to trust, is directed at you and that it‘s racist.  Your view of that? 

OBAMA:  You know, I‘m not buying into the notion that race played a factor there.  I do think that, you know, Senator Clinton took a page out of the Republican playbook and tried to use fear as a campaign tactic.  

Now, I think that it is entirely legitimate for us to talk about commander-in-chief and who can best respond in these situations.  And I—what I have said is that if I get a call at 3:00 in the morning, I am going to answer the phone and apply the same judgment that led me to say that Iraq was going to be a distraction from Afghanistan; that is was going to fan the flames of anti-American sentiment. 

I‘m going to use the same judgment that led me to say that we shouldn‘t put all of our eggs in the Musharraf basket and that we should actually take out high value al Qaeda targets if the Pakistani government is unwilling to act on our intelligence. 

You know, those are the kinds of judgment calls that we want out of a commander-in-chief.  One other area where I think we need a commander-in-chief to start focusing on is how we‘re caring for our veterans, something that this administration has been neglecting, and something that I intend to rectify when I‘m president of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  Very last question.  There‘s word from Florida that they intend to put out a mailing sort of a campaign—I mean, an election process, whereby they make up for the primary they had before, which was ruled out of order by the Democratic National Committee and you did not campaign in.  They‘re talking about mailing it—people mailing in their ballots.  Do you trust the security, the honesty of such an election process? 

OBAMA:  Well, I think we would have to figure out whether this was fraud- proof.  I mean, Oregon, for example, has a terrific mail-in system, but they‘ve already scanned everybody‘s signatures who‘s registered to vote so that they can check to make sure that in fact the right people are voting. 

And that‘s something that I think you‘d have to figure out.  But our general view has been that we‘ve just played by the rules throughout.  We were told that Michigan and Florida wouldn‘t count, and so we said we wouldn‘t campaign there.  Senator Clinton said the same thing, that they wouldn‘t count. 

Now, her campaign is suggesting that they should.  What we want to do is to make sure that the Florida and the Michigan folks are seated, but to do so in an equitable way.  And whatever system the Democratic National Committee comes up with that is fair and equitable but also makes sure that the votes of people in Michigan and Florida are dealt with, we‘re going to be open to that.  We want to make sure that they‘re seated as well. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, great.  Thank you very much, Senator Obama.  We look forward to possibly host you at a college or university tour in Pennsylvania.  We‘d love to have you for that.  Thank you very much, Senator. 

OBAMA:  Thank you.  I appreciate it, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s bring in NBC News political director Chuck Todd, Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman, who is an MSNBC political analyst, and NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell.

Andrea, I want you to start here, when I asked him about the DOD report that is apparently coming out, it is coming out showing that a review of 600,000 documents and hundreds of thousands of interviews has revealed no direct connection between the government of Saddam Hussein and the organization al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. 

He said that he knew there was none at the time.  He said that Hillary Clinton claimed there was at the time.  How does that square with your reporting over the years? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, she did buy into the arguments that were being made at the time that there was a connection.  I would prefer to go back over her floor speech that day before actually, you know, going on the record here again because of the time that has elapsed.  I really want to review that again. 

But it‘s a good case for him because Iraq is one of his strong points.  Certainly, with those areas, the bedroom communities around Philadelphia, upper income, more liberal voters, some Republican voters in fact who can‘t vote in this primary, but this is a good selling point for him with those people who have been anti-war.  And you know there are plenty of them in Pennsylvania. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you sense, Andrea—I want to stay with you for a moment.  I hit him with a number of the questions, the tough charges made at him, this campaign is getting very rough.  You have got that Republican congressman out in Iowa basically going after him for his background.  I mean, it‘s pretty blunt, going after his name and everything, saying the radical Islamists will be dancing in the street.

You‘ve got Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party getting very tough with him, saying he is where he is because of his background, of his ethnicity, of his gender, if you will, all put together. 

A lot of tough stuff being thrown around.  What do you make of his response?  Rather calm, I thought tonight. 

MITCHELL:  He was calm about Congressman King because I think it is so beyond the pale that he didn‘t even dignify it.  He said that Geraldine Ferraro‘s, he said earlier today, were absurd and the campaign, his staff has been going after the Clinton campaign demanding that they renounce it, denounce it. 

Hillary Clinton did not, she said they were regrettable but tried to make the distinction that Geraldine Ferraro is a supporter but not part of the campaign staff.  But she is a significant fundraiser. 

This has been a mess as it has escalated all day.  And one thing that has come out of this today is that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house, who has not declared herself but has been thought to be partial to Obama, has said today that now it would be impossible, her word, to even conceive of an Obama-Clinton ticket because Clinton and her campaign people have suggested that Barack Obama is less qualified to be commander-in-chief than John McCain, the Republican.

So Pelosi is certainly signaling where her sympathies lie. 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  It is getting tough now.  People are dividing, the superdelegates are beginning to speak in many ways, Howard. 

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK:  Well, I think they are they are going to be watching results like tonight and obviously Pennsylvania down the road, watching the conduct of the campaign.  And I think Obama was right.  He has won a couple this week that may be small, but that give him a renewed sense of momentum. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you do when you put that together with the polls that have come out, these polls that don‘t always get mentioned on this network, and I dare not mention their name, but also some tracking polls which—of course, daily polls that aren‘t always reliable, they have smaller samples. 

Do you sense a notch up, an uptick in his numbers the last couple of days?

FINEMAN:  Well, I think a little better.  And I think people are beginning to evaluate Hillary Clinton‘s kitchen sink strategy.  Now the kitchen sink strategy seemed to work a bit in Texas and Ohio.  But now it is being exposed to the full light day and is going to be over the weeks.  And the benefit of surprise that Hillary got by notching it up before Ohio and Texas, now has a downside as well. 

MATTHEWS:  And Democrats don‘t like dirty campaigning. 

FINEMAN:  Now is the—well, they don‘t like them to be exposed. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, as such.

FINEMAN:  Yes, they are willing to do them, they don‘t like them to talked... 

MATTHEWS:  Don‘t telegraph the kitchen sink when you‘re throwing it at somebody. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And so it has become more controversy and I think it is going to get covered a—as we cover Pennsylvania, every move going to be covered and the strategy and the tactics that are used by the candidates, which don‘t always get covered in the hurried bunch of primaries and caucuses we had.  They do one thing in one state, you didn‘t have time to talk about it, because something else was about to come along.

MATTHEWS:  Barack Obama won about seven delegates tonight, people estimate, Chuck Todd, I always go to you for this.  I stop by your office every day when nobody is watching and I ask the big question.  Who is winning? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, it‘s—you know, you go by the numbers, Barack Obama is winning.  He will have a 625,000-vote—popular vote lead.  He is going to have 150 to 160 pledged delegate lead.  He is going to have about 110 overall delegate lead.  He is going to have won more states.  So he is ahead.  He is the front-runner.  There is no denying him that spot.  But he‘s still a long way from 2,025. 

She just is a very long way from somehow overtaking him in the delegate—pledged delegate front and overtaking him on the popular vote front. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘ve been talking to the candidate chairs by e-mail, Andrea.  You know Pennsylvania as well as I do.  Looking around, and talking to all of these county chairs all across the state, and the one message you get, apart from their preferences, which they are pretty free in explaining to you, is they don‘t want this to become, you know, cannibalism where a zero-sum game begins to apply where every time one candidate whacks the other one, they both go down.  It is worse than zero-sum.  They are very fearful of that.  Is that a problem in Pennsylvania the next six weeks? 

MITCHELL:  Sure, it is.  And in fact, as you know, the governor does not want that to happen.  This could be a brutal six weeks.  It has already started that way in the last 24 hours.  And so with these two Democrats going at each other, Barack Obama clearly believes now that he has to be tougher against her.  He was last night in Mississippi, again today.  She was much tougher today in Harrisburg against him. 

So if that is going to be the kind of campaign it is, the party is really going to be torn apart. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think Eddie Rendell is torn apart between his candidate who he supports, Hillary Clinton, and his desire for a calm or more positive election.  That is a problem for him right now.  Howard, do you agree? 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Having just been up in Pittsburgh and talked to some of the local people there, the people who I think are Clinton supporters even if they are not declared yet are saying, we don‘t see anything wrong with the tough campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  I wonder why. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  Because they want it to be tough.  Because I think the Clinton people who aren‘t Ed Rendell are going to take care of business while Ed Rendell talks about what.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you don‘t always know who your allies are sometimes you don‘t care.

FINEMAN:  Yes, you don‘t want to know who your allies are. 

MATTHEWS:  And sometimes, like the French and Indian War, isn‘t it?  It is kind of interesting.  Some people are out there doing worse than you are.  Anyway, the panel is staying with us.  And when we return, the latest from our exit polling on how Barack Obama won tonight.  He did win tonight.  We will see how big when we get back. 

Plus, we will preview the next big contest coming up in six weeks.  Pennsylvania polka, my hometown, Howard‘s hometown, Ann Klink‘s (ph) hometown,. our senior producer‘s hometown.  We are all from Pennsylvania.  You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Mississippi Primary. 

FINEMAN:  Chuck is honorary.

TODD:  God help us.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  . only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Mississippi Primary today.  Let‘s find out what happened in that primary and how Senator Obama won tonight.  MSNBC‘s Norah O‘Donnell is tracking our exit polling.  She joins us now with more on everything that happened today.

Norah, thank you.  Well, how did it happen? 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, let‘s look at some of the insights we are getting into Obama‘s win in Mississippi.  Now as in other Deep South states, the size of the African-American vote was key to the outcome.  In fact, black voters made up just under half of all of those voting in the Democratic primary today, 49 percent. 

Now that‘s comparable to their share of the vote in Louisiana, Alabama and the Georgia primaries, but below the 55 percent in South Carolina.  Now let‘s go a bit deeper into the numbers.  Obama took the black vote by the biggest margin we have seen so far.  In fact, nine out of 10 black voters cast their ballot for him.  He got a huge margin in every demographic segment: old, young, male, female, well-educated, poorly educated, affluent, struggling black voters, , all broke heavily his way. 

Hillary Clinton won the white vote overwhelmingly.  But Barack Obama did get about a quarter of white voters.  And he did reasonably well among certain groups.  Those include white independents where he got 39 percent of the vote, white liberals and white college graduates also gave him about four in 10 of their votes. 

Now while in some states, a third or more of Democratic primary voters made their voting decision in the final three days, there were not many late deciders in Mississippi.  In fact, according to our exit poll, just 13 percent said they waited until the final three days while Clinton won the late deciders by 54 to 44 percent.  It was too little, too late.  By that time most had already made up their minds.  And Barack Obama won the vote among that group by 20 points. 

And you know, Chris, finally we found essentially in Mississippi that this electorate was deeply divided on racial lines.  In fact, Obama voters essentially liked Hillary Clinton more than Hillary Clinton voters liked Barack Obama.  What I mean is, when we asked about would you be satisfied if the other candidate were the eventual nominee, three-quarters of Clinton voters said they would be dissatisfied if Obama wins the nomination.  That‘s striking. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Thank you very much, Norah O‘Donnell.  That‘s not likely to improve, that negative number, is it? 

TODD:  Well, not at least with southern whites.  I mean, I think that the most striking thing to me out of this exit poll has been how poorly Obama did with white voters in Mississippi.  And in fact, it is going to keep his margin down.  I mean, when you look at how well he did in Georgia, how well he did in South Carolina, his performance with white voters—and I think we‘ve got—be able to show it, where he only got 27 percent, this should be a number that should be worrying the Obama campaign.  It, I think, takes a little bit of the—I don‘t know, a little bit of the air out of the balloon of their victory. 

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain this change?  Is it cyclical?  Does it go up and down over time?

TODD:  Well, I think it is cyclical, because you look at Georgia, where he got 43 percent of the white vote.  In Louisiana, he got 30 percent of the white voters.  In Tennessee and Alabama, he performed about as poorly with white votes as he did here in Mississippi. 

But it is—now you can chalk it up to being a southern thing, and that‘s fine.  But you are sort of seeing—it seems to progress where he is just starting to do more poorly with white voters as his campaign moves on.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let me give you the bad news here for him.  It could be if these—these are southern white folks who vote Democrat.  You have got to presume they are more moderate on race than people who are more conservative.  That‘s a fair assessment.  If they don‘t vote for him, and yet they generally vote Democrat, that means he is going to face probably a much more ferocious challenge among conservatives. 

TODD:  Well, I will say this, what it does do is that this idea that he can put Mississippi in play, and I have seen the numbers.  And if you maximize black turnout and you get a third of the white vote, you can put Mississippi in play.  You can put Louisiana in play, can put Georgia in play. 

But if he is getting white support like he is getting with Clinton, and more importantly, that dissatisfied number about him being the nominee among Clinton voters that Norah pointed out, I think that just shows you that there‘s still a huge issue with race in the South. 

FINEMAN:  Well, we are talking about the Deep South.  But Georgia is not Mississippi.  It is different.  Georgia has a lot—has had a lot more high-profile African-American political leaders, I would argue, in the big mega-city of Atlanta.  There‘s no mega-city like Atlanta... 

MATTHEWS:  The city too busy to hate. 

FINEMAN:  . in Mississippi.  OK?  It is a different place.  And I think the difference in the number among white voters is a different pace of change, culturally in Georgia from Mississippi. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask Andrea.  You know, if there was a Bob Strauss active in Democratic politics, a big figure who could think big, they must be worried right now that a lot of the Democrats who are voting for Hillary are actually voting against Barack, and a lot of people voting for Barack are actually voting against a modern woman like Hillary.  And there could be a lot of trouble behind those votes for the Democrats. 

MITCHELL:  Indeed, I think you saw that in Ohio and you could see it in a big section of Pennsylvania, the red section of Pennsylvania between the two big cities, between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

You could see in some of the rural areas some of the same dissatisfaction with those who favor her, just rejecting him out of hand.  And a real racial divide which is something we did see in Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  You want to see some real trouble up in Pennsylvania, guys, start talking about crime in Philadelphia and the murder rates going on in Philadelphia which are horrendous.  And then wait for one of these candidates to say the solution is gun control, because it ain‘t going to happen.  Because that will kill you in Pennsylvania.  Right, Howard? 

FINEMAN:  Yes, and.

MATTHEWS:  So that‘s how tricky that state is.  You have big crime areas where guns are a big problem, and then you have the rest of the state where you must have a gun. 

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  OK, what, 100 years for a mayor of Philadelphia to ever win statewide because what‘s good for Philadelphia isn‘t good for the central part of the state.

FINEMAN:  Yes, and also in the west, Allegheny County, which encompasses Pittsburgh, there are more registered gun owners in Allegheny County than anywhere else in the state. 

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s an urban area. 

FINEMAN:  That‘s an urban—well, urban and suburban area.  It is deer hunter country in the suburbs. 

MATTHEWS:  But there are a lot of people like my uncle Bill who used to pack their own shells and my brother Bruce who moved out of the city who packs his own shells and has some weapons.  Ha! 

Anyway, what do you think of that, Andrea?  This is how tricky Pennsylvania will be for the outsider coming in, won‘t it? 

MITCHELL:  Oh, one of the first campaigns I ever covered, I hate to tell you how long ago it was, was the former senator, Joe Clark, defeated on the gun issue.  A very popular Democrat but totally shot down by the gun control issue.  It‘s a huge issue in Pennsylvania, which is a very rural state. 

MATTHEWS:  I remember that guy, I voted for him and he lost.  We will be right back with the panel.  I am that old.  We‘ll be right back with the panel.  You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Mississippi Primary, won tonight by Barack Obama.  This is MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We are back with NBC‘s Chuck Todd, Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman, and NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell.  Here‘s Senator—President Clinton looking six weeks down the road to the results in Pennsylvania. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If she wins a big, big victory in Pennsylvania, I think it will give her a real big boost going into the next primaries.  We are going to have primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. 

So we are heading around the bend there.  I think—I feel good about it.  But I think just as I felt she had to win in Texas and Ohio, and she did, and won handily, I think she has got to win a big victory in Pennsylvania. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And by the way, that list of upcoming primary fights and caucus fights was not written on his hand, he obviously has that in his head.  Andrea, what did you make of that salvo from the president?

MITCHELL:  Well, it worked for him in Ohio and Texas.  When you said, she has do this, you have to win here.  And Chris, could I just add something?  I punted earlier when you asked me about whether Barack Obama was accurate when he said Hillary Clinton had connected Hussein to al Qaeda, this is the text, one sentence from the speech she gave in 2002, in the fall of 2002.  The key authorizing which turns out to be authorizing the war.  And what she said was, he, Saddam “has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists including al Qaeda members.  Though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11.”  So she did link him to al Qaeda but not to 9/11.  There you have it.

MATHTEWS:  Well, that—we will see how that squares with the DOD report.  I do know in the DOD report said according to accounts that there is—certainly helped with terrorism, no apparent significant connection to the al Qaeda main organization.  But obviously this is hot.  Now realize why one of my favorite reporters since I first discovered you at KYW radio back in 1974, you—you are not as old me, of course.  We have talked about that.  It is wonderful when you are able do in real-time.  Let‘s go to this question.

TODD:  1994, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  No, 1974, my friend.  A long time ago.  Andrea and I do know each other a long time.  Let me ask you about this going forward.  The president laid out the schedule.  Isn‘t it in the interest of the Clinton forces, to keep the focus on the big enchilada, Pennsylvania, the big polka, whatever you want to call it, the cheese steak.  We will come up with something.  That‘s the home run.  They win the home run and then we go on to maybe Michigan and Florida and they have to have their states.

TODD:  They need new events, too.  That‘s why you see a concerted effort by Clinton surrogates to push for a revote in Michigan and Florida.  They have run out of events.  There is not enough events.

MATTHEWS:  There is not enough likely targets for them.

TODD:  That‘s right.  He is their—likely to lose more of those states than win them.  West Virginia is a good state for them.  Should do well in Kentucky.  They‘re going to get clobbered in Oregon, North Carolina.  North Carolina is an interesting one.  It is like—should Obama target Pennsylvania heavily?  I think a lot of people think he should try and see what he can do.  Should Clinton target heavily?  A lot of people think they should try.  A fun swing state that‘s left is frankly is Indiana.  On one hand have you—feels like Ohio.  On the other hand, it is a state that borders Illinois.  The Chicago media market bleeds over and everywhere where there has been an Illinois media market, over performed.  Look at the numbers in Wisconsin.

FINEMAN:  Because he has the money advantage to do that.  Pennsylvania is the only state of all of these—discounting Florida and Michigan that can be decisive.  If Obama can win Pennsylvania and it is difficult, OK, not impossible but difficult .

MATTHEWS:  Can you plot it for him, Howard how to do it?

FINEMAN:  That‘s the question I ask myself when I went up there last week to Pittsburgh which is a—Western Pennsylvania has changed.  There is not a mill in the city limits.  Pittsburgh is a college town and health care town.  Obama has to—if he can win that state he can end the contest.  It is over if he does it.  And Hillary doesn‘t win big, big.  Did Bill Clinton say big, big?

TODD:  Big is worth five. Two bigs are 10 points.

MATTHEWS:  I think he has to show he is the new kind of politician people haven‘t been paying attention.  A lot of working class whites.  Use terms like that, blue collar.  People that have needs.  He has to go and cross walk his talk about the war, for example to needs.  To better Medicare, better education.  Better instruct tour.  He has to bring it home and stop being so big picture.

TODD:  He needs to tweaks his stump speech.  It feels—We hear it a lot because we have been in so many Tuesday nights and we‘ve heard this.  You know what?  He needs to tweak it.  Needs to have more .

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not the gown, he needs the town.

FINEMAN:  The way he does it about spending a lot of time there getting to know the people.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m telling you, we can put it together at this table.  We don‘t have any stakes at this table.  Thank you, Chuck Todd.  Thank you, Howard Fineman.

Thank you, Andrea Mitchell.

Up next, the issue of race again rears its head in the campaign.  We will talk about what Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro said about Barack Obama‘s race and his political fortunes.  Plus, the political pressure on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.  It looks like tomorrow is the day.  You are watching HARDBALL and decision 2008 and our coverage on MSNBC which is so obviously now the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, I‘m back with Michelle Bernard.  And Gene Robinson, two good pals I‘ve gotten to know in every one of these great Tuesday nights.  And here we are to mark the victory of Barack Obama in Mississippi, a big vote.  African-American vote 90 percent.  You know, I wonder, you know, I grew up in a tough city where race was somewhat important.  Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia.  And it used to be said among the African American community the number one registrar in Philadelphia was Frank Rizzo.  He taught the African American young person that was not politically involved you better damn well get involved.  You have to protect your interests.

In a totally different way, did Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton galvanize support among the black community for Barack Obama?  By the way they handled this early fight.

EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST”:  I think you could certainly make that argument in South Carolina.  They certainly increased Barack Obama‘s vote in South Carolina.  I think that going beyond South Carolina I don‘t think you can blame the rest of it on the Clintons.  I think people saw that Obama could win white votes.  That he had a chance of winning this nomination and were attracted to him and candidates.

MATTHEWS:  The leap was a dynamic a new word we used too much lately, dynamic.  This leads to that.  Leads to that.  Wouldn‘t have gotten there except for these connections.  So black folk are watching to see if this guy was any different.  Until they saw that they would vote for the Clintons, familiar product.  The minute saw, people until Iowa, which they knew was a white area, wait a minute, this guy is different.  They saw it happen a couple more times.  Tell me what happened.  Tell me dynamic here that led people to believe this guy was someone that could win and is our guy, to be blunt about it?

BERNARD:  I think it was a combination of things.  I think Iowa, New Hampshire, and all of the states that followed, particularly Iowa, you turn on news and there are literally thousands of white people, you know, standing in line to shake his hand and voting for him and they are .

MATTHEWS:  What was your feeling in seeing that?

BERNARD:  I was proud.  I thought it was a wonderful time in our history.  We‘ve had other African Americans run for president, Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton.  Barack Obama represents a new type of black politics.

MATTHEWS:  Define it, if can you.

BERNARD:  Well, we are going beyond color.  You are seeing African Americans competing with whites on their own territory.  Like his wife going to Princeton, like Barack Obama going to Harvard Law School.  Speaking just as well as the whites, not speaking Ebonics.  Going out and giving great speeches.

MATTHEWS:  Superior.  Most Americans don‘t go to Harvard Law.  Most Americans don‘t marry somebody from Harvard Law.  Excellent opportunities and excellent successes in academia.

BERNARD:  Taking advantage of it.  And I think when you see African-American—many of whom that are older and lived in a lifetime we saw Jim Crow, looking back and say thing is absolutely amazing.

MATTHEWS:  I grew up with lot of politicians, like Bill Gray and Mickey Lee, who were friends of mine.  They were pros.

ROBINSON:  Different era—a generation of black political leadership that came out of the civil rights movement, civil rights struggles.  Both in the South and in the northern cities.  And this is newer generation, Barack Obama, Deval Patrick.  Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, DC, Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, does not get along with Barack Obama.  Why should he?  Because, you know, one thing we are—I think the nation is getting to see is that the diversity of black America.  It is not your father‘s black America.  Black America has changed .

MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to do as a journalist what I get in trouble for.  I‘m asking for your emotions about this.  I expressed mine.  People give—say I shouldn‘t.  We should express them.  This is new.

ROBINSON:  It is new.  You know, it is—it can be moving.  I mean, there have been moments it was moving.  When we were on the set in New York and the speech that Obama gave in Iowa, and, you know, I think I said it was a goose bumps moment.  It was for me.

BERNARD:  As a mother, you know, I think—I look at Barack Obama and I think that could be my son one day.  That could be my daughter.  You absolutely cannot walk away from this campaign without some sense of pride, whether you are an African American or a woman.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about the next dynamic step which could be treacherous.  Black voters see white voters voting for a black candidate.  With a unique background.  Let‘s face it.  Then they vote for them heavily like tonight, 90 percent.  Does that create a dynamic with the white voter, community, to say—if there is such a thing, ridiculous comment about the majority of the population.

Will they turn away from it and say oh, he is a black candidate?

ROBINSON:  You know, who knows.

MATTHEWS:  See some of that tonight.  Very low number of the whites down there.

ROBINSON:  Conventional wisdom would be you see some of that and maybe in the—in the South or—and you see—wouldn‘t see in Iowa, you know.  You don‘t see that sort of pattern in states where there are very few African who respond.

MATTHEWS:  The turf war that goes on in every city over land and neighborhood changes and what doesn‘t change.  You know, South Philly, North Philly.  Northeast Philly.  I know all about this.  It is all about patterns of where you live and who is moving who and not moving.  Those communities, will it be a threat to say African American candidate tonight get 90 percent of the vote?

BERNARD:  I think I will be a threat.  I think what will push people over the top either in terms of, you know, negativity or not is what kind of advertisements we see.  Is someone going to come out .

MATTHEWS:  3:00 in the morning?  Was that a 9/11 ad or was that a 911 ad?  I think it was 911 call.

BERNARD:  What I will say is I‘m looking for the next will Willie Horton ad.  Who will portray Barack Obama as Willie Horton.

MATTHEWS:  Who is outside trying to get in?

BERNARD:  I disagree with you on that.  I think it is coming.  I think it is coming.  It will be very, very difficult.

MATTHEWS:  This subtle dog whistle stuff we have to listen for.  The reporters ought to mention the dog whistles.  If hear something in a ad trying to scare people, we have to report it.  The best thing about kitchen sink argument you hear the kitchen sink being thrown at the guy.  You recognize it for what it is.  It‘s helpfully.  We‘ll be right back—we won‘t be back.  Thank you, Gene, thank you, Michelle Bernard.  More from our exit polls.  One day after a federal complain alleged he was a client of a high-end prostitution ring.  New York Governor Spitzer is under heavy pressure to quit the governorship.  We are hearing he might do it tomorrow.

And a new report suggests as I just said, I‘ve got to keep up with the prompter, it will be tomorrow.  This is HARDBALL only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Mississippi primary, which was won today by Barack Obama.  His twenty-sixth state victories in this long road to the presidency.  And before that the nomination.  More from our exit polling from MSNBC‘s Nora O‘Donnell.  Nora?

NORA O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi there, Chris.  We heard a lot from Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton repeatedly raising the prospect of the quote unquote “dream ticket” with essentially Obama as vice president.  You heard Obama mock the idea on the campaign trail saying essentially it is ridiculous the person in second place is offering the person in first place a spot on ticket.

Well, what do the voters think?  We asked about it in our exit polls.  According to our exit polls in Mississippi, six out ten Obama voters think he should pick Clinton as a running mate.  Check this out.  Only four in ten Clinton voters think Obama should get the number two slot.  Essentially we found that Obama voters like Clinton more than Clinton voters like Obama.  In fact, look at this.  Nearly three-quarters of Clinton voters said they would be dissatisfied if Obama wins the nomination.  A little more than half of Obama voters would be unhappy with Clinton.  Really interesting when you talk about the dream ticket.  Andrea mentioned this earlier.  Nancy Pelosi now saying today such a dream ticket is impossible.  She says the Clintons ruled that out when they said that McCain would be a better commander in chief than Obama.  Found at least in Mississippi that Clinton voters don‘t think she should pick Obama as her VP.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much Nora O‘Donnell for that insight in to what we heard today.  Let me go to Pat Buchanan.  I have got Rachel Maddow joining us right now.  Pat Buchanan and the “New Yorker” magazines Ryan Lizza.  I want to start with Rachel on this.  I do have this dark suspicion that a lot of the Democrats who are voting for either of these candidates are really voting against the other one.

MADDOW:  It is interesting when you look at the difference, though, between what Nora highlighted, difference between voters are satisfied with the person they didn‘t vote for doing well.  I think what we are seeing is just the ugly truth about negative campaigning.  This why candidates do it over and over again.  It helps you to define your opponent and does help raise the negatives on your opponent and there isn‘t much blowback to you.  The voters don‘t necessary get mad at you for going negative.  And I think that‘s why we have seen it in politics.  That‘s why Clinton is doing it to such good effect on the campaign trail.

MATTHEWS:  The Russians practice the scorch earth policy against the invader, Pat, but does not work if you intend to live on the scorched earth.  That‘s the problem.  How can a Democrat after scorching all around them and attacking the whole opposition party to them?

BUCHANAN:  This party is becoming really polarized.  Really saw it in Mississippi, far more polarized from South Carolina.  When you get the 90 Percent African American vote going one way and 80, 75 percent of Clinton votes saying they are not going to vote for Barack Obama.  You can win Mississippi.  He will get wiped out.  24% -- 24% -- gets 24 percent of the white vote in the Democratic primary, the whole thing .

MATTHEWS:  I am more worried about the impact being in a state where they are in contention like Pennsylvania.

BUCHANAN:  That could also happen what I‘m saying is the Deep South, once you get out Northern Virginia, if Barack is nominated it is gone.

LIZZA:  There is a point here.

BUCHANAN:  There is hostility.  And I think it has been agitated and aggravated and there is a real sister problem there for Barack Obama now that you see in Geraldine Ferraro in the statement she made.  She talked about there is a sexist media.  Did you see her comment?  It is getting really aggravated and bitter .

MATTHEWS:  Women will have the same bitterness of a victory of Barack as African Americans might have a bitterness towards a victory by Hillary Clinton.

BUCANAN:  I think white women—older white women, yes.

LIZZA:  Pat has a point about Mississippi.  Obama campaign has in the past made the argument that they will put some red states in play that no other Democrats could possibly put into play.  At the top of that list is Mississippi.

MATTHEWS:  Virginia was at the top of that list.

LIZZA:  Chuck was talking about before.  Overwhelming—that‘s another one.  The one Obama specifically Obama could put into play, other democrats could put Virginia into play.  Mark Warner.  Mississippi was the one state the Obama campaign said we could have a massive registration of black voters and turn them out and could actually win.  The results tonight don‘t really—they don‘t—you would not predict that.

MATTHEWS:  One thing that‘s going on is that as you look at “The Wall Street Journal” piece today, points out that since January which is not 100 years ago, the prospect of John McCain has gone up.  Up to 75 percent of the republicans now say they are satisfied with him being the leader of take ticket.  Democrats who had been enjoying 81 percent support for either one of the candidates is down below that now.  This is not a good season for the democrats that they keep killing each other and McCain stays with the uniform from now until September.

MADDOW:  That‘s exactly right.  It is probably worse with john McCain than with most other Republicans because he does have such a good relationship with the press and the press is generally over the course of the career been so kind to him.  If the Democratic candidates are not directing fire his way, if they are ignoring him, it is worse than him just not being paid attention to.  But no attention to John McCain by default positive attention.  So he‘s the greatest beneficiary of this knife fight between Obama and Clinton.

BUCHANAN:  Key state is your state, Chris.  I think it is Pennsylvania.  I think that McCain can win Pennsylvania and if Hillary beats him up bad and polarized there, Barack gets the nomination, I think McCain wins Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS:  Because a Democrat gave those voters permission slips to vote against him.

BUCHANAN:  Because polarizes so much and Obama apparently Clinton‘s voters don‘t like Obama.  A lot of them and significant numbers.

MADDOW:  After she has been beating up on him for a month, that‘s not a big surprise.  She has been - his adviser need to be fired if he is weak and unprepared and all of this stuff.

MATTHEWS:  You are both right.  Everybody knows that this.  Some people don‘t like him because he‘s black.  Not surprised by that.  Some people.  A lot of other, people are just so pro-Hillary they resent the opposition.  That‘s not surprising either.

BUCHANAN:  No.

MATTHEWS:  A lot of—new territory for us.

LIZZA:  I want to dissent from the idea that this race has gotten so ugly.  2004, democratic groups ran an ad linking Howard Dean with Osama bin Laden.  This race hasn‘t even gotten close to that.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is strong for Senator Clinton to say there are two candidates in this race ready to lead, myself, her and John McCain?

LIZZA:  It is tough.  Could come back to hurt Obama.  In primary fights opponent say negative stuff about each other all the time.  And it never has as much resonance in the general election as people say it got in the primaries.

BUCHANAN:  What sticks is race, ethnicity, sisterhood, things like that.  Those are very, very powerful elemental motions that are involved in this.

LIZZA:  I think it‘s a net plus for Obama to be challenged by Hillary and have a long campaign, end of the process, not him more good than just winning this thing easily.

MATTHEWS:  I think it has made Hillary look stronger.  This fighting, she is bloodied and punched a number of times and taken hard times in the media as well.  I think she looks stronger now than when she started.  I think he does not do well, Rachel.  I think he does not do well in this in-fighting.  I said this earlier.  She begins to look like a middle class working class woman.  She begins to look like a politician like Mikulski of Maryland.  She begins to look not like an Ivy Leaguer that can be turning off some people, a real middle class American woman and I think she‘s better when she is fighting.  I think—what do you think, Rachel?

MADDOW:  Democrats to a certain extent have been hungering for a candidate that would bite somebody‘s nose off in a bar fight.  Maybe she is starting to look that way.  Obama can show he‘s tough, too.  And if he doesn‘t want to punch at Hillary Clinton, he ought to be punching at McCain.  McCain is get way too free a ride right now.

MATTHEWS:  Can I advertise for you, Rachel.  We have a Rhodes scholar here.  I would be mentioning it every night I was a Rhodes Scholer.  And a Ph.D from Oxford University..  Both in this incredibly brilliant person.  Thank you for joining us.  Pat Buchanan, thank you very much.  Brian Lizza.  The only Rhodes scholar at this table.  I will be back “hardball.” coming up next on MSNBC, a special look at Barack Obama.  Good night to everybody.

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 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com) 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 MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

transcript

Watch Hardball each weeknight at 5 & 7 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,