updated 4/7/2008 2:54:47 PM ET 2008-04-07T18:54:47

Guests: Michelle Bernard, David Corn, Margaret Carlson, Dominic Carter, Joan Walsh, Gregory Meeks, Kweisi Mfume, Tad Devine, Joan Walsh, Dominic Carter

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The Clintons clean up, earning over $100 million since Bill left office. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL. 

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL. 

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.  And all of the presidential candidates recognized the civil rights leader. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I would remind you that we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing.  And Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  That is why the great need of this hour is much the same as it was when Dr. King delivered his sermon in Memphis. 

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  He didn‘t ask me as I reached out my hand, where do you live?  What‘s your experience?  He just took it and looked in my face and thanked me for coming. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  In a moment, we will take a look at how racial politics is helping to define this presidential race.  And we will have the results of a new poll on how ready Americans say they are for an African-American president. 

Also, Bill and Hillary Clinton just released some of their tax returns since leaving the White House, but they did not release the returns from last year, as they promised many times they would.  They have filed an extension.  So, how much money did they say they reported earning over the previous eight years?  Get ready for it: $109 million.  Talk about a big number.

Where did all that money come from?  We‘re going to try to find out and tell you where it came from and who they may owe in many ways.

Plus, who won and who lost this week?  We will take a look at that and at Hillary Clinton‘s must-needed TV charm offensive on the “Politics Fix” tonight. 

And wait until you hear how former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer‘s dangerous liaison in Washington has turned into a marketing opportunity for one very lucky hotel.

But we begin tonight with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Kweisi Mfume is a former Democratic congressman from Maryland.  He‘s also the former head of the NAACP in this country.  And he‘s an Obama supporter.  And U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks is a Democrat from New York.  He‘s a Hillary supporter. 

Let me start with Congressman Mfume.

What do you think about the politics of this day, in terms of where the candidates went?  Two of them, McCain and Hillary, went down to—to Atlanta.  Or was it Memphis, I guess.  No, Atlanta.  And—was it Memphis?  Which one—Memphis.  And Obama stayed up in Indiana, where he‘s campaigning in the primary up there. 

KWEISI MFUME (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  Well, I think there was symbolism in both places, Memphis, obviously, because that‘s where the crime occurred, Indiana, because the people who were working with Bobby Kennedy at that time, it was Bobby Kennedy who made the announcement there.  And, so, there‘s symbolism in both places.

One thing is interesting.  Dr. King perhaps is even more alive today than he was 40 years ago.  He‘s in this political process.  He‘s in schools.  He‘s in history books.  We find a way over and over again to talk about what he did and why his principles are important. 

We try to live as a country to kind of live out the—the course that he set for us.  And much of what Dr. King embraced are the things that we encourage people to embrace today.  He‘s a part of our national dialogue more now than ever.  And, politically, obviously, as reflected in the candidates and in future candidates and candidates long from now will continue to do, and that is to find a way to call attention back to Dr.  King as one of the best things to happen in this country. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Meeks, do you have any problem with the fact that Senator Obama chose to honor this occasion—or to mark it, rather—by going to Indiana, rather than going to Memphis, Tennessee? 

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK:  No, I don‘t have any problem with it.

I think that where he was, and what he said, it speaks for itself.  I think what all the candidates have done today is a very positive thing.  As my good friend Kweisi Mfume said, today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. King.  And we‘re still trying to live up to his dreams. 

In fact, when you think about what his last speech was talking about, economic justice for individuals, there‘s a lot of work for us to do to make sure that the—we change the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, which is growing greater and greater every day. 

And what this is about is, when we elect a new president—and that‘s why I am proud to be a Democrat—that I know that one of our candidates are going to be an African-American man or a woman, which means that we are starting to look at people, not by the color of their skin or their gender, but by the content of their character. 

And I think that‘s the direction that this country is—it has to move.  And we have got to be able to talk about things in an open manner and move forward that way, but address the issues that Dr. King laid his life down for.  And, as he ended his life, he was talking about economic justice.  He was fighting for those workers in Memphis, Tennessee. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MEEKS:  And those are the things that we still need to do today.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at Senator Obama speaking today in Indiana. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  No. 

I mean, I think that I spoke at Dr. King‘s church on his birthday, was with the King family then.  I obviously gave a fairly fulsome speech on the state of race relations just two weeks ago.  And I think it‘s important to spread the message that Dr. King‘s work is unfinished in places like Indiana and North Dakota. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s take a look now at Senator Clinton down in Memphis today and what she had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  We did not include Dr. King or me either.  Women and African-Americans were left out of America‘s founding promises.  But he never gave up, and neither should we. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, the question there, I guess, for you Congressman Mfume, is this whole question of generation.

We‘re talking here about race in America.  That‘s the topic, because it‘s the King memorial 40 years after.  That‘s a lot of time.  And I‘m wondering whether we‘re seeing that time passage in the way the vote‘s splitting.  There is a real divide generationally.

If you look at these people in this country under 40, for example, they lean heavily to Barack Obama.  Is that because they were raised in the environment that he helped to shape? 

MFUME:  Well, I think it‘s the manifestation of the teachings of Dr.  King as passed on through their parents and as they have grown up in this society that they have become comfortable with. 

I also think it‘s because they recognize, as Dr. King was, who, by the way was only 39 when he was assassinated, 26 when he made the cover of “TIME” magazine, and in his early 30s when he won the Nobel Peace Price—there‘s a direct relation and identification among a lot of those persons who are under 40 years of age. 

Senator Obama, who I assume and I believe will be our next president and, first of all, the nominee of the Democratic Party, I think, in many respects, exudes that.  There‘s a kind of relationship that people can identify with.  It doesn‘t mean that older people don‘t embrace him and support him.  They do.  It‘s just that he encapsulates so much of what this younger generation was raised on, to believe that you can make a difference, that the color of your skin ought not hold you back...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MFUME:  ... that you ought to try to find a way to reach for the stars. 

That‘s what he‘s doing.  And I think the identification there is a belief in this generation that we can do anything that we want to do and that we set our minds to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Same question to you, Congressman Meeks.

Why is it that older Americans, white Americans, are more resistant?  I know you‘re for Hillary Clinton, but, when you look at the results, it‘s hard not to notice this generational split. 

MEEKS:  Well, look, first of all, for the final two candidates in the Democratic primary to be Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, it shows that everyone is moving forward. 

You have a race that‘s virtually tied right now.  Neither candidate, it seems, is going to reach the 2,025 mark of delegates.  It is a virtual tie.  The country is split.  Families are split.  You know, you have got families down the line that are decided that are on different sides in this race. 

MATTHEWS:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Congressman, are you saying this election‘s a 50/50 proposition, that—that Senator Clinton has an equal chance right now to win this race with Barack Obama?  You say it‘s about 50/50 now.  Is that your theory?

MEEKS:  Well, clearly, clearly, you need 2,025 votes to win. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but who‘s got the most delegates? 

MEEKS:  Neither—well, number one, the campaign‘s not over with yet.  We still have states to count.  And there‘s still roads for superdelegates to play in to determine who is going to be the nominee of this party.  So, this race is very much a wide-open race.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  How would that be good for race relations in America, if the House of Lords overrules the Congress—the elected delegates? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How would you like to see that in the streets of America, if the word went out in the headlines of the newspapers and on the networks, all the voting doesn‘t matter because now the superdelegates , this House of Lords that has been created by the DNC, is going to overrule the people?

Do you think that will be a way to celebrate King‘s legacy?

MEEKS:  Look, no one is talking about the House of Lords.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, who are these people that get to vote? 

MEEKS:  We‘re still talking about then, individuals, for example, like the state of Florida. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MEEKS:  There‘s a lot of individuals that was deprived of their right to vote in 2000, what took place there.

We need to make sure that those votes count. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MEEKS:  We have got to count in Michigan. 

So, when you want to look at the whole scenario, I think everybody has to count.  But you also have to look at the rules of the Democratic Party.  Now, if, in fact, the rule said that whoever had the majority of votes at end of the process wins, then that‘s one thing.  But the rules said there would be 2,025, and after—and if no one reaches 2,025, that superdelegates have a role to determine who would be in the best interests of the party.  

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Congressman Mfume. 

Mr. Mfume, do you believe that will sell to the American people, regardless of background or race or whatever?  Will they accept a decision made by these—I will call them the House of Lords?  They‘re the unelected officials of the Democratic Party who come in after the voting is over in June and decide who should win, despite the numbers.

MFUME:  Well, I, personally, Chris, believe that the numbers are going to be so overwhelming and so compelling on behalf of Senator Barack Obama, that the superdelegates will do the right thing, and that is, as we have seen a gradual shift toward him in the uncommitted delegates. 

They are shifting every day.  They will continue to do so.  The other interesting thing, though, I think Senator Clinton would have to win Pennsylvania big.  She would have to win Indiana, Oregon, North Carolina, Puerto Rico by huge margins to be able to even get close to the pledged delegate count. 

Senator Barack Obama leads, as you know, in terms of the overall vote.  And I believe that superdelegates are looking at Obama‘s campaign and are recognizing, as many people in America, that, unless something overwhelming happens—and we don‘t expect that it will—he ought to be and should be and will be the Democratic nominee. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman Meeks, you don‘t agree? 

MEEKS:  No.  Well, I think that you also have to take a good look at the states that are important, those states that are the battleground states, as well as those states that historically have been Democratic states, when you look at an Electoral College. 

We learned in 2000 that what‘s important to win these elections is, you have got the win the Electoral College.  In 2000, you know, individuals were saying Florida, Florida, Florida.  In 2004, they said Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. 

We could be talking about Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, or we could be talking about...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MEEKS:  So, we don‘t know what states are going to be the key states that is going to make the difference in who‘s going to be the next president of the United States.

And, for me, in the end, it‘s about winning in November.  And we want to make sure—and I think that‘s what all of us have to do.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

MEEKS:  I think we‘re going to have a great candidate, whether it‘s Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.  We‘re going to have the right person to beat McCain.  But we have got to make sure that we win the states that will elect the Democrat in November.  And that‘s what this is all about. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, gentlemen.  It‘s great to have you on, Congressman—former Congressman Kweisi Mfume, former head of the NAACP, and U.S. Congressman Greg Meeks of New York.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up:  The Clintons have released some of their tax returns.  David Shuster will have the report.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Mayflower madness.  The Eliot Spitzer hotel is selling more than rooms these days.  Find out what—when HARDBALL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Late today, very late today, the Clinton campaign began to release Bill and Hillary Clinton‘s tax returns.  They show that the Clintons reported $109 million in income over the past eight years.

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us with the latest. 

And, at the moment, it seems, David, there are more questions than answers in these papers. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, that‘s right. 

What they have done is, they have released the returns through 2006, and then the Clinton campaign has a summary of all of the income through 2007.  So, the juicy details from last year are not going to be there. 

But here‘s the breakdown in terms of that $109 million in income since the Clintons left the White House.  Most of it, Chris, came from Bill Clinton‘s speaking fees, $51.8 million.  The next largest contribution to their income was from Bill Clinton‘s book, $29.5 million.  Senator Hillary Clinton‘s book brought in about $10.4 million. 

And then, of course, there was income from the presidential pension and from Hillary Clinton‘s Senate salary. 

Now, there are number of crucial unanswered questions that we‘re trying to dig out of these returns.  And the first one, Chris, is some of the consulting fees that President Clinton got.  There are a number of people who gave money to the Clinton Global Initiative or to the Clinton Library who have some sort of shadowy and shady connections.

The first one is this man named Victor—I‘m sorry—Vinod Gupta.  He‘s the owner of a company called infoUSA.  Bill Clinton allegedly received a consulting income.  Gupta has given heavily to the Clinton Foundation.  The tax returns show that Bill Clinton got $3.3 million through Vinod Gupta, the owner of infoUSA. 

The reason this is significant is because infoUSA has little bit of trouble.  It‘s been asked to be under FTC investigation because the—this company allegedly sold personal and consumer data about seniors to crooked telemarketers. 

There are other possible problems.  Frank Giustra, who is the founder of Lions Gate Entertainment, he attempted a mining deal in Uzbekistan.  President Clinton went to Uzbekistan, where he praised President Nazarbayev, despite his horrific human rights record.  We‘re looking for details about whatever consulting fees he got there.

And then the other one, of course, Ron Burkle is a longtime Clinton friend.  And he‘s the founder of Yucaipa Corporation.  The tax returns show nonpassive income to Bill Clinton from advising Burkle‘s company of $2.6 million.  This may be as much as $20 million, though, according to “The Wall Street Journal.” 

The reason this is significant, Chris, is because the same corporation, one of the partners is at Dubai Investment Corporation.  And it‘s a company directly linked to Dubai‘s ruler.  And that‘s significant, of course, because, two years ago, Senator Clinton was criticizing the government of Dubai for trying to purchase ports.  And, yet, there we have at least nearly $3 million of income to President Clinton from sources linked to Dubai—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  So, do we know where he got his money from last year?  The one thing we‘re waiting to get, they promised to give us.  Do we know where they got their income from last year?

SHUSTER:  No.  Well, we know that most of it, Chris, came from speaking fees.  But, as far as the details, we do not have the details from last year.  All we have is the Clinton campaign summary.  So, we don‘t have those specific consulting fees or details for the last year. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  This is what I was predicting. 

Anyway, Salon‘s Joan Walsh joins us right now, and Dominic Carter of New York One.

Joan, why are we getting—it seems to me that everybody wanted to know in journalism where the Clintons got their money last year.  Was there any sticky income that might tie them down in terms of their indebtedness to someone outside the country.  We‘re not getting that information, the one thing we were promised to get. 

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR IN CHIEF, SALON.COM:  No.  It‘s a little disturbing, Chris. 

I think lots of busy people file extensions.  And maybe they‘re going to claim that.  But they—they said they were working hard to get the details for 2007 out to people.  And they certainly haven‘t done that today.  It‘s kind of a distraction.  It‘s nice to know that they paid a high rate of income tax, nice to know they gave a lot of money away, but those questions about the Burkle partnership, the other partnership, are yet to be answered. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

You know, late Friday afternoon is the garbage dump period in New York in American journalism, also in New York, Dominic.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  They dumped out the bad news here, which is they‘re not going to tell us where the president, the former president, got his income last year.  They‘re not going to tell us. 

DOMINIC CARTER, NY1 NEWS:  Well, Chris, we are waiting for the details.  And we‘re trying to sift through the information that we have. 

We have been told that there is a strong possibility the Clintons are going to file for an extension.  The good news for them, we can at least see—I know we want the details of the most recent income.  But we can see that they earned a lot of money off of the book deals, and as well as the speeches.  And they can at least point to at least right now, as of this hour, $10 million going to charity.

And they can also, as of this hour, because it can change any minute, claim that they have released at least their taxes to take the issue away as a campaign issue. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  But they haven‘t released their tax returns from last year, Dominic.

CARTER:  Right.  That‘s the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The thing they—the one thing they promised to do, give us your returns from last year, and they haven‘t done it.  They have dumped out the bad news Friday. 

Joan, all they have done here is tell us they‘re not going to release their returns from last year.  They can talk about extensions and giving us the details later.  They were going to give us this information before April 15, and they‘re not doing it. 

WALSH:  Well, have they absolutely said they are not doing it by April 15? I just didn‘t see that.  I know what we have today and that it doesn‘t contain what they want.  I don‘t know what they‘re trying to—

MATTHEWS:  Well why wouldn‘t they hold off?  If they only had a few more days to tell us before April 15 they would tell us the whole thing on April 15. 

WALSH:  Well I‘m just trying to raise a question. 

MATTHEWS:  I know. I know.

WALSH:  I don‘t have an answer to it so I‘m not going to jump to conclusions.  Maybe they‘re working feverishly over this weekend, Chris, and they‘re going to get if for us next week and we can talk about it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, am I right to suggest the real question is not how much the they made, but where they got it from?

WALSH:  Absolutely.  I think that‘s true.  And I think even—even the speeches, you really want to look at who is trying to curry influence with the president and perhaps the former first husband, and then these partnerships and whether he has used his influence on behalf of people working with foreign governments. 

Those are fair questions.  And we don‘t have answers yet, so it --  

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sorry.  Dominique, your final thought on this. Is this going to be more questions than answers? 

CARTER:  Perhaps.  You hit it on the head, Chris.  Everyone wants to know who was trying to curry favor with the Clintons and what was the extent of the relationship.  And as of right now, we don‘t know that for their most recent income. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. Thank you very much.  Joan, sorry for the quickness. 

Joan and Dominic have a nice weekend.

Up next, Hillary goes Hollywood.  Will it help?  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

So what else is happening in politics?  Well it turns out that Eliot Spitzer‘s big night at the Mayflower may have been the best thing that happen to that downtown D.C. hotel.  A spokesman for the Mayflower said that since Spitzer got caught there, sales of hotel souvenirs, from bathrobes to teddy bears, have been flying out of the gift shop. 

Some even pried the 871 room number off the wall outside Spitzer‘s room of assignation.  So you‘ve got to ask yourself: What‘s creepier, doing it or drooling over it like these collectors? 

Anyway now to some late night politics.  Let‘s take a look at the latest takeoff, what has obviously become the campaign ad of this season. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s 3:00 a.m. and your children are sleeping.  Suddenly a phone rings in the White House.  How can you be sure that Hillary Clinton would be ready to answer that call?  Because if she‘s elected president, she promises to stay awake 24 hours a day, 365 days a year thanks to a steady diet of espresso, red bull, and some crazy Dutch amphetamines she got from England. 

Hillary Clinton, no sleep until 2017. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s, of course a takeoff on the Letterman show.  But here‘s Hillary Clinton herself on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATURE:  It is so great to be here.  You know, I was worried I wasn‘t going to make it. 

JAY LENO, HOST, “TONIGHT SHOW”:  Oh. 

CLINTON:  I was pinned down by sniper fire. 

LENO:  Really?  Right near (INAUDIBLE)?  You know, in L.A. that might be true actually. 

CLINTON:  Oh, I know.  This has just been, you know, such a mismatch of words and actions and I was thinking about it because, you know, obviously I‘ve been so privileged to represent our country in gosh, more than 80 other countries, lots of war zones and all the rest of it. 

And I wrote about this in my book, and then I obviously just had a lapse. 

LENO:  OK.  Yes.

CLINTON:  So, here I am safe and sound and proud of all of our—

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s making a joke of it.  We have to decide as voters whether we think it‘s funny to say you were in a war zone when you apparently weren‘t.  It‘s a tricky question.  Sometimes politicians do what Hillary Clinton just did then, try to laugh did off. 

(AUDIO GAP)

... bring it up right now.  I‘m sorry to report that it‘s a bad one, a really bad one.  Today, the Labor Department released a daunting figure, one that I guarantee could have a tremendous impact on the presidential election come November.  How many total jobs were lost during the month of March -- 80,000.  The biggest monthly drop in five years -- 80,000 jobs slashed from the payrolls last month.  Tonight‘s big number with perhaps bigger numbers like that to come. 

Up next, the superdelegates shift and what it means for Clinton and Obama. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC Market Wrap.  Stocks closing mixed this Friday, following a dismal unemployment report this morning.  The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 16 points.  The S&P 500 up just one.  The Nasdaq up more than seven.

For the week, though, the Dow was up three percent.  The S&P 500 up four percent, and the Nasdaq up almost five percent.  Good beginning to this month of April. 

The economy, though, did lose a much larger than expected 80,000 jobs in March.  That‘s the biggest decline in five years.  This is also the third straight month of losses fueling speculation that the economy may be already in a recession.  It also raised speculation that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates again when it meets at the end of the month. 

And oil prices took a big jump today.  Crude oil rose $2.40 a barrel, and New York‘s trading session closing at $106.23 a barrel.  Oil hit a record high last month of nearly $111 a barrel. 

That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s Business Channel.  Now back to

HARDBALL.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Now to something I love talking about, the delegate count, in fact, the superdelegate count.  Let‘s look at it right now.  If you look at it over—joining us right now, by the way, is Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who knows all about this stuff. 

Look at these numbers, Tad.  Back in February, here they are.  Let‘s take a look at the numbers in February, two months ago.  You see it, 260 to 170, a substantial lead for Senator Clinton.  A month ago it was 254 for Senator Clinton, 210 for Barack.  He‘s catching up.  And now, the current number is 255 for Senator Clinton and 224 for Barack. 

Is this is a stampede ready to go or what?  How do you see it for the uncommitteds now? 

TAD DEVINE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, Chris I think they‘re moving towards Barack Obama.  This is typical, the superdelegates in the past have moved in three distinct waves.  The first wave, before voting started, Hillary won that.  The second wave, after most of the voting occurred, Barack Obama‘s winning that. 

And the third wave, which closes the thing up, that‘s the wave we‘re waiting for.  She won the first.  He‘s winning the second.  We‘ll see who wins the third.  Whoever wins the third wins the nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  I would like to disaggregate the numbers and separate the elected politicians, the U.S. members of Congress, and senators and governors.  That tends to be about an even 50/50 split between the two candidates. 

It‘s the party folk, the people that were party chairs before, or currently are party chairs, that seem to be benefiting Hillary. Is that your look at the thing?

DEVINE:  Yes it is.  I think it goes to back to the relationships that she and the president established the years they were in office.  I think they know a lot of these people.  I think they built up those numbers early on. 

And I think you can also look at it by state.  I think Hillary‘s superdelegate advantage really all comes from the state of New York.  She‘s over 40 superdelegates ahead, just from her home state, so she‘s got a big home feel advantage in New York, and Arkansas too.  And you put that together, along with those DNC advantages, and that‘s her numbers, that‘s her lead. 

MATTHEWS:  Well the amazing way to look at it then, is if you look at the elected delegates that come out of the schedule as we get into the first week at June, and then you take the elected officials—who everybody would say, well generally they do deserve a say.  U.S. members from Congress are elected, so are senators and governors. 

If this thing is decided by superdelegates and they overturned the decisions of the elected delegates and it‘s the politicians, pure and simple, who make the call, is that going to be harder sell in Denver? 

DEVINE:  You better believe it.  I mean, you know—and I think that‘s why a lot, people—by the way including Clinton superdelegates.  We‘ve heard from Governor Corzine, we heard Governor O‘Malley (ph) of Maryland, I think, said the same thing effectively today.  That they want to look to the popular vote, they want to see what people have said before they‘ll make a final decision in this race. 

And I think people understand that if Obama‘s well ahead in popular vote, well ahead in pledged delegates, that he, as he said by the way, I think, very adroitly, when he was at the college tour on HARDBALL the other day, that he earned the nomination.  That‘s important language.

MATTHEWS:  He was very careful though.  He didn‘t rub it in their face.  He said, I think that superdelegates will see that I have earned it.  He‘s trying to still be deft there and not—but, you know, that can turn into a statement of iron by August if the superdelegates decide to go against him, right? 

DEVINE:  Yes.  And—but I think that‘s powerful language for him to stand there and say, listen, I worked, I played by the rules, I earned the nomination.  I think if he‘s able to make that claim by having a pledged delegate lead, by having a popular vote lead, it‘s going to be very hard for anyone to overcome that. 

MATTHEWS:  Well the Clintons have always said to work hard and play by the rules.  Now they seem to be working hard at changing the rules because you keep getting new standards.  One was elected delegates.  Now they talk, as you say, about overall popular, the total numbers of votes.  Now we heard from Congressman Leaks (ph) and he makes a new case, I think, from the Clinton campaign tonight on this show, that we should look at the electoral college and see which candidates the Democratic Party won in different states and add up their electoral votes. 

They keep coming up with a new score card, the Clintons. 

DEVINE:  Well I think that‘s because they want to keep this race alive.  And I think they believe that the longer it stays alive, the better for her.  They are going to a state right now, Pennsylvania, where she has enormous advantages.  If she can win there, if she can keep it going until June, perhaps, her hand will strengthen. 

And I think that‘s why they have developed a lot of these rationales. 

But listen, in the end, Chris, this is going to be about winning delegates.  It‘s about the pledged delegate, the superdelegates.  If Obama continues to win superdelegates, continues to win his share of pledged delegates with proportional representation, it‘s going to be impossible to catch him. And I think they know that and that‘s why these theories are being floated.

MATTHEWS:  Why do they say—you may have already answered it.  Why do they say thing that are unnerving to people, like—even the delegates  elected to vote for Barack Obama can thing their mind and vote for Senator Clinton?  Why do they say that?  Because you can—I can‘t even imagine a delegate switching for who they were elected to represent. 

DEVINE:  Chris, that‘s technically true, but in the read world, it‘s just not going to happen.  These delegates are a lot like electors to the electoral college.  They can get elected, they can go and change their vote at the electoral college.  But almost, you know, they hardly ever do. 

Once in a while you‘ll have been unfaithful elector.  But that‘;s not going to happen.  It hasn‘t happened in the modern era, only a handful of people have changed their pledged delegate support.  These are partisans.  They strongly support the candidate for whom they were elected and they were elected, by the way, to fairly reflect what voters did in primaries.  And I think they feel that obligation. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think Hillary Clinton‘s already have in her mind, does she already have in her mind as a political figure that she might have to go for this again in 2012?  Do you think that‘s part of her calculation in the way she‘s behaving right now? 

DEVINE:  I don‘t know, Chris, what‘s in her mind.  I think politically the calculation of her staying in this race is the right one right now.  I saw what my former partner Bob Schrum (ph) wrote in “The New York Times” today, and I agree with him—that this race is—she has earned the right to compete, that it would be better for both of them if they didn‘t attack each other, particularly in places like Pennsylvania. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you imagine her staying in the race and not using every weapon at her disposal?  I read the Schrum piece.  It did turn a bit.  He said stay in the race, but don‘t attack with everything you got.  Are the Clintons capable of operating under those rules of engagemetn? 

DEVINE:  I hope they are.  Because if this race degenerates it will hurt who the nominee is.  And in Hillary‘s nomination, I think if she would win it under those circumstances, she‘d be particularly hurt in the general election.  I think one of the most important constituencies in our party, African-Americans who have voted so loyally, in such large numbers for Democrats, I think would be deeply offended.  So I think it‘s in their political interest to do exactly—

MATTHEWS:  What about the underground campaign, Harold Ickes is apparently calling superdelegate after superdelegate whispering in their ear, this guy can‘t win the general because he‘s tied into this black minister who is a radical. 

DEVINE:  I think the underground campaign is not nearly as hurtful as a public campaign.  If Hillary were running ads right now attacking Barack Obama in Pennsylvania, that would be really hurtful.  But she‘s running ads in Pennsylvania attacking John McCain.  I don‘t that‘s going to Barack Obama if he is the nominee. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. Great.  It‘s great to have you on here, a real pro—

Tad Devine.

Up next, who‘s up and who‘s down in the wrap up of the week.  We‘re going look at how the politics turned this week.  I think it was a little turn.  We‘re going to find out from the Politics Fix, this is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  In the politics fix, tonight‘s round table, “Bloomberg‘s” Margaret Carlson, MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, and David Corn of “Mother Jones.”  What a great group tonight. 

You know, Margaret, I want to start with you, because you come out of western Pennsylvania.  There was an interview with a bunch of western Pennsylvania people in Latrob (ph).  I believe that‘s in Jack Murtha‘s district.  It‘s where my grand father was born.  A lot of people, white people with the ethnic central European names, I thinks it it‘s fair to say, all giving excuses for why they‘re voting against Barack Obama, and feeling they have to give these elaborate reasons.  What‘s going on. 

MARGARET CARLSON, “BLOOMBERG NEWS”:  I guess that‘s something that they feel they have to explain it.  I‘m central Pennsylvania actually, Chris, you know, the part that Starbucks forgot.  It‘s a very heavily elderly population, less college education.  But I think it‘s a lot like Latrob in that way.  In fact, people there feel like, well, it‘s normal; it would be appropriate for me to vote for Obama, but there are things about him I do not like.  And I like this scrappy fighter woman. 

And, you know, they‘ve completely turned over their bases, Chris.  Obama now has college educated young people and elites, and Hillary has the working class.  The Clintons used to be the epitome of Yuppie elites, and now they‘re totally on the other side of this.  I find that exchange very interesting. 

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, what do you make of these people giving these answers?  Apparently, according to the “New York Times,” people in that part of the state feel they have to give particular answers.  They can‘t say I don‘t like Obama; he‘s not my cup of tea.  They have to give particular reasons to vote against him.  What do you think is up there? 

MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S VOICE:  I think people don‘t want to be accused of being racist.  I think that‘s the most obvious signal that‘s out there.  You know, what‘s really interesting is something that I actually saw our friend here, Margaret Carlson, write earlier this week, which was that although Hillary Clinton went to Wellesley and she went to Yale, and Barack Obama went to Harvard, she‘s done a very good job of portraying herself with this populist message of being a fighter for the working class.  And Barack Obama is looked upon, I would say largely by a lot of these people in this part of the state as being a member of the elite class, even though they both have pretty similar backgrounds, and I would gather that Barack Obama is really the person who had to pull himself up from the boot straps to get where he is today. 

But voters in Pennsylvania, at least this part of the state, I believe are fearful of being called racist for not voting for him. 

MATTHEWS:  David, hit both points, the question of whether people feel they have to give some sort of statement along the lines of Martin Luther King.  They‘re judging Barack and Hillary on the basis of the content of their character.  The other question: is Hillary really successful?  I think she is at making herself like a Marcy Capter (ph), if you want to have some fun, or Rosie the Riveter.  She is a real regular person now.  She is no longer a seven sisters person.  

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  When they see those tax returns, they may

think differently about that.  But listen, I hope we all can have tax returns like that some day.  What‘s happened with Hillary Clinton here is -with Barack Obama is I do think that people out there, as one of his supporters told me the other day, they said listen, electing a black man to be the first president of the United States was never going to be easy.  There are still some hurdles to overcome. 

Even though these polls show the results we are talking about, in the last week or two, he has narrowed the polls in Pennsylvania.  He‘s making it far more competitive than people thought it would.  In fact, he‘s raising expectations for his campaign.  Me has more money, more offices.  As things close down, maybe these ethnic voters in Pennsylvania are not the full story of what‘s happening in the state there. 

MATTHEWS:  Margaret, do you agree that he‘s moving the voters? 

CARLSON:  The voters—Chris, in every state, the more exposure to Obama, the better he does.  He starts out slow; he gets there; he arrives.  He campaigns.  He has the big—now he‘s concentrating on the little in Pennsylvania.  He goes up.  I think he‘ll come back down.  Isn‘t there something, Chris, about Pennsylvania?  They just like the underdog. 

If he gets too close, he‘s going to go back down, because that‘s just how Pennsylvanians are.  Now, thanks to so some people saying Hillary Clinton should get out, there is that backlash vote, which is, how dare they say she should get out? 

MATTHEWS:  I agree with you, Michelle.  Pennsylvanians always like to switch governors every eight years.  Anything to keep the parties off balance.  They love to keep the pols back in their box.  Let me go to Michelle on this question of Hillary Clinton; do you believe that she has become much more of a recognizable middle class person, despite, as David says, these pretty healthy tax returns? 

BERNARD:  You know, this is a snap shot in time, but right now Hillary Clinton appears to be the person who voters, at least, believe best represent working class America.  I think the videos that we saw come out a few weeks ago that showed her growing up, you know, in Chicago with her family as a child, and really talked about the way her parents raised her, her father, her mother—I think all that has helped her for the time being, and people have forgotten that this was the woman who once would greeted with a 21 gun salute when she was standing with her husband and living in the White House for eight years. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s something of the carpet bagger here, I got to say, David.  I didn‘t know—how many people from Scranton or anywhere else knew that she had grown up in Scranton until it became appropriate to let them know that.  I mean, she has so many return addresses, Illinois, Arkansas, New York, and now she‘s Miss Scranton.  She‘s in the office already. 

CORN:  Listen, they‘ve done a great job, the Clinton campaign, in trying to put these working class issues to political use.  The question is weather the record really supports that.  We had a fight in Ohio over NAFTA.  It didn‘t get a lot of attention news-wise today, but it might next week.  Her top campaign adviser, Mark Penn, was meeting with the Colombian government, trying to get—he‘s working for to get a free trade agreement with Columbia passed, while she‘s out there arguing we shouldn‘t have this trade agreement. 

You look at the Clinton record in the White House, you look at her record in the Senate, it‘s not a populist record.  So at some point, maybe Barack Obama is going to have to point that out for it to get the attention it deserves. 

MATTHEWS:  Do they still (INAUDIBLE) Mark Penn runs in Washington, do they still have the Colombian government as their client. 

CORN:  Well, yes, he met with him on Monday.  They‘re making I think 500,000 dollars to help them get this agreement through Congress. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a context.  They have skated on that, Margaret, the fact that Mark Penn can be a top lobbyist for a country that supports a free trade agreement with Columbia, and at the same time, rallies for a candidate and develops her message that‘s against that. 

CARLSON:  Chris, the absolute worst client of Mark Penn is Blackwater.  He‘s representing Blackwater that‘s on the Hill trying to explain why his mercenaries are going around killing people and covering it up.  You know, Charlie Black, who is a lobbyist and on Senator McCain‘s Straight Talk Express finally gave up his ties to his lobbying firm. 

It‘s such a bad thing to be collecting money from clients and you may say, oh, I‘m not actually double dealing here.  If you‘re on the bus—

Chris you and I—do you remember years ago, we were someplace, and we heard somebody when there were still pay phones.  They say, I‘m having dinner with Dan Rostenkowski (ph)?  Well, he was in the restaurant.  You know, the guy‘s doubling his hourly fee. 

But you‘re on the bus with Senator McCain, and you say, oh, well, excuse me, client.  I have to go get Senator McCain, I have to go get Senator McCain another sprinkled donut.  That really helps your business.  Charlie Black ended it.  I don‘t see how Mark Penn continues it.  It‘s a disgrace.

MATTHEWS:  So Mark is still playing—Margaret, Mark Penn is still playing “Mrs. Doubtfire,” running from one room to the other, having dinner with two different people?  One is Clinton.  The other one is the government of Columbia.  We‘ll be right back with the round table.

CARLSON:  Maybe he‘s putting on a dress.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be back with more politics fix when we come back in a minute on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the round table and the politics fix.  So this week—I want to look right now at a poll number.  It‘s the latest NBC number on Senator Clinton‘s popularity, her positive versus her negative.  It‘s gone down, for whatever reason, down to 37 percent.  It may explain why she‘s doing programs like Jay Leno and Ellen Degeneres.  Let‘s take a look at her on “Ellen.”  It‘s coming up Monday.  We got an early look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLEN DEGENERES, “ELLEN”:  I mean, what does that feel—I mean, I know you‘re strong.  We know you‘re a strong person.  But, still, to have somebody say to you, just stop right now and get out of it? 

CLINTON:  Well, you know, boys used to say that to me all the time, and I figured, you know, this contest is close.  I don‘t think either one of us should get out.  We should let people vote.  There are a lot of states that haven‘t voted yet. 

Why would I quit?  This country is worth fighting for.  I‘m having a good time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  You know, you get in trouble for saying that Senator Clinton benefits from her victimhood.  There she is with a women audience there, fair enough, but it‘s politics.  She‘s saying, the boys say quit, playing to the gender vote.  There‘s nothing wrong with it.  It‘s classic politics.  I don‘t think you can say you‘re not doing it if you‘re doing it, Michelle. 

BERNARD:  You know, I got to tell you that‘s exactly what she‘s doing.  We always try to talk about, at least at my organization, getting away from the sort of politics of victimhood.  But from day one, Senator Clinton‘s base has been women, particularly women I would say ages 50 and 60 above, women for whom sex discrimination was a very, very real thing.  They remember it.  They are angry about it.  If she can come out, legitimately so, and say the guys are picking on me.  I‘m only 150 or so delegates behind.  If Senator Barack Obama were only a hundred or so delegates behind, people would tell him to stay in the race.  This isn‘t fair.  That‘s how she galvanizes her base and those women are going to go out and march and they‘re going to vote for her. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it‘s happened before in her career.  It certainly happened in Massachusetts --- sorry, in New Hampshire, Margaret.  It happened because she was taking a pounding, not just in the media, but from the other candidates, and she did very well.  You and I saw how strong she performed up there in New Hampshire.  She was a real power house, in terms of sticking to it right through that last press conference she had up there. 

Is saying it outright like that, the boys are trying to take me out of this, does that work? 

CARLSON:  It has worked.  The worst thing that can happen to a Clinton is it be on top too long, because then they don‘t have that card to play.  Hillary is really good at it.  They like chaos; they are good—Bill Clinton in New Hampshire, comeback kid.  That‘s their MO.  And I‘m surprised at the sisterhood, actually.  I thought they‘d come along further, but there is this element where women can get pushed back to feeling like victims again very easily, and this sort of—

In upstate New York, I remember when she was running for the Senate; it was amazing.  All these women have their hound dogs to deal with.  They‘re working in hard jobs and they‘re not appreciated.  She tapped right into that and she‘s tapping into it again.  Somebody told me today, I hope none of these women senators who have come out for Obama ever want to raise money from women again, because they‘re not going to get it, and I said, really? 

MATTHEWS:  You know, David a lot of women have jobs that are really tough.  I mean, just imagine you‘re in your 50s or even 60s and you‘re waiting tables.  It‘s work putting up with people, putting up with bosses and living off of tips.  I can imagine where Clinton, when she says the boys keep telling me to quit, even when I was a kid, works. 

CORN:  It does.  As you noted, it worked very well in New Hampshire and afterwards.  But then in the sort of the middle phase of this primary season, she started losing to Obama in the female vote.  She would win amongst white women who were the age that Michelle mentioned, 50, 60, 70 and above, but started losing younger women and women of color to Barack Obama. 

She‘s certainly trying to tap into that as we head into the home stretch.  If she can‘t revive that base, she is sunk. 

MATTHEWS:  Michelle, you know this better than I, that Title IX, for example, really has benefited, and the Civil Rights Act, and a lot of affirmative action over the years has really helped women, perhaps more than anyone else.  Was it right for her to get into the issue of Martin Luther King, the 40th anniversary of his assassination today, to talk in terms of women‘s rights being part of the deal? 

BERNARD:  There has been a history throughout the United States history, going on from the early abolitionists and the suffer jets (ph), through all of the changes that we saw in civil rights legislation in the 1960s and ‘70s, where the women‘s movement continually follow what happens with the regard to the treatment of African-Americans.  In that sense, she was touching on something that was historically correct. 

Whether or not, in the context of the assassination of Martin Luther King, the American public will appreciate that or, frankly, even care about it, history will tell. 

MATTHEWS:  It is interesting that black men, African American men, at least technically, got the right to vote in 1870 and women didn‘t get it until 50 years later, Margaret. 

BERNARD:  I‘m sorry to interrupt, but when black men actually got the right to vote, the early abolitionist women, Elizabeth Caty Stanton and that whole group of women, were so angry that they said, forget about abolition.  We‘re going on our separate way.  It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself. 

MATTHEWS:  I knew you knew more than I did.  Happy weekend for all of you, Michelle.  Thank you very much, Margaret.  David, thanks for joining us.  Join us again Monday at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  Right now, it‘s time for RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE with David Gregory.

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

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