updated 6/2/2008 11:18:27 AM ET 2008-06-02T15:18:27

Guests: Margaret Brennan, Michelle Bernard, Tucker Carlson, Chuck Todd, Margaret Carlson, Hilary Rosen, Chris Cillizza, Ryan Lizza, Roger Simon, Richard Clarke

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  The beginning of the end.  Hillary Clinton says the superdelegates will start deciding Tuesday night.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  The final stretch.  Is this the weekend when the Democratic presidential nomination finally gets decided?  Maybe.  Tomorrow, Democrats meet in Washington to figure out what to do about Florida and Michigan.  And then on to Sunday, it‘s the Puerto Rican primary.  Will either of these events lend legitimacy to Hillary Clinton‘s claim to the nomination?

And if Hillary doesn‘t get the nomination, will it be because Democratic voters or the media or Barack Obama were sexist?  There are a lot of Democrats who say yes, and we‘ll debate that later in the program.

Also, what does it feel like to write a Washington tell-all book and then have the White House go after you?  Scott McClellan is finding out right now what Richard Clarke, the former National Security Council member has known since he wrote his tell-all book.  We‘ll talk to Clarke about what he thinks about McClellan and the reaction to his book and what he learned from that tell-all.

Plus, in the “Politics Fix” tonight, we‘re going to look at whether Barack Obama has a new pastor problem, this time Catholic.  And on the HARDBALL “Sideshow,” what astrologists see in the stars for Hillary Clinton.  I know I don‘t take it seriously, but it‘s interesting.  I have a hunch they‘ll be looking at the polls, as well as the stars.

And a programming note.  MSNBC will have full coverage of the DNC meeting starting, as I said, tomorrow starting at 9:30 in the morning.  I‘ll be anchoring beginning at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon, throughout the afternoon.  Then on Sunday, Keith Olbermann will join me for full coverage of the Puerto Rican primary beginning at 2:00 PM Eastern.

Anyway, we‘ve got this story right now.  Chuck Todd‘s team mapped out the possible scenarios for (INAUDIBLE) Saturday meeting, but let‘s talk now about this thing.  I want to get to a couple bottom lines here.  Chuck, my guru, Mr. Spock, who knows all things...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  ... is there any way that we can come out of this weekend, the meeting tomorrow about Florida and Michigan, the Sunday big event in Puerto Rico, the primary there, where Hillary Clinton will be able to come out on national television, say Sunday night, and say, I‘m in this race, this thing is too close to call, I can win this presidential election?  Can she do it?

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Can she?  Yes, but it‘s very unlikely.  She would have to get an incredibly favorable ruling on Florida and Michigan, which doesn‘t look like it‘s going to happen, and she needs to win Puerto Rico by some 20 points to really landslide margins, and suddenly, she‘d be making up 50, 60, 70 delegates and really have eaten into this big delegate lead that Obama had.

But the reality is, it‘s not going to happen.  She is not going to get a favorable ruling tomorrow because there really is one good ruling for her tomorrow, and she‘s not going to get it, and that is full seating of Florida and Michigan and giving Obama a goose egg, zero, out of Michigan.  She‘s not going to get that.

MATTHEWS:  And that‘s the only way she can come out ahead in delegates.

TODD:  The only way she could start actually making a true delegate case to the superdelegates.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM:  Yes.  I mean, this meeting, tomorrow is just a stay of execution.  It is a campaign that really knows there is no path to victory any longer, but they‘re unready to say, OK, this is the end of the road.  They‘re going to say—Try to get as favorable as ruling as we can, count the votes in Puerto Rico, count the votes in Saskatoon and Lichtenstein...

MATTHEWS:  Right.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON:  ... you know, any place a Democrat has trod the earth!

MATTHEWS:  Now let‘s switch to that parallel universe in which the Hillary people live.  They say it‘s not about elected delegates.  They say it‘s about popular vote and who can win in those big electoral states you need to win the election.  How will they be able—will they be able to use those two arguments coming out of this weekend?

TODD:  Well, I think one thing they‘re going to get out of this weekend that isn‘t a bad—that is a win for them is Florida‘s going to be seen as counting.  I mean, I think that this rules committee is going to accept the Florida primaries results.  That‘s a big concession.

MATTHEWS:  Big popular vote...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... for her.

TODD:  That‘s a 300,000-vote gain.  I don‘t think they‘re going to accept the Michigan primary as a legitimate...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  With that 300,000-vote pick-up for her in the regular column of regular states—in other words, it‘s fully ratified at this point...

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  ... can she then, with the help or without the help of Puerto Rico, claim that she won the popular vote?

TODD:  With the help of Puerto Rico.  And even then, it‘s going to be really close.  It‘s going to be within a couple thousand votes.

MATTHEWS:  Then we can expect, it seems to me, putting this together, Roger, that come Sunday night, somewhere, Hillary Clinton will be with Bill, probably, the former president, and they will declare—ignoring all this stuff about elected delegates that you guys all focus on...

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I know~!  I‘m just kidding here!  But ignoring that universe that is the traditional way of looking at this, she‘ll simply say, I‘ve got more votes than the other guy, I should be the nominee.  Just say that.  Can‘t she say that?

SIMON:  She will say it, don‘t forget you have to throw out the votes and voters in caucus states, which she doesn‘t recognize...

MATTHEWS:  Well, because there wasn‘t an adequate...

SIMON:  ... like Iowa and...

MATTHEWS:  ... poll taken.

SIMON:  But there were people going to the polls that were Democrats!

MATTHEWS:  Well, nobody was planning—the Democrats are incredible. 

Nobody was there to count the number of people...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... bottom line.  Unpredictable.

TODD:  ... data does include Nevada and Iowa, our count, (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  But Will Hillary Clinton have the selling point, I got the most votes in the primaries and caucuses, at least the primaries, and I have the best poll data to support my nomination in the big states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, the other states where Democrats need to win?

SIMON:  This is the only selling point she has.  But consider who she is selling it to.

MATTHEWS:  Who to?

SIMON:  To 169, about, uncommitted superdelegates.  That‘s the audience.  The media...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  Well, they‘re not going to go for it.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  ... we had a process.

MATTHEWS:  We started the show with the flash from the Associated Press.  Quote—this is from Senator Clinton late today in Helena, Montana.  Quote, “I think that after the final primaries”—that will be Tuesday night—“people are going to start making up their minds.  I think that is the natural progression that one would expect.”

OK, the Tuesday ones are South Dakota and Montana, probably not going to be good for them.  So it‘s really going to—their best time to speak about her win, her unassailable lead in the popular vote, is Sunday night.

TODD:  It is.  But I‘ll tell you something...

MATTHEWS:  OK...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So I‘m thinking that‘s her opportunity.  Is she now releasing the superdelegates to go vote, or is she saying, Hush up, keep your powder dry?  Is she now saying in this statement today, OK, I‘ve done as well as I could in making my case, popular vote, Electoral College advantage.  Start voting.  Is she saying that?

TODD:  She is.  And I think what she also is saying, I‘m not going to the convention.

(CROSSTALK)

TODD:  I mean, think about that statement.  She is saying—and look, Nancy Pelosi has made it crystal clear...

MATTHEWS:  OK, I got...

TODD:  ... Don‘t do it...

MATTHEWS:  I got that line.

TODD:  But she is saying...

MATTHEWS:  But isn‘t Hillary Clinton herself...

TODD:  I think she‘s saying it.

MATTHEWS:  ... who‘s the boss...

TODD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... not Pelosi—Hillary‘s the boss of her own campaign.

TODD:  Yes, and she‘s saying, I‘m not going to...

MATTHEWS:  And she‘s saying, I‘m not—do you read that, that this is over...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMON:  ... because in that same interview she is asked, Will you support an appeals to the credentials committee if somebody wants to make one?  And she says, Yes, I will because I feel very strongly about this.  I think that sort of saying she would go to the convention.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s in July.

SIMON:  July or August, the credentials committee, the ruling of which has to be voted on by the full convention.

MATTHEWS:  If she doesn‘t get full ratification of all delegates won in both those primaries.

SIMON:  And if there are people who want to take it to the credentials committee.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... pressure you mentioned...

SIMON:  It may be irrelevant by then.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Speaker Pelosi...

TODD:  ... superdelegates...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Fellows, here‘s Speaker Pelosi earlier today, Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I do think that Senator Clinton is a great Democrat, a great American.  She‘s a terrific candidate.  She would make a fabulous president of the United States.  I think that any taking of this to the convention would be sort of a scorched earth approach, and I don‘t recommend it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, there‘s Nancy Pelosi, you make (ph) of that, the Speaker, she‘s saying it‘s over next week.

TODD:  Well, she has been—she has been—not been subtle about when she wanted this thing to be over with.  And she wants it—now, there‘s all sorts of conspiracy theories that, you know, she‘s a pro-Obama person and she just wants to shut this down and all this.  Doesn‘t matter.

MATTHEWS:  Who‘s been saying?

TODD:  Oh, I think it‘s—it‘s folks that are upset that Pelosi is shutting this down because Pelosi has, I would argue, as much sway over the remaining superdelegates as anybody, possibly more sway than an Al Gore would, at this point.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re reporting that the Speaker of the House has Democratic members of Congress, men and women both, who are ready to vote for Barack Obama now, that she‘s got corralled?

TODD:  I think she has more folks corralled than the state of California.  I‘d argue that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Enough to win—enough to win the requisite...

TODD:  ... than I would about the...

MATTHEWS:  ... majority of all the delegates?

TODD:  Pretty close, yes.

SIMON:  Oh, yes.  The biggest bloc of uncommitted superdelegates are members of the DNC itself.  Tuesday night, Barack Obama is going to be what, 15 to 20 votes away from victory.

TODD:  Depending on how many...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... parade marshal here.  Tell me, it‘s now Friday night.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Saturday, the meeting of the rules and bylaws committee.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Sunday, the Puerto Rican primary.

TODD:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  Tuesday, South Dakota and...

TODD:  Monday‘s going to be a big day, by the way.  Monday, Barack Obama is going to the state of Michigan, on Monday.  Depending on how Saturday goes, it‘s going to look somewhat like a victory lap.  He‘s not going to go to the state of Michigan just to have a rally.  I have a feeling you will see some sort of a beginning of a coalescing around him in the state of Michigan, which will send a huge message to superdelegates, provide some cover, and potentially—the Obama campaign doesn‘t want to win this on a press release.  They don‘t want to be declared the nominee on a press release from a superdelegate saying they endorse them on Wednesday or Thursday next week.  They want to get as many superdelegates out there so that the media calls this and voters in Montana put them over the top.

MATTHEWS:  So would they like to get enough lined up so that the decisive vote is cast in those two primaries...

TODD:  Tuesday night.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... just like in the movies?

TODD:  That‘s right.  You want...

MATTHEWS:  So it‘s going to...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So they will try to—they‘ll release a lot of people from the corral and push them out to vote Monday.

TODD:  If they have it.  You know, they keep claiming they don‘t have it.  And you know what?  As—Howard Wolfson points this out on a lot of his conference calls, and the fact is, he‘s been absolutely right.  There‘s been this prediction of a flood of superdelegates to him, it never seems to actually come.  They trickle.  They all slowly move to him.  But they haven‘t come in these great numbers.

I do know—I‘ve done plenty of reporting on this—that they do want to—the Obama campaign wants to get folks out...

MATTHEWS:  So your assessment...

TODD:  ... to do the movie ending.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... Friday, today, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, we begin to see them closing on it Monday, and then Tuesday they win in the states out west.

TODD:  That‘s—that is the movie ending that David Axelrod would like to script.

SIMON:  And we saw Nancy Pelosi a few seconds ago.  Let‘s not forget she is the chairperson of the Democratic convention.  She‘s going to hold the gavel.  She‘s going to determine, to a great extent, what gets to the floor and what doesn‘t get to the floor.

And the Obama campaign is very likely to have a mathematical victory, regardless of any appeals to the credentials committee.  And it‘s very likely to be over.

The key to this is really getting, I think, Senator Clinton to sit down with her staff and her husband and decide what is the end game moment, What do I want?  Do I want to be on the ticket?  Do I want to be on the Supreme Court?  Do I want to keep my options open for 2012?  Just what is the end game...

MATTHEWS:  Or do I want to be able to say, I told you so?

SIMON:  Or I‘m the leader of a movement and I don‘t want to disappoint the people who voted for me, so I‘m just going to fight to the end.

MATTHEWS:  Do you have a sense that she will turn her army over to Barack Obama at some point in the summer, or will she hold it back?

MATTHEWS:  I think if she wants to be president of the United States, she has to.

MATTHEWS:  Turn over her forces...

TODD:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... including Gerry McEntee of the AFSCME organization, all those labor—AFT (ph) -- all the unions with her now, is she going to urge them to back Barack?

TODD:  There‘s an argument that, Do you want Gerry McEntee on your side?  He‘s had a pretty bad...

(LAUGHTER)

TODD:  He‘s had a bad primary.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:   Chuck Todd—Gerry—Chuck Todd—anyway, Roger Simon.

Former White House secretary Scott McClellan is coming on this show, who bashed Richard Clarke‘s tell-all book when Clarke left.  We‘re going to have Clarke come on and talk about what it feels like to be bashed by McClellan for being a “disgruntled former employee,” which is what they‘re calling McClellan now.

And by the way, we got him up on Monday night for the whole show, basically.  We‘ve got Scott McClellan coming here.  What a show that‘s going to be.  And again, on Monday night here on HARDBALL, Scott McClellan, our number one guest.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  Well, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan is taking some serious heat from the White House, as you might expect, for writing a highly critical tell-all of his years in the Bush administration.  But four years ago, McClellan was the one on the attack when Richard Clarke wrote his book about the Bush administration‘s failure to prevent 9/11 and the decision to go to war in Iraq.  Take a look.  I love videotape.  Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner?  This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration, and now all of a sudden, he‘s raising these grave concerns that he claims he had.  And I think you have to look at some of the facts.  One, he is bringing this up in the heat of a presidential campaign.  He has written a book, and he certainly wants to go out there and promote that book.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, we‘re going have Scott McClellan on the program on Monday night, probably a good part of the show, because we want to have the joy of learning as much as we can in my way of questioning and what kind of results we‘ll get, which are always a little different.

Right now, we‘re joined by Richard Clarke, who was the counterterrorism adviser during both the Clinton and the Bush administrations.  He‘s now written a new book called “Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters.”

What‘s it like to watch Torquemada being treated as a prisoner?

RICHARD CLARKE, AUTHOR, “YOUR GOVERNMENT FAILED YOU”:  I think the Germans have a word, Schadenfreude, that kind of works.  I...

MATTHEWS:  Joy through others‘ tragedy.

CLARKE:  I kind of changed my mind last night.  I met with Scott McClellan, and he genuinely, I think, apologized for what he had done in attacking me four years ago.  And I think, Chris, it was really genuine.  To the extent that you can read someone, I think he was really apologizing. 

He really meant it.  So I have to change my attitude a little.

I think he‘s now learning what it‘s like to be not only criticized but to be outside the White House.  You know, when you‘re living in that environment 18 hours a day, you really don‘t know what the real world is like.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about that because it seemed to me the way they were kissing off his disclosure is the brilliant way that politicians always do that, like they did with David Stockman back in the Reagan administration.  When you reveal something important, they spin the press to talk about not the revelation, which is the powerful stuff, but the betrayal, which is of no interest to anybody but a local—loyal Bushie.  Why would anybody care about betrayal?  That‘s the boring human interest part of the story.  The big story is what we can learn from an insider.  I don‘t care that somebody betrayed the tobacco industry, I want to know what is going on inside their cigarettes.  That‘s what I want to find—in this case, why we went to war, right?

CLARKE:  Exactly.  And if you recall, four years ago, Scott McClellan was saying I had made up the story of Bush getting me in the Situation Room and saying, Find out evidence that Iraq did the attacks.  And this was the day after 9/11.

MATTHEWS:  Because he wanted to go.

CLARKE:  Of course, he wanted to go, and they were talking about it the night before.  They were talking about it on 9/11.  And McClellan said, Well, Clarke probably made that up.  And then I produced three witnesses who were in the room at the time.

MATTHEWS:  Well, here it is.  Here‘s Scott McClellan in his new book.  We‘ll talk about it with him on Monday.  Quote, “The campaign to sell the war in Iraq didn‘t begin in earnest until the fall of 2002.  But as I would later come to learn, President Bush had decided to confront the Iraqi regime several months earlier.  Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz all saw 9/11 as an opportunity to go after Saddam Hussein, take out his regime, eliminate a threat and make the Middle East more secure, and Bush agreed.”

When you look through it all, when you read through Scott—and Scott‘s no philosopher, all right?  He‘s a government employee, a political guy.  You get the sense that the big dream that led to the war in Iraq—it wasn‘t about WMD or mushroom clouds.  That was all PR.  It was about this notion that at gunpoint, you could take the enormous military power of the United States, go around the world, into Arabia, arrive in force and create a democracy, a la the end of the cold war.  That dream didn‘t come out of Bush.  He‘s not that kind of a creative thinker.  He‘s smart, but he‘s not creative that way.

I heard that argument from Paul Wolfowitz for three-and-a-half hours at lunch one day, that idea of democratization, that grand dream.  Is where Bush got it from, the intellectuals?

CLARKE:  The right-wing intellectuals.  Wolfowitz was chief spokesman.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

CLARKE:  But the national security adviser, who‘s supposed to be there as the quality control...

MATTHEWS:  Condi.

CLARKE:  ... totally collapsed on this issue.  She totally went along with it...

MATTHEWS:  Because she didn‘t want to challenge the president on anything.

CLARKE:  Yes.  Well, she didn‘t do her job.  She didn‘t conceive of her job the way every other national security adviser...

MATTHEWS:  But wasn‘t Bush interested in hiring her to basically keep good notes, tell him he‘s right and fill him in and build up his morale once in a while?

CLARKE:  Well, that‘s what she did.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

CLARKE:  But, you see, the thing is, that‘s an important job.  And, when that job isn‘t done, when there‘s no quality control going on, when there‘s no referee going...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Did Bush seem—does Bush seem like the kind of guy who wants an editor?

CLARKE:  No, he doesn‘t.  Of course not. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He doesn‘t—he‘s a smart guy, but he doesn‘t seem to have that kind of reach?

CLARKE:  No.

He was also motivated by something else personally. 

MATTHEWS:  What?

CLARKE:  He had been on the job for eight months.  He had just gotten kicked in the stomach by the worst attack since 1941.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CLARKE:  He wanted to prove the United States was a big, bad guy. 

MATTHEWS:  So, a big bang in response?

CLARKE:  A big bang in response.

And they actually said—on 9/11, they actually sat around saying that night...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

CLARKE:  ... well, we will do Afghanistan, but that‘s not enough. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  With that kind of thinking, FDR would have invaded China...

CLARKE:  You‘re exactly right.

MATTHEWS:  ... after Pearl Harbor.  Get—let‘s get a bigger country to attack.

CLARKE:  Yes.  Well, I said that.  I said that in the meeting that night, except I said Mexico. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Just pick a target. 

CLARKE:  And that kind of—that kind of...

MATTHEWS:  They didn‘t get the joke?

CLARKE:  Well, they didn‘t—they didn‘t get the joke, and they didn‘t include me in any meetings for the rest of the day. 

MATTHEWS:  Ah.  Irony wasn‘t appreciated...

CLARKE:  Not at all.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hey, thank you for coming on, Richard.

The book is, “Your Government Failed You.” 

I think people may agree at times.

Anyway, thank you, Richard Clarke.

A reminder: Scott McClellan, again, our guest on Monday night.  It‘s going to be a hot time in the old town that night.

Up next: the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”  Dick Cheney makes a bold prediction about November.  And Hillary Clinton gets bad news from an astrologist. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  What a crew. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Time now for the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

It‘s all in the stars.  Today, “The New York Daily News” has a bleak discovery for Hillary Clinton.  After consulting expert astrologists—if there is such a thing—the paper concludes that things aren‘t looking good for Senator Clinton.  First off, she‘s a Scorpio born with her moon in Pisces.  That‘s apparently bad news.

But, make matters worse, it turns out Uranus is crossing her natal moon.  If she‘s as smart as I think, Hillary won‘t even get any of this stuff anywhere near her, much less into her head. 

Sarandon speaks again.  If it‘s high times in politics, you can expect the great Susan Sarandon, the actress, to use her Hollywood pulpit.  “The Chicago Sun-Times” reports today that the actress says she will move to Italy or Canada if John McCain gets elected president. 

Well, I‘m just guessing it‘s all a matter of hyperbole, though I do like her choice of countries. 

One guy who is hoping for a McCain victory is Vice President Dick Cheney.  At last night‘s New York State Republican Party dinner, not only did he predict victory for Cheney (sic) in November, he said also that the United States was—quote—“succeeding brilliantly” in Iraq. 

Let me get this straight.  A vote for McCain will make Dick Cheney happy?  Got to think that went over seriously, don‘t we?

Well, with the Puerto Rican primary just a couple of days away, music producer Andres Levin brought together leading Latin musicians and actors to make this pro-Obama video.  Here‘s a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Maybe someday, Puerto Rico will be a state. 

Speaking of Hillary, as you know, last week, we started polling all of our guests with the question, what does Hillary Clinton really want? 

We now have 13 who say she just wants to be president some day.  Nine say she wants to be vice president this time.  And there are two votes each for Supreme Court, Senate majority leader, and now attorney general. 

And now it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number” of the night. 

Well, we did all we could to push that new HBO movie “Recount,” which I sincerely love.  For anyone who loves politics, it‘s a great window into what exactly happened in Florida back in 2000. 

But, for whatever reason, it wasn‘t a huge hit in terms of viewership.  How many tuned in to watch it on HBO?  One million voters.  Unfortunately, that‘s a smaller audience than HBO‘s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” or “John Adams,” which was brilliant.  And, needless to say, it doesn‘t even come close to the millions that are expected to see the new “Sex and the City” movie in theaters this weekend.

One million viewers now know a lot more than anyone does about the how the 2000 election was decided—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next: a red-hot debate.  Some women say Hillary Clinton is losing the Democratic race because she‘s a woman.  Is she the victim of sexism, or has her campaign made crucial mistakes? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closing mixed on this final trading day in the month of May.  The Dow Jones industrial average fell about eight points, while the S&P 500 gained by two, and the Nasdaq saw a 14-point gain. 

Oil prices continue to rise.  As the dollar dropped today, crude oil gained 73 cents, closing at $127.35 a barrel.  But, for the week, oil did fall more than 3 percent. 

Meantime, AAA says that the nationwide average for regular unleaded gas rose a penny over night to new record high of $3.96 a gallon. 

And United Airlines scrapped its latest attempt to combine with U.S.  Airways and create the world‘s largest airline.  The CEOs of both airlines told their employees that a combination was off—quote—“for now.”

And Delta is cutting at least 1,000 more jobs than it previously planned.  The airline says more than 3,000 employees took buyout offers, and all of them will be accepted. 

That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Tomorrow, busloads of Hillary Clinton supporters are expected to protest outside the Washington hotel where party officials will figure out what to do about those delegates in Michigan and Florida.  The protests come at a time when some Clinton supporters are claiming or saying that their candidate has been the victim of sexism.  Is there anything to it? 

Here to talk about it are Bloomberg‘s Margaret Carlson, MSNBC—she‘s an MSNBC political analyst, Michelle Bernard, and “Huffington Post” political director Hilary Rosen, who was here a minute ago. 

I don‘t know where you are right now. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  But thank you for being in the building. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I want you to start because you‘re in with the displaced persons over there somewhere around the corn.

Hillary—this is such a hard question.  And I got involved in this, like a lot of people, maybe more than others.  So, I‘m open to commentary. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Feel free, just because I‘m here.  Hillary Clinton has been denied the nomination because she‘s a woman, is that a fair statement?  Hillary Clinton has been denied the nomination—or will be denied the nomination, if she is, because she‘s a woman, Hilary Rosen, is that a fair statement? 

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  No, I don‘t—I don‘t think there‘s a fair statement. 

And, frankly, I don‘t think I have ever heard Hillary Clinton say that.  So, I feel like it‘s important to say two things here, one, that you don‘t have to feel like this is the reason she‘s losing to feel that there‘s sexism during this campaign, and, two, that this isn‘t about political maneuvering at the end of the campaign that‘s obviously losing. 

And, having said that, I think that a lot of the feelings from the Clinton supporters are extremely strong and raw.  You know, the notions that people have seen T-shirts “Bros Before Hos,” “The Hillary Nutcrackers,” you know, men...

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ROSEN:  ... on TV talking about, well, she sounds as annoying as my first wife, a debate on a network about whether it‘s OK to call her a bitch or not, and if it really fits.

Those things are real.  Women hear that.  It matters.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that adds up to enough—do you think that adds up to significant electoral decision-making?  In other words, did people who heard those wiseacre comments, nasty comments, did they vote accordingly?  Did they say, oh, I heard something nasty, I can vote against her?  Do you think it was behavioral in terms of voting? 

ROSEN:  Well, I actually think, in some respects, now it‘s having the opposite effect.  It‘s keeping her supporters begging her to stay in. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  I think you‘re right. 

ROSEN:  I think that there might have been a low-level virus of that sexism affecting some of those early states. 

But, you know, I think that the Clinton campaign—and certainly the senator herself—will take responsibility, if she loses, and won‘t claim sexism.  Having said that, you don‘t know, ultimately, what ends up.  We do think—you know, I think, anyway—that, as fabulous as Barack Obama is, I don‘t think any woman with his resume would have jumped into the presidential race. 

I just—it‘s just...

MATTHEWS:  There you have it.

ROSEN:  ... that may be in some respects a confidence issue. 

MATTHEWS:  There you have it.  I‘m so with you on that.  I think it‘s so hard to distill this out.  We know all Hillary.  Everybody has an attitude toward Hillary and Bill Clinton.  It‘s—well, let‘s go ahead.

Your voice.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG NEWS:  Well, Hillary didn‘t introduce sexism.  Remember, it was her husband who did way back in one of the debates when he said, the guys were jumping on her.  And then she later picked it up, saying, “I always get the first question,” and some of these other things.

However, it is working for her now, because what she has left is the anger of women who have set her up as representing all women.  Hillary...

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Bill Clinton, by the way, to make your point for TV purposes.  We always like to show the guy doing it.  Here it is, Bill Clinton...

CARLSON:  We need tape.

MATTHEWS:  ... May 27. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  That‘s the reason there‘s this frantic effort to push her out, because she‘s winning the general election today, and he‘s not, according to all the evidence.  And I have never seen anything like it.  I have never seen a candidate treated so disrespectfully just for running. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON:  Well, he doesn‘t remember Nixon or even Dole was made fun of because of his age?  I mean, Gary Bauer was flipping pancakes and something.  I mean, people are made fun of. 

I will say this.  She‘s ridiculed in part for having ambition.  And, in general, men are not criticized for having ambition.

MATTHEWS:  Good point.

CARLSON:  And when you do some of the things she‘s—as they‘re considered, strident or shrill...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s pushy for a woman to want what a man wants?

CARLSON:  ... when a man does it, they‘re a rascal, or charming, or a rogue.  But these words don‘t apply to women.  That‘s the positive side of what—what she‘s accused of doing. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of—what do you make of the—I want you to—I will ask you, Michelle, what do you—well, first of all, your general thoughts. 

MICHELLE BERNARD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I don‘t think any of this really matters. 

I mean, Hillary Clinton is losing because she‘s run a poor campaign.  People have forgotten that, prior to Iowa, it was Hillary, you know, being held analogous...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... that she was unbeatable. 

BERNARD:  She was unbeatable.  There was going to be a coronation.  Remember Hillary, who was like Snow White and the seven dwarfs.  You know, poor Hillary, just like Snow, she had to live with the seven dwarfs also, but she‘s going to get through this.  She‘s going to win. 

She never expected to get trounced in Iowa.  And that‘s why she‘s losing.  She‘s losing in the delegate count.  And they keep moving the goalposts.  And when you throw sexism in, and her term, you know, these horrible misogynists who are beating up on her, and Bill Clinton has simply forgotten that he is the person who disrespected his wife prior—long before she started running for president, you actually do a disservice to women who are sometimes victimized by sexism. 

This is—Hillary Clinton is not losing because of sexism.  She‘s run a bad campaign. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s try to figure this out.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, go ahead, Hilary.

ROSEN:  I think Michelle is making an interesting point, which is that

again, I don‘t think it‘s so much that Hillary Clinton is a victim, but I do think that what she has touched is a chord among women of all stripes who have felt victimized by it. 

And I think that that‘s creating a level of energy and intensity in these final weeks to this campaign.  Again, I don‘t hear her claiming to be a victim, or that that is the reason she thinks she‘s losing.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD:  But older women, like her surrogates—Geraldine Ferraro has claimed it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  OK, but, you know, don‘t attribute that to Hillary.  Attribute that to a surrogate. 

I don‘t—I do think that it‘s important that—to get past this, the same way that, whether, you know, African-Americans or others feel like comments that have been said are not necessarily racist intended, but that they‘re received as racist.  It‘s important that people who support Obama understand that women hear things and perceive them to be slights built upon a lifetime of experience of slights.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  And if we can‘t understand that...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON:  Our Hilary has never—I bet, Hilary, you have never said sexism as an excuse for something happening to Hilary Rosen. 

Women aren‘t going around blaming their problems on sexism, the way Bill Clinton...

ROSEN:  That doesn‘t mean we don‘t feel it.

CARLSON:  You might feel it, but you don‘t say it. 

ROSEN:  Right. 

CARLSON:  And Bill Clinton has been trumpeting this.  And it hurts her.  And, when she picks up on her, it hurts—it‘s not a good thing for her to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Is there something wrong with the model of the American presidency, the—sort of the John Wayne, follow me, I‘m the boss, that is almost sexist in itself?

I mean, I look at all these countries who have elected women leaders, like Golda Meir, tough people, Thatcher, of course, Merkel now.  Down in—what is her name, Kirchner down in Argentina. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They have women leaders. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, there‘s a lot of—but is that role model generally a parliamentary system, a more collegial system, where a Cabinet selects its top person, whereas this presidential system seems so John Wayne-ish?  Is there something in our culture, in our notion of the president, Mr. Commander in Chief, that somehow works against a woman candidate?  I‘m just asking.

BERNARD:  I don‘t think so. 

I think that we will elect a woman president in time.  And I think it is a matter of electing the proper person.  If Hillary is losing, it could just because people don‘t like her, or maybe they prefer Barack Obama. 

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  The problem is, there‘s nobody on the horizon.

What hurts a lot of women—I‘m not speaking for women, but I hear it from people coming at me—is, a lot women believe that there isn‘t going  to be another one in the queue for a while. 

(CROSSTALK)

BERNARD:  If Condoleezza Rice ran for president, I would vote for her tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  Pardon me, Hilary.  That explains some of the anger, right?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There‘s not another one waiting. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  Some of the explanation to the disappointment now is the sense that this was a moment, and it‘s slipping away. 

But I do think that she has shown that women can lead in this campaign.  We have seen consistently in a Democratic primary, for instance, that on polls about who is a more natural commander in chief, it always comes out to be Hillary Clinton.  So I think some good things come out of thus. 

CARLSON:  It‘s not because Hillary Clinton is not John Wayne.  In fact, she‘s done everyone to make herself into John Wayne, and I think successfully so.  If Kathleen Sebelius or Senator Amy Klobuchar or Claire McCaskill, some of the women who supported Obama, were running, I don‘t think we‘d have the same issues.  Hillary comes with a whole lot of stuff and baggage, so she‘s looked at differently than as a pure woman running. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me make the case.  I always thought in politics you had to sort of work your way up towards something, and then you get your final break.  It doesn‘t work that way in politics.  John Kennedy came from no where.  He never had any executive experience job.  He was a senator, not much of a great senator either.  Because he looked great, talked great, inspiring; Barack Obama wasn‘t governor of New York, govern governor of California.  He didn‘t have a big job like governor of Illinois.  Then he goes right from freshman to president of the senior class, it looks like.  That must bother women. 

CARLSON: You can do that more as president than you can do it in other roles.  You don‘t become a mayor without having some experience.  There‘s atmospherics associated with becoming president that allow somebody like Jack Kennedy to jump into it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well your daughters—When you have kids, as you all have kids, responsibilities, will those daughters feel less able to become president now because of this experience, or will they feel got pretty close this time?  Maybe next time?

ROSEN:  I link the lesson is, number on, you don‘t wait in line and wait for somebody to give you something.  Being loyal to the company isn‘t necessarily the way to get ahead in life.  I do think that Hillary Clinton has been an enormously positive role model.  If she walks away from this campaign next week, she walks away with her head held extremely high.  I‘m not sure how that ends up happening, in terms of logistics. 

MATTHEWS:  I think she‘s a brilliant campaigner in Pennsylvania, I‘ll tell you that.  She‘s ran some brilliant pieces in this campaign, there‘s no doubt about it.

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to pick up on this conversation in a couple days.  I wish we could this all night because I do think—I am trying to learn.  I don‘t know the answer to this question.  I don‘t like some of the answers because maybe there is a problem.  Margaret Carlson, thank you.  Michelle Bernard and Hillary Rosen.  Up next, will McCain be tarnished for supporting Bush‘s war in Iraq?  Will Obama be tarnished by another pastor?  How many does he have?  Will Clinton be in the race this same time next week.  The politics fix when HARDBALL returns.

Monday on HARDBALL, Scott McClellan for much of the hour.  We‘re going to get to this guy.  We‘re going to be the gleaners.  We‘re going to get to what nobody else has got to yet.  That‘s Monday night on HARDBALL with Scott McClellan.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix.  Tonight‘s round table, Chris Cillizza of the “Washington Post,” Ryan Lizza of the “New Yorker” and MSNBC senior campaign correspondent Tucker Carlson; what a trio. 

Let‘s take a look right now at the latest pastor situation.  Here‘s father Michael Pfleger taking on, in his way, Hillary Clinton last Sunday, believe it or not.  It took this long to surface at the famous or infamous Trinity United Church in Chicago, depending on your, well, views. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR MICHAEL PFLEGER, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH:  Then out of nowhere came hey, I‘m Barack Obama.  She said, oh, damn, where did you come from?  I‘m white.  I‘m entitled.  There‘s a black man stealing my show. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Well, you had to be there, hey, Chris?  The audience liked obviously loved his take off, his lampooning, his sending up of Senator Clinton in her plight of recognizing all of a sudden a race she thought she would win, a guy coming out of nowhere.  The flaw in the ointment?  What was it?  The fly in the ointment. 

CHRIS CILLIZZA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  One, the theatrics of it.  For a lot of people—again, we live in a Youtube world.  For a lot of people, the theatrics of that, I‘m white, I‘m entitled, the fake crying.  I think that may have made it a bigger deal. 

MATTHEWS:  Had he taken out the ethnic, would it have carried the negative fire power. 

CILLIZZA:  I will tell you, I think it would, and that was my second point, because of where it happened.  We already have Jeremiah Wright.  We have that existing narrative, Barack Obama and the pastors of this church.  You know, it always helps when something happens in the vacuum that fits into a convenient narrative that already exists out there.  I think it would have been a relatively large deal.  Not sure it would have been as big a deal as it‘s become. 

MATTHEWS:  Ryan?

RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW YORKER”:  I think the gotcha culture of this campaign is getting a little out of hand.  Is this political correctness now?  This guy‘s an independent preacher at a church who‘s playing to his audience.  He can make fun of any politician he want to.  This guy has every right to do it.  For all of us to condemn him and somehow condemn Barack Obama because he knows that guy is ridiculous.  I can understand someone like Wright, who is very close to Obama.  I can understand Hagee who McCain—

MATTHEWS:  Socratic method at hand here.  I‘m asking you guys.  I‘m—

LIZZA:  I‘m not agreeing with the guy.  I‘m just saying, he has the right to say whatever he wants. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me try the Socratic method again with my friend Tucker. 

Tucker, is this a mortal sin, venial sin, or no harm no foul?  What is it? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC SENIOR CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m not going to put in theological terms, I‘ll put it in political terms.  You‘re wondering why Obama is hurting among worker class white voters, here‘s your answer.  He went to the church in which attacks on white people based on race are commonplace.  We know that.  We‘re able to rationalize that away because we‘re intellectuals and well educated.  A lot of voters aren‘t able or willing to rationalize that way.  They find it reprehensible and repulsive. 

Obama went to this church 20 years.  He bragged about going to the church.  It‘s pretty simple.

MATTHEWS:  How did they show racial prejudice?  How did it display itself in that episode?

T. CARLSON:  Just by attacking Hillary Clinton, not on political grounds but on racial grounds, saying the fact she was white is integral to whatever sin she committed.  That‘s the case he was making.  That‘s the case Reverend Wright made.  That‘s the case that is made in this church regularly from all evidence we have.  That turns people off. 

MATTHEWS:  Just to put a sharper point, wasn‘t he accusing her of thinking she was superior because she‘s white? 

T. CARLSON:  He is.  But it‘s her whiteness that is central to his critique of her.  Maybe you can defend that.  A lot of people are. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘s white.

T. CARLSON:  What does that matter?  He‘s attacking her based on her race.  He‘s obviously—he‘s some poser or wannabe, whatever his deal is. 

LIZZA:  What is Obama‘s sin here?  How does that relate to Obama? 

T. CARLSON:  Obama‘s sin is participating in this church actively by his own description 20 years, giving it tens of thousands of dollars, holding it up as a place where his character was forged.  It‘s clearly a place in which this sort of rhetoric is common.  I‘m not saying he‘s going to hell for that.  I‘m merely saying it‘s inconsistent with the statements he‘s made about himself, which is that he‘s an inclusive person who wants to bridge the divide between people of different races.  That‘s inconsistent with what we‘re seeing coming out of his church. 

MATTHEWS:  So the church—this is highly derivative though.  This is a church he attended or does when he‘s home attend.  The fact that they would have this carnival act by this Catholic priest reflects badly on him. 

T. CARLSON:  If he wants to say, look, I went to this church occasionally for political reasons, I get it.  Everybody gets that.  That‘s the kind of church going a lot of politicians, including McCain, indulge in.  That‘s not the case he has made.  He has said, I was forged in this church.  This church is central to who I am spiritually.  Those are his words.  He‘s not like some Episcopalian who shows up on Easter. 

LIZZA:  I think what he‘s written in his book is that this is the book that brought him to Jesus Christ.  So he had a spiritual conversion in this church.  I don‘t necessarily think that means that everything that is said by anyone that speaks in that church means they speak for Barack Obama.  He was talking about coming to Christ.  That‘s the chapter in his book about this church. is how he came to Christ.  It‘s not how he learns to hate white people or how he learns—

MATTHEWS:  Chris Cillizza, jump in.  We talked about the pastor, Jeremiah Wright.  I do think I—god damn America will be used in the general election.  This is an easy 527 hit.  We know that will happen.  That will be among the top 40 or whatever.  But will this ever be used again?  How is this useful to McCain. 

CILLIZZA:  I will tell you, Chris, it won‘t be used by McCain in the same that way I doubt Reverend Wright‘s comments will be used by the McCain campaign or anyone officially sanctioned.  It will come out.  I will tell you the line that will come out, just as you cited the line from Reverend Wright correctly, I don‘t say god bless America, I say god damn America;

I‘m white and I‘m entitled. 

You‘re right, it‘s coming from a white guy with a pastor‘s collar around his neck.  But That idea does not sit well.  I do agree with Tucker.  That idea does not sit well with many of the people who are just scraping back, white or black, many of them white, in Ohio and Michigan. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back to continue this.  Our round table comes back with the politics.  More on this very question of this Pastor Pfleger, Father Pfleger as he caused more trouble on the ethnic front, the racial front. 

Don‘t forget my interview with Scott McClellan Monday on HARDBALL. 

You‘re watching it, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Back with the round table for more of the politics fix.  It is fascinating.  Is this the gotcha Youtube campaign, where pastors show up like IEDs, they come out of nowhere. 

LIZZA:  Geraldine Ferraro. 

MATTHEWS:  She is really angry. 

CILLIZZA:  I think it is less Youtube than it is surrogates. 

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, what atmosphere are we in now.  You did a print job for many years.  You had to interview somebody for two hours to get them to say something outrageous.  Then you would maybe lead with hit, the sugar plum, the one you‘ve been waiting for.  Today they seem to be popping up regularly. 

T. CARLSON:  That‘s right.  I mean, it‘s particularly damaging for Obama.  You know, some of it‘s fair, some of it‘s unfair, but all of it is politically relevant, simply because Obama isn‘t deeply known by anybody other than Mrs. Obama.  That‘s not an attack on him, merely an observation.  He doesn‘t have a 30-year track record, as Hillary Clinton does.  We‘re—our opinions of him are going to evolve.  That‘s the one thing we know.  We‘ll have different feelings about him, more positive, more negative, who knows, between now and the first week of November.  He‘s just a lot more vulnerable to having our perceptions changed by new information. 

MATTHEWS:  On the gender front, among Hillary supporters, we‘ve got a poll that says 46 percent of the Democrats will rally behind Obama if he‘s the nominee.  That‘s down from 58 just two months ago.  Chris Cillizza, this is a situation where this weekend is going to be about gender.  It‘s going to be about representation of Florida and Michigan, but it‘s really about Hillary Clinton and her legions of followers, mostly women, who are going to show up in Washington this weekend. 

CILLIZZA:  I have written about this.  I think it is such a difficult and delicate dance that Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean and many others, but those four primarily, have to do, because any sense that Senator Clinton is being unfairly pushed out of this race I think leads to major problems down the line.  I think what the Obama campaign would like is Senator Clinton comes up short on June 3rd next Tuesday, and she graciously gets out of the race.

MATTHEWS:  Short on elected delegates.

CILLIZZA:  If she doesn‘t do that, it presents a series of uncomfortable possibilities of what they do.  Chris, I think you‘re 100 percent right.  You said, Senator Clinton and her passionate supporters; one of the things the Clinton campaign has done I think a really poor job of is showing that it‘s not just Barack Obama with intense, passionate supporters, it‘s also her.  Some of these people, I don‘t know if I want to say many, but some of these people, if there is even a hint that she is being pushed out of this race before she wants to go—

MATTHEWS:  Who decides that?  Who calls the foul?  She‘s her own referee in a way.  She calls a foul, it‘s a foul. 

LIZZA:  Chris is right to describe this as delicate.  On the one hand, the Obama campaign wants to do everything they can to push her out of the race.  But on the other hand, they don‘t want their fingerprints on any of that.  They don‘t want it to backfire. 

MATTHEWS:  Tucker, doesn‘t she have to declare it‘s a fair game.  If she calls a protest to this campaign, she may really hurt it herself just by fiat, more or less. 

T. CARLSON:  She‘s already saying that she won the majority of the popular vote.  There is no more profound moral claim on a nomination than that, particularly in the Democratic party.  You can argue whether that‘s true or not.  But she has already made the ultimate claim, I have won the popular vote of the people.  That‘s a big deal right there. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Chris Cillizza.  Thank you, Ryan Lizza.  Thank you, Tucker Carlson.  Join us again Monday night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.  As I said, we‘ve got Tucker Carlson.  I‘ll be here tomorrow for live coverage of the Democratic committee on rules and bylaws.  That‘s tomorrow, and again on Sunday for the Puerto Rican with Keith.  Monday, Scott McClellan comes to 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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