updated 6/6/2008 11:21:59 AM ET 2008-06-06T15:21:59

Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Michelle Bernard, Brian Williams, Michelle Bernard, Margaret Brennan, Chuck Todd, Ed Gordon, Roger Simon, Hilary Rosen, Lisa Caputo

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  What price Hillary?  What demands is the New York senator going to make?  Will she issue an ultimatum?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL.  You‘d think after an historic night in American politics, after an African-American clinched the nomination of one of our two big political parties for the first time ever, after months of primaries and caucuses—after all that, you would think Barack Obama would be our big story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Tonight, Minnesota, after 54 hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.  Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  But once again, we find ourselves focused on the runner-up, Hillary Clinton, who, far from giving a concession speech last night, seemed to signal that her fight was not over.  She even asked the question we here at HARDBALL have been asking for weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, I understand that a lot of people are asking, “What does Hillary want?”

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON:  “What does she want?”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  So what does Hillary want?  What are her demands?  Is she negotiating now with Barack Obama or making demands?  Is she making offers or issuing ultimatums?  And the big question tonight, does she want a place on the Democratic ticket this fall?

And speaking of the general election, John McCain challenged Barack Obama to a series of 10 town hall meetings starting next week and running until the Democratic convention late in August.  The Obama camp called the idea “appealing.”  That‘s rather noncommittal.  We‘ll take a look at that later in the show.

Also, in our “Politics Fix” tonight, again, what price Hillary?  And on the HARDBALL “Sideshow,” the new Barack Obama video produced by the Republican National Committee.  Let me tell you, Obama girl, Obama girl it isn‘t.

We begin with NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell, Ed Gordon, the host of “Our World With Black Enterprise,” and “The Politico‘s” Roger Simon.   Let‘s dwell for one moment, at least, on the man who won last night.  I swear I had no idea this would ever happen in America.  I don‘t know if it‘ll ever happen again.  This is a trend.  I don‘t know.  This is an odd occurrence.  But it was spectacular.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  And we should dwell for more than one moment on this historic moment.  In fact, Barack Obama leaving the Senate floor, Chris, after voting on a budget bill, was surrounded by reporters.  And he was asked about the feelings that he had.  And according to our own producer, Ken Strickland (ph), he was—this wonderful orator, this wonderful eloquent man was almost speechless in describing what it felt like to be standing in St. Paul looking out at all those people and thinking that 5 and 6 and 7 and 8-year-old black children will wake up and at some point think, Well, of course, a black person is going to be the nominee of the party, or, Of course, a woman is going to be able to run for president.  It really is a life-changing moment.

ED GORDON, “OUR WORLD WITH BLACK ENTERPRISE”:  And Chris, let‘s hope that this is not what I called last night a Hattie McDaniel moment, one who won an Academy Award, and then decades and decades and decades went by before we saw another African-American win an award.  So one has to hope that this is not the anomaly, the blip on the screen.

MATTHEWS:  So what, it was Hattie McDaniel with “Gone With the Wind” playing Mammy all the way to Sydney Poitier in “Lilies of the Field,” right?

GORDON:  Exactly.

MATTHEWS:  You mean a lot of those people never—oh, I—well, we could go through a list of great African-American stars who didn‘t make it.  Let‘s go now to Roger Simon.  Again, your thoughts on last night‘s magic moment for a lot of Americans, in fact, me included.  I—that picture is right out of “Camelot,” as far as I‘m concerned.

ROGER SIMON, POLITICO.COM:  It was, as Andrea said, historic.  It was emotional.  You know, in the early days of his campaign, Barack Obama would talk about the audacity of what he was doing.  And of course, one of his books is titled “The Audacity of Hope.”  But he made it seem not audacious by the end.  I mean, his success was so spectacular that he made it seem sort of almost—well, yes, run-of-the-mill.  We‘re going to nominate a black nominee.  He deserved it.  He won it.  And you know, he did win it.  He won it fair and square.  And even though Hillary Clinton managed to step on his moment a little, I don‘t think you can take anything away from what he has achieved.

MATTHEWS:  Roger, why don‘t you start here about Hillary because it is an interesting thing.  It seemed to me hard to read last night.  I don‘t know what Senator Clinton‘s plan is.  She‘s very political.  Her husband‘s very political.  The people around her are very cagey.  I keep wondering what was in her thinking last night not to give the man his due and then move on to some other moment and say something else on her own next week?  Why not give him his night with all the graciousness she managed—she could have managed?

SIMON:  Well, I thought it was...

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the thinking here?

SIMON:  I thought it was a spectacularly ungracious moment.  And it wasn‘t really indicative of how she has acted before in the campaign, for most of it.  She has given him credit when he has won in the past.  But at this, the moment when he has wrapped it up, she could have at least admitted to that fact.

If she thinks she can jawbone her way onto the ticket, if she thinks she can guilt-trip him onto the ticket, I think she‘s wrong.  The Obama people took all this very negatively.  This was supposed to be Barack Obama‘s night, and she sort of elbowed her way into the conversation in a way that they did not like.

MATTHEWS:  You know, we‘ve seen a lot of this in our lives.  We‘ve seen Ted Kennedy refusing to show some class with Jimmy Carter back in ‘80 on the convention floor.  Instead of really endorsing him and holding his hand in the air, he played a little cat-and-mouse game.

MITCHELL:  Ronald Reagan and Jerry Ford in 1976.

MATTHEWS:  We saw Reagan upstage Jerry Ford.  We saw, God, Richard Nixon not give a decent concession speech the morning after he lost a close one.  Kennedy never forgave him that.  Why—what‘s here?  Is it just bad form, or is there something behind it, something political here?

MITCHELL:  She feels it is owed her, that she is—has earned the respect, 18 million votes, that she was celebrating the South Dakota victory.  One thing that she has been saying privately, that people around her have been saying, is that they needed to do this for their supporters, to bring them along.

But as avid a supporter, as passionate a supporter as Charlie Rangel told me today, that, in fact, this was a mistake, that it is making it really hard for the New York delegation.  He said he was going to call her today and tell her that, that members of Congress, now that the math is there, need to move on.  Dick Durbin, certainly not...

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at the great Charles Rangel.  He‘s chairman, of course, of Ways and Means, a powerful member of Capitol Hill and New York booster, in fact, the booster, many believe, who got Hillary Clinton into that Senate seat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK:  I want to get a better idea of her thinking because we in the New York delegation are prepared to—she‘s our favorite daughter.  We‘re the ones that encouraged her to run.  So we have solid support for her.  It is just that we are having difficulty explaining why we‘re holding back on the endorsement in view of what she said last night.

MATTHEWS:  Ed Gordon, your view.  By the way, that has to go down in the history books as the greatest New York accent in history.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  There is no better example...

GORDON:  ... the quintessential New Yorker, without question.

MATTHEWS:  ... of how to talk.

GORDON:  Yes.  I think, though, what we see there is interesting, Chris, because, as we know, he was a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter.  And for him to come out and say, Mrs. Clinton, you should have stepped up and been more gracious—yet we‘ve talked about it many, many times on this show.  It is the Clinton way, whether it‘s Bill or Hillary, when you‘re down and down and out, you‘re not going to concede.  You‘re not going to suggest you‘re going down on that mat.

And the interesting point today, if you want to see what she‘s vying for, Bob Johnson, former owner of Black Entertainment Television, is already canvassing and calling Congressional Black Caucus members, trying to suggest that they should push for Mrs. Clinton in the number two spot.  While he suggests that she did not ask him to do this, she said—or he said that she is fully aware that he is doing this.

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s show something really swell here, it seems to me.  Here‘s Senator Clinton doing something very important politically for Senator Obama in terms of the Jewish community.  We all know about the American-Israeli Political Action Committee.  It‘s probably the strongest force for Israel in America, all Americans behind it, all voters.  Here she made her pitch for him as a friend of Israel—very powerful, important message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I know Senator Obama understands what is at stake here.  It has been an honor to contest these primaries with him.  It is an honor to call him my friend.  And let me be very clear.  I know that Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  I know that Senator Obama shares my view that the next president must be ready to say to the world, America‘s position is unchanging, our resolve unyielding, our stance non-negotiable.  The United States stands with Israel now and forever.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  And what I‘ve learned in politics over the years, nothing is more important to the Jewish community than a strong endorsement from a recognized friend of Israel.  That was a potent statement.

Here‘s Senator Obama responding to Senator Clinton to that pro-Israeli organization.

Well, that was a rarity.  We‘re waiting to hear.  We‘re going to hear that (INAUDIBLE) Andrea, do you want to think about that?  You‘re the foreign affairs person around here.

MITCHELL:  Well, it was her attempt to convey—to validate him and Rahm Emanuel, a very big endorsement today, a non-committed superdelegate torn between Clinton and Obama, very, very popular...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... for this person.

MITCHELL:  ... vouching for him, took him through, took him...

MATTHEWS:  OK, I‘m sorry...

MITCHELL:  ... backstage...

MATTHEWS:  ... for holding (INAUDIBLE) here it is.  We rarely have these technical glitches.  Here it is.  Here‘s Senator Obama responding to Senator Clinton‘s warm endorsement before that community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Following my speech, I know that you are going to have the great pleasure of hearing from an extraordinary candidate and an extraordinary public servant.  And I want to publicly acknowledge Hillary Clinton for the outstanding race that she has run.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA:  She is a true friend of Israel.  She is a great senator from New York.  She is an extraordinary leader of the Democratic Party.  And she has made history alongside me over the last 16 months.  So I‘m very proud to have competed against her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That was (INAUDIBLE) to get it straight, the sequence is interesting.  It was Obama who spoke first this morning, somewhere after 9:00 o‘clock, and then Senator Clinton spoke around 10:20.

Let me go right now to this HARDBALL, though, what we like to specialize on this show.  Hillary Clinton alluded last night to a number of demands.  Certainly, health care, 100 percent coverage.  Certainly, she‘s made a big cause of making full seating of the Michigan and Florida delegations, very important to her.  Perhaps something else on child development.  Perhaps something else.  Do you have a sense, Ed Gordon, that she‘s going to basically hit him with a list and say, You deliver on this list, or I‘m not behind you?  My 18 million people are going to have to go to you on their own.

GORDON:  Well, certainly, historically, we‘ve seen candidates who have that number of votes behind them vie for what they need.  I also think, quite frankly, it‘s some coverage for her, Chris, because if she throws a number of things on the wall, whatever he chooses not to give her, she doesn‘t look as though she was cast aside.  He‘s going to hit some of those ducks, and so therefore, she‘s giving herself some coverage, as well.

MATTHEWS:  But why does he want to sign a pre-nup, Roger?  Doesn‘t it seem odd for him to agree to a deal up front where she‘s insisting on what kind of a presidency he has?

SIMON:  If it‘s a matter of agreeing to issues, this is going to be an easy discussion between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  They agree on virtually every issue.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

SIMON:  They have nuances about health care.  The trouble is going to come if she says, Look, I want to be vice president and you‘d better guarantee it to me, or, Hey, do I have a shot for the Supreme Court?  That‘s where it gets sticky, not at getting Barack Obama to commit to ending the war in Iraq or on health care...

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

SIMON:  ... or on the environment.  There‘s not any daylight between them, really, on those issues.

MITCHELL:  See, I think she was trying to be high-toned with her supporters and with the rest of the world, talking about the big issues.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

MITCHELL:  What she wants is, presumably, according to people on the Hill, payment of campaign debt, a role at the convention and to be vice president.  She wants...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I love this!

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  This sounds like back-room politics.

MATTHEWS:  Do you really think she will demand the vice presidency as part of a deal for 18 million voters?

MITCHELL:  No.  I think she will push and push and have the, you know, Bob Johnsons and others pushing for it.

MATTHEWS:  OK...

MITCHELL:  And then...

MATTHEWS:  But don‘t you think the only way he can give her the vice presidency, and it‘s his to give, is somewhere down the road of his own grace, where it doesn‘t look like...

MITCHELL:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... he‘s doing it under pressure.  If he‘s being held up for it, it ain‘t going to make him look like a leader.

MITCHELL:  And he expanded the team vetting the potential nominees...

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll get to that.  By the way, Caroline Kennedy, who else, Eric Holder...

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... Jim Johnson...

MATTHEWS:  ... and Jim Johnson, the long-time Washington personage.  All three of them are going to decide who the VP is, at least the recommendation.  Caroline Kennedy—what a spotlight job for her.

Andrea Mitchell, what a great time we‘ve been having, huh?

MITCHELL:  We‘ve been having the best.

MATTHEWS:  Ed Gordon, Roger Simon, thank you, gentlemen.

Coming up: After winning more than 17 million votes, is Hillary Clinton a shoe-in to be Obama‘s running mate?  I don‘t think so.  And would Obama ask her after her defiant speech last night?  All this is interesting stuff, but in the end, they‘re going to do what‘s in their interests.  Politicians tend to do that.  Much more ahead on what‘s next for the Democrats.  By the way, Hillary Clinton wants to be a leader of the Democratic Party.  Think about that and you can figure out what she‘s going to do the next couple days.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House.  And because of you...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

CLINTON:  ... we won together the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  That was Hillary Clinton last night in New York after Obama, Senator Obama, had become—I love this phrase—the presumptive—it sounds like presumptuous—nominee for the Democratic Party.  Clinton did not acknowledge, however, Obama as her party‘s nominee as yet and has not conceded the race.  Is she using her voters as a bargaining chip, all 18 million of them, to negotiate what she wants from Senator Obama?  Is she angling for the vice presidency or something else?

Lisa Caputo served as Hillary Clinton‘s press secretary and she‘s a big Clinton supporter.  Hilary Rosen‘s a big Clinton supporter.  She‘s political director of the Huffingtonpost, which is getting too big.  And Michelle Bernard is an MSNBC political analyst and she‘s also the president of Independent Women‘s Voice.

I‘m getting a little punchy here.  Lisa‘s right.  I mean, when you stay up every night until whatever and you get up every morning at 5:00, eventually your IQ, whatever you start with, erodes.

But I do find it fascinating—I want to start with Hilary Rosen, who was kind enough to send me your column this morning, where you say you‘re no chip (ph).  Explain.

HILARY ROSEN, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, first I have to start with something positive because today at AIPAC, Hillary did something for Barack Obama that was really important.  You know, there had been some questions among the Jewish voters as to whether Obama was somebody you could count on.  What you said earlier in the show, them hearing that from Hillary Clinton, was an incredibly important message.  So you know, I don‘t think we‘ve had a kind of a bad day.

What troubled me and what I wrote this morning was that what Hillary Clinton seemed to end with last night, as opposed to what she began with, was a sort of massive negotiation with Barack Obama over the next steps in this campaign.  And as a Clinton supporter, I‘m really a Democrat, as well.  And I just took the position, I want to get on with this.  Senator Clinton has every right to have discussions with Senator Obama about how to gracefully close out her campaign, but I don‘t think it‘s fair to put all Clinton supporters in this bucket of—that somehow, we want to be negotiating with Barack Obama, too.

MATTHEWS:  Lisa, I heard from Andrea Mitchell that some senators have been telling Senator Durbin, who is an ally of Barack Obama, they can‘t even switch across the aisle from Clinton to Obama as individuals until they get the OK from Senator Clinton.  And she is not giving it.  She is holding her troops even as we speak. 

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON:  Well, I think she was meeting with her senior advisers this afternoon. 

And I think that she‘s going to bring this to closure very soon.  And I think Hilary is absolutely right.  I think she took a big first step today with what she said at AIPAC.  And I think she is going to do this the right way.  She‘s going to do it in a dignified way.

I think the reason she didn‘t do it last night, honestly, is you have a country, in terms of Democratic voters, that is split, 18 million vs. 18 million.  She is just wanting to massage this the right way.  She is not going to hold out for some kind of big bargaining chip.  I don‘t believe that.  I think she is going to make this a dignified concession when it is the right time for her to do. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, you think the Democrats still feel that Al Gore was too gracious in 2000? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  In other words, some—you hear it from some people.  They wished he had fought harder.  Other people think it was the most—the grandest speech he gave the whole campaign, when he conceded. 

CAPUTO:  I have to tell you, I thought he gave a great speech.  A lot of people I have talked to today thought Hillary gave a great speech last night, among her better speeches. 

No, I don‘t think that at all.  Remember, we are not going to have a situation where we had, like with Senator Kennedy, where he took it all the way to the convention.  We are not going to have that. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... not going to be petulant about it, like he—Senator Kennedy was really—he really hurt Carter. 

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN:  Hillary Clinton is not going to be that. 

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO:  Exactly. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hilary Rosen, how do you know that Hillary Clinton will not be tough right to the convention? 

ROSEN:  I just don‘t believe it.  She has said that to her supporters over the last couple of days. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

ROSEN:  But there is one kind of important thing, which is the point about today is, what I have simply been saying for the last several days privately to the Clinton campaign is, don‘t make the day after be a discussion about whether or not Hillary Clinton is graceful. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ROSEN:  In her heart, we know she wants a Democrat to be elected.  And she is going to work harder than anybody come this campaign. 

But what has happened, because she didn‘t take that step last night, all of the discussion today has been about questioning her motives.  That, I think, is what has hurt the most. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Let‘s take a look now.

I want to—I want to Michelle to get in here.

Here‘s Senator—rather, Governor Ed Rendell about Hillary Clinton in an interview in New York today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  There‘s no bargaining.  You don‘t bargain with the presidential nominee.  Even if you‘re Hillary Clinton and you have 18 million votes, you don‘t bargain. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That guy is something else.  Isn‘t he great? 

Michelle, there is a real politician saying what you can‘t do, which is, you can‘t be seen negotiating or setting demands with a guy who will be the leader of everybody, not just Senator Clinton. 

MICHELLE BERNARD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Absolutely. 

And if you think about what Ed Rendell said today, and just to add on to what Hilary—our Hilary was saying a few moments ago, think about Hillary Clinton‘s speech last night and the way she ended.  She ended speaking about Lady Liberty.  And if you think about all of the symbolism that‘s this gigantic statue of a woman holding this lit candle, and she is a symbol of freedom from oppression and what democracy means in our country, and Hillary Clinton, especially towards the end of her speech, she kept talking about the people that she cares the most about, the people who are disaffected, the people who are invisible, the people who don‘t seem to have a voice. 

And I really think that she was talking about women and really sort of holding the women who have supported her campaign hostage to Barack Obama, and, basically, giving—whether she meant to do this on purpose or not, but giving the impression that, unless you deal with Hillary Clinton, women voters will not support Barack Obama. 

And it really changed the tone and tenor of the nation‘s conversation about the historic importance of what happened last night.  And it is really a shame that she did it, because, as Hilary said, the conversation has turned to whether she can lose this with grace.  And, right now, it doesn‘t look like that‘s going to happen. 

MATTHEWS:  Lisa, you disagree with this? 

CAPUTO:  I do, respectfully. 

I think what she did last night was begin the process to move those women voters over to Barack Obama.  I think that she was paying respects to the fact that they had been die-hard supporters.  There are a lot of deep wounds.  There are a lot of people, all of us as Democrats who talk to, who say they don‘t know what they want to do now if Hillary Clinton is out of the race, since they were staunch Hillary supporters.

She has got to move those people to Barack Obama. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Why did she put out a letter last night encouraging her supporters, all 18 million of them, to express their view as to what she should do?  And I‘m told the only option on the paper was stay in the fight. 

CAPUTO:  Well, no, that wasn‘t the only option in the paper. 

MATTHEWS:  What was the other option?

CAPUTO:  Well, it said to contribute, which one could argue—one could argue was to help—to help retire the campaign debt. 

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

CAPUTO:  But I think that was throwing out an offering to give their input, being respectful to them, get their points of view, and then move them toward the right place. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, to get the point across, you‘re saying, basically, Lisa, that what Hillary Clinton did last night was fight to the bitter end, because the bitter-enders around here would have been upset if she hadn‘t? 

CAPUTO:  Well, remember the bitter end—I mean, on a night where the presumptive nominee reaches the magic number, she wins one of the primaries. 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

(CROSSTALK)

CAPUTO:  You can‘t discount this. 

ROSEN:  No question.

CAPUTO:  So, we don‘t have a Democratic Party united. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

CAPUTO:  But we are going to get there when you have two candidates who will support one another, and Hillary will support Barack. 

MATTHEWS:  Hilary Rosen, last, quick thought?   

ROSEN:  Well, Lisa Caputo has been my friend for many, many years. 

And I admire everything she said. 

But, unfortunately, you know, what we‘re left with is not being able to talk today about how fantastic Hillary Clinton is, how historic this race is, how she literally did do what Lisa said, which is pretty much tie him for the president—for the presidential nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s true.

ROSEN:  What we‘re talking about is, is she really going to be the good person that Lisa and I both know personally she is?

MATTHEWS:  We will see. 

Thank you, Lisa Caputo.

Thank you, Hilary Rosen.  Great colleague.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Michelle Bernard.

By the way, Michelle, have you moved over yet a little bit to the left on this program? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you still a right-of-center woman?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Are you still on the right of the center there?  I want to know. 

(LAUGHTER)

BERNARD:  I‘m still sitting to the right of Hilary Rosen. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Oh, well, that‘s a lot of room over there. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Up next: the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”  How thankful is Barack Obama to be the Democratic nominee?  We have got a “Big Number” that tries to answer that question.  Wait until you hear our number tonight.  Kind of nice. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I love that Ferris wheel.

Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Time now for the HARDBALL “Sideshow.”

Now that the drawn-out, hard-fought Democratic primary fight is over, is there any lasting damage?  Only time will tell.  But the Republicans are already using Democratic infighting to their advantage. 

Here‘s a new video from the Republican National Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE AD)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Rhetoric is not enough.  Highfalutin language is not enough.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is no time for speeches and on-the-job training.  Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the campaign.  I will bring a lifetime of experience.  And Senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  I‘m sure you can string together a similar horror reel of Republican rivals‘ attacks on John McCain. 

Spitzer‘s new stint—what has the embarrassed former New York governor been up to lately, now that he is no longer in public office?  Today‘s “New York Observer” has the answer.  He is working for his dad, Bernie, at his real estate empire.  When you get nailed in politics, it is good to have a real estate empire to fall back on. 

Sharon‘s Shanghai troubles.  When celebrities get let loose with their political opinions, things can go as sour as the pork.  Such was the case this week for actress Sharon Stone.  She was barred from the Shanghai Film Festival this year, after saying that China‘s earthquake was a kind of payback for that country‘s treatment of Tibet. 

It is not nice to blame Mother Nature. 

And now it is time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.” 

Barack Obama made history last night.  And his supporters could not have been more ecstatic.  And, apparently, Barack Obama could not have been more thankful, literally. 

Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

OBAMA:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Thank you, Minnesota.  Thank you.  Thank you so much. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

OBAMA:  Thank you so much, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody. 

Thank you, Saint Paul. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  See, we do nice stories here.  How many times did Barack Obama say thank you before beginning his big speech last night?  Thirty-nine times.  His parents taught him well—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next: Obama vs. McCain.  Let the general election begin.  We will look at the path to victory in November for both sides—plus, NBC‘s Brian Williams, who today interviewed Senator Obama. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Stocks ended the session mixed, with the Dow Jones industrial average lower for the third straight day, but off by just 12, the S&P 500 down fractionally, and the Nasdaq seeing a gain of 22.5 points. 

Oil prices slid yet again, after the Energy Department reported gasoline demand dropped dramatically last week.  Crude oil fell $2.01 in New York‘s trading session, closing at $122.30 a barrel. 

United Airlines says it is cutting up to 1,100 more jobs and grounding an additional 70 jets, as it struggles to cope with spiraling fuel prices. 

And CNBC‘s David Faber reports that Verizon is deep in discussions to buy Wireless provider Alltel for about $27 billion.

And Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says that inflation concerns have risen in recent months, another signal that the Fed may keep interest rates on hold for now.  But he also told graduating students at Harvard he does not see a repeat of 1970s‘ style out-of-control prices. 

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

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Now that Obama, Senator Obama, has locked up the Democratic nomination, he turns his attention full-time to battling John McCain. 

Chuck Todd is the NBC News political director. 

Chuck, I‘m taken by these Lincoln-Douglas debate proposals we‘re getting on the table, way ahead of the regular debates this fall. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, I think what is fascinating, Chris, is that both candidates believe they benefit when they stand next to the other guy. 

I had gotten hints of this about a week ago.  I had been talking to some Obama folks.  And they said, look, we want more debates.  We want to stand side by side.  We think the contrast, the visual contrast, between the two candidates will benefit Obama, the sort of future vs. the past. 

But the other thing is, they also know their guy usually takes a little time to warm up.  And, if he only has three debates for the country to compare side by side, he might not kick it into high gear by that time.  He needs more time.  I mean, think about—and the fact is, think about the first debates that Obama had with Hillary, and then think about how much better he got basically as he got more comfortable in those settings. 

John McCain‘s folks tell me—they‘re like, yes, we want to stand next to him, because we think that we will talk circles around him in policy. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, this is going to be a big victory for cable television, because it seems to me the broadcast nets won‘t carry every one of those, but we at MSNBC may well carry all 10, if there are those occasions. 

TODD:  Well, I assume, by the way, that that what is clever here is,

notice how both of them sort of want to cut us out anyway, right?  You have

cut the media out.

MATTHEWS:  Well, cut our moderators out. 

(LAUGHTER)

TODD:  That‘s what I mean, cut the moderators.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

TODD:  They certainly want us all to televise them. 

Look, I think that they assume that they will be able to roadblock this at least on cable, and if not just there, possibly roadblock some of them on the networks. 

MATTHEWS:  Chuck, you‘re getting to be very inside in this business. 

Explain roadblock to real people. 

TODD:  Sorry, sir.

Meaning that it‘s on every channel. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

TODD:  Meaning everybody takes it. 

And we had one of those last time in those Des Moines—those last debates in Iowa, where all three cable channels carried those “Des Moines Register” debates.  So, you will see something similar, I think, with some of these.

But it is interesting that both of them believe they benefit, which means, like, you said, the big winner is cable television. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, Chuck.  It‘s been great working with you.  You are the best man on numbers there is. 

TODD:  Well...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And not just numbers, but you put meat on the bones. 

Anyway, thank you very much, Chuck Todd, or, as we call you, Chucky T. 

MATTHEWS:  NBC‘s Brian Williams interviewed Barack Obama just today. 

Talk about a great get, Brian.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Chucky T., I like that. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s better than Sweeney Todd.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS:  Yes. 

I have got to set this scene.

And forgive my lack of a jacket.  We all ran out of a midtown hotel, as we have to say.  And behind me were Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric.  He sat down with the three networks.  We happened to draw first straw today.  But it went late into the afternoon. 

I am sitting here. 

First of all, they need moderators at this thing.  You know that, don‘t you?  They shouldn‘t try this without moderators. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

WILLIAMS:  I‘m sitting here, looking at my notes, Chris. 

We talked to him last night about all the things you and I talked about last night late into the night, what they were feeling behind the scenes.  Would they be able to enjoy the moment?  Talked to him about his wife and kids, that little fist-pound moment that... 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  That was very cool. 

WILLIAMS:  You know, I—we used a still photo and showed him.  It was the first time he had seen it depicted in a still photo.  And he—broad smile.  He said, you know, right there, that moment is what I love most about my wife.  We‘ll show you that later on. 

He asked him about spoiling his moment, tarnishing the moment.  Was he able to enjoy it.  We got into great depth on Senator Clinton and President Clinton.  I asked, did he damage you during the campaign?  Did he damage himself?  Very much message discipline; Barack Obama saying, look, I‘m going to rely on his advice and counsel going forward.  Very conciliatory sounding about President Clinton. 

We talk about retiring Senator Clinton‘s campaign debt.  There it is right there. We talk about the biggest hurdle he faces and how to go about a general election with John McCain.  What if it turns on national security and this kind of battle of the credentials, how do you engage in a debate with a guy going back to the Naval Academy, Naval aviator, five years as a P.O.W., including time in solitary.  So he addressed that as well. 

MATTHEWS:  What does he feel?  Does he feel like he had a good—like the night of his life last night or was it fogged over by this indecision, it seems, from Senator Clinton? 

WILLIAMS:  No, I think—judging from his answers to me, he is still thinking about his grandmother.  He is still—

MATTHEWS:  The one in Hawaii that couldn‘t make the trip. 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And he finally talked to her on the phone.  And his answer on this John McCain town hall meeting thing is look, McCain has been at cruising altitude for a while here.  He‘s been the presumptive nominee.  I would like to just catch my breath.  And in the room, by the way, his entire campaign structure.  They‘re wanting very much to have a little bit of a ten-minute victory lap, as somebody put it last night.  They‘re feeling good about this effort they fielded.  And they know they‘re about to take the first step in marathon number two in this campaign. 

MATTHEWS:  When you look at all the countries of the world, the European countries, North America, Australia, New Zealand, all the countries where Europeans settled or lived; there has never been an African-American leader of this man‘s prominence.  There has never been this kind of accolade.  Does he wear it?  Do you feel it when you‘re in the room with him now? 

WILLIAMS:  I don‘t think he wears it any differently.  This might be the op-ed page divide.  You and I have touched on this, the way commentators will view this election and the way Americans will view this election.  The way people want him to get elected in large part because of how America will be viewed from the outside and the people who care only about this election in terms of within the borders of the United States.  I think it might be an intelligencia disconnect on that issue. 

MATTHEWS:  He‘ll need both. 

WILLIAMS:  I guess he‘ll need both. 

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘ve got it.  That‘s what Ron Brownstein has talked about in the Democratic party, between  He big picture idealists and the people with real day to day needs. 

WILLIAMS:  An interesting VP vetting committee he put together today. 

MATTHEWS:  Caroline Kennedy back in almost an official role for the first time in a long time.  It‘s outstanding to see her out there, playing this executive role, really.  Brian Williams, thank you, sir.  You‘ll see Brian‘s interview with Senator Obama tonight on “NBC Nightly News” at 6:30 Eastern. 

Up next, how much power does Hillary Clinton wield right now?  What is the threat she poses and what is the price she‘s demanding?  She‘s playing HARDBALL.  We‘ll get into that next with the politics fix.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix.  Tonight‘s round table, Pat Buchanan, MSNBC analyst and author of the new book, “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, How Britain Lost its Empire and the West Lost the World,” Joan Walsh of Salon and David Corn of “Mother Jones.”  Now this is ideological diversity like we‘ve probably never had on this show. 

I want to start with Joan, my pal.  Joan, this interesting delay in the concession by Hillary Clinton.  How do you read it? 

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  You know, Chris, I read it as her pausing and taking a moment to figure out what come next.  But I don‘t read it the way a lot of the pundits did last night.  I was at her event and if I hadn‘t been there, if I had just watched it on TV, I would have thought that she cursed Obama and said on to Denver. 

She didn‘t.  She thanked him.  She talk warmly about him.  She said she was going to take a moment to think about her 18 million supporters.  And I think that‘s what she is doing.  I really don‘t see this awful—

MATTHEWS:  What about this word from senators to the Obama campaign?  They can‘t come over and join and support the Democratic nominee until Hillary releases them.  Who is this—what is this iron hat Mike or some war healer who is keeping this guys or women from making their move, which seems appropriate? 

WALSH:  I‘m not seeing that.  Barbara Boxer came out.  Lots of people came out.  Lots of people have made their move.  I think people are doing the right thing.  There may be a couple people because of a personal relationship feel either intimidated or sad to do it.  But Dick Durbin said that.  I haven‘t seen any evidence of that. 

I assume in the next couple days, she will come out and endorse him.  In the meantime, I think it is perfectly appropriate.  She won 18 million votes.  She became the leader of a movement of women and working class people.  Like her or not, she speaks for them now. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you mean she speaks for them?  What is her role over the people who voted for her?  Are they her political assets?  How would you describe the relationship. 

WALSH:  I think they are her political asset.  I think she is a political asset to them.  I think it‘s a movement and a leader.  I think—

I expect her to be gracious about it.  But I expect her to look out for a health insurance mandate.  I expect her to look out and help Obama talk more concretely about the bread and butter concerns of working America.  We‘ve talk about this before; great speaker, a little bit ethereal.  He needs to learn how to connect. 

I anticipate her doing that.  I don‘t see her holding him hostage.  I don‘t see any evidence of that.  I think, she‘s—it is her mother‘s birthday today.  I don‘t expect her to concede on her mother‘s 89th birthday. 

MATTHEWS:  But this seems, David, almost like a prenup, like she‘ll come in with conditions.  Like, I‘ll back him if he does the following.  If that is done publicly, it makes him a bit of a wimp, to make a deal like that with any other politician publicly.                

DAVID CORN, “MOTHER JONES”:  I saw the same speech Joan saw.  What I took away from it was something rather different.  It was all about Hillary, all about Eve.  What she said was, I still have a decision to make.  She really doesn‘t.  The one decision she has is whether she will blow apart the party by contesting Obama‘s claim on the nomination. 

WALSH:  And she will not do that. 

CORN:  Or going ahead and getting beyond.  She said she had a decision to make.  Where is the decision?  There is no decision here if she will be gracious and do the right thing? 

WALSH:  Of course she‘s going to be gracious.  David, do you really think she‘s going to blow up the party?

CORN:  Wait a second.  Write to me and tell me what you think I should do.  What type of false hope is that? 

WALSH:  What is wrong with listening to your supporters? 

CORN:  What is the decision here?  This decision is either to support Barack Obama and do what she said already, work for the Democratic nominee, or to try to play games.  

WALSH:  Everybody knows she will do that. 

CORN:  She hasn‘t done it yet.  And Lanny Davis is out there, who I don‘t think would do something without her support, trying to get a petition to force Obama To put her on the ticket.  Again, this is not—

WALSH:  Lanny Davis can do what he wants. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s right.  David, you really think Lanny Davis has regular communication with the Clintons? 

CORN:  You don‘t think he has regular communication? 

MATTHEWS:  No.  I don‘t.  I never thought he got payback for all that loyalty.  I don‘t sense that.  I think he is loyal because he‘s loyal.  I‘m not sure because he has a great pipe into the Hillary campaign.  Yes, Pat?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  What you‘re saying here, David and Joan, is the problem with the Democratic party.  You have the two of them fighting like mad.  I saw Hillary Clinton‘s speech last night.  She had one dig at him about health care and the rest of it.  To me it was an excellent speech.  She was speaking to her folks. 

MATTHEWS:  What is this decision she wants to make?  Tell me what it is. 

BUCHANAN:  What she is waiting to do, I think she will bring her 18 million people over to Barack‘s camp, if all you don‘t stop beating up on her.  You‘re doing it.  The decision she has made it in her own heart.  She will endorse Barack Obama, but she needs time.  The lady needs time to decompress from this, to bring these folks over.  And by all these attacks on her, you are alienating—

MATTHEWS:  I know what you‘re doing.  You‘re doing what John McCain did last night.  I know what you‘re doing.  Pat, I know what you‘re doing. 

BUCHANAN:  Why don‘t you—

MATTHEWS:  I know what you‘re doing right now. 

BUCHANAN:  Do what Barack Obama is doing.  Barack Obama is handling this with grace.  He knows her situation. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Joan, your ally here, do you agree with Pat? 

WALSH:  I agree with Pat 100 percent.  And Obama is being gracious.  Obama is being terrific.  Some of his supporters, not so much.  He needs to rein them in.  He needs to make sure they stop being sore winners and treat her and her 18 million voters with respect.  Everybody knows the decision she is making is about where, when and how.  I just got off the phone with Ellen Malcolm (ph), and she said people needed a day to grieve.  There are people who really cared who work very hard.  It would be disrespectful to them. 

She won South Dakota last night.  God forbid she takes a day or two. 

BUCHANAN:  This pounding of Hillary Clinton is not helping the Democratic party. 

(CROSS TALK)

MATTHEWS:  I know that John McCain has issued the talking points that the Democratic party is being misserved by the media. 

BUCHANAN:  You think McCain‘s got my phone number.

MATTHEWS:  It is instinctive, Pat.  You don‘t have to think about it.  I‘ll come right back and talk about this little sugar plum that has come out of South Carolina from Jim Clyburn.  It‘s in the “Wall Street Journal,” not a big Democratic organ over there.  We‘ll be right back with the round table and more of the politics fix.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, obviously, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the round table and the politics fix. 

Let‘s take a look at something that ran in the “Wall Street Journal” today.  It reports that, quote, “on South Carolina‘s primary night, Mr. Clinton called  Mr. Clyburn, the senior Democrat down there, and they spoke for 50 minutes.  ‘Let‘s just say it wasn‘t pleasant,‘ Mr Clyburn says.  Mr Clinton called Mr. Clyburn and expletive, say Democrats familiar with the exchange.  Mr Clyburn‘s office would confirm only that the former president used offensive words.  Someday soon, the congressman says, he will write about this incident.”  

I don‘t know who released this sugar plum to the “Wall Street Journal” today, David Corn, but it does reignite the old question; did Bill Clinton, the former president, ignite racial tensions in the Democratic fight?   

CORN:  Chris, Bill Clinton was once hailed as the greatest politician in our generation and I think he deserved the compliment.  Now, he‘s lost his touch and became the number one reason why the Obama camp would think long and hard before putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket.  He had a terrible campaign.  Just look what just came out in the “Huffington Post” the other day, the recorded remarks of him teeing off on Todd Purdam. 

He showed a lot of anger and a lot of lack of understanding about how politics works these days, particularly in the new media of the Internet.  I don‘t know what he said to Clyburn, but I don‘t doubt Clyburn‘s words.  

BUCHANAN:  Let me say, I agree with David here.  I think Bill Clinton in the later stages showed indiscipline and problems getting raised up again, to make people who were looking at the so-called dream ticket to say, wait a minute, the problems in the fall, the problems with him, the problems we get in the White House.  There‘s no doubt about it. 

MATTHEWS:  Have you ever seen a politician lose his or her political instinct once they got it? 

BUCHANAN:  Nixon let it slip with, you won‘t have Nixon to kick around anymore.  It took him six years to recover.  Let me tell you, Chris, the media that really wants Obama and loves him, stop mugging the lady. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we back on this?

BUCHANAN:  Stop mugging the lady.  I‘m telling you, she‘s coming around.  She‘s coming around in a couple days.  It‘s all going to be over and they are going to be united. 

MATTHEWS:  When people on the political right—

WALSH:  Listen to pat, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  -- start talking like Allen Alda, I get a little nervous. 

Joan, take out this new love.  Accept the good. 

WALSH:  Suddenly, Pat makes a lot of sense.  I don‘t know what happened, but he‘s right about this. 

MATTHEWS:  You can exchange business cards you two.  Poor David Corn looks like the conservative.  This is too weird.  Thank you Pat Buchanan, although I know what you‘re up to.  You‘re up to the same thing as McCain‘s up to and Fox TV is up to. 

WALSH:  What am I up to, Chris? 

MATTHEWS:  You‘re just who you are.  Anyway, Joan Walsh, a great friend, and David Corn, another legitimate being.  Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 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.

END   

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