updated 5/19/2010 11:32:04 AM ET 2010-05-19T15:32:04

Guests: Andrea Mitchell, Howard Fineman, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O`Donnell, Ed Schultz, Chuck Todd, Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you again, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Indeed.

OLBERMANN:  And good evening once again from New York.  The last

primary night to get this much attention?  March 4, 2008; Barack Obama and

Hilary Clinton faced each other on the ballots of Ohio and Texas among

other states for the democratic presidential nomination.

Tonight, in our fifth story on this special edition of COUNTDOWN, in

Kentucky, a Tea Party favorite has defeated the candidate picked by the

Senate Minority Leader for that state‘s republican Senate nomination.

While in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, two veteran senators not facing

career-ending challenges from the left.  We begin tonight in Kentucky,

where republicans will have the largest turnout ever in one of their

statewide primaries.

Political novice Rand Paul, the eye surgeon, the son of Congressman

Ron Paul riding support from Tea Party activists to victory in the

republican Senate primary.  He has defeated Trey Grayson who was recruited

to run for Senator Jim Bunning‘s seat by that state‘s other senator, the

senior senator, Mitch McConnell.

Earlier tonight, Dr. Paul making clear exactly for whom his victory

was intended.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL:  I have a message.  A message from the Tea Party; a message

that is loud and clear and does not mince words.  We‘ve come to take our

government back. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OLBERMANN:  Never mind the government back, get a new PA system back. 

Minority leader McConnell appearing to hear that message.  He‘s issued a

statement tonight which reads in part, “Dr. Paul ran an outstanding

campaign which clearly struck a chord with Kentucky voters and I

congratulate him on his impressive victory. 

Now Kentucky republicans will unite in standing against the

overreaching policies of the Obama Administration.  Kentucky needs Rand

Paul in the U.S. Senate because he will work every day to stop this

crippling agenda.”  Boy, it didn‘t take him long to get on that bandwagon.

Among the democrats in the Kentucky Senate race, with a very a large

turnout which is not that atypical in Kentucky, it is Jack Conway by the

slimmest of margins, and 3 percent of polls yet to report.

Conway, the attorney general Mongiardo, the lieutenant governor of

that state in a knock-down, drag-out, Tom-and-Jerry-style battle here

throughout the evening, and no projection yet made.

Meanwhile in Arkansas in the primary for the democratic Senate

nomination there, in the three-way race which initially looked like

Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter‘s, it is now Blanche Lincoln comfortably in

the lead, but with only 5 percent of the vote still scored.  Of course the

key number here is not 46 percent, nor 41 percent, but 50 percent.

That is how much the winner would need to avoid a runoff primary, and

there you see it.  It does not look like that is developing for Senator

Lincoln.  And this morning, in a development that also might not develop

well for Senator Lincoln and her fight to hold on to her seat, the democrat

filling out a provisional ballot because her campaign had already requested

an absentee ballot for her, which she did not send back.

It was sent to her home in Virginia. Officials telling

talkingpointsmemo.com that they will count that provisional tonight,

assuming they can independently confirm that Senator Lincoln did not

already vote by mail.  The three-way race making it sure she‘s likely to

want her own vote.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey has now won the republican

Senate nomination—no surprise there—where he will face the winner of

the big one of the evening, former republican Arlen Specter, the incumbent

senator from a different party versus Congressman Joe Sestak.

And at this hour, with the Philadelphia vote primarily counted already

and the outskirts of that area, and of course the western part of the state

just beginning to come in, Joe Sestak with a four percent lead.  Andrea

Mitchell is now reporting, I‘m being told at this hour, two top Specter

supporters are telling NBC News Specter can not overcome this margin—

this Sestak margin.

That‘s an Andrea Mitchell report that two of Specter‘s big supporters

are saying their man can not overcome the big lead that Sestak has in

Allegheny County, which is of course Western Pennsylvania, broadly

Pittsburgh.

Senator Specter, who in recent days, seems to have forgotten for which

party he was running mentioned it a couple of times the wrong way, today

warning that if he loses, the Tea Party will take the country back 200

years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARLEN SPECTER:  If you don‘t field the strongest candidate, frankly

like Arlen Specter, they‘re going to take over and they‘ll want to

eliminate EPN.  They want to go back to the Gold Standard.  We‘d be in 18th

Century America.

OLBERMANN:  And the Montreal Canadians will beat the Philadelphia

Flyers.  Joining me now from Philadelphia, Howard Fineman of Newsweek and

MSNBC. Great thanks for you time tonight, Howard.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We have to ask you about what Andrea Mitchell has just

reported here.  There were some hints earlier this evening, even in the

afternoon, based on what Ed Rendell had said, that perhaps Senator

Specter‘s supporters were looking at this with great, great anxiety about

tonight.

Does it in fact look like they believe they‘re not going to win this

primary?

FINEMAN:  It feels like that, and I think Andrea‘s reporting is right

on target.  I talked to Representative Bob Brady earlier today from

Philadelphia, who‘s basically the head of the machine here; very upset

about the turnout; very upset he didn‘t think the White House did enough. 

That was interesting body language in and of itself.

I just talked to friends of mine in my hometown of Pittsburgh.  Don‘t

forgot, Arlen Specter got the endorsement of the local AFLCIO in Allegheny

County.  He got the endorsement of County Executive Dan Onorato, who is

about to win the democratic nomination for governor. 

Specter got the endorsement of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl of Pittsburgh. 

Despite all of that, based on the results I‘ve seen so far we‘re looking at

on the web, and talking to people in the state officials offices, Joe

Sestak is ahead about 53-47 in Allegheny County despite all of the support

of the establishment there.

And you put that together with a very moderate turnout here in

Philadelphia, the fact that it looks like Joe Sestak is winning 38-39

percent of the vote here in Philadelphia without a big push in the western

part of the state, and a good showing in the western part of the state, the

numbers that you see on the screen now, 52-48 Sestak look like they‘re

going to hold up.  And I think Andrea‘s right on target.

OLBERMANN:  And Andrea‘s right there with you, and we‘ll get to her in

second. I just wanted to report that the AP has just called the Kentucky

democratic nomination for Jack Conway. But let‘s—we‘ll deal with that in

a second.  Andrea Mitchell, who we‘ve invoked now four times without giving

her the chance to speak.  Good evening, Andrea.

FINEMAN:  She‘s sitting right next to me. I think I should.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  We‘re about two inches apart. 

Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  What do they think happened?  Is this just the classic

case of it‘s a bad year for an incumbent, and essentially Senator Specter

is a double incumbent?

MITCHELL:  Yes, and the party switch clearly.  Allegheny County just

went for Sestak. That is what they‘re telling me.  That is what the numbers

are coming in to the democratic party leaders who are Specter supporters.

So they, two top officials who are Specter supporters, just told me

that they don‘t see any way that he can overcome this, and that by 11

o‘clock it really will be declared. 

You know, they‘re still obviously counting the votes, but the numbers

that are coming in to the big Specter supporters are that the Philadelphia

margin, which is about a 20 percent margin, is just not enough to overcome

what he is facing throughout the rest of the state.

And so there‘s tremendous disappointment.  They do think that it was

that party switch.  They were trying to sell a new democrat who did not

resonate with democratic voters and it is the anti-incumbent pitch. 

Joe Sestak presented himself very cleverly in all of his commercials

as an agent of change and a new face, even though he is already an elected

official and is a member of Congress, but certainly not a 30-year veteran

and an established figure in Washington—Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Andrea, what on earth does Senator Specter do now?  Does

he close ranks behind democrats who just turned him out in his first

attempt to get their nomination?  Does he sit this one out?  Does he go

independent?  Does he wind up back with the republicans?  What does he do?

MITCHELL:  Well when I asked him about that very question today, he

said he‘s going to support Joe Sestak.  This has been a bitter race, but he

says that he is a democrat and that he will be, I don‘t know how hard he‘ll

be working for Joe Sestak, but you can hear all the—Chris Matthews‘

signature laugh.

FINEMAN:  The patented laugh

MITCHELL:  The patented laugh of Chris Matthews.  I don‘t think this

is going to be an excessively hard campaigner but I think he‘ll be a

trooper on this; that he did join the Democratic Party; he felt that the

Republican Party rejected him and had changed and had become captured by

the Tea Party, and I think you‘re going to see Pat Toomey, who‘s won the

nomination on the republican side here certainly move to the center.

FINEMAN:  On the other hand, Keith, the White House pulled the plug on

Arlen Specter about 5 o‘clock this afternoon on “Hardball” when—another

patented laugh—when Chuck Todd reported that the White House people were

saying you know what, Arlen came to us.  We didn‘t go to him.

And you know, Sestak is probably a better general election candidate. 

They said that at 5 o‘clock with three hours in voting here in Philadelphia

and in Pennsylvania on a show that a lot of people watch here in Philly if

for no other reason than their favorite son is the host of the show.

OLBERMANN:  Well, Chris, what are you numbers like in Pittsburgh?

MITCHELL:  And it‘s exactly the time when the lunch bucket—

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, they‘re dynamite in Philly, brother. 

Every Sunday, every night, they‘re dynamite.  All I can tell you, Keith, is

let me be cruel tonight.  Let me be very cruel.  Neil Oxman‘s ad for

Sestak, which began running about two weeks ago turned this election

around. 

It showed Arlen Specter admitting his opportunism.  Now it‘s one thing

to be opportunistic; everybody is to some extent.  But to admit it to the

camera that you switched parties to save your keyster is unacceptable. 

People care about how they—you care about your politics.

Everybody who votes cares about their politics.  To be so casual about

it to say, oh, yes, I switched parties because I didn‘t want to lose—It

reminds me of the guy who puts on the woman‘s dress to get in the lifeboat

on the Titanic.

You don‘t look too good down in that boat wearing the dress.  Now they

may let you leave just because they‘re embarrassed for you, but they don‘t

like you anymore. And so unfortunately, Neil Oxman did that to this guy. 

He put him in the lifeboat and put the dress on him and it didn‘t look

good.  And that‘s the story of this election.  I think.

FINEMAN:  Keith?

OLBERMANN:  Yes, Howard?

FINEMAN:  As long as we‘re talking about personal stuff, I got to tell

you this, and I didn‘t clear it with her before I went on the air to say

this, but my family is from Pittsburgh.  My mom is 86.  She lives in

Pittsburgh; retired teacher, democrat straight down the line. 

I called her earlier today out in Allegheny County and I said whom did

you vote for?  And she said Joe Sestak.  And she called him “shestak”.

MATTHEWS:  Oh my goodness.

FINEMAN:  She had no idea.  She called him “shestak” but she said

Arlen Specter voted for the war in Iraq and voted for the Bush tax cuts. 

In other words, he was still too much of a republican in her mind—

MATTHEWS:  Good for her.

FINEMAN:  -- to support in the democratic primary.  That‘s what Andrea

said.

MATTHEWS:  Mrs. Fineman still has a clear head.

FINEMAN:  Well, no, it‘s—

MATTHEWS:  She‘s voting—those are issues that matter.

FINEMAN:  Well, no.  That was a big lift for a lot of democrats, and

especially with the Barack Obama not coming in here and going knocking

door-to-door and saying look, I know Mrs. Fineman, you know, he‘s a

republican but he‘s my guy, you got to vote for him.

And when Obama didn‘t do that, even though he‘s got the TV ad, when he

didn‘t come in here again and again and again, I think that hurt with those

kinds of voters.

MITCHELL:  The ad that Chris just talked about, also of course showed

George W. Bush saying that he, you know, he praised him and loved—

FINEMAN:  Right.  I love Arlen.

MITCHELL:  He loved Arlen‘s—

FINEMAN:  They showed that George Bush ad time and time and time

again, and if Arlen ends up in the final count losing, that will be the

reason why.  Too many voters in the democratic primary are not going to

vote for a guy who was a republican ten minutes ago and who‘s praised by

George W. Bush.

MATTHEWS:  I think you‘ve got to be careful, Keith.  I think in terms

of sensibility, he is to the left of Arlen.  Certainly his history is that,

but he‘s not dove, and I think it‘s very careful, he was a military man; an

admiral—three-star at one point—I think it‘s very important for him

going in to the general election to be honest about it. 

He‘s not a man of the left.  He‘s a man of the center-left I think

it‘s fair to say like Arlen has become—

OLBERMANN:  Chris, I‘m going to interrupt you—Give me—I‘m going

to take my life in my hands. 

MATTHEWS:  But in terms of voters—

OLBERMANN:  Chris—

MATTHEWS:  In terms of voters, they thought he was to the left.

OLBERMANN:  Give me one second. The Associated Press has just called

this race for Joe Sestak.  That‘s the only reason I would attempt to

interrupt you on that.

FINEMAN:  Wow.  There you go.

OLBERMANN:  The Associated Press saying simply Joe Sestak, Democrat,

nominated U.S. Senate, Pennsylvania.  All right so that‘s out of the way. 

Let me go back again—and Chris—

MATTHEWS:  I think he‘s going to the center, and I think—OK.

OLBERMANN:  What is it—I asked you this question two hours ago, and

it‘s much more relevant now that the thing has happened. Is this just a set

of unique circumstances in Pennsylvania given you have a man switching

parties, as Howard has so acutely pointed out, given that you have the

White House kind of bailing out on this both with the president not

stopping by, and the vice president being in Pennsylvania yesterday and

doing no campaigning for him, and a somewhat strong across-the-board, anti-

incumbent theory going on throughout the nation?

Is it self-explanatory, or does it mean anything else, and does this

outcome mean anything else anywhere in the country except in the

Pennsylvania Democratic Party?

MATTHEWS:  I think there‘s a pattern in all the races.  People say

this is not as good as it can get.  They‘re not willing to accept Blanche

Lincoln‘s sort of mediocre, somewhere-in-the-middle voting pattern.  She

went too far to the right.

I don‘t think they‘re willing to accept Trey Grayson‘s dictation from

Mitch McConnell.  I think people say I demand better government, left or

right.  I demand something better than this.  They‘re not listening to the

leaders on either side.

There‘s a real pattern here.  I said to you the term screw you.  Maybe

that‘s strong language, but they‘re basically saying to the big shots,

including the president, don‘t tell us who to vote for.  The president, the

vice president, the governor, the head of the party here, the mayor—

everybody said vote for Arlen Specter.

They gave them a sample ballot that only had the name of Arlen Specter

on it.  As Howard pointed out, 38 percent of this city, which is still an

old machine town, voted against the machine candidate.  That is

rejectionism, and I think that‘s what the pattern is tonight.  Don‘t tell

us who to vote for.  We‘re still a democracy.  I think.

MITCHELL:  And I think it does foretell some problems that Sestak is

going to experience, because there are people in this party here, and they

go all the way up to the governor who were ignored by the voters—by the

democratic voters—but they will in turn blame some people on Washington

for what happened, because they do think that President Obama could have

pulled this out in the last couple of days.

The other outcome of this, Keith, is also that Howard Fineman outed

his mother.

FINEMAN:  By the way, I hope I don‘t get in trouble for that, by the

way.

MATTHEWS:  You know, but there has never been a more loyal son, Mrs.

Fineman.  He speaks about you all the time.  I mean a day doesn‘t pass he

doesn‘t bless you.  And your love.

OLBERMANN:  Howard—

FINEMAN:  Any more questions?

OLBERMANN:  No, just something from you as opposed to from mom, as

appreciative we have of her being the fourth analyst in our equation here. 

Put this into a perspective.  Did the White House—to what degree did the

White House give up?  And to what degree did the White House undercut Arlen

Specter in the last two days?

FINEMAN:  I think the White House right now is hunkering down.  I

think they‘re in a crouch looking for the tsunami to come.  That‘s my take

on it.  I think this is going to be big, and I think it‘s going to be

mostly against the democrats for the plain and simple reason that the

democrats control the White House and have big majorities in the House and

the Senate.

If you look at the basic tabulations of toss-up races in leaning

republicans and strong republican, there‘re 58 democratic seats that are

exposed in the House, and only four or five republican seats.

If the democrats lose 40, 42, 41-42 of those 58 seats, they lose the

House.  On the Senate side, especially with problems in Connecticut, with

the weakness of Barbara Boxer in California, this is going to be a close

run thing by the fall.

If this mood continues, Keith, it‘s going to be a close run thing as

to whether the democrats keep control of either the House or the Senate

come November.

OLBERMANN:  A little invocation of Mr. Wellington at Waterloo from

Howard Fineman, along with Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell.  We‘ll go

back to them after a quick break, along with Lawrence O‘Donnell, but the

big news, the Associated Press has now called the democratic primary for

Senate in Pennsylvania for Congressman Joe Sestak over the incumbent-but-

switched-party senator, the veteran Arlen Specter, whose career in public

service may have come to an end in the last 15 minutes.

MSNBC‘s coverage of this big primary night continues next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  This doesn‘t sum up everything that has faced Senator

Arlen Specter, who is as of tonight, the lame duck senator from

Pennsylvania.  The audio on that speech has just kicked in after about

three or four minutes. 

Going to talk to Lawrence O‘Donnell about the defeat of Senator

Specter.  Also going to talk to Chris Matthews, Andrew Mitchell, and Howard

Fineman again, a little bit from Arlen Specter, who has tonight lost

according to the AP, and is trailing on the count of 53-47 in the race for

the democratic nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania.

SPECTER:  I thank the President for his support, and Vice President

Biden, and Governor Rendell, and Senator Casey, and an extraordinary staff

helping me to run the Senate office—Scott Hoeflich the Chief of Staff. 

I don‘t know why he got more applause than I did, but he deserves it.

And Mike Oscar in Philadelphia and Adrian Baker Green, Andy Wallace in

Scranton, and Stan in Pittsburgh, and Mary in Eerie, and Melissa in

Harrisburg; tremendous, tremendous office operation.  And I thank my

campaign workers who did an extraordinary job; Chris Mickelas (ph) and

Chris Mattola (ph) and really a case of thousands behind us in the

campaign.  It‘s been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you, Arlen.

(APPLAUSE)

SPECTER:  And it‘s been a great privilege to be in the United States

Senate, and I‘ll be working very, very hard for the people of the

commonwealth in the coming months.  Thank you all.

OLBERMANN:  So Arlen Specter, who was elected to the U.S. Senate the

same year that Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States,

who has survived all the races since then, who survived in some sense

switching parties, who survived Stage-4 B Hodgkin‘s Lymphoma, the brain

tumor, never missed a Senate session. 

Underwent chemotherapy in 2005, chemotherapy in 2008, does not survive

the primary nomination process for the democratic nomination for Senate

from the state he has served since 1980.

As we promised, continuing coverage here at MSNBC of the defeat, an

epic moment certainly in Pennsylvania, state history—Chris Matthews—

but certainly on a bigger scale, perhaps an influential moment in the

history of current American politics with that point you were making before

we took the break; that you can‘t just don different clothing and get into

the lifeboat, especially at a time when incumbents are not particularly

favored around the country.

MATTHEWS:  I think that‘s the reality of the campaign, and it took

until, you know a lot of times voters don‘t really say they‘re for the

other guy until they know who the other guy or the other woman is. 

And it wasn‘t really until the series of ads came on the air in

Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago that introduced Joe Sestak to people,

that according to his TV consultant, Neil Oxman, 65 percent of the people

of Pennsylvania, the voters had no idea who Joe Sestak was a couple of

weeks ago.

They ran the positive ads that introduced him as a former military

man, 31-year veteran.  And then Arlen went on the air with the negative ads

saying yes, he was a 31-year veteran, but he was relieved of duty, but that

sort of reconfirmed the fact that he was a military man, which is a big

plus in Pennsylvania which had a split impact—a positive impact fifty

percent of it.

So the overall impact of the ads on both sides was positive for

Sestak, introducing an alternative. It‘s very much about the shift to the

right after Jimmy Carter. When the public perceived Jimmy Carter as a

failed president politically, they were simply looking for an alternative.

And when Reagan proved he was competent enough to debate Carter, they

said OK.  All Sestak had to do was introduce himself as a competent

democratic alternative to a guy who had switched parties, and that seems to

have been enough to win a comfortable victory without a lot of other

information really.

He‘s not a warm personality, Joe Sestak.  He‘s not more charming than

Arlen.  It‘s just that he‘s a democrat with a record that seems credible

against a guy who has a 45-year record as a republican.  I think that‘s it. 

I think that‘s the facts.

OLBERMANN:  By the way, we are putting up the—suddenly switching

topics here to show you as you see on the screen, the 12th District Special

Election, we don‘t have our checkmark yet on that one, but Mark Critz, the

aide to the former—the late congressman from that district, Jack Murtha,

this is the actual election of the night.

This is not for nomination.  Winner here goes to Washington to advance

to the semi-finals.  Mark Critz has been, according to the Associated

Press, nominated in the 12th District with a sizeable lead over his

republican challenger, Tim Burns.

So that seat will hold for the Democrats, and the larger picture in

Pennsylvania and the instructive picture in Pennsylvania continues to be

this question of what the Specter defeat means, both in terms of the

upcoming senatorial race there, and also what the entire picture means in

terms of the incumbents and party-changing and the re-definition of

American politics.

And for a little bit on that, Lawrence O‘Donnell of our staff, with

Huffington Post and other places here and there joins me now.  Put this in

context.  I thought it was ironic that the thing that we joined—the

speech from Senator Specter in progress, he began by thanking President

Obama for his support, which was pretty tepid.

It seemed like Senator Specter didn‘t have a lot to say other than to

thank the people who supported him there, and there weren‘t enough of them

to keep him going passed this.  What does this all mean, Lawrence?

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well one thing I‘d like to get if

we have the resources on site in Pennsylvania is did Specter congratulate

Joe Sestak?  Did Specter say in the portions that we didn‘t hear that he is

endorsing Sestak and he‘s going to work for Sestak? 

We didn‘t hear that in the portions that we got on air, but that‘s

something we‘re going to have to find out, and if he specifically left that

out, then there could be something interesting developing beyond tonight

with Specter.

But one of the big messages of tonight, Keith, obviously, and it‘s not

just tonight, is that a White House endorsement, so far in 2010, is proving

to be worthless.  We had one in Massachusetts and we saw the White House

endorsement mean nothing there.

We‘ve just seen it get rolled over in Pennsylvania, and the White

House political operation, which worked so very hard to eliminate any

democrat from challenging Arlen Specter—they used every method they

could to talk people out of running for this—they couldn‘t—it didn‘t

work with Sestak.

They‘ve done the same thing in New York with Senator Gillibrand.  They

worked very hard to clear the field for her.  That has worked so far.  But

the question within the party is, is the White House political operation

making the right decisions about these races or have they made mistakes on

who they have decided at the outset, should go in to the general election

against republicans.

And the voters of Pennsylvania tonight certainly said that the White

House made a mistake and that Sestak is the one that democrats in

Pennsylvania want to see in the general election this fall.  And so, you

see this, the White House political operation is reeling from this result,

and they should be.

OLBERMANN:  To that first question you raised, obviously we don‘t know

what was said before the—unfortunately before the audio switched on;

part of the Senator‘s problem tonight and throughout the campaign, we don‘t

know what he said, but as Andrea Mitchell had reported earlier, when they

discussed this this afternoon during an interview with Andrea, he had said

he was going to work for Congressman Sestak if indeed he lost the

nomination.

So presumably, that promise holds true.  Lawrence O‘Donnell in Los

Angeles for you tonight.  We‘re going to go back to Philadelphia after a

quick break here, because we have so much to talk about, both in

Pennsylvania, and also in Kentucky, where the tea party candidate has

blistered the main-line Republican sent out by Mitch McConnell.

And Mitch McConnell has himself joined that bandwagon of the tea party

candidate, Rand Paul, as fast as you can get on it.  If he hopped on one

leap off the ground to a seated position on top that bandwagon, I wouldn‘t

be surprised if there‘s a video of it.

All right.  I know I sounded a little like Dan Rather right there. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  Let‘s recap the busy night so far in our primary specials,

particularly focusing on Pennsylvania and Kentucky.  The numbers in

Arkansas are a little too early to say anything about, but not so in

Pennsylvania.

The Democratic senatorial primarily has been decided, mostly in votes

in Allegheny County, the western part of the state.  Pittsburgh—and

Pittsburgh delivers Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary nomination to

Congressman Joe Sestak, in what is developing as a very large victory over

the incumbent—though not the incumbent Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.

To look briefly at Kentucky where the tea party candidate, Rand Paul,

has roundly defeated his opponent from the traditional mainstream

Republican side of things, Trey Grayson, by a margin of less than two to

one, this has held pretty much throughout the night at about 59-35. 

Ninety-nine percent of that vote in, 205,000 votes for Dr. Paul, the eye

surgeon.

Relevant to this number, though there had been traditionally high

numbers in the Democratic primaries of Kentucky, that would subject some

disparity or some decrease in disparity in the general elections.  You will

notice, as we look at the Democratic Senate primary numbers out of there,

with Lieutenant Governor Mongiardo apparently losing to the attorney

general, Conway, huge numbers for both of these candidates.  Perhaps that‘s

above the average.  We‘ll try to check that for you before the hour is out.

Generally speaking, primaries in Kentucky runs statistically, votes

totals turnout, about three to two the numbers.  And then at election time,

the Senate seats go to the Republicans and much of the House does as well.

A statement to read to you, getting back to the subject of

Pennsylvania, from Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO. 

“America‘s workers,” he writes, “tonight, give their heartfelt thanks to

Senator Specter for his distinguished career, fighting for working

families.  I,” he said, “have known and worked with him for all my years in

the labor movement and it is an honor and privilege to call him a friend.

We also congratulate Congressman Sestak on his victory.  He ran a

strong campaign that probably emphasized his support for the workers of

Pennsylvania.”

We mention all this—as we go back to Philadelphia and our panel

consisting of Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, Andrea Mitchell, and now, Ed

Schultz from MSNBC‘s “ED SHOW”—we mention this because, Ed Schultz, the

labor endorsement here did not turn out to be decisive as nice a picture

Mr. Trumka might be putting on it this hour.

ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST:  No, it didn‘t, Keith.  But labor was

really caught between a rock and hard spot in this situation because

actually, both these candidates have been strong for labor for 30 years. 

Arlen Specter has done a nice job for working families.  Joe Sestak has

probably been more of a staunch supporter of the Employee Free Act which

may not happen this year for the Democrats, and may not happen even after

the midterms.  It‘s still a heavy lift.

So, labor was caught in a position where you don‘t want to damage

yourself.  Whether it had been Sestak tonight or whether it had been

Specter tonight, both those candidates would have come away with resounding

support in election against Toomey, who they see as just the devil when it

comes to workers in this country.

So, labor was very politically calculated in this race.  They didn‘t

want to overstep their boundary.  They didn‘t want to create an enemy. 

They knew in the big picture they were going to be OK.

But I think also, Keith, I think that Joe Sestak did President Obama a

huge favor tonight.  He was certainly more the progressive candidate.  Mr.

President, it‘s OK to go left.  It‘s OK to move forward with progressives.

Republicans haven‘t done anything with the Democrats.  They‘ve tried

to block everything Obama wants to do action.

And I think Joe Sestak has come up in favor of workers, in favor of a

stronger health care bill.  He‘s ready to hold Wall Street accountable, and

he connected with small towns.  He‘s winning in every county tonight in

Pennsylvania except three.  Now, that‘s a statement for change.

And so—I also think, I‘d even go further to say that Joe Sestak may

not stop at the United States Senate.  This guy is the highest ranking

military officer ever elected to the Congress, a three star.  He‘s a

brilliant man.  He can talk to you about oil spills.  He can talk to you

about strategy in Afghanistan.  He‘s been critical of the strategy of

Afghanistan, so far.  I think he‘s a diamond in the rough for the

Democrats.

OLBERMANN:  All right.  I‘m going to interrupt our reporting from

Philadelphia to go to Washington in Chuck Todd, to follow up on Ed‘s point

about President Obama.  But I also want to answer one that Lawrence

O‘Donnell had mentioned because that audio failure at the Specter

statement, he did in fact—and felt compelled to tweet against that he is

going to support Joe Sestak in the senatorial race in Pennsylvania.

Let me read the tweet, it‘s not going to take too long, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  OK.

OLBERMANN:  “Congratulations, Congressman Sestak.  You have my support

for the general election.”

It may not be effusive at this point, but then again, you‘re limited

to 140 characters.

To Ed‘s point, Chuck, this idea that perhaps some Democratic voters

here and there, and some Republican voters not doing it intentionally, but

perhaps doing it incidentally, might be giving the White House a message

to, you know, bring out heavy well-defined characters and support the

people that actually perhaps would sit better with the more fervent part of

your base, which I guess is a polite way of saying, get the liberals out

there.

Is that your read?  Or is that going to be their read after what‘s

happened in Pennsylvania tonight?

TODD:  Well, I think they‘re going to look at this, in their read—

the White House is going to obsess over one race and one race only. 

They‘re going to ignore all the others.  They‘re going to look at

Pennsylvania 12 and the House special election, say, aha, see?

Now, they won‘t mention the fact that the Democratic candidate ran

against health care, ran against a couple of the other Obama legislative

victories.  But overall, they‘ll say, hey, we‘ve been told that the

national environment is an albatross.  Here‘s the only congressional

district in the country that voted for John Kerry in ‘04, and went to John

McCain in ‘08, and the special election goes in a fairly decisive fashion

to the Democrats.

Now, Republicans will say, hey, Democrats had a turnout and this and

that.  But I think the overall point tonight is, you know, the closer you

were to Washington, the more national you tried to run your race, the more

you got penalized.  I‘ll go to the special election.  Republicans ran a

very nationalized race.  They tried to run against Obama and Pelosi.

The Democrats—the Democratic candidate there ran a much more

localized race, to talk about what he did, what Murtha did for the district

and that‘s a sort of unofficial son of John Murtha, what he was going to

do.

Look at the Rand Paul thing.  You know, the more Mitch McConnell got

involved, the worse it was for Trey Grayson.

And then we got to Pennsylvania, and we can even say to a lesser

extent what we‘re seeing in Arkansas, because clearly, Blanche Lincoln is,

you know, probably going to get held under 50 percent, and that‘s gong to

go into an overtime.

But the only good news for Washington, Keith, is that somehow the

wizards won the lottery tonight in the NBA.  So, we got John Wall coming, I

guess.

OLBERMANN:  Or Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan.

TODD:  Well, don‘t even go there.

OLBERMANN:  One quick question, reflecting back on the Scott Brown

special election in Massachusetts—did that paradigm not shift somewhat? 

Did not Scott Brown run nationally rather than locally in Massachusetts?

TODD:  Actually, if you look at his race, and I remember his

consultants would fervently sit there and say, you know what, he was

running against the governor there, the unpopular governor, Deval Patrick. 

He wouldn‘t mention that he was a Republican in many of his TV ads.  He

wasn‘t running against Obama.

The national party wanted to turn it into a referendum.

So, I think what we‘re learning here is that, look, this is an angry

and frustrated electoral.  Some of the folks are angry.  Some are

frustrated.  It‘s all has to do in some form with the economy.

Some people—whether they‘re liberals or conservatives—feel like

they don‘t have control of their own life, let‘s say, because of job

issues, or because of there.  Whatever it is the reason, and they‘re

lashing out at big institutions.  Sometimes it‘s Wall Street, and sometimes

it‘s the federal government.

And I think that there is a thread here that is not—you don‘t force

yourself to look for it.  It‘s there and we‘re seeing it on both sides.

OLBERMANN:  Angry elections are the best elections.  Chuck Todd with

us from Washington—thank you, Chuck.  Appreciate it.

TODD:  All right.

OLBERMANN:  And we‘ll take a break, but I‘ll leave it with you this. 

I‘ll read it directly from Salon.com.  “Some old habits diehard.  So the TV

in corner of the hotel ballroom in Center city, Philadelphia, where Arlen

Specter supporters were gathering Tuesday night to watch election returns

lingered on FOX News Channel for a while, until someone finally remembered

that at Democratic events, you‘re supposed to watch something else.”

That might tell you that story.

We‘ll continue with the latest from Arkansas after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The second part of the Pennsylvania special election, the

12th district there to succeed the late Jack Murtha, has now been

completed.  Earlier, the “Associated Press” nominated—said that both Mr.

Critz and Mr. Burns, the Democrat and the Republican, had gotten the

nomination for the regular election in November.  They‘re going to do this

again.

But for the special election to fill this seat right now, Republican

Tim Burns has now conceded to the Democrat Mark Critz in the special

election in Jack Murtha‘s old district, the 12th district.  Mr. Critz was

formerly an aide to the late Congressman Murtha.

And for what that means and what the seven to nothing run of special

elections for House seats since 2008, what that means auguring for the

fall, let‘s go back to Philadelphia, Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell.

Chris, is there, in fact, anything to a winning streak of special

elections?  Or is all that—is all the past that is prolog—meaningless

prolog because of the change of the political landscape in the last year?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST:  Well, this is good news for the

Democrats.  But, you know, what doesn‘t kill me makes me stronger, to quote

Nietzsche.  And I think the White House will be quoting Nietzsche for the

next couple of days because if they had lost this race with a guy with a

nice ethnic name like Critz, a former aide to Jack Murtha, with a support

of Murtha‘s widow, Joyce—if all that had been right and they‘d still

lost, they would be really in trouble.  I would have thought, especially

given the fact that the campaign attacked Nancy Pelosi with his big cartoon

pictures of her.  If that hadn‘t worked, that would have been a template

for future campaigns.

The fact they‘re able to hold their base in a working class

Pennsylvania district that does like pork, that does earmarking, that does

like the federal government is a good sign.  It would have been much more

important, however, if they had lost.  If they had lost out there, they

would have been in big trouble.

You know, the latest generic poll looks OK for the Democrats, 45-40. 

It‘s not bad news.  It‘s not the end of the world.  If they hold together

and run on positive things like we can get more jobs than the other guy

can, they can win this thing.  They can hold on and lose only 20 or so

seats.

OLBERMANN:  Andrea, give us—give us your feel for what this implies

for the fall.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  I think that the fact that they have held

that—the 12th district in Pennsylvania is a huge relief for the White

House, because if the Republicans have won, they could have argued very

effectively that it is a Republican move.  This blunts somewhat the

Republican move.

But the White House has to be concerned—pardon my voice, but it‘s

been a long day of reporting here—the White House has to be concerned,

though, that the White House support for Arlen Specter, even though in the

last 48 hours, there was not hands-on support, there was plenty of

commercials.  They did have the one big fundraiser here that they did for

Arlen Specter some time back.  And hat endorsement, the governor, the

mayor, the whole organization, was basically ignored by the voters, the

Democratic Party voters.

And in this primary that tells you that people are angry, they‘re

concerned, they‘re worried about unemployment, that the so-called recession

being over, even though unemployment is, quote, “only 10 percent here,”

real effective unemployment is a lot higher, particularly here in

Philadelphia, in Pittsburgh, in the areas where there are large minority

communities.  And there just wasn‘t that deep affection for Arlen Specter

that he never had in either political party, because he always was a bit

cantankerous and somewhat independent, and certainly a lot more independent

of the Republican (INAUDIBLE) portrayed in those very clever Joe Sestak

ads.

It is a defiant electorate.  It‘s an angry, frustrated, scared

electorate.  And they‘re going to go their own way and they‘re not going to

take orders from party bosses or the president of the United States.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  And, Keith, I think that

Chuck has the right point here, which is what the Pennsylvania 12th race

shows is that the only route for the Democrats to survive what‘s coming is

a combination of what Ed Schultz is talking about and what Critz did in

Johnstown—which is local, we‘re helping you get jobs, this is not about

philosophy, this is about meat and potatoes.

To the extent that the Democrats can ironically keep this a local

election, as opposed to a nationalized election, the Democrats have a hope

of surviving this wave to come.  To the extent that it‘s a nationalized

election, that it‘s about Barack Obama, that it‘s about philosophy, that

it‘s about the national debt and the deficit and the global economics and

all that stuff, the Democrats are going to have their hats handed to them.

It‘s a total reversal of 2008, where Obama is the one who made it

national and philosophical.  The only way the Democrats can survive is by

creeping along—creeping along the ground.

OLBERMANN:  Howard Fineman, stand by.  Andrea Mitchell, stand by. 

Chris Matthews, stand by.  We quoted Nietzsche, Wellington and Howard

Fineman‘s mother.

And we‘ll be back with final thoughts after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

OLBERMANN:  The nominee for the Senate from the Democratic Party for

the state of Pennsylvania has just taken the podium in Pennsylvania.  Here

is Joe Sestak.

(CHEERING)

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE NOMINEE:  And thank you to

everyone who is here tonight.

(CHEERING)

SESTAK:  This election is about you.  It‘s about you and everyone in

this great commonwealth who stood up and wanted their voices heard.  This

is what democracy looks like.

(CHEERING)

SESTAK:  A win for the people over the establishment, over the status

quo, even over Washington, D.C.

I will never forget that it was the people of Pennsylvania that made

it happen tonight.

(CHEERING)

SESTAK:  And I will work so heart to earn their trust and their

confidence.  But it should come as no surprise to anyone that people want a

change.

When I went to Congress just a few years ago, after 31 years in the

wonderful United States Navy, I found too many career politicians are a bit

too concerned about keeping their jobs rather than serving the public,

rather than helping people.

In the Navy, we‘re held accountable for our actions, and we should

expect no less—no less from a politicians in Washington, D.C.

(CHEERING)

SESTAK:  That accountability has been missing for far too long, and I

want to help bring it backs.  And that‘s why I‘m running for the United

States Senate.

(CHEERING)

(CHANTING)

OLBERMANN:  Joe Sestak, after three year and four months in the U.S.

House, now nominated to be the senator for Pennsylvania on the Democratic

ticket in the fall.

I guess, Chris Matthews, it is instructive that a man who has been

elected and reelected to the U.S. Congress would celebrate his nomination

over a sitting U.S. senator by saying this was a victory over the

establishment, a victory over Washington, D.C.  You step away from that

role of the incumbent as quickly as you can, I guess, this year.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I also think, you know, he‘s smart and become a really

Pennsylvanian; he‘s got a nice Slovak background.  He‘s a guy sort of with

a somewhat ethnic name.  He‘s a Navy guy, a military guy.

I think he‘s going to be—and also he‘s not from Philly, which is

very important in that state.  Don‘t be from Philly if you‘re going from

statewide.  The fact that he‘s from Delaware County—you know the whole

story about that.  You‘re always better from not being from Philly if

you‘re running statewide.  I think it‘s going to help him being from

Delaware County, having that nice ethnic name.

And look at him—I think he‘s going to be a populist, as Ed Schultz

pointed out.  And by the way, he will have 100 percent cope (ph) rating

because it‘s the one way to survive in the Senate.  He will have 100

percent NRA rating, which is a way to survive as a Pennsylvania senator. 

It‘s a John Wayne state.  That may be an old way to describe it, but it‘s

accurate.

OLBERMANN:  And it‘s fascinating for him to describe the career

politicians that he has defeated now, again, two terms in the House.  Does

that not a career make?

MATTHEWS:  I think he‘s still fresh off the bench.  I think beating

what‘s his name, Weldon, was not that hard.  Weldon was kind of out of

shape.  Arlen was somewhat out of shape.

But it is impressive.  I mean, you were—Ed was talking about this

guy having a future—there‘s nothing better than to start off by beating

incumbents.  When you beat incumbents in politics, you‘re a heavyweight

pretty fast.

FINEMAN:  Keith, the key here is anybody who wants to be anybody this

year has to somehow lay claim to not being a traditional politician.  Even

Critz, the candidate in Pennsylvania 12th, even though he‘s chief of staff

to John Murtha, had the advantage of not being an elected member of

Congress.  I know that sounds silly, but I think that‘s true.  I think

that‘s true everywhere, all the way up and down the line, having anything

to do with the way business is conducted as usual is what you don‘t want

this year.

FINEMAN:  All right.  However Fineman, great thanks.

(CROSSTALK)

OLBERMANN:  Ed, I‘m sorry, we got to cut you off.  We‘re at the end of

the hour.

For Ed Schultz and for Chris Matthews and for Andrea Mitchell, and for

Howard Fineman, and for Howard Fineman‘s mother that‘s COUNTDOWN for this,

the 2,574th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished

in Iraq.  I‘m Keith Olbermann at MSNBC in New York.  Good night and good

luck.

And our extended primary night coverage continues, of course.  And

with that, ladies and gentlemen, here again is Rachel Maddow.  Good

evening, again, Rachel.

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

BE UPDATED.

END   

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