updated 5/9/2012 12:31:31 PM ET 2012-05-09T16:31:31

Guests: Steve Schmidt, Richard Clarke


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

It is election night. Polls have just officially closed right here in
the great state of New York.

And at this hour, NBC News is declaring the race in New York,
according to our results -- New York, hello? There we go.

According to NBC News right now, results in New York, 95 delegates are
at stake, the primary having just closed. Occasionally, we get calls at
the moment that the polls close. That is not the case in New York with
zero percent in.

Polls closed about an hour ago in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
NBC News is projecting that Mitt Romney is the winner in the commonwealth
of Pennsylvania.

Voters in the great state of Rhode Island also have the chance to cast
their ballots tonight. NBC News now projecting that Mitt Romney has won
the state of Rhode Island.

The same story in neighboring Connecticut. NBC News is projecting
that Mitt Romney will win in Connecticut tonight.

And in the state of Delaware tonight, NBC News declaring that Mitt
Romney has won in the great state of Delaware.

Although Delaware is the second smallest state in the country with 17
total delegates at stake for the entire state, it has a little bit of
special significance in terms of today`s news -- tonight`s Republican
primaries in particular, because Newt Gingrich told NBC News yesterday that
if he didn`t finish at least a close second to Mitt Romney in Delaware,
that he would have to, quote, "reassess" his campaign.

That led to some speculation that if the Delaware race is a blowout
for Mitt Romney tonight, we might see Newt Gingrich formally suspending his
campaign and effectively quitting the race this evening. Mr. Gingrich
spoke in the last hour. He did not quit the race. We`ll have more on his
Mr. Gingrich`s remarks tonight and his future in the race coming up in the
show.

Mr. Romney`s speech tonight, interestingly, is not taking place in any
of the states that were voting today. Mitt Romney was not speaking in New
York or Pennsylvania or Rhode Island or Connecticut or Delaware. And he`s
not doing what some other candidates have done this year, which is to not
give their speech in a state that has just voted, but instead give their
speech in a state that is about to have a primary soon in the next round of
voting.

Instead, Mitt Romney tonight is giving his speech in a state that
voted a long time ago, a state that has symbolic resonance because it is
where he launched his campaign for the presidency.

So, we`re not being confusing here, he`s not speaking tonight in the
place where he initially launched his candidacy back in 2008 when he
started running for president. When he ran in 2008, do you remember where
he launched his campaign? It was at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan,
right? They were trying to make it seem like Massachusetts wasn`t his home
state and Michigan was.

The drag about that was, the camera angle. Because the camera angle
made it look like Mitt Romney was in the movie "Northwest by Northwest" and
was running from a crop duster while he was masking his announcement. That
big prop plane with the propeller right behind him. Yes.

So Mr. Romney tonight is going back to where he announced his
presidential candidacy, but not where he announced it four years ago. He`s
going back tonight to the place where he announced he was running in this
year`s elections. So instead of going back to Michigan this time, he`s
going back to New Hampshire.

Now, in the New Hampshire announcement speech this year, they didn`t
have any sort of camera angle problems like they had with the crop duster
thing in 2008. The problem they had with the 2012 campaign launch was, do
you remember Sarah Palin`s clam bake, right? Back when people were
wondering if Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska might be running for president
this year? Governor Palin made sure she just happened to be in New
Hampshire for a clam bake on the same day that Mitt Romney was in New
Hampshire announcing his candidacy, totally upstaging him as you see on the
front page of "The New Hampshire Union Leader," stepping all over Mitt
Romney`s headlines that day.

And Mrs. Palin getting to New Hampshire that day wasn`t an accident.
It was no easy task. Her bus tour literally had to barrel through
tornadoes in Massachusetts in order to get her to New Hampshire on time to
big foot Mitt Romney. But there she was, just 20 minutes away from where
Mitt Romney was about to make the biggest announcement of his political
life, stealing all his political thunder.

So it`s not like the 2012 Mitt Romney for president launch went
perfectly smoothly this time around. But nevertheless, the Romney campaign
has decided tonight to return to the scene of the crime for this speech
tonight. And there`s no thematic or substantive connection between New
Hampshire and all of the places that voted tonight.

So, I think we are left to conclude that the New Hampshire choice for
tonight`s speech is supposed to have symbol resonance. Just as his
campaign win the Republican nomination this year, started in New Hampshire.
Now that he`s sort of taking care of winning the Republican nomination,
tonight in New Hampshire, he will start his campaign to win the general
election.

I think that is the emotional and symbolic residence behind Mitt
Romney speaking tonight in New Hampshire. Moments ago, Romney started that
beginning again speech in New Hampshire. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Thank you for that. Welcome and thank you, Pennsylvania,
Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And tonight I can also say thank you, America, because after
43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights,
I can say with confidence and gratitude that you have given me a great
honor and solemn responsibility, and together we are going to win on
November 6th.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: We launched this campaign not far from here. Beautiful day
in June on a farm in New Hampshire. It`s been an extraordinary journey.

You know, Americans have always been eternal optimists, but over the
last three and a half years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by
false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired
of being tired. And many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job
are working harder for less.

For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to
her kids that she needs to take a second job and won`t be home as often.
For grandparents who can`t afford the gas to visit their grandchildren
anymore. For the mom and dad who never thought they would be on food
stamps. For the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep
the doors open one more month, to all of the thousands of good and decent
Americans I`ve met who want nothing more than a better chance, fighting
chance.

To all of you I have a simple message: hold on a little longer. A
better America begins tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHANTING)

ROMNEY: Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every
American who knows in their heart that we can do better. The last few
years have been the best that Barack Obama can do. It`s not the best
America can do. Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments
of the Obama years.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And it`s the start of a new and better chapter that we will
write together. There`s already been a long campaign. But many Americans
are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country.

In the days ahead, I`ll look forward to spending time with many of you
personally. I want to hear what`s on your mind. Hear about your concerns.
I want to learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can
do to make this country better and what you expect from your next
president.

I`ll probably tell you a little bit about myself. I`ll start by
talking about my wife Ann, of course.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And I`ll probably bore you with stories of my sons and
grandkids. I`ll tell you how much I love the country -- this extraordinary
land where someone like my dad who grew up poor, never graduated from
college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car
company. Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the
state where he once sold paint from the trunk of his car. I`d say to you -
-

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: When I see you, I think I`ll tell you may have heard that I
was successful in business.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Yes, that rumor is true.

But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start
a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people. You might not
have heard that our business helped start other businesses like Staples and
the Sports Authority and the new steel mill and a new learning center
called Bright Horizons. And I`d tell you that not every business made it.
There were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson.

After 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama
economy and into a job creating recovery!

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek
columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down
to earth, after all the celebrations and the parades, what do we have to
show for 3 1/2 years of President Obama?

AUDIENCE: Nothing!

ROMNEY: Is it easier to make ends meet?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: Have you saved what you need for retirement?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: Are you making more at your job?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: Do you have a better chance of getting a job?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: Are you paying less at the pump?

AUDIENCE: No.

ROMNEY: If the answer were yes to those questions, then President
Obama would be running for re-election based on his record -- and rightly
so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and
distractions and distortions.

That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a
different time, but in the here and not now. It`s still about the economy.
And we`re not stupid.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: People are hurting in America. We know that something is
wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country. We know that this
election is about the kind of America we will live in and the kind of
America we`re going to leave to future generations.

Now, when it comes to the character of America, President Obama and I
have very different visions.

Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits,
borrows what it can`t take, consumes a greater and greater share of the
economy.

You know, with Obamacare fully installed, government would have
control of almost half of the economy, and we would have effectively ceased
to be a free enterprise society.

This president is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled
by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He`s asking us to accept
that Washington knows best and can provide all.

We have already seen where that path leads. It erodes freedom. It
deadens the entrepreneurial spirit and it hurts the very people it`s
supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever
succeed in spreading poverty around.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic
high unemployment, crushing debt and stagnant wages.

I have a very different vision for America and for our future. It`s
an America driven by freedom where free people pursuing happiness in their
own unique ways create free enterprises that employ more and more
Americans. And because there`s so many enterprises that are succeeding,
the competition for hard working, educated, skilled employees is intense,
so wages and salaries rise. I see an America with a growing middle class,
with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than
their parents -- some successful even beyond their wildest dreams and
others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for
it.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the
unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of
their choice.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer
money to their friends businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to
contribute to politicians not of their choosing.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting
better pay and benefits in the very taxpayers they serve.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: And we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing
larger and larger debts onto the next.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: In the America I see, character and choices matter -- and
education, hard work and living within our means are valued and rewarded,
and poverty will be defeated. Not with a government check, but with
respect and achievement that`s taught by parents, learned in school, and
practiced in the workplace.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: This is the America that was won for us by the nation`s
founders and earned for us by the greatest generation. It`s the America
that`s produced the most innovative, most productive and most powerful
economy in the world.

And as I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the
graduates who can`t get a job, the soldiers who return home to an
unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be. It`s the
result of failed leadership and a faulty vision.

We will restore the promises of America only if we restore the
principles of freedom and opportunity that made this nation the greatest
nation on earth.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: Today, the hill before us is a little steep. We`ve always
been a nation of big steppers. Many Americans have given up on this
president, but they haven`t ever thought of giving up not on themselves,
not on each other and certainly not on America.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: In the days ahead join me, join me in the next step toward
the destination of November 6th when across America, we can give a sigh of
relief and know that the promise of America has been kept.

The dreamers can dream a little bigger. The help wanted signs can be
dusted off and we can start again. This time, we`ll get it right.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: We will --

AUDIENCE: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.

ROMNEY: W will stop the days of apologizing for success at home and
never again apologize for America abroad.

(APPLAUSE)

ROMNEY: It was a time not so long ago, when each of us could walk a
little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no
one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something
different to each of us, but it meant something special to all of us. We
knew it without question, and so did the world. Those days are coming
back. That`s our destiny.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, Mitt!

ROMNEY: You see, we believe in America. We believe in ourselves.
Our greatest days are ahead. We are, after all, Americans!

God bless this great nation. God bless this United States of America
and God bless you good people. Thank you so much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: Mitt Romney speaking to a very rowdy crowd of his supporters
in New Hampshire just moments ago, having won Connecticut, Delaware,
Pennsylvania and Rhode Island primaries tonight.

Mr. Romney there declaring in effect the primary campaign over and
ending with a new assertion. There was a time not long ago when we could
walk a little taller and stand straighter because we were Americans. Mr.
Romney saying those days are not true now. He has a plan to bring them
back.

We`ll be back with reaction to Mr. Romney`s speech and what happened
on the other side of the campaign trail, President Obama`s events today.
We`ve also got Richard Clarke here for the interview tonight. Steve
Schmidt is here.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: With primaries tonight in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode
Island and Connecticut, all being wrapped up in Mitt Romney`s favor, polls
have closed in New York as of about 24 minutes ago. Mitt Romney just gave
a speech to a raucous crowd in New Hampshire. In none of the places that
were voting tonight, but in the place where he announced his campaign for
president this year.

Joining us now is Steve Schmidt, formerly John McCain`s presidential
senior strategist. He`s now a Republican strategist and an MSNBC political
analyst.

Steve, it`s always a pleasure to have you here. Thanks.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to see you, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, this speech, it`s hard to know on a primary night whether
a speech is just another speech, particularly when there`s no drama at all
about what`s going to happen in the primaries. But you think it was
significant for Romney.

SCHMIDT: It is significant because tonight Mitt Romney became the
presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.

MADDOW: Didn`t he become the nominee six months ago?

SCHMIDT: I think we all knew it was going to come. Today is the day
it happened.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHMIDT: He declared it. Everybody acknowledges it with the
exception of Newt Gingrich. He`s going to be the Republican nominee.

And I think this was by far his best speech that he`s given on any of
this primary nights. This was an economic speech aimed exactly to the
middle of the electorate. This has a message that has appeal in the middle
of the electorate. It`s a message that unites the entirety of the
Republican Party on these economic issues.

I thought he looked good tonight. And so, we`re going to have a tough
race. It`s going to be a close race.

You`re going to see this message, I think he previewed tonight, is
going to be the architecture of the campaign, he`s going to try to run
against the president.

MADDOW: Well, let me ask you about the unifying nature of this,
though. I mean, Mitt Romney, one of his early gaffes on the campaign trail
that actually did resonate with him saying, I don`t care about the very
poor. There`s safety net and if there`s problems, I`ll fix it, or
whatever. I don`t care about the very rich, they`ll be fine.

He said that. So, he`s got that on his plate. House Republicans just
voted to or in the process of eliminating tens of billions of dollars of
food stamps. Mitt Romney opens up his speech with talking about people on
food stamps -- single mothers working two jobs and seniors who can`t afford
gas. These are not the people he has been talking about and it`s not the
people who House Republicans have been trying to woo with policies that
have been demonizing people in that situation.

SCHMIDT: Look, House Republicans are a political anchor for him in
this race. They have very low, low approval numbers. He`s going to
distance himself from the congressional Republican brand.

You saw him do that yesterday with student loans, for example.

What you saw today is a speech outlining philosophically how do you
create prosperity in this country? How do you create opportunity? This is
the alternative version of the speech the president gave earlier in Topeka,
where he outlined a progressive vision about how to create prosperity.

We have big choices in this election. We have two fundamentally
different philosophies I think that are going to be put before the American
people with regard to the role, the proper role of government, how you
create prosperity in the country. I think you saw Mitt Romney tonight very
effectively preview his.

MADDOW: I totally disagree.

SCHMIDT: Which is shocking to me. No.

MADDOW: Mitt Romney, I mean, even if you just look at food stamps.
Even if you look at the student loan thing, he`s trying to run as the guy
that fully embraced that Paul Ryan Republican budget. Me and Paul Ryan is
going to be my guy. He ran an ad that made it look like Paul Ryan was
running and not him. Paul Ryan cuts food stamps, would allow interest
rates to double.

So, if there`s a clear distinction between the two sides here, the two
sides are both Mitt Romney. I mean, what`s his position on the stuff he`s
now front paging taking both sides?

SCHMIDT: Look, I think this country is careening down the path toward
a debt crisis. Paul Ryan`s plan, whether you agree with it, whether you
disagree with it, is an intellectually serious attempt --

MADDOW: To massively balloon the deficit?

SCHMIDT: -- to deal with country`s debt problems.

So, Mitt Romney, as a political matter, you will see him walk back
from elements of the Ryan budget over the course of the next couple of
months. You know, look, what he outlined tonight I think is a big
philosophical disagreement. What he`s saying it`s not the job of federal
government of the United States to decide who gets what piece of an ever
shrinking pie, that a rising tide lifts all boats. We`re all in this
together. That everybody benefits from economic growth and the policies of
the last four years haven`t worked.

And I think that rhetorically in this speech, I think it was his best
effort on any of these primary nights. I think you see the preview of an
economic argument that I think could well make him the president of the
United States.

MADDOW: I agree with you that this was a rhetorically powerful
speech. I agree with you that that vision, that economic vision would be
the kind of contrast, big credible positive contrast of visions. I think
that is your vision for what you`d like to hear the Republicans say.

It`s not what Mitt Romney said at all tonight. I think him coming out
and saying I`m the food stamps guy, I`m the guy who`s going to hook you up
-- if you`re on food stamps and you never thought you would be, then I`m
your guy, I think it`s amazing for him to also be the Paul Ryan budget guy.

SCHMIDT: I think what he is talking about is how we grow the economy
and create opportunity. I think he began to outline the contours of that
economic message tonight. So, listen, it`s obvious we have disagreements
on it. I think there`s big differences in the vision about how to create
prosperity and economic opportunity in the country, I think he outlined
that speech tonight.

MADDOW: You`re hearing it, but he`s not saying it. It`s great to
have you, man. Good to see you. Steve Schmidt, senior strategist for the
McCain-Palin 2008.

And we have news, NBC News is projecting that Mitt Romney wins the GOP
primary in the great state of New York. Shocking. I know.

Lots more to come including latest primary election results. Richard
Clarke is here for the interview. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t want this to be
a country where a shrinking number of Americans are doing real well but a
growing number of people are struggling to get by. That`s not my idea of
America.

I want this forever to be a country where everybody gets a fair shot
and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the
same set of rules.

This country has always made a commitment to put a good education
within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That`s what makes
us special. That`s what made us an economic super power. That`s what kept
us at the forefront of business and science and technology and medicine,
and that`s a commitment we have to reaffirm today in 2012.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was President Obama speaking today at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill. North Carolina, of course, hugely important
for Democrats in 2012, and for this president in particular. When then-
Senator Obama beat Senator John McCain there in 2008, that was the first
time a Democrat had carried North Carolina in a presidential election since
Jimmy Carter back in 1976.

And the Obama-Biden campaign fought very hard for every vote they got
in North Carolina in 2008. In fact, you remember the night before the
election in 2008, the night before the election Barack Obama was in North
Carolina, it was an outdoor speech in the rain, you may remember that Mr.
Obama`s grandmother who raised him had just passed away that morning.

And he addressed North Carolinians with tears in his eyes that night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: After 21 months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky
coasts of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one day away from
changing America. One day. Tomorrow at this defining moment in history,
you can give this country the change that we need. You can do this right
here in North Carolina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was the night before the election in 2008. The next
day, Barack Obama won the state of North Carolina -- first Democrat to do
it since the `70s. Then he won the presidential election.

This year, it will be more difficult for Democrats to win North
Carolina. After going blue in 2008, the state of North Carolina swung
deeply red in 2010. And the political consensus in the Beltway now is that
it will be difficult for Democrats to win there in 2012 this time around.

Politico.com pointing out that 40,000 young Democrats who are
registered to vote in 2008 have since fallen off the state`s voter rolls.

But Democrats are trying hard to keep the state in play. With
President Obama`s speech there today, with the Democratic convention
scheduled in North Carolina, the first week of September, and, frankly,
with this big push your younger voters which they need in North Carolina
and everywhere, I mean, the Obama campaign is eager to run on the fact that
health reform means that young adults can stay on their parent`s health
insurance until they are 26. That means that millions of young people who
didn`t have health coverage before can have it now -- thanks to an Obama
policy that Mitt Romney plans to get rid of.

The Obama campaign seems eager to run against Republicans trying to
make it harder all over the country for college students to be able to
vote. They are eager to run on having reform student loans. Having gotten
rid of the totally inexplicable system where banks were a middleman in
guaranteed student loans. So, that meant that Wall Street got a guaranteed
taxpayer provided multibillion dollar profit for providing no service to
students? The Obama administration got rid of that banks in the middle
thing. They saved tens of billions of dollars and put that money toward
actual students instead.

So Democrats have their case to younger voters and to college
students. They have their pitch to make and Republicans have theirs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I joke and I don`t mean to be flip with this, but I --
because I actually see truth in it. I don`t see how a young American can
vote for -- well, can vote for a Democrat. I mean, I apologize for being
so offensive but I catch your attention. But I mean that -- in the humor,
I mean there`s some truth there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: OK. Test time. Beyond the stylistic vote for me stuff,
there`s something specific on which Washington has to make a decision right
now that applies to this political point. There`s something that`s going
to make an immediate difference in the lives of millions of young people
right away -- something on which a decision has to be made. Got to pick a
side.

You want to see somebody emphatically refusing to pick a side,
somebody emphatically refusing to make a decision on this? This was
amazing.

This was Chuck Todd this morning here on MSNBC with Republican
Congressman Connie Mack of Florida. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Mitt Romney and President Obama are both
endorsing essentially this plan that would not allow student loan interest
rates to double by the summer. Where are you on this?

REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: Well, look, I think what`s happening
in the state of Florida, if you don`t mind, Chuck, I want to talk about
what`s happening here in the state of Florida.

TODD: No, I understand that. This is a vote you`re going to have to
make in Congress.

MACK: Wait, wait. But what I`m telling you is that in the state of
Florida, during this Senate campaign, people are concerned about their home
and jobs.

TODD: You got to cast a vote on this issue about student loans. What
vote are you going to cast?

MACK: Well, we`ll take it when the vote comes up. We`ll cast that
vote. I`m telling you people that are watching, if they`re in Florida,
what they`re concerned is about jobs and the economy, and how we`re going
to balance a budget with a $16 trillion debt and a $1.4 trillion deficit.

This is what -- Chuck, this is what people are talking about.

TODD: You don`t think anything is concerned with student loan
interest rate?

MACK: We will absolutely be able to cast a vote and when that
happens, we`ll be happy to do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: But what will your happy vote be? Avoid the question much.
Republicans do have a position on this. In 2007, student loan rates got
cut this half. It was a five-year bill that did that. The five years is
up as of this summer. So, if that doesn`t get extended, everybody student
loan rates will pop back up to where they were before. They`re going to
double.

Should everybody`s student loan rates double or shouldn`t they? You
have to pick a side on this. The Republican position has been that
everybody`s student loan rates should double.

The House Republican Paul Ryan budget which Mitt Romney has signed
onto would allow the student loan rate to double. And that is not great
way to get students to vote for you, which the Democrats seem to understand
very well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: One Republican congresswoman said she had very little
tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there`s no
reason for that. I`m just quoting here. I`m just quoting.

She said -- she said students who rack up student loan debt are just
sitting on their butts having opportunity dumped in your lap. I`m reading
it here. I didn`t make this up.

Now, can you imagine saying something like that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Somebody the audience, according to the transcript, somebody
yelled out at President Obama that they trusted him when he said he was
quoting there.

If you don`t trust him and you want to know what he was quoting from,
this is what the president was referring to.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R), NORTH CAROLINA: You know, I have very little
tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt
or even $80,000 of debt because there`s no reason for that. I remind folks
all the time that the Declaration of Independence says, "Life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness." You don`t sit on your butt and have it dumped
in your lap.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North
Carolina. There was President Obama today in her North Carolina backyard
pointing out that`s what she thinks of you if you have student loan debt --
sitting on your butt and having opportunity dumped in your lap.

But as the Democrats try to win North Carolina again, as they try to
win young voters again as a means to that end, as Mitt Romney returns to
New Hampshire to try to start the campaign over again, what the media has
to decide and what voters have to decide and in what voters who care about
policy are going to have to decide is what the real choice is here because
before now, Mitt Romney was signed on to the Paul Ryan plan, right? Paul
Ryan plan would decimate food stamps.

Tonight in his big speech, he gave his big starting the general
election speech as if he`s the candidate of moms and dads who never thought
they would be on food stamps. You`re either the guy that wants to cut food
stamps dramatically, or you`re the candidate of people on food stamps.

Even if you just look at the specific issue of student loans, before
now, Mitt Romney was with the Republicans, right? He was signed on to the
Paul Ryan budget. He wanted everybody`s student loan rates to double this
summer. This has been his position through the primaries. Anybody picking
him in the primaries was picking that policy position, because Mitt Romney
said that was his policy position.

So, if you vote for Mitt Romney, is that in fact the policy you would
be voting for? Doubling student loan rates -- that`s where he says he`s
been all along. Would you be voting for that or would you be voting for
this new guy who is the guy running for office this week?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on
student loans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Oh, you do now. You do now. Oh, really, is the general
election, I guess. New week, new policy. Which policy are you going to
get if you actually elect this guy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Tonight, the Republican primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware,
Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York have been decided in favor of the de
facto Republican nominee now, Mitt Romney. It was thought that Newt
Gingrich`s best shot at any of these states might be in the state of
Delaware.

These are the results that we got from Delaware at this hour. 98
percent of precincts reporting Mr. Gingrich trailing Mr. Romney by 30
points. It was thought that Mr. Gingrich has said if he could avoid a blow
out in Delaware, that that might be his best justification for staying in
the race.

We`ll have to see now what Mr. Gingrich decides to do. We`ll keep you
posted as we get further info. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: As gas prices stay high, both political parties here in the
United States continue to blame each other. Democrats say oil companies
shouldn`t be getting tax subsidies and that financiers who speculate on oil
prices in some cases are manipulating the market for their own benefit.

Republicans, on the other hand, say that Democrats could be using some
magic wand to bring gas prices down, but the Democrats don`t want to do
that, because communism, or something. Birth certificate.

But in the real world of extracting oil from the ground and selling it
on the international market, something really interesting has just
happened. The number one oil exporter in the Middle East is, of course,
Saudi Arabia. The number two oil exporter in the Middle East and third in
the world is -- Iran. And 90 percent of the oil that Iran exports comes
through this place. This is Kharg Island. It`s off the coast of Iran, way
out in the Persian Gulf. Ninety percent of Iran`s oil exports go through
the oil terminal on Kharg Island.

And the oil terminal on Kharg Island has reportedly just been hit with
a devastating computer virus. "Agence France Presse" reporting that over
this past weekend, Kharg and Iran`s other oil facilities have had the plug
pulled. They`ve had to be totally disconnected from the Internet since the
attack.

Although no official Iranian media is confirming it, the Web sites of
the Iranian oil ministry and the national oil company were reportedly down
for hours and an oil ministry spokesperson has been quoted as saying that
the virus wiped important data off of servers.

Iran has reportedly set up a crisis committee to confront the problem
of this virus. A civil defense official describing this virus as a cyber
attack.

Iran, of course, is under intense international pressure because of
its nuclear program, which Iran insists is just for nuclear program, and
which the rest of the world insists is for nuclear bombs. To pressure
Iran, the international community has been employing every bit of leverage
that other countries have against the Islamic republic, particularly on
economic matters.

Iran is almost wholly economically independent on its ability to sell
oil internationally. Sanctions this year have focused on getting even more
countries to refuse to buy Iran`s oil. But are Western efforts to stop
Iran from selling its oil also now taking the form of actually shutting
down Iran`s technical ability to do that?

And if so, an act of force like that, is that war? Is that a kind of
war? And if the West is waging that kind of war now, also with the Stuxnet
worm that attacked Iran`s nuclear centrifuges a couple of years ago, and
conceivably what just happened this past weekend at Kharg Island, if the
West is waging that kind of war now, does that mean we should expect that
kind of war to be waged against the West as well?

Joining us now for the interview is Richard Clarke. He was the
nation`s first special adviser to the president for cyber security. He`s
also the nation`s former counterterrorism chief. He`s now chairman of Good
Harbor Consulting. His book, "Cyber War: The Next Threat to National
Security and What To Do About It" is just out in paperback and it`s great.

Richard Clarke, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being here.

RICHARD CLARKE, GOOD HARBOR CONSULTING: Good to be back.

MADDOW: Thinking about that Iranian oil terminal, thinking about
Stuxnet, is cyber war a way that countries are waging war with each other
now?

CLARKE: I think it`s certainly a way that the United States is
attacking Iran. You could call it cyber war, which I did, or you could do
what I think people in Washington do and call it covert action. It`s not
really important whether we call it a war or not.

It`s true that the United States and probably Israel are engaged in
cyber activities against Iran. And what happened on Kharg probably was
either the United States or Israel attacking the digital control systems of
the refinery. Just as people could do that to our refineries.

And this is the concern. We have kind of crossed the Rubicon. We`ve
made it OK by doing it. We destroyed a thousand centrifuges in Iran
through a cyber attack. But then the software that we used, 50,000 lines
of code, very complicated attack escaped into cyberspace. And people
downloaded it all over the world.

So people now know how to do it. Not just nation states, but hackers
have these 50,000 lines of code. And yes, it`s entirely possible people
will attack us. Nation states, terrorist groups, individual hackers.

And this is what the debate in Congress is about this week. Where
there`s a bipartisan bill in the Senate to do something about improving the
standards of protection, for power plants, for oil refineries, for things
that they call critical infrastructure.

And the Chamber of Commerce and the Republicans in the House are
opposing creating standards of protection, because they say it`s
regulation.

This is an example, Rachel, of knee-jerk right-wing ideology getting
in the way solving real problems.

MADDOW: Is this type of offense and defense something about which we
should think of ourselves as having the same kind of advantage militarily
that we have in traditional military means?

I mean, the United States spending almost as much as the rest of the
world combined on traditional military resources. We think of ourselves as
having an almost unbeatable military capacity, despite all of the things
that we`ve been involved in, right? Do we have that kind of advantage when
it comes to this kind of war?

CLARKE: No, we don`t. And you know, we`re both Red Sox fans, so let
me make the analogy. What if -- it`s not true this year -- but what if the
Red Sox had a killer lineup of hitters that could just slug it over the
green monster, but had no bull pen?

That`s kind of where we are. We have a tremendous offensive
capability, as the United States military and intelligence community. We
cannot defend this country today.

And so, we are having cyber attacks every day that succeed. They
don`t destroy things, they steal things. There`s a massive transfer of
intellectual property, of research and development, massive transfer from
American companies and government labs to China.

And the government is doing nothing to stop it largely because the
Congress won`t set up laws and regulations that allow the government to
defend the United States.

MADDOW: Richard Clarke, the book is "Cyber War: The Next Threat to
National Security and What To Do About It." It`s just out in paperback.
It was a "New York Times" best seller in hardback.

And we were talking before the break here, this is something that has
changed the discussion both in policy making circles and those of us that
are just interested in national security. Congratulations on the success
of this so far. Nice to see you again.

CLARKE: Congratulations on your success too with your book. It`s a
great book.

MADDOW: Thanks very much. I appreciate it.

All right. We will be right back. Now, I`m blushing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Another presidential primary night, the biggest day of voting
since Super Tuesday, and it turns out one of the least surprising five-for-
five clean sweeps in the history of the groups of five. NBC declaring Mitt
Romney the projected winner in the state of New York tonight, in the
commonwealth of Pennsylvania, once a must-win for Rick Santorum. Tonight,
it was won by Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney also the projected winner in
Connecticut, as well as in the great state of Rhode Island.

And finally, in the first state of Delaware, former House Speaker Newt
Gingrich having staked the future of his campaign on a win or a close
second there. He did not get it.

Five states, five wins tonight for Mitt Romney, the presumptive
Republican nominee.

Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
great night. Thanks for being with us tonight.

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

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