updated 11/3/2004 2:16:31 PM ET 2004-11-03T19:16:31

Guest: Harold Ford, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Tucker Eskew, Ron Silver

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Let’s go right now to a call we have to make in the state—the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.  There it is. 

Arlen Specter, a professional, if there ever was one, with union, big labor support, has been declared the reelected veteran senator of Pennsylvania.  Joe Hoeffel fighting a very heroic campaign there, staying in to run -- 80 percent of the vote in, he’s got 44 percent, very impressive fight by Joe Hoeffel, but not successful.  Arlen Specter, as always, certainly in the last quarter-century, has won again. 

Let me go right now to Lester Holt, who is going to give us a sense, hopefully, of why it’s taking so long in some of these states—Lester.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, let’s talk about Florida, for example, the presidential contest. 

We may not get a call.  Our decision desk says they may not make a call on that tonight.  The reason?  Absentee ballots.  You’ve seen a lot of the vote in, in Florida, but a lot of absentee ballots still uncounted.  And the sense is, a lot of those may be coming from heavily Democratic areas.  Thus, we’re not prepared to make a call at the decision desk at this time. 

Ohio, we talked about that a bit earlier.  That was a situation where our decision desk was looking at two distinct models, one that favored a George Bush victory, the other that favored a Senator Kerry victory right now.  That’s another race that we continue to watch, Ohio. 

We’ve also been taking a look in the Kentucky Senate race.  Jim Bunning, the Republican incumbent, slight lead, but very, very close, 99 percent of the vote in.  That’s another call that we continue to wait because it’s so close.  That’s what we’ve got right now, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

What do you think sitting there, Lester, about the evening as we’re progressing it?  Some of the people are making bedtime plans right now.  Do you think they should get ready to go to bed and get up at 4:00 in the morning or stick with this thing? 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Any word about Wisconsin, for example, those kinds of states? 

HOLT:  No, I don’t have that information right now.

But, as far as Florida and Ohio, Ohio has been a difficult one all night.  And I don’t think there’s any surprise here, Chris.  I think a lot of us thought we would be right in this position right now watching Ohio very carefully.  People still voting there right now.  And then to be faced with two models that tell opposite stories, it’s going to be a long night.  This may be one where you would have to wake up in the morning and see what happened. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Lester Holt, thank you very much.

That’s an interesting report, because it explains the delay.  And I like to see that, especially those two models.  Does somebody want to explain that a little bit, two theories of the numbers and what they mean?  I guess that’s what it is. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, and they have got two computer models.  And they are estimating votes. 

They don’t have all the broad vote in and what they are doing is estimating what the final vote will be based on exit polls.  And there is clearly a disagreement among the experts about how to frame those models, how many women will be voting vs. how many men, how many young people vs.  how many old. 

You know, Pat Buchanan made a really good point, that John Kerry, depending on what happens in Ohio, No. 1, but depending on what happens in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Iowa, still is in this game.  This is a close race, still being tightly fought.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  And right now, George Bush has defended successfully his red states.  We have to see whether or not Kerry can still get one of those red states and turn it blue. 

RON REAGAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  The Republicans only had to hold serve here.  And they wouldn’t win by just a few, or, what was it, three electoral votes last time.  Because of demographic shifts, they would actually pick up. 

Kerry has to win a red state.  He has to win a red state.  And the question here is, who is going to poach a state from the other guy? 

DEE DEE MYERS, NBC ANALYST:  And he might have to win more than one, depending...

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MYERS:  Because he needs to pick...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  Nevada won’t do it alone. 

MYERS:  Exactly. 

MITCHELL:  If he loses Ohio. 

MYERS:  If he loses Ohio.  Exactly. 

MATTHEWS:  So he has to win New Hampshire.

REAGAN:  He has to win New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS:  He has to hold Pennsylvania, which he’s done. 

Doesn’t he have to pick up Ohio, to be blunt about it? 

MYERS:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  In reality, he does.  Theoretically, he would win Nevada and Iowa and Wisconsin and everything else, basically run the board and come up with...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Hold that thought, Dee.

MYERS:  I think it’s 269.

REAGAN:  Yes.  But then we’ve the tie.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We’ve got a presidential call. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go right now to a new call. 

Oregon, Kerry, the projected winner in the state of Oregon, one of the outside battleground state s in the long list of battleground states. 

Oregon, he’s a won a state that Al Gore won last time, another blue state -

·         there it is, filling it in out there, balancing out the numbers.  It’s certainly turned on the crowd behind us. 

Look at this crowd.  Look at this.  This is one of the historic campaigns for president.  This is going to be going down in the history books as a close one so far. 

I want to start with Ron, Ron Silver, who has been on all over the place, especially at the Republican Convention. 

You got to speak there, Ron.  It was a hell of a speech, by the way.

RON SILVER, ACTOR:  Thank you. 

MATTHEWS:  For a newcomer to this political business, a very impressive speech. 

Why do you think—now, I know this is tough because you’ve supported the president—most reelection campaigns, either the guy says, I can’t win and I’m not running, like Harry Truman or Lyndon Johnson.  They try to run for reelection, they get their keister handed to them like Jimmy Carter or George Sr., George Bush Sr., or they win triumphant reelection.  This one seems to be outside of any of those lists. 

SILVER:  Yes., because I think it’s unprecedented what happened to us on 9/11.

And all the punditry and all the historical precedents are kind of out the window.  When you look at some of these polls, he rates on the war on terror 85 to 15, on moral values, 85 to 15.  But, in Iraq, the numbers are flipped.  So I think it’s kind of unprecedented, the situation we’re in.  Also, the polarization of the electorate, I think you have, particularly with these exit polls, is a lot of people lying to people. 

You can be in a certain profession and you can be of a certain ethnicity and you can be in a certain family, when it’s much easier to vote for George Bush and walk out of the booth and tell your children, your friends, your family, and your colleagues, that you voted for Kerry.  So I think these numbers are very suspect. 

In terms of the Jewish vote, I think you’ll see 19 percent go to at least an admitted 25 to 30 percent, which will make a difference, particularly in Florida.  Apropos of your Southern remark before, I think John Kerry made a tremendous mistake when he laid out a strategy for winning this election without winning one Southern state. 

He more or less wrote them off and he told the country how I can win it without you.  Also, Jack Kennedy, when he dealt with the South, it was a different Democratic Party down South, not simply a different personality.  So I think, for a variety of reasons, this election is kind of sui generis.

PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Chris, could I say a word about Karl Rove, in his defense?

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  What Karl Rove did and what the president did, it doesn’t look like they are going to win Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, but what they did is, they put those blue states in play.  They imperiled them, so that Kerry had to go back and defend his imperiled terrain, leaving the president’s red-state base basically unchallenged, except for Ohio and Florida. 

So even if he doesn’t win those states, if he wins this election, he’s forced Edwards and Kerry to defend their blue-state base, and it was a successful strategy. 

MATTHEWS:  I’m just talking about a couple of states—Pat, this is history, not conjecture.

BUCHANAN:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  That Karl Rove had the president take more than 40 visits to Pennsylvania. 

BUCHANAN:  Oh, listen...

MATTHEWS:  He picked Tom Ridge as his homeland security secretary.  He picked Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin as his HHS secretary and made many trips up there.  In those particular salience, they were like Robert E.  Lee.  They didn’t work, right?  We’ll have to see about Wisconsin. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  It appears that Pennsylvania, really, it appears the president should have spent more time in Michigan from the numbers, Chris, where they didn’t spend much time.

And in Pennsylvania, it might be that Pennsylvania was like Al Gore’s Ohio for George Bush, you know, where he put in—excuse me, but Michigan is more like it, where the president didn’t put in the time and, if he had, he could have pick up those votes and forgotten the 44 trips to Pennsylvania. 

MATTHEWS:  Pat, let me ask you a question about traditional voting patterns.  The history of our—you and my memory goes back, but we can’t remember when it wasn’t a truism, that the bigger the vote, the better the Democratic chances. 

Look at Florida, one million more votes cast today than the last time and yet the results look so far more pronouncedly Republican. 

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

But, Chris, let me talk about—I was astonished.  We have all reporters and things.  They’re down in Broward County and Palm Beach County and Dade County.  And they are looking at all these lines and you hear it’s four hours of wait.  Look, that’s where the Democratic vote is, and I think we should have some of those cameras, excuse me, over there in the Panhandle, in Central Florida, over on the West Coast, where a lot of those retirees are Catholic folks over there.

And so I think there has been an awful lot of emphasis on youth vote and things that are naturally going to go Democratic.  And the exit polls, Chris, from what we have found today, there was a demoralization.  You saw it on the president’s face and everything.  Somebody has got to figure out what was wrong with these exit polls that looked like John Kerry was going to have a sweep tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, well, I still am prohibited from telling talking about those exit polls.  But I agree with you.  They were more—maybe not a revelatory as they might have been—Dee Dee.

MYERS:  Well, clearly, I think we’re going to have a lot of postmortem about the exit polls and what went wrong.  It’s going to be the equivalent of the VNS sort of dissection from four years ago.

But there was something else, because President Bush’s face at—when he vote in Crawford this morning was before there were any exit polls.  There was something in the Bush camp certainly that reinforced the feeling among the Democrats that this thing was trending toward Kerry. 

MATTHEWS:  That was their own polling.

Well, I think that’s the question.  I think that we’re going to be going through this.  Andrea has been through this before, and I have.  And I want to ask about—I want to get back to Ron Silver again, because he’s so good on this thing. 

You know, you think a lot of people don’t tell pollsters the truth. 

SILVER:  I know they don’t.  I know it for a fact.  If it wasn’t, you know, a breech of confidence, I know a lot of people in my professions that are voting for the president, and they have contributed to John Kerry’s campaign, and they are out on the campaign trail for him.  I know people...

MATTHEWS:  You think show business is intolerant of Republicans? 

SILVER:  I think there is a general intolerance on the part of the left in general now, that precludes conversation, in many, many areas. 

It’s very interesting.  I come from a community that applauds diversity and pluralism and tolerance.  But it’s impossible to have a conversation if you don’t have a uniform opinion.  And I think that’s something that needs to be looked at.

Should the Democrats lose the presidency tonight, there is going to be a lot of bloodletting and there’s going to be a fight for this party, because a lot of people, the Howard Deans, Kuciniches, the Michael Moore faction of the party...

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SILVER:  ... have zipped it up because they want to beat this president so badly.  But starting tomorrow, or the day after, should John Kerry not prevail, there is going to be an interesting fight going on in that party. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the great thing talking to you, Ron, is, you’re so damn blunt about your politics.  I love to hear it, because so many people are nuanced and you are so clear. 

By the way, you tell me there’s no lawn signs for the president in Beverly Hills.  I love it. 

Anyway, let’s go to Montana right now.  We’ve got a call there.  The president of the United States is the projected winner in the state of Montana.  These states are falling into line, folks. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”:  Hey, Chris, I...

MATTHEWS:  They’re falling into the traditional pattern of last time around.  Look at this map. 

REAGAN:  Balkanized.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  It’s a pod.  It’s a reproduction.  It’s a cloning of last time around. 

I wanted to follow up on what Ron Silver said, because I had several pollsters say to it me privately and also come on my show and tell me that, you know how sometimes if you have an African-American run in a suburban area...

MATTHEWS:  Doug Wilder.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  They will always say, yes, I’m voting for the African-American.

MATTHEWS:  Sure.  Race doesn’t matter.

SCARBOROUGH:  And then, of course, they underperform. 

I had more than two or three pollsters say they expected that to happen to George W. Bush this year.  And Ron Silver is exactly right.  People were actually embarrassed to tell the pollster that they were going to vote for George W. Bush.  But I had people saying, expect him to possibly underperform by two or three points.  And I think Ron is right. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we’ll see when we go through the analysis.  But even then, you’ve got to wonder won’t people—and as Ron suggests, I don’t doubt this for a minute.

And I have always thought that if the pollster who called up had a sort of a country accent, maybe a NASCAR dad accent, you would have a different reaction.  If you call with perfect King’s English, oh, how are you intending to vote in the next—are you voting for Mr. Frank Rizzo or the good man running?  And you’re going to get a certain reaction, right?  That’s what I always thought. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and Pat Buchanan also talked about the focus, where we in the media focus.  We focus in Palm Beach County.  We focus on long lines in urban areas, instead, I will guarantee you, from what I understand, in Pensacola, Florida, at least an hour ago, there was still a precinct where there were 400 people waiting in line singing “God Bless America,” believing that it was their God-given the right to stand there until hell froze over to vote for George W. Bush. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So there is this intensity on both sides and sometimes we in the media, I think, have a tendency to underreport the intensity on the red state side. 

MATTHEWS:  I think we have a question now.  Those likely voters we have been watching now for months now, maybe we have to have a poll question, likely to tell the truth to pollsters, because I’m not sure we have an answer here. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because this Florida vote, by the way, based upon expectations, is a lot more favorable to the president so far, isn’t it? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my gosh.

(CROSSTALK) 

MITCHELL:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, 300,000. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

REAGAN:  Oh, I would say that Bush is going the take Florida.  That’s just my guess.  But pretty soon, we’ll end up seeing it called for Bush. 

MYERS:  But I will say until the—Bush was consistently ahead through most of the campaign.  And I think it was only in the end that it sort of tightened up and gave Democrats more hope.

But I was just going back—and maybe you’re a better person to answer this, but don’t—Republicans have been sort of re discouraged from talking to pollsters.  I think there is something in the culture of conservatives and Republicans that says don’t even answer the questions when you walk out of the—because I don’t—that’s none of your business and I’m not going to talk to you. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I can understand that point of view.  Why had a private ballot?  They had a machine they’re allowed to vote secretly in and you’re telling me to give away my secret. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I’m not going to do it.

Let’s take a look now.  This is going to be one of the—if you are dispassionate enough to enjoy this, this is—and not many people are, but let’s try it anyway.  This is the election of last year, of four years ago.  Let’s look at it.  Doesn’t it look interesting?

And you see it’s contiguous, by the way.  I used to say that Al Gore could have won the presidency by winning New Hampshire and flown all the way from Andrews Air Force Base all the way across the country without bumping into a state he carried.  Now, look at it tonight.  Now, it’s morphed into basically the same product, the same developed picture of America, culturally conservative and culturally liberal. 

And that’s—it’s so interesting, because a lot of people who live in that red part look upon the bicoastal folks from L.A. to New York as people looking down on them. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Right, Ron?  Tell me about that, because they think it’s flyover country.

REAGAN:  They do think it’s flyover.

We’ve talked a lot about 9/11 and we’ve talked a lot about these sort of cultural issues.  And I think there’s a place where they intersect;

9/11, obviously, had a great impact on everybody and most people are concerned about security and terror attacks and that sort of thing.

But I think, particularly with men, it was a transformative moment, because a lot of men in modern American society, like everybody else, sit around in cubicles all day and don’t feel particularly manly.  And 9/11 gave them a chance to feel like they were part of something not only larger than themselves, but larger in a marshal kind of way. 

MATTHEWS:  How so?

REAGAN:  I’m a man.  We’re going to fight the terrorists.  I’m part of this now.  Ron Silver, I think, is a good example of that. 

MATTHEWS:  Are you picking a fight with Ron Silver? 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  No, no, no, but you know that Ron Silver’s big issue is Iraq and the war on terror. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

REAGAN:  On social issues, he’ll admit frankly environment and things, he’s over on my end...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Could this not be a rational reaction to being attacked?

REAGAN:  I don’t think—it’s not irrational, but, you know...

MATTHEWS:  I mean rational.  Couldn’t it be rational? 

REAGAN:  Well, I don’t know that—the thing I’m talking about is rational, but it is psychological. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Let’s talk about a huge issue.  And it’s a huge issue not only in this election, not only for the reason why Democrats can’t crack the Southeast, but also why Europeans don’t like this president. 

And it comes down to faith.  John Kerry never understood that you had to do more than just say that you were an altar boy growing up.  Faith plays such an extraordinarily important role between New Jersey and Nevada, and the numbers show it.  I mean, you look at the polling numbers and break it down.  That’s one of the reasons also why Europeans don’t like this president.  He’s a man driven by faith.  It’s why also, what helps driver voters in the red states to the polls for him. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That’s tricky territory.  I may disagree and other might.

But let’s move on.  I want to go to Tucker Eskew of the Bush campaign.  When we come back from this commercial, we’re going to right to the Bush campaign for an update from the president’s point of view. 

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) )

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER:  Karl Rove came into the Roosevelt Room, where the senior staff had gathered, and he said, we’re going to win Florida.  And we have. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

HUGHES:  And then he said, I think we’re going to win Ohio, and we will. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

HUGHES:  We’re going to win because we have a terrific leader, someone we can all be proud to call our president. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

HUGHES:  And I know that he would want me to say thank you to each one of you, because we also have terrific supporters.  It was really heartwarming today.  We stopped in Ohio...

MATTHEWS:  That’s Karen Hughes, of course, a very close adviser to the president.  We wanted you to hear this.  It’s a hot bit of the night.

HUGHES:  ... where the volunteers there had made 1.1 million calls in the last three or four days. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

HUGHES:  And I know many of you and many of our supporters around the country have done the same thing.  And the president would want me to tell you how grateful he is for all your help, for all your hard work, and I hope later tonight he’ll be able to come over here and tell you thank you himself. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

HUGHES:  Thank you all so much.  It’s great to see Florida in that win column.  I tell you, as somebody who lived through those 36 days last time, it’s nice to have it in President Bush’s column. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go to commercial right now.  We’ll come right back with Bush spokesman Tucker Eskew.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We’ve been calling here at MSNBC.

And the state of Colorado now is coming up.  We’re going to make a call right there.  Here it comes.  We’re calling it for President Bush, the projected winner in the state of Colorado.  That was a disputed state.  Although it’s a red state from last time, it was in dispute.  It was a hopeful state for the people supporting John Kerry. 

Let’s go right now to Carter (sic) Eskew to give us a sense of—he’s a big man in the Bush campaign on our show an awful lot.  And we appreciate him.  Let’s go to Tucker Eskew right now.

Tucker, let me ask you about your sense of the map, as it’s like a Polaroid film that’s developing right now and it is beginning to look a lot like 2000.  What do you think will be the differences? 

TUCKER ESKEW, BUSH CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER:  Well, we’re not quite ready to shake it like a Polaroid, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

ESKEW:  But it feels good around here.  It feels like—the differences this year? 

Well, the differences are, you look in the state of Florida, for example, and go from Palm Beach up north and you see county after county where we’ve outperformed our numbers and really outperformed our own goals for this year.  You look at some of what’s happening in Ohio, and you see us outperforming.  You see us moving up with Catholics in Wisconsin.  You see us moving up with Hispanics in Florida.  So, yes, I say we’ve outperformed ourselves. 

It’s been a tough and still remains obviously a tough fight all the way.  But we’ve done something outside the view of a lot of people.  You were talking earlier about what happened.  Did this go on beneath radar or beneath the planes over flyover country?  I just think we’re seeing something real about America that is just not always tapped into by our 24/7 media culture. 

That’s not a shot at the media.  It’s just a fact of life. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Just to correct you, Tucker, what I was talking about is the sense of people, that people have in the middle of the country that the people flying over them may sense a sense of superiority over those people.

(CROSSTALK)

ESKEW:  Oh, no, no, no.  Chris, I understand you.

MATTHEWS:  That was what—I wasn’t talking about not understanding. 

What I want to know from you now, since we’re on the aggressive here, let me ask you, Tucker, seriously, the president spent a lot of time in Pennsylvania, more than 40 trips up there.  Why no-go?  The same in Wisconsin.  Or are you hopeful about Wisconsin tonight? 

ESKEW:  Still hopeful about Wisconsin, still looking closely at Iowa and particularly New Mexico, Chris.  And I think Pennsylvania is an example of a political strategy that made the other side put a lot of resources in on defense.  It’s true.  It hasn’t gone our way. 

And if I can take just a moment, Chris, I agree with you. 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

ESKEW:  I understand exactly what you meant about flyover country and, in fact, was sort of are elaborating on that point.  I think there is just a way sometimes for all of us who are so close to it to sometimes not see what’s developing out there.

And President Bush taps into something real with people.  He’s developed a bond with most Americans.  And those bonds aren’t built on just doing what’s popular, so he doesn’t enjoy 70, 80 percent approval rating consistently across this whole term.  But those bonds are real.  And it’s because he wears his heart on his sleeve.  People think they know him and they do.  And he has a good sense of himself without being selfish.  Those are I think the qualities that are helping us tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Let’s flip this around and I’ll ask you a question which may not have an answer.  Why is the president unsuccessful as a candidate for reelection to the presidency of the United States, unable to tap into the hearts of people who live on the coasts, the Californians, the New Yorkers, the New Englanders, the Easterners, the far Westerners?  Why can’t he win those states? 

ESKEW:  Well, we are deeply divided. 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

ESKEW:  Something we’ve studied for a long time.

MATTHEWS:  I’ve got to interrupt you.

Here’s a big one for your side, for the president’s campaign, George W. Bush the projected winner for the state of Florida.  That’s two out of the three of the big ones.  Ohio still to go. 

What does that mean for your campaign, Tucker? 

ESKEW:  It’s huge, Chris.  It’s absolutely giant. 

Four years ago tonight, we all thought we had Florida and learned the hard way we did, but it was closer than we wanted it to be.  This is a bigger win than we expected, as I said, because of numbers that turned out better than we expected in a lot of the state.  And we held the margins down in the Democratic counties.  Broward didn’t do what they wanted it to.

So we’re really, really excited about Florida.  And I’ve got to say, the mood around here about Ohio, the people who are looking at it county by county, waiting to see the final numbers come out of Hamilton County, looking at what Democrats were able to do in Cuyahoga, we feel that Ohio is just about ready to be there.  We’re very excited about that, too. 

MATTHEWS:  If you went on a world trip tomorrow, Tucker—and you’ve been on the show.  You’ve been so good on our show so many times.

If you went on a royal trip and you took that map with you and you tried to explain that in Turkey or tried to explain that in Australia or in China, that map we just saw, which shows the whole center part of the country and Southern part red and the other part blue on the two coasts, in the Northeast, how would you explain that difference to people outside this country? 

ESKEW:  Well, I think we will unify around our next president, whichever man is elected.  We feel real good about our chances, obviously. 

I think it’s a tapestry.  The stars and stripes together make up a diverse and beautiful and strong country that’s expressed itself powerfully with high turnout in the purest, freest expression of a democracy.  It’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.  All Americans can take pride, winners and losers tonight, in a peaceful election that moves forward this relatively young democracy in very turbulent times. 

It’s a story we can tell proudly.  And we’ve got a better job to do of telling that story around the world, and I know President Bush wants to do that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well said. 

Thank you very much for coming on the program tonight, Tucker Eskew of the Bush campaign.

ESKEW:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you once again for coming on. 

We have a special guest joining us right now, not necessarily from the political world, but certainly from the world of American culture, P.  Diddy, who is probably better known than Tucker Eskew or me or anybody else here. 

Thank you very much for...

(CROSSTALK)

SEAN “P. DIDDY” COMBS, MUSICIAN:  Thank you for having me. 

MATTHEWS:  You did a lot of work, P. Diddy, to get the vote out.  What you do feel about your results? 

COMBS:  This has been extremely successful.  For the first time in a long time, young people are energized.  They’re interested in the voting process.  They are empowered.  They were in those long lines waiting for hours and hours.  The colleges came out. 

The youth vote really made their voices heard in this election. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any numbers to suggest that you’ve really blossomed here in terms of numbers, or is it the same old, same old? 

COMBS:  We positioned, partnered with Choose or Lose on MTV—we wanted to exceed 20 million.  We’ve exceeded the 20 million.  And the numbers are still coming in, and we know, when it gets down in Ohio right now, that we’re going to be part of the final deciding factor. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, I was looking at the numbers.  We have these polls that we take, the exit polls—and we can talk about them now, the particular questions.

I was stunned to see that young voters 18 to 29 were basically 50/50 on the war with Iraq, 50/50 on whether we should have gone.  Does that surprise you, or do you think they are not telling the truth or what? 

COMBS:  No. 

I mean, I think that a lot of young people are dealing with issues right here at home, real-life issues. 

MATTHEWS:  No, but 50/50 on the war in Iraq, doesn’t that surprise you? 

COMBS:  It didn’t really surprise me. 

Young people, their ideas and their thoughts, people underestimate their ideas and their thoughts and where they can go.  And I think they have had a huge impact on this election and people can’t—they’re the wild card of the election.  You can’t put them in a box and say you know which way they are going to go. 

MATTHEWS:  What are the issues that nail—if you said—you are watching these kids walking in line, young people—I shouldn’t call them kids.  They’re in their late 20s, some of them.  What’s moving them?  What got them to the polls?

COMBS:  Their future, worrying about education, worrying about jobs, worrying about how to pay for education and health care, things that are happening right here at home in their communities. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How do they think differently than somebody 70 years old? 

COMBS:  They are just getting involved in the process.  They are just learning.  I heard you talking earlier.  And they still have power.  They still have power.  They’re old enough to fight overseas.  They’re old enough to vote. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

Well, what do you think the future is if the president is reelected, pretty much like he was last time?  Do you think people are going to walk away saying, I made a difference? 

COMBS:  I think that all the numbers have to come in and the numbers are going to speak for themselves. 

And I know that our voting community was up this year, just like all voting communities were.  And it is going to come down to the final numbers.  We’re going to have to wait until later on tonight or tomorrow. 

MATTHEWS:  How much did you put into this in terms of time and money? 

COMBS:  I mean, I put a lot.  Anything I do, I give my all to it.  I believe that...

MATTHEWS:  Your name has been associated with this in terms of putting this together for months, if not years now?  When did you get started with it? 

COMBS:  It’s only been a couple of months.  It’s only been a couple of months. 

And I started it because I’m from Harlem, New York, an inner city community.  And things are not changing there.  I didn’t feel that either candidate had an urban agenda.  So I went after the youth and minority vote.  And I think that we were able to bring them out, get them interested.  And I think the numbers are going to speak for itself.

And I think we’re going to have a final impact on this election.  It’s close and we’re the wild card. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, speak of the minority vote, I saw something, and a lot of us have talked about it, about the Democrats not getting the usual black vote, about 90-some percent.  They got less than that because they have pushed some of these avant-garde, state-of-the-art social causes like gay marriage.  Do you think that’s hurt among the black community? 

COMBS:  I don’t think either campaign has really truly paid attention to the minority vote, nor the youth vote.  And, hopefully, in the future, that will change.  That’s why it was so important for us to come out so strong in this election, because they are not going to respect us as a voting bloc until we really come out and vote. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, well, thank you very much. 

COMBS:  Thank you very much.

MATTHEWS:  I know you’re the most famous guy that’s been on this desk. 

So I respect you for coming. 

(CROSSTALK)

COMBS:  I’m a big fan of yours. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey! 

(LAUGHTER)

COMBS:  I’ll get an autograph from you. 

Anyway, I want to go to Ron Reagan, who speaks four our cultural...

COMBS:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  He’s our cultural expert here. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I mean it, because you do connect.  You’ve been in dancing. 

You’ve been in all the theater work, as my son is, and I do respect it. 

And I want to know, what is it?  Is this going to be depressing, the feeling that this election has begun to replicate somewhat the last one? 

REAGAN:  Well, it’s true.  Yes, it’s depressing in a way, because it seems so locked in.

MATTHEWS:  I’m talking about the creative coalition you’re active in, groups like that.

REAGAN:  Yes.

Well, listen, yes, it is going to be very depressing for a lot of people, I can tell you, if George Bush wins again, people who care about the environment, people who care about stem cell research, people who care about science, as opposed to religion, frankly.  I mean, Joe was talking earlier about faith. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  You went out to the Republican Convention and you took a stand.  And I’m just wondering whether that is reflected anywhere in these results, this kind of cultural positive kind of argument from the liberal side? 

REAGAN:  Well, the country is divided that way. 

And Joe, as I was saying, was talking about faith.  It is not that Kerry doesn’t have faith.  When he was talking about it during the debates, actually, he was quite eloquent on it and he talked about faith in terms of other, the other, whereas George Bush mostly talked about faith in terms of himself and what he does. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  He personalized it. 

And, again, I’m not knocking John Kerry and not saying John Kerry should wear his faith on his sleeve.  I just know that a lot of people that know Kerry have said that he doesn’t talk about it very much.  And, again, George Bush has always, for better or for worse, connected in the red states by talking about his faith. 

REAGAN:  It’s a very different kind of faith. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  We’ve got a call to make—Dee Dee next.

We have a call to make in the Senate contest in the state of Colorado. 

Let’s take a look. 

Ken Salazar, very interesting.  I don’t think he was predicted to be ahead in this race, Ken Salazar the Democrat, defeating the much better known Pete Coors.  That’s an interesting race in the balance of the fight for the balance of power in the Senate. 

Do you want to say something, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH:  I certainly do.  Speaking of faith, I was talk to a friend out in Colorado who was active in politics earlier today.

I said, I’m a libertarian sort of Republican.  My kids and I watch “South Park.”  We see a lot of things that other parents wouldn’t let their kids watch. 

MATTHEWS:  Do you watch “Sopranos,” too? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Of course, but not with my kids. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

SCARBOROUGH:  But whenever those Coors commercials would come on during football games, I would always change the channel in front of my 15- and 16-year-old kids. 

And so I just—I asked a friend out in Colorado, how does a guy who runs a company, you know, the old twins commercial and basically sex and whatever else for every college student, how does he appeal to the Republican conservative Christian base?  And the answer was, he doesn’t. 

MATTHEWS:  And they were paying attention. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  ... up in Canada, they also had these very gaudy kind of events to try to sell beer in Canada, and that got played back, filtered back to Colorado. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The Pete Coors that used to do the commercials walking in...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go to an expert now who has got the numbers.

Brian Williams, thank you.  It’s a perfect time to ask you about, when you look at the numbers today and the exit polls, etcetera, what are we learning about how people vote on their values? 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, this is a real red-blue area I’m about to take you through, Chris, because so much of the debate in the campaign was about terrorism and the war in Iraq.

And John Kerry worked that very hard, along with the economy.  Yet, in a surprise development, this issue of moral values, not necessarily Coors commercials specifically, but it’s all-encompassing, moral values mentioned as frequently by voters as any of the above.  In polls leading up to the election, we only heard from one in 10 voters about this, that moral values was important to them. 

But today, a full 21 percent said moral values was the most important issue to them as they made their decision today, about the same number as mentioned, the economy, by the way, more people than mentioned terrorism at 18 percent.  And voters who picked moral values as their own overwhelmingly voted today for George W. Bush; 78 percent went for the president.  Just 19 percent of the moral value vote, if we can call it that, went for John Kerry. 

Moral values were especially important today to one of the key components of President Bush’s base, white, evangelical Protestants.  They turned out to vote, as they promised to.  They made up more than one in five voters today.  These voters were especially likely to mention moral values when they got to the polls.  Fully three-quarters of them went for Bush. 

Now to the issue of gay marriage.  Both candidates were opposed to it.  But it was President Bush that made it an issue, even though passage was impossible with his support for a constitutional amendment to ban it.  Most voters today agreed.  Gay and lesbian couples, they say, should not be allowed to legally marry.  Only 27 percent favored gay marriage, but another third approved of something called civil unions.  And 35 percent oppose any legal recognition of couples of the same sex. 

President Bush won a huge majority among that last group.  Kerry got a big majority among those who favored legalizing gay marriage.  Among those favoring civil unions, an even split between the two candidates.  So we’re going to talk about this map.  We’re going to talk about our divided the country now, apparently for four more years, Chris, and moral values the new umbrella term emerging right here in our numbers tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, we’re going to come right back after this and have a lot of discussion about that very point, which is fascinating to me, those numbers, but, more importantly, lots more returns coming back when we come back on MSNBC’s coverage here at Democracy Plaza in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to the night of the close contest. 

Let’s go right now to Keith Olbermann with a lot more results. 

KEITH OLBERMANN, NBC ANCHOR:  Well, Chris, in the Senate, we have a call to make from North Carolina, where that one, after nearly 5 ½ hours of counting, is ready to be called.

NBC News projects that the Congressman Richard Burr will defeat the former White House chief of staff under President Clinton Erskine Bowles in what has been a dramatic and hard-fought battle and count since the polls closed over five hours ago in North Carolina. 

Thus, we’ve had a swap of three for two in the balance of power in the Senate, three Republican seats picked up now, Republican seats, formerly Democratic seats, and two the other way around, with a net gain of one with, at the moment, the Republicans ahead 50-44 in the new Senate, with one independent, Jeffords, of course.

Let’s look at where those other four verdicts occurred.  In Colorado, as we’ve been mentioning, Ken Salazar defeating—Ken Salazar, the attorney general of Colorado, defeating the very well known, if not necessarily very popular Pete Coors, the beer magnate.  So Pete Coors goes down in Colorado, but our projection is that George Bush, whose name is another kind of Bush, prevails in Colorado. 

In Illinois, no surprise whatsoever.  What was a Republican seat goes almost by default to Barack Obama in a swamp over Alan Keyes.  That is the projection from NBC News. 

And earlier in the evening, Georgia, a call, in fact, just as the polls closed at 7:00 Eastern time, Johnny Isakson  beating another U.S.  representative, Denise Majette, handily in that one, as called by NBC News.  And, finally, in South Carolina, the third of the three Republican pickups from the Democrats on the night, Jim DeMint, the U.S. congressman from South Carolina, defeating Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum in another spirited, but for the Democrats, ultimately, unsuccessful race to try to get a replacement in there for Fritz Hollings. 

And that’s the Senate roundup—Chris, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, in athletic terms, it looks like the Republicans have swept the ACC, Dee Dee.  We both follow sports.  There they are.

North Carolina, Erskine Bowles, a very strong candidate, losing to another strong candidate, Richard Burr. 

MYERS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  You’ve got DeMint winning, the congressman, beating Inez Tenenbaum.

MYERS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And, of course, and you have got Johnny Isakson in a very easy win for him. 

MYERS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  What’s left is the vote in Florida to decide and of course the vote in Louisiana, but, otherwise, it looks like a point I’ve been making and everyone else has been making in this world.  The old solid Democratic South is almost gone.  It’s been replaced by a solid Republican South. 

MYERS:  And in border states as well.  Kentucky, it was a heartbreaking race there the Democratic Senate candidate.  Missouri is very tight, but not a slam dunk at all for the Democratic candidate.  So it’s a tough night for Democratic candidates in Southern or border states. 

MITCHELL:  And we still have to determine what is going to happen in South Carolina with the Democratic leader of the Senate. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  South Dakota, yes.

MITCHELL:  South Dakota.

MATTHEWS:  You know, what I think might be shaping up, and we’ll see it in the next two or three hours as we continue to cover the results and report them as we do, it looks to me like we all may see in the middle part of the country some Republican successes that weren’t there four years ago. 

For example, if you look at all of these values questions, they are about values in an evangelical setting.  There’s a lot of Lutherans, of course, and mainstream Protestants, of course, in the Northern part of the United States and certainly a lot of Roman Catholics.

But people of faith, look at these numbers of white evangelical people.  Three-quarters voted for President Bush.  Overwhelmingly people who had a problem with the gay marriage, the notion of gay marriage; 78 percent in this other category of people who think moral values are important to them, the fact that moral values equalled those people concerned about the economy, this is something that I saw and we all did John Kerry try to get a piece of.  He went for a piece of this in the last week, remember?  He went to the churches.

MITCHELL:  He tried to get a piece of it, but that was so late in the game. 

MYERS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  That it may turn out that the fact that the gay marriage ban was on the ballot in 11 key states, well, at least 11 states, some of them being battleground states. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  Oklahoma, places we were never going to win.

MITCHELL:  But in Ohio in particular, it may turn out that that was a magnet that drew some of the evangelicals that call that Karl Rove was trying to bring out to the polls. 

REAGAN:  Tolerance is a key word here.  We’re talking about faith. 

We’re talking about culture. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

REAGAN:  But, you know, and you talk about moral values. 

Well, moral values to some people are keeping gay people from getting married. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

REAGAN:  Moral values to me is extending civil rights to everyone equally. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  It’s a semantic difference.

REAGAN:  Well, it’s deeper than just semantics.  But I know what you’re saying. 

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL:  The way we’re defining it is...

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  The way we’re defining it.

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  ... because people who talk about moral values in the context of politics are not talking generally about extending civil rights. 

REAGAN:  No, they are not. 

MYERS:  And they are also...

REAGAN:  And that’s where tolerance comes in. 

MYERS:  Exactly.  And those are—that’s a different language that people from both parties use, which I think intensifies the red-blue split on this issue. 

MATTHEWS:  But a lot of this is we-they politics.

REAGAN:  Yes.  Absolutely.

MYERS:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  People like us, people like them.  Let’s face it.  A lot of this map we’re looking at is people like us, people like them. 

REAGAN:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And if you watched the president, he was so good at it.  He never said, I don’t like gays.  He never said a word against gays. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  He never really said a word against the lifestyle or anything.  He said, I want to protect the sanctity of marriage. 

Now, if you think about a lot of people in this country, they don’t have a lot of money.  They don’t have big fancy houses or big fancy cars or anything.  They are not glamorous people, by any stretch.  But what do they have?  They have a marriage and they have a country, and those are the things they value most. 

REAGAN:  Yes.  That’s right. 

MATTHEWS:  And even the guys who act like they are wise guys and big shots and they mess around, they don’t.  And they trust and they value their marriage more than anything. 

REAGAN:  So do I.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  And they say, wait a minute, don’t mess with the notion of marriage by letting gays call it marriage. 

REAGAN:  Why is that messing with the notion of it?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  That is what the president has done very effectively. 

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN:  You’re right.

MITCHELL:  The Republicans are very smart at the way they define the territory, the way they define their terms.  And it creates a value judgment on the part of the viewer, the listener, and that is a very successful political tactic. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MYERS:  But what was interesting, I think the gay marriage numbers are a little more complicated than that, because there was a third of people in the middle who said that they were OK with civil unions. 

And that group split 50/50 for Kerry and Bush. 

REAGAN:  Yes. 

MYERS:  And I’m not sure what that means, but it’s an interesting development, because...

REAGAN:  Well, the use of the word sanctity when you’re talking about it, too, we’re talking civil marriage here.  You’re free to go to a church that won’t allow gays to marriage, but you’re introducing the notion of sanctity into civil marriage, where, frankly, doesn’t belong. 

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go right now to a very temporal question on what’s going to happen in the state of Ohio, which many people must now believe is going to be indicative of where this election goes tonight. 

It’s a state obviously John Kerry needs to win. 

Let’s go to Craig Crawford, who is out at the skating rink here in New York, very much a bicoastal setting for Craig.

Craig, tell me about California—about Ohio, because it’s the last of the big three? 

(CROSSTALK)

CRAIG CRAWFORD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  This election story is not just coming down to Ohio, but it looks like it’s coming down to Cleveland, Chris. 

I got tipped off an hour ago that the Kerry camp was pouring into the stats on Cleveland and was confident they could pull out Ohio there, but I have gone through the election reports out of that county, Chris, and about half of them are coming in, and Kerry is running about 70 to 30 roughly in that county. 

It looks to me like he has to win two out of three of the votes that are left in Cleveland to pull this Ohio race to something even close to even.  Theoretically, he can do that, but, man, is it razor-thin.  I would say the story out of this could be that John Kerry may wish that he had gone to Cleveland last night at the last minute or maybe sent Bill Clinton there, given the minority vote turning out that may make the difference. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Craig, you study this very intently.  What do you think happened in Cuyahoga County, in Cleveland, to bring down the usual Democratic majority that’s necessary to win statewide? 

CRAWFORD:  Well, of course, the surrounding counties of Cleveland, the suburbs, are more Republican.  And the Republicans counter this scenario with saying they have got a lot of new registration in those counties and they will make up the difference. 

Democrats say, they have registered so many, maybe 100,000-plus new voters in that county.  And they are still voting.  The voting is still going on in Ohio.  So the hope on the Democratic side is, there is a miracle for them in Cleveland.  But it’s coming down to Cleveland.  If it’s coming down to Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, it looks like it’s coming down to Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland. 

MATTHEWS:  Let’s use Cleveland as an example, as a microcosm, as a sample to try to figure this out. 

If you look at all the exit polls that we can release and it’s all the ones about generic questions, the people don’t think the country is going in the right direction.  The people don’t think things are going swimmingly over in Iraq.  The usual questions, should the president be reelected, his approval rating, all of those kinds of questions suggest that Kerry could win.  What did he do that he couldn’t have done?  What did he do that he should have done and didn’t do? 

CRAWFORD:  You know, I think probably, on balance, the president did everything he could do and Kerry did everything he could do. 

It’s really come down to the turnout in some of these big cities in these battleground states.  And I don’t see the results so far showing me that we’ve seen the big Democratic advantage in turnout that we expected. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

CRAWFORD:  And the test now is coming down to Ohio and this Cleveland game. 

MATTHEWS:  What about these values questions?  African-Americans, not being—some of them who are very churchgoing and very culturally conservative don’t like the idea of gay marriage one bit. 

What about the Catholic voters who have been told by the bishops, don’t vote pro-choice?  It’s differently worded, but that’s the main message.  Has that hurt the ethnic core of the Democratic Party in states like and cities like Cleveland? 

CRAWFORD:  Yes, I’m not sure it’s so much issues, Chris, as John Kerry himself. 

This is not a man who personally or naturally appealed to the African-American constituency.  We always saw him running a bit lower than Al Gore in that respect.  And I think it’s more about style.  You know, you saw him in some of the churches, the black churches.  He made the effort, but he doesn’t have the charisma Bill Clinton did, and I think Bill Clinton in Philadelphia showed, you know, how a white politician gets the black vote out. 

And I guess Kerry in Massachusetts never really had too learn that skill.  It’s a funny thing about Southern politicians.  They tend to learn that skill better than white politicians from the Northern states. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, if they don’t, they don’t get elected, that’s for sure. 

CRAWFORD:  You bet.  That’s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Because, in the South, as you know, you have to be a very popular champion of African-Americans to win those Democratic primaries in the South, because it’s a strong base for power for black Americans to be able to vote in the Democratic primary. 

CRAWFORD:  Yes.  Yes. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Do you have any sense—let me ask you about the Catholic thing.  Do you have any sense of that and how it’s moved perhaps some of the Democratic base away from the party? 

CRAWFORD:  No. 

I’ve noticed in the exit polls some of that data, and I think we have got to wait and see on that.  Going into the race, the president was running about 57 percent favorability among Catholics, much lower than among born-again Christians, for example, where he ran 75, 78 percent favorable rating.  And I don’t know that we have enough evidence yet to be sure about the impact of the Catholic vote, but I’ve got to tell you, I am hyper-focused on this Cleveland vote. 

This, I think, is what the entire presidency is coming down to. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, it’s all hanging by this string. 

Thank you, Craig Crawford, who is out at the skating rink. 

CRAWFORD:  You bet.

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go to Chris Jansing, who is out in Ohio in Cleveland to give us a sense of what is happening there and what she’s hearing from both sides—Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I’ve been talking to the war rooms on both sides.  I will tell you, there is an awful lot of tension.

And they are looking at exactly what you and Craig were talking about. 

And that is Cleveland.  We have brand new numbers, 88 percent reporting.  Now, let me tell you what the Republicans said.  They said they know that they are going to lose here and they said they can give up to 200,000 votes.  The projection by the Democrats that they said they needed was 180,000. 

They told me a few minutes ago they will get 195 to 200,000, so I asked the Republicans, if it goes over 200,000, what does that mean?  And then he says, then all bets are off.  Well, guess where we are right now?  With 88 percent of the vote in.  John Kerry is up in Cuyahoga County by 190,000 votes.  So it’s that razor-thin. 

They are looking at other places like Stark County, where the Timken plant closed.  Right now, John Kerry winning, with but only by bout 2,500 votes.  They are lacking at Dayton.  The Republicans think that they will win there.  In the swing counties around—in the swing area around Columbus and Franklin County, right now, John Kerry outperforming where Al Gore was.  They are looking to do strong, the Republicans, in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

But, basically, they are presenting this to me as whether or not Cleveland comes within 200,000 votes.  If John Kerry is above 200,000, they are going to be a lot more nervous, but they are saying that, if they keep those numbers below 200,000, they are feeling very confident about all of Ohio, depending on how Cuyahoga County goes tonight—Chris.

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you, Chris Jansing.

When we come back—we’re going to take a short break.

When we come back, we’re going to say—we’re going to let you know what the president is being told by his own people, which should be fascinating, because this is getting to be very close to possibly the American people seeing a decision being made tonight in this country on who shall be the next president. 

We’ll be right back on MSNBC from Democracy Plaza. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go right now to John Fund “”Wall Street Journal,” Opinion.com.  He’s got some insight as to what the president is being told by his top advisers—John.

JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”:  Well, the president was told by Karl Rove a little before 11:00 tonight that Mr. Rove was convinced that Ohio would go to Mr. Bush.  And a little bit later, Mr. Rove told the president that New Mexico would go also to Mr. Bush. 

And if you look at the numbers, Chris, yes, Cuyahoga County is still out and Kerry has done very well especially bringing in a lot of new voters, but has outperformed his 2000 totals in the rural areas around Columbiana County and also in parts of the suburbs around Franklin County. 

MATTHEWS:  Any sense from what you’ve gotten so far—this is great news for us to have—but do you have any sense about what Rove is telling the president about those Great Lakes states? 

FUND:  Yes. 

Michigan, believe it or not, is leaning Kerry, but still in play.  Ed Sarpolus, the leading pollster in Michigan, has Michigan at 50-49 ultimately for Kerry.  It’s within the margin of dispute or litigation.  Wisconsin, right now the margin, I think, is around 14,000 votes in Wisconsin.  That’s still in play.  Kerry can still win and Kerry may well litigate, but he has to run the table. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you about—about—of the importance of Ohio.

You say that Karl Rove has told the president that Ohio is going for him.  Let me ask you, does that suggest in itself that the president will win reelection? 

FUND:  I think if Ohio and New Mexico, combined with what the president already has, it makes it extremely difficult for Kerry to win. 

However, remember, there are 14,000 lawyers in this campaign that weren’t there in the year 2000.  There is going to be lots to litigate.  There are provisional ballots to count.  There are absentee ballots to count.  We may have an almost definite answer tonight.  But it also will be going to the courts, I think. 

MATTHEWS:  Which state is most likely to be the Florida of 2004?  Is it Ohio? 

FUND:  Ohio is ground zero.  Wisconsin, which has same-day voter registration, a lot of controversies there, Michigan, conceivably. 

New Mexico has notoriously sloppy counting practices.  In 2000, it took them two weeks to decide that Al Gore won that state by 300 votes.  So we’re going to see lots of controversy and lots of litigation. 

MATTHEWS:  But if the president’s party, if the president is able to win the electoral votes of Ohio and pick up a couple of the Great Lakes states, including Michigan, it seems to me that might put the election beyond the reach of even very good lawyers?  What do you think?

FUND:  That’s beyond the margin of litigation at that point, Chris. 

You’re right. 

MATTHEWS:  That’s a hell of a term, isn’t it, the margin of litigation?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, John Fund.  We’re all using that term right now. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Chris, if he wins, if he wins Ohio, he gets up to 266 266, and then he’s going to Alaska’s three electoral votes.  That gets him to 269 and he’s reelected president. 

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS:  No, it’s a tie if it’s 269-260.  And then he is, I guess, reelected.  It goes to the House, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let’s go to a stalwart for John Kerry up in Massachusetts, the headquarters in Boston.

Let’s go right now to U.S. Congressman Harold Ford, who is up there waiting for us right now.

Congressman Ford, what is—well, you have a happy face, sir, but let me ask you, what is your mood about the election right now as the count comes in? 

REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE:  It’s all about Ohio. 

I’ve been listening to your show and your network show and others.  And it’s obvious that, as we wait for these numbers out of this big county there near Cleveland—or Cleveland is encompassing—I know Joe Scarborough indicated that, with Alaska’s votes—and I heard Dee Dee as well make the comment, we remain confident here.

You have to remember, Chris, the Red Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees, and there is still a lot of optimism here in Boston, a lot of optimism in the Kerry camp.  It is going to be a long night and we’re prepared for whatever steps and however aggressive we have to be to ensure that all of the votes are counted. 

MATTHEWS:  When you look at the map, Congressman, it looks so much like the map of 2000.  What do you make of that? 

FORD:  This country is still very divided on a lot of issues.  People are very spirited. 

And there’s a lot of energy around the war and the economy and cultural issues, as we’ve seen evidence themselves in some of the Southern Senate races across the country.  But this presidential race, I think, is going to boil down to what happens here in Ohio and how these votes come in over the next few hours. 

Your network has estimated that come 2:00, maybe 3:00 in the morning, East Coast time, we’ll get a sense of what the final count is there in Ohio.  And that will determine, along with New Mexico and Iowa and Wisconsin, how John Kerry fares.  And, again, we remain optimistic here in Boston that things will turn out in our favor. 

MATTHEWS:  Congressman, when we started the evening, we began thinking about it many hours ago.  We thought about total turnout as being a decisive factor.  Are you sanguine about the number of people that showed up to vote today being enough to elect a Democratic president? 

FORD:  You know, it’s amazing. 

As someone who loves politics, I step back for one moment and I love big turnouts.  It’s a good thing for the country. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  OK, just a minute.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Ford, Congressman, we’ve got to go now to some bad news for the Democrats, some very good news for the president and his supporters. 

Ohio, according to NBC’s projections, will go at the end of the night, when all the votes are counted, to the president of the United States; 51 votes up—or percent—right now, but what a big win. 

That’s—I would say, based upon working here, that’s a carefully made projection, Congressman.  Like the others before it, there is not going to be any reversals tonight.  Look at these numbers.  They are filled in there.  Again, a state the president carried in his election in 2000 he’s carried again, according to our projections. 

Your comment, Congressman?

FORD:  If those numbers are true, then we obviously will face a difficult time, a much more difficult time going forward. 

We’ve not concluded that yet here in this headquarters.  So it’s difficult to say.  I know the network has projected what you’re projecting, but I’m going to wait and see and hear from those on the ground in Ohio and be sure that we’ve got the right count. 

MATTHEWS:  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry, Congressman.  We have to break with you again. 

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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