Guests: Lanny Davis, Bill Press, A.B. Stoddard, Artur Davis, Frank Donatelli
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: The experts stand corrected. Eight hours since Hillary Clinton overcame what seemed like very long odds to win the New Hampshire primary. Ten hours since the political obituary of John McCain was deleted from the national hard drive. We assess the Clinton and McCain revivals and their routes forward from here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), ‘08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: I found my own voice. I felt like we all spoke from our hearts and I‘m so gratified that you responded. Now, together let‘s give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Just how did Hillary Clinton come back? It could have been the Saturday night debate. Maybe it was choking up on the trail on Monday. Maybe Bill Clinton‘s angry defense did the trick.
Women over 40 voted for her, registered Democrats voted for her. People who value experience in their candidates voted for her by a huge margin over Barack Obama. But how did it all come together in the face of poll numbers that convinced her own campaign that Hillary Clinton would lose by a double digit margin. Where does the Democratic race go from here?
In a moment, former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis joins us with his view.
On the Republican side meanwhile, 71-year-old John McCain, who was reduced last summer to middle seats on coach in commercial flights for lack of money or signs of hope, beat Mitt Romney‘s well-moneyed polish and well-polished money. Not only did McCain win with independents, he beat Romney among Republicans. Does New Hampshire make John McCain the Republican frontrunner or does the current chaos among GOP contenders play into somebody else‘s hands?
We‘ll dissect the fascinating race among the five still alive on that side.
We begin tonight with the most dramatic story in recent political history, Hillary Clinton‘s remarkable upset win over Barack Obama in New Hampshire last night. Joining me now is Hillary Clinton‘s supporter, a friend and a former White House special counsel to President Bill Clinton, Lanny Davis.
Lanny, thanks for coming on.
LANNY DAVIS, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SUPPORTER: The middle seat. That‘s a great line.
CARLSON: Middle-seating coach. It‘s true. We‘ll get to that in a minute.
First last night, I don‘t think I‘ve ever been as amazed in an adult lifetime of watching politics carefully. You overcame expectations in an amazing way. Congratulations.
L. DAVIS: It‘s the most astonishing turnaround that I‘ve ever experienced. I know when I left New Hampshire on election day, it was to me clearly double digits and very distressing, and I wanted to get to be surrounded by my family. And the only thing I can say that I saw is the kind of an unsettled version of people talking about Barack Obama. When I was doing my phoning all day Monday and a little bit of canvassing in Nashua, which we all thought was going to be heavy Obama, there are a lot of people are getting unsettled that his oratory was dramatic and inspired but below the surface, there wasn‘t much substance.
People were kind of saying to me on the phone, “I don‘t really know whether can do the job. I don‘t know what he stands for. He‘s a great speaker.” And I started to, you know, maybe pick something up. But never did I imagine that she would win.
CARLSON: I did neither. Those, of course, were doubts that were sowed by the Clinton campaign itself. Let‘s talk about how she did win to the extent we know. We‘re still trying to figure out what exactly happened last night. We know—we think we know that her emotional interlude on television had an effect. I spoke to a friend of the Clintons today who said four more tears, proud of the affect that moment had on her campaign.
But I wonder as the father of three daughters what the message of this is. When women cry, they get what they want? I mean this sets back feminism, doesn‘t it? The idea that women play on the same playing field as men?
L. DAVIS: I think that Senator Clinton showing emotion and, I hate to say this, but the cartoon character—I know her over 30 years and I‘m not surprised—but the cartoon character that was, I think, created by parts of the right wing base of the Republican Party made it incongruous that she would show that kind of emotion.
CARLSON: I thought she behaved as a cartoon character. I thought it‘s cartoonish for a woman who was losing to cry about being mistreated. Men don‘t do that.
L. DAVIS: You know, some men are probably.
CARLSON: And when they do, they are excoriated, “Get off the stage, you weak link.”
L. DAVIS: Some men do tear up.
CARLSON: Yes, they do and they‘re punished for it.
L. DAVIS: There‘s a double standard, I think, when a woman does it versus a man. But in this case she was very, very passionate and very sincere about the pressures that she felt, and her motive for running for office, which is their motive for what she did when she got out of law school.
CARLSON: Do you feel good about the attacks on Obama? The, “He used cocaine. He might be the Islamic Manchurian candidate.” He doesn‘t—you know, he‘s not supportive enough of abortion. You want to race on sowing doubts about the guy‘s commitment to abortion? I mean can you feel good about that?
L. DAVIS: No, it‘s repulsive, offensive, and if anybody does it intentionally in the Clinton campaign, I would say so.
CARLSON: The Clinton campaign sent out mailers saying he‘s not—you know, he is not as committed to abortion as a good American ought to be.
L. DAVIS: Well, I haven‘t seen that mailing and I‘d like to see it because I‘d probably object to that language. What I do is facts and let people draw their own conclusions. He voted present 137 times in the Illinois state legislature.
L. DAVIS: And I‘ve never understood his explanation.
CARLSON: I don‘t understand it either. I think that‘s an entirely fair thing to hit the guy on.
L. DAVIS: But I wouldn‘t say that because he voted present on one particular set of votes, in this case choice, where planned parenthood actually had a strategy of pro-choice people voting present, is fair to.
CARLSON: But bragging about how much you support something as awful and depressing as abortion is no way to win. It seems to me. Here‘s some numbers, I think, are interesting. Obama got beaten soundly. However he got 60 percent of voters under 25. He got 66 percent of first-time voters, won independents by 10 points. He was considered more likely to win by a margin of 9 points in November.
But the bottom line is he got young people, he got people who‘ve never participated before. You can‘t look at those two candidates and say Hillary is the future based on those numbers, can you?
L. DAVIS: Well, our future has been bread and butter vote are people who are middle class or lower than middle class going back to Franklin Roosevelt. She carried that segment by 20 percent—working women, single working women—by a large margin. So the economic bread-and-butter issues is that every Democratic would say.
L. DAVIS: .is the heart and soul of our party is where her base lies.
CARLSON: There‘s no doubt. You‘re absolutely right. But my point is look, he‘s making the case, whether it‘s real or not is a separate question, he‘s making a case - I want to expand the party, I‘m going after Republicans, he says.
L. DAVIS: Yes.
CARLSON: I‘m going after independents. Hillary is basically saying, “I want loyal, faithful Democrats to come back to me.” She‘s spending money in New York, her own state, to get those Democrats. When you look at the future of your party as a lifelong Democrat, you see it reflected in him more than her, don‘t you?
L. DAVIS: Well, her intention is not that. It may be right now that the results are because he does have such appeal to a younger generation of voters. I applaud what he has accomplished there. And if he can regenerate the enthusiasm Ronald Reagan had on college campuses in the 1980s—depressed me to no end, I couldn‘t figure it out—if he‘s helping to bring young people back to the Democratic Party and independents, that‘s terrific.
But Senator Clinton wants to, talked to, is talking to those independents and those young people. And the reason that she came back the way she did is an awful lot of them are just as unsettled about Senator Obama being a lot of oratory but no beef. And I think where is the beef is a very important question we‘re going to start asking Senator Obama. Maybe the explanation for what happened.
CARLSON: Lanny Davis. I‘m—I have to say I thought I knew what was going to happen and I didn‘t. I stand corrected. I hang my head.
L. DAVIS: You‘re an honest man.
L. DAVIS: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Now that Barack Obama was denied a victory in New Hampshire, what happens next? Does he still have the momentum to regain the title of frontrunner?
Plus John McCain wins New Hampshire even after his candidacy was written off by everyone. Can he go all the way?
You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.
CARLSON: Hillary Clinton wins New Hampshire proving the pollsters not just wrong but embarrassingly, career-endingly wrong. And now Barack Obama loses his frontrunner status in less than a week. Who‘s the Democratic frontrunner now? We‘ll tell you in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We all spoke from our hearts and I am so gratified that you responded. Now, together, let‘s give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: They called Bill Clinton the comeback kid when he lost in New Hampshire to Paul Tsongas. Now his wife, a stunning upset last night over Barack Obama. Where does that leave her? Is she now the frontrunner for all time?
Joining me now, we welcome the associated editor of “The Hill” A.B.
Stoddard and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
Welcome to you both. I assume you‘re.
BILL PRESS, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Tucker.
CARLSON: .hanging your heads in shame as I am for totally miscalling this, completely. It seems to me one of the lessons here, having been to a bunch of Obama rallies, you know, young people love Obama, 60 percent of the people under 25 in New Hampshire voted for him. They never vote and it looks like this time they didn‘t either.
PRESS: But they did in Iowa. And that was what—that‘s what I think fooled us all, that we thought that they were going to again in New Hampshire. And they didn‘t come out in the numbers that they did. The independents had a choice between sort of two mavericks, Obama or McCain. More of them went over, I think, to vote the Republican—it looks like Republican primary for McCain. And then Hillary got the women back and she got them back particularly middle age and older women, married women. And that was enough to win the night.
CARLSON: Yes. The less money you made—it‘s interesting, kind of devastating for Edwards actually, because Edwards, though his campaign was geared toward, you know, the have-nots in our society, people with less education, less income, Hillary resoundingly won those categories. The more money you made, the better educated, the more you‘ll likely vote for her.
PRESS: Union people too.
CARLSON: Union people.
A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”: But that was the model that the polls backed up all year long. Iowa was just—Iowa was the exception. New Hampshire modeled what we saw all year.
STODDARD: If you make under a certain amount and you have no children and you‘re not married, you‘re for Hillary. If you have this education level.
CARLSON: Women with needs. Yes.
STODDARD: Right. Women who need government. They weren‘t like rallying to John Edwards‘s side all year. Hillary always had them.
CARLSON: No. I know.
STODDARD: And so what‘s interesting is we don‘t know if the Iowa example can be replicated or if New Hampshire rules the day. We don‘t know. We don‘t know if—I mean Iowa was very well organized by Barack Obama. They did something very right there. It could happen again in different places. We don‘t know that that‘s the rule now, that if you‘re a certain income or education level, you have to vote for Hillary.
CARLSON: I just don‘t—I guess, I mean, I don‘t want to get personal and I respect what Senator Clinton did, and in fact, I respect Senator Clinton. I think she‘s tough and smart and I think she could be president. She‘s qualified. However, here what I don‘t understand, Bill. You‘re a typical Democratic voter, you look at Barack Obama, you look at Hillary Clinton. Why do you choose Hillary Clinton again?
PRESS: One of the reasons is—and I think was a telling—I think
we talked last week, right, right after Iowa and I remember you‘re asking me, “What does she have to do?” And I said, “I think she has to change her message because her message is clearly broken.” I thought in the debate Saturday night she did it. When John Edwards comes after her and says, you know, she‘s just old-fashioned, she‘s a status quo, whatever, “I am change, like my buddy—Barack Obama and I were a change.” And Hillary turned to them and says, “Wait a minute. You want change, we all want change, I can deliver change.” And so.
CARLSON: But Barack Obama gets up there and says—well, I‘m going to, you know, I‘m going to bring peace to our country basically. I‘m going to stop all this non-sense, people, you know, hating each other over political matters.
PRESS: Right. Right. Exactly. But Hillary is saying, “Yes, but that‘s just rhetoric, I have proven that I can deliver.” I‘m not taking sides here.
PRESS: All I‘m saying is I think that message resonated with people, that if you want change, you need someone who can deliver the goods, and he hasn‘t proven that he can.
PRESS: And she has. That‘s what I think did it.
CARLSON: The deeper message, I know nothing about the tastes of the
American people. Nothing at all. It‘s such an obvious choice to me that -
you have to believe that they are using a very sophisticated kind of micro-targeting. They are sending out essentially a dog whistle that only certain—I‘m serious, only certain voters can hear.
STODDARD: First of all, I think that there is a myth that if you‘re for—I think the Clinton people like to tell it like if you‘re for Barack Obama or one of the others, you‘re an anti-Clinton voter, you just hate Hillary. That‘s not true. Of the vote club universe of women who support, who generally prefer Barack Obama, they actually are torn. And they are torn for good reason between these two candidates. They really like them both, a lot of them. They like her because she does offer more experience in their view. They like him because they believe that he is the best hope for changing the system.
And, you know, if you could blend the combination of both those things, it would be unstoppable. Of course, they hate each other and they won‘t be on the ticket together. But the point is, it‘s not just a simple choice. And a lot of people do make up their minds. I think it was Dick Gephardt or someone, an Iowa, veteran, who was talking about the caucus process saying people think it‘s that walk through the parking lot. You think you‘re going to be for A and you get the willies and you stand up for B.
CARLSON: Yes. But it‘s just—one just seems more intrinsically appealing. On the one hand you‘ve got (INAUDIBLE) campaign and on the other hand you have this kind of hope of a unity government. I don‘t know. How can you choose the former over the latter?
PRESS: And in the middle you‘ve got people who‘ll say, you know, this sounds so good and it sounds so attractive, and he is so appealing, and I‘m so inspired. But is he for real?
CARLSON: So the key is don‘t ask hard questions. Where does he go.
PRESS: Exactly. No, that‘s.
CARLSON: He is going to—it seems to me he‘s poised, especially with the union endorsement he got today, to win Nevada. Right? As.
STODDARD: Not necessarily.
CARLSON: OK. Let‘s say he wins the caucuses in the state of Nevada, as they call it.
CARLSON: What‘s next? Is he back in?
PRESS: I—first of all, he‘s in. He is in. I mean this is an absolute horserace between Obama. I mean don‘t—because she won and hats off to her winning in New Hampshire. I mean she didn‘t knock Obama out of the race by any means. I mean this is—you know what, Tucker? I think this could go—we won‘t even know on February 5 I‘d be willing to say. I think this could go all the way to convention. We‘ve got two outstanding candidates both with a very appealing message. But I‘ll tell you what, I think for Barack Obama, he better get ready because he—they‘re going to come after him.
CARLSON: Really? What can they do? They‘ve already implied he might have been a crack dealer and he‘s secret Muslim extremist, al Qaeda member and—you know what I mean? What else can they say?
PRESS: They‘re going to ask tough questions, and say, “What do you mean by this? What do you mean by that?” And put him to the test.
CARLSON: Oh, yes. I‘m glad I‘m not him.
Barack Obama was expected to win the New Hampshire primary by big numbers. What happened? The question we‘ve been asking all day. And where does he go from him.
On the other side, it was a big night for John McCain snatching another win from Mitt Romney. What‘s next for Republicans? Can they stop the chaos and pick a leader? We‘ll tell you in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian, whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction. That‘s what‘s happening in America right now. Change is what‘s happening in America.
PROTESTERS, GROUP: We want change. We want change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Change is the buzzword for almost every candidate in this year‘s presidential race. For Barack Obama it will be more about changing campaign tactics and getting the counterpunch the Clintons. Or can he win on hope alone?
Joining me now is longtime Obama supporter and Democratic congressman from the state of Alabama, Artur Davis.
Congressman, thanks for coming on.
REP. ARTUR DAVIS (D), OBAMA SUPPORTER: Tucker, thanks for having me.
How are you doing?
CARLSON: I‘m bewildered as I think everyone else who watched what happened last night. I think everyone, I bet even you, expected Barack Obama to win. What happened? Why didn‘t he?
A. DAVIS: Bill and Hillary Clinton are two of the most resilient people on the planet and we‘ve known that for a while. So I give them a lot of credit. I can‘t give you a grand theory of what happened. I suspect, though, it went something like this. Voters in New Hampshire don‘t like being told by the press what they‘re going to do. They wanted this race to continue and they cast the one vote that would prolong the race. And now we‘re going to have a battle for the next month and possibly beyond.
That‘s a good thing, I think, for the Democratic Party if it‘s a battle about issues and substance. And I like my guy‘s chances in this battle.
CARLSON: Well—and the Clintons also hit Barack Obama pretty darn hard.
Donna Brazile, a longtime intimate of the Clinton family, went on CNN yesterday and said this about her former boss‘s behavior toward Barack Obama. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He shouldn‘t take out all his pain on Barack Obama. It‘s time that they re-group, figure out what Hillary needs to do to get her campaign back on track. It sounds like sour grapes coming from the former commander in chief, someone that many Democrats hold in high esteem. For him to go after Obama using fairy tale, calling him a kid as he did last week is an insult. And I tell you, as an African-American, I find his words and his tone to be very depressing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, I mean, she‘s essentially calling Bill Clinton a bigot there. What do you think of that?
A. DAVIS: Well, I don‘t know if she did that, Tucker, but I certainly will try to improve on Donna‘s wisdom. But I love Donna Brazile so I‘ll just let her comment stand. But I want to add something to what Donna said. There is an incredible enthusiasm for Barack Obama in this country. You saw that over the weekend in New Hampshire. The exit polls might not have been real but those crowds were real. People were there. The decibel level was what we thought it was. You heard even in his concession speech last night, incredible passion that he generated. The Clintons would be making a major mistake if they underestimate the passion that exists around the Obama campaign.
My candidate has the passion advantage in this race. My candidate has the advantage in this race when it comes to talking about being a credible agent of change. And I still don‘t think the Clintons have figured out how to deal with this guy. They haven‘t figured out how to undercut the enormous magnetism he has for so many people. And last point I‘ll slip in here, Democratic voters need to realize ultimately we‘ve got to select someone who can beat John McCain. Barack Obama can pull independents, he can pull soft Republicans. Nothing that happened yesterday undercuts that possibility.
CARLSON: No, I think that‘s a smart point. But there still is this gap between what people told pollsters they were going to do and what they actually did. And it raises the question, is the Democratic Party ready to elect a black candidate, move beyond its segregationist past and embrace a black candidate? It‘s not clear from last night‘s results that it is. What do you think?
A. DAVIS: Tucker, I think, I know you‘re not doing this, but I‘ve heard some commentators do it today. I think it‘s an insult to the voters of New Hampshire who are extraordinarily good people and people who are very diligent and very focused on this campaign. It‘s an insult to them to say that race had anything to do with this result yesterday. Now, yes, we need to look at the polling methodology to figure out why the (INAUDIBLE).
CARLSON: Hold on, Congressman. Why do you say that? Wait, hold on. Did—Democrats are always happy to ascribe almost every bad thing to the racism of the American people. Why not—no, I‘m serious. I hear that every day from Democrats.
A. DAVIS: I‘m not one of those Democrats. Tucker, you got a little mixed up with some of my colleagues.
CARLSON: I know you‘re not. But why is it—OK. But people told pollsters they were voting for the guy.
A. DAVIS: Tucker, very serious point.
CARLSON: .and they didn‘t. I don‘t know. I‘m just raising it. You don‘t think it had anything to do with it.
A. DAVIS: Well, Tucker, a very serious point. Here‘s a very well possibility that they had planned to vote for Barack Obama, and then that they listened to you, listened to everybody else yesterday, heard that the race was going to be over if Obama won, and they said, you know what? All the Clintons are asking for is a chance to be heard a little bit longer. All they‘re asking for is a longer chance to make their case. You know what? We‘re going to give them a few more weeks. Now I‘m not happy about the fact they did that. But the fact they did it, I wouldn‘t attribute that to racism or some sinister motive.
CARLSON: OK. Good.
A. DAVIS: I see no evidence race has been a factor in this campaign. Race is not going to be a factor in this campaign. Obama is going to win this race because he‘s the stronger candidate of the two and I think he‘s got the better plan for America and for the Democratic Party of the two who are left.
CARLSON: I hope you are absolutely right. I hope—I absolutely I want to believe everything you said and you‘re right. The press was on Obama‘s side. We can admit that now. It was overwhelming.
Congressman, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.
A. DAVIS: Tucker, thank you.
CARLSON: Mitt Romney won what he called the silver medal in the New Hampshire primary. That second place. It means John Edwards took home the bronze. It‘s impressive from an Olympics standpoint possibly, but not really in the political word. Can he go on?
Plus Rudy Giuliani is busy campaigning in Florida. He‘s essentially skipped the contest before that one. Will he be forgotten by January 29th when the Floridians head to the polls? We‘ll tell you in a minute. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: No less dramatic than Hillary Clinton‘s big night in New Hampshire was the solid victory of Republican John McCain in that state. The Arizona Republican has been running a hand to mouth campaign for months now. He‘s rearranged his campaign staff. He was essentially left for dead politically eight months ago by virtually everyone who pays attention to these things.
Last night, Andrea Mitchell revealed that the Hillary Clinton campaign now thinks John McCain will be the likely Republican nominee, and the Republican they fear most. Where does this story go from here? Back to tell us, associate editor of “The Hill,” A.B. Stoddard, and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press.
Bill, here are the numbers that really are a two edged sword. These are the numbers that make it difficult for McCain to get the nomination and the numbers that make it more likely he could win the presidency should he get that nomination. Here they are; McCain exit polling data among independents; McCain beat Romney 40 to 27 percent.
OK, that‘s great news going into the general election. Here‘s the not such good news, among people self-identified as very conservative, Mitt Romney 38, John McCain 30. It‘s exactly what we saw eight years ago; people in the middle like him, conservatives don‘t.
PRESS: I would agree with Andrea Mitchell, or Hillary Clinton, whoever she was quoting. To date, I think John McCain looks like the most likely to be the nominee and the strongest among all the Republicans. Who is going to beat him? Fred who? Thompson is out. Rudy who? Rudy is out. Romney has yet to prove that he can get to second base even in a state where he has a vacation home.
CARLSON: But what if this happens—I mean, I agree that if McCain wins both Nevada and South Carolina, Republicans who hate chaos, want a leader, will coalesce behind John McCain. But let‘s say he loses in Michigan to Romney. Let‘s say he loses in South Carolina to Mike Huckabee. Doesn‘t that open it up for Rudy Giuliani to come in and say, you‘re looking for daddy, here he is.
PRESS: It does. Look, I think we all three have to admit that anything—after yesterday, anything can happen in this primary year. I honestly believe this Rudy strategy of waiting until the entire world catches up with him in Florida is a failed strategy and a suicidal strategy. By that time I think too many people will have made their choice, and they have other good choices out there.
What‘s so special about Rudy Giuliani that they are going to wait for Florida.
CARLSON: In this contest, with all these different potentially viable Republicans, it‘s a matter of who is left standing, who is the least bad. Here is—I was thinking last week as I was traveling with McCain, why do people love McCain so much, why do reporters love him? It‘s because he says things like this—yesterday morning, he says—he gives lots of access to reporters, but it‘s more than that.
He say, there‘s not a superstition I don‘t indulge in. I believe in luck.
I thought, when was the last time you heard a candidate concede that people might not vote for him because he‘s the best guy, but there‘s a kind of randomness to the universe and maybe luck is the determining factor. Who admits something like that? Only McCain.
STODDARD: There are very few people living today and very few well-known people who have almost been killed as many times as John McCain. It was not just in Vietnam. I‘m going to indulge him that. At age 71, if he wants to carry lucky pennies in his pocket, stay in the same hotel room in the same hotel, do same rituals on election day, and he thinks that‘s going to work, that‘s fine.
CARLSON: I think it‘s a beautiful thing because it‘s true. Actually, a lot of life is luck, where you‘re born, whether or not you get hit by a car. I mean, luck matters. In his victory speech last night he said, I have served this country imperfectly. When was the last time you heard a candidate admit he had done anything imperfectly, much less served his country imperfectly.
STODDARD: I think it was a good speech that was poorly delivered. I wish he had looked up and used the teleprompter. But I think that John McCain—Robert Novak, no less, has said he‘ll be the last man standing. John McCain is now the grandpa of the Republican party with the most experience and national security bona fides to make Hillary shake in her boots.
Now, there is a scenario in which can do well in Michigan with independents and people who supported him the last time. There is a case for Mitt Romney imploding. Mitt Romney is a default candidate who people choose when they feel they have no choice. He doesn‘t have a passionate following, really, at least not the Republicans that I‘ve spoken to that are supporting him.
So, there is a case to be made that he can fend off Mike Huckabee with his experience argument, with being the senior man, the Bob Dole of the Republican party. There is a case to be made that Mitt Romney, with all his millions in Michigan—I know he will do a big ad bomb campaign and John McCain will not be able to press as many palms as he would like there. He did have a huge platform last night.
CARLSON: I‘m not sure about that. We‘re getting word late this afternoon that Romney has pulled his advertising from South Carolina and from Florida. Apparently, he‘s still going to remain on the air in Michigan. This is significant, though. He‘s pulling back. Apparently, these are ads he‘s probably paying for largely himself. And he‘s not going to. I don‘t think that‘s a good sign for his campaign.
Tell me about John Edwards. These amazing numbers last night, to repeat them; his weakest category among voters last night in New Hampshire, poor people. That was his weakest category. This is a guy who is running on behalf of poor people. What is that?
PRESS: I would also point out among union households, union voters, Hillary got 41 percent, Barack Obama 31 percent and John Edwards 21 percent.
CARLSON: That‘s the second contest he‘s been third among union members.
PRESS: These are his people. I have to tell you, as someone who has admired John Edwards for a long time, I think John Edwards is done. I think he‘s simply going through the motions today. I think he is, in effect, sucking off a lot of the Barack Obama vote. And I think it‘s only a matter of time. I don‘t care what Joe Trippi says.
CARLSON: Do you buy that though? I agree with you and I‘m not attacking John Edwards. But when your weakest category is the people you‘re claiming to be living your life for and you lose—I‘m serious, in third place, two contests in a row, at that point you‘re not doing well. Are his supporters anti-Hillary people or are they just as likely to move their support to Hillary as they are to Obama. What‘s your read?
STODDARD: I think they are likely to go in either place.
CARLSON: You really think so?
STODDARD: I really do. I think she picks up the same demographic that he does.
CARLSON: Even though he‘s running against her. He attacks her all the time.
STODDARD: Listen, John Edwards is a very smart man. I think people believe he‘s very genuine. He has endeared himself to a very loyal if not now very diminished following. But he‘s a very weak candidate. And it was over before last night. It‘s been over for a while. The interesting thing is John Edwards is never going to run again. His life is changing very fast because of his wife‘s illness. I have no doubt that if party elders came to him and said, you need to stop being a spoiler for Barack Obama, you need to step aside and let these people fight it out, 17 percent that could have gone to one or other, I think he would say no, and stick it in their eye.
CARLSON: I think he and his wife, who is an integral part of that campaign, an essential part of that campaign, would say no. They believe they are on a mission. I‘m not attacking them. I will just—here is another statistic. He came in weakest among people who didn‘t complete high school. Again, these are the weakest among us and they are choosing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over him. It‘s unbelievable.
PRESS: He‘s a great candidate. He‘s got a great message. The populist message has always worked for Democrats. His problem is that this year he‘s trying to win that message over Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the two rock stars. Exactly.
CARLSON: I think there‘s a deeper problem there. But we‘ll have years to figure out exactly what this all means. In the meantime, Fred Thompson, one of my all-time favorite candidates, I think a great guy, a guy who has no plans for running my life. That‘s what I love about him. How long is he going to stay in?
STODDARD: Well, it‘s South Carolina or bust for him. Isn‘t it the state that asked him to step aside and get out of the race down there in South Carolina? I kind of like his defiance. I think it‘s rather interesting. I thought he was going to Iowa to end it. I thought he was going to Iowa so that on January 4th he could just pack up and say, you know, I‘m going to support John McCain.
He‘s surprising me. I don‘t know what he‘s thinking.
PRESS: Here is what I don‘t get. I don‘t get why Fred Thompson gets one percent in New Hampshire, Ron Paul gets eight percent, but Fox News puts Fred Thompson up there as one of the leading candidate and they ignore Ron Paul.
CARLSON: Apparently Ron Paul is back in the Fox debate.
PRESS: He wasn‘t there Sunday night.
CARLSON: In the next, Ron Paul is apparently back.
STODDARD: Ron Paul‘s days are over. I‘m sorry, eight percent in a live free or die state. That was Ron Paul‘s state, sorry.
CARLSON: Let‘s talk about South Carolina for a second. This is obviously an essential contest in John McCain‘s life. He lost it eight years ago. That was, for all intents and purposes, the end of his campaign. He really wants to win it this time. It‘s also a big deal for Democrats. You‘ve got about 50 percent black participation in the Democratic primary. Al Sharpton issued a statement today, saying this is really a referendum on the civil rights message here, this campaign in South Carolina.
How certain are you that a very large number of black voters in South Carolina are going to go to Obama.
PRESS: I think it‘s 50-50. I think this is Al Sharpton‘s attempt to insert himself into the primary and to get Barack Obama to embrace his agenda, which Barack Obama is too smart to do. I think Hillary has got an even chance of winning in South Carolina. And I think John McCain‘s problem in South Carolina—I mean they may feel that they have got to redeem themselves for what they did to him eight years ago, but Mike Huckabee in South Carolina has a strong evangelical base again and I think Huckabee rises—
Michigan, I don‘t see that much. But I think South Carolina is where he comes back to the forefront.
CARLSON: Eight years ago, the McCain people really kind of went out of their way to give the finger to conservatives in South Carolina, though McCain in my view is actually conservative on many issues. But they really went out of their way to stick the thumb in the eye of the voters there. I talk to someone on the campaign last night who said we won‘t be doing that this time. How do you think he will do there?
STODDARD: Conservatives, again, they are without choices. Conservatives have a real problem with Mike Huckabee and the knives are out. He‘s wrong on immigration. He‘s wrong on taxes.
PRESS: McCain‘s not that much better on immigration.
STODDARD: You know what, though, McCain might beat Hillary Clinton. Conservatives thinking about this primary, veterans in South Carolina—there were a lot of Bush supporters in New Hampshire who called McCain a liberal eight years ago who supported him this time. I think it‘s a different time. It‘s a different set of issues. I think the Baptist preacher will go down there and charm a lot of people to the polls. But I do think that John McCain, as I said before, now being the party elder, has a different race in South Carolina on his hands.
CARLSON: You believe that conservative voters in that state and others will make a rational choice to hold their nose and vote for McCain on the grounds that he is consistently the most conservative.
STODDARD: When Bob Dole wrote that letter to Mike Huckabee, saying what are you doing bashing the Bush administration, like, where do you get off. Sure I lost in 1996, what do I know. But the “National Review,” “The Weekly Standard,” the real poobahs of the GOP establishment can‘t fathom this Mike Huckabee deal, OK. They want him stopped. If they actually decide to rally behind John McCain, I think Mike Huckabee can be stopped.
CARLSON: Yes, it didn‘t do a lot of good, though, in Iowa.
PRESS: And I think McCain has gone out of his way to appeal to that conservative base and may today be more attractive to them than Mike Huckabee.
CARLSON: We‘re going to be speaking to a McCain key adviser in just a minute. Give me just in 30 seconds here—
STODDARD: No predictions.
CARLSON: I don‘t want predictions. I want your honest—this is for my own edification, your one-sentence theory—I know we‘ve been talking about this—why did Barack Obama lose last night? Just boil it down for me.
STODDARD: The women.
CARLSON: The women?
STODDARD: It was a nice weather day and the older women like Joe Scarborough‘s mother, who might not have been sympathetic before to Hillary Clinton, got into their cars and got to the booth and they voted for her. I think there are other women that maybe were wavering who felt in her debate performance, combined with her teary moment, she needs some solidarity. I think it was women that tipped her over.
It was percent, let‘s remember. It‘s a blowout because we thought he was going to win by 12. It‘s a three percent victory. I think it‘s women.
PRESS: I just want to point out that Joe Scarborough‘s mother lives in Pensacola. If she voted in New Hampshire, she committed a federal crime. My answer is Hillary improved her message. I think the debate performance really helped her, particularly when she said you hurt my feelings. And I think the emotional moment softened her, showed a human side of her and that was three points.
CARLSON: Shows you what I know. My new rule is, if I find it revolting, it‘s a winner. Thank you both. John McCain‘s Straight Talk Express is back on track after pulling off an upset in New Hampshire. Was it a one-time deal or will McCain be the choice for Republicans in ‘08? We‘ll talk to a senior adviser on that campaign in a minute.
With all this talk about politics, we thought it was only fair to get you up to speed on Hollywood‘s most talked about train wreck in progress. That is of course Britney Spears. Bill Wolff brings us the latest in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I‘m past the age when I can claim the noun kid, no matter what adjective precedes it. But tonight we sure showed them what a comeback looks like.
My friends, I didn‘t go to Washington to go along, to get along, to play it safe, to serve my own interests, I went there to serve my country. And that, my friends, is just what I intend to do if I am so privileged to be elected your president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: This campaign may in the end feature more comebacks than George Foreman. Last summer, his campaign, McCain‘s campaign, was considered to be dead in the water by virtually everyone. Now the Straight Talk Express is back in the fast lane and headed to primaries in the south and west. Could McCain be the last, best hope for his party?
Joining me now, senior advisor to John McCain, and former Reagan White House political director, Frank Donatelli, and also one of about three people in Washington to keep the faith on John McCain all this time. Congratulations.
FRANK DONATELLI, MCCAIN ADVISER: Thank you. We never lost hope.
CARLSON: No, you never did, even when people mocked you. You were right. He won. The win, though, looks a lot like his win—I‘m impressed by his win last night. But it looks a lot like his win in 2000, where he ran really strong among independents and moderate Republicans, not as strong, in fact lost among self-identified serious conservatives.
DONATELLI: We came closer, I think, among Republicans. It was a very, very spirited contest. Tucker, what I would take away from the victory is that on every issue that was important to Republicans and independents, who is best able to be commander in chief, who can best fight the war on terror, who is better on the economy, McCain won.
The one area we did lose was on immigration. We know we‘ve got a problem there. We‘ve got to address that.
CARLSON: How can you address that? He can‘t very well say oh, yes, I‘m for closing the borders. He‘s emotionally pro-immigration in a lot of ways.
DONATELLI: He‘s pro-legal immigration.
CARLSON: But he‘s miles apart on a lot of this from the Republican base. He can‘t really change his position, can he?
DONATELLI: No, he‘s not going to change his position. But I would say two things; number one, we‘ve got to explain to people that while he hasn‘t change his position, he does understand that people want to see action, they want to see the borders secured. Then, only then, can we talk about the other issues that we‘re talking about.
But then we go beyond that and say, look, whatever you think of immigration, that‘s not the number one issue in this campaign. The number one issue in this campaign is who is best prepared to fight the war on terror, who will make sure we defeat al Qaeda and be victorious. I think when you put it in those terms, McCain can‘t lose.
CARLSON: I see how he gets to Tsunami Tuesday, February 5th. He beats Romney in Michigan, which I think pretty much puts an end to the Romney campaign. He beats Huckabee in South Carolina, pretty much ending the Huckabee campaign—if those events take place. What about Rudy Giuliani?
DONATELLI: What about him?
CARLSON: At that point, what‘s McCain argument when he faces off against Rudy Giuliani in Florida, assuming he won those two contests or maybe not. What‘s his argument against Rudy.
DONATELLI: The argument against Rudy is the same argument that we‘re making against these other candidates. Number one, McCain by far and away has the most foreign policy experience. Rudy has the experience of dealing with the aftermath of a tragic terrorist attack, but I don‘t know that you can say he‘s the most experienced at foreign policy.
And number two, Tucker, and I think it‘s going to become more important at that point in the campaign, McCain is the most electable. There is this myth out there that Rudy is the most electable. It‘s not true. Rudy has appealed in certain very, very blue states that he would probably lose anyway. But if you want to talk about independents that could really go one way or another in the Rock Mountain—closely contested Rocky Mountain states in the Midwest, survey after survey shows that McCain is our best chance as Republicans to keep the White House against either Mr. Obama or Senator Clinton.
CARLSON: Marc Santora has an interesting piece in the “New York Times” today about last night. He was up in the room with McCain when he won, and more to the point when Mitt Romney lost. Romney‘s giving his concession speech and McCain turns off the sound on the television because he can‘t bear to hear the guy‘s voice. Why does McCain despise Romney so much?
DONATELLI: I think when you get in close quarters like that, he was the victim of a lot of negative ads. Frankly, the senator felt that some of them were distorting his position. but look, he‘s a seasoned politician. This comes and goes. He‘s prepared to move forward. He doesn‘t take these things personally.
CARLSON: He‘s not going to hit him.
DONATELLI: Well, I think we‘re going to respond if the negative commercials continue to come, because there are differences between the candidates. But it‘s not going to deter him from his message.
CARLSON: Frank Donatelli, congratulations, for the victory for McCain, but also for the very few who kept the faith and you‘re one of them. Thank you for coming on.
Kids will do just about anything to get out of having to go to school. But this 10-year-old gets extra points for going above and beyond the call of duty. What he did and how he got caught literally when we come back.
CARLSON: It‘s not all fun and games in the news business. Somebody has to cover Britney Spears. That duty falls to us now for our daily update. We welcome Bill Wolff.
BILL WOLFF, MSNBC VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Tucker. Obviously people have been caught up in the election, but there have been important developments in other areas of the news. I‘ve been watching them. I‘m going to try to make this as political as possible.
Tucker, the Associated Press, the justifiably respected global news agency, apparently agrees with your long held conviction that Britney Spears news matters. An internal memo from the AP‘s assistant Los Angeles bureau chief instructed his staff that, quote, now, and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal, end quote.
Now, on this program we rely on our own tracking data. Naturally, we respect the AP‘s call on Britney, but we had declared her vitally important some time ago, based on hard data, Tucker, and computer modeling.
CARLSON: We ran it through the mainframe and came to the conclusion that Britney Spears matters.
WOLFF: We declared her important long ago. AP‘s on board now, but if you want to be up to date, keep it right here 6:55 Eastern each day.
CARLSON: That‘s right. It‘s not our first Britney Spears story.
WOLFF: No, not our last, my friend. There‘s news about Dr. Phil and such, but we‘ll save it for tomorrow. Much of the analysis of the 2008 primaries has focused on the youth vote. Well, Tucker, youths of all ages have a new hero, like everyone whoever drew breath, 10-year-old Diego Martinez Palacios (ph) of Monterrey, Mexico did not want to go back to school after his Christmas break. And so this young trail blazer, this point of light, super glued himself to bed.
When his mother noticed that he hadn‘t come out of his room to go to school, she went in there to find him stuck to the bedpost and watching cartoons. After solvents failed to rescue him, rescue personnel were called in Diego, or San Diego, as he‘s now known in grammar school circles worldwide, was unglued in time for school that day. I‘m sure, Tucker, you share my regrets that I never had the ingenuity or courage to do it myself, glue myself to the bed. Best thing I ever heard.
CARLSON: It‘s a really short-term strategy, what with the whole bathroom problem and all.
WOLFF: But it‘s also a short term problem, I don‘t want to go today. You know what I mean? It‘s not that I don‘t ever want to go, it‘s today I don‘t want to go. So, mom, I‘ve got some epoxy glue and a little problem with the bed post. Now, soon to come on the 2008 -- let‘s keep this political, Tucker—are the Nevada caucuses. In some counties in the Silver State prostitution is legal. That gives us a loose tie to a story from Warsaw, Poland.
The Polish tabloid “Super Express” reports that a man visiting a brothel learned more about his wife that he probably wanted to know. It seems she was a revenue generator at the cat house, if you know what I mean. The woman had told her husband she was moon lighting at a store in a nearby town, when, as he learned, she had been pulling down a few extra bucks in the old-fashioned way. After 14 years of marriage, Tucker, the couple is divorcing.
CARLSON: He refused to pay.
WOLFF: Hard to say who is in worse shape, the one who is getting paid for it or the one who is paying for it, Tucker.
CARLSON: Bill Wolff at head quarters, thank you Bill.
WOLFF: My pleasure.
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thanks for watching. As always, we‘ll see you right back here tomorrow night. Up next, HARDBALL with Chris. Have a great night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, 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 NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.