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South Carolina Democratic Primary Coverage for Saturday, January 26, 6:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. ET

Read the transcript from the special coverage

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: For what shall it profit a senator if he

or she shall gain South Carolina and lose his or her own soul? The polls

closing in the Palmetto State an hour hence. It could be Obama knocking

off Clinton or Clinton knocking off Obama or perhaps each neutralizing

the other. Right, we shall start.


OLBERMANN (voice-over): For Barack Obama, a must-win, where all polls forecast he will win, but where a slim margin could be a pyrrhic victory.

For Hillary Clinton, diminished expectations after a rancorous week in the uncharted territories of race and gender and spouses who used to be president.

For John Edwards, a late surge in the polls fueled by the slap fight at the top and by the economy headed towards the bottom. Second place within reach.

NBC’s Lester Holt from South Carolina on this singular campaign. Kevin Corke in Columbia with the resurgent Edwards camp. Mike Taibbi following the Clintons to Nashville. Lee Cowan at Obama headquarters at the Columbia Convention Center. The analysis of NBC’s Tim Russert with Brian Williams, from NBC News political director Chuck Todd, by Howard Fineman and Craig Crawford. And with us in New York, Joe Scarborough with Pat Buchanan, Margaret Carlson, and Eugene Robinson.

Plus, the reaction of Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and of Clinton supporter Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of California, and of senior Edwards campaign adviser Joe Trippi. And of a centerpiece of the primary, the neutral Democratic titan of South Carolina, Majority Whip James Clyburn.

This is MSNBC’s coverage of the 2008 South Carolina Democratic Primary.


OLBERMANN: And good evening from our election desk at MSNBC headquarters in New York. With Chris Matthews in an unbreakable previous commitment at Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, alongside David Gregory, I’m Keith Olbermann.

Good to see you.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good to see you, Keith. Thought I could pinch hit while Chris is away. This is going to be a big night.

OLBERMANN: A smorgasbord of issues and sub-issues and portents for things to come for the Democrats. Just a big night in almost any respect. What do you think is our key tonight?

GREGORY: Well, you framed it. Well, this has been a nasty campaign down in South Carolina between Clinton and Obama, with Edwards trying to get some breathing space here, trying to get some attention. This is going to be an important result, and also an important result for the Democratic Party and this idea of unity going forward.

But this is still a very much tight race as we go into February 5th and Super Tuesday as to who is going to come out on top. There is a lot riding on this decision tonight.

OLBERMANN: And maybe even more than just the result of who wins in South Carolina is the question of how this campaign affected Democrats there and elsewhere. Something we will begin to get a hint at even before polls close, which will be an hour hence, or now about 57 minutes.

But we do have early numbers from the exit polling, some indication of who was doing, if not what, at least why they were doing it. Norah O’Donnell has been manning that desk since primary season began and as usual joins us in front of it.

Norah, good evening.

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith. Good evening, David. Good evening, everyone.

You guys were just talking about a nasty campaign. This Democratic primary in South Carolina has been a bitter, hard-fought contest with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, taking jabs at each other, whether it was Monday’s televised debate or their spouses adding some negative swipes during campaign stops. So we asked voters today in this primary if the candidates were attacking each other unfairly.

And look at this. According to our exit poll, 56 percent of those voting so far think Barack Obama attacked Hillary Clinton unfairly. However, as can you see from the numbers, voters are more likely to think Hillary Clinton went too far in her criticisms of her Senate colleague. See that? Seventy percent believe her campaign unfairly attacked Barack Obama.

The Clintons have been accused of playing the race card in this contest and we do see evidence in our exit polls of some potential fallout for the Clintons in the African-American community. You can see here that three quarters of black voters expressed their anger and their belief that Hillary Clinton unfairly attacked the senator.

Then there is the specific issue of Bill Clinton’s role in this campaign. You know, he has been called the attack dog of the Clinton campaign, keeping up this drumbeat of negative comments about Barack Obama’s experience and his connections.

Well, we wanted to find out how the former president’s campaigning affected decisions in the Palmetto State. And here is what our exit polls uncovered. A majority, 56 percent of the voters, say the former president’s campaigning was important to their vote today. That’s adding those first two figures you see at the top of that graphic together.

So for better or for worse, Bill Clinton’s role in his wife’s campaign did have an impact with many South Carolina voters. And we are going to see how plays out when the polls close in less than an hour from now.  Back to you guys.


GREGORY: Interesting numbers.

OLBERMANN: Extraordinary numbers. The good number there is 56 percent of voters, many of whom must have voted for Barack Obama, thought he had voted—or attacked Hillary Clinton unfairly. And that’s the low end of the spectrum. I’m looking at—one other number we will be asking for from the exit pollers is if there is—what percentage of those people said both were attacking unfairly.


OLBERMANN: Really indicative of what happens out there.

GREGORY: And did they just not like—and we saw the Republican debate the other night where they went in the other direction, seeing what the Democrats had been through. Let’s bring in our Washington bureau chief and moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert, for a look at these exit poll numbers. He is down in Tampa, Florida. He is going to be talking to Senator John McCain on “MEET THE PRESS.”

Tim, what do you make of it? These numbers come in, striking, attack politics down in South Carolina.

TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: They sure do, David. And there are three big things at issue tonight. One, who is going to win South Carolina? Who is going to win the most delegates? The Obama people, they want to win this state big. The Clinton people want to keep it tight. So psychologically they go into the second big point.

Super Tuesday, a week from Tuesday. What will we learn from South Carolina? If, in fact, the campaign was, quote, “too negative.” And what about black voters? If three out of four black voters think that Hillary Clinton was unfair, how will that ripple into Super Tuesday?

And the third issue, what will it mean in November if Hillary Clinton in fact emerges as the nominee? So there is a lot at stake here in South Carolina that—beyond who wins the state and by how much. And I think we will be talking about that for most of the night.

GREGORY: And, Tim, how do you think—how do you describe the way that this race in South Carolina has become polarizing, not just on the question of experience, but on the issue of race that will play out tonight, we expect, in these results?

RUSSERT: Well, there is no doubt about it. You know, South Carolina was scheduled this early in the primary season because the Democratic Party wanted to have a state that had a considerable number of African-American voters. Barack Obama had done well with white voters in Iowa, white voters in New Hampshire. Race wasn’t much of an issue.

Suddenly, it exploded down here. Obama supporters thinking that it was Bill and Hillary Clinton who were trying to, quote, “blacken Barack Obama,” in the words of Professor Ron Walters. It was Barack Obama who went on the “TODAY” show this morning and said in the beginning of the campaign I wasn’t black enough.

The fact is, David, for this last week, and I think tonight, as people analyze these numbers, it will be race as the fault line. Did the Clintons go too far? Did Obama go too aggressive in response? And what will be the fallout of black voters on Super Tuesday in those major urban states like Massachusetts and New York and Illinois and California?

There is going to be a continuous heated battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Will race continue to be the kind of factor on Super Tuesday that we have seen here in South Carolina?

OLBERMANN: Tim, do you think there is something even more transcendent in those two numbers that we have quoted now, the one that you mentioned, about 74 percent of black voters thinking that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign unfairly attacked Senator Obama? But 70 percent of all voters did, that is about where—I mean, we are anticipating a turnout there somewhere about 50/50 or so between African-American voters and non-African-American voters—or roughly that. I mean, we will find out what it is.

But it suggests that a majority of non-African-American voters felt that same way about Senator Clinton and the campaign. And a lot of, obviously, African-American voters felt that way about Senator Obama. Is there a chastisement of both of these candidates and will either camp here it?

RUSSERT: I’m with you, Keith. I want to see those numbers. What do blacks and whites say about Obama and Clinton on this negativity factor?  And, yes, if, in fact, they are expressing their concern, their disdain for this kind of rhetoric, in fact may have a chilling effect, in the words of Congressman Clyburn, chill. That is what he is urging on this kind of issue.

Also, Keith, what will it mean for the role of Bill Clinton on Super Tuesday? Are they willing to continue to have Bill Clinton go out to take this kind of thunder, take this kind of reaction, because he thinks that people are listening, that he can get the attention and even though there may be some negative backlash, he gets to make the case against Obama that his wife cannot?

I think this exit poll is going to be very instructive tonight for the viewers, for the voters, and for the candidates.

OLBERMANN: It is chill or be chilled, I assume. Is there any…

RUSSERT: Yes, that is right.


OLBERMANN: If there is a decisive determination in this one way or the other, is there any way to say to the losing candidate in this race—or the second place candidate, or the third place candidate, perhaps, no, you’ve got to keep it within—color within the lines, no pun intended there, but you have to stay within the lines the rest of the campaign? They’re not going to listen to that, are they?

RUSSERT: I don’t know. But you know, we’ve heard such an outcry from people, proponents of both candidates, but a lot of neutral observers saying, hold on. You have gone too far. And we heard that a week or 10 days ago, and there was an official truce, and then it blew up again.

And then it blew up again at the debate. I think tonight, if one of these candidates wins big, they are going to be able to say, see, we told you so. Now, let’s knock it off and go on to Super Tuesday and conduct this campaign at a much more civilized tone and level.

And, by the way, if Obama wins, they will say, you see, Bill Clinton’s attacks didn’t work. If Hillary Clinton wins or keeps it close, they will say, you see, he is the most effective surrogate in the history of Democratic politics.

So at 7:00 p.m. and thereafter, we are going to know a whole lot beyond these exit polls and we are going to be able to interpret it, I think, even before the candidates will have their chance to give us their spin.

OLBERMANN: Indeed, yes, but—if anybody but John Edwards wins, the message to the other two camps may be, no, some of this works to some degree. And unfortunately, that may continue unabated. Tim Russert, thanks. We will be checking back with you. It will be our pleasure to do so throughout the evening. Thanks, Tim.

We have, of course, NBC correspondents with the three Democratic campaigns tonight. Let’s go to each house right now. We begin with Lee Cowan who is at the Obama campaign in Columbia, South Carolina.

Lee, good evening.

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Keith. You know, I think we have been around this candidate long enough to know the difference between the fake smiles and the real smiles, and there have been a lot of real smiles lately on this campaign.

And you really noticed it, I think, on the campaign trail over the last couple of days. It seems like Barack Obama is much more comfortable on the road than he has been. You know, everyone talks about what a gifted speaker he is. But there is a different texture to it this time.

He seems to be laughing with the audience. He seems to be engaging them more. He is feeding off of them a little bit more. It is the traditional stump speech, but he mixes it up, depending on the crowd. He just seems like a little bit of a different candidate here.

Whether that is confidence, I’m not sure, or whether it is just the fact that he is getting pretty used to campaigning and he is just getting more comfortable with it, but there does seem to be a different feel.  And I think the sense is that they are very confident heading into tonight—Keith.

OLBERMANN: Exhaustion always helps, too. Lee Cowan at the Columbia, South Carolina, Convention Center with the Obama campaign. Thank you, Lee.

NBC’s Mike Taibbi is in Nashville, Tennessee. That is where Hillary Clinton is headed tonight as her hopscotch campaign continues even as the South Carolina primary ends.

Mike, good evening to you.


Yes, the fact we are that we are in Nashville tells a large part of the story, because yesterday, last night we told that she was going to be here tonight even before the returns were in in South Carolina, suggesting there was no high confidence that there would be a need for a victory speech back in South Carolina.

And then this afternoon we got an e-mail from Howard Wolfson, who is the communications director for the Clinton campaign, saying basically, listen, the polls are all saying—the Real Politics average poll, that it looks like a 12-point win right now going into today, and so we’re moving on.

This is a delegate fight, Wolfson wrote. We’re going to be ahead in that case. We are ahead in it right now. We are heading into February 5th when more than 1,600 delegates are up for grabs. And that is where this fight is going to go.

And Hillary Clinton, listening to her for the last couple of days, kept saying, we are going to be in this to the very end. This is going to go the distance, and that is the way that they were playing it. None of the big smiles that Lee was talking about watching his candidate, not among Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff. Back to you, Keith.

OLBERMANN: But not literally, only figuratively, as they are in Tennessee or on their way, as Mike Taibbi reports to us tonight from Nashville.

TAIBBI: That is right.

OLBERMANN: Thank you, Mike.

NBC’s Kevin Corke, meantime, is at Jillian’s Restaurant, Columbia, South Carolina, the Edwards campaign in the senator’s home birth state, is there. And that is where Kevin will be joining us throughout the evening.

Kevin, good evening to you.

KEVIN CORKE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Keith, good evening to you. I think it is interesting to just take a look around Jillian’s. I think there is a bit of excitement here because they just don’t know. They don’t know.  Did he connect with the voters like he had hoped to?

Would the fact that he is a native son really pay off today? But I also think there is an unease here, because the fact of the matter is, if not here, where? If not now, when? In the case of John Edwards, he has got to show some momentum. And this is a place where certainly he would have some advantages to do that, because some of our pre-election polling seemed to suggest that Edwards is a guy who seems to be taking advantage of or at least benefiting from the ongoing Obama-Clinton spat.

And yet, despite that feud, despite some of that inertia, that emotion, and that momentum, it is not clear tonight, Keith, that that is going to make enough of a difference for him to, say, have a strong third or maybe even second place showing.

OLBERMANN: Kevin Corke at the Edwards campaign, which was buoyed by those poll results yesterday, we will see if any of that translates into a second tonight. Thank you, Kevin.

GREGORY: We have been talking about the racial element of this race in South Carolina. I’m interested to see the exit polls on where the white vote goes, because if their has been an effort to kind of marginalize the Obama campaign as the African-American candidate, you are going to want to see whether he was able to perform well with whites. That is important not only in South Carolina, it will be important on February 5th and Super Tuesday as well.

OLBERMANN: And fortunately for the senator and those who want to see

that number rise, it had dropped so low, to something like 10 percent

support during the week, that anything better than that—which is a

horrifically low number…

GREGORY: For Obama.

OLBERMANN: Right, anything better than that looks great, looks unified.

So they can work with that.

GREGORY: But it goes back to this point about this divisiveness. Does the Democratic Party want that going into Super Tuesday? It has been pretty negative.

OLBERMANN: I would think not. You never know.

GREGORY: But you never know.

OLBERMANN: Collectively, certainly, they don’t. Individually, some of them need it.

GREGORY: About 45 minutes away until the polls close now in South Carolina. This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary. We will be right back.


OLBERMANN: And we rejoin you with MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary. Polls set to close in a little over 40 minutes. And we want to get the latest on what is going on.

GREGORY: NBC News political director Chuck Todd, MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman of Newsweek are both with us. And we are going to start with Chuck, get a look at the lay of the land in South Carolina, look how this race is going to break down—Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think when you look at the state right now and you see where Obama has his strength, and I think that it starts in the middle of the state, in the Columbia region, and it goes from Columbia to Charleston, almost like a triangle. Columbia to Florence, to Charleston.

And it is—parts of the—lots of the sixth congressional district, that is Jim Clyburn’s district, as well as parts of the fifth congressional district. Large African-American population there and that is sort of his base area. That is the area that I think that they expect to do well, obviously do well enough to not only win a lot of the delegates in those two congressional districts, but also pad any potential to their state-wide vote.

Then you look at the—then you look at sort of where Senator Clinton believes that they can do well and you start going along the Atlantic Ocean, starting in Myrtle Beach. That is an area, right—literally, you go right down the Atlantic Ocean there. That is from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, that is parts of the first congressional district, that is a place where they targeted heavily, hoped to do well.

And you go right down to the border of Georgia there, Charleston, on the way down, down to Jasper County, an area that Senator Clinton believes that she can do well. Also though, down there in Jasper County are some pockets of African-American population and a place that Senator Obama can do well.

Then you start working your way up into the Greenville area and Spartanburg, sort of the northwest part of the state. And that is where Senator Edwards could do very well. That is a place he was targeting heavily. The fourth congressional district. It’s actually a very conservative congressional district when both parties are voting. That is a place where Edwards has lived, really, when it comes to—it is where he was born, in—Seneca is in that area.

And then you go along the North Carolina border. This is in 2004, John Edwards did very well all along those counties on the North Carolina border. And, again, could be a place where he does well tonight.

So that is sort of how the state is probably split up as far as targeting-wise. Obama, in that capital, sort of that triangle area I was describing: Columbia, Florence, Charleston. Then you have the—Hillary Clinton along the coast, obviously wanting to do well and hold her own in some of those African-American areas. And then John Edwards, right along the North Carolina border and in the Greenville-Spartanburg area.

GREGORY: We are going to hear a lot from Chuck Todd as the night goes on. Howard Fineman from Newsweek is also with us.

And, Howard, you look at these exit polls and the mood of the voters down there about the tenor, the tone of the campaign they have been seeing and hearing, they are not that happy about it. What are you learning from the Clinton camp tonight?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what struck me is that the utter lack of remorse from the Clinton campaign, at least from some of the high command that I talked to. They are basically saying, hey, politics ain’t bean bag. Grow up. This is a tough race, much is at stake and we are going to be tough.

And that is interesting, because that is what the Clinton campaign people say. But when you talk to Clinton supporters around town here in Washington, as I have been doing the last few hours, they are quite concerned because they like Barack Obama. They are committed to Hillary but they like Obama.

And as one of them said to me, Obama is a special person. The Clintons

need to be careful. They can’t…

GREGORY: Right. But what—were they, Howard…

FINEMAN: .. try to destroy him.

GREGORY: Do they—what do they say—or do they acknowledge a particular strategy about how to handle Obama in South Carolina?

FINEMAN: Well, I think their strategy was to take him on in every way they could and they were very tough about it. They don’t think anything they did is racial. That is what other people tend to think.

But here is the problem. Somebody like Jim Clyburn, the prominent African-American congressman, basically told the Clintons, look, if you are lucky enough to win this nomination, he told them, if do you it the way you are trying to do it down here in some of these ads that you have on, I can’t promise to help you put the party back together.

And going forward into Super Tuesday, with deep South states that have huge African-American populations, in those big states, industrial states that Tim Russert was mentioning earlier, the relationship between African-American leadership and the Clinton campaign is going to be crucial.

Hillary has got a lot of black leaders on her side. She has got to be careful, because she might not have them all if they continue to operate the way they were operating in South Carolina.

GREGORY: Howard Fineman, we are going to be checking in with you throughout the night for hard facts and reporting from inside the campaigns. And we will talk to you a little bit later on. We will talk to Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina coming up a little bit later on.

OLBERMANN: Right. And thanks, Howard.

And by the way, to this point from our NBC embed with the Clinton campaign, John Kerry had told The National Journal that, quote: “Being an ex-president does not give you license to abuse the truth.”

And former President Clinton responding now: “Did you notice he didn’t specify? They never do. They hurl these charges, but nothing gets specified. I’m not taking the bait today. I did what I could to help Senator Kerry every time he needed me and every time he asked me to. He can support whomever he wants for whatever reason he wants, but there is nothing for me to respond to.”

So the idea that Howard has just said, about unapologetic for their conduct here, it seems to be very much in play and underscored by what the president said.

GREGORY: It has fed the criticism about the Clinton campaign and how hard-nosed they will be about trying to win. But there is going to a unity issue and we may start to see it play out even by February 5th.

OLBERMANN: Or may see it play out by 7:00 p.m. When we return, our panel will weigh in on what is at stake tonight.

And later, one the most powerful Democrats in Congress. You just heard his name invoked, South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, has been referred to as the referee in this primary, he will join us when MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary resumes.


GREGORY: And we are back on MSNBC. Our live coverage of the South Carolina primary. It is time to introduce the panel for the night. The host of MSNBC’s “MORNING JOE,” Joe Scarborough. MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, South Carolina native, always good to throw that in on a night like tonight. And Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson.

Joe, take it away.


All right. Pat Buchanan, what was Hillary Clinton’s defining moment this week in South Carolina? Oh, wait, there wasn’t one. It was Bill Clinton from the beginning. It has been Bill Clinton to the end. This is a referendum on Bill Clinton tonight, isn’t it?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The defining moment for Hillary Clinton was that slumlord friend of yours Rezko.


BUCHANAN: The hardball shot of the week.


BUCHANAN: I think that did it. But there is no doubt that Bill Clinton dominated this. But let me say that simply the fact that the African-Americans and the others all say it was too rough a campaign, this campaign is not going to stop being rough until Clintons have locked it up, and that is when the unity party begins, and not before, not before.

SCARBOROUGH: But what happens, though? Margaret Carlson, what happens if these hardball tactics—you have John Kerry saying—I have got it, John Kerry accusing him of being frantic, Bill Clinton, of abusing the truth. The Dallas Morning News editorializing that the former president was down and dirty, it was unbecoming. Jim Clyburn saying Bill Clinton damaged his reputation this past week. This could backfire in a big way, couldn’t it?

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG: None of those things will hurt, unless Hillary Clinton does badly tonight.

SCARBOROUGH: They don’t care what anybody says.

CARLSON: They don’t care what anybody says. And I mean, the blunt instruments are out. You know, Bill Clinton is at his most out of control. The iconic picture this week is Bill Clinton in an orange tie.  Do you remember the orange tie this week? Scolding voters.

SCARBOROUGH: Wagging his finger.

CARLSON: Scolding the media. You know, practically, “that woman.” So you -- there is nothing that will stop him except losing, because it says that that kind of behavior isn’t working.

SCARBOROUGH: Gene, this has continued. It started in Iowa. It went to New Hampshire. He was wagging his finger this week and he said, shame on you, shame on you. They are bringing up race. And yet you talk to Jim Clyburn, and Jim Clyburn, who knows race in South Carolina better than anybody, said he was playing the race card.

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I have got to go with Jim Clyburn on this one.



SCARBOROUGH: How does that impact (INAUDIBLE) tonight, though?

ROBINSON: You know, the strategy—the Clinton strategy, clearly, was to diminish what they expected to be an Obama victory in South Carolina.

SCARBOROUGH: And diminish it by saying…

ROBINSON: By saying, oh…

SCARBOROUGH: … oh, it is going to be a black win.

ROBINSON: It’s like Jesse Jackson won South Carolina, because African-Americans, understandably, would want to support an African-American candidate. But we’re the—you know, we’re the serious candidate, basically. And so that was the idea.

Now, the Clintons did it in a kind of ham-fisted, unsurgical way and I think they’re kind of disoriented. They haven’t been in quite this position before.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. They looked disoriented. When you start saying Martin Luther King wasn’t responsible for the Civil Rights Act, you’re disoriented. Pat Buchanan, what about white Democratic voters in South Carolina?

BUCHANAN: I think—let’s assume Hillary Clinton loses tonight. I don’t think that means the strategy has failed. They have reduced Obama to basically the African-American candidate right now.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait—well. Hold on a second, Pat. Hold on. I’m sorry, but this is a guy who won in Iowa, a state where I didn’t see a black person for three days when I landed. This is the guy that won in Nevada out in the rural countries, in white areas.

BUCHANAN: You’re talking history, Joe. I’m talking the future. Let me finish—They’re setting it up for February 5th. They’ve got the Hispanic vote diminished and they got the white vote seriously diminished. If that holds, I don’t care what happens in South Carolina, she will roll through February 5th, which is the big night, not tonight.

ROBINSON: Look at the internals. Let’s look at the exit polls and let’s see if it was successful.

SCARBOROUGH: Here’s—the bottom line, though, is if Barack Obama only gets 10 percent of the white vote—and that’s what we heard a couple days ago—that means one out of ten voters voting for Barack Obama, he has been marginalized. We’ll see if that happens.

Let’s go right back to Keith and maybe he has some exit polls for us.


OLBERMANN: No, I don’t. But thank you.

SCARBOROUGH: It was try, the best segue I had at the time, buddy.

OLBERMANN: Trust me, it’s a good idea. We’ll have exit polls coming up.

GREGORY: We’re going to a break. First, we’ll going to talk about race in the race, how it become an issue in South Carolina and what it could mean in tonight’s contest. You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primaries. That discussion when we come back.



You haven’t been in very many campaigns if you think this is ugly. This

is a cake walk.



OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’ coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary. We’re less than 35 minutes away from seeing the first results.

GREGORY: And let’s check in with the campaigns. We’ll do that in just a minute. But before we do that, we’ve been talking a lot about the exit polling here and the tenure of this race. You have new numbers.

OLBERMANN: Not just the tenure of this race, but people’s response to the tenure of the race and what they’re assessing. We’ve already thrown out that number to you, that 56 percent of voters responding in these exit polls suggested that Senator Obama had been unfairly attacking Senator Clinton in this campaign; 70 percent said Clinton had been unfairly attacking Obama in this campaign.

The question this begs is, what percentage said both were unfairly attacking? The answer to that is—we don’t have it on a graphic, because it’s just been distilled for us by the decision desk -- 50 percent. Fifty percent of the voters said they were both doing it unfairly. Much more impressive even than that number, when white voters were asked was Senator Clinton unfair in her attacks on Obama, 68 percent said, yes, white voters.

So it’s 74 percent of black voters and everybody threw up their hands, and went oh, this is now a racial divide; 68 percent of white voters.  It’s not a racial divide. It’s a we don’t like this kind of campaign divide.

GREGORY: Let’s talk to the campaigns about it right now. We’re going to check in with Senator Clinton’s campaign, Kiki Mclean, a surrogate for her. With Senator Obama it’s Joe Erwin. And for Senator John Edwards, senior adviser Joe Trippi.

Let me start with you, Kiki; you look at those numbers, not good in terms of how the voters responded to the tactics of the Clinton campaign? How do you read it?

KIKI MCLEAN, CLINTON SURROGATE: This is a tough primary, David. I they Senator Clinton is out there talking about issues like the economy.  She’s been doing it every day in South Carolina, and she’ll move on and do it in other states moving into February 5th, about the economy, about health care, about the foreclosure crisis on our homes. And I think this is a tough primary campaign.

We don’t get to have everybody be our nominee. We have to pick. And so when it’s a real debate about the real issues, on the issues, that’s a good thing in a primary campaign.

GREGORY: But do you think that’s how these voters are responding?  They’re saying, boy, it’s tough but it’s on the issues? Do you think that is what they mean when they say attacked unfairly? Does this become more personal than that. You’ve been around campaigns a long time.

MCLEAN: I think campaigns are tough. I think primary campaigns are tough. I’m going to be honest, this is my personal opinion; I think there has been a role in the media about focusing on certain issues and not on other issues. I’d love to see more segments on this program about what were their positions on the economy? What are their positions on health care? What are their positions on Iraq?

More of that conversation goes a long way. And I think that’s why Hillary Clinton this week has focused so heavily on the economy. She talked yesterday about what we need do for our college kids, who are having to borrow money from unscrupulous lenders to be able to afford college. She’s talked about what’s happening with housing, and the fact that people are losing their homes in this crisis. She has solutions.

GREGORY: Right, again, I don’t know that that’s reflected in the number about attacking unfairly. Let me go to Joe Erwin with the Obama campaign. This was the discussion in the recent debate about, essentially, can the campaigns get along? This was what Senator Clinton had to say. Let’s watch this.


H. CLINTON: Senator Obama and I agree completely that neither race nor gender should be a part of this campaign.

OBAMA: One of the premises of my campaign, and I think of the Democratic party, and I know that John and Hillary have always been committed to racial equality, is that we can’t solve these challenges unless we can come together as a people.


GREGORY: Unity, Joe Erwin, gave way to a pretty contentious campaign and the voters are speaking out about it in these exit polls tonight.

JOE ERWIN, OBAMA SURROGATE: Yes, I think they really are, guys. And hopefully we’re going to put this behind us now. I agree with Kiki; it is about the issues, the issues in South Carolina, the economy, you know, education issues. Those are the issues that matter down here and I think the voters today are going to tell us that Barack Obama spoke to those issues. And we expect them to have a great night tonight.

GREGORY: Joe Trippi what do you think these numbers say?

JOE TRIPPI, EDWARDS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think it did get nasty down here and you saw it in the debate. They tried to tear each other down. John Edwards stood there, tried to bring South Carolina up, bring the nation up, talk about the solutions Kiki is saying they’re for. But we actually the first plan on the economic stimulus, the real plan, you know, for the middle class to help struggling families.

But the real problem is the Clinton campaign just plain out got ugly here. They did it last night. Last night they started robo-calls attacking us, John Edwards, the one candidate who didn’t participate in any of this. They started nasty, dirty, underhanded, as far as we’re concerned, robo-calls throughout the state.

Why? It had to be because they think we’re coming on here. We have been.  We’ve been coming on ever since that debate when John Edwards stood against tearing down people and for bringing people up and helping the middle class. That’s the kind of campaign we want to wage. That’s the kind of campaign John Edwards waged here, and it’s why we think we’re coming on.

And the Clinton campaign should just stop these kind of tactics. They don’t belong in this party. Yes it’s tough. Tough, Kiki, we should just stop it.

MCLEAN: You know, here’s what’s great about today. I love election day, because I love it when people step out and vote. Joe Erwin is probably right. The polls close here shortly. I think most folks know that Barack Obama will probably have a pretty good evening tonight. He’s been in the state. His own campaign, six months ago, said that they would win.

This is a process. We’ll keep moving forward. Today it’s South Carolina.

Florida will go to vote next week and on to the February 5th

GREGORY: Let’s talk about expectation—

TRIPPI: What about the robo-calls, Kiki?

MCLEAN: Expectations, David, I’m sorry?

GREGORY: Let’s talk about expectations in the state, a state that the Clinton campaign early, with one of the key ministers in the state, paid top dollar to secure. The Clinton campaign wanted to win South Carolina, wanted to win it bad. President Clinton was down there down the stretch.

I want to ask you about a charge that’s been leveled at the campaign, and that is that effectively the intent has been to marginalize Barack Obama as an African-American-only campaign, with that kind of limited appeal. Today, the former president talking about the track record in South Carolina, talking about Jesse Jackson as a candidate. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it say about Barack Obama that it takes two of you to beat him?

B. CLINTON: That’s just (INAUDIBLE) Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice in ‘84 and ‘88. And he ran a good campaign and Senator Obama’s running a good campaign. He’s run a good campaign everywhere. He’s a good candidate.


GREGORY: Bill Clinton also is quoted as saying, they are getting votes to be sure because of their race or gender. That’s why people tell me Hillary doesn’t have a chance of winning here. Has this been an effort to say basically he has only African-American appeal?

MCLEAN: That’s just not the case and I don’t think anybody thinks that.  I think, in the Democratic party, we’re lucky that we have really high-end quality candidates across the board. And the fact of the matter is, I believe that the people who vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are doing so because that’s who they want to vote for. They agree with them on the issues.

This is a process. People are—we want to win every state we can win.  It doesn’t mean we’re going to win every state. We want to win. That’s what this process is all about. So I think the reality is, every vote Barack Obama gets he’s earned and every vote Hillary Clinton gets, she’s earned.

GREGORY: All right, quick thought, Joe Trippi, and then we got to the go.

TRIPPI: I think every vote we’re going to get here, we’ve earned and I again want to take it back to Kiki. The robo-calls that the Clinton campaign started last night in the state were dirty, underhanded, last-minute jumping on. And they’re wrong and they’ve got to stop this kind of campaigning.

GREGORY: All right. We’ll live it there.

ERWIN: Barack Obama, let me add in closing, is the guy who’s going to have a big night tonight, and it’s because he’s campaigning the right way on a message of hope to change America.

GREGORY: Kiki Mclean, Joe Erwin and Joe Trippi, thank you all very much as we await the results.

Barack Obama has been in the middle of a tough fight with Hillary Clinton as well, and he has returned fire quite a bit. The polling bears that out. And really his own advisers admitted that they were happy to see some of the fight that that they thought he hadn’t shown before against Hillary Clinton. So, this has been rough all the way around.

OLBERMANN: The expectation, you wonder to what degree it was legitimately felt and to what degree it was for the cameras, Senator Obama’s answer to this was that he was having a good warm-up for the general election, for what the Republicans will throw at him. Which obviously has to be to some degree true. I don’t think he would have liked to have had it in South Carolina against two or three other Democrats in January. But you get your warm-ups when you can get your warm-ups.

We’re now joined by Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, House majority whip, who’s in Columbia tonight. Thank you for your time again, sir.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you so much for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: First off, you had said you would wait to endorse a candidate in this race, because you wanted to let the voters decide the primary.  The polls are closing in 15 minutes and 10 seconds. Are you prepared to endorse anybody yet?

CLYBURN: Well, I voted this morning around 8:00. I said all the time that I was not undecided but undeclared. And I am still not going to tell who I voted for. I think it’s important for me to stay engaged in this process all the way up to the convention, because I think that’s where we’re headed.

I do not believe that Super Tuesday will decide the nominee for our party. I think we’re going to have a campaign going right on through until it gets to the convention in Denver.

OLBERMANN: I hope none of the exit poll people came by to ask you your opinion. It would have been taxing on you, and wouldn’t have been efficient for them. But we did have exit poll data that I’d love to get your reaction to. We’ve been talking about it since we came on at the top of the hour, about the negative reaction to negative elements of this campaign. Seventy percent of voters thought Senator Clinton unfairly attacked Barack Obama; 56 percent thought Obama had unfairly attacked Clinton. And we don’t have it on the screen here, but, again, 50 percent said both of them had unfairly attacked each other.

There’s no racial split, really; 74 percent of black voters thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly; 68 percent white voters thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly. How much do you think the negative campaigning in this primary registered either on behalf of the candidate or against the candidate with voters in your state?

CLYBURN: I think racial politics were, in fact, injected in this campaign in the way that was a little bit unnerving to me. We’ve worked very hard in South Carolina to try make the Democratic party a party that’s very valuable in our state. One of the reasons for having this primary is for us to allow African-Americans to come into this process early on, be a part of—helping to frame for the whole debate.

And that’s what South Carolina is, a microcosm of our nation. It has all kinds of distinct cultures in it. You can go to the upstate and get urban voters. You go out to the PD to get rural voters. And I think you all are going to be able to look at results tonight and you will see just how well Obama performs among white voters. You’ll see exactly how Ms. Clinton performs among black voters. And we’ll get a good idea as to what kinds of candidates they’ll be.

OLBERMANN: Do you—are you encouraged by those exit polls that they seem not to be showing the extraordinary racial divide, in terms of how people reacted to this? Because there’s obviously—race is a factor in America. One would hope that you could get through an election without it being the decisive issue, positively or negatively. Is that, to you, the biggest good news of the night, no matter what happens from here on out, that people didn’t like thing things, no matter what color their skin was?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. I am very, very encouraged by that. I’m very pleased with that. I hope this will be instructive for everybody in this campaign going forward, that we are going to put this racial divide behind us, and we are going to talk about health care, education, the economy, talk about the Democrats’ vision for America, talk about the competing visions of our candidates. And I do believe all three of them are going to leave South Carolina with tickets to go all the way up to the convention, and that’s a good thing.

OLBERMANN: House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who will be good enough to join us again later in the evening. Thank you, sir.  We’ll talk to you later on.

And up next, more from our exit polling on that issue of race. We await poll closing time in South Carolina. Now just 11 and change away. This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary.


OLBERMANN: In eight and a half minutes, polls will be closed in the South Carolina Democratic primary. We cannot report returns or results just yet, nor characterize one. We can gauge the mood of the voters through the exit polls, how the race issue played in the voting. Once again, in the luxury suite above us, Norah O’Donnell is with us with the exit polls.

O’DONNELL: This is the luxury suite up here, indeed. You talked about it, race and gender, two of the key issues in this hard-fought primary.  We’re seeing some very interesting numbers turn up in the exit polls.  With each of the leading Democrats essentially representing a first for this country if elected, we asked about the nation’s readiness to take one of these historic steps.

First, the prospect of a woman president. Close to three quarters of those who voted in today’s Democratic primary think the country is ready to elect a woman to the highest office. When we break down the results by gender, we don’t see much difference in the views of men and women on this question. However, there were significant differences between whites and blacks in the intensity of their opinion; 82 percent of whites believe the country is ready for a female president, while 68 percent of blacks felt that way.

And sometimes people think a woman is not ready to be commander in chief. Well, in Hillary Clinton’s case, that doesn’t seem to be a major factor. Our exit polls asked voters which Democratic candidate is most qualified to serve in this capacity, while 47 percent picked Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton did beat one of her chief male rivals as the best choice for commander in chief, 35 percent picked Clinton, compared to just 18 percent for John Edwards. So it doesn’t seem like Hillary Clinton’s gender is a disqualifying factor.

What about Barack Obama’s race? On that issue, 77 percent say we are ready for a black president. That’s almost the same proportion who say a woman president is electable. And we broke down the results by race and find that whites are somewhat more skeptical than blacks; 72 percent of white Democratic primary voters, compared with 83 percent of blacks, say the country is ready.

And then finally, David and Keith, I know everybody wants to know how the white and black vote essentially broke down in today’s voting in South Carolina. We’re going to wait until the polls close at 7:00 and then I will have those numbers for you from the exit polls.

OLBERMANN: Prudent and appropriate. Thank you, Norah.

GREGORY: Let’s check in over at the panel with Joe Scarborough. Your take so far, Joe, on what you are seeing and hearing so far?

SCARBOROUGH: My take so far—I can’t believe what I heard Bill Clinton say earlier this afternoon. Yes, they asked Bill Clinton—Gene Robinson, they asked Bill Clinton, so what do you think about two people teaming up on Barack Obama. He said, you know Jesse Jackson won here in ‘84 and ‘80. That’s like asking, what do you think about the Super Bowl, and Bill Clinton saying, you know, Barack Obama is black. It was stunning.

ROBINSON: I think that’s the single most egregious sound bite. A couple of days after Bill Clinton wagged his finger and said, shame on you for suggesting race is an issue, that we raised it, and then he answers a question that had no racial content by pointing out, once again, Barack Obama is black.

SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely stunning. Isn’t it?

CARLSON: Bill Clinton put down the blunt instrument and picked up a chain saw, because he must know Hillary Clinton is in trouble in South Carolina. Therefore, he has to completely discount it as a black state that doesn’t matter. Just Throw that state away.

SCARBOROUGH: Keith, back to you. A shocking sound bite from today that will stay with the Clintons for a while.

OLBERMANN: We’re all sitting here trying to think of another favorite son guy in South Carolina he could have invoked other than Reverend Jackson and we can’t think of anybody, not in the last 50 years anyway.

GREGORY: Expectations are interesting here, that Hillary Clinton is already out of the state.

OLBERMANN: All right. Everybody stand by. Polls in South Carolina closing in about three and a half minutes. David Gregory and I will return in a minute with the first results from the South Carolina Democratic primary. We’ll be able to tell you something about this at the top of the hour right here on MSNBC.


KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Senator Barack Obama will win the South Carolina Democratic primary and by a substantial margin. At 7:00 prevailing local time on this Saturday night, polls having just closed in South Carolina and for once this long, slow march towards the Democratic presidential nomination ambiguity appears to have taken the night off. The numbers that we have projections really, NBC News is indeed projecting Senator Obama has won the South Carolina primary. The only way we can characterize it at this point is a substantial margin.  Senator Hillary Clinton is running second. Senator John Edwards third, but from our interpretive desk, the decision desk, there are no projections yet on who will finish second or third. The numbers will have to tell us that as the evening wears on. Good evening again.  Alongside David Gregory at MSNBC headquarters in New York, I’m Keith Olbermann. This is our continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: There you have it. There’s the big headline, Barack Obama is the winner. It’s a big win for him. It’s one that we have been expecting, if you’ve been looking at the polling, that we’ve been expecting if you looked at Hillary Clinton’s schedule. She got out of the state and has been trying to lower expectations for some time, has been criticized for injecting racial politics into this campaign. We know from the exit polls it got nasty between the two of them and that the voters responded to that, thinking that there was attack politics going on. But Barack Obama wins. This gives him momentum going into February 5, but I’m still curious as we’ve been talking about given the racial aspect of how polarized this race has become, what about the white folk? What about women? How did African-Americans break down? I think those are going to be important figures as we go forward.

OLBERMANN: As we said, all weekend we’re doing at this point, exit polls

are useful in terms of being able to characterize things by saying

substantial victory. They’re useful in telling us why voters voted in a

particular way and the reasons that they, not necessarily their

outcomes. Certainly no numbers are appropriate. The polls closed 1

minute and 53 seconds ago. However, this is, again, an important turn, a

substantial margin. We mentioned that Congressman James Clyburn, the

House whip from South Carolina would be joining us again. We did not

anticipate that it would be quite so soon. But he’s still there and we

can get his reaction to this. Congressman, your thoughts after what is

this term is substantial margin. What do you make of it?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I’m not surprised at that

at all, because I really believe that in the last 48 hours the voters

kind of recoiled. They decided to reject the racial animus that seemed

to be developing and I’m so pleased. I’ve checked on some of the white

precincts and they are voting, in favorable numbers for Mr. Obama. I

checked some rural precincts and I think Mrs. Clinton is doing

relatively well there. So I really believe that these, the two

candidates and, of course, Edwards is surging in the state. I had no

idea how much of a surge he’s got, but it seems as if after the debate,

as things kind of got depressed for a couple of days, but then people

started about Friday morning to express themselves, and I think very


OLBERMANN: Congressman I’ll tell you something out of school. We in the media sometimes sit here and think you know what, the voters are so far ahead of us it’s not even funny anymore. Do you feel that way sometimes with politics, that the voters can run laps around you? That no matter what sort of stuff gets thrown out there that on some times they will just come through and say, we’re way down here down the road and we don’t care about this stuff. We want to know about the qualities and the issues that are at stake here?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. I was so surprised when I went to my precinct this morning and a lot of what I heard being said. I walked the lines and talked to people. I went to five precincts within a period of about 90 minutes and they were so in tune with issues, that it was unbelievable.  These people knew that the economy needed some kind of help. They knew that these candidates represent to them some kind of hope for the future. And they were voting their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations and they didn’t care about all of the stuff that we were talking about for the last two or three days.

GREGORY: Congressman Clyburn, David Gregory here. What happens now on the Democratic side? Does this—does the tenure of the debate change as a result of what voters are saying tonight?

CLYBURN: I think so. I really believe. You’ve got to know that lots of times we did have a primary, but you know, I heard President Clinton earlier talk about Jesse Jackson winning in South Carolina. Those are caucuses when he won. A primary is totally different and what we saw here today were people, not the party leaders meeting in conventions, but the people, rank and file people, coming in to these polling places and they were expressing themselves in such a way that every candidate will be able to take a look at South Carolina, look at the (INAUDIBLE) look at the (INAUDIBLE) look at the low country, look at the midland and see how you performed. That will give you a good idea about what black voters, women voters, rural voters, what you might call urban voters, urban for South Carolina anyway, how they feel about you as a candidate and I am hopeful that that will be the barometer that they will use to conduct themselves as we go into super Tuesday.

GREGORY: Congressman, real quick, your canvassing of some of these whiter precincts with a high percentage of white voters, you’re suggesting that based on what you’re hearing that Barack Obama has broader appeal as he moves into February 5th beyond African-Americans?  Is that your take in your message tonight?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. All the people—I was just amazed when I went down to a place where Joe Scarborough hung out this morning. Every person I talked with in there, they were just engaged in this campaign and 90 percent of them were not African-Americans. And so I do believe that we have gotten beyond this race thing in this campaign and I think that we are going to have a very good campaign going forward and we are going to have us a nominee that will have broad appeal to the American people and bring our party back to the White House come November.

OLBERMANN: And I’m sure congressman that Democrats across the nation are saying, amen, to all of what you just said. Congressman Clyburn, great thanks once again.

Let me throw one other thing in here before we get to the exit polls. We have used this term very carefully chosen that Barack Obama will win the South Carolina primary by a substantial margin but I think we would be remiss if we did not read the front line of the Associated Press account of this which is now saying Barack Obama won a vital primary and also another version of it simply Barack Obama routed Hillary Rodham Clinton tonight. So again, we’ll stick with substantial, but just so you know what others are reporting, the word rout has been brought into play.  Nora O’Donnell as I said has been tracking the exit polls and has more on how Barack Obama won. Nora.

NORA O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That’s right and so we asked, what made the difference for Barack Obama? The numbers tell the story literally in black and white. It was a landslide for Barack Obama among black voters. He got 81 percent support from African-Americans. The size of his vote was nearly uniform across every demographic group among blacks as well as nearly every issue or opinion question in the polls, old, young, male, female, well-educated, poorly educated, all of them broke in pretty much the same way.

Now, Barack Obama did not win the majority of the white folks, but look at the numbers. You can see, neither did his two rivals. In fact, while Hillary got 36 percent of the white vote, it was close to a three-way split. Look at those numbers. In other primaries and caucuses the role of women was very important. A key question today was whether Hillary Clinton could get a big chunk of votes from black women. She did not.  They went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. As for white women, again there was a split between Clinton and Edwards among white women. The age of voters was a factor for Barack Obama, particularly in the white vote.  I really think this one is interesting. Take a look at this split.  Barack Obama, young voters. Look at that. He won those, those under 30 with 49 percent of the vote. His support dropped to 16 percent among whites age 60 and over.

We also saw that Barack Obama ran reasonably well among college educated whites. He won one in three of those. That’s a category also John Edwards actually did well in and in contrast, Barack Obama did poorly among whites who don’t have college educations. So those are the numbers for you, Keith and David. I know we were sort of dying to know how this broke down. Interestingly he did well, very well, bottom line, very well among blacks and there wasn’t – there was almost a three-way split among the white voters.

GREGORY: 24 percent among white voters. Joe Scarborough with the panel, you look at that number. These matter a lot, if you look not only at the African-American vote but also certainly more of the white vote than the polls indicated going in, Joe?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. It’s so volatile, this race issue and Pat Buchanan, Bill Clinton obviously quit a bridge too far. Jim Clyburn said voters were recoiled, There was racial animus and white precincts recoiled also, coming in for Barack Obama. Bill Clinton may have created a big issue moving forward in this democratic process talking about race and bringing up Jesse Jackson. The only reason he’s won is because he’s black.

PAT BUCHANAN: I think he’s going to do it again. Look at the numbers here. You got a Barack Obama beat John Edwards 80-1 in the black vote and lost the white vote to John Edwards, who ran third.

SCARBOROUGH: 29-24. but Pat, at the same time what did we say before we even saw those exit polls? I said white, younger Democratic voters would be offended by Bill Clinton’s tactics (INAUDIBLE) half the white voters who were young—

BUCHANAN: We also agreed that John Edwards white vote would be something -- you’re talking about Democrats here. He did much better than that 10 percent we talked about. Look at Democrats nationally and they say among white votes in the south, Barack Obama didn’t even get one fourth of the white Democrats down there. If we run him, how well do we do from Virginia to Texas, when all of the Republicans and independents are included?

SCARBOROUGH: And Pat believes in this, the Clintons know exactly what they’re doing. They want the issue to be race, because when it’s race, white voters will be turned away from Barack Obama. Are Democrats that cynical? Are Republicans that cynical in 2008?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Clintons are playing by the 1990s playbook. I think it’s not the 1990s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Divide and conquer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. I think it’s not the 1990s and so, you know, I think they’re a step behind on this. Pat might be right, but 24 percent against Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, among white voters?  You know, those are two pretty formidable candidates. Look, did I think when I was growing up that I thought I’d see the day—

BUCHANAN: Gene, let me ask you – Barack Obama won a landslide here and he got beaten by everybody else. He got beaten 3-1 by the other two candidates among the white vote.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second. But Margaret Carlson, at the same time, three days ago the polls were showing that he had 10 percent of white voters.


SCARBOROUGH: Now he has 25 percent of white voters. He swept white voters in Iowa. He swept white voters elsewhere. He did well in rural white areas last week in the Nevada.


SCARBOROUGH: This is a big advance for Barack Obama.

CARLSON: And I think it shows that the Bill Clinton tactic has proved faulty in South Carolina and it may, Pat, even though you don’t think so, in the super Tuesday states going forward because it’s clearly backfired here. They were willing to sacrifice South Carolina for the larger goal and it didn’t work, because he won enough white votes to be competitive.

SCARBOROUGH: We’ll see. (INAUDIBLE) Pat is partaking I’m afraid in the 1990 race-baiting strategy that Jean Robinson is telling us about (INAUDIBLE) but there is no doubt we are going to be seeing over the next several weeks that Clinton, Bill Clinton, once again, talking about, yeah, sure he won, but so did Jesse Jackson. That will be the defining moment of this South Carolina campaign and it may stick with the Clintons for a long time.

OLBERMANN: And an additional reminder just from a technical point of view, Joe, as Congressman Clyburn pointed out, those were caucuses. This is a primary. It doesn’t even match up politically, never mind the racial element.

GREGORY: Little bit of news here, we’re going to hear at 9:00 tonight Eastern time from Barack Obama who we have projected will win South Carolina. First though, we’re going to go down to Obama headquarters in South Carolina, in Columbia. NBC News correspondent Lee Cowan is down there. Lee, good news down there for that team.

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You’re right. It is. The public hasn’t been let in here to the Barack Obama headquarters. They’re still outside although we’re told a cheer went up from the crowd outside as they heard the projected results announced just a short while ago. They’re expected to be in here in about a half hour. The senator himself we expect will speak probably around 9:00 tonight. The campaign, though, there’s all this talk about the Bill Clinton tactics may have backfired. The campaign here is saying look, actually they’d like to say that Barack Obama did this on his own. He tried to run a very similar campaign here that he did in Iowa. He was hoping that the results that he got there in Iowa would do the very same thing here. He was hoping to get the same kinds of voters, not only the young but the white educated voters. He knew he was going to do well among blacks here based in large part on how he did in Iowa. But they’re very happy with the way not only the campaign went, even though it got nasty this week. They think that it certainly showed the way that they played it this week went to their favor.

GREGORY: All right, Lee Cowan, Columbia, South Carolina. Again, Barack Obama speaks at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time after having been the projected winner of the South Carolina primary.

OLBERMANN: Projected by a substantial margin. Let’s talk about that with NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press” Tim Russert. Tim, substantial. It’s a substantial word that means a lot, does it not?

TIM RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Does it ever Keith. When Hillary Clinton came back with her stunning victory in New Hampshire, we all said, this is big. This is important. I think we ought to really sit back and reflect on how significant this victory for Obama is tonight. I just was going through some old poll numbers. In November, Hillary Clinton was ahead in South Carolina 45-31. She was the favorite in this state. It’s where Bill Clinton won in 1992. The polls leading up to tonight had Obama ahead had anywhere from 8 to 14 points. If this victory tonight, if the actual vote matches the exit poll and he wins this state by 30-some points, it is an enormous victory, because he has been able to say, with African-Americans supporting him with 81 percent and 24 percent of the white vote, I’ve put together a coalition that can be a winning coalition in South Carolina and can I take that into super Tuesday?

I think secondly, he can also say to Bill Clinton, who’s been a huge issue in this state. You said you were going to come to South Carolina and go church to church, house to house in the African-American neighborhood and bring those voters with you. And tonight the evidence seems rather clear; it just didn’t work at that level. Now, going into super Tuesday, what will this mean? How will Barack Obama be perceived?  As the candidate who can put together a coalition or the black candidate taking on white and Latino voters? That’s the unknown. My sense is a victory of this magnitude will help him make the case that he’s more like the candidate you saw in Iowa and New Hampshire than the one that has been perceived or portrayed in South Carolina this last week.

OLBERMANN: I’m wondering, Tim, if you see a parallel to what we were talking about when the surprise, at least to the pollsters and to us occurred, in New Hampshire? There was a lot of discussion at what changed that race or our perception of the race, apart from the fact it was condensed into just that five-day period between Iowa and New Hampshire, but the other part was that voters perceived Hillary Clinton as having been unfairly wounded there in debates by Senator Obama, but mostly by a collection of forces that were treating her unfairly. Do you think we see, have seen some of that in at least as we try to project this margin? Again the AP used the term used rout, we’re using the term substantial. Are we seeing something parallel into what has happened with Senator Obama that those other exit polls combined with what we know about how this actual vote turned out suggests that a lot of people in South Carolina said this guy got beaten up in places that were outside the marquis of Queensbury rules?

RUSSERT: Keith, I think that’s the best explanation. There is—nothing else you can point to. Leading up to tonight, all the polling in the African-American community had been Obama in the high 50s. He now has reached 81. We had him with white South Carolinians in our Mason-Dixon poll at 10 percent. Tonight it’s 24. Something happened in these final few days where collectively people moved in the Obama camp and said, we want to send you out of here with a strong mandate and we also want to send a message about the tone of the campaign. I think that’s going to be an interpretation that both campaigns, I think, will make from here.  One will probably do it publicly, the other privately, but I think that will be the lesson of South Carolina.

OLBERMANN: How does that lesson play in the Clinton camp coming towards super Tuesday and is there a risk that if they do not interpret the, however this might play out in those other 22 states, if they can’t interpret it correctly they could make mistakes that could make this a one-candidate race a lot faster than they think?

RUSSERT: Such an important question. Because if you attempt to continue the same kind of strategy or tactics that were perceived to be race generated, will that work in California with white and Latino voters?  Perhaps. But then what happens in New York or in Connecticut or in New Jersey or Massachusetts, states with significant black populations. You cannot withstand having your opponent getting eight out of 10 African-American votes in each of those states and not lose a ton of delegates and that’s what this is all about. Delegates nominate these candidates, not states. And if Obama is able to maintain this level of support of African-American states, African-American voters in those industrial states, he’s going to keep those races very close, even in Hillary Clinton states. It is a very, very important question you’ve asked and I think the lesson tonight couldn’t be clearer.

GREGORY: Tim, it’s David. How surprised do you think the Clinton campaign was about its diminished support among African-Americans? And I go back to the start of the campaign when they paid top dollar for a top minister to be on the ground for them? They outbid the Obama campaign almost 2-1 to wrap him up and you pointed to the polls earlier. They really didn’t think this would be an issue.

RUSSERT: David, again, South Carolina, they felt very comfortable about this state in November. You’re exactly right. They thought they were extremely competitive with African-American voters and they would poll equal to Obama with blacks and then do better with whites and win the state. Now, that has transformed dramatically and just as Keith talked about the west and can he learn for super Tuesday? Look at the lesson for November. If, in fact, Hillary Clinton emerges as the nominee, what is the collateral damage that will be a lesson of South Carolina? How will African-Americans feel about a Clinton candidacy? Will they turn out? And look at young voters. If you’re going to be a successful candidate in November, as a Democratic candidate, you cannot win with just hard-core white Democratic voters. You need an enormous black turnout and you need young voters coming in to the Democratic fold to transform states like Florida, Florida, Florida or Ohio. In 2000 and 2004, the Democrats didn’t get what they needed with black voters and with white voters and with young voters. That’s a critical lesson to learn from those elections and it is being reinforced I think, by what we’re seeing in South Carolina. You need to broaden the base of the Democratic party, whether you’re Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

OLBERMANN: And look how the young voters, the young, white voters turned out for Obama, almost 50 percent in a three-person race.

GREGORY: The goal for Democrats, so important to enlarge that base of the party, get more voters out.

OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, we’ll check back in with you.

RUSSERT: Keith, one other thing, Keith, take a look at that white male voters. Obama and Clinton were tied, practically 28-27 percent. That is fascinating. White male voters, all age groups, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, practically the same vote count. That is very instructive for a fall election for both of them and particularly Hillary Clinton who has, obviously, has a strong gender gap with women voters but she needs to improve her standing with white male voters all across the country.

OLBERMANN: And also instructed as to why the Associated Press chose that word routed. Tim, we’ll talk to you again later on, thanks Tim Russert.

Coming up, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an Obama supporter in somewhat controversial circumstances, now about how this victory tonight positions her candidate heading into next week’s super Tuesday. You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary. B. Obama, winner.


OLBERMANN: Barack Obama is the projected winner by substantial margin in South Carolina. He has scheduled a victory speech at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, meaning we expect we’re going to hear from Senator Clinton before then.

GREGORY: And the race between Obama and Hillary Clinton now heads to super Tuesday, 10 days from now. Former President Bill Clinton already on the ground in Independence, Missouri, tonight trying to gain an edge for his wife in that super Tuesday state. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has endorsed Senator Obama. She did that earlier this month.  She joins us now from St. Louis. Also with us Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas who supports Senator Clinton. To both of you, welcome.  Senator McCaskill, let me start with you. Your reaction tonight?

SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D) MISSOURI: This is an extraordinary victory when you look at the facts. Barack Obama was behind by 20 points three months ago. By anybody’s measure, it is quite astounding that he has won and he’s won the way he has won and I am excited about the young people all over Missouri. I see the young people out working like I’ve never seen them work before and so you take Iowa. You take a come-from-behind narrow loss in New Hampshire, two states that couldn’t be more white and then you look at him winning in the rural areas of Nevada. We’ve got a long way to go, but obviously, this is a good night for the Obama campaign.

GREGORY: Congresswoman, your reaction?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D) TEXAS: Well, I’m excited that we have excellent candidates. This was tough fight in South Carolina. The Clinton campaign has never said that they would not go anywhere to reach out to voters and that’s what we did in South Carolina. We won in New Hampshire. We won strong in Nevada. We came to South Carolina, we reached out, we made a lot of friend here, but obviously this is a strong outcome and we congratulate Senator Obama, but this is not a night to give up. This is a night to be strong in our message, in our convictions and the vision that we have for America. We’re going forward on that.

GREGORY: Let’s talk about message, congresswoman. The voters have spoken not just in terms of winners and losers, but how they reacted to the tenure of the campaign. They didn’t like it much in South Carolina. Race was injected to this race in South Carolina in a big way. Was that a mistake in your judgment?

JACKSON LEE: Well, I think anyone who participates in racial divide make a mistake and certainly you can find those mistakes being made across the board. But the whole idea is how we’re going forward. The candidates have made a truce, I hope. I hope they’re supporters will do the same thing and focus on the issues as most of the voters want to have. In South Carolina you saw convergence of pride and respect on the outstanding candidates that they had and certainly in Senator Obama.  There’s nothing wrong with that. People choose who they want to choose.  What we have to do as a campaign is to go forward and show America, all of America that we’re ready to lead this country, and that’s what—

GREGORY: But congresswoman,, this is shaping up not just to be a tight win, a close win for Obama, but a rout as it’s being described by the Associated Press. What course correction do you think is necessary at this stage in the Clinton campaign?

JACKSON LEE: I don’t think there needs to be a correction. I think there needs to be a sustain the course, but really a reaching out and saying that we are not to be daunted by one victory, that is as strong as this is, but we are to respect the victory but go forward with the message that we have. We are strong in the state on February 5th we think we’ll continue to be strong. We’re reaching out to Asians, women, men, African-Americans, Latinos. This is not a one-state race. We thank the voters of South Carolina, but we are empowered by the fact that America is looking for the candidate that is ready to lead on day one. That is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. It doesn’t change by South Carolina and we’re going stay the course.

GREGORY: Senator McCaskill, critics have said attacking the Clinton campaign that they effectively tried to minimize Barack Obama as an African-American only candidate in his appeal, a narrow appeal. Was that accomplished coming out here as you look at your own state?

McCASKILL: Well, you know, first of all, I have nothing but respect and admiration for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton as leaders and I think what we need to do going forward is what Barack Obama has done for the last three months. It is, if you all look at what’s happening to his poll numbers, everywhere around the country, in states like South Carolina, in states like Missouri, where he’s cut the lead in half just in the last few months. People are responding to a positive message of moving forward, turning the page, appealing, not demonizing republicans but appealing to their better angels and finding common ground and most importantly, those independent voters. You know, elections in Missouri are decided by independent voters and guess what, presidential elections are decided by independent voters. And Barack Obama is hitting a cord with independent voters when he says, hey, if this isn’t about our differences, this is about what we have in common. And he’s going to stay on that message. It’s working. And I think as he stays on that message it’s going to work to get the most delegates on super Tuesday.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: I don’t think Senator Obama is the only person that can bring people together. Frankly, I don’t believe that you can attribute to the Clinton campaign and Senator Clinton any racial divide, frankly. Unfortunately, all parties were actively involved in this unfortunate set of circumstances. The question is, look at Senator Clinton’s record. She has brought republicans together to change the lives of the national guard. She understands the importance of working with the Congress and has gotten results.

America wants someone who can get results. We respect all the other candidates but we are not to be daunted tonight. We are ready to go forward. We are going to win in Missouri. We are going to win in many other states around. We’re going to make a difference and that’s what we expect to do going forward.

We will leave it there. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Senator Claire McCaskill. Thank you very much.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

LEE: Thank you.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC, ANCHOR: These subgroups can become very important.  African-Americans, whites, Tim Russert underscored this point among white males equal tonight in South Carolina. Both campaigns looking will be looking hard at that.

KEITH OLBERMAN, MSNBC, ANCHOR: And if you’re in the Clinton campaign, and you’re not to some degree daunted, you haven’t gotten the full set of exit polls yet. This is daunting. There is no other way to describe it.

There’s also little news from the other campaign that does not have a primary tonight. We’ve had this today already, a couple of examples of John McCain getting endorsements from two New York City police groups representing I think captains and sergeants, both active and retired, two that endorsed him instead of Mayor Giuliani. Now, we’re learning that according to the Associated Press, the republican govern, Charlie Crist, who of course, Jeb Bush’s successor, will endorse John McCain.

GREGORY: That’s it, big development.

OLBERMAN: Yes, it is indeed. Up next, we will have more exit poll numbers from South Carolina. Plus a delegate fight as we head into super Tuesday, when MSNBC’s live coverage of the South Carolina democratic primary continues.


OLBERMAN: Barack Obama, the projected winner tonight in South Carolina by a substantial margin. Even though we have yet to hit the 1% mark on precincts reporting. These numbers are vaguely within 20, 30 points, 40, 50 points, something that we’re expecting. It is described by the Associated Press as a rout, David.

GREGORY: It is. It’s a big victory and there’s also some news tonight on the republican side. Reminder, though, Barack Obama speaks at 9:00 Eastern time. A victory speech after he gets a little more precincts in.  Presumably we’ll hear from Senator Clinton before that. I mentioned some news on the republican side down in Florida, which we’re watching closely before the primary there on Tuesday. The state’s governor, Charlie Crist, Jeb Bush’s successor, has endorsed Senator John McCain.  Who better to ask than Joe Scarborough about the import of this?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC, CORRESPONDENT: It’s very important, of course, Charlie Crist is wildly popular in Florida. Approval ratings approaching 70%. Of course, he has high approval ratings in part because moderate republicans love him, conservatives have come along and supported him.  Also, Charlie Crist, of course, has reached out to democrats and independents. If this were New Hampshire, this would be huge where independents and democrats can cross over and vote. The question is, what type of impact will it have in the long run with conservatives?  That’s still hard to say.

However, obviously, the timing of this couldn’t be better, because right now McCain and Romney are really in a death struggle. They went back and forth today on the campaign trail, really heated rhetoric. All the polls show a deadlocked race there. What does this mean, David? This means tomorrow morning, Sunday morning, two days before the biggest presidential race thus far this year for the republicans, you’re going to have all the screaming headlines, Charlie Crist, endorses John McCain. You can’t buy those type of headlines on a Sunday paper, two days before the election.

GREGORY: And in such a big state organizationally, at least, even if he doesn’t reach conservatives, organizationally it’s got to provide some bang for the buck?

SCARBOROUGH: There’s no doubt about it. And you’re right, it is such a huge state. You can’t knock on doors, you can’t shake hands. All you can do is advertise a lot. John McCain only spending $500,000 to $600,000 in TV ads across the state. That’s like spitting into the wind during a hurricane. It won’t buy you anything in a state with four huge media markets. But I tell you what again, those headlines, you’ll see them from the “Miami Herald” to the “St. Petersburg Times,” to the “Pensacola News Journal” across the state.

Again, millions and millions of dollars of free earned media. It is a big night, obviously, for John McCain. It will be a bigger morning tomorrow when morning when those Sunday papers hit the lawns across Florida.

OLBERMAN: Yes, considering especially this is just after Senator Mel Martinez did the same thing, Endorsing McCain yesterday, Joe. So, it’s been a doubleheader for John McCain.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, both of those endorsements have been quite a surprise for the Romney campaign, because Mel Martinez just promised them just two days ago he was not going to get involved. He was not going to endorse John McCain. And a source very close to Mitt Romney tells me they were stunned by that endorsement.

OLBERMAN: All right. Joe Scarborough. We have now a projection from NBC News that the second place part of this race has been decided as Senator Obama will win by a substantial margin. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will finish in second place ahead of Senator John Edwards who will finish third. That is our projection as you see it, one, two and three, win, place and show, Obama, Clinton and Edwards.

GREGORY: And we’ll keep watching as more returns come in. We’re going to check in now with our NBC news political director Chuck Todd. He’s going to talk about how this victory changes the landscape, political landscape heading into the all-important super Tuesday. Hey, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS, POLITICAL DIRETOR: Hey there, David. Well, one thing that Tim Russert reminded us is that it’s delegates that nominate, not states. So, watching the returns come in tonight in South Carolina, we’re getting an idea of where Barack Obama’s going to pick up extra delegates but more importantly, what kind of trouble is John Edwards might have with threshold? 15% is the threshold, not just statewide but also inside a congressional district.

And what we can tell from the returns of what’s likely to be coming in soon is that in the second, fifth and sixth congressional districts, that’s basically the media markets of Columbia down to Charleston and Florence. This sort of triangle of where Barack Obama had the most support. He’s going to get some bonus delegates out of there. Perhaps, you know, an extra three in the second congressional district. A majority of the delegates in the fifth and sixth.

Senator Clinton, as we’ve now projected her in second place. She’s likely to pick up delegates in every congressional district. That’s a big deal to her, that’s going to keep, while, you know, the margin of victory for Barack Obama is going to be great. Because of the rules of the democratic party, she’s going to get a good share of delegates. One projection I’ve heard among the campaign has her potentially at the 45 that are up for grabs tonight, she might get 14 of them. As high as 14, maybe 12, which isn’t bad, considering how bad, how big Obama’s victory’s going to be.

John Edwards probably will get some delegates out of his strongest region which is in the Greenville area, sort of in the northwest corner the state. Greenville-Spartanburg but he may struggle even getting any delegates. And when he doesn’t get them, if Obama has got over 59% in a specific congressional district, he’ll likely get that extra bonus delegate. So, it’s a big deal. He could win maybe 25 delegates tonight.  Obama folks were hoping just to get 20, 21. He may get 25, 26, and I know we’re dealing with small numbers but we’re coming up to where every delegate matters. He had a two delegate lead coming into this thing.  He’s now going to have perhaps a 10 delegate lead, pledge delegates. We don’t want to talk about super delegates, making everybody’s head spin.  But that’s a substantial thing. So, watch in the returns exactly and each of these congressional districts tonight are important if Obama gets over 59% in some of these.

GREGORY: All right. Chuck Todd, our political director with some hard facts tonight as we go through. Also, this week’s Howard Fineman doing the same. He’s been talking to the Obama campaign about Bill Clinton’s role in the campaign. Also on the all-important issue, Howard, of Obama’s appeal among white voters. What have you got?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what I’ve got is the conversation I just had a little while ago with William Daley, who is of the great Daley family of Chicago, and who is one of the co-chairs of Obama’s campaign. And by the way, David, that says something right in and of itself about race. The Daley family of Chicago, for 50 years, has been a bastion first of white voters in Chicago and now a biracial coalition there. The Daley family represents that. What Bill Daley said is you know, Obama doesn’t have to prove that he’s not Jesse Jackson. In the way Bill Clinton made that comparison earlier.

Obama is showing his reach especially among young voters. Norah mentioned this earlier. You can’t stress it enough. In the latest version of the NBC exit polls, Obama is winning 52% among non-white – excuse me, among non-black that is white voters essentially, in South Carolina. Over 50% of the white vote among young, white voters in South Carolina. That plus the Daley’s, plus all the other people that have endorsed him. The other big point that he made is that essentially, Bill Clinton has been repudiated as a force or weapon in this campaign.

It’s probably a little too early to write an obituary for Bill Clinton as force in democratic party politics. For sure he’s a former president, he has a lot of respect, but as a weapon, as force in the campaign, it’s clear that he failed tonight, and so the Obama campaign is feeling that they don’t have to make any special efforts to get out of a corner that the Clintons were trying to paint them in. The Obama campaign feels that the Clintons failed in their effort to do that tonight, and if the Clinton campaign’s going to stay on its course, as Sheila Jackson-Lee was saying, the Obama campaign is perfectly happy to stay on the course they’re on right now.

GREGORY: All right. Howard Fineman reporting for us as well throughout the night from “Newsweek.” We’ll talk to you again, Howard.

OLBERMAN: I think this emphasizes this point that we raised with Tim Russert earlier on that we saw to some degree in New Hampshire the sympathy. Sympathy is the wrong word. It’s almost approbation against the people who were critical of, in an unfair sense, those were the viewers’ perceptions of Hillary Clinton. We saw that clearly was a role in all the exit polls, the sudden swing back towards her in that state and I think we’ve seen that again here tonight in favor obviously of Senator Obama after what happened during the week, and it suggests, among everything else what the Clinton campaign has to do, what do you do with it? Can you stop Bill Clinton at any point? Can you stop him from doing what he wants to do in this circumstance? Will he be heard no matter what? But ultimately, larger than those other issues and what Obama does about this. How he needs to look presidential, not just as a candidate from here on in. And how he seems to be magnanimous about this from here on out. Whatever the various intra-campaign issues might be, that bigger issue is, the electorate again seems to be well ahead of the campaigners. They don’t want this. They are, in fact, exhausted by this and it would seem that whoever can tap into that and sort of wear that good housekeeping seal of clean campaigning, may run the table here.

GREGORY: But there’s the other side of this as well, which is, it may not be the messenger. It still may be the message. Bill Clinton raising the issue of Obama’s experience, the roll of the dice, still a substantive point that has taken hold for the electorate and it may be something that sways people’s opinions. So, that’s what they have to juggle which is, is the messenger getting a lot, the messages getting too much attention? But it’s still driving home a message that will make people think?

OLBERMAN: But the key way of assessing that is still the final score. So far, everybody who’d been critical of President Clinton’s behavior have been able to essentially silenced by the fact, how has the senator done since he sort of stepped in and became the guy putting his head through the fence and taking all the shots back at him.

GREGORY: They’re now at 500.

OLBERMAN: Right. Exactly. It’s not as good as it was. The record is not as good as it was. All right. David, up next, more from our exit polling in South Carolina. We learn more about how Barack Obama won and won substantially tonight.

You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina democratic primary.


OLBERMAN Barack Obama, the projected winner by substantial margin in the South Carolina primary will speak to the nation at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. About an hour and ten minutes from now. Hillary Clinton will finish second, according to NBC News projections ahead of South Carolina’s native son John Edwards who by process of elimination here will necessarily finish third.

And at this point let’s turn again to NBC News Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. We’re thinking here about Ted Kennedy and the speculation that he might have to endorse somebody in a hurry. It’s a much more urgent issue for other politicians in the democratic side. Is it not?

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: It sure is, Keith. Just listening to your conversation with David, two things. One – when African-American politicians all across the country see these numbers tonight, Barack Obama winning 80% of the black vote. They’re going to have to take pause, and consider what they’re going to do vis-à-vis their own constituencies. Those who are already for Hillary Clinton, I think, will try to reach out, and I’ve talked to some of them, to try to modulate the tone of the campaign.

And here’s what I mean. Many black Americans I’ve spoken to heard something over the last two weeks that whites wouldn’t detect. When Barack Obama is referred to by the Clinton campaign as a young, eloquent leader, with a base in South Carolina, they took great offense. They saw that as dissing. They saw that as a lack of respect for someone who is qualified to be president of the United States. If Bill Clinton, and this goes to David’s point, says that it’s risky, because Barack Obama does not have enough Washington experience, or enough foreign policy experience, that’s one thing. But to simply try to diminish him as someone who’s young and eloquent and black is quite another, and I do think that you’ll hear from African-American politicians in the coming days both privately to the Clinton campaign and publicly if they support Obama, for a new tone, because everyone can read this number. 80-18.  That is something that every precinct, every political leader in every state will pay attention to.

OLBERMAN: All right. Tim, ready to go from day one also has its risks, but obviously it will play better than what we’ve seen. And let’s explore that a little bit with advocates of each of the leading finishers in South Carolina. We’re joined now by Representative Laura Sanchez in California who endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier in this week and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland who’s been campaigning for Barack Obama in South Carolina. And that you both for joining us.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you.


OLBERMAN: Let me bring up Tim’s point first to you Congressman Cummings.  What do you need to hear from the Clinton campaign relative to issues of divisiveness and race, to make this last week feel a little better?

CUMMINGS: First of all, I think we need to look at what happened in South Carolina today. We have a group of young people, 52% of the whites are for Obama, and basically what they’re saying is that we want to do away with this race -type politicking, and the fact is, is that that’s what’s happened, and Tim is absolutely right. I personally get tired of hearing people dismiss Barack Obama as if parts of his life don’t matter.

Here’s a man who’s more than a great orator. He’s also a father. He’s also one who has practiced civil rights law, gave up probably a $500,000 salary to go into the streets and help people. And then to be a state legislator, and what happens is, is that when young African-Americans and others. It’s not just African-Americans but as young whites and others, who are striving to be the best that they can be, when they hear somebody referred to as a young man, as if there is nothing else to their lives than just the fact that they can speak, then that is a bit insulting.

OLBERMAN: Representative Sanchez, 70% of people speaking to the exit polls suggested that Senator Clinton had unfairly attacked Senator Obama. Senator Clinton not necessarily personally but her campaign ad and obviously a lot of the focus of that subject had been the president’s conduct in South Carolina. As a supporter of Senator Clinton, is it incumbent upon on the campaign to rein him to some degree as you head towards super Tuesday?

SANCHEZ: Well, first of all I think that Hillary Clinton is the most capable candidate that we have running, and that’s the reason that I’ve endorsed her, and, you know, it’s not bad to have Bill out there for you. If the country would remember that under the Clintons, we were in a dire situation. We inherited that from the republicans, and it was President Clinton, with a democratic congress, that got it back into shape to have the largest economic expansion that we’ve ever seen in this nation. The times are good.

For people who have money and all the way through the economy, the middle class and down even into the area, some of the areas that I represent in Orange County. So when I see that, I think it’s great to have Bill stand up and say, you know, this is about the economy. We need to have a program. Hillary has a program to do that. I mean, I would – I would love to have Bill Clinton coming out and helping me on the campaign. I think he’s a real asset.

OLBERMAN: But Representative Sanchez, by the same token, today, in discussing Senator Obama in South Carolina and the anticipation of a victory between now, projecting a substantial one, President Clinton made a comparison to Jesse Jackson’s two victories in the caucuses of the 1980s. And that, would you want that to be placed in the middle of your campaign? Even by a former president?

SANCHEZ: What I would say to people, and I tell them all the time – you know, we hold elections in the United States because we don’t have coronations. Hillary’s got to fight for this. If Barack Obama wants this, he has to fight for it, also, and it’s a long way. This is America. This is not just a little short race around the block. Now, Hillary’s won several times. Now Barack has won, in a place where, you know, people really came around him to give him that win, but wait until they get to California. I mean, in California, we go for women. We send the most women to the Congress. We send great women to the Senate. And so I believe that when we look at the capability of Hillary Clinton, that California will go strong for her. There are tons of delegates in my state. And then, tonight I’m in Colorado campaigning for Hillary and it’s the same way. People are really speaking up to putting in experience.

OLBERMAN: Forgive me, Representative Cummings, we’re out of time, we have to go to commercial or they come and they drag us off without our wallets. Representative Loretta Sanchez of California and Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland. We thank you for the all too brief time tonight and best of luck to both of you in your campaigns.

Barack Obama, again, the projected winner by a substantial margin in South Carolina. Expected to speak in a little over an hour. We will be carrying that live obviously. David Gregory and I will return in a moment with much more including the candidates’ speeches. We are expecting to hear also from Senator Clinton. And we’ll all be back after this.


OLBERMAN: Senator Barack Obama, the projected winner in the South Carolina democratic primary tonight, where Senator Hillary Clinton, a projected second place finish to be spun. For South Carolina native Senator John Edwards, the question of what’s next.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator Barack Obama, the projected winner in the South Carolina Democratic Primary tonight. For Senator Hillary Clinton, a projected second place finish, to be spun. For South Carolina native, Senator John Edwards, the question of, what next after third place tonight?

It is 8:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour since the polls closed in the Palmetto State. As we have reported, NBC News declaring Senator Obama the projected winner by a substantial margin in South Carolina. Tonight the Associated Press is using a little bit stronger language. The word “rout” has come into play.

Senator Clinton, projected to come in second, successfully fending off Senator Edwards, who will be in third.

Good evening, again. Alongside David Gregory at MSNBC headquarters in New York, I’m Keith Olbermann. Our coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary continues, with Senator Obama due to speak in about an hour from now.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: That is right. We will look forward to that. And we want to check in with NBC’s Lester Holt, who is in Columbia and has been doing reporting all day long from both campaigns.

Lester, good evening to you.


You know, I was watching those exit poll results on race. I talked to Senator Barack Obama yesterday. And we talked about the fact that one poll had him with only 10 percent of the white vote going into the primary. He said, well, it may be closer to 20. He was clearly right there.

He was also very careful to say, listen, I have never really wavered, I have never positioned myself as any but a mainstream candidate. I’m not a black candidate or any other kind of candidate but an American candidate.

And he also played down the notion that he had somehow stoked some of the fire, some of the racial talk that had perhaps led to those kinds of poll numbers. So he has maintained his cool on this subject, at least publicly. And tonight, of course, I’m sure he’s looking at those numbers and they will further analyze them to see what may lie ahead in other southern states.

I was in Greenville a day or so ago talking to folks at barbershops—mainly African-Americans in barbershops and beauty salons, where people gather, kind of the neighborhood water cooler, if you will, getting a sense for the dilemma that many African-Americans face, not only here but in many other states that will be voting, that sense of, do you vote for Barack Obama? Is it a sense of responsibility because he’s an African-American, because he represents such a significant opportunity in history?

Many said, yes, yes we support him not only because he’s black but because he’s qualified and he is a viable candidate. I was surprised, though, at how many people were still on the fence saying, well, I’m not sure. You know, we like Hillary Clinton.

And I almost got the impression, David, that there were folks who did not really find a lot of daylight between these candidates except when it came to the issue of race and history. And I think we are seeing some of that borne out now in these numbers as we look at the exit polls from how African-Americans voted.

GREGORY: Lester, do you pick up any sense among African-Americans that the Clintons may have burned some bridges, not just in South Carolina but as we go forward into February 5th, among African-American voters and African-American leaders?

HOLT: Yes, I can’t tell you outside of South Carolina, but in talking to these folks in Greenville, a couple of them said—you know, they seemed pretty angry at Bill Clinton in particular, did not necessarily hold it against Hillary Clinton, or they didn’t fault her. But they were angered by what they thought was a disrespectful tone.

And whether that fired up the African-American community in a bigger way and resulted in some of those huge turnout numbers, it is hard to say.  But a couple of them specifically mentioned they did not appreciate what they thought was his inappropriate behavior or language as directed toward Barack Obama.

GREGORY: Lester Holt in South Carolina for us tonight. Thanks, Lester—


OLBERMANN: And as significant that number Lester referred to is, one more time on this, the white voters who thought that the Clinton campaign had been unfair to the Obama campaign in South Carolina was 68 percent. Only 30 percent said no, the Clinton campaign was not unfair.

So to whatever degree it’s a racial issue, it’s not a racial divide.  Let’s go to the victorious campaign headquarters. Lee Cowan is covering at Obama Headquarters at Columbia, South Carolina.

I see the public has finally been admitted. And I imagine it’s a happy bunch, Lee.

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: They are. I mean, a lot of these folks were standing outside for quite some time, waiting to get in, actually heard the news that Barack Obama was projected to be the winner here while they were standing in line to get in.

There is a lot of security here, taking a long time for folks to get in.  There is a lot of security here, it is taking a long time for folks to get in. They have to go through the magnetometers. And they’re coming in sort of one-by-one after they get through the security. So it’s not anything out of the ordinary as we have seen that sort of security at all the rallies here at South Carolina over the last couple of days.

But we expect to hear from the senator himself coming up here at the very top of the hour. From here he is going to be flying to Macon, Georgia, tomorrow. He will be attending church there. Then he is going to go to Arkansas—I’m sorry, Alabama, and then from there, a brief stop home in Chicago and then he is going to head to the State of the Union in Washington on Monday night.

OLBERMANN: Lee Cowan, as the roars begin to echo throughout the room and we are expecting Senator Obama at 9:00 p.m., we have now a statement. I don’t know if this precludes a speech from Senator Clinton, but her camp has released this statement tonight.

“I have called Senator Obama to congratulate him and wish him well.  Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me well beyond this campaign and I’m grateful for the support so many of you gave to me. We will now turn our attention to the millions of Americans who make their voices heard in Florida and the 22 states, as well as American Samoa, who will vote on February 5th.”

That’s how tight this race is. American Samoa is being invoked here. “In the days ahead, I will work to give voice to those who are working harder than ever to be heard, for those who have lost their job or their home or their health care, I will focus on the solutions needed to move this country forward. That’s what this election is about. It’s about our country, our hopes, our dreams, our families, and our futures.”

So whether or not that means we are not going to hear from the candidate tonight after what appears to be a most disappointing second place finish in South Carolina, perhaps Mike Taibbi has some idea. He has been covering the Clinton campaign in its destination for tonight, Nashville, Tennessee.

Mike, do we know anything about where or not the Senator is going to speak at all?

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know it’s wheels up already. So she’s on the way. And since we took the flight earlier today, we know it’s only about an hour in the air. So she should be here, one would think, by the projected start of 8:00 p.m. local time, which is an hour behind Eastern time as well.

But you know, what I wonder about today is whether or not the Clinton camp got the message that maybe the method of negative campaigning, that aggressive type of campaigning, wasn’t working in South Carolina.

A couple of things happened. Number one, Senator Clinton, when she made her appearances earlier today at a couple of stops, a Shoney’s and some other places, was asked about the tone of the campaign, would not even address it.

Former President Bill Clinton was also asked about it and he kept saying, I’m not going to rise to the bait, I’m not going to rise to the bait. Questions about criticism of him by Senator John Kerry who, of course, is backing Senator Obama. Once again, he said, that’s bait, too, I’m not going to rise to the bait.

So you have to wonder whether they are looking at the numbers coming in now but had already gotten the message that maybe the methods they were using in South Carolina wouldn’t work and were going to cost them down the line as has been suggested before.

One thing that I wonder about is that Howard Wolfson, who is the communications director for the Clinton campaign, sent out an e-mail at 1:00 p.m. this afternoon basically saying, we are looking at the polls saying it is going to be a 12-point loss. If it’s much, much more than that, if it’s twice that, if it’s, as the AP is calling it, a rout, I wonder what effect that is going to have on the Clinton campaign strategy from here on in?

We expect that we will hear from Senator Clinton within the hour or so.  We don’t know whether she is just going to go into campaign her stump speech or whether she is going to address tonight’s results, but we will have a live camera on her for sure.

OLBERMANN: Mike Taibbi, with the Clinton headquarters in Nashville. And the other part of that, both the e-mail and the statement that are interesting are the references to Florida, which is, again, one of these made unofficial Democratic primaries, along with Michigan, that suddenly the Clinton campaign wants to see more official than it was.


OLBERMANN: Sort of reinstitute those delegates because that’s how tight this is, plus American Samoa is in play.

GREGORY: Right. We wonder if they are delegate-counting operations that are beginning to be fired up in these campaigns as we look beyond February 5th. We want to check in once again with our political director here at NBC News, Chuck Todd.

Chuck, I want to ask you about the viability of John Edwards? That could be a changing story as we go forward. But first, are you hearing anything out of the Clinton campaign tonight other than what Sheila Jackson Lee said to us a little while ago, which is, stay the course, same tactics, any course correction after tonight?

CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Not so far. And I think, you know, you’re seeing the emphasis on Florida. But you know, the size of this victory, I think, is—astonished them. I mean, they were surprisingly upbeat as late as 12:00 p.m. this afternoon when they were seeing their own precinct turnout projections, which indicated that it looked like the white precincts were turning out in greater numbers than African-American precincts.

And so they had this idea that maybe they were doing well. It turned out that it’s possible that Edwards did a little bit better in some of these precincts and that’s what accounted for that better turnout.

GREGORY: All right. We were looking at live pictures from Independence, Missouri. That’s where the former president, Bill Clinton, we have talked so much about tonight, is going to be appearing. And the crowd gathering there. We know that Hillary Clinton is on her way down to Nashville. We expect to hear from her later.

As we continue to monitor these pictures, Chuck Todd, talk about John Edwards and what happens now.

TODD: Well, it’s interesting, in talking to a few people with the Edwards campaign, they don’t feel at all sort of bad about their place tonight. You know, obviously all of the polls had him in third. They feel like, though, that the rout is so great by Obama over Clinton, that really, you know, they are a lot closer to Clinton. They both got routed by Obama, and they move on.

What is going to be interesting, though, is sort of the tactical nature for where Edwards moves on. You are going to see him target places, two states that I think they think they could win on February 5th are Oklahoma and Tennessee. A lot of—two states that have a lot of rural, white male, southern Democratic population. These are—he did very well with white men in our exit poll in South Carolina.

And then he’s also going to probably spend a lot of time in these smaller caucus states, try to accumulate delegates. So they don’t feel discouraged at all. If anything, they feel like Clinton getting routed is the story and that they are sitting there waiting. They are sort of in that same mode they were right before New Hampshire, David.

They feel like, you know, maybe there’s a chance that they become—they sit there and they sit there long enough and they become the alternative. I think early on Joe Trippi described it to one of my colleagues as sort of sitting right by the drain, hoping one of the big guys gets sucked down the drain but they don’t, and suddenly in March are back accumulating delegates.

GREGORY: All right. Chuck Todd, our political director, thanks very much.

These are live pictures from Independence, Missouri. We are going to hear from the former president, Bill Clinton, in just a few minutes. He will be the first Clinton reacting to the loss in South Carolina. And you will see it here live. Don’t forget, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, that is when Barack Obama will speak and you will see that live here as well.

Howard Fineman from Newsweek, let me bring you in as well. John Edwards, his future, what are you learning?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I just got off my BlackBerry with someone who talked to Edwards about 10 seconds ago. At least that’s what the e-mail said. And as Chuck said, Edwards is not going away. He’s not dropping out. He’s not even thinking of dropping out.

I think—I know for a fact that he has been sounding out some top people in the Obama campaign circle here in Washington about possibly making some kind of deal down the road. But the Obama people, I’m told, told him—have told Edwards, forget it. We are not making any deals.  We are not going to buy your support. You have got to go out and earn your own delegates and we will deal with you later if we have to.

Interestingly—the body language in this is interesting. Early last week it was Hillary Clinton who sought out John Edwards. They had a private meeting after that very rancorous debate down in South Carolina.  And it was Hillary who sought out Edwards.

And my sense is that the Clinton people don’t mind having Edwards around now. Exactly why, I’m not entirely sure because I think he hurt her in South Carolina. But they would rather—I think, the Clinton people would rather at this point have three people in the race than have it just be an Obama/Hillary contest.

And that indicates to me that they are looking at a delegate situation that goes a long, long way. That they are looking at, as Keith said, American Samoa and every other place for delegates and they would rather have it be a three-way race as long as it possibly could be one.

OLBERMANN: Is that simply, as we’ve seen so many—these issues of semantics—as the former president is about to speak to the faithful at the Clinton event. We are going to go to him as soon as those people would kindly remove those signs. But, Howard, this is really—Edwards serves a great purpose—well, we will have to pick that thread up after former President Clinton speaks.

Here is Bill Clinton.



B. CLINTON: Are you ready to change this country?


B. CLINTON: I want to thank our great friend, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, for his leadership in Hillary’s campaign.


B. CLINTON: Hillary’s colleague Greg Meeks from New York, and Representative Kendrick Meeks from Florida, they have been great and he’s looking forward to a big victory for us in Florida in just a couple of days.


B. CLINTON: Thank you, Mayor Don Reimal and Mrs. Reimal for giving me a key to the city of Independence.


B. CLINTON: I will try not to open too many unwarranted doors tonight, but I like having a key. Senator Jolie Justus, County Executive Mike Sanders, thank you for being here.


B. CLINTON: I have a lot of friends in this audience. I want to recognize one. Pastor John (ph) (INAUDIBLE) has been my friend since I was a young governor. And I would like to thank the principal of this great school, Jason Dial (ph), and all of the people from the school district who are here. Let’s give them a big hand.


B. CLINTON: Ladies and gentlemen, this is an interesting race. And I was here a week ago after we won our great victory in Nevada, in St. Louis.  We had several thousand people there. There are a lot of people outside tonight.

We just finished in South Carolina today. Senator Obama won there.  Hillary congratulated him and I join that. Now wait a minute, no, he won fair and square. We went there and asked the people to vote for us. They voted for him, we congratulate him. Now we go to February 5th when millions of Americans finally get in the act.


B. CLINTON: And let us begin with a clear statement. This country needs a change in direction. We need a change on the home front for the economy, for health care, and for education. We need to change around the world to restore America’s standing as a leader for peace and freedom and cooperation.


B. CLINTON: To do it, we need the right vision, the right plans and the

right leadership. I am here and I have worked around this country

because I think I know something about what it takes to put together a

successful presidency, and because…


B. CLINTON: And because today in my current capacity, post-politics, I work with ordinary Americans and ordinary people all around the world.  My library is in Arkansas. Some of you have visited it. We have the school of public service there. My office is in Harlem in New York City.

We worked, trying to help the 23 million Americans who get a check every two weeks of every month, but don’t have a bank account, to get into the banking system so they spend billions of dollars of year in alternative financial transactions when they can’t pay the bills they’ve got.

We work on trying to fight the problems of childhood obesity and the exploding rate of diabetes among our young people which threatens their future and the stability of our country and health care.


B. CLINTON: Around the world, I have been to 90 countries and 71 of them we sell the world’s least expensive AIDS medicine, keeping over 750,000 people alive in Africa and Latin America and Asia. This is important work but it brings me in touch with people.

We are working on the problem of global warming in 40 cities on six continents. We are trying to help people make a living where they were never able to make a living before all across the world.

I say that to set this up. If I had never been married to Hillary, but I knew what I know about her service and her lifetime of making positive changes in the lives of other people, in the United States Senate, often passing bills with Republican co-sponsors, to move issues from child health to the health care of our veterans forward, if I knew what I know about what she did in the White House years, if I knew what I know about what she did when I was governor and she led our education reform efforts, our efforts at preschool, our efforts to provide rural health care and rural economic development, if I knew what I know about seeing what she did as a young lawyer to help children who were severely abused and neglected, children with learning disabilities and children with other disabilities, then I would be here campaigning for her for president because I think she’s the best candidate for president I have ever had a chance to support.


B. CLINTON: Now...

OLBERMANN: Former President Bill Clinton speaking on Senator Clinton’s behalf after a thunderous defeat being projected by NBC News in the South Carolina Democratic Primary.

The issue of Senator Obama and endorsements, we have one thing to drop in for you here. We have learned, and Chuck Todd of NBC News has confirmed this, that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, of course, the daughter of former President Kennedy, will be endorsing Senator Barack Obama tomorrow on the pages of The New York Times.

On that note, let’s bring in NBC’s Brian Williams and Tim Russert. Tim Russert, of course, Washington bureau chief, moderator of “MEET THE PRESS.”

Tim, let me start with you on what we just heard from President Clinton.  He did he not say this, but it sounded as if he was going to break into South Carolinians, what do they know?


TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: He did say that Barack Obama won the state fair and square. But now it’s onto Super Tuesday, where millions of Americans can start to vote.

It is going to be interesting to see what lessons Bill Clinton takes from this event that is happening in South Carolina tonight. Keith, if you hear what I’m hearing from black leaders both for Clinton and for Obama, it is quite striking.

They are saying, please, Mr. President, lower your voice, lower the rhetoric. You were younger than Barack Obama is now when you first ran for president in 1992. And so when he’s described, as we talked about earlier, as a young, eloquent African-American, in the words of Congressman Clyburn, those are code words that can be very disruptive and make people nervous, as Congressman Clyburn said.

So I think going into Super Tuesday, there is going to be as much scrutiny of Bill Clinton as there is going to be of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. It has been clearly established, the Clintons are running as a team. This is Hillary and Bill Clinton together.

In 1992, they said two for the price of one. Vote for one, you get two.  That is clearly in 2008 what’s being presented. But it’s important for those of us who cover the campaign to realize that what is going in Missouri next Tuesday—a week from Tuesday, in Massachusetts, California, in Connecticut, in all 22 states, for most of those voters, it’s the first time they are going to hear from these candidates up close on a regular basis.

And so whether Bill Clinton changes his rhetoric and his words on Super Tuesday is going to be very, very important I think for the Clinton campaign and for those of us who cover it.

OLBERMANN: And, Brian, to that point, if it’s the Clintons versus Obama, how ironic the current actual hard vote count from South Carolina, at 37 percent of precincts reporting, is almost the reverse. It is Obama two-to-one over the two Clintons.

Will this—based on your experience, Brian, of covering President Clinton in the White House and thereafter, will this come as a personal surprise to him? Will it get him to question his own politicking? Or is it just as we have seen for the last 20 years of public life, you know, straight through no matter what the obstacles are?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Well, I think what Tim just said is so important, because, yes, we are already hearing people within the Democratic Party say, tone it down, take some of the speed off your fastball.

Tonight is so interesting. His ninth word, even including “thank you,” was “change.” They are going to keep hammering that as the kind of change 2.0 alternative. I also loved what you singled out that he said, and I wrote it down, “now we go to February 5th, when millions of Americans finally get in the act.”

They are going to try to somehow dismiss what happened tonight. Peggy Noonan touched on the cost of these ubiquitous appearances, in her last column, by Bill Clinton. You know, he cuts both ways. Within his fan base, of course, there are people who look at speeches like tonight and say, my, he’s so good at this.

But those same people say, we don’t like to see him in that negative light, then his critics are energized. They remember why they didn’t like him in the first place. So the Bill Clinton brand will be something to watch so carefully. He finds it so hard to suppress his nature, that is, never saw a camera he didn’t like.

Earlier today we heard him say, I’m not going to take the bait. He passed by a crew and a reporter asking a question. That was notable. We may see a little bit more control on the message to your question.

GREGORY: Tim, it’s David here. As we come out then of South Carolina and if there is a cooling off in the race between the Obama and the Clinton campaigns, then what is the battleground as we go into February 5th? How does the debate change going into a mega primary like that? Really, nothing this big that we have ever seen.

RUSSERT: Hillary Clinton will keep emphasizing that she has more experience, ready from day one, all of the words we heard. But the focus for the Clinton campaign will very much be on Arkansas, New York, New Jersey and California. They are going to go for big wins in those states and reap as many delegates as they can.

The Obama campaign, obviously his home state of Illinois, they see some opportunities. They are going to try to compete heavily in New York and New Jersey, particularly based on this vote we have seen in some of the African-American congressional districts tonight, where he won 80 percent.

They see Connecticut as a swing state. Massachusetts, an

African-American governor, Deval Patrick. And then in a lot of caucus

states, David, which are predominantly white but Obama has organized

quite actively in those.

I want to make one other point, because I think it plays right into our conversation that I have been hearing from Keith and David and now Brian. In this exit poll, 20 percent, one out of every five African-Americans, said they would be dissatisfied if Hillary Clinton merges as the nominee.

That is a real warning sign for the November election. And I think that cannot be underscored enough. And so going into Super Tuesday, I really do believe that we’re going to see a modulation, if not moderation of the rhetoric in all of those states, no matter how hotly competitive they may be.

OLBERMANN: And, Brian, there’s a report out of—by The Politico Web site, reporting that when that last speech of former President Clinton was shown on the Obama screen in Columbia, South Carolina, the former president’s audio was not audible for the booing.

I imagine whatever happens here on in in this campaign, for Senator Clinton, will determine to what degree President Clinton’s brilliant political acumen, which we have seen so—get him out of every spot so far since 1992, certainly, and before that in Arkansas, whether or not that is still there. Is there the possibility, though, that this is one race too many? Is he Willie Mays in the 1973 World Series, when he should have retired in 1972?

WILLIAMS: Certainly not if you ask him. And it was interesting, Tim and heard the same during thing this past week, that, you know, the Obama campaign was saying, OK, we’ve had about enough of this and that he was going to—they were going to meet head on some of these side comments that were being tossed off by the president and his wife and campaign insiders. So while I concur with everything Tim said, this could get fairly nasty as Democratic politics goes.

OLBERMANN: Brian Williams of “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS.” Tim Russert of “MEET THE PRESS,” and, of course, our Washington bureau chief. Great thanks to you both, gentlemen. Always a pleasure.

And we will get back to our panel in a moment. Barack Obama, the winner over Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin, on the scoreboard it is 2-1. Obama will speak at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Then we expect to hear from John Edwards, projected as the third place finisher. And last of the group, Hillary Clinton, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

All of this will be covered for you live here on MSNBC as we continue our coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary.


OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with our continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary, where Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is a 2-1 winner over Hillary Clinton, with John Edwards finishing in third place according to our NBC News projection.

GREGORY: And our panel, led by Joe Scarborough, has been thinking about Bill Clinton.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: How can you think about anybody else? And in fact, Bill Clinton is still, at last report, holding the audience in Missouri hostage.


SCARBOROUGH: Still talking about himself. There he is. His first five minutes—and we wrote it down. Bill Clinton was talking about himself, talking about his presidential library, talking about that library’s legacy, talking about his Harlem office, talking about his Arkansas governorship, talking specifics about his Arkansas governorship, talking about everything involving Bill Clinton.

But, Margaret, most surprisingly—yes?

OLBERMANN: If you were Bill Clinton tonight, would you want to be talking about how the senator did in South Carolina?

SCARBOROUGH: I would not want to talk about how the senator was doing, especially since exit polls show she’s doing so poorly because of the guy who is still talking. It is fascinating, Keith, that he continues to talk.

Here’s what’s so fascinating now. If you’re reading the tea leaves, right—they put out a press release after the defeat. They say, on to Florida. Bill Clinton, when not talking about himself, says early on, on to Florida. Margaret Carlson, once again, the Clinton campaign, bowls in a China shop. They have offended African-Americans this past week. Now who are they offending? The Democratic party. They are blowing this process up because they got routed in South Carolina.

CARLSON: Call me naive, but you would think that they would play by the rules this time.

SCARBOROUGH: The rule that’s all Democrats have?

CARLSON: They said Michigan and Florida delegates are not being seated.  There’s no primary there because they moved their primaries up against the wishes of rest of the party. However, now they decided because South Carolina doesn’t count, but they did lose it, on to Florida.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait a second. This happened last week. A year ago, everybody decided in Nevada there would be caucuses, where, in casinos.  The second they didn’t get the endorsement they wanted, they sued the Democratic party. They are at war against African-Americans and now they are at war against the Democratic party.

CARLSON: They are willing to disenfranchise restaurant workers, casino workers and everybody when it doesn’t go their way. Now they are willing to go against everything that everybody’s been committed to do in Florida.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what this is when Republicans do it, Pat Buchanan?  Dirty tricks. You know what makes me sad? You endorse it. And you think the Clintons are doing the right thing by blowing up the rules now because things are not going their way.

BUCHANAN: You know how many people have already voted in Florida, Joe?  Four hundred thousand Democrats have already voted. Barack Obama ran ads on cable TV. They played in Florida. That’s all the Clintons needed to say. Let’s go in there.

They are going to run up the score on him in Florida. You saw Bill Clinton. Did he look like a loser to you? He is laughing, friend. The strategy has worked. Barack Obama—

SCARBOROUGH: Wait, you know why he was laughing? Because he had a microphone and nobody could take it away from him.

BUCHANAN: Let me tell why you he’s laughing. Because the strategy has work. They are going to play Mr. Nice guy now.

SCARBOROUGH: Hold it, Pat. Listen—

CARLSON: Have I answered the question?


SCARBOROUGH: But how can you say the strategy worked when they lost half the male voters, white male voters, when they lost 80 percent of the African-American voters today. They lost 75 percent of the young voters today.

BUCHANAN: Are you going to let me answer?

ROBINSON: Overall, they’re losing two to one.

BUCHANAN: Let me explain it to you. Barack Obama has gotten an enormous surge in the African-American vote. It’s at 80 percent. His white vote has gone down from Iowa to New Hampshire to Nevada, to now he has gotten beat by John Edwards in the white vote. In the country, 20 percent of Democrats are African-American; 65 percent are white American; 12 percent are Hispanic Americans. In those groups he’s declining, and he’s surging in the 20 percent.

SCARBOROUGH: You’re saying the race bating has worked?

BUCHANAN: I’m saying it has worked and they will stop doing it, because you know who is following up on this? You and me and all us who are talking about the race. It’s exactly what they want.

SCARBOROUGH: So Bill Clinton’s race bating has worked? You know what’s so surprising to me about this? Let’s go back a week. Barack Obama sitting back in his chair. He’s sitting there and he’s smiling and, you know what, he compares Bill Clinton to Richard Nixon. He said, like Nixon, Clinton doesn’t transform America, but Ronald Reagan does. And Bill Clinton takes the bait. He gets angry. He spends the last week beating up Barack Obama and it’s blowing up in his face.

Barack Obama got under his skin.

ROBINSON: You know it did. You know that got under Bill Clinton’s skin to have Obama tell the editorial board of that newspaper that, you know, Ronald Reagan was the last truly transformational figure. And to essentially say, and when I’m president, I’m going to be like Reagan.  I’m going to transform America. I’m going to do what Reagan did and bring America to me.

SCARBOROUGH: Bill Clinton doesn’t like this young man, as he calls him, even though he was older than Bill Clinton when he became president, trying to be the alpha male of the Democratic party. Does he? I know I sound like Maureen Dowd.

ROBINSON: No, but I think you’re absolutely right. He doesn’t like the idea that Obama intends to eclipse the Clinton legacy and establish a much greater legacy.

BUCHANAN: Are you guys kidding? Are you kidding? Why is Bill Clinton smiling tonight, Joe?

SCARBOROUGH: Because he’s got the microphone, Pat. Because he is so arrogant—


BUCHANAN: Why are all three of you so agitated? Because it worked.

ROBINSON: No, here’s why it didn’t work. Here’s why it didn’t work. If

this is identity politics -

SCARBOROUGH: How can you say this worked, Pat Buchanan, when he got routed?

BUCHANAN: Sure, South Carolina doesn’t count. He’s dismissed it already.

CARLSON: Pat said South Carolina doesn’t count.


ROBINSON: If this is identity politics, it’s as much gender as race.  Because, in fact, Obama did just as well with white males as Hillary Clinton. He lost with white women. So why is it race and not gender?

BUCHANAN: Where are you going to spend the night on February 5th because I want to see you.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, speaking of identity politics. Of course, Congresswoman Sanchez said yes, they vote for black people in South Carolina. But in California, we vote for women. Welcome to identity politics 2008 style, Keith.

OLBERMANN: And speaking of identity politics, did I hear you identify yourself as Maureen Dowd for a moment there?

SCARBOROUGH: What I said was—when I start talking about how men are fighting to be the alpha male of the Democratic party, that is frighteningly close to Maureen Dowd territory. Just to plug, Maureen Dowd will be on “Meet The Press” tomorrow morning with Tim Russert from Florida. Keith, back to you.

OLBERMANN: You get a brownie for that. Don’t make me touch this bell again. Joe Scarborough and the panel, great thanks.

For more on Bill Clinton. Not to make it look like piling on, but it is such a relevant issue. Let’s turn again to “Newsweek’s” Howard Fineman.  Howard?

FINEMAN: Keith, I have been calling around and e-mailing around with the Clinton folks to try to get a sense of whether they are planning to, shall we say, redeploy Bill Clinton in any way. The answer I get is no.  Bill Clinton—one interesting thing to know about Bill Clinton is that he is essentially on his own.

Everybody says what a great politician he is, but back in the ‘92 campaign, of course in ‘96, he had a campaign structure. He had a great inner circle of advisers. His wife, for one, who was a cautionary force and James Carville and Paul Begala, Mandy Grinwal (ph), a lot of other people. He’s out there flying solo pretty much now. And my sense of it is the Hillary Clinton campaign kind of likes it that way. They have kind of a sense of deniability about it.

Bill Daley (ph), who I spoke about earlier, who is the co-chairman of the Obama campaign, and who was a member of the Clinton cabinet, Bill Clinton’s cabinet, thinks that Bill Clinton’s been repudiated as a force. But the Hillary Clinton people don’t think so. But they would rather leave him to freelance on his own. That’s my sense of it.

I tried to ask them, are you planning to rein him in or change his tone or change his rhetoric in any way? The answer I get is no. He’s out there doing his own thing.

OLBERMANN: Let me do the book keeping. Then I have a follow up question.  We will hear from Barack Obama at 9:00 after his thunderous victory in South Carolina. The second speaker will be third place finisher John Edwards and finally, at about 9:30 Eastern time, we are expecting Senator Clinton to speak. She had released a statement.

As we are discussing, President Clinton spoke to some degree on her behalf, and said this was a clear victory for Senator Obama in South Carolina, and now millions of people will get to vote on Super Tuesday in the 22 states. You mentioned, Howard Fineman, about the idea that the Clinton campaign believes they almost have deniability here or at least a distance from the president as kind of rogue male, to use the old Peter O’Toole movie title there.

But when the exit polls say that 70 percent of voters in South Carolina perceive the Clinton campaign as having been unfairly critical of Senator Obama, how much deniability is there? It sounds like there’s 30 percent deniability. Is that enough to manage an entire political campaign on?

FINEMAN: One wouldn’t think so. There’s only small comfort in the fact that, I think, what, 50 or 55 percent thought Obama had been too nasty as well. There’s a difference in the two numbers. I don’t know. Maybe they are putting on a brave face here. But the fact is that there is not really a tight control from Hillary central of what Bill Clinton is saying minute by minute. There are lots of times on the campaign trail, especially today, when he really went over the line, as Gene Robinson was saying, directly comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson for no other reason, really, than they are both African-Americans. That he really did damage to his wife’s campaign.

But I think, over all, my sense from the Clinton inner circle is they are going to let him go and do his thing. They are not going to try to script him and then say, hey, boys will be boys. That’s where they are right now.

OLBERMANN: You so much would have preferred to have heard any other Carolinian, either South or North, politician invoked in that sound bite from President Clinton, even if you have to go back to John Calhoun.

FINEMAN: That was a sad moment at the end there, yes.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of “Newsweek,” thank you, Howard.

Up next, more on the exit polls. Norah O’Donnell has been following them all night. We have a new wave of information to present to you.

Plus, the Republican race; Florida Governor Charlie Crist tonight endorsed John McCain for president. It will be the big headline in that state tomorrow, in advance of that vote on Tuesday for the Republicans.

You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Democratic primary in South Carolina and Tuesday in Florida.


OLBERMANN: Welcome back to MSNBC’s live coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary, where Barack Obama is the big winner and will speak at the top of the hour. Norah O’Donnell has more from our exit polling on what happened in South Carolina, in a , as the AP described it, rout?  Norah?

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening to both of you. Having that overwhelming support from African-Americans was very important to Barack Obama’s victory tonight in South Carolina. There are some other reasons that voters said they cast ballots for him. I think this is going to be very important as we look forward to Super Tuesday.

His message of change and his image and unifying figure also seemed to resonate, and that’s despite all of the fighting going on with the Clintons. When we asked voters which one candidate quality mattered most in their voting decision, South Carolina followed Democrats in other contests, and put change at the top of their list. In fact, over half say it mattered most. By comparison, experience, which Hillary Clinton has been pushing as her strong suit, rated third. Only 15 percent say they valued experience the most.

Now, those voters who were looking for candidates to bring about change, three in four broke for Barack Obama, with Clinton and Edwards splitting the rest of the vote.

Our exit poll also asked Democratic voters to pick the candidate they believe is most likely to unite the country; 55 percent there, you can see, a majority for Barack Obama, two to one over Clinton.

Unlike previous black candidates for president, whose appeal did not extend to other demographic groups, we found that Barack Obama did very well among college educated white voters. He won a majority of white voters under 30 and even first-time voters. He also did well with white men, essentially garnering the same level of support among white men as Hillary Clinton. That’s pretty interesting.

In this contest where over half of the voters, as you pointed out, were African-American, Hillary Clinton was only able to get 17 percent of the ballots cast by black voters. That’s despite all of those endorsements she had from South Carolina black political leaders. And also, John Edwards tonight only got two percent of the black vote. Back to you guys.

GREGORY: Norah, thank you very much.

On Tuesday, of course, it’s the Republicans’ turn. They are locked in a pitched battle for Florida. With us now is the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, who tonight has endorsed John McCain for president, making pretty big news. Governor Crist, welcome. Why did you endorse McCain?

GOV. CHARLIE CRIST ®, FLORIDA: Because I think he’s the right man at the right time. He’s a great American patriot. He is a true American hero. He’s a dear friend and I think he will lead well and be a great president for the United States.

GREGORY: You, earlier on, according to reports, had indicated a preference for Rudy Giuliani. His campaign described tonight, or aides, as visibly shaken by the fact you have gone with McCain. What happened?

CRIST: McCain impressed me. He’s a great man. I have known him for a long time. He’s been to the state over and over and over again. And I just think the world of him. It just comes down to a gut feel. I think he’s the right guy at the right time. I’m proud to support him.

GREGORY: What’s your read on the politics of Florida and whether John McCain, who appears to be, according to polls, really locked in a battle with Mitt Romney? Who wins among conservatives in your state?

CRIST: I hope John McCain wins among conservatives in our state, across the board I hope he wins. And I believe he will on Tuesday. He’s worked incredibly hard. This is a guy who never gives up. This is a man who knows how to fight back. And this is the guy who can lead our country well. When you come to those conclusions, I think, at the end of the day, if you’re a governor and you feel strongly enough about it, you ought to tell the people of your state how you feel. And that’s why I decided to do this tonight.

GREGORY: Governor, Joe Scarborough talked about your appeal to independents and Democrats in your state. As you look forward in this Republican race, do you think that the ability to reach independent voters, crossover voters, is more important if Republicans have a chance to win in November? Does that influence your thinking?

CRIST: There’s no question about it that it’s important. When you run for president, you want to be president for all of the people, just like when I ran for governor, I want to be governor for all of the people of Florida. But what’s important first—it’s first things first. You have got to win this primary. So I wanted to do what could to try to help John McCain win this primary here in Florida on Tuesday. I believe that he will.

I think will he go on to do very, very well in the rest of the primaries and become the next president of the United States. I certainly hope so.

OLBERMANN: Governor Crist, let me read something from the “St.  Petersburg Times” of August 20th of 2006, a one paragraph that might be very familiar to you; “Miami, Charlie Crist’s bid for governor got a jolt of energy Saturday from John McCain, the maverick Arizona senator, who called Crist the most qualified candidate to succeed Jeb Bush. He endorsed you. Has this been something in the back of you mind since that endorsement two years ago?

CRIST: If you’re a loyal guy, certainly that matters. But that really wasn’t what made the final decision for me. As I say, I just know that this is a great man. He’s of tremendous integrity. He’s a tenacious worker. He’s a fighter. I think he will keep our country safe and I have enormous confidence in him.

GREGORY: Our colleague, Joe Scarborough, is listen to this as well, Governor Crist, obviously a keen student of the state, Joe. You want to weigh in here?

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, Charlie—I’m sorry, governor, you know a lot of people around Florida—

CRIST: Charlie is fine, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Governor, will I be calling you vice president one day? A lot of people in Florida have said that since you have been elected governor, you have a 70 percent approval rating. If you’re on the short list for any Republican nominee, you can help deliver Florida. Did you make this election tonight with an eye on possibly being selected as John McCain’s running mate?

CRIST: No. I mean, my decision is made based upon what I think is best for Florida, Joe, and best for our country. All of us have a duty and a responsibility to exercise this precious right to vote. And coming to the decision about who I was going to vote for, it just occurred that it would be the responsible thing to do, at least I felt that way, to share that with the people of Florida and they can do with it what they want.

But I hope it in some way helps influence the election of my friend John McCain on Tuesday here.

SCARBOROUGH: Is your approval rating at 70 percent or 95 percent, governor? I mean, this is going to a big endorsement for John McCain.  It’s going to be on the front pages of all of the newspapers tomorrow.  How much pressure did you face from John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, who were pulling at you for your endorsement for months now?

CRIST: These are all fine people. They are great Republicans and they are all good friends. And all would serve well. I just came to the conclusion that this man would serve the best. That’s why I made the decision to publicly endorse him today. And I hope he wins on Tuesday and I believe that he will.

SCARBOROUGH: Keith, back to you.

OLBERMANN: Joe Scarborough, thank you. Governor Crist, thank you.

We have two bits of news from the Democratic side that we wanted to mention before we go to break. Hillary Clinton’s plane landed in Nashville. She’s expected to speak about 9:30 Eastern. The pecking order will be the winner, Senator Obama, first and then Senator Edwards second, Senator Clinton, although she finished second, will go third.  And that speech or rather document in the “New York Times” tomorrow, the op-ed by Caroline Kennedy will be entitled “A President Like My Father.” It is an endorsement of Senator Obama.

GREGORY: Powerful endorsement indeed. We are going to take a break here.  Our coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary on MSNBC resumes after this.


OLBERMANN: Senator Barack Obama will address his supporters in Columbia, South Carolina at the top of the hour. The speech has not been released the for public consumption. Those who have seen snippets of it say it is a barn burner, not that we need to do Senator Obama’s campaigning for him. But if you want to watch it, we’re going to be showing it to you at the top of the hour.

In the interim, let’s go to “Newsweek’s Howard Fineman with a little bit more as to how this play in terms of the political hop-scotch of Super Tuesday and endorsements and, of course, that big vote in Guam and American Samoa. Just stick to the stuff about Super Tuesday.

FINEMAN: America Samoa, yes. The fact, as we have been reporting on MSNBC, that Katherine Kennedy Schlossberg (ph) is endorsing Barack Obama in the “New York Times” tomorrow naturally begs the question, what about Ted, what about Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts? That’s a Super Tuesday state. That’s a state where both John Kerry, the senator and nominee in 2004, and African-American governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, are both strong Obama supporters. What will Ted Kennedy do? That is something that will resonate all across the country, not just in Massachusetts.

The answer I get is that he is not going to do anything. Teddy, given his role, given his elder statesmen role in the Democratic party, will be given a pass and will not squeezed by the Obama campaign. They would love to get it. But he will not be squeezed and he’s going to try to stay out of it. That’s going to be crucial, because Teddy will be the kind of guy who can play the role of peace maker down the road after what will continue to be an incredibly nasty campaign or at least hard-fought campaign between Obama and Clinton.

So Teddy is one crucial endorsement that nobody is going to get right now.

OLBERMANN: Howard, in 15 or 30 seconds, is that because of 1980? Is he still remembering what happened in 1980 between he and Jimmy Carter?

FINEMAN: Well, I think he remembers how painful all of that was. He wants to be a healer. He want to be a healer, but the temptation to go for Obama may become irresistible. I think this is a crucial thing to watch between the now and the fifth. His instinct and the way he has done this in recent decades has been to stay out of these kind of races.  But there will be a lot of pressure on him to go with Obama, not the least being from his own governor and his fellow senator in Massachusetts.

OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, his niece Caroline Kennedy, has already endorsed, in an article that will appear in the “New York Times” tomorrow, “A President Like My Father,” she writes.

David Gregory and I will return in a moment, with much, including the candidates’ speeches. Senator Obama will make his victory speech at the top of the hour. You’re watch MSNBC.


OLBERMANN: Nine p.m. throughout the East coast. Certainly, the focus being in South Carolina, where the man of this hour, east coast or otherwise, the man of the night, Senator Barack Obama will be coming to that podium in just a few moments to address the crowd after what appears to be about a two to one victory over Senator Clinton, thus far, at least from the reported vote.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Nine p.m. throughout the East Coast, certainly the focus being in South Carolina for the man of this hour, East Coast or otherwise, the man of the night, Senator Barack Obama, will be coming to that podium in just a few moments to address the crowd after what appears to be 2-1 victory over Senator Clinton, thus far at least from the reported vote.

NBC News projecting Senator Obama to win South Carolina’s Democratic Primary by a substantial margin. Senator Clinton projected to finish second. And the South Carolina native, John Edwards, who won this primary in 2004, come in third.

And as you see in the real vote numbers, it is 2-1, with John Edwards, based mostly on Hillary Clinton backing up towards him, a decent third place. Whether it’s decent enough to maintain long-term viability as a presidential candidate is another story altogether.

But that is a 2-1 margin, which nobody was calling for at the height of the Obama surge in South Carolina.

DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC HOST: And certainly the Clinton team foreshadowed that by the fact Hillary Clinton got out of the state. But what do we know at 9:00 p.m. tonight? We know that this was a resounding victory.  We know that African-Americans turned out in huge numbers and went for Barack Obama.

We know that he even got 24 percent of the white vote. And we know that the racial element in this campaign became so polarizing and divisive, that the voters down in South Carolina put up their hands, Democrats, and said, not for us. We don’t like it.

OLBERMANN: Sixty-eight percent, however, of white voters believe that…

GREGORY: Agreed.

OLBERMANN: … Senator Clinton was unfairly attacking Senator Obama. So to the degree that it might have been felt more acutely and understandably acutely in the African-American community, that’s one thing but that’s not the big story here. It was universal.

GREGORY: Right. No racial divide, as you said now. But now there’s a question of—a couple of questions. How does the tone of this campaign change as you go into February 5th? And what does it mean?

You know, there is all of the sorting out that has gone on of back-and-forth momentum shifts, now we go into February 5th. Bill Clinton was right about one thing, millions of Americans are going to be voting on February 5th.

It is a mega, national primary and all of these issue that have percolated up get on to kind of a different plain. The retail politics essentially over now. Now everybody takes to the airwaves. It becomes a different campaign. They focus on their pockets of strength.

OLBERMANN: And it’s tight enough, obviously, certainly in the perception of the Clinton campaign, that as early as noon today there was an e-mail out from Howard Wolfson talking about, and now we all move onto Florida, which was a state whose Democratic primary was essentially wiped off the board because the state party had moved it earlier than the national party wanted.

They have talked about—she made a statement the other day about the delegates that were pledged to her as a result of a Michigan primary, that she was the only major candidate not to take the name off of that ballot. What was supposed to be a so-called beauty pageant, in political parlance, suddenly become after the fact, they are no longer exhibition games, the Clintons now want those votes to count.

That’s how tight this is, that’s how long-term they see it as certainly in terms of their chances of lasting. Right now you would have to say that that’s the view, that the real worry is that they may not even need those—or those issues of Florida and Michigan may not even be of issue because it might be over by then.

GREGORY: Let’s bring in from our panel, Joe Scarborough.

And, Joe…

OLBERMANN: As Senator Obama is approaching the stage here.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: Pat Buchanan, as he approaches the stage, former White House communication director, you have got a candidate, more votes, more delegates than Hillary Clinton. What does he say tonight talking to this audience?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is the most important speech he is going to have delivered this campaign. I think he has tried it. Got to go back up the mountain and get on top of the mountain and try to get away from all of this attack back and forth and recapture that transcending figure he was in Iowa, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Is he gracious to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton?

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG: In a way-up-high way. Not right down there.  But you know, he’s so right. He has been counterpunching, not punching as much as the Clintons, but now he has a chance to get that speech back, that—you know, we can do it, we can fulfill our destiny. The time is now. All of that which he had in Iowa, which is so powerful.

SCARBOROUGH: Gene Robinson, how important is this to Barack Obama to prove that Iowa was not a fluke?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. It’s important to give a speech—you know, ideally, if you were Obama, you would want to give a speech like he gave in Iowa, when he won. A speech that speaks not just to partisan Democrats but speaks to independents, that speaks to Republicans, that looks toward—realignment is not the word, looks toward kind of a restructuring of the way we think of our political system. Not the old left and right, not the old Republicans and Democrats, something new.

SCARBOROUGH: Right. A transcending speech, and also a speech that talks

about how everybody—he’s bringing everybody aboard and not just black

voters. Let’s go back…

BUCHANAN: Bring us together.

SCARBOROUGH: Bring us together, young and old, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat. Same speech he gave in Iowa.

CARLSON: Turn the page.

SCARBOROUGH: Probably with more people watching—Keith.

OLBERMANN: And with more vote continuing to come in, this is now a hard and fast number, 93 percent of the vote here, 2,099 of South Carolina’s precincts, virtually the final score, and it’s stretching out a little bit. It’s now more than 2-1. Barack Obama at 55 percent of the vote and Hillary Clinton at 26 percent, with Edwards third at 18.

This is, as the AP termed it quite a while ago, a rout, it is a thundering victory and it is, one assumes, exactly what the Obama campaign needed and then some.

GREGORY: And I think you look for Barack Obama in this speech to sort of tie together what the victories have meant. Bottom line for Obama, that I can bring new people into this process. That’s the kind of change he’s selling. It’s not just change once he is president, should that happen, but he can change the way the American people may view the Democratic Party. That’s an argument he’s got to make and I suspect we will hear.



CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you.

CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you, South Carolina.


OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, South Carolina. Thank you to the rock of my life, Michelle Obama.


OBAMA: Thank you to Malia and Sasha Obama, who haven’t seen their daddy in a week. Thank you to Pete Skidmore for his outstanding service to our country and being such a great supporter of this campaign.


OBAMA: You know, over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come.


OBAMA: But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new, who said Iowa was a fluke, not to be repeated again.  Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.


OBAMA: After four—after four great contests, in every corner of this

country, we have the most votes, the most delegates…


OBAMA: … and the most diverse coalition of Americans that we’ve seen in a long, long time.


OBAMA: You can see it in the faces here tonight. There are young and old, rich and poor. They are black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American.


OBAMA: There are Democrats from Des Moines and independents from Concord and, yes, some Republicans from rural Nevada. And we’ve got young people all across this country who have never had a reason to participate until now.


OBAMA: And in nine days, in nine short days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business as usual in Washington. We are hungry for change and we are ready to believe again.


CROWD: We want change! We want change! We want change!

OBAMA: But if there’s anything, though, that we have been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy, now partly because we have fine candidates in this field, fierce competitors who are worthy of our respect and our admiration.


OBAMA: And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination. And that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.


OBAMA: But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington.


OBAMA: It’s a status quo that extends beyond any particular party and right now that status quo is fighting back with everything it has got, with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care that folks can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.

So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.  We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem and this election is our chance to say that we are not going to let them stand in our way anymore.


OBAMA: We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor and judgment and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.


OBAMA: We’re up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner. It’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea, even if it’s one you never agreed with.

That’s the kind of politics that is bad for our party, it is bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.


OBAMA: We’re up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. But we know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics. This is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore. This is why they tune out.

And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.


OBAMA: But let me say this, South Carolina. What we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation.

It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a

bludgeon, a politics that tells us that we have to think, act and even

vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us:

the assumption that young people are apathetic…


OBAMA: … the assumption that Republicans won’t cross over; the assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor and that the poor don’t vote; the assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate, blacks and Latinos cannot come together.

We are here tonight to say that that is not the America we believe in.


CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina.


OBAMA: I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children alike. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life and men and women of every color and creed who serve together and fight together and bleed together under the same proud flag.


OBAMA: I saw what America is and I believe in what this country can be.  That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision.


OBAMA: Because in the end, we’re not up just against the engrained and destructive habits of Washington, we’re also struggling with our own doubts, our own fears, our own cynicism.

The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.

So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. Change will take time. There will be setbacks and false starts and sometimes we’ll make mistakes.

But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope, because there are people all across this great nation who are counting on us, who can’t afford another four years without health care, they can’t afford another four years without good schools, they can’t afford another four years without decent wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.

Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina. The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child.  She needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American. That’s what she’s looking for.


OBAMA: The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin’ Donuts after school just to make ends meet, she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay and more support and her students get the resources that they need to achieve their dreams.


OBAMA: The Maytag worker who’s now competing with his own teenager for a

$7 an hour job at the local Wal-Mart, because the factory he gave us

life to shut its doors, he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to

companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them…


OBAMA: … in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it and put them in the pockets of struggling homeowners who are having a tough time and looking after seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.

That woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breath since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his child because he’s on his third or fourth or even fifth tour of duty, they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged.


OBAMA: So understand this, South Carolina, the choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old. And it is not about black versus white.


OBAMA: This election is about the past versus the future. It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will continue to tell us that we can’t do this, that we can’t have what we’re looking for, that we can’t have what we want, that we’re peddling false hopes. But here is what I know.

I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of that elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day, an envelope that had a money order for $3.01...


OBAMA: ... along with a verse of scripture tucked inside the envelope.

So don’t tell us change isn’t possible. That woman knows change is possible.


OBAMA: When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with and stood with and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago.

So don’t tell us change can’t happen.


OBAMA: When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who is now devoted to educating inner city children and who went out into the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign.

Don’t tell me we can’t change.


OBAMA: Yes, we can! Yes, we can change. Yes, we can.

CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

OBAMA: Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can seize our future. And as we leave this great state with a new wind at our backs and we take this journey across this great country, a country we love, with the message we carry from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire, from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast, the same message we had when we were up and when we were down, that out of many, we are one; that while we breath, we will hope.

And where we are met with cynicism and doubt and fear and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of the American people in three simple words: Yes, we can!

Thank you, South Carolina! I love you!


OLBERMANN: Senator Barack Obama, presenting himself as a survivor of the kind of partisanship, in his words, where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea, even if it’s one you never agreed with. A victory, in his words, over the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything or do anything to win an election.

A victor tonight in South Carolina, it’s official. There’s no projection anymore. With only 4 percent outstanding, even if that remaining 4 percent went 100 percent to Hillary Clinton, she could not overcome his significant and basically 2-1 or more than that now margin over Hillary Clinton in the South Carolina Democratic Primary. With John Edwards coming in third.

And Mr. Edwards to speak, we believe, at the bottom of the hour. We are not clear now about whether or not Senator Clinton will be giving a formal concession speech, which is interesting of itself.

But to the one we just heard from Senator Obama, David Gregory.

GREGORY: This is striking, he never mentioned Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton, but spent most of the speech talking about them.

OLBERMANN: Who do you think those quotes were about?

GREGORY: Right. And in particular, he said, you know, to those who would say earlier victories, or even South Carolina, was just an illusion, maybe you could substitute “fairy tale” for that line.


GREGORY: Talked about the most diverse coalition of Americans that we have seen for a long time. Took head on this idea of race and the idea that a white South Carolinian would not vote for a black or that a woman wouldn’t vote for a black or that a black wouldn’t vote for a white, really took this on.

And I go back to the point I made before this speech, this was an attempt to these February 5th states, I can do it. I’m not just singing about it. It’s not just oratory. I can pull a diverse coalition together that would make the Democratic Party bigger, not smaller. That is, in his estimation, the key to success.

OLBERMANN: And this is what we interpreted after Iowa as being the presumably fundamental issue in New Hampshire. Did Iowa show people who might, for whatever reason, whatever hesitancy, whatever history in their own lives or their own traditions, their own families, their own make-ups, their own geography, if anybody was hesitant to go into this uncharted territory in voting, that they were not going out on ledge?

That what Iowa showed was there are plenty of people out there already there. You are not going to be the first person in your neighborhood to do something unusual or dangerous, if it were in fact unusual or dangerous, which doesn’t seem to me that’s ever the case here. But things change and things change slowly and at different speeds for people.

But that was—yes, that was the OK, everybody, basically, we are in fact—we have a bandwagon. There’s plenty of room. And all of the axles are in place.

GREGORY: And we have got our panel. And, Joe Scarborough, you know what

else I heard, Joe, is him talk about the ways of Washington as a way to

take on the Clintons, versus what they will come at him with, which is

experience. He is talking about the status quo, fighting back, doing


OLBERMANN: We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. Well, nobody has been elected president under those circumstances since George H.W. Bush in ‘88. That can only be two people, right?

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, no doubt about it. It’s the Clintons. And boy, what a punch line here, the choice in this election is not between regions or religions or gender, it’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it’s not about black versus white.

It is about the past versus the future. And what is striking to me, it was striking during the Iowa speech, Pat Buchanan, it’s striking during this speech. It was striking during his loss in New Hampshire. My BlackBerry starts going off like crazy every time this man speaks, and it is from Republicans.

It is from conservative Republicans. It is from independents. It is from Democrats. And you know what they say, I believe. I have never seen anything like this before, Pat Buchanan.

BUCHANAN: Well, this was an outstanding speech. It’s different than Iowa in the sense that there’s a bristling defiance in this speech, an undercurrent of anger. You have almost got a direct quote, the Clinton politics are bad for our party, they are bad for our country. This is the politics of divisiveness.

He’s These going right at the fairy tale comment, as David said. He’s going right at the race and gender comment that Bill Clinton says.  Really, this is a—I mean, you would think he’s running against George Wallace the way he’s hammering in his speech the Clintons. And this is tremendously divisive...

SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Senator McCaskill. Senator McCaskill talked about weeping during the Iowa speech, saying her daughter said, you must endorse him. I don’t want to buy into a fairy tale here, but this man touches people.

Like, well, Caroline Kennedy tomorrow, an op-ed in The New York Times, says, finally, I can vote for a president like my father. Are we watching history unfold here?

CARLSON: Well, you know, we have seen politicians, that they say the camera loves them. The microphone loves Obama. That speech is like the Iowa speech and it’s almost like an acceptance speech at the convention.  It’s presidential. It rises above everything and it move people, whom you say, Joe, are not Obama supporters.

SCARBOROUGH: Aren’t Democrats.

CARLSON: They just aren’t normally going to fall for this, the kind of stuff that—the fairy tale.

SCARBOROUGH: Most of the e-mails that I’m getting come from conservative Republicans. It is stunning. And listen to this line, Gene Robinson, near the end, out of many, we are one.


SCARBOROUGH: A remarkable way to end a divisive week.

ROBINSON: It’s a fascinating statement of Obama’s message, which is that we have had—for too long we had a politics that involves piecing together interest groups and coalitions. That gets us nowhere. That’s what the Clintons are the masters of. And that what we need is a politics that embraces, a “politics of common sense” is the phrase he uses.

You know, I mean, we will see what kind of appeal it has, but it is a new idea. And it’s an ambitious idea that he has.

SCARBOROUGH: It is. And, David Gregory, it is a speech that is not only defiant, but also offers up hope for the future. Quite a remarkable performance by Senator Barack Obama tonight. Back to you.

GREGORY: All right. Joe Scarborough on the panel, thank you very much.

Barack Obama still working the room there. And I was in the room in Des Moines when he made his acceptance speech there. This one more even lyrical, but in some ways it had a harder edge and it had the edge of his now political experience in this campaign. His arguments about trying to unify the party resonate more through his own experience in this campaign so far.

It will be put, however, to the great test on February 5th. But before we get to that, Lee Cowan with the Obama campaign, in the room.

Lee, take us inside the room.

LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine, the senator is just working the rope line. I don’t know if you can see behind me. He is almost right there. He does this at the end of almost all of his rallies, but this one, as you can imagine, more exuberant than some of the other ones.

I think your point, David, was really good. I think this was a much harder-edged speech and he had a warning in there, saying that look, as contentious as this race may get over the next couple of weeks, just remember we are all trying for the same thing in the Democratic party.  Like he said, a sense of trying to unify the party, but at the same time, warning his supporters that this is going to be tough. It’s going to be just as nasty. It’s going to be just as hard as what we have seen over the last several days here, which is not something he has done before.

He has admitted this will be a long haul, but he has never really come out and specifically said, look, get ready for it, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

GREGORY: Lee Cowan inside the room with Senator Obama. Thank you very much. It is interesting to me, Keith, that the Clinton campaign still has to make this about experience, in large measure because they want to stop all of this feeling. They want to stop the emotion surrounding Barack Obama. It’s dangerous for them. They want to get voters to be concentrating February 5th, about, OK, close your eyes; in a crisis, do you trust Barack Obama’s leadership? That is still the contrast.

OLBERMANN: But, as you point out, the sense of a less tentative approach to the speechifying, to the how do you react to a crisis—obviously a political crisis or a primary political crisis and real-life in the White House crisis are two different things on different sides of the universe—but what he did after New Hampshire; he didn’t fold his tent. He was not lost. He was not lost throughout this. He was not lost during this week in South Carolina, although perhaps he didn’t have perfect pitch in response to what was going on with the Clinton campaign, with his own campaign, with charges who is playing dirty politics, who is being victimized by it.

As with anything, the more experience you get, the less tentative you become. And the longer, as you suggest, this goes on, the less this issue of experience is a divide.

GREGORY: There is still a political imperative here that is kind of the foundation for this. Joe Scarborough talked about it in terms of a cross over appeal. One of the reasons he needs that cross over appeal, as we are waiting for John Edwards to give a concession speech tonight—he needs that cross over appeal because he’s still losing among women.  South Carolina doesn’t really bear that out because he had such a huge total, such a big victory.

Even among white men, though, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tonight, that’s significant. That’s where Barack Obama has to build that strength if he’s going to stop her in that gender gap. Here’s John Edwards, who has a lot of thinking to do here, the state where he spent a lot of his boyhood, not delivering for him tonight.

OLBERMANN: And obviously, in discussing senator Clinton, we have all sat at various tables at various times after Iowa and said, well, now this is over; this doesn’t look good for Senator Clinton. Whether you like the mechanisms by which things are re-established or whether you don’t like them, they are effective and the campaign did not end. Let’s see if Senator Edwards will address the question or the viability of his campaign and how long this will go on, which we expect will be considerable time longer. We are not expecting a step aside from the campaign by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s Senator Edwards.

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all very much. I want to join Senator Clinton and President Clinton in congratulating Senator Obama. Now, the three of us move on to February 5th, where millions of Americans will cast their vote and help shape the future of this party and help shape the future of America.

Our campaign, from the very beginning, has been about one central thing, and that is to give voice to millions of Americans who have absolutely no voice in this democracy; to give voice—to give voice to people like the woman I met in Kansas City a couple of years ago, who told me the story of working full time and not being able to pay both her heating bill and her rent, and having to come home every night in the winter and dress her children in all of their clothes, in their coats, put them under blankets and put them in beds together, so they could stay warm.

And she told me the story of getting them up every morning, out of the bed, fully clothed with their coats, feeding them and sending them off to school, and praying, praying that no one would find out what was happening in her home, because they would come and take her children away from her. No one should live like that in the United States of America. We are better than that.

We are giving voice to that extraordinary woman in Kansas city, admiring her strength and courage. We are giving voice to all of those Americans whose voices are not being heard. And their voices were heard today in South Carolina. So I say, if you are worrying about your health care or you don’t have health care in America, your voice will be heard in this campaign. If you are worried, worried because you lost your job and you’re worried sick about finding a new job, your voice will be heard in this campaign.

If you’re one of 37 million Americans who wake up every single day literally worried about feeding and clothing your children and living in poverty, your voice will be heard in America, and it will be heard in this campaign, and we will speak for you and we will fight for you.

If you’re worried about being able to pay for your child to be able to go to college, being able to pay for tuition and books, your voice will be heard in this campaign, and it will be heard in America.

And if you’re one of the forgotten middle class, people who are working and struggling just to pay their bills, literally worrying about every single day, we will give you voice in this campaign.

And, last, if you are one of the extraordinary men and women who have served this country patriotically and worn the uniform of the United States of America, and you’re not getting the health care that you deserve and you need, or if you’re one of 200,000 veterans who live in this country, who every night go to sleep under bridges or in shelters or on grates, as long as we are alive and breathing, your voice will be heard in this campaign and it will be heard in America.

And then, finally, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who have yet to cast your vote in this Democratic process, beginning on February 5th and moving beyond, your voice will be heard and we will be there with you every single step of the way.

Join us in this movement. Join in this campaign. Let’s make America what it’s capable of being.

God bless you all, and thank you for your support, and thank you for being here, and thank you for your voice.

OLBERMANN: Senator John Edwards, speaking at Columbia, South Carolina after his third place finish in the South Carolina primary, a lot closer to second place than many people thought he would be, after the polls throughout the week had Senator Edwards—continuing to give no indication that anything other than a continued presidential campaign will be in the offing for him. An interesting turn of phrase in the beginning, in which he said he wanted to join Senator Clinton and President Clinton in congratulating Senator Obama. Even from the person behind the Clintons in this primary, a bit of a very, very quick scrape of the knife, if not actually a shot taken there by Senator Edwards.

GREGORY: He said he was the only adult running in the race in South Carolina. He was trying to tease on the fact that Obama and Clinton were at each other’s throats and try to emerge out of that. I’m with you, he doesn’t sound like a candidate who is about to get out. He plays a potentially very important role as his campaign roles on through February 5th, perhaps even beyond.

Howard Fineman reported to us tonight that there’s some conversation that the Edwards campaign is having with the other campaigns. You might think Obama would be the right fit for him, were he to drop out of the race. He might throw his support behind Obama, but who knows?  Nevertheless, he will play a significant role.

OLBERMANN: The schedule we have been giving you for the last hour was the one that has been put together by our NBC News staff, that there would be, as we heard at the top of the hour, Senator Obama’s victory speech, followed by the speech you just heard from Senator Edwards and then something from Senator Clinton in the way of a concession speech.

That is not exactly what’s going happen at the Clinton locations, after we heard the former president speak in Missouri. Mike Taibbi, who is covering the campaign from his latest venue in Nashville, has a little more explanation about what Senator Clinton will and will not be saying.  Mike?

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Keith. How are you? Yes, we heard the stirring oratory of the victor in Senator Obama. We heard a very, very short speech, actually, from former Senator John Edwards. And we understand Senator Clinton is going to come out here and basically, at this town hall meeting at Tennessee State University, do her stump speech, forty to forty five minutes, not taking any questions from the press afterward. That will wait until tomorrow after she attends a church service at a Baptist church in Memphis.

So she’s not going to take any questions today. She’s not going to make a formal concession speech here either. That concession has already been made in a statement. So she’s due to come out in about two or three minutes. The crowd here in this gymnasium has been somewhat subdued, much quieter, in fact, than the Tennessee State Band that has been playing for last 45 minutes or so, and now resumes playing, I think.

Or is that just a cue? In any event, Senator Clinton will be out here in a few minutes just for a stump speech, which we have heard a number of times, which she gives earnestly and usually to a good reception. We will see what kind of reception she gets here. And we’ll see also what her demeanor is like, whether there’s any hint in what she says about her plans, about any change of strategy.

Likely not going to be. She’s very disciplined on the stump, as you know. We expect to hear the basic speech in a few minutes. Keith?

OLBERMANN: Mike Taibbi in Nashville, where Senator Clinton will speak in a few moments. We will return to Mike and to Senator Clinton at that moment. Even, David, that concession statement that was e-mailed out didn’t have a lot to do with the concession nor with the campaign.  There’s one sentence; “I called Senator Obama”—this is about 8:00 tonight—“to congratulate him and wish him well. Thank you to the people of South Carolina who voted today and welcomed me into their homes over the last year. Your stories will stay with me beyond this campaign.”

The rest of it is now talking about everything else, up to and including, the vote in American Samoa. People might not have heard the reading of this originally, might have thought we were being hyperbolic in some way. There’s a reference to the 22 states, as well as American Samoa, who will vote on February 5th.

GREGORY: Take nothing for granted. The choreography is interesting here, because the Clintons have moved on. They don’t want to dwell. All of the headlines will be a thumping out of all of this. Now it’s time to reframe this debate. Hillary Clinton tonight is doing her first pre-February 5th, Super Tuesday campaign event. That’s what it will be.  It will be a stump speech. It will be a town hall.

She and the former president, working in tandem here, are trying to frame this around the millions of voters who go to the polls and that becomes a different ball game.

OLBERMANN: But if you’re trying to erase a sense that perhaps your sense of politics has not changed, as the world around you has changed—let’s turn to Howard Fineman from “Newsweek” for this exact point—is it really a good idea to operate after such a thumping, such a more than two to one loss to just go into a state of denial, like we lost that one. It didn’t really count?

FINEMAN: How many delegates are there in the state of denial, Keith? I’m not sure.

OLBERMANN: Thousands.

FINEMAN: Yes, millions and millions. I think she’s trying to show how strong she is. And she’s trying to show that this thing is going to go to the wire. And as Howard Wolfson, her communications director, has been saying for days, this is about the delegates. And Obama has a slight lead in pledged delegates, but if you throw in those famous Super Delegates, she’s still ahead.

They will take it inch by inch, delegate by delegate. That’s what the talk is. That’s what the message of this is.

I think we should pause for just another second to just marvel at the dimensions of Obama’s victory in South Carolina. I have been covering South Carolina for many years, going back to the days of the late Lee Atwater in the Republican party. For an African-American to win this kind of overwhelming victory, indeed for any Democrat of any color to win an overwhelming primary victory like this, with the kind of turnout that there was—

I mean, Barack Obama won more votes tonight on his own than were cast in the entire 2004 Democratic primary. I was down there for the big rally that Obama had in Columbia with Oprah Winfrey. There were 20,000 to 25,000 people in the University of South Carolina football stadium. That was one of the biggest, most electric crowds I have seen in any campaign I have ever covered.

This is something big. It is something real. Hillary Clinton is also important and strong and powerful. But she’s up against some kind of uncorked force here, that if Obama can control it and guide it, it will be very, very difficult to stop, with the cautionary word that you always mention, never write Hillary Clinton off.

OLBERMANN: Speaking of not writing her off, she is walking out. As she does so, let me just put a couple numbers in to what Howard was just saying. That vote total in the 2004 primary was 290,000 Democrats voted.  Right now, the count for Barack Obama is 288,820. That’s almost literally true. It’s a 75 percent growth, 500,000 Democrats -- 500,000 Democrats, at least, will have cast their votes when this primary is over, and a resounding majority of them did not cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, who has moved on, David.

GREGORY: You know, the choreography of these nights are also interesting. Here’s Hillary Clinton. Look what you see behind her? The first row, all African-American. When it was Barack Obama speaking, behind him, all white faces tonight in South Carolina. So this element has become part of it on both sides, the racial element of the campaign.  And now I think we will hear and see Hillary Clinton begin to sort of reframe this debate, as she goes into February 5th, not pay a lot of attention to the politics of South Carolina, but to try to make this a much larger picture.

OLBERMANN: It will be fascinating to see if there’s any vague reference to what happened tonight, because we’re told this is going to be not a concession speech, nothing approaching it. It is a remarkable—I guess only politicians and hockey goal-tenders and field goal kickers can do this, where you just immediately eliminate, no matter bad thing just happened to you. You just stop it and, more or less, flush the thing out.

GREGORY: Joe Scarborough and our panel, thoughts here as we await Senator Clinton?

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, let’s start with you. She—she obviously figured out early on that she was not going to be able to follow up Barack Obama.  It’s like being on Hermit’s hermit and being asked to follow the Beatles. It’s just ain’t going to turn out well, is it?

CARLSON: Who could top that speech. But it’s back to the rules. The Clintons don’t play by the normal rules. Where is the grace that we all expect out of losers in campaigns, which is you congratulate in words, not in just a statement—

SCARBOROUGH: Well, sure.

CARLSON: -- your opponent.

SCARBOROUGH: And there is etiquette. But it goes back to Bill Clinton.  How ironic that it was Bill Clinton, Gene Robinson, who is saying that these people had no shame. And yet right now, it looks like it’s the Clintons who just refuse to play by the rules. Let’s listen to Hillary Clinton right now and see if she has a gracious word to say about Barack Obama.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank State Senator Thelma Harper. Isn’t she amazing? I’m so grateful that she’s one of the leaders of my campaign here in Tennessee, along with Jane Eskin (ph), who is here with me. I thank Jane and her husband Dick and Former Governor Nedray McWarder (ph). It is wonderful to have such a broad cross section of people across this state who are fighting with us for a new future for America.

I want to thank Dr. Johnson. Thank you so much, please, doctor. Thank you so much for inviting us and being here with us. You and Mrs.  Johnson, thank you very much.

I want to thank the band. Were they great?

And I want to thank all of you for coming out here tonight. This is an amazing crowd. I am thrilled to be here in Tennessee with all of you.  And I’m so happy my daughter Chelsea can be with me tonight.

You know, I want to congratulate Senator Obama tonight and I want to also thank the people of South Carolina for welcoming us into their homes, in their communities. And I want to tell you how excited I am that now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states that will be voting on February 5th, and, of course, to the state of Florida, that will be voting on Tuesday.

So millions and millions of Americans are going to have the chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And I can’t imagine any place I would rather be than right here in Nashville as we kick off the next ten days.

Of course, when anybody says the word Nashville, it’s always connected with singing. And I promise you, you will not hear a word out of me. I do not want to, in any way, sully the reputation of the music capital by contributing my less-than-meager talents.

But it is a great treat to be here with all of you and to have a chance to talk with you and really that’s what I want to do tonight. I know the crowd is a little bigger than we anticipated, but I intended to come—

I intended to come—

OLBERMANN: As—not to interrupt senator Clinton, but we think we heard the entire reference to South Carolina in there, David Gregory. It was about two-thirds of a sentence in length. That was not—As we were told, it was not going to be a concession speech and it certainly was not. There’s a laser-like, full speed ahead quality to this candidate that is overwhelming sometimes.

GREGORY: Onto Florida, which we kept hearing, which only underscores how tight the race is, and onto American Samoa.

OLBERMANN: We will be broadcasting live from there in a matter of hours.  I guess you have to do it. I guess you can’t come out and go, I was smoked in South Carolina by a margin better than two to one by Senator Barack Obama.

GREGORY: But there’s another affect of this and potential impact, which is again to minimize it, to not even give it the dignity of that we got a thumping. Now we move on. He was expected to win that, as their argument might go. He certainly is going to get a lot of African-American to support him now. Now we focus on February 5th, a way to minimize this loss.

OLBERMANN: The third candidate in tonight’s primary in South Carolina did not minimize the events there in his speech. Senator John Edwards, who will finish third when the vote tally is complete, not far from now, has been good enough to join us from Columbia. Senator, thank you for your time tonight.

EDWARDS: Thank you, Keith. Thanks for having me.

OLBERMANN: Can you sum this night up for us, based on your perspective on what happened for you, or what happened to you, depending on your point of view?

EDWARDS: Well, I’m in a different place than the other two, Keith, because I started even earlier this week, Sunday/Monday way behind the other two. And we made up enormous ground over the course of this week.  Some of it is a consequence of the debate, people seeing us side by side. And we continue to move throughout the week.

I do have to say thank you to all of those supporters we had and all of the people who have been contributing online. We had like the best two weeks in our whole campaign in the last two weeks online. So actually we have a lot of good things happening right now.

OLBERMANN: We discussed a couple of nights ago this sense that there was a change in perception in South Carolina, how much of a change would await the vote, obviously, that the two leading candidates had sort of hit themselves or hit each other over the head with blunt instruments, and done damage not just to each other but to the concept of what the primary is about.

I don’t know if you heard some of these exit poll numbers, but we heard that 56 percent of voters in South Carolina believe that Senator Obama had unfairly attacked Senator Clinton; 70 percent thought Senator Clinton had unfairly attacked Senator Obama; 50 percent of voters thought they had both unfairly attacked the other. Do you think your showing here, compared to where you were earlier in the polls, reflected that kind of sense that perhaps the electorate is well ahead of some of the candidates anyway, in terms of how you conduct a primary campaign?

EDWARDS: Absolutely, I do. I would go another step, Keith. I think we came into South Carolina with the two of them raising over 100 million dollars, having overwhelming national media attention and publicity. And every place that I am able to dig in, speak and speak directly to voters about the things they care about, instead of tearing other politicians down, which is part of what we saw from the two of them, people respond.  And we continue to grow.

So I’m actually very encouraged. We started the week way, way behind. We didn’t go as far as I would always love to go. I want to win. But I saw progress this week, which is extraordinarily encouraging about where this campaign is headed.

OLBERMANN: You said, I believe, almost at the very start of your speech about 25 minutes ago, that the campaign obviously will continue. And you said previously that your target is the convention in Denver in the summer. Do you feel like you have more of a floor under your feet, less of one, the same now? What is the—what is the impetus to say, yes, this is a viable presidential candidacy when—whether it was more of a percent than predicted, it was still a third place finish tonight?

EDWARDS: Well, I think we have more of a floor, absolutely then when this week began. There’s no question about that. As I mentioned earlier, we continue—we are in a good place financially. We continue to raise generous amounts of money online, which we are very grateful for.

Second, we saw momentum during the course of the week. I know that we were 35 or 40 points behind not that long ago. We saw enormous growth during the course of the week. And the bottom line is the causes that I’m engaged in, because I spoke about that tonight, giving voice to veterans, to the uninsured, to the middle class, to people who live in poverty, those things are not going away, Keith.

And I intend to be as loud and strong and passionate a voice for those causes as I can be. They are not going away and I’m not going away.

GREGORY: Senator Edwards, David Gregory here. You spent so much time after 2004 campaigning in Iowa and had a deep organization there. You lost there. You have now lost, fallen far behind in third place in your home state. Why stay in the race?

EDWARDS: Very different race, David, than 2004. In 2004, we very quickly went to a two-person race. It was John Kerry and me. And when it’s a two-person race, the dynamic is enormously different. We have three candidates now who are clearly taking a sizable chunk of the vote. It shifts from state to state how much anybody is taking and who is taking the lead. But all three of us are taking sizable vote.

I heard Congressman Clyburn saying earlier tonight he believes this thing is going to the convention. You look at the way this is headed, and it looks like that’s a very real possibility. So I think—I don’t compare this race with 2004, because in 2004, at this point, it was John Kerry and me. And that is not the case now.

We have three candidates, all of whom are taking a sizable chunk of the vote. I think what that means, in practical terms, is we—voters will continue to evaluate us in a very critical way, which is what they should do.

OLBERMANN: Senator John Edwards, after the South Carolina Democratic primary conducted today and tonight. Senator, as always, thank you for your time.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

OLBERMANN: Chris Matthews and I will be back on Monday for the State of the Union and then on Tuesday for the Florida Republican primary. Joe Scarborough and the panel will pick up our coverage after the break in the post game show. For David Gregory, with whom it’s been a pleasure working.

GREGORY: Pleasure here. And happy birthday tomorrow.

OLBERMANN: Thank you. I’m going to thank you. I’m Keith Olbermann.

Please stay with us. We are going away. You stay there. Good night.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: And welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary. It’s been a big night. As the march to the Democratic nomination continues. It got interesting tonight. Senator Barack Obama, not just winning the South Carolina Democratic primary, according to NBC News projections, but taking it with a commanding 55 percent of the vote. With 98 percent of the precincts reporting at this hour. His vote total more than double that of Hillary Clinton. She was in second place. South Carolina native John Edwards in third.

Less than one hour ago in Columbia, Senator Barack Obama addressed the tone of the final week of this South Carolina campaign.


BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’re up against decades of bitter partisanship that caused politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner.

It is the kind of partisanship where you are not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea, even if it is one you never agreed with.

That’s the kind of politics that is bad for our party, it is bad for our country and this is our chance to end it once and for all. (CHEERS AND



SCARBOROUGH: A stunning speech and it was indicative of the kind of campaign the Clintons ran in South Carolina. She congratulated Senator Obama by a paper statement and let her president, her husband, Bill Clinton, go on and on and on. Take a look.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We just finished in South Carolina today. Senator Obama won there. Hillary congratulated him and I join that.


SCARBOROUGH: that was the first three seconds of a 75-minute speech.

And later on, John Edwards went out and also talked about how South Carolina had given him the type of boost he need as he moved towards Super Tuesday.


JOHN EDWARDS, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have yet to cast your vote in this Democratic process beginning on February 5th and moving beyond, your voice will be heard and we will be there with you every single step of the way.


SCARBOROUGH: good evening. I’m Joe Scarborough. We are live at MSNBC world headquarters right here at 30 Rock.

Let’s bring in our panel.

Pat Buchanan, I want to start with you. It is quite a night. We are inspired by Barack Obama. We think he made history tonight in South Carolina. But you think it is the Clintons who have a reason to smile. Why?

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don’t know that Obama made history tonight. I think the Clintons have a reason to smile in the sense of what is coming up.

Look, Keith Olbermann said let’s do the post game analysis here. The Clintons treated this as an exhibition game. Hillary Clinton didn’t speak after Barack Obama. One, you don’t speak after Barack Obama when you are not in that league.

Both Clintons are treating this as inconsequential. And they treated it that way in their words and actions. And it comes through when they say congratulations and now let’s talk about these issues, let’s talk about Florida next week, let’s talk about all these other things. The whole idea is to diminish the victory of Obama. It was a dramatic victory. I think by and large they are succeeding. Everything points to February 5th.

The key for Barack is whether or not he gets a sufficient bounce going into February 5th to win 40 percent to 50 percent of the delegates. If not, this is nothing.

SCARBOROUGH: I beg to differ.

Margaret, I was going to go to you, but I have to go to Gene Robinson here, as a son of the south, as a son of South Carolina, the “New York times” headline tomorrow morning says it all, Barack Obama wins with a combination of black and white voters.


SCARBOROUGH: Is that not historic?

ROBINSON: I think it is historic.

SCARBOROUGH: In South Carolina? In the south?

ROBINSON: Wouldn’t have happened when I was growing up or when you were growing up.

SCARBOROUGH: Didn’t Jesse Jackson win it twice?

ROBINSON: He did win it. Jesse Jackson’s support wasn’t as wide. It was a caucus process back then. It is different than what we have now.

500,000 Democrats voted.

SCARBOROUGH: More people voted for Barack Obama tonight than voted in the entire Democratic primary four years ago.

ROBINSON: According to the exit polls he got 24 percent of the white vote. If you look at white males, which historically you would think would be the category in which Obama would have the most trouble, he matched Hillary Clinton vote for vote.

BUCHANAN: That is a problem for Hillary Clinton. That is the real problem for Hillary in the general election if she is nominated. White males, even in the Democratic Party.

ROBINSON: And it goes to, look, you know, either one gets the nomination. You and I are going to be raising questions about electability and looking ahead. That is a big point in Obama’s favor.

SCARBOROUGH: And after a week in South Carolina Tim Russert was talking about possibile, quote, “collateral damage.” Some harsh words from Jim Clyburn, she lost 80 percent of African-American voters, she lost 75 percent of younger voters.

Will there be collateral damage for Hillary Clinton?

MARGARET, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Why she didn’t look at the camera on most candidate dos and speak into the camera about tonight. Because it was very, very bad for her. In this poll that we talk about tonight, the one where 56 percent think Obama was unfair, 56 percent thought Hillary was. They didn’t ask the question about Bill Clinton. Wouldn’t you like to know how many voters found him offensive?

SCARBOROUGH: Let’s go to Norah O’Donnell.

I think I saw on earlier tonight that 56 percent of the voters were turned off by Bill Clinton’s campaign. But let’s go to Norah with more numbers from the exit polls—Norah?

SCARBOROUGH: Two issues we can answer for you. We know that Barack Obama won by such an overwhelming margin tonight. This is his second win. As Gene Robinson just mentioned the issue of electability is looming large.

There was sniping back and forth between the leading Democrats the key question about the ability to defeat the Republican candidate. Who can now appeal to independent voters who like John McCain? Barack Obama is the top choice in terms of perceived electability. 48 percent think he is the most likely to defeat the Republican nominee compared to 36 percent for Hillary Clinton.

The negative tone throughout this primary made some voters very angry.

70 percent thought Hillary Clinton was unfair in her swipes at Barack Obama. 57 percent thought Obama was unfair. 73 percent of blacks thought Clinton was unfair.

We found six out of ten voters felt Bill Clinton’s attacks were important in the way they decided to cast their vote. Of those, more cast their ballots for Barack Obama.

Our exit poll shows Obama easily beat Clinton among those voters who decided in the last three days. News reports heavily covered the former president’s heightened criticisms of the Illinois Senator.

The question is who has the appeal to bring in and hold on the Democratic base that will be key in the November win? Let’s take a look at these really interesting numbers. Three-fourths of the voters say they would be satisfied with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

23 percent would be dissatisfied. And if Barack Obama ends up the Democratic nominee he does slightly better than Clinton. 83 percent say they would be satisfied with him as their presidential candidate where only 16 percent will be dissatisfied.

Two other interesting things. One, Edwards, we know he didn’t do very well tonight. Where might his voters go? His voters are still in play.

What we saw tonight is neither Clinton nor Obama holds advantage among Edwards voters. You were talking about turnout. Turnout 530,000. Just under 300,000 in the 2004 election. Also black voters, 155,000 more black voters than in 2004. That is more than double the number of black voters than in 2004. That is a huge increase.

SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much Norah O’Donnell. Some stunning numbers.

We have been talking a good bit about the Clintons tonight. There are some questions whether they have been playing by the rules and, of course, Pat Buchanan says there should be no rules.

This from the Clinton campaign, just got this e-mail, just to be clear, Hillary Clinton called Senator Obama to congratulate him at 7:01. She issued a statement congratulating him and she has now congratulated him again.

And Margaret, to our issue regarding, let me scroll down here, our issue regarding Florida, the Clinton campaign aide, well, very top one, says, “Joe, we intend to observe the pledge and not campaign in Florida but we certainly think that the votes of Florida should and will matter.”

and let me just say—and there is Hillary Clinton talking right now—let me just say that Republicans in Florida have been squealing with delight for months that the Democratic party has snubbed Democrats in Florida. So there will be a lot of Democrats, hundreds of thousands of Democrats in Florida, who will be glad that Hillary Clinton is tipping her hat to the Sunshine State, a state which will certain I will be, again, one of those important states who will decide who the next president of the United States is. We will talk about that with our panel coming up.

Right now let’s go to Washington and Howard Fineman.

Howard, what can you tell us about the delegate count, where it stands now and what we can expect on Super Tuesday?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we’ve been through what seems like a lifetime of a campaign n. Delegate terms it is only beginning. There are only a handful of delegates at stake compared to what there will be on February 5th. That total is 1,681 pledged delegates and 2,000 or so are needed for the nomination.

The big states in terms of delegates, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York. Just California alone over there on the west coast is 441 delegates. That, you know, three times as many as already been picked.

So that’s why the Clintons are so eager for that to begin and for that process to take place very quickly, Joe. If you look at the polls in these states they tend to show Hillary Clinton still ahead. They show the race as it was a month ago. They show the race as it is before Obama and Hillary and John Edwards began campaigning heavily in those places.

SCARBOROUGH: Howard, can you tell us how many races it was at the start.

Even before we go to Super Tuesday talk about the super delegates and how the Democratic Party places so much weight on super delegates.

Barack Obama could have a great Super Tuesday. He could sweep through most of those states and according to some studies still be behind because of the super delegates.

FINEMAN: We should explain to the viewers that there are about 700 super delegates, elected officials, state chairs, the party structure, if you will. Unlike the delegates picked through the primary and caucus process, those super delegates are super in part because they don’t have to stick by any agreement. They don’t have to go with any vote. Even though Hillary may be counting them in her column now, and I think she has 140 super delegates on her side, they could abandon her in a minute if the tide turns in the primaries to Bill Clinton—I mean to Barack Obama. It doesn’t mean anything, really. Those are possibly phantom numbers.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait. Wait. Wait a second, Howard. I’m stunned. Are you telling me that politicians may go with a win? And if Barack Obama looks like he is going to win they will abandon him?

FINEMAN: They are not pledged. That is the technical term. The way this works is the delegates selected in primaries or caucuses are required under the party rules to vote for the candidate under whose banner they were elected on the first ballot at the convention t. Super delegates don’t have to make any promises that way. They can make all the promises they want but they don’t have to keep them.

That is the point. Hillary can brag about these super delegates now but they may not mean anything down the road. Even though the Florida delegates don’t count now what Hillary is hoping for because it is a beauty pageant contest because Florida went too fast in the process, what could happen at the convention is the delegates from Florida and Michigan, the other state that voted early where the delegates didn’t count on.

Florida and Michigan the first votes at the convention would be whether to seat those delegates. They are likely to be Clinton delegates. And if Obama ends up with a plurality the convention vote will be the key vote of the whole convention that is why Hillary is bothering with this thing in Florida next Tuesday.

SCARBOROUGH: Howard Fineman, thank you so much.

FINEMAN: You’re welcome.

SCARBOROUGH: We greatly appreciate it.

You can bet—you can bet if they are running against Mitt Romney on the Republican side, the delegation from Michigan and the delegation from Florida will be seated. Not a great idea. To snub two critical swing states going into the fall campaign.

We will be back with our all-star panel in just a minute.



CLINTON: ... around the world that it will be really important for him to repair the relationships that...


SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the South Carolina primary. A stunning victory tonight for Barack Obama, gaining 55 percent of the vote in South Carolina to Hillary Clinton’s 27 percent. Doubling her vote total when most of the polls showed that it would be anywhere from an eight to ten-point victory. Momentum sweeping Barack Obama over the top in a huge way. Again, doubling that vote in South Carolina with what at least some of us on the panel are saying is a historic night.

Let’s go to Nashville, Tennessee, Music City, USA.

Mike Taibbi is there at—Mike, what you billed as a town hall meeting.

I would guess it was not as electric as Barack Obama’s speech. What are you hearing there?

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You are right about that, Joe. But you have to stick to our hat with Senator Clinton. She got bumped today.

she came here and essentially gave her entire stump speech, maybe ten minutes shorter than the one we have heard and now she is doing as she often does in these town hall meetings in the round accepting questions all around 360 degrees. A question what will you call your husband when you become president. Getting laughs here. About 3,000 people here in this gymnasium at Tennessee State.

She only mentioned Senator Obama once. It was about a two-second mention at her appearance tonight. That quote was, “oh, by the way, I want to congratulate Senator Obama.” she says now the eyes of the country turn to Tennessee and the other states that will be voting on February 5th.

Millions of millions of people will have their voice heard. I think that is the way the campaign is going to handle this. That is a speed bump in a long, long marathon. Trying to diminish the consequence of tonight’s thumping and going on with the program.

The program is for the next ten days she will have a series of these town hall meetings, of these events like this where she takes questions, makes her pitch on the issues and hopes on February 5th she’ll get the delegate count. But the 1,681 delegates available that day, that will be the engine of her campaign from this point forward. Going on now about an hour and has some gas in the tank—Joe?

SCARBOROUGH: OK, Mike. We can feel the excitement in the air there just listening to you report. Thank you so much.

One of the amazing things about Hillary Clinton—and I remember in

1999 -- I think it was 1999, the State of the Union address, was it 1998 or 1999? When was Monica?

BUCHANAN: Monica was 1998.

SCARBOROUGH: The news of Monica Lewinsky broke in 1998. Soon after that Bill Clinton gave a State of the Union address. I remember a lot of us who had not thought a lot of Hillary Clinton in the Republican caucus looked up, saw her there with her daughter, smiling, clapping, applauding. This is a remarkable woman. It is a resilient woman. It is a woman who has put up with a lot of garbage in her life and she keeps charming ahead. We saw that in New Hampshire and we see it now in Tennessee. 8,000 people packed in to hear a town hall meeting and it approaches 10:30 and she is still going.

ROBINSON: Very tough, disciplined. She is a remarkable woman in a lot of ways, not least for having put up with Bill Clinton for all these years.

SCARBOROUGH: Amen, brother.

ROBINSON: But they are a partnership, a highly successful political partnership, the most successful of the recent era. They figured a lot of stuff out about this country in the 1990s before anybody else figured it out.

My question is and the country’s question is do they understand the country in this decade. Do they understand as it is now and its needs now and the landscape of the country, the political landscape of the country now the way they understood it in the 1990s? I think we have seen some signs they don’t quite get all of it yet.

SCARBOROUGH: You know what is so interesting, Pat Buchanan, a year and a half ago before she launched this campaign I was talking to a Clinton team member and I said how can she win when everybody says she is too divisive? This person pointed out that George W. Bush was as divisive as it got. Karl Rove ran a campaign to his base in 2004 and it worked and they suggested that was a campaign they were going to run this time.

Does this work now in the era of Barack Obama?

BUCHANAN: I think it does. And we’re going to find out as we have been talking all night whether it works on February 5th. If it works on February 5th it is all over. I would make her the front-runner. If I were in Vegas, I’d bet the odds will.

SCARBOROUGH: You would still be betting on her?

BUCHANAN: I would bet on her right now. The Clintons are smarter. The Clintons are smarter. They’re playing a better game than Obama. I don’t know why he skipped Michigan and Florida.

You mentioned the delegates, in the Taft-Eisenhower race in 1952, the battle over seating the Texas delegation decided the nomination. When Taft’s guys weren’t seated, he was gone. Michigan and Florida, I mean, she won Michigan and uncommitted beat Obama. And she won that.


BUCHANAN: They would not be talking about Florida every time they opened their mouth unless they know something we don’t know. 400,000 votes have already been cast. My guess is in Georgia Obama will do better than he does in Florida. Next week I would look for Hillary Rodham Clinton to win a lot of states, 55 percent to 60 percent of the delegates. That is my seat of the pants guess.

SCARBOROUGH: Margaret Carlson, as we move forward towards Super Tuesday, is there that collateral damage that Tim Russert was talking about?

MARGARET CARLSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You said how resilient Hillary is. She keeps going forward. That very resilience makes voters wonder does she have a heart. This has been a problem until she cried or didn’t cry in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Going forward she is in Super Tuesday and the Clinton machine—Elvis has not left the building. Bill Clinton has proved a help to her or they wouldn’t be doing it. Their polling shows he helped.

In Super Tuesday where he’s still kind of the leader of the party, name recognition, they don’t know Barack Obama, those who haven’t been following it the way we’ve been following it. I think the Clintons—and I use plural—will have an advantage going forward.

SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it. As we move towards Super Tuesday it is important to remember that Bill Clinton has been building a campaign base since 1972 when he was working in the McGovern campaign. Now is when all of those years, all of those miles traveled, all of those hands shook finally starts to pay off.

When we come back more with our panel and their response to Barack Obama’s speech tonight.

Plus quite an op-ed in tomorrow’s “New York Times” by Caroline Kennedy.

We’ll have that and much more when we return.


OBAMA: We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House, but we know that real leadership is about candor and judgment and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose.



JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to MSNBC headquarters it is coming up on 10:30 on the east coast, 7:30 in the west. A big night for Barack Obama. Most polls suggested he would win by seven to ten points.

Barack Obama racking up a huge victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton in South Carolina. More than doubling her vote total and winning as the “New York Times” writes tomorrow with the support of blacks and whites.

It was a unifying victory.

Let’s listen to some of the speech he gave to an ecstatic crowd in South Carolina earlier this evening.


BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it is not about black versus white.


This election is about the past versus the future. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

It’s about whether we settle for the same division and distractions and drama that passes for politics today. Or whether we reach for politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will tell, who will continue to tell us we can’t do this. We can’t have what we’re looking for. That we can’t have what we want. That we are pedaling false hopes. But here is what I know. I know that when people say we can overcome all the big money and influence in Washington I think of that elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day, an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside the envelope. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible. That woman knows change is possible. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites can’t join together and work together I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with and stood with and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.


When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurman, who is now devoted to educated inner-city children and who went out into the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign.

Don’t tell me we can’t change. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

Yes, we can. Yes, we can change. Yes, we can!


SCARBOROUGH: We were so inspired listening to Barack Obama’s speech, Pat Buchanan was afraid that Senator Obama was sending signals to illegal immigrants to rush across the border of Mexico.

You are terrible, Buchanan. You are a cynic.

For those of us inspired by Senator Obama’s speech, he concluded an extraordinarily divisive week of campaigning with Jim Clyburn telling the president of the United States to chill out. The former president of the united states saying earlier today, yes, Barack Obama may win tonight, but then again, so did Jesse Jackson. At the end of the speech Barack Obama said out of many we are one.

Margaret Carlson, an inspiring speech plus he is going to pick up quite an endorsement tomorrow morning from Caroline Kennedy.

MARGARET CARLSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have pat buzzing in my ear like a bee. So naive. It is a historic moment. It is only a moment but let us savor it.

Let me read what Caroline Kennedy wrote, “I have never had a president people inspired me the way people tell me my father inspired them. I think I have found the man who could be that president, not just me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Very powerful.

SCARBOROUGH: And she speaks for quite a few Americans.

CARLSON: And she brings up something here, which is, there are new people coming in. 500,000 people voting in South Carolina. That is one thing pat doesn’t talk as much about. All the new people coming in...

SCARBOROUGH: Pat will tell you they are probably illegal immigrants.

Won’t you, Buchanan? So cynical. No, seriously, Pat, this is quite a speech.

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is quite a speech, but what is interesting to me Obama is an excellent speech. This is in the league of the Ohio speech and other speeches. He says we are up against the idea it is acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. He is saying that Bill and Hillary Clinton are ruthless and unprincipled.

And the kind of politics they are engaged in we have to exorcise from American politics.

This is rough as a cob for an acceptance speech and I’m telling you he did try to go up that mountain. This is an angry guy at what was done to him. It comes right through this speech, Joe. This is going to be a tough and bloody battle. I admire what he did. It is an excellent speech. You all are talking about historic, let’s wait until February 5th.

GENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don’t think—I guess I interpret that not just as anger. That is a very specific and targeted appeal to people who are frustrated with the way politics has been practiced in the country.

SCARBOROUGH: And consistent from what he has said from the beginning of his campaign which is we are going to unite Americans, not divisive like the Clintons or the Bushes in the 1990s.

ROBINSON: This idea that he can run a campaign that appeals to America’s better nature, to its higher ideals is what works best for him as a candidate. And because it, you know, it’s an uplifting, positive message. And people are frustrated with the kind of special interest pieced together elbows out 50 plus one kind of politics. That is the norm in this country and, you know, I think it is what he has to say.

BUCHANAN: I agree with you, but what he is saying is we have to purge this party of Clintonism. That is exactly what he is saying in this speech and his comments are as rough as anything I have seen in an acceptance speech.

CARLSON: It is in a velvet glove. It looks like an appeal to come together. You are a lock-and-load guy. It didn’t come across the way you are reading it.


SCARBOROUGH: Let me read the punch line here before we go to break. The punch line is this, the choice in this election is not between regions or religion or genders, it is not about rich versus poor, young versus old and it is not about black versus white—and there the audience erupted before he said—and this is the punch line—it is about the past versus the future. That may be wrapped in a velvet glove but there is an iron fist inside of it.

When we come back, we’ll be talking to our panel about Super Tuesday.

Pat Buchanan will tell us why Barack Obama doubling Hillary Clinton’s vote is playing into the Clintons’ hands. They now have him exactly where they want him. We will be back with more.



REPORTER: What does it say about Barack Obama that it takes two of you to beat him?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice in 1984 and 1988. He ran a good campaign.

Senator Obama has run a good campaign there. He is a good candidate.


SCARBOROUGH: What is so stunning about that answer was that it was an answer to a question that was never asked.

Gene Robinson, he was asked whether it was fair that two Clintons were teaming up on Barack Obama and Bill Clinton’s response was well, yeah, Jesse Jackson won it here in 1984 and 1988, too.

ROBINSON: His response was Barack Obama is a black guy and so he is a black candidate so it doesn’t matter.

SCARBOROUGH: Any nobody even asked him.

ROBINSON: It is part of the campaign to minimize the impact of this loss. I don’t think even at that point they thought it was going to be that kind of loss.

SCARBOROUGH: Didn’t he wag his finger on the press and say shame on you, you are injecting race. And there he injected race.

ROBINSON: Unprompted he came out with it. That was the most egregious clear cut example that we have had. Well, I didn’t mean it. He sure as hell meant to do that.

SCARBOROUGH: He sure as hell meant to.

ROBINSON: It was not without impact. I was talking to a friend of mine in California, very politically well connected, raises money for candidates, an important African-American guy from California who said it is going to be really hard if Hillary Clinton gets this nomination for me to get exited to do anything.

CARLSON: Margaret Carlson, let me read some of the rave reviews. Jim Clyburn said Bill Clinton’s campaigning may damage his reputation. The “Dallas Morning News” editorialized that Bill Clinton was getting dirty and ugly in the campaign. Hillary Clinton, his own wife said, Bill Clinton may have “gone too far.” John Kerry accused Bill Clinton of “abusing the truth, being over the top, being frantic.” Jim Clyburn said, “Bill Clinton’s actions this week caused the voters to recoil.

They were sick of the racial an mouse and said white precincts were offended by Bill Clinton.”

Pat Buchanan will tell us this is wonderful.

CARLSON: This is all for the good.

SCARBOROUGH: This is all to the glory of Hillary Clinton. Isn’t it suggesting that this is bad for Bill Clinton and the campaign?

CARLSON: Pat has not turned the page and the page has turned. If it is about the future this doesn’t work, pat. If it is about old-time politics it does work. Those remarks make Bill Clinton happy. He is having an impact. It is all about him. He spoke well into Obama cease speech. This is not done.


BUCHANAN: Can I talk to this?

SCARBOROUGH: We are going to. It seems to me tonight, Pat, while we hear these negative remarks about Bill Clinton you are sitting over there smirking. You have been smirking all night because you think all of this helps Hillary Clinton down the road, which suggests you think white voters are in their hearts racist and will turn against Barack Obama.

BUCHANAN: That is just silly. Look, what I have said all along...

SCARBOROUGH: What is it you say?

BUCHANAN: Look, what I have said, -- what is this a she says panel here?

SCARBOROUGH: What does that mean?

BUCHANAN: Look, what I’ve said basically is this --, yes, we can. You all think Obama is going to win? Do you really sincere believe that?

SCARBOROUGH: No. We don’t know who is going to win, pat, do you?

BUCHANAN: My guess is and I would say so I think Hillary Clinton is going to win very big next week.

SCARBOROUGH: Because Bill Clinton played the race card?

BUCHANAN: All these silly editorials. All these silly editorials on Reagan piled a mile high and they mean nothing. Clinton is playing hardball to get his wife nominated. She is going to be out front. That is the name of this game. You don’t worry about what Joe Scarborough said on TV about me and this other nonsense.

SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, thank you so much for making this personal and attacking me.

Let’s go to Hillary Clinton who is speaking. I don’t think she is insulting me. She is talking about South Carolina.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. I don’t know if I can hear you, the lady who is waving, but give it a try?


SCARBOROUGH: She was talking about South Carolina. Before we cut into the question, Pat Buchanan was attacking me saying nobody cares about what I say.

BUCHANAN: I was just chuckling, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: The thing is, Pat, again, what do you know that nobody else knows, not only on this panel but also across America? Do you think Jim Clyburn doesn’t understand—do you know South Carolina better than Jim Clyburn knows South Carolina?

BUCHANAN: No. Jim Clyburn knows South Carolina very well. But, look, Joe, I’ll tell you what I do know, the national polls show Hillary Clinton with a 10-point national lead. If you take a national snapshot unless there is a big bump out of here that lead will be reflected in these big states. When you hear the Clintons talking about Florida they know something. They must know among those 400,000 who have already voted, they are probably voting heavily for Hillary. They are going to be talking about Florida and we’re going to be talking about Florida and Joe Scarborough is going to flip as he tends to do.

SCARBOROUGH: Another vicious attack by Pat Buchanan. Why do you hate?

Here I am, Pat Buchanan trying to be a uniter, not a divider. You continue to practice the politics of division. Some things never change, Pat. Your horses and ride to the sound of this guy. Pat and the brigade are coming after me.

BUCHANAN: Joe, you drunk the Kool-Ade. You’ve got to get off it.

SCARBOROUGH: What Kool-Ade did I drink?

BUCHANAN: First, when we did the George Bush inaugural, I said the silliest thing is we are going to end tyranny on our earth.

SCARBOROUGH: Good, lord, are we going back four years, Pat? Is that what we’ve become?


SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you this, Pat...

BUCHANAN: You all turn the page and when Barack Obama is nominated, I will say you all were so right. I could not have been more wrong. South Carolina was his start.

ROBINSON: This is not about the past, but the future.

SCARBOROUGH: I will say this. I am not predicting that Barack Obama is going to win the nomination. I will tell you a lot of Americans, a lot of younger Americans, younger than me, were probably deeply offended by what Bill Clinton did this past week and more offended by Bill Clinton this afternoon seeming to say, yeah, Barack Obama is going to win this state but he is only going to win it because he is black. If that means I have been drinking the Kool-Ade than I, Pat Buchanan, apologize to you. But that is exactly what I have done.

BUCHANAN: That is an extremely noble statement, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much.

Now we go to Norah O’Donnell. Please save me from this man.

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I’m not going to weigh-in on this. But in terms of turning the page, we had voters turning out in record numbers. It eclipsed the number who turned out for last week’s Republican primary. Compare this to 2004. 2004 about 290,000 people cast their ballots. Today it was over 530,000. That is a huge increase in turnout.

Joe and Pat there is something driving this. Twice as many black voters turned out for this contest. As we have been discussing 81 percent of those black voters cast their ballot for Obama. There was an increase of voters in every single age category but none more than the college age group. The 18 to 24-year-olds, three times as many turned out than did in 2004.

Now, we heard Barack Obama and his victory speech tonight talk about this country coming together for change to elect a black president.

Well, we asked the voters in this primary if the country was ready to put an African-American into the White House. Here is what we found out.

Almost as many whites as blacks felt the nation could take this historic step.

Would Barack Obama be the candidate able to unite the country? Here about the same number of white voters gave their backing to Obama and Clinton as the best unity candidate. Among blacks there was a big difference. Blacks felt Obama to be the best candidate to bring the country back together. When you look at Obama’s overall vote it was in some ways broad based, not only just among African-Americans. He scored very well with white men, educated whites and with young people. Among blacks, we discussed this, he carried all demographic groups, old, young, male, female, well educated, poorly educated, he was number one among blacks on all of those categories.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you, Norah. You didn’t defend me but you did cause a calm in the storm.

BUCHANAN: You want me to come down there? Is that what you want?

SCARBOROUGH: I don’t need help. I need to take Pat off the stage, possibly in handcuffs.

Let’s go to the Grand Pooba of political writing for “Newsweek” magazine in Washington, D.C., Howard Fineman.

Howard, let’s talk now not about blacks or whites but Hispanics. It is a group that Barack Obama has had big problems with thus far in this campaign. How big is that fight for Barack Obama? How big is the climb uphill for him to reach out to Hispanic voters to do well on Super Tuesday and beyond?

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just say, I recognize a uniter when I see one and that is you.

SCARBOROUGH: You know, maybe Howard, maybe Pat Buchanan hates me because I care too much. Because I love my country. But I will not let him denigrate the United States of America this way. We are better than this. Howard, together you and I can rise above.

FINEMAN: I’ll write the speeches.

SCARBOROUGH: You write the speeches, baby.

FINEMAN: If you listen to Obama’s speech very closely tonight he kept saying yes, I can. Si se puede—Spanish for “Yes, we can.” The United Farm Workers have endorsed Hillary Clinton. A guy who knows the Latino community just completed a poll of the Super Tuesday states with the largest number of Hispanics, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Arizona is the fifth one. In those five states, according to his poll, Hillary leads among Hispanic Democrats by four to one. That is a powerful number.

Now Obama’s campaign is fully aware of this. You heard him talk about how hard he worked with Hispanic organizers on the streets of Chicago.

David Axelrod, his campaign manager, knows a lot about this. The next fling the chain has to be Latino voters. The Latinos are the largest minority group in the country. They don’t vote in that number.

But the next challenge Obama has aside from winning delegates is to cut into that four to one number Hillary has. She has the mayor of Los Angeles. She has Senator Menendez from New Jersey. You watch Obama over the next ten days he is going to be focusing like a laser on Latino voters.

CARLSON: This is one reason. Remember a few months ago Obama wasn’t black enough. Well, the Clintons made him black enough to make Hispanics which are up for grabs, four to one for her. It is crucial in California with 400 delegates. In a speech Obama gave on Sunday he said we have been competitors whereas we should be colleagues and fight together. But in the crumbs thereafter, they’ve been competitive with each other for what is out there. So they have seemed that way. But they are not.

SCARBOROUGH: Gene, can you explain that to me?

ROBINSON: Yeah. It is interesting. I think there is more perception of a competition than there really is. For you look, for example, in cities, I can’t think of a whole lot of situations where there’s an actual clash between Latino and African-American issues. And I can’t think of a city where there is not coalitions that form at times in order to, you know, just make the cities work. So I think there is a perception that they’re at odds, but I don’t think they really are to that extent. I mean, we’ll see.

SCARBOROUGH: Pat, quickly, tonight, you have grabbed the crown of the prince of darkness from Bob Novak. Final grim thoughts for us tonight?

BUCHANAN: I regret to say you are mistaken about the African-American community and the Hispanics. South central L.A., there is a turf war going on. There is a war in the prison. People who don’t understand that don’t understand America. Sorry to say.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much. That was grim.

Chris Matthews was at a white tie event in Philadelphia. So classed up.

But we’ll see Chris again Monday on “Hardball.” And we’ll see him again on Tuesday night with Keith and the rest of the panel telling you why, who won in Florida.