KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Now and forever, pivotal in the lore of American politics, the place of decision for the nation with far reaching consequences in 2000 as it had been in 1876 with consequences for civil rights that lasted a century.
Florida, for the Republicans tonight, critical again. For the Democrats it may just add to confusion and the resentment because some of them believe they, too, have a primary but most of them don’t.
Regardless, we will cover it all starting now.
ANNOUNCER: By contrast the GOP has consensus. Mitt Romney thinks John McCain too liberal, John McCain thinks Mitt Romney too liberal. And Rudy Giuliani insists the Florida winner will be the nominee, though the polls said the Florida winner would not be the former mayor.
Tonight Ron Allen at Romney headquarters in St. Petersburg. Kelly O’Donnell with the McCain campaign in Miami. John Yang at the Giuliani camp in Orlando. Andrea Mitchell with the Clinton campaign in Daley and Lee Cowan with the Obama campaign in Kansas City.
With the analysis of NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the host of “Meet the Press” Tim Russert, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News” Brian Williams, chief White House correspondent David Gregory, political director Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Craig Crawford.
From the McCain campaign, senior adviser Charlie Black, from the Romney campaign, senior advisor Bay Buchanan. And on the Democrats, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida primary.
OLBERMANN: At just past 6:00 p.m. in Florida, still two hours before the last of the polls there closed. We join you from MSNBC and NBC News headquarters in New York. Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. Here we are in Florida.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Yes. Here we are. And I think tonight is going to count.
MATTHEWS: I think this one on the Republican side, especially, I think we’re going to get pretty much down to the championship here with Mitt Romney maybe winning tonight, maybe losing. But whoever wins tonight, he or McCain, I think that person really has the leg up going into next Tuesday and all the big
21 states the Republicans will have a fight in.
And I really do think if Mitt Romney wins tonight, he will reach deep into his pocket and spend whatever $30, $40 million, whatever it cost, to win this. If John McCain wins tonight, I believe he’s on the road to win. I don’t think Romney is going to keep fighting quite as hard.
OLBERMANN: The Republican choice here is pretty stark. The two extremes at this point of the party are represented, although not exclusively by one candidate and exclusively by another. There is something of a head to head of the divisions or one might say the exciting frictions between the two ends of the Republican Party.
MATTHEWS: Well, it’s getting very personal…
MATTHEWS: …which I like, it’s obviously easy to follow. One is this tall, great looking guy, who seems to be lucky in every regard. And the other guy has had a brutal life experience as a POW for all those years and fighting it with bad health, with the rigors of what he went through in the POW camp over in Hanoi, and yet fighting away like a tough guy.
One guy focusing on the economy, that’s Romney. The other guy focusing on the war against terrorism. One’s a war-time consigliere, the one’s a peace timer. I think the peace time guy has got the better message this week because he’s talking about the thing most normal people are worried about right now is this strange new world economy. It’s not about a slowing down as the president said last night in job production. It’s about how we fit in when we borrow money to buy a house in this country and we can’t make afford to make our payments.
What happens in France that puts the kibosh on that whole relationship? What’s going on here? And as I had a senator, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, said to him this morning, I said to him in a meeting, why doesn’t the president explain that?
And he said something along the lines, I know he’ll challenge me on this, he can’t.
I mean I really think it has to be explained, and I think Romney has the leg up in terms of being able to explain it.
OLBERMANN: And that by itself an issue that came up when Mr. McCain’s various comments about whether he had an economic strong grounding. But perhaps we need to use the president’s praise and perhaps we need someone with an economic protective overwatch mission, which…
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s what the president calls his new campaign in Iraq for ad infinitum apparently.
OLBERMANN: We have some numbers. They’re not economic. They’re not results.
OLBERMANN: We’re not, obviously, going to characterize this race until the last of the polls close, and maybe not even then. But we can begin with a look at the numbers that we do have, those from the exit polls.
As usual Norah O’Donnell will be tracking our exit polling throughout the evening. And here’s the first wave.
Norah, good evening.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening, Keith and Chris.
You know, Florida has been this hard fought contest on the Republican side. One thing we’re learning right away from our exit polls is just what’s on the minds of voters, and of course, in a state where the economy has been battered by housing crisis and by the high cost of oil and gas, Republican voters overwhelmingly said the economy was the most important issue facing the country. We’ve seen that in just about every state. It was followed by terrorism, which is the first time we’re seeing that issue come in second to the economy as a key issue for voters. But you can see illegal immigration also very important.
Now the sunshine state is also the first contest where early voting has played a part. Some one million voters cast earlier absentee ballots. That is a huge group, a huge increase compared to the several hundred thousands who cast those ballots in the 2006 Democratic and Republican races.
So let’s look at the key groups who decided to vote early or absentee in this GOP primary because this may be key tonight. The largest group, conservatives, we have a conservative electorate deciding to vote early, 69 percent characterized themselves as conservative. Also a large number are seniors and a third of those voting were veterans and a third were evangelicals.
So we’ll see how those groups end up voting throughout the night as we get more results here into MSNBC.
Also, when we took a look at this entire electorate, as I said, it was conservative, lots of seniors and voters, we wanted also to find out about the time of the decision, when they were made up this decision. And we can see 57 percent say they made a decision before last week. So even before all this fighting was going between Mitt Romney and John McCain, 57 percent said they made up their minds before that, and that could be key.
All right. Chris and Keith, back to you, guys.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell. The exit poll and that 47 percent number regarding the economy looming largely.
OLBERMANN: Even if you separate Iraq and counterterrorism, as we have in this poll, those numbers combined don’t add up to the economy.
MATTHEWS: Well, McCain wins tonight despite that focus on the economy is pure character because he has no pronounced ability to deal with the economic issue. He’s never even claimed he had any. It’s extraordinary to yield that much character in a candid interview to admit that you don’t have an expertise in the area that most critical to most people right now.
OLBERMANN: Let’s get an analysis of those first exit polls. Tim Russert, of course, NBC’s Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” will be with us as available tonight.
Tim, good evening, and what do you make of that first 47 percent on the economy?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”:
It’s the largest we’ve seen in any Republican primary this year, Keith. And so I agree with you and Chris when talking about it. It’s a very important piece of data because if the economy is the dominant issue, it’s something that Mitt Romney wants to talk about. It’s his terrain.
And John McCain tried to play catch-up on it and then I think shifted to the issue of Iraq on Saturday, Sunday, Monday to try to put Romney on his heels over whether or not he was for a timetable for troop withdrawal.
I think what’s so important tonight is the psychology of how we report this and what the ultimate outcome is.
John McCain is broke. He’s going into super Tuesday a week from tonight, 21 states, he needs a victory because he needs to raise money to buy television in 21 states next Tuesday, or a majority of those states.
Mitt Romney has his own money. He has probably spent about $40 million of his own personal wealth. If he decides that he wins tonight, or comes close and he wants to drop another 10 or 15 million out of his own pocket, he can do it.
It’s very difficult for McCain to raise money if he doesn’t win. And that’s why, I think, psychologically, the winner tonight is going to have a huge advantage going into next Tuesday particularly if it’s Romney because McCain desperately needs to finance his campaign in a big way.
OLBERMANN: And Tim, we sort of by defaulting and splitting this up as the polls had indicated things were so tight between McCain, sort of by default. The issues of counterterrorism and national security have been shifted into the McCain category, but of course, the story of Florida up until a month ago was the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani, this being his launch pad and those being his issues.
With the two of them with even—with terrorism showing up just slightly ahead of illegal immigration in Florida, that would not bode well for Mr. Giuliani’s chances and he has said that the winner of this primary tonight is going to win the Republican nomination.
RUSSERT: Boy, are you correct. Rudy Giuliani. Think about this, Keith. He was in our polls had a favorable rating in the 50’s. This is just back in November. Now it’s in the 20’s. A month ago, he was in the polls of Mason-Dixon, he did a 36 percent in Florida. Going into tonight, he has run 18 percent. If he does not do well tonight, and he leaves the race, he’ll leave with one delegate. One delegate. The national frontrunner for most of the year and many people believe that his behavior on the campaign stump the last week was indicative of a man who was looking forward to going back to his consulting job.
OLBERMANN: The Mendoza line is the line in baseball, 200 or above.
That’s the what? The one delegate is the John Connelly line? Is that the…
RUSSERT: I think Bill Graham, John Connelly, yes.
OLBERMANN: Yes. That’s what we may have—may have to use that one later on.
Tim Russert, we’ll speak to you later. Thanks.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let’s take a quick whip around the campaign headquarters tonight. We’ll start with NBC’s Ron Allen who’s at the Mitt Romney’s headquarters in St. Petersburg at the Mirror Lake Lyceum.
Ron, good evening.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith.
I think Mitt Romney really wants to win a state like Florida, obviously, because it’s Florida. It’s huge. It’s diverse. It’s a big political state. But he also wants to win one that’s not Wyoming, Nevada or Michigan where he had a hometown advantage, perhaps to really establish himself as the—a national candidate, not just a regional or a niche candidate to some extent.
And Tim is right. Going beyond here, he’s got all the money he needs and if he wins here tonight. If he doesn’t, he’s still going to go on forward. We’re getting on a plane tomorrow morning to go out to California where he thinks he has a chance. And of course, from now on, they’re going to
(INAUDIBLE) if he had delegates, what states can they win, and Romney has a western strategy where he thinks he can pick off enough delegates to be competitive for a long time to come.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s the question, is it, that Tim raised, Ron. How does he go to California with no money in his pocket?
ALLEN: Mitt Romney has money in his pockets. (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: No. No. No. I’m talking about John McCain, of course.
ALLEN: Well, that’s the question for McCain, yes. I think that’s a big problem for him. And if in fact, he does not win, he’s going to have some problems raising money. I don’t know how he solves that problem. I don’t know how he solved that problem here. He’s been running on reputation, I think, for the most part. But yes, that’s the big problem for McCain. It’s about money, which, of course, is no object for Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: Ron Allen at the Romney headquarters. I’m thinking maybe he could use Rudy Giuliani’s flight that’s been booked to California tomorrow if it comes to that.
Let’s now find out, maybe something is heard at the McCain headquarters. Kelly O’Donnell at the Airport Hilton in Miami.
KELLY O’DONNELL, NCB NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Keith and Chris. And I think what’s on the mind for people very close to John McCain is that sense of hopeful optimism but they’re clearly not overconfident. They know this is going to be tight. But I’ve been told by people around McCain that if he can win here, they will try to frame or package a victory in Florida as McCain being unstoppable toward the nomination, to set up New Hampshire and South Carolina and Florida as a trio that really says he’s the frontrunner, he’s the nominee.
That, of course, is how they want to showcase this if he prevails tonight. But as you just been discussing with Ron, Romney has such enormous means to keep going. So they know that this is just another step in what’s happening.
Today, McCain also kind of hit back on Romney on the economy talking about his record in Massachusetts and trying to at least cut into that which is the perceive strength for Romney here on the day when people are actually voting.
OLBERMANN: Kelly O’Donnell, it’s an intriguing campaign when your chief donor is visible to you in your mirror.
Kelly, at the McCain headquarters. That’s not the situation he’s in.
Let’s find out what the mood is like at the Giuliani campaign tonight.
Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, NBC’s John Yang is there.
JOHN YANG, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith. This is a campaign that, for so long, the campaign strategist said momentum didn’t matter. So they bypassed Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan.
And so now they’re here in Florida. What are they looking for?
Momentum. They say they’ve got to pull off something different here. They’re hoping that lightning will strike. They’re no longer hoping to win Florida, they’re hoping that lightning will strike and they could come in second. Then they could sell that they have some momentum, that they can move forward, raise some money, move forward to those big super Tuesday states coming up.
If they finished third or fourth, they admit it’s going to be very hard to keep going on. But so far, the Giuliani campaign said they are going to go on no matter what they say that there is a campaign charter scheduled to leave tomorrow morning for California and a debate there. But others say that the plane may be headed to New York—Keith?
OLBERMANN: John Yang at the Giuliani headquarters with both warm and summer clothing available to him pending tomorrow.
Thank you, John.
MATTHEWS: Well, the fight between Romney and McCain has taken a nasty turn in just the last couple of days.
Bay Buchanan is the senior advisor for the Romney campaign and Charlie Black is the senior advisor to Senator McCain’s campaign.
Bay, thanks for coming on. This is a tricky time. Is there a—you know, you and I know politics. Which way is this going right now? Do you feel it in the air of Florida?
BAY BUCHANAN, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISOR: Well, you know, it’s very interesting there. The candidates are very—the candidate is, one, very, very positive. There’s some information coming in. We’re feeling very good.
Enormous enthusiasm down here in the rallies the last couple of days. And I could feel, as I travel across the state, I thought the social conservatives moving their own way. The other—economic conservatives, the Thompson people, I feel we picked up some Huckabee people. So I feel that this is a very—going to be very, very good. It’s going to be close. But I think it’s going to be good.
MATTHEWS: What influence will it have, tonight’s results, on the chief contributor to this campaign, Governor Romney himself? Will he be more inclined to dig deeper into his massive wealth if he wins tonight and if he loses?
B. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, if he wins, Chris, I think we’ve all—he probably won’t have to. There’s going to be enormous momentum and excitement. He’ll be able to move across this country with being—well recognized as the frontrunner and sure, he’s raising a lot of money on his—from individuals as well. So I don’t think that he’ll have to dig quite as deep as—if we do not win, I think it’ll be very close, but if we don’t win, surely he might have to do that. But he has the money, he’s willing to do it, this is going to be a campaign that runs in all the 20 states next week.
MATTHEWS: Well, good luck.
Let’s take a look at the back and forth going on this somewhat nasty campaign. Now here’s McCain’s charge about Romney about this thing, timetable, that apparently Romney made some reference to a timetable a while back about leaving Iraq and McCain has jumped on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, ’08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: Every media outlet has looked at it and said, you know, where is he coming from on that? And he’s, you know, I think kind of desperate here at the end. I think he expected that after all the years he’s been running for president, that finally he’d get it here, and it looks like Florida is not going to go his way.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ’08 PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: If you read the entire quote, there’s very little doubt as to what his intention was and that’s just a product of his inexperience and his lack of judgment. And I’ve been involved in every major national security issue affecting this nation for the last 20 years. I’m ready to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Charlie Black, thanks for joining us. On behalf of McCain, do you really have a case…
CHARLIE BLACK, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISOR: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: …that Governor Romney wants to turn tail and run? I mean your candidate John McCain has accused Mitt Romney of being like Hillary Clinton if that’s the right reference, that she—he just wants to hightail it out of Iraq. Is that a fair charge?
BLACK: Well, of course it is, Chris. Read his own words. Remember the debate at the time. The surge was just beginning. President Bush, John McCain and conservatives were supporting the surge, wanted to win, wanted victory.
Most of the Democrats and a lot of the Republicans were talking about a timetable for withdrawal. Those were the two sides: victory or timetable. So when Governor Romney was asked, do you favor a timetable, he should have said no. Instead he said a timetable to be negotiated, but in secret so the enemy doesn’t know when we will be gone. A timetable for when we’ll be gone? Of course, he took the wrong position.
MATTHEWS: OK. And what about this game that’s going on that sort of what he called the side war that’s going on between your two campaigns? Each candidate says the other one is desperate. What’s the strategy there to keep saying oh he’s desperate? What do you gain from saying the other guy is desperate?
BLACK: Well, I don’t know, I mean…
MATTHEWS: You guys are both doing it now.
BLACK: Well, if you look at the political history of this race when Governor Romney is falling behind in a key state, he goes negative, either with ads or personal campaigns or both.
BLACK: And you know, last time he did it, he lost Iowa, he lost New Hampshire. So maybe he’s desperate.
MATTHEWS: Do you wish that you guys had Mitt Romney as your chief contributor?
BLACK: Well, listen, we’ll take any legal money from any means. In a week or two here we’ll be able to sign him up as a $2300 donor, I hope.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Charlie Black. Good luck. I said it to the other guy, as well to you. Looks like a close race tonight.
BLACK: Thank you, Chris. It’s going to be close. We’re cautiously optimistic. Thank you, Chris.
OLBERMANN: Three late notes to throw at you. Swiftboating has begun and this from one of the fathers of swiftboats, Ted Sampley. There’s an e-mail that’s gone out against John McCain that describes him as unfit to serve as commander in chief, spoiled son, military privileged, all the rest of that. So it is not limited to one side of the (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: Garbage. It’s really garbage.
MATTHEWS: It’s unfit to serve is their phrase for Kerry. They’re using the old lines again.
By the way, I’m only curious if these guys who call the other guys not great soldiers if they were ever in the line of fire.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Claims to be Green Beret.
MATTHEWS: We’ll see.
OLBERMANN: John McCain, 10 million robo calls placed on behalf of his campaign. That’s by his campaign in Florida the last few days. And we have a report of a voting problem in Palm Beach County with a frozen touchscreen.
That report coming from a Mr. R. Limbaugh. I’m not making that up.
When Chris and I return, the stakes in Florida where the Republican candidates need to do well tonight. And later, the Democratic race, whatever it is, primary or otherwise, Senator John Kerry will join us.
You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Republican primary and the Florida Democrat whatever it is.
MATTHEWS: Does he have e-mail?
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
NBC News political director Chuck Todd has a look at the Republican strongholds in Florida. Chuck always wanted to be one of those forecasters with a telestrator and he’s finally got his chance—Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So true. Someday I’m actually going to be the one who gets to draw on it as well. But I know, baby steps, right?
TODD: Baby steps.
Well, let’s start with where Mitt Romney was trying to get his vote today. He sort of concentrated in three distinct areas. One was the I-4 corridor. He lived there. The ton of sort of rank and file younger Republicans, and he spent a lot of time from the – basically I-4 goes from Tampa to Daytona when you look in west to east.
And then he also concentrated in the southwest part of the state, Ft.
Myers, Naples, a lot of older, rich retirees Republicans. Not sure how else to describe them. But a lot of rich retirees down there. Some are not even retirees, places that they have second homes but they moved to Florida because of the tax break. No state income tax. Then you go into the northeast corner, Jacksonville, another area that’s growing a lot of younger conservatives.
And those were sort of the three areas Romney is concentrating on building his vote.
Then you have John McCain, who’s got a very unique coalition he was trying to put together, which was sort of older Republican conservatives from the northern part of the state, basically think from Pensacola all the way to Jacksonville. And then Cubans in South Florida. He spent a lot of time. He got that endorsement from Mel Martinez. And so South Florida. And then putting together this coalition of the Panhandle. Be an interesting thing if it ends up working out. Not a lot of Republican primaries have been won that way.
And then both of them are having to do with two candidates siphoning potential support away from them. You had Rudy Giuliani, who was concentrating a lot on the gold coast, the sort of eastern half of southeast Florida from Miami up to Orlando, if you were going to Miami to Coco Beach, where there are a lot of New York retirees. And then you have Mike Huckabee who are siphoning some of the social vote in the Panhandle spending a lot of time up there from Pensacola to Tallahassee.
So watching in those areas tonight, that’s when we’re watching election turnouts to see who outperformed—how much did McCain outperform Romney among Cubans in south Florida? How big of a lead did Romney get out of the Ft. Myers area, Naples and southwest part of the state?
Getting those—padding those numbers and seeing how well they did, that will tell us, you know, what’s going to happen as the night rolls on.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd, NBC News political director, confirming for us once again that Florida is we may—if you had never lived in Florida, or spent a lot of time there, think of it as one place. Like many big states, it’s many different places.
Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: You got it.
MATTHEWS: OK. When we return, our panel will be with us to talk about what’s at stake tonight as we continue our coverage of the Florida primary.
Big stakes for the Republicans primary. This could be the championship here on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: And we’re back with more of MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary. That’s the official term for the Republicans. We haven’t figured out the term for the Democrats yet.
MATTHEWS: Let’s go to the panel tonight. A heavy duty panel, of the “Washington Post” Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow, an interesting couple, and “The New York Times” columnist Bob Herbert.
You know, I just want to start, Gene and then Bob on the left there, and among you guys, I want to talk about the Democrats tonight. Hillary Clinton is going down to Florida tonight. She’s apparently in the air if not there yet to claim victory in a primary that supposedly doesn’t count. What’s it matter? What’s it mean? You first, Gene.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know I think it that means that she was a little quicker off the mark than Barack Obama. I mean it—I think she adhered to the letter of the law in terms of Florida. She didn’t actually go down there and campaign, even though she has an organization there. Obama has an organization there. She thought she was going to win this kind of beauty contest, and so she set herself up to claim victory there. I think that’s pushing the envelope, but I don’t think it’s dirty politics. I think it’s taking advantage of the situation.
BOB HERBERT: I think it depends on how it gets covered, both on television and in print. If it gets covered as though it were a victory for Hillary, it could help her and give her a little bit of nudge going into Super Tuesday. If the coverage is that this really doesn’t mean much and it’s kind of ah, then it won’t have any affect at all.
MATTHEWS: So I can read the “New York Times” tomorrow morning and decide where your paper stands. If you give good play to Hillary’s victory in a non-binding delegate fight in Florida, then that suggests you’re pushing for Florida.
HERBERT: What’s this you guys stuff. I’m on the op-ed page.
MATTHEWS: I’m watching all the newspapers to see who is favoring who.
Let me go—I want to finish up with the Democrats for a second, because they are not the big story. Rachel, I want to give you a shot here. Hillary Clinton will probably win in Florida just on name ID. Everybody has always thought that because it’s not a contested primary. Does she break the steam of the Kennedy-Obama juggernaut by winning a non-binding primary tonight in Florida, if she does.
MADDOW: I think this is onto your previous question. I think it’s interesting the contrast where Hillary Clinton did not make a big deal out of winning Michigan, where it was also a similar situation in terms of delegates, and a similar situation of Democrats not really knowing if it counted. She probably is going to make a big deal out of Florida because now the race feels much tighter then it did at the point.
I think she’s making a big deal out of this. She’s going to hope it gets picked up as a momentum factor. Bob is right, in large part determines how much momentum she’s able to get because of the press coverage.
BUCHANAN: I think it’s going to be more important than that. If you get a million Floridians going to the polls and Hillary Clinton, say, wins it three to two or two to one, that is very big news. She has not campaigned there, as Gene said. If she just goes down to claim a victory, I think what it will do, it will indicate that the Caroline Kennedy/Edward Kennedy thing is not really a juggernauts.
Secondly, it will be indicative that Barack Obama did not get the kind of momentum he would have hoped to have gotten out of South Carolina. And what momentum he did get will be broken a bit. I would think this would be a major indicator, if not the major indicator of the way votes will break on February 5th. If, however, Barack Obama really comes back with some kind of stunning number there that surprises us and very close to hers, I think it will indicate that the Clintons were hurt badly by last week and more than they thought.
MATTHEWS: OK, let’s bring in Michelle Bernard, who is with the conservative group, Independent Women’s Voice. Michelle, let’s switch over to the Republicans now and have some real fun right now. This looks to be the shoot out between—it’s getting very close to being that—between John McCain and Mitt Romney in Florida.
It’s a huge state. It’s a very representative state in many strange ways. It has every accent of American life, practically. Every person from every state has ended up there. It’s almost like Denny’s, you don’t go there, you end up there. Should I say that? Will that offend people? I don’t really mean that.
OLBERMANN: There goes the Denny’s account.
MATTHEWS: It’s not an original observation. But Florida is the state of falling chads. They fall there from the Bronx. They fall there from Iowa and Chicago. They fall there from the southern part of the south. What do you make of it? Who is going to win?
MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S VOICE: Florida, Florida, Florida. But by the way, I do smell something a little not too nice coming down the Democratic side of the aisle as well in Florida. But with regard to the Republicans, it’s a brawl. It’s going to be a fight to the very end. I really don’t have a clue who is going to win it. It’s very, very, very close.
These fellows don’t like each other. They are campaigning hard. Chuck earlier talked about Mel Martinez endorsing Senator McCain, but McCain also got the endorsement of three other Cuban members of Congress in Florida. He’s really holding on tight and hoping for a large part of the Hispanic vote.
It will be interesting to see how much hemorrhaging we’re going to see from the Giuliani campaign and how many of Giuliani’s followers from the New York corridor that are now living in Florida for the winter, and are registered Republicans in Florida, are going to go to McCain or going to go to Romney. It will be very close to call.
MATTHEWS: Bob Herbert, I’ve never met a New York reporter from any major newspaper, in fact any paper, that likes Giuliani personally. It’s absolutely Catholic. It’s universal. It’s every single person. Not only dislikes him, seems to be rooting for his imminent demise. Is this going to be a night for (INAUDIBLE) across the press rooms of America for Rudy Giuliani.
HERBERT: You’re really trying to put me on the spot.
MATTHEWS: You’re a columnist, you can say what you want.
HERBERT: I’ll put it this way; from the very beginning when Giuliani was leading in the polls nationally and well ahead in Florida, there were no New York reporters who had covered him over an extended period of time who believed that that would hold. People were very skeptical that Giuliani would end up the GOP nominee.
If you look back, Giuliani does not play well. It’s almost like the more voters see of him, the less well he does. So you remember his aborted campaign for Senate in New York. And even though he’s viewed as having had two successful terms as mayor of New York, the longer he stayed, the more his poll numbers declined. So he had a remarkable period post September 11.
HERBERT: And he deserved the praise that he got for the way that he led the city during that period. But the rest of the time, when you look at the politics of Rudolph Giuliani, it has not been that much of a triumph, frankly.
MATTHEWS: You’re missing the point of my question. Why do journalists hate Rudy Giuliani.
HERBERT: Well, for starters, I’m not going to say journalists hate Giuliani. In fact, I do know a fair number of journalists who like Giuliani and who admire him. But I think that there are a lot of journalists who just looked at some of the things that he did, especially in the last few years as mayor, who looked at his hardball and sometimes bullying tactics, both against other people and against at times journalist, and who looked at some of the things that went on in his private life, and just decided this is not our favorite human being. But I think that’s neither here nor there.
MATTHEWS: You’re getting where I want you to be. Getting there, which is where I want you to be.
HERBERT: The real issue is how voters see Rudy Giuliani. The more they see him, the more they tend to not be crazy about him.
MATTHEWS: I’ve watched so many people in back rooms and green rooms and conversations at parties, I have seen nothing but animus towards this guy from reporters I respect a lot. I keep saying what’s it about. It’s about the way he treated the media, how he treated reporters who had to cover him ever day.
OLBERMANN: I’m a New Yorker. I always enjoy seeing him at Yankee Stadium.
MATTHEWS: Maybe that’s a different relationship. That’s a collegial, sports loving kind of relationship, whereas reporters that needed to get the facts from him had a problem.
Up next, more on the Democratic race. All three candidates are on the ballot, but none has campaigned. No delegates are at stake. But Hillary Clinton looks like she could be down there tonight.
OLBERMANN: Looking to get that edge heading into Super Tuesday, we’ll ask a supporter of Barack Obama, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, about all that next. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida primary tonight, especially the Republican fight. On the Democratic side, the candidates, all of them, agreed not to campaign in Florida. And no delegates will actually be awarded tonight officially. But that’s not stopping Senator Clinton from showing up to the state tonight, apparently to preside at a victory party.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts is supporting Barack Obama for president, and that’s become an issue in this race. Let’s talk about this with Senator Kerry. Thank you for joining us. Which camera am I looking at now?
Senator Kerry, it’s great to have you on tonight. What did it feel like watching your colleague, Senator Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy and Patrick, all the Kennedys together endorsing your candidate tonight?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Spectacular. I thought it was a great event. I talked to some of the people that were there. I’ve heard these amazing reports about the energy that was there. I mean, it was really one of those very, very special moments. I think Ted Kennedy’s endorsement is meaningful.
I think Barack Obama obviously has been inspiring people across the country. In fact, today, Chris, what’s really interesting is every week now he’s proving his ability to be able to unite people and pull people together, because today, the governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, endorsed him. Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, has already endorsed him. Former Governor, now Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska has endorsed him.
So he’s really proving, with Tim Kaine of Virginia and others, that he is bringing people together and has this ability to run in very difficult states and do well.
OLBERMANN: Senator, what is this tonight? We’ve been trying to find the right term for this, for the Democrats in Florida. Obviously, the Republicans are having a primary. Is this a primary, a primary without delegates? What has happened and is it the same thing the candidate you support thought it was when the whole process started?
KERRY: Well, I think everybody agreed on what it is. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Barack Obama all agreed it was not for delegates. There are no delegates at stake tonight. It’s not a place where campaigns were to take place with respect to a primary. So I know that they are—that the Obama campaign obeyed those rules and stood by it. And I think that’s the appropriate way to have handled tonight.
More importantly, you know, Barack is looking towards February 5th as a real proving ground for his ability to be able to attract independents and Republicans and Democrats alike. If you look back at South Carolina, where he won 55 percent of the vote, which was contested and was for delegates, you now have a Barack Obama who has won one more votes across the country than any opponent, and who has more delegates today than any opponent.
I think he has a good strategy. He’s living by the rules, which is what Americans like to see, somebody who plays by the way it’s set up. And he’s going on now to February 5th.
OLBERMANN: Characterize for me—let me get your reaction, this is off the Politico website that Representative Corrine Brown placed a round of recorded calls to her Jacksonville constituents yesterday urging them to vote against Amendment One, which would cap property taxes, and is opposed by unions and many Democrats and is, by itself, supposed to increase turnout tonight.
According to one of her aides, the call continues, for Corrine’s quick pick, I’m supporting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.
This is a reference to cards that she typically distributes on election day. Some said Brown paid for the call out of her own campaign committee.
This wasn’t a Clinton campaign effort. Is it legally not a campaign effort, but violating the spirit of what’s supposed to be going on or not going on among the Democratic presidential candidates.
KERRY: I think it’s very clear to a lot of people that there’s been a campaign effort on behalf of a candidate by allies of that candidate. Whether that’s organized or not, I can’t tell you. What I do know is, and what I think is important for people to focus on tonight, is not to look for the divisions but look at the reality of where we are. The reality is the contest in Florida, regrettably—
I feel badly for the Florida voters. We all want to win Florida. We think Florida is important. We have great respect for Florida voters. They deserve an opportunity to be able to vote, but unfortunately this got caught up in rules of the party and it wasn’t resolved in a way that made a difference.
So the bottom line is, it’s not for delegates tonight and the Obama campaign has respected that.
Let others figure out what else happened. What’s really important is Barack is taking a message of a different kind of politics across the country.
He’s going out and proving every day by bringing people like Governor Sebelius of Kansas, like Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Senator Nelson of Nebraska, both Democratic senators from the Dakotas, North Dakota, South Dakota; he’s proving that he can unite the country. I think that’s what Democrats are really looking for. I think that’s what independents and Republicans are looking for.
It’s really interesting, the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, was asked, can a Democrat carry Virginia this year. And his answer was, the right Democrat can. And then he endorsed Barack Obama. To me, that’s the story that you’ve got to be able to run across the country. And I think the number of delegates that Barack has won, the nature of his victories—in a state like Iowa, which has very few minorities, he won across the board. In South Carolina, he won every demographic.
Even in New Hampshire, where it was a very close race—and Nevada—in Nevada, he won the outlying areas overwhelmingly across the demographics of those areas. To me and to Ted Kennedy and to others who are looking for someone who can really win in November and lead us to a different place, we see in Barack Obama an ability to unite, to end the politics of division, and to really turn a page in American history.
MATTHEWS: Senator, who carries Massachusetts next Tuesday? Barack or Hillary?
KERRY: We know that Hillary Clinton has had a big lead up until this moment. I think she’s probably still in the lead. Barack Obama is coming from behind, as he is in many of these states. But that hasn’t deterred us from making a decision that, in our judgment, it really represents the future. This is a choice about the future versus the past, about a new politics, a different politics, and really about change in Washington.
I think Barack Obama has proven that he’s got those leadership skills.
He certainly is inspiring people. He’s bringing young people to the table and we’re very excited about it.
Obviously, it’s going to be a fight in a lot of different states.
That’s the best of our democracy and that’s what it’s supposed to be about.
OLBERMANN: Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, thank you, senator.
Take care of the cough.
KERRY: Good to be with you. Thank you. Yes, a little allergy, I think.
OLBERMANN: I hear you. When we return, NBC’s Tom Brokaw will join us about the tone of this campaign, both the Clinton/Obama fight and the McCain/Romney fight that we’re watching so carefully tonight, as those polls close throughout Florida, some in 12 minutes, some in an hour and 12 minutes.
This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
OLBERMANN: As we continue here, our privilege now to be joined by NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Out of the near slumber of the last Republican debate, there seems to have risen a beast, sniping, if you will, between Senator McCain and Governor Romney over the weekend. It went full bore. According to each of them, the other one, Tom, is a liberal. How can that end well?
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: I don’t think it necessarily will end well. I don’t remember the Republican party since 1980 being such a fractious state. As I go around the country, I’ve heard more Republicans this cycle than any time I can remember in all the years I’ve been doing this who say they are fed up with the party, or their are not happy with the condition of their party.
But at the same time, there’s an effort under way, if you will, to rally around a candidate. What I call the big business Republicans thought that Mitt Romney would be their candidate at the beginning. They are falling out of love with him. We’ve been talking repeatedly here and on other nights about how John McCain has demonstrated what a tough warrior he is. He’s not the perfect conservative in the eyes of a lot of people, but they find him authentic.
We’ve got a ways to go. Tonight will be important, as any number of people have said, for John McCain. He has to finish first, a very tight second to raise money for next week. One of the advantages for John McCain next week, he’s going back out to his region, to the American west. California has a strong Latino population. They find him more favorable than they do Mitt Romney, based on what we have been seeing so far. So we’ve got a ways to go in the Republican party.
OLBERMANN: Do the Republicans need that kind of unity, do you think, Tom, based on your experience in covering these things for so long? Or do they manufacture something that resembles it? Or do they simply have a kind of glue that fits in and keeps those bricks together whether the bricks like each other or not?
BROKAW: They have always had more discipline. They have always been able to put those bricks together, how ever asymmetrical they may seem at this stage of the process. I was talking to a Republican strategist today and I was describing what I was finding as I went across the country about how, as I described it just a moment ago, the fractious nature of the party. He shot back right way, but there’s a lot of angst in the Democratic party.
I responded by saying, angst in the Democratic party is like acne on a teenager. It’s a fact of life. It’s going to be there. Both parties are
going to have to put themselves back together.
MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense, Tom, that some Republicans are more inclined to want to kick the football rather than receive it this year, that this is a bad time to be president. Let’s let Hillary or Barack have a shot.
BROKAW: I’d think they would like to receive it. I think they have learned the power, political power in this country resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I think that they know that they have got tougher chances going into this poll. A lot of Democrats are already saying we can’t lose. That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard so far in this political season.
But the Republicans know they have got a tough row ahead of them. My own guess is and soundings indicate that most of them think they would have the best shot at Hillary Clinton. She’s a known quantity for them. They are watching with a combination of fascination and objective measurement the momentum that Barack Obama is beginning to develop.
OLBERMANN: Tom Brokaw of NBC News will be with us throughout the evening. Thanks for the first perspective, Tom. The polls in Florida will be closing in just a moment—some of them at the top of the hour, across the state in an hour and change. The most important number so far, exit polling; the economy, 47 percent of those responding to the exit polls saying that was foremost on their minds among the Republicans who were involved in the Florida primary. Our coverage of which will continue after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Before the polls have closed tonight in Florida, before they had even opened this morning, what happened next was already, is again, in dispute. Will the top vote getter among Democrats have his or her delegates seated at their convention? As they say, I can’t believe it’s not a primary. Will the winner of tonight’s Republican primary go on to win the nomination, as Rudy Giuliani has claimed? How many differences are there if even Rush Limbaugh’s touchscreen freezes on him when he casts his Florida ballot?
All that and much more continuing now.
By contrast, the GOP has consensus. Mitt Romney thinks John McCain too liberal, John McCain thinks Mitt Romney too liberal. And Rudy Giuliani insists the Florida winner will be the nominee, though the polls said the Florida winner would not be the former mayor.
Tonight, Ron Allen at Romney headquarters in St. Petersburg, Kelly O’Donnell with the McCain campaign in Miami, John Yang at the Giuliani camp in Orlando, Andrea Mitchell with the Clinton campaign in Davie, and Lee Cowan with the Obama campaign in Kansas City, with the analysis of NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the host of “Meet the Press” Tim Russert, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams, chief White House correspondent David Gregory, political director Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Craig Crawford.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida primary.
At just past 7:00 PM in most of Florida, many polls are closed, the rest an hour hence. Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. This is our continuing coverage of the Florida primary. If it’s 47 percent on the exit polls the economy and terrorism in Iraq add up to only 34 percent between them, who does that favor?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: It favors Romney, in a night in which this is great asymmetry of American politics. Tonight, the vote counts for the Republicans. And the Democrats, it’s not clear what it counts for. So it’s getting harder and harder to follow this procedure, except to say that what happened is two big states, Michigan a while back, and Florida, broke the rules. They broke the rules of the national Democratic Party, moved up their primaries to get into the action early and were punished by being denied all their delegates.
However, the caveat: At some point between now and when the conventions are held, the Democratic frontrunner, whoever he or she is, will yield back, you can bet, those delegates to the states that were denied them.
OLBERMANN: And in the interim, in such a close race, you take a victory, whether it’s a Florida without any delegates or American Samoa, as we recall from the other night, which Hillary Clinton invoked. And when American Samoa comes into the equation, no offense to anyone there, that indicates how tight that is and how hard fought that is.
MATTHEWS: Hillary is—Senator Clinton is fighting that new ad that went on the air tonight of Caroline Kennedy with the pictures of her father, looking like a million bucks, as she for the first time in her life that I know of has entered politics big time and is endorsing heavily on the air in all the big cities of the country for Super Tuesday—Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles—all the big cities are going to see the ad of Caroline Kennedy, America’s daughter, endorsing Barack Obama.
That’s what Hillary has to fight tonight. She has to show some strength, or else she might get rolled over.
Let’s go around the campaigns tonight, starting with our top correspondents, Ron Allen, who’s with Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney, the big question again, does the focus, as Keith pointed out, on the economy give the edge to the miracle man, the turnaround man, Mitt Romney?
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly hopes so, Chris. The other thing that he hopes is that because this is a closed primary, Republicans only, that that gives him an edge, as well, because McCain won’t get those independents who have been helping him along the way elsewhere.
For Romney, he wants to beat McCain in a state that where he doesn’t have some built-in advantage, perhaps, as in Michigan, where he’s a hometown kid, out in Nevada and Wyoming, where there was a significant Mormon population. So that’s what he’s looking for tonight, to try and make this a two-man race, to beat McCain and to move on to Super Tuesday or to February 5, whatever we’re calling it, with some upper hand and the aura, the mantle of a winner.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Ron Allen, who’s with Romney. Let’s go to NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, who’s with McCain. Same question. All the stakes are on the table tonight. It seems if McCain loses—we’ve just lost Kelly, but I think the question—there she is. There’s Kelly O’Donnell. Thank you. Hand raised. It’s your turn...
KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Hand raised.
MATTHEWS: ... Ms. O’Donnell!
MATTHEWS: It’s like in school!
O’DONNELL: My Catholic school...
MATTHEWS: ... school. The importance to McCain tonight.
O’DONNELL: Well, this is huge for McCain. And advisers close to him say they are cautiously optimistic. They don’t want to go too far and be overconfident. They see this as a pathway to frontrunner status and a pathway to additional fund-raising. Senior advisers say in the Florida stops for fund-raising, they’ve raised more than a million dollars. Last week in New York, they had their first $1 million single event fundraiser—so important to be able to pay for some advertising in the Super Tuesday states.
They’re not sure where they’ll buy exactly because, of course, there’s a lot of strategic decision making. Where will Romney buy? Where will they need to try to counteract that? But it all hinges on what happens tonight because they think if they can win here, it really changes the dynamics and makes things much easier going forward. And that’s what they’re hoping for.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Kelly O’Donnell, who’s with McCain. Let’s go to NBC’s John Yang, who’s with the Giuliani campaign in Orlando. What are they hoping for tonight? Are they really in the business of hoping for winning on the nose tonight?
JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I don’t think they’ve—when you talk to the campaign staff and the strategists, they put on their honest face. I think they acknowledge that their hopes of winning Florida outright are gone. Their definition of winning has changed. If they could finish second here, if they could get out of their distant third, which is where they are in the polls, or were in the pre-primary polls, I think they could spin it as a win because they’re doing something unexpected.
But if they were to finish third or fourth, it would be very hard for them to carry on, get any sense of momentum out of that, any sense of carrying on into the big Super Tuesday states, or even being able to move on and raise money to campaign in those states, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, John Yang, who’s with Rudy Giuliani.
OLBERMANN: We are at least 54 minutes away from any kind of actual hard numbers or any kind of characterization of the results in Florida, 8:00 PM Eastern time. But in the meantime, we’ve already heard some fascinating numbers from the exit polling. We mentioned one of them off the top, that the economy was the key issue, and then some, 47 percent of Republican voters. For more exit numbers, let’s go to Norah O’Donnell at the exit suite upstairs—
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good evening, Chris and Keith. Well, in the Sunshine State, we’re learning three things about this Republican primary electorate. We’ve got a very conservative electorate. The economy is the number one issue, and they are very pessimistic about the economy. And we know that Mitt Romney and John McCain have been fighting over the past week, with each trading charges about who’s more liberal and who has the best performance on economic issues.
Look inside our exit polls. The figures show that Florida Republicans give the economy very low marks. Just add those last two numbers that you see together, and you see that 63 percent feel the economy is really tanking. And that’s comparable to what we saw in Michigan, remember, in the Michigan primary, which is suffering from the worst unemployment in the nation. Here’s that chart sort of just comparing just how pessimistic people are about the economy.
Now, here’s what’s really interesting. Despite these negative feelings about the economy in Florida, a majority of the Republican electorate still has positive feelings about the Bush administration. Look at negative feelings and the economy, and a majority of the Republican electorate still has these positive feelings. You can see 20 percent enthusiastic, 46 percent satisfied there with Bush.
And these are even more positive feelings about the Bush administration than we saw, remember, in South Carolina. Remember, South Carolina was really Bush country. And this is worth noting because this is a closed Republican primary in Florida, and we’re going to see many more closed Republican primaries on Super Tuesday. Back to you guys.
OLBERMANN: All right, Norah. We don’t know what to call the thing the Democrats are having. We do know that—here we go again, Barack Obama hinted today that when they get to California in advance of Super Tuesday, we may see the return of Oprah Winfrey into the middle of the campaign.
Let’s talk about the Democrats with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. Tim, what is happening with the Democrats tonight? And how does it play in with the Kennedy endorsement of Obama, the whole dynamic in this heated Democratic race?
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Well, it’s so interesting, Keith. Florida was not being pointed to in any way, shape or form by the Clinton forces until very recently. We had a briefing about 10 days ago about the delegate count. And Harold Ickes, a wild old sage of politics, a very strong supporter of Hillary Clinton—he said, you know, the simple thing to remember is states don’t nominate, delegates nominate. And they were concerned that on Super Tuesday, if Obama won more states, the press would be saying, Obama wins more states. They want the story to be, Obama wins more delegates.
So suddenly now, the last couple of days, post the Kennedy endorsement of Obama, the Clinton folks are saying, What about Florida? What about Florida? Florida counts. A million people are going to vote. You can’t disenfranchise them. And the press corps say, Well, wait a minute, all the candidates said they wouldn’t campaign there. And the DNC, Democratic National Committee, said there won’t be any delegates there. So if it doesn’t count and no one campaigned there, why is it a story?
It’s a story because the Clinton campaign wants to break the momentum of the Obama campaign post the Kennedy endorsement, and they want to see some good news going into Super Tuesday.
The one interesting thing I think we could learn tonight from the Democrats in our exit poll is their attitudes towards issues, their attitudes towards Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and if there’s any difference when people made up their minds in terms of favorable or unfavorable to the candidates or their supporters. And that could kind of be a treasure trove of data. But other than that, we just have this kind of back-and-forth going on between the campaigns and a little bit with the press corps as to whether we should pay any attention to Florida or simply ignore it.
OLBERMANN: Yes, and I think we may have discussed this when we talked about Michigan and the Democrats, when a similar situation occurred. I may have even used this analogy. Forgive me if I’m repeating myself. But an old not good friend but acquaintance of mine from Hollywood, Walter Matthau, used to gamble on baseball year-round, basically. He used to gamble on the winter leagues. He used to gamble on spring training games. So for him, if you can imagine the madness of that—Walter Matthau used to—spring training games used count for him. And I thought the analogy here in Florida is very apt, that suddenly, you’re trying to make an spring training game, or what was agreed to be an exhibition game, suddenly count as a real-life outcome.
Is there a danger in this? Because now we’re hearing there’s a AFSCME union mailer that went out on behalf of Hillary Clinton in Florida. There is this robocall on behalf of Representative Brown there, saying, By the way, my quick pick is Senator Clinton in the primary.
Is there a danger, even if you get some sort of momentum, get some sort of push off this for a victory tonight—is Senator Clinton’s campaign in danger of paying too high a price for it, of being seen as people who tried to change the rules after the game was already in progress?
RUSSERT: And that’s why you heard Obama saying, When I agree to something, I keep my word, trying to bring that issue back into play. You know, one of the concerns being expressed late this afternoon, Keith, was that if we go to a convention where neither candidate has a majority, will there be an attempt to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations? And then can you imagine the holy hell that will break out because people will say, Wait a minute, we didn’t compete there, and you said it didn’t count. So this thing may be—is one to mark down and remember in the back of our heads as to some of the infighting that was going on today.
It got so interesting, Keith, there was a debate going on again today in Washington about the seating at the State of the Union message last night. There were suggestions coming from the Clinton camp that they attempted to have an arrangement where Obama and Clinton would sit together to show unity on the Democratic side, but the Obama people say there was never any understanding, they always intended to set next to Ted Kennedy after the endorsement. But that’s how minute this discussion, this debate, this infighting is getting, every side looking for every small advantage to carry the day for spin and carry the day for momentum going into Super Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Tim, can Obama keep up with Hillary Clinton with regard to financing all the 22 states next Tuesday night?
RUSSERT: You know, that’s a great question, Chris. And here’s what I think. I believe that Obama is probably in better shape with fund-raising than Hillary Clinton right now. Why? Because many of her contributors have, quote, “maxed out.” They’ve given the maximum amount they can do. He had a lot more smaller donors, who they can keep going back to and raising money off the Internet.
We don’t know the exact numbers yet because they haven’t been filed, but based on my conversations with the campaign, they’re extremely competitive. They’re both going to be well financed. But I don’t think money is going to be a problem for Obama.
Contrast that to the Republicans and what we talked about an hour ago. John McCain is broke. Mike Huckabee is broke. Rudy Giuliani is broke. Mitt Romney is basically out of money that he has raised from outsiders and has his own money. But the Democrats have raised so much more money than Republicans, which is the total converse that we’ve gotten in our history of politics.
MATTHEWS: On the free media side, Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, do we have a sense of the itinerary between now and next Tuesday for that rambling campaign trio?
RUSSERT: Yes, we do. Ted Kennedy is going right to California, then Arizona and then New Mexico. Why? One word. Latino voters, the Bobby Kennedy connection with Cesar Chavez, Latinos all across the country. Do they expect to win those Latino districts by having Ted Kennedy endorse Obama? No. Then what’s the import? The way proportional representation works, if you have a congressional district that has four delegates and one candidate gets 59 percent of the vote and the other candidate gets 41, guess what? You each get two delegates.
RUSSERT: So Kennedy’s mission is to keep Hillary’s vote count in Latino districts below 60 and split the delegates.
OLBERMANN: And determine who gets to sit next to who at the State of the Union.
OLBERMANN: Good grief. Tim Russert, we’ll check back with you later.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
MATTHEWS: We were all watching—Keith and Tim, we were all watching Joe Biden sitting next to Hillary the other night. What is that about?
Anyway, let’s go back to the Republicans for a moment and bring in “Newsweek” senior political correspondent, Howard Fineman, our friend, who’s also an MSNBC political analyst. He has new information. The world needs information, Howard! What’s going on with Giuliani?
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think
that’s one of the stories of tonight, Chris. And in e-mailing and phoning
members of Rudy’s inner circle, here’s my sense of things. First of all, there
are already Republicans in New York’s state who are looking to move to John
McCain, assuming that Rudy doesn’t pull off a miracle in Florida tonight.
And that’s crucial because John McCain did very well in New York state in 2000 against George Bush, and there are 101 delegates at stake in New York, almost twice as many at are at stake here in Florida this evening. They’re going to move to McCain very quickly, assuming Rudy gets out. And the people I talked to who were on the bus with Rudy over the weekend said it was a very odd situation, where the candidate himself did not want to talk about the course of his own campaign, refused to discuss campaigns at all. He’d rather talk about baseball. He was talking about the next town they were visiting.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the bus, the postmortems had already begun, what went wrong and why. They are second-guessing not having gone into Iowa. They were scared out of Iowa because of Romney’s money. Little did they realize that Mike Huckabee would rise in Iowa. In then in New Hampshire, they got scared, after those stories came out about the police-supervised getaway that Rudy had with Judi Nathan, they pulled advertising out of New Hampshire. That created an opening for McCain.
They’re proud of Rudy for the way he’s conducted himself in this campaign. Bob Herbert was saying how all New Yorkers have a rather dim view of Rudy, even though he was a hero on 9/11. The fact is, in this campaign, he’s been a perfect gentleman. Other people in Florida say he’s actually run a very good campaign in Florida, stressing taxes, which is the right thing to stress for Republicans and the economy. It’s just the fatal mistake was staying out of all of those early primaries.
And the bottom line, Chris, is it looks like he will have spent maybe $50 million, $60 million—raised that much, spent that much—to acquire a grand total of one delegate. He got a delegate in Nevada, and that looks like all it’s going to be.
He’s supposedly going to California tomorrow to continue the campaign. One insider I talked to said there’s at least a 70 to 80 percent chance that that’s a fake, and by late tomorrow or certainly the next day, he’ll be out of the race.
But he didn’t want to talk about it. Rudy did not want to discuss it while he was traveling around in Florida. He was having a victory lap, if you will, in his own mind.
MATTHEWS: So he won’t debate tomorrow night?
FINEMAN: I think it’s highly unlikely. I think it’s highly unlikely because the problem is, if he commits to that, he commits to staying in through February 5, and he’s going to get humiliated in his home state of New York. It’s been a humiliation enough for him, although he’s conducted himself well. Why continue and watch people who have surrounded him, even some of those who have supported him, move to John McCain before February 5?. I think it’s highly unlikely he’ll stay in until that date.
OLBERMANN: Plus, at that later date, he’d have to give out another set of autographed baseballs.
FINEMAN: A lot more baseballs to dip into.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, great thanks.
We actually now have early numbers from Florida on the Republican side, eight precincts now reporting—seven precincts. I’m sorry. It’ll be interesting. Right these numbers down at home—McCain 31, Romney 27, Giuliani 19 percent. And again, we’re talking about the leader here having 4,886 votes. But 31, 27, 19. Huckabee leads the second page with 15 percent. Just write those down, see how far we come up at the end.
They just changed to McCain 29 percent, Romney 28 percent, with that eighth precinct reporting. That’s eight out of quite a bit larger numbers than that.
Our coverage of the Florida primary—and these numbers will change—will continue in just a moment.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Florida primary. Early numbers in the Florida Republican primary are coming in now. We’ve got some polls that have already closed, 12 precincts all together reporting. McCain has a slight edge. You see these numbers. It’s about 25,000 votes total that have been counted so far. We’re way ahead of—or way behind, rather, in trying to figure out who’s going to win this thing. We’re going to have to watch that for a while.
Let’s go to Pat Buchanan, who’s going to run the panel for a bit—Pat.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: OK, thanks, Chris. Let me go to Eugene Robinson. Let’s talk about the humiliation of Rudy Giuliani, and it’s nothing less than this. Look, here’s an individual that’s leading the Republican race for most of the year, 30, 35 percent, everyone behind him. He stays out of the early—all the early races in Iowa and New Hampshire, the rest of it. In the debates—people say he’s no good at the speech. But in the debates, frankly, if you ask me, and took all the debates together, who was the number one debater, and I think in all of them, I would have said Rudy.
What exactly happened besides this incredible strategy.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST”: Right. I think—everybody’s going to talk a lot, and perhaps we should talk a lot about the strategy, which I think will go down as one of the dumbest ideas in presidential politics. But I think his message was wrong. I didn’t—for example, on the economy, which, you know, wasn’t necessarily going to turn into the big issue but did turn into the big issue in this campaign, Rudy offered basically nothing. He said, Oh...
BUCHANAN: Look, I disagree. Look, down in Florida, he offered this tremendous tax cut. Apparently, it was thought through. It was probably Steve Forbes’s job.
ROBINSON: Yes, but...
BUCHANAN: But he pivoted as fast as Romney did, I thought, on the issue. Romney pivoted in Michigan, but he got down there in Florida.
ROBINSON: But he had—he just had that one message, Cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes. And I think people have a sense that that’s not what’s going to work. That’s not what’s going to save their house...
ROBINSON: ... their foreclosure. That’s not what’s going to save the jobs.
BUCHANAN: Had he already lost it by then?
BOB HERBERT: Yes, I think he had already lost it, but I think he had lost it from jump (ph) street. He never was really ahead. That was all name recognition. This is a guy who’s not fundamentally a politician. Rudy at bottom is a cop. He’s a prosecutor. He’s a guy—that’s why he’s good in the debates. I mean, he’s a lawyer. He’s trained in that kind of confrontational thing. But he’s not really a politician, where he connects well with the people, presses the flesh.
BUCHANAN: You’re telling me he can’t translate his poll numbers into votes. The more people that see him in the flesh, the less well he does.
HERBERT: And the same thing happened when he ran for Senate in New York in that aborted run against Hillary Clinton.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Rudy
Giuliani, in order to compete at the national level, has to be able to talk
about national policy issues. And look at what happened that things started to
fall apart in Florida. We got the giant tax cut proposal, which he never seem
to understand very well, even when he was advocating for it. What was his
other big Hail Mary policy? A man on Mars. Talk about misreading what the
American people are interested in right now!
HERBERT: That was a little weird.
BUCHANAN: Look, what we’re going to get out of this race tonight, no matter—is clarity. I think Rudy’s coming back to New York. I’ll tell you, I agree with Howard Fineman. I think he’s got to get out of the race if he loses because he will be humiliated by John McCain in New York state. All these states he has set up as winner-take-all, he will lose all of them. My guess would be that by the Tuesday of next week, Rudy Giuliani endorses John McCain. What do you think?
ROBINSON: You know, I think that’s—well, by Tuesday? I don’t know if he does it by Tuesday. I think he gets out of the race. He may not endorse right away. I also don’t think he’s going to be at the top of anybody’s vice presidential list.
MADDOW: On that point, though, how is he going to explain this loss?
I mean, one delegate and the endorsement of Jon Voight...
BUCHANAN: ... Connally spent what was then an enormous $10 million, got one delegate in New Hampshire, went down to South Carolina, endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980.
HERBERT: I don’t think Rudy’s going to be a factor in the race. I don’t think his endorsement is going to mean much. If he was going to endorse somebody, I assume it would be McCain, but I don’t think it’s going to be a factor.
BUCHANAN: Let me disagree to this extent. If he gets out and endorses McCain, where do the residual Giuliani votes go?
MADDOW: There aren’t any residual votes!
BUCHANAN: I think in Florida, they are going to McCain. They are going to McCain in Florida, just like the Huckabee votes seem to be breaking somewhat for Mitt Romney.
But let me get back to this clarity issue. We really are going to get it. Mike Huckabee, unlike Giuliani, had a great day. I mean, every candidate ought to have at least one great day. He had it in Iowa. He almost had another in South Carolina. In other words, he’s had a great campaign, even if he loses.
But I think that Huckabee, after tonight, if he’s running for it, my guess would be he might run fourth because a lot of folks voted early for Rudy, you know? And so—but I think Huckabee now, he goes through a baggage (ph) of delegates, don’t you?
HERBERT: I agree, yes. I agree with that.
MADDOW: I—sorry. Go ahead, Bob.
HERBERT: No, I—I just agree. But I think—and I don’t think—you know, Huckabee, though, I think, is the kind of guy that can have an influence in this campaign going forward, I think much more than...
BUCHANAN: Who does he deliver it to? McCain. McCain. Does he not? Huckabee will deliver to McCain because he doesn’t like Romney. It’s a personal thing.
MADDOW: No, I don’t think he does. I don’t think he does. Evangelical voters, not a factor in this election. Huckabee’s delegates don’t matter.
ROBINSON: Oh, I’m not sure he loves McCain, either.
BUCHANAN: OK. Thank you very much, panel. They’ll be coming back to us. We’ll work on somebody else next.
MATTHEWS: Pat, I love the way you said every candidate should have one great day. You won the New Hampshire primary back in ‘96, and I believe the winning prize is a job at MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: I think we’re going to get Huckabee over here. I can see it coming!
OLBERMANN: Wait. The losing job—the losing is two jobs at MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: The polls are still open in the panhandle of Florida, where the fighting between McCain and Romney is fierce. And as we go to the break, we’re looking at live pictures right now of Barack Obama’s town hall meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.
This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary tonight. More in a moment. Results coming.
Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... electricity to this election, one that even I didn’t predict when I announced almost a year ago that I would embark on this unlikely journey to change America. You know, at the time when I decided to run, people said, Why are you running this time? You’re a young man. That was before all the gray hairs started popping out. Why this time? And I had to explain I am not running because of some long-held ambition. I know people have been looking through my kindergarten papers, but that is not why I decided to run.
OLBERMANN: You’re wondering where vote totals are coming from in Florida considering some of the polls have not yet closed in the Panhandle. These are supplied by the state of Florida. We’re not breaking any kind of embargo. These are the official numbers and they are releasing them before those remaining polls come to a close—or shut down at 8:00. Couldn’t be that much closer. About 840 votes separating McCain and Romney with Giuliani in third place and Huckabee fourth.
But again, 1 percent of the vote reporting, 83 precincts reporting. And that’s all we have. The numbers will change probably at this rate and we’ll probably be looking at them at this rate throughout the evening.
We continue with MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida Primary. Thirty minutes and less, in fact, now from all the polls closing in Florida. Turn now to NBC’s political director, Chuck Todd for a look at those places that are still open, that issue of the Panhandle and what’s going on between those two lead candidates there—Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as we learned eight years ago, there are two separate poll closing times in the state of Florida, which does makes you wonder why the official secretary of state site is releasing data. But they are. What’s interesting is what is open in the Panhandle now, basically just west of Tallahassee to Pensacola.
It has turned out to be—it’s a very competitive area between McCain and Romney, and it is competitive for one reason. And that’s the role of Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, there’s a lot of evangelicals—southern evangelicals in the panhandle. He’s pulling vote away from Romney. And then you add in the factor that there’s a ton of veterans there, there’s a big Naval base there in Pensacola.
So there’s a lot of retired military there. And that has been good for John McCain. So no doubt that this last 30 minutes you’re seeing all sorts of phone banking probably by both Romney and McCain to try to gin up some more vote, you know, with Romney trying to play to the social conservative crowd and with McCain trying to make sure every one of those veterans made it, because it’s turning out to be one of the more competitive areas.
OLBERMANN: Just because Romney is leading McCain by 164 votes at the moment, 48,596 to 48,432, is that—you think that’s kind of close?
TODD: Yes, just slightly.
OLBERMANN: Do you actually—by the way, do you actually sit there and count like we would in a basketball game, lead changes?
TODD: I wouldn’t do that but it is—I was actually looking at what has come in so far and what absentee vote has been in. And a lot of it is probably areas that Mitt Romney did very well in. It is coming from the central part of the state. They report early.
Remember—and we learned this very well in 2000, a lot of these optical scan counties, where it’s very easy to count the vote and they count it very quickly, a lot of that stuff in central Florida. And that’s going to be areas that Mitt Romney was counting on doing very well in.
OLBERMANN: You said the magic words, optical scan, and chills ran down my back. Chuck Todd, thanks. We’re now 25 minutes out from the last of the polls closing in Florida. When we come back, new numbers from the exit polls. Plus, Senator Mel Martinez, who made a key endorsement of John McCain at the end of last week. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida Primary.
OLBERMANN: Those remaining polls in the Panhandle in Florida that are still open will be closed at the top of the hour, 22 minutes -- 21 minutes hence in an extraordinarily tight start at 7 percent virtual dead heat between Romney and McCain in the Florida Republican Primary.
MATTHEWS: Senator Mel Martinez of Florida has endorsed John McCain.
He joins us now from McCain’s headquarters in Miami.
Senator Martinez, you know this state as well as anyone does.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ ®, FLORIDA: Hey, Chris.
MATTHEWS: What can you tell by the way the results come in, these early hard numbers?
MARTINEZ: Fasten your seat belt because it’s another Florida election, Chris. This is going to be a really wild, wild ride between now and about 10:30 or 11:00 tonight when finally you can call it.
MATTHEWS: Is there any pattern to the earlier counts as opposed to later counts?
MARTINEZ: Well, you know, the thing you have to understand about Florida is that it matters where it’s coming from. And there will be waves of counts and it will alter the outcome. In my only election, I can recall at one point in the evening, certain counties came in and it completely turned in one direction. When other counties came in, it went in a different direction.
Florida is such a diverse state. I would look for McCain to take a lead when Broward, West Palm—Palm Beach County, Broward, and Dade County come in. Those areas I think will be heavy for McCain.
But you know, it’s much too early to tell at this point. I just think it’s going to be very close. I’m encouraged that it’s trending McCain, I think in some of the exit polling I’ve seen. And I’ve also seen some very favorable numbers among Hispanics, which I think show huge numbers for McCain.
MATTHEWS: Is your candidate, John McCain, stronger on the Atlantic Coast?
MARTINEZ: I think that’s right. I think his strength is in the Atlantic Coast. I think he’ll be strong in South Florida. But I believe with the governor’s endorsement, I think, and my own, it strengthens him in the I-4 corridor. And obviously in the Panhandle, that’s, you know, the veterans—heavy veteran turn out up there. So it’s a very competitive race, but I think McCain has got some real strength in three parts of the state.
MATTHEWS: Do you know if John McCain can afford to continue this campaign if he loses tonight? Does he have any money left?
MARTINEZ: Oh, I think of course he can.
MATTHEWS: We heard from Tim Russert that he’s pretty much out of money. And if he loses tonight, I have to wonder if that means quit, quitting time.
MARTINEZ: No, no way. I don’t think there’s any chance of that occurring. In fact, I think there’s great encouragement in the campaign moving into Super Tuesday. In fact, I think a sign of his financial strength is that he was able in the last week to match Romney on TV, which is so important in Florida.
So I don’t think he’s ever going to spend as much money as Governor Romney, but I think he’s going to be very competitive throughout the campaign. And frankly, I think he’s going to have a win tonight, which is going to really put wind at his back.
At the end of the day, Chris, it’s time for us to move—pull together as Republicans behind a reliable conservative who can win in November. And that’s why I came out for McCain this past week.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Cuban-American community in Little Havana, centered there. Would they be more likely to be for a tough warrior like McCain or a business tycoon like Mitt Romney?
MARTINEZ: I think warrior wins out strong, the fact is—particularly because it is John McCain. John McCain has a history of being close to the Cuban community. It goes back to the days when he was on the carrier, the Enterprise, during the missile crisis with the Soviet Union.
He was prepared to go up there and fight for Cuba’s freedom at that time. So at the end of the day, I think the Cuban community has had a long relationship with him. They believe that he’s the guy who is best prepared to be commander-in-chief.
Those of us who immigrate to this country, those of us who look to America as a beacon of freedom, we think of national security first and foremost. And I think that’s where his strength comes in with the Cuban community.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Florida Senator Mel Martinez.
Thank you for joining us tonight—Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, a little bit more insight from someone who represented that state. Joe Scarborough is here with the panel.
And, Joe, you’ve heard Senator Martinez, we’ve seen all these numbers.
It’s kind of close. Give us your read and give me the panel’s read.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: Well, it’s going to be a long night, Keith. But I’ll tell you what, all the polls that we’ve seen leading up to this show it pretty much to in a dead heat. What is so remarkable and fairly new in Florida politics is all the early voting.
And we’ve heard time and time again about 500,000 people on the Republican side have engaged in early voting. And we’ve seen a lot of elections over the past two to four years switch on the way the early voting goes. And the early voting, you don’t wait until the very end obviously to count up the early voting because you have a lot of these electric voting machines.
You get them in very quickly, by about 7:30, 8:00, we can see trends. And if we see any trend in early voting, if John McCain, for some reason is up 4 or 5 percentage points at 7:30 or 8:00 in the Eastern time zone, in the early voting, which will be counted first, or if Mitt Romney is up 4 or 5 percent, any trends in that early voting, that’s going to account for one-third of the election.
We know, of course, Pat Buchanan, that in this last week it was split down the middle. Romney, McCain pretty much tied. Do you think Charlie Crist’s endorsement last Saturday night made a difference in the last couple of days of the campaign?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I really think it did. I think that and what I called the sucker punch that McCain threw at Romney on the deadlines and getting out of Iraq, he’s just like, you know, the white flag...
SCARBOROUGH: Where he made up the story, said he had Hillary Clinton’s position.
BUCHANAN: It was a fraud.
SCARBOROUGH: It was a fraud.
BUCHANAN: It was a fraud, but…
SCARBOROUGH: But hold on a second, though, you’re the guy here that said Bill Clinton can use a race card if he wants. So if John McCain wants to lie about Mitt Romney’s record, think about it, Pat, seriously, it changed—it got everybody off the economy for two days, didn’t it?
BUCHANAN: It not only did that, it—clearly Romney was surprised,
like you would be, you know, you’re standing at a party and some guy, your
friend sucker punches you. And his reaction…
BUCHANAN: You know, his reaction for 24 hours, I think, was startled. And so I think that hurt him. And I do agree, the momentum, you saw about—people were talking about 3 points, as I think you did. But let me say this, the early voting, you know, Joe, I think that in a way helps Romney to this extent.
The early voting will over-represent Giuliani. He was in the national lead when it was going on. He was dumping his money down there when it was going on. And he was taking away votes I think that would have—if they were done today, would have moved to McCain.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I will tell you this—well, actually, I can tell you my mother and some people I know voted for Giuliani a couple of weeks ago. They would have voted for Romney had they waited a few weeks until the very end.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The other factor was those absentee votes. And we know that some of those ballots went out as early as December 15th. So at the time people are considering making those early choices, the other thing that was happening is that Romney was completely dominating McCain in number of ads, something like 10 to one.
MADDOW: McCain has caught up very much at the very end of the race, but it may be too late.
BUCHANAN: But McCain was dominating with this, the tremendous New Hampshire victory he got. And then he gets followed up with the South Carolina victory. And in terms of free media washing over that state, I’ll bet that more than offset Romney...
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: What do you think it does to Romney, though. Let’s assume that John McCain ekes out a victory having sucker-punched Romney, in the way that you said it.
SCARBOROUGH: He won’t get sucker-punched.
ROBINSON: This wasn’t getting sucker-punched by your friend, because they are not friends. Don’t you think that would make—if you were Mitt Romney, wouldn’t that make you want you to spend? Oh, yes, I’ll spend another 5 million, I’ll spend another 10 million. But this isn’t over. This is just starting.
BUCHANAN: I’ll see your 5 and raise you 40. I mean, look, you can’t run—this is half of the nation voting on the 5th of February to make a real impact. I mean, in presidential campaigns it takes $500 million.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, and, Rachel, of course, we’ve heard Tim Russert report tonight, John McCain is out of money. Let’s just strip it down very quickly. John McCain can’t afford to lose tonight. Mitt Romney can, can’t he?
MADDOW: That’s exactly right. What John McCain needs is momentum to raise money. Now, the problem is—the problem is here—and the big picture problem here is that no Republicans are raising any money unless they are raising it from the first bank of Mitt. That’s the only reliable source of cash for any Republican at this point.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Gene, again, great point, chances are good if the Romneys understands that John McCain turned the tide by lying about Mitt Romney’s record, that makes them more determined to say, OK, dad, go ahead and spend our inheritance, we don’t care.
ROBINSON: Right, right. It’s not a blank check. And they have got $100 million apparently put away in a trust fund. So spend a little more, dad, go get him.
SCARBOROUGH: We shall see.
BUCHANAN: Hey, Joe, businessmen tend to cut their losses if they are
not going to win. He has got that mentality. There’s a lot of politicians—
like McCain, he would go on and on and on. Would Mitt Romney do that? If he
looks out there and sees…
SCARBOROUGH: If Mitt Romney is within 1 or 2 points, and he’s within 1 or 2 points because John McCain lied, like you said, get him off track, he will say—you know what Mitt Romney’s specialty is? Turning things around.
He has made a quarter of a billion dollars in personal fortune by turning companies around. I’ve got a feeling lesson learned here. He will turn it around.
MADDOW: Great news for Democrats either way.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you, you know what he could do? He could go down to a bank, if he wins, and borrow $30 million, sign it and the money coming in could pay it back. That’s if he wins.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Pat Buchanan, financier.
SCARBOROUGH: Thirteen minutes until the polls close, Keith, and it’s getting exciting.
OLBERMANN: Just thinking fondly of the prospect of just having $30 million.
OLBERMANN: Twelve minutes until the polls—the rest of them, close in Florida. We have 701 precincts reporting out of 6,913. Talk about when do you get out, when do you cut your losses? Up next, is Rudy Giuliani coming to the end of the line? We’ll talk to his campaign manager. This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Florida Primary, more in a moment.
OLBERMANN: Seven minutes and 40 seconds worth of voting still to go in Florida in the Republican Primary and the Democratic whatever it is. We continue to watch what looks to be—no, what is right now, a very tight race between John McCain and Mitt Romney, separated by just a few thousand votes with well over 270,000 counted between the two men.
On the Democratic side, first numbers in the race, where the candidates had pledged not to campaign, a race in which no delegates will be awarded. To quote Mr. Matthews, “ha.”
MATTHEWS: Right. And it looks like we’re going to get 2 million votes down there tonight if you do the extrapolation.
MATTHEWS: Twelve percent in, a quarter million counted. That means 2 million votes counted on the Republican side. Mike DuHaime is a familiar name to those of us who have tried to get an interview with Rudy Giuliani over the last several months.
Mike, thanks for joining us. We were able to get you tonight. Isn’t that funny. Tell us about the scuttle out there, that if Mayor Giuliani doesn’t win tonight and it’s a tough race down there where the two contenders are very much ahead of him in the early counting so far, will he go out and debate tomorrow night in California on that other network debate?
MIKE DUHAIME, GIULIANI CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The plan right now is to go out to California. That’s what we’re doing. We have chartered a plane. Taking press out there with us. I think it is—obviously there are over a million votes at least still left out to be counted. So we’re going to wait until all of the votes are counted. And then our plan is to move forward to February 5th.
MATTHEWS: Will we hear from Mayor Giuliani tonight one way or the
other? Will he speak with the press tonight and hold some kind of public
MATTHEWS: … one way or the other?
DUHAIME: He is going to hold a public event in Orlando tonight. He will come out and speak with supporters tonight.
MATTHEWS: What is the talk in your campaign? I don’t know how much you can share at this point. I’m sure you’ll be able to share it in a couple of weeks. I wonder whether there were so many options out there. People speak loosely about alternative campaign models he could have followed.
That he could have campaigned intensely, for example, in the first caucus in Iowa and done better there. But I wonder how many options he did have. Do you have a sense of that, how many choices or how many roads were not taken?
DUHAIME: Well, we feel very comfortable about what our strategy was. Florida is a great place for Rudy. We felt all along the best place for us to get our message out. Obviously you had New Hampshire, a place of great strength for John McCain, as proven out by the election results, and Governor Romney being a neighboring governor with unlimited amounts of money.
Iowa, always being a difficult state for Mayor Giuliani, as we saw from the beginning. South Carolina as well. We felt that this was the best strategy and we stuck with it. And we think it’s the right one.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about the choice of topic. I mean, certainly it’s 9/11, it’s security, it’s fighting terrorism at home especially. But do you believe that Mayor Giuliani has had a strong economic message?
DUHAIME: I believe he has. You know, I believe he has. When you start to talk about somebody who has turned around the 17th-largest economy in the world, somebody who did it in a Republican way by cutting taxes, by cutting spending, and jobs coming back in, unemployment being 10.5 percent—being cut down to 5 percent.
Mayor Giuliani was a phenomenal mayor, I think in many ways one of the most effective government officials in our lifetime in so many different ways. And we hit that message hard. And other campaigns obviously did the same. And some had more TV ads than others.
And we felt that it was a good message and the right message, and somebody who has that type of experience. And we’ll see what the voters think.
MATTHEWS: There was a period of a couple of weeks where your campaign was taking a tremendous amount flack over the security detail, the cost of that, going out on those weekends—the visits to Judy Nathan back in those days when the mayor was seeing her.
And it turns out that in fact the records were kept accurately and reported accurately by the mayor at the time. But for a couple of weeks there, it looked like he had been doing some tricky bookwork to cover up his love life. Did that hurt much?
DUHAIME: Well, that was, you know, a story, as you suggested, you were one of the few people in the media, Chris, who actually came out and pointed out the fact that the media did a half-reported story and did pretty much a hatchet job with only half the facts.
And you know, it was covered on the front page of many newspapers when it was incorrect. And when it was corrected, it was buried way back. You’re one of the few people, Chris, who actually came out and said how terrible a job that was done.
It is what it is. That’s what politics is like. Rudy is somebody who has never been a darling in the press corps. He is somebody who has stood up and went against what a lot of editorial boards like to see somebody—by cutting taxes, cutting crime, cutting welfare.
People always liked his results. A lot of editorial boards and newspapers never liked him, the way he did it. But you know, he was never governing for the editorial boards, he was governing for the people.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much. Mike DuHaime, who is spokesperson
DUHAIME: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: … the Rudy Giuliani campaign down in Florida and across the country—Keith.
OLBERMANN: And the polls will close across Florida at the top of the hour in less than three minutes. We will be able to characterize both the Republican primary and the Democratic—again, we don’t have a term for it yet. We are going—to say what it is, we’re not going to...
MATTHEWS: Beauty contest is the term used before, but a bit tricky, perhaps.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it has that whole—several levels we don’t want to go anywhere near. Whatever the Democratic thing is, we’ll characterize that and the Republican primary when our coverage of the Florida Primary, et cetera, continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Too close to call, a two-way race
between John McCain and Mitt Romney, the Republican story in Florida tonight.
Among the Democrats, a one-way to get the delegate count to count by the woman
who will be in front once the counting is done tonight. At 8:00 p.m. Eastern,
7:00 p.m. on the panhandle at this hour, the last of the polls have closed in
Florida. Let’s look at where things stand. The Republican race too close to
call according to our NBC News estimation. Senator McCain and Governor Romney
locked in a close race. Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee running far behind, 57
delegates at stake there at the Democratic primary, well, all right, the
Democratic primary, which you just saw, no delegates will be allocated based on
the results in Florida. However, that said, Senator Clinton will finish with
more votes than any other candidate today. Senator Obama will finish second and
Senator Edwards third. That much is clear. There it is again, in case you
missed it the first time. It’s looking at those numbers, 48, 29, 14 with 19
percent of the Democratic precincts reporting. That’s a lot of votes for
something that don’t count.
Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann, our coverage of the Florida primary continues. We’re in fact expecting to hear from Senator Clinton. She’s going to say something in the next half hour. That’s the expectation anyway out of Davie, Florida.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I think the idea of her going down there is very important. I think that Senator Clinton wants to have a win this week after the endorsements, the very passionate and dramatic endorsements by Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy of her opponent. This is a way to get back on the score board.
OLBERMANN: And it certainly does change the headline. Whether it changes it for any length of time or not remains to be seen.
MATTHEWS: I think the big headline, excuse me, will be the Republican results in all the news papers that are covering this accurately. It will be the significance, I think a lot of significance of Romney or McCain winning tonight and Romney or McCain losing tonight which may be a more important factor.
OLBERMANN: The polls have closed. Let’s go out to some of the headquarters. NBC’s Ron Allen continues from Mitt Romney’s headquarters in St. Petersburg. Ron, the mood there now with polls closed?
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well the mood is hopeful. They’re seeing the same thing that we are that it’s too close to call. They’re seeing some very, very tight races, a pretty good size crowd. They are hopeful. They’re optimistic and I guess the other question is what happens if it’s not very decisive, if it really is a very tight outcome. I think Mitt Romney’s committed to going on. They certainly have the resources to do that. They have been making plans. They’ve been looking over the delegate map that lays ahead of us and they’re trying to pick off states where they think they can do well.
They’re going to California tomorrow. That’s their first stop. They’re going to go to places like Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts is on the map as well. They think that even if they lose tonight, they had a delegate lead coming into this, they can pick off enough things on February 5 to stay competitive, even if they don’t win the big ones like New York, because California for example is a proportional delegate distribution. I think they are in it for a long time. They are hopeful. They don’t want to have this silver medal speech that we hear so often. They want to have a gold medal tonight.
OLBERMANN: Enough with the Olympics. Ron Allen, great thanks at Romney headquarters. At the McCain headquarters, the Miami airport Hilton, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell is there where the candidate she’s covering is up by about 20,000 with 20 percent of the vote in. So at minimum, he’s got to be optimistic, right Kelly?
KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, optimistic but not overconfident. This campaign doesn’t have the money to do its own polling, so it’s been watching the series of surveys that have been done in recent days, trying to get a gut check feeling today about what they hear and what they’ve been seeing at events. So they are feeling pretty good. But to give you a sense of how the work goes on, Senator McCain has been doing debate prep because they’re yet another debate tomorrow at the Reagan library in California and there’s just not enough time to do it all.
So in addition to planning remarks, which they hope will be a victory speech here, he’s working on the debate and also looking forward for more fundraising. So obviously, this is important. This could make or break really the momentum for John McCain. If he wins here, wrapping up New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida with all of its diversity and importance, they see that as a huge, huge plus. Of course, we’ve had some time to wait until we know and we expect it may go awhile. We’ll certainly keep you posted on when we expect to see Senator McCain. It should be a short time after a call is made whenever that comes down. Keith.
OLBERMANN: Kelly O’Donnell in Miami at McCain headquarters and the one thing I know other campaigns are in agreement, it will go for some time tonight. Perhaps not that level of optimism. It will be surprising if it was the case at Giuliani headquarters where John Yang has been in Orlando. John, what’s it like there?
JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well Keith, I think you’re absolutely right. There was some hope that they would be in that top tier of candidates, that they would be one of the two locked in this tight battle tonight. But, with the NBC News characterization of this situation now, of both Giuliani and Huckabee running well behind, this is not good news for this campaign. They had come into this hoping that they would win about 40 percent of the early votes and they thought that that would propel them into second place. That doesn’t appear to be happening tonight. They came in to this, we had Mike DuHaime on earlier talking about how they were comfortable with the strategy. But today for the first time, Giuliani himself seemed to have some doubts about the strategy. He acknowledged to reports today that by bypassing the early primaries, the early contests, the winners of those early contests were able to build up momentum in this race, momentum that he could not build and momentum I should add the campaign strategists said would not be important this year.
OLBERMANN: John Yang in Orlando at Giuliani headquarters there. Thank you John. Let’s throw in one thing also that Mr. DuHaime had said in the last hour. The plan right now is to go to California. Whether or not that will be the plan four hours from now or 12 hours from now we’ll await those hours. Let’s check back in now with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert, joined by NBC’s Tom Brokaw. That’s right, we have these gentlemen back talking about Florida for anybody who likes quick flashbacks.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: My worst nightmare. Do I have to go through this again?
MATTHEWS: It’s back. Brokaw, it’s back brother.
TOM BROKAW, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No, no. Tim and I were talking about it earlier Keith at about 2:30 in the morning. They said, you’re not going to believe this, we’re down to about 200 votes in Florida again, after we had declared Florida at that point for now President Bush and as Tim recalled, I just let a piece of paper drift out of my hand and go away and I had at that point taken a bite of a cracker, trying to get a little nourishment and I was chewing it on the air. So it was a wacko evening. This will not be a wacko, but it does appear that it’s going to be very close and Florida of course will be a key state coming the fall as well and that’s why Hillary Clinton will be trying to make so much out of her effectively straw vote numbers tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: Tim, as we go along here, however this turns out, that gap is not going to be hugely different is it? I mean that’s going to be the scenario as we head towards Super Tuesday. Those two guys are going to be coming off a tight race, whoever’s one and whoever’s two.
RUSSERT: Absolutely and psychologically, both of them are going to want to go on to next Tuesday, 21 states at stake. Mitt Romney has always had this discussion with his family Keith, should I reach into my pocket and spend more of my own personal wealth? If he comes this close in Florida, my guess is he’ll vote yes. He’s gone this far. If he dumps another $10 or $15 million of his own money in this super Tuesday stakes, it puts enormous pressure on John McCain to raise some money quickly to try to compete with that.
BROKAW: Based on what I’m hearing Keith, I think that there are going to be some Republicans who will pony up for John McCain. There’s beginning to be a kind of a rallying around him, if you will across the country. A very prominent business leader who is an early Romney supporter I talked to on Saturday and he said I was very unhappy with Romney when he went out to Detroit and promised that he would bring those jobs back. He was simply pandering to them and the he was asking more questions about John McCain. So there’s a real dynamic going on on the Republican side now. The question is whether John McCain can raise enough money as Tim indicates to hold his own against Rudy Giuliani. He does have a regional advantage. He’s going to be moving west. He is a child of the west, in his political life, at least. And California probably will like his kind of authentic (INAUDIBLE) campaigning and certainly his back story as a war hero and as a prisoner of war for a long time. So we are setting the stage here for an epic battle.
OLBERMANN: And that story, money Tim, obviously this all interplays whether McCain has more a field to try to raise money from because what happens to Rudy Giuliani tonight. Howard Fineman made a great point more than an hour ago that if Giuliani does proceed into that debate tomorrow in California, he’s essentially sealing himself into super Tuesday. If that doesn’t go well, he could go out in humiliation. So the time to go -- is that the logic that the time to go would be tonight? You don’t win Florida, the winner in Florida is going to win the nomination. It’s not you, get out while you can. Get out while the getting out is good.
RUSSERT: Get out with your one delegate quickly. Protect Giuliani Partners and protect your speaking fees and endorse John McCain and help John McCain win New York State and proclaim victory and say that your entire campaign was a success because you delivered your home state for John McCain.
MATTHEWS: Tim, that’s so fascinating. Is this the salvage value of the Giuliani campaign?
RUSSERT: Absolutely. That’s why he gave autographed baseballs and hats to the press corps. His performance in the last debate was not nearly as aggressive than prior debates because he recognized that if he lost Florida, his campaign was over. And he wanted to hold on to his pride and to his self-respect and to his future earning ability. If you go down in flames and you try to go onto super Tuesday and you win nothing, think about it. So far, he’s been in sixth, sixth, fifth, fourth. He’s got one delegate. He was the national frontrunner for nearly a year. So the time to get out now is quickly. One other point to Tom’s sense of how the race is shaping up, I’d love to hear Pat and Rachel on this one, later on. Ronald Reagan, cultural, social conservatives, the hard line foreign policy and the economic conservatives. Look at what’s happening with McCain and Romney. Romney is getting the social, cultural conservatives. McCain is getting a lot of the foreign policy establishment, the Kissingers and Eagleburger and so forth and the economic conservatives, the tax cutters are going with Romney. The desert hawks are going with McCain. The Reagan coalition is fracturing between these two candidates.
BROKAW: In fact, John McCain is not running just against George (sic) Romney. He is running against those fiscal conservatives. Rush Limbaugh has devoted a lot of his radio time and his website to taking on John McCain. It was a very tough column just today by George Will indicating that in his eyes at least, John McCain is much more liberal than he is a conservative. So we are seeing, as Tim indicated, a break up of the old Reagan model for how to win.
OLBERMANN: In fact, many of the right wing broadcasters have been going against each other over that subject of John McCain in what for those of us who don’t necessarily have that political point of view has been entertaining broadcasting. Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, stay with us. We have some new exit polling information. We’re going to get your reaction to that. First let’s get that information from MSNBC’s Nora O’Donnell who is up in the suite with the latest. Nora.
NORA O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening to you. Let’s take a look at Florida’s Democratic primary where now we can report that Hillary Clinton will finish with more votes than any of the other candidates. This is the first of the closed primaries this year for the party, which means voters have to be registered Democrats to get their ballots. So a lot of the party faithful coming out. But it is very important to remember as we talk about these numbers, that this is the race in which the candidates agreed not to campaign. There are going to be no delegates awarded. However as I said, we’re getting a sense about the Democratic electorates in Florida, the issues that they thought were important, why they made their decisions.
First, 400,000 people voted prior to today in early and absentee ballots and according to our poll of these voters, Hillary Clinton came out ahead. You remember some of these voters sent in their ballots as early as December 26 and that’s really interesting because it means people were voting really before Obama’s win in Iowa and South Carolina before he really caught fire. In addition, of the people voting today, 69 percent say they made up their minds before last week. That would be prior to Obama’s win in South Carolina. So even though many may have made up their minds beforehand, it doesn’t mean that the negative, the tone of the campaign was lost on them. Take a look at this, 64 percent say Clinton crossed over the line into negative campaigning and 50 percent feel the same about Obama. Remember we saw more people thought Clinton was unfair in South Carolina as well.
We also asked voters about the recent endorsement that Barack Obama received from the Kennedys, Ted, Patrick and Caroline. And just over half of those voting today considered the endorsement important to the vote that they cast. So the Kennedy endorsement was important, but as we mentioned, there were a lot of early and absentee balloting in Florida and people who say they made up their mind before last week. And then finally, of course, as we mentioned no delegates though being awarded in the Florida Democratic primary.
OLBERMANN: Nora O’Donnell with exit polling and we’ll continue now with Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw, rather we’ll check back with them. Give me some guidance here. I’m getting conflicting instructions. We’re continuing with Tim and Tom. We’ll check back with Nora throughout the rest of the evening. Before we talk about the Democrats gentlemen, I must read you and suggest Tom you get those crackers back out. Tom can get his crackers back and Tim you can get your Florida visual props back. Let me just read this out of the “Miami Herald.” Mysterious glitches caused some voters in Miami Dade and Broward Counties the opportunity Tuesday to vote for their candidates in the presidential primaries. In some cases, it might have been voter error. In others, the problem might be attributed to mistakes in registration rolls though county election officials disputed that. In several cases however, the failure involved poorly trained election workers who apparently activated machines with the wrong ballots and in some cases were utterly confounded by the election. Over to you Tim Russert.
RUSSERT: Keith, where’s that guy—The Dennis Franz guy. I mean, you can’t talk about it on a family news channel. Dangling chads and all the other things they had, some of those crazy names. What is it about Florida? I can’t believe this. We’re going to have to go through this all over again. This election is just simply too close to call. The models are just all over the place and so much hangs in the balance. The Republicans were looking for a front-runner to break out tonight and I don’t think that’s going to happen. Look at these vote counts. It’s just remarkable. And, when you analyze this vote, you really do see the split within the Republican party. These are hard core Republicans and they are having a very hard time deciding between John McCain and Mitt Romney.
OLBERMANN: The Democratic number Tim, obviously, that one is going to be contested over what its meaning is, but were those numbers about the importance of the Kennedy endorsement meaningful to you, that it was almost a 50-50 split, meant something, didn’t mean something or is something that high. Is that actually a high endorsement of an endorsement, that anybody, 50 percent cared about a particular endorsement?
RUSSERT: It’s interesting because the people who answered that question were people who actually showed up and voted today and not the absentee voters. Looking at this exit poll, Keith, obviously, Clinton camp will point to the fact that more people preferred Hillary Clinton. The interesting thing is people who voted in the last month preferred Obama. People who voted a month ago or earlier overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton. The Obama people will say, you see, that’s because the campaign’s engaged. Those who were watching it the last 30 days, they see the wisdom of voting for Obama. Clinton will say, Florida, homogeneous, diversified state. It shows that she has appeal all across the board in a state like Florida which is a reflection of America. Let the spin go forward.
MATTHEWS: Gentlemen, what I had to tell you that when people admit that an endorsement matters to them, it means something even if it’s only half because generally, people like to say, of course endorsements don’t mean anything. You’re talking down to me to suggest that. Of course nobody is going to tell me how to vote. When half the people as Nora reported in the exits said the Kennedy endorsement means something to them, that’s an admission that they look up to the Kennedys. They take their guidance and it will influence how they vote. I take it very seriously, very seriously, that people are admitting that, because I think that’s a national phenomenon we may be looking at according to the race all the way across these 22 states next Tuesday.
OLBERMANN: All right Tim, all right Chris, standby. I will check back with Tim Russert throughout the evening and Tom Brokaw too. Again, too close to call in Florida between McCain and Romney. We’ll get the latest on that battle as the hard numbers change like a roulette wheel. This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida primary, too close to call on the Republican side between Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain, 32 percent reporting and they are only about 7000 to 8000 apart in the actual hard numbers thus far. For more on what the two camps are thinking tonight, 21 minutes after the polls closed, let’s turn first to NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory who joins us to talk about that. How are they sizing this up David?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, there’s a lot that’s not known inside both of these campaigns tonight, talking to top people with each campaign. But as they were going into tonight, there was a real calculus about how they size up the state. One of the things that the Romney camp was concentrating on and other party officials who were watching the outcome very closely, is the fact that Romney has an excellent get out the vote operation, a grass roots organization that’s very important on Election Day. It doesn’t necessarily show up in the polls, some of the tracking polls going into Election Day and his get out the vote operation is run by the former Governor Jeb Bush’s campaign operatives, who have the state pretty well wired and so one of the questions was, how many points will that be worth at the end of the day, something that they’ll watch very closely.
On the McCain side, both inside his campaign and then again Republican party officials watching very closely, this question. Can McCain do something sort of unusual? Can he tie together moderates in the state with the military veterans of the state who would support him on his position? These would be the surge, the national security generally. That is the coalition, national security conservatives as well as more moderate Republicans in the state that McCain has been counting on. The other unknown of course has to do with Rudy Giuliani, not only how he performs generally, but all that early voting. This is a big direct mail state, a big early voting state and before Giuliani was appeared to be really slipping in Florida, when he was still a bigger part of the conservation, might he have had a bigger share of that vote? All these things come into play in a big way when you get a race that (INAUDIBLE).
OLBERMANN: And obviously, the gentlemen we are looking at a picture of now, although he will finish no better than third tonight, certainly will have an influence on where the Republicans go from here, whether he gets out or stays in, more likely the former than the latter. David Gregory, thank you. On the subject of McCain and where he goes and does he need Giuliani to drop out to get more people to fund raise from, “Newsweek’s” senior political correspondent Howard Fineman has more on McCain’s finances and I gather the headline here is he’s found a couple $20s in old pairs of pants.
HOWARED FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: Lots of pants, lots of pants of striped suits in New York and elsewhere Keith.
OLBERMANN: Got it.
FINEMAN: I think they have been poor mouthing just a little bit since South Carolina. The fact is, in talking to McCain’s top people and Republican sources around the country, he’s starting to raise some real money. He had a million dollar fundraiser in New York. He’s had a series of fundraisers in Florida that have raised a million. He’s had one in California, about to have another that’s going to raise another million. The other thing is, Rick Davis, his campaign manager has done a brilliant job of living off the land which means free media for a lot of the last, a lot of the last few months. As one of their staffers said, heck, we’ve been broke since July and look where we are.
Now, they are going to get some real money. No concern about or interest in public financing. This is the campaign reform guy. But now, he’s going to really raise some real money. And the strategy that’s emerging for February 5th is a bicoastal big media, national media strategy. That means the New York metropolitan area, New York, where he’s ahead anyway even with Rudy this in the race, Connecticut where he’s got Joe Lieberman helping him out as well as the governor Jodi Rell, New Jersey where he has got young Tom Kean, the governor supporting him. So McCain is locked in in New York metropolitan area and then California, he’s got a good operation. He’s not going to get Arnold Schwarzenegger. For all I know, Arnold will endorse Obama since he’s a sort of Kennedy by half.
But nevertheless, he’s been courting, the candidate’s been courting Schwarzenegger because McCain’s the only one of the candidates right now who’s really talking about greenhouse gases. McCain has a long involved environmental rift that you don’t hear all the time on television, but Arnold is listening to it. So that’s where they’re going. What they need is to win here by a vote. That’s what my California Republican friends are telling me tonight. If McCain wins by a vote, he has bragging rights. That will help him in California. So they are feeling pretty good about the money situation even though the conventional wisdom is that he’s flat broke. He’s not anymore as Tom Brokaw was indicating a few minutes ago.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I’m sorry.
OLBERMANN: Go ahead Chris.
MATTHEWS: Howard, how does he put together this interesting coalition of the old establishment Republican party, the east coast party, the old Rockefeller wing. Obviously today, it’s now the Schwarzenegger sort of Republicans across the country. There’s bicoastal as you say. Also, includes people like Jerry Parsky (ph) out in California, the moderate Republican. How do you put that together with the very hawkish approach the war in Iraq? Is it possible?
FINEMAN: I don’t think it necessarily is consistent Chris, but I think those people are holding their nose because as Tom was also saying, a lot of those establishment types don’t like the way Romney has been running his campaign and they don’t like the people that Romney has been courting. They would have liked, they would have loved the Mitt Romney of 36 months ago. That’s the Mitt Romney that a lot of the old Bush crowd and I mean Bush senior thought they were getting behind when they said nice things about Romney two years ago. Romney’s turned himself into the guy and maybe circumstances required it, who has spent all the time battling with Mike Huckabee and others to become the cultural conservative candidate. So choosing between these establishment types have to choose between a guy who’s a hawk, even though they don’t really like the war in Iraq and another guy who’s appealing to the evangelical Christians who I think those establishment types fear even more. So they’re choosing the lesser fear and that’s often what politics is about.
MATTHEWS: Look at Alabama, look at Arkansas next week. We’ve got some deep south states, some bible belt states. Can people like Trent Lott, his ally from the Senate days, bring some big chunk of that evangelical, Bible belt to McCain?
FINEMAN: Yes, they can and the way they do it is by emphasizing what we were just talking about which is the hawkish position on foreign policy, the war of civilization, the clash of civilizations. That’s something that sells really well in the south. It sells really well among evangelical Christians who see a religious element to what’s going on in the world. That’s McCain’s calling card in the south. It’s not culture, it’s the war. I dare say that will stand him a good staid in that region. By the way, that’s also the reason why we’re not talking about Mike Huckabee dropping out tonight, even though he’s running fourth, I don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’ll probably soldier on hoping to pick up a bunch of delegates out of those southern states to go to the convention with. He’s not looking at only one delegate; he’s already got 20 times that.
OLBERMANN: Howard mentioned Joe Lieberman campaigning for McCain in Connecticut as they go towards that. Lieberman, according to the blog at the hotline has ruled out being John McCain’s running mate. Speaking to the Associated Press, no, I’d tell him thanks John, I’ve been there. I’ve done that. You can find much better. I’m not seeking anything else. All right, Howard Fineman, thank you.
Let’s turn now to NBC News political director Chuck Todd. The poll results we do not have Chuck, actually apparently work toward McCain’s favor, correct?
CHUCK TODD, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Potentially. I mean when you look, there’s six or seven counties that I’ve noticed that are really slow in reporting. We haven’t seen a lot of data out of. The good news for McCain, some of those counties are Miami Dade, Broward and possibly Palm Beach, though Palm Beach is a county that Romney may do well in as well. It’s a fairly wealthy county. But I want to emphasize, Miami, Broward and then Hillsborough, which is Tampa, because that’s where there’s some large pockets of Cuban Republicans. We know that John McCain did pretty well with Cubans overall and we have yet to see a lot of vote come out of these counties so keep that in mind as you’re watching returns. But then if you look at where there’s some good counties for Romney that have yet to report, including we are slow getting some numbers out of Collier, which is in the southwest part of the state near Ft. Myers and Naples, yet to get a lot of vote out of Duval County, which is Jacksonville and of course much of the panhandle is still, Escambia and Santa Rose County, two counties that Romney was counting on do well. But again, those two counties could end up being a little more competitive with McCain because there are a large number of older retired veterans out there.
So when you look at sort of what’s not in—and that’s what I’ve been looking at—you know, probably the McCain people are feeling pretty good, particularly if they think they can run up the score in Miami. However, keep in mind that South Florida usually has a poor turnout in primaries, you know. There are so many other things to do in Miami apparently sometimes.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd, NBC News political director. Thank you, Chuck. And we’ll continue to follow the numbers on the Republican side. And a reminder: We’re waiting to hear what Hillary Clinton will say tonight. The last word was about 8:45 Eastern time for that.
And Chris, about—the math is—it looks like an Escher drawing here between McCain and Romney as we think about this—McCain has angered a lot of the ultraconservatives, a lot of the talk show hosts. Romney has angered some of the mainstream—from what we’re hearing from David Gregory—some of the mainstream Republican supporters who liked him a year and a half ago or two years ago, and Giuliani who has completely failed in his strategy, may be able to throw support towards McCain. I mean, it really is...
MATTHEWS: There’s one problem. And that’s the Republican Party. And they reject John McCain like tissue rejection of a foreign object. They don’t like him. He’s a maverick. It’s not just evangelicals. It’s the people who work in the trenches, campaign after campaign. They don’t like mavericks. The media likes mavericks. Democrats like mavericks. Republicans aren’t mavericks. John McCain is a maverick.
You just listened to Pat, you listened to Joe. You have got to start listening to Republicans. They don’t like McCain! Yes!
SCARBOROUGH: And if I could add one thing too—I love hearing all these people that have probably never voted in a Republican primary telling me what Republicans like and what Republicans don’t like.
John McCain, you’re exactly right, Chris, John McCain is a maverick. Like Ronald Reagan was a maverick in 1976, except in this case, McCain is always a maverick, breaking against his party, embarrassing his party, darting to the left on his party. I don’t give a damn what anybody says tonight, John McCain will not get conservatives behind him in the fall.
OLBERMANN: Guess what you’ve been interrupted by? The Hillary Clinton celebration.
MATTHEWS: There’s Alcee Hastings there and Bill Nelson, the senator.
They are all there.
OLBERMANN: And Alcee Hastings, who has already tonight called for these delegates to be seated. And that’s the quick word on what’s going on here.
MATTHEWS: Let’s get going here, let’s make it official. We have got Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. She’s a familiar face on our program. She’s waving her hand in the air, getting all excited.
You know, they do make it look like a real derby down there. It has the look of an event.
OLBERMANN: Well, where are we—we’re in Davie. There’s a great (inaudible)...
MATTHEWS: Just remember, for the people watching now, this doesn’t count, what we’re watching here. This is an unofficial, unratified, basically outlaw primary being held down there. It’s banned. It doesn’t exist.
MATTHEWS: And yet we’re watching what looks like a victory celebration in every other aspect. I mean, if you were tuning in, you’d say they just won something that matters. They did win something, the question is whether it matters in delegate terms, because the Clinton people are the ones who every second say all that matters is delegates. And yet, here they are, as has been pointed out, celebrating the event of not winning any delegates tonight.
But this is politics. This has been pointed out—it’s what you do with what you’ve got. And what they got tonight is a victory in the numbers in Florida. Look at the excitement down there.
OLBERMANN: Let me read the official terminology that we’re using. In the Democratic primary, please note that no delegates are allocated based upon the results in Florida, at least according to how the rules are written tonight. And that the candidates pledged not to campaign there. Everybody just happened to have those signs at home.
OLBERMANN: That’s not the official terminology.
MATTHEWS: They are not hand-painted signs, Keith, as you’ve noticed.
OLBERMANN: That’s my terminology. However, Senator Clinton will finish with more votes than any other candidates today, and Obama will finish second and Edwards third.
The actual hard count, at 37 percent, Senator Clinton has 417,000 plus votes, and 49 percent of the vote, to Senator Obama’s 253,000 and 30 percent of the vote.
Again, the timing of this, Senator Clinton did not get the wheels down in Florida until I guess after the polls closed, at least the ones in that part of the state, so she lived up to that part of the pledge, certainly. It really is—I almost said it’s your definition of what the word...
OLBERMANN: No, no, what the word campaign is.
MATTHEWS: They are really good, the Clintons. They have created here a confection, a victory which will work in many of the newspapers in the country. It will be on the wire services. It will be on all the...
OLBERMANN: It’s on our air right now.
MATTHEWS: By the way, I keep forgetting, it’s on television as we speak.
OLBERMANN: It’s on television right now.
MATTHEWS: In fact, we’re talking about it and we’re actually watching it. You know, remember the old days when Mike Deaver was talking to Leslie Stahl of CBS about all the nice—a tough piece they were writing about Reagan, and all it was, was phony events like this. And Deaver said, keep it up. Keep talking about the phony events, because every time you talk about an event like this, we win.
OLBERMANN: We’re going to take a chance here that this introduction is going to continue for some time and that Senator Clinton’s remarks will be made per her schedule. So we’re going to continue with our MSNBC coverage of the Florida primaries with the Republicans and the Democratic—whatever that is over there—when we come back.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton will talk about whatever it is that she did tonight.
OLBERMANN: And here are the numbers as we are seeing them so far in the Republican race, which is officially characterized by NBC News as too close to call in Florida. With 38 percent of the precincts reporting—and there are a lot of precincts to report -- 6,913 of them, it’s an extraordinarily small measure, 24,000 and 40 some odd votes between John McCain and Mitt Romney, with a lot to go.
There are the percentage numbers. Rudy Giuliani ahead of Mike Huckabee at the moment at least for third place, amid all types of speculation as to what might be next for Mr. Giuliani.
On the Democratic side of things, this was not supposed to count for anything. On the other hand, the projection is clear that although there is no official awarding of delegates—at least not in the current construction—
Hillary Clinton is going to finish with the most votes in a Democratic, kind
of, primary. Perhaps with that margin. We’ll see. With Barack Obama in
second and John Edwards in third, according to the extrapolations on the exit
polls as conducted by NBC News.
We left you before the commercial break in Davie, Florida not at the Fronton (ph), but at the Signature Ballroom in Davie, Florida, where, yes, we were correct, the introductions of Senator Hillary Clinton continue and the senator is expected to speak at—the original plan was at about 45 minutes past the hour, about five minutes from now.
Our Andrea Mitchell, who has been following the campaign, the Clinton campaign for much of this primary season, has followed them into the Signature Ballroom in Davie, Florida, and joins us from there now with the celebration. What’s the celebration for, Andrea? Have we figured that out yet?
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It’s a celebration of the fact that this is not South Carolina.
MITCHELL: After South Carolina, to show that she can (inaudible) some momentum, she hoped, of Barack Obama, that’s when they started talking up Florida, and that’s why they came here. They know that they had a big advantage here, that she had a lot of support. Of course, there’s no delegates. So this is I guess the Potemkin village of victory celebrations. When is a victory not a victory? It is a place for her to be and to meet with people and say that she’s won something, notch up another victory. But as we say, there are no delegates. The delegates may eventually be seated, Keith, but not until after a nominee is chosen. So it will have no impact whatsoever on who gets the Democratic nomination, Keith.
OLBERMANN: And, obviously, Andrea, the difference in the nature of how the Clinton camp responded to a similar paper victory, if you will, in Michigan and what they are doing now in Florida tells you the entire perception of the dynamic of the Democratic race must have been changed within Clinton HQ, correct?
MITCHELL: Exactly. And you know, what they said was that, well, in Michigan, they were the only ones on the ballot. Here in Florida, it was competitive. They were all on the ballot. Even though, of course, they all pledged not to run, not to campaign.
She did come here and fund-raise. But she didn’t do any public gatherings before the polls closed at 8:00 here tonight.
The big difference, by the way, Keith, in the way the campaign has been operating is that today, Bill Clinton was in both New Jersey and in Ohio, and in fact was under control, under wraps, on message. He spoke for 31 minutes in New Jersey by our account, and mentioned himself only four times in 31 minutes, mentioned his wife repeatedly over and over and over again. Then went on to Ohio, did the same thing. No interaction with reporters. Reporters kept well beyond the rope line. No Q&A with the audience, we are told. So this is the new Bill Clinton, at least Bill Clinton 3.0, as long as it lasts, on message and not going on the attack.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell, inside that packed ballroom in Davie, Florida, where Senator Clinton will speak shortly. And we are now also hearing, by the way, that Rudy Giuliani—and you’d never get to mention one without the other, it seems. They’ve been linked since that aborted 2000 campaign for the Senate—Rudy Giuliani is expected to speak about 9:00 Eastern.
MATTHEWS: Hillary has done better this campaign. And I do think we’re watching to see what role Rudy will play. If he does badly here in Florida tonight, whether he will go on in the campaign to California and debate tomorrow night with that big Republican debate at the Reagan library, or he’ll drop out of the race, or he’ll drop out of the race and endorse someone else. We are very curious about that, because Rudy is going to cash in his chips some way. He’s not going to walk away with nothing. He is a very ambitious, entrepreneurial guy, who wants to be a winner in whatever form that win can take.
Let’s go right back to the panel. Joe, take over with the panel.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I’ll tell you what, Chris, some very interesting trend lines going on. If you look at the early voting, you have got Mitt Romney winning in southwest Florida, you’ve got John McCain winning big in Miami-Dade, again, with early voting. I-4 corridor trending slightly to John McCain, but it’s very populated, so slight trends to John McCain can mean something. Up in Jacksonville, northeast Florida, that is trending heavily for Mitt Romney.
So the question is, how does the panhandle come in? And Pat Buchanan, in the panhandle, at least two counties already reporting, Escambia County, my home county, Okaloosa County, where Egeland Air Force base is. Both of those counties in early voting trending to John McCain.
What does that mean?
BUCHANAN: It tells me that Huckabee’s vote probably pulled away from anything Romney could get from those conservatives up there. And the military vote is—and also, some folks up there, you know, that aren’t conservative and like McCain’s view on the war and security...
SCARBOROUGH: We’ll talk about that in a minute. Let’s go back to Keith, because Hillary Clinton...
OLBERMANN: Hillary Clinton interrupted you again, Joe. Here is Senator Clinton after some kind of victory in Florida.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: ... for your votes today.
This has been a record turnout, because Floridians wanted their voices to be heard on the great issues that affect our country and the world.
I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today. And I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida’s Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.
I want to thank my friends, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Congressman Alcee Hastings, Mayor Manny Diaz, and my great friend of so many years, Senator Bill Nelson.
You know, this has been an intense election because people really care about what is happening to our country. So many of the people who talk to me every single day are worried about the economy. They’re worried about their health care. They’re worried about their college education for their children. They’re worried about whether we can restore our leadership and standing in the world.
Well, I am convinced that, with this resounding vote, with the millions of Americans who will vote next Tuesday, we will send a clear message that America is back and we’re going to take charge of our destiny again.
I am so grateful to the countless Floridians who, on their own, organized, worked hard, talked to your friends and your neighbors. You made a very big difference.
And we know that, as we move forward in this campaign, all of your voices will go with me, because I am not only going to take my 35 years of experience to the White House. I’m going to take your voices, your concerns, your hopes, your dreams.
We have a lot of tough decisions to make, but we’re Americans. We can make these decisions. We can meet our challenges and seize our opportunities if we start acting like Americans again, we roll up our sleeves, we set about solving our problems.
And I want to ask you: Do you agree with me? Because here is what I believe. I believe everyone who works full-time in America should bring home an income that lifts that person out of poverty and gives them and their children a better chance.
I believe that every man, woman and child has a right to quality, affordable health care. I believe that every child has a God-given potential that we could help to develop if we have universal pre- kindergarten and we have a school system that is not so worried about giving tests as about making sure our kids can learn.
I believe that our tax system should be fair for everyone. It is wrong that people making $50 million a year on Wall Street pay a lower percentage of their taxes than a teacher making $50,000 in Florida.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton speaking and reminding those in the audience, both locally and nationally, that she is insistent that Florida delegates will be seated. She referred to what happened tonight, even though it’s not supposed to count, according to the rules established by the Democratic National Committee. She referred to this as a resounding vote and an intense election. That was not the original idea. This was supposed to be as spring training, as the baseball games will be played there in that state a month from now.
For the third time, we’re going to go back to the panel, and unless something extraordinary is said, this time, Joe, Hillary Clinton will not be interrupting you.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, as you know, she could have sparklers, wave them around wildly.
OLBERMANN: If she knows you’re talking, it may happen.
SCARBOROUGH: Perhaps. Perhaps.
So anyway, let’s talk about the numbers were coming up, you and Pat were talking before, about how things seem to be breaking right now John McCain’s way.
You go to the early vote totals coming out of Escambia County, Florida. This is interesting. My home county. You have John McCain at 34 percent in the early voting. Mitt Romney at 21 percent, Mike Huckabee 21 percent. Once again, you have got...
ROBINSON: Well, there you have it.
SCARBOROUGH: ... the economic conservatives and the religious conservatives making up 42 percent of the vote, but getting beaten by the moderates.
ROBINSON: Exactly, getting beaten by the plurality, getting beaten by the maverick McCain, who is, I think, looking good now. I mean, the margin has widened to about 35,000 votes. If you do the math, for the rest of the evening, Romney just has to wipe the floor with him basically in order to catch up, and that’s not the way the votes have been trending. So I think that looks pretty good for him.
SCARBOROUGH: Duval hasn’t come in yet. But Jacksonville looks like it’s Romney country, but the question is, Rachel, will it be enough?
MADDOW: No, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be enough. I mean, if you look right now, what seems to had happened is Huckabee split some votes from Romney, and Giuliani split some votes from McCain, but they are on an order of magnitude different groups of voters that we’re talking about. Evangelical voters and religiously motivated voters aren’t as big a deal as they used to be. I think that’s what we’re seeing. I mean, we’ve got right now for example...
SCARBOROUGH: I don’t see that at all.
MADDOW: No, listen, let me...
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. I have heard that now for about 40 years, and I’m 44 years old. But if that helps you sleep better at night, you go ahead and say that the evangelicals all crawled under rocks after they elected George Bush four years ago.
MADDOW: Well, tell me this. Tell me this. Today we have got this property tax thing that’s been going on in Florida. But you know what else is happening at the polls today? Is they are trying desperately to get the signatures they need to get an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot for November. That effort, they are short on the signatures. They have got to get their signatures in by Friday. Looks like they are not even going to be able to get that on the ballot.
MADDOW: ... evangelical strength and not reality.
SCARBOROUGH: So, you are telling me, Rachel Maddow, that in four years, since the Republican Party in 2004 used anti-gay initiatives to elected George W. Bush, that there’s been a great awakening across America and now suddenly evangelicals are ready to embrace the gay movement? Let’s ask Pat Buchanan if he thinks that’s the case.
SCARBOROUGH: ... changed that much in four years? No, I’m just saying, Pat, I hear time and time again that evangelicals are weaker than ever before. No, they are not. Mike Huckabee basically plays the bass guitar, and he’s pulling down 21 percent of the votes.
MADDOW: In one county.
SCARBOROUGH: Right. In the county that matters for Mitt Romney. In the area that matters for Mitt Romney.
BUCHANAN: How do you think he won Iowa? So there we are, middle America, evangelical Christians did it...
SCARBOROUGH: ... couple of points in South Carolina...
BUCHANAN: You know what this is going to do? If it looks—it’s going in the way it looks and McCain emerges, I think the conservatives are going to implore Romney to stay in this race. A lot of the talk show hosts who are very conservative, they cannot abide McCain. It’s McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, you know, McCain-Lieberman, all these bills. They are going to implore him to stay in. And what you’re going to get in places like Georgia, which is winner-take-all, they are going to say a vote for Huckabee is a vote for McCain. And the truth is, in Escambia County, that’s exactly what it was.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, it was. There’s no doubt. A vote for Huckabee is going to help John McCain carry the night.
ROBINSON: Let me come to Rachel’s defense. I think you can make an argument that no, evangelicals have not gone away. They are still important and still important in the Republican Party. How motivated are they this year? How—where on the scale of issues in the Republican Party do social issues, issues important to religious conservatives, rank this year, as opposed to the economic issues and (inaudible) issues?
MADDOW: ... what they got from supporting George Bush.
ROBINSON: I think you can make an argument those issues are not the primary thing...
SCARBOROUGH: You are talking about two different things. You’re talking about how issues are different, and evangelicals are more concerned about let’s say 9/11 than Roe V. Wade, you’re saying there’s just not the candidate out there.
I would suggest if you put up the candidates, Pat Buchanan, and because you know the conservative mind, if you look at the candidates out right now, there are a lot of imperfect vessels.
SCARBOROUGH: Even the evangelical preacher is seen as being, quote, too liberal, too populist by some evangelicals.
BUCHANAN: That’s exactly right. I mean, Romney coming out—he was a Massachusetts governor, you know? And you’ve got to do a stop-and-frisk when those guys go into New Hampshire, as a liberal Republican.
But let me tell you, it’s emerging back into the old familiar format. The establishment moves to one guy and the movement moves to another. And they are moving now, I believe, and will move to Mitt Romney. The question is, will he keep right on going?
SCARBOROUGH: I have got to stop you here, because I have heard a couple of people say tonight—I will name no names because I like my job—a couple of people saying that the Republican establishment is going to John McCain. I think that’s nonsense. It won’t happen.
BUCHANAN: Who do you mean by the establishment? I think the money power—I think the money power will go there. I agree with you, he’s not widely liked in the United States Senate, and a lot of those guys will have to hold their nose and go with him. But I’ll tell you, you take the money people, you take the New York crowd. He’s going to win New York, he’ll win Connecticut, he’ll win New Jersey, maybe win Delaware as well, and they are winner-take-all.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think the Republican establishment will go to John McCain and start writing checks for...?
BUCHANAN: If he wins this thing, I think they’re going to say, well, it looks like he’s the guy. But I’ll tell you, here’s a guy basically—what does he say? The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we’re going to have a lot more wars.
SCARBOROUGH: We’re going to start a lot of wars. He has promised, for the record, Keith, John McCain’s platform, and it certainly looks inviting for the fall. He’s promised less jobs and more wars. Now, that’s something we can all rally behind. Back to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I’m not saying a word.
SCARBOROUGH: You don’t have to. John McCain’s already said it.
OLBERMANN: I’m not saying a word. It’s too—I’m not saying a word.
Mike Huckabee is saying a word in St. Louis, Missouri. Are we going to listen a little bit to the governor? He may finish fourth tonight. He may finish third. Here’s Governor Mike Huckabee.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... let me just remind you that going into tonight, we were second in delegate count and, more importantly, we’re playing all nine innings of this ballgame.
Even the Cardinals occasionally have a rough inning, but they know how to win championships.
What I want to express to you is next week, when we are going to be in Missouri and Oklahoma and Arkansas and Tennessee and Alabama and Georgia and all of these states where we’re leading in the polls, and we’re still going to be leading next week, we’re going to have a great opportunity to start taking it all the way home to the nomination and to the White House, and it’s going to happen a lot because of Missouri next week.
And we appreciate the great support we’re getting. I want to say thanks to the people of Florida. There’s going to be probably, before it’s over, maybe up to 300,000 people down there who worked their hearts out for us and those people, I can’t tell you how proud I am of them, because they had no resources.
Others have spent millions and millions of dollars. We knew that we wouldn’t have those kind of resources to play there. So we went out there and just worked with people who would come out, put their own signs out, buy their own t-shirts and hats.
A lady in Pensacola, she and her daughter put out 700 signs, just the two of them, in one day. Unbelievable. And that’s the kind of thing that’s happening across this country with our campaign that a lot of people still haven’t figured out.
And when you look at what we have done with what we have, it’s a remarkable story that is not even close to being over. In fact, we like to believe we’re just really getting started.
There are some great folks down there. Our chairman, Senator Daniel Webster, and our co-chairman, House Speaker Marco Rubio, and a host of great Floridians who have been extremely dedicated to our task.
I don’t want them to feel discouraged. I want them instead to feel very proud of their effort and be as half as proud of their effort as I am of them and the wonderful work that they’ve done for us.
I know it’s a little tight in this room. We really anticipated that we might have 100 people. We thought that about half of this would be enough, and we did not expect the weather to be this bad.
And I don’t know if you’re coming here because you’re escaping then cold and the heat is out in your house, but because of the weather, we’ve got to get to California tonight. So our exit will be a little quicker than we had wanted it to be, and I apologize in advance for that, but I’m sure you understand that we’ve got to be at the Reagan Library tomorrow night.
So we’re flying out as soon as we leave here, headed to California, because I’m going to be on that stage tomorrow night. I’m not sure everybody’s going to be there, but I will be.
And I need you here in Missouri to join with us in being a part of a wonderful volunteer army across this country who believes that it would be a better America if we did not have the IRS making it...
... and that believe that it would be a better America if we did stand up for human life and traditional marriage.
And that it would be a better America if we actually sealed our borders and became energy independent within 10 years.
And that it would be a better America if we had a country that once again believed in its future and believed that it’s not so much just about Democrats versus Republicans and the left versus the right and liberals versus conservatives, it’s about Americans building a better future for their kids and their grandkids and taking this country up and not down.
And that’s why people are with us and across this country, we’re finding homemakers and truck drivers and people who wait tables, as well as folks who work in the lines at the factories, and people who run their own business, and I want to be the president who reminds America that that small business owner out there, every day, working hard and taking a risk is the person that ought to believe that his government is going to be out there to under-gird him, not undermine his every move, and we’re going to make sure that happens in this country.
And you’re going to help be a part of that.
I wish we had cooked food for all of you. I bet right now you’re wishing it, too.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fried chicken.
HUCKABEE: Fried chicken. I gave it up a few years ago. But I do know how to eat it if I ever get it, that’s right.
I want to, again, express my thanks to Ray Wagner (ph) and all of the folks here in Missouri who have been working with us, Jeff Rowe (ph) and so many others who have just helped us have great confidence that between now and seven days from now, there’s going to be something that we’ll all be shouting about.
And it won’t just be a Missouri victory, but also, that same night, there’ll be one in Georgia and Alabama and Tennessee, and there’ll be one in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and maybe a few other places that people aren’t even expecting it to happen.
Thank you folks for being here. God bless every one of you. Pray hard, work hard, get the votes out. Remember this—if they’re going to vote for me, make sure they come. If they’re not, don’t let them out of their driveway.
Thank you, folks. God bless you.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: The standard line of the Mike Huckabee campaign. The governor, about 23,000 votes out of third place in Florida with less than half of the votes counted thus far. And the headline there, obviously, he’s saying he’s not getting out.
Rudy Giuliani, who is currently in third place, may be speaking shortly from his Florida headquarters in Orlando and may or may not reveal anything about what is ahead.
In the Florida Primary tonight, there are anecdotes reminiscent of the 2008 recount, the Democratic contest amounting to a no-count. At a little past 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 p.m. on the Florida Panhandle, let’s take a look at where things stand.
The Republican race still too close to call in Florida. Senator McCain and Governor Romney locked in a close race within about—what is that, less than 40,000 votes with 47 percent reporting so far. Mayor Giuliani, Governor Huckabee running far behind in the race for third place. Giuliani has it now, 57 delegates at stake there. There are no calls at this point in terms of either that first place finish or the third place finish.
Voters in the Democratic primary giving Senator Clinton more votes than any other candidate. Senator Obama will finish second, Senator Edwards third. A reminder, a caveat, however, that no delegates will be allocated based upon the Democratic results in Florida, barring lightning striking.
Minutes ago, Senator Clinton though, thanking supporters in Davie, Florida, for a victory that kind of isn’t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today and I promise you, I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida’s Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Does seated mean they get to vote at the convention? That’s another question all together. Tonight might be the date quoted as the start of a huge fight at the Democratic Convention in Denver next summer.
Good evening, again, alongside Chris Matthews at MSNBC headquarters in New York, I’m Keith Olbermann, this is our continuing coverage of the Florida Republican Primary and the Florida Democratic—we don’t know what it is.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, we don’t know about the Democrats, but the Republicans are fascinating tonight. We don’t know who is going to win this thing. We’re looking at a continuing trend here. We are watching the raw vote come in. We don’t know what it all means.
But if you want to look at the future and you want to guess about where we might be in a couple of hours, it’s that Rudy Giuliani will be out of this race, perhaps by tomorrow, perhaps endorsing John McCain. And that’s, of course, going to help John McCain in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, all of the eastern states, of course, also in California where moderate Republicans tend to reside.
And if Mike Huckabee stays in, as he just said he would, that really helps siphon off votes that could go to Romney. So three bits of good news, potentially tonight. They are all potential at this point. McCain could win tonight. He’s running ahead in the raw vote. If he does, Rudy Giuliani, coming in third, could endorse him tomorrow in California. There are little hints of that out there.
And if Huckabee stays in the race, he siphons off, he slices away some of that Baptist—I should say, Bible Belt vote down in the South. You just heard the governor there, I’m going to the deep South to collect some votes. It all works in the favor of John McCain.
What doesn’t work in favor of John McCain is he’s broke, as Tim Russert has been pointing out all night, and he does look tired. You just wonder how long he can keep up this relentlessness, this game approach to this contest against a much younger, healthier seeming Mitt Romney.
So in terms of guts, and apparently luck at this point, the man that we all thought was dead during the summer has come back, Lazarus-like. In fact, his people call him Lazarus after the New Testament person who was raised from the dead by Jesus, he is raised by the dead by a number of fortunes, perhaps. But here he is back.
John McCain, perhaps a winner tonight with perhaps the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani and perhaps the accessory before the fact support of Mike Huckabee, who continues to whack away at the support that otherwise would go to Romney.
So Romney’s money, good looks, charm, et cetera, et cetera, good breeding, has gotten him this far, but McCain seems to have gotten all of this way on gumption. Notwithstanding taking positions like, I don’t know much about the economy, I want to keep the war going for perhaps 100 years, and we’re going to lose the car industry in Detroit.
This is not exactly the lift of a driving dream he’s offering, and yet, he’s doing OK.
OLBERMANN: Now listen to me defend somebody on the subject of the Iraq War. He did say, troops in Iraq in a Korea-like setting. He didn’t necessarily say a shooting conflict.
MATTHEWS: But they are shooting at us. We don’t get to tell them to stop shooting. You can’t say cease-fire to the enemy.
OLBERMANN: I know, but it doesn’t make a distinction to those who are there, and I don’t mean to imply that.
MATTHEWS: I know, I know.
OLBERMANN: But it’s a slight distinction in terms of what he actually said. Also, I’ve always wondered about this Lazarus reference. Wouldn’t the senator from Arizona prefer to be known as “phoenix,” wouldn’t that be just simpler and to be you focused on that?
MATTHEWS: I think phoenix is on the cover of one of the mags for him. Yes, because of course, phoenix is the bird that rises from the ashes. But Lazarus, in this Christian time, I think we should consider him.
OLBERMANN: The minority report on the funding, by the way, Howard Fineman said it in the last hour that McCain’s committee has been poormouthing to some degree to make him look like they don’t have any more money to spend.
But they may have a little bit more than we have been estimating. But that
MATTHEWS: Do you know what it costs to buy L.A. television time?
OLBERMANN: As a matter of fact, I do…
MATTHEWS: I mean, can you—what does it cost?
OLBERMANN: A lot. Depends on which station you want. You can get channel 13 at a reduced rate.
MATTHEWS: I do know this is always talking about 2.0 and financial concerns here at our own network, I noticed that we’re picking up some advertising from the various candidates here on MS. I’ve noticed some of the ads running on our network. And I think the more they go nationwide, the more they are going to look to the politically-conscious networks like this one where people who follow politics watch, especially around shows like yourself’s (ph) and mine.
And I think they are going to be looking to our programs to advertise. I think it is going to be a very lucrative time for some people we work with and work for.
OLBERMANN: Well, that’s good for us. There’s a new story that’s developing. And Chris alluded to it, the possibility that the Giuliani campaign may be at an end. The TIME magazine Web site is reporting that Rudy Giuliani might endorse John McCain as early as tomorrow, perhaps in Los Angeles, perhaps in Simi Valley.
And Simi Valley, of course, the place the Reagan Library is located,
where McCain and Giuliani are to participate—scheduled to participate in a
debate tomorrow. That could be—instead of a debate, there could be an
endorsement. And then the debate. So they…
MATTHEWS: This could be a bootleg play, couldn’t it? Head out to
OLBERMANN: Well, he fulfilled that promise. We are headed to California. We are just not going to campaign when we get there.
MATTHEWS: Right, he could head out there and then instead of joining the debate tomorrow night, endorse his erstwhile opponent. And John McCain all the while keeping the suspense and grabbing the headlines tomorrow night.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s follow this story, first off, with our embed with the Giuliani campaign, a senior aide told that person that he would not comment on the TIME magazine report, which by itself says something. Of course, we have NBC’s John Yang following the Giuliani campaign from its headquarters in Orlando where the candidate is supposed to speak to us at some point. We heard that earlier in the evening.
John, what did we hear about the possibility of a quick trip to California to endorse another candidate?
JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are telling us—campaign aides are telling us we’re going to California tomorrow morning. They’re not saying anything about this report from the TIME magazine Web site that he’ll endorse John McCain out there today.
And as you say, we have asked a number of campaign officials about this. They are not steering us away from it, they’re not steering us to it. They are not commenting on it. They’re telling us to listen to Giuliani as he speaks. And he’s expected to speak momentarily, and that he will make things clear.
So we’ll be standing here, waiting and listening and with our bags packed for California.
OLBERMANN: John Yang, staying on top of it at the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando where we await Rudy Giuliani’s speech. Let’s duel news magazines now. Newsweek’s Howard Fineman has more on Giuliani’s future.
Is McCain going to get the largest of the various Rudy Giuliani autographed baseballs tomorrow in a big ceremony at the Reagan Library?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It’s about this big. No. I just got off the phone with one of McCain’s top people who tells me that there are ongoing discussions between the top staff of John McCain and the top staff of Rudy Giuliani, more, I think, about how to do this thing than whether to do it.
As we said earlier tonight, this was a likely scenario that Rudy would get out and endorse McCain because McCain is way ahead in New York State as it is. Rudy, as Tim and Tom were saying, this would be Rudy’s logical thing to do. Looks like it’s going to happen.
The principals apparently are talking right now. They are trying to figure out exactly how to do it, what the form would be and so forth. So yes, they have been apparently talking about this for the last several hours once it became clear what the results in Florida were likely to be. So it is ongoing and it is going to happen.
OLBERMANN: But how does that affect when Mr. Giuliani, who told us he’d be speaking—or those on his behalf said he would be speaking sometime around 9:00 Eastern time, how does that affect what we might or might not hear from him?
FINEMAN: Well, I’m not sure. I’m not sure whether they’ll have it all buttoned up by the time he goes out and speaks. It sounds like to me that that’s what the staffers are trying to get done. And maybe this leak may be part of the strategy here to get it finished, get it done so that Rudy doesn’t have any second thoughts, so if he gets out, he is really going to get out.
So that he can use the TV time in prime time tonight when people are paying attention to politics to not only say, I had a great campaign but now I’m going to go out there and do something for John McCain. That is what the McCain would like to happen.
Or, you know, you go out to—the other possibility, you go out to California, McCain is going to be in a big battle as we were discussing. As I was saying before, a lot of it is free media. Chris, you’re right about how much Los Angeles TV time costs, or San Francisco TV time, but if you get an extra day’s story out of it, with an endorsement from Rudy in California, maybe that would be better.
So they are trying to figure out exactly how to choreograph the thing now, is my understanding.
MATTHEWS: Well, one way is to keep it a little Alfred Hitchcock, and that is to head to California tomorrow with head fake, assuming you’re going to go out there and debate, and then right about the time for the “NIGHTLY NEWS” tomorrow night, and all of the other nightly news programs, give a big stand-up with Rudy and McCain standing next to each other, and grab the evening news right there.
FINEMAN: Yes, but the only problem with that, nobody is going to believe that Rudy is going out there with the intention of debating because he wants to continue his campaign. I mean, now that’s not why he’d be going and everybody knows that.
MATTHEWS: You mean, I’d be naive to think that he might change his mind?
FINEMAN: I would never call you naïve. But he could change his mind, which is why I think the McCain people want to button this thing up right now. You know how politics goes. People change their minds.
OLBERMANN: Don’t you run the risk right now, at this point of another kind of Fred Thompson speech, where we are expecting something to be said and ultimately nothing is said? Could he drop out tonight and wait to endorse tomorrow? Could he split the thing?
FINEMAN: Yes, he could do that. Whatever he thinks we’ll accept. And at this point, given how far this story has moved in just the last couple of hours, now I don’t know, at this point you might be right that we won’t accept anything less than not only is he dropping out, but is endorsing McCain.
That is what these guys are talking about in real time right now. Just got off the phone with them, that is what they’re discussing at this very minute.
MATTHEWS: One other point, if we keep—if Huckabee manages to stay in the race, as he just advised his people out there in Missouri, if he stays in this race, wouldn’t that really help McCain’s effort, because it would siphon off votes from Mitt Romney in the Bible Belt?
FINEMAN: Yes, and I’ve always thought, Chris, there’s an unacknowledged and I’m sure not official, unconscious almost alliance between John McCain and Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is always saying nice things about John McCain, always praising him for his valor, for his service, talking about how vigorous he is at age 71 and so forth.
I mean, in my mind and the way I see it, Huckabee has been campaigning to be McCain’s running mate for the last couple of months.
MATTHEWS: Right. Is this “everybody hates Mitt Romney” again, is the theme?
FINEMAN: Yes, yes, that’s the way it has been. He’s the rich guy with the perfect everything. And these other guys resent it. A lot of politics is not above the grade school schoolyard level, as you know.
MATTHEWS: I like it.
FINEMAN: Me too, me too.
OLBERMANN: We are talking about California, a perfect time, I think, to bring in NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who is back with us now in this machination. This is the stuff we wish we had the embed in to listen to the negotiations, as Howard Fineman describes them, right at the moment, don’t we, Tom?
TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: We do. And as I have been watching all of this, I think that there are a couple of big picture items that we ought to think about. First of all, this is the first time since 1980 that we’ve not seen a monolithic Republican Party. There is no ideological symmetry in this race.
It really is the old northeastern establishment, moderate Republican against the southwestern more conservative southern Republican going on. And I think one of the things that we ought to keep in mind here is, you were just talking about Mike Huckabee, in Missouri he is tied with John McCain right now.
There is going to be a primary in his home state of Arkansas. He is doing very well in Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, are natural places for him. Is he an ally of John McCain in taking votes away from Mitt Romney? Or is a guy who’s going to be at the table with a pair of pocket deuces or maybe a little more, and be a power broker when we get beyond Super Tuesday next week.
Because he’ll come out of next Tuesday with a number of delegates. And I don’t think we ought to overlook that possibility. Any number of people who have been through these before are a little astonished that none of these campaigns at the moment seem to have very sophisticated delegate collecting and counting operations in place.
But next Wednesday morning, that’s what the big story is going to be. Who has got the delegates? How many more do they need? And who can deliver them?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Tom, about this development with regard to Rudy Giuliani. If it’s consistent now with the final results down there in Florida that he is going to only do third, luckily just a bit above Huckabee, what went wrong to “America’s Mayor” as a candidate?
BROKAW: Well, I think a number of things went wrong. And that whole conventional wisdom that he made a mistake in not going to Iowa and New Hampshire, I think he might have been out earlier if he’d gone to Iowa and New Hampshire, or even to South Carolina.
Look, he had a lot of baggage that began to develop. The Bernie Kerik story, this security for Judi Nathan, his now wife who was at that time—let’s be plain about it, who was his girlfriend. And then, you know, the subject matter changed. Joe Biden had one of the best lines of the campaign when he said, every Giuliani speech has a noun, a verb and 9/11.
And the country began to worry a lot more about the economy. The surge began to work and it was no longer on the front page of the newspapers or at the forefront of the minds of a lot of voters.
He’s also not the warmest, cuddliest candidate in the world, as we know, here in New York. It’s one of the reasons that he was an effective mayor here, during his first term, especially, in fighting crime, and during those days after 9/11 in which he was kind of the bulwark, the heart of the city, if you will.
But that was not something that played necessarily well in the other states into which he went.
OLBERMANN: Tom, let me interrupt you and Chris just for a second. We want to go to NBC political director Chuck Todd.
There have been other news organizations that have already decided that the extrapolation can be made in Florida. Chuck, talk us and walk us through why that’s not the case and the opinion here.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, look, I’m not going to—you know, our elections division, we stay isolated from each other because they don’t want to know what other news organizations have done because this is Florida. And nobody wants to get tricky with Florida.
But there are a lot of votes still left to be counted and…
OLBERMANN: Hold on.
TODD: We’ve done this before.
OLBERMANN: NBC News declares John McCain as the projected winner in Florida.
TODD: The second time.
OLBERMANN: Yes, boy, you know…
TODD: We should do this a lot, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You are underpaid. You are the bellwether to all of this, Chuck Todd. One of the campaigns ought to hire you for $15 million. They get the White House automatically.
So now, maybe you can explain why we called it for John McCain.
TODD: Well, I can. There are a few things that happened when you look at these county totals. We were talking about how Rudy Giuliani could potentially cost John McCain vote.
Well, Rudy Giuliani did not win a single county. He did very well where New Yorkers lived, and we saw that in the southeast corner. But he did not cost McCain carrying a county. McCain still carried Dade County, he is still going to carry Broward, probably will carry Palm Beach.
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, finished second or third in a whole bunch of counties that Mike Huckabee carried. They are small counties. They’re up in the sort of the—people call it the armpit of Florida, because it is literally that armpit part and the Panhandle.
He carried a bunch of these small counties. And that—you can really see how Huckabee truly did hurt Romney in a number of places, costing him that vote. I know the panel has been talking about this, but literally, this could be how Romney sort of justifies going on when you look at this, because, you know, John McCain just sort of split the middle there, was able to win some counties that he probably never would have carried in a two-way race.
OLBERMANN: Yes, but we know Huckabee just said he’s staying in no matter what happens. And we anticipate that Rudy Giuliani is going out, whether he goes out tonight and endorses McCain or whatever, or splits the difference and does one tonight and the other tomorrow.
How is it going to change, as we proceed, if Huckabee stays in the race? Is that still not going to affect Romney in the same way? In other words, the drag on Romney would still be there, but the drag on McCain will suddenly have stepped aside.
TODD: Well, and it’s a huge boon to McCain because of the rules of the Republican Party. There are a lot of winner-take-all rules in the Republican Party, either by state, as we know—we have talked about that with—on February 5th, New York, if you win by one vote, you win all of the delegates. That is what is happening tonight.
John McCain, he could end up winning only by a vote, he is going to get all 57 delegates. But in these congressional districts, if you win by a vote, you get all of the delegates for that congressional district. That’s how California awards things. That’s how a lot of these other—some of these states on February 5th award things.
So if Huckabee is in there pulling 15 percent, it allows McCain to split the middle. I was counting up the counties. I only found two counties where John McCain finished below second, either first or second or—you know. And obviously we are still counting the vote.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, there’s at least a half a dozen, possibly up to 10 counties in Florida, 67 of them total, where Mike Huckabee finished ahead of Romney and put Romney in third place. So I think we are seeing how Huckabee could end up playing a very important role in delivering a whole bunch of delegates to John McCain in this winner-take-all format.
OLBERMANN: And speaking of the delivery of delegates, what we have been waiting for, Rudy Giuliani in Orlando, and ready to speak. Will he step aside, will he endorse John McCain? It is a critical moment for the Republican race. Let’s let the former mayor of New York take it from here.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s not over ‘till it’s over.
GIULIANI: I think that comes from the great American philosopher Yogi Berra, right? It’s not over until it’s over.
Well, thank you for your hard work, your spirit, and your support. A New York Republican named Teddy Roosevelt once said: “Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords.”
Like most Americans, I love competition. I don’t back down from a principled fight, but there must always be a larger purpose. Justice for an individual, hope for a city, a better future for our country. Elections are about a lot more than just candidates. Elections are about fighting for a cause larger than ourselves. They are about identifying the great challenges of our time and proposing new solutions.
Most of all, they are about handing our nation to the next generation better than it was handed to us. This is our opportunity and this is our obligation as American citizens.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: So you have participated in that process, particularly the young people that are here. And you should be very proud of your participation in that process.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: You are making your state and your country better.
I want to congratulate each of my opponents on a hard-fought campaign here in Florida. I want to congratulate Senator McCain, who I believe was declared the winner. I spoke to Mitt Romney and told him my regard for him as well.
These are honorable people. They are accomplished public servants and
they are good men. And we should—as well as Mike Huckabee. So let’s
applaud them all. They are our opponents…
GIULIANI: And Ron Paul, who won all of the debates.
GIULIANI: On that thing where you call in all the time? I used to watch it afterwards at night when I’d go back to my room, and Ron Paul would win all of the debates.
GIULIANI: But, they are truly all honorable people, honorable men who are fighting for what they believe in. They have different strengths, they have different things to contribute, like I do. And I believe that our party will be stronger as a result of the competition that we’re going through.
But win or lose, our work is not done. Because leaders dream of a better future, and then they help to bring it into reality.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign. If you believe in a cause, it goes on and you continue to fight for it, and we will.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: I am proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ads, and cynical spin. We ran a campaign that was uplifting.
GIULIANI: You don’t always win, but you can always try to do it right. And you did. That’s what the American people deserve, a return to honesty and substance in our political discussion. I believe that the ideas of our campaign, the 12 commitments that we made to the American people, Wayne, in New Hampshire, first, clearly identify the great challenges of our time.
First, America needs to stay on offense to win the terrorist war on us.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: It’s not optional. We can’t wish it away. We can’t hope it away. It’s there. It’s a reality. And America must always remember that the best way to achieve peace is through overwhelming strength.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: America also needs to stay on offense to achieve economic security. We need to embrace the global economy, not shrink away from its challenges, but turn them to our advantage. We can compete and we can win through a commitment to pro-growth policies, like lower taxes, less government, reasonable regulations, and less lawsuits, please, less lawsuits.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!
GIULIANI: Thank you.
CROWD: Rudy! Rudy!
GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They’ll be sorry!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)
GIULIANI: You sound like my mother.
GIULIANI: If she were here. If she were here. If we unleash the genius of America’s free market economy, if we encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, if we can create not just a growth economy, but a growth society, I’ve said it many times during the campaign, America has to be a country in which young people can look up to the sky and they can say, the sky is the limit. There is no end to what we can accomplish.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: I hope, I hope Congress passes our tax bill that was introduced already by David Dreier and by Senator Kit Bond. It would be the largest tax decrease, tax reduction in America history and it would a one-page optional tax form. Wouldn’t that be great to be able to fill it out on one page?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: Just think—just think of how that would—just think about how that would stimulate our economy. We have got to strive for energy independence. We have to strive for health care through private options. You know the 12 commitments.
I think they outline the challenges for America in four, eight, and 10 years. And I’m very proud that we conducted our campaign around them and around ideas, and ideas that will enliven America and that will make America stronger.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: Finally. Finally we need to reestablish clearly the idea
that the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and the party of Reagan and the
party of Bush, that the Republican Party…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: The Republican Party is a party that is and has been from the beginning, when we do it right, when we are on our game, when we are making our contribution, when we are being our contributor to America, we are the party of freedom, we are the party of the people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: And we are a big party.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: We’re a big party and we’re getting bigger. I’m even in this party. This is a big party.
GIULIANI: We understand that America is not great because of our centralized government. America is great because of self-government. It’s great because of you, the people. And we believe government works best when it empowers people to take responsibility for their own lives. These are great ideas.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: Whether it’s moving people from welfare to work or something I think our parties should be dedicated to. I think our party should be dedicated to having parents decide the school that their child goes to.
You want to reach out for votes in urban America? You want to reach out for votes across all kinds of lines of different kinds, ethnic, racial, religious? Then you have an America in which the parent decides what school their child goes to: public private, parochial, charter or homeschooling.
These ideas unite not just Republicans, they unite the vast majority of Americans. They are the key to building a stronger and broader party. We must be a 50 state Republican Party. We must compete in all 50 states.
We have to compete for urban, suburban and rural votes, conservatives and moderates, men and women, all races, ethnic groups and religions. We have answers to help each of them because our answers are not based on class distinctions or religious distinctions or ethnic or racial or religious distinctions, ours answers are to Americans and they work for all Americans and we have to reach out for all Americans. That’s the way to break through the red state, blue state divide and win the White House and Congress.
When you run for president of the United States, you don’t do it alone, you got a big team that helps you.
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For that, (INAUDIBLE) and our
family we will be forever grateful. Thank you so very much.
OLBERMANN: We’re going to make a segue here, because Mitt Romney, who will finish second in Florida, has began to speak to his group in Florida at Saint Petersburg, let’s listen to the former governor of Massachusetts.
ROMNEY: I just off the phone with Senator McCain and I offered my congratulations. And I’m sure that you are excited here this evening, but a little disappointed, as well. And you know, my guess is when you left your home this evening, you put a son or a daughter to bed and probably that’s happening across the country, moms and dads are putting kids to bed, or already have, and they’re sleeping peacefully. They’re probably a bit like my grandkids, full of big dreams and plans, excited about every tomorrow.
I remember when I was growing up, I always knew that America was the greatest nation in the earth. First nation to the moon, our cars and movies and technology were the envy of the entire world and freedom and opportunity was just like the air, it was everywhere I went. I believed there was nothing I couldn’t do. And I knew there was nothing America couldn’t do because we led the world. Now, America’s leadership didn’t come without cost, it was won by the greatest generation in the history of the world. They defeated fascism and they built the world’s strongest economy.
My mom and dad are gone, as maybe yours are as well. What they and their generation left us is the greatest nation in the history of the entire planet. And now, it’s our turn. What kind of nation will we leave our children and our grandchildren?
We can leave future generations a nation that’s even greater than that which we inherited. But to do that, we’re going to have to overcome a new generation of challenges. Our world is under attack from violent radical Jihadists. Our jobs are being sought by new competitors, countries like Asia and India. And here at home, the government is spending too much, we’re using too much oil, our healthcare system leaves a lot of people behind, and our schools are failing way too many. And even our values are under attack.
We’ve look to Washington for leadership, but Washington has failed us. We’ve asked them to fix illegal immigration, they haven’t. We asked them to get the tax burden off our families and businesses, they haven’t. We asked them to end our dependence on foreign oil, they haven’t. We asked them to maintain high ethical standards, they haven’t. We asked them to fix social security, they haven’t. We asked them to stop spending money on pork barrel projects, we asked them to balance our budget, they haven’t. We ask them time and time again and time again and they just haven’t gotten the job done.
You see, Washington is fundamentally broken. And we’re not going to change Washington by sending the same people back, just to set in different chairs.
I think it’s time for the politicians to leave Washington and for the citizens to take over.
It is time for a change in Washington and here’s some of the things we’re going to do. First we’re going to strengthen our families. We’ll make sure that every citizen in our country has affordable health insurance that they can’t lose. Private, free market insurance, not socialized medicine, not Hillary-care.
We’ll make sure our kids have great schools, we’ll treat teachers like the professionals they are and we’ll put our kids first and the unions behind.
And to build strong families, we’ll teach our kids that before they have babies, they should get married.
So, we’ll strengthen our families and we’ll strengthen our military. We need more troops, we need better funding, we need better equipment and better care for our veterans.
And let’s point out to all those who criticize President Bush, that it’s thanks to him that we’ve been safe these last six years.
So, strengthen our families and strengthen our military and finally, we need to strengthen our economy. I spent my entire life in the real economy, I know why jobs come, I know why they go. I’ve been doing business in 20 countries around the world. I’ve run small business and large business. The economy is in my DNA. Many of the people across our country are worried about their retirement accounts. They wonder if they can pay for the college education for their child. They see their largest asset, their home value dropping. Some wonder if their job is going to be secure in a new global economy. Americans wonder how they can afford the rising cost of healthcare and gasoline and taxes. These are real challenges. At a time like this, America needs a president in the White House who has had a job in the real economy.
You see—you see, at a time like this, knowing how America works is more important than knowing how Washington works. The Democrats think that America’s greatness flows from the government.
They’re wrong. The source of America’s greatness is the American people.
Hard working, innovative, risk-taking, family oriented, God faring, freedom loving American people have been the source for America’s greatness and they always will be.
And so, the right course for America isn’t to strengthen our government, but to strengthen our people. And to do that, we have to change Washington and Change will begin with us.
This—this presidential election, in November of ‘08, is not about yesterday, it’s about tomorrow. It’s not about refighting the battles of the past, it’s about wining the future for our children and their children and for America.
When you go home tonight and you go and kiss your son or your daughter, before you go to sleep, you can promise them that this generation will meet the challenges of our time, that we’ll leave them a stronger America and you can tell them to dream big, because for the children of America, every dream will be possible.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Well, there’s Mitt Romney speaking at Saint Petersburg, Florida. And he began the day with expectations that he could finish a very close second. I imagine a very close second is still conceivable, but this race with John McCain, while neck-and-neck through much of the evening, turned out to be a little bit bigger a victory for McCain than perhaps originally seen. We are projecting it now, with 2/3 of the vote on.
While Rudy Giuliani was still speaking, Mr. Romney began his speech. Rudy Giuliani said almost everything in the past tense. He referred to staying involved in the campaign. He said: “we conducted our campaign.” Everything was in the past tense. If you’ve been watching this, you know that there are negotiations, per Howard Fineman, going on between the McCain and Giuliani camps about when, not if, but when Rudy Giuliani drops out and endorses John McCain. We thought it might possibly come tonight. There have been several other reports that suggest it could come this evening.
Again, that Rudy Giuliani speech sounding somewhat like Fred Thompson’s, a couple of weekends ago, that it seemed to bring you to the verge of a departure from the race without actually doing that. And again, the scenario that was reported by “Time” magazine was an endorsement tomorrow in California, either right before or sometime during the day, right before the Republican debate, the last one before Super Tuesday.
The site from John Yang, our reporter in Orlando at the Giuliani event, was of members of the Giuliani staff hugging each other in a consoling way. What that means, we don’t know for sure, certainly that McCain—that Giuliani speech sounded like a goodbye without ever actually saying those words.
We’re waiting, John McCain in a couple of minutes. We’re beginning to get this picture, here—Mike Huckabee said before the top of the hour, he’s staying in no matter what, which could not be good news for the second place finisher, Mr. Romney. As we wait, Senator McCain’s address in victory, tonight, possibly within a few minutes, let’s bring in our chief White House correspondent, David Gregory, about the aligning of the planets, here, and whether or not we have any idea where the guys in the backroom, the proverbial GOP backroom, wind up.
What do we think – David.
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting,
Keith. I would just add some of my own reporting on this Giuliani angle. I’m
hearing the same thing that negotiations are going on about a possible
endorsement. And I’m reminded of what John McCain told people about a year-and-
a-half ago and that was that Giuliani would only get into the race if something
happened to McCain.
In other words, if he were to falter. This is before McCain actually faltered, but there was a closeness in the two men, a closeness not only in terms of the voters they are going after, but also in their political, their public friendship that I think was underlined this past week during the debate here on MSNBC. When you recall, McCain went out of his way to call Rudy Giuliani an American hero when there was criticism that was voiced in a particular question.
I think it’s important to review a couple of things that have happened tonight. John McCain won among conservatives, he did it in a Republican-only primary. That matters. He also beat Romney, we’re learning from the exit polls, among voters who thought the economy was important issue. If you talk to McCain advisors tonight, they say that’s huge for them. It’s a combination of an ability to go into February 5 to talk about the economy as well as national security, to have a melding of national security conservatives with more moderate voters. And that Rudy Giuliani can help McCain with, by the way, in states like New York, New jersey, California, Connecticut and elsewhere. McCain has had bump in the polls in those states, anyway. It matches up well against a hypothetical Democratic opponent like Hillary Clinton.
So, all of those things will become part of the McCain argument now going forward. The big question, as you’ve been talking about tonight, which is money. And now, McCain is in a better position to pick up that, as well.
OLBERMANN: And, do we have, based on those conversations you had, any indication on when this shift by Giuliani and trying to carry his people and his financial supporters over to McCain, might take place? Is there still a chance of that happening tonight? Or we’re not going to see a man in Orlando suddenly appear in Miami to endorse somebody there, tonight?
GREGORY: Just based on the conversation I’ve had, and just some experience on this, I think it would be highly unlikely for it to happen tonight. I think McCain wants to have his moment to soak up his victory and then have a new day and a new news cycle to solidify what they’re saying internally, of course. And that is that they have grabbed the mantle of frontrunner in this race.
Even before the voting today, Keith, I was talking to top Republicans around the country who said that there has been a subtle consolidation around John McCain. And that was important, despite the fact that Mitt Romney has been very impressive with the economy, he’s been running a very good campaign, he’s had a couple of good debates—that that Consolidation has been happening around McCain. And with this result tonight, he’s able to see a clearer path to the nomination. There will be challenges, for sure, namely financially. You’re talking about Mitt Romney as someone who could begin to self-fund. He’s spent about $17 million, according to some estimates, and there is—by his own admission, there’s a certain, not necessarily a ceiling, but he’s talking about Jon Corzine, in New Jersey, who I think is self-funded to the tune of $60 million. So, there’s more money that Mitt Romney can put in.
And he’s hit, by all the people who are close to him, people outside of his campaign, say he’s hit his stride, Mitt Romney has, in terms of having a message that really seems to work for him. But is it enough? Don’t forget, John McCain has had difficulties with elements of the party, the Rush Limbaugh’s of the party who can be very influential. Apparently there’s some outreach going on, even to Rush Limbaugh, by the McCain camp. And all of that consolidation, I think, begins to happen in earnest now as McCain makes an argument that it’s not just about electability, but as somebody who has defied expectations.
I was told today, by a senior Republican, expectations play a role, here. Mitt Romney had high expectations, has under performed. John McCain had a huge setback, everybody left him for dead, Republicans felt it was the best thing that could have happen to McCain. He found his voice and the way he likes to campaign, as an underdog, took a huge gamble on supporting the surge, got a lot of criticism for that. Republicans feel he’s been vindicated by that. And even immigration which hurt his fundraising and hurt his standing has retreated some as an issue. With the economy moving forward, again, they come back in the campaign, tonight, and say, he was able to win in Florida on the issue of those who were most concerned about the economy, with that being a top issue for him. Now, they want to try to put it all together and form something of a juggernaut into February 5.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, as we await John McCain, who has won in Florida, to come out and speak, in fact, all right, on queue. John McCain. Let’s take that picture in the celebratory mood. Once again, John McCain, projected as the victor in Florida and the hard numbers in support of that, and in considerable support. It was neck-and-neck for the first half of the numbers and then stretched to about a five percent margin at this point. Or the senator and the presumptive frontrunner, I don’t think there’s a question about that one, right now.
GREGORY: Sixty-seven percent of the people who voted in Florida today, believe he’s the strongest candidate the Republicans can put in the field against the Democrats, this November. Overwhelmingly only six percent elected Romney.
OLBERMANN: Senator John McCain.
SEN JOHN MCCAIN ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you, Florida Republicans, for bringing a former Florida resident across the finish line first in, as I have been repeatedly reminded lately, an all-Republican primary.
My friends, I’ve always loved this beautiful state, from the time I was a young naval aviator learning my trade in Pensacola to the time I commanded the largest air squadron in the United States Navy at Cecil Field. Most of all, most of all, I’ve always been indebted to Florida friends and neighbors in Orange Park for taking such good care of my family while I was away.
While I was away on a longer-than-expected tour of duty. Florida has always been a special place to me, and it is all the more so tonight. Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions, but it is sweet nonetheless.
My friends, I am deeply grateful, I am deeply grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. Time will only allow me to thank a few of our Florida supporters by name, but to everyone who, in good times and bad, devoted much time, energy and hope to keeping our candidacy competitive. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And thank you, of course, for to the great governor of Florida, Governor Charlie Crist.
My dear friend, Senator Mel Martinez. Thank you very much.
To Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Mario Diaz-Balart.
Representative Marcello Llorente.
Commissioner Mildred Fernandez.
Representative Adam Hasner.
Senator Durrell Peaden. Thank you, Senator Durrell Peaden.
Representative Ellen Bogdanoff and counsel president Derrell Davis. And thank you so much to our tremendous—thank you so much to our tremendous statewide volunteers, leadership who have stuck with us for 18 long, very long months. And as always, I want to thank my family for their extraordinary support and encouragement. My wife Cindy.
Daughter Megan and son Doug and my children who are not here. It’s obvious to me, as it should be to everyone, that I could not have done this without you.
My friends, this was a hard-fought election and worth fighting hard for, but I’ve been on the other side of such contests before and experienced the disappointment. I offer my best wishes to Governor Romney and his supporters. You fought hard...
You fought hard for your candidate. And the margin that separated us tonight surely isn’t big enough for me to brag about or for you to despair.
Governor Huckabee and his supporters, as always, brought...
...brought to this campaign conviction and passion and something we don’t always have enough of in these contests: good humor and grace. Thank you, Governor Huckabee.
And I want to thank my dear friend, my dear friend, Rudy Giuliani...
...who invested his heart and soul in this primary and who conducted himself with all the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is. Thank you, Rudy.
Thank you, Rudy, for all you have added to this race and for being an inspiration to me and millions of Americans.
My friends, in one week, one week, we will have as close to a national primary as we’ve ever had in this country. I intend to win it and be the nominee of our party.
I intend to do that by making it clear what I stand for. I stand for the principles and policies that first attracted me to the Republican Party when I heard, in whispered conversations and tap codes, about the then-governor of California, who stood by me and my comrades, and who was making quite a reputation for standing by his convictions no matter the changing political winds of thought and popular culture.
When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud today to be a Republican conservative as I was then.
When I left the Navy and entered public life, I enlisted as a foot soldier in the political revolution he began. And I am as proud today to be a Republican conservative as I was then.
OLBERMANN: NBC NEWS and the “National Journal” confirming Rudy Giuliani will endorse John McCain tomorrow in California. Here’s the rest of the senator’s speech.
MCCAIN: ...and decency of the American people who deserve a government that trusts in their qualities, as well. And doesn’t abrogate to itself the responsibilities to do for the people what the people can and want to do for themselves.
We Republicans have always known that the first responsibility of government is to keep this country safe from all enemies foreign and domestic.
And the American people unburdened by the heavy hand of government that spends too much of their money on things they neither want nor need, while failing to do as well as we should, the things none of us can do individually.
Government must defend our nation’s security wisely and effectively, because the cost of our defense is so dear to us, measured in losses so hard to bear, in the heartbreak of so many families.
Government must respect our values because they are the true source of our strength, and enforce the rule of law, which distinguishes successful democracies from failed societies, and is the first defense of freedom. And the judges we appoint to federal benches must understand that that is their only responsibility and leave to elected officials their responsibility to make the laws they enforce.
We believe government should do only those things we cannot do individually, to tax us no more than necessary, and spend no more than necessary, and then get out of the way of the most industrious, ingenious and optimistic people in the history of the world so that they can build an even greater country than the one they inherited.
My friends, as I said the other week in South Carolina, there is nothing in our country that is inevitable. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage and stand by the principles that have made our party and our country great.
Our party has always been successful when we have, like Ronald Reagan, stood fast by our convictions, and we’ve only suffered when our allegiance to our principles has not been as steadfast as it should. I intend to make my stand on those principles. And I am confident we will succeed in this contest and in the bigger one in November against...
...the bigger one against anyone the Democratic Party nominates.
Most importantly, most importantly—most importantly, I promise you again, I will always put America, her strength, her ideals, her future before every other consideration.
Tonight, my friends, we celebrate. Tomorrow, it’s back to work.
We have a ways to go, but we’re getting close.
And for that, you all have my profound thanks. Goodnight, and God bless you, and God bless America.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: Senator John McCain after his victory, tonight, in the Florida primary and again repeating the bulletin now, NBC NEWS and the “National Journal” confirming that Rudy Giuliani will drop out and endorse John McCain tomorrow in California. The specifics as yet unclear. Our correspondent John Yang, who has been following the campaign of Rudy Giuliani, in Orlando, is going to join us now with what we know from that end of things—
JOHN YANG, MSNBC: Keith, as you say, we have now confirmed, a senior Giuliani campaign official tells NBC NEWS that Rudy Giuliani will fly to California tomorrow where he will end his campaign and endorse Senator John McCain. We are to—the indications are that this event will be at the Reagan Library, very symbolic, of course, in Semi Valley, California where a Republican debate is scheduled for tomorrow evening.
You heard John McCain, there, heap phrase on Rudy Giuliani, talk about the campaign he led and his record, his public record. That’s what it’s been like between these two candidates whenever they met in debate, they were always very gentle with each other, very praising of each other.
And earlier this month, I actually asked a Giuliani campaign official what candidate would they hate to see as the last man standing, as Giuliani against one candidate. The answer quickly came, John McCain.
It’s not only because they’re both politically so similar. It’s also because they respect each other so much, and that respect is going to end tomorrow—or result tomorrow in an endorsement by Rudy Giuliani—Keith.
OLBERMANN: This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida primaries. The breaking news: John McCain has won the Republican primary in Florida and, moreover, has won the endorsement of former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, to take place at the Reagan Library tomorrow, per our reporter in the Giuliani camp, John Yang, also our MSNBC News/”National Journal” embed from the Giuliani campaign, Matthew Berger, confirming that tonight.
It has been a matter of mathematics for the last few hours as we watched Rudy Giuliani who—and Chris Matthews, let’s pick up where we heard, where we started tonight. Rudy Giuliani said the winner in Florida would be the nominee for...
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: You’re right. And so much news tonight, if you think about it all together.
Lots of talk in the last couple of months about Mike Bloomberg maybe coming into this race as a third-party candidate, an independent candidate. Certainly, that’s what’s likely if McCain is the nominee, based upon all we’ve heard. McCain is somebody that Bloomberg respects, and he’s not likely to get into the race. It looks like a two-person race.
McCain selected tonight, perhaps because, in the polling we did of those voting today, 67 percent of those people voting when asked, who do you think is most likely to beat the Democrat, whoever that might be, regardless of your own preferences as to who you want to be the Republican nominee, almost every single person who voted today said McCain, which means he’s the overwhelming favorite to win if nominated. I thought that was huge.
I also sense that Mike Huckabee is remaining in this race, primarily to split up the cultural conservative vote with Romney, thereby lending, perhaps, an even hand to McCain, along with the hand being extended to him very openly tomorrow, as the report has given us, that Giuliani is going to extend.
So this is going to be everybody against Romney from here on out, which is a very fascinating development.
OLBERMANN: Let me clarify one thing here. There has been—this may be a question of splitting hairs at this point. Because you tell me if there’s some other way that I’m missing. There is some discrimination between the term dropping out and endorsement relative to Rudy Giuliani. You do have to drop out before you endorse another candidate, still?
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that that sequence, correct.
Let me tell you, one of the rules that we all learned, at least those of us attentive to that, from Richard Nixon is don’t make big decisions after big defeats or big victories. Wait at least overnight before you answer a question.
So, as you were suggesting earlier, these guys might always change their minds, while Rudy will act tomorrow. They never endorse the other guy the night of. They always wait a news cycle, and they give themselves at least a calm night of going to bed, sleeping it off, getting up, having a cup of coffee and then thinking and usually deciding that they were right the first time, but they at least have that second call.
OLBERMANN: Just to underscore that, so that we’re not going to hear that “you won’t have Rudy Giuliani to kick around anymore”—which we won’t hear, anyway. That’s not the man’s disposition. But from the Giuliani campaign comes the official word that there is no chance of a one-on-one interview with Rudy Giuliani.
MATTHEWS: Well, perhaps, that might have been a concern. Look, I think that—Giuliani—I began to watch his campaign soon after he entered it last year. And the one thing missing was a big idea as to why he should be president. It was all, it seemed to me, no matter how much coloration there was planted (ph) about the economy, about the past. It was about 9/11.
Jon Stewart’s joke in reference to him having 9/11 Tourette’s, meaning he couldn’t get through a sentence without burping out the phrase, “9/11.” Joe Biden’s reference to the fact that he constructed each sentence with a noun, a verb, and the word “9/11” was fairly telling after a while. And I think it was about the past.
And I think he didn’t really come—you know, I think that great athletes run for public office, and they think it’s an autograph tour. It’s about the past. Well, it’s not. People like to—get autographs from famous athletes, but they want to see what they’re going to do next if they’re running for office. And so I think that Rudy Giuliani never really offered a big idea as to why he would be a great president. And I think he made that mistake.
And I’m not sure—as Tim said earlier, I don’t think it’s a question of his itinerary. He could have gone to Iowa and been blown out of this thing two or three weeks ago, rather than tonight. I just don’t think that it lasted.
And as I said a number of nights ago, it seems to me that timing, and old phrase of my old boss, Tip O’Neill, is everything. Everyone who was around in 1951 remembers McArthur’s great speech before the Congress. And everybody, right, left and center, said, “My God, if this man could have ran against Harry Truman, he would have beaten the man that fired him.”
But the election wasn’t until the next year. And by then, heads had cooled. Truman was OK. Ike was the hero, the great peacemaker.
And so if Rudy had been able to run, perhaps, in 2001 for president, he might have had a shot. We didn’t hold an election that year.
OLBERMANN: And think of Teddy Roosevelt and the charge up San Juan Hill getting him the vice presidency. Even in those times, that probably would not have been enough, had it been another two years or so.
Let’s—let’s widen our conversation. NBC chief White House correspondent, David Gregory, and NBC’s Tom Brokaw join us now.
All right. So David, what we’ve be talking about has fleshed out. We’re going to get a Giuliani swing over to—to John McCain. What does the Republican race look like now, now that we have that information confirmed?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, based on not only people within the McCain camp but other Republican Party officials, see this as McCain with a clear path to the nomination, as a clear frontrunner. It’s not over yet.
There still is Mitt Romney, who’s got plenty of money, can spend his own money. Mike Huckabee could try to compete in a state like Tennessee, where it’s winner-take-all if you get a majority of the vote. If not, then it’s proportional. And he could go into southern states like that and peel off some of those social conservatives. So it’s not over yet.
But, as one top Republican said to me earlier today, you are seeing a consolidation behind John McCain, on not national security, on a kind of authenticity. The fact that he’s defied expectations. The fact that he has been supportive of the president and made a big bet on the surge, a bet that appears to have paid off for him, at least politically, tactically at this point.
And a sheer electability argument, which is you look at how he stacks up against a Hillary Clinton, and he performs well. He has an ability to expand the party, not shrink it. He has a more nuanced view on immigration now. Certainly, a more moderate view that Republicans can say that makes sense for the party as it goes into November.
There’s still an acceptability threshold for John McCain. He went a long way towards satisfying that tonight. He’s got more work to do with those in the party who don’t trust them.
OLBERMANN: To that point, Tom Brokaw, let me mention here that the Associated Press is now echoing our NBC News report that Rudy Giuliani will endorse John McCain on Wednesday in California, and they phrase it elegantly after that, indicating the former New York mayor’s departure from the race is imminent, officials say. So it’s not going to be some heretofore never heard of political process in which you don’t drop out but endorse another candidate and keep running yourself.
In any event, Tom, how—how much is it for John McCain to hurdle at this point, other than the obvious candidacy of Mitt Romney? What else is there? Is there an automatic aligning of the stars here for—for McCain with the Republican hierarchy?
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Well, I think the real test is going to be how much the social conservatives really do embrace Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday. The fact of the matter is that they’ve never been entirely comfortable with him personally, as much as they are with his positions.
He showed up as a social conservative, as a real Republican conservative wearing that new uniform. The old team that he played on when he was the governor of Massachusetts was not nearly as conservative as that, obviously. And I think that that’s caused some real question marks in the minds of those people who, until this election, have formed the very solid base of the Republican Party.
And as you look at how John McCain won tonight in Florida, it’s very impressive. He won among those who thought the economy was the most important issue for them, even though he was quoted as saying recently, “I don’t know a lot about the economy. I’ve been reading Alan Greenspan’s book, and I’ve got to read up on that.” He won across the board here. So you do feel a certain drift to John McCain going on.
Now I would have liked to have been in the room, and I’m not sure that John McCain was watching television when Mitt Romney was saying, “We can’t send the same old people back to Washington to sit in different chairs. I had a job with a real economy. You know, it’s time for the politicians to leave and let the citizens take over.”
So the die has been cast here. We’re going have a very tough five days in the Republican Party between now and Super Tuesday, between these two guys hammering it out. And the comic relief, as well, an important player in all of this, politically, will be Mike Huckabee, just off to the side.
OLBERMANN: All right, Tom. Let’s check in now with Brian Williams of “NBC Nightly News” and our NBC Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.
And again, we are now faced with—with this candidate, Tim, John McCain, who was given up for lost over the summer, certainly, traveling by himself, carrying his own bags, sitting on the aisle seat and all the rest of that, versus a gentleman who has positioned himself as the anti-Washington candidate, whose father ran for the president and whose mother ran for the Senate. Those are the two major figures, plus the former governor of Arkansas and Baptist preacher. It’s quite a final three here.
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: It sure is. Look for John McCain to try to avoid having this cast as a liberal versus conservative or even a moderate versus conservative. This going to be a tough guy, someone who’s ready for the world and ready for the Democrats, as opposed to Mitt Romney, who doesn’t know himself. That’s how McCain is going to try and cast this.
Romney, you already heard, it’s the Washington insider, McCain, against Mr. Outside.
But if you love politics, Keith, you love what happened tonight. John McCain just dangling the vice presidency in front of Mike Huckabee: “Mike, don’t leave me now. Hucky, stay with me, baby. Super Tuesday, I need you, because if I lock it up, you’re my kind of guy.” And was just something to behold.
And Huckabee is obviously watching this and saying, “Why not stay in? And if I help my friend, John McCain, beat Mitt Romney, you know what? It just may come my way.” Because he’s going to need a southern Baptist to help round out the ticket.
OLBERMANN: Brian, we have seen this thing move around like—like some sort of tennis tournament. We don’t know how many losses get you eliminated, but it has been strategic in a way that recent Republican campaigns, even recent Democratic campaigns, have not been.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”: I was just saying to Tim, we were doing various feeds of nightly news as the time zones went west. We did, you know, Seattle. We just wrapped up Los Angeles. That first week of December, we were picking out Bibles for the one Rudy’s hand was placed on to take the oath of office.
This thing—you do the time and space compressions, and a 24-hour news cycle that’s really parsed up into 30-minute quadrants when you include the Web. And it’s unbelievable.
And then you kind of—you take out your decoder ring for this speech tonight of John McCain. I looked at my notes—you know, Rudy Giuliani has run with heart and soul, and he’s been John McCain’s personal inspiration in this campaign. The humor and grace of Huckabee.
Say nothing of David Gregory who was tonight surrounded by books and apparently chairman of the political science department of Towson State University. So that’s my favorite shot of the night.
MATTHEWS: David, you want to respond to that?
OLBERMANN: Compliment—compliment Brian on his humor that he brings to the campaign here?
MATTHEWS: We know about his humor. Let me—let me talk about something that’s odd. John McCain has been the most steadfast warrior in the war in Iraq we know of in national politics. And yet, among the people voting today in Florida, this is fascinating. Of those who are dissatisfied...
RUSSERT: I missed that because you were talking to me.
MATTHEWS: I’m sorry, those dissatisfied with this administration, who don’t like President Bush, who are, quote, angry with President Bush, 3-to-1, they voted for McCain. And so the mavericks of the party voted for McCain.
But what else? People who think abortion should be legal. How is this for anathema in the Republican Party? Overwhelmingly, more than 2-to-1 for McCain. So no matter what he says, Tim, about he’s not the moderate, he’s not the establishment, the moderate wing of the Republican Party, he is.
He appeals to the mavericks in the Republican Party, those who don’t toe the cultural line. On citizenship for people who come into the country illegally, two-to-one, they support McCain. They’re the moderate view. They know what they’re doing here.
In addition, of course, they believe he’s the strongest candidate. But if you take all the issues—on Iraq, the ones who care most about Iraq, they’re with McCain.
So what I’m seeing, looking at this, is the voters in Florida paid a hell of a lot of attention to this campaign. They watched programs like MSNBC’s programs and “Nightly.” Night after night, they knew exactly where he stands. They figured this race out in terms of the issues as well as the people involved. And they picked the guy they wanted, and it was McCain.
RUSSERT: But John McCain is not going to acknowledge that until Labor Day. On Labor Day...
MATTHEWS: Then he’ll start.
RUSSERT: Then, of course. Then he’ll start reaching across for those independents, because he knows he needs them to win the election.
Watch his strategy next week, Chris. It’s going to be fascinating. It’s going to be coastal: lock up the northeast and lock up California. And then Romney isn’t a real problem, because the Republicans, as you know, have much stricter rules. They’re very close to winner-take-all, statewide or at least by congressional district.
MATTHEWS: And if he goes into states like, well, later on in Pennsylvania, which comes, obviously, later. But states like East Coast states, which have strong suburban votes.
Suburbanites, I’ve always believed, deep in the heart, loved the city their families came from. And they root for a tough-guy mayor like Giuliani. Giuliani may be not very popular among minorities, who have to deal with him. But the people who live in the suburbs that come in and visit the city do like the tough-guy mayor.
And I do believe he’ll be a great asset to McCain in those suburbs of New York, of Chicago, of Philadelphia—you watch—in Detroit, all those suburban areas. If you’ve got Giuliani, the tough guy, the prosecutor, going against—the Sipowicz, if you will, of this affair walking along next to your candidacy, I think it helps McCain a lot in those areas.
BROKAW: And Chris, a point Tom Brokaw made earlier tonight. The Republicans are, at least the faction that appeals, trying on the idea of John McCain like a new suit of clothes. And the evidence so far is all anecdotal. It’s conversations. It’s fragments we see when cruising the Web and looking for newspapers around the country. Could this be the horse they ride to the finish line as a nominee?
This is gut-check time. Are there any concerns with Romney? And, you know, it’s—the checkbook gets it good workout, as Tim said tonight on NBC, starting tonight at the Romney war counsel meeting and maybe tomorrow as they go to the ATM and check that option that is just balance check. You get that little receipt, stare at it for a while.
RUSSERT: There are going to be so many letters that were written tonight but postdated yesterday: “Dear John.”
MATTHEWS: I love it.
RUSSERT: As I sit here with Mary the night before the Florida primary, I want to send you this $5,000.
But you know, the key, I think, to this week: what does the conservative commentariat do? What do the radio talk shows do, and the columnists? Do they give in and surrender to John McCain? I think no. I think they’re on the phone right now to Mitt Romney saying, “You have to fight on. We cannot surrender this party to John McCain. Let’s go on to Super Tuesday,” which is going to guarantee a real battle.
OLBERMANN: What’s the private place, though, involved in that when you are seeing this endorsement from Giuliani to—to McCain taking place at the Ronald Reagan Library in advance of a debate. There’s something—there’s something ceremonial about the place, is there not, Tim?
RUSSERT: Is there ever. Plus, Nancy Reagan’s relationship with John McCain. This could be someone—the people who are defending the mantle of Ronald Reagan are watching it being taken from them before their very eyes at the man’s library. It is rich in irony, and it’s going to be something to behold.
OLBERMANN: Let’s—let’s talk about what happened earlier in the evening, because Hillary Clinton is going to join us in a few moments. And the question becomes what it is that—that was being so heavily celebrated.
Are we really any clearer about what this is going to mean, long term, for the Democrats, if this—this victory in a debate—in a primary that really wasn’t is going to count? In what way? Merely as a stopper in terms of double Kennedy endorsement of Barack Obama over the weekend, Tim?
RUSSERT: Well, what you’ll hear from the Clinton campaign is that Florida is a cosmopolitan state that reflects the makeup of America, and the raw vote that you see tonight is an indication of how the Democrats align with the field, with Hillary Clinton on top.
What the Obama people will say: nonsense, we didn’t compete. And by the way, why don’t you look at the actual vote? Everyone who voted a month ago voted for Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly. But if you look at the people who voted just this past month, Obama wins. Whenever the campaign is engaged, they will say, Obama is the winner.
I think it’s an argument over spin, over momentum, and the practical effect us negligible, because there are no delegates won tonight.
WILLIAMS: That’s right, Keith. I think Senator Clinton will come on the air and say, “More people voted for me tonight than in these previous other contests. All of us combined.”
And—and, look, everyone was surprised when the Democratic Party came down like this. They threatened to, and they did. And this is what they did to Michigan and Florida. And there are some angry Democrats in the state of Florida, be assured.
I think the Obama campaign talking point will continue to be what it was starting this afternoon. Tonight’s result in Florida is a tie: zero delegates to zero delegates. Let’s move on.
RUSSERT: And Keith, they’ll try to use the character card: “We gave our word—all of us. Let’s not break it.”
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s bring in Tom Brokaw. Let’s finish up on the Republicans’ time. You know the Republican regulars have never been enamored of John McCain. When do they sort of buckle and say, “Uncle. OK, we’ll go along with this guy. He’s the only guy we’ve got to beat the Democrats this time”?
BROKAW: Well, I’m not sure that they’ll ever fully embrace them. If you read the Rush Limbaugh blog, for example, or listen to him on the radio or read George Will just this week, they’ve been very critical of him. But they don’t have much else of a place to go, because they have really never warmed to Mitt Romney. They have never embraced him in the same way that they did Ronald Reagan.
By the way, I just heard from a friend in California who has been deeply involved in Republican Party politics out there for a long time. And she said that we ought not to overlook the fact that Giuliani is extremely well organized throughout California in almost every county, and he’s got a long list of major endorsements that he can now hand off to McCain.
McCain is in a very strong position out there in the latest CNN/”Los Angeles Time” poll. I think he was up by 13 percent.
But look, what we’re seeing here, perhaps this year, is the redefinition of the Republican Party. I said earlier in the evening, we are witness to the fact that it’s no longer monolithic in this primary process. We’ll see how it emerges in the fall. Has it reorganized itself in its own way?
Giuliani was interested tonight in the way he talked about the fact that we could no longer have red states versus blue states. That’s been the foundation of American politics, Republican and Democrat, for sometime. We have been a deeply polarized country.
And maybe there is the recognition now that that’s got to come to an end. You can’t have a national Republican Party unless you can win in the northeast and also in the northwest. You can’t be a major or a national Democratic Party unless you can win those red states in the heartland of America, and both parties are attempting to find the formula to do just that.
So this is a historic year in so many ways, Chris.
OLBERMANN: So it will be a reconstituted, perhaps, in the fall party, Tom. We know this much for tonight. It’s a reconstituted Republican race.
Rudy Giuliani will, per our sources, drop out and endorse John McCain, the winner of Florida tonight, in an event at the Reagan Library. Talk about your locales.
So we—we have a sort of buttoning up of events in Florida tonight with Republican. And now to our thanks to Tom Brokaw, and to Tim Russert, and to Brian Williams of NBC News, who have been good enough to be with us throughout the evening.
And when we come back, Senator Hillary Clinton, who did, indeed, finish with more votes in Florida than any other Democrat, but again, no delegates were at stake tonight, even though she assured her supporters they will be seated. Find out exactly what that means when we talk to her as MSNBC’s live coverage of the live Florida primary continues after this.
OLBERMANN: The headlines are in from Florida, where Hillary Clinton, the senator from New York, has received more votes than Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and many more votes than former senator, John Edwards.
And we know about the Republican headlines, to recap that just briefly. The winner of the primary in Florida, John McCain, with Governor Romney finishing in second place. The apparent third-place finisher, Rudy Giuliani, will drop out tomorrow, per our sources here at NBC News, and endorse—in a ceremony of some sort at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, will endorse John McCain for president of the United States.
To the Democrats. We’re joined now by Senator Clinton. She did—did finish with the most votes in the Democratic event, a race in which the candidates had pledged not to campaign and for which no delegates were being awarded.
Senator, thanks for your time tonight.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Keith.
It’s great to talk to you.
OLBERMANN: What was that event in Florida? Would you define it for us?
CLINTON: It was a great victory for the people of Florida. They came out and voted, and their votes are going to count, because they understood clearly that there was a lot at stake in this election. And they were not going to be discouraged from making their views known.
And I’m very grateful for the big victory that I had tonight. I’m going to do everything I can to convince my delegates and others to seat the Florida delegates at the convention.
OLBERMANN: Does that effort—and you mentioned that in your comments to your crowd there in Davie, Florida, earlier in the evening—does that effort, is it fair for the critics who look at that effort and say, “This is—this is Senator Clinton trying to change the agreed-upon rules in Florida after the game has already begun and, in fact, has already been played”?
CLINTON: No, not at all. I mean, we agreed that e would not campaign in either Florida or Michigan. And we—I certainly did not. And I was pleased that, against an organized effort to vote uncommitted in Michigan, I got a healthy majority there. And I’m pleased that today I had another victory in Florida.
There had been the four early contests. I’m very grateful for my victories in New Hampshire and Nevada and in Michigan and Florida.
And I think it’s absolutely fair to say that any Democrat needs to win Michigan and Florida if we’re going to be sure to have a victory in November of 2008. That’s what I intend to do, Keith. And I think there’s no reason why anyone should doubt the importance of Florida. We’ve seen that time and time again.
So I am going to work to do everything I can to seat these delegates. I think they’ve earned it. They played by the rules. We all played by the rules. But now we need to move on. And we need to start thinking about victory for the Democrats, and that’s what I’m going to do.
MATTHEWS: Senator, let me ask you about the rules of the campaign as you understand them. Ted Kennedy, the other day, made some tough comments about the tenor of the campaign so far without naming names. Do you believe that his entry, his commentary yesterday at AU, at American University, will lighten up, make more positive the nature of the campaign in the future?
CLINTON: Well, Chris, I’ve been saying for quite sometime that, you know, it’s really up to those of us who are the candidates to set the tone and tenor of the campaign.
I think you’ve seen both Barack and I on several occasions say that, you know, we have exuberant supporters, including our spouses who, from time to time, you know, are very passionate in defending and promoting us. But it’s important that we set the tone. And that’s what I’m certainly trying to do.
Because I want this election to be about the American people. That’s what it should be about. It’s about, you know, their jobs, their health care, their education. You know, all of the big issues that are facing us as a nation.
So I’m going to do everything I can. And I’ve certainly been doing that, to keep the focus where it belongs, on the future of the people whom I listen to, whose homes I visit in. Because they’re looking to have a president who cares about them again, who gets up every morning and, you know, doesn’t favor the wealthy and the well-connected but worries about what’s going on in, you know, the homes across America. And I intend to do that.
MATTHEWS: You know, everybody noticed today that President Clinton was very effective, very disciplined, very on-message, limited his time when he spoke to about exactly 30 minutes. Everything seemed to be along the lines you just described. Have you got it all reined in?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Chris, it’s my campaign. I take responsibility for my campaign. I have made it very clear to everyone that we’re going to stay focussed on the agenda that I have set forth for America. We’re going to keep talking about the specific plans that I have, because I want to be held accountable.
When the cameras are turned off and the speeches are over, the American people deserve to know what each of us will do if we’re given the great honor of being the president. That’s the kind of campaign I’m running. That’s what I’m going to be doing as hard as I can and in as many places as I can reach between now and Super Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: After Ted Kennedy gave that very tough speech that was cutting in many ways, he did some interviews yesterday with Tavis Smiley on “The Today Show.” He changed his tone rather dramatically to a milder approach, in which he said that the three leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination agree on most issues. I ask you, if you have a chance to talk to each of the voters voting next Tuesday right now, what is the one thing that separates you from the other two candidates, the other two front runners?
CLINTON: Well, I think that I have the experience we need to make the changes we want. And I have been very specific about exactly what I would do, how I would pay for what I think needs to be done in America, and the kind of policies that I propose that really go to the heart of, you know, relieving the anxieties and concerns of the American people.
We heard a State of the Union last night that you know I wasn’t sure which country it was about, because it’s not the country I’ve been visiting every day for the last year, where people are losing their homes to foreclosure because of abusive mortgage lending practices, where we’re at 100 dollars a barrel oil and we cannot continue that, and the two oil men in the White House seem not to be worried about it, where we’ve got all of the concerns of the people losing their health care and not being able to get their insurance companies to pay for what they need.
There are so many real problem and I think the American people want a problem solver back in the White House, somebody who gets up every single day, worries about them, their kids, their future, their jobs, and that’s what I intend to do.
OLBERMANN: Senator, one other question here that pertains to a statement that Senator Obama’s campaign just put out. And we would appreciate your reaction to it. Let me read it in full; “when Senator Clinton was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, she said that states like Michigan and Florida that won’t award delegates, quoting you, don’t count for anything, end quote. Now that Senator Clinton has lost badly in South Carolina, she’s trying to assign meaning to a contest that awards zero delegates and where no campaigning has occurred.”
Beyond the laughter, what’s your reaction to that?
CLINTON: Well, that’s typical campaign jargon. Look, we have each won two of the early four states. I have also won in Michigan against a very concerted effort by our opponents to try to get people to vote uncommitted. And I have just won a big victory in Florida.
The election is about the future. Coming very close in time is whether or not Democrats will be able to put together the electoral votes to win. And I think all of those voters who turned out for us already in the states that have participated didn’t do it just to have their vote counted one time. They did it because they thought that they were picking the next president of the United States.
The way to get to have the next president be a Democrat is to make sure every state believes that its votes counts. And there’s not any state where that’s more important than Florida because of recent history. We all agreed not to campaign. But now that the election has been held, I’m very proud that I won and I’m very much looking forward to having Florida in the winning column in November.
OLBERMANN: Senator Hillary Clinton, who got at least, with 82 percent reporting, 794,700 votes. Our great thanks for your time tonight.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, senator.
CLINTON: Thank you, good to talk to you.
OLBERMANN: When Chris and I return, more about how John McCain won in Florida tonight among Republicans, and how he won the heart of Rudy Giuliani tonight. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary and the aftermath tomorrow at the Reagan Library, where things switch.
MATTHEWS: What a night in politics. Welcome back to MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Florida primary, where John McCain is the big winner over Mitt Romney. MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell standing by with more on the exit polling information. Norah?
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That’s right, Chris. John McCain won tonight by doing well among key Floridian constituents, Hispanics, seniors, veterans, Republican moderates, and by holding his own among evangelicals.
Let’s go inside the numbers. John McCain was endorsed by Senator Mel Martinez, won more than half of the mostly Cuban Hispanic votes. Rudy Giuliani actually finished second ahead of Mitt Romney.
Second, the electorate was older than in any other presidential contest so far this year. A third of the primary was at least 65 years old and John McCain won among that group.
Also, he finished first among seniors with 41. But Romney was behind with 31 percent. It’s interesting because Rudy Giuliani, he campaigned hard among transplanted New Yorkers in this age group, but he had a very disappointing performance. Look at that, only getting 17 percent.
Another group important in Republican politics, evangelicals, four in 10 Republican voters in this primary say they are born again or evangelical Christians. Tonight, look at this, McCain held his own. The same amount as Huckabee, a Baptist preacher—almost the same, I should say, as Romney and Huckabee there. So really interesting for McCain.
And as we mentioned before, veterans broke for McCain, former POW. He’s the father of one son who is serving in Iraq, another in the Naval Academy. He won amongst veterans.
Finally, in this hard fought contest, we found that the endorsement by Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist, that really mattered. Also, looking ahead to Super Tuesday, it was interesting; although McCain lost among conservatives, he more than made up for it among so-called moderate Republicans. Keith and Chris?
MATTHEWS: That’s right. Despite, as everybody was saying, including Tim, especially Tim, that he doesn’t want that moniker of moderate as he continues to try to win conservative votes, that is, in fact, the people who are voting for him.
Up next, we’ll get with our panel tonight. This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
OLBERMANN: With Florida in the books for John McCain and Rudy Giuliani now in the books for John McCain, according to our sources, the race moves on to Super Tuesday, where more than 20 states, including California, will hold their primaries next Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: Well, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown join us now from California. And in Washington, U.S. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat who supports Barack Obama. I’ve got to hear from the mayor. Your honor, Mr. Speaker, who’s going to win the California primary for the Democrats next Tuesday?
WILLIE BROWN, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: I would assume it will be Hillary Clinton. At least, that’s the way the polls seem to read it, as well as many of the people that I talk to in the streets.
MATTHEWS: What about Ted Kennedy and perhaps Caroline Kennedy showing up there as part of a barn storming campaign with Barack.
BROWN: Great entertainment, as always, in California. You have these superstar-type politicians coming in the town, public opinion makers, but they seldom, if ever, sway the hard core voters. And my guess is that Senator Kennedy coming in, Caroline coming in, will increase Barack Obama’s performance, but not sufficient to wipe out Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Congresswoman Sanchez. You and your sister have different views on this, I understand. You are with Senator Obama and your older sister, who preceded you in the House of Representatives, Loretta, is for Senator Clinton. Tell me why you think your candidate can do better out in California?
REP. LINDA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think Barack Obama is clearly gaining a lot of momentum. He is closing the gap in polling. As we’ve seen, polls aren’t always an accurate reflection. But he definitely is gaining momentum. Just based on the raw numbers of volunteers who have signed up to walk door-to-door to make and phone calls to registered voters, I think he’s going to close that gap. I think he’ll do very well in California and he may even win California.
MATTHEWS: How do you offset the power of Bill Clinton, the former president. I’ve seen it myself out there. It’s something else to behold, the love affair that the state of California, especially in the L.A. area, Santa Monica, I guess everywhere in the state, has for President Clinton.
SANCHEZ: Well, it’s no secret that Clinton has visited California quite often. But I think people were watching what was happening in the days preceding the South Carolina primary. I think that they were, quite frankly, turned off by the negative tone of the campaign. And I think that voters in California are fed up with negative campaigning. They’re tired of divisive politics, and I think the huge win that Barack Obama had in South Carolina was indicative of the fact that most voters are looking for somebody who is going to unite all different kinds of people to try to help solve the problems that this country very seriously needs to start the address.
I think his message of unity, I think his positive campaigning, his principled and consistent stance on the issue, are really going to appeal to California voters.
MATTHEWS: Mayor Brown, Senator Clinton said she has the former president, her husband, reined in to a real disciplined, positive campaign role now, sticking on message. Do you think all will be forgiven of the last two or three weeks of the political mayhem that’s gone on?
BROWN: Let me tell you, in the world of politics, absolutely. There are no permanent enemies and there are clearly no permanent friends, as evidenced by what Ted Kennedy did to the Clinton’s most recently. Yes, the Democrats will get together. We will defeat the Republican nominee, even if it happens to be John McCain.
I frankly think, Chris, that many people are focusing now on John McCain, on the basis that he can cut into the Democratic majority. He can cut in with moderate Democrats. He can do something with independents. I think that’s all passed. Let me tell you, Barack Obama’s ability to generate so many new people, the same way Jesse Jackson did back in 1984 -- if you remember, the Jackson ‘84 surge gave us back the U.S. Senate in ‘86. The Barama (ph) performance now, just like Barack Obama has performed well, is going to be to the benefit of Democrats no matter where, whether it’s Barack, or whether it’s Hillary, or whether it’s John Edwards.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask that of Congresswoman Sanchez, last question; do you believe if Barack Obama doesn’t get the nomination that all the legions of people, especially young people, the disenfranchised who have come out and shown a love for Barack Obama, will go for Senator Clinton in November?
SANCHEZ: I think that Barack is a once in a generation kind of leader that can inspire people who never participated in politics before to get involved because they understand that they have a stake in our country’s future and they have a say in our country’s future. And I think once you’ve ignited that recognition among people, it’s hard to completely stop a movement. I think he’s very charismatic and regardless of who the nominee is, I know he’ll be out on the campaign trail trying to generate support for the Democratic candidate, whether it’s him or somebody else.
I think that people just respond to him. I don’t think that it’s like a faucet that you can turn on and shut off. These people are going to be watching. They’re going to be paying attention and they’re going to be participating come November.
MATTHEWS: We’ll see. Thank you very much, Willie Brown, former speaker of San Francisco, former speaker of the California House. Thank you. And thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez.
We continue our look ahead to next week’s Super Tuesday. It’s called Super Tuesday by some. Now the Republicans are going to come up. NBC News political director Chuck Todd has a look at where John McCain goes from here.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Chris, I did a little back of the napkin math, and under the worst case scenario of what—how John McCain performs next Tuesday, he’s going to walk away with nearly 600 delegates. It starts with these winner-take-all states that, thanks to Rudy Giuliani, now exist both in the northeast and Arizona. You’ve got New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Arizona. All together, that’s 234 delegates, awarded winner take all.
I think it’s pretty safe to safe say, barring some catastrophic event, that John McCain will probably walk away with all of those states and he will start with 234 delegates.
Now you look at the rest of the playing field, and you have states like California, which awards by Congressional district, winner take all. He’s already leading there by double digits. He’s likely to get two thirds of that. But even if you just gave him half of what he got out of there, if Romney was able to split that—you throw in a place like Missouri, where Mike Huckabee is going to be campaigning hard. It’s a winner-take-all state. Huckabee, Romney split the difference and suddenly McCain can win with 33 percent and grab that.
You start doing the math and I came up with, at a minimum, he’ll 574 delegates coming out of February 5th. After tonight, he needs 1,098 delegates for the nomination. He’s going to get half of what he needs minimum, probably more, if he gets it bump out of here that we think he gets. Even if he doesn’t get a bump out of here, he’s going to get half of what he needs just next Tuesday and possibly more.
This is a—this is a train that’s leaving the station and it will be interesting to watch how other members of the Republican establishment get on board quickly. I’m guessing there are a lot of endorsements that the McCain campaign has had in their back pocket, that once they won this, they’re just going to start lining up. Don’t be surprised if between now and Super Tuesday, we see one big one every day.
MATTHEWS: I like your work. Thank you very much, Chuck Todd, NBC political director.
OLBERMANN: About an hour and a half ago, when we last spoke with Howard Fineman, he was reporting the initial nature of the negotiations, the when and the where about what Rudy Giuliani would be doing for John McCain. Now we know what that will be. It’s going to be at the Ronald Reagan Library.
We’ll switch with Howard now to the Democratic issue of the night. The delegates that were not awarded in tonight’s Florida primary. I didn’t get that impression at all from Hillary Clinton, did you?
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”: No, you did not. It was all real to her. Unlike the Republican situation, where, as chuck says, the train may be getting ready to leave the station, that may not be the case, or you may have trains running down parallel tracks, which is why Florida once again matters. It’s like Ground Hog Day. We can’t get away from Florida.
Here’s what’s going to happen now. Even though no delegates were awarded, according to the rules, in talking to people in Florida and at the National Democratic Party, here’s what’s going to go on. The Florida party is going to stage local caucuses, regional caucuses, and then state caucuses at which they will pick delegates.
Now there are 210 delegates that were wiped off the map by the decision of the party. These phantom delegates are going to exist. They are going to be real people. By the way, the way the vote breaks down, they’re not all going to be Hillary delegates. There are going to be a lot of Obama delegates as well.
They’re then going to come up to Washington, DC, to knock on the door of the credentials committee come June, and say, here we are, the 210 phantom delegates of Florida; how can you reject us? Florida is so important. You have to seat us. There are going to be, by the way, some Obama supporters, some money people for Obama who are Floridians, who are going to be arguing for that too.
Now, depending on where things are in this Democratic race, where all
of the primaries are proportional representation, no winner-take-all primaries -
Chuck can do the back of the envelope calculations for the Republicans because there are a lot of winner take all events. There are none on the Democratic side.
If it stays close, we may have a situation in June where the 210
phantom delegate of Florida become the indispensable key to who actually wins
the nomination. That’s one very likely scenario and one that the Democrats in
Florida are pursuing right now. They’re already setting up these caucuses down
OLBERMANN: So, let’s see. The first time we had controversial Florida slates of delegates, the electoral college of 1876, ‘77. We haven’t been able to straighten this out in 140 years?
FINEMAN: Took a commission to figure that one out. The Democrats may be restless. They may have thought—Howard Dean and company may have thought they were really being tough and enforcing the rules and keeping Florida and Michigan out. This is going to come back. I’m telling you, unless there’s a blowout and even if there’s a blowout—let’s say one of the other nominees, candidates, wins big, then they’re going to definitely have to let them in because the Florida Democrats are prepared to argue.
By the way, they’re going to spend money on this. The Florida Democrats are going to mount what is their own campaign to get these delegates seated. They’re going to be calling around the country. There are going to be mailings. I wouldn’t be surprised to see TV commercials in DC. that’s where it’s going.
OLBERMANN: Seat the Florida 215. I said 140 years. It only feels like 140 years, actually 131.
MATTHEWS: Let’s check back in with the panel, with Norah O’Donnell leading the way.
O’DONNELL: I’ll be anchoring the 11:00 coverage. One of the things we’re going to be talking about tonight is just how John McCain won. And Pat Buchanan, he managed to lose conservatives to Mitt Romney tonight, but he did well among moderates.
BUCHANAN: He lost the arch conservatives, very conservatives, but moderates conservatives he ran even. And on moderates and liberals, he did exceedingly well. It was a good victory, but it really shows; what’s congealing is sort of the moderates and the liberals. And some conservatives are coming together saying John McCain is the nominee.
O’DONNELL: Are you surprised that he did as well as Mitt Romney and Huckabee among evangelicals?
BUCHANAN: No, not too much, in the sense that a lot of those military folks up there in Pensacola and those areas where he was doing well—a lot of the military folks are religious folks down there. And a lot of folks grew up and join—it’s a military state and a lot of them are evangelical Christians.
ROBINSON: Norah, I’ll tell you what surprises me, and it’s really bad news for Mitt Romney, is that 45 percent of Republicans in Florida felt the economy was the most important issue. That’s a big plurality. Of those voters, they actually went for John McCain, 38 to 32, John McCain, who has confessed that he doesn’t really understand the economy.
So—and Romney obviously does. So that’s really bad news for Romney. If he can’t win on that issue, I don’t know what he can win on.
MADDOW: We talked a little bit earlier about the ways that McCain attacked Romney. We talked a lot about him attacking him on Iraq. But McCain really went after Romney on his economic record. We all think Romney, rich guy, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into Romney invulnerable on the economy. The third worst job creation record in the country as governor of Massachusetts. McCain hit him with that over and over again.
O’DONNELL: We’re going to have more with our panel, but I’ll throw it back to Keith and Chris.
OLBERMANN: How about that. The non-economy candidate wins with the support of those who are interested in the economy, and he wins despite poor funding.
Join us again in one week for the biggest primary night in world history, Super Tuesday. More than 20 states and several galaxies will be voting. Norah O’Donnell and the panel will, as she mentioned, resume our coverage here on MSNBC after a break. For Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. Thank you for being with us. Stay with Norah and the panel after this.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: John McCain has won the Florida primary
and tomorrow will win the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Hillary Clinton will
win most votes in Florida and zero delegates.
At 11:00 p.m. Eastern, this is Tuesday night, and let’s begin with a look at the Republican numbers.
NBC News has declared Senator McCain the projected winner in the Florida Republican primary. He edges past Governor Mitt Romney. Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee running far behind. Governor Huckabee indicated earlier tonight that he will be staying in the race. Mayor Giuliani, speaking in the past tense, sounded as if he had already dropped out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign. If you believe in a cause, it goes on, and you continue to fight for it. And we will.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: And NBC News has confirmed that Mr. Giuliani will endorse Senator McCain tomorrow at the Reagan Library in California.
Governor Romney, meanwhile, in his speech tonight, sounded as if Senator McCain had already won the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Washington is fundamentally broken. And we’re not going to change Washington by sending the same people back just to sit in different chairs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Senator McCain, who trained at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in the last 1950s, shared his gratitude tonight with the Sunshine State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Florida Republicans, for bringing a former Florida resident across the finish line first, and, as I have been repeatedly reminded lately, an all-Republican primary.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: He likes to make that point.
Senator McCain won 57 delegates tonight in this Republican winner-take-all format. In the Democratic primary, no delegates will be allocated. Senator Clinton will finish with more votes than any other Democrat, Senator Obama second and Senator Edwards third.
I’m Norah O’Donnell at MSNBC headquarters in New York. And this is our continuing coverage of the Florida primary.
And we begin by looking ahead to Super Tuesday one week from tonight with “Newsweek” senior political Howard Fineman, who is also an MSNBC political analyst.
Howard, a big win for John McCain. You know, Rudy Giuliani said Florida will decide who the Republican nominee is. Does McCain have this wrapped up?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he doesn’t
have it wrapped up, but he’s getting out the wrapping paper.
As Chuck Todd was strategy earlier, if you look at the February 5 events, McCain has a chance to sweep some winner-take-all primaries and do well in some big places. But don’t count Mitt Romney out yet, Norah.
I was just talking to some of his people, and here’s what they told me. First of all—and this may not sound so surprising—but the campaign person told me, this campaign will not lose for lack of resources. And the translation of that is, less money for the five Mitt Romney children and more money for the campaign.
FINEMAN: They’re going to spend it all. I think Romney has decided he’s just going to spend it all in an effort to win this. And they were encouraged by the fact—the one piece of encouragement they took out of Florida, Norah, is that Romney did win among self-described conservatives.
FINEMAN: And they’re going to that on the road with him. They’re going to leave New York and New Jersey out of the equation. They’re going to try to fight a targeted race in California, using Romney’s money, and focus on states such as Colorado, Georgia, and even Connecticut. They’re conceding New York and New Jersey, but not Connecticut. They think they have got a shot in Connecticut.
So, they’re looking at the chessboard. They now have the difficult—more difficult road for sure. But, because of the money and because of the targeting and because of the discipline, as McCain himself said tonight, Romney is not to be counted out.
O’DONNELL: You know, it is an interesting question, Howard. We think that Mitt Romney may have already spent close to $40 million of his own money. I had been told by one of his advisers that he might go as high as $60 million.
What have you heard is his limit?
FINEMAN: Well, I haven’t heard a figure, but I’m guessing, Norah, that, if he doesn’t do well on Super Tuesday, on the world’s most important primary day, as Keith was saying, I’m not sure you will then hear another statement from an insider on the campaign, this campaign will not lose for lack of resources.
FINEMAN: I mean, this is probably the last big bet that Mitt Romney will make, another $20 million, $30 million maybe. That still leaves him with a couple hundred million.
But, if it doesn’t pan out and if he—if it doesn’t pan out on Super Tuesday, then I don’t think you will hear that statement anymore.
O’DONNELL: How symbolic is this endorsement of Mayor Giuliani of John McCain tomorrow at the Reagan Library? Nancy Reagan and John McCain are very close. Does that help John McCain with conservatives, with the base, who has long been distrustful of him?
FINEMAN: Well, I think a lot of that base is going to remain distrustful, wherever the Giuliani endorsement takes place.
And keep in mind, Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement is not the way to win over most of the conservatives.
O’DONNELL: Good point.
FINEMAN: The symbolism at the Reagan Library is—and we had an MSNBC debate out there what seems like a decade ago, at the beginning of this process.
It’s an enormously impressive place. The spirit of Ronald Reagan is there. The spirit of the West, the spirit of individualism, the things that made Ronald Reagan such an icon to conservatives are all there. So, it’s a powerful thing. And, if McCain comes in there riding the wave that he’s coming in there riding, that has got to be helpful.
But McCain—I thought the most interesting thing tonight, Norah, was the way in which John McCain was reaching out in his victory statement tonight to all the others in the race, to Romney, and to especially Mike Huckabee. And he’s basically saying to conservatives, look, I’m going to—the subtext was, I’m going to look—I’m going to work hard to win your trust. I know I have a way to go here.
And that’s really what—what the major challenge for John McCain is from now on, I think.
O’DONNELL: What is Huckabee’s angle? I mean, he will stay in this race. There will be a debate tomorrow night among the Republicans remaining in this race. Is he hoping to be vice president? What’s his angle?
FINEMAN: Well, I think he’s still hoping to be accepted fully as a national figure. It hasn’t quite happened for him, the way he had hoped after Iowa.
He hoped that that would immediately translate into a respected status as a national person, and not just a sort of regional or sectarian candidate. That hasn’t panned out for him. I think he still wants that. And, of course, the—the cruelty of the situation for him is, he’s going to have to focus on the Bible Belt as a place to win more delegates on Super Tuesday. And that’s just going to reinforce his standing as a regional candidate.
I think he likes John McCain. I think, if he can’t win it, he would—if Huckabee can’t win it, he would like McCain to win it. I think there’s absolutely no love lost between the Romney and the Huckabee people. It’s even worse than between the Romney and the McCain people.
So, I—and McCain will be very happy to have Huckabee stay in the race. And another unspoken thing here is that, if McCain continues to prosper, and Huckabee continues to run with no money, the unspoken promise is that, if McCain wins, he will help Huckabee retire his debt. That’s the kind of things we’re looking at now.
O’DONNELL: All right, Howard Fineman, thank you so much.
And we’re going to bring in Craig Crawford, who is an MSNBC political analyst. And he is in Orlando tonight for us.
And, Craig, we were talking about this big win by McCain. An interesting coalition of Floridians pushed him over the edge. He did well among seniors. He did well among veterans. He held his own among evangelicals.
And while he lost the conservatives to Mitt Romney, he did well among moderates.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, one pollster told me going into this, he had never seen—an accomplished pollster in Florida—never seen a campaign where the lead kept flipping back and forth, back and forth.
It was almost like voters at the grocery store, you know, just a couple of brands they were trying to pick from, pick one up, play with it, put it back, pick this one up, look at it. And, at the end of the day, Romney ran out of time, and McCain was the final choice.
I think it was sort of a pulling of heartstrings, I suppose, somebody who has been on the scene for a long time. But now all of the conservatives have an alternative to McCain, those who don’t like McCain. They have got one choice, pretty much now. And that’s Romney. And that will be the test of the next week or so, is whether Romney can coalesce that to really maintain a threat against McCain.
O’DONNELL: Craig, he won among Hispanics a majority of that vote, probably helped by the endorsement of Senator Mel Martinez and the governor of the state, Charlie Crist. Those were endorsements, I know, that Mitt Romney’s campaign was surprised about, even Giuliani’s campaign surprised about.
It helped in the end and—to push him over the edge.
CRAWFORD: You bet.
You know, Charlie Crist, this is a big night for him, in making this choice at the end, clever choice in terms of the timing, because he really gets a lot of credit for this, in a lot of people’s minds. And I look forward to November, Norah. And this tells me, Democrats have not just the problem of the national party meltdown with the state party over these delegates we have been talking about, but, also, they’re looking at a governor here in Florida who can deliver.
I really think what we have seen tonight, this governor, able to deliver a victory to his endorsed candidate. And the Democrats, in such—they hate each other now between the state and national levels. They have been in lawsuits over it. I really think Florida is moving away from the Democratic column, particularly if the other candidates, like Hillary, don’t get busy and try to repair the damage.
O’DONNELL: That’s a really interesting point, Craig Crawford. Thanks so much.
And, Eugene, do we have a Republican front-runner now?
EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
Well, sure looks like it.
ROBINSON: I mean, if you go through Chuck Todd’s math, it’s hard to poke holes on his argument that, on the back of an envelope, it looks really good for John McCain.
The—as Craig pointed out, the other reality, though, is that conservatives really only have one choice now. And it is Mitt Romney, because Huckabee is not going to win. So, it’s going to be Romney vs. McCain. And that’s the battle that will be played out. McCain did so well among conservatives in Florida, that you have to figure he can keep that up.
You know, the question—so, the question going forward is, if he’s the front-runner, if he gets the nomination, when he runs in the general, does he look more like Ronald Reagan or Bob Dole?
And, you know, Rachel, someone said tonight , if John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, or essentially has this aura of the inevitable Republican nominee, how does that change the Democratic race? Does that change for Democratic voters when they look and say, do I want Hillary Clinton running against John McCain or do I want Barack Obama running against John McCain?
RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, we—nobody would have known that we would have had a Republican obvious front-runner before a Democratic obvious front-runner in this race.
If the Republicans decide first, then that makes a very clear choice for Democrats who are choosing on the basis of electability. Barack Obama has already, I think, foreshadowed that choice and Democrats making that choice when he started talking about his campaign being about the future vs. the past. That works when you’re running against Hillary Clinton. It really works when you’re running against John McCain.
MADDOW: He’s setting himself up as the ideal McCain defeater.
O’DONNELL: Pat, what about that, I mean, what the Democrats do?
You have John McCain, who is 71 years old, I believe, which would make him about 25 years older than Barack Obama, as opposed to someone like Hillary Clinton, who is more of his contemporary.
Experience? Are Democrats going to say experience is more important now, when they look about running against someone, a veteran like John McCain?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you take a real risk with Barack Obama if you have got some kind of foreign policy crisis and you have got John McCain against him.
But, you know, tonight, I have looked at these numbers. And Barack Obama has the same problem he has had in South Carolina. He got 22 percent of the white vote, which is the same share as John Edwards got. Edwards got no minority votes at all. Barack did terrific among African-Americans. Seventy percent of them...
O’DONNELL: Yes, but, Pat, what about analyzing these numbers is not fair? He did not get the opportunity to go down there and campaign.
O’DONNELL: He did not get the opportunity to see these voters face to face, to make that pitch. And a lot of people say, once they see Barack Obama, it changes them.
But, look, he lost the Hispanic vote again 2-1. He did that in Nevada, the same thing. The point is, there are these large blocs which are going to be very meaningful in the general, Hispanics particularly, because that’s a swing vote, and, of course, the white vote, which Democrats have to get a very high share of.
And he’s—and here we are. We are now, what, seven days away from Super Tuesday for the Democrats, and, if Barack doesn’t really dramatically improve these votes, I think he’s going to face a wipeout probably worse than something happening on the Republican side.
O’DONNELL: Gene, what’s the likelihood of that?
ROBINSON: Well, we will know in a week.
ROBINSON: I mean, this—this essentially only proves that, if he doesn’t campaign, if he doesn’t get a chance to put out his message and introduce himself to people who don’t know him, then he loses, And he loses big.
BUCHANAN: How does he do that, Gene, in seven days?
See, we have got 22 states.
BUCHANAN: Or 21 states. That’s three states a day?
ROBINSON: Well, no, the question is...
MADDOW: Campaigning matters, though.
MADDOW: I mean, there’s a lot of states that are in play that we didn’t think would be in play. I mean, Massachusetts right now has the governor and both senators endorsing Barack Obama. Who ever cared about Massachusetts primary preferences before? But now we’re in a game where it matters.
O’DONNELL: Well, Obama’s campaign manager held a conference call this morning, and he pointed out they’re on the air on radio and TV in every single Super Tuesday state, except Illinois.
O’DONNELL: They are airing these endorsement ads by Caroline Kennedy in many of the states. So, they are spending big time a lot of their money on these states, having...
O’DONNELL: As much as they can. And Teddy Kennedy is going to go everywhere he can, at least in the places where he’s well-liked, in order to help, and counter Bill Clinton.
ROBINSON: The Obama campaign has an organization that is second to none. They have two offices in Alaska, OK?
ROBINSON: I think it’s the only campaign...
O’DONNELL: You were on that conference call, too.
ROBINSON: ... with two offices in Alaska.
ROBINSON: But—but you can then argue...
O’DONNELL: There aren’t many delegates, I don’t think.
ROBINSON: ... organization itself doesn’t—doesn’t take you the full way.
So, you got to put Barack on a plane. You put Teddy on a plane. You put Caroline on a plane, because they’re very effective surrogates.
O’DONNELL: And they hinted that Oprah Winfrey might be back out on the campaign trail.
ROBINSON: You—maybe you bring Oprah out in California.
BUCHANAN: Right. Well...
ROBINSON: This is—but this is the week. This is the time to go for it.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, I agree with you. These guys have got—he’s had as much money, I think, as Hillary had. He’s got tremendous—he didn’t get the momentum, but he got a great victory out of South Carolina.
But, I mean, you keep looking at these numbers and the same problems keep recurring.
BUCHANAN: And this Super Tuesday comes closer and closer and closer.
ROBINSON: No, that’s right. He’s got to do it this week.
But back up for a second. This is a guy named Barack Hussein Obama, who has a Kenyan father, Kansan mother...
ROBINSON: ... was a senator from Illinois. And look where he is now.
MADDOW: He’s done the improbable already.
ROBINSON: He’s done the very improbable.
BUCHANAN: ... tremendous campaign. There’s no doubt about it.
ROBINSON: But it’s getting close.
MADDOW: But, listen, the ideological reach of his endorsements, look it. He’s got Ben Nelson and he’s got Teddy Kennedy.
MADDOW: He’s going for the—he’s going for crossover Republican voters at the same time he’s going for very liberal Democratic voters.
He’s making an ideological statement that reaches the very far frontiers of Democratic possibility. Hillary Clinton is not doing that. Barack Obama has a much higher ceiling than she does.
MADDOW: We understand much better already what she might be able to do.
O’DONNELL: And John McCain is campaigning with Lieberman.
MADDOW: Most hated man in American politics.
BUCHANAN: He said, at one point, I thought Barack Obama was somebody who could win 55 percent of the vote. He’s also somebody who could win only 40 percent in a general election.
BUCHANAN: That’s a real possibility with Barack Obama right now, I think, especially if you get a foreign policy crisis, and you got a community organizer from Chicago. Are you going to put him in charge of the United States of America?
O’DONNELL: All right. All right. We’re going to talk more about this. The panel is staying with us. We have more guests coming up.
And, when we return, we will talk much more about the Latino vote in next Tuesday’s Super Tuesday contest. Pat is hot on that topic.
O’DONNELL: We’re going to talk more about it.
This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary, where John McCain has won tonight.
O’DONNELL: And John McCain the winner tonight in Florida, a big win for him, a winner-take-all primary. And he now jumps to the top of the field in terms of the delegate race and going to pick up the endorsement of Mayor Rudy Giuliani tomorrow at the Reagan Presidential Library in California.
And, looking ahead to Super Tuesday, the importance of the Hispanic vote will be key in many big states, not only for the Republicans, but also for the Democrats.
Joining us now from Burbank to talk more about that is Juan Carlos Gonzalez, a reporter with Telemundo.
And, Juan Carlos, thank you so much for joining us.
JUAN CARLOS GONZALEZ, TELEMUNDO REPORTER: Thank you, Norah. Thank you
for having me here.
O’DONNELL: I don’t know if you heard part of our discussion earlier, but Pat Buchanan was saying, listen, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama have a big fight ahead of them, and Barack Obama has a problem when it comes to Latino voters, that that may hurt him certainly in the Western states, like California and—and other states.
How is he doing there?
GONZALEZ: Well, I think here—I think he has a point, because, the majority here California of Latinos go for Hillary Clinton, we have heard every time we go out and ask people. And they like Hillary Clinton. And, most important, they like her husband, former President Bill Clinton. So, I think he’s right.
O’DONNELL: What about this outreach by Barack Obama? He has won the endorsement of the Kennedys, of course, Ted Kennedy, who is also popular in the Latino community. The memories, of course, of the legacy of Bobby Kennedy, who was close to Cesar Chavez, does any of that help Barack Obama at all?
GONZALEZ: I think it will help, but I think that the figure of Bill Clinton is stronger, because people, I mean, don’t remember that much—I mean, they do remember, but not that much, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, of course.
But they relate Ted Kennedy more to legalization, because he’s working on a program to include legalization for many people who live here in the country without the documents. So, I think they relate to the Kennedys because of that.
But, if you see on the other side, they relate to Hillary Clinton as the wife of what they think was the greatest president in recent years, Bill Clinton.
O’DONNELL: Bill Clinton.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez of Telemundo, thank you so much. Good to talk to you.
GONZALEZ: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: And, of course, Craig Crawford is still in Orlando, Florida, for us.
What about this, Obama’s need to do better among Latino voters on Super Tuesday, Craig?
CRAWFORD: You know, there was a pretty stunning moment in this campaign, when Sergio Bendixen, one of the Latino leaders of the Clinton campaign, was quoted in an article that was quoted to Senator Clinton at a debate.
I think it was Tim Russert in fact who may have been the one to do it, where this Clinton adviser on Latino affairs said, there’s a problem between Latin, or Hispanic, voters and black voters. He was saying, historically, that’s true.
Now, this was before a lot of this discussion we have been having about injecting race. So, that might have been another episode in that discussion, if it hadn’t occurred—if it occurred later.
And Senator Clinton’s response to that fascinated me. She just simply, and rather coldly, said, well, that’s a historical fact. She did not punish or reprimand her Hispanic adviser for having said that.
But I think it was a window into what this campaign is looking at, on both sides, is that there is tension between Hispanic and black voters, and it is going to play a role in California. And that is one reason Ted Kennedy has come into the picture for Obama, is to try to deal with that problem, and help Obama deal with reaching out to Hispanic voters, who do resist a black candidate.
I think Clinton’s adviser was probably, as she said, being historically accurate about that point.
O’DONNELL: Eugene, how much of that is true?
ROBINSON: Well, you know, I keep trying to think of specific instances, certainly, you know, where we have seen it on a big statewide or a kind of national stage like this. And it’s hard...
O’DONNELL: Mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles.
ROBINSON: Villaraigosa, right.
Well, you see it in cities all the time, but this is what—what you see in cities historically as ethnic groups come to cities and form a critical mass and begin to amass political power. You saw it with the Irish and the Italians and, you know, those sorts of blocs.
ROBINSON: I’m trying to think—I’m trying to figure out whether that translates into this sort of national canvas, and I’m not sure. I’m not sure we really have a good precedent for that.
O’DONNELL: Yes. It will be interesting. And it’s one of these discussions about the base, essentially, of the Democratic Party being split, women for Hillary for the most part, African-Americans for Barack Obama, young people for Barack Obama, older people for Hillary Clinton, the split that we sort of see.
Where will Hispanics go?
I’m kind of struck, though, Rachel. Remember what got Hillary Clinton in trouble in that debate with Tim Russert? Remember about the driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?
O’DONNELL: And she wavered on that issue. And, anyway, she eventually said, no.
Barack Obama was the only Democrat who said, yes, he would give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
O’DONNELL: Why doesn’t that sort of garner him some support among Hispanics?
MADDOW: Well, it may.
I think this debate is not yet over within—among Latino Democrats. I think the big dynamic that is happening right now is that, you have seen since—from 2006 to 2008, the number of Latinos identifying themselves as Republicans dropped by 28 percent. And that’s no—there’s no secret why that’s happening. It’s because Latinos are very turned off and scared by the immigration discussion in the Republican Party.
When those Latinos—and there’s a lot of them—look toward the Democratic Party for the first time to try to pick a candidate, policy issues may be the basis on which they make their decision. Sure, race will factor into it. Race factors into every decision that we make, even if it’s just subliminally. But taking overtly strong positions that the Latino community will like may make a big difference for Obama.
O’DONNELL: You know, Pat Buchanan has written a lot of books on immigration.
ROBINSON: Let him roll.
BUCHANAN: You go ahead with that driver’s license in the general.
BUCHANAN: Talk to Governor Spitzer, the late Governor Spitzer.
MADDOW: But, Pat, how do you explain that? Twenty-eight percent fewer Latinos identify as Republicans than just two years ago. I think it’s going to hurt you guys in the general.
BUCHANAN: The real loss for the Republicans in the ‘66 -- or ‘96 -- or 2006 election was, the white vote fell from about 58 percent to 51 percent.
That is an enormous—you know, 2 percent of the white vote is equal to 25 percent of the Hispanic vote. Hispanics are a larger population than African-Americans. Some of them are illegal. Some of them don’t register. Of those who register, some of them don’t vote. They were about 6 percent of the electorate in 2004. Now, it’s rising steadily, but, you know...
O’DONNELL: Well, let’s not jump ahead yet, though, to the Republican Party, because I still think there’s a lot still to talk about with the Democrats.
O’DONNELL: In 2004, Hispanics were 16 percent of the vote in California, 11 percent in New York—that’s key -- 17 percent in Arizona, 9 percent in Florida.
You pointed out he didn’t do well among the Hispanics today.
CRAWFORD: Now, Norah, Norah...
CRAWFORD: ... the California poll—the California poll, why this really matters coming February 5 now is because her big lead, that 10-, 12-point lead we have been talking about in California for Hillary Clinton, if you take that Latino, Hispanic vote out of that poll, that’s almost dead even between her and Obama. That’s why this is so important, this particular vote in that California primary.
MADDOW: And that was true today in Florida as well.
If you only—if it was only...
MADDOW: If it was only a white vote in Florida today on the Republican side, then Mitt Romney would have won. It was only 10 percent of the vote on the Republican side was Latino, which is low for the Republicans because of the Cubans. But that’s the group that made the difference for John McCain. If it was only white people, it would have been Romney.
BUCHANAN: All right.
But, look, let me say, it’s not only the immigration issue. And it’s not—really was—look, back in 1996, Bill Clinton, between ‘92 and ‘96, registered five million new voters.
First-time Hispanic voters, mainly poor Mexican folks, in California voted 91-6 for Clinton and Gore over Dole and Kemp. What it showed, these are poor people coming to this country. They depend on government. They don’t have the Republican idea of anti-government at all. And they naturally vote for services and things like that. And that’s—that is what is killing the Republican Party in California. It’s long before the immigration issue.
O’DONNELL: All right. We are going to be right back with the panel.
And when we return, we are going to talk about which states could be the key battlegrounds next Tuesday. We can already look at the schedules of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to figure that out.
You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida primary.
O’DONNELL: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Florida Primary. NBC News political director Chuck Todd is following all of the headlines from Florida and of course he has a look at where the battle goes from here. And certainly Super Tuesday, we’re already turning our sights toward next week.
Hi there, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hey there, Norah. Well, we’ve already discussed some of John McCain’s base states. It’s sort of this coastal strategy of the Northeast and Arizona, plus California. Romney’s strategy of trying to pick off some caucus states and possibly stay competitive.
But we do have a string of what are going to be totally up for grab states, swing states because they’re not necessarily all winner-take-all. Some of it is proportional. Let’s go through it here a little bit.
We’ll start in the South. Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, then the border states of Ohio—excuse me, of Oklahoma and Missouri, all of these states could be fairly close in a three-way contest when you throw in Mike Huckabee. These are states that all have a decent-sized evangelical population.
As we saw in this Florida contest, a number of counties were carried by Mike Huckabee instead of Mitt Romney, and leaving John McCain in second. But— and then a lot of counties that McCain carried because Huckabee and Romney split the difference. This could absolutely happen in Missouri.
Missouri is a winner-take-all state. He could win it with—McCain could win it with 34 percent thanks to support, say, in the suburbs of St. Louis, a very sort of moderate Republican area, and while the conservative part of the state ends up splitting itself between Huckabee and Romney.
Then we go a couple of other states. One that’s going to be fun to watch is Illinois. Not a lot of delegates are at stake that day because there are some really arcane rules. Leave it to the Illinois Republican Party, not one to always keep things simple, to make it very difficult.
But that preference vote, I don’t think any of us have an idea of who’s going to win, you know, moderate Illinois Republicans win general elections, conservative Illinois Republicans win primaries. It should be interesting there.
And then keep your eye on Massachusetts. Massachusetts was a state that John McCain won in the primary, of course, in 2000. That was one of the states he beat President Bush in. Of course, Mitt Romney is the so-called favorite son. This is an electorate though that could favor McCain.
This is something Romney has got to worry about, the embarrassment factor. What—how big is his victory in Massachusetts? Does McCain come close to him there? The other thing is McCain is encouraged to campaign there. It’s not a winner-take-all state, they award delegates proportionately. And you want to go get delegates.
He’s already going to be in the Northeast campaigning for those winner-take-all, so watch for Massachusetts, it could be really interesting. And if Romney is not careful, it could be the final nail in his campaign coffin.
O’DONNELL: Great points. Love the map. Thank you, Chuck Todd, we appreciate it.
TODD: You got it.
O’DONNELL: And we have much more coming up with our panel and more guests as we look ahead to Super Tuesday. We’re going to be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Florida has always been a special place to me. And it is all the more so tonight. Our victory might not have reached landslide proportions but it is sweet nonetheless.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: John McCain saying a sweet victory for him. We have our panel with us, Gene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, and Pat Buchanan. And joining us also Michael Fauntroy who is of George Mason University and author of “Republicans and the Black Vote.”
And, George (ph), thanks so much for joining us. We were talking earlier about the Democrats and which states are important to them. Where does Hillary Clinton need to do well on Super Tuesday one week from now?
MICHAEL FAUNTROY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think she’s well-positioned to make a real comeback here. She’s currently leading in four of the six largest states going forward. So if she’s able to do well and win California, New York, New Jersey, for example, I really think that she’s back in the game and able to sort of turn around the momentum that Obama clearly has at this point.
He’s doing very well in Georgia, likely to win Illinois as well. And so it seems to me that Hillary is poised to get back into the game.
O’DONNELL: Rachel, what about though what’s going on in—and it’s hard for anybody to remember this, but for the Democrats, it’s proportional. And so it’s not a winner-take-all in these states. So Barack Obama can come in second place and win these rural areas or some of the states is by congressional district that they award delegates, and we could still have a very close delegate race.
MADDOW: We could have a very close delegate race. And the arcane rules of each state about how they’re going to apportion those delegates proportionally are impossible to keep track of in your head, and create an incredibly complex organizational challenge for the campaign in terms of targeting.
I think the broad picture story that it tells to a campaign is that we have got to get a lot of free media. We have got to get a lot of national media coverage. We’ve got to count on reporters all over the country doing some of this work for us. Because you can’t plan an ad buy that will allow you to reach every precinct in the nation unless it’s on national TV.
O’DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, we’ve never seen anything like this. I mean, this is a fascinating election, because we’ve got, not a state race, but a delegate race. And Harold Ickes held a briefing for some reporters, he is with the Clinton campaign, saying don’t you guys call it state wins here and there. It’s about delegates in the future.
ROBINSON: And if it’s about delegates, you’ve got, you know, two—on the Democratic side, you’ve got these two big campaign organizations, two charismatic, attractive, energetic and smart candidates, and they’re going to rack up delegates.
I mean, a win 51-49, you know in a state basically gives each the same number of delegates. And they both, at least for now, have enough money to keep going.
MADDOW: It makes John Edwards incredibly important is what it does.
ROBINSON: It does.
MADDOW: Because it makes John Edwards, as long as he’s in there and he’s controlling some delegates, it really—I know it’s a cliche, but it does make him the kingmaker. It makes it very obvious why he’s not getting out.
O’DONNELL: Well, he wants to be the kingmaker. I’ll guess we’ll see if he becomes the kingmaker.
Michael, you wanted to jump in here?
FAUNTROY: Yes, I really did want to re-emphasize the importance of Florida. You know, for all of the talk about how the national party has slapped the state party down with regard to the change in the calendar, I really believe that ultimately the Florida delegates will be counted.
I can’t imagine that such an important state like Florida will be allowed to go by the wayside for November because I can’t imagine that Florida Democrats would be too excited about being involved in November if they get slapped around during the summer.
O’DONNELL: Oh, I agree, but I think the Democratic Party had no choice. You had states out of control, wanting to frontload these primaries, and they wanted to impose some penalties, right?
BUCHANAN: Well, but look at the Republicans, what they did is they took away half of the delegates in South Carolina and they went ahead with it. They didn’t insult the state by stripping them of all its delegates and they went ahead and let Michigan go ahead.
And so I think the Republicans did the right thing, which is penalize them, but don’t do something stupid. Michigan and Florida are two of the critical states that could go either way. I think the Democrats made a terrible mistake and I think Hillary Clinton did a smart thing going down there.
O’DONNELL: You know, Rachel made a really interesting point earlier while were in the break though, that a lot of Democrats in Florida may have felt disenfranchised, but that didn’t affect how they voted today and turned out, right?
MADDOW: No, that’s right. I was just doing a little kind of back-of-the-envelope calculation on what we know about turnout. And if you just—I think what we ended up with was almost the same turnout for both Democrats and Republicans, about 1.7 million and 1.8 million between them.
If Democrats are being told this doesn’t count and they still turned out in those numbers, it’s incredible. But there is one important contextual fact here, and that is that the Democratic Party in Florida was almost bankrupt really recently. They were literally selling off their office space in order to try to make good on their badly invested money.
I mean, the Democratic Party in Florida has been in really bad straits.
So they are going to need to be able to compete in the general and they are—they’ve got a lot against them.
BUCHANAN: They got some terrible news for Republicans in these races because Iowa had an all-time record turnout for Democrats, way above Republicans. Same thing true in New Hampshire, which is a swing state for Democrats.
O’DONNELL: South Carolina.
BUCHANAN: Same thing in South Carolina, which is a Republican state. And now you get equal numbers in Florida when you had a terrific contest on the Republican side and Democrats didn’t campaign. You had the same turnout. That points to a Democratic year, quite frankly, unless something goes horribly wrong, because with the economy and the war and the Democrats far more energized, you have really got to give the Democratic Party odds-on favorite to take the White House.
O’DONNELL: Yes, record turnout this year.
MADDOW: The Democratic Party is going to put a tag on that, run that as ad this year.
O’DONNELL: Pat Buchanan in his first Democratic ad, I love it. You’ll be raising money for the Democrats now.
Michael Fauntroy, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
FAUNTROY: You’re welcome.
O’DONNELL: And more with our wonderful panel coming up when we return. You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Florida Primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today and I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida’s Democratic delegates seated, but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because free people have the strength to overcome whatever problems we have to face if we face them united and together.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GIULIANI: We’ll stay involved. We’ll stay involved. And together we’ll make sure that we do everything we can to hand our nation off to the next generation better than it was handed to us, confident that America will always be the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: And that was Rudy Giuliani, who is expected to drop out of the race tomorrow and endorse John McCain for president. We’re back, of course, with our panel. And joining us is Ward Connerly, the founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, and a Giuliani supporter.
Ward, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us. And I have to ask you, I mean, what a spectacular fall for Rudy Giuliani, from national front-runner to a man who leaves this race with one delegate and having lost five states to Ron Paul. What happened?
WARD CONNERLY, FOUNDER & CHMN., AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well,
he imploded. And it is hard to explain why. The—there are some who say
that the strategy of not entering the early contests was a flawed one and
indeed it probably was. But I think it went deeper than that. I think that
Mayor Giuliani never connected…
O’DONNELL: Ward, let me—we’re having trouble hearing you, so we’re going to fix that.
And, Patrick J, Buchanan, I’m going to go to you on this. What happened? Was this a flawed strategy from the very beginning to just risk everything on Florida?
BUCHANAN: Well, it certainly was a flawed strategy, especially when, I mean, he had 35 percent, he was running ahead of everybody else in the national polls, and he skipped Iowa. I can understand why you might do that, looking out there, the way McCain did in 2000. And he skipped New Hampshire.
I mean, why did he skip New Hampshire? He could fight up there. And then he—you know, he then skips Michigan, skips South Carolina, waiting, and he’s in the dark. His campaign was—he was under eclipse, you know, while all of these great battles going on.
Huckabee is rising, Romney is rising, McCain is rising. But you have got three people out there and nobody is even seeing him.
O’DONNELL: Ward, what about that? I mean, inside the campaign, you’re a Giuliani supporter, weren’t there people who were saying, Mayor, you’ve got to get in this race, you’re being eclipsed?
CONNERLY: No, I don’t think there were. I think that most of those who were involved in the campaign thought that the strategy was a sound one at the time. But frankly, whether he erred or not, he just wasn’t connecting. And I still think that he’s a guy that would be very good for the country in many, many respects. But he just wasn’t connecting with the base of the party and certainly those beyond.
O’DONNELL: Rachel, is that what he was, he wasn’t connecting or was he just not even showing up?
MADDOW: Well, the fact is that he did kind of show up. I mean, the person who made the second-most visits to New Hampshire, other than Mitt Romney, was Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani was—supposedly started campaigning in Florida. Well, he was out of money by the time that Florida started. Why? Because he spent it all on those early states for those fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-place finishes. He did spend.
O’DONNELL: Everybody kept saying, he’s the front-runner, he was the front-runner for so long.
ROBINSON: He was the front-runner because of name recognition and people remembered him from 9/11. And you know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But it was a flawed candidacy. And you know, he not only didn’t connect with people, he didn’t seem to particularly enjoy it.
I mean, that—the vibe comes through. You look at the Clintons, you look at Obama, you look at Huckabee, they go out and they’re having fun.
O’DONNELL: They are working it. They are breaking a sweat.
ROBINSON: They’re working it, they’re having fun. Giuliani always—you know, that’s not him. Running a presidential campaign is not him.
BUCHANAN: He did best among those who did not know him. When you got
to know him up close…
BUCHANAN: … he collapsed, and that’s the truth. That’s the truth.
O’DONNELL: Ward, what about that? I mean, the sense that he wasn’t breaking a sweat out there on the campaign trail and quite frankly tonight, he looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of this contest.
CONNERLY: Yes, that—you know, candidly, that’s the way a lot of—a lot of people saw it, even within the campaign. And I don’t want to, you know, beat the guy when he’s down, but it just never—there was never any fire there. And when you’re not contesting the early ones, it’s pretty hard to ignite that toward the tail end.
O’DONNELL: So why did you support him?
O’DONNELL: Why did you support him when there was no fire?
CONNERLY: I just said, you don’t beat a guy when he’s down, you know?
O’DONNELL: So you had doubts, I mean, you had doubts, and you know, we have been reporting this ourselves, that as this strategy failed to play itself out, that many people—the money dried up and that’s staffers had to take less money.
What about the sense that Rudy Giuliani may have damaged his business career at this point, his speaking fees, this persona as “America’s Mayor” that has led him to be a multi-multi-millionaire?
CONNERLY: Oh, he’ll be back. He’ll be back. I think that that sort of thing is a very transitory thing. Let’s face it, this was not—on either side, no matter how much excitement there is, this was not the strongest field that we’ve ever had in our history on either side.
And so there is a lot of learning here that we, the American people are going to have to do about all of these candidates as we go along.
O’DONNELL: That’s right. Well, we talked about that enthusiasm gap between the Republicans and Democrats. We’re out of time. Thank you to Ward Connerly, Patrick J. Buchanan, Eugene Robinson, and Rachel Maddow. Wonderful to have you. Thank you so much.
And in one week, it is the biggest primary night in history, Super Tuesday, when more than 20 states will vote. I’m Norah O’Donnell and we leave you now with some of the sights and sounds from this historic day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do you plan to go from here?
GIULIANI: Wherever they tell me.
MITT ROMNEY ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is, you know, I think kind of desperate here at the end.
MCCAIN: That’s just a product of his inexperience and his lack of judgment.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, it’s getting very personal, which I like.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ ®, FLORIDA: Fasten your seat belt, because it’s another Florida election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang those chads and get out there and vote.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ah, quick flashbacks.
TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: Oh, no, no, please, please.
OLBERMANN: Oh, there it is. OK.
BROKAW: My worst nightmare.
OLBERMANN: On the Democratic side, where the candidates had pledged not to campaign, a race in which no delegates will be awarded. To get Mr. Matthews, “ha.”
CLINTON: I could not come here to ask in person for your vote, but I am here to thank you for your votes here today.
MATTHEWS: Just remember, for the people watching now, this doesn’t count.
TODD: There’s a lot of votes still left to be counted.
OLBERMANN: Hold on.
TODD: We’ve done this before.
OLBERMANN: NBC News declares John McCain as the projected winner in Florida.
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish we had cooked food for all of you.
ROMNEY: You see, Washington is fundamentally broken and we’re not going to change Washington by sending the same people back just to sit in different chairs.
GIULIANI: We ran a campaign that was uplifting.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Rudy, for all you’ve added to this race and being an inspiration to me. My friends, in one week, in one week, we will have as close to a national primary as we’ve ever had in this country. I intend to win it and be the nominee of our party.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)