Guests: Dan Balz, Linda Douglass, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, John Glenn, Douglas Wilder, Michelle Bernard, Eugene Robinson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, the Potomac primaries. Is this the beginning of the end for the Democrats?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to HARDBALL. Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Tonight voters go to the polls in what‘s called the “Potomac primary.” The big question tonight, will Obama‘s winning streak continue or can Hillary Clinton stop him? And will Christian conservatives in Virginia hand Mike Huckabee another upset win in the South, or will GOP frontrunner John McCain dominate again? More on the stakes in a moment.
Plus: Is demographics destiny? Does who you are determine who you‘re most likely to vote for? We‘ll take a look at the battle over age, gender, race and income between the top two Democrats. We‘ll dig into this later.
But we begin tonight with the importance of tonight‘s primaries in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia with Dan Balz, national political reporter for “The Washington Post,” and “The National Journal‘s” Linda Douglass. Thank you. Dan, the importance tonight, what is it sir?
DAN BALZ, “WASHINGTON POST”: Well, obviously, the importance is whether Barack Obama is going to continue the winning streak that he started over the weekend. If he wins these three tonight and were then to go on and win Wisconsin and Hawaii a week from today, you would find Hillary Clinton being 0 for February after the Super Tuesday events of last week. That can be very tough to overcome.
We‘ve got some big contests coming up, but momentum can be important in this contest as we go forward. So I think everybody is looking at two things tonight. One, who wins each of these three, and second, by what margins.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Linda. Same question, the importance of tonight‘s big three events in the Washington area, Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
LINDA DOUGLASS, “NATIONAL JOURNAL”: Well, I agree with Dan for a couple of additional reasons. First of all, if Obama sweeps everything tonight, he continues to win states. He will have won then, what, 21 states. If he wins a state like Virginia, that‘s a state that people think is becoming a swing state, an evolving state, a state where Democrats finally have a chance. It‘s a state now that was always Republican but now has a Democratic governor, a Democratic senator. So that‘s certainly important geographically for any Democratic candidate in the general election. So all of this, as Dan said, builds his momentum, no question.
MATTHEWS: So that‘s the big question, how does one state victory lead to another? How do the state victories lead to poll increases nationally? How do the national polls increase his lead to further state victories, if they do? Or are all these independent variables, all these state votes?
Let‘s take a look at the latest Gallup poll. It just came in today in “USA Today.” It‘s got Obama for the first time leading Senator Clinton ever. A week ago, they were roughly tied. And catch this, a month ago, right after Senator Clinton won New Hampshire, Senator Clinton was up 12 points over Obama, with Edwards still in the race at 13.
Dan Balz, does this suggest that when you win big in a state like New Hampshire, when you weren‘t expected to win, when you win bigger than you thought you would in a state like South Carolina, does that boost your national numbers by the fact of the news drama?
BALZ: Well, certainly, winning begets winning, Chris. We‘ve seen that time and again. But I think the other dynamic we‘ve seen is that when somebody seems to get a little bit of momentum, something happens and pulls the race back closer than we thought it might be. And I think that that‘s the question here.
I mean, I don‘t think either—either the Obama or Clinton campaigns believes that the rest of February is going to be anything other than trouble for Senator Clinton. But then on March 4, we have a couple of big contests in Florida—excuse me, in Texas and Ohio. And those are critical to her success. If she‘s going to pull this back, she has to do it there.
And the question is, will the momentum that he is able to develop between now and then be enough to overcome what may be some built-in advantages going into those states that she appears to have at this point?
MATTHEWS: You know, one of the things, Linda and Dan, I‘m going to be looking for tonight—we all will be—is what percentage of the voters in these primaries today in the D.C. area, Virginia and Maryland and Washington, are going to be college graduates because it seems like when we have a lot of college graduates in these primaries and caucuses, Barack does better. Where you have the typical percentage of college graduates, which is closer to the 15 percent national average, Hillary Clinton does better.
Let me ask you, Linda, first about Ohio. It‘s a regular-people state. It‘s right in the middle of the country. It‘s part of the Big 10, but it‘s still somewhat Eastern. It‘s fascinating because it tends to be a little bit more red than blue. It‘s the reddest—perhaps the bluest of the red states, as Pennsylvania is the reddest of the blue states. What do you make of it? Is something happening today going to help Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton, in Ohio?
DOUGLASS: Well, certainly, again, the momentum question is huge. I mean, that‘s, I think, the main reason why Barack Obama is moving up in these national polls. But presumably, Ohio is the perfect kind of state for Hillary Clinton. It‘s got a lot of people who are having hard economic times, a lot of those down-scale voters who have been voting in larger numbers for Hillary Clinton than they have for Barack Obama.
It‘s got, you know, just all of the—it‘s a great big state. She does well in the big states. The Clinton campaign is arguing that Barack Obama has yet to prove that he can really win the big states. So there‘s a lot about that state that would look good for her.
But if he looks like he‘s winning and if you see superdelegates suddenly dropping their commitments to her and coalescing around him, or all the things that spell momentum, then he could certainly do well in Ohio.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to have Senator Glenn on tonight, John Glenn, the legendary astronaut and senator on tonight, Dan. Does his endorsement today of Senator Clinton help in Ohio, or is it just cosmetic? What‘s the impact?
BALZ: Well, I think John Glenn is still a fairly revered figure in Ohio, so everything that Senator Clinton can do at this point to rally support around her will be important. As I said a minute ago, I think what she has to do is try to figure out how to hold on through what is going to be a rough period, and in a funny way, try to focus back on Senator Obama, try to get people to look more clearly at who he is, what he really stands for, to raise questions about whether he has undergone the kind of scrutiny that he certainly would undergo if he were the nominee, try to, in other words, spark a debate between now and March 4 about Senator Obama.
If she can do that, if she can begin to—you know, continue to rally some support from prominent figures, whether they‘re superdelegates or not, that will all help her.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Linda, who‘s the underdog right now, Senator Clinton or Senator Obama?
DOUGLASS: Well, I think it‘s a very good question. It seemed—I guess we all sort of expected that somehow Hillary Clinton would wind up with the nomination. She certainly is portraying herself as the underdog now. And right now, that is the story. He‘s winning the contests. He‘s got the money. He‘s got the dazzling media coverage.
She‘s made an interesting decision that I want to interject here, Chris, though, too, and that is she appears to be skipping Wisconsin. And some people I‘ve spoken to today who support her campaign are mystified by that. That, again, is another one of the states where you have people who are on hard economic times, a big blue-collar population, as well as the college kids. That may say something about how concerned her campaign is about its ability to go forward financially.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, going back into history, Dan, Wisconsin is the primary state that cost Lyndon Johnson his willpower to stick around. Does she still think Wisconsin is Madison?
BALZ: Well, to some extent, I think they see Wisconsin as a state that is quirky, where the activists tend to be quite liberal, where they are independent-minded. You know, we‘ve—we‘ve seen over the years both establishment candidates and insurgent candidates do well in Wisconsin.
My sense at this point is that they think that is going to be a tough state. But as Linda says, there is a fair amount of blue-collar population in Wisconsin. And you know, I think the decision, if there is a real decision, to skip it, is probably a mistake. She needs to compete in these contests. She can‘t just write them all off.
MATTHEWS: Well, is she going to try to do it very selectively? I understand she‘s scheduled three Wisconsin satellite interviews. In other words, will she try to get a big minority of the vote there without risking the loss, or the public loss, of a state she‘s really competing for, Dan?
BALZ: Well, she—you know, certainly, that may be part of the strategy. You know, as we‘ve seen, a narrow victory by one or the other doesn‘t mean much in terms of delegates, so if she can keep the delegate count close, that may be what she wants to do heading into March 4.
What we saw over the weekend in some of these states—take Maine, for example. I think the Clinton campaign thought that was going to be a tough state. They thought they might have a chance, but they knew it would be tough. They didn‘t think they were going to get beat by the margin they did, and that gives Senator Obama a bigger boost in delegates when he can win by almost 60-40 in these states.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s shift to the Republicans, Linda. You have to start with the Republicans now. It‘s a lot to talk about. He is getting, John McCain, the frontrunner, who looks like he‘s going to win this thing—it looks like he‘s going to perhaps knock Huckabee out fairly soon in terms of Huckabee‘s ability to get a majority of the delegates. Huckabee may be out of the running in terms of a possible nominee and will merely stick in to try to influence the platform or something. at this point.
DOUGLASS: Well, I mean, it‘s, you know, clear that Huckabee thinks that he probably has a shot at getting votes in a couple of more states, perhaps Virginia today, perhaps Texas, which has a large Christian conservative contingency among the Republican voters. But as you say, there‘s no real numerical way now that Huckabee can get the nomination.
So what he did today was try to make some demands of John McCain, for example, saying that he was calling on him to support the Human Life Amendment. And it‘s kind of an odd thing for Huckabee to be doing, to make demands on John McCain, because it would certainly seem that his strategy now is to run a very nice, civil campaign and hope that McCain might look favorably on him when he‘s picking his number two.
MATTHEWS: Is that what this is about, Dan, do you think?
MATTHEWS: Can you report that it is? It‘s hard to report something like that, that‘s motivational.
BALZ: It is hard to report what‘s inside Governor Huckabee‘s head at this point. I mean, part of what‘s happening is he‘s clearly enjoying himself. I mean, he won a bunch of victories over the last week. That says to a candidate, Why should I get out at this point? There may come a point where it becomes obvious to him that he‘s doing himself more damage than good, but at the point when he‘s continuing to win when, when the attention is focused significantly on him, as it is on Senator McCain, he says to himself, Why not keep going one more round and let‘s see what happens?
BALZ: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: The only danger, I think, is—go ahead, Linda. Your thoughts.
DOUGLASS: I just wanted to interject there, too. I mean, people in the party certainly want Huckabee to go away now because they‘re wasting precious time, the Republicans, time they could be using to be criticizing and running against the Democrats. So the longer that McCain has to be preoccupied with running against Huckabee in these states, the more that burns up that time that Republicans want to use to start attacking Clinton and Obama.
MATTHEWS: Of course, the plus side is we‘re talking about them, aren‘t we. Anyway, thank you very much, Dan Balz from “The Washington Post,” one of the—I think one of the—maybe the best print guy out there right now in daily newspapers, and of course, one of the great other kinds of print reporters, Linda Douglass. Thank you for joining us.
Coming up, the Obama voter and the Clinton voter. Does where you buy your morning coffee—Starbucks or Dunkin‘ Donuts—reveal who you‘re going to vote for? I love this stuff! It‘s anthropological. Let‘s get to it.
And remember our live primetime coverage of today‘s primaries in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., all start at 6:00 o‘clock Eastern tonight, with—there he is—Keith Olbermann.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whichever of us is nominated will be subjected to the full force and effect of the Republican machine. That‘s what they know how to do. It will be back to their home base. And I believe I can withstand that better because I‘ve been through it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Sen. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to explain to people I‘m skinny, but I‘m tough. Yes. Skinny. I‘m wiry. Don‘t mess with me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Show time. Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. Call it “an embarrassment of niches” in the fight for the Democratic nominations Why are demographic groups—age, gender, et cetera—tending to Clinton or to Obama? Here to dig into the trends from exit polling we took last week to look at are “The Nation” magazine‘s Katrina Vanden Heuvel and MSNBC—
(INAUDIBLE) that Swedish accent or whatever it is—and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Let‘s go right now to those exit polls on Super Tuesday. These are last week. How did the voting break down by gender? An interesting topic. Among men, Obama beat Clinton 53 to 42. And among women, flip side, 52 to 45 for Clinton. Katrina, that‘s not dramatic, those numbers. They‘re not very dramatic.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”: No. I mean, he‘s making inroads. But you know, she has the sisterhood. She has sisterhood behind her. I have to say, some of the media coverage has created a backlash, which also helps Hillary Clinton. But you know, she‘s appealing to single women, less educated women, and she‘s speaking in bread-and-butter terms. And I think women, particularly older women, middle-aged, are more risk averse. So I think you‘re seeing some of that play out. Now, he‘s making inroads...
MATTHEWS: They believe it‘s a safer bet to vote for her than him.
VANDEN HEUVEL: A safer bet. But you know, when you look at African-American women, there‘s no gender model left, right? He‘s winning handily in that...
MATTHEWS: ... you always jump ahead.
VANDEN HEUVEL: OK. All right.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s do it this...
MATTHEWS: I don‘t like the word “race.” We‘re all in the same race.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes?
MATTHEWS: ... what are we talking about, women, men? Are you surprised? I think they‘re pretty close, those numbers.
BUCHANAN: Well, they are. They are very close. And frankly, you do got to break it down. I break it down by states, South, Kansas, Washington. I‘d also break it down—you got to break it down by race. But I agree with you. Look...
MATTHEWS: Can we do it?
MATTHEWS: ... gender now. You guys are like herding cats here!
BUCHANAN: You‘re right, it‘s very close on that, but that‘s not as relevant...
MATTHEWS: Tell me when you find something relevant.
BUCHANAN: New Hampshire was relevant about gender.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s take a look at...
MATTHEWS: ... asking the right questions here. First, white voters.
They broke 52-43 for Senator Clinton—I‘m sorry, Obama. Go back again. Slow down here. First white voters. They broke 52-43 for Clinton over Obama. That‘s not that dramatic. On the Latino voters, a big lead for Clinton at 61-37. And then if you go among black voters, it‘s basically a big swash all the way for Barack Obama, 82-16. So among black women, by the way, 72-18.
VANDEN HEUVEL: My concern about the Latino vote and how it‘s being played in a lot of media is that they‘re playing up a divide. An affection for Clinton and her husband is not dislike or distrust of Obama. I think he‘s making inroads among the Hispanic community. And with the Clintons, it is familiarity, brand name, recognition, networks built up over years. He‘s making inroads.
BUCHANAN: But look, among African-Americans, Hillary Rodham Clinton is getting Goldwater numbers, quite frankly.
BUCHANAN: And the reason is not because...
MATTHEWS: I love the way you phrase these things!
BUCHANAN: But the reason is, is solidarity, racial solidarity with Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK, but in the beginning of this race, Pat...
BUCHANAN: But let‘s move on to...
MATTHEWS: ... nobody knew that it was going to be ethnic solidarity...
VANDEN HEUVEL: She was making good numbers.
MATTHEWS: ... because there was a lot of concern that he wasn‘t going to have a chance to win.
BUCHANAN: But—all right, I know it wasn‘t, but it has become that.
And if you look in the South...
MATTHEWS: Who‘s responsible for that becoming?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, I think African-Americans, when they saw they had an African-American with a chance, they‘re moving to him...
MATTHEWS: Do you think Bill Clinton played a role in that?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I do.
BUCHANAN: I think Bill Clinton played a role in identifying (ph) -- I think the Latino vote is important. Also, look to the white-African-American vote in Louisiana. You want to look at the states the Republican may be able to take from Democrats. They‘re not going to take some states.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But look, if...
BUCHANAN: Those numbers don‘t count.
VANDEN HEUVEL: If you look at states, though, what I don‘t understand is why the Clinton campaign isn‘t going to contest Wisconsin. As she moves ahead...
MATTHEWS: Yes, let‘s—let‘s...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... her campaign is talking about...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... the working class voters...
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... as her firewall.
MATTHEWS: Again, let me try to get something done here, Katrina.
MATTHEWS: I see why you‘re an editor and not a reporter. Let‘s take a look at the age issue right now because again, it‘s dramatic now. If you look at the young vote, Obama does very well. Look at this, 59-39, a 20-point spread. You get among people in the oldest group, above 60, flip side.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes. Well...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Part of it has been around issues, too. She‘s made the case she‘s going to do more to protect Social Security. I disagree with that. But again, it‘s risk aversion.
VANDEN HEUVEL: They want to hear about what‘s going on in their lives right now, tangible, concrete. Obama speaks to the future, the past versus the future, which I think plays well in a McCain race.
BUCHANAN: The Democratic Party...
MATTHEWS: ... he ought to be talking more about what the cost of the war would mean in terms of the money spent at home.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Exactly. Oh, that is—that is...
MATTHEWS: He doesn‘t do it. He doesn‘t do it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... huge.
MATTHEWS: He misses that button.
BUCHANAN: In terms of Democrats, you get above 60 and above 70, they‘re not interested in radical change. They know the Clintons. They like the Clintons. They‘re comfortable with the Clintons. And if the Clintons come back, it would be a good thing, by and large, for them.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But could I say...
MATTHEWS: Do you think older voters are averse to a black president?
BUCHANAN: I think if you take a look at older white voters, you will find it even more solid.
MATTHEWS: I love this one because I‘ve been watching—education and income. With a college degree, people with a college degree, Senator Clinton gets beaten by Obama by 12 points, 54 to 42. Among voters who don‘t have a full—this is how they cut it off, a full year of college—it‘s the other way around, Obama wins pretty dramatically by 9 points there. So what‘s this about?
VANDEN HEUVEL: But you know, again, just to resist the media portraying him as kind of the wine-track candidate, Obama‘s putting together a coalition which we haven‘t seen in this country‘s politics in many, many years.
He‘s getting a working-class in the African-American community. He‘s making inroads in the Latino community. And, yes, he has the upscale, but he has...
MATTHEWS: OK. Why is he losing—why is he losing among people below $50,000?
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know what? Part of it is, he‘s not speaking about bread-and-butter, kitchen-table issues and connecting the war.
BUCHANAN: He doesn‘t reach those folks.
VANDEN HEUVEL: The costs of war.
MATTHEWS: OK, I think his numbers—these numbers—you have hit a bullseye here.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
BUCHANAN: He doesn‘t reach...
MATTHEWS: He wins because of higher education. He wins because of ethnic solidarity.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
MATTHEWS: He loses what he should be getting, if he is a liberal Democrat.
BUCHANAN: Chris, Chris...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Speaking to those bread-and-butter issues.
BUCHANAN: Chris, higher education are over—Ph.D.s—are ideological. They are McGovern voters. They go left.
MATTHEWS: Four years of college.
BUCHANAN: Yes, exactly. But working-class folks that don‘t go to college, they look at this. They don‘t get caught up in this great wave and...
MATTHEWS: Pat, Pat, you have got a master‘s degree, last time I checked.
MATTHEWS: It didn‘t turn you into some lefty.
BUCHANAN: I‘m blue-collar.
MATTHEWS: ... resolute.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know where the ideological fight is, the civil war, in these two parties at the moment? In your party, not in the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Are these divides, these sociometric divides along ethnic, age, income, and gender lines, are they permanent?
VANDEN HEUVEL: No.
MATTHEWS: Are they going to matter in November?
VANDEN HEUVEL: No. You know what? We‘re talking about gaps and other things. They‘re a gender gap...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... other gap. But the enthusiasm gap—if you poll most Democrats, they are enthusiastic about both of these candidates.
MATTHEWS: Have you ever been to a Starbucks?
MATTHEWS: Have you ever been to a Starbucks?
BUCHANAN: I just got a Starbucks coffee right over there.
VANDEN HEUVEL: He‘s a cafe latte.
MATTHEWS: When you talk into a Starbucks, what do you the betting is going between Barack and Hillary?
BUCHANAN: I will bet there is—I walk in, I say there‘s not a single Buchananite in this place.
BUCHANAN: Now, look...
MATTHEWS: Except you.
BUCHANAN: ... this is important...
BUCHANAN: ... because this is crucial, that Republicans can get many of Hillary‘s voters. They have gotten them before. Reagan got them. They‘re Reagan Democrats.
MATTHEWS: You mean if she loses the nomination?
BUCHANAN: If she loses.
We can‘t get Obama‘s voters. You know, the higher-educated liberals, African-Americans are going 90-10.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think there‘s people who are trying to decide between who—if they do face who would vote for McCain if Obama didn‘t get the nomination? There wouldn‘t be people like that around the Democratic Party?
BUCHANAN: There will be some. But if you‘re talking about huge blocs, Chris, no.
MATTHEWS: I think there would be.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think—I think what Obama needs to do in this next period is what you spoke to, with, Chris, which is connect the war...
MATTHEWS: Connect it...
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... the staggering cost of this war...
MATTHEWS: ... to the kitchen table.
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... to the kitchen table and bring it home in Ohio...
MATTHEWS: Why doesn‘t he do it? Is there a reason not to do it?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think there are some issues where he‘s...
BUCHANAN: Did you see “USA Today” where the—where—what McCain‘s strongest issues against Obama are, the war, terrorism, immigration, if you can believe it. He will fly the American flag into that campaign against Obama.
BUCHANAN: You watch. And the working-class, blue-collar—working-class...
MATTHEWS: I will tell you, the blue-collar guys see 100 years on that flag...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... 100 years on that flag of war in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: It might be a problem.
BUCHANAN: He‘s got to get away from that. But that is what the Republicans are going to do.
VANDEN HEUVEL: How does he get away from that?
MATTHEWS: I love the way you do that little grace note.
“He has to get away from that,” like a foot away from this thing, like a 100-year war?
VANDEN HEUVEL: That‘s engraved on his forehead.
BUCHANAN: It‘s the white flag of surrender vs. the 100-year war.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s talk about Huckabee, since you‘re all over the place here.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Huckabee‘s role in this campaign might be to drive McCain to the right on the abortion rights question.
MATTHEWS: If John McCain signs on to a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion nationwide, don‘t you think that will cost him the general, Pat?
BUCHANAN: He‘s not going to move an inch. And, quite frankly, I don‘t agree with him, but he shouldn‘t move an inch.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But he doesn‘t need to move an inch. The media makes him out as this big maverick. He‘s 82 percent or 85 percent conservative rating. He‘s already there on the choice issue and on the judges and all these other things.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I‘m sorry. I think the media darling maverick—his wheels have come off the Straight Talk Express.
BUCHANAN: She was at Cole Field House yesterday.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you are tough.
MATTHEWS: So, you‘re not going to endorse, your magazine.
When is your magazine going to endorse? “The Nation” magazine is read by many people.
VANDEN HEUVEL: We have—we have—with a lot of caveats, because we think he needs to talk about bread-and-butter issues, he needs to be harder on the war...
MATTHEWS: Well, send him the damn speech.
VANDEN HEUVEL: ... we have endorsed Obama. We have endorsed Obama.
MATTHEWS: Oh, you have?
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, we have.
MATTHEWS: Well, then you were teasing me in the production room.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes, I was teasing you. That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: So, I said come back on the show and make your endorsement.
BUCHANAN: That is a shock.
MATTHEWS: It just shows the impact of “The Nation” magazine. You have endorsed. I didn‘t know it.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But, listen, I think Hillary Clinton is a competent, educated...
BUCHANAN: I‘m shocked “The Nation” endorsed Obama.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But he‘s a transformative—we think he can build a progressive coalition in a way that Hillary Clinton hasn‘t.
MATTHEWS: OK. You know what?
VANDEN HEUVEL: And he‘s invested in grassroots and organizing in a way the Clintons never did.
MATTHEWS: I like the—the courageous position your magazine has taken over the years about war.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, that‘s where we...
MATTHEWS: That‘s an issue, and you were gutsy.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Yes. We‘re going to keep driving that.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... Patrick J. Buchanan, standing up for the ancien regime.
MATTHEWS: And Katrina Vanden Heuvel for the Aravis (ph), the ones at the ramparts, the movement. It never ends.
Up next: Which campaign is running on fumes, literally? This is a great metaphor. We have got a number tonight, one of the best numbers we have ever had. You know our “Big Number” number every night, the HARDBALL number, tonight is a hoot.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that I have a sizable lead in delegates, but we‘re not quitting. We‘re not easing off. We‘re not taking anything for granted. I respect Governor Huckabee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well,
this is Potomac primary day, as we say.
Also in the news today, in the battle for campaign endorsements, it looks as if Fidel Castro won‘t be backing John McCain, after McCain repeated something he wrote years ago, that a Cuban agent had tortured his fellow Vietnam POWs.
Castro said that McCain is hallucinatory and lacks a minimum of ethics. In a front-page column in Cuba‘s government-run newspaper, of course, Castro writes—quote—“Permit me to remind you, Mr. McCain, that the commandments of the religion you practice forbid lying. The years of prison and the wounds you suffered as a consequence on your attacks on Hanoi do not excuse you from the moral duty of saying the truth.”
Well, here‘s Senator McCain‘s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Look, for me to respond to Fidel Castro, who has oppressed repressed his people and who is one of the most brutal dictators on Earth, for me to dignify any charge or comments that he might make is certainly beneath me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I‘m with McCain on that one. Take that out of context. Fidel Castro, your friendly fact-checker?
Mike Huckabee, self-professed cooker of squirrels, can count on his wife, Janet, to bring home the kill. Here she is, Janet Huckabee, campaigning in Hagerstown, Maryland, where she fired off a few rounds of bullets at a gun range.
Look at that kick.
From now on until the end of the campaign, it could be all about this small powerful group of so-called superdelegates. Today, an example of how careful each campaign has to be about courting them and keeping them.
“The New York Post” reports today that Steven Ybarra, a California superdelegate and prominent party member, is circulating an e-mail criticizing the removal of Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. The e-mail sent to fellow members of the DNC Hispanic Caucus says, “Latino superdelegates like myself will have cause to pause.”
Of course, Patti is Latina.
And now it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.”
Sometimes, life serves up the perfect metaphor, so perfect that all you can say or do is say something like, uh. This morning, with reporters packed inside, Mike Huckabee‘s press van ran out of gas. Then the van was gassed up. And they were off and running. Then, they ran out of gas again.
MATTHEWS: Not the metaphor you want on an Election Day—two, the number of times Mike Huckabee‘s press van ran out of gas today—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: the stakes in the Potomac primary—former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, who supports Barack Obama, and legendary Ohio Senator, my friend and astronaut John Glenn, who announced today he‘s backing Senator Clinton.
You‘re watching HARDBALL—HARDBALL—only on MSNBC.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
A good day for the Dow, with the blue chips gaining 133 points, best day of the month so far, the S&P 500 up nine points, while the Nasdaq was virtually unchanged, up just fractionally—stocks—excuse me, down just fractionally.
Stocks got a boost from billionaire investor Warren Buffett‘s offer made on CNBC this morning to reinsure up to $800 billion in municipal bonds held by three troubled bond insurers. But Buffett‘s offer would not bail out the insurers‘ exposure to risky subprime mortgages. And one insurer rejected that offer.
Meantime, the Bush administration announced a deal with six of the nation‘s largest mortgage lenders to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Called Project Lifeline, it would suspend the foreclosure process for 30 days, while more affordable mortgage terms are negotiated.
And 7,100 Starbucks stores across the nation will close for three hours next Tuesday evening. The company says it will retrain 135,000 employees on new standards for Starbucks drinks.
So, be sure to get your caffeine fix before then.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, polls suggest that Senator Obama has a significant lead over Senator Clinton in Maryland and Virginia, also in D.C., I assume. But will he win big tonight? And, if he does continue his winning streak, will Senator Clinton‘s firewall be—end up being Ohio and Texas come March 4?
Doug Wilder is the mayor of Richmond. And he was one of the great governors of the state of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia. He‘s an Obama supporter. And he looks pretty proud of that. And former Senator John Glenn, my friend—there he is out in Ohio—the great astronaut, the man—one of the great men of all time, I think it‘s fair to say.
MATTHEWS: Senator Glenn, thank you.
You endorsed Senator Clinton today. I‘m going to go with the senior fellow here right off the bat. He may be the healthiest fellow, but he‘s the senior fellow.
MATTHEWS: Senator Glenn, my pal, why Senator Clinton, why now for you, sir?
JOHN GLENN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, you know, Ohio is coming up here. And Ohio once again is going to be critical, it appears, in another election. And this is one that I wish Ohio had been early in the process, because I think Ohio is more representative of the whole country than any of the other states.
It‘s like we took the whole country and squeezed it down in one area. So, it‘s going to be very, very important. And the delegate count here will be a good-sized count that day, along with Texas. And we just thought this was an appropriate time to do this.
You know, “The New York Times” in their endorsement of Hillary several weeks ago commented very favorably on her intellect, her knowledge and her experience. I think that‘s the same—the same thing that I know—know her—known her for a long time, and know we can trust her.
I think she‘s a very, very capable person. And we just felt she was the right person at the right time, and we would get behind her before this Ohio primary came up.
MATTHEWS: Governor Wilder, Mayor Wilder, your thoughts and your feelings equally, I guess, on Senator Obama.
DOUGLAS WILDER (D), MAYOR OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Why do you—why did you personally come out for him?
WILDER: I have never seen anything like what‘s taking place in America that‘s happening today, people from everywhere, all stripes, young people, older people, independents, Republican crossovers, who believe that America has an opportunity, it has a chance, people who are saying, look, there‘s a disconnect in Washington.
I remember when Bill Clinton ran in 1992 from a little state in Arkansas. People said he didn‘t have experience. And, yet, he knew there was a disconnect. He provided hope from Hope, Arkansas.
Barack Obama is more than just words. He‘s commitment. And he can bring people together. He has experience. But, more importantly, he can unit. And I really do believe his commitment and his belief that America‘s best years are ahead is one of the reasons I support him.
He is not running as an African-American. He‘s running to bring America together, as he said, the United States of America. I remind my good friend John Glenn that Ohio was once a part of Virginia. And we will let you have a little piece of it now. But, remember, watch out lead tonight, and the people of Ohio might even follow that lead.
MATTHEWS: Senator Glenn, let me ask you about Robert Kennedy, your old friend, your late friend.
MATTHEWS: A lot of people have compared Barack Obama to RFK.
GLENN: The reaction is, I think the inspiration that Doug talks about and the eloquence and so on, I think that is all there, and that‘s very, very similar.
Bobby had very complete programs, though, outlined behind all of the positions that he took, and was very specific about what he wanted to do with the country and how he hoped to lead and where he hoped to lead it.
I think that‘s sort of the situation we find ourselves in with Hillary right now. She‘s taken very detailed positions on most of the areas, and has been fleshing those out, and been willing to meet with the press on almost every occasion. There are some similarities between Bobby, but I think the differences are—are in the details of following up all that eloquence and all the inspiration that came out of some of those speeches.
MATTHEWS: Governor wilder, does—can you back up the substance of the—the appeal that you‘re talking about?
WILDER: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: You talk about this appeal, but is there substance behind it for Obama?
WILDER: There is. There is substance, because he has said from the beginning that it was wrong for America to be in Iraq.
And why do I say the substance? Any American president that has committed people to war recognizes the ravages that it wrecks upon a nation. Lincoln saw it at Gettysburg. Dwight Eisenhower came back from World War II, and he saw that same thing.
Never before in the history of our nation has a president so recklessly committed people to war, resources of life being wasted, but, more importantly, divesting from what we could do in our economy.
Barack Obama is saying: I want to build schools. I want to build roads. I want to build bridges. I want our infrastructure to be improved.
It was a mistake to give a—a president the authority to do what he‘s done.
And all deference to my good friend Senator Glenn, for Hillary to never apologize, to say, “I made a mistake,” as John Kerry did, “I made a mistake,” as John Edwards did, but to say, “Well, I didn‘t think he would do that.” Why wouldn‘t you believe it if you gave him the authority to do it?
GLENN: Well, I think the—what the president was asking for at that time was he didn‘t want any arrows taken out of his quiver when he was negotiating and reduce his negotiation capacity. But I think what happened there was nobody knew that they couldn‘t trust the president to do that.
He immediately went around and made the case for war. It was a trumped up
for war. But the important thing is how we do now. I was all for
Afghanistan. I almost volunteered to go to Afghanistan myself, because we
WILDER: Me, too, John.
GLENN: We knew from intelligence sources—and I was on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence the last eight years in the Senate. We knew what was going on there. We just didn‘t know what their targets were, but we knew the training. The move into Iraq was done by the administration under the most tortured logic I have ever seen. They first went out and said, well, we have nuclear weapons and that proved not to be the case. Then they said, well, but he killed 50,000 of his own people. That wasn‘t a major concern to us, because we‘d ignored two million people being killed down through the middle of Africa, which we ignored.
MATTHEWS: Well, you agree, gentlemen. You agree. We found agreement. You both agree the war was a mistake. You don‘t agree whether Hillary Clinton should have apologized or not, I assume. You don‘t agree with that, do you, Senator Glenn? Hillary Clinton should not apologize?
GLENN: Not at this point.
WILDER: Why not?
GLENN: I don‘t agree. Why should she? Let‘s look forward. Let‘s not look backwards.
WILDER: If you make a mistake—I‘m sorry, go ahead. But the most forgiving people in the world are Americans. All you‘ve got to say is say, I blew it. I made a mistake and I move on. But when you say, I didn‘t make a mistake and I want the opportunity to have a repetition of that mistake, the American people are saying, wait a minute; once is enough.
GLENN: No, there‘s no repetition of the mistake, Doug, I don‘t see where we get off on that one. The repetition will be if Hillary wants to get our people out of there. There won‘t be any repetition. She wants to get our people out of there, but in a controlled fashion. And I agree with that.
WILDER: I agree with that, too.
GLENN: We can‘t just cut and run.
WILDER: I agree with that.
GLENN: I think we have to be careful how we get out.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, gentlemen. Senator Glenn, thank you. It‘s great to see you. Governor Wilder, thank you sir. I think it‘s up in the air whether Hillary Clinton should apologize for voting to authorize the war in Iraq.
Up next, the politics fix. But first here‘s John McCain and Barack Obama earlier today on the Senate floor shaking hands like gentlemen. Look at them, casting votes there. I love these scenes. There‘s camera work from the gallery. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Let me tell you, this is our moment. This is our time. And if you will stand with me, if you will vote for me, if you will work alongside me and march with me and organize with me, then we won‘t just win Maryland. We will win this nomination, and we will win the general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Where did he learn to talk like a preacher?
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix. Our round table tonight, Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post,” Tucker Carlson, host of MSNBC‘s aptly named “TUCKER,” and Michelle Bernard, president Independent Women‘s voice.
I want to start with Gene, who sits with me and gets the advantage. What is going to happen tonight and what difference does it make? If all three are swept by Senator Obama, we move on, will that beat the spread or meet the spread?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, the things to look forward to tonight are—you know, he has big leads according to the polls in all three jurisdictions. So, I think—
MATTHEWS: Did they even bother polling in D.C.? They just assumed it‘s Barack country.
ROBINSON: It is Barack country. I think D.C. and Maryland are very safe for him. I think we‘ll watch for early returns from Virginia to see if anything, you know, unusual is happening there. But assuming he wins all three, then we‘ll look at the margins and see if he wins them big.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, in your part of town, did you get down and vote today or did you vote absentee? How did you vote today?
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: I voted today. And there was not, I don‘t think, a single person not voting for Barack Obama, not one. D.C. has every demographic that is apt to go Obama. It‘s got young people. It‘s got black voters and it‘s got a ton, at least in my neighborhood, of rich, white, well-educated liberals. They love Obama. Those are his people.
To your Starbucks question you asked earlier, every person who has ever entered Starbucks is voting for Barack Obama. There‘s not a barista in America who doesn‘t have an Obama tattoo on her hip. That‘s Obama-land.
MATTHEWS: Obama grandes.
CARLSON: We may be counting Hillary out too early. I think because we assume he‘s going to sweep the three states and the Chesapeake Primary tonight, if his margin is in the single digits, we‘re going to say maybe he‘s weaker than we thought he was.
MATTHEWS: There‘s one downside to that, Michelle, my wife and I travel and she never wants to get too far outside what I call the Starbucks belt, where there‘s a Starbucks within ten minutes. There are places in America, I would expect, like 90 percent of our land mass, where you can probably not find a Starbucks. But you can always find a Dunkin‘ Donuts or you can always find, you know, a CVS or something. You can find regular people somewhere. Are they going to—
MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN‘S VOICE: In my neck of the woods
in my neck of the woods you can find both. You know, today, I voted today out in Montgomery County, Maryland, and, you know, I live in a district where we have the very, very liberal Republican Connie Morella and I got to tell you, I didn‘t see anyone out in my voting booth who was not voting for Barack Obama either. And we did have a history of having a Republican member of Congress represent my district for a long time.
MATTHEWS: For a long time. And then she got beaten by Chris Van Hollen.
BERNARD: Absolutely, for a very long time. I don‘t have my crystal ball. I wish I do. But I got to tell you, I am feeling like tonight will be another clean sweep for Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: Just to clear things up, Michelle, Connie Morella was a very liberal Republican.
BERNARD: Yes, yes, yes, a very liberal Republican.
MATTHEWS: I voted for her for years. You‘re not saying—you don‘t exactly live in Joplin or somewhere, whatever. I assume that to be more conservative. Let me ask you about how this works, Tucker. Put it together. The national poll came out tonight, this morning, in “USA Today,” reported the Gallup Poll, which shows for the first time Barack Obama leading Senator Clinton nationwide. Is this going to lead to more victory tonight? Will that victory lead to a higher poll number? Will that lead to a victory for Barack in Ohio and Texas? Or is it all independent variables?
CARLSON: I think momentum matters. There‘s more time between now and those contests in contrast to the distance between Ohio and New Hampshire. I think Terry McAuliffe is going to be held accountable for stacking these primaries the way he did if Hillary loses. I think the polls that really matter are the polls online among investors, the Vegas odds where people are putting money down. These people have something invested in the process and they have Hillary Clinton at 30 and Barack Obama at 70, more or less.
I think this all increases the pressure on Barack Obama to be an actually good candidate in the general and an actually good president if he‘s elected. I mean, who is Barack Obama? We‘re going to have to stop and ask ourselves that question, when the buzz wears off, don‘t you think?
MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of buzz—I better be careful here—over in Dublin, where they do the betting odds, you‘re right, it‘s 70-30. But I wonder, is that a leading indicator or a lagging indicator?
ROBINSON: I think it‘s a leading indicator. It certainly is a good snapshot of what people who are putting money in the process think. You know what we might be saying after tonight if it‘s an Obama sweep is that he has basically picked up all or most of the slack. The people who were inclined to like him but really didn‘t—you know, either didn‘t know him or didn‘t think, you know—didn‘t think he was electable.
Well, the slack, the low-hanging fruit.
ROBINSON: So the question is, you know, after this point does he then have to earn every vote. Does he have to take it from Hillary?
MATTHEWS: You know, I‘m looking at the numbers, Tucker, and I see—if you look at the long series of numbers in the Gallup Poll, going back a while, at least, it seems like Senator Clinton maxes out at about 50. Then she fell down to about mid-40s and then fell back even lower, but back around mid-40s. If that‘s her ceiling, doesn‘t she have to worry about Barack having a higher ceiling, that he‘ll go up and pick up the 55. If she can‘t get higher than 50, is that a problem? You really get all the votes you get.
CARLSON: That‘s the problem. You‘ve just summarized the entire race in one sentence. That‘s exactly Obama‘s appeal. Obama is saying, look, I‘m going to expand the party. I‘m going to make it bigger. I‘ll pull in people that never thought about voting Democrat. Hillary Clinton is saying, if you already agree with me, I‘m your candidate. If you‘re already on my side, if you already despise my enemies, if we hate the same people, vote for me.
So the whole promise of Obama is that he‘s going to have a governing coalition in the way that she never will. I think that‘s been the point of his candidacy since day one.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk now, Michelle. I‘d like you to really get into this. Women voters tend to support Senator Clinton more than male voters, although there isn‘t a dramatic difference. It‘s about ten points. It shouldn‘t surprise us. But if she becomes the clear underdog after tonight, if it begins to look like she has to be the comeback kid like her husband was, will she enlarge her advantage among women voters?
BERNARD: I don‘t think so at all. I got to tell you, just doing my own sort of Michelle Bernard polls and talking to women, I really believe that her support among women, particularly in a younger age group, is declining and, you know, the momentum behind Barack Obama right now is—you know, it‘s unmistakable. There is a momentum. There‘s a psychological edge he has to these queen—these clean sweeps.
Women really like him and, you know, I don‘t think that she gains any advantage by not doing well tonight. I think, you know, a few weeks ago somebody said that Senator Clinton was looking at South Carolina in the rear view mirror. And I think she‘s look at the Potomac primary states in the rear view mirror and she‘s looking to Ohio, she‘s looking to Texas, but I don‘t think she‘ll see a huge surge in support of women. I actually think it‘s going to decline.
MATTHEWS: Gene, does she have to go to the working women of Ohio and the Latina of Texas to win this nomination?
ROBINSON: Well, she needs women and men. She needs to hold the line with her more blue-collar supporters, the people who have been with her so far. She needs to keep them. If Obama starts taking them, then, you know, I think the story‘s written. I mean, because that‘s the one thing he kind of lacks in the coalition he‘s putting together.
MATTHEWS: Yes. How does he get into Duncan Donuts?
ROBINSON: You know, I don‘t know. He‘s going to have to ask the barista for a map to the nearest Duncan Donuts.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, how does he work regular people? Most people in America are regular people. Let‘s be honest. I look to the polls and the Connecticut polls show 60 percent of the voters in the Democratic primary up there were college graduates. That‘s four times the national average.
CARLSON: That‘s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: Fifteen percent of the country was a college graduate.
CARLSON: I thought that this morning when everyone was waving go, Obama flags outside the polls place. I thought, I don‘t live in America, I live in Washington, D.C., which has nothing in common with a lot of the rest of the country. Look, I think Obama could actually come pretty close to winning just on the basis of—I mean, this is not America. This is the Democratic primary. So, this is a very much smaller subset of the 300 million Americans.
So I actually think he can come pretty close to winning just with those three groups, you know, affluent white liberals, black voters and young people. He can do that if he increases the turn-out among young people. He could do it just with that.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s do what we‘re not supposed to do. Michelle Bernard, tell me what‘s going to happen tonight. Don‘t tell me what happens. Tell me the significance of what happens tonight?
BERNARD: Well, the significance of what happens tonight is that if there is a clean sweep—or let‘s just assume that Barack Obama wins two out of the three states in the Potomac Primary tonight, he clearly is going to be the front-runner, maybe by a small, you know—a small margin, but he‘ll be the front-runner. He‘s going to have a psychological edge, unmistakable momentum going into Ohio and Texas. And I think that voters in Ohio and Texas that generally would be more favorable to Hillary Clinton are going to be thinking about the return on their investment, because let‘s remember, she‘s going to have to raise money if she‘s going to stay in this race, and people are going to start to say to themselves, can she really win? Can she close the deal and does she deserve another 100 dollars or 2300 dollars from me.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much Eugene Robinson of “The Washington Post,” Tucker Carlson of this network, and Michelle Bernard. Thank you all for joining us. Well, that‘s it. Do not go anywhere. Our live prime-time coverage of today primaries in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland will start in just a minute. This is MSNBC, the place for politics.
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