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Wisconsin Primary, Hawaii Democratic Caucus, and Washington Republican Primary Coverage for Tuesday, February 19, 9:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. ET

Read the transcript from the special coverage

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Poll results coming in more different

varieties than Wisconsin cheese.  Obama by five, Clinton by six, Obama by 13. 

An Obama victory and Clinton is behind the eight ball even in Texas and Ohio. 

A Clinton win and the lead and the momentum are up for grabs. 





OLBERMANN:  John McCain wants them to give a knock out punch who in one poll was in a statistical tie with the Republican nominee.  Tonight, the analysis of Tim Russert, Norah O’Donnell with the exit polls, Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd at the delegate mat and Howard Fineman in Washington.  With Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson.  Ron Allen at Clinton headquarters in Youngstown, Ohio.  Lee Cowan with the Obama campaign in Houston.  Kelly O’Donnell with McCain central in Columbus, Ohio and Ron Mott at the Huckabee camp in Little Rock, Arkansas.  This is MSNBC’s coverage of the 2008 Wisconsin primaries.

OLBERMANN: I’m Keith Olbermann.  We got one result and one characterization to project in the Wisconsin primaries ending at this hour.  First among the Democrats, the Democratic race is too early to call.  But exit polling indicates Barack Obama has a substantial lead in the exit polling over Hillary Clinton.  Further details on that to follow.  The Republican side, John McCain is the projected winner according to NBC News and by a substantial margin over Mike Huckabee, projected winner John McCain in Wisconsin, substantial margin.  John McCain is expected to speak within about 10 minutes.  So one down and one indicator so far Chris. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I think what Rachel meant, I just said on your program of about a five point spread is about right.   I think if it’s any closer than that, Hillary Clinton can claim some kind of moral victory tonight.

OLBERMANN: As usual, Norah O’Donnell will be the insider with the exit polls tonight.  She has a preview of the first batch.  Norah.

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That’s right and Barack Obama did

well in states last week that had large black populations.  Tonight, we see

that Barack Obama is doing well in a predominantly white state.  He’s doing

well among white women, white independents and so all of those things are

contributing to what we see is this being too early to call.  

OLBERMANN:  Extraordinary.  All right, thank you Norah. We’ll be back for a full account of the exit polling in a moment.  But now to NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.  Tim, good evening, again. 


OLBERMANN: All right, so what have we got?  We’ve got obviously what we expected out of the Republicans here. We are already declaring McCain the winner there by substantial margins.  What out of the Democrats is indicating what kind of night this is going to be for both senators?

RUSSERT: Following up on what Norah said, if you look at these exit polls and if they’re accurate, it looks like a significant Obama lead in Wisconsin.  He’s tapping into the kind of coalition broadening that we had talked about earlier tonight and a week ago.  In Maryland and Virginia, he had done very well with white men and had shown real inroads and even won voters who made less than $50,000.  Our exit polls are indicating he’s going to do that again.  If that is the case, it’s an indication that whether it is in the south like Virginia or the Midwest like Wisconsin, he has successfully broadened his coalition which would be very bad news for Hillary Clinton going into Ohio and Texas coupled with the momentum of having won 10 primaries and caucuses.  

OLBERMANN:  So what we’re dealing with perhaps after this historic campaign that has been described in terms of black and white and understandably so is that the key color tonight might be blue in terms of the collar, that that was the area that the Clinton campaign was able to paint Obama as not having a large support base in or not being able to convince the lower end of the economic spectrum and that seems to have been wiped out according to the exit polls.  

RUSSERT: If blue collar workers and states that go blue in November and Wisconsin is both of those.  There’s no state more critical to the Democratic coalition than Wisconsin.  Al Gore barely won it.  John Kerry barely won it.  Democrats need that in order to make Ohio and Florida the last remaining battleground states.  

MATTHEWS: Does Hillary Clinton Tim still have her base of white women?

RUSSERT: Chris, yes, she does, particularly if they are over the age of 50.  That is the one remaining element of her coalition, white women over the age of 50, many of whom make less than $50,000.  She has not been able to show inroads in our polls tonight with young voters and with independent voters.  We’ve seen over a third of the voters in this open primary being independents or Republicans and Obama winning those two to one.  She has to continue to find ways to broaden her coalition beyond that one subset of aging white women. 

MATTHEWS:  Was this a (INAUDIBLE) defensive. We looked at the ads she’s been running out there Tim which was aimed at women, waitresses, nurses, etc, but played nothing to the men who are worried about losing their jobs in industry, in heavy industry.  Is she just holding here and hoping to expand again in other states?

RUSSERT: That’s a great question because when you look at this exit poll Chris, amongst men, white men, black men, young men, single men, married men, there’s a real problem there.  It’s just not connecting.  It’s not resonating.  I’m very anxious to see what lesson is learned after we get the final results tonight from the negative TV commercials.  Keith and I spoke about this earlier. The Clinton campaign went after Obama very harshly on Social Security, on health care, both on television and direct mail in the last two days about the whole use or misuse of words.  What will be the lesson from Wisconsin that will be applied to Ohio and Texas?  There are two weeks to go.  Hillary Clinton has to make some big decisions about the kind of campaign she wants to wage going into March 4.  

OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, NBC News bureau chief in Washington, great thanks Tim.  We’ll be back with you later on.  Let’s go to McCain campaign headquarters.  As we told you, the senator who has won the Republican primary in Wisconsin was going to speak early and here is John McCain after his victory in Wisconsin. 

Well, the senator and us.  We apparently jumped the queue a little bit as to when he was going to start talking.  So we’ll try to make this work out.  Has this put Huckabee away? I mean we—

MATTHEWS: It certainly gives John McCain an opportunity to give a victory speech.  Every time Huckabee stays in this race and there is a sort of plus side to this.  However, Huckabee just keeps raising those social issues like abortion rights which may well drive John McCain yet at the end of this campaign to the right and out of reach of the general election victory he so dearly wants if he has to go over and placate the right again and again.  But it looks like he’s won big tonight and he hasn’t had to change his position at all.  Here he is, Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you my friends for your support and dedication to our campaign and thank you Wisconsin for bringing us to the point where even a superstitious naval aviator can claim with confidence and humility that I will be our party’s nominee for president of the United States. 

Thank you.  I promise you, I will wage a campaign with determination, passion and the right ideas for strengthening our country that prove worthy of the honor and responsibility you have given me.  My friends, I again want to commend Governor Huckabee who’s shown impressive grit and passion himself and though he remains my opponent, I have come to admire very much.  Governor Huckabee. 

Of course, I want to thank my wife Cindy, my daughter Megan and the rest of my family for their indispensable love and encouragement.  My friends, we’ve traveled a great distance together already in this campaign and overcome more than a few obstacles.  But as I said last week, now comes the hard part and for America, the bigger decision.  Will we make the right changes to restore the peoples’ trust in their government and meet the great challenges of our time with wisdom and with faith in the values and ability of Americans for whom no challenge is greater than their resolve, courage and patriotism?  Will we do that? Or will we head appeals for change that ignore the lessons of history and lack confidence in the intelligence and ideals of free people. 

I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change.  No more than an eloquent but empty call for change that promises no more than a holiday from history and return to the false promises and failed policies of a tired philosophy that trusts in government more than the people.  Our purpose, our purpose is to keep this blessed country, free, safe, prosperous and proud. 


McCAIN: The changes we offer to the institutions and policies of government will reflect and rely upon the strength, industry, aspirations and decency of the people we serve.  My friends, we live in a world of change, some of which holds great promise for us and all mankind and some of which poses great peril.  Today, today, political change in Pakistan is occurring.  It might affect our relationship with a nuclear armed nation that is indispensable to our success in combating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

An old enemy of American interests and ideals is leaving the world’s stage and we can glimpse the hope that freedom might some day come to the people of Cuba.  A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of skyrocketing gas prices.  Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity.  Will the next president have the experience, the judgment experience in forms and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons.  I think you know the answer to that question. 

The most important obligation of the next president is to protect Americans from the threat posed by violent extremists who despise us and our values and modernity itself.  They are moral monsters, but they are also a disciplined, dedicated movement driven by an apocalyptic zeal which celebrates murder, has access to science, technology and mass communications and is determined to acquire and use weapons against us of mass destruction. 

The institutions and doctrines we relied on in the cold war are no longer adequate to protect us in a struggle where suicide bombers might obtain the world’s most terrifying weapons.  If we are to succeed, we must rethink and rebuild the structure and mission of our military, the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the purposes of our alliances, the reach and scope of our democracy, the capacity of all branches of government to defend us.  My friends, we need to marshal all elements of American power, our military, economy, investment, trade and technology and our moral credibility to win the war against Islamic extremists and help the majority of Muslims who believe in progress and peace win the struggle with the soul of Islam. 

No one knows better.  No one knows better than here in Ohio and in the heartland of America the challenges and opportunities of a global economy that require us to change some old habits of our government a well.  But we will fight for the right changes, changes that understand our strengths and rely on the common sense and values of the American people.  My friends, we will campaign to balance the Federal budget, not with smoke and mirrors, but by encouraging economic growth and preventing government from spending your money on things it shouldn’t, to hold it accountable for the money it does spend on services that only government can provide in ways that don’t fail and embarrass you, to save Social Security and Medicare on our watch, on our watch without the tricks, lies and posturing that have failed us for too long while the problems become harder to solve, to make our tax code simpler, fairer, flatter, more pro-growth and more pro-jobs. 

To reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil with an energy policy—with an energy policy that encourages American industry and technology to make our country safer, cleaner and more prosperous by leading the world in the use, development and discovery of alternate sources of energy.  To open new markets to American goods and services, create more and better jobs for the American worker, overhaul unemployment insurance and our redundant and outmoded programs for assisting workers who have lost a job that’s not coming back to find a job that won’t go away. 

To help Americans without health insurance acquire it without bankrupting the country and ruining the quality and ruining the quality of American health care that is the envy of the world.  To make our public schools more accountable to parents and better able to meet the critical responsibility they have to prepare our children, the challenges they will face in the world they will lead. 

My friends, I’m not the youngest candidate, but I am the most experienced.  My friends, I know what our military can do, what it can do better and what it should not do.  I know how Congress works and how to make it work for the country and not just for the re-election of its members.  I know how the world works.  I know the good and the evil in it.  I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world and how to stand up to those who don’t.  My friends, I know who I am and what I want to do.  My friends, I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement.  I owe America more than she has ever owed me.  My friends, I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years.  I’ve never lived a day in good times or bad that I haven’t been proud, proud, of the privilege. 

OLBERMANN: NBC News is projecting Barack Obama is the winner in Wisconsin.  We had earlier characterized this as a lead after the exit polls.  We are now upgrading it.  NBC News projecting Barack Obama has won Wisconsin.  That is the hard count below 1 percent as of yet.  We’ll return to John McCain’s speech in the interim. 

McCAIN: Thank you very much.  Thank you for being here.  Thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Our apologies to Senator McCain for cutting him off there for the breaking news that Obama has won according to our projection as John McCain has won in Wisconsin.  Therefore, the senator from Arizona previewing perhaps every speech of the election campaign that we’re going to hear. 

Now, our latest projection and again, the hard numbers don’t say anything about this race yet.  But NBC News is projecting Barack Obama, according to the exit polling and the early data will win the Wisconsin primary.  We don’t have a margin for you by a long shot here.  The polls closing just 19 minutes ago.  Let’s go right now to Obama campaign headquarters in Houston, Texas.  He’s already moved on to Texas two weeks from tonight and here’s Lee Cowan.  Lee. 

LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS: That news is news to the 20 some thousand folks that gathered here.  They have not heard that we have in fact called it for Barack Obama in Wisconsin I think the interesting thing Keith is going to be able to see just what kind of support he was able to draw in.  We saw last week how he was able to really cut across all the demographics in Virginia and Maryland and D.C.  If he’s able to do that in Wisconsin, that could be a pretty good sign for how things may go for him in Ohio as well.  The Barack Obama campaign spent an awful lot of time in Wisconsin, almost every single day since last Tuesday, in fact, two and three appearances a day.  He spent a lot of money.  He spent especially a lot of money on TV advertising there, four times as much as Hillary Clinton for example.  So they were really counting on their investment paying off and it appears like it did tonight. Keith. 

OLBERMANN:  Tell somebody, we want to hear that mighty roar go up from the crowd Lee. 

COWAN: You got a banner? I could just hold it up. 

OLBERMANN:  You won. You’re number one. Again, the projection from NBC News, that the Wisconsin primary, when the votes are counted will go to Barack Obama.  We will now go to the Clinton campaign and Ron Allen, is that correct?  Ron Allen at Youngstown, Ohio, where the news will not be received in nearly that fashion.  Ron, good evening. 

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS: Good evening, Keith.  Here the Clinton campaign is going to be listening, looking to see what the margin of victory is.  They said that they thought Obama would win Wisconsin.  They also said that they thought it would be very close.  They thought that the split in delegates would not be that significant.  We’ll see if that’s the case. 

The Clinton campaign has become all about counting delegates.  They are determined to take this race all the way to June and they insist that Senator Clinton will win the nomination by then.  Of course, there are a lot of big ifs.  Ohio is the next big if, which is why we are here right now.  She’s been here all day.  She’ll spend a lot of time here between now and March 4th. This is a state where Senator Clinton thinks the demographics are very, very favorable for her.  A lot of traditional Democratic voters, a place where there are a lot of middle class and working class concerns.  She’s been talking about economics.  As we go forward however, losing Wisconsin could be a big set back.  She has to win Ohio. She has to win Texas.  She’s got her eyes set on Pennsylvania as well.  She’s going to (INAUDIBLE) by winning these big traditional states, that she’s the better candidate to take on John McCain in November.  Again, (INAUDIBLE) the more the losses pile up, difficult it’s going to make, I’m sorry, difficult it’s going to be to make that argument.  Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Ron Allen at the headquarters of the Clinton campaign, ironically up at Cheney High School in Youngstown, Ohio. Thank you Ron again.  This would be nine losses in a row according to the exit polling for Senator Clinton.   Chris.

MATTHEWS: Again, Barack Obama is the projected winner in Wisconsin tonight.  We’re joined right now by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who was a big backer of Barack Obama.  Give us the inside on this as we call it, give us the internals on what happened in your state, governor. 

GOV. JIM DOYLE, (D) WISCONSIN: Well, this really was a Hillary Clinton state.  Two months ago, she would have been 25 points ahead.  I think a couple of things happened.  I’m incredibly proud of the state.  I think people really responded to Barack Obama’s message of change and focusing on middle class issues.  I think also just in political terms, I’m incredibly impressed that in one week’s time to watch the national Barack Obama campaign come in here, merge almost seamlessly with the efforts that we were making here on the ground in Wisconsin.  Usually, political campaigns have a lot of infighting going on and turf wars.  This was incredibly well done.  I was so impressed by the Obama campaign, so impressed by our campaign here in Wisconsin.  We put them together in a big way, reached out to everybody.  Barack Obama of course is a fantastic candidate.  The appearances he was making around the state, I think you and I talked before Chris, I haven’t seen such excitement like that since maybe when Eugene McCarthy knocked Lyndon Johnson out of the race here a long time ago.  It was fantastic.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about something. We have all known, watching these polls and exit polls at NBC now for weeks now that Barack Obama has a great strength when you ask who’s the change candidate.  What I found interesting in tonight’s diagnosis as you look through the autopsy, if you will, what happened today. Under the question, who cares about people like me?  That’s a great poll question.  It gets to Democratic voters it seems to me better than anything.  Who cares about people like me? Surprisingly to me, Barack Obama beat Senator Clinton in her home turf question, which is I’m good with waitresses. I’m good with nurses. I’m good with people with needs.  He beat her. 

DOYLE: Well, I think, you saw him closing the gender gap and really reaching out to everybody.  I never quite understood that why he would be less, supposedly care less than Hillary Clinton.  Look where Barack Obama comes from and what his background is and what he spent his time doing.  His life has been devoted to working for people of low income who are trying to get ahead.  That’s what he spent—after Harvard law school, he didn’t go to Wall Street.  He went back onto the streets of Chicago. That’s what this man’s life has been all about. 

MATTHEWS: What’s been the impact in the last couple days?  I see looking at the entrails of our exit polling that apparently people thought that Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton was more unfair in her attacks on him than he was on her to the extent he did attack her.  Do you think the question that was raised, the tough, hard charge I must put it, that Barack Obama plagiarized words used by the Governor Deval Patrick up in Massachusetts.  Did that hurt him in the last couple days of thinking about this by the voters?

DOYLE: I don’t think at all.  I think it looked so trivial as the attack.  I mean people in Wisconsin, I love this state obviously, what we care about is how do we make sure people can afford health care and how do we make sure our educational system is doing what we want. We’ve got great schools, great universities here.  So we really don’t care about whether one inspirational speaker happened to have worked out some phraseology with another inspirational speaker.  That’s hardly kind of something that would turn an election in Wisconsin.  I’ve been through a lot of statewide campaigns in this state and I think I could say people really get down to what the issues are here.  Clearly, people are very, very hungry for change and clearly people believe that Barack Obama is the person that can best bring that change. 

OLBERMANN:   Governor, did you hear any of Senator McCain’s speech after he was the projected winner on the Republican side? Because it sounded like it was a preview of everything that you’re going to hear in a campaign and directed against Senator Obama.  The references in there to an empty but eloquent call for change and a holiday from history.  Is that going to be the attack and what do you think Senator Obama’s response should be to it?

DOYLE: One of the most remarkable things, yes, I did hear the talk.  One of the most remarkable was right off the bat, he said that we needed to change and to rebuild the trust in Washington.  My God, it’s his president that’s there right now, a president whose policies he supports down the line.  The ones that he didn’t support, like the tax cuts, he’s now coming around to the Bush position on.  I thought when I heard it, this campaign ultimately is going to be about tomorrow versus yesterday, about old fights versus moving on to the future.  I was struck by how little, if anything, only at the end did he bother in his litany to even get into the issues that people really care about here—affordable health care, good education and a strong middle class job base, rebuilding our manufacturing infrastructure.  Those were sort of after thoughts to Senator McCain.  Those are the issues that I think this election is going to turn on in Wisconsin. 

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is talking to the campaigns tonight in our campaign listening post in Washington, D.C. She has more on how the Clinton campaign is reacting to Obama’s victory tonight in Wisconsin.  Andrea. 

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS:  They are not happy.  Of course, what they are saying is that they have managed to narrow the gap.  They hope that by the end of the evening when the final results are in, they will have narrowed the gap.  They never really had a strong chance here because of the presence of independents.  But I think when you look at the exit polls, it will turn out that Barack Obama won among Democrats and that in fact, their real problem is that they didn’t come in soon enough.  The dissention within the campaign, among those who did not think they had a real shot here and those who then took over the campaign and felt that they had to fight here and try to stop or blunt Barack Obama’s momentum going into Ohio and Texas and later on Pennsylvania, that that argument kept them out far too long, that Bill Clinton was here, Chelsea Clinton was here, but Hillary Clinton was not here until Saturday.  Sunday the weather played a role because of the snow, she couldn’t campaign Chris as much as she wanted to, had to redo that campaigning on Monday.  So a lot of things went against her but most prominently their own indecision as to whether to take Wisconsin seriously.  Then also the fact that they went on the attack and also went for this populist appeal.  If it didn’t click here, they have got real trouble going into Ohio. 

MATTHEWS: This populist appeal may not square with the talk that they may raid the elected delegates of Barack Obama.  You can talk populism, but if you behave like a plutocrat, that’s a problem.  And I see this throughout the process, both, candidates.  Barack Obama talking about not taking Federal money, going with a spending war, a bidding war to see who’s the next president in the general election.  Everybody in the Democratic party talking like a populist, but acting like a plutocrat, like the more money people have, the more power they should have. 

MITCHELL: Well in fact, that whole trial balloon that they floated with Roger Simon in politico and he’s such a good reporter that clearly that came from one of the top delegate strategists inside the Clinton campaign.  It did not fly. It’s not likely going to fly at least as an overt strategy and it doesn’t make them look like the kind of good government change agents that they are describing themselves to being in places like Wisconsin where that’s the kind of politics that voters seem to like. 

MATTHEWS: Andrea, thank you. 

OLBERMANN:  Andrea Mitchell with our listening post and now, we’re going to go to Kiki McLean, senior advisor to the Clinton campaign.  She’s joining us now from Washington.  Thanks for your time tonight, Kiki.  I’m going to interpret you.  Your candidate is going to speak to us now instead and speak to the crowd assembled at the Toyota center, rather at the Cheney High School in Youngstown, Ohio.  Hillary Clinton with what is projected to be her ninth consecutive primary defeat.  And her statement at this point probably won’t address that.  Let’s find out.  Here’s Senator Clinton speaking to us from Ohio.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you.  Thank you all very, very much.  It is—it is wonderful to be with you.  I want to thank Jerry McIntee (ph) and Tom Buffenbarger (ph).  I want to thank your Congressman Tim Ryan.

Also, I want to recognize, Representative Rob Gerberry (ph), Representative Lorraine Bendy (ph), Representative Sandy Harwood (ph).  I also want to thank Shelly Murray, the school board president.  And Amy Lifsky (ph), the student rep to the school board and I particularly want to thank the Cheney High School (ph) and East High School marching band.

Well, hello, Youngstown, how are you tonight?

I am thrilled to be here with all of you.  And, it is great to see this enthusiasm and this energy.  And tonight, I want to talk to you about the choice you have in this election and why that choice matters.  It is about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work.  On hard work to get America back to work.  That’s our goal.

You know, when I think about what we’re really comparing in this election, you know, we can’t just have speeches, we have got to have solutions and we need those solutions for America.  We have got to get America back in the solutions business.  Because, while words matter, the best words in the world aren’t enough unless you match them with action.

But this election is not about me or my opponent, it is about you.  It’s about your lives and your dreams and your future.  And I can’t do this without all of you here in Youngstown and across Ohio.  It is going to take an effort from all of us.  Now, you may have heard that I loaned by campaign some money and I was honored and humbled by the support I have received since from people like the young mom who sent me $10 and wrote that my two daughters are two and four and I want them to know anything is possible.  Or the gentleman who described himself as an independent voter, a veteran and a generally cranky conservative who decided to support me.

If we put pull together, I know we can do this.  I hope you will support this campaign.  It is your campaign.  I hope you will go to my Web site.  Because if you do, you’ll find at you will find all of my positions, everything I have been working on.  Because I know what’s happening in America.  People are struggling.  They are working the day shift, the night shift, they are trying to get by without health care.  They are just one paycheck away from losing their home.  They cannot afford four more years of a president who just doesn’t see or hear them at all.

They need a president ready on day one, to be commander and chief. 

Ready to manage our economy and ready to beat the Republicans in November.

With your help, I will be that president.

This is the choice we face.  One of us is ready to be commander in chief in a dangerous world.  Every day, around the world, situations arise that present new threats and new opportunities.  Situations like the change of leadership in Cuba today.  I have served on the Armed Services Committee.  I have been to more than 80 countries, worked with world leaders, stood up to the Chinese government to declare women’s rights are human rights.

And I am ready to end this war in Iraq, end this era of cowboy diplomacy.

I will restore our leadership and moral authority in the world without delays, without on the job training from day one.  One of us has a plan to provide health care for every single American, no one left out.  And I believe, I believe health care is a right, not a privilege.  And I will not rest until every American is covered.  That is my solemn promise to you.

OLBERMANN:  If this is not symbolic, Senator Clinton is going to be most likely interrupted in her speech by Senator Obama speaking in Houston.  We’ll wait until he’s ready to leave her speech.  Here’s Senator Clinton again.

CLINTON:  Who would we leave out?  Do we leave out the mother who grabbed my arm and said her insurance company won’t pay for the treatment her son needed?  Will we leave that family out?  And who will pay for those we leave out?

I don’t want to leave anyone out.  I’m not running to put Band-Aids on our problems.  I am running to solve our problems. One of us has a plan to actually address the growing foreclosure crisis which is so terrible here in Ohio.  I’ve called for a freeze on subprime foreclosures and interest rates to ensure millions of families across the country won’t be receiving that grim letter from the bank.

I propose $30 billion in assistance to help families avoid foreclosure and rebound from the housing crisis because no one should foreclose on the American dream.  And we’re going to stop it.

OLBERMANN:  The etiquette of the campaign at an end.  Senator Obama speaking from the Toyota Center in Houston.  Formerly the Summit.  We’re told this extemporaneous.  No teleprompter tonight.  He is projected winner, projected by NBC News.  In Wisconsin, his ninth consecutive primary victory.  Senator Obama in Texas.


Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you. 

Thank you everybody.  Thank you.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.

Y’all know how to do it in Texas.

Houston, I think we’ve achieved lift off here.

Let me, first of all, say thank you to some special people who helped put this together.  First of all, the preprogram entertainment (inaudible) group.  Thank you so much.  I want to thank the wonderful young lady who said the pledge of allegiance, Melissa Adkins (ph), that’s not easy to do when you’re 6 years old in front of 20,000 people.  So thank you, Melissa.

There are many great elected officials state and local here, but I have to give a special shout out to three of my fellow members of Congress who are just great supporters.  Congressman Al Green.  Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (ph) and Congressman Chet Edwards, thank you so much.

I want to thank all the wonderful faith leaders who are here who gave me a little circle of prayer before coming out here today.

I want to thank some wonderful union supporters, SEIU in the house.  The United Food and Commercial Workers and the transport workers.  Thank you, so much for your wonderful support.

Now, there’s a little bit of business that we have got to do before we get into the main event.  Early voting has started here in Texas.

Early voting has started here in Texas, and so everybody has received one of these cards and everybody knows that you can start voting today.  And if you didn’t vote today, you can start tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.  But, we have early voting in Texas.  I don’t want you to wait until March 4.  I want you to go ahead and start voting tomorrow, here in Texas.

You’ve got February 19 until 29 to vote.  And, you can also vote on Election Day, March 4.  I know this was explained to you.  This is a little confusing.  You have to do two things for me now.  Not only do you have to vote, and we would prefer you to vote early, but on Election Day, November 4, you have to attend the caucus at 7:00 p.m. to get us a few more delegates.

Can everybody do that, Houston?  Is everybody going to do that?

Yes, we can.

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

OBAMA:  On the back, on the back here are all the sites for the early voting locations.  So you don’t have an excuse for not going.  And we want you to grab your cousins and your uncle and your niece and your nephew.  Don’t go alone.  Take some friends and family to the polls.

Now, we just heard that we won tonight in Wisconsin.

And, I am grateful to the people of Wisconsin for their friendship and their support.  And their extraordinary civic pride.  In Wisconsin, when you go to vote, it’s five degrees outside.  But, that does not deter people from Milwaukee to Green Bay to Eau Claire, that does not deter people all across that state from casting their ballot and exercising their civic duty.

We also have a caucus in Hawaii tonight.  It’s too early to know how that will turn out.  But—it’s too early to know.  But, we do know this.  We do know this, Houston.  The change we seek is still months and miles away and we need the good people of Texas to help us get there.

We will need you to fight for every delegate it takes to win this nomination.  And if we win the unanimous nation, if we are blessed and honored to win the nomination, then we are going to need your help to win the election in November.

And if we win that election in November then we are going to need your help and your time, your energy, your enthusiasm, you mobilization, your organization and your voices to help us change America over the next four years.

Because, understand this Houston, as wonderful as this gathering is, as exciting as these enormous crowds and this enormous energy may be, what we are trying to do here is not easy.  And it will not happen overnight.  It is going to take more than big rallies.  It’s going to require more than rousing speeches.

It will also require more than policy papers and positions and Web sites.  It is going to require something more.  Because the problems that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas.

It’s that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die.

Because lobbyists crush them with their money and influence.  Because politicians spend too much time trying to score political points and not enough time trying to bridge their differences so we can get something done.

The problem is that we haven’t had leaders who can inspire the American people to rally behind a common purpose and a higher purpose.  And this is what we need to change today.  This is what’s hard and we know this.  We know how difficult it will be.

But, I also know why we’re here tonight.  We are here because we believe that change is possible.

We’re here—we’re here because we know we’ve never needed it more than we do right now.  We’re here because there are workers in Youngstown, Ohio who’ve watched job after job after job disappear because of bad things like NAFTA, who’ve worked in factories for 20 years.  And then, one day, they come in and literally see the equipment unbolted from the floor and sent to China.

They need us to end the tax breaks that got to companies that send jobs overseas.  And give them to companies that invest in jobs right here in the United States of America that pay well, provide a pension, provide health care.  That’s the change they need.  We’re here because of the mother in San Antonio, that I met just today, just this afternoon.  She has two-year-old twins who are legally blind.  She somehow entered into a predatory loan and has saw her mortgage payments double in two weeks and has paid thousands in fees to try to save off foreclosure.  She told me she was on the verge of packing and didn’t know where her family would go next.  She needed us to crack down on predatory lenders and give relief to struggling homeowners who were tricked out of her dream.

She needs change today.

We’re here because of the mother that I met in Green Bay, Wisconsin who gave me this bracelet I’m wearing.  Inscribed on it is the name of her son, Ryan.  He was 20 when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.  And next to his name, it says, he gave—all gave some, but he gave all.  We are here because it is time to ask ourselves as a nation if we are serving Ryan and his compatriots and all our brave young men and women as they are serving us.  They need us to end the war and bring them home and get them the care and benefits they deserve.  They need change, Houston.

A year ago, a year ago, I stood on the steps of the old capitol in Springfield, Illinois and I announced an improbable journey to change America.  And there are those who said at the time, why are you running so soon.  Why are you running this time?  You are a relatively young man.  You can afford to wait.

And I—I had to explain to them, I’m not running because of some long held ambition.  I know some people have been looking through my kindergarten papers, but that’s not why I decided to run.

I’m not running because I think it’s somehow owed to me.  I’m running because of what Dr. King called the fierce urgency of now.  The fierce urgency of now.

Because there’s such a thing, Houston, as being too late.  And that hour is almost upon us.  We are at a defining moment in our history.  Our nation is at war.  Our planet is in peril.  The dream that so many generations we fought for is slowly slipping away.  You see it in your own lives and in your own neighborhoods.  The stories I told are not unique.  Everywhere I go I hear the same stories.  People are working for less.  They’ve never paid more for college.  Never paid more for gas at the pump.

Our health care system leaves 47 million people without health insurance and those who have it are seeing co-payments and deductibles and premiums going up year after year after year.

Despite the slogans, our children, millions of them are being left behind.  Unable to compete in an international economy.  In such circumstances, Houston, we cannot afford to wait.  We cannot wait to fix our schools, we cannot wait to fix the health care system.  We cannot wait to put an end to global warming.  We cannot wait to bring good jobs with good benefits back to the United States.  We cannot wait to end this war in Iraq.  We cannot wait.

We cannot wait.  And one year ago, one year ago when I made the decision to run, it was based on the belief that the size of our challenges had outstripped the capacity of a broken and divided politics to solve.

But I was certain that the American people were hungry for something new.  That they were tired of a politics that tears each other down.  They wanted a politics that would lift the country up.  That they had grown weary of a politics that was based on spin and P.R.  They wanted a politics based on honesty and truthfulness and straight talk to the American people.

I was convinced, most of all, that change in America does not happen from the top down.  It happens from the bottom up.  Some of you know, I used to work as a community organizer with churches on the South Side of Chicago after the steel plants had laid thousands of people off.  And we brought together black and whites and Hispanic to try to create job training programs for the unemployed and bring economic development to neighborhoods that have fallen on hard times.

And it was the best education I ever had.  Because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the opportunity.

It reminded me, it reminded me that Americans are decent and generous people, willing to work hard and sacrifice on behalf of future generations.  And if could just get beyond the divisions that have become so commonplace in our politics, if we could bridge the divides so that black, whites, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, young, old, rich, poor, Republicans, democrats, if we could join together to challenge the special interests in Washington, but also to challenge yourselves.  Also to challenge ourselves to be better neighbors, to be better citizens, to be better parents.  Then, I believe there was no challenge we could not solve.  No destiny we could not fulfill.

That was the bet I made one year ago.  And I’m here to report, Houston, that after a year of traveling across the country, after countless miles and thousands of speeches and talks and shaking hands and chicken dinners, I am here to report that my debt has paid off and my faith in the American people has been vindicated because all across the country, people are standing up and saying it is time to turn the page and time to write a new chapter in American history.  We want to move forward into a better tomorrow.

The American people—

CROWD:  Yes, we can.  Yes, we can.  Yes we can.  Yes we can.  Yes we can.

OBAMA:  Yes, we can.  The American people have spoken out and they are saying we need to move in a new direction.  And, I would not be running, as aware as I am of my imperfections, as clear as I am that I am not a perfect vessel, I would not be running if I did not believe that I could lead this country in that new direction.

That we have a unique moment that we have to seize.  But, I have to tell you, Houston, I can’t do it by myself.  No president can.  Remember, change doesn’t happen from the top, it happens because of you.  And so, the question I have I have for you tonight, Houston, is are you remember for change?

CROWD:  Yes.

OBAMA:  Are you really ready for change?  Because if you are ready for change, then we can go ahead and tell the lobbyists that they’re days of setting the agenda are over.

They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I am president of the United States of America.

If you are ready for change, Houston, then we can stop talking about the outrage of 47 million people without health insurance and start doing something about it.  I put forward a plan forward that says everybody will be able to get health insurance that is at least as good as the plan I have got as a member of Congress.

And if you already have health insurance, we will lower your premiums

by $2500, per family per year.

And if you can’t afford it, we will subsidize your care and we will

emphasize prevention so we have a health care system instead of a disease-care


And we won’t do this 20 years from now, or 10 years from now.  We will do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.

If you are ready for change, if you are really ready, then we can start with restoring some balance to our economy.  I believe in the free market.  I know Texans believe in entrepreneurship.

We are an independent and a self reliant people, we don’t believe in government doing what we can do for ourselves.

But when we’ve got CEOs making for in 10 minutes than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it is the CEOs who are getting a tax break and workers are left with nothing, then something is wrong and something has to change. 


So I want to—I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, we are going to give them to companies that invest right here in America. 


And we are going to roll back those Bush tax cuts that went to all of the wealthy people.  And we are going to give tax cuts to ordinary families, people who are making less than $75,000, we will offset your payroll tax. 

Senior citizens who make less than $50,000, we want to say to them, you don’t have to pay an income tax, you are already having a tough time making ends meet. 


We want to promote trade, and we embrace globalization but we also want our trade deals to have labor standards and environmental standards and safety standards so our workers aren’t undermined and our children aren’t playing with toys bathed in lead paint.  That is the change we want. 


And I will raise the minimum wage not every 10 years, but to keep pace with inflation.  Because if you work in America, you should not be poor.  And that is a goal that we should set for ourselves when I am president of the United States of America. 


If you are ready for change, we can assure that every child in America has the best education this country has to offer. 


From the day that child is born, to the day that child graduates from college.  The problem is not the lack of plans, the lack of good ideas, the problem is a lack of political will, a lack of urgency.  We think that those children in inner city Houston, those are those children.  Those are somebody else’s problems. 

We think that the child in South Texas, that is somebody else’s problem.  That is not our problem, that is not our child.  We think that that child in rural East Texas, where there is a low property tax base, and they can’t afford to buy new textbooks or put in computers, that is somebody else’s problem. 

Houston, I am here to tell you that every child is our problem, every child is our responsibility, every child needs to be nurtured and embraced. 


And so we are going to invest in early childhood education to close the achievement gap.  And I won’t just talk about how great teachers are, I will reward them for their greatness... 


… by giving them higher salaries and giving them more support.  And I want—I want the highest standards in our schools.  We have to have high standards, standards of excellence in order to compete in this global economy.  But I don’t want our standards measured just by a single high stakes standardized test, because I don’t want our teachers teaching to the tests. 


I want our students learning art, and music, and science and literature and social studies. 


And I don’t know about you, but I think it is about time we made college affordable for every young person in America. 


So we’re going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit to every student, every year.  But students, you are going to have to give back something in return.  You are going to have to participate in community service. 


You are going to have to work in a homeless shelter or a veteran’s home or an underserved school or join the Peace Corps.  We will invest in you, you invest in America.  Together we will march this country forward. 


If you are ready for change, we can start having an energy policy that makes sense.  We send $1 billion to foreign nations every single day and we are melting the polar ice caps in the bargain.  That has to change. 

And so we are going to cap the emission of greenhouse gases.  We are going to generate billions of dollars from polluters to invest in solar and wind and biodiesel. 


We are going to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars because that is the only way that we can actually bring down gas prices over the long-term. 


And I know you need that.  And by the way, when I talked about increasing fuel efficiency standards, I didn’t do it in front of some environmental group, I did it in Detroit in front of the automakers.  And I told them they had to change their ways, and when I said, I’ve got to admit that the room was really quiet. 


Nobody clapped.  But that is OK, because part of what you need from the next president is somebody who will not just tell you what they think you want to hear, but will tell you what you need to hear. 


Will tell you the truth. 


If you are ready for change, we can stop using immigration as a political football. 


And actually start solving the problem.  We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And those two things we can join together.  We can get serious about our borders and crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers and undermining U.S. labor. 

But we can also provide a pathway for those who are living here, they can pay a fine and learn English and go to the back of the line.  But we have got to give them an opportunity too.  We are a nation of immigrants. 


If you are ready for change, we can start reinvesting in America, in the cities.  We are spending $9 billion a month in Iraq, $9 billion.  We can invest that money in rebuilding roads and bridges and hospitals right here in Houston. 


Building schools, laying broadband lines, putting people back to work, employing young men and young women in our inner cities, in our rural communities.  That is possible if you are ready for change. 

We can create the kind of foreign policy that will make us safe and will lead to renewed respect of America around the world. 


You know, as your commander-in-chief, my job will be to keep you safe. 


My job will be to keep you safe.  And I will not hesitate to strike against any who would do us harm.  I will do whatever is required.  But part of keeping you safe, is maintaining the finest military in the world.  And that means providing our troops with the proper equipment, and the proper training, and the proper rotations.

And it means caring for our troops when they come home, not forgetting about our troops. 


No more homeless veterans, no more begging for disability payments, no more waiting in line for the VA.  We have a solemn obligation to honor those who have served on our behalf. 


But part of keeping you safe is also deploying our military wisely. 

And the war in Iraq was unwise. 


It distracted us from the fight that needed to be fought in

Afghanistan, against al Qaeda.  They are the ones who killed 3,000 Americans. 

It fanned the flames of anti-American sentiment.

It has cost us dearly in blood and in treasure.  I opposed this war in 2002.  I will bring this war to an end in 2009. 


It is time to bring our troops home. 


But I don’t want to just end the war, I want to end the mindset that got us into war. 


I want to end a politics based on fear that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes instead of a way to bring the country together against a common enemy.  I want to rediscover the power of our diplomacy. 

I said early in this campaign I would meet not just with our friends, but also with our enemies. 


And there were those in Washington who said, you can’t do that.  And I said, yes, I can. 


Because—because I remember what John F. Kennedy said, he said, we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate. 


Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries and tell them where America stands and try to resolve differences without resort to war.  And when we do that, I believe the world is waiting. 

I want to go before the world’s community and say, America is back. 

And we are ready to lead. 


But we will lead not just militarily.  Yes, we will hunt down terrorists.  Yes, we will lock down loose nuclear weapons that could do us harm.  But we are also going to lead on climate change.  We are also going to lead on helping poor countries deal with the devastation of HIV/AIDS.  We are also going to lead in bringing an end to the genocide in Darfur. 


We are going to lead by example, by maintaining the highest standards of civil liberties and human rights, which is why I will close Guantanamo and restore Habeas Corpus, and say no to torture. 


Because if you are ready for change, then you can elect a president who has taught the Constitution, and believes in the Constitution, and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America. 


All of these things are possible if you are ready for change.  But I have to say that there are a lot of people these days who are telling you not to believe.  They are trying to persuade you that, well, Obama may have good ideas, but he hasn’t been in Washington long enough. 


We need to season and stew him a little bit more and boil all the hope out of him.  But I think you understand and the American people understand that the last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over, and over, and over again.  We need something different.  And we new leadership to move into a new century. 


There are those—there are those who would say that you have to be wary about inspiration because you might be disappointed.  Who say that Obama may make a good speech, but what is really going to make a difference is how you work our government. 

But I have to say that it is my central premise that the only way we will bring about real change in America is if we can bring new people into the process.  If we can attract young people, if we can attract independents, if we can stop fighting with Republicans and try to bring some over to our side. 


I want to form a working majority for change.  That is how we win elections, that is how we will govern.  I want to reach out to everybody. 

I know that there are some who say, well, what about John McCain?  And I revere and honor, I revere and honor John McCain’s service to this country.  He is a genuine American hero. 


But when he embraces George Bush’s failed economic policies…


When he says that he is willing to send our troops into another 100

year of war in Iraq…


… then he represents the policies of yesterday.  And we want to be the party of tomorrow.  And I’m looking forward to having that debate with John McCain. 


But you know, there is something—there is something deeper in this argument we have been hearing about inspiration.  It really has to do with the meaning of hope.  You know, some of you know I talk about hope a lot.  And it is not surprising because if you think about it, the odds of me standing here are very slim. 


You know, I was born to a teenage mother.  My father left when I was 2.  So I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents.  And they didn’t have money and they didn’t have fame.  What they could give me was love, they gave me an education, and they gave me hope. 


And so I talk about hope, I put hope on my signs.  I gave a speech in Boston at the convention about hope, I wrote a book called “The Audacity of Hope.” 


But now some are suggesting that I must be naive.  That if you talk about hope it means that you are fuzzy-headed, you’re not realistic.  You are peddling in false hopes.  You need a reality check. 

The implication is, is that if you talk about hope, that you must be passive and you are just waiting for good things to happen, and you don’t realize how mean and tough the world can be. 

But understand, that is not what hope is.  Hope is not blind optimism.  Hope is not ignoring or being ignorant of the challenges that stand between you and your dreams.  I know how difficult it will be to provide health insurance to every American.  If it was easy it would have already been done. 

I know how hard it will be to change our energy policy, because the status quo serves many powerful people.  I know how hard it will be to alleviate poverty that has built up over centuries, how hard it will be to fix schools because changing our schools will require not just money, but a change in attitudes. 

We are going to have to parent better and turn off the television set and put the video games away and instill a sense of excellence in our children.  And that is going to take some time.  I know how easy it is for politicians to turn us on each other, to use immigrants, or gay people, or folks who aren’t like us as scapegoats for what they do. 

But I also know this, I know this because I have fought on the streets as an organizer, I have fought in the courts as a civil rights attorney.  I have fought in the legislature and I have won some battles, but I have also lost some because good intentions aren’t always enough.  They have to be fortified by political will and political power. 

But I also know this, Houston, that nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened except somebody somewhere was willing to hope. 


That is how this country was founded.  A group of patriots declaring independence against the mighty British Empire.  Nobody give them a chance, but they had hope.  That is how slaves and abolitionists resisted an evil system and how a new president chartered a course to ensure that we would not remain half slave and half free. 

That is how the greatest generation, my grandfather fighting in Patton’s Army, my grandmother staying at home with a baby, working on a bomber assembly line, how that greatest generation defeated Hitler and fascism and lifted itself up out of a Great Depression. 


That is how pioneers settled the West.  That is how immigrants traveled at great risk from distant shores.  That is how women won the right to vote.  That is how workers won the right to organize.  That is how young people in the ‘60s traveled South and some marched, and some sat in, and some were beaten, and some went to jail, and some died for freedom’s cause.  That is what hope is. 


That is what hope is.  That is what hope is, imagining and then fighting for and then working for, struggling for what did not seem possible before. 

You know, there is a moment in the life of every generation, when that spirit has to come through if we are to make our mark on history.  When we decide to cast aside the fear and the doubt.  When we are not willing to settle for what the cynics tell us we have to accept.  But instead we are willing to reach for what we know in our gut is possible. 

When we decide that the next generation deserves the same chances somebody gave us.  When we determine that we are going to keep the dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and still thirst for justice. 


It will not be easy, but at some point in our lives, we all have to decide, as hard as it is going to be, we are going to join together, lock arms, and go about the difficult but noble task of remaking this nation block by block, county by county, state by state. 

Houston, this is our moment.  This is our time. 


And if you are willing to vote for me, if you are willing to stand with me, if you are willing to caucus for me, then I truly believe that we will not just win Texas, we will win this nomination.  We will win the general election.  And you and I together will change this country and change the world, thank you, Houston.  I love you. 


KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Senator Barack Obama.  And if you have ever enjoyed any of his themes, his speeches, you heard most of them again tonight.  And what was clearly, I think, Chris Matthews, a start for both of the candidates that we heard in the last—the victorious candidates tonight in Wisconsin. 

Senator John McCain making direct reference, although not by name, to Senator Obama, but talking about an empty but eloquent call for change. 

Senator Obama mentioned Senator McCain by name and talked about how we can’t have the same old folks doing the same old things if we want any kind of change in this country. 

It looked as if—I mean, he even referred at one point, I can’t do it—Obama did, I can’t do it by myself, no president can.  No president can. 

He referred to himself hypothetically in those terms.  It almost seemed like this was the puck drop, the jump at the start of the game, the first pitch of the official campaign. 

As if Hillary Clinton has been verbally removed from this equation. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Yes.  That latter part is what grabbed me, the lack of any poison in his reference to her.  Certainly there was that usual rap about, don’t try doing the same thing and expecting a different result.  But it was minimalist.  His approach was grander, bigger and looking forward.  It was as if Hillary was pushed aside gently. 

Let’s get reaction to Obama’s speech tonight from Clinton campaign supporter, of course, Lisa Caputo, who was President—first lady Hillary Clinton’s press secretary. 

You know, you held onto that a long time tonight, Lisa Caputo.  You were very patient to stick through it.  What do we do here to cover this campaign with this fellow acting as if it is over? 

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY:  Well, you know, I mean, I was amazed sitting here in this studio watching MSNBC and two competing networks, everybody went at the same time to Obama right in the middle of Hillary Clinton’s speech. 

I must hand it to the Obama campaign.  That was a brilliant strategic move, because all of the networks…

MATTHEWS:  Was it bad manners? 

CAPUTO:  It was smart political tactics.  I’m not going to go and say it is bad manners.  I mean, look, you know, I think the Clinton campaign was not predicting a victory tonight.  What they wanted to do is get as close as they could.  I think it is important to remember that the Clinton campaign was outspent five to one in Wisconsin, clearly focusing their efforts on the large states, Ohio, Texas, and then on to Pennsylvania.

So, again, Chris, I think that, you know, you have got to cover this the way you have got to cover it.  And I think you will see on Thursday night, you know, Hillary Clinton will be at her strength in a debate format. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about women in this campaign.  I was looking at the very well—very glossy commercial that has been running in Ohio already for Senator Clinton.  And it does show the stresses—the economic stresses on working women who have jobs like waitresses in restaurants and nurses, not high-paying jobs, certainly showing them in their stress economically.  That didn’t seem to pull much in Wisconsin in terms of the gender split. 

CAPUTO:  Yes.  I think you have a different demographic situation in Wisconsin.  I mean, don’t forget, Wisconsin is very prone to the independents. 

And I think what you see the Clinton campaign doing in Ohio is deploying that economic message.  She has been up on the air with this ad with the heading of “Night Shift,” doing exactly what you’re talking about. 

And she has come out with this economic blueprint talking about her four-part plan to help rebuild the economy, create jobs, health care for every American, rebuild the middle class, and ending the housing crisis, trying to play directly to people’s pocket books, you know, a message we have heard before. 

Remember, “it’s the economy, stupid.” That resonates—that resonates very deeply in Ohio, where you have a very strong working population and a lot of labor unions. 

MATTHEWS:  What about NAFTA?  Is that going to be a problem for Senator Clinton?  Her husband’s obviously creation of NAFTA, her support for it at least tacitly, is that a problem with people who have seen the deindustrialization of the industrial Midwest?

CAPUTO:  I think—you know, Chris, she has had a different position on NAFTA than her husband.  She has not been a full-blown supporter of NAFTA. 

And I think she has been the one out there with a tangible economic plan.  And so I think, you know, that will come home for her in Ohio.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thanks a lot, Lisa Caputo, for the Clinton campaign. 

CAPUTO:  You’re welcome.

OLBERMANN:  Let’s bring in NBC News Washington bureau chief, the moderate of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert. 

Tim, the numbers that are coming out, and the hard numbers suggest that it is right now a 12-point margin for Senator Obama over Senator Clinton in Wisconsin, where it is a 16 point margin for McCain over Huckabee, to give you a relative picture here now.  Now it is 12 percent again, 55-43. 

The exit numbers tell us what?  I mean, that first number that among women it is 51-48 Clinton over Obama.  The net women vote is a virtual tie. 

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  Yes, it is striking how much the gender gap has shrunk.  Hillary Clinton still winning amongst elderly white women. 

Keith, white men, Obama won 62 to 36.  I have been tracking that number.  And I think we should pose the name of John Edwards right now.  When John Edwards left the race after South Carolina, we wondered what impact that would have on this campaign. 

It appears, looking at Potomac Tuesday and tonight, that white men who had been voting for John Edwards have gravitated rather dramatically to Barack Obama.  He is winning them in a very sound fashion. 

And that is one of the reasons he has broadened his coalition.  I think the next two weeks are very critical for the Clinton campaign, and here is why.  This really now is a game of mathematics.  Chuck Todd a week ago said Clinton had to win X amount of delegates—elected delegates in the remaining contest. 

After tonight it is 58 percent of the remaining elected delegates.  If you assume that Obama is going to win some states like Vermont and Wyoming and South Dakota, and even the Clinton campaign would acknowledge that, you suddenly get to the point where Clinton has to win 65 percent of the elected delegates of those big states that she has a chance of winning, like Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania.  That is such an up-hill battle.  Both campaigns will acknowledge that. 

I believe in the next two weeks she has to make a decision as to one, how negative she wants to be, what her theme is going to be and three, how much money she will have. 

We learned that she raised $1 million a day for the first 15 days after Super Tuesday, but since then, what has happened?  And will the money be there to go on beyond Texas and Ohio unless she wins overwhelmingly?  And lastly, what will be the appetite within the Democratic Party to go on if in fact there is no clear, decisive elected delegate rebound by Hillary Clinton on March 4? 

OLBERMANN:  Was there the verdict that we hoped for, at least to understand how the voters reacted to the negativity of the campaign in Wisconsin in these statistics that 53 percent of those in the exit polls said they thought Senator Clinton had unfairly attacked Senator Obama and only 33 percent felt the other way about Obama and of those who decided in the last month, 63 percent of those who voted, based on what they decided in the last month, went for Obama and only 37 percent for Clinton?  Is that as clear as the numbers would suggest about negative campaigning?

RUSSERT:  I think many will analyze it just that way.  And if you add to that the electability number that we talked about, where 63 to 37 people think Obama is the most electable.  The other number that I think that is rather jarring is approaching 30 percent of the Democrats and people who voted the Democratic primary in Wisconsin said they’d be dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton as the nominee.  She has to be careful that when she’s trying to win Texas and Ohio, she’s not driving up her own negatives by being overly negative on Barack Obama. 

OLBERMANN:  And what we heard before that, as Lisa Caputo put it, the terrific bit of strategy of Senator Obama to come out and start speaking in the middle of Senator Clinton’s address which continued for about 20 minutes more after we left it.  One of the things that we heard Senator Clinton say is really kind of distillation of something that has been a theme almost from the beginning of the primary season, she actually just came out and said only one of us, referring to herself and Obama, only one of us is ready to be commander- in-chief.  The kind of soft edges to that have been pruned away, those are just thorns now, there’s no even hint of a rose left. 

RUSSERT:  I sensed a lowering of the rhetoric on both candidates and on both campaigns, we’ll see how long that lasts.  It is, I think, essential that each candidate understands what they have to achieve over the next two weeks and have a strategy to help fulfill that. 

I thought tonight when Hillary Clinton started speaking, the Obama people were stepping back saying all right, you go first, you’re the loser. 

When they heard no concession, or no “graciousness” coming from Hillary Clinton, they decided why allow her an opportunity to criticize this, we’re going to go out there and proclaim victory. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that courtesy deficiency there, it may be a small point to people watching, but among political people a concession speech is in order isn’t it, when you lose? 

RUSSERT:  Well, the last time Senator Clinton chose not to do that, as well.  I think this has been a rough 48 hours for these campaigns.  These telephone conference calls that are given for reporters, both sides, really sparring with one another, the war over the words, the war of Barack Obama as opposed to Governor Patrick of Massachusetts, the criticism of Michelle Obama. 

I don’t think the Obama campaign was in a very patient mood tonight on the heels of this victory in Wisconsin and they decided it’s time to bigfoot the Clinton campaign and the message of the Clinton campaign and take over the air waves, and they roadblocked them.  I’m very anxious to see the reaction tomorrow on the telephone calls from each of the campaigns as (INAUDIBLE)what we witnessed tonight. 

OLBERMANN: (inaudible) as always from Tim Russert.  Big foot, indeed. 

MATTHEWS:  I love the lingo, “bigfoot” and “roadblock,” which is you knock them off all networks at once. 

OLBERMANN:  Thank you, Tim.

All right, we’re actually going to take our first break of the night when we have the new numbers, exit poll numbers on how Obama won in Wisconsin plus Joe Scarborough on panel with an hour and a half to summarize their thoughts, will be joining us.  This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Wisconsin primary, more after this. 


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to MSNBC’s live coverage of the Wisconsin primary.  Barack Obama, the projected winner in Wisconsin primary tonight on the Democratic side.  On the Republican side, it’s John McCain all the way. 

Let’s turn now to Norah O’Donnell with new numbers from our exit poll on how Obama won tonight—Norah. 

NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Good evening, Chris.  And Barack Obama won in this predominantly white state of Wisconsin with a strong showing across a broad spectrum of the voters and by eating into Clinton’s base of support.  He nearly tied her among women.  He won on all the issues, won every income level and won the white vote under 60.  Let me show you some of the numbers. 

First Independents, one in four voters call themselves Independents in this open primary and tonight, as you can see here, Barack Obama took that group by a very large margin, with 62 percent of the vote. 

Next, white voters, he did well among white men with 62 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 36 percent.  And look at the women there, white women, Hillary Clinton took just over half of that vote among with women.  Also, Obama made serious inroads into another core constituency of Clinton’s, he gained among white working class voters, households with incomes of less than $50,000.  Here Hillary Clinton was only able to preserve just a very slim lead. 

And on the issues, Obama won on the economy, on the war in Iraq, and even on healthcare, which Hillary Clinton, of course, had made one of her signature issue.  Also, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton soundly on the issue of electability, 63 to 37 percent.  Tim Russert was just talking about this. 

We asked the question, who would be most likely to beat the Republican candidate in the Fall?  Obama one big on that. 

And then finally, those negative attacks.  Wisconsin Democrats took notice of them.  When we asked if either of these candidates attacked the other unfairly, 53 percent said that Hillary Clinton was unfair, only 33 percent felt that way about Barack Obama. 

Now, Hillary Clinton did still take the senior vote in Wisconsin, those with less than a college education and she won among Catholics, but it was not enough to beat Obama’s solid support amongst this wide group of voters—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Thanks, Norah. 

Let’s go right now to Joe Scarborough and the panel. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Thank you so much, Chris.  Well, Pat Buchanan, the question is:  Will Wisconsin be remembered as Hillary Clinton’s Waterloo? 

BUCHANAN:  I don’t know, I think she may have some ahead of her, Joe, quite frankly.  She’s going down to Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania; these are the big ones... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But, doesn’t—I mean, Obama was already tied in Texas in the latest polls.  Wisconsin now means that she has to go a couple of weeks losing 10 races in a row.  How does she ever get the momentum back? 

BUCHANAN:  Look, I’ve got to agree with you and look, Ohio is not that far away from Wisconsin in the make up composition of the electorate and Obama is almost even with her now down there in Texas in the polls and I think Pennsylvania is very much like Wisconsin in a lot of ways, heavily Catholic, working class, lower income folks, white males and things—look, she’s on a very bad way wicket here, and if it continues she’s going to be gone, I mean, something’s got to intercede to stop this momentum.  Wisconsin was supposed to be it, Joe, it did not happen. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Eugene, if she can’t win a blue collar state, like Wisconsin, why should we believe that she’s going to win a blue collar state like Ohio? 

ROBINSON:  Well, it’s the second week in the row that she has lost states that you think of as part of the Democratic base.  I realize, you know, Wisconsin doesn’t always go for the Democrats, but the Democratic voters in Wisconsin are Democratic based voters, blue collar, ethnic, they’re Hillary Clinton voters... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Catholics.  Working class, it’s her voters. 

ROBINSON:  And it’s clear that Obama has made major inroads into those groups and in many cases has won those groups.  And you know, that’s nothing but bad news for Hillary Clinton and for her campaign... 

MADDOW:  If what Norah say about what Hillary Clinton did actually, then that’s not true, I mean, what Norah just said is that Hillary won among Democrats with less than a college education, among Catholics, among seniors, she won with people making less than $50,000 a year, and she with white woman. 

So, you know what?  It may be bad for her that she didn’t win.  She was also drastically outspent, she had four campaign offices in the state as compared to Obama’s 11, he was on the air... 

SCARBOROUGH:  But Rachel, she has lost 10 contests in a row.  She’s starting to sound like Rudy Giuliani:  Wait until Florida. 

MADDOW:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now it’s:  wait until Texas.  But, guess what?  The polls are showing Obama’s caught up to her. 

MADDOW:  That is the risk, that she’s waited too late, that she can’t come from behind.  But in terms of what we were looking for tonight, harbingers, bellwethers, she did actually do well in some of the places we were saying... 


SCARBOROUGH:  I’ll tell you what, you’re look at that silver lining. 

ROBINSON:  The difference is she won by two and three points, one and two or three points in those groups, she didn’t win by big margins, the big margins that she needed to win by among those groups.  In order frankly, at this point, to be competitive with Barack Obama in primaries... 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let’s talk about a couple of big issues here, one, negative advertising for Hillary Clinton, two, Bill Clinton is spiraling out of control.  How much has that hurt Hillary Clinton this past week? 

BUCHANAN:  Well, I think it’s hurt her some, but look, the point is that Obama did what he did in the Potomac primary, he is moving into Hillary’s base. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Those white guys that you said wouldn’t come to Obama, are coming to Obama. 

BUCHANAN:  But, here’s the fundamental point.  McCain can’t get—McCain cannot get Obama’s base vote.  He can get the vote that Hillary got tonight.  Just what you are talking about:  seniors, Catholics, older folks, white women.  Those are swing voters, those are voters who can move in the general election.  I’m not saying McCain’s going to get them, but McCain can get those folks.  The general election is still open from the numbers you’ve seen tonight, it is Hillary’s got the promise... 

SCARBOROUGH:  My god though, Gene Robinson, the contrast.  It was as if John McCain wanted to prove Franck Rich’s point that he looked like he was speaking to a country club group, while Barack Obama was a rock star, they contrast, so striking. 

ROBINSON:  There was a big contrast...

BUCHANAN:  But, at least Joe, at least they got the leisure world crowd out from behind him. 


ROBINSON:  Well, they did—no, it was a definite improvement from last week.  Last week was a disaster. 


The contrast, you have a young, vigorous candidate who’s offering hope and promise and you have, frankly, an older senator who speaks like a senator and who’s offering a grim march with no holiday from history. 

BUCHANAN:  But, you know... 

SCARBOROUGH:  More wars.  More wars.

BUCHANAN:  Look, he said, you know he said we got to bring together our military, political, economic resources to fight this war and he’s smiling at the same time, you know?  It seems like he smiling at the wrong times and, you know, I think in McCain, frankly, he just is not a good speaker, Joe.  He does not people in the least, and Obama, although, I think Obama has a bad night for one reason.  Obama’s first 15 or 20 minutes, he had that audience, you saw a candidate at the top of his game and then you saw a guy going on, and on and on.  Did you notice—immigration, did you notice the booing on the immigration?  When Obama talked about a path to citizenship, there were a lot of boos in the crowd. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well Rachel, let’s talk about etiquette.  Some people have suggested that Barack Obama didn’t show proper etiquette tonight, but at the same time, maybe he’s just tired of Hillary Clinton going out, not conceding and not congratulating him.  Isn’t this payback time? 

MADDOW:  He pulled a Romney.  Remember Romney in all the Republican primaries would always jump on whenever anybody else was speaking.  I mean I do actually think it’s a little bit rude, but I also feel like do people—are people going to hold that against him?  Probably not.  I think the most striking thing in the speeches tonight is that Mike—John McCain seems to be rehashing all of the themes that Clinton has tried against Obama that haven’t work.  I’m against hope, he’s the “oh, no you can’t” speech, and he’s the “I’m really experienced guy,” he’s like all of the things that have bombed for Clinton against Obama, McCain is now trying them out. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Does anybody out here believe for a second that Hillary Clinton can come back?  Is it over—Gene. 

ROBINSON:  Well, you know...

BUCHANAN:  She needs really—something’s got interrupt it... 


ROBINSON:  I’m not ready to say it’s over yet.  It’s almost over.  I’m not ready to say it’s over yet.

BUCHANAN:  I wouldn’t say it either. 

ROBINSON:  The Clintons have a way of coming back.  I don’t see what that way is right now. 


ROBINSON:  I don’t know.  I don’t know, but...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, you know what?  They’re going to have to bring the shock troops to Denver.  Maybe they can hire Pat Buchanan to go out and agitate, like they did the streets in Chicago in 1968.  Chris and Keith, back to you. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, the panel’s staying with us and when we return, we’re going to look ahead to the critical battlegrounds of Texas and Ohio. 

OLBERMANN:  And one other thing to add into the coverage of the speech tonight, there’s the possibility that what we saw in Houston also had something to do with an SRO crowd and concerns by the Obama campaign about weather or not the crowd was getting restless and they needed to speak when they could. 

There’s one last thought on this before we go to the break, the characterization of this by the “Associated Press,” this is the lead story that will appear in countless newspapers tomorrow:  “Barack Obama has won the Wisconsin primary, his 9th straight win over a fading Hillary Rodham Clinton in their epic struggle for the Democratic presidential nomination.” That is the “Associated Press” characterization, tonight.  You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Wisconsin primary, we’re back after this.


OLBERMANN:  This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Wisconsin primary.  And tonight Barack Obama has defeated Hillary Clinton for his 9th straight victory of the primary season with well over half of the vote in.  The margin right now is about 15 percent, a 15 point spread in Wisconsin.  John McCain beat Mike Huckabee on the Republican side at 16 percent at this point, with 61 percent of the Republican vote in.  and now the race moves to Texas and Ohio, both states hold their primaries two weeks from tonight.  Senator Obama already in Houston, spoke this evening—Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  We’re joined right now by supporters of each the Democratic candidates for president from both March 4 states—both are from March 4 states.  U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio supports Hillary Clinton, and Texas state Senator Kirk Watson supports Barack Obama. 

Well, you both have primaries on the same day.  I want to start with the congresswoman, Ohio, how different is it from Wisconsin? 

REP STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO:  Well, I’ve been to Wisconsin, and I’ve lived in Ohio all of my life.  The Ohio people are waiting for the opportunity to vote on behalf of their candidate and I am confident that Ohioans, when given the opportunity to vote will vote for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

MATTHEWS:  What is the difference that Hillary offers—Senator Clinton offers over Senator Obama?  What is the unique selling point when you talk to your constituents for Senator Clinton? 

JONES:  When I talk about Senator Clinton I talk about the fact that she has been the leader on healthcare, for children, for veterans, for the Ohio National Guard, for the Army Reserve.  She has been the leader on issues around education; she has been the leader around economic development and opportunity.  Ohio has 90,000 families whose home have been lost in foreclosure.  Senator Clinton is the one how has come up with a plan to help us through those issues. 

Senator Clinton is talking about creating jobs.  We need jobs in Ohio. 

We’ve lost so many jobs since George Bush took office and she has plans and opportunities to try and bring back manufacturing in the state of Ohio, as well as provide jobs. 

MATTHEWS:  I’m sorry, go ahead, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

JONES:  Well, you know, I can go on and on and on, but what she has is leadership and experience and that’s what people of America want.  They want solutions and Senator Clinton has solutions for the people of Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, healthcare and economic development, returning those jobs to the industrial north—Midwest, there.  Let me go to the senator from Texas.  What is it—well, let me as you the same question:  What’s the unique selling point of Barack Obama over Senator Clinton in Texas for your constituents? 

SEN KIRK WATSON (D), TEXAS:  Well, one of the big things is that in Texas, we’ve not been in play in a presidential election in a long time and so there’s a huge level of excitement.  And Senator Obama is offering the concept of really bringing hope to the American people.  He has been about building coalitions, like we’ve not seen in a long time and being able to throw away some of these contrived labels that tend to divide us and bring us together. 

And you’re seeing that kind of excitement tonight in Houston, Texas.  Earlier today in San Antonio you saw how he is able to bring a large group of people together that is excited, working to make sure that he gets elected president. 

MATTHEWS:  You’re a big Barack supporter, right Senator? 

WATSON:  I am.  Yes, I am. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, name some of his legislative accomplishments.  No, Senator, I want you no name some of Barack Obama’s legislative accomplishments tonight, if you can. 

WATSON:  Well, you know, what I will talk about is more about what he’s offering the American people right now. 

MATTHEWS:  No, no, what has he accomplished, sir?  You say—sir, you have to give me his accomplishments.  You’ve supported him for president, you’re no national television, name his legislative accomplishments, Barack Obama’s—sir. 

WATSON:  Well, I’m not going to be able to name you specific items... 

MATTHEWS:  Can you name any? 

WATSON:  ...of legislative accomplishment.

MATTHEWS:  Can you name anything he’s accomplished as a congressman?

WATSON:  No, I’m not going to be able to do that tonight. 

MATTHEWS:  Well that’s a problem isn’t it? 

WATSON:  Well, no, I don’t think it is.  Because I think one of the things that Senator Obama does is he inspires.  He’s able to lay out a vision, he’s able to lay out solutions... 

JONES:  Chris, I think that is...

WATSON:  He’s able to lay out solutions... 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman you have a thought? 

WATSON:  I’m sorry...

JONES:  Absolutely.  And I think that’s the point that we’re making in the Hillary Clinton campaign that Senator Hillary—Senator Clinton has a record of accomplishments and solutions based on her experience and time in public office.  And she’s offering solutions not just inspiration.  Not even the person that’s here to speak on behalf of Barack Obama can list his legislative accomplishments.  I’ve worked with Senator Clinton in and around the issues...

WATSON:  Let’s talk about...

JONES:  I want to stop and allow you to have the opportunity to list the accomplishments, sir. 

WATSON:  Well, I appreciate that.  One of the things that she does for example on healthcare, she offers that and indicates that’s she’s offering a solutions... 


JONES:  We’re not talking about her accomplishments, you’re supposed to be talking about him. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I’m going to have to cut this off because I’ve been told to, but Senator I’m going to give you one more shot, list Barack Obama’s accomplishments as a U.S. senator, now. 

WATSON:  Well, what I will is I will say this to you.  He will offer the ability for the United States to be a leader in the world again.  He will put healthcare back on the front burner where Americans will have real access to healthcare and not have questions raised about whether they’re going to have their wages garnished or have difficulty in that regard.  So, I’m proud to be supporting him and I think in Texas we’re going to be able to win. 

JONES:  And I’m proud to be supporting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton who has legislative accomplishments all across the world and I think you for the opportunity to be here to represent her this evening. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you very much, U.S. congresswoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones and state senator from Texas, Kirk Watson. 

OLBERMANN:  In defense of Senator Obama, and also in context, can you name one accomplishment of the United States Senate in the last seven years? 

MATTHEWS:  That’s a broader question requiring a larger preparation.

OLBERMANN:  Yeah, you don’t have an answer to that, either.


MATTHEWS:  But, let me say—but, you know what, Keith?  They should be able to make some points, here. 

OLBERMANN:  I’m not disagreeing with you on that. 

In two weeks...

MATTHEWS:  But I’m not here to defend the U.S. Senate.  He’s here to defend Barack Obama and he had nothing in his—well, he had nothing to say. 

That’s a problem. 

OLBERMANN:  In two weeks, Chris and I will have complete coverage of the primaries in Ohio and Texas, at which I’m expecting a written reply to my question. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think they call it HARDBALL? 

OLBERMANN:  But this isn’t HARDBALL, we’re doing the election results. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, you know, it’s late at night and we have to some work.  We have to vet the guests occasionally, see if they got something to say.  Anyway, thank you.

OLBERMANN:  When we return, Norah O’Donnell will pick up our coverage. 

For Chris, I’m Keith thanks for being with us. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.


NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, I’m Norah O’Donnell.  A

ninth victory in a row tonight for Barack Obama.  He beat Hillary Clinton in

the Wisconsin primary tonight. 

On the Republican side, it’s John McCain inching even closer to his party’s nomination. 

Panelists with us, the “Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, and Air America’s Rachel Maddow is also an MSNBC political analyst.  Welcome back to the panel. 

Let’s talk about what we saw tonight.  A remarkable win by Barack Obama, in part because he won among a wide swathe of voters and he also ate into a little bit of Hillary Clinton’s base of support.  Eugene, what does that mean, if he can do that in an industrial state like Wisconsin, when we’re talking about states like Ohio and Pennsylvania coming up? 

EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  In terms of the primaries, it’s not good news for Hillary Clinton.  She, in the early primaries, was winning these groups, you know, white voters over all, women, white women especially, ethnics, blue collar workers, or blue collar Democrats.  She was winning those by large margins. 

Now she, as last week, either is losing them or winning by small margins in those group, as she did apparently this week.  And, meanwhile, Barack Obama has kept and solidified his base.  The result is a margin that’s now 15 points.  It seems to be growing as the evening goes on. 

O’DONNELL:  Rachel, why shouldn’t this suggest that he’s got the momentum and he’s gaining.  He’s gaining with groups that she should be keeping. 

RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO:  If you compare exit polls for those kinds of demographic analysis between Georgia and—sorry, between Virginia and Wisconsin today, Hillary Clinton actually improves on the standing that she had in Virginia.  She’s doing better among people at the lower end of the income scale, less college education, Catholics, seniors, white women.  She’s doing better on those grounds. 

I think it’s going to be important tonight to see what the overall margin is, what the overall margin of victory is.  If it is a blowout, if it’s 12, 13, 15, 20 points, then us parsing the difference between these demographics is going to be less of an issue. 

O’DONNELL:  But isn’t that in part because in a state like Virginia and Maryland, which were anywhere between 20 and 30 percent African-American, and the difference with a state like Wisconsin, which is only about 11 percent African-American. 

MADDOW: No, because what I’m talking about is how he did among white voters and how she did.  Barack Obama, looking at the Virginia exit polls—I remember, when you were doing all the exit polls that night and everybody was kind of going into all this detail about it, my take on it was he won everybody.  We don’t need to go through all the details.  You can just say he won everybody.

If there’s an asterisk somewhere—OK, he didn’t win white women, that was it.  Other than that, he won everybody.  We’re seeing nothing like that tonight in Wisconsin.  Yes, she lost, but she may have held her ground in the groups she needs to hold in order to compete in Ohio. 

ROBINSON:  We’ll have to look at those numbers.  Right now the gap is 15 points.  That’s a huge margin.  So we get into the numbers—

MADDOW:  If Catholics and seniors and people without a lot of money were the bell weathers, they’re still the bell weathers, regardless of the margin.  Right?

ROBINSON:  But with hardly any African-American voters, meaning Obama doesn’t get that big chunk, clearly some white voters really went for Obama. 

PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  One of the real things of tonight is you take a look at the cumulative vote, I think Barack Obama got more votes than Huckabee and McCain together and then some.  The Democratic turnout, as I was following it, was even more than two to one over the Republican turnout and Wisconsin is a strange state.  It’s a swing state. 

But I do agree that Hillary Clinton is holding her base pretty much, but she’s encroaching on it and she’s not reaching into his base, and we keep moving further down the road and closer to this nomination.  Looking at the numbers she got in Wisconsin, and even if you concede your point, it looks like it’s going to be too close in Ohio and Texas, because it’s almost even there, for her to gain the kind of delegates and strength and numbers she’s going to need not only to catch up to him, overcome the lead.   

O’DONNELL:  I just want to clarify something.  On the issue of white working class, which we talked about was important in Wisconsin, could be very important in Ohio, Obama did make inroads in terms of that.  According to our exit polls, he won households with incomes of less than 50,000 dollars. 

Actually, I shouldn’t say he won, but

MADDOW:  Forty eight percent. 

O’DONNELL:  Yes, it was such a narrow lead there.  Lower income white voters, where she was doing well before, he’s almost beating her. 

BUCHANAN:  Yes, but she’s getting half of them, OK?  Those are Reagan Democrats.  Those are the votes McCain’s got to go after.  McCain ain’t going to get the African-American vote there.  He’s not getting Madison, and he’s not going to get Milwaukee.  But he can get those votes. 

This is the key to the thing, Obama keeps winning that share of the party that’s completely out of reach for the Republicans, and she’s holding the share of the party which is the only part Republicans can get.  That’s the silver lining on the Republican night. 

O’DONNELL:  Fascinating.  “Newsweek’s” Howard Fineman is also an MSNBC political analyst.  He’s with us.  He’s been talking to the Clinton campaign tonight from our listening post in Washington about where they go from here.  Howard, how is the Clinton campaign reacting tonight? 

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK”:  Well, I think it’s kind of grim and I think there are increasing divisions in the campaign about where to go and what to do.  I had some insiders at the top of the campaign tell me not long ago, as they desperately looked for their own silver linings, that the tough line that they took in Wisconsin was better than the positive line that they took in the Potomac Primaries. 

As you remember in Virginia and Maryland, they got blown out by an average of 25 points in those two states.  Some people in the Clinton campaign are taking some solace from the fact that it looks like Hillary is going to lose by only 12 or 13 in Wisconsin.  Therefore, their negative attacks, their comparative, as they call them, attacks, worked. 

And that faction is the one that put out the excerpts earlier today of what Hillary’s essentially attack line speech was going to be tonight out of Youngstown, where she said that only she prepared to be commander in chief, only she offered full health care coverage to all of America, and only she knew how to handle Republican attacks. 

And this part of the camp is also delighted that John McCain is now attacking Obama.  And they were delighted that McCain’s campaign and McCain’s own wife went after Michelle Obama for her comments about pride in America.  But now the Hillary campaign faces a choice.  They had hoped so much, and they had put so much faith in these upcoming debates, the MSNBC debate next week in Ohio, which is so important, as well as one in Texas on CNN. 

But now Hillary is, as the A.P. said it, fading.  And the question is whether she really goes after Obama frontally in these debates.  There’s a school within that campaign that says you cannot do it.  That’s what she’s got to decide now and they’re debating it at this very minute. 

O’DONNELL:  Based on the reporting you’re doing tonight, Howard, and the source you spoke with seems to suggest that the loss could have been much larger had they not done these comparisons, as you point out.  Even though our exit polls show that 53 percent thought Clinton’s attacks were unfair, only 33 percent thought Obama’s attacks were unfair; they think that worked. 

Why not suggest that they’re only going to get tougher on him? 

FINEMAN:  I think they may.  I think they may.  As I say, there’s a discussion going on.  My understanding is that Mark Penn, who is the general strategist and still the most important leader of the campaign other than Bill Clinton, is very much in favor of that.  Can’t believe that Obama is getting the—what he views as a free ride, believes Obama will some how be a mess, believe that somehow time is ultimately on Hillary’s side, if they can only keep this thing going until May or June, that somehow the world will wake up to the fact that Obama has no experience and no record. 

There’s nothing to show that that’s going to happen yet, but that’s the faith of people like Mark Penn within the campaign.  I think there are other people within the campaign, maybe Howard Wolfson, ironically, given his public posture, and Mandy Grunwald, the media consultant, who think that Hillary has to protect her image, needs to go as a person who has got class, who has got solutions, who is upbeat, who is emotional, who is willing to talk about her own experiences. 

But whether she’ll be able to do that in these debates is not clear.  And I think you can expect more tough ads.  The Clintons are not going to go away nicely.  And if that’s how they’re interpreting this result in Wisconsin, I think you’re right.  I think you can expect a lot more tough stuff, maybe just not at the debate. 

What they’re saying to me is, if Hillary can just be substantive at the debates, that’s enough of a contrast.  I don’t know if it is. 

O’DONNELL:  It’s an interesting point, Howard.  In other words, why not in the debates that’s going to be watched by millions very closely, why not play the upbeat and do some of the dirty week under the table, essentially. 

FINEMAN:  Yes, that’s what they’re going to do.  I assume that’s what they’re going to do.  These debates, I’ve been told—both formats are very free flowing, a lot of direct exchanges between the candidates.  It’s very tricky, especially when you’re behind, as Hillary is, and especially when you have a 40 or 50 percent negative rating over all, as Hillary does, and to be a woman—it’s difficult to attack.

And whether she’s willing to really do that frontally, I don’t really know.  She may have no choice but to try, but that’s what they’re debating even now, as they prepare for those debates inside the Clinton campaign. 

O’DONNELL:  So interesting.  Howard Fineman, thank you so much. 

FINEMAN:  Thank you. 

O’DONNELL:  Now to NBC News political director Chuck Todd for a look at the delegate race by the number.  Chuck, you are our man when it comes to math. 


O’DONNELL:  None of the rest of us can keep track of all this.  Tim was talking about you tonight, Tim Russert, about how much Hillary has to win in these future states in order to recapture the lead.  Lay it out for us. 

TODD:  All right, well let’s look at a couple things here.  First, let’s look at where we think the hard count pledged delegate total is going to be after tonight.  The best estimate I got is that Obama is going to be at approximately 1,196 to 1,043.  This is pledged delegates, delegates earned in primaries or caucuses.  And thanks mostly to approximately, say, plus 12 out of Wisconsin, maybe plus six out of Hawaii tonight—that could flow, could be plus 14, but somewhere about a plus 18 tonight of what they’ve netted out of delegates. 

Now, when you deal with these maps, all of a sudden this puts Obama’s pledged delegate total at over 150.  It’s 153, to be exact, as far as this.  There’s a margin of error on these delegate totals, three or four on either side, but it’s pretty clear he’s going to get over that 150 barrier, sort of a milestone that the Obama campaign is really happy about. 

If you throw in the Super Delegates that we know about, by the way, then Obama’s total is still at 80.  And it will be interesting to see after tonight, this is a 15-point margin.  That’s a line—that’s sort of a Mendoza line between blowout and non-blowout when it comes to some of these things.  I think that 15-point thing, what is that going to do to some Super Delegates?  Can they get their margin to 100 in the over all delegate total going into these other states? 

Let me throw in a few other things to have you understand exactly where we’re going.  If all the contests that are remaining—you look at our map here, all in gray.  These are contests that still remain.  If Hillary Clinton was to win all of them, she would need to win 58 percent of the pledged delegates, at this point, just to get the lead again in pledged delegates. 

You know, the Obama campaign has been maintaining that whoever has the pledged delegate lead, they’ll have the best case to the Super Delegates.  If you over turn that, you would have a problem.  For her to get that, she needs 58 percent. 

Then the numbers get even trickier.  If you give Obama Mississippi, if you give him Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota and North Carolina—and that’s being very conservative—and Vermont here, over the next two months, suddenly that number doesn’t fit in 58 percent anymore.  It’s suddenly she needs 65 percent of these remaining states, of these delegates, just to overturn that delegate lead that he has. 

It’s about 150, 155 now with these states of conservative approximation.  That number could get close to 200.  So to overturn it, she would have to win 65 percent of the remaining delegates in order to get that lead.  We’re not getting anywhere near magic numbers.

Now, speaking of magic numbers, 2,025, I’m going to keep this 65 percent total up here a minute.  Now, after tonight, Obama is going to need approximately 65 percent of all remaining delegates to hit the magic number of 2,025, and actually hit the nomination number that he needs.  So she needs 65 percent of the delegates in states that she’s going to win to just get the delegate lead again.  He needs 65 percent in all remaining contests just to hit his magic number. 

So that is sort of where this math—if you’re wondering, if you throw in the Super Delegates, and all the remaining delegates that he has left, Obama actually needs less than 50 percent of all uncommitted delegates right now to hit the magic 2,025 number.  Obviously, she needs over that, over 50 percent.

That’s how important what happened tonight.  It got him over 150.  It moved that mountain that Hillary Clinton has to climb, when it comes to these delegates, a little higher.  It’s as if it keeps growing and keeps growing, and she keeps taking steps back, and it just keeps getting further and further out of reach. 

O’DONNELL:  Chuck, just to clarify a bit further, she would need to win, given that scenario about the other states that Obama could win—she would need to win 65 percent of the delegates in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania? 

TODD:  Absolutely.  In Texas, in Pennsylvania, in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana.  These are not insignificant states and these are all states she should be favored in.  But these are states that he could do very well.  They think they can get 45 percent of the delegates in Pennsylvania, the Obama folks.  They think they can get 45 percent in Indiana. 

Kentucky is a place that he can over-perform.  Louisville feels a lot like northern Virginia sometimes, or Madison, some places that we’ve seen him over perform.  He could do well there.  Let alone what he’s doing in Texas.  Right now, the way that the Texas polls are showing, he’s got this weird five-point cushion.  He could lose by five points and still break even on delegates, if not win the delegate fight, because of the prima caucus deal, and the fact that Houston and Dallas and those areas are going to have—over-perform when it comes to how many delegates are allocated that night.   

O’DONNELL:  The prima caucus? 

TODD:  Prima caucus.  We all want to name something.  I don’t think I can come up with that.  I think I heard Rachel Maddow call it a prima caucus earlier. 

O’DONNELL:  OK, then we’ll—you should give her proper credit, as you know very well. 

TODD:  Absolutely.  War of words. 

O’DONNELL:  As always, Chuck, it’s fascinating.  Everybody here is so closely watching the numbers and scribbling them down because it really is interesting.  Thank you so much. 

And NBC’s Andrea Mitchell joins us now.  She has some new information and reporting tonight about a phone call between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  What do you have for us? 

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  It’s been duly noted and reported that Hillary Clinton did not either concede or congratulate in her speech, the second time that’s happened.  But I have learned that she did make a call.  She called Barack Obama.  The call was described by Obama campaign people as very short, but clearly cordial.  It was a brief conversation after both had given their speeches.

The Obama camp does not—says that it was not calculated.  They did not come out at a specific time to interrupt her speech.  We saw how that played out.  Lisa Caputo on earlier with Chris Matthews, talking about how it was, as she described it from the Clinton campaign perspective, good campaign, good political strategy.  The Obama camp says it was not deliberate, that they simply had decided they were coming out at that time. 

They claim that she came out early to pre-empt them and they clearly were not going to have any of that.  As we saw the result, she ended up being knocked off all the cable networks at the same time. 

A couple of other points; the Clinton campaign clearly, as Howard just described it just now, in a very grim mood, but trying to put the best face on it.  One top official said to me, look at it this way, his negatives have nowhere to go but up, which is pretty striking.  And also, they said that no one now who looks at him will focus on him and not realize that this is a potential nominee, a potential nominee against a Republican war hero, and a potential president of the United States. 

Their point, that he’s not credible as a commander in chief.  While they’re making that argument, you have to look at the exit polls, where, for the first time, they have pretty much evenly split on whether the voters think that that, you know, Barack Obama could be credible as commander in chief.  She’s lost the edge on that argument. 

But in any case, they think in the debates coming up, first in Texas, then in Ohio with our debate next week on MSNBC, with Brian Williams and Tim Russert, that she will be able to go after him and point out his lack of preparation to be commander in chief.  That is the strategy. 

But you’ve got to admit that at this stage, it is really a desperate strategy.  They’re not going to like that term, but right now she’s back on her heels, and while maybe competitive in the numbers, you have to see where is she going to catch up on pledged delegates? 

O’DONNELL:  It is the question.  I mean, you and I just listened to Chuck Todd and you have to ask the question, what does she do?  I mean, 65 percent is a tough number to get to, especially in a state like Texas.  I do have to ask you, I know you were doing the reporting that Barack Obama’s campaign claims it was not deliberate that he came on the air when he did. 

MITCHELL:  That’s what they say. 

O’DONNELL:  That’s what they say.  As you know from years of covering this, usually the candidate waits in the back and waits for the other one to finish.  And he had a quite long speech tonight.  Was there any sense in the Obama campaign that they were perturbed that Hillary didn’t congratulate him in public? 

MITCHELL:  They say they were not.  One other point, by the way—

O’DONNELL:  Andrea, you’re not going to respond, are you? 

MITCHELL:  They are now reporting tonight, by the way, that they under-estimated their take from January, that it was not 32 million dollars, which was extraordinary in itself, but it was actually 36 million dollars in January, because more money came in at the end of the month.  They say they’re going to be fully competitive, obviously have enough money in Texas and Ohio. 

Their view of what happened tonight is that Wisconsin is a good indicator of what they can anticipate in Ohio.  That is the same kind of demographic.  The Clinton campaign believes that the negative campaigning worked.  I’m not sure how you calculate that, but they narrowed the gap as to what might have happened in Wisconsin had they not gone negative. 

I think you’re going to see more negative campaigning unless they take another turn and decide, with all of this internal debate, that they have to come up with a new strategy. 

O’DONNELL:  Great reporting, Andrea Mitchell.  Thank you very much.  Coming up, we are going to have much more from our panel and we’ll continue to look ahead to the next round of contests.  It’s Ohio and Texas, two weeks from tonight.  You’re watching MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Wisconsin primary. 


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The problem that we face in America today is not the lack of good ideas.  It’s that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die. 


O’DONNELL:  And we’ve got a new call to bring you.  John McCain is the projected winner of the Republican primary in Washington State.  NBC News has just made this call.  On the Democratic side, which is essentially a beauty contest, the race is too close to call at this hour. 

For a look ahead to the March 4th contest in Ohio and Texas, we turn to two Texas reporters.  James Moore is a long-time Texas reporter and the co-author of “Bush’s Brain,” and Arnold Garcia is a columnist for the “Austin American Statesman.” 

Welcome to both of you.  James, I don’t know if you heard some of our reporting, but Hillary Clinton has to do very well essentially in the state of Texas, as well as Ohio, in order to just recapture and make up the deficit among pledged delegates.  How is she doing there? 

JAMES MOORE, AUTHOR, “BUSH’S BRAIN”:  Well, the polls, Norah, have closed quite a bit in the past couple of days.  She’s going to do very well on the border, where she is a NAFTA supporter and has strong Hispanic report.  She could take as much as 70 percent among the Mexican-American vote in this state. 

But Senator Obama is going to do well in the urban areas, in Dallas and Houston.  And traditionally in this state, what decides elections is east Texas.  The turnout among African-American voters in east Texas is going to be very big, and I think Senator Obama, who was doing very well in Texas among white men before John Edwards quit the race, is going to get big numbers among white men, because there has been for many years a sort of antipathy among white men for Senator Clinton. 

Whether that’s explainable or not, I can’t tell you.  But she’s going to do poorly among white males down here.  I think it will reflect what happened in Wisconsin tonight. 

O’DONNELL:  Arnold, let me ask you in south Texas there is a heavy Hispanic population.  Hillary Clinton for the most part has done well among Hispanics or Latinos.  Is that lead slipping? 

ARNOLD GARCIA, “THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN”:  Well, it’s truly hard to say because all the polls, you know, who can believe them because they don’t—they don’t poll first time or occasional voters.  And I think Senator Obama’s ability to attract new voters is going to definitely come into play.  I think that he’s going to be very competitive with her in the valley, but it’s— but the Latino vote, it’s important to remember, is not concentrated in the valley. 

There’s a huge concentration of Hispanics, but the Latino population in Texas is disbursed.  It’s all over and it’s much more urban than it used to be.  There are more Latinos in Houston than are in the whole Rio Grande Valley. 

O’DONNELL:  That’s an excellent point.  James, what about that?  Is Barack Obama making inroads with the Latino vote? 

MOORE:  I don’t think it’s significant at this point.  And I spent a lot of time in the valley and in Houston.  In the Rio Grande Valley, you can walk into communities where you can go into a restaurant and you can see a Clinton picture hanging on the wall of the former president.  That’s how well respected and loved they are in the Rio Grande Valley.  When he bashes NAFTA in places like Wisconsin, he’s alienated voters in south Texas, up and down the border, because Hidalgo County is the fourth fastest growing county in the country, and much of that is directly attributable, Norah, to NAFTA.  It’s just booming down there. 

O’DONNELL:  Great points.

GARCIA:  You can say the same thing for Laredo, all up and down the border. 

O’DONNELL:  Thanks to both of you for joining us.  I know we’re going to be talking to you a lot in the next two weeks as we look forward to Texas and Ohio.  For more now on that crucial constituency in Texas, the Latino vote, Maria Teresa Peterson is the founder of the non partisan group Voto Latino.  Thank you for joining us. 

MARIA TERESA PETERSEN, VOTO LATINO:  Thank you, Norah.  Hope you’re well. 

O’DONNELL:  I am, thank you.  I was just looking at the Gallup Poll, which I’m sure you saw today, among Hispanics, where Hillary Clinton, since earlier has had a large lead among Hispanics, now show it’s tightening amongst Hispanics nationally.  What’s going on? 

PETERSEN:  Well, I think it’s what we had discussed previously.  Folks are getting to know Barack and they’re an opportunity to really learn his message and key in.  And what’s really interesting in Texas specifically is that while the individual that was speaking earlier definitely said that Laredo and south Texas was important, the largest concentration of delegates are actually in the larger urban areas, where a lot of the Latino population is concentrated and which is the majority young. 

The average age of the Latino in Texas is 25 years old. 

O’DONNELL:  Yes.  And I read that with great interest the other day.  Most are under 30 in Texas.  Are younger Latinos favoring Barack Obama or does it just make it about even? 

PETERSEN:  I think most of them are reflecting the general population and most of them are reflecting what their cohorts outside of the Texas state, and that is Barack Obama.  Now, again, it’s a matter of getting the message and clear. 

What I would caution both candidates to do is I would encourage them to talk about foreign policy at this stage if they want to bring out the older voters.  Houston is the second most diverse city outside of New York City, with the makeup of everything from Africa to Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans.  So that behoove both of them if they want to attract older voters.

O’DONNELL:  It’s interesting, you talk about foreign policy—s

It’s interesting you talk about foreign policy.  Also one of the most interesting things we saw in Wisconsin, which does not have a large either Hispanic or black population, but what was interesting about it is on the question of electability, Barack Obama essentially trouncing Hillary Clinton on who would be the best to defeat the Republican in November.  He got 63 percent, she got 37 percent.  That sense of who will beat the Republicans.  Is that a similar concern for Latino voters? 

PETERSEN:  I mean, I think definitely.  I mean, I think one thing is that they’re tired of the same old, same old in Washington.  They definitely need to find a candidate that is addressing their concerns and I think the Latinos are—again, they reflect the general market in the sense that they want to make sure that they pick a candidate that is a winner. 

O’DONNELL:  And then, finally, Maria Teresa, though why not in a general election when Latinos and Hispanics tend to be more values religious or more values voters, anti-abortion, why would they not favor someone like John McCain who many conservatives think has a moderate, if not liberal record on immigration?  He was one of the co-sponsors of the plan to put a guest worker program in place. 

PETERSEN:  Well, I think that’s when you spice it up.  That’s when it gets interesting, Norah.  Because if you actually look at McCain, he has been cultivating the Latino community now for several years.  He goes to all the national conventions where there is Latino leadership.  So I think that definitely—I think you hit the nail on the head.  That’s where it gets interesting again. 

O’DONNELL:  Spice it up.  I love it.  That’s what we love here on MSNBC, you make a great point.  Maria Teresa Petersen, always great to have you on, thank you so much. 

PETERSEN:  Thank you so much, Norah. 

O’DONNELL:  And up next, our spicy panel will be back with us.  You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Wisconsin Primary.  We’re back in a moment. 


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Here in Ohio, you’ve always dreamed big about the future.  Now it’s time to fulfill those dreams.  The question is not whether we can build the future we want, it’s whether we will!  It is whether we will!




SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change. 


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But I think you understand and the American people understand that the last thing we need is to have the same old folks doing the same old things, making the same mistakes over and over and over again.  We need something different and we need new leadership to move into a new century. 


O’DONNELL:  Words mattering tonight.  The two winners, Barack Obama and John McCain, traded shots at each other in their victory speeches.  For more on their fight, we turn to Michelle Bernard of the group Independent Women’s Voice. 

Michelle, great to see you.  Thanks so much for joining us. 


O’DONNELL:  Wow!  I must say.  Eloquent but empty, from John McCain.  And Barack Obama, we don’t need the same old folks, the same old stuff.  I mean, they were going at each other. 

BERNARD:  They were going at each other, and I’m telling you, I think from tonight and moving forward, we’re going to see a very different race.  I think Senator McCain, in order—I mean, obviously he’s going to be the Republican nominee and I think in order to stay in the media and get as much attention as possible, he’s going to start running from today on against Barack Obama. 

And it will be very interesting whether or not we start seeing some sort of ageism happening.  I was looking at the speech tonight and also remembering speeches from last night and it’s always such a very stark contrast when you look at the people who are surrounding Barack Obama when he speaks and also his oratory skills.

And when you turn to Senator McCain you see something very different.  His skills are not the same.  It’s an entirely different skill set, the people who surround him, it’s very different.  It’s going to be very tough for him. 

And also, Barack Obama, I believe tonight when he gave that line about he believes in the free market, he was speaking to Reagan Democrats, he was speaking to Republicans who are moderates.  He was speaking to independents and he’s actually going after some of Senator McCain’s base.  It will be very interesting to see what happens. 

O’DONNELL:  You know, you point out the telegenics, essentially, of watching Obama speaking, constantly interrupted with what sounded like a roaring crowd of thousands.  McCain, essentially in front of a banner behind him, with his very striking wife next to him and speaking essentially from a teleprompter that was right in front of him where Barack Obama uses ones that are to the side, and he speaks side to side. 

I mean, you’re right, the picture of is a very interesting, these two men.  And as you point out, McCain is essentially hitting him on inexperience and tonight it appeared that Barack Obama is going to strike back on him being old folks.  I mean, that’s the word he used. 

BERNARD:  That is exactly the word he used.  And you know, Senator McCain, he has got to be careful, because Senator Clinton is also going after Barack Obama on experience and it’s not working. 

You know, Norah, Peggy Noonan had a fascinating piece in The Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago.  And one of the things she said that Republicans understand about Barack Obama that Senator Clinton still doesn’t understand yet, she’s said, he’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.  And I think Senator McCain needs to read that piece. 

O’DONNELL:  All right.  Michelle Bernard, thank you so much.  And on

that note…

BERNARD:  Thank you.

O’DONNELL:  … I know Pat Buchanan wants…



O’DONNELL:  Yes, I mean, do you agree with Peggy Noonan, you know, Bambi not bulletproof? 


O’DONNELL:  Republicans I talk to say they’re just champing at the bit to run against Barack Obama on the issue of inexperience and his liberal voting record. 

BUCHANAN:  I think the Republicans will do a lot better job going after

him than Hillary.  They’re not going to be…


BUCHANAN:  … be inhibited.  They’re not inhibited.  Hillary is inhibited.  I mean, what Michelle Obama said, Republicans would be right on top of.  You know, the idea that—you know, what you say, for 25 years it’s the first time I’ve been proud to be an American.  They’ll go after those things, they’ll go after his record.  They’ll go out after votes he has had in the legislature in Illinois and in Congress. 

Look, he has got a voting record more liberal than Bernie Sanders. 


ROBINSON:  Here’s the difference.  He doesn’t have a voting record more

liberal than Bernie Sanders.  But…


ROBINSON:  Here’s the point.  Here’s the point.  Barack Obama is able to play offense against Republicans in an interesting way.  And you heard him do that in the speech.  He said, quote: “We don’t believe in government doing what we can do for ourselves.” I thought you were going to jump up and start saying, si se puede! 


ROBINSON:  Yes, we can.  The other thing…

BUCHANAN:  But he was exactly right.  He has got Reaganite lines in there and I agree with the previous person who said we’re—you know, he’s picking up the Republican lines on government and things like that. 

ROBINSON:  He plays offense.  Here’s another thing he did.  There was a lot of kind of religious tone, in terms of phrase in his speech.  He said he felt blessed and honored.  He talked about the prayer circle earlier. 

BUCHANAN:  Prayer thing, right, exactly.

ROBINSON:  He said at one point, I am not a perfect vessel.  Now what do they have in Texas behind—besides longhorn cattle and pretty ladies like Norah, who is from San Antonio? 


O’DONNELL:  How did you know I was from San Antonio? 

ROBINSON:  Because you told me. 


ROBINSON:  What do they have?  They have megachurches.  They have the biggest megachurches in the country. 


MADDOW:  Speaking megachurch language…


ROBINSON:  Exactly, he is using megachurch language.

BUCHANAN:  And you know what he did in there?  He was talking to Youngstown, Ohio.  He talked about—talking to these workers and these people coming in and unbolting the machinery from the floor from the factory and lifting it up and taking it out. 

And he speaks in concrete terms.  And in the exchange with McCain, he

beat him hands down when McCain said—what was McCain’s…

O’DONNELL:  Eloquent but empty.

BUCHANAN:  Eloquent but empty.  OK.  It’s three words, and he’s talking about the same old people with the same old solutions and that’s the place where ideas go to die.  That was excellent in that exchange.  But that does not negate the fact that he’s wide open and vulnerable and no one has gone after him. 

You saw the job Chris did on that state senator who has probably made his last appearance on national TV?  He had nothing. 


MADDOW:  But McCain is trying to go after Obama and he’s doing it impotently.  For him to get up there and say, this is empty eloquence, I promise you no change, I promise you no eloquence, I’m telling you, America, oh, no, we can’t.  That’s John McCain.  That’s his message right now.  He’s saying no, we can’t.  Don’t believe it.  This guy seems exciting but I offer you the same old thing. 

BUCHANAN:  McCain is not going to be the one to do it, the Republican machine has got to do it or it isn’t going to be done. 

O’DONNELL:  Let’s talk about Michelle Obama.  You brought it up, you said that she made a severe gaffe, that the Republicans are going to run against.  McCain said something else in his speech tonight.  Let’s take a listen to that. 


MCCAIN:  I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years.  I’ve never lived a day in good times or bad that I haven’t been proud, proud of the privilege. 



O’DONNELL:  McCain there saying, I’m proud of my country.  What do you think he was referencing? 

BUCHANAN:  I think he’s clearly referencing Michelle Obama saying, you


O’DONNELL:  “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, not just because Barack has done well but because I think people are hungry for change.” 

BUCHANAN:  You know, I was watching the other networks when we were—the screens and things.  And they brought this up and they were talking about this, and showing Michelle Obama.  The thing that Obama has going for him tonight is, he has sort of wiped this out with his victory. 

We’re all talking about Wisconsin and Texas and that.  But that was a very serious mistake.  I would be terribly surprised if the Republicans don’t use that and use that and use that until she comes out and clarifies it or corrects it. 

MADDOW:  This great vulnerability of Obama thus so far is that his wife said something that you could read a nasty way if you wanted to.  I just don’t think that’s that big a vulnerability. 

You’re right that they will make a big issue of it.  And you’re right that it’s something that I’m sure wasn’t scripted for her.  But I just don’t see that as something that’s going to carry on past this... 


O’DONNELL:  Well, but Republicans have run and won on issues of patriotism.  And they paint liberals as being unpatriotic and sometimes worse. 

BUCHANAN:  As unpatriotic.  Well, quite frankly, I mean, what kind—I mean, if you look at that statement just as it’s made, what kind of statement is that for a woman as privileged as she is to make?  Ask yourself, how does she make her children patriotic when she said there has been nothing in the last 25 years about this country I’m proud of? 

MADDOW:  She’s saying this is a time when I feel proud of my country right now because of the success of my husband but also because of what I’m experiencing. 


O’DONNELL:  What Pat is really focusing, and others are, is for the

first time in my adult lifetime, that Pat suggests that there—was there not

anything else, an event in American or world history in her adult lifetime…

BUCHANAN:  I mean, the fall of the Berlin Wall?

O’DONNELL:  … that made her proud? 

ROBINSON:  There are a lot of reasons why a lot of people can feel

disappointed or let down by…

BUCHANAN:  OK.  See, you are explaining it.  Let me just say, Gene, you can explain it and you can explain it, but if you’re explaining why she never felt proud in the last 25 years of being an American, you’ve got a problem if that’s what you’re talking about. 

O’DONNELL:  All right. 

ROBINSON:  Well, I don’t think it was a huge gaffe that indicates a lack of patriotism in the Obama household.  But I think you will play it that way.  But I don’t think that’s what it means. 

MADDOW:  They will play it that way.  But there is—you know, we also should not discount what it looks like to have the white old guy Republican Party all jumping on the woman, all jumping on the wife, all jumping on the candidate’s spouse. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, wait a minute, why do you say white old guy, I mean…

MADDOW:  That’s the…


BUCHANAN:  … the average American is not offended, the average guy down at the American Legion Hall seeing that, he’s not offended? 

MADDOW:  The average American…

BUCHANAN:  The average guy coming back from Iraq, the first time she’s proud of being an American?  (INAUDIBLE) was proud when we stood up after 9/11. 

MADDOW:  Pat, you sound—I can hear the ads coming out of you right now. 

BUCHANAN:  So why are attacking the white people here?

MADDOW:  But honestly, the country does not look at Michelle Obama and think, wow, she hates the country, I’d better make sure I don’t vote... 


ROBINSON:  Maybe when the candidate says something like that, then maybe you’ll have a point.

O’DONNELL:  All right.  The panel is staying with us.  You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Wisconsin Primary.  More right after this. 


O’DONNELL:  We are back with MSNBC’s continuing “Decision 2008” coverage.  Barack Obama has beaten Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primaries.  The latest numbers show a wide margin.  And on the Republican side, John McCain has won the Wisconsin Primary over Mike Huckabee.  And McCain has also won in Washington State.  Newsweek’s Howard Fineman is back in our campaign “Listening Post” in Washington. 

And, Howard, there was some discussion earlier this evening about whether it was rude or impolite of Hillary Clinton not to congratulate Barack Obama in her speech tonight.  But the Clinton campaign is letting it be known that she did call him on the telephone to congratulate him.  Does it matter? 

FINEMAN:  Boy, I bet that was a really warm and fuzzy phone call. 


O’DONNELL:  And if you could, could you just kind of replay how you think—I’ll play Hillary.  Hi, it’s Hillary, I just wanted to congratulate you.  Now you play Barack. 

FINEMAN:  I will say, I hope that that’s you, Hillary, and not a crank call from Howard Wolfson. 

O’DONNELL:  We joke, we joke.  But they do call each other.  They are grown-ups and professionals.  But it has been a very heated campaign, and that’s why we joke about that.  Because you wonder about these tense exchanges.  Because it has got to be hard to win.  And if we can post up those numbers.  Barack Obama won by a pretty significant margin in Wisconsin.  That has got to be dispiriting to the campaign. 

FINEMAN:  Yes.  I think it’s hugely dispiriting.  I think they were hoping against hope, to use a freighted (ph) word, in the Clinton campaign that they could make it close, they could make it within 5, 6 points, even single digits, but they’re getting blown out yet again.  It’s getting old.  It’s getting wearying.  They’re faced with this Hobson’s choice of doubling down on negative strategy or somehow playing nice. 

If they play nice again, we’ll all assume that they’ve given up.  That’s the box that they’re in.  Because we know that they want to win and they want to win in the worst way.  And if they suddenly start playing nice again, especially after what I was told tonight about how they think actually negative campaigning worked in Wisconsin, because it lessened the loss margin from the Potomac Primary, you know, they’re kind of stuck. 

But I wanted to focus here in the “Listening Post” on another exchange, which was this business that Pat was talking about, about Michelle Obama’s comments.  The interesting thing is that the person who first criticized Michelle Obama was not the Republican attack machine or John McCain, it was Cindy McCain, the wife of John McCain, who we’ve seen through most of the campaign in these victory nights and so forth, standing silently and smilingly next to her husband. 

I am told that it was her idea, Cindy McCain’s idea, off the cuff, to go after Michelle Obama for that pride in America comment.  Cindy McCain is a force to be reckoned with.  Of all the major players on the stage now, she’s the one who is least well-known and is arguably going to become one of the most important. 

She’s a very smart cookie.  She’s very tough.  She comes from a prominent business family in Phoenix.  She knows John McCain better than anybody.  She has raised a bunch of kids, including two that are in the military right now.  She goes around the country talking about health care for people.  She’s a force and she’s going to be more visible in this campaign. 

O’DONNELL:  She’s a marathon runner, yes, she is.  And she is the one who was responsible for that shakeup in the campaign that broke McCain’s—and some of his closest advisers, like John Weaver.  And some say actually put this campaign back on track.  Howard Fineman, thank you so much. 

FINEMAN:  Thank you. 

O’DONNELL:  And now to NBC News political director Chuck Todd, is with us once more for a look at where Obama won in Wisconsin.  Chuck, we were just looking at those numbers, 17 points, that’s a wide margin. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, the question is, where didn’t he win in Wisconsin?  I mean, I think when you really look at these numbers, he won virtually everywhere.  He just didn’t run up the score here. 

Let me just tell you the places where Hillary Clinton, I was told, was going to have to do well.  La Crosse, well, La Crosse Obama wins there by 20 points.  How about Green Bay?  Green Bay, Obama wins by 13 points.  How about down here in the southeast, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha counties, victories either narrow Obama victories or Racine, the vote is coming in really slow, but right now Obama has a 1-point lead. 

He won all of these supposed Hillary Clinton strongholds.  This is a huge problem, because it now says that there are some Democrats who are out there, some of these—you know, the working class Democrats, some of these rank and file Democrats are now viewing Obama as sort of the de facto Democratic candidate, that he’s now sort of, you know, one in the mental checklist on the ballot. 

And this is what should concern them, 60 of the 72 counties are likely going to be carried in Wisconsin by Obama.  That’s across the board stuff.  That’s stuff that should scare them when it comes to Ohio.  Forget Texas at this point.  They have got to hope they can win at least one of the two major states on March 4th if this is the kind of victory that Obama is looking at tonight. 

O’DONNELL:  Chuck Todd, very interesting.  Thank you. 

Eugene, I want to ask you, given this loss in Wisconsin tonight, a couple of questions.  Is Hillary going to have the money to go on to fight in these states and is there going to be an appetite in the Democratic Party for this to continue? 

ROBINSON:  Well, I think certainly through Ohio and Texas.  But imagine that you’re a big Democratic Party donor or you’re a superdelegate tonight and you heard what Howard Fineman has reported about the discussions within the Clinton campaign.  You know, gee, we did pretty good, we only lost by 17.  That’s not a reality-based reaction to what happened. 


O’DONNELL:  … struck by too that they think that the negative campaigning worked to some degree.  I mean, Rachel, how could it have worked if there is still a 17-point loss? 

MADDOW:  Well, they may be—they may like some of the internals that they’re seeing rather than the overall spread.  It’s hard to see.  I mean, when you look back at—coming into this, what they said they wanted to do, they said they wanted Hillary to hold her own in Wisconsin and they want her to win in Texas and Ohio.  So I mean, it depends on what you call holding her own, 17 points doesn’t feel much like it. 

BUCHANAN:  Barack Obama may have beaten Hillary by a wider margin than McCain beat Huckabee.  And Huckabee is supposed to be out of the race. 

MADDOW:  You know, that was the case in the Potomac primaries too. 


BUCHANAN:  What that says is there’s probably greater grumbling and dissatisfaction in the Republican Party over the nominee than there is in the Democratic Party over the fact that Barack is—looks like he’s running away even though Hillary is an enormously strong candidate and has been all year. 

ROBINSON:  But what I think would worry a donor or a superdelegate is they’re still trying on different outfits, you know, different clothes.  It’s, you know, should we be tougher, should we not be tough, should we go really negative?  How do we run? 


BUCHANAN:  She really is down to the two-minute drill, I think.  She has got to do something.  And my guess is she has got to go negative.  But you know, Howard Fineman had been saying last week and this week something I tend to agree with, I think she’s going all the way to the convention without conceding this nomination to see what happens. 

O’DONNELL:  And on that note, Eugene Robinson, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow, thanks to all of you.  Our coverage of the Wisconsin Primary continues in a moment.  When we return, we’re going to hear some of what Barack Obama told his   supporters tonight in Texas.