'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 5

Guest: Terry McAuliffe, Evan Thomas, Michelle Bernard, Ed Gordon, Jill Zuckman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Hillary Clinton—she agrees with the late W.C. Fields.  Instead of lying in her political grave, she’d rather be in Philadelphia.

Let’s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I’m Chris Matthews.  No matter how you look at it, it was a huge night for the Hillary Clinton, her three wins last night, including the two big wins in Texas and Florida, have guaranteed that the Democratic race for president will go on and on and on.  And on.  In a moment, we’ll talk to Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe and Obama supporter Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut.  And there’s so much to talk about with them and cover everything tonight, but we’ll try.

What matters more now, Hillary’s Tuesday night momentum or Obama’s big delegate edge?  We’ll look at the delegate race as it stands right now and tell you how the Clinton campaign insists it can still win the nomination, even if it never catches Obama in elected delegates.

What happens to Florida, by the way, and what happens to Michigan?  Will they hold new primaries, or even a caucus?  What happens to the superdelegates?  Will Hillary’s big night stop the flow to Obama?  And of course, we’ll look at all the remaining contests with a special eye toward my native Pennsylvania, the next big prize seven weeks from now.

Also, the biggest winner last night may well have been Republican John McCain.  Not only did he win all four contests last night to become the presumptive Republican nominee, not only does he have two Democrats battling each other right now, but today he got the biggest endorsement of all from President Bush.  In a few moments, we’ll take a look at the incredible McCain comeback.

But we begin tonight with a quick look at the new numbers from last night.  With some delegates still to be awarded, this is the best estimate by NBC News political director Chuck Todd.  In Texas, where Clinton won the primary and Obama won the caucuses, Obama finished with somewhere between 5 and 9 more delegates than Clinton.  In Ohio, where Clinton won, she earned between 9 and 11 more delegates than Obama.  In Rhode Island, another Clinton win, NBC estimates she won 5 more delegates than Obama.  And in Vermont, Obama’s only win last night, NBC estimates he earned 3 more delegates than Clinton.

So what’s the net gain for the night?  Three hundred and seventy delegates were on the line, and Senator Clinton finished with 8 more delegates than Obama.  All that for 8 delegates.

We’ll talk about how the system works with Terry McAuliffe.  He’s chairman of the Clinton campaign, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  This is a tough slog.  So you won 8 more delegates.  Is that a good estimate?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN:  That looks pretty close.  And we’ve still got to figure out the Texas caucus, which as you know, turned into a absolute nightmare last night, people getting locked out, people calling in caucus results before they were actually done, absolute mess, so they’re trying to sort through that.

MATTHEWS:  So give me the secret.  The center held for Senator Clinton.  The center—working people—in fact, people from all economic groups.  Women held for her.  Poor people held for her...


MATTHEWS:  The black turnout wasn’t so great in Texas.  Latinos did very well.  Let me ask you, what was her secret?  Was it the ad campaign?  Was it the middle-of-the-night telephone call?  What—was it NAFTA?  What worked?  What was the magic bullet?

MCAULIFFE:  I think Hillary’s message, I think the ad, who would be a better commander-in-chief, who’d be a better steward of the economy, hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in Ohio.  People saw Hillary as the commander-in-chief.

Listen, we got outspent two to one.  He had all the momentum.  He had all the new endorsements.  Hillary Clinton came back and won those big contests last night because people think she will be a better commander-in-chief.  They’re not hoping for a new commander-in-chief, they want someone who’ll go in and do the job immediately, and that’s Hillary Clinton.

And Senator Obama had issues.  You have the Rezko trial starting.  You had the problem on NAFTA, where he denied the meeting—they denied the meeting took place, and then came out, thanks to Nedra Pickler at the AP, that actually, the meeting took place.  They got caught.

MATTHEWS:  Can we talk this race?

MCAULIFFE:  Let’s talk it.

MATTHEWS:  Confetti—you had it ready.  You had confetti early yesterday...


MATTHEWS:  ... because I got a source for that.  You had the confetti ready.


MATTHEWS:  I thought Bill Clinton was going to be there, but Chelsea was there with the senator from New York.


MATTHEWS:  ... you were organized.  So you knew that you were going to win in Ohio.

MCAULIFFE:  Yes, we felt...

MATTHEWS:  You had the confetti ready.


MATTHEWS:  That’s a pretty good line, the confetti ready.  Let me ask you this about this whole question.


MATTHEWS:  Is Pennsylvania—I think I know the answer—that much different from Ohio?

MCAULIFFE:  Very similar.  I think, as you look at the map going forward, you’ve got Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, I think all very similar demographics to Ohio.  So I think the map favors us as we go forward.  But I spoke to Governor Rendell today.  He is ready.  He is—he and Governor Strickland from Ohio spoke today.  Eddie Rendell is ready to put on the campaign of a lifetime for us.

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk about the state of Pennsylvania.  My brother, of course, you know, was the Republican...


MATTHEWS:  ... candidate for lieutenant governor last year, not to say anything about my party ID, which is somewhat vague these days.  But let me ask you this.  No fancy stuff.  I said last night, as Bob Casey used to say, the old Bob Casey, the late Bob Casey, it’s a John Wayne state, not a Jane Fonda state.  No fancy stuff, a lot of economic security worries, older state, concerns about kids moving away.  They want to hold the people in the state.  They want to have a future in the state.  It’s got a great history, wants to have a future.  Tell me, is that the sense of Pennsylvania?

MCAULIFFE:  You bet.  And Democrats only voting there, as you know, Chris, so the economic...

MATTHEWS:  Only Democrats, no outsiders, no Republicans, no independents.

MCAULIFFE:  No one fooling around with it.  Democrats go in.  It’s a primary.  Can vote all day.  You’re not limited to an hour or two, which I like.  The whole day, you go in, you close the curtain, you vote for who you think would be the best president...

MATTHEWS:  It’s a great—you know what’s interesting about Penn—

Pennsylvania?  They have state stores.  You can buy booze, but...


MATTHEWS:  ... like in a boring store.  No fancy stuff.

MCAULIFFE:  Yes.  That’s right.

MATTHEWS:  It’s a classic way of looking at things.

MCAULIFFE:  You and I used to go get our Boone’s farm there (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS:  I think, in your case, it was Night Train (ph), but...


MATTHEWS:  You buy that at the gas station...

MCAULIFFE:  Yes, I still do the old...

MATTHEWS:  ... not convenience stores.


MATTHEWS:  ... I think was the—no, that was the Catholic stuff. 

Let me ask you about Eddie Rendell.  Can he deliver?

MCAULIFFE:  I don’t think anyone questions the ability of Ed Rendell to deliver the state of Pennsylvania.  But as you know, Chris, it’s your candidate.  He and Hillary Clinton have been together.  They’ve been together on economic issues.  Eddie Rendell has been there for Hillary Clinton because he thinks she’ll the best commander-in-chief.  National security—why did 30 generals admirals just come out for Hillary Clinton?  Why did General Hugh Shelton just come out for Hillary Clinton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?  Because in a dangerous world, which Eddie Rendell, very concerned about, obviously, one of the planes, Pennsylvania—she’s the one to be commander-in-chief.  She can answer that phone 3:00 o’clock in the morning and know what to do.

MATTHEWS:  Why 3:00 o’clock in the morning?  What is that an important time?

MCAULIFFE:  I just think it’s the middle of the night, when most people...

MATTHEWS:  Well, why—why 3:00 o’clock in the—what’s that symbolism?  I mean, we could have the world end—I mean, you know, Pearl Harbor was in the morning.  You know, 9/11 was in the morning, in broad daylight.  Why—why 3:00 o’clock in the—what’s that about?

MCAULIFFE:  Well, I think when the president’s probably sitting in the Oval Office, you got a lot of aides.  You got your military advisers.  At 3:00 o’clock in the morning, you’re all by yourself and you got to answer that phone.  Missiles are coming at America.  You don’t know what the crisis may be.


MCAULIFFE:  You got to move quick.  You got to know what to do immediately.

MATTHEWS:  And Barack wouldn’t be very good at 3:00 in the morning.

MCAULIFFE:  Hillary Clinton will be much better because she’s got the experience, as you know, as being a good Irish Catholic, we have...

MATTHEWS:  No, nobody’s got the blarney like you do!  You are ready for March 17...


MCAULIFFE:  We have peace in Northern Ireland today, and...

MATTHEWS:  Oh, that’s—that’s Bill’s big win.  I give...


MATTHEWS:  No, no, no.  The Good Friday courts...

MATTHEWS:  Fabulous work.  There’s no doubt about it.

MCAULIFFE:  As you know, you talk to anyone in Ireland today, John Hume or anyone else, they will tell you that a key component of that—

Hillary Clinton was a big part of that...

MATTHEWS:  Really?


MCAULIFFE:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about how you win.  Is it too late?  You’re having a surge now.  You’re doing well.  You won 3 out of 4 last night.


MATTHEWS:  I think you’re going to have a tough time in Wyoming with the caucuses.  For some reason, you have a problem with caucuses.  You’ll have a problem in Mississippi, but you’re going to do well in Pennsylvania.


MATTHEWS:  I think even the Obama people figure you’re going to win in Pennsylvania.  But how do you take these victories—even if you string three or four, even if you win half of the contests or more between now and the end of this process in Puerto Rico in the middle of June, how do you win the most elected delegates?  Can you, at this point, unless you win, like, 70 percent in every race.

MCAULIFFE:  Let me be clear.  Neither Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can get enough of the pledged delegates coming out of these contests.  Neither one can.  They both are going to have to rely on the automatic delegates.  So as we move forward...


MCAULIFFE:  I’ll bet you 100 bucks on this, if you want to bet me on this.

MATTHEWS:  No, but shouldn’t the person with the most elected delegates win?

MCAULIFFE:  Listen, there are delegates...

MATTHEWS:  It’s not a hard question.

MCAULIFFE:  Not at all.  Listen, these automatic delegates, they’re governors, they’re members of Congress.


MCAULIFFE:  They’re on the ballot.  And you know, the Obama campaign likes to talk about math and all this.  Let’s be clear, 28 million people have voted so far, Chris.  The difference in the popular vote is one half of one-tenth of 1 percent.  That’s it.  Of all of the delegates chosen, the difference is 2 percent.  So we’re not...

MATTHEWS:  What do you think of the argument that a majority of a single vote is as sacred as a unanimous vote?  What do you think of that argument?  A majority of a single vote is as sacred as a unanimous vote.  What do you think of that argument?

MCAULIFFE:  Well, I like the idea of people going...


MATTHEWS:  ... the majority of a single vote is as sacred as a unanimous vote.  You know who said that?

MCAULIFFE:  Who said that?

MATTHEWS:  The founder of the Democratic Party, Thomas Jefferson.  And I’m asking you, if Barack Obama wins by a single vote in the elected delegates, shouldn’t he be the nominee of the party?

MCAULIFFE:  You were...

MATTHEWS:  Shouldn’t you have a Democratic process for a Democratic Party?

MCAULIFFE:  You were trying to parse out...

MATTHEWS:  I’m asking!  These are questions.

MCAULIFFE:  I’m telling you, the rules of the Democratic Party which we operate under, the party you used to be a member of, I used to be chairman of...

MATTHEWS:  So the Democratic Party has un-democratic rules.

MCAULIFFE:  They’re rules when you run for them!

MATTHEWS:  Would you be saying this if you were on the other side of this fight?  If you were winning by 100, 200 votes right now with your candidate, with Senator Clinton, would you be saying, Oh, just wait until the superdelegates come in and help the other guy win?

MCAULIFFE:  Listen, I’m a party man.  I was chairman of this party.  I’ve worked for this party for 30 years.  The rules are the rules.  When you get in, you got to apply the rules as they are.

MATTHEWS:  I dictated to myself before I started tonight important things to be hospitable about.

MCAULIFFE:  Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS:  I’m from Pennsylvania.  I want to say some things about the state.  I think that Hillary Clinton will do very well in Pennsylvania.  She has everything for the state.  She’s a—the Clintons have always had one great strength.  Whatever you think about all the problems they’ve had over the years, the one great strength is their unique connection to regular people, not wealthy people, not upper-middle-class, middle-middle-middle, right?  That’s their strength.

No fancy stuff in Pennsylvania.  They’re very close to the middle ideologically.  They don’t go beyond the 40-yard line, right?  That’s Pennsylvania.  Jobs and trade, economic security, looking out for veterans, the way that Senator Clinton says, I’m not going to be a martial man, you know, GI Joe, but I’m going to take care of those soldiers when they come home.  I’m going to be good at that—kitchen table issues, health care.  I remember the great line—remember that Harris Wofford (ph) line, If a criminal has a right to a lawyer, the working American ought to have a right to a doctor.  Pretty good stuff, huh?

MCAULIFFE:  You bet.

MATTHEWS:  Is that Hillary Clinton?

MCAULIFFE:  And I think that’s all where Hillary’s message is—health care—listen, if you look at the polling day to day, Hillary Clinton leads on national security, she leads on health care, she leads on job creation.  Those are Hillary Clinton’s issues.

MATTHEWS:  Was that nice enough?

MCAULIFFE:  That was very nice...


MATTHEWS:  Howard Wolfson, who was by to visit the other day, a very smart guy, said that Senator Clinton will release her tax returns, her joint returns sometime on or around April 15th, tax day.  Does that mean before April 22 in Pennsylvania?  Will you commit, as chairman of the party (SIC), to release her tax returns before the election in Pennsylvania which is so pivotal for you?

MCAULIFFE:  Yes.  We’ve said we’d do it around tax time.  Let me be clear...

MATTHEWS:  So we’ll get the results before we vote.

MCAULIFFE:  Sure.  Bill Clinton, as president of the United States, had to do them every year.  She has had to do public disclosure since she’s been in the Senate.  This couple has had for the last 15 years total disclosure of their finances.


MCAULIFFE:  And they always do it around tax time.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Great.

MCAULIFFE:  My taxes are done.  I know yours aren’t done because it’s probably...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) late all the time.

MCAULIFFE:  I mean, you got a lot of income coming in.  You’re rich. 

Takes time to get all those pages...


MATTHEWS:  Every time...

MCAULIFFE:  What is wrong with being rich?


MATTHEWS:  Every time you get on this show, you get personal!

MCAULIFFE:  Listen...


MCAULIFFE:  I know you’re successful.  I admire you.  I want to grow up to be just like you.

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) I just want to do a town meeting in Pennsylvania at a college of Senator Clinton’s choice.

MCAULIFFE:  We should do that.

MATTHEWS:  It’d be great.  Big university.

MCAULIFFE:  I agree with that.

MATTHEWS:  I won’t name them now because they’ll get mad at us if we don’t do them, but there’s so many great schools in Penn.

MCAULIFFE:  We have a long way to go.  We are going into the seventh game of the World Series.  We’re not stopping in the middle of the series.  We are going forward...

MATTHEWS:  Don’t forget Scranton, where Hillary Clinton spent all her summers.

MCAULIFFE:  I’m sorry?

MATTHEWS:  Lake Winoa (ph), right?

MCAULIFFE:  That’s right.

MATTHEWS:  We’ll go up there.  Maybe the University of Scranton, a big Jesuit school...


MATTHEWS:  Chris Doherty’s the mayor of Scranton.  He can invite us up there.  We’ll be very...


MCAULIFFE:  ... won the city championship and...

MATTHEWS:  ... Mayor Doherty?  Hillary Clinton wants to come up there. 

She has to get a little grease going...


MCAULIFFE:  Purple Eagles won last night here in the...

MATTHEWS:  OK, Terry McAuliffe...

MCAULIFFE:  ... District of Columbia...

MATTHEWS:  By the way, congratulations.

MCAULIFFE:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:   Because you all stuck together.  The center held, and Hillary Clinton won a lot of events last night that a lot of people thought she...

MCAULIFFE:  You bet...


MCAULIFFE:  ... great night.

MATTHEWS:  You had a great close, three days.  Whoa!  You guys are good from Sunday to Tuesday.  I don’t know what goes on between Sunday and Tuesday, but you own it, you guys.  Barack owns going into the weekend.  Coming out of the weekend, it’s always Clinton country.

Anyway, up next, the road ahead for Senator Clinton.  She managed to put her coalition back together in Texas and Ohio.  The center held for Senator Clinton.  Can she keep it going and win?  The next big contest, the Keystone State, Pennsylvania.  And her delegate deficit?  Well, let’s see how that one works out.

You’re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If you cannot win Ohio, you cannot win the presidency.  And I think I proved convincingly last night that of the two of us, I’m the one who can win Ohio and I’m the one who can win the presidency.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  By all accounts, it’s going to be quite until the Democratic Party, the party of Thomas Jefferson, has its 2008 presidential nominee picked out.  Both Barack Obama and Senator Clinton are trying to map out for supporters a successful path to the nomination.  For the Clinton campaign, however, the path is a bit more complicated.

HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster explains.


CLINTON:  Thank you all, and God bless you!

DAVID SHUSTER, HARDBALL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  In the wake of the victories, Hillary Clinton’s campaign today issued this memo titled “Path to the Presidency,” but the four-page document with 13 bullet points never says how Clinton can catch Obama in the nomination delegation count, and that’s because the numbers for Clinton do not work.

JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”:  The math did not change for her after last night.  She had a wonderful night in terms of momentum, but this race is about math, not momentum.

SHUSTER:  It takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.  Based on all the contests to date, Barack Obama leads her in the pledged delegate count by a difference of 142.  And even if Clinton were to win each of the remaining caucuses and primaries by 15 percentage points each, she would still find herself trailing Obama.

So the Clinton campaign, led by the candidate herself, is now trying to improve her map by pushing to find some way to get Michigan and Florida counted.

CLINTON:  I agreed not to campaign, and I did not campaign.  But I think that, you know, the people who actually turned out and voted, they were not party to any agreement.

SHUSTER:  Clinton is referring to what happened before the voting started, when Michigan and Florida moved up their primary dates in open defiance of Democratic Party rules.  All of the candidates last year agreed not to campaign in the two states and agreed the delegates should not be counted towards the nomination.  But unlike Obama and other Democratic candidates, including Edwards and Biden, Hillary Clinton left her name on the Michigan ballot.  Michigan voters who participated gave her 55 percent compared to 40 percent for uncommitted.  In Florida, where Obama and Clinton were both on the ballot, Clinton received 50 percent, Obama 33 percent and Edwards 14.

CLINTON:  It’s a perfect day here in Florida.

SHUSTER:  Clinton has been drawing attention to Florida ever since, but even if Florida delegates were awarded based on the disputed primary and Clinton won everywhere that’s left, she would still be trailing.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I think that going into the convention with more votes, more states, more primaries, more caucuses, more delegates, we’re going to be in a pretty strong position.

SHUSTER:  And even Clinton adviser Mark Penn, who wrote today’s memo, said a month ago, quote, “This race has shown that it is voters and delegates who matter, not the pundits or perceived momentum.”  Still, there is a path to the nomination for Clinton if she can keep the streak going, close the elected gap and convince a strong majority of superdelegates at the convention that she is the best bet.  The 795 superdelegates, who are under no obligation to follow the will of their state, includes party officials and current and former elected lawmakers.  At the moment, Clinton has received the endorsement of 254 superdelegates to 213 for Obama, 328 are still undecided.

(on camera):  All of the superdelegates until the convention count are free to change their mind.  The question is whether the Democratic Party’s going to nominate a presidential nominee based on the will of primary voters or based on party insiders.

I’m David Shuster for HARDBALL in Washington.


MATTHEWS:  Well, that was the tough news from David Shuster.  Joining me right now, we’re going to look at both the tough news and the good news for the Clintons—NBC News political director Chuck Todd, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and “Newsweek’s” Evan Thomas.  Before we get to the delegate problem the Clintons face, which is a real uphill battle to even begin to get close in elected delegates, let’s talk about their strength last night.  Andrea, who voted for her last night and has held with her for months now?

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, in Ohio, women, whites, people under $50,000 a year, the working-class men.  The—the blue-collar voter came back to her. 

Her original coalition that she had lost in Virginia and Maryland, in those primaries, came back.  They returned, and Hispanics big-time in Texas. 

The Ohio victory is important, because it really mirrors the kind of population that you see in Pennsylvania, except Pennsylvania is a closed primary, so she won’t have to face the problem of independents and Republicans coming over. 

MATTHEWS:  So, it is meat-and-potatoes Democrats.  That’s all she has to...

MITCHELL:  Absolutely. 


MATTHEWS:  This is perfect.


MATTHEWS:  I don’t know how they led everybody to this briar patch.


MATTHEWS:  This is Uncle Remus country.  They have taken the Democratic Party all across the country to one state where only Clinton types will vote. 

EVAN THOMAS, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”:  Look, this is an interest group car wreck.  This is the Democrats’ worst nightmare, I think, because it reminds everybody of how the party is divided into interest groups.

And they thought they had gotten past this for about a month, so a big kumbaya of everybody together.  And that all dissolved and they were back where we were a month ago.  The Republicans have got to be—Richard Nixon is sitting up in purgatory smiling and clucking and chuckling, because this is the best-case scenario for the Republican Party. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he got purgatory, huh? 



MATTHEWS:  I wish him well.  I wish him well.  That means it is limited. 

Let me ask you—let me go to Chuck on this question of the strength of the Clintons, because it used to be said—well, I always like to put it this way.  The middle-middle people have always stayed true to the Clintons, through Monica, through all the mess, through all the problems, whatever it is.  Even with NAFTA, they have always believed in the Clintons as people that came from where they came from.  They came from regular stock, if you will, regular people, and they didn’t forget it. 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, no, I mean, I think that that is what Hillary Clinton had struggled to do. 

She had never been able to replicate that same thing that Bill Clinton had.  And I think, slowly but surely, she is getting more comfortable actually starting to feel the pain of this electorate, of that electorate that I think that Bill Clinton so easily connected with, which is these blue-collar white voters. 


Let’s take a look at the Machiavellian politics here, which I dearly love.  Let’s take a look at just how people voted who decided in the last three days how to vote in these states.  Fifty-eight percent voted for Clinton.  Forty percent voted for Obama. 

Andrea, that shows that that weekend campaign of the 3:00 in the morning phone call...

MITCHELL:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  ... the whole routine, got people jittery about Obama. 

MITCHELL:  And even though the 3:00 in the morning phone call ad was not playing on the air in Ohio—it was aimed at Texas. 

MATTHEWS:  We were playing it. 


MITCHELL:  We were playing it.

MATTHEWS:  I know.

MITCHELL:  They got all the free media. 

Here she had an ad that was so provocative, if you will, that we ended up running it, because she didn’t have the ad money that he had.  And, in fact, on the last night, on Monday, he bought two minutes on every market. 

MATTHEWS:  This is the old Tony Coelho trick, which is to show some ad at a press conference, and we all put it on the air. 


MITCHELL:  It is brilliant.  It’s smart.  She’s also portrayed herself as a fighter. 


MITCHELL:  She did two things. 

She was the fighter.  She was percussive.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

MITCHELL:  I am going to fight for you.  You are hurting in the economy.  And, at the same time, I’m going on “Saturday Night Live.”  I’m going on “Letterman.”  I’m showing I’m warm and cozy and funny.


MATTHEWS:  I always get in trouble with doing this.  Let me do the psychobabble.

Not only does she stick it to this guy as hard as she can on not being trustworthy, dealing with the Canadians, whatever, I can’t decide whether he is a Muslim.  At the same time, she plays hurt.  These guys are coming at him.  These guys are being unfair...


MATTHEWS:  ... on “SNL” and on “Jon Stewart.”

She gets it both ways.  She is good at this. 


THOMAS:  Victim politics have been working for Democrats for a long time.  And that’s what she did.  It’s a victim’s...


MATTHEWS:  While you are hitting the other side. 


THOMAS:  ... while you’re hitting hard.


THOMAS:  One thing I don’t get about the ad, the whole idea of 3:00 a.m. is, you want coolness and detachment, right?

She is not cool and detached.  She is really either hot and angry or she’s icy cold and tough.  But I don’t think of her as being cool.  I think of Obama as being the cool, detached guy.  Now, maybe he doesn’t have the experience, but I think, if you peel this onion, there is something about it that just doesn’t make sense to me. 

I mean, she doesn’t strike me as the person who is the cool, detached, steady person at the other end of the phone. 

MITCHELL:  But I think that is what she projects, though, that, in the polling, her experience, you know, values seem to relate to people as being cool and detached. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I am going to challenge this. 

Suppose—I just look at my daughter this way, who is 18.  If I were in a car wreck and she came up to the car to help me out, get me in—put the thing over my head, protect me from shock, deal with the first aid, she could handle it.  She could handle a crisis.

Don’t you think Hillary Clinton is like that? 

MITCHELL:  Strength.

MATTHEWS:  Doesn’t she come across as somebody who is really good in a crisis, that could handle a situation like a car wreck? 


MATTHEWS:  You don’t?

THOMAS:  I think that she is often hot and angry in a crisis.  And I think she can be steely cold in a crisis.  And those can be useful.

But I think the classic value that you look for in a middle-of-the-night crisis is somebody who is cool and detached.  I just don’t associate...


MATTHEWS:  Why don’t you come over and sit in this chair, and you can take the heat for the next three months, and I will sit over there and disagree with you?


MATTHEWS:  Let me talk about delegates now.  It’s less trickier than the psychobabble.


MATTHEWS:  Everybody is laughing. 

Chuck, let me ask you about the numbers.

Terry was on, Terry McAuliffe, who is one the great blarney stones of my life here.  He’s so charming.  He’s so positive.

TODD:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  You don’t know what the numbers are when he is done. 

But here’s the question.  Let’s count the silverware here, OK?  Can the Clinton campaign catch up with to Barack Obama at the end of this whole process in June, when they go to Puerto Rico for the final primary?  Can they catch him? 

TODD:  Not with—not without the superdelegates.  I mean, they have to do this with the superdelegates.

Now, look, Barack Obama can’t get to his 2,025 with what he needs without the superdelegates.  But he is going to have the lead this whole time.  I mean, look at Ohio.  She won by 10 points.  He is going to—she is going to net nine delegates.  She is going to net less delegates than she won by in percentage points.

Now, translate that to Pennsylvania.  So she wins Pennsylvania by 10 points.  What is she going to net?  Probably that same, somewhere about nine, 10 delegates.  Again, when you are down 150 pledged delegates—we’re now on the superdelegate front—you throw those in, about 100 delegates—that is not a way to make up ground when you only have 12 contests left. 

So, it is a huge—it is a huge—it is a huge climb that she has, but, if she wins Pennsylvania, this is about making the perception case, making the resume case, going, hey, my resume is lot more interesting than his resume when you start looking at the wins and losses. 


TODD:  I will take Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. 


MATTHEWS:  Evan, how do you put out a magazine?  How do you explain this to people, that Clinton has had a run going this week, had a hell of a good week, but, yet, it may be too late? 

THOMAS:  Well...

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain them both at the same time?  They are doing well, but it may be too late?

THOMAS:  It may be not too late in this sense.  She could win the overall popular vote.  She has been winning all these big states, right? 

He has been winning caucuses.  So, even though he might be behind narrowly

excuse me—he might be ahead narrowly in delegates...


THOMAS:  ... she could be ahead in popular vote when all of this is... 


MATTHEWS:  Do you think that is possible?

Chuck, is that possible, as you count it? 

TODD:  Well, if you count—right now, he has got about a 600,000-vote popular vote lead.  If you throw in—and this is where it gets fun...

MITCHELL:  Michigan.


TODD:  If you throw in Florida and Michigan...

MATTHEWS:  No, a new Florida, not the old Florida, a new Florida.

TODD:  ... she is actually ahead. 


TODD:  No, no, no, no.  I know.  I’m just saying.


TODD:  Well, then, and then, you know, he probably—it is going to be tough.  She has to win by the margins she has won.  It will be very close. 

I mean, look, 600,000 votes separate them now out of 26 million cast in states that awarded delegates. 


Boy, Pennsylvania is a big state, though. 

Thank you, Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Evan Thomas. 

Up next:  Barack Obama’s grandmother weighs in on the presidential race all the way from Africa.

Plus, why is President Bush dancing for John McCain?

You’re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there in politics? 

Well, Kucinich lives.  There’s been much speculation that two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich could be in trouble holding his seat in Congress, after spending all that time running around the country.  Was his own constituency losing patience? 

Well, some good news for Dennis.  Last night, he staved off his primary challenger, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, beating him by a solid 15 points.  I guess Dennis was not the menace after all. 

President Bojangles?  After a guy who all but destroyed John McCain in South Carolina back in 2000, George Bush couldn’t have been happier to receive his former nemesis at the White House today.  Talk about happy feet.  Check this little tap dancing routine he did as he waited for his old rival and hoped-for future president to get through traffic. 

What do you make of that? 

Anyway, grandma Obama speaks.  It turns out that Barack has a new surrogate talking to the press these days, his 86-year-old Kenyan grandmother, who lives in the African village of Kogelo, over in Kenya.  Asked by reporters about attacks against her grandson, Sarah Obama, in the local Luo language, said—quote—“Untruths are told that don’t have anything to do with what Barack is about.”  Great line. 

And now it is time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.”  It is not always easy to get Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama to come to your TV show, but, this morning, it was a piece of cake.  Both candidates were quick to show signs of life and momentum.  And they did it by sweeping the morning shows.

They call it the full Ginsburg, after Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer, William Ginsburg, who did all five Sunday morning shows in one morning a decade ago. 

Here are the Democratic candidates for president this a.m.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Good morning, Harry.  Thank you very much.  It’s a great day. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is a good morning for you? 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, it is a little early. 


CLINTON:  Joe, actually, I was coming on this morning to ask you to be my running mate. 

OBAMA:  So, we were in a good place and continue to be in a good place. 

CLINTON:  It was a great night. 

OBAMA:  Good morning.  Thanks for having me, guys. 

CLINTON:  We are really feeling good about where we are. 

OBAMA:  We are in a very strong position going forward. 

CLINTON:  It was a great night last night. 

OBAMA:  I feel great. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thanks.  And, once again, congratulations. 

CLINTON:  Thank you very much. 


OBAMA:  Thank you so much, David. 


MATTHEWS:  God, I think she won. 

Anyway, how—how many morning show appearances did Clinton and Obama make together?  Twelve -- 12 total TV appearances in one morning, a grand Ginsburg—tonight’s “Big Number.”

Coming up:  The biggest winner last night just might have been John McCain.  He is the nominee.  He got President Bush’s endorsement today at the White House.  And now he can get ready for the general election while the Democrats are still duking it out. 

You’re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:     John showed incredible courage and strength of character and perseverance in order to get to this moment.  And that’s exactly what we need in a president.



MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks—stocks squeezing out moderate gains on Wednesday’s sessions, with the Dow industrials turning around its losing streak, gaining 41 points, the S&P 500 up nearly seven, and the Nasdaq seeing a 12-and-a-half-point gain. 

Helping out stocks today were better-than-expected data on the vast service sector of this economy.  That includes banks, airlines, hotels, and restaurants.  It eased some concerns about a prolonged slowdown.  But the economy may get worse before it gets any better. 

The Federal Reserve reported that the economy has weakened since the start of this year.  And that’s reinforcing speculation among policy-makers that they will cut interest rates again when they meet on March 18. 

Oil prices surged today, closing at another record high, after OPEC announced it would not increase output, but, rather, maintain current production levels.  There was also a surprise drop in U.S. stockpiles.  With that, crude gained $5 in New York’s trading session, closing at a new record of $104.52 a barrel. 

That is it from CNBC, America’s business channel—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, here is what President Bush said today about—well, I don’t know what we are doing. 

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

John McCain was the big winner last night, wrapping up the GOP nomination and sealing a remarkable political comeback.  Just imagine how far he has come in a few months.

And, today, in the shadow of the protected battle—projected battle between Obama and Hillary, McCain received the endorsement from his one-time rival, President Bush. 


BUSH:  The good news about our candidate there will be a new president, a man of character and courage, but he’s not going to change when it comes to taking on the enemy.

John McCain will find out, when he takes the oath of office , his most important responsibility is to protect the American people from harm.  And there’s still an enemy that lurks, an enemy that wants to strike us.  And this country better have somebody in that Oval Office who understands the stakes.  And John McCain understands those stakes. 


I don’t have anything to add. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, I think we just heard it from the horse’s mouth the legacy of this president.

Former President—former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is the national co-chair of the McCain...


MATTHEWS:  You are laughing, Governor, but that sounds to me like the Bush legacy he wants protected by John McCain. 

TOM RIDGE, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN NATIONAL CO-CHAIRMAN:  Well, I think the Bush legacy is to remind everybody that, as the president said, to provide for the common defense and to protect Americans is the foremost responsibility of any president, Republican or Democrat. 

Obviously, the president and John McCain have had differences of opinions at how you go about effecting that outcome, but it’s clearly the number-one priority for President Bush or President McCain. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are now heading up to Pennsylvania, both with hatchets in their hands...

RIDGE:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  ... aiming for each other.


MATTHEWS:  They’re both going at each other hammer and tong, whatever the weapons they choose.  It is going to be bloody.

Is it going to carve each of them up, so that either one would lose to John McCain in your state of Pennsylvania, Governor?

RIDGE:  Well, it is going to be a very interesting race in Pennsylvania, Chris. 

As you know, it’s a late primary.  There are a lot of people who thought it wouldn’t make any difference having it on April 22, and they were only half right. 

And I think—I think that Senator Clinton has a bit of an advantage going in.  As I took a look at a lot of the exit polls, she seems the do very well with older voters and union groups, and clearly that is a significant part of the Democrat base within Pennsylvania. 

I think that she has the support of the incumbent governor, Ed Rendell, who has a great political machine.  So Senator Obama has his work cut out for him, but he is a very charismatic young man.  He has a strong message and it’s going to be a very interesting six weeks as they compete for Pennsylvania’s votes. 

MATTHEWS:  How can Obama beat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, which, as you describe it, is regular, middle of the road politically.  It’s economically middle, middle, middle.  It’s culturally conservative.  It’s the John Wayne State, not the Jane Fonda state, as Bob Casey put it.  It is, in fact, a perfect state for someone like you politically or Senator Clinton perhaps.  Is it an Obama state? 

RIDGE:  Well, I think clearly the edge, the significant edge today—today, goes to Senator Clinton.  But as you and I have observed over the last two months, pundits and analysts looking at both the Republican and Democrat side have drawn some conclusions that voters prove to be wrong.  But right now, she has a clear advantage going into Pennsylvania, no question about it. 

MATTHEWS:  But you are an expert.  You’re not a pundit.  I mean, you are elected out there many times. 

RIDGE:  Well, I offered my opinion.  I think she prevails. 

MATTHEWS:  Let’s talk about—let’s have some jousting here about your candidate for president, John McCain.  He has been on the show many times.  He gets tremendous respect for anyone who knows his life, has worked with him, from this side of the table or his side of the table here.  Let me ask you about him.  It seems to me that if he can give us some hope in Iraq that we are going to win that thing and come home at some future point—in other words, out of the action, back home at some point in the near—light at the tend of the tunnel. 

You fought as a combat guy in Vietnam.  You know what I mean.  Can he continue to say this is going to be 100 years of facing the enemy over there? 

RIDGE:  I think that John exaggerated somewhat in order to make a point, and that is that we may require—pretty clear right now that the Petraeus strategy has worked.  There’s stability.  They’re starting to reach political compromises, create their own environment.  Just as we’ve done in Korea and did for quite some time in Germany, it may require a presence, not a presence of 130,000 or 160,000 troops.  But I think he was trying to say in a very dramatic way, perhaps even overstated way, in order to effect the outcome we want, that is a stable government in Iraq, letting them solve their own problems, we may need a sustained military presence, not necessarily a large one, but certainly a presence. 

MATTHEWS:  But does that mean men and women in harm’s way facing IEDS and attacks day-to-day? 

RIDGE:  We lost him.  We will go to a break.  We’re going to get back to Governor Ridge to find out more about the campaign in Pennsylvania, where all of the action is.  Stay with us. 

Up next, momentum or math, who has the action.  We’ll be right back with more on this fight in Pennsylvania.  The Politics Fix is up next. 


MATTHEWS:  We are back with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.  Governor, it seems to me that one of your strengths in Pennsylvania is that you were pro-choice.  You did believe to protect a woman’s right to choose.  Let me ask you this about John McCain; can he avoid that issue hurting him in any way?  Is there any way he could soften his pro-life position for states like Pennsylvania? 

RIDGE:  No, I don’t think John, as you have indicated during the course of your interviews with him, he’s not going to soften anything.  He believes what he believes.  He has a strong pro-life record. 

But you know, that is not the reason he was engaged in politics for 25-plus years.  He doesn’t lead with it.  Everybody knows his record on it.  And the single issue voter will accept or reject him based on that.  But again, his agenda is much to do with the national defense, strong national defense, a good budget, keeping taxes under control, keeping the growth of government under control.  And he is where he is on the social issues and people either accept him or reject him regardless. 

MATTHEWS:  Will it be easier for your party to defeat Barack Obama or Senator Clinton in Pennsylvania after beating themselves up for the next seven weeks? 

RIDGE:  A great question, Chris.  I’m not sure what the answer is.  I think they are formidable but for different reasons.  I think if you take a look at the strength of the political organization that exists right now within Pennsylvania among the Democrats, and having Governor Rendell leading that in supporting her, that carried over into a general election would be strong. 

If you take a look at the senator from Illinois, very charismatic, very appealing to non-traditional constituencies, provided they actually offer a different challenge for John.  So we are just going to sit back and watch who prevails in Denver, and then engage them right after that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, thank you very much former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who is national co-chair of the John McCain for president campaign. 

Time now for the politics fix.  Our round table tonight, Ed Gordon, who is host of “Our World” with Black Enterprise, Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Voice, and the “Chicago Tribune’s” Jill Zuckman.  Let me take it starting with Ed Gordon.  It seems to me—it’s good to see you again, Ed.  But this fight here, it is getting to be and looks to me to be tougher than it was a few months ago, Senator Clinton getting very tough about the trust factor, the 3:00 in the morning factor with Barack Obama.

If he is the nominee, is he going to get hurt in the next seven weeks? 

ED GORDON, HOST OF “OUR WORLD”:  He may get hurt in the next seven weeks, Chris, but the interesting point is I just left Ohio and Michigan, and I think what we are going to see in Pennsylvania and across this country is I think it’s going to shift away from that 3:00 a.m. call and really start to look at the economy.  Let’s go back to Clinton, it’s the economy, stupid.

I think both of them have to shore up their point and find one voice for that. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me go to Jill on that.  Do you think that the smart sharp attack of Senator Clinton over the weekend—it seems to have gotten blood out of Obama—is she going to continue with that sharp fighting against him?   

JILL ZUCKMAN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”:  It is working for her.  I don’t know see why she would stop at this point.  I don’t think anybody is going to not talk about the economy, because it is important to voters, but the national security argument is helping her right now, and I don’t see her stopping. 

MICHELLE BERNARD, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S VOICE:  We kept seeing Hillary trying to figure out which message is going to work.  She was going from message to message and I think that the ads were important.  They worked.  People are scared.  She is talking national security.  She is talking the economy.  And by talking free trade and equating free trade with jobs, people in Ohio, for example, I think got the impression that if she is the Democratic nominee and the eventual president, all of these jobs are going to start flowing back into Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it is a tough trio of attacks.  One is trust; is Barack Obama cutting deals across the border with Canada, while he is saying he is going to be tough on NAFTA.  Is he, in fact, the religion he says he is?  What else?  Is he trustworthy at 3:00 in the morning?  This is pretty strong stuff that is being thrown at him. 

GORDON:  I think he’s got to be careful with that, Chris.  One of the things that I think he did as the front-runner, as we saw over the last couple of weeks, is I think they moved to be careful and not lose that status.  And I think he is going to have to come out.  They obviously answered the ad fairly quickly.  I believe her ad was out on Friday.  They had an answer to it Saturday.

But it didn’t really hit hard and I think he is going to have to do that.  They have the find that voice to be comfortable in slapping her around a little bit, if you will. 

MATTHEWS:  Somebody once said the best defense is a good offense. 

Maybe he will shift to that, what do you think?   

ZUCKMAN:  Well, I was thinking about was after New Hampshire, when Senator Clinton surprised everyone and won.  She said, I found my voice, but she clearly did not.  It seems like in this last week or so, she truly did find her voice. 

MATTHEWS:  I think she found her voice this week.  It is called Geronimo, because she is going after this guy. 

BERNARD:  I think he has to very seriously go on the offensive.  He has to be careful, because nobody likes the optics of a man getting into a woman’s face.  But I think he’s got to be on the offensive.  He’s got to attack.  Today we see memos coming out of his campaign questioning, why won’t she turn over her tax returns?  What is she hiding?  I think that we’re going to continue to see these kinds of tactics.

I think it’s going to be a bloodbath between now and April. 

GORDON:  Hasn’t that been the interesting point all of the way along, the idea of me finding my voice, me finding my voice, and it seems as though many of those who have run to this point have found their voice week to week, and whatever worked that week was their voice. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you this question, do you think this country changes every week or are we going to different states, Michelle? 

BERNARD:  I don’t think that the country changes, but I think that the demographics of each state are very, very important.  No one ever thought, for example, that he would have had the huge win that he had in Iowa, and then look at New Hampshire.  It was a completely different story. 

MATTHEWS:  And I think that Ohio always has been Ohio.  There is not a new Ohio.  There is not a March Ohio.  There is Ohio.  If we had gone to Ohio three months ago, Senator Clinton would have won. 

ZUCKMAN:  I think that is right.  If you changed around the calendar, we might have a different dynamic in the Democratic primary. 

MATTHEWS:  My theory lately—I came up to it last night in my punchiness as I was doing eight hours in a row, was thinking maybe this is all an illusion, as we travel across the country, like one of the cameras that scans across with the panoramic view, a piece at a time.  Are we just simply crossing the country—there’s no buyer’s remorse.  We only get to buy once.  We are going to new states, one after the other.  The next state will be Wyoming and then Mississippi. 

GORDON:  Wyoming and then Mississippi.  We’re going to hear a different message.  I think he will gain some of his momentum back in Mississippi, and the flip-flopping really has been amongst those of us who sit in front of these cameras, because she was all but dead and buried and now we have resurrected her and are ready to put her back into the White House.  So it will be interesting to see what momentum carries out of the position in Mississippi, which I think that he will take fairly easily, quite frankly. 

BERNARD:  Well, it is going the be—and the other thing that makes it very interesting is that he is not only going to have to fight Senator Clinton.  He is going to start having to fight Senator McCain.  The Republican party is going to come after him with everything they have got. 

MATTHEWS:  They’re already making the take.  We’ll be right back wit the round table.  I want to talk about the possibility of a political deal, even a political marriage between the two front running Democratic candidates for president.  You are watching HARDBALL.  I get choked up over that idea.  You are watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


MATTHEWS:  We are back with the politics fix.  Now, there’s some interesting developments going on with Senator Clinton right now.  Some talk this morning of something that looks like the possibility, hold your breath, of a political marriage between the two Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Not clear who will be the boss, who will be the deputy dog. 

ZUCKMAN:  And can this marriage be saved.  I just think that with so many voters so engaged in this race and so committed to each of them, that half the Democratic electorate is going to be incredibly disappointed if their candidate loses.  It may be the only solution. 

MATTHEWS:  Isn’t it ironic. 

BERNARD:  I don’t think we will ever see a marriage between the two of them.  I think party leaders will try, but I absolutely don’t see it. 

MATTHEWS:  What would be the alternative.  Older women, for example, I’ve dealt with a lot of people, had a loft people express themselves to me, let me tell you.  There’s a lot of sensitivity about Hillary Clinton with older women.  There’s a tremendous amount of sensitivity, if it comes to that, I would guess, from African-Americans and others idealists, if you want to call them that, who are so hot for Obama. 

If they were told we’re not going to go by the number of elected delegates.  We have these super delegates to decide this thing.  They might walk at the convention. 

BERNARD:  What happens at least within the African-American community is if Senator Obama turns out to have more delegates, but Senator Clinton turns out to be the nominee, African-Americans  will never accept him getting the number two slot.  I think that African-Americans and the Democratic party, that relationship will be changed forever.  I think that is a done deal. 

MATTHEWS:  So you say the leader in the fight for elected delegates must be the nominee. 

BERNARD:  That’s what I believe. 

MATTHEWS:  That’s an arbitrary decision by you. 

BERNARD:  I’m not in charge. 

MATTHEWS:  It does sound like the Democratic way to have the Democratic party.  But it’s not the rules.  Let me go to Ed Gordon.  Sir, what do you think of the prospects for a deal. 

GORDON:  Well, it sounds good.  It certainly would bring numbers and the Democratic party back together.  We all remember 1968.  But it won’t happen.  It won’t be worth it to either one of them.  If you do well and you win, now you’ve got to sit eight years for your chance.  And if you do poorly, you’re tainted by your president’s poor work habits, if you will.  I don’t think it will happen. 

MATTHEWS:  I think Al Gore learned that lesson.  It wasn’t his work habits, might have been something else I will not discuss.  Great to see you Ed.  Ed Gordon, thank you for joining us.  Michelle Bernard, as always.  Jill Zuckman, as always. 

It is—I did eight hours last night.  I get paid, but, you know—

Join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern for more HARDBALL.

Right now it’s time for “TUCKER.”

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