Guests: Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow, Josh Mitchell, Eugene Robinson, Michael Smerconish, E. Steven Collins, Jim Warren
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews. Welcome to a special weekend edition of HARDBALL. Today Democrats in the State of Wyoming flooded caucuses in record numbers and have delivered for Barack Obama. He is the projected winner over Hillary Clinton. Let‘s look at the numbers.
Voters in Wyoming have handed Barack Obama a substantial victory. Twelve delegates are at state today and Obama will win a majority of them. How important are today‘s results to the Democratic race for president? We‘ll look at that in just a moment.
Will Barack Obama fight back against Hillary‘s attacks? We‘ll talk to the managing editor of the “Chicago Tribune,” Jim Warren, and ask him about a new memo from the Obama campaign.
And in just three days, it‘s on to Mississippi for the primary there. And then in six and a half weeks, Pennsylvania holds its big primary. We‘ll take a look at both states and what we might expect there later in the show.
Joining me tonight, MSNBC political analyst Eugene Robinson of “The Washington Post,” and Tucker Carlson, the host of MSNBC‘s TUCKER and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
But first, let‘s go to NBC‘s Lee Cowan, who‘s been covering the Obama campaign and joins us from Chicago.
Lee, this man seems gifted when it comes to caucuses, especially small states.
LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He really does. A lot of it has to do with the organization on the ground. He had a lot more people in Wyoming for a lot longer time than Hillary Clinton did. She spent a lot of time there, not herself necessarily, but Bill Clinton was there, Hillary Clinton was there as well, trying to sort of eat away at his advantage in caucus states.
But she said as recently as yesterday, she thought this was an uphill battle. She was trying to downplay expectations. She says that she‘s never caucused. She said she thought that a lot of people she‘s talking to simply didn‘t know how.
But that‘s the advantage that the Barack Obama campaign has had, they‘re very good at education, they‘re very good at outreach, they‘re very getting all those voters out there to the polls and it looks like it worked again this time in Wyoming.
MATTHEWS: We see this dynamic every week. We‘re going to show them in a few minutes. But the national polls result, they come about later on after these results on Tuesdays and on Saturdays. And we watched the national polls shift. We watched the upcoming outlook for the upcoming states shift. Is Wyoming going to have enough clout, perhaps together with Mississippi, to change the contour of this race yet again?
COWAN: You know, I don‘t know, Chris. I think that‘s a tough one to call. I think the Clinton campaign would certainly point to these two states as not being particularly important states, in their words. Barack Obama says, look, all these states are important. This is part of his strategy to win in some of these smaller states to keep inching up that delegate count.
And as you said tonight, we don‘t exactly know what the delegate count is going to end up being. He will end up taking a majority of the delegates from Wyoming and it may be enough to essentially erase the delegates that she got out of Texas and Wyoming that everyone was talking so much about. We could end up being right back where we were essentially on Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: How important is the fact that he keeps winning states? I‘m looking at the number. Counting Wyoming and we can do that now based upon our projection tonight in the caucuses, he will have won 25 of the 50 states -- 25 states, including DC, the District of Columbia, which has electoral votes, three of them. What does that tell you? Is that important just winning number of states or not?
COWAN: Well, certainly they would say so. The Obama campaign. And I think they would say symbolically it looks like you‘re going in with more states won, more delegates, and if you‘re going to talk what happens then with the superdelegates, it would be a hard argument, they say, for those superdelegates to go against what their states have gone for.
On the other side, however, Hillary Clinton would suggest, look, these aren‘t necessarily all big important states. Wyoming for example is probably not a state that Democrats are necessarily going to win in the general election, and those are a lot of the states that Barack Obama has won. So they look at it completely differently, as you might imagine.
MATTHEWS: You know, we could say, if we wanted to be positive about the tactics of the campaign you‘re covering, Barack Obama, that he‘s engaged in what Muhammad Ali , just keeps taking the punches, hoping his opponent will wears out his gloves, but Hillary Clinton‘s not going to wear her gloves out, she‘ll keep punching. Is he going to keep taking these punches to the gut?
For example, when Hillary Clinton was asked about his religion, she took awhile to say, he‘s not a Muslim as far as I know, that kind of undercutting rhetoric, which can be defended, I suppose, but it is tough. Does he have a plan to go back against that with any kind of power?
COWAN: Well, I think his advisers have said, look, they feel like they do certainly have to get a lot more aggressive on this. They don‘t want to get personal, but they say there is a difference between being aggressive and being personal. They want to go after her record. They‘ve talked a lot recently about all this experience that she keeps talking about in terms of her foreign policy experience. What is that exactly? Is it just the fact she was in the Oval Office? Is it just the fact she‘s visited some 80 or so countries? The Obama campaign would point out she wasn‘t negotiating treaties or she wasn‘t really having back door serious conversations with policy issues necessarily. So I think you‘re going to see a lot more of that. It is interesting, Chris. On the campaign trail, there are times when he even brings Hillary Clinton up in a positive light. He always talks about her as being a very worthy opponent, someone who wants the right things for the democratic party. The only time he goes after her is when she says something either about his record or when yesterday we were talking about the Samantha Power and what she may have said when, what she was quoted as saying, in terms of whether or not he changes his tragedy when he becomes president when it comes to Iraq.
He hit on that pretty hard saying, I want to make this perfectly clear, I‘m against the war, I‘ve always been against the war, so it is that kind of stuff. So it does seem to be a little bit of a different strategy. I think you‘re going to see a sharper strategy, not as sharp, I don‘t think, as the Hillary Clinton campaign.
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘re all watching. Thanks, Lee Cowan for that report.
Let‘s go now to Wyoming, scene of the action where we‘re joined on the phone by reporter Josh Mitchell of the “Sheridan Press.” Josh, give us the color of the game today. Barack Obama is our projected winner in the caucuses. How did he do it?
JOSH MITCHELL, “SHERIDAN PRESS”: Well, he won in Sheridan County, he had 321 votes and Clinton got 205.
MATTHEWS: What was it about? When you look at the people who showed up at the caucuses, what were the differences between the caucus attendees who were for Barack Obama? We‘re look at a picture of him now, and Senator Clinton? What was the difference in the cut of their jibs?
MITCHELL: Well, I mean, the Clinton people were just excited about her health care plan, and the Obama people are just excited about his plans for the war in Iraq and his—the way he attracts the youth and that kind of stuff. That‘s the difference between the two.
MATTHEWS: Have you got a sense as to why Senator Barack Obama was more successful at winning yet again? This is his—he‘s won so many of these caucuses now. What do you think his strength is? Can you see the strategy at work there, the get out the vote effort in terms of attending caucuses?
MITCHELL: Yeah, I mean, he opened up an office in Sheridan and Clinton didn‘t do that. He did a lot of direct mailing in Sheridan and Clinton didn‘t do that. So he seems to have campaigned a lot more aggressively.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks a lot.
Finish your thought, I‘m sorry.
MITCHELL: As for why Wyomingites seem to like Obama better than Clinton, I don‘t know. Both of them aren‘t the traditional kind of candidate that Wyomingites like. They usually support, you know, white males.
MATTHEWS: Well, there wasn‘t one on the ballot this time. Sorry, Wyoming. Anyway, thank you Josh Mitchell and thank you, Wyoming. Let‘s introduce the panel.
MSNBC‘s political analyst Pat Buchan, “The Washington Post” columnist Eugene Robinson, who‘s also an NBC political analyst and of course my colleague Tucker Carlson.
Well, let‘s take a look at this, Gene, again if you‘re an Obamaite you‘re happy because he got back on the horse, perhaps the galluping horse of history, if you will, and he‘s back with his streak again, perhaps.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTONPOST”: Maybe. Maybe. I think, you know, this -- as far as the Obama campaign was concerned, would have been a necessary first step in stopping the momentum that the Clinton campaign might have gotten on Tuesday. So if he wins Wyoming, if he wins Mississippi on Tuesday, then, you know, I guess they would be hoping that that would kind of slow things down for a while.
And then, of course, everybody piles into Pennsylvania and we‘ll see.
MATTHEWS: I understand, Pat, that the goal of the Obama people is to make sure everybody doesn‘t think that the Pennsylvania primary is somehow the Super Bowl. Nothing happened before and nothing will happen later. That‘s the way they want to sell it right now.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST: It is the playoff, it is not the Super Bowl.
Look, what Obama did today was a good end to the week but a terrible week. He lost Texas, he lost Ohio. He lost his momentum. Doubts have been created as to whether he has the capacity to defeat McCain or the capacity to be president. He‘s got, if you will, the red phone disability and he‘s showing it everywhere he goes by constantly referring to it. So he had a very bad week in Mississippi and in—and Wyoming aren‘t going to turn that around.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, you could argue that Hillary Clinton‘s strategy of getting very tough with him has paid off for her. One-on-one, she has improved on her advantages and certainly carrying a state she should have carried, Ohio, and winning a state should might have lost, Texas. But look at the “Newsweek” poll that‘s just come out. I want you to analyze this. Hillary versus McCain, 48-46. Obama versus McCain, 46-45. They‘re both basically even now, after this.
BUCHANAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: The scorched earth policy, it has left them both vulnerable to defeat in November. It seems it has been scorched earth. They‘re both hurt.
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: She‘s tightened that gap considerably. But it‘s going to get worse from here. Look, in order to win, the question is not who‘s going to win the most delegates, the question is who‘s going to successfully convince the superdelegates. That‘s almost certain to be the scenario. And the candidate willing to wage total war, willing to bomb Dresden is the one better situated to win. And I think she‘ll make the argument that‘s her, and most people will agree.
Moreover, she‘s going to say about tonight, it‘s a small state, it‘s a Republican state, a caucus, of course he won, it took place outside the normal news cycle, on a Saturday, this is better than losing for Barack Obama, but I think she can rebut its significance fairly easily.
MATTHEWS: But Pat, look at these numbers. What has happened in the last week. You said - and it was a tough, bad week for Barack Obama. You and Gene. But it‘s also a tough week for the Democrats as a party, because John McCain, without lifting a fingerer, has pulled even with them.
BUCHANAN: That‘s astonishing when you consider the mess the Republicans are in.
MATTHEWS: An economy which is dropping like.
BUCHANAN: An economy dropping, an unpopular president, unpopular war, no enthusiasm ...
MATTHEWS: What happened this week? Hillary Clinton threw the kitchen sink at Barack Obama and it splattered in both directions.
BUCHANAN: And it is going to be more than the kitchen sink coming up for six weeks. They‘ve each got about $30, $40 million to spend, attacking each other for six weeks, ruining themselves in Pennsylvania for the general?
MATTHEWS: Gene, your assessment of the whole impact of the get-tough strategy.
ROBINSON: I agree that it‘s been a bad week for Obama, a bad week for the Democratic Party. The tenor and tone of this campaign over the next six weeks, as we go into Pennsylvania and beyond, because we‘ve got North Carolina, Indiana, we‘ve got other important states afterwards, is going to be very important.
Somehow, the Democrats and maybe the superdelegates could play a role in this. Maybe they can play a role in trying to at least contain some of the potential damage.
MATTHEWS: All three of you look at this upcoming schedule. It‘s not just Mississippi. It‘s not just Pennsylvania. You‘ve got big states coming up. At least middle sized states like Indiana, North Carolina, they‘re all coming up as well. Kentucky, Oregon. They‘re all—as well as some smaller population states like Idaho. There are a dozen or so coming up, Pat. It is in the Clinton‘s interest to make it sort of end in Pennsylvania. It‘s in the Obama‘s camp‘s interest in suggesting this is a number‘s game, we‘ll win in the end.
BUCHANAN: He‘s going to win pledged delegates and Wyoming showed that, but she has a winning strategy now and it is raising questions and doubts about Obama.
MATTHEWS: Why do you say winning?
BUCHANAN: Because she won—she won Texas, I believe, and that‘s why I think she won Ohio so big. She‘s got a winning strategy. Barack Obama has not shown he knows how to cope with it. He‘s still talking about the red phone.
MATTHEWS: Just give me the illustration of that.
BUCHANAN: It is raising—that red phone and the other things and the Samantha Power thing added to it, are these people ready to run the nation in a time of war?
CARLSON: That‘s right.
BUCHANAN: The problem is, they‘ve raised doubts in the minds of white—white Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, give me what that says of the typical middle of the road voter.
CARLSON: Look, here‘s—here‘s the problem. Obama, in the wake of the Samantha Power thing felt threatened because it got to the core of his Obamaness, right? The new politics. I think voters, however, are intrigued and may be drawn to the tougher candidate. Obama could have come back and said, which is worse in a Democratic primary, to be called a monster or likened to Ken Starr, as—as Howard Wolfson did last week. And of course, the latter is worse. He could have said, you know what? I‘m not getting rid of Samantha Power, she is a capable person, and stood his ground.
MATTHEWS: Why didn‘t he do that? Why didn‘t he stand his ground?
CARLSON: Look, the only significant election ease won was against Alan Keyes, whom I could have beaten. So maybe it‘s experience.
MATTHEWS: This is the battle of bassinets. This isn‘t the politics you and I grew up with. It‘s mommy, mommy, she called me a name. Look at what‘s going on here. In the old days, a politician might have said to a professional woman like Samantha Power, who is a very impressive person. Senator Clinton could have come off, in a different environment she might well of, and said, you know, she‘s a professional woman, I‘ve been called worse. Leave her alone and moved on. But in this environment, you‘re calling fouls. Because calling fouls is the name of the game this season, it seems. This is not an exciting NBA game, it‘s a game of fouls.
In a good game you tell the refs get out of the game and let the guys play.
MATTHEWS: Now they say, come over here, I want to show you something. Did you see what he did to me?
ROBINSON: I have a scratch. I have a little blood.
MATTHEWS: They‘re calling charging fouls in this league. Nobody calls charging fouls anymore.
ROBINSON: Exactly. And traveling.
MATTHEWS: Nobody dribbles anymore. I don‘t see anybody dribble in the NBA anymore.
ROBINSON: Who is the audience now? Who are the voters now? Is it the superdelegates? Are the superdelegates the voters?
BUCHANAN: It‘s tough between Democrats ...
ROBINSON: If the superdelegates are the voters ...
MATTHEWS: Tucker, you said they‘re impressed by steel, toughness.
CARLSON: Exactly. These are people who deal with power for a living. They‘re not conventional NPR listening, Volvo drivers liberal voters who are turned off by meanness. These are people who deal in the currency of power.
MATTHEWS: Are you talking to me?
CARLSON: I‘m not talking to you, I‘m talking to everyone else who lives in your neighborhood. All the Obama people. They flip out when they see people and say, ooh, she‘s mean. Do you think your average superdelegate cares about that? No.
ROBINSON: Volvo makes very good cars, Tucker. And I don‘t know what.
MATTHEWS: National Public Radio gets bigger ratings than a lot of us do, but anyway.
ROBINSON: If the superdelegates are the audience, there‘s another thing they have to take into account. If Obama goes into the convention with more states, more delegates and more popular votes than Hillary Clinton, this is a problem. He wins. He wins.
BUCHANAN: They will be an unhappy party.
MATTHEWS: Pat, there is a difference you are not quite experienced with. This is called the Democratic Party. They have elections and the person with the most votes should win. Anyway, the panel staying with us. When return, we‘re going to preview the Mississippi primary. I think Pat‘s got some roots down there. Then the big one in my home state of Pennsylvania. Will the Keystone State be the key to the nomination? The Clintons will dearly like it to be and it may well be.
You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Wyoming caucuses. I should say the all-important Wyoming caucuses. This is MSNBC, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC‘s coverage of the caucuses out in Wyoming today. They were won by Barack Obama. We‘re back with our panel.
By the way, here‘s what Senator Clinton - rather, President Clinton said today down in Mississippi where we‘re having the primary on Tuesday. He talked about the possibility of a ticket including his wife, Senator Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, SEN. CLINTON‘S HUSBAND: You look at the map in Texas and the map in Ohio, the map in Missouri or—well, Arkansas‘ not a good case, because they know her and she won every place there. But you look at most of these places, he would win the urban areas and the upscale voters, and she wins the traditional rural areas that we lost when President Reagan was president. If you put those two things together you‘d have an almost unstoppable force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So he brings in the base and the elite. I‘ll give Tucker a shot at this. This ticket balancing here worthy of a New York operative here. Is Bill Clinton balancing a ticket or is he teasing the Barack Obama people into thinking, oh, you can vote for Hillary and still get a piece of the action here. What‘s he up to?
CARLSON: He‘s the most brazen man in politics, and brazenness is rewarded in politics. He‘s doing what Bush did in 2000 in the recount when he declared himself the winner before the votes had been counted.
It turns out if you say something straight into the camera and say you know what? This is the reality, 75 percent of the time it becomes the reality. So Hillary Clinton keeps coming out saying he‘d be a great vice president to me and the Obama people say, wait, we‘re ahead in the numbers. And she says, you‘re exactly right. You‘ll be a great vice president.
MATTHEWS: You‘re right. The mind - the ability of people to think two things at the same time. He‘s talking about ticket balancing and you forget, wait a minute, she‘s 140 votes behind, she‘s nowhere near the leader. So, therefore, is she - because I think this definition of is is the ability of the Clintons to reset table and recreate a new notion of reality, which they can do brilliantly. Bill Clinton lost the New Hampshire primary back in ‘92 and declared himself the comeback kid.
CARLSON: You‘re the only one that remembers that, by the way.
MATTHEWS: I know I‘m the only one who remembers he lost because it‘s this death defying delusion they create. They‘re so good at it. I‘m not knocking it, it does dismay me at times. This question, though, if he keeps proffering the notion of a ticket involving the two frontrunners, the two surviving candidates, at some point, can‘t Senator Clinton be called on to say, well, wait a minute, if you think he should take a part on the ticket with you, then don‘t have you to accept that fairness of you would be willing to be on his ticket? Don‘t you—you can‘t keep saying, he will join me, but I won‘t join him, can you?
BUCHANAN: Yes, you can.
BUCHANAN: What this is all about, this is aimed at the Barack Obama voters saying, look. Look, you can have them both. Don‘t worry about it. If you vote for Hillary, you‘re not necessarily going to lose Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a payoff.
BUCHANAN: He can be on the ticket.
MATTHEWS: That‘s saying to black voters, we‘ll give you a patronage job.
We‘ll give you HUD. Why don‘t you just offer him HUD?
BUCHANAN: It‘s a back of the bus cabinet seat.
MATTHEWS: Give him one of those alphabet jobs.
ROBINSON: A lot of those Barack voters are not buying this. They don‘t want to be a part of this. They don‘t want HUD. They don‘t want, you know.
MATTHEWS: If Reagan had a HUD secretary, he didn‘t even know who he was. Remember Sam Pierce, he thought he was one of the mayors. That‘s a big job. Jack Kemp was HUD secretary. It can occasionally be a major position sometimes.
But it‘s also offered as some kind of payoff.
Let me ask you this. Why is Bill Clinton, who is a political mastermind, probably the greatest politician of our time, not necessarily an accolade, but he is, what‘s he up to? Why does he keep playing this card out there, that maybe we‘ll put these two guys together?
ROBINSON: I think it‘s what Pat said. I think it‘s a promise or holding out the promise that, well, gee, you can have them both. So it‘s OK to vote for Hillary.
MATTHEWS: How does that swing a person to Hillary and who is that person?
ROBINSON: The person who likes Obama who really thinks that, gee, he is ahead, so why should I—you know, people seem to want him. Hillary doesn‘t need my vote, and I kind of like this guy Obama anyhow.
BUCHANAN: Slight doubts about Obama, but is for him, and if Hillary is going to put him on the ticket, ah, that‘s the best solution. It solves all - it solves the Democratic problem. Everything is over. It‘s all Kumbaya. We‘re all together.
ROBINSON: But the ...
MATTHEWS: Pat, you‘re so sick—I mean, you‘re so brilliant. What Pat has described is the soft-headed voter looking for an easy way out. I hate having to decide.
BUCHANAN: There are a lot of them in your party, Chris.
ROBINSON: And it reassures voters that she will in the end do the right thing. Right?
MATTHEWS: Let‘s talk about the toughest part of this campaign for Barack Obama. We just heard from Lee Cowan. I don‘t get it clear—he‘s reporting what there is to report, which is it‘s not clear what‘s going on there.
Is there a way for him to start being a smart politician? Advertise opponent was in Illinois, Alan Keyes. He didn‘t have a tough fight for the election out there as senator. But at this point, you can‘t keep appealing to peoples‘ sympathy. You can‘t keep saying, she keeps hitting me, mommy. He has to at some point say, I‘m going to slug her back the next time she does that and she won‘t do it again. Doesn‘t he need to hire a Howard Wolfson? Doesn‘t he need to hire a surrogate? Doesn‘t he need a Ted Kennedy in there for him?
ROBINSON: He needs to get his major surrogates out, with more force than - - than heretofore. Tom Daschle has been out saying some things and kind of attacking—pushing back.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s put together a front line for this guy, Tucker. Let‘s put together a front line. I think this man needs help right now in terms of a front line. Put Teddy Kennedy in Philadelphia City Committee, not Pat Murphy. Put Ted Kennedy in there yesterday. Bring in Chris Dodd at least. Bring in Claire McCaskill, who is a fascinatingly popular politician out of Missouri. Bring her in. Your thoughts of who he has to put out up front.
CARLSON: Every state from which a Kennedy who endorsed Obama came was lost to Hillary Clinton. So I‘m not sure how much faith you‘re putting in the Kennedys.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, this isn‘t your crowd but it‘s the inside ethnic guy who does look up to Ted Kennedy.
CARLSON: If they don‘t have the cities, they‘re in trouble anyway. Here‘s the argument they need to make, which is the argument that a lot of Democrats agree with and know on a gut level is true. He has a better shot in November because he has crossover appeal and she doesn‘t. If you don‘t already agree with Hillary Clinton you‘re not going to vote for her. This we know. This we‘ve always known. The same cannot be said for Barack Obama. He has at least a chance of bring some others from the center over to him. They should say that again and again and again, because in the end Democrats want to win.
BUCHANAN: That creates the problem Chris is talking about. He has crossover appeal because he‘s above it. He‘s a nice guy. He‘s a good fellow and whether you agree with him or not, you like him. If he goes that hardball route, he loses the crossover appeal. Kennedy can‘t do it for him, Chris. Kennedy would be ideal, but Kennedy is not a cutter. He won‘t cut Hillary. You need somebody in there that will start—you need somebody to cut Hillary, who will really do the job, and none of these politician—Dodd won‘t do it, Kennedy won‘t do it.
MATTHEWS: Sooner you end up rooting for the soddy buster to stand up to the big rancher. Sooner or later Shane has to fight the bad guys. Sooner or later. You root for him.
ROBINSON: We may not be at the point where he has to show that hand yet. Get your surrogates to do it. Meanwhile, Obama needs to translate this appeal he has for the college educated, for the better heeled. Translate it into more of a regular guy message. He‘s got to do it.
MATTHEWS: Bob Herbert said that in the “New York Times” today and I completely believe it. If he can‘t talk to the regular person out there in Pennsylvania, he will lose. The panel is staying with us. When we return, as Hillary Clinton turns up the heat on Barack Obama, well, will he fight back, or will an angry Obama undermine his own image. You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s coverage of the Wyoming caucuses, won today, as you see, by Barack Obama.
Here we are again. We‘ll be right back, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: As we announced at 6:00 tonight with our first report, Barack Obama is the projected winner of the caucuses today in Wyoming. The Clinton campaign is taking shots at Barack Obama, the so-called kitchen sink strategy of theirs. It‘s a strategy that appeared to work in the states of Ohio and Texas on Tuesday. So what will Senator Obama do to counter it? Will he fight back hard and prove he has the mettle to take on the toughest with the tough? Or can he risk his image if he does so?
Here to answer those tough questions, a man who has been covering him for a long time. “The Chicago Tribune‘s” Jim Warren. When you think about the man, Barack Obama, is he ready to put up his dukes and land a Sunday punch on Hillary Clinton?
JIM WARREN, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: Well, clearly he has never been in a position where he‘s really had to. I mean, we forget in talking about his easy races that there was, you know, a couple of tough ones for state legislature. But, you know, Tucker is basically correct, it‘s not just the Alan Keyes race, there was a Democratic primary where everything absolutely fell his way. And I do think to that extent he was sort of the accidental candidate.
So has he shown in his past that he‘s got it within him? No, but does that mean he doesn‘t have the grit to do it? I might argue if you look closely at the Illinois legislative record of his, particularly in dealing with some tough issues like the earned income tax credit, like the death penalty, at a time when the Republicans ran the legislature he was pretty tough and pretty accommodating at the same time.
Now, if I‘m him, Chris, I think one of the first things I‘m doing right now here in Chicago, I‘ve got David Axelrod, my old colleague and a bunch of other folks, including the speechwriters in a room and I‘m doing a complete 100 percent makeover of that stump speech for Pennsylvania. I am coming after Hillary Clinton on the economy, making quite clear that I‘ve got this past, which includes being a community organizer. I know what it is to be poor. I know about the plight of the folks in Mississippi when it came to Katrina. And I have kind of a visceral understanding about what it means to be in dire straits that she doesn‘t.
Ratchet it up on the economy. And secondly, they better deal with the Rezko situation. I mean, I‘m one who thinks that the Tony Rezko situation has been exaggerated, as far as its significance. But there is no doubt that there is a grocery list of questions that are still unanswered, and they have got to get that off the table.
So first I‘m going to revise that stump speech. I‘m going to tailor something to those voters in Pennsylvania. Not just the African Americans in Philadelphia. I‘m going to try to go after the women and those working class voters that are the core Clinton constituency by hammering away at the economy, by hammering away at NAFTA, and then I‘m also going to get ready to deal with questions from us and others with the Rezko situation and put that darn thing to rest.
MATTHEWS: How does he get a state like Pennsylvania, which is almost by its nature, truer north in Pennsylvania is just about 50 percent—it‘s either, you know, a conservative Democrat or a liberal Republican. It never really varies very much. Rick Santorum was an aberration. It‘s ate state that doesn‘t like radical extremes. How does he come in there with a radical campaign of change, big time change campaign, no more Iraq, no more this, no more than, and still appeal to the basic caution of the Pennsylvania voter? How does he do it?
WARREN: Well, I go back to what seemed to have worked in some states when you talk about states like Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia. Remember, he depleted some of that core Clinton constituency. The older women, the working class voters. The lower income whites. Look what happened in Virginia. It worked and it wasn‘t simply change, change, change, the old is bad, the new is better.
I think he connected with folks in a certain way, which is why I think you‘ve got to do a total makeover of that stump speech and make it all about the economy, and then roll the dice and don‘t simply concede the state to her.
MATTHEWS: Well, I do know one thing from talking to one of his top people, the Chaka Fata (ph) congressman from Philadelphia told me one of their big messages is going to be aimed at seniors, by saying they‘re going to get rid of all tax conversation by people who make over $50,000 a year when they‘re retired and get rid of that cap in terms of how much we‘re paying in payroll taxes above $100,000 so the wealthier people will pay for the Social Security solvency and the seniors across the board will benefit from that reform.
So I think they thought through at least that part of the hard economic message. Anyway, Jim Warren, of the “Chicago Tribune,” sir, thank you for joining us tonight.
MATTHEWS: Up next, the fight for Pennsylvania. Bill Clinton‘s already been to Philadelphia. Can Obama hold his own with the Clinton‘s in the Keystone State? Radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and E. Stephen Collins are coming back to talk about Pennsylvania. We‘re about to do that polka up there. You‘re watching HARDBALL only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Wyoming caucuses.
Barack Obama, the projected winner there. Out west over Hillary Clinton. On April 22nd, Pennsylvania holds its primary. It is the next primary in the fight for the Democratic nomination. A hundred fifty eight delegates are at stake in the Keystone State and already the state is red hot with politics.
We‘re joined right now by two radio talk show hosts from Philadelphia.
Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins.
Michael, thank you for joining us. I was getting a rundown of what happened at the meeting of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia yesterday, 67 ward leaders. What a meeting. Bill Clinton scheduled to speak for 30 minutes, spoke for an hour and a quarter. And they sat in rapt attention. You couldn‘t hear a sound.
In comes the youngest member of congress, an Iraq War veteran, Bucks County, has three of the wards up north in Philadelphia northeast area, and it looked like a pretty much a victory for Bill Clinton. What do you make of the situation?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think that—I think it was a victory for Obama, frankly. I disagree with you and I‘ll tell you why. The political leadership in this state, Governor Rendell, mayor Michael Nutter has lined up for Hillary Clinton—Clinton was there, President Clinton, to ask for that nod. Patrick Murphy asked that no endorsement be made. And he got what he was looking for. I‘ll tell you what I see significance in. I see significance in who was sent to address that room on behalf of Senator Obama. Patrick Murphy is typical. Emblematic of who the Obama campaign needs to reach. He‘s a white guy suburbanite, and that‘s what this thing is going to come down to, I think, on April 22nd. So they didn‘t go with Ted Kennedy, they didn‘t go with John Kerry, they didn‘t go with a big name from out of town, they went with Patrick Murphy, and Bucks County is a critical county.
MATTHEWS: E. Steven, your thoughts about the suburban strategy of the Obama campaign, the strategy which I have heard is 95 percent suburban right now, but go ahead.
E. STEVEN COLLINS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think a couple things. First, Mike is the reality is the leadership expected, as many of us thought, the Democratic City Committee would choose one or the other. We were leaning toward Clinton‘s sense, as you know, the governor here is in fact supporting him. The head of the—many—the city leadership, Mike Nutter and the outgoing mayor John Street, are all supporting the Clintons.
But what occurred, the chairman of the party, Brady (ph) said it‘s clear to him he needs to hear from all the ward leaders. He didn‘t go out there. He waited. And I think that was a huge victory for Obama, given everything we know. Remember, our state has this theory that it‘s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and in the middle there‘s Alabama. People forget, Obama won in Alabama and he did that with bringing people, all these people together, and he did it again today out West.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s Alabama and there‘s Alabama. I think the ...
COLLINS: You can‘t take it away from him, though.
MATTHEWS: The Pennsylvania Alabama has a largely white population, to be perfectly truthful.
COLLINS: You can‘t marginalize and that‘s the point I‘m making. You can‘t stick him in the corner here.
MATTHEWS: I talked with Congressman Brady and this is public information I wouldn‘t share, that they do tend to have both candidates in the meeting room next time, not surrogates, not Bill Clinton, not Pat Murphy. Michael, they‘re going to have Senator Clinton come in there and have Senator Obama with a real face to face with those 67 ward leaders. Do you think they might endorse after that?
SMERCONISH: No. I don‘t think anybody gets the endorsement. I also think the political junkies like the three of us read sometimes too much into this. Because in the end, it‘s not the type of an election where, you know, a guy or a lady comes up to a precinct polling place, a division in Philly and a ward leader or committee person says, can you give me some play here for Barack Obama?
The folks who come out to vote on April 22nd, they know what they‘re going to do. It‘s not a row office kind of an election. What it can do is help drive the base for both of those candidates. But I don‘t put too much significance in this. And frankly, I don‘t think Brady does, either.
MATTHEWS: E. Steven, can we talk the real politics of Philly? I know something about how it‘s done. No, when you go into a black ward, you don‘t expect the ward to go for Hillary Clinton in a race like this, they‘re going to go for Barack Obama. That‘s the pattern. Go to your brother-in-law, you go to a couple union guys, you go to a couple neighbors you‘ve done favors for, give me some votes her, just feed me some crumbs. Then add that up at the end of the day and surprisingly Senator Clinton has gotten votes she never thought she would have gotten, nobody notices until all the votes are counted. That‘s how you work the wards. Michael, you‘re act being like this is a ...
SCERMONISH: This is not the register of wills. Come on. This is not the judge of election or the register of wills or the city commissioner.
COLLINS: I totally agree with you. I thin we‘re dealing right now with a situation where you‘re looking at the evolution of a sea change. And Pennsylvania is going to demonstrate—let me just point out, first of all, there are a number of people in the state who respect—black and white—who respect Hillary Clinton. There are a lot of people that are black who support Hillary Clinton. So you can‘t just dismiss that, nor can you say the only real support is an ethnic pride position by African Americans for Obama.
People look at him and they see his merit and what he brings. And I think you‘re going to see that throughout the suburban areas. Remember also when Ed Rendell ran and was successful, he won by taking Philadelphia and the 16 key counties throughout then closest to this city. And the rest of the state did what it did. But Ed Rendell won.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s six counties, but go ahead.
SMERCONISH: Chris, my advice for the Obama campaign, not that they‘ve called to seek it, is you‘ve been talking about what should the message be and what should the message be for Pennsylvania. Regardless of the message, the way in which its delivered I think needs to change. If I were calling this shot and this is the former advance man in me, no more of those enormous rallies. It‘s time for him to go to Ninth Street. There aren‘t many Italians left on Ninth Street. But he‘s got to get down and girt dirty and more intimate. The question I think people are asking about him is there any there there?
MATTHEWS: First stop has got to be the HARDBALL college tour at the college or university of his choice. We put up the money, he just has to show up. It‘s a great opportunity to answer questions.
COLLINS: Keep in mind, guys, one important fact. After this Tuesday‘s election, this Tuesday coming, there is six and a half weeks for these guys to compete here in Philadelphia.
SMERCONISH: It‘s not enough time.
COLLINS: Come on, that‘s a ...
MATTHEWS: I‘ll tell you.
COLLINS: That‘s a tremendous amount of time.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve been hearing from the county chairmen, I‘ve been e-mailing back and forth with the county chairmen all over the state. I‘ve got to tell you, there‘s a lot of interest. They‘re sending us all their thoughts. We‘re going to be putting them on the air next week. This Pennsylvania is wildly interested in this race. Thank you very much, Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins. You guys make an interesting pair.
Up next, we‘ll get back to the roundtable to talk about where this campaign goes from here. This is HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Wyoming caucuses won tonight by Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: While Senator Obama campaigns on his plan to end the war, his top advisers tell people abroad that he will not rely on his own plan, should he become president. This is the latest example of promising the American people one thing on the campaign trail and telling people in other countries another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC‘s special coverage of the Wyoming caucuses won tonight by Barack Obama. We‘re back with our panel, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Eugene Robinson of the “Washington Post” and MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson, my colleague. We‘re joined right now by Air America radio‘s Rachel Maddow who‘s in Chickapee (ph), Mass. I don‘t know why but you‘re up there. I went out with somebody from Chickapee one time.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: Wow.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Rachel. Let me ask you about this, first of all. You weren‘t in the first half of the show but it has come up that there seems to be a disconnect between reality and the way the Clinton campaign has effectively launched reality in our heads which is Senator Clinton and her husband talk frequently and freely about asking the possibility of asking Barack Obama to join their winning ticket as vice presidential running mate, ignoring the public fact, we thought, that they‘re 140-some delegates behind and unlikely to catch up in elected delegates. Who‘s winning the battle of illusion or the battle of reality, I should say?
MADDOW: I feel like both campaigns are a little bit out of reality. Because it doesn‘t make sense to me, if you get away from the trees and look at the forest, why are they fighting so hard to beat each other up to win Wyoming and Mississippi and all of these places when no matter what they win between here and the first week of June when these contests end, neither of them can get 2,025. They‘re only auditioning for the superdelegates at this point. And it‘s a stupid audition if the grounds on which you‘re chosen are the grounds on which you beat up the other candidate. I don‘t understand what either of them are doing right now instead of trying to end this thing and turn their fire on McCain.
MATTHEWS: Well, they want to have the most delegates.
MADDOW: They want to have the most delegates but they can‘t get a decisive number of delegates. They can only do that through the supers. And the supers are only going to decide at Denver, and at Denver it‘s too late to beat McCain, honestly.
MATTHEWS: I don‘t get that. You‘re saying it doesn‘t matter who wins the most elected delegates because the superdelegates will decide it.
MADDOW: The superdelegates are going to decide it. Neither of them can get to 2,025 pledged delegates.
MATTHEWS: I thought they‘d based on who is most electable and the number of that would be the person who has won the most elections.
MADDOW: I think if all the superdelegates were going to go with who had the most pledged delegates regardless of whether or not they got the threshold there wouldn‘t be any controversy. But the superdelegates have given no indication they‘re going to do something that simple.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t think the superdelegates can go against the winner of the pledged delegates unless the other one won the popular vote.
MADDOW: I‘ve heard plenty of superdelegates ...
BUCHANAN: The superdelegates have got to go with them and that‘s all there is to it. I do think this is very, very important. The problem here, Chris, is I see Obama‘s problem. This is a security, stability state. They want to know, mom-and-pop, are we going to get our income, is junior going to have his job at the mill, or are they going to send the mill over to China, too? That‘s the kind of state Pennsylvania is.
And I agree with whoever said that he‘s got to get off these forums with all these students. I don‘t know exactly what message he‘s got that really competes with Hillary on the economy.
ROBINSON: I think his message is his change message. He just has to translate it into new language. He has to translate.
BUCHANAN: Change to old people, Gene, is death.
ROBINSON: No. Not necessarily, Pat. Not necessarily.
BUCHANAN: That‘s the change.
ROBINSON: Change is not always death.
BUCHANAN: Old people don‘t want change.
MATTHEWS: Change would be a real health care solution.
ROBINSON: Even white ethnics in Philadelphia can be hopeful. Can have hope. Can see a better way of doing politics and see a better way of doing international relations. It‘s possible. Yes, they can.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, let me get you in here, please.
CARLSON: Let me just say in the minds of a lot of political people there is a very thin line between hopefulness and weakness. Hillary Clinton‘s rationale, the entire rationale for her campaign going forward is ruthless. I am ruthless. I am tough. She can‘t point to discrete foreign policy experiences, but she can point to her temperament. And I think that‘s more impressive to superdelegates than it is to the rest of us. I think, again, it is much more impressive for people who do politics for a living than those who observe politics for a living, who tend to be turned off by it.
MATTHEWS: Tucker, you are very deft with this, in other words, when she heard that Samantha Powers called her a monster the other day she should have said, you‘re damned right I‘m a monster.
CARLSON: And it takes a monster to run this country. That‘s exactly right.
MATTHEWS: She went the other way but that would have been a deft move, maybe.
CARLSON: It would also be the truth ...
MATTHEWS: Rachel, suppose she said, damned straight, I am a monster, that‘s what we need to run this country right now, to fight the bad guys.
MADDOW: That‘s what the endorsement of her on “Saturday Night Live” was essentially. Yeah we get stuff done. If you heard the endorsement, those were the terms.
MATTHEWS: We can‘t quote it here.
MADDOW: What Democrats want right now is somebody who is going to beat John McCain. As long as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not ending this thing, take it all the way to Denver, they are going to fight to the death, then neither of them is going to beat John McCain and that‘s what it comes down to.
MATTHEWS: He‘s saying he‘s not getting in a knife fight. She is suggesting she‘s in a knife fight. Does she look good holding a knife? Apparently not.
BUCHANAN: Tucker is dead right. She‘s coming off as one tough lady. You‘re not taking this thing away from me. She came back after Iowa. She came back again. She‘s going to fight, she‘s going right at this guy. Meet me in Ohio. I think a lot of people, Pennsylvanians like that.
MATTHEWS: If you lose, I‘ll give you the backseat. That‘s what she said.
BUCHANAN: We‘ll take care of the kid. He‘s going to be all right.
MATTHEWS: We‘ll give him some patronage.
MADDOW: I think Democrats want to see it ...
ROBINSON: This advice to—people seem to believe that Obama should just
kind of walk over and smack her one. He can‘t do that. He can‘t be too
BUCHANAN: He‘s not good at it. That‘s his problem.
ROBINSON: He can only do so much. Remember what happened to—what was it Lazio, her opponent ...
CARLSON: Rick Lazio.
MATTHEWS: He tried to her a subpoena. In a debate on television. He walks up and says, sign this.
ROBINSON: It wasn‘t a very good move.
MATTHEWS: Pat, you worked for a guy who knew how to do this. Ronald Reagan and Jack Kennedy knew how to do it. Jack Kennedy would say things you‘d just laugh they were so good. I don‘t recognize my words when they come out of Richard Nixon‘s mouth. He would tag them. He would list the things Nixon said against him and laugh at them.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. That mockery, all that tone.
MATTHEWS: It works.
BUCHANAN: It works. And with Reagan, he always had ...
MATTHEWS: There you go, Mr. President. Why can‘t Barack say, there she goes again with the same old mud.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know why. He can‘t. He hasn‘t shown the ability—he has shown some deftness at times, they think my voters are delusional. They laughed at that. But now she keeps cutting him and cutting him.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Rachel. We‘re into gender and ethnicity here. Is it tougher for an African American guy to take on a white woman? Is it tougher for a woman to be attacked? Is it easier for a woman to be attacked? Give me the latest anthropology on this if you can, if you dare.
MADDOW: I think it‘s a mine field, either way. If the lesson of Hillary Clinton‘s political career thus far is people are afraid to attack her because they don‘t want to be seen as attacking a woman, we‘ve missed the point of what we‘ve all seen her go through for the past couple of decades. People have been very happy to accuse her of everything killing Vince Foster to killing their cats. She‘s been attacked with everything.
I do think the attacking capacity is there.
MATTHEWS: She‘s not guilty of any of it, as far as we know, to use her phrase. I love that phrase. He‘s not a Muslim, as far as I know. I love that. That has got to be one of the great put-down lines in the history politics. He‘s not any of those things, as far as I know.
BUCHANAN: That is Nixonian.
MATTHEWS: That is so Nixon.
There are those who say he is. There are those who think he‘s a commie, but not me. Pat Buchanan used to be one of those—Eugene Robinson, Tucker Carlson, Rachel Maddow, all saying goodbye.
Join us again Monday night. It‘s over. At 5:00 and 7:00 Eastern. It‘s so much fun on Saturday. We should do this every week. On Tuesday, special coverage of the Mississippi primary. That begins at 10:00 Eastern. I‘ll be doing that, three shows on Tuesday night. Anyway, see you then.
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