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'Verdict with Dan Abrams' for March 31

Read the transcript to the Monday show

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Tonight: Al Gore says he won‘t resolve the Obama-Clinton race.  But other party leaders are now finding creative ways to basically say: Clinton, get out.

John McCain‘s media free pass continues, this time when it comes to the mortgage crisis.  Our segment: Teflon John is coming up.

And President Bush gets booed as he throws out the first pitch of the national season.

VERDICT starts now.

Welcome to the show.

We begin with the Democratic Party‘s coded call for Hillary Clinton to get out of the race.  They may use words like timetable, what‘s right for the party, avoiding a drawn out blood bath.  They all mean the same thing.  They want Clinton out.

And Al Gore, President Clinton‘s vice president does not seem prepared to stop the effort, to throw her off the Democratic train.


AL GORE, FMR. UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT:  They both called, and I appreciate that fact.

LESLEY STAHL, TV HOST:  And what about the idea of the honest broker who goes to the two candidates and helps push one of the other of them.

GORE:  Kind of a modern Boss Tweed?

STAHL:  Except his name would be Al Gore.

GORE:  Well, I‘m not applying for the job of a broker.


ABRAMS:  Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota endorsed Obama.  At least she‘s playing straight as did Senator Patrick Leahy when he called for Clinton to withdraw.  But according to, many more prominent Democrats are calling for superdelegates to hold a convention in June, months before the official convention in August.

Look, time is Clinton‘s greatest ally, so what they‘re really doing is calling for Clinton to get out.

Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean says the race should be settled by July—bad news for Clinton.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for superdelegates to follow the popular vote, which at this point would almost certainly mean voting for Obama.  Senate Leader Harry Reid told the “New York Times” this weekend, the race will be over long before the convention.

I‘m not sure how that happens unless Clinton is out.  The Democratic Party created a flawed system that apparently they‘ve come to despise.

Joining me now: Political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell; Democratic strategist, Tanya Acker; and, Kevin Madden, former press secretary to the Mitt Romney campaign.

All right.  Lawrence, do you agree with me?  I mean, this is basically the party leaders of the Democrats saying, in veiled words: Hillary Clinton, we want you out.

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, that is what they are saying, but one of the reasons they‘re saying it is they don‘t like the campaign she‘s been running.  She‘s been running, for them, much too much of an attack campaign on Obama which they think has been effective in the public mind, not necessarily effective enough for Democrat primary voters, but effective for general election voters.

And they don‘t want her to hang in here and help John McCain do the job of knocking down Barack Obama if Obama is going to be nominee.  If Hillary would tone down her campaign and run a much more positive campaign where she wasn‘t attacking Obama, I think you‘d see some of these calls for her to quit quite down.

ABRAMS:  Well, I don‘t—I agree with you to everything you said except the end.  I don‘t know that there was ever be chance now to turn back the clock.  You‘ve heard all of them now calling for this early convention.

And, Tanya, I mean, look, I know that some people want to say, look, you know, what‘s the matter with that, there‘s no problem, but there is no question that if they are asked to make their decision in June with time as Hillary Clinton‘s greatest ally, that‘s bad news for Hillary Clinton.

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Well, let‘s also not forget that Hillary Clinton has an incredibly well-organized political machine.  So, let‘s not suggest that by virtue of having this pre-convention convention in June where the superdelegates would meet and make their voices heard in somewhat early passion, that she would be so compromised as to be out of it.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  She would be out of it.  I mean, that‘s my point.  She would be finished.  That if they do it in June, you can say whatever they want, but the bottom line is: the result is going to be goodbye Hillary Clinton.

ACKER:  The lobbying that she intends to do, the superdelegates

between now and August, you know, the big pushy that she wants to make,

she‘ll just have to do it a lot faster, query whether or not it will be

effective.  You know, look -

ABRAMS:  Come on.  I mean, it‘s not that I disagree with you.

ACKER:  The notion that she can get her things together.  Hillary‘s got a big machine.  I‘m not saying it‘s going to work.

ABRAMS:  Look, Kevin, let me play this piece of sound from Bill Clinton, all right?  This is Bill Clinton.


BILL CLINTON, FMR. UNITED STATES PRESIDENT:  Don‘t you let anybody tell you that somehow we are weakening the Democrat Party.  Chill out, we‘re going to win this election if we just chill out and let everybody have their say.


ABRAMS:  I mean, Kevin, look, that‘s the Clinton position, OK?  Let‘s be clear, the Clinton position is: let‘s take our time, let‘s let this go to convention.

But it does seem to me there‘s something troubling about the fact that the Democrat Party created a system that goes from January to June.  They were the ones who created this, with all these superdelegates, and the idea that these superdelegates can decide whatever they want.  I have a problem with that, but that‘s the system they created it.  And now they realized, you know what, it doesn‘t work so well, so let‘s try and truncate it.

KEVIN MADDEN, FMR. ROMNEY PRESS SECRETARY:  Well, sure and that‘s the sound of Bill Clinton and rest of the Clinton machine that Tanya described begging in.  They‘re not going anywhere.

They fully believe that if you look at the metrics that they‘re

looking at, that they‘re only behind by less than 1 percent in the popular

vote and they‘re only about 110 delegates behind, that they feel that this

the way the system is built is something that they can overcome, that these are odds that they can take over and still win this thing.

So, you know, but I rarely run into Democrats nowadays, Dan, that are not dispirited about not only the process of this, but the prospect of this going on and on.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Let me read this.  This is from  It‘s number 10.

“There is general panic among Democrats.”  This is from an anonymous Democratic strategist who supports Hillary Clinton, OK?  This is a Clinton supporter.

“There is general panic among Democrats.  The big question is: does she walk to the door or is she shown to the door?”

And I think that that, I mean, Lawrence, it seems to me that if you‘re going to be honest about what people are saying, that‘s what the Democrat Party establishment is basically saying now.  They believe that for the sake of their party they need to get rid of Hillary Clinton.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, and they believe that, because the Democratic Party made an unbelievably stupid mistake in scheduling their convention for the last week of August.  They‘ve never had one that late before.  They saw the Republicans run one a little bit later than that actually last time around and they thought, hey, that‘s a winning formula.

It worked once for President Bush.  It was a bad idea for them.  You know, the Kerry convention was in July.  The big problem is: the last votes are cast in the primary season in June and they don‘t have the convention until August.  So now they‘re saying, let‘s really have our convention in June, and that‘s not going to work.

ABRAMS:  But I mean, all of these people were saying let‘s not change

the rules.  When I was saying how terrible superdelegates are, are now

saying, let‘s change the rules about when this vote takes place.  I mean,

it‘s crazy.  But, Tanya, let me ask you -

O‘DONNELL:  But it won‘t be a real vote.  If you have a vote in June, it‘s going to be a fake vote, there‘s no delegate will be hold to it.

ABRAMS:  Yes, I understand, but you know what it‘s going to effectively mean.

All right.  Let me read this.  This is from Governor Rendell, a huge Hillary supporter.  And Tanya, I want you to respond to this, all right?

He says, “Just flip it for a second.  Let‘s say Senator Clinton was ahead by about 110 delegates and ahead by less than 1 percent of the vote cast and she and her supporters started to call on Senator Obama to get out.  Just picture what the media would be saying.  They‘d be saying you‘re being racist.”

What do you make of it?

ACKER:  That‘s silly.  I mean, one, that sure plays into this absurd notion, that any time anybody criticizes Barack Obama, that he and his supporters automatically play the race card, which is just flat wrong.

But secondly, it‘s a close election.  It‘s always been a close election.  If Barack Obama is ultimately the Democratic nominee, it likely will not be a land slide.  No one has ever suggested that it would be.  And so, if he gets that, if he gets that by the skin of his teeth, then he gets the nomination.  I don‘t understand Governor Rendell‘s point at all.  It‘s a bit silly.

ABRAMS:  My primary concern is this is there‘s a lot of dishonesty going on, there‘s a lot of winking and nodding going on right now among the Democratic elite where they‘re sort of using these kind of almost lawyerly terms.  Well, you know, we‘re just saying let‘s revisited the timetable, et cetera, the bottom line is: They are saying, let‘s get Clinton out.

OK.  All right.  Time now for Teflon John: While most of the media focus on Clinton and Obama and continue to give John McCain pretty much of a free ride, we‘re keeping an eye on Teflon John as well.

Hillary Clinton is getting hammered today by many because her campaign manager has ties to a subprime mortgage company.  Today, we also learned, Teflon John has two advisers with ties to the subprime mortgage crisis, a fact McCain must have forgotten to mention during his straight talk economic speech last week.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, ® PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My friends, let‘s start with some straight talk.  I will not play election year politics with the housing crisis.  I will evaluate everything, in terms of whether it might be harmful or helpful to our effort to deal with the crisis we face now.


ABRAMS:  The “New York Daily News” reports that, quote, “John Green, the senator‘s chief liaison to Congress, and Wayne Berman, his national finance co-chairman, billed more than $720,000 in lobbying fees from 2005 through last year to Ameriquest Mortgage, Ameriquest which since has been bought out, was force to settle law suits with 49 states for $325 million.”

Kevin, it sure feels like no one talks about the McCain link.  They talked about Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, but it seems that Teflon John, again, escapes any sort of scrutiny.

MADDEN:  Oh, this is why I have to disagree with you again, Dan.  Look, McCain‘s greatest perceived liability in this race is now his greatest strength.  I mean, if you look at the fact that John McCain compared to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he‘s probably raised less money than a lot of the big players in this mortgage.  That‘s one point.

The second point is, the reporters hate more than anything, they hate hypocrisy.  And what you‘ve seen is Hillary Clinton essentially go out there and assigns blame to the industry, go out there and assign blame to lenders.

Whereas John McCain has gone out there but an honest broker on the issue, he said look, there‘s been bad actors on both the lending side and there‘s bad actors on the speculator side.  And what we need to do is solve the crisis.

Now, look, there‘s one other point, Dan.  You have to remember this,

is that there‘s only two jobs protected by the United States Constitution,

lobbyists and reporters.  So, these guys are allowed to do that -


ABRAMS:  Tanya, it‘s not a question of being allowed.  It‘s the fact that every time one of these issues comes up with Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama - look, we do it on this show, but everyone else does it, and they don‘t do these segments like Teflon John, most of them, where they take the media to task to see, wait a second, where all going after Clinton and Obama over these issues but McCain has the same problem.

Let me let Tanya.  Go ahead, Tanya.

ACKER:  A completely free pass, he‘s been given a complete free pass.  Now, it may be that it‘s because in his economic speech he basically believes that the government should just sit back and hope that lenders and borrowers work it out and his is more of a hands-off policy.

So, then, you know, the media feels there‘s no real inconsistency there but, I think, the bigger point is simply that he‘s getting a free pass.  People aren‘t paying attention to him and they are taking him to task for what will really be a really laissez-faire economic policy as evidence by the people who are informing (ph).

ABRAMS:  As you know, Kevin, we talked about how it works not just this issue.  I mean, the bottom line that, you know, these two campaigns have ties to the mortgage crisis, the fact that he missed 56 percent of Senate votes since January 2007, more than any other non-hospitalized senator.  No one covered that.

He flip-flopped on whether we‘re in a recession.  He flip-flopped on tax increases.  I mean, this is in addition to the horrible week he had two weeks ago that almost no one covered.  I mean, that‘s my problem.  Kevin, final word, you get it.

MADDEN:  Well, I‘d just think that Tanya brought it up.  I mean, John McCain has had a very studied and long history on all of these issues and he‘s also made it very clear that he‘s not somebody who‘s going to be persuaded by special interests.  He, in fact, he‘s made a reputation in the city as being somebody who‘s fought against special interests.

ABRAMS:  But the question is, I know that‘s the tagline, the question is: whether there has been influence by special interests and that‘s the sort of stuff that we‘re going to follow and not just to say, it‘s straight talk express, therefore it must be straight talk.

MADDEN:  Those mortgage guys simply put their money on the Democrats.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Kevin Madden, good to have you on the program again.  Appreciate it.

MADDEN:  Thanks, Dan.  And great to be with you.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence and Tanya are going to stick around.

So, what‘s your VERDICT on the campaign?  Do we have it right or wrong?

E-mail us:  Tell us what you think.  Be sure to include your name, where you‘re writing from.  We read emails every night in our P.O.‘ed box.

Coming up: Another college student asked Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky and again, she says, none of your business, but this student did not back down.  That debate is coming up.

Plus: Bill Clinton and his famous JFK moment.  Barack Obama tried to claim his own JFK connection, saying the Kennedy family helped bring Obama‘s father to the U.S.  The problem, it‘s not true.

We‘re On Their Trail: Separating campaign fact from fiction.

And next: The Housing secretary resigns amid allegations he‘s spared (ph) contracts towards Republican insiders.  It‘s the subject of tonight‘s Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back in 60 seconds.


ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.  A White House cabinet member quits amid cloud of suspicion and blames it on his family.

Today, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alfonso Jackson announced his resignation, citing, of course, personal and family matters, had nothing to do with investigation by the federal grand jury, the FBI, and the Justice Department into alleged cronyism and kickbacks to friends.  Amid the nationally meltdown, the Housing secretary suddenly decided this is a good time to spend some quality time at home.

Alfonso Jackson‘s excuses are another reason Why America Hates Washington.

We‘re back with Chelsea Clinton getting grilled over Monica Lewinsky again in a moment.


ABRAMS:  Welcome back.

Chelsea Clinton continues to reach out to college-age voters as she campaigns for her mom.  But it seems she can‘t get away from questions about her father‘s infamous sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky.  Another campaign stop, another student asking what affect the affair had on Hillary Clinton.

Once again, Chelsea dismissed the question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You responded saying it was none of that person‘s business.  And I would like to briefly say whether or not it‘s not our business and why that‘s so.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right, but I would like to know because unfortunately he was the president at that time.  So as American people, I feel that it is our business.

CLINTON:  But, sir, I respectfully disagree.  I think that is something that is personal to my family.  I‘m sure there are things that are personal to your family that you don‘t think are anyone else‘s business either.


ABRAMS:  Look, Chelsea shouldn‘t answer if she doesn‘t want to answer.  But it‘s tough for her to argue that anything related to the Lewinsky scandal, the aftermath, et cetera, are private matters.  It seems to me there she has to stop doing question and answer sessions while campaigning or she‘s got to say something.

MSNBC senior campaign correspondent Tucker Carlson is with us.  And still with us is Tanya Acker.  Tucker, what do you make of that?

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC SR. CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I think it‘s an awful question to ask her.  It‘s not her fault.  She didn‘t do anything wrong with Monica Lewinsky, but this is what happens when you use your daughter for political gain as the Clintons are, as they did during the Monica Lewinsky campaign.

She‘s certain to get asked this question and it‘s certain to be hurtful (ph).  Again, I‘m not defending the person who asked the question.  I think it‘s ugly to do that.

I would never ask a question like this of anybody‘s daughter, it‘s awful, but you got to know that‘s going to happen, and so, her parents shouldn‘t send her out there.  I mean, they‘re the ones to blame.

ABRAMS:  I agree.  Tanya, you disagree?

ACKER:  I do.  I think there are plenty of other things that Chelsea Clinton can speak to.  And, I think, the fact that this issue remains front and center is just an example of how substantively bankrupt the political conversation in this country currently is.

ABRAMS:  But Tanya, look, let‘s be honest about this.  I mean, I know that that should everyone says and I get it.  But the problem is when you got two candidates whose positions are pretty similar on many issues, being Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, you‘re going to have people digging for other issues that differentiate them.

And look, I‘m not, I agree with Tucker, I wouldn‘t have asked that question of her, it‘s kind of gross to sit there and ask the question but she‘s acting so outrage to this.  She‘s so upset that they asked this question, and I think that she can‘t be upset.

She‘s got to simply say, you know what, you know, for whatever reason, you know, we‘d decided, my family and I have decided that I‘m not going to answer these questions.  Ask my mother about it, ask my dad about it.  We‘d made a decision on that.

Instead, she‘s sort—the first time she was asked about it and she said I‘ve been to 70 college campuses and I don‘t think it‘s any of your business.  No one has ever asked that to me before.

ACKER:  Well, I think it‘s time that Chelsea Clinton or somebody involved in this drama stand up and say it really isn‘t anybody‘s business. 

And when you look at the issues that are facing this country right now:

health care, this war, economy - I think there are plenty of things -


ABRAMS:  But, Tanya, these are question and answer sessions.  These are students.  We can hope that it‘s just not what they want to talk about.

CARLSON:  Look, if the Clinton people wanted to talk about the details of Senator Clinton‘s policy, they would send out policy experts to do that.  They send out instead their daughter.  They‘re using their daughter for political gain for which they ought to be censured I believe by the rest of us.

Why are they doing that?  Why Chelsea instead of a policy expert?  Because Chelsea is more famous; they‘re using her star power for political gain.

Again, I don‘t think anybody should face a question that ugly.  But the Clintons are responsible for this.  Would you send your daughter out if you were Bill Clinton?  Of course not, because you know that she would be asked this.  But they did.

ABRAMS:  Tanya, quick response and I want to play Hillary Clinton responding this.  Go ahead.

ACKER:  Chelsea Clinton serves a valuable function in this campaign.  You know, she can help connect her mother with younger voters.  There are issues that younger voters care about and frankly, I don‘t think that one of them is her father‘s affair.

ABRAMS:  Well, here‘s Hillary Clinton answering questions about it on “The Tyra Banks” show.


TYRA BANKS, HOST:  Were you embarrassed?


BANKS:  I would be embarrassed.

CLINTON:  Well sure, I mean, all of that, but I also - I was just praying so hard and thinking so hard about what‘s right to do, that I couldn‘t let anything else interfere with that.


ABRAMS:  Tanya, look, bottom line is that it didn‘t happen to her either and she‘s talking about it.

ACKER:  And, you know, if Hillary Clinton chose to talk about it, then, that‘s her prerogative.  I think that asking Chelsea these questions is out of line, inappropriate, and salacious.  There‘s nothing to be gained.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Tanya gets the final word on that.  Tucker is going to stay with us.  Tanya, good to see you.  Thanks a lot.

Coming up: Obama is out with a new ad, painting himself as completely independent from the oil industry.  Well, the thing is: he‘s taking campaign cash from oil industry workers.

We‘re On Their Trail: Keeping track of the candidates‘ misstatements and cheap shots.

And: CNN had a great idea for a brand new segment.  They called it “Beat the Press,” where they take the media to task.  Does it sound familiar?  How are we going to deal with that?

Coming up in the one and only: Beat the Press up next.


ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s Beat the Press.

First up: On “Beat the Press,” apparently the creative people over on CNN have gotten so useless that they‘re not just emulating our show, now they‘re copying it.


TOM FOREMAN, TV HOST:  Let‘s play “Beat the Press.”


ABRAMS:  “Beat the Press.”  What a great idea for a regular segment where they go after the media.  Imitations are sincerest form of flattery, but this is pure intellectual thievery.  We‘re keeping an eye on you and I hope CNN contributor and “Washington Post” TV critic, Howard Kurtz is as well.  He said this after citing one of our segments this weekend.


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR:  It‘s healthy for anchors and commentators at every network to challenge their colleagues, to challenge our business rather than marching in lockstep with them.


ABRAMS:  Agreed, but CNN should come up with its own format and not just march in lockstep behind us.  I hope Howard is ready to call out his colleagues.

Next up: Continue with CNN and their latest effort to treat their viewers like idiots, in a special about mortgage meltdown they took a page from Nickelodeon, and they have put to help the cartoons and scary monsters to try to explain recessions and depressions.


QUESTION:  Recession, the scary monster under the bed.  But what is it?

ANSWER:  A recession is 2/3 quarters of negative GDP growth -

ANNOUCER:  Scary, right?  Not as scary as recessions nasty big brother, depression.


ABRAMS:  It can be complicated, but I‘m pretty sure news viewers would have understood the difference without the monsters.

Finally: In that same mortgage special, CNN seemed to think that faking it there are some sort of poker table makes the show hip and cool.


ANNOUNCER:  We are here to wheel and deal with the few modern-day movers and shakers.


ABRAMS:  Let‘s see the Paul Krugman one again in slow mo.  The guy—the guy is a well respected “New York Times” columnist, don‘t turn him into a fake gladiator.  But it gets worst.  They sit at the table and actually deal cards.  It‘s clear they know which ones are coming.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Tonight, we will talk about the housing crisis and all of the problems since then affecting the economy.  We have a great group of guests tonight to play this game and let me turn over the first card.  Subprime.


ABRAMS:  Play this game?  The only game they are playing is how much can we condescend to the viewers with the fake set, fake cards and incredibly insulting cartoons—and on top of that, we steal Dan Abrams‘ Beat the Press segment.

We need your help Beating the Press.  If you see anything right, wrong, amusing or absurd, go to our Web site: and leave us the tip in the box.  Please include the show and the time you saw the item.

Up next: We‘re On Their Trail, keeping track of the candidates‘ misstatements and cheap shots.  Hillary Clinton is railing to get to the mortgage industry over the fees they charge.  One problem: Her campaign manager turns out was part of that industry.

And later: The campaigns‘ best political parodies.

Coming up.


ABRAMS:  Welcome back.  Coming up, “Reality Bites” for presidents and presidential wannabes.  President Bush gets a rough reception as he throws out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game, booed by the fans. 

And Barack Obama takes it into the gutter, the gutter ball it is, proving he may be - give a good speech, but bowling, not his game. 

Plus the biggest winners of this campaign comedians.  We have more of the best of the year‘s political parodies. 

But first, hypocrisy gone wild on the Democratic campaign trail.  Obama busted as he tried to take a little Kennedy family credit.  And as Clinton champions the fight for universal healthcare, her campaign hasn‘t quite, well, paid its health insurance bills. 

As always, we‘re “On Their Trail,” assessing the day‘s biggest misstatements, cheap shots and blunders.  Here to help separate fact from fiction, cheap shot from fair game, MSNBC senior campaign correspondent, Tucker Carlson and political analyst Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

First up, just a week after Hillary Clinton‘s Bosnia claims were blown apart by the press, now Obama finds himself investigated by the fact police.  At issue, Obama crediting the Kennedy family for bringing his father to America.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The Kennedys decided, “We‘re going to do an air lift.  We‘re going to go out to Africa.  And we‘re going to start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so that they can learn what a wonderful country America is.”  And this young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. 


ABRAMS:  Problem?  He didn‘t.  Barack Obama, Sr. came to America through an airlift in September of 1959.  The Kennedy family wasn‘t even approached about sponsoring an airlift until a year later in September of 1960.  The Obama camp now acknowledging this misstatement saying the Kennedy‘s involvement, quote, “It started 48 years ago, not 49 years ago as Obama has mistakenly suggested in the past.”

Look, if the Obama camp wants to make a big issue of Hillary‘s false Bosnia claims, I think they‘ve got to be very careful on this kind of historical issue, Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, POLITICAL ANALYST:  Not even close.  This was a very understandable mistake.  All the tape we had to use was over a year old to show Obama saying that.  The Bosnia mistake is something else.  It‘s specifically central to Hillary Clinton‘s claim on the presidency based on her experience and based on her experience as first lady.  This thing is way too outside of the strike zone for me.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Tucker, listen to Howard Wolfson talking about this and I want you to respond. 


HOWARD WOLFSON, HILLARY CLINTON‘S SPOKESPERSON:  The Obama campaign had to admit that Sen. Obama had misspoke with regard to his family‘s involvement with the Kennedys.  So in the campaign - in a long campaign, people will misspeak. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO HOST, “MORNING JOE”:  But do you think that compares? 

WOLFSON:  Sen. Obama has done it and Sen. Clinton has done it.


ABRAMS:  All right.  You hear Mika on “Morning Joe” there, Tucker, saying, “Does that compare?”  Does it compare?

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC SENIOR CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT:  No, of course not.  He was talking about a historical event and he got it wrong.  She was talking about something that she purportedly did fewer than ten years ago that turned out to be at total whopper.  I think what‘s very disturbing about Obama‘s statement that you just is his faux southern accent that he effects.  He grew up in Hawaii, why is he talking that way? 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.

CARLSON:  That‘s a good question, though. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, you know, interesting.  But on this one, I agree with both of you, this is not comparable to Bosnia, because in one case you are there and in the other case, you are not born.  So this one goes against Obama, though.  He still gets a strike of the night for this one. 

Next up, Clinton has been making universal healthcare a centerpiece of her message across the country.  So when her campaign released its latest financial reports, it was pretty surprising to see them in the hole, more than $290,000 in unpaid health insurance bills.  Clinton blunder. 

The campaign insists no services were denied as a result of the unpaid bills.  And tonight, tell NBC News the bills have now been paid.  But some of those bills were more than two months old.  Tucker, it just doesn‘t look good when the campaign crusading for universal healthcare doesn‘t pay its own healthcare bills on time. 

CARLSON:  Are you saying that this is hypocrisy at the heart of limousine liberalism?  I think you‘re onto something, Dan.  I think the bigger problem is not that her staff went without healthcare.  They didn‘t apparently.  But the system is affected when you do things like this. 

If you want to improve the healthcare system, and that‘s Hillary‘s whole reason for being on this earth, as she explains day after day.  You probably ought not to stiff the very system you are trying to keep afloat, right?

ABRAMS:  Lawrence?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, it also shows how difficult Hillary‘s mandate is.  Remember, Hillary wants to make it a crime, in effect, to not pay those health insurance premiums.

CARLSON:  Exactly.

O‘DONNELL:  And so for her campaign, there is a little extra pressure on this, and it is a serious blunder in those terms.  I mean if there is one bill in that campaign that they should have kept an eye on, it‘s this one.  Let the phone bill go a couple months, OK.  But not this.

CARLSON:  That‘s such a smart point.  She would make this a crime. 


ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  We‘re giving Clinton a strike on this one, leaving us tied at one strike each.  Next up, Obama out with a new campaign ad in Pennsylvania, touting his independence from oil companies. 


OBAMA:  I‘m Barack Obama.  I won‘t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won‘t let them block change anymore.


ABRAMS:  I‘m ruling this one misleading.  By law, oil companies can‘t give money direct to politicians.  No company can do that.  But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barack Obama has taken more than $200,000 from oil and gas industry employees and two of his campaign bundlers are oil and gas company CEOs.  Lawrence, is the Obama camp here is trying to spin this by saying he doesn‘t take pack(ph) money from oil companies?  But come on.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.  He is trying to get a holier-than-thou position on something where none of them are really holier than the other ones.  And you know, look, this issue always bothers me a little bit because there is the great old saying that Jesse Unruh, a great California politician said, once said, that, you know, “If you can‘t drink their booze, take their money and vote against them, then you don‘t belong in this business.” 

And so we get too linear in this in assuming that if people from an industry contribute to a politician, then that politician automatically will do what they will say.  That‘s the formula of this that bothers me that they all use, by the way, though, against each other. 

ABRAMS:  I want to move on from this one because I want to talk to Tucker about the next one.  Obama gets the strike here, giving us two strikes against Obama, one against Clinton.  Next up, Clinton has been crusading against mortgage lenders that assess steep penalties against borrowers. 


CLINTON:  I also call for greater regulation of mortgage lenders.  I would eliminate the prepayment penalties that lead to such high rates of default. 


ABRAMS:  The problem?  Clinton‘s campaign manager, Maggie Williams worked on the board of a mortgage lender that assessed that very type of penalty.  William sat on the board of Delta Financial Corporation from April 2000 until this past December, earning about $200,000.  

Tucker, I don‘t see how this comes out as anything but a Clinton blunder. 

CARLSON:  Who cares?  I mean don‘t find it embarrassing at all.

ABRAMS:  Really?

CARLSON:  This is a legal - Look, this is a campaign that takes money

from people who perform abortions for a living and is proud of it.  So it‘s

not like - you know what I mean?  There are all kinds of people -

ABRAMS:  But at least, they‘re consistent.  Look, their consistency -

CARLSON:  Well, no, you are right - Just because she - I mean hate to defend Hillary here, but I think on the merits she deserves a defense. 

Because she was on the board of some company - I mean it don‘t mean that

Hillary Clinton is insincere on her views on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  And by the

way, these are voluntary mortgages.  Nobody took out a mortgage at

gunpoint.  How wimpy is this country that everyone -


ABRAMS:  That‘s a separate position.  But the problem is, Lawrence, that Tucker is taking a position which is not one that the Clinton campaign would take on this issue. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right.  Right, the problem in these stories for the politician is that it gives seeds to the notion they are not really sincere about the policy position they are enunciating.  And that‘s just something you can‘t afford in close races.  I think this one is going to blow over, but the extent of the problem.

ABRAMS:  This is going to blow over quickly. 

CARLSON:  Well, there‘s just one thing -

ABRAMS:  Really quickly.

CARLSON:  Every person who has invested in almost anything has a hand in these sub-prime mortgages because they have all been made into bonds.  I mean, basically, all of America is implicated in this.  You can‘t get away from this.  We‘re all tainted.

ABRAMS:  This is her campaign manager and as a result, I‘m going to rule this against Clinton.  I think you guys would probably agree with me on that one.  Still bad for Clinton, giving us two strikes for Clinton and two for Obama going into the final round. 

Obama speaking to a crowd in Pennsylvania Saturday tying to explain why he is against abstinence-only sex education and for educating children on prevention like birth control. 


OBAMA:  Look, I‘ve got two daughters, nine years old and six years old.  I‘m going to teach them, first of all, about values and morals.  But if they make a mistake, I don‘t want them punished with a baby. 


ABRAMS:  Oops.  The substance of what he‘s saying is not the problem as far as I‘m concerned, but the words, “punished with a baby.”  I‘m going to give Obama a blunder on this.  He can now count seeing that quote in a GOP attack ad if he ends up getting the nomination.  Tucker, if you‘re advising John McCain, does that become an attack ad?

CARLSON:  I don‘t think you have to be some kind of screaming right winger to think that‘s an ugly thing to say.  I mean I‘ve got four kids.  I don‘t see babies as punishment.  They are great.  I mean -  I don‘t know.  There are a lot of punishments in this world.

ABRAMS:  Tucker, you would agree it was probably a misstatement.  He

doesn‘t actually -

CARLSON:  Look, I give everybody the benefit of the doubt whether I agree with them or not.  If you are talking for 19 hours a day, you‘re going to screw up.  But I do think it‘s worth asking - is it a punishment to have a baby?  I mean, I don‘t know.  It‘s an ugly thing to say, whether he meant it or not. 

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, look.  You know what his answer would be, right.  I mean, Lawrence, you are Barack Obama, OK?  And you‘ve just been asked the question that Tucker just laid out.  What‘s the answer?

O‘DONNELL:  Well, he‘s just going to say I don‘t mean it that it‘s a punishment.  We all know exactly what he meant - exactly what he meant - and some people will pretend they don‘t know what he meant. 

John McCain, eight years ago, said essentially the same thing and got himself in trouble with Republicans when he said if his daughter got pregnant and wanted an abortion, they would have a family meeting about it, and they would go with the daughter‘s.  It would be up to her.  Obama is saying the same thing.  “I would support my kids in that situation.”  Sixty percent of America agree with Obama and John McCain on that issue.

ABRAMS:  But that‘s on the substance, Lawrence.  You‘d agree with me that words are a bad choice, right?

O‘DONNELL:  Yes, but I don‘t think it‘s going to hurt him.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Agreed.

O‘DONNELL:  Everyone knows that the Democrats are for abortion. 

ABRAMS:  But as a result, the words - bad choice of words.  I think it‘s going to end up in an attack ad.  Mark my words, we shall see.  I‘m going to give Obama as a result the strike here, giving us a final score of three strikes against Obama and two for Clinton tonight.  Tucker Carlson, great to have you on the program. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Lawrence, as always, appreciate it. 

Up next, the campaign makes for good comedy; more of the best political parodies.  And President Bush gets booed throwing out the first while Obama throws several gutter balls.  “Reality Bites,” political style, coming up in 60 seconds.


ABRAMS:  Time for “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape. 

Tonight, it wasn‘t a good weekend for presidents or candidates in sports.  First, Barack Obama on Saturday went bowling for votes while campaigning in Pennsylvania.  It was not pretty, throwing gutter ball after gutter ball for a score of just 37.  Afterwards, he said he hadn‘t bowled since the Carter administration. 

And President Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at last night‘s Washington National season opener.  And while the avid baseball fan and former owner to a decent pitch, he tried and didn‘t the fan response he was looking for as he was widely booed by the sellout crowd there for the inaugural game of Washington‘s National Park.  We‘ll be right back.


ABRAMS:  Welcome back.  If you missed Friday night‘s show, you‘re in luck.  We played the best parodies of the campaign trail.  It was so well-received.  We updated it a bit.  Here now some of our favorite and most controversial parodies and impressions of the presidential candidates. 


AMBER LEE ETTINGER, “OBAMA GIRL”(sung):  I read “The Washington Post” but every page I see your face/ The headlines in the “Daily Kos” say that you‘ve crept into this race/ I know Obama‘s gonna win it, you‘re sorta kind of staying in it/I think sometimes in this campaign you‘ve got a crush on John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS PLAYING HILLARY CLINTON:  I can say something nice.  I certainly can.  Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is not a Muslim, as far as I know.  Rev. Wright, Rev. Wright. 

CONAN O‘BRIEN, HOST “LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O‘BRIEN”:  Barack Obama delivered a major speech on the issue of race in America.  Yes, very impressive.  Yes.   Not to be outdone today, Bill Clinton delivered a speech on race called, “Asian Chicks Are Where It‘s At.” 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE COMEDIAN:  Being a Democrat and realizing you‘re never going to be president doesn‘t mean you have to grow a beard.  Is it a suicide watch thing?  They take away your razor?  All I know is this tradition must stop now, because no one needs to see this. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SINGER:  Barack Obama is how you say his name.  Bringing to America the message of change.  He used to look good to me, but now I find him Barack Obama-sistible. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Let me tell you about a woman, that I met during my campaign.  A woman, who is struggling, day-to-day.  A woman who can‘t seem to get ahead.  A woman who‘s future is bleak.  And that woman is standing right next to me.  I‘m going to take you down (EXPLETIVE DELETED). 

OBAMA:  It was whispered by slaves and abolitionist as they blazed a trail toward freedom.  Yes we can.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Yes, we can.  It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.  Yes we can.  Yes, we can. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS (sung):  It‘s raining McCain, hallelujah.  It‘s raining McCain, amen.  I‘m going to go out and let myself get absolutely John McCain.

JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”:  It looks like Mitt Romney really wants to be picked as vice president.  Do you see the paper on the paper today of Romney talking with John McCain?  Show this picture.  Now, doesn‘t that look like leisure world explaining the benefits of assisted living to its newest resident? 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR::  Hey, look, Louis, the John McCain experience. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  I want to be president!


ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  That one seems a little inappropriate.  Here now, comedian and broadcaster Maureen Langan.

Maureen, who‘s the funniest of the three?  Who‘s the most fun to make fun of? 

MAUREEN LANGAN, COMEDIAN:  Everybody is going after Hillary.  But I

like -

ABRAMS:  Why is she more fun? 

LANGAN:  Well, I think for some of them she‘s been like the pi¤ata.  And you know, they‘re going after her because she‘s a woman.  I don‘t care if they don‘t like her because they don‘t like her.  But I don‘t like them going after her because she‘s a woman. 

And when they make fun of her about having a beard, I thought, you know what?  That could probably help her candidacy because people are going after her just because she‘s a woman.  Barack‘s minister says, “Hillary will never know what it‘s like to be called the ‘N‘ word.”  Well, fair enough.  But Barack will never know what it‘s like to be called the “B” word or the “C” word. 

ABRAMS:  Well, it sounds to me like you‘re just advocating for Hillary Clinton.  Yes.  I mean, let‘s keep this light. 

LANGAN:  No, no.  I like - OK.  Dan, don‘t come at me.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s the political humor study.  Eliot Spitzer was the number one target, 175 jokes; Hillary Clinton, 174; President Bush, 163;

John McCain, 140; Mitt Romney, 121; Barack Obama 103.  Barack is not

getting - they are not sticking it to him as much as they are - 

LANGAN:  They‘re not sticking it to him because they want him to stick it to them.  They are very excited by him.  You know this.  He was on “The View.”  And I like the ladies at “The View,” you know this.  I like them, but Barbara Walters - he touches them.  He‘s very touchy feely.  And that was the most foreplay Barbara Walters has had since Watergate.  She‘s very excited.  But look at her flipping on him right now.  I really do.

HAMMER:  And McCain - the age thing.  It seems like that‘s the big joke point. 

LANGAN:  Well, I do have to say I was at least sure village this weekend working and I think they‘re on to something there.  But the thing with McCain - did you see “It‘s Raining McCain?”  I‘m not for the tarting up of the young women of America.  But certainly, they could have combed these women‘s hair and got them matching shirts. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, it was a little rough.  It was a little rough to watch.

LANGAN:  I mean the poor guy was tortured in Vietnam.  He doesn‘t need that. 

ABRAMS:  Maureen, good to see you.  Thanks for coming back.  Appreciate it.  You can catch her opening for Joy Behar at the Borgata Hotel and Casino on April 12. 

Coming up next, today‘s “Winners and Losers,” and your E-mails in the “P.O.‘d Box.”  Coming up. 


ABRAMS:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”  Our first loser - World Wrestling Entertainment after fireworks injured dozens of spectators last night in Orlando.  This amateur video shows a ball of fire engulfing the stands packed with 74,000 fans.  At least 40 people were injured  The WWE apologized. 

Loser - Lindsay Lohan whose reputation as a bad girl seems to be following her to the big screen.  Now, her father is urging her to back out of the movie role, playing a Charles Manson cult member.  Michael Lohan, who has had his own troubled past seems to think his daughter‘s string of bad girl roles are not doing her career any favors after Lindsay got panned for playing a stripper last year and as John Lennon‘s assassin‘s friend this month.  He‘s hoping for a little less freak and a little more “Freaky Friday.”

But our big loser of the day, California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres, who the party rules as one of the few superdelegates who must remain neutral until the convention this summer.  That means he isn‘t getting wooed for his vote.  Quote, “I haven‘t gotten wine.  I haven‘t gotten cookies.  I haven‘t gotten anything.  No calls.  I am one of the loneliest superdelegates in the nation.”  Oh, you‘re still just as super as anyone, Art.  

Our big winner of the day - Kathie Lee Gifford, who after walking away as Regis‘ sidekick eight years ago, is returning to morning TV as co-anchor of the fourth hour of “Today.”  Well, if she returns.


KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, TV PERSONALITY:  It couldn‘t be worst timing in some ways.  I‘m eight years older, ten pounds heavier and a half inch shorter, and just in time for HD television.  It makes no sense.  


ABRAMS:  Oh, you look great.  We‘re looking forward to having her as part of the team.  

Time for the “P.O.‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show.  First up, Robison Frank(ph) weighs in about Friday‘s edition of “Teflon John.”  We called out McCain for backtracking on his no-new taxes promise.  “John McCain isn‘t flip-flopping on taxes.  What you call flip-flops are just three different ways for John McCain to say, ‘I‘m not going to raise taxes.‘  Does he need to use the same words mechanically every time to avoid the flip-flop attack?”

No, Charles, but he has to be consistent.  First, he flat out said no taxes.  And then a couple of weeks later, he said he could, quote, “couldn‘t envision a scenario” where he‘d raise new taxes.  He took an even more nuanced position.  When you can‘t answer a direct question the same way, then it‘s sort of non-straight talk that drives people nuts. 

And winners and losers, I went against the whole panel and said I thought Chelsea was a loser last week for her reaction to college student‘s question about Monica Lewinsky.  Smitty Martin from Los Angeles, “Lighten up on Chelsea.  She is not fair game especially for those types of questions.  Besides, none of your business is a polite answer.”

She‘s going to be out on the trail.  Why shouldn‘t she field question like all of the other surrogates?  And I think “none of your business” is not particularly polite. 

Lynne from Tucson, “The question was legitimate.  Grow up, Chelsea, or get out of the game.”

And - I don‘t want to do this.  All right.  Gino De. Venanzo, “You are one D-U-M dumb person and should be taken off the air again and should be put out to pasture.”  Fair enough, Gino, but don‘t misspell dumb when telling me I‘m an idiot. 

That‘s all we have for tonight.  You can E-mail me about the show at  See you tomorrow.



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