Guests: Jonathan Alter, Norah O‘Donnell, Catherine Crier, Crystal McCrary, Ian Smith, Jennifer Burman
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Tonight: More Clinton superdelegates hinting they may abandon the Clinton campaign. Could it be the beginning of the end?
And: Former President Jimmy Carter sure makes it sound like he is ready to endorse Obama.
And NBC‘s Tim Russert shows us how Clinton and Obama might fare against McCain state by state.
Jonathan Alter, Norah O‘Donnell and Catherine Crier are all with us.
VERDICT starts now.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to the show.
Today, several signs suggesting the Clinton camp could be in serious trouble.
First: New Jersey Governor John Corzine, a pledged Clinton superdelegate and long-time close Clinton ally, hints he might defect to Obama if Clinton does not win the popular vote. Clinton supporter and influential congressman, Jack Murtha is saying today, Clinton must win the popular vote to win the nomination.
This comes on the heels of Clinton superdelegate, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver saying he thinks Obama will win.
Today, we also learned about Clinton‘s massive fundraising gap for March. Obama raised $40 million, Clinton $20 million.
And new polls show Obama gaining even in Pennsylvania, now just nine points behind compared to 16 in February.
And new information is out about the behind the scenes brawl between the Clintons and Governor Bill Richardson. Today, Senator Clinton held a press conference and talked about the midnight ride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am continuing to sound the alarm. I feel like, you know, Paulette Revere - the recession is coming, the recession is coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Here now: Norah O‘Donnell, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent; Jonathan Alter, NBC News analyst and columnist for “Newsweek”; and, former judge and author, Catherine Crier.
All right. Norah, it seems to me that when there are rumblings from Clinton superdelegates, that they may abandon Clinton that that could be the final straw.
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It‘s devastating for the Clinton campaign. And here‘s why. You have two superdelegates essentially saying if she does not win the popular vote that they may switch essentially. That‘s what governor of New Jersey, Corzine said today.
It means that the only thing that‘s left for Senator Clinton is the electability argument, which is to make the argument perhaps to other superdelegates that Barack Obama can‘t win essentially in November, which we heard part of with her conversation with Bill Richardson, although that‘s disputed now.
So, it really is very tough for them. They have used different metrics to try and convince more superdelegates to come with her. Now, you have some superdelegates saying, I still reserve my right to switch.
ABRAMS: Well, but Jonathan, how do you convince superdelegates to come to your side when your own superdelegates - remember, Murtha just came to her side pretty recently and you got Corzine, her long time ally, both of them essentially setting the standard at, if she doesn‘t win the popular vote there could be problems?
Let‘s put up the popular vote as of now as Jonathan answers this. Number three, the bottom line is, it‘s going to be almost impossible for her to walk away with a win in the popular vote.
JONATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: Well, you know, Dan, you and I argued about this after Wisconsin because I believe then and I believe now, it‘s all over but the shouting. So, they don‘t have much of a argument to make. They are waiting for him to trip on his shoe laces.
ABRAMS: Right. But when the superdelegates weigh-in, I mean, it seems to me that that‘s her final hope. I mean, you and I can talk about and debate at the time whether there was any chance when it comes to the numbers. And the question that we were talking about at that time was whether Clinton should have gotten out at that time.
But now, with superdelegates questioning her, her own superdelegates questioning her, boy, that seems to me to be almost an insurmountable hill to climb.
ALTER: Well, what she‘s playing for is that the worse—it looks for her, the more she can be Rocky, you know. And that people do like an underdog. People do like the person who everybody like all of us are, you know, seen as, quote, “writing off.” And that she can use that to stage some kind of a comeback.
Her problem though is the one that John Corzine the governor of New Jersey talked about today. She doesn‘t just need to win Pennsylvania. She needs a blowout in Pennsylvania. It‘s much harder to crush Obama there than it is to win.
And that‘s the immediate stumbling block for her. The
superdelegates will come later. They are not going to come en masse to
Obama before Pennsylvania. So, her first problem is Pennsylvania
ABRAMS: Yes, but Catherine, it seems her strongest argument is the superdelegates. It‘s to say to them, look, I‘m more electable, et cetera. You have her own superdelegates now, saying well you know what? If she doesn‘t win the popular vote, I don‘t know if she can be the candidate.
CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE: Well, the electability argument doesn‘t take you anywhere if you don‘t have the substance and facts to support that. And thus far, he‘s got the popular vote. We saw what happened in Texas as he began to surpass her once the caucuses were through.
And she‘s also engaging in some serious hardball tactics that, I think, a lot of the superdelegates are going to begin to resent. When you got the Bill Clinton backroom conversation with them, that, I think, a lot of them felt very affected by and very insulted by. And you also have some maneuvering, the applause for her opponent in the fall of McCain if she were to get there. Things that ultimately staunch Democrats‘ fear will hurt the party as well.
ABRAMS: Today in this press conference, she also talked about the whole issue with Richardson and she was asked whether she told him that she did not think Obama could win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I don‘t talk about private conversations but I have consistently made the case that I can win, because I believe I can win. And, you know, sometimes people draw the conclusion I‘m saying somebody else can‘t win.
I can win. I know I can win. That‘s why I do this every day. And that‘s what my campaign is about. I‘m in it to win it. And I intend to do just that. That‘s a no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So, Norah, she had to be pushed there, though she‘d finally give the answer to the question which is yes, my answer is a no. I mean, it seems like she wanted to change the question.
O‘DONNELL: OK. Someone is lying here or someone misremembers what happens because it‘s been said that, it was Hillary who told Richardson, he can‘t win. Now she says, I never said that. Someone close to the Clinton campaign is essentially saying no, no, no. It was Richardson who first in this conversation raised the question about Obama‘s electability.
Tonight, Bill Richardson is pushing back saying, I never questioned Obama‘s electability. There is this tit-for-tat that‘s now going on for two days between Bill Richardson and the Clintons over who said what over Obama‘s electability or not. And it‘s pretty interesting. It also involves, too, I mean, Bill Clinton says, to my face five times Bill Richardson tell me he would not endorse Senator Obama. Bill Richardson in the “Washington Post” says I never told anyone including Bill Clinton that I would endorse Senator Clinton.
So, there‘s a lot of disagreement, I guess, it‘s a nice way to put it about what exactly happened in those conversations. But clearly, I think that people are angry about what‘s happened between Bill Richardson and the Clintons.
ALTER: Dan, you know, these two rogues, Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson, charming rogues, who knows between them which one is telling the truth. I tell you something about that clip that you just played, that was a very instructive piece of videotape.
At the beginning of her answer so as not to lie, she danced around the question, because clearly, the answer to the question was yes. She didn‘t want to confirm it or deny it. It was perfectly understandable for her to dance around the question the way that she did.
But then, at the end, at the very end when pressed, she didn‘t tell the truth. I mean, I can‘t prove she didn‘t tell the truth.
ABRAMS: You are convinced.
ALTER: You know, it was just really obvious. If the answer to the question was no, she would have said no at the top of that piece of videotape.
Catherine, I want to ask you about another piece of sound. This is, again, from Clinton‘s press conference today and it again sounds like she‘s going to try and go after pledged delegates. Remember, these are the delegates that are supposed to be, that are sort of effectively assigned by the campaign to go to the convention and support a particular candidate. And now, it sounds like she‘s saying, even those are fair game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: You‘ve heard me say, you‘ve heard Howard Dean say, you‘ve heard other people say, there is no such thing as a pledged delegate. That is a misnomer. There are delegates who are selected one way or another at some stage in the process.
I met people in California today who are hoping, quote, “to be delegates.” And the whole point is, for delegates however they are chosen, just to really ask themselves who would be the best president and who would be our best nominee against Senator McCain. And I think that process goes all the way to the convention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK, two things to note here, Catherine. First of all, she talked about going all the way to the convention. You got the same guy, Howard Dean that she‘s talking about. He‘s talking about ending this by July 1st.
But second of all, you‘ve got this—this whole business about the pledged delegates. I mean, that is a desperate move because Hillary Clinton has previously said, she wouldn‘t go after pledged delegates.
CRIER: That‘s right. And this is the impression that I think she‘s beginning to leave with not just superdelegates but the voting populous as a whole and she‘s got to be very, very careful. Is she saying I‘m willing to blow up the Democratic Party in the process in pursuit of my ambitions? And whether or not that‘s true, if that impression resides with the voters, then, she‘s going to find herself losing those who‘d even supported her. And I‘m afraid that‘s the way this conversation is leaning.
ABRAMS: This is—Jonathan, this is seeming a bit desperate now and look—I‘ve been, as you know, you and I debated this, I‘ve defended the Clintons and Hillary Clinton against a lot of attacks, that people saying she‘s got to get out, et cetera.
But when you‘ve got the superdelegates, Clinton superdelegates now questioning whether they can stay with her, in conjunction with all the other things we talked about, and then, you got this business about Bill Clinton that came up at this meeting in California. And let me read, this is from “San Francisco Chronicle,” this is describing Bill Clinton.
“He sort of gets a little redder and redder. It was one of the most political meetings I have ever attended. It was very, very intense.
It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to ‘chill out.‘ We couldn‘t help but think he was also talking to himself. He seemed more hurt than anything.”
I mean, it seems pretty clear that these are, I mean, this is it. This is the final throes. We‘ve got a lot of voting still to go on, but it feels like the final throes by the Clinton campaign.
ALTER: Well, you know, it reminds me a little bit of the O.J. trial. There was a witness name Al Cowling who had been a friend of O.J.
Simpson, you know this, Dan, as you covered this intensively. At one point
he‘s sitting on the witness stand and he says, this is sad, O.J. You know,
and that‘s kind of the way, I‘m not comparing the way -
ABRAMS: That wasn‘t Cowling. That was Ron.
ALTER: I knew you would be able (INAUDIBLE).
ABRAMS: Yes, it was another witness. Cowling didn‘t say, it was
CRIER: But Cowling didn‘t testify, did he?
ALTER: OK. I got that wrong. But he was a state witness.
ABRAMS: But, Jonathan, I appreciate you bringing it back to O.J.
CRIER: Should I make the counterpoint here.
ALTER: Well, I‘m not trying to compare the Clintons to O.J. but there is something pathetic about talking about pledged delegates. Just to clarify something.
ABRAMS: Ron Shipp. That was his name.
ALTER: Ron Shipp.
CRIER: The dream (ph).
ABRAMS: Let me let Norah, Norah, quickly.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, there is this issue that although Obama announced that he raised $40 million plus and Hillary Clinton raised $20 million, but it‘s still an astonishing amount of money. It still means that she has a great deal of backers before her, new donors who want to see her go forward and she will continue to fight.
ABRAMS: Final point.
ALTER: Just so I can be clear about my position on this, Dan, because I get hammered by some e-mails. She has every right to continue. I never said she must quit, or anything like that. It‘s a question of whether she wanted to go down classy or go down angry and kind of pathetic.
And she‘s chosen the latter course. The pledged delegates explain why. There is not a single pledged delegate for either Clinton or Obama who will switch to the other person because when they decide who the pledged delegates are, they pick the most fervent, enthusiastic supporters of that candidate in that particular state. The chances of any of them on either side changing zero. None of them will.
ABRAMS: Everyone is going to stay with us. What‘s your VERDICT?
E-mail us at: Verdict@msnbc.com. Be sure to include your name, where you‘re writing from. We read e-mails every night in our P.O.‘ed Box segment.
Coming up: To superdelegates, the question may come down to: Who can beat John McCain in November.
Up next: Tim Russert shows us how Obama and Clinton might fare against McCain state by state. And they do differ.
And: We‘re On Their Trail. Tonight, the win, lose or draw edition.
Clinton is out with another new ad tonight after her latest 3 a.m. ad.
Could it actually end up helping Obama?
Plus: The army is spending billions on body armor it never tested.
It might not even work to protect soldiers.
Another reason Why America Hates Washington coming up in 60 seconds.
ABRAMS: Tonight‘s edition of Why America Hates Washington.
The army is spending $3 billion on body armor it may have never tested. Government auditor said numerous army contracts for body armor were completed without the gears, ever going to initial testing. As a result, the Defense Department, quote, “has no assurance the equipment meets required standards. The DOD says, the lack of verified tests does not mean the armor does not meet proper standards.
Last year, NBC News showed that the army was not giving soldiers the best armor on the market. For years before that, families were buying and shipping body armor to soldiers in Iraq because supplies ran out.
The army spending billions on untested body armor: another reason Why America Hates Washington.
We‘re back with Tim Russert on how Obama and Clinton might fare against McCain up next.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. As we‘ve been discussing allegations continue to swirl that Hillary Clinton tried to sway superdelegate and former presidential candidate Bill Richardson by saying Barack Obama cannot beat McCain. It‘s created a lot of anger in the Obama camp.
But, does she actually have a better a shot against McCain? According to Tim Russert, moderator of NBC‘s MEET THE PRESS, she may have an advantage in some states but not in others. He and Meredith Vieira took a look at that electoral math and what head to head matchups might look like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: If you‘d look at all these red states based on previous presidential elections, George Bush won 271 in 2000, 286 in 2004. These are the most states that most political people believe the Republican will win.
What does McCain do? They represent 194. How does he get to 270? He says, I‘m going to win Florida. Bush won it twice. I‘m going to win Ohio. Bush won it twice. I‘m only 29 away.
Where do I get those 29? They look at these states, Meredith, they look at Virginia, 13, Colorado, nine, Nevada, five and then, back to New Hampshire. John Kerry won this in ‘04 but McCain thinks he has strength in New Hampshire. He‘s won the primary twice. If he wins those states he has more than 270, he‘s the president.
Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania: Three battleground Midwest states. Republicans, particularly John McCain is really going to try. The economy is tough in those places. That‘s why Hillary Clinton has to emphasize the economy and emphasize it now to hold those states. She needs those as part of her coalition.
Clinton also thinks, Meredith, that she can win Ohio, that she can win Florida, states that Gore and Kerry could not win. Even if she wins all those states she‘s still a little short. Where does she pick it up? She says I can win Arkansas. I was the first lady there for a long time and they have not forgotten me. I also can win New Hampshire. I won that primary. You give me those states I‘m the next president of the United States.
Obama can say all right, I don‘t win Ohio. I don‘t win Florida.
People say, well, then, you can‘t win. Kerry didn‘t win, Gore didn‘t win. Obama says, not so fast. What about Virginia? I won that primary big. I have an appeal to independent voters and to young voters.
And also, what about Colorado? The changing demographics, I can win there. And I also can win in Oregon. I‘m going to win that primary, a lot of affluent liberals. That‘s my base. Obama says I have a different path to this presidential election, Electoral College. I can win without Ohio, without Florida because I broaden the electoral map.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Fascinating stuff. Norah O‘Donnell what do you make of it?
O‘DONNELL: That‘s really the key point. Gore and Kerry are not president because they could not win Ohio and Florida. Barack Obama can win without those states because he has this new map, this broad appeal.
As Tim just said, he can win in Virginia. He could win in Colorado. He could win in Oregon. So that‘s really the key point.
He puts a lot more states into play than Hillary Clinton does. It is true. And the polls show this that Hillary Clinton does better than Barack Obama in those must-win states of Ohio and Florida. That‘s why she makes the arguments about electability in November. But that‘s why those different maps that Tim was showing this morning are really instructive and really important.
ALTER: You know, I think the most interesting figure is that according to the NBC News‘ calculations that Tim was working with, the base that John McCain gets, in other words, his states that are solidly trending his way, 174 electoral votes if he runs against Hillary Clinton. I believe it‘s 133 safe electoral votes if he runs against Barack Obama.
That means he has much less margin for error against Obama than he would against Clinton. Excuse me. Yes. That‘s right, less margin for error against Obama.
Clinton‘s advantage is she is considerably stronger in Florida than Obama is. Obama, his demographic strengths don‘t match up well with Florida which is an older state, the oldest. As we know, Obama has been having some trouble with older voters.
ABRAMS: Catherine, we‘ve been using the old - you know, what happened in 2004, what happened in 2000 as the model.
CRIER: I think it is a new paradigm.
ABRAMS: Well, that‘s what‘s going to see now (ph).
CRIER: I think it‘s a new paradigm. Also, interestingly, what Jonathan just said, the voters have said, they object the most to the age of McCain, the older voters. The oldest voters don‘t want an older president. But beyond that, I think we got a surge problem going on right now in Iraq. I think the war equation could change dramatically in the next couple of months and we also have an economy.
We have a John McCain whose entire political career as well as that beforehand is based basically on military expertise. When we‘re talking about the kind of recessionary economy we got right now and those issues that are most important to those red state voters, I think, we may literally have a shifting of the paradigm and we cannot rely on those old maps.
ABRAMS: Norah, why do you think that Obama does better in the west?
O‘DONNELL: It‘s in part because those states are changing to some degree, Colorado in particular, a more Hispanic population, a younger population. He can do well there.
Oregon is a state where there are higher educated for the most part for the Democratic Party. That‘s what we saw in the primary, also very opposed to the war. That‘s why he could do well in a state like Oregon.
And for some reason, too, you know, we‘ve seen Democrats picked up Senate seats in Montana and governorships, too. Barack Obama has gotten some endorsements from superdelegates from there. I doubt he‘s going to win Montana in November election. But he seems to be doing better there and Bill Clinton did not do well in the mountain west states.
ABRAMS: All right. Norah O‘Donnell and Catherine Crier, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Jonathan Alter is going to stay with us.
Coming up: A new version of our On Their Trail segment: Win, Lose, or Draw. John Edwards has yet to endorse a candidate. Today, he did announce he‘s not going to play second fiddle to anyone. Which Democratic candidate wins? Which loses?
Plus: Why would FOX News say that Al Gore has endorsed Obama? It‘s coming up in tonight‘s Beat the Press. Up next.
ABRAMS: Time for tonight‘s Beat the Press: Our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.
First up: On Tuesday, CNN Anderson Cooper claimed again and again inaccurately that CNN was the first to report the story of Wal-Mart suing a brain-damaged woman and suggested Wal-Mart changed course because of CNN reporter Randi Kaye‘s report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: After seeing the outcry from Randi‘s first report and subsequent others, Wal-Mart today changed its policy.
Randi‘s report aired last week for the first time, it was the first story to report it and all of a sudden, boom (ph), after years of legal wrangling and playing hardball, they reversed themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Tonight, we‘re keeping them honest. Back in November “The Wall Street Journal” was the first on this story by far, with a front-page story about Vanessa Forman (ph) the headline read, “Accident victims face grab for legal winnings. Wal-Mart paid bills for Mrs. Shank and then sued back for money back.”
The woman‘s family has even given credit to Ms. Forman (ph) for sparking the wave of news stories afterwards. Why should the sentiment of the family in this sad story take away an opportunity for CNN to use it to pat themselves on the back?
Next up: Another reason why you don‘t watch FOX News for political coverage. Senator Obama said yesterday that he would consider Al Gore for a cabinet position, while Gore has not endorsed Clinton or Obama. I guess FOX assumed it must mean that, quote, “Al Gore has already endorsed Barack Obama.” That is a FOX News alert. It‘s just not true.
Finally: When you are doing four hours of TV in the morning as the TODAY SHOW does everyday, that‘s plenty of time and sometimes that means covering stories that some might argue are just hot air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Passing gas, another great topic. Everybody does it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody does it, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many times a day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, actually, the average is between 14 and 20 times a day. You know, we‘re all doing it. Clear the room.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I will be on the TODAY SHOW tomorrow holding my nose.
We need your help Beating the Press. If you see anything, right, wrong, amusing, or absurd, you go to our website: Verdict.msnbc.com. and leave us a tip in the box. Please include the show and time you saw the item: Verdict@msnbc.com.
Up next: The new version of On Their Trail segment is Win, Lose or Draw. It sounds like Obama would get the endorsement of former President Jimmy Carter and actress turned activist Jane Fonda. Is a that win though?
And later: Speaking of endorsements, John McCain picked up a much sought-after one today, from reality star Heidi Montag of MTV‘s “The Hills.” Is that a win?
Coming up in tonight‘s Winners & Losers.
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, a man prepares to give birth to a baby girl after undergoing operations and testosterone therapy to legally become a man. We have the interview where he explains how he was able to get pregnant.
And Hillary Clinton jokes about sniper fire on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that just happened. It‘s in “Reality Bites.” Plus, supermodel Naomi Campbell super-temper got her in trouble again. She got arrested again; coming up in tonight‘s “Winners and Losers.”
But first, it sounds like Obama could tune out the endorsement of a former president. The question - will it help? That‘s just one tale from the trail we‘re following tonight. All part of a special win, lose or draw edition. So who won the day?
Here to help break it down Crystal McCrary-Anthony, attorney and co-host of BETJ‘s “My Two Cents,” and still with us is Jonathan Alter of “Newsweek.”
All right. First up, former President Jimmy Carter isn‘t officially endorsing Obama yet, but didn‘t leave much doubt during an interview with a Nigerian newspaper today, saying, quote, “Obama won in my state of Georgia. My town, which is home to 625 people, is for Obama. My children and their spouses are pro-Obama. My grandchildren are also pro-Obama. As a superdelegate, I would not disclose who I am rooting for but I leave it to you to make that guess.” Win, lose or draw with this wink-wink and nod-nod from Jimmy Carter, can he really make a difference, Jonathan?
JONATHAN ALTER, “NEWSWEEK”: I don‘t think it will make much of a difference. It might hurt a little bit in Florida in the general election. Because remember that Jimmy Carter is quite unpopular with American Jews right now. And so I don‘t think his endorsement does Obama much good.
ABRAMS: Crys(ph), let me play this piece of sound from Jane Fonda, and then I want to ask - Well, first of all, what do you make of the Carter thing?
CRYSTAL MCCRARY, CO-HOST, “MY TWO CENTS”: Well, I think it‘s a win for Obama. I think he needs any superdelegates he can get right about now when it comes down to this. I don‘t think any of the anti-Jew, anti-Israel sentiment is going to affect him. I think, at this point, we‘ve seen that he‘s been able to rise above that pretty effectively.
ABRAMS: And another person who I think may not be particularly useful to Barack Obama - Jane Fonda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Jane, who are you voting for? Who gets your vote? Who gets your vote?
JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God, heaven help us all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: I‘m thinking that that‘s not the sort of endorsement that he
wants. He doesn‘t need Jane Fonda. I mean -
MCCRARY: Well, you know, listen. I think, at this point, when you look at who is supporting Hillary Clinton and you are looking at older white women who are the educated sex.
ABRAMS: But Jane Fonda is Jane Fonda. She‘s not just an older woman, right?
MCCRARY: Well, she‘s an older sexy woman. And since Barack Obama has been called sexy on “The View,” I think that fits in with his followers.
ABRAMS: I‘m calling this a draw. I don‘t think - Real quick, Jonathan.
ALTER: I‘m with Crystal. I mean I think that she goes right to that pro-Hillary demographic and it helps Obama that she‘s come up for him.
ABRAMS: I‘m going to say in the end I‘m going to call it a draw. I don‘t think Jimmy Carter or Jane Fonda will sway any undecided voters for or against Obama.
Next issue, the money trail. Clinton and Obama both releasing their fund-raising totals for the month of March. Clinton announcing today she pulled in $20 million for the month, half as much as Obama managed to raise. He took in $40 million. Now, since the beginning of the year, Clinton has raised about $68 million, compared to Obama‘s $127 million. Clearly, Clinton losing the money race. But it could be more than that, Jonathan. It could be an issue to take to those undecided superdelegates.
ALTER: Absolutely. The great untold story of this campaign is that Obama‘s donors average $100 - only $100. The era of fat cats dominating the Democratic Party is over. What everyone thinks of Obama, this is terrific news for the Democratic Party that they have so broadened their base and brought ordinary people into this process. The superdelegates recognize that and they I believe will reward it when they‘re making assessments.
ABRAMS: Because I think the one thing that Obama had to overcome was the idea, well there‘s Clinton fundraising machine out there.
MCCRARY: He squash that right about now. I mean the amount of money that he has raised this year alone and the fact he is raising it on the Internet with a whole new set of youth that are really driving this. I mean it‘s the youth who are, you know, going and donating $50, $100 online, that are also informing the Jimmy Carters of the world and everyone on down. Because that is the enthusiasm that he has brought to this race.
ABRAMS: I‘m calling this a big win for Obama. I think he is now proving this can take down the Clinton fundraising machine, something few thought he‘d be able to do a year ago. I think that in and of itself is more important than even the money.
Next issue, former presidential candidate John Edwards announcing he will not play second fiddle in the Democratic Party this time around. Reuters reporting, “Edwards was asked in a question and answer session if he would accept the nomination for vice president. No, said Edwards, who also declined to say whether he would endorse Clinton or Obama.”
So who is the big winner or loser from Edwards staying out of the endorsement game? I mean, Jonathan, it seems to me that any time a big-time Democrat stays out for now, that is good news for Hillary Clinton.
ALTER: Absolutely. This is good for Hillary because it increases Edwards‘ credibility. It doesn‘t look like he is just angling for the VP slot. That means his endorsement is worth more, especially in a place like North Carolina where remember, he beat John Kerry the primary there four years ago. So he could be a player in the North Carolina primary.
ABRAMS: Why would he be ruling out a VP position?
MCCRARY: I think he said he doesn‘t want to play second fiddle and I think
ABRAMS: That‘s the only fiddle he can play. I mean he can either no
fiddle or he can play -
MCCRARY: I think it is an all or nothing thing at this point. I think that also it is a slight edge. I think it‘s slight edge for Hillary at this point. I mean the bombs are dropping left and right. You know, I don‘t mean the ones in Bosnia, but the bombs that are dropping left and right for her in terms of big Democrats coming out and supporting - Even like Corzine today, you know, hinting that he reserves the right to withhold, you know, his vote to see what‘s going on. But I think this does really bode well for Hillary.
ABRAMS: Jonathan, why is Edwards ruling out a VP run?
ALTER: He had a terrible experience in 2004. He just hated every minute of running for VP at that point. I think he just figures he would be unhappy in the job. He wants to maybe think about doing other things with his life. What I wouldn‘t rule out is his coming in the in the cabinet, maybe as director of Health and Human Services, lead the charge for national health insurance. So he might have a role to play in the future.
ABRAMS: All right. I give this one a Clinton win. I think anytime a high-profile Democrat doesn‘t jump on the Obama bandwagon at this time, it‘s good news for Clinton. Next up, Clinton hammering Obama on the economy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My opponent Sen. Obama has been very timid and unenthusiastic about doing anything with the economy. And I have consistently, you know, said what I thought needed to be done, you know, since last March. And I am continuing to sound the alarm. I feel like, you know, Paulette Revere, “The recession is coming, the recession is coming.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. The question is the economy the winning issue, or does she lose talking about it based on her connection to NAFTA, et cetera. Crystal, I mean the Paulette Revere thing kind of random.
MCCRARY: “The recession is coming. The recession is coming.”
ABRAMS: But I mean the economy, you think, a good talking point for Clinton?
MCCRARY: I think that‘s a good talking point for her especially against Obama, particularly where the sub-prime mess is concerned in her specific plan. I mean you‘ve got to admit that the plan she sets forth regarding having a mandatory stop date for these foreclosures for a three-month period, I think, speaks well to these big, you know, battleground states that she has had, you know, some degree of success and would have a degree of success in the general election.
ABRAMS: Jonathan I want to tell you my call on this and why and I want to get your thought on this. I‘m going to call this a lose for Clinton. I think for her to say Obama has been timid and unenthusiastic about doing anything about the economy is sort of a cheap shot. What do you make of it?
ALTER: Yes. I mean he was out front on this particular issue many months before Hillary was. It‘s true that he is not for this freeze on foreclosures, which by the way, most economists think is a terrible idea. So there is a little bit of a difference there on the substance between them.
But I don‘t think Democratic primary voters want to see these bashing each other over the head.
ABRAMS: Well, speaking -
ALTER: So even though I agree with Crystal that the economy has to be her issue, for her to try to slam Obama right now, I think she just loses.
ABRAMS: All right. Clinton up with a new TV ad tonight in North Carolina trying to engage voters there in a, quote, “conversation.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Hi. If you are looking for a typical political commercial, switch the channel. This is an atypical election and these are not typical times. The economy is reeling. And as I talk with people across North Carolina, I hear about the crushing cost of healthcare from Winston-Salem to Fayetteville.
I want to hear from you, because this election isn‘t about me. It is about you. So let‘s have a conversation. Just go the NCAskMe.com and then I‘ll be getting back to you here on TV to answer your questions and offer some solutions. Thanks. It is nice talking with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: You know, Jonathan, I was going to give this one a win for Clinton
because I think it‘s a good thing for her to sort of engage in this kind of
conversation thing. But after I listened to it, it sounds like sort of an
‘80s like sort of cheese ad, you know, like, “I‘m going to get back to you
on television.” You know? I mean -
MCCRARY: I was going to give it a win, too.
ABRAMS: You were going to give it a win?
MCCRARY: But after seeing it, I think that I changed a bit. I‘m sorry to interrupt. But that was my first time seeing it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ABRAMS: Jonathan, go ahead.
ALTER: Not to sound like a ditto-head, but ditto.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right.
MCCRARY: But can I just say this?
ABRAMS: Real quick.
MCCRARY: I do think her tone of being softer is one that she should stay with and one that struggled with throughout this entire campaign, vacillating from cold to hot.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to wrap it up. That‘s why we‘re going to call this one - We‘ll call this a win for Clinton, another attempt to humanize herself to voters. It may not make a much of a difference. She is trying. All right. Thank you, Crystal. Good to see you.
MCCRARY: Thank you. Good to see you.
ABRAMS: Jonathan Alter, great to have you on the program.
ALTER: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Up next, a 34-year-old man is pregnant. We have the interview with him where he describes how it happened. And later, Hillary Clinton “Late Night.” No. Not answering the phone - making an appearance on “Leno” talking about sniper fire. Joking about it. Up next.
ABRAMS: Now, to “Reality Bites,” a dose of reality caught on tape. Hillary Clinton appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” taped just hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I was worried I wasn‘t going to make it.
JAY LENO, HOST, “THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO”: Oh.
CLINTON: Yes. I was pinned down by sniper fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Come on. She got laughter after that that we cut out. We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s portrayal of a pregnant man in the 1994 movie “Junior?” Well, now, it‘s become been reality in a far more serious way. This is Thomas Beattie, 34-year-old man who is six months pregnant. Thomas was born Tracy, a woman. But through operations and testosterone has legally became a man and is legally married to a woman.
Thomas and his wife Nancy spoke to “People” magazine and today, to Oprah Winfrey on her show where Thomas explained how he was able to conceive a child.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS BEATTIE, TRANSGENDER: I actually opted not to do anything to my reproductive organs because I wanted to have a child one day. I didn‘t know how. It was just a dream. There was no plan laid out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Joining me now, medical expert, Dr. Ian Smith and neurologist Dr. Jennifer Burman. Thanks to both of you for coming on. Appreciate it. All right. Dr. Burman, the question a lot of people are asking is, is he really a man?
DR. JENNIFER BURMAN, NEUROLOGIST: And the answer to that is no. Thomas is genetically and reproductively a female, a woman who happens to have a lot of hair, to be frank, on the one hand.
On the other hand, if you take gender orientation and sexual orientation off the table, this really is a woman who is pregnant and having a baby.
ABRAMS: Dr. Ian, what would he have had to do to - he has to top taking testosterone now in order to conceive?
DR. IAN SMITH, MEDICAL EXPERT: Absolutely. You know, when you take testosterone, it‘s like a switch. It turns you over into developing hair and to this kind of male pattern. But once you stop taking it because he kept all of his reproductive organs, because his hormonal levels - his female hormonal levels were still there, he was able then to resurge as a woman and actually it‘s - that four months after stopping his testosterone, he actually had his menstrual cycle again.
So really, he was genetically a female. But the testosterone masked that, allowed him to grow hair and deepened his voice somewhat. But once you stop that stimulus, you go back to what you are genetically.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me play another piece of sound. This is from Oprah Winfrey‘s show from today where he is sitting with his now wife.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY BEATTIE, WIFE OF THOMAS BEATTIE: I went to the vet because we have some birds at home. I asked for a syringe without a needle and they give us one. Got our container of sperm.
T. BEATTIE: It‘s a very delicate procedure. It can‘t be exposed to air for too long.
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, “THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW”: Oh, really?
T. BEATTIE: And you have to kind of pipe it into the syringe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Dr. Burman, any ethical considerations here when, you know, it‘s the doctors? You know, you go to the sperm bank and there are doctors, I assume, who supervise. Any ethical considerations?
BURMAN: This is a sperm donor, and it was a home kit, so they actually inseminated at home. I think the first time around, apparently, Thomas had been pregnant before and it was an ectopic pregnancy that didn‘t take, but that was done in a doctor‘s office. They actually did this in their own home. They aren‘t really ethical.
ABRAMS: All right. Got it. No. I was wrong about that. Thank you for that correction. All right. Ian, how do they go about talking to their kids about this? Their daughter to come?
SMITH: Well, you know, that‘s one of the concerns a lot of people are going to have. I particularly, personally don‘t have that concern. I mean you have same-sex marriages and same-sex couples who are adopting children and those children are growing and developing fine.
This is a situation where you have someone who looks like a man but is
genetically a female, now having a child. This child will have a mother
and it will a father. The issue, however, will be explaining how it is
that the father actually was the one who delivered the child. That‘s the
one thing they have to go with. But you know what? Children ought to -
BURMAN: And the real father is actually missing.
SMITH: And the real father is missing, so -
BURMAN: I‘m sorry. And the real father is actually, you know, needs to be addressed also at some point.
ABRAMS: All right.
BURMAN: It is a happily married couple which is better than we could say for half of the heterosexual marriages in this country.
ABRAMS: Dr. Smith -
BURMAN: And the baby -
ABRAMS: Final word, Ian. Yes, then I‘ve got to wrap it up.
SMITH: The key is this. It is all about having love for the child, and there are many cases in which children are in homes that don‘t love them. This seems like a very stable home. The child will be loved and, you know, you just hope for the best.
ABRAMS: All right. Dr. Smith, Dr. Burman, odd story to discuss. I sort of don‘t know how to really frame it. Dr. Smith, Dr. Burman, thanks.
SMITH: Medical science.
ABRAMS: Up next, will tonight‘s winner or loser be out-of-control model, Naomi Campbell under arrest again; out of her league reality star, Heidi Montag, endorsing a candidate - no, we don‘t care; and a fifth grader who outsmarted the Smithsonian. Plus, your E-mails, as we call it the “P.O.‘d Box.” We‘ll be right back.
ABRAMS: It‘s time for tonight‘s “Winners and Losers” for this 3rd day of April, 2008. Our first loser - John McCain who today was endorsed by reality star Heidi Montag of “The Hills.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: You are a huge fan of “The Hills,” Heidi Montag on your side. You got that going for you.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That was pretty good, wasn‘t it? Well, I mean she is a very talented actress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: She isn‘t an actress. She is on a ridiculous reality show. The talent part is also for debate.
Loser, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart. The football star was scolded by his coach after racy photos showed up on the “Dirty.com” Web site with the 24-year-old beer bongs for college coeds and having a hot tub party at his house. And you let them take the pictures?
But our big loser of the day, model mess Naomi Campbell, arrested again today, this time at London‘s Heathrow Airport for allegedly spitting in the face of a policewoman. She reportedly had a luggage issue. It would seem last year‘s community service and anger management classes for hitting her housekeeper did not do the trick.
Our big winner of the day - Michigan fifth grader, Kenton Stufflebeam, who is not just smarter than a fifth grader, he‘s smarter than the Smithsonian. The 11-year-old was recently touring the historic Washington museum when he noticed that a notation had mistakenly identified the Precambrian as an era.
Kenton had just learned in his science class that the Precambrian is a dimensionless unit of time and not era. The Smithsonian acknowledged the error and is going to paint over the word “era.” I had no idea.
Time for the “P.O.‘d Box,” your chance to tell me what you hate or love about the show. In last night‘s “Why America Hates Washington” segment, we discussed some of the most ridiculous congressional pet projects funded by your tax dollars. Some thought we were wrong in naming fruit fly research.
Alice Hogan writes, “Maybe you think fruit flies are just in high school labs, but that‘s a mistake. The grant you mocked wisely went to France to study the fruit flies where they are before they ruin the crops over here.”
Mike Oliver from Woodland, California, “If American agriculture isn‘t supported by such a small-scale funding, it won‘t be long before all of our wool and lamb chops come from Australia and Argentina.”
All right, all right, I get it. There are a lot of worthy causes, though, that are not funded with taxpayer dollars. That‘s the question.
It‘s all the time we have for tonight. You can e-mail me about the show. I know, a lot of people disagree with - email@example.com. Some of you agree, though and thank you for those. Please include your name, where you‘re writing from. Our Web site is Verdict.MSNBC.com. See you back here tomorrow. Good night.
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