Guests: David Gregory, Rachel Maddow, Eugene Robinson, Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC HOST: I‘m David Gregory. Tomorrow, an actual vote in this Democratic primary. PA looks to be Clinton country. But how big of a win does she need for her race to the white house to roll on?
Welcome to THE RACE. I‘m David Gregory. This is your stop for the fast pace and the bottom line and every point of view in the room. At half past this hour, we‘ll break down the outcomes in Pennsylvania and I‘ll analyze what it means for the rest of the race. Don‘t miss it. That‘s at 30 past. Inside the war room, a taste of the closing arguments in Pennsylvania. The bedrock of this program as you know by now, a panel that comes to play.
And with us tonight, host of the “Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, Rachel Maddow. “Washington Post” columnist and associate editor Eugene Robinson. Both MSNBC political analysts.
Host of MORNING JOE, Joe Scarborough. And MSNBC political analyst, former presidential candidate himself, Pat Buchanan. We‘ll begin as we do every night with everyone‘s take on the most important story of the day, “The Headline.”
My headline tonight, will Pennsylvania really matter to Senator Clinton? Here‘s the latest headline from MSNBC and McClatchy newspapers and the “Pittsburgh Post Gazette.” There you see. Clinton at 48, Obama at 43. Eight percent undecided. Today Senator Obama downplayed expectations despite an extensive and intense campaign in the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m not predicting a win, I‘m predicting it is going to be close and that we are going to do a lot better than people expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Meantime, Senator Clinton is saying. She‘ll win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people say yes, we can. But that doesn‘t mean we will. I believe we will. If we have the right leadership, if you stand with me, I will go to the White House and fight for you every single day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: But I was struck by something today “The Washington Post” Dan Balz wrote on his blog. He said the Clinton campaign has a, quote, “aura of a march toward inevitable disappointment. What Senator Clinton has to ask herself what might have been. The Pennsylvania campaign happened on the most difficult stretch in Obama‘s campaign. He‘s faltered and hit by external forces that forced him off his stride. Yet Clinton mired in her own credibility questions and failed to capitalize on his weakness.” Balz points out Senator Clinton saw a 40 percent swing in her favorable ratings among independent voters between February and April, a difficult slide indeed as she goes forward. Pat Buchanan, what‘s your headline tonight?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST: My headline is Obama can‘t close the sale. Here we‘ve had six weeks of campaigning. He‘s outspent her two-to-one. Everybody on national television says he‘s the certain nominee and he‘s looking for a defeat in Pennsylvania, the fifth largest state in the nation—why? A lot of Democrats have to be wondering if Obama really can win in November if he can‘t take her out.
GREGORY: How representative is Pennsylvania. There is a lot of discussion about is it really a big state like Ohio? Does it matter as much as a state like Ohio?
BUCHANAN: It matter more than Ohio. Ohio is a swing state, but Pennsylvania is a huge block state right out of the Democrat bowl. They can‘t lose Pennsylvania and win the national election. They can conceivably lose Ohio and win the national election. This is very bad news. Many Democrats, David, have got to be very nervous. As you said, this was a hard, intense, expensive campaign. Barack won. He was trying to put her away. And he appears to have fallen short. Why?
GREGORY: Gene, what‘s your headline on Pennsylvania?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST: My headline tonight, David, is it‘s all about beers, bullets, and bowling balls. I guess it‘s also about alliteration.
ROBINSON: I‘m talking about the new MSNBC poll of beer drinkers, of bowlers and hunters—people who have guns. It shows that Hillary Clinton is doing very well, much better than Senator Obama among those who go out shooting and among those who bowl. Of course, the bowling is no surprise given what we‘ve seen of Senator Obama‘s bowling. But, they‘re tied among beer drinkers. So there is—there is hope for Obama yet.
GREGORY: But Gene, look inside those numbers because there‘s a serious point to be made. The Obama people say, look, a lot of these voters tend to be older, over 50, right in her sweet spot in terms of the base of voters. Their strategy has been to try to close the margin a little bit. The final push with the whistle stop tour to get him in front of more voters in diners and up close. That‘s where they‘re trying to make a difference. Are they making any in-roads?
ROBINSON: I think they‘re probably making some inroads. But the big wild card in this primary is the 300,000 plus new Democratic voters, newly registered Democratic voters. Will they turn out at the polls? Are they, as most people suspect, mostly young people who have been brought into the party by and energized by Barack Obama. If they come out in big numbers, we could be surprised tomorrow.
GREGORY: Joe Scarborough, you‘ve been looking at numbers too today.
What‘s your headline.
SCARBOROUGH: The headline is Barack Obama has regained his lead in the Gallup national poll. The sub headline is he lost it over the weekend. This is a guy that had an 11-point lead last week. He lost it to Hillary Clinton who took a two-point advantage. He‘s back on top. But what does this point to? It points to a couple of things. The first thing he points to is something that pat said. Barack Obama cannot close this sale. He‘s outspending Hillary Clinton two to one or three to one. His ads are all across the state of Pennsylvania. He‘s still having problems, and as Gene said, it comes down in many cases to bullets—what were the other two Gene?
ROBINSON: Beers and bowling balls.
SCARBOROUGH: Which underlines it best line I‘ve heard about this Democratic campaign in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Gail Collins wrote it in the “New York Times” and said we should have known that in the end, a race between the white woman and a black man, the race would come down to white men. They always get the final say in the end. And if, in fact, that‘s the case, it‘s because Barack Obama is having a hard time closing the deal with white guys. It‘s always the white guy that gets the final say, isn‘t it?
GREGORY: All right. We‘re going to get more on this. I have some follow-ups for Joe. Rachel, your headline tonight?
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO: My headline tonight, slightly different tack than my colleagues here. My headlines tonight is politics eats television. Just in a 24-hour period, we‘ve got Cindy McCain hosting “The View,” and then we‘ve got Hillary Clinton on COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN tonight.
We‘ve got President Bush doing “Deal or No Deal,” we‘ve got Barack Obama doing “The Daily Show.” We‘ve got all of the three candidates are doing WWE “Raw” wrestling. Then we‘ve got Laura Bush guest hosting on the “Today Show.”
To those of us in the political field this feels like the last flat tire lap of a year-long road race. If you ask the TV producers of this world, apparently this is the greatest show on earth. They would rather book politics than anything at least this week.
GREGORY: Rachel, people are saying that we‘re trying to fuel this story because it‘s good for TV. Where do they get that idea?
MADDOW: It certainly seems to be not just good for primetime MSNBC, but it‘s good for everybody the way that politicians are blanketing the schedule just in this 24-hour period.
GREGORY: A lot more ahead coming up. Why is Hillary Clinton accusing Barack Obama of cheering for John McCain. And later, your play date with the panel, call us, 212-790-2299. The e-mail email@example.com. We‘re going to the “War Room” coming up right after this.
GREGORY: Back now on THE RACE and heading deep into the war room of the presidential campaigns to see which strategies are working and which are not? Back with us, Rachel Maddow, Eugene Robinson, Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan.
OK, first up, the closing arguments. Clinton ending her marathon campaign in Pennsylvania with a brand new TV ad, it‘s called “Kitchen.” Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: It‘s the toughest job in the world. You need to be ready for anything, especially now with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing, and an economy in crisis. Harry Truman said it best -“If you can‘t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Who do you think has what it takes?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: The Obama campaign pouncing on the images feature in the ad quickly fired off this rebuttal to the quote board. “It‘s ironic that she would borrow the president‘s tactics in her own campaign and invoked bin Laden to score political points. We already have a president who plays the politics of fear and we don‘t need another.”
Joe Scarborough, I don‘t know if she really played Obama as a fear tactic there. It was certainly in the campaign ad. There‘s a larger point that she‘s making and that is there‘s a question mark over Barack Obama‘s head. It‘s back to what Bill Clinton argued months ago, is it a role of the dice to work for.
SCARBOROUGH: There certainly a question mark over his head. And I don‘t - I have no idea what Bill Burton‘s statement had to say. She was invoking Osama bin Laden to scare people, she was saying this is a tough job. It is the toughest job in the world. It come bask to the question of whether Barack Obama is whining. I hear him say over the weekend that Hillary Clinton is running a dirty campaign, a miserable campaign. This is nothing, child‘s play. A dirty campaign would be turning John Kerry in to a coward in Vietnam. A tough campaign would be saying that John McCain had an illegitimate child. A tough campaign would say that George W. Bush was responsible for dragging a black man to his death behind a pickup truck. These are all tactics use in the past. For Barack Obama to be whining about how tough this campaign is because campaign finance questions—it may suggest that he may not have what it takes. Hillary Clinton is tough. Tough. Tough.
GREGORY: Do you see this add ad—do you see this ad going to the core of her supporters. Is she trying to turn out her voters or do something else?
BUCHANAN: What she‘s doing is it‘s a comparative ad. It‘s more subtle. She‘s saying this lady is ready to be commander in chief, this lady is tough. This lady can handle the kitchen and the heat in it which refers back to the line she used against Obama. I‘m inclined to agree with Joe here. What is Obama doing? This is defensive, whining, what is he arguing about the ad for? And if you notice, at the end of Obama‘s campaign here, David, he has turned to going after and attacking Hillary - she is throwing in the kitchen sink, throw in the buffet. He‘s off his message which tells me his strategy is not working and he believes it‘s not working.
GREGORY: Let me play some of that and get comments from Gene and Rachel. On to the last-minute appeal here. Which fits into that. Dan Balz of the “Washington Post” notice a sharp change in his campaign style. He writes it following - “The Pennsylvania race has forced Obama to rewrite the script from earlier with the result being a more aggressive tone and style in the final hours of his campaign than had been in previous states. Far more than any other time in the campaign Obama has applied pressure to Clinton both on the stump and his increasingly negative advertising.” Here‘s a sample of the more negative tone, take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Her basic view about this election is that the say-anything-do-anything-special-interest-driven politics of Washington, she‘s taking more lobbyists and special interests than any candidate.
You can‘t say that you‘re for the war when it‘s politically popular to be for the war. And then when it becomes unpopular, you suddenly say I didn‘t really vote for the war, I voted for diplomacy. You can‘t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: All right. Rachel, look at both of the closing arguments, what do you say?
MADDOW: I think that the Clinton campaign is different in tone. The thing that people will find and Democrats will find and they‘re controversial is the kind of think of me when you think of bad things. Think of me when you feel afraid, think of me when you think of war, think of me when you think of death. That‘s been like the kind of Giuliani, McCain, Bush ad trope. That‘s what you‘re getting with Hillary Clinton. The things she wants you to be afraid of are different than what the Republicans want you to be afraid of. She wants to you to think of the Cuban missile crisis and the Great Depression and gas rationing and all those things. Think of me when you think it things are bad. That‘s not the Democratic message in a year when we‘re coming out of eight years of George W. Bush. That‘s still going to read to a lot of people as essentially a Republican ad. Doesn‘t mean it won‘t be effective but I think will aggravate some Democrats. Particularly some (inaudible) Democrats.
GREGORY: Gene, in a complicated world after eight years with George W. Bush with a war with a war in Iraq still going on, a war in Afghanistan, why shouldn‘t Democrats be putting out an ad like this that they think about who can best handle some of these problems. Also realizing that national security will be what John McCain runs on.
ROBINSON: I - I don‘t have a huge problem. I know—I don‘t see a huge problem with the Hillary Clinton ad, but I disagree with Joe and pat about what they called whining by Barack Obama. I think that—it‘s good for him, objectively, when Hillary Clinton is perceived as playing dirty politics. And you know every poll that gets taken, which candidate is being more unfair, she always takes a bigger hit than he does.
And so I think this is actually smart politics by Obama to highlight, you know, what he perceives as a—as some sort of underhanded blow. Because I think it takes her down more than it takes him down.
SCARBOROUGH: But isn‘t the magic of Barack Obama, though, hope and change? The thing that is spell binding for Republicans, Democrats, independents alike. In Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond is hope and change. Not whether ABC News was fair to them or not. That‘s what Bill Clinton did earlier. That‘s whining. He wins when he takes it to the higher level.
BUCHANAN: Hillary when she comes in there. I think this makes Hillary look tough. This is a guy complaining, the gal has hit me. The fact that she‘s got sort of a true grit tough image as a lady who can take a punch helps her in a state—a tough state, a blue collar state like Pennsylvania. I think that helps her and it makes Barack Obama look more .
GREGORY: Hang on, hang on, hang on, everybody. Let me just wedge in here because tonight get one more item from the war room for us all to chew on. And that is this weekend, Obama seemed to praise John McCain while taking a swipe at President Bush. The question is, did he go too far? Listen to this .
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You have a real choice in this election. You know? Either Democrat would be better than John McCain. But—and all three of us would be better than George Bush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: So Rachel, he takes heat on this from Hillary Clinton who says he‘s cheering for McCain. It does raise questions that, you know, how are you going to run a campaign saying that McCain is just more of Bush when you make comments like that?
MADDOW: Exactly. And Hillary Clinton‘s criticism, I think on target for this specific instance of course raised the fact that she is complimented John McCain‘s lifetime of experience, passing the commander in chief test, his leadership on global warming and his status as a moderate. So Clinton is cheering John McCain through a lot of the campaign. For her taking on Barack Obama is a little frustrating, I think. But it should be noted that what Barack Obama wants to change from. He‘s not saying he‘s the best Democrat to beat the Republican attack machine. That‘s Hillary Clinton‘s line.
What he‘s saying is I‘m the best candidate to face the country‘s problems, to—to address the challenges that we‘ve got as a nation. I‘m therefore somewhat post partisan. So praising McCain is part of that message. I‘m just not sure that‘s the message that Democrats necessarily are going to take as a rallying cry to November.
GREGORY: All right. I got to get a break in here. “Smart Takes”, “The Washington Post,” Bob Novak tells us what is wrong with Barack Obama. That‘s coming up after the break.
GREGORY: Back on THE RACE now with “Smart Takes.” The provocative, the insightful, the interesting and the thoughtful. Here again, Rachel, Eugene, Joe and Pat. The smart take I want to get to tonight is from Dick Morris. It was A little noticed aspect of the ABC debate. He takes a harsh look at the nuclear policy that Hillary Clinton laid out in a recent campaign stop and during the debate.
To the clip board, asked if it should it be U.S. policy now to treat the Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack on the United States. “Clinton astonishingly,” Morris writes, “responded that she used modern nukes not just to defend Israel, also our traditional strategic ally, but other neighboring states such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from an Iranian nuclear attack. Liberals they don‘t want to exchange blood for oil. But how much more blood could there be than to guarantee nuclear war over an attack on these nations. Are they worth it? None of these nations are democracies. All boycott Israel.”
Pat, were you surprised to hear this from her?
BUCHANAN: I was astonished. I told Keith Olbermann tonight that there was not more follow-up. That would be treating the countries as though they were NATO countries say in 1960 and the Soviets that attacked them, NATO allies, we consider an attack on one an attack on all. We don‘t have any treaty like that with any of those countries including Israel, I would add. And the idea that you‘re going to have a full retaliatory response without consulting the congress of the united states on a declaration of war, I really do believe that Hillary Clinton, if she makes progress, is going to have to do some elaboration and some explaining on exactly what she meant here.
GREGORY: Joe, what would motivate this as a policy prescription for Hillary Clinton?
SCARBOROUGH: I certainly can understand Israel. And that‘s because, of course, Hillary Clinton believes that states like Florida are very important with a predominantly pro Israel Jewish vote. But I can‘t understand is Hillary deciding to place all of the countries in the Middle East under a nuclear umbrella. That is strategically breathtaking. That‘s something the United States has never done—to suggest an attack on UAE would provoke a nuclear response by the United States of America? Stunning. The same thing with the Saudis. Stunning. I‘m with Pat. I‘m sure a lot of Democrats have wonder why there hasn‘t been more of a follow-up on this.
ROBINSON: I would have to agree with them, David. I wrote about this on the Friday column. I was just as they were stunned if you just don‘t—you can‘t change American nuclear doctrine like that and just kind of one swoop and say, oh, well, we‘ll just protect everybody with the umbrella. It‘s an interesting idea. But it‘s one that, you know, takes a lot more than just an off-the-cuff remark in a debate to explain.
GREGORY: Got to get a break in here. It‘s also striking because a lot of the concern in the Middle East is in the Gulf countries it‘s the Shiite populations where they think Iran has a lot of sway, not necessarily do they pose a nuclear threat.
All right. Coming up, the three big questions today, one of them with all of the bickering with Clinton and Obama is negatively hurting the Democratic Party. We‘re coming right back.
GREGORY: Welcome back to RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. I‘m David Gregory. Now the most important portion of the program, the three questions. Still with us, host of the “Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, Rachel Maddow, “Washington Post” columnist and associate editor Eugene Robinson, both MSNBC political analysts, host of MSNBC‘s “MORNING JOE,” Joe Scarborough, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Hillary Clinton will likely win the Keystone State tomorrow. The question is by how much. On the eve on the Pennsylvania primary, we want to look at two possible scenarios. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Clinton leading Obama by seven points. Remember, in Ohio, the last Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton with just a four-point lead and she went on to win the state by ten points.
First question today, what if Hillary Clinton wins big in Pennsylvania. Rachel, what‘s the dynamic out of the race?
MADDOW: I don‘t think anybody‘s still in agreement about what counts as big. As you‘re saying, the Quinnipiac poll showing seven points. But the spread is anywhere from four to 12, based on what you‘re looking at and depending on the time frame you‘re looking at.
MADDOW: Again, this is not determinative, in terms of what happens with the delegates. This is all about whether or not she‘s seen as exceeding expectations. So defining expectations is the most important thing.
GREGORY: All right, let‘s say she gets double digits. Let‘s say it‘s ten or above.
MADDOW: The Drudge—we shouldn‘t discount the fact that the Drudge headline today says her internal polling puts her at 11 points. That might be completely made up. It‘s on the Drudge Report after all. If that was out there all day on Drudge—that‘s such an influential site with the main stream media—does that set a baseline expectation of eleven and mean that anything below 11 feels like a disappointment?
The super delegates‘ reaction is going to be the only thing that tells us for sure, and it‘s actually the only thing that matters.
GREGORY: Joe, what do you say? What if she wins big? How do you define big, first of all?
SCARBOROUGH: Hillary Clinton is in a no-win situation right now because a lot of the op-ed writers, who are going to frame who won and lost, are cheering for Barack Obama. If she wins by five percent, six percent, seven percentage points, they‘ll say she should have won by double digits. If she wins by double digits, they‘ll say, well, she was expected to win by double digits.
They won‘t pay attention to the fact that Barack Obama is out-spending her two or three to one. It is going to be framed so Hillary Clinton can‘t win regardless. That‘s just the way it is. She has to win by double digits or else the chorus will be out there saying, Hillary must get out immediately.
GREGORY: But, Pat, the reality is that, as you pointed out, Barack Obama has spent a lot of money. The Clinton campaign argues that because there‘s been so much that‘s been thrown against her, a win is a win here. It doesn‘t matter how big it is, a win is a win. She keeps going if she can win a big state. Do you agree?
BUCHANAN: I agree. But I do this think—a win in Pennsylvania is not a game changer. She needs a game changer.
GREGORY: For a big win.
BUCHANAN: If a big win happens, I‘ll tell you what—Democrats—I know the media may play it well, Hillary did OK because of Alabama in the middle of Pittsburgh and Philly. But serious Democrats will say, what is the matter with Barack Obama that he cannot win the white working class men and women, especially the elderly. That‘s the swing vote. They‘re the Reagan Democrats. This guy could go down to defeat.
The big question is going to come out of tomorrow, if Hillary wins it or wins it—especially if she wins it big, what is the matter with Barack Obama?
MADDOW: Pat, let me ask you though, why is it that Barack Obama should be expected to win white male voters when no Democratic presidential candidate has won white male voters in my entire lifetime.
BUCHANAN: Because it‘s in a Democratic primary, for heaven‘s sakes. I know they‘re not going to get them all in the general election. The question is why—suppose McCain were being beaten by Huckabee by ten points in Pennsylvania? We would all be saying, what in heaven‘s name is wrong with John McCain.
MADDOW: But The transition from the primary win to the general election win is so imperfect. These white male voters that are seen as being so important in the primary aren‘t going to be there for the Democrats in the general.
BUCHANAN: I understand—Obama is going to get—Obama is going to get the majority of Hillary‘s vote. The question is, will a large slice of those Democrats split off to McCain? If they do, Obama will lose Pennsylvania.
MADDOW: Then what we should be talking about—
BUCHANAN: Lose the election.
MADDOW: What we should be talking about then is the number of independents or people who lean independent who are registering as Democrats. People don‘t register as Democrats because they‘re interested in voting for John McCain.
BUCHANAN: Why are they voting for Hillary? Is it because they‘re for Hillary or they don‘t want that guy? Is there that much resistance to Obama in the Democratic --
GREGORY: Gene, let me put out the second scenario here, which is the flip side. This time last month, the Franklin and Marshall Poll showed Clinton with a 16-point lead in Pennsylvania. Since then, Obama has cut the lead down to single digits. Politico notes Obama could get a boost tomorrow from the roughly 200,000 new voters, including a slew of new voters who are under 30, a block squarely in Obama‘s camp.
The second question then, what happens if Pennsylvania is close and Clinton wins by just a small margin. Pick it up from there, Gene.
ROBINSON: If there‘s only a small margin, I think you will hear calls for Hillary Clinton to get out of the race. I don‘t think she‘ll necessarily heed them. You won‘t necessarily hear those calls, I think, if she wins by 15 points or something like that. The problem with that analysis, why can‘t Obama win white working class men, is the two candidates have—have divided—have split, are sharing the Democratic constituency, the traditional Democratic constituency.
For example, if African-Americans don‘t show up at the polls in huge numbers in November, Hillary Clinton can‘t win Pennsylvania. So you can say that about any demographic group.
BUCHANAN: I think that‘s also true. I think Gene is exactly right. If the McGovernites, if you will, the professoriat, the African-Americans and the kids don‘t show up, she loses. I think this is why they‘re going to get it together no matter who wins.
SCARBOROUGH: A great way to put them back together is just—if you look—the big headline coming out of the Pennsylvania will be what Gene said at the top of the show. That is 300,000 new Democrats are on the rolls in Pennsylvania. That is an electoral wave that is coming the Republicans‘ way and, chances are good, will wipe them out. If the Democrat can come completely—maybe Barack Obama can‘t pick up every hunter, every bowler, every beer drinker in Pennsylvania. But with 300,000 new voters on the Democratic rolls, that means counties like Bucks County breaks his way.
GREGORY: Let‘s get to that point Joe is bringing this up. This is the third question: Clinton and Obama aren‘t pulling any punches in their push to win the Pennsylvania primary. We‘ve been talking about that. Look at some of the ads currently running in the key swing state. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last ten years, Barack Obama has taken almost two million dollars from lobbyists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton has raised millions from PACs and lobbyists, more from any candidate in either party. Eleventh hour smears paid for by lobbyist money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: “The Washington Post‘” David Broder says attacks like that are only making John McCain‘s job easier; “The Clinton-Obama fight is spot-lighting issues that can easily be exploited in the general election by Republican John McCain. He‘s hardly struck a blow at them. Obama and Clinton are doing such a good job of demolishing each other or scuttling their own chances that McCain can conceivably coast to victory in November.”
The third question then, with all the negativity in the race, is it time for the Democrats to be worried? We get a sense among the super delegates, among the head of the party, Rachel, Howard Dean, that he wants super delegates to make up their mind. They don‘t want to see this play out.
MADDOW: That‘s exactly right. I think the Democrats have been concerned, actually, for quite some time. I think people are past scared at this point. I think Joe‘s point about there being 300,000 more Democratic registered voters in Pennsylvania is a good point. That does mean, as Joe was saying, that you end up with a Democratic advantage in November, unless the general election only lasts six weeks, because it doesn‘t actually start until after that Republican convention in St. Paul, Minneapolis this summer.
If the general election is that short, John McCain having that much time to himself, that much of a head start, it doesn‘t matter if you‘re running Jesus on the Democratic side. There‘s no beating it.
SCARBOROUGH: Think about the swing states really quickly. Think about the swing states we‘ve seen this year, where Democrats have broken all turnout records, Iowa, swing state, New Hampshire, swing state, Florida, even, when there wasn‘t a competitive ballot, swing state, Ohio, swing state; all record Democratic turnouts.
Look at the fact that Barack Obama raises 41 million dollars last month. Hillary Clinton has been raising 30 million a month. John McCain, 12 million. It‘s not even close. This is the Democratic year.
BUCHANAN: Look, they have the winning coalition. Hillary and Obama together have the winning coalition. They have winning issues. There‘s more money. They have more enthusiasm, more turnout, more registration. Bush is at 28 percent. If they get together, they win it. That‘s why I think Barack Obama, probably nominee, would be well-advised to offer her the vice presidency and try to bring all of those folks that she got back under the tent.
MADDOW: It‘s a great idea that Democrats have been talking about for some time. The candidates show no interest in taking anybody up on that.
BUCHANAN: They might show interest if they lose the nomination. It‘s a good job.
MADDOW: At this point, they‘re playing to lose. They‘re playing to lose. You can see that with the opportunity cost lost. And them running negative ads against each other on lobbyist ties, with John McCain as the other guy in the race, you‘re talking about lobbyist ties? It‘s one of his huge vulnerabilities, in terms of the distance between his image and his record. And they‘re wasting that time hitting each other on it.
GREGORY: Hold on, Gene, go ahead, get in here.
ROBINSON: I was going to say, A, John McCain is no Ronald Reagan on the stump. I think he‘s eminently beatable. And, B, I was going to say, Pat, that‘s a great idea. But you‘re going to be Obama‘s food taster? Are you?
BUCHANAN: Just heavy Secret Service, Gene, for heaven sakes.
SCARBOROUGH: A couple of months ago, the nasty things Buchanan was saying about John McCain, conservatives were booing him at CPAC. Everybody was saying, this guy is so beaten and brutalized. There‘s no way he will bring the party together. Now everybody‘s saying, John McCain can‘t lose because Democrats are beating each other up. We are all—I‘m saying, myself included—All of us so short-sighted.
These Democrats are going to get together at the end, even if it is at Denver. I‘ve seen it happen time and time again. You have the nasty ads run, but after it‘s over, everybody brushes themselves off, especially the Clintons. They‘re professionals.
GREGORY: Let me ask you this question, Joe: what is the line between a tough primary fight and raising fundamental questions about your opponents‘ liabilities that you know are going to be a centerpiece in the general election? Did you see that on national security or on preparedness.
SCARBOROUGH: This is not a tough primary fight. You want a tough primary fight where you can‘t put Humpty Dumpty back together again? Go back to the Republican primary fight in 2000? There was no way in hell that John McCain and George W. Bush were going to be on the same ticket. I keep saying it, any presidential historian will tell you, this is child‘s play. They‘re talking about; oh, you took money from oil companies? Oh, no, I didn‘t. I took it from PACS. Oh, but you took it from executives of oil companies. This is child‘s play.
MADDOW: That‘s true. The problem here is not the tone. The problem here is the timing. The problem is the opportunity lost to go after John McCain while he consolidates the party, while he has all his formal rivals from the primary race now raising money for him, while he gets to coast on his positive press. Right now it‘s the timing, not the tone. There‘s nothing so nasty happening between Obama and Clinton that they can‘t get it back together again. It‘s that they‘re missing the opportunity to get the Republicans.
BUCHANAN: David, the only chance of a Chicago ‘68, where I was, is if they take this thing away from Barack Obama, and it‘s perceived to have been stolen from him. Then you‘ve got a disaster. I think if Barack wins it, which we all probably expect, and he brings her in, I think this gang can come together. I agree with Joe when I say this, I‘ve never seen the Republicans with a weaker hand, and excuse me; McCain may be a good fellow. But he‘s not Ronald Reagan as a candidate, as political horse flesh, and he‘s going to have a tough time.
He‘s not going to win this thing going away if he wins it.
MADDOW: It‘s not just ‘68. It‘s ‘68. It‘s ‘72. It‘s 1980. It‘s every time a party is divided this late in the process when the other guys are made up. It‘s the divided party that loses.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, every year—check your history books—he was at the convention. He was handing out cash on the streets. He paid those hippies in ‘68 in Chicago to set the city on fire. Democrats, keep Buchanan chained up to a radiator. Keep him away from Denver.
BUCHANAN: They had it coming.
GREGORY: We‘re going to switch gears and give you a chance to play with our panel.
And, of course, still with us, first, everybody on the panel. First up, Mary in Kentucky wondering if race is playing an issue for Senator Obama? Listen to her question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CALLER: Do you think he cannot capture the white male vote because a large number of white working males are not familiar with African-Americans or maybe just not comfortable still at the same time to vote for a black person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: It‘s funny because, Gene, he took on this question at the San Francisco fund raiser, saying the easy answer is that, that it‘s just a matter of race and a lot of these voters don‘t want to vote for an African-American. But then he added his extra analysis that became the bitter comments. What did you say?
ROBINSON: I think he shouldn‘t try to explain this anymore, right? Because if he says, yes, white guys won‘t vote for me, then he gets slammed. If he tries the professorial, sociological explanation, he gets slammed again. You know, Ed Rendell said it, and it‘s probably true. There are probably some people who have a race problem with him. But who knows how many? Maybe not a whole lot. There could be other issues, you know?
I‘m the last person in the world to think that race becomes completely irrelevant in this country. I don‘t think it does. But there are contexts in which it‘s less relevant than in other contexts and it may or may not be why some people are supporting Hillary Clinton.
MADDOW: Just briefly, I think there‘s going to be some voters who have a problem with Barack Obama because of his race. I think there‘s going to be some voters who have a problem with Hillary Clinton because of the gender. And I think there‘s going to be some voters who have a problem with John McCain because of his age. And I think there‘s going to be some voters who don‘t want to vote a senator. We haven‘t elect a senator president since 1950s.
There‘s prejudice problems for a all of the candidates. It‘s just magnitude of each of them in each individual swing state that remains to be measured.
GREGORY: An e-mail from Meredith in Nevada. She asks the following, “if Hillary Clinton is unlikely to pass Obama in the popular vote and pledged delegates, will she continue to raise the Florida and Michigan issue? Is it dead or still a campaign tactic that she is planning on using?” Joe, where do you see that going?
SCARBOROUGH: I don‘t know that Hillary Clinton can do anything to put it all back together again. I do know this, though; the Democratic party has to figure out a solution that‘s going to please Florida Democrats. Because, with Michigan, you only had Hillary Clinton on the ballot. In Florida, you had Clinton and Obama. I know that they weren‘t able to compete in there aggressively, but Florida is such a critical swing state.
Democrats in Florida are so upset right now and John McCain has a lead in Florida. That issue has to be resolved and only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton together can resolve it.
ROBINSON: I can just add that if they start this convention with no delegation from Florida at the Democratic convention, the Democrats don‘t deserve to win the presidency. They have to work this out.
GREGORY: I‘m going to take a break here. You can play with the panel here every weeknight on MSNBC. The e-mail address on your screen, Race08@MSNBC.com, and the phone number 212-790-2299. Quick programming note, be sure to stick with MSNBC tomorrow for complete coverage of Pennsylvania‘s primary. Tune in at 6:00 p.m. eastern time for our special primetime coverage with Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann.
I‘ll be a part of it as well with the panel and up to the minute exit polling and results as we get them.
Coming up next, who‘s going to win tomorrow‘s primary in Pennsylvania?
Our panelists will deliver some predictions. Don‘t go away.
GREGORY: We‘re back on THE RACE. Final moments here, time to turn up the pressure on the panelists here and get their big predictions for primary day in Pennsylvania, Rachel, Eugene, Joe and Pat. Pat Buchanan, what do you say? Prediction time?
BUCHANAN: Coal miner‘s daughter wins pulling away.
MADDOW: Wasn‘t it a lace factory?
GREGORY: You think it‘s a big win tomorrow?
BUCHANAN: I think she‘s—I would say, if I had to guess, I would say six to 12.
GREGORY: And if that‘s the case, do you think that super delegates really are given some pause here about what to do next?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t think it will change minds, but I think it will cause nervousness.
GREGORY: OK, Joe, what do you see?
SCARBOROUGH: I have the same prediction as Pat Buchanan; Barack Obama came out earlier today. And you played a clip of him on KDKA, predicting that he was going to draw very close to Hillary Clinton and do a lot better than people expected. I don‘t think he‘s going to meet those expectations. I think coal miner‘s daughter or Annie Oakley or whoever you want to say—if I knew a female bowler, I would say that name too—is going to win this. I don‘t know about going away.
But there‘s something about having the Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor, you know, Ed Rendell. These are people that know how to use the machine. Pennsylvania is one of the last great machine states standing. I think she‘s going to out-perform in Philadelphia and win tomorrow.
GREGORY: Joe, that being the case, what is the tenor of our conversation after Pennsylvania?
SCARBOROUGH: The only thing that matters is the number of votes that she wins by. Her only chance is to win the popular vote overall. And she has to do extraordinarily well. So she needs to win by ten percentage points. But there‘s going to be well over two million people voting tomorrow. It‘s going to be a huge turnout. If she wins big, she might pick up 250,000 to 300,000 votes.
GREGORY: Which is really what she would need to go forward.
Gene, what do you see coming.
ROBINSON: My prediction is we may hear two victory speeches tomorrow night. I think they‘re both going to claim victory. I am assuming that Hillary Clinton probably wins. It probably doesn‘t get to double digits. And she will claim a win because she will have a win. And Obama will claim that he did better than expected. He kept it close. She had been so far ahead and he gained all of this ground. And it won‘t change the situation very much, and we‘ll all start talking about North Carolina and Indiana.
GREGORY: Are we going to talk about something substantively different about this race, or is it just a kind of a war of attrition that we‘re watching and witnessing?
ROBINSON: This is more of World War I than World War II. I think we‘re in the trenches. They‘re fighting for inches at this point. Look, we could all be sitting here tomorrow night and get some sort of huge surprise in another direction. But right now, that‘s what it looks like is going to happen. It‘s not going to greatly change the course of this race.
GREGORY: All right, Rachel, what do you see coming? Your prediction?
MADDOW: I think that even if Hillary Clinton only wins win by one vote, she‘s staying in. I‘m not great at predicting voters‘ behavior. I think that most pundits have been bad at predicting behavior for this entire race thus far. But I think all of us are getting pretty good at predicting politicians‘ behavior. So, for me, the popular vote issue, the margin of victory, the margin of victory, none of it really matters. It‘s about expectations.
If Barack Obama wins by one vote, it seems fairly clear that that will be the end of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign. If Hillary Clinton wins by one vote, I don‘t think she‘ll see that as a disappointing margin and step out. I think she‘s been willing to fight through a lot more than that thus far. And I think we can expect to be back in exactly the same place the day after tomorrow, talking about a race looking exactly the same way, with just as many undecided super delegates and no clear path to the nomination for Senator Clinton, but also no clear off ramp for her out of the race.
GREGORY: We‘ve also noticed though, reading some quotes today from super delegates around the country that the A.P. wrote about today, a lot of the super delegates are saying that they really do want to see how the race gets resolved as being reflective of the will of the people. This race will go on if she picks up a victory and there will be questions about Barack Obama‘s ability to close the deal.
MADDOW: But closing the deal—we started off the show with that observation as well. It just doesn‘t ring true to me. To start off 19 points down in the polls, and have six weeks and a lot of money to turn that down, that would be kind of a miracle to pull that off. If he ends up getting close to her and closing a 19-point gap, anywhere less than 19 points, it‘s—
GREGORY: I‘m got to say good night. I‘m sorry, I‘m out of time, guys. I‘ve got to go. Thanks to a great panel. That does it for us. We will see you tomorrow night, special coverage 6:00 pm Eastern time. “COUNTDOWN” tonight with Hillary Clinton and “HARDBALL” now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.