Guests: Michael Smerconish, E. Steven Collins, Mayor Michael Nutter, Chaka Fattah
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: All aboard for Allentown, Erie, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Punxsatawney.
Let‘s play Pennsylvania HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. And welcome to HARDBALL. The final push in Pennsylvania. For six weeks, we have been talking about the Pennsylvania primary, and at long last, in just 14 hours, the polls will open and the voters will finally have their say. All the polls suggest this is Hillary Clinton‘s race to lose, but she‘ll have to do better than just win. Everyone will be looking at her margin of victory. How big does that margin have to be? Well, we‘ll look at the polls tonight, the predictions, and all the politics on this primary-eve edition of HARDBALL. Later in the show, I‘ll give you my number what they call in sports the “over under,” what percentage separates a Hillary game extender from a game ender.
Plus: In the frenzy to the finish line, both sides are playing tough with their TV ads. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last 10 years, Barack Obama has taken almost $2 million from lobbyists, corporations and PACs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newspapers call Hillary Clinton‘s negative attacks the old politics, and now in the final hours, she‘s launched the most misleading and negative ad of the campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we‘ll talk about all that, why both campaigns are going negative in the final day of this contest. And new voters are playing a major role in this race. Imagine this. Over 300,000 new Democrats have registered in Pennsylvania since the beginning of the year, with most apparently favoring Barack Obama. We‘ll take a look at that, 300,000 new voters, in just a few minutes.
Plus: Obama‘s been drawing huge crowds like this one on Friday in Philadelphia, where he drew 35,000 people. But in the words of one local pol here in Philadelphia, has Hillary successfully made herself into the hometown girl, the hometown favorite? That and more, in the “Politics Fix.”
And we‘ll take a look at that all important demographic, believe it or not, the beer-drinking, gun-toting, gutter-ball-avoiding bowler. Yes, they actually poll for that sort of thing.
And remember, tomorrow night, Keith Olbermann joins me for complete coverage of the Pennsylvania primary results beginning at 6:00 PM Eastern right after HARDBALL.
But first, tonight, on this eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Chuck Todd is our political director for NBC News. Chuck, this is an exciting night. Let‘s go through the numbers before we talk to you. Let‘s look at the latest Pennsylvania poll numbers. They‘re coming from everywhere. The MSNBC/McClatchy/”Pittsburgh Post Gazette” poll has Clinton a head by 5. Quinnipiac has Clinton ahead by 7. Suffolk has Clinton up by 10. And Realclearpolitics, that Web site which wonderfully calculates the average of all the latest polls, including those three and several others from the last few days, has Clinton leading by 6 points, which is an interesting number to look at.
Let‘s talk about that number. Is that your “over under” number, 6?
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think it‘s definitely 5 or 6. I mean, you know, we‘re going to—if it‘s right at 5 or 6, there‘s going to be the heck of a spin war between the two campaigns to try to lay claim to victory or defeat.
But I think the bottom line here for Clinton is that there‘s a number to keep going and then there‘s a number to actually start changing the dynamic of the race where she could actually get the nomination. So there‘s two different numbers. Some sort of mid to high single digit victory is certainly enough for her to keep going, but it‘s hard to imagine how she still stops Obama from getting the nomination.
If she gets the double-digit victory, if she gets into that 10, 11, 12, 13-point area, well, then, suddenly, she can start talking about game-changer type of thing because this victory would be bigger than it was in Ohio and then she could start laying the claim, Look, Pennsylvania, very similar to Ohio, except the difference is we‘ve learned more about Obama and maybe he does have electability issues. So it‘s sort of like there are two different numbers for her, one to keep going and one to actually change the direction of the race.
MATTHEWS: So what would you—let me try to pin you down. Roughly, does the range of game-changing numbers begin at double digits?
TODD: Yes. No. I think it does—it begins and ends in double digits because what double digits gives her, assuming a two million turnout, two million folks turning out—and I‘ve heard estimates of approximately 1.8 on the sort of mid-range, 1.6 on the lower range, 2 million on the high range. So give them the 2 million because it‘s easier on the math. A 10-point victory gives her a net of about 200,000 popular votes. That actually eats in—that starts truly eating into that lead that Obama has in the popular vote, giving her some sort of moral claim to the nomination. She‘s never going to get there in delegates. This is no longer a pledged delegate fight for her because she may only net—she could win by 12 points and net only 10 delegates tomorrow night, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Suppose she gets somewhere between 7 and 10? Then what?
TODD: I think it gives her license to keep going, but I think that she‘s going to find a lot more folks wondering, OK, but what is the end game? Can you really, you know, do the—she‘s now suddenly relying on Obama to make another mistake. It probably isn‘t enough to stop him from a double-digit victory in North Carolina. And frankly, it may not be enough to get money back flowing into the campaign to make Indiana competitive.
Indiana is sort of the next race for her, right. She‘s going to be in Indiana at the end of the week. Obama tomorrow night‘s going to be in Indiana, not in Pennsylvania, to sort of emphasize what he wants to do, knowing that he can close out the race with a victory in Indiana. And I think that, you know, that single—high single digit, the questions is, will she have enough money to stay competitive with Obama in Indiana, where in a very close race, money can move that 2 or 3 points and make a difference between losing and winning for them.
MATTHEWS: Well, at 25 after the hour in this show, I‘m going to tell you my idea of what I think is the “over under,” the number by which, if she doesn‘t reach that percentage of victory tomorrow night, she ought to get out of the race, and the number if she doesn‘t achieve it, keeps us watching and listening to her.
But the big news today, I talked to Bob Brady, who‘s the U.S. congressman from Philadelphia, but also the chairman of the Democratic Party of Philadelphia, which is a city and a county...
MATTHEWS: ... and he said if Barack Obama has the most elected delegates at the end of this season, at the beginning of June, he must be the nominee. There is no denying him the nomination. I think that‘s news, isn‘t it, the boss of the city saying that?
TODD: I think it is. It‘s interesting. You‘re starting to hear this June deadline, by the way, Chris, from Clinton supporters. You heard Jon Corzine say it. You heard at times, I think Ed Rendell, one of the couple of times that he‘s talked about an end game scenario, say something about June. So there is—Terry McAuliffe, when he was out in Oregon a couple of days ago, talked about that June would be when there‘s a resolution.
TODD: I think that there‘s clearly too much—there‘s a lot of momentum for June because June 4 -- think about that. That still would give the Democratic nominee a couple of months before the convention. My only—the only interesting thing about hearing Clinton supporters—and I know Brady‘s undecided. But to hear some of those Clinton supporters talk about the June scenarios, I can‘t figure out a June scenario where she‘s the nominee.
TODD: The only June scenario I can figure out is where he‘s the nominee.
TODD: She gets the nomination in a July, August scenario, as far as the way this looks so far.
MATTHEWS: Chuck Todd, we‘ll be staying with you right through the next 24 hours, Chuck Todd, political director for NBC.
Let‘s go right now to Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins. They‘re both radio talk show heroes here in Philadelphia. Michael, Bob Brady told me today at noon on CAU, the local affiliate of NBC today, that if Barack Obama has the most elected delegates at the end of this season, he must be the nominee. I think that‘s to a large extent because Bob Brady represents probably the most African-American congressional district in the country represented by a Caucasian. He definitely has to do that.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, now I think you‘re getting into the proper analysis of the big picture, which us, What‘s the potential happy ending for Hillary Clinton? I don‘t see one. I think that all of the number crunchers say there‘s no whey she can surpass him with popular vote or delegate count heading into that convention. If they go into that convention and he‘s leading in either of those categories and he comes out as less than the nominee, I don‘t know how the folks who are his core constituency don‘t feel, and properly so, disenfranchised and sit out the general election. I don‘t know how someone can portray a scenario where she not only becomes the nominee but wins the general election.
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s going to be ugly out there, if that happens. Let me go to E. Steven Collins. Your view of that? What happens if Bob Brady is right? He says, Look, you have to give the nomination under Jeffersonian rules to the candidate who gets the most popular votes—I‘m sorry—the most delegates elected by people?
E. STEVEN COLLINS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, isn‘t that what he said to you during the “College Tour,” that he feels he‘s earned it if he‘s got those numbers and...
MATTHEWS: Yes, he said it.
COLLINS: He said it, and that‘s what I think most people are expecting. Superdelegates can‘t overrule popular vote. It just doesn‘t work that way.
MATTHEWS: Well, what‘s Hillary up to, then? What‘s going on here? What is the game of Hillary, if it isn‘t to—if she can‘t win the elected delegates?
COLLINS: Look, they‘ve got a big war room down at the Belleview (ph), and Govern Rendell is looking at every one of the 66 counties in the state of Pennsylvania, and he is thinking through all of this, the Philadelphia County and all of those counties that are closest to the city. And the focus right now is to try to get the Hillary support base out early and get the elderly out early, get the working class folks out early because we know in—someone said just a moment ago you‘re thinking about a million-and-a-half, maybe two million. I think it‘s going to be a lot more people voting than two million in a state that has 4.1 million registered Democrats. All of them are geeked (ph) up for this big, big payoff from tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: Two things are happening, gentlemen. One is the rallies.
I was at the one at Winwood (ph) out on the Main Line on Saturday morning
and saw about 5,000 or 6,000 people there, just waiting for hours for the
train to arrive, a whistle-stop of Barack Obama and Bob Casey. Everyone
knows about the 35,000- plus. E. Steven, you think it was 70,000, the most
extraordinary crowd probably you‘ve seen in Philadelphia in years at
Independence Hall the other night, on Friday night
At the same time, you hear of things from the front lines, gentlemen, starting with you, Michael, that Hillary Clinton has made herself the hometown girl. She somehow with the beer and the shots and the bowling or whatever, and the—what, the shotgun, growing up with a gun and growing up in Scranton, she‘s made herself a Pennsylvanian, just as she made herself a New York. Do you buy it?
SMERCONISH: No. What I see going on out there—it‘s a battle of passion. In other words, I don‘t know how a pollster in any of those surveys that you articulated at the outset of the show can put a value on 35,000-plus people coming out at Independence Hall. Those Obama folks do comprise, in my view, the bulk of the 300,000 new registrants, and I think that come hell or high water, they‘re coming out to vote tomorrow in Pennsylvania.
You know I‘ve been at least consistent on this in saying I don‘t think there are undecided voters. I think you could have run this race 10 days ago and get the same result that you‘re going to get tomorrow. And I think that the surveys properly don‘t factor in the momentum that I still maintain is on his side of the equation.
MATTHEWS: But what about—but E. Steven, what about what you see up in Scranton? (INAUDIBLE) Scranton, by the way—I talked to one of the people up there, a political guy, says it‘s about a 50-50. You‘ve got Lancaster, Reading, those cities. You‘ve got York, where all the mayors are backing Obama. This isn‘t the state of the Alabama in the middle that James Carville calls it. It‘s very complicated.
COLLINS: It is complicated, but I mean, you look at the young vote, the African-American base—a lot of people, as Michael said repeatedly, that really want to see an African-American get that opportunity in the state of Pennsylvania.
And then add to it just this incredible amount of media. I mean, gee, he has spent so much money telling his story on TV and on radio throughout the entire state. What is it, three to one? She can‘t match it. She hasn‘t been able to match it. And at the same time, to your point, she‘s been very, very visible in the key Philadelphia and the surrounding area, while she‘s had her husband, ex-president Bill Clinton, on the western part of the state and the governor quarterbacking the whole deal. This is going to be a very, very close—I think it‘s going to be about 3 percent, if she does pull it off.
SMERCONISH: Hey, Chris I think the Obama campaign believes they can win. I mean, I have no inside information, but just analyzing the totality of the campaign that they‘ve run, what else could they have done? The bus trip across Pennsylvania, the train trip that you made reference to this weekend, the lining up of all those key endorsements, the media campaign, the television, the radio that they‘ve run. I think they‘ve thrown it all in, and they‘ve thrown it all in in an effort—and I don‘t say this derisively—but to drive a stake through the heart of the Clinton campaign, that they believe that they can beat her and they could bring this whole process to an end tomorrow right here in the Keystone State.
SMERCONISH: And don‘t forget...
MATTHEWS: Well, I just don‘t buy that yet. Maybe I will tomorrow night, E. Steven. But let me ask you this. Do you think—or either one of you could answer this. Do you think Barack Obama has tapped into the hearts of the working middle class white person who‘s culturally conservative, the regular Democrat out there? Is that person any more likely to go for him than he was—or she was—three weeks ago? You first, E. Steven.
COLLINS: I think that Bob Casey, Senator Casey, has opened a door for him among a lot of Catholics, and just—the Teamsters who were out the other night. That goes to the working class group in the state. A big chunk are Catholic. And to see the senator as enthusiastic as he‘s been, I haven‘t seen him—I don‘t think he was this way when he ran for governor. Bob Casey has really put a major, major focus on getting this done in the state and opening doors that Obama didn‘t have open before here.
MATTHEWS: Michael, why would somebody vote for Hillary Clinton tomorrow if they know that all the numbers say she can‘t win? Why are they doing it?
SMERCONISH: That‘s a great question because I see no scenario where she can be the Democratic nominee and successfully be elected. It‘s got to be a vote at some level—don‘t read into this too much, but it‘s got to be at some level a vote against him.
SMERCONISH: Maybe it‘s the “bitter” comment. Maybe it‘s something else about his candidacy that they don‘t like. Listen, he was on my radio show again this morning, and we had a conversation about Pakistan, one issue I wish they‘d spent more time talking about because here‘s how I differentiate these two candidates. He‘s the only guy talking about finishing the job with those who really were responsible for September 11.
SMERCONISH: And Chris, when he brings it up, he gets ridiculed. And did you notice that she went on television today with a bin Laden commercial, first time that issue has come up, and I can‘t help but think that it was in response to the things that he said this morning.
MATTHEWS: No, it‘s in response to your demand that politicians speak out on how we‘re going to catch and kill bin Laden. It‘s you, Michael.
SMERCONISH: I hope so.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Michael Smerconish, E. Steven Collins. And remember, we‘ve got our Pennsylvania primary coverage tomorrow night starting at 6:00 PM, Keith Olbermann and myself. The candidates in Pennsylvania are all going negative. We‘re going to talk about that. This is unfortunately a familiar sight here in the Philadelphia media market. Just as you go to vote, the ads get really nasty. We‘ll be right back with the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, here on HARDBALL, you‘re watching it, on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our campaign‘s not perfect. There‘ve been times where—you know, if you get elbowed enough, eventually, you start elbowing back.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people say, Yes, we can, but that doesn‘t mean we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are cam paining hard in Pennsylvania, and the punch-counterpunch campaign style is revealed in their ads. Here‘s an excerpt from a Clinton ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I don‘t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in the last 10 years, Barack Obama has taken almost $2 million from lobbyists, corporations and PACs. The head of his New Hampshire campaign is a drug company lobbyist. In Indiana, an energy lobbyist. A casino lobbyist in Nevada. And Obama‘s attacking Hillary?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And here‘s a portion of an Obama campaign response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newspapers call Hillary Clinton‘s negative attacks the old politics. And now in the final hours, she‘s launched the most misleading and negative ad of the campaign. Barack Obama doesn‘t take money from special interest PACs or Washington lobbyists, not one dime. But federal records show Clinton‘s raised millions from PACs and lobbyists, more than any candidate in either party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter supports Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Mayor, it‘s an honor to have you, sir. But these ads...
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER (D), PHILADELPHIA, CLINTON SUPPORTER: good to be here.
MATTHEWS: ... seem to be aimed at depressing the voter, rather than exciting them.
NUTTER: I think voters are tremendously excited. As I was just driving here, if you go around Philadelphia, go around our suburbs, people are out in the streets with signs. Folks are honking their horns for either of the candidates. And I think a lot of the air war at this point, the day before the election, is probably not hitting too many people.
MATTHEWS: You mean they‘re not home to watch?
NUTTER: No, they‘re out working.
MATTHEWS: Well, I guess Clinton‘s...
NUTTER: They‘re out campaigning.
MATTHEWS: Here‘s your candidate, Senator Clinton‘s, latest campaign ad. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: 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?
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I‘m Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So what do you make of that ad, Mr. Mayor?
NUTTER: It‘s a great ad. It‘s telling the truth. It is right down the middle.
It is a tough job, and you need to be prepared, as the senator says, on day one. It‘s a very serious position. It‘s the most powerful job in the world. And I think the senator hit it right on the head. And it‘s a good ad.
MATTHEWS: So, she‘s going to solve the Great Depression, win World War II, solve the Cuban Missile Crisis...
MATTHEWS: ... bring down the Berlin Wall?
I mean, those are—that‘s a hefty set of ambitions there.
NUTTER: No, I think those things have already pretty much been done, Chris.
NUTTER: I think she‘s trying to explain that those the kinds of challenges that previous presidents have faced...
NUTTER: ... that there will be some other new challenge, and that she is ready, based on her experience and judgment, the way that she has handled herself, and been through the fire, of national big-time politics and the public—public eye for a long period of time. She‘s ready to go. She‘s ready to govern. She‘s ready for this job.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the crowds for Barack Obama? I know
you‘re—you‘re a Democrat, and you support whoever wins. But this number
of people that showed up at Independence Hall the other night, Friday night
then, I went out to the main line, and I stood with about—well, three hours of people, 5,000 people, at just one train stop.
MATTHEWS: Why is this guy, if he‘s not ready to lead, able to lead so well? Why are so many people coming out and accepting his leadership if he‘s not ready to lead? Are they wrong?
NUTTER: I think it‘s not so much about that.
And, certainly, Senator Obama is relatively new in the whole scheme of things on the scene. People are excited for a variety of reasons. He‘s certainly, obviously, touched people in a—in a very special way. And, so, there‘s a lot of excitement. Everybody knows the election is coming up. And, you know, people want to see someone who is new on the scene. So, I give him credit for that.
People are paying attention to this election. I mean, he certainly has captured a lot of attention, spent a lot of money, about 3-1 vs. Senator Clinton. So, you know, there‘s always an interest in the newest person on the scene. He has a message. There‘s no question about that. People want to be optimistic about the future. But they also, ultimately, want to know that there‘s a person there who can help them get things done. And, for me, that person is Senator Clinton.
MATTHEWS: How will Philadelphia go tomorrow night, Mr. Mayor?
NUTTER: Philadelphians, I think, are going to come out in fairly large numbers. I make no predictions of turnout figures, because we have never seen an election like this. Senator Clinton will do very well in Philadelphia and across our suburbs, and certainly on out through central Pennsylvania and out to the west.
I think it‘s very difficult to predict the actual numbers, but the big number that really counts is winning Pennsylvania. I think Senator Clinton is poised and positioned well to win and have a good win tomorrow by the time the polls close.
MATTHEWS: If she has a five- or six-point victory tomorrow night, when we‘re counting the votes, around midnight—Keith Olbermann and I—would you consider that a justification to continue the campaign, if it‘s only five or six?
NUTTER: Well, you know, if—in—in any other business or sport, certainly, if you—when you win, you win. And Senator Clinton‘s in this to stay. She‘s demonstrated the ability to win big states and certainly the critical states that Democrats have to win in November in order to be successful.
She‘s done that and demonstrated that by what she‘s done so far.
There‘s no reason, absolutely, for her to do anything but to continue on. There were some who told me last year that, you know, maybe you should get out of the race; there‘s no hope. And, somehow, some way, we were successful. And she has the same prospect right in front of her right now.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Thank you very much for that endorsement, although you ran a gutsy, brilliant, modern, state-of-the-art campaign.
MATTHEWS: I wouldn‘t hold her to that standard.
Thank, Mr. Mayor, mayor of Philadelphia.
NUTTER: Oh, she‘s—she‘s running a great—she‘s running a great campaign, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Mr. Mayor. Thank you very much, Michael Nutter.
NUTTER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, we asked gun owners, bowlers, beer drinkers, shot and beer drinkers who do they want to win the Democratic nomination—the results when HARDBALL comes back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
So, what else is happening in politics?
Well, film documentarian and provocateur Michael Moore—he‘s the maker of “Sicko” on the health insurance industry—has this to say on his Web site today—quote—“Over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw.”
Well, that‘s strong medicine from the “Sicko” man.
Hillary Clinton has some intriguing poll news coming out of Pennsylvania today. The MSNBC/McClatchy poll has Clinton beating Obama 53 percent to 28 percent among gun owners. When it comes to that all-important bowler vote, she‘s up 54 to 33. Among beer drinkers, she‘s dead even with Barack at 44 percent.
I have got to hand it to Hillary, by the way. The lady who spoke Southern down in Arkansas when she was first lady all those years, who wears a Yankee cap over in New York, is now seen by many people here as that girl from Scranton.
Next, all three presidential candidates appear tonight on “Raw.”
That‘s the “USA Today”—USA wrestling show.
Meanwhile, Cindy McCain guest-hosted on “The View” today.
Here she is talking about her husband‘s alleged temper problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE VIEW”)
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Like anybody who is concerned about America, he‘s passionate about issues. All of us are. We all have our pet issues. We all have whatever it is that we‘re involved in. He‘s passionate about the future of this country. Some people mistake that for temper. It‘s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, please give me the list of great politicians who lack a great temper. I hear these stories about everybody in public life. They have all got a temper. It seems to come with the territory.
And now it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.”
Here‘s what I say about the results from Pennsylvania tomorrow night. And I could be wrong. If it‘s eight points or better—eight—it‘s a victory for Senator Clinton. She will get credit for a win, a reason to stay in the race, in fact. If not, if it‘s below eight, no cigar. That‘s the over/under on tomorrow night, eight—tonight‘s “Big Number.”
Up next: Hundreds of thousands of new voters have registered as Democrats in Pennsylvania. Who are they? And, more important, who are they going to vote for?
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”
Stocks closing mixed this Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling 24 points. The S&P 500 lost two, the Nasdaq only one in the green there, up by five points.
Putting pressure on stocks today, Bank of America‘s reported first-quarter earnings that were short of analyst estimates. The nation‘s second largest bank said profit fell a larger-than-expected 77 percent from a year ago. Bank of America shares dropped 2.5 percent on that news.
Oil closed at yet another record high. Crude oil rose 79 cents in New York‘s trading session, and finished the day at $117.48 a barrel.
That‘s bound to drive up gasoline prices, which have also climbed to all-time highs. The Energy Department reports that the national average for regular unleaded rose almost 12 cents over the past week, to a record $3.51 a gallon.
That‘s it from CNBC, America‘s business channel—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tomorrow, the Democratic primary here in Pennsylvania is expected to attract more than two million voters, or three times the level of participation of the Democratic primary just four years ago. Some of the voters, though, will be casting ballots as Democrats for the first time. It‘s part of an intrigue, the intrigue surrounding tomorrow‘s contest. How do you pick it? How do you know how people are going to vote for the first time?
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster has the latest.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And how are you?
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On this, the last full day of campaigning in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama greeted diners in Scranton and encouraged a high school trumpet player to let it rip.
OBAMA: Sounds good.
SHUSTER: A short time later, Hillary Clinton appeared at a nearby ballroom. Part of Clinton‘s family is from Scranton. And with her mother and brothers by her side, Clinton offered supporters a closing them.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I
appreciate your having my back.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I appreciate that very much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: But here‘s what I want you to know. As your president, I will have your back, and I will have America‘s back.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SHUSTER: Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns say one of the biggest mysteries hanging over this race is 306,918. That‘s the number of Democrats added to the Pennsylvania voter rolls this year in time for tomorrow‘s primary.
About 146,000 are people registered to vote for the first time. Roughly 160,000 are people who switched their registration from Republican or independent to Democrat.
Pennsylvania political analysts believe most of the newly registered Democrats support Barack Obama. Many registered on college campuses, and nearly half come from Philadelphia or the surrounding counties. This part of the state is an Obama stronghold.
And, Friday night, in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, an Obama rally attracted more than 35,000 people. It was the largest crowd any candidate has had in the entire 2008 campaign.
OBAMA: We won‘t just win in Pennsylvania. We will win all across this country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We will win the general election in November. We will change this country.
SHUSTER: The question is, how much of the excitement for Obama Friday night and throughout the weekend on his whistle-stop tour was for real, and how much was driven simply by curiosity?
The changing dynamics of the Pennsylvania electorate have the Obama campaign hoping the race is closer than the survey indicate. Obama, himself, said as much today on a Pittsburgh radio station.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: I‘m not predicting a win. I‘m—I‘m predicting it‘s going to be close, and that we are going to do a lot better then people expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUSTER: Obama has outspent Clinton two to one in Pennsylvania.
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SHUSTER: Still, despite it all, Clinton maintains a stubborn lead in most polls.
CLINTON: In the next 36 hours, do everything you can. Convince people to go vote who say that they‘re not going to vote. Take them to the polls. Call your friends and neighbors. Make the case for the kind of results that we desperately need in America again.
SHUSTER (on camera): The Clinton and Obama campaigns both expect that some of the nasty attack ads running in Pennsylvania will keep some Democratic voters home tomorrow. However, officials are still predicting that, like earlier Clinton/Obama contests so far, voter will still shatter Pennsylvania Democratic primary records.
I‘m David Shuster, for HARDBALL, in Washington.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.
Pennsylvania U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah is an Obama supporter.
Congressman, I‘m always impressed by the diversity in the crowds of people supporting Barack Obama.
I was out at the Main Line, you know, that area out in the better sections of the city out there, on City Line the other morning -- 35,000 people, some people think it was twice that number. What are your feelings and thoughts about these numbers of people showing up for Barack?
REP. CHAKA FATTAH (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, We have been down in the trenches and we have been out and about. And I can just tell you that we are very optimistic that Senator Obama‘s going to do very, very well.
I will tell you, key in on Scranton. Senator Obama was there last night. He was there this morning. You saw Senator Clinton backtrack to Scranton. Senator Bob Mellow and some of the Democratic leaders in the—that northeastern corner of the state, about 15 counties there, nobody‘s paid any attention to says, Obama‘s got—is doing very well.
We‘re going to work hard. Obviously, Clinton‘s got a home-court advantage. But, you know, the Sixers beat Detroit on their home court yesterday, so, you never know how this might turn out. We‘re going to work hard.
MATTHEWS: I knew you would say that. I knew you would say the Sixers beat the Pistons, pulled the upset.
FATTAH: We‘re going to work very, very hard.
FATTAH: And I think that—I think, clearly, in terms of delegates, you know, we‘re going to do very well.
Of the 19 congressional districts, my district has the largest share of delegates available, and Obama‘s going to win it by a large margin. And Senator Obama is finishing the night in Pittsburgh, after visiting the Mon Valley. You see Senator Clinton finishing up at the Palestra in Philadelphia.
So, Obama is where they say he‘s weak, in the west, and Senator Clinton is in Philadelphia, where this should be Obama territory. So, I think both of them are working in each other‘s bases. And you can tell by the intensity—forget the polls—this is a very close contest.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about this. You know, it‘s not an ethnic thing, because about two or three or one, the voters who vote for Barack Obama are—are white people. And there‘s this tremendous support.
What is going on, do you think, in cities like Reading, Lancaster, York, those cities all run by mayors who are pro-Obama. They‘re out of the city. They‘re not part of the metropolitan area. What‘s going on with those guys?
FATTAH: We‘re going to carry York, Redding, Lancaster. We‘re going to carry Norristown and Allentown. We‘re going to carry Homestead, Pennsylvania. I think you‘re going to see a lot of surprises along the route here.
I think the big thing is that with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters working hard. SCIU is working really hard. The Clintons have a lot going for them. Mainly, it‘s Ed Rendell, people like Mayor Nutter that are working hard. The Clinton brand name is great in Pennsylvania. There‘s still a lot of room here for Obama.
There were tens of thousands of people lined up along the train route on Saturday. There‘s a genuine excitement about changing our country and changing our politics.
MATTHEWS: What do you think Barack Obama has to do tomorrow night?
Does he have to win or lose by less than eight? Where would you put it? Where is your over-under number? What does he have to achieve in terms of success tomorrow night, your candidate?
FATTAH: Our biggest supporters in the state are people like Senator Casey and Congressman Patrick Murphy from Bucks County. All we‘re hoping for is that everyone who supports Obama comes out and votes, vote for him, vote for his delegate. If they do that, he‘s going to be the Democratic nominee. As long as we hold it close here, under five points, I‘ll be very happy.
MATTHEWS: Under what?
FATTAH: Under five points. A Clinton win that‘s less than five points.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia.
Up next, with one day to go to the Pennsylvania primary, the politics fix comes back to see if we can break this thing open and figure out where it‘s headed tomorrow night. This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix. Tonight‘s round table, Larry Kane, a legendary host of—legendary anchor man here, host of “The Voice of Reason” on CN-8, Jill Zuckman of the “Chicago Tribune,” and Jean Cummings, senior political correspondent of Politico.
Larry, your number here for the over under? What‘s going to decide victory?
LARRY KANE, HOST, CN8: I don‘t have an over under number, but I will tell you this: I believe that the Obama people are playing the game and saying, OK, if it‘s under ten, it‘s not a big deal, over ten, it‘s not a big deal. The expectation game has changed, though, because today Barack Obama said out west, in western Pennsylvania, that he thinks he‘s going to lose this election in Pennsylvania, but that it will be close.
What does he know that we don‘t know?
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s take a look the national polling that‘s going on in Pennsylvania. The latest poll numbers, the MSNBC/McClatchey/”Pittsburgh Post Gazette” poll has Senator Clinton leading by five. Quinnipiac University‘s poll has Clinton up by seven. Suffolk University‘s poll Clinton up by ten. The Real Clear Politics website that calculates the average of the latest polls, including those three and several others from the last few days, has Senator Clinton up by six.
That‘s the average, Larry, six points.
KANE: I have to tell you something, there are sweaty palms right now and a lot of sleepless nights for this pollsters. And I agree with what Michael Smerconish said earlier. I know they‘re trying to average it based on the registration, but nobody knows what those 312,000 newly registered Democrats will do, where they will turn out. If the turnout is huge in Montgomery, Bucks, and Chester Counties, in Allentown, in Lancaster, in Redding, anything can happen.
I talked to one pollster today, who I will not name, who said that this is an election like we‘ve never seen before, and anything can happen. Somebody‘s going be wrong tomorrow morning. There‘s no question about that.
MATTHEWS: Jill Zuckman, let me talk to you about a thing that gets talked about a lot here. That‘s the cell phone thing, the fact that young voters have cell phones. They do not have land lines. Number two, when you call a home and you‘re a pollster, the person who answers the phone generally is the woman of the family. Is that skewing the thing? The youngest voter in the family, the teenage boy or girl doesn‘t come to the phone and is not polled.
JILL ZUCKMAN, “THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE”: I think this has the potential to be a Dewey defeats Truman kind of thing because of the cell phone issue. There are so many young people who are engaged in this election. They‘re very difficult to get a handle on. It‘s hard to poll them. That could skew it in Obama‘s favor.
But I think what was interesting today was the Clinton campaign was trying very, very hard to convince everybody that Senator Obama had outspent Senator Clinton by seven million dollars, and because he had done that, he should—he was in it to win it, and he should win this. If he doesn‘t, then it would be very bad for him, which is the opposite view of how many points does she need to win by.
MATTHEWS: They‘re trying to change the subject from the over under number. I am saying it‘s eight. I do believe if she gets between one and seven percent advantage tomorrow night, it will not be seen as a victory nationwide. If she gets over, it will be seen as a victory. Jean, your thoughts about this, the numbers game being played right now, given the fact that Barack Obama is not favored to win tomorrow.
JEAN CUMMINGS, POLITICO: I think it was smart of Barack Obama to come flat out and say, I‘m going to lose. That way, if he gets anywhere close, he doesn‘t look like a loser. I mean, the polls may be right. It may be a five-point election. But as you say, Chris, they may not be enough. I mean, going into this, everybody was talking about ten points. And so if she wins by five, is that really the kind of victory that she heeds?
Not in terms of the expectation game, but the underlying math for Hillary Clinton has still not changed. A five percent victory in Pennsylvania will not help her with the overall population count. It won‘t make a big difference with super delegates and nothing really changes, if that‘s the kind of victory she has.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s take a look at Senator Obama in Scranton today. He‘s apparently really contesting Scranton. I hear it‘s about 50/50 in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Let‘s take a look at the senator there campaigning and trying to break into Hillary country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Scranton, this is our moment. This is our time. And if you‘re willing to work with me and vote for me; if you‘re willing to make sure that the next generation has the same chances somebody gave us; if you‘re not willing to settle for what the cynics tell you you have to accept, but are willing to strive to make sure that everybody has opportunity, everybody has a decent shot at life, every child in America can achieve what they dream of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Larry Kane, what do you make of the old James Carville saw that Pennsylvania‘s the state of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and Alabama in the middle? I don‘t like it. What do you think of that estimate?
KANE: I think James Carville had one big victory here back in 1986. It‘s a long time ago. I do not agree with that. I do not see central Pennsylvanians as residents of Alabama or Mississippi or anywhere near Dixie. I think he‘s all confused on this. Sometimes these self-starters that become giants in the political world start to believe their own press credits. He‘s wrong. Central Pennsylvania is not Alabama.
MATTHEWS: I will tell you, when I talk to people from places like York, Lancaster, and Redding, and up in Scranton, and places like that, I do agree that the western part of the state is more conservative than the eastern part. Big surprise, it‘s more mid-western. I do not buy the fact that once you leave downtown Philly, everything goes to Wyoming.
We‘ll be right back with the round table and more of the politics fix. Remember, we‘ve got our Pennsylvania primary coverage starting tomorrow night. Keith and I are going to be on for seven hours tomorrow night because the numbers are going to matter tomorrow night, not just who wins, but what matters in those numbers. You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with the round table. Let me go to Jill Zuckman. It seems to me Hillary Clinton, who has been very affective in becoming an Arkansan when her husband was a governor all those years—she developed a southern accent. When she went to New York, she quickly became a New Yorker with the Yankees hat and the upstate listening tour. In Pennsylvania, it seems it me, she‘s been very effective in making herself a hometown girl from Scranton, with the beers and the shots and the beers, and the guns and everything, raised with a gun. It seems like it‘s worked, even to the point where she‘s walking around north east Philly the other day and she‘s getting the treatment of the hometown girl.
ZUCKMAN: I think she‘s been channeling Scranton as best she possibly can. She‘s got the connection to it. She seems to get Pennsylvania. I think that‘s a big help for her. I think Senator Obama‘s been struggling a little bit to find that connection.
And Pennsylvania‘s demographics are very good for Senator Clinton. It‘s an older electorate. There are more women and there are fewer people with college degrees. Those are all areas where she does extremely well.
MATTHEWS: She‘s running 60 percent among women. Larry, what do you make of her ability to morph into an old-time Pennsylvania person from up north, up around Scranton?
KANE: I think it‘s an extraordinary talent, except she ran into Bob Casey Jr. on this one. Let‘s face it. Did you say 50/50, running 50/50 in Lackawanna County?
MATTHEWS: I was polling the county chairs all day yesterday.
KANE: That is an extraordinary figure, because you figure without Casey‘s support, you‘re looking at 65/35. That‘s a big dent. I will say one other thing too, in terms of morphing into a Pennsylvanian; that‘s a tough thing to do. You have so many different faces of the state, from western Pennsylvania, coal mining regions, Lancaster, the exurbs. Nobody‘s talking about the exurbs here; Lancaster, Redding, Allentown, places like that.
These are places in Pennsylvania where a lot of city folks have relocated and they‘re still voting the way they did in the city.
CUMMINGS: Chris, on that point, what‘s interesting is then I did the analysis for Politico about where these new voters are, a lot of them are scattered out there in what should be Clinton strong holds. There are about 130,000 of them outside of the urban areas and out in those exurbs. It will be interesting to see if they come out and vote in the way the polls suggest they‘re going to vote, which is to break 60/40 Barack Obama‘s way.
KANE: Four hundred thousand Democratic voters in Lancaster County.
That‘s a lot of voters.
MATTHEWS: I think we‘re going to see a polka dot effect. I think we‘re going to see when they do those analysis, everyone, place like Redding and Lancaster and York and the Lehigh Valley—I think you‘re going to see a lot of Barack support. There are a lost people that pay attention to the national news across Pennsylvania who are inspired by Barack Obama and are not just voting the more traditional vote for a Hillary, a familiar face.
That said, I do have to respect her ability. I think she‘s exploited this bitter comment by Barack brilliantly, including going all the way to the point of downing shots and beers and talking about gun toting as a kid. I think it‘s worked for her. It‘s given a giant permission slip to a lot of people who didn‘t want to vote for Barack, Larry.
KANE: You may have a good point there. The gun issue is very interesting. I got word late this afternoon that there are robo-calls being made, automatic calls, on the gun issue, by someone associated with the Clinton campaign, attacking Barack Obama for being a gun control advocate.
The second issue was on the issue of abortion, but I haven‘t heard that. I just hear the robo-calls are being heard all through Philadelphia and Montgomery County concerning his issue on abortion. I don‘t know what the content is, but I know it‘s on-going throughout the evening.
MATTHEWS: Anybody who listens to the phone the last 48 hours before a vote is crazy. The people putting out this information know it won‘t pass muster. That‘s they why they do it by phone. That‘s why they try to do it under the radar. Jill Zuckman, would you please confirm this. If there‘s a legitimate story to put out about a candidate, you don‘t do it by phone the last 24 hours.
ZUCKMAN: Right, the people in Pennsylvania should call their friends in New Hampshire to hear about the phone calls that they get leading up to the New Hampshire primary and some of the direct mail pieces that show up in the day or two before the election. They‘re definitely questionable. But we‘ll see how it plays out tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: It‘s the old days of—did you know that Jerry Voorhies was a Communist, Nixon‘s first opponent. Did you know Helen Douglass was a communist? That kind of stuff that goes on in the middle of the night is sleaze ball. Your thoughts, Jean, last word here, Hillary, the girl next door, versus the phenom, who wins?
CUMMINGS: Well, it‘s a tough call. I have to say I think the demographics still work in Hillary Clinton‘s favor. I think she has the best opportunity in Pennsylvania. I think, though, Barack Obama may have done enough by running a different kind of campaign, with more small events and getting out there and bowling and being more personable with the new voter registration; he might be able to keep the margin close enough so it‘s not an Ohio blowout and it doesn‘t have that kind of impact on the race.
MATTHEWS: All he needs to do is get 38 percent and he beats that bowling score. Larry Kane, the great man, thank you, sir, for joining us. It was great being with you last week at that great fund raiser out in Montgomery County. Jill Zuckman, Jean Cummings, thank you all. Join us again tomorrow night for the big night, Penn night, Pennsylvania night, Puxsutawney Phil will have nothing on our results tomorrow night. Our special coverage of the Pennsylvania primary starts at 6:00 pm Eastern tomorrow night with Keith Olbermann. It‘s time for RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE with David Gregory.
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