Guests: Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, John Harwood
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, a memo from Hillary Clinton to the Democratic Party, we will always have Pennsylvania. Clinton has a new story to tell the supers, and Senator Obama has new questions to answer about his electability. The RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE rolls on.
Welcome once again everybody to the race, I‘m David Gregory, this is your stop for the fast pace, the bottom line and every point of view in the room. Every day this race, as you know, is game day, and we‘re here to wrap it up for you and tell you what it means. Later a special war room edition on what Obama has to do to force Clinton from the race.
The bedrock of the program, as you know, is a panel that comes to play with us. And tonight, MSNBC political analyst and host of the “Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, Rachel Maddow. CNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent John Harwood; host of MSNBC‘s “MORNING JOE,” Joe Scarborough. And MSNBC political analyst, former presidential candidate himself, Pat Buchanan.
We begin as we do every night with everyone‘s take on the most important political story of the day, it‘s the headlines. I‘ll start right here tonight, my headline, “Good Press for Clinton.” Did you notice that the initial take after Clinton‘s Pennsylvania win was nothing changes? But today she is riding a wave of slumping Obama press. Why can‘t he close? What‘s his trouble with working-class whites? Has she stopped the super delegate blow to his side?
Clinton hitting the campaign trail in North Carolina today, an Obama stronghold to be sure, but she is the one trying to narrow his advantage in that state.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, it is GOP presumptive nominee John McCain in New Orleans today, making news by speaking out against the Bush administration‘s handling of Hurricane Katrina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America is a greet nation and America cares and America has compassion for those who have suffered disasters. America will never forget, I will never forget, and never again will there be a mismanaged natural disaster, manmade or natural, again that will occur in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Also late today Senator McCain spoke to “Today‘s” Meredith Vieira, an interview to air in the morning about that GOP ad in North Carolina raising Obama‘s relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: This kind of campaigning is unacceptable, I‘ve said that. It will harm the Republicans‘ cause, and I‘ve done everything that I can to repudiate and to see that this kind of campaigning does not continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Speaking of Reverend Wright, Pat Buchanan, what‘s your headline tonight?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Headline is “He‘s Back!” Barack‘s biggest headache returns to the silver screen. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, Reverend Wright turns up again on Bill Moyer‘s revisiting that issue and resurrecting it. Bad news for Barack.
GREGORY: Why do you think he came out now? The headline here is he wasn‘t asked.
BUCHANAN: I don‘t know why he did it, but it certainly is going to hurt Barack Obama and make him a very angry man. Barack‘s done the best he could standing by him, denouncing his statements, but I think this is really an unfortunate thing, and frankly it‘s a real sign I think almost of ingratitude on Reverend Wright‘s part. I think he wants to get back into the mix of things, probably likes the publicity. It‘s going to hurt Barack, though, because it‘s going to revisit and re-raise the whole issue.
GREGORY: Joe Scarborough, you‘re thinking about the same thing tonight? Your take on that headline today?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, my take is “The preacher‘s poor timing, who couldn‘t have really come at a worst time for Barack Obama. He decided to choose the day after Barack Obama suffered one of the worst political losses of his career. We‘ve all talked about the working-class white not going to Barack Obama in Pennsylvania. The more damning story is the fact the suburbs broke sharply against Barack Obama. Bucks County, Montgomery County, those fabled Philadelphia suburbs that break back and forth, go Republican, then Democrat, broke harsh against him. It has to be because of Reverend Wright. And he really didn‘t help Barack Obama at all. He didn‘t back down on his statements. He didn‘t say that he regretted saying god damn the United States of America, he didn‘t regret saying that the United States government invented AIDS. All he basically said was Barack just said what he said about me because he‘s a politics. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMIAH WRIGHT, REVEREND: -- are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic, or as the learned journalist from “New York Times” called me a wackadoodle. It‘s to paint me as something - something‘s wrong with me. There‘s nothing wrong with this country, it‘s policies. We‘re perfect. We are—our hands are free, our hands have no blood on them. That‘s not a failure to communicate. The message that‘s being communicated by the sound bites is exactly what those pushing the sound bites want to communicate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Once again suggesting, David, that America has blood on its hands. It couldn‘t have come at a worst time for Barack Obama.
GREGORY: All right, Joe, thanks very much. Rachel Maddow, your headline tonight.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: My headline tonight is “Clinton campaign to super delegates, wait for me.”
For the first time we‘ve had a push-back against what seems to be the consensus on the Democratic side, that super delegates should decide and decide soon. We‘ve heard it from Howard Dean, we‘ve heard it from Harry Reid, we‘ve heard it from Nancy Pelosi. We even heard some positive motions in that direction from the Obama campaign for the first time today, we are hearing from Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporter, that the super delegates should not decide anytime soon, that if they are thinking about deciding, they should hold back and wait. We have got division on that issue for the first time.
GREGORY: The reality is sure there‘s been a real cascade that‘s gone to Obama after Super Tuesday. But there are enough super delegates who are frozen still. They don‘t want to decide this race until the contests are done, Rachel.
MADDOW: They don‘t want to decide this race until they absolutely have to, because there‘s always a chance, if you look at each individual person‘s rational decision, there‘s always a chance that it is going to come back and hurt them in some way. So they‘re all sitting because it‘s individually rational for them to do so. As a group, it‘s irrational for them to do so, because of course John McCain is getting a huge head start on the campaign.
GREGORY: All right, John Harwood down in New Orleans tonight covering Senator McCain. Your headline?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: David, in windy Baton Rouge, my headline is “The Democratic slugfest is John McCain‘s financial equalizer.”
John McCain is loving every word that my colleagues just said in those three previous segments and he can count the reasons with every check he brings in. As a matter of fact, he‘s going to bring in a bunch of checks behind me tonight in this hotel. This allows him to do two things, this fundraising this spring—make up ground on Democrats who have been able to raise more, but also shorten the time between now and the time when he gets that $83 million of general election money this fall.
GREGORY: Trying to capitalize on this time when not a lot of people are looking his way. John, thanks very much. A lot more to talk about. Coming up, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went negative in Pennsylvania.
What are they going to do now in the days ahead? A question of engagement.
Later on in the show, of course, your turn to play with the panel. Call us, (212) 790-2299, e-mail us race08@MSNBC.com. The race, your stop for everything happening in this campaign. We‘ll come right back.
GREGORY: Coming up, the war room. After Pennsylvania, what are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama doing to seal the deal in the upcoming primaries? We‘re talking about May 6. What works when it comes to travel, appealing to specific voting blocs and the power of going negative. We‘re coming right back.
GREGORY: We are back on the race and trying to open the doors, heading deep inside campaign‘s war room tonight, seeing which strategies are working and which are not.
Still with us, Rachel Maddow, John Harwood, Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan. First up, post-Pennsylvania strategy now. That‘s what we‘re talking about. The Clinton camp already going negative in Indiana with this, a mailer attacking Obama over NAFTA, free trade, fertile ground there, bread-and-butter issue for white working-class voters, a Democratic Obama having some trouble courting these days. Will Obama respond in kind or get back on the high road?
Joe, you‘ve been there. Get inside his head, what is he thinking he‘s got to do now? Act like he‘s already won this thing or really begin to engage her?
SCARBOROUGH: Barack Obama‘s biggest problem in Pennsylvania was that he appeared passive, he didn‘t roll up his sleeves, he didn‘t fight for the votes. You keep hearing that he‘s cool. He‘s detached, he‘s smug. That may have worked for JFK in 1960 after he won the race, but the Kennedys went to West Virginia. They fought for every vote. Barack Obama has to be seen doing that. He‘s got to roll up his sleeves, get tough and get tough fast, engage Hillary Clinton.
GREGORY: Rachel, what about the other side of that argument? There‘s a different way to look at that, which is that‘s exactly what she wants. He should play his game. His brand of politics which his a new kind of politics.
MADDOW: I think this is - we‘re in another situation in the campaign where the facts are really different than the narrative. If you look at Barack Obama‘s performance in Pennsylvania, he improved his performance among white men, among voters making less than 50 grand a year, among voters over 65 and among Democratic primary voters who described themselves as conservative.
He did better among those voters than he has previously. The mainstream narrative is that Reverend Wright and bitter-gate really hurt him. Well then why is he doing better among blue collar voters, conservative voters and white guys, then before those controversies hit?
SCARBOROUGH: He spent though three times as much as Hillary Clinton. He lost by double digits. He lost the suburbs. He got killed in Bucks County. He got killed in Montgomery County. Pennsylvania was horrific for him. I‘ve never heard anybody say it was anything worse than a blowout.
MADDOW: David, can I just respond there?
GREGORY: Go ahead.
MADDOW: He may have lost there, but he was going to lose by 16 points, he ended up losing by 9.3 or 9.4. He improved among the specific constituencies that everybody is saying are what killed him in Pennsylvania. It just doesn‘t match the facts, the story that‘s being told.
SCARBOROUGH: It actually does.
MADDOW: It doesn‘t, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: He got killed in the suburbs.
GREGORY: Let‘s move on. Hillary Clinton is appealing to one demographic in particular most apparent in her victory speech Tuesday night. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Men and women—a woman—women could vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Hillary Clinton, just a sampling of how many times John Harwood, she talked about women being the backbone of her campaign right now. Does she emphasize that even more as she goats into states that could be difficult for her?
HARWOOD: You know, I think that‘s something, David, that she really doesn‘t have to emphasize all that much. She really wants to focus on holding her advantage among these constituencies that we‘ve been talking about—Catholics, blue collar whites, older voters, and of course there‘s a lot of overlap because a lot of those people she‘s targeting are women, but I think women is the most obvious thing about her campaign and probably not what she needs to emphasize.
GREGORY: But, Pat Buchanan, if he goes down in North Carolina, she was there today, she wants to close the gap on Barack Obama in a state where he has got an advantage. Again, she goes back to women, that may help her do that.
BUCHANAN: It may help her do it, but she‘s got a broader strategy than that. As Frank Rich said, she‘s portraying herself as the love child of Joe Hill and Norma Rae. This is what worked for her in Pennsylvania, quite frankly, working-class hero, fighting gal, terrific on that sense. And the key thing she‘s doing though, it‘s got to be done, she‘s doing it with NAFTA on the economic front.
But culturally and socially she‘s driving Barack Obama out of the center of American politics into the radical chic, into the left. San Francisco, you know, someone who‘s got this looks down on working-class folks as clutching their bigotries, bibles and guns. Keep doing that against Barack Obama, if can you push him out of the center, she can hopefully—and it‘s a long shot—get the nomination, but the Republicans can use it to kill him.
GREGORY: Let‘s talk about who wins the day in terms of sheer grit.
GREGORY: Hang on one second, John.
We talk about Hillary Clinton hitting the campaign trail hard today with multiple events in North Carolina, including one with General Hugh Shelton, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
While she was making her pitch to military families on her national security credentials, Barack Obama was home in Chicago with no scheduled events today. Smart move to stay out of the spotlight today.
John Harwood, it‘s a very narrow question, one day in the life of the campaign, these candidates have got to be dead tired, nevertheless he‘s facing a tougher day of press than she is after Pennsylvania. Where is he?
HARWOOD: Well, I think he‘s got to regroup a little bit and figure out what his strategy is on some of the questions that we‘ve just been talking about, got to figure out how he‘s going to answer those debate challenges from Hillary Clinton.
She ramped that up today, too, but on Pat‘s point earlier, David. She‘s got to be careful about how far she pushes this appeal to cultural conservatives. I‘m down here in Baton Rouge, I interviewed the Republican Senate candidate, who‘s a conservative and he was talking about his support for the second amendment. He told me he‘s pretty sure he‘s a better shot than Hillary Clinton.
GREGORY: Rachel, how does that ad down in North Carolina play in this race? McCain came out and said you shouldn‘t run it, you should take it off the air, we‘re all talking about it, the damage in some way has been done, and it‘s raised the issue of his association with Reverend Wright. What impact does that have?
MADDOW: I think that‘s right and with due respect to Joe and Pat, I think we would be talking about Reverend Wright again because of that North Carolina ad, whether or not he had done that Bill Moyers interview. I think this is on the agenda to stay because they really want it to be on the agenda to stay.
One interesting element here. If John McCain really does say that this slime is going to be off the table, if he does assert control on the Republican Party and says don‘t run these kinds of ads, it takes away one of Hillary Clinton‘s best arguments against Barack Obama, which is that he can‘t stand up to the slime. If there‘s going to be less slime, then she‘s going to need a different argument against why Obama can‘t win.
GREGORY: Does McCain have the juice to be able to get this stuff off the air?
I want to get to money before we run out of time. Some confusion today over whether Hillary Clinton actually raised $10 million large in donations yesterday. Her campaign finance chairman Terry McAuliffe claimed on MSNBC that she would reach $10 million by the end of the day. Today the campaign confirms they did in fact reach their goal, receiving $10 million from about 100,000 donors, 80,000 of which are new they claim. Is it a tangible sign that the tide is changing, money coming in for her, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it, it‘s great news for the average donation, $100, this completely different from what Hillary Clinton did three, four months ago when she was relying on top-down donors, huge donors that would max out. They were exhausted. Two months ago they said enough. She‘s gone to the Internet now. After Texas and Ohio, she was able to pick up new donors. Give me small amounts of money. Today $10 million, 100,000 donors, average $100 a piece. That‘s great news for Hillary Clinton.
GREGORY: All right, got to take a break here. A lot more coming up, including our smart takes, racing through the RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE here on MSNBC. Don‘t go away.
GREGORY: We are back on the RACE. This is the idea of smart takes. Smart fodder for your own campaign debates at home, in the workplace, with family. I‘m going to go through these, and I have my panel with me here for quick reaction, Rachel, John, Joe and Pat.
First smart take tonight, “Bloomberg‘s” Margaret Carlson says Hillary Clinton‘s rocky argument is a winner. To the quote board, “Politics is all about the map until it becomes about the story. Clinton won by making herself the message. She will never stop fighting for you, because look how she‘ll never stop fighting for herself.”
Pat, you like that message, you like that story?
BUCHANAN: I like it. I think it was very effective for her, and I think also turning Barack Obama into something he‘s resisting, sort of an elitist who is out of touch and she‘s a gritty, tough gal, battling right out of middle Pennsylvania. I think it works like a charm and I think she‘s going to continue it right through Indiana, which of course is the big test.
GREGORY: Our second smart take tonight, Karl Rove looks at two of Barack Obama‘s central claims that he will be a unifying post-partisan president and that he understands the urgency of now. Rove‘s take? Those arguments fall flat. To the quote board, “Mr. Obama has not been a leader on big causes in Congress. He has been manifestly unwilling to expend his political capital on urgent issues. He has been only an observer, watching the action from a distance. Thinking wry and sardonic and cynical thoughts to himself about his colleagues, mildly amused that they are to-ing and fro-ing. He has held his energy and talent in reserve for the more important task of advancing his own political career, which means running for president.” Rachel, take it on.
MADDOW: Wow, I‘m amazed that Karl Rove gets to be not billed as a John McCain adviser at this point. We know that he‘s donated to McCain‘s campaign, I think he should be called an adviser. I think that‘s incredibly nasty stuff. I also think that it‘s incredibly untrue.
Barack Obama, if you look just at his issues on national security, I would take Barack Obama‘s work on tying down loose nukes, trying to get shoulder-fired missiles off the black market and say, you know what? That was not a headline-grabbing issue, it‘s an issue of huge concern, a nuts and bolts concern on a national security level to the people. And I don‘t think he got a lot of political press for it, either. So the record just doesn‘t match what Rove is saying. I can‘t say I‘m shocked to find that out.
HARWOOD: Hey, David?
GREGORY: Go, John.
HARWOOD: David, I think we‘ve got to concede that Karl Rove knows something about unifying messages falling flat, doesn‘t he?
GREGORY: But, Joe, to this point, Karl Rove is not the only one saying that Obama has not really led on anything in the Senate to give it some kind of distinction.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, you know, that‘s not incredibly nasty. My gosh, let‘s look at the things that have been said about Karl Rove by some of Rachel‘s friends, nothing nasty about that at all.
MADDOW: Some of my friends?
SCARBOROUGH: On Air America. But let‘s say this—
MADDOW: Joe, that‘s ridiculous. That‘s like me teasing you for stuff that Alan Keyes said when he was an MSNBC host.
SCARBOROUGH: Very good. I‘m sorry, I take it back, nobody has ever said anything nasty about Karl Rove. But go back David and look at what Karl Rove said. Most of it is true, but you can also have said it about JFK. You could also have said it about FDR. You never know what somebody is going to do when they become president of the United States.
Both of those were seen as lightweights in the time, people that were more interested in pose posing for the presidency than getting things done. Either it‘s governor or also in the United States Senate. They ended up being great presidents.
GREGORY: All right, third “smart take” tonight. The “Washington Post‘s” David Broder says two historic candidates are making it impossible to end the Democratic fight. To the quote board, “How does anyone persuade the first serious African-American candidate, the leader in every relevant measure of popular support to abandon a historic candidacy? And how does anyone persuade the first serious female candidate, the possessor of the best brand name in Democratic politics, and a politician who has battled back from a seeming defeat at least three times already that she should quit? The Democrats have to resolve this somehow. The longer this goes on, the greater the cost in November.”
Pat, you agree?
BUCHANAN: No, I don‘t necessarily. Look, it is a very close, tight race. She‘s behind, it doesn‘t look like she can get the pledged delegates, but what is wrong with them going all the way through the primaries into the caucuses, right into the convention and having this decided on the floor the way it was in 1976 for the Republicans, the way it was in 1952 with Eisenhower and Taft. Why are we in the press so terrified of a good, exciting convention?
GREGORY: We are unafraid in the press. We are unafraid. I got to get another break in.
Up next, a second installment of the war room special edition tonight. What does Obama have to do to seal the deal, force Hillary Clinton out of the race? We look at his negatives. We look at how he might resolve them. The race continues right after this break. Don‘t go away.
GREGORY: Welcome back to THE RACE. Tonight, a special second edition of the War Room, looking at the big issues the Obama camp now facing as it heads into a new phase of this race. We go back into the war room of Barack Obama.
With us tonight, of course, the panel, MSNBC political analyst and host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, Rachel Maddow, cNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood, host of MSNBC‘s “MORNING JOE,” Joe Scarborough, and MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan.
Issue number one tonight, race matters; the majority of Pennsylvania voters may have claimed race is not important to them, but a closer look at the exit polls reveals it does matter. Among white voters, 66 percent of white women, 56 percent of white men cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, compared to 87 percent of black women and 93 percent of black men who voted for Obama.
Obama campaign manager David Axelrod, a chief strategist, concedes that race did play an important role in the Pennsylvania outcome. He told the “New York Times,” quote, I think there is a general inclination on the part of the older voters to vote for what is more familiar. Here‘s a guy named Barack Obama, an African American guy, relatively new. That‘s a lot of change. Pat, put all of that together. How does race matter? Is it part of a larger composite that becomes a liability for Obama?
BUCHANAN: I think overall, look, Barack Obama‘s race is a benefit to him. He got 90 percent of the African American vote. He lost some white votes. It‘s a tremendous attraction to liberal media, and to the kids. I think, on balance, it is an attraction. But look it‘s not something that can be changed.
Barack‘s problem is what is being changed. He is being defined as an African-American McGovern, the way we did it in Nixon‘s day, 1972, being painted far outside the mainstream, a radical. He hangs out with bomb throwers. He hangs out with crazy preachers, and he won‘t wear the flag pin, all these things. They‘re painting him outside the mainstream.
HARWOOD: Come on.
BUCHANAN: Hillary is doing and also McCain‘s doing it and the Republicans are doing it. If they succeed, they‘ll make it impossible for him to win the general election.
GREGORY: John Harwood, are the Republicans as far out on this as Pat suggests?
HARWOOD: Look, some people are going to try to make that argument. It‘s one thing to say he‘s elitist. It‘s another thing to say he‘s a radical. I think Barack Obama‘s problem or his challenge, David, is to try to connect with those working-class voters with a strong message on the economy. He has come across more as a reform candidate. David Axelrod put his finger on it; it is a lot of change for people to swallow. But if he‘s going to make them swallow it, he‘s got to give them a good reason why he‘s going to do something for them in their pocket book, with this economy turning down.
GREGORY: Issue number two, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He is making headlines again, as we‘ve been talking about tonight. In an interview with PBS‘ Bill Moyers, which airs this Friday night at 9:00 p.m., asked how he reacted to Obama‘s speech on race. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRIGHT: It went down very simply; he‘s a politician, I‘m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. He says what he has to say as a politician. I have to say what I have to say as a pastor. They‘re two different worlds. I do what I do, he does what politicians do. What happened in Philadelphia, where he had to respond to the sound bites, he responded as a politician.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Man, is there anything, Joe, that could potentially hurt the Obama brand more than that? The idea that what he does, vis-a-vis Reverend Wright, was all about his ambition, all calculated?
SCARBOROUGH: Unfortunately, Reverend Wright did not help him at all.
I‘ll tell you what, I‘m taking a second look at things after Pennsylvania. It looks like those working-class, blue-collar Democrats, the Reagan Democrats may be lost to Barack Obama, the Catholics. What he has to be more concerned about, again, the suburbs. That‘s where he started losing ground.
There‘s a reason last week John McCain went to Selma. He didn‘t go to Selma because he thought he was going to pick up African-American votes. He went to Selma but because he thought he would get the fabled soccer moms, because he thought it might soften him, make him look like a new kind of Republican. That‘s why this North Carolina ad is so dangerous to him. That‘s what Barack Obama has to be worried about, not about losing these blue-collar voters, because he‘s lost an awful lot of them. Now he‘s starting to bleed in the suburbs. That‘s how Reverend Wright hurts him. That‘s where he has to focus his message. I think David Axelrod is exactly right.
MADDOW: David, again we‘re back to this issue of what the facts say versus what the narrative says. I don‘t see how Barack Obama—we can conclude that he has lost voters that he‘s winning an increasing share of now compared to earlier in the campaign.
SCARBOROUGH: But that‘s not the case in the suburbs. That‘s not the case in Montgomery County or Bucks County.
MADDOW: But then make the argument that Barack Obama has to think about suburban voters. To be able to preface that with white men are now lost to him; blue-collar voters are lost to him; seniors are now lost to him—
GREGORY: Rachel, that‘s the reality.
SCARBOROUGH: David Axelrod said it himself.
GREGORY: Hold on, let me get in here. If you look at the states that we‘ve had so far in these contests, white voters who make less than 50,000 dollars a year are disproportionately going to Hillary Clinton. That is a fact. I don‘t even think the Obama campaign would argue that Pennsylvania has reversed that trend, because he has more numbers in the percentage.
MADDOW: I feel like I‘m in a parallel universe here where the facts just don‘t sink in. How can it not matter that he lost those voters by a smaller margin in Pennsylvania than he lost them in earlier states? The numbers are going the right direction for him, not the wrong direction. He is doing better now among white men. He‘s doing better --
GREGORY: Let me get Pat.
HARWOOD: Let‘s don‘t forget one thing.
GREGORY: Hold on, John. John, hang on one second. Before everybody jumping in, I want to put one more idea on the table here for issue number three. The Democratic break through, Obama losing these key groups to Clinton, namely white women, and white working-class voters; what does he do to win them over? John, make your point in just a second, but I want to put this out there. In Indiana, he‘s got the same potential problem there. The difference, he is a lot better known. Maybe his brand is a little bit more powerful than the Clinton brand might have been in Pennsylvania . Deal with that and make the point you wanted to make.
HARWOOD: There‘s no question that his brand is better known. But the point I wanted to make was, let‘s don‘t forget, while Barack Obama is in the middle of this knife fight with Hillary Clinton, he‘s still running even or ahead of John McCain in national polls. So we can‘t take this argument too far about him swirling down the drain right now.
GREGORY: Pat Buchanan, go ahead.
BUCHANAN: I agree with John. That‘s why I think what we ought to look at is these national polls and the head to head with John McCain. As I said, what is being attempted here is the definition of Barack Obama, not as this—some middle of the road guy that‘s trying to build bridges, but as someone far outside. This is why Hillary has picked on NAFTA. That is the economic argument for pushing somebody away from the working and middle class into the class of the globalists, internationalists. She keeps trying to push him and further to the left and then inherit the Earth.
GREGORY: Joe Scarborough, I want to end on this point; on your program a couple days ago, Governor Deval Patrick was on. And we asked him, what is the argument from the Obama camp to the super delegates now? What is it? What is his best case after Pennsylvania?
SCARBOROUGH: I tell you, it‘s a very simple case: I‘ve got the most delegates. I‘ve got the most popular votes. I‘ve won the most states. If you want Pat Buchanan jumping up and down, cheering like he did in 1968 when Chicago was on fire, go ahead. Give it to her, but you explain that to the Democratic party. You explain that to the United States. You explain that to our allies around the world, that the black men got the most delegates; the black man got the most votes; the black man won the most states and we took it away for him. Good luck.
GREGORY: All right. We‘re going to take a break.
HARWOOD: David, the best argument to super delegates is to win Indiana.
GREGORY: Right, you got. Coming up next, a quarter of Pennsylvania Republicans voted for someone other than John McCain on the Republican primary. Is there an issue there that he should be worried about?
And a little laugh to go out on. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel had some fun spoofing a “Good Morning America” segment on his show last night. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is President Bush in 2000. This is President Bush in 2008. That‘s what eight year looks like at the White House, a lot of 3:00 a.m. phone calls, huh? So the website PopPhoto.com decided to experiment and put the current candidates through a machine. Now? And four years later.
And now for Senator Clinton, and four years later.
Now and four years later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: We‘re back now on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. Time to ask three big questions of the day. Still with us, Rachel Maddow, John Harwood, Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan. First up, Hillary Clinton may be riding high after her Pennsylvania win, but she is facing an uphill battle in the next two states, trailing Barack Obama by double in North Carolina. She‘s also down five points in Indiana, which neighbors Obama‘s home state of Illinois.
Does Clinton need a big win or just beat the spread? Who wins the day if it‘s a split decision? Our first question tonight, how is victory defined on May 6th. Rachel, I‘ll start with you.
MADDOW: There will be no victory for either candidate on May 6th. Even if you combined all the remaining states together, and had them all vote on May 6th, there would still by no victory for either candidate there, because it‘s not going to happen on pledged delegates. It‘s not going to happen based on what voters do in these states. It‘s going to happen based on what the super delegates do.
It‘s our supposition, our presumption that the super delegates will decide based on what voters do in these forthcoming state. They‘ve shown no evidence of that whatsoever. It‘s only a super delegate game from here on out. That‘s why the Clinton campaign is pushing so hard for them not to decide so they can try to play this out to the very end.
GREGORY: John Harwood, you talked about winning Indiana, of course, for Barack Obama. He‘s expected to win North Carolina. Does he need to win that by ten-plus points to pull Hillary Clinton from Pennsylvania?
HARWOOD: No. What he needs to do is win Indiana, and a victory for Hillary Clinton is winning Indiana by one vote. What that would do is deny Barack Obama what he needs, which is a momentum-stopper and a knockout punch on Hillary Clinton.
GREGORY: Joe Scarborough, how do you see it? How do you define it on May 6th?
SCARBOROUGH: I think a tie goes to Barack Obama. If he carries North Carolina by ten percentage points, he can make back all those popular votes that he lost in Pennsylvania. That‘s extraordinarily important to him. If Hillary wins Indiana, but loses North Carolina by a large margin, that‘s a win for Barack Obama.
GREGORY: Pat, how do you see it?
BUCHANAN: I see it with John. If Hillary wins Indiana, it‘s a stunning victory. I think that will get all the attention. That‘s where she went after Pennsylvania. And I think the momentum will still be with her and people will be wondering the same questions about Barack Obama. If she loses both, the air goes out of the balloon.
GREGORY: Next up, measuring the post-Pennsylvania landscape. You can win a state, get two things, money and momentum. Clinton‘s Pennsylvania win brought in money, 10 million in 24 hours. But our second question today, where is Hillary Clinton‘s momentum? Is anyone out there feeling it? John Harwood, what does she need to make people feel it? Endorsements? Super delegates coming her way? Are you feeling it?
HARWOOD: She does need some super delegates coming her way. But I think the way we can see it is the way the narrative is changing, as you were talking in Margaret Carlson‘s piece earlier. Instead of talking about why doesn‘t Hillary Clinton stop wasting everybody‘s time and get out of this race, we‘re talking about what‘s wrong with Barack Obama? That‘s why the onus is on him now, which is exactly where she wants it.
GREGORY: Joe, where is momentum? How do you measure it now?
SCARBOROUGH: I measure it in 100,000 new donors, averaging 100 dollars apiece, 10 million dollars. Remember, the night of Pennsylvania, before the returns came in, people were saying, even if she wins, she doesn‘t have the money. This shows a broad-based support. And more importantly, it shows there are a lot of Americans who are willing to invest in the belief that Hillary Clinton can still win this thing and they‘re betting with their pocketbooks. That‘s pretty impressive.
GREGORY: Rachel, I talked to somebody high up in the Obama campaign today, who made the point that, look, the conversation we‘re having with super delegates is, this is over; this race is over. She may still be in it; there may still be a debate out there, but effectively the race is over. That‘s the momentum kill they want on Hillary Clinton.
MADDOW: Yes, the big strategic issue right now for Democrats is not even who ought to be the nominee, but when ought Democrats—when should Democrats have a nominee? Obama is making the case that super delegates ought to decide now. Don‘t forget, there are more super delegates pledged to Hillary Clinton than there are to Barack Obama. Telling the super delegates to decide now isn‘t taking sides between them, but it is saying that we want to have a shot and we don‘t want to take this all the way to Denver, to make Pat‘s day.
GREGORY: But speaking about making Pat‘s day; Pat, when you look at Hillary Clinton, there is—I don‘t know if detect it. I‘ve heard some people say there‘s a joy in her campaigning, that she loves it. But there‘s that grit. There is that determination. Do you think she‘s picking up more grudging respect than she‘s up until now.
BUCHANAN: Sure she is. She‘s coming from behind. She‘s up off the canvas. Where is the momentum. Ask yourself where Barack Obama is today. He‘s in Chicago, figuring out how to counter the fact that he was beaten with Hillary‘s strategy in Pennsylvania. That‘s where the momentum is. It‘s quite obvious.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, David, also Hillary Clinton‘s going around Indiana right now, and she‘s saying, I will debate Barack Obama anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Just a couple hours ago, she said to a campaign crowd, I‘m so tired, I‘ll debate him in the middle of the night. It doesn‘t matter. I‘m not going to sleep until I win this thing; 3:00 a.m., you‘re right.
GREGORY: John, go.
HARWOOD: Here‘s how you know how tough Hillary Clinton is: she‘s fighting on even though she hates it. She does not love campaigning. But she‘s fighting on anyway, because she wants it.
GREGORY: You can see Hillary Clinton with a conference call, always at the ready, to debate with Barack Obama at this stage. She wants it.
Finally today, you may not have noticed it, but there was a Republican primary in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. John McCain carried 67 of 67 counties in the Keystone State, strong showing there. But he got less than 75 percent of the vote. McCain got 73 percent. Ron Paul 16 percent, and Huckabee, who has endorsed McCain, got 11 percent. Third question today, should McCain worry that one in four Pennsylvania Republicans voted for somebody else? Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, he sure should. He‘s got no competition. We haven‘t heard anything from Huckabee. In fact, Huckabee got out of the race, endorsing John McCain and he‘s still bleeding 25 percent of his vote in a primary contest? He should have gotten 99 percent? That‘s not good news.
GREGORY: Ironically, Pat, a lot of these questions we are asking of Barack Obama can and most likely will be asked of John McCain as we go down the line.
BUCHANAN: No question.
BUCHANAN: As a political athlete, Barack Obama is the best I‘ve seen since Clinton, and maybe seen since Reagan. McCain is not. He‘s lost a lot of steps. McCain can‘t win this race, I don‘t think, but Barack Obama can be painted so far left that he loses it all.
MADDOW: Isn‘t it interesting to think, though, that if the Democrats and Republicans had swapped processes, if the Republicans had done their primary contest, where it was all this proportional allocation of delegates, instead of the winner take all stuff, we might not have a nominee on the Republican side.
SCARBOROUGH: Exactly. The fact is, if it was different, this would have been all over on Super Tuesday. Winner take all in California would have been Hillary. Winner take all New York would have been Hillary. Winner take all New Jersey, Hillary. It would be over. You switch it, you‘re exactly right. John McCain would still be fighting Huckabee.
MADDOW: That‘s right.
GREGORY: This would be fascinating to switch this around and look at what would be different if only the rules were different, but they‘re not and we still have a tough contest. One other note, Rachel, you‘ve been watching this all week long, what‘s happening down in New Orleans with John McCain. Any update there in terms of a certain reverend evangelical supporter who has endorsed him? He talked about it today.
MADDOW: Pastor John Hagee, of course, not only famous for his Catholic church is the great whore comment, but also for having said that New Orleans deserved what it got from Hurricane Katrina, because of the level of sin in that city. He was asked about that today on his campaign bus, and John McCain said—I think I can quote him exactly here without even looking. I think what he said, “it‘s nonsense, it‘s nonsense, it‘s nonsense. I don‘t have anything more to say. It‘s nonsense. It‘s nonsense. It‘s nonsense.” I think he actually said that eight times.
GREGORY: I‘ve got to get a break in here. When we come back, your play day with the panel. Don‘t go away.
GREGORY: Welcome back to THE RACE. I‘ve had my chance, now you get yours. Time for you to play with the panel. And still with us, of course, Rachel, John, Joe and Pat. Kicking off with Elise in Colorado, let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While the current discussion is all about Obama‘s weakness among white blue-collar males, the fact is Democrats haven‘t been winning that demographic in general elections for over two decades. On the other hand, winning almost all of the strong black voter turnout is crucial. Isn‘t she the Democrat with the more insurmountable electability problem?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: John Harwood, take it.
HARWOOD: I don‘t think it‘s clear that either one of these Democrats has an insurmountable electability problem. Of course, you don‘t know until you play it out. But I think Hillary Clinton is going to get solid black support if she is the Democratic nominee. I don‘t think the fissures in the party are as bad as people have been projecting. In terms of Barack Obama, he has got to prove he can improve his performance among a lot of those blue collar whites. But the ones he‘s been losing have been in Democratic primaries. There‘s no assurance that he‘s not going to unite those Democrats. Certainly Democrats lose a lot of those people, but they get some, too, and the ones who are Democrats, he will get.
GREGORY: Joe, do you think Barack Obama has the capability of putting the south in play because of African-American support, maybe even tipping a red state his way?
SCARBOROUGH: No, not in the south. Virginia—
GREGORY: Georgia maybe?
SCARBOROUGH: No, not even close. Virginia may be his closest chance. I‘ll say this to the caller‘s question; the reason why Hillary doesn‘t have a bigger problem is most African-Americans have been loyal Democratic voters for a generation. You can go back to 1964; the only time Democrats win the White House is when you have Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, two southerners, that were able to get those white blue-collar voters voting for them.
When Bill Clinton ran, he won Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, just go straight up the Mississippi River. It‘s because the white blue-collar voters voted for him, as well as the African-American voters, who are the most loyal to Democrats.
MADDOW: He still did not get a majority of white men. No Democrat in the last generation has.
SCARBOROUGH: No, Democrats don‘t need a majority to win the White House of white working class males. They just can‘t get wiped out.
GREGORY: Let me go to Joseph in Arizona, who writes this: “what happened to the man of hope and inspiration? Where is the Barack Obama who delivered that stirring, historic speech after his Iowa victory? Has Obama changed, or are we just getting to know him a little bit better?” Rachel, is there some bloom off the rose? Is that exactly what Hillary Clinton has accomplished by keeping him in the race this long?
MADDOW: Well, the inspirational speech after Pennsylvania was absolutely Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton talked more about gender, presenting herself as a historic female role model in that speech. Barack Obama‘s speech was not nearly that exciting that night. We‘re hearing a lot more wonky stuff from Obama. I think they‘re trying to make him seem like a more full spectrum candidate. It‘s opened up room for Clinton to show her inspirational side. I think it‘s really working for her.
GREGORY: Cheryl in Missouri asks this, let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it that Obama cannot close on Hillary? Why isn‘t the question why Hillary hasn‘t been able to close on Obama? She has been preparing for this day, for this run for the presidency since she and Bill left the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Pat Buchanan, what do you say?
BUCHANAN: Obama won 11 or 12 straight in February. He‘s the probable nominee. Journalists were telling Hillary to get out. She‘s come roaring back in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, raising real doubts and questions about Obama. Frankly, Obama‘s problem going to the last caller is the fact that he‘s getting boring, in a way. We‘ve heard that speech. The first time, it was electrifying and moving. We‘ve heard it again and again and again.
I think he‘s caught in something of a rut, and that‘s what he‘s doing in Chicago, trying to figure out how to get out of it.
GREGORY: All right, we‘ll leave it there. Thanks to a great panel. You can play with them every night here on MSNBC. Call us or e-mail us, RACE08@MSNBC.com. The number 212-790-2299. I‘m David Gregory. That does it for THE RACE for today. We‘re back here at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow on MSNBC. Stay right where you have. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is coming right up.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.