Guests: Howard Dean, DNC chairman; Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”; Harold Ford, fmr. Congressman (D-Tenn.) and NBC News analyst; Lisa Caputo, Clinton sr. campaign advisor and fmr. press secretary for Sen. Hillary Clinton; fmr. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD); Michelle Bernard, MSNBC political analyst; Rev. Eugene Rivers, Azusa Christian Community Church; Terry McAuliffe, Clinton campaign chairman; Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); Rep. James Clyburn (D- S.C.); Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Howard Fineman, Newsweek senior Washington correspondent and MSNBC political analyst; Maria Teresa Petersen, Voto Latino
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator Clinton was asked this morning how many delegates were required to nomination. She answered, “I think it’s 2,209.” That number does not sound right if you’ve been working with that silly official number Democratic number of 2,025. The difference is obvious.
Senator Clinton is already counting Michigan and Florida. The interview, by the way, took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.
Groundhog Day, or the last seduction?
His problem, a loss in North Carolina or Indiana tonight has far more symbolic than practical meaning. Her problem, these are really the last major primaries to rally around, the last major primaries in which to symbolically impress the superdelegates.
Everybody’s problem, what to do if, as expected, they split tonight?
With Lee Cowan at Obama headquarters in Raleigh; Andrea Mitchell and Ron Allen with the Clinton campaign in Indianapolis; Norah O’Donnell with exit polling; the analysis of NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert; NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw; and the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams; political director Chuck Todd, by the numbers; Howard Fineman at the campaign listening post, the insiders, former congressman Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford.
The RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel: David Gregory, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson.
And our guests: Democratic chair Howard Dean; Senators John Kerry and Claire McCaskill; former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle; and House majority whip James Clyburn.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina Democratic presidential primary.
Greetings yet again from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York.
On my side, Chris Matthews. I’m Keith Olbermann. And after tonight, as Chuck Todd so succinctly put it, there will be more undeclared delegates available in the back rooms than in the voting rooms.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ha!
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think after this I think the—the speedway ends. It’s now about the hassling and the hustling and the whatever—the haggling over votes. It’s going to be different from now on, but this marathon dance is getting to an end.
OLBERMANN: So who then does Senator Clinton play to if there is no significant voter after this one tonight?
MATTHEWS: Well, I think she’s got to build the idea that she’s won the second half of the game. She’s been very strong in the last several weeks, and he hasn’t won a big one since February.
She’ll play to the fact that Reverend Wright was a big issue. She’ll play to the fact that all kinds of things are happening atmospherically.
His advantage, however, is the miracle. He continues to lead dramatically in the elected delegates. He could well be the leader after tonight as well.
A strong leader. And I’ve always asked this simple question—after all the (INAUDIBLE) and confusion, if he gets the most elected delegates at the end of the season, how on God’s earth does the Democratic Party deny the nomination to an African-American who’s finally, finally, after 300 years on this continent, won the jackpot?
OLBERMANN: With great difficulty, and to their own great despair, probably. That’s how they would have to do it.
MATTHEWS: I don’t think there’s any easy way—I don’t know how much finesse Bill Clinton has got in his basket, but I don’t think he’s got enough.
OLBERMANN: Well, that’s far ahead of us still. A long night ahead of us here.
And my rhetorical question is, you mentioned all these games, second halves and such. I’m not sure what the sport is yet. It may be roller derby, for all we know.
The last polls close in Indiana at 7:00 Eastern, and in North Carolina at 7:30, but the early indicators of the why, if not the who, are becoming available to us now.
And Norah O’Donnell, as usual, is back to join us for the preview of the first batch.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hello. That’s right. And this is a little bit of tease of the first batch.
And in fact, the controversy surrounding Reverend Jeremiah Wright was an important factor in how they voted in Indiana and North Carolina. In just a few minutes, I’m going to break it down for you, too, how it played differently among blacks and the whites.
OLBERMANN: I think we might have a guess of how it played differently in those two groups.
OLBERMANN: And we’ll see. We’ve been surprised by these numbers before. We’ll get them in full for you later on.
Thank you, Norah.
O’DONNELL: You’re welcome.
OLBERMANN: And let’s get an early read from NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press.” Tim Russert joins us now.
Tim, good evening.
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Somebody wins both tonight, I think everybody knows the consequences of that. If she wins Indiana huge and he wins North Carolina huge, we all know the consequences of that. But if they split and she wins Indiana narrowly or he wins North Carolina narrowly, what happens then?
RUSSERT: I think people are going to take a hard look to the delegates. Who won more delegates, and where did they come from?
Keith, you’re so right. After tonight, if there’s a split, this is a battle to convince the superdelegates who are undeclared to side with either Clinton or Obama. And if one of these candidates cuts into the lead of elected delegates, if Clinton has a big advantage tonight in that, or if Obama adds to his elected delegate lead, then he’s going to need fewer and fewer of these undeclared superdelegates.
There’s only 250 left. And if he suddenly only needs 60 or 70 of them in order to close the deal, then, of course, it’s a huge night.
That’s why we have to look at the vote, figure out who won these states in terms of popular vote. But we can’t take our eye off these elected delegates tonight. It’s a big story.
OLBERMANN: Is there anything in here that has the potential to force Senator Clinton’s hand or this? Is there anything tonight that has the potential to end it? Or is she the final determinant of when her campaign ends?
RUSSERT: She is. But if she lost both states tonight, there are people very close to her who I’ve talked to who said they would go to her and say it’s time to fold.
But if it’s a split, and she wins Indiana and he wins North Carolina, clearly, she wants to go on to West Virginia next week, and in two weeks, Kentucky. Two states made for her with the kind of demographic and ethnic mix.
And her sense will be, let me continue. Let me stay in the game. You can’t recover a fumble unless you’re on the field. And who knows what can happen in the next two or three weeks or two or three months?
OLBERMANN: To resuscitate our favorite word from Pennsylvania—margin. Is there anything in margin that makes a difference? Does it matter by how much, who wins where? Is there any victory in Indiana for Senator Clinton that would not be won, or any victory in North Carolina that would not be won for him?
RUSSERT: Based on my conversations with some of the undeclared superdelegates, they are looking at the margin. One said, I want to see if Obama is going to crater after the Reverend Wright situation. If she blows him out in Indiana, and he barely hangs on in North Carolina, that’s important for us to see.
We want to see how she performs. It’s been interesting. The whole conversation is, Obama is having a hard time with white blue collar voters. The converse of that is, Senator Clinton is having a horrendous time with black voters.
And you cannot win Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania with a large, loyal black vote in November. And if she continues to lose black voters in the primary, 90-10, that’s a significant problem for her and it’s a significant problem for Obama if he can’t win those white ethnic voters making less than $50,000.
MATTHEWS: This has become behavioral, Tim, the fact that—what do you think of the fact that Bill Clinton has been designated to go out and work the white communities, the rural white communities of North Carolina? Now every black person in the country knows Bill Clinton is there to get white votes.
RUSSERT: And he’s been tireless. Nine stops today. We just saw a list of the radio stations he called in, going from stop to stop.
There’s no doubt about it that, in the mind of black America, and the information not only statistically, but anecdotally, is overwhelming. And that’s why we’ve been seeing, leading up to tonight, blacks voting for Obama 85-15, 90-10.
And that can pose long-term problems for the party just as white voters voting two to one for Hillary Clinton. This party is going to need a lot of time to heal, because each side now is digging in and finding the Republican alternative more appealing than the Democratic opposition, which will not last for all the people who are now expressing that, but if it lasts for even 10 or 15 percent, it’s a problem.
OLBERMANN: All right. I’ll throw out the first cliche of the night.
Time bust is of the essence.
Tim Russert, thanks. We’ll talk to you later on.
How big is tonight? Well, let’s check in with NBC political director Chuck Todd, who goes by the numbers.
Chuck, I rely on you for hard facts.
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: OK. Let me give you the hard facts.
Let’s take a look at Indiana. Here’s what we know delegate-wise. It’s worth 72 delegates.
That’s going to be divided pretty closely, pretty evenly, probably 40-32 max on each side. But where are they going to be strong? Let’s take a look at their different strongholds.
Hillary Clinton, demographically we know she does well with white Catholics, with working class voters, and with seniors. That’s going to mean she’s going to carry the second, the third, the sixth and the eighth districts, probably without much of a problem.
This is where a large part of the rural white vote is, working class white vote, in the northeast part of the state. A lot of folks have lost manufacturing jobs.
So let’s take a look at where Obama is going to do well.
We know he does well with African-Americans, with young voters, with Independents. As far as congressional districts are concerned, this means the first district, Gary, Indiana, that Chicago media market, though we have heard questions about how much the Reverend Wright controversy was covered on local Chicago TV, and whether that actually had a negative effect.
I’m really going to be watching that first district closely to see how big is Obama’s margin.
Then, of course, Marion County, Indianapolis, that seventh congressional district. More importantly, we’re curious about the suburbs around there.
So what does that leave us? That leaves us with the swing areas, the fourth, the fifth and the ninth.
The fourth and fifth are pretty obvious. That’s the Indianapolis media market. This is where we’ll learn if white suburban voters came back to Obama.
They abandoned him in Pennsylvania, around the Philadelphia suburbs, Chris. But did they abandon him around Indianapolis?
And then the ninth I’m only half curious about. It should end up being a Clinton district. But Baron Hill, the congressman down there, former Indiana high school basketball hall of famer, he endorsed Obama early in this, relatively early compared to everybody else. The Louisville media market is a very liberal paper out there, endorsed Obama early.
So, maybe he does better than expected there. He would have to if he somehow won Indiana.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Chuck Todd.
Let’s check in now with the Clinton campaign. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is at the Clinton headquarters in Indianapolis.
Andrea, I wonder here, I just wonder about this campaign. This one is the one they have to win tonight, right?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Must win Indiana. I’ve talked to Evan Bayh, the senator, just again now, also the state party chairman, Democratic Party chairman who has endorsed Hillary Clinton. They are slightly optimistic in looking at the numbers that are coming in from all parts of the state.
They acknowledged what Chuck and Tim have just been reporting. They have to do well in white rural areas, and offset his anticipated big wins in the Gary, Indiana, area and also in Indianapolis, right here.
So, they are looking to see whether those districts are turning out. There’s been a very big Republican vote. They don’t know which way that’s cutting.
Is that a chaos theory vote, Republicans trying to mess around with the Democratic vote? Are those Republicans looking for a race because they haven’t had a primary race themselves? Eager to vote for Obama because he is more upscale, more independent, or is it, you know, Republicans who will eventually go to John McCain?
It’s very, very hard to read this. We’ll know more from the exit polls later. But this is absolutely a must-win state for Hillary Clinton. I’ve been told what Tim has been told from people close to Hillary Clinton, that she in fact would probably not stay very much longer in this race if she doesn’t win Indiana.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Andrea Mitchell.
I guess it’s a step forward for the Democratic Party, accused historically of being disorganized, that now they have to outsource their chaos, courtesy of Rush Limbaugh.
NBC’s Lee Cowan is in Raleigh, North Carolina, right now with the Obama campaign—Lee.
Optimism reigning there, or whatever?
LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it is to a certain extent. I mean, I talked to the campaign a short time ago, and their sense is, absent any huge victory by Hillary Clinton, both here in North Carolina and Indiana, they think tonight is still going to be a good night for them, because as they point out, they are still ahead in the delegate counts.
If this is split right down the middle tonight, they are still going to be ahead in terms of delegates. They say that Hillary Clinton would have to win, by their count, about 70 percent of the remaining delegates to even get close. The time is running out. They number of delegates is running out. And they say as much as perception-wise, they certainly don’t want to suffer a loss in either of these states tonight.
At the end of the day, the numbers do matter.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much Lee Cowan, who is with the Obama campaign in Raleigh, North Carolina.
OLBERMANN: Let’s turn now to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean.
A great pleasure to talk to you tonight, Governor. How are you?
HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on.
OLBERMANN: Let me just read this from politico.com. I mentioned this at the top of the hour as we began our coverage.
Asked at the Indianapolis Speedway this morning, Hillary Clinton confirms that she views the threshold for delegate victory as the count that includes Michigan and Florida. “I think it’s 2,209,” she said.
Isn’t it still 2,025 according to all the rules?
DEAN: Keith, there’s going to be a rules committee meeting on the 31st of May where we’re going to take up the issue of Florida and Michigan and how to deal with them.
And let me just—before we get into how many delegates and all that, let me just say, there’s three principals.
The first is, you’ve got to respect the wishes of the voters in Michigan and Florida. They didn’t cause this mess, it was politicians that caused this mess.
The second is, you’ve got to respect these two campaigns. If you’re going to change the rules in the campaign, you’ve really got to do it with the cooperation of both campaigns.
And thirdly, you’ve got to respect the voters—the wishes of the 48 states and the voters in the 48 states that is did the right thing and followed the rules, and did respect the early states in Nevada and South Carolina and New Hampshire and Iowa.
So, there’s going to be some kind of a compromise, is what I would predict. I can’t tell you what’s in it. But right now, the number is 2,025. On May 31st, we’ll find out what the rules committee does and how they plan to work out a seating delegation from Michigan and Florida.
OLBERMANN: Have you been, in retrospect, overly optimistic about the ability of these two sides to compromise, to get together? I’m thinking of the interview from New York One television, the cable operation in New York in February. And the quote was, “Sometime in the middle of March or April, then we’re going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of arrangement,” in terms of resolving all the disputes between them, and, in fact, resolving a nominee.
We’re obviously past those dates.
DEAN: Yes. I don’t think that anybody foresaw a race that this was close with the excellent candidates that we have. But, you know, I think we’re going to let all the voters vote, and that’s going to happen as of June 3rd. And then as the process continues to go, the unpledged delegates will continue to say, therefore, and I think we’ll have a nominee by the end of June.
That’s what I’m hoping for.
OLBERMANN: Well, barring a blowout though tonight, Senator Clinton is going to emerge with her future more in the hands of superdelegates than elected delegates, which changes I guess the focus of what the campaign becomes.
Do you have guidance at that point for undeclared superdelegates or participants in the primaries?
DEAN: I would actually disagree with you. There’s 800 -- or 796 unplugged delegates. Over 500 of them have already said who they are for.
So, the idea that suddenly the superdelegates are going to get into a smoke filled room and change everything I think is silly. They’re voters like everybody else. They’re governors and senators and congressmen, but 60 percent of them are ordinary Americans who are active in Democratic politics.
They look like ordinary Americans. They are of the ages of ordinary Americans. They’re the same ethic diversity and gender diversity of ordinary Americans. They are ordinary Americans.
So I think this business of the superdelegates has sort of been a media-created myth. There are unpledged delegates who were elected by other groups of Democrats at different times. They have a roll in this process, and they’re going to continue to play a role in this process. But I wouldn’t look for some smoke filled room to upstage the voters.
MATTHEWS: I’m trying to understand this, Governor Dean. If you look at this continuing process from an Obama perspective, you’d have to wonder what rule book the Clintons are willing to abide by?
Are they willing to abide by elected delegates, by what? And it seems to me if they are going to compromise, as you suggest they will have to with regard to Michigan and Florida, don’t they have to get some kind of commitment from the Clinton side that, whatever they compromise to, the Clintons will abide by that rule, whether it’s elected delegates or whatever it is.
DEAN: Look, we have had—these campaigns have worked together. In fact, one of the great moments of this past weekend was in North Carolina, they both went to the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, and both said by name, if so and so wins, the other candidate wins, I will support them and I will work my heart out for them.
That is very important. That hasn’t been said before.
Look, each of these candidates understand that we want a convention that runs well and that they need the support—they need the support of the one that loses. So I think that we will see people working together.
Behind the scenes, we’ve already had some things that have been very, very good that these candidates have done together and their campaigns have done together. So, I am pretty optimistic.
Look, John McCain is a disaster for the country. He’s a third Bush term.
He’s wrong on Iraq, he’s wrong on health care, he’s wrong on the economy. Those are the things that people really care about in this election.
People don’t want troops in Iraq for 100 years no matter what their role is and what John McCain claims he really said. They don’t want—that money belongs here at home dealing with jobs and all the messes that the Bush/McCain folks have left us in terms of tax policy and health care.
We really want a change in this country. That’s why you’re seeing huge turnouts in North Carolina and Indiana today. That’s why you’ve seen them all along.
So the real issue here is frankly not Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. The real issue is, what are we going to do to change our country so that we can be sure that America will be back on the right track?
MATTHEWS: Governor, you speak like a person what’s going to stomp McCain, and yet all the match-ups and all the national polls show this very even. I agree with you about the conditions and the attitudes of the country, and the unpopularity of our president. But all the polls that match John McCain up against either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama show them pretty close.
DEAN: And the truth is they don’t know much about Senator McCain. We have an ad up, as you know, that shows Senator McCain in his own words talking about his views on the economy and on Iraq.
DEAN: Fox News did a poll that showed that—they didn’t, but an organization that works with them did, that shows when the public sees those ads, when Independent voters see those ads, support for John McCain drops 10 points. Those ads have not been shown widely. They will be.
They haven’t been shown widely. In fact, if anybody wants to help us show them widely, www.Democrats.org, and send us some money.
But the truth is, when people find out about John McCain’s record, that he was for immigration reform before he was against it, that he was against Bush’s tax cuts before he was for it, that he was, sadly to say, against torture before he supported President Bush’s veto of the Democratic bill that would ban waterboarding, this is a candidate who will say anything to be president. And Americans don’t want that anymore. They want somebody they can believe in again.
OLBERMANN: He’s Howard Dean, and he approved that message.
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Governor, thanks for your time tonight.
DEAN: Thanks, Keith. Thanks, Chris.
OLBERMANN: All right. Now let’s get some of those early numbers from exit polling, as promised. And for that, we go into the virtual reality that is containing Norah O’Donnell at the moment.
Norah, good evening.
O’DONNELL: Hey, good evening to both of you.
And you know, the controversy surrounding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s former pastor, did appear to have an impact with voters in Indiana and North Carolina today.
Our exit polls show the situation with Reverend Wright was an important consideration for close to half of those who voted today. Forty-eight percent in Indiana and 48 percent in North Carolina.
Now, was there a different impact by race? Well, in Indiana, we actually see much—we don’t see much difference.
About half of them—of the whites, 49 percent, say the situation with Reverend Wright was an important consideration. But almost as many African-Americans see that in the Hoosier State. Forty-four percent say the controversy influenced them.
In North Carolina, a southern state with a much larger black population
than Indiana’s, the impact by race seems to be very similar to Indiana
49 percent of whites in North Carolina and 45 percent of blacks—or African-Americans say the Wright controversy influenced their vote. About half of each group say Wright had little or no impact.
Our exit polls also tell us which specific groups of whites were most likely to be affected by the Reverend Wright controversy. This is pretty interesting.
Looking at Indiana, we see about six in 10 white voters over age 65. They were more likely also to attend weekly religious services and live in small towns or rural parts of the state. When we look at North Carolina, it’s pretty much the same story there as well.
Now, in Indiana, which happens to be a whiter state, Hillary does somewhat better among white voters who decided late. But in North Carolina, there’s no difference between white early deciders and those who decided in the past week—Chris and Keith.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell with the first set of exit polls.
And here’s another—not a number, per se, but a field note from “The Indianapolis Star.”
We talked about the tough voting standards in Indiana and the IDs and the controversy over—people that were nuns turned away from a polling place across the street from Notre Dame today. I mean, it’s tough.
This is how tough it was. Senator Bayh went to vote in Indianapolis and was turned away. He was in the wrong precinct.
That tells you something.
Coming up, our RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE panel. And we’ll hear from both campaigns about how they are feeling tonight as the night begins.
You’re watching MSBNC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. First poll closings at the top of the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I intend to go to the end of the process. We’re going to wait and see what the voters here have said. I think people have responded to my message of jobs, jobs, jobs, and trying to get the oil companies to pay the gas tax for the summer.
So I feel good. But we’re going to wait and actually see what the votes turn out to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Both races are going to be close. I think that Senator Clinton is slightly favored here in Indiana. And I am slightly favored in North Carolina. But they could go either way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Insomuch as the polls do not close across the state of Indiana until 7:00 Eastern Time, 30 minutes from now, we’re not going to characterize anything there yet. But there are some polls already closed and already reporting. And as you see, 6,300 votes have been cast so far in Indiana, for what that’s worth.
We continue now with MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana/North Carolina primaries. As we said, those polls close in Indiana completely by the top of the hour. In North Carolina, it’s 7:30, the closure time.
MATTHEWS: And now to the real excitement of the evening. We want to introduce our panel—NBC’s David Gregory; The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, who is an MSNBC political analyst; MSNBC political analyst Patrick Buchanan; Rachel Maddow, Air America Radio, who’s also an MSNBC political analyst.
There they have—David.
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right. Thanks very much to both of you.
Every night on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE, we convene the panel and we talk about “The Headline.” That’s where I want to start tonight.
What is our headline tonight?
I’ll begin on what these candidates have to prove, and I’ll focus on Barack Obama.
I do think for him he’s got to show that he can weather Reverend Wright. That’s a test tonight. Also, whether his style, his temperament, this unwillingness on Obama’s part to play the conventional wisdom game and engage Hillary Clinton the way that some have said that he should, whether that is working or whether it’s proving him to be too aloof because he doesn’t engage, and whether that’s going to play out in the polls.
Pat, what do have they got to prove tonight?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC ANALYST: Hillary Clinton, has she maintained the momentum out of Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and grabbed Indiana, where she was behind, and close the gap in North Carolina?
Secondly, has Barack Obama stopped the hemorrhaging among white working class, ethnic, Catholic seniors? Because that is a crucial question for the fall election.
GREGORY: Is it just seniors, though? Or that’s the spin they put out.
Is it younger working class whites as well?
BUCHANAN: I would say it’s everybody above 40. All the way up, quite frankly. He does extremely well with young people, but that’s the real question, because I think those are the voters that will decide between McCain and Obama if it’s that race.
GREGORY: Rachel, what do you see tonight?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANALYST: Tonight I think it is status quo versus expectations, because the status quo, the expectations game here, it’s all about whether or not this race continues indefinitely or whether there is some reason and some means for the Democratic Party to end it.
I think everybody is expecting tonight, the common wisdom, is that it will be a split decision. And that that will mean that the campaign continues indefinitely.
MADDOW: Barack Obama, in particular, and maybe even Hillary Clinton, is going to have to come up with a way to say we need to expect that this will end at some point so that we do not drag this into the convention. Because dragging it to the convention is strategically so unsound for the party.
GREGORY: Does this determine something tonight about this race and what we’ve seen over the past two weeks?
MADDOW: Yes. What happens to—I think it’s a very big picture win, though. It has to be that one of these candidates wins both states. That means expectations are not being met...
GREGORY: Gene, your headline for tonight? What do you think it will prove?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, Obama has to demonstrate that he’s back on his stride. And I think that’s what worry the superdelegates more than specific issues, I think, was the sense that Obama wasn’t the galloping candidate that he had been, that all this forward motion had kind of stalled.
Toward the end of this campaign, actually on the gas tax issue, which is generally thought to be a good issue for Hillary Clinton, he actually pushed back in a way that I think heartened the superdelegates.
ROBINSON: He was animated. He knew what he wanted to say. He was on top of the issue.
BUCHANAN: But let me ask you...
GREGORY: And it fit his brand of politics by saying this is gimmicky, this is not a real debate.
BUCHANAN: Let me ask Rachel—look, if the only way Hillary can win this thing is to drag it out to the convention, why not drag it out to the convention? She’s in this race not for the well-being of the Democratic Party, but to win the presidency of the United States.
MADDOW: See, but that’s the point. She’s not in it to win the nomination, she’s in it to win the presidency.
MADDOW: Either candidate can read the tea leaves and see that it would be bad to have a five-minute-long general election against John McCain after he gets six months of uninterrupted good press.
BUCHANAN: But wouldn’t it not be worse to lose the nomination? For heaven’s sakes—fight all the way to the convention if you’ve got a chance.
MADDOW: But she could make the case just as well as he could make the case that the Democrats need a nominee now. She could force the issue while she has more momentum, particularly after tonight, that they need to decide on her now.
GREGORY: Let me—let me get in here.
BUCHANAN: Or telling him to get out.
GREGORY: Gene, final comment before we break.
ROBINSON: Historically, it’s bad to choose a nominee at the convention. You tend not to win if you do that.
ROBINSON: So, you could say it’s bad for the Democrats. I think it depends on how she drags it out to August, if indeed she does drag it out to the convention. There are ways to destroy the party. There are ways to save it.
GREGORY: To be continued. Gentlemen, back to you. A little bit later on, we want to go inside the war room of Barack Obama and look beyond tonight, as to how he tries to retool the campaign.
OLBERMANN: David, thank you. Half an hour until it all closes in Indiana and an hour until it closes in North Carolina. Still ahead of us here, two former members of Congress on the battle between Obama and Clinton. Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford our insiders. Plus, we get the inside word from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. Polls in Indiana close in a little less than a half hour now and in North Carolina in about an hour. NBC’s Ron Allen is in Indianapolis right now, covering the Clinton campaign. He joins us now with more. Ron, the jitters are on, I suppose?
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think they are, in North Carolina more so than here in Indiana. I think the Clinton campaign has felt much better about this state all along than they have about North Carolina, even though down south, Bill Clinton in particular made a really big push, nine events some days, eight events other days, really hitting those rural and working class areas, trying to drum up more support.
There are some things in the exit polls that you have been talking about that suggest things could be bad down there for them tonight. Here, talking to Senator Evan Bayh on the plane last night, who has been one of Senator Clinton’s biggest supporters here, he was saying he was going to look to the northwest corner of the state, the part that includes the Chicago TV market, to really see how things are going up there. If she’s making inroads in that part of the state—we made a couple stops up there yesterday and the day before because Senator Clinton was really trying to bite into a part of the state where Barack Obama perhaps has some advantage.
The other issue playing up there is the Reverend Wright matter. Interesting to point out that it’s been played over and over again up there by Chicago TV, who have helicopters hovering over his house. The issues have been played much differently than it has nationally there and we’ll see how that works out. I think some of the polls that we’ve been seeing, already exit polls, suggest that the issue has been kind neutral so far, people saying it’s important or not important and it has an affect on their vote or not.
That’s the state of play here in Indiana. They are expecting this to wrap up fairly quickly. This state has a history of reporting results fairly early. And the polls will be closed across the state very soon.
MATTHEWS: Ron, does the campaign of Barack Obama, the people you talk to, are they angry at the media for playing up the Wright story so much?
ALLEN: Well, I think it goes with the territory. Most of the people there who are pros know it goes with the territory. Some people in the campaign that I have talked to over the months kind of knew this was coming. They knew that this issue would be out there at some point. It was my understanding that there had been a number of people in the campaign who had tried to have Reverend Wright go away for some time and he didn’t. It’s curious to me as to why he popped up as he did a couple of weeks ago on his media tour.
But, this was not unexpected and I think their pleased that it seems to be neutral. But, of course, we’ll see what the voters have to say. It’s very difficult to poll these kinds of things, these kinds of issues.
MATTHEWS: Sure is. Thank you very much, Ron Allen.
OLBERMANN: Exit polls saying that a little less than half say the Wright story is important and there are still helicopters over the man’s house in Chicago, and it would still only get to drive it by 50 percent, which says something about the actual influence of the media. Now, about the Clinton campaign, let’s turn to NBC’s special correspondent Tom Brokaw with more about that side of things.
Tom, good evening, where are they seeing the race going beyond tonight? Where is the end of the Yellow Brick Road?
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Keith, I’ve been talking to senior people in both campaigns over the weekend and as late as this afternoon. I think to summarize the Clinton campaign at this point, they had hoped going into the weekend that maybe they had a shot in the North Carolina. They didn’t sound nearly as confident today. Now, they are looking at another kind of scenario. What they want to do is win the popular vote by the time this is all over, at the end of the first weekend in June, obviously, and then try to make the best case to the super delegates that she’s in the best position to win in the fall.
When I asked one of the very senior people in the Clinton campaign whether this would go all the way to the convention, he said, zero chance of that. The super delegates won’t let it happen. They will decide some time after that first Tuesday in June about who the candidate is likely to be.
On the Obama side, they are still very confident about their math, but they do believe that their candidate has to get better. They recognize that he has not had a good couple of weeks. He was not only tired, but he really didn’t have the kinds of answers that people wanted, and he wasn’t addressing a lot of the issues that are on the minds of the voters out there. To sum it up, as we go into tonight, I think this will be the kind of break that we’re looking for to go into the final stage of the campaign. It will set the stage. Unless one or the other wins both of the primaries tonight, it will play out until the end of June, and then it will be who can make the best pitch to the super delegates, most likely.
OLBERMANN: Tom, is there a point, to flip the phrase around that has been directed exclusively to Senator Obama back towards the Clinton campaign, are you hearing from them they are beginning to get the question of—in terms of a comeback, in terms of a resuscitation of her would be candidacy—how does she close the deal?
BROKAW: One of the things that—pardon me, one of the Obama people said to me, she’s very tough. We’ve always known that. Moreover, she just loves this. This is what she was born to do and her husband, the same way. In fact, this particular person had looked at running for president himself one time and had a conversation with the Clintons and they said, it’s going to be the best time of your life if you decide to do that. It is showing in how they are performing during this campaign themselves.
On the Obama side, one of the people involved in his campaign are saying, look, this is a guy who had a big run. It’s his first time in a national campaign and that’s beginning to show through some. He’s got to get stronger and better and—because the fall is going to be tougher than what we’re going through right now. Does that answer your question, Keith?
OLBERMANN: Indirectly, it does. Obviously, they are game for the fight, but what is—where does she win?
BROKAW: How does she close the deal? She closes the deal, they hope, by getting within 100 delegates and having a more substantial popular vote than Senator Obama does, and then making their case to the super delegates in the first or second week in June, and saying, I’m best equipped to run and holding out, as she has in the past, that tantalizing prospect—by the way, I would love to have Senator Obama as my vice presidential candidate.
OLBERMANN: Well, certainly she’s stretched out the race a little bit more by introducing that 2,209 number. That gives the game a little bit longer to go.
BROKAW: They are going to have to work out Michigan and Florida as well. I think there’s some suspicion on the Obama side that maybe Harold Ickes and Terry McAuliffe, for example, will be able to cut a deal. That’s not what I’m hearing from the Hillary Clinton campaign. They really do think it’s going to be a split the baby proposition of some kind, in which they will split the delegates. There will be some kind of a resolution. They don’t want to go to Denver and not seat either one of those delegations, Florida or Michigan. It’s in the configuration of those delegates that will make the difference.
OLBERMANN: Here we are in the 17th overtime of the two period game. Tom Brokaw, we’ll talk to you later on. Many thanks.
BROKAW: I hope so. I’m here.
OLBERMANN: Up next, the other big double header. Can either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama win two tonight? We will check in with both campaigns next, plus more from the exit polls. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina Democratic presidential primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s live coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries tonight. Polls in Indiana will be closed in just under 15 minutes now. As we wait for results, we have new numbers now from our exit polling, and for that we turn to Norah O’Donnell. Norah?
O’DONNELL: Good evening to you, Chris and Keith. Following a week of intensifying debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama about a gas tax holiday, Democratic primary voters made it very clear today, the economy is the big concern. In fact, discontent about the economy is so acute in both Indiana and North Carolina that more than six in ten voters identified it as the most important issue facing the country. The war in Iraq came in a distant second.
These are actually the highest percentage of voters citing the economy as the top national issue since the Democratic primary contest started back in January. That’s significant. Also, our exit poll showed the economic slowdown is having a negative impact on more than eight in ten voters casting their ballots today. In fact, nearly half of voters in Indiana say that the recession has affected their families a great deal.
Also, those most likely to say that the down turn in the economy is having a negative impact are, not surprisingly, working class voters, including women, blacks, high school graduates and those with household incomes under 50,000 dollars a year. I think that’s obvious, Chris and Keith. But that’s why we saw these two Democrats focus so heavily on economic issues, on courting the working class vote, as well as this big debate that they’ve had over the gas tax holiday.
MATTHEWS: Norah, it’s always interesting to look at something we haven’t looked at before this year, which is the percentage of voters in these primaries who went to college for four years. The tendency of those who went to college for four years to be for Barack Obama. I was noticing the North Carolina percentage, it’s not quite up there where Connecticut was, which was enormously high of college graduates, something like 60 percent. But very much higher than Indiana. I wonder if we could look at that as an indication of how the results are coming in tonight. Probably more advanced—better off for Barack, based on that one simple parameter.
O’DONNELL: As you know, North Carolina is a changing state. There’s a large influx of people moving to that state, younger people also moving to the research triangle as well. The demographics of the state of North Carolina have been changing. We’ll have more on that a little later.
MATTHEWS: That’s my North Carolina. I went to Chapel Hill and I felt it all around me. It’s grown dramatically and exponentially in that way in all these years since. Norah, thank you. We’re going to have more from you later.
We are surrogates joining us from both the Clinton and the Obama campaign. We begin with Senator Clinton adviser Lisa Caputo, who was press secretary to Senator Clinton when she was first lady of the United States. Lisa, it’s always great to have you because you are an optimistic American and tonight, I’d love to know what optimism says from your campaign’s point of view?
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON SURROGATE: Optimism says that it looks like a great night for Senator Clinton, particularly in Indiana. Let’s remember, Indiana was even just a short time ago. Listening to what Norah just said about the economy, when you peel back the numbers, Chris, it’s about the white middle class voter. Senator Clinton is winning those voters in a big way in Indiana. That’s the people who are most impacted by the economy going into the recession. You cannot win a general election without getting white, middle class voters.
If she takes Indiana, which it looks she could be on her way to doing, that would be the third state—third big state where she’s (sic) not been able to capture those voters after Ohio and Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: You know, I was looking at a newspaper up in Boston this morning, a guy named Peter Cannellis (ph), I think his name was, saying that Hillary Clinton has made an amazing transition to what you call white working class or middle class. She has become a person who drinks shots and beers in public, who drops her G’s in public conversation. He was quite happy with that morphing of her into a regular person. Do you find it authentic?
CAPUTO: I do find it authentic, Chris, having been around her for so many years. Let’s remember, she’s the product of a white, middle class, working class upbringing. Her father hailed from Scranton, as you well know. She comes from those kinds of roots. So it’s authentic and it’s combined with her work ethic, derived out of the Methodist faith that she carries.
MATTHEWS: You mean, all of that devenir polish out of Wellesley has been flicked aside, the Yale Law degree, the first ladyship of a state and the presidency, all flicked aside and she’s back to the raw—well, the hard scrabble roots that brought her up. This is to be believed? I’m being a little sarcastic, but it is an amazing thing to see. I always thought of her as rather polished. I always thought of her as a Seven Sisters women, an Ivy League person with an elite education, and a polish in her language and her pronunciation. And now I find her to be a shot and beer swilling regular person from the knaves. I wonder, what is the real Hillary?
CAPUTO: The real Hillary is someone with an enormous work ethic at the core of her very being. She also someone carries great compassion for every American, but particularly the working class American, because that is where her roots her. Just because she went to Wellesley and has an Ivy League law degree, doesn’t mean she swirls white wine with the elite. That might be considered to be her other opponent. I think—
MATTHEWS: Nice shot, Lisa. Very nice shot.
CAPUTO: Thank you. I think it comes down to where they stand on the issues. She’s been the one that’s been really out with a robust economic plan. When you think about what Senator McCain has said on the economy, it’s almost laughable. Let’s remember something else, it’s resonating. Look at the recent poll. She’s up in the AP/Ipsos poll, significantly ahead of Obama nationally.
MATTHEWS: Lisa, got to go. I’ll never forget, however, that you went to Brown and you are, in fact, one of the elite. Thank you very much, Lisa Caputo, as well as a great person. We’ll right be back—throughout the night, we’ll be back with Lisa.
OLBERMANN: Now to the Obama campaign, with this little headline just dropped in from the “Raleigh News and Observer” on the subject of swilling, which came up on this last conversation, Barack Obama made a last minute surprise appearance at a downtown bar this afternoon, ordering a Pabst Blue Ribbon and spending half an hour greeting voters at the Raleigh times bar.
MATTHEWS: On the house.
OLBERMANN: No, he tipped 18 dollars. Enough of the swilling, and let’s get to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who is supporting Senator Obama for president. Senator Daschle, good evening.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE, FMR. SENATOR: Great to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We just heard Tom Brokaw talking about his sources with
the Clinton’s, about—contrary to so much that has been said of this
that automatically their goal is to bring this to the convention floor and drag this thing into August, into Denver, into that sort of spotlight and heat and humidity. Yet, he’s saying that’s not the destination. How is this resolved if it doesn’t go to the convention?
DASCHLE: Keith, I don’t think it has to go to the convention at all. Barack is only about 270 delegates shy of what it takes to win the majority of the elected delegates, 270. We’re going to pick up about 100 tonight. We’re—we have ten to one ratio, ten times the number of super delegates that we’ve been able to pick up since February 5th. It’s about 100 to ten right now. Every day, we pick up additional super delegates.
I really believe that we’re going to be at a point sometime, probably by mid-June, where Barack is going to have surpassed that magical number and he will be the nominee.
OLBERMANN: As you know, Senator Clinton has changed that number. I don’t know if you were in on the conference call. But at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today—
MATTHEWS: New score card.
OLBERMANN: Yes, it went to 2,209, she believes that’s the number. Obviously, that’s counting Michigan and Florida. That brings back the whole issue and the DNC rules meeting at the end of this month, on the 31st. What’s going to happen regarding Michigan and Florida and what does it matter if Senator Clinton has already counted those delegates as part of the threshold?
DASCHLE: As you have reported over and over, there’s no possible way. Nobody can, with a straight face, accept the fact that Hillary Clinton ought to get those delegates. Barack wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan, of course. The only way to resolve this, of course, it is to divide it evenly and move on. I think that’s ultimately how this is going to be resolved. That’s the way it should be resolved.
OLBERMANN: There has been a lot recently about this so called nuclear option, about not resolving it fairly, about forcing that issue on the part of the Clintons. Is there blow back? Is there somebody to talk them out of that? Or how does this particular issue get resolved before it becomes its own separate version of the conflict over Michigan and Florida that we’ve had for weeks and months?
DASCHLE: Keith, it just seems to me that if we have the majority of delegates and we’ve got a nominee, then all this becomes sort of moot point. I can’t imagine that they would actually consider something that dramatic, something that extra-legal, at a time when we really ought to be talking about uniting the party. As Howard Dean mentioned just the other day, just a couple minutes ago, the other day, both candidates promised to support the other if they were the nominee. If Barack is the nominee on the 15th or 20th of June, I fully expect and I would hope that the whole party could expect that Hillary gets behind him, and we don’t go there or anywhere close to something that would be that radical.
OLBERMANN: The former Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, on behalf of the Obama campaign, thanks for your time tonight.
DASCHLE: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Right now, let’s check back before the top of the hour and closings in Indiana with NBC’s Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. What do we have as we’re waiting Indiana?
RUSSERT: What we have is this: Senator Clinton has talked to people as late as last night. They were describing her as in the zone, believing that she has now found her voice, that she wants to keep this going. No matter what happens tonight, she sees next week in West Virginia as a sure win. The following week, Kentucky, is a sure win. There’s no incentive to get out as long as she can keep winning primaries and trying to make her case with the super delegates.
The important point tonight will be what is the psychology of those super delegates after tonight’s results? Are they open to hearing more of an argument from Senator Clinton that they would be willing to deny the person with the elected delegate lead, in order to find someone they think could be a better candidate against John McCain. That’s the unanswered question tonight. Senator Clinton can make all the case she wants about letting her keep going, but she has to keep getting the approval, in effect, of the super delegates, the willingness of them to hear her case out in the weeks and months ahead.
OLBERMANN: So what are they looking for in terms of results tonight. If Indiana is fairly close or even she wins by something in single digits and he has a bigger victory in North Carolina, is that a wash. Is that a push? Is the North Carolina big victory bigger than the Indiana kind of big victory? What does it mean?
RUSSERT: They wanted some kind finality. They wanted one or the other to win both, in order to demonstrate convincingly what was going on. The interesting thing tonight, and I underscore this, is people are looking at that delegate count, because the higher the elected delegate count gets, the harder and harder it is to deny the person who is in the lead.
If, in fact, there’s evidence tonight in the polls that Senator Obama has cratered, quote unquote, in the word of one super delegate, because of the Wright situation, then, of course, they would say let’s let it play out. Absent that, there may, in fact, be some discussion to say, among some of these super delegates, is it time to move to a close or should we allow it to play out through the primaries, the first week in June. I think we’ll know a lot more in a few hours, looking at the margin of victories in each of these states and the awarding of the elected delegates.
It’s being watched that closely. These super delegates are really tuned in. They are analyzing and assessing every turn, every bob, every weave. They are looking very, very hard tonight, not only at the popular vote, but who is winning the elected delegates.
OLBERMANN: Watch out, the use of that word margin again. William Sapphire will write us all up one more time. Tim Russert, as we wait for Indiana at the top of the hour, we’ll talk to you later, Tim. Thanks.
At this top of the hour, the first characterization of the race in Indiana. In just about 33 minutes and a little bit, polls will also close in North Carolina. The big window of excitement and information and knowledge is coming up in the next 35 minutes. Please stay with us. Chris and I rejoin you after this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: It’s now 7:00 p.m. in the East, 6:00 p.m. in northwest Indiana, where the polls in the Hoosier State have now closed.
And the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is too early to call.
I’m Chris Matthews, alongside Keith Olbermann.
And we have some breaking news right now. Late this afternoon, a circuit court judge in LaPorte County in northwest Indiana ordered two voting precincts to stay open past poll closing time due to—quote—I love this—
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes, a poll worker missed a few steps in the process of turning the machine on.
MATTHEWS: A necessary start to the voting day.
And we’re joined right now by an expert in polling, Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Terry, buddy, thank you for coming in.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: How are you?
MATTHEWS: You’re smiling. You’re happy. You’re in Indiana. What’s that tell us?
MCAULIFFE: Well, it feels good. You know, Chris, as you know, we started in this state, we were 15 points down. They outspent us 2-to-1. But I have been here. You can feel the momentum. Hillary Clinton has worked this state. She has been all over it, 100 visits to 62 counties. It’s incredible.
I think her economic message of working to create jobs in this state, working to deal with the gas prices, all of her issues, health care, I think the voters here in Indiana are going to reward Hillary tonight with a win.
MATTHEWS: Can you pick up delegates tonight in a doubleheader tonight?
MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, I think we’re going to do very well in North Carolina. As you know, Chris, we were 25 points down. It has tightened up considerably. We were also outspent there.
What you have seen since Pennsylvania are people looking at the two candidates. And they’re saying, “You know what? we have got two great candidates. But it’s Hillary Clinton, the one who is the best to take us into the fall campaign.”
All the polls this week, Chris, show that she beats John McCain, she wins Florida, she wins Ohio. Senator Obama doesn’t. I think that’s important.
What the folks want to do, they want to make sure a Democrat wins the White House. And her economic message is the message that’s working.
So, sure, we can pick up delegates. But when we’re done with this process on June 3rd, Senator Obama will need super-delegates, we will need super-delegates. And their decision is going to come down to, who is it that is best to take on John McCain in the fall? Clearly, every polling data this week says that’s Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Well, how do we gauge it tonight, sitting here at our anchor desk? Do we count the total votes counted tonight in both states and decide who wins in total? Do we look at the total delegates at stake tonight and see who won? Give me a scorecard for what we do tonight here by midnight, Terry.
MCAULIFFE: Well, I think what you got to look at it, as you look at it—you know, who wins the states and, obviously, but more importantly, who shows the momentum? This is all about momentum moving in, you know, to get ready for November 4th.
We were way back, double digits down, Chris, in both states. You yourself know it. You yourself talked about it, 25 percent down in North Carolina, 10 percent to 15 percent down in Indiana.
If we show considerable movement on those numbers, you have got to say, “You know what? Hillary Clinton is the one that is coming out of these primaries tonight with a head of steam. Her message is working. People like what they’re hearing about Hillary Clinton. They like it that she’s fighting for them.”
And I think what’s happened is that they see Hillary Clinton as a fighter. And you know what? They say, “You know what? When she is president of the United States, she is going to fight for me.”
And that’s what you’re hearing out there in the states. It happened in Texas, happened in Ohio, happened in Pennsylvania. I feel very comfortable it’s going to happen here in Indiana. And you’re going to see a huge turnout for Hillary in North Carolina. And then, Chris, on to West Virginia.
MATTHEWS: A couple weeks ago, Barack Obama said that Indiana would be the decider. It would be sort of the rubber match of this long feud.
MCAULIFFE: That’s right.
MATTHEWS: Are you going to call him on that tonight if you win Indiana?
MCAULIFFE: Sure, I mean, he did say this would be the tiebreaker. But we will see. The polls have just closed here. we will see what happened.
I have learned, Chris, I pay no attention to the exit data. It doesn’t matter. I’m waiting until one of you declare that Hillary has won the state.
But, sure, he did say that this would be the tiebreaker, that Indiana was it. And we will see what happens. But, you know, we’re optimistic about what’s going to happen, but, you know, we want to be very cautious until they actually call it.
But, clearly, the momentum is on Hillary Clinton’s side. You can feel it. It has happened now for several weeks. And as we move forward, they say Hillary Clinton is the one to take us into the general election.
Chris, winning Ohio, winning Pennsylvania, winning Michigan, winning Florida, these are the four key states that we have got to win this November. And Hillary Clinton has won those by at least 10 points. And then winning here in Indiana would be a huge movement for Hillary.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, I’m trying to get a score card here tonight.
Will it be total votes cast...
MATTHEWS: ... tonight, total delegates won tonight? And then, when you go from here to the first week in June, can we look at the votes, the elected delegates who are elected between now and the end of the process...
MATTHEWS: ... and say who’s winning? Or is it this amorphous term, “momentum,” the one to look at?
MCAULIFFE: Well, sure, I believe, by the end of this process—as you know, the DNC is going to meet May 31st, rules and bylaws, to deal with Florida and Michigan. We have West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Montana coming up.
Assuming they resolve the issue on May 31st, on June 3rd, after that, I think what you will see is Hillary Clinton clearly ahead in the popular vote, a very close difference on the delegates.
And at that point, the super-delegates, whom we both need, have to make up their mind: Who is it that can go into the fall best prepared to help the Democrats win the White House, win Senate seats, win House of Representatives seats? And that is becoming more and more evident over the last couple of weeks it’s Hillary Clinton.
We have to win this election. We have got to put up the strongest candidate. And if you look at the exit data that you have seen in the past elections, it’s about the economy. And, clearly, on the economic issues, Hillary Clinton wins overwhelmingly against Senator Obama and Senator McCain, that she will fight hardest on the economy. And I think that’s a very important barometer going into the fall.
MATTHEWS: Where are you sending the former president next, because he’s been working the smaller cities in Pennsylvania and in North Carolina? Where are you going to send him next, to deploy him to best use?
MCAULIFFE: Well, he will be off to West Virginia, but he did nine events yesterday. I think he’s doing seven today. he will be coming in here to Indiana later tonight. He’s finishing up in North Carolina.
But, obviously, the next is West Virginia. Right now, we enjoy a lead right now in West Virginia. Then, it’s obviously Kentucky and Oregon. So onward we go. We have about five more contests to finish up this process. It’s exciting for us moving forward.
And, you know, let’s let everybody vote. And our point all along, Chris, has been let’s let all the voters vote. Right now, it has basically been a tie. You have seen 30 million folks come out and vote. The difference is less than 1 percent. We have had about 3,400 delegates chosen. The difference is about 135.
We have got a long way to go in this process. And I will also say this is good for the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you’re happy faced with a scorecard, you would never lose, Terry. You’re always upbeat. Thank you very much, Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Clinton campaign.
MCAULIFFE: Chris, if I’m ever not upbeat, then you’re really going to worry. Thanks, Chris.
OLBERMANN: All right. We’re joined now by Senator John Kerry, former Democratic nominee for president in 2004 and current supporter of Senator Obama here in 2008.
Senator Kerry, good evening.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Good evening to you.
I’m sort of laughing. I’m listening to Terry McAuliffe. He is always upbeat. And he’s better to have spinning for you than against you.
But I will tell you, he’s dead wrong about what’s happening. Barack Obama has a 141-delegate lead today. After tonight, let’s say she does the best she can do and she gained 12 or 15 delegates. She’s going to have to win over 60 percent of every contest afterwards. She’s never done that.
So, just the fact that Rush Limbaugh is urging people in Indiana to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton tells you the whole story. The Republicans believe Hillary Clinton is the best shot they have got and Barack Obama is—they’re scared of him. They don’t know how to campaign against him. And I believe he will be the nominee.
OLBERMANN: So, you’re not buying that explanation that the support from people like Richard Mellon Scaife and FOX News and Rush Limbaugh is simply, as Senator Clinton told me in an interview about 10 days ago, simply her ability to bridge gaps and bring people together?
KERRY: No, I’m not buying that, and I’m not buying Terry McAuliffe’s wonderful argument tonight.
You know, look, the fact is that Barack Obama has won 31 states, caucuses and primaries to her 15. The voters who are deciding between Barack and Hillary, you know, are deciding between two good candidates.
But once that decision has been made and we have a nominee, those voters are not going to rush over and pick somebody who’s going to give them four more years of George Bush’s policies in Iraq, who’s going to give them more of the economic policies that’s brought them pain, who doesn’t have a health care plan, who’s for the Bush tax cut. I mean, let’s run the list.
So Barack Obama is going to win Ohio and Pennsylvania and these other states. And I hope he’s going to do it with Hillary Clinton’s support.
OLBERMANN: So how does and when does this get resolved?
KERRY: I think it’s going to be resolved in the next weeks, certainly by the early part of June. You may have to run through, depending on what happens tonight, you have to run through these next primaries.
But there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s great. You know, let’s go out to Oregon, and Montana, and Puerto Rico, and South Dakota, and so forth. Give them a chance. Let everybody be active. The Democratic Party will be stronger for it.
And I believe then the super-delegates will see that Barack Obama is ahead in the pledged delegates, that he has won more states and primaries and caucuses. And in the end, they’re going to decide he’s the strongest candidate for a number of different reasons, and I believe the nomination will be decided.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Senator Kerry—this is a very tricky question, but it goes to the heart of what you do. You’re in the cloakroom with Senator Clinton. Is she the beer—the shot-and-beer-swiggin’, droppin’ g’s, regular gal from the bowling league? Or is she a Seven Sisters girl? What is she?
I would like to know who she really is, the woman with all the degrees, or is she this person who got the GED from somewhere in Scranton? Who is she?
KERRY: Chris, that’s not where I want to focus. And that’s not—you know, that’s not what this is about. Hillary...
MATTHEWS: But it seems to be about portraying yourself as the regular Joe or Jane. And that was about your campaign. You were hit with that, for being elitist. And I just want to—is it all going to be a masquerade now, to show how... KERRY: No.
MATTHEWS: ... how regular you can make yourself in public?
KERRY: No, I think what people want to see is authenticity. And I think, on the gas issue, for instance, people see a gimmick versus somebody who has a real vision and a presidential position, which is to say no to something that doesn’t make sense and isn’t good policy.
That’s what they want. People want to turn the page of American politics, Chris. They want something new. They want to move to the future. And, again, you know, the fact that Rush Limbaugh is urging people to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton just tells you the whole story here.
I think, in the end, Barack, as people get to know him better, will feel the authenticity that has won him the support of governors in red states, senators in red states, voters in a patchwork of red states across the country, which is why he has won 31 primaries and caucuses to her 15. That’s the making of a new coalition in American politics.
And what we’re trying to do here, Chris, is not just elect a president and have a transitional shift to another president. We want a transformation in American politics.
And that only comes when you can inspire a kind of grassroots movement that comes together across party lines and holds this city, Washington, D. C. , accountable.
This city is out of control. Our politics are broken. Barack Obama can help to fix it, and I think he’s showing the coalition that can do that.
OLBERMANN: Senator Kerry, his voice echoing through the halls of the Capitol tonight. Thank you again, sir.
KERRY: Sorry about that.
OLBERMANN: No problem at all.
All right, let’s turn over to NBC News Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert, as we have Indiana too close to call.
Something that Terry McAuliffe mentioned—too early to call—forgive me.
Something that was presented by Terry McAuliffe, that this—if it’s a Clinton victory in Indiana, that it’s something of a rally, a comeback from way down, the RealClearPolitics poll of polls had Obama ahead in Indiana for a total of three days. Would—an Indiana victory would be an Indiana victory. But would it be a comeback momentum kind of a victory, or just a victory-victory?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, what the Clinton campaign is pointing to, Keith, was that magical sheet that I have been using every primary night that the Obama campaign produced in February, they did predict a five-point victory in Indiana back in February, because it’s a neighboring state, a bordering state to Illinois.
But, in recent weeks, obviously, the polls have tightened dramatically. And Senator Clinton has pulled ahead in most of the public polls. We’re getting our first look tonight, now, because the polls have closed, at some of the exit data. And I know Norah will get to a lot more of it.
But I went right away to the two core bases of each of these candidates. And it’s not surprising. White women, Hillary Clinton is winning 61 to 39. Blacks, Barack Obama is winning 92 to 8, which is really extraordinary in both accounts because those are the people, those are the groups that are going to have to come together to unite this party.
And I can’t underscore enough there’s equal concern amongst Obama supporters about getting white women. But there will be increased concern amongst Clinton supporters that they need African-Americans. And the more this campaign goes on, and is seen as a divide along racial lines, the more difficult it will be to unite the Democratic Party.
OLBERMANN: To some degree, are the Indiana numbers going to be on that front a little exaggerated because of the crossover voting and the heavy concentration—relatively heavy—it was not 10 percent even, certainly—but the large number of Republicans who are going in there and clearly voting for either one of the candidates just to mess with the outcome and are going to vote for McCain in November one way or the other?
Is that number going to be a little larger in Indiana than we would expect it to be in terms of the actual race of who’s going to support who?
RUSSERT: Yes, there are indications of the mischief factor, the chaos factor, that we’re seeing more of that now.
I assume the Clinton campaign will say, well, no, that means that her new message, her recast message is appealing and drawing in Republicans.
And we will let the debate continue.
But the interesting thing for me here is how the white women have been such a hard-core base for Hillary Clinton. And I think that would exist whether she was running in the finals against Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, anybody, including Barack Obama.
There are just women, particularly those over 50, making under $50,000, who believe that Hillary Clinton can shatter that glass ceiling. The interesting thing is the development of African-Americans and evolution towards Barack Obama.
Remember the debate at the end of last year, is he black enough? And there were a lot of predictions that the Clintons, because they had strong ties in the African-American community, would always be able get 30 percent of the African-American community. No more -- 92 to 8, that’s really extraordinary to see that kind of voting pattern this late into a primary. And I think it underscores just divided we are within Obama vs. Clinton.
OLBERMANN: All right, finally and briefly, Tim, we talked about this two weeks ago while covering Pennsylvania. Has there been any movement towards this?
If there’s going to be an olive branch from one direction to the other, to white women or to African-American voters, are there surrogates to put on the ticket if it’s presidential candidate Obama and some white female candidate for vice president? Is there a surrogate Obama to put on a Clinton campaign?
RUSSERT: Difficult. And whenever I try to raise that question, it’s, we’re not going there. It’s a long way away. We’re going to see this race through.
There are some suggestions yesterday, another attempt to say, should we put the two of these candidates together on a ticket? But what I keep hearing, Keith, from people who are close to both these individuals is that, the longer this goes on, the more difficult it becomes, because attitudes are hardening.
There was a quote from a Clinton supporter today to “TIME” magazine that, well, we can’t nominate Obama because there could be another October surprise, and you wouldn’t get that from Hillary.
Those are the kinds of things that very destructive to party unity. And both campaigns are willing to acknowledge and talk about that. This is again all part of the psychology that superdelegates are looking at tonight. What is the story that’s going to be left with the undeclared superdelegates tonight?
Is Obama weaker by the Jeremiah Wright thing or is he in a position that’s even more than weak? Or is Hillary Clinton in a position where, realistically, she is in a position to claim a nomination eventually? And that’s what they are going to be listening to. These kind of numbers indicate no dramatic change from previous primaries. I think that will also be noted by the undeclared superdelegates.
MATTHEWS: Tim, I have just come across—I love numbers. I have just found one that delights me.
Indiana, where Hillary Clinton—it’s too early to call, according to NBC right now, but assuming that she could even win there, look at this number of people under 65. Barack wins. He wins narrowly, but he carries people below 65 even in a state he may lose tonight. Who knows.
But among people 65 and older, Tim, Hillary Clinton is winning 71 to 29. She is sweeping the people on Social Security. This is even more dramatic than her support among white women, is older people. In the other state, the same thing. Her vote, her majority, if it ever comes, is all among retirees. That seems to me something about the changing direction of the Democratic Party.
RUSSERT: Certainly generational.
And I will add to that, Chris. We asked about Reverend Wright and nearly half the voters in both Indiana and North Carolina said that he was a significant factor in their vote. Now, we don’t know whether that means the things he said concerned them or they appreciated the way Barack Obama dealt with the issue.
RUSSERT: There can be pros and cons in that.
But voters over 65 who singled out the Wright episode broke dramatically for Hillary Clinton. So, there’s an awful lot at stake here in terms of gender, in terms of race, in terms of behavior, attitudes. You’re absolutely right.
RUSSERT: The longer the campaign goes on, the more hardened those attitudes get, according to both campaigns.
They are convinced and they will say publicly, we can come together again, but both candidates will acknowledge you can’t wave a magic wand. They can hold each other’s hands on the podium, but that doesn’t mean their followers are going to come along.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, we will check with you within the rest of the hour here for you. Thank you kindly.
Still ahead, our “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel, plus more of the exit polls, Norah O’Donnell. We await results in Indiana, still too early to call, and, at the bottom of this hour, results from North Carolina. The polls close in 11 minutes and 35 seconds.
You’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina presidential primaries.
OLBERMANN: Indiana too early to call, North Carolina coming up, we presume at the bottom of the hour, when the polls close there.
We continue with MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
The polls having closed in Indiana, with the exception of two counties where there were some mechanical problems due to human error. The race, as we said, is too early to call. And, in North Carolina, polls closing now in a little less than seven minutes.
MATTHEWS: Right now, we want to turn it back over to David Gregory of NBC News and his “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel—David.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: Thanks, gentlemen.
Like you guys, we are talking about election night by the numbers.
And, Gene, let me start with you. This is the expectation time for not only who wins, but by how much.
EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
GREGORY: Where does the spread matter tonight and for whom?
ROBINSON: Well, the spread, I think, matters in Indiana. If Hillary Clinton could pull off a double-digit win in Indiana, for example, she could—she would have more to stand on to claim that she had somehow changed the game or that she had really made her case.
GREGORY: Or reinforcing support, as Chris talked about, among older voters, among white working-class voters.
GREGORY: Denying him entry in that key group that he needs to repair.
Of course, the flip side is, how does she do with African-American voters? And if he swamps her there, then we’re back where we were before we got to Indiana or North Carolina.
GREGORY: All right, but, Pat, in North Carolina, the dynamic here is like Pennsylvania was for Hillary Clinton. He needs a big victory. He was up in the polls significantly. If it’s less than single digits, a problem. If he meets those expectations, it’s a big win for him after Reverend Wright.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: In both states, there’s two issues. Who won the state and who won the campaign?
Barack Obama was up seven in Indiana when we last met at Pennsylvania. He was up seven. He could lose by double digits, which means he probably lost up to 20 points in two weeks. He was up 20 in North Carolina. If he holds North Carolina, the question is going to be, how much did he lose? That’s what the professionals are going to look at. How did he do campaigning for two weeks in these crucial states?
BUCHANAN: Did he gain or did he lose votes?
GREGORY: But, Rachel, take on this quickly. If, in North Carolina, he gets more votes, more popular votes than Hillary did in Pennsylvania, he is going to have something to crow about.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, if he were the one who was talking about the popular vote as a relevant metric.
MADDOW: Unfortunately, that’s all been coming from the Clinton campaign, so it might look a little bit disingenuous for him to first start bragging about that now, once he’s sealed that up.
I think the real wild card today is Republicans and independents. Independents can vote in both of these states. Republicans can vote in Indiana. We’re getting reports from both states, from reporters in both places, that says that that crossover turnout is very, very high. Nobody knows how much of it is on-purpose mischief-making or Operation Chaos kind of stuff.
MADDOW: That may be very important.
BUCHANAN: Obama’s bragging rights early on from Iowa, all these other places, was all these Republicans coming up, whispering in his ear. He was getting the Republicans and the independents. Hillary Clinton was divisive. She couldn’t win.
If he’s beginning to lose them, he’s beginning to lose one of the biggest arguments he had: I’m a crossover candidate.
MADDOW: I think that’s absolutely right.
GREGORY: Let me introduce—let me introduce this idea, the psychology of the superdelegates—Tim Russert talking about that a little earlier tonight.
Party unity is going to be a big factor. Some of the exit polling that is coming out that is being reported on, nearly six in 10 Obama supporters in Indiana say they would dissatisfied if Clinton were the nominee. And listen to this. Clinton voters who say they would choose McCain over Obama in a general election is approaching 40 percent in Indiana.
The superdelegates have to look at this, Gene, and say, this is a real issue in terms of whether we let this race go on.
All this says to the superdelegates is, we really need to end this thing, and we need to end it as soon as we can.
ROBINSON: But, the reality of it is that if they are both—if they both hold serve today, we’re going to go on.
All right, more to come—Keith, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, thank you.
Panel, thank you.
Up next, polls will be closed in North Carolina at the bottom of the hour, in a just a few moments.
OLBERMANN: Chris and I will be back in a moment with the latest results and the characterization of the one of the two big races tonight—
Indiana still too early to call.
You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama, the projected winner in North Carolina. It is 7:30 on the East Coast. The polls have just closed in that state. NBC News projects Senator Barack Obama will win the North Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary, a hard-fought state. North Carolina is seen as Senator Clinton’s last good chance in the primary season to spark a true game-changer.
And as the vote count continues in Indiana, the race there is still officially too early to call, although almost all of the polls closed in the last half hour to hour. Too early to call in Indiana, and Obama the projected winner in North Carolina.
Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann, and we continue with our coverage of these two primaries, with one final in. And let’s turn to the wisdom, of Tom Brokaw, NBC special correspondent who is with us again.
All right. So this is not a huge surprise. And obviously, once again, the word of the week, as it was two weeks ago, “margin.”
TOM BROKAW, NBC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have to wait for that, but it’s also a relief, because going into the weekend there was some real nervousness on the part of a number of the very senior Senator Obama/Clinton advisers—pardon me, campaign advisers. They worried that the margin could be very tight or that he possibly could lose the state.
They just didn’t know what the fallout would be from the Reverend Wright episode and his response to it. However, looking at the exit polls, I see where about 60 percent of the voters said that they had made up their minds like a month ago.
He’s winning overwhelmingly in the black vote in North Carolina. And that’s carrying into most of the income categories as well. Normally, he does well at the very low end and at the high end. But what we’re seeing in North Carolina is that he’s doing well in all the middle class between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.
Now the win by Senator Obama in North Carolina raises something else as well, which has been of some concern to Democrats, whether they are for her or for him, that is, if this continues, this political knife fight, to the end and she wins in some form or fashion, what happens to black voters in the fall when they feel that they had their greatest opportunity that they have had in more than 200 years now to have a man of color of running for president of the United States, winning more delegates but losing the nomination?
Do they just go and stay home come the fall? And so that too, has been a great concern. And you see the strength of his numbers in a place like North Carolina when it comes to the black vote, 92 to 7. That has been true in most of these states with a very heavy African-American population—Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, but to that point, Tom, you’ve had contact with both of these campaigns at the highest level, what does the Clinton campaign say about that issue because presumably that would be the issue they would have to deal with that would be as daunting to them as the opposition by Senator McCain, perhaps?
BROKAW: Well, they suggest that maybe Senator Obama on the ticket with Hillary Clinton at the top would resolve that issue for them. I mean, they continue to talk about that behind the scenes. And she hasn’t raised it much publicly as she did, what, a month ago when we were dealing with Pennsylvania?
But that’s one of the ways that they think that they can deal with that. And of course, a lot of it would depend on Senator Obama himself and how he would handle losing the nomination to her.
This is all highly speculative at this point. The math is still very much in his favor in terms of the delegates. And if he wins in North Carolina tonight, which is a delegate-rich state in this primary race, there will be a great sigh of relief because the Obama campaign has been through the worst three weeks that they have experienced since he first began his rise in Iowa.
And to come back with a very substantial win in North Carolina tonight would give him probably a renewal of the momentum that he had before.
MATTHEWS: Tom, you know, back in—we watched the movie that other night in that Washington showing of the film about the recount in 2000, and if you think about what happened after that vote, and the Supreme Court’s intervention, it was African-Americans in the Congress.
Remember how zealous they were in trying to get that rejected, that Supreme Court intervention? It was the strongest community in the country on the hottest issue and the hottest group—community of concern about that matter, the way that was decided in 2000.
BROKAW: Well, they continue to feel—Andy Young is—led a real crusade in this country to have more focus, once again, on the Voting Rights Act. He thinks they need to go to the next step now. “Why Tuesday?” is the name of his campaign, because so many African-American voters and people at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, whatever their color, can’t always get to a polling place on a Tuesday.
And then there’s the Supreme Court decision now which has caused some controversy in Indiana that you have to have a photo ID of some kind. I think that may be less important in the final analysis. But it’s worth examining how you can make it possible for working class Americans, especially African-Americans, many of whom work two jobs, that they can get to the polling place easily.
So Andy Young, who is an old soldier, of course, in Dr. King’s crusade, and then the other young black legislators who are coming up in the South, those who were already in office, people like Harold Ford, we’ll be hearing from tonight. They have a big stake in all of this in making sure that their vote counts and that they are a new kind of constituency, not just on autopilot for the Democratic Party anymore.
OLBERMANN: Tom Brokaw, stand by. We all—of what we know about the Obama victory tonight, we know this much, it was projected at the moment the polls closed. To that point, let’s check back in with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert.
Tim, if it is early enough to be called, it is of some substance. We wouldn’t call it if we figured it was going to be by 4 votes. But what does—presuming that it is of some substance, what does the answer in effect have to be for Senator Clinton in Indiana for this not to be entirely or even mostly Barack Obama’s night?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, this is being described as a decisive victory for Senator Obama in North Carolina. The narrative she wanted to come out of tonight, ideally her winning Indiana and North Carolina and saying to the superdelegates, you see, he’s wounded, he cannot sustain this, he cannot beat John McCain.
Her message now must be, well, he was always ahead in North Carolina, we always knew he would win that state. But look at what I’ve been able to do, his neighboring state, I’ve won Indiana.
These superdelegates will be looking, Keith, very closely, as we talked earlier, about the margins of victory. I have been digging into some of these numbers, to Chris’ point, if you’re a young white Democrat, Obama won. If you’re an older white Democrat, Clinton won.
Blacks, as Tom noted, overwhelmingly 91 to 6 for Obama. But he—it looks like he’s going to get at least 36 percent of the white vote in North Carolina, according to our exit poll, which is better than—a bit better than what he did in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
And look for people to crunch those numbers as well. So Senator Clinton now has to make the case, I did better than expected in North Carolina and I won the state of Indiana that he thought he was going to win a few months ago. I have the momentum, let the race go forward.
Give me a chance to show you what I can really do in West Virginia, Kentucky, and the remaining states. Hold your fire. This race is wide open. Why settle now for someone who won’t be strong against John McCain when I, Hillary Clinton, have found my voice of populism and let me continue to share it with voters all across the country.
OLBERMANN: But is there a Charles Schultzian invocation of tell your statistics to shut up at some point when this night is over? Is there something in some ratio of numbers in terms of victory in North Carolina by Obama and margin, if it is indeed for Senator Clinton? And it is still too early to call in Indiana.
Is there some precise ratio of what she needs to offset some decisive victory in North Carolina by Obama?
RUSSERT: If, in fact, Obama has a double-digit victory in North Carolina, superdelegates, some will say, well, you know, how did she do in Indiana? Was it a blowout? Or was it a tight race?
But what she needed, Keith, was freely these superdelegates who are undeclared to really feel their guts wrenching. Oh my lord, Obama just got blown out in the these states. He’s really on the ropes because of the Wright mess. You know, how—should we go forward and nominate him?
They need something convincing to say to the Democratic Party and to the country, the man who had the most elected delegates is not going to get the nomination because of X, Y, Z. We don’t see that emerging so far tonight.
OLBERMANN: Is it to the point where it’s frozen where it was, that sense of overriding what had happened previously in the early votes and the caucuses and all of the rest of the metrics that we’ve heard? Or is there the potential tonight that depending on how well he does in North Carolina, he could in fact roll some of that argument back so that Senator Clinton’s argument to that point was better yesterday than it will be tomorrow?
RUSSERT: The consensus we have gotten from the undeclared superdelegates is that if he wins North Carolina and she won Indiana, it’s status quo. And status quo helps Obama, because he’s ahead by elected delegates. There has to be something other than status quo.
It needs to a game-changer, winning both states, showing real weakness with core constituencies that didn’t appear before. Losing a state that you should have won. And we’re not seeing that, as of now, this evening.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, we’ll check back with you again as more details and developments become available to us. Thank you, Tim.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina is the majority whip of the U.S. House. He is one of the House leadership. He’s also an uncommitted superdelegate who has still not backed a candidate in this race.
Mr. Clyburn, Congressman, it’s a great honor to have you on tonight. I wonder if you might bestow upon us some news and endorse one of the two candidates?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: No. No news tonight. I’m watching your news tonight to get some indication as to what’s happening.
MATTHEWS: Well, we’re looking at this amazing vote. I mean, this whole campaign has been amazing. We have an African-American, first time in even imagined history leading the fight for elected delegates in the Democratic nomination fight.
I put to you the tough question, and it’s so ticklish. Is there any way the Democratic Party, which has championed the causes of civil rights so well and so—in 30 or 40 year now, can it deny a candidate for president who has won the most elected delegates for president, the nomination?
CLYBURN: Well, something could happen, Chris, going forward, we still have seven contests to go. West Virginia still has to go, Oregon still has to go, there are some other states. And then, there are other circumstances that could come into play.
I mean, nobody expected a couple of weeks ago for the Reverend Wright theme to inject himself into this debate. So you never know what may happen. And it could happen from either side.
I keep telling people—they keep telling me, what else may jump out of the—Senator Obama? Well, the question is, can anything jump out about Senator Clinton? So we don’t know where this thing is going. But I do believe that if nothing else intervenes, it would be very, very tough for the party to deny the nomination to the leading popular vote getter, the most states, as well as the most delegates.
MATTHEWS: Do you think the media has overplayed that story you just mentioned?
CLYBURN: Yes, I think so. You know, I was born and raised in a parsonage. And I know a little bit about the black church. I don’t know of anybody in the United States of America who actually thought that Reverend Wright was speaking for the black church. There is no monolithic black church.
I grew up in a Pentecostal Holiness church. And my wife grew up in a United Methodist church. We don’t—they are sprinkled. In my church, that was not baptism. So there is no monolithic black church. And I think that for us to characterize Reverend Wright as representative of the black church, it was just not right.
MATTHEWS: So it was a case of immersion by a story rather than water?
CLYBURN: I think so. I think so. A little sprinkling that needed to be done for it to be...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Maybe you’re right. Anyway, thank you, U.S.
Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, still an undecided superdelegate.
More on the superdelegates right now and their reaction perhaps to Barack Obama’s big victory. Well, we think it might be a big victory.
Substantial might be the…
OLBERMANN: Decisive, decisive, was Tim’s word.
MATTHEWS: Decisive is probably a safe estimate at this point based upon the very early call by NBC, which we did on the nail tonight at 8:00. Let’s go right now to our insiders, to two former U.S. congress people, Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: Hey, thanks a lot. Hey, you know, Harold, a week ago—what a difference a week makes. A week ago, a lot of superdelegates scratching their heads, saying, what are we going to do with Obama? Then, he comes out, he gets Reverend Wright behind him with a great speech, and then tonight, a huge victory in North Carolina.
What does that mean for superdelegates that are talking tomorrow morning on the floor of the House and the Senate in Congress?
HAROLD FORD JR., NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They are going to look at some of these numbers and they’re going to try to determine in North Carolina how he may have done among different voting blocks, particularly working class voters, white voters, which have been a subject of a lot of attention.
I think Barack tonight has answered a lot of questions. If the numbers come out like we’re seeing right now, and we’ve still got a long way to go to look at these margins, he’s going to be able to convince a lot of superdelegates that he was able to weather the two or the maybe three toughest weeks in his campaign.
When you consider a Reverend Wright, when you consider comments about working class voters, the “bitter” comment, and when you consider the gas tax challenge that he went up against Hillary on, he withstood a lot of that.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and, Harold, another thing…
FORD: Tonight he made a good case…
SCARBOROUGH: … too is, if you’re going to be a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton, at this point you better have an excuse for not going with Obama. What had Hillary been talking about, the popular vote. She won in Pennsylvania. She won in Ohio. She won in the big states.
Guess what, tonight in North Carolina, Obama may erase that entire victory in Pennsylvania.
FORD: Here is what she argue…
SCARBOROUGH: So what does that mean?
FORD: Here is what she will argue, she will argue, she will argue, if
you look at the key states, the big states, I’ve won them all. When you
SCARBOROUGH: North Carolina is a big state.
FORD: Right. But when—she will look at California, she will say
these states that Democrats win in the fall in general elections. This is her
case she will make, I think. She will make the case that she won those
states. She will say the superdelegates in those states who have sided with
Barack, how can you side with him and not me if I won your states when you’re
urging others in the party where he may have won…
SCARBOROUGH: But, Harold…
FORD: … to side with him?
SCARBOROUGH: … that’s an old argument.
FORD: No, I think that’s…
SCARBOROUGH: That’s an old argument.
FORD: But I think that’s her argument. I’m not saying it works. But that’s her argument.
SCARBOROUGH: I know, it—you know what, if she had won North Carolina tonight that would have worked. If she won Indiana going away, that argument would have worked. I would suggest tonight, if Barack Obama—if he wins North Carolina by double digits, that’s a game changer. It’s over. The tie goes to the guy who’s ahead right now, and that’s Barack Obama.
FORD: If I’m Barack Obama, I’d try to identify 15 to 20 enormous superdelegates, some sitting governors and senators and...
SCARBOROUGH: Get them out tomorrow.
FORD: Get them out tomorrow morning. Call on Hillary to retire from this campaign. Let’s rehabilitate, strengthen our nominee and get ready for what will be a spirited and hopefully winning campaign in the fall.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Harold, a lot of people close to Hillary Clinton both on this campaign and people that have been with the Clintons forever have said this is going to be over in early June, regardless.
Do you think that we’re going to see some superdelegates, maybe 15 tomorrow, maybe some throughout the week, do you think this may be Hillary Clinton’s last week as a viable challenger to Barack Obama?
FORD: The numbers—the margins have not come out. So it will be clearer as the night goes on. But I do think this, he has made a definitive statement tonight. I think the win—as a digression for one moment, the win in Louisiana for a Democrat in Richard Baker’s seat, a Republican seat, had been held for 33 years.
Hillary, her team will try to use that and say, look, look, at the demographic and breakdown in that race down there. They were white voters. They were middle class voters, working class voters. She still appeals more to them.
So I think this thing will play itself out. Jim Clyburn’s comments were very telling. For him not want to commit tonight in the face of this data, he even sees that maybe this conversation can go on maybe another week or two.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, no. Clyburn is going to be the last guy standing, but we all know who he’s going to support in the end.
Harold, thanks for your insights. Now back to you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joe and Harold. By the way, we have got a doubleheader tonight, a twi-nutter (ph), you might say. And it’s always sweet to win the first game of the night. And Barack Obama has done so in North Carolina. We’re still waiting for a call from NBC News on Indiana.
We have got the exit poll information coming up in just a moment. Plus, David Gregory and the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel. This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
OLBERMANN: “You know this primary election on Tuesday is a game-changer. This is going to make a huge difference on what happens going forward. The entire country and probably even a lot of the world looking to see what North Carolina decides.” That was Senator Clinton on Friday.
The decision is going to be for Senator Obama. And whatever change is going to be in effect is going to be for Senator Obama. NBC News projects that Barack Obama will win the Democratic primary tonight in North Carolina.
Indiana, meanwhile, an hour after the last of the polls, or 15 minutes after the last of the polls closed, is still considered too early to call, with more than a quarter of the vote in. To early to call, as differentiated from too close to call. This is MSNBC’s continuing coverage of both of the primaries. Let’s now check in with Norah O’Donnell with some more information distilled from our exit polling on how Senator Obama won North Carolina—
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And good
evening to you, Keith. That’s right. Barack Obama won a solid victory in the North Carolina primary tonight by doing extremely well among the large number of African-American voters in the Tar Heel state.
It turns out blacks were 33 percent of the Democratic primary voters. And Obama did extremely well among these voters. You can see he was the choice of 59 percent of them—I’m sorry, 36 percent of the whites, so there’s the number, 91 percent of the black voters.
I mean, that’s really comparable to what he received in several other contests. But he managed only to get a little more than one-third of the white vote, and that’s noteworthy. Young white voters however went for Obama by a 54 to 43 percent margin. This is very similar to what we’ve seen throughout the primaries for Barack Obama.
Older white voters went for Clinton 61 percent, 34 percent for Obama. Also, Obama did very well among first time primary voters. And what about gender? Well, as we know, women have been consistently more supportive of Clinton. And tonight was no exception. Obama won overwhelmingly among both male and female black voters.
But just—looking just at white voters, we do essentially a gender gap right here. We see that Clinton two nearly two-thirds of the votes of white women, 63 percent. She also won among white men, but by a narrower, 54 to 40 percent, margin.
Now much of the commentary over the past few weeks has been about the white working class vote. Well, in North Carolina, this very important and sizable group in the Democratic electorate. About half of white primary voters today don’t have a college degree. And Clinton did well among this group, as she had done in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Obama held among the college, educated white electorate, getting 45 percent to Clinton’s 52 percent. Among white voters who don’t have a college degree, Clinton won by a big margin, 68 percent right there.
And in the Tar Heel state where nearly two-thirds of those who cast their ballots said the economy was the most important issue, those voters went solidly for Barack Obama—Keith.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell with our latest set of exit polls. Thank you, Norah.
O’DONNELL: You’re welcome.
OLBERMANN: More coming up in the next few minute minutes. Now let’s go back to David Gregory and the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel with North Carolina in the books and the determination only remaining, how much? David.
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: All right. Keith, thanks very much.
Gene, we know that a scenario where it’s 2-0 for Clinton is not in the cards.
Barack Obama has a big post-Reverend Wright victory tonight.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He does. And remember, North Carolina is a very big state. It’s—you know, you should count North Carolina essentially double over Indiana. It’s a huge state.
And remember that Bill Clinton went to every swamp and hollow in North
Carolina over the last week and then went back. The Clintons really, really
thought they had a chance to take North Carolina…
GREGORY: The polls lowered within 3.
ROBINSON: … to steal North Carolina and to really put Hillary Clinton into this game. They did not do it tonight.
GREGORY: Ninety-one percent of the black vote, Pat Buchanan, for Barack Obama.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Barack Obama has got enormous enthusiasm there. He won a little more than one-third of the white vote. Clearly, look, as we said, he won North Carolina. He appears to have won it substantially.
The question now going forward if he’s the nominee is, does the Hillary Clinton white vote in North Carolina—is it available to Barack Obama or does that move to John McCain? If you had to bet on North Carolina right now, you’d have to bet it’s a McCain state.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I’m looking at the remarkable consistency of the white vote going to Barack Obama, from North Carolina to Ohio to Pennsylvania, we’re seeing essentially exactly the same share of the white vote going to Barack Obama.
It’s not getting worse for him by any means, the Reverend Wright thing and any other issue on race hasn’t been hurting him on that. But, he’s also not improving. And I think that you’re right. Is that—that question is, will he be able to improve on that in the general?
GREGORY: Is he attracting any new voters outside of his base of African-Americans? Becomes a big question as well.
MADDOW: Right. that’s the big question. And that’s a problem both for Hillary Clinton and for Barack Obama, because they are both putting out remarkably similar demographic numbers every single election.
BUCHANAN: He does very well among young, white, college voters. He does very well there.
BUCHANAN: It’s as they get older, and frankly, once you get below college age, below high school age, he’s wiped out.
ROBINSON: Yes, but if Barack Obama becomes the nominee, his route to the White House is different from Hillary Clinton’s. He has a different map that he can win, essentially.
He might take some states in the Mountain West, for example, that Hillary Clinton couldn’t take. Colorado is a state that Obama potentially could take. We’re not really testing that right now in this primary. We’re not testing whether white voters in a place like Colorado who did vote for Obama in the primary would defect to McCain.
BUCHANAN: But he would also lose Pennsylvania by this scenario and Ohio. And obviously Hillary Clinton is much stronger in Florida. You’re talking about the election.
ROBINSON: Well, no, he can’t lose Pennsylvania…
MADDOW: Not necessarily, if the map changes…
ROBINSON: … and I don’t think he would necessarily lose Pennsylvania.
GREGORY: Let me break in here, we’re out of time, to be continued.
Keith, back to you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, David. We’re going to check with Chuck Todd “By the Numbers,” who is looking at that—those two important metrics, popular vote tally, and delegates, as we begin to flesh them out.
Chuck, what do you have?
CHUCK TODD, NBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, let’s take a look at the map. Here’s what we think we know what we’re going to see out of North Carolina.
First, on the delegate haul, if it’s closer to a double-digit victory, 10 to closer to 15 points, the delegate haul for Obama is going to be a net of about 15, about a 65-50 split. As that number decreases, it could get down to a net of 9.
More importantly on the popular vote, watch this percentage. If it’s 55 percent for Obama, he will net 150,000 votes in the popular vote, nearly erasing the Pennsylvania popular vote that Hillary Clinton got.
However, if the number climbs to 57, which would indicate a 14-point victory in North Carolina, it erases Pennsylvania completely as far as both popular vote and delegate gains are concerned for Senator Obama.
So it’s a big victory if this climbs to 57 percent. Watch that number tonight.
OLBERMANN: That is a big number. And, Chuck Todd, who has been given the responsibility for all of the numerals and the digits, providing some impressive ones as we close out this hour of coverage.
Obama the projected winner in North Carolina. The only qualification of it so far is “decisive.” We don’t have anything in terms of percentages, an we will not for a while. Indiana, it is still too early to call. Again, to differentiate that, the two options, too early to call, too close to call. This is too early, indicating we may be able to call this perhaps when we rejoin you at the top of the hour.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: Whatever else might happen tonight, a win this evening for Senator Clinton in North Carolina, the game-changer she had been looking for and talking about as recently as when she defined it last Friday, does not appear to be in the cards. At 8:00 Eastern Time here on the east coast, NBC News declaring Senator Obama the projected winner in the North Carolina primary.
In Indiana at this hour, an hour after the last polls were scheduled to closed, there were a couple of precincts that remained open due to technical errors, the Democratic primary in Indiana is still too early to call.
With Chris Matthews of MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in New York, I’m Keith Olbermann this is our continuing coverage of the two primaries tonight in Indiana and North Carolina.
The game-changer did not occur. Senator Claire McCaskill is joining us now at this - the beginning of this hour, a previous endorser of Senator Obama; and we will also have NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert, who joins us right now.
Tim, the game-changer. Why would Senator Clinton leave that quote right out there on Friday when something like this happens on Tuesday, which is – we don’t have terminology for it yet, but it doesn’t look like it’s going a one-pointer for Obama in North Carolina?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Because there’s no alternative to make the case to the superdelegates, Keith. She needed to say to them, “Keep watching, folks. This election has changed dramatically. All the internals are showing that. I’m going to be a much stronger nominee against McCain. You just wait and see and the evidence to that will be born out Tuesday night. You now think I’m going to win Indiana, which I am, but North Carolina, that’s the game-changer.”
Well, that’s not in the evidence tonight. And so now, there has to be more evidence of a different kind. I think it will be—give me some opportunities here. Let me show you in West Virginia; let me show you in Kentucky. What those blue-collar workers and how they really feel. But the question is: patience. Will the superdelegates who are undeclared be endlessly patient?
The sense I’m getting now working the phone is that they’re willing to see this play through the primaries that are remaining: Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico, but unless they see Senator Clinton winning states that Senator Obama should be winning, there is a reluctance at this point to make any kind of change to say—we’re going to deny the person with the elected delegates the nomination.
So, she’s going to need something more. Her camp’s view is that if they stay on the field, you never know what happens. And they certainly believe that tonight’s victory in Indiana, if it happens, will give them the opportunity to stay on the field through the primaries the first week of June.
OLBERMANN: But conversely, if you hear the numbers that Chuck Todd was throwing out before the top of the hour, what those victories would mean, that a 55 percent margin for Senator Obama in North Carolina would erase most of what happens in Pennsylvania both in terms of the popular vote and in terms of the delegate gain for Senator Clinton two weeks ago, but 57 percent, a 14-point win would completely erase both of those things.
When we’re talking perhaps in those terms in North Carolina, and it’s very early, obviously less than 1 percent of the hard vote in, is that not more compelling a story to those superdelegates in terms of either keeping them where they are or perhaps edging them towards Obama than almost anything that could happen out of Indiana, unless it was a kind of mirror image big victory by Senator Clinton there tonight?
RUSSERT: Yes. And it is convincing and there is no doubt about it.
That’s why you heard subset story to tonight: Let’s change the narrative and say that you need more than 2,025 delegates; you need to include Michigan and Florida. And by the way, what about that DNC, Democratic National Committee meeting being held on May 31st to seat those two delegations? Just as I fight for little people and their gas tax holiday, I’m going to fight for Michigan and Florida on that date.
There’s too many things that work here, undeclared superdelegates, just sit back, relax and let it play out and you might be surprised with the final result.
OLBERMANN: Are there—is there a problem with that though, as I suggested with that quote from just last Friday, there’s a parallel story to this thing about what Senator Clinton said at the speedway today in Indy that her delegate count was – the delegate count in the Democratic race is 2,209. It’s nothing like that 2,025 we’ve been hearing from those silly people down there at the national headquarters of the Democratic Party. There is a quote that has been isolated and I’m sure there are others to be found that dates only to the 22nd of February in which she said, “Each of us has to get to 2,025 delegates.”
When you start getting this sort of twin tracks of what she said earlier, and what the reality is now that’s caused her to say something else, at what point do those two things collide and make a certain lack of viability in either one of the arguments?
RUSSERT: Well, they have collided. But she created a new dynamic and they keep saying—but the campaign has changed. Senator Obama is a different candidate in May than he was in March, and so am I, Hillary Clinton. And so there’s no reason to stop this.
I keep going back to this issue, Keith. It really is the patience of the undeclared superdelegates.
And tonight there is no suggestion in what we’re getting in our reporting that they are moved to the point of being endlessly patient. They wanted more in terms of the brief on behalf for Senator Clinton, to give them a reason, to give them pause for denying nomination to the man who’s won more elected delegates.
What she has to do now is buy time. Let me give – OK, let me try you West Virginia. Let me try Kentucky. And hope that some other unforeseen event takes place which causes more stress and strain and concern amongst the superdelegates. She did not get the game-changer she wanted tonight or, in fact, had suggested might be available.
OLBERMANN: All right. Then, answer that in terms of Indiana, is that game-changer is still potentially on the field tonight?
RUSSERT: Yes. We don’t know where these votes in Indiana are coming from. We understand there maybe some black districts have not yet been heard from. But if she can continue to keep that popular vote with a big amount, look for any advantage, Keith. If she can say I won in Indiana by a larger amount than he won in North Carolina, anything that can get the attention of the superdelegates and buy time.
But, again, the fundamental dynamic did not change tonight. It’s status quo. And in fact, I dare say by the morning, we’ll be able to say that Obama won more delegates than Clinton tonight. And so, if he increases that count of elected delegates, he needs fewer and fewer of those undeclared superdelegates to get to the number necessary for the nomination.
She is going to need 2/3 of the undeclared superdelegates to wrest the nomination away. And she didn’t make that case tonight as convincingly as she had hope.
OLBERMANN: Well, let’s dive right back into the numbers, Tim, with Chuck Todd. Thank you kindly, sir.
OLBERMANN: Over an hour after the polls closed in Indiana, we’re still marking that one too early to call. NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, by the numbers where they’re so important obviously tonight before even the margins are determinable. At least we’re getting an idea of the range, are we not, Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: We are. And I think, Keith, a lot of the folks are wondering why haven’t we called Indiana. Well, as Tim alluded to, it’s simply that we have not seen vote coming out of some of the important Obama strongholds or places that we expect to see strongholds. We can take a look at the Indiana map here, and we that we got Gary, Indiana, still hasn’t come in. We got a lot in Marion County that hasn’t come in. Gary up there in the northwest part, Marion County where Indianapolis is, and also, Bloomington, the home of Indiana University, IU there, down here.
So, because those three strongholds, we don’t have a lot of voting, you can’t make a call or projection. So, we’re sitting there and waiting to see exactly how big was his turnout. How much vote will he get in these places? How big will his victories be? So, we’ll see.
But as Tim also alluded to, going to that North Carolina, it’s looking more and more likely if the North Carolina win is in double digits for Obama, he’s going to win the night in delegates. And that’s an important talking point for the Obama campaign as far as this night is concerned.
OLBERMANN: I’m just waiting to hear if that – now, the bell hasn’t gone off, you didn’t do it this time, Chuck.
TODD: Yes, I know. That’s what you’re trying to do.
OLBERMANN: Right. You lost your touch; we’ve been this three times previously.
TODD: I know.
OLBERMANN: Where you’ve been explaining why we haven’t called something, we called something and it doesn’t happen yet.
TODD: We’ll just vamp here for a few minutes, maybe if we can get going (ph).
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: Well, let me give you something to vamp on. It seems to me that we have a crazy situation. If this is going to be close in Indiana, we don’t know whether it might be or not, could this be an election in Indiana which is not a win for Senator Clinton even if she gets the most votes. If we have the chaos development here from Rush Limbaugh and unclear motive to the Republican crossover, could this really be a tainted victory for her if it’s close?
TODD: Well, look, the fact that if she loses North Carolina by double digits, and it doesn’t—you know, the size of the—and the Indiana victory isn’t as decisive, frankly, as the North Carolina victory, that in itself is not the night she was looking for. So, whether we can sit here and try to figure out the chaos theory and the Rush Limbaugh effect, if there really is one, and what we know, the facts are going to be facts. The delegate count is going to be his and the popular vote count will be end up being his. So, in two of the metrics that the Clinton campaign was hoping to make progress on, total popular vote and delegates, they’ll have lost on both counts. That’s the most damming metric of the night for her. Forget whether we can sit here and splice the Indiana electorate and see if there was a Limbaugh effect or not.
OLBERMANN: Last point quickly, if it’s the low end of what you’re looking at so far in North Carolina when we talked before the top of the hour, if that’s right, 55 percent range for him, what is the offset in Indiana have to be for her if she indeed wins that to even make this a push at this point for the total effect of the evening?
TODD: Well, to make it a push, she’s going to need that five to seven points victory, she’s going to need a victory over five points, obviously under double digits to get that net effect on delegates. So, maybe she would have—eke out a delegate win maybe by a delegate or two. But already, just the fact that Obama is hovering in double digits in North Carolina really does negate any gains that they were hoping to make tonight.
OLBERMANN: All right. Chuck Todd by the numbers, we stretched him as
far as we could and we didn’t get the call yet in Indiana, although that will
eventually happen at some point throughout the evening. Thank you, Chuck
TODD: You got it.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s now go to a prominent supporter of Senator Obama’s campaign, U.S. senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill.
Senator McCaskill, thanks for your time tonight.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, you’re hearing what we’re hearing and the early indicators out of North Carolina, summarize the evening from the position of the Obama campaign?
MCCASKILL: Well, first, we like Chuck Todd because he’s the numbers guy. And for the Obama campaign, what we want to do is what Terry McAuliffe said back at the first of the year, “It’s about the delegates.” And for Senator Obama to have the three weeks he’s had, and what he’s had to fight back from, for him to put the most delegates on the board tonight, which it appears we may do, is remarkable.
It shows that he is ready for the general election. It shows he can be straight forward and honest with the American people and they relate to that as opposed to any of the election pandering or gimmicks that were going on on the other side. So, I think that this is shaping up to be a pretty good night for us tonight.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Senator Clinton’s morphing of the past couple of weeks. One of the advantages to her campaign was the comment by Barack Obama that small town people in states like Pennsylvania were bitter because of economic circumstances and the failure of liberal government to deliver for them.
Is that the real Hillary Clinton you’ve gotten to know over the years? Is she really the small town girl with the GED, that didn’t have all the Ivy League education in college, the one that drinks beers with shots of liquor thrown in who drops her Gs? Is this a masquerade on her part as a candidate?
MCCASKILL: Well, I would give her one piece of advice, if you’re going
to go into a gas station to get a cup of coffee, probably go for the pot of
coffee instead of the cappuccino machine. But seriously, I think that…
MATTHEWS: But where does she belong? Does she belong at the coffee pot or the cappuccino machine? I want you to declare Hillary Clinton’s reality, her identity. Is she an elitist, is she upper middle class or is she a regular Jane? What is she?
MCCASKILL: You know, I’m not going to do that. What I am going to say is Barack Obama is the one who worked to pay off his college loans. Barack Obama is the one who’s mom was on food stamps. Barack Obama is one who was fighting for people that had lost their in Chicago when he could have been making big money on Wall Street. Barack Obama has—his wife’s father worked a shift.
This is a couple, a family that has come up the hard way through the journey to – towards the American dream. And I think the longer he’s out there being authentic, and honest and leveling with the American people, the more they’re going to get comfortable that they’re finally going to have a president that’s going to tell them the truth all the time even if it’s uncomfortable for him.
MATTHEWS: Have you noticed he’s learned a few things from Senator Clinton in the last couple of days. I watched his very long effective, I thought, speech last night in Indianapolis in its entirety. And he’s started to sound like Hillary Clinton, talking about morphing.
He’s talking about the needs of middle class people. He’s talking about giving a $1,000 tax break to people, matching Hillary Clinton’s gas tax thing. He’s talking about the enemies of the Democratic base, Cheney, and talking about the oil companies. He has begun to learn from her politically and become more like a regular Democratic pal. Do you think that’s healthy?
MCCASKILL: Well, I don’t know about that. You know, I don’t…
MATTHEWS: Well, he does. He has begun to incorporate some of her classic Democratic political cases she’s been making.
MCCASKILL: Listen, he’s been talking about the Republicans and Dick Cheney and how they have not delivered to the American people and the working family for months on end, Chris. I don’t, I think this is a man—you know, he had a choice when John McCain and Hillary Clinton said let’s do a gas tax holiday. He had a choice at that moment and he chose to be authentic, real and honest with the American people.
He’s had many choices in this campaign. Frankly, the Reverend Wright stuff—I mean, he leveled with the American people about his—how conflicted he was about his church and about this man who said bad things that he didn’t agree with. I think people are beginning to realize that they finally have a candidate that is going be exactly what he says he is.
OLBERMANN: Senator, final question here. Is it fair now, it’s not the numbers are final or anything but everybody has called this for Senator Obama in North Carolina tonight and promptly as soon as the polls closed.
OLBERMANN: I ask this in the context of this statement here, “A 7:30 p.m. sharp,” according to “Washington Post,” “the jumbo screen at Obama election headquarters delivered some happy news the senator had won North Carolina and the response was deafening silence. The call have come a bit early, as it turned out supporters were not expected here at the North Carolina state basketball arena for another 45 minutes or so. Was there – in retrospect, was there a genuine fear that you were not going to win North Carolina?
MCCASKILL: Listen, the goalposts have been moved so many times. I will say this for Barack Obama. He is very focused. He’s going to campaign in every state for every vote and every delegate and he is never going to take anybody for granted, especially Hillary Clinton as an opponent.
And so, I think that we were all working hard. The Clinton family was camped out in North Carolina. They really made a push there. The governor was campaigning for her all over the state. So, this is a big win in North Carolina for the Obama camp and I think, you know, next week will be tough. West Virginia, Obama will not win West Virginia.
But I think the math is inescapable at this point. And the superdelegates keep coming to our side regardless of what happens. We won the superdelegates last week for example. So, I think the superdelegates, I think Tim Russert is right on the money, I think how patient they are, it will be interesting to see. But I think more and more superdelegates are going to be declaring over the coming weeks and I think it will be for Barack Obama.
OLBERMANN: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, great thanks.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let’s talk more about Senator Clinton’s night with her former press secretary and senior campaign adviser, Lisa Caputo. How do, I think, I was thinking, Lisa, that most of the nights we’ve covered here, Keith and I, it’s been pretty clear one side or the other has won, and one side celebrates and the other tries to make the best of the concession speech. Tonight may be that unusual split.
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Yes. It looks to be going in that direction. And so, here we are, if we have a split decision, it means more states and more voters because there are a lot more people to vote. I think, you know, clearly, Senator Obama is to be congratulated tonight.
But let’s remember one thing, I mean, he started out pretty far ahead and people as we heard earlier decided over a month ago. So, it does call into question whether or not the Reverend Wright issue really had an effect on people who had already made up their minds over a month ago. Plus he outspent Senator Clinton two to one.
MATTHEWS: Well, is that good news for Senator Clinton that the voters didn’t care about the Reverend Wright issue as much as some people would have hoped?
CAPUTO: I think that on that issue, the devout Obama followers, if you will, those who are just not going to move no matter what because they are solidly behind him, it’s not going to impact. The question is will it impact the swing voters and will it impact the working class voters, the middle class voters that we talked about earlier, who really what Democrats need to have on their side to win in the general election.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the fact that when you look at voters by age, the Wright issue, the pastor issue seems to have cut with older people. I mean, it’s very advanced, I mean, it seems like every decade of age you add on to a person, the more they care about the issue. Or if we go the other direction, towards the 30s and 20s and teens, it doesn’t have any impact. Is that a healthy thing that your candidate is appealing to older people and their attitudes on a cross-racial issue?
CAPUTO: Well, I think it’s not just the Reverend Wright issue. I mean, Hillary Clinton seems to win the older voters just across the line on—certainly on the economics, on the health care issues which are really resonating across the board with all voters. So, I think it’s not just on that issue alone, Chris, the Reverend Wright.
MATTHEWS: But what about that issue though? Why would older people be most skittish about this news about the Reverend Wright? You seem to be a bit disillusioned or disappointed that more voters didn’t care about it. Is this an important issue for America whose pastor somebody was or when they were or what they said in the pulpit several years ago? Is it important to picking a president?
CAPUTO: I think what’s important in picking a president, Chris, is—you know, who you do associate with. I mean, there’s just no question as a public figure those with whom you do business and associate with are clearly fair game and that’s why the Wright issue has been front and center. I mean, let’s remember, Senator Obama must have spent 20 minutes on MEET THE PRESS this past Sunday, answering Tim’s questions around Reverend Wright. So, it’s an issue.
MATTHEWS: Yes. It sure is. Well, it is in the media. Anyway, thank you, Lisa Caputo.
CAPUTO: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Norah O’Donnell is here to talk about what new information we’ve learned now from the exit polling, it keeps rolling in. Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, thanks,
You know, Hillary Clinton has this edge in the Hoosier State, showing strength among, essentially the same constituencies who lifted her to victory in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. She is carrying the white vote in Indiana by 60 percent to 40 percent. Just, you know, slightly below her support levels among whites in Pennsylvania.
Barack Obama is capturing, look at that, 92 percent of the black vote.
That’s similar to what he got in Pennsylvania.
Gender has been an important factor in previous Democratic primaries this year, and Indiana is no exception. But these gender differences tonight don’t seem quite as large in some of the other states. Take a look here—essentially among white women, Clinton leads Obama by 61 percent to 39 percent and has a 58 percent to 41 percent lead among white men.
Working class whites has been a battleground for Clinton and Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania; now, in Indiana, too. When we look at the white vote by education, you see that Hillary Clinton is getting 2/3 of whites with no college education. That’s one of her core constituencies. And in Indiana she and Obama are splitting the vote among white college grads.
In age, look at this vote. You notice you said this earlier, Chris. Well, seniors, they’re going for Clinton, 71 percent among seniors going for Clinton. Barack Obama is getting those young voters, again. Look at that—
61 percent to 39 percent. That’s a real difference on age.
And as for those late voters, Chris, Hillary Clinton is carrying those voters who decided within the last month. Back to you, Chris.
OLBERMANN: All right, Norah, I’ll take it. It’s consistent then. The late-breakers are going to Clinton once again in our exit polling tonight. So, thanks to Norah O’Donnell.
Barack Obama the winner in North Carolina. It’s still too early to call in Indiana.
Coming up: THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel
Plus: We’re hearing tonight from the candidates from our campaign listening posts. Howard Fineman is checking in from there.
You are watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
OLBERMANN: And there it is again. North Carolina projected to be Barack Obama’s tonight on this dual primary night for the Democrats in N.C. and Indiana. Indiana is still considered too early as opposed to too close to call—too early to call in Indiana. The actual hard margin approaching 50 percent with a 10 percent Clinton lead.
MATTHEWS: And now to our campaign listening post, MSNBC political analyst, Howard Fineman.
Howard, I’m looking at the “A.P.” story coming out of Indiana. It’s about the North Carolina results as we’ve called it on NBC which says that Barack Obama has regained his footing after weeks of setbacks. Is that your view or the view over there?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. That’s the view here in Chicago, Chris. I’m in the NBC bureau, a couple of blocks from the Obama headquarters and you can almost feel the quiet excitement building from a couple blocks away. They think, and this is the latest from their top strategists and thinkers, is that May 20th is their D-Day. That’s the day they lock it up after Oregon and Kentucky because that’s they day on which they believe, estimating conservatively, that they will have a majority of the pledged delegates.
Now, that’s important because all these superdelegates, including Nancy Pelosi and others, have essentially said—when we see who wins the pledged race then we are going to commit. So, they figure, they’ll lock it up on May 20th. As David Plouffe, the campaign manager, just told me, “The dye is cast.” And they really believe that functionally, having won big in North Carolina that the math means that essentially it’s over as they play out the rest of the cards here through May 20th and they may well be right.
MATTHEWS: Do they have superdelegates on the on-deck circle, ready to wheel out here, to get out at bat? Do they have people ready to go, do you know—to come clear, who’s coming out for him?
FINEMAN: They played it brilliantly. They doled it out like playing cards one at a time over the last months. They’re ahead like 100 to 5 in terms of superdelegates unveiled. But the House members are a tough nut to crack. There’s about 60 of them, they’ve been hanging back as has Nancy Pelosi, the speaker.
But what Nancy Pelosi has said is, “You basically couldn’t take the nomination away from whoever wins the majority of pledged delegates.”
That’s why there’s so much excitement inside the Obama headquarters near here because they think, even conservatively estimated, with the results in North Carolina, that they’re on target to get a majority of the pledged delegates by close of business in Oregon on the night of May 20th. That’s a couple of weeks from now. That’s what they’re planning for and that’s what they think is going to happen. And that’s why David Plouffe said to me just a few minutes ago, “The dye is cast.”
OLBERMANN: As they begin to try to anticipate both sides what’s going to happen in Indiana tonight, Howard, David Axelrod just in a little gathering with reporters, just described Rush Limbaugh as Senator Clinton’s new ally. That’s obviously a blowback from a variety of things that have to do with Senator Clinton’s dealings with the right wing end of the media at various levels, plus, this whole campaign of chaos in Indiana.
Is it also an indicator of some sort of gentle move towards the kill that we haven’t seen before from the Obama campaign to try to draw that, you know, sort of, draw that picture as bluntly as he just said?
FINEMAN: No. I don’t think you are going to hear Obama saying anything like that. I think that is the last thing they want to do, Keith. They want to ease this thing through without further antagonizing Hillary Clinton supporters and friends and indeed the Clintons themselves.
If they’re right about the math, I think they may, will be, patience is what they need here. Of course, they’re going to try to explain away Indiana just as Hillary Clinton’s camp is rightfully going to talk up Indiana if she ends up winning it. But the key thing that they’re focusing on over at the Obama headquarters are the numbers of pledged delegates. We’re talking about the superdelegates, but it’s the pledged that they think, when they get a majority of them which they think they will, will allow them to get the rest of the superdelegates in a rush at the end of the month. That’s what their plan is and they’re going to stick to it.
As far as the Rush Limbaugh effect is concerned, there may be some. But as I go around the country talking to Republican voters and independents, they may want to do what Rush tells them to, but when they get in the voting booth their antipathy to Clinton is such that they can’t help it but vote for Obama a lot of the time despite what Rush maybe telling them what to do.
MATTHEWS: I love it. Anyway, we’re trying to figure out the head fakes in the voting booth. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman. This is getting very fine here.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: When we return, we’re going to check back in with David Gregory and our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel. This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Indiana and the North Carolina primaries.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama with a projected decisive victory in North Carolina. And with the hard count at 14 percent, almost 2/3rds victory at this point, or at least lead in North Carolina. In Indiana, we still have it too early to call, with Senator Clinton leading with more than half the vote in.
A note about the Republicans and Indiana, as we were talking before the break; the exit polling suggests that Republican voting in Indiana’s Democratic primary is about 11 percent. Before you wave your hands about Operation Chaos or the wrong side of the party—wrong party voting in the wrong primary, it looks like, according to the exit polls, that Senator Clinton got 52 percent of the Republican vote in Indiana’s Democratic primary tonight, and Senator Obama got 46 percent, which is exactly what the overall vote looks like. Whatever the impact was, it looks like there was almost none. We’ll see about that.
MATTHEWS: I think that would be a pretty good estimate of an attempt to masquerade yourself as Democrats, voting exactly in the same pattern. Right now, we want to check in with NBC’s David Gregory and THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel. David?
GREGORY: This is shaping up to be, at this juncture, a big night for Barack Obama to this extent, Rachel: he has won North Carolina. He has a strong victory. We know Indiana too early to call.
GREGORY: Already, he has denied Hillary Clinton the one game-changing dynamic that she sought, which was to go two and zero, to capitalize off of the worst period of his campaign ever.
MADDOW: Right. He denies her the big, great opportunity to have the game-changer. But also, if he wins North Carolina and she wins Indiana—let’s say that happens—there are a lot more delegates at stake in North Carolina than there are in Indiana. If they have the same margin of victory in both of those states and they each end one, it’s a bigger night for him. He ends up with more delegates. He is closer to winning at the end of the night than if it had been reversed.
GREGORY: Pat, if you are inside the Obama war room, and you look at the results thus far. You like what you see. You like that you got a victory after the Reverend Wright situation. Nobody in that camp has been very happy with how the campaign has been run, how he has been performing over the last couple of weeks.
BUCHANAN: That’s right. Look, he went in here several games ahead in the pennant race and he split a double-header. That means he wins. But if they take a look at Indiana, I mean, that is the state right next door where he was winning and it slipped away. He has good news tonight in terms of more delegates and in terms of more popular votes.
If you look at November—I would look at this and say, look, we have 36 percent of the white vote here, 39 percent here. We are not picking up the white vote. The big problems remain for November, but we are closer to the nomination.
GREGORY: As long as those problems remain, Gene, he at least allows Hillary Clinton to keep making an argument not about the math. He wants to talk about the math, which is in his favor. She can continue to make the argument about electability if he is not moving any of these voting blocks?
ROBINSON: That’s true, but I think if you are inside the Obama war room, what you are probably thinking is, we’ll worry about that later. We’ll worry about that once we get the nomination wrapped up. Meanwhile, we’re happy because we seem to have our candidate back. The listless kind of direction-less Barack Obama of three weeks ago seems to have gone away, and we seem to be back with the Barack Obama who’s more animated, who has a purpose, who has a mission, whose themes are getting across.
GREGORY: Is it still a wake-up call, Rachel, some kind of wake-up call to him about a change in direction?
MADDOW: No. Because what’s happening now is that he is not having substantial changes in demographics, as Pat was saying. That is important, because the allegation against him is that the stuff happening in the campaign now shows how much worse he is going to fare in the future with these demographic. It is static. It is not changing. The campaign is not—
BUCHANAN: Here’s what you are going to get from the Hillary people:
they’re going to say, we are going to go on. We did well. If he is the front-runner and the nominee, why can’t he win West Virginia? Why can’t he win Kentucky? What is the problem, Obama? You are the front-runner. You’re the nominee and you can’t win these states.
GREGORY: Pat, even if he loses Indiana tonight, if it’s a split decision, is Barack Obama coming out of tonight looking like a front-runner?
BUCHANAN: He is closer to the nomination than he was, decidedly, and he has weakened --
GREGORY: If it is big in North Carolina, he gets more delegates.
BUCHANAN: More delegates and more popular vote. He has weakened two of her arguments. They have a big argument. It’s a negative one. This guy loses. We are telling you that. The super delegates are looking at that, and they may agree with that. But I’ll tell you, they ain’t going to take it away from him. I don’t care if they lose in November, they ain’t doing it.
GREGORY: We are waiting for Indiana. The drama continues. Gentlemen, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David. Up next, more from our exit polling on the Limbaugh effect. I’m sure we’ll here more about that around noon tomorrow, by the way. Plus, NBC’s Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.
MATTHEWS: Interesting night here. Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries. One down, one to go. Obama’s the projected winner, as you may have heard, in North Carolina, apparently a substantial victory for him in North Carolina. Indiana still too early to call.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell has new information for our exit polling. We mentioned it several times. It appears not to exist whatsoever, the—what is this name again, Limbaugh effect?
O’DONNELL: Chris and Keith, I might just wager that this is going to be your most favorite of all of the exit poll numbers that I have for you. So I want you to listen to every single word. OK? We did some interesting studying about this.
As you know, Rush Limbaugh, other conservatives have encouraged Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary to create chaos. Limbaugh today has been crowing that his Operation Chaos has made a difference. We decided to take a look at the numbers in Indiana to see if there was any truth to that assertion.
Here’s how the party affiliation broke down: Democrats made up two thirds of those voting, independents 22 percent, and then Republicans 11 percent of the voters today. That is significant. A large number of Republicans did cross over. Look how they broke out: 52 percent of those Republicans went for Clinton, 46 percent for Obama. Not really the big blowout for Clinton in this group that perhaps Limbaugh would have liked.
But here is what is really interesting: as we were researching this Operation Chaos, if you will, we looked, our exit poll show that 58 percent of the Republicans that turned out to vote today in the Democratic primary actually think Obama is more likely to beat McCain. Listen to that. That is pretty interesting. These Republicans actually think Obama is more likely to beat McCain.
Out of those Republicans voting today, bottom line, they actually said that they plan to go back and vote run in November for McCain. So there you have it, Chris and Keith. Is it your favorite exit poll information of the night?
OLBERMANN: It is thoroughly consistent of my assessment of the person for whom the person the information is named. Norah O’Donnell with the exit polls. Yes, my favorite of the night. In other words, the Republicans voting in Indiana favored Senator Clinton 52 percent to 46 percent. The hard count of everybody in Indiana right now has Senator Clinton favored 54 percent 46 percent.
We’re following that? That is a difference of—the Republicans supported Senator Clinton less than everybody else must have.
MATTHEWS: And certainly some of them, Keith, to respond, believe they were voting for the person least likely to be trouble for their candidate.
OLBERMANN: Gee, that might be the underlying theme of the whole idea of the campaign from various sources on the right. Well, enough of that. Let’s get reaction to the events here tonight from David Axelrod of the Obama campaign, who has been kind enough to join us from the headquarters in North Carolina. David, good evening.
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Hey, Keith, how are you doing?
OLBERMANN: How are you doing? Do you have a handle on margins yet?
Do you have an idea of what the net night is going to look like for you?
AXELROD: Well, I think we’re going to have a substantial victory in North Carolina. I believe it is going to be a double-digit victory. And, you know, it’s—this is a state where Senator Clinton came last week and said it was going to be a game-changer for her. Obviously, that is not the case.
As far as Indiana goes, I think that lead is going to continue to dwindle as results come in from across the state. I don’t know where it’s going to end up, but it is going to be a narrower race, certainly, than the one we see here.
OLBERMANN: You are certainly already aware that the Clinton campaign is out with the quotations from Senator Obama about Indiana being a tie-breaker. The comment obviously pulled out of any context. It is a little austerely presented. But does it, in fact, represent any kind of tie-breaker to you?
AXELROD: Well, I’m more interested in her quote about North Carolina being a game-changer. I think that was more meaningful. They had Bill Clinton down here all week long. They sent their best organizer in here to run the state. They changed her schedule, moved her from Indiana to North Carolina and we’re going to win a landslide victory here tonight. I think they are looking to spin something. I don’t think they have much to spin tonight. I think they have a lot to think about.
OLBERMANN: What do they have to think about? What is it you want them to think about?
AXELROD: The reality is that we are -- (INAUDIBLE) -- now it’s going to take 68 or 70 percent victories for the rest of the primary season, and 70 percent of the remaining super delegates for Senator Clinton to overtake us. I think that is a very difficult task. I think anybody would agree. The question to them is really, what is your strategy to be the nominee of this party, if you can’t overtake the candidate who is ahead of you.
OLBERMANN: Let’s do that check that we do periodically with you and the campaign. Is there included in there either the suggestion that her campaign should come to an end or the suggestion that they should contemplate that? Where do you stand in terms of that issue?
AXELROD: Well, Keith, I have said before to you and others, no one can make that decision for her. She, obviously, is a very determined person. But the math is the math. And no matter how much times you try to change the rules, change the math, it seems clearer and clearer. What I’ve said is, if she thinks she has a realistic chance to win the nomination, then by all means she should pursue it. If the only strategy is to try and destroy Senator Obama and weaken his candidacy in the fall, that would not be a good result for the Democratic party. So that’s I think what they have to think about.
OLBERMANN: On the subject of math, we are going to get to Chuck Todd in a moment on what is going on in Indiana. Let me ask you this thing that we have been harping on to some degree throughout the night from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, when Senator Clinton was asked how many delegates were required to win the delegates and she said 2,209. Was that a surprise to you to hear that number invoked?
AXELROD: I got to tell you, Keith, at this point, nothing would surprise me coming from the Clinton campaign. I remember way back when the delegates were important. Then it became the popular vote. Then it became big states. We just won a big state here overwhelmingly tonight in North Carolina. The rules keep shifting. At the end of the day, you know, you’ve got to kind of resign yourself to what the process is that we all agree to and understand that ultimately, we are going to have the nominee. And that nominee has to have 2,025 delegates.
We all agreed on that until today. Apparently they don’t agree on that anymore. I think the delegates at the Democratic Convention will agree on that.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about what Howard Fineman said just a moment ago. David, he said come the vote on May 20th, when we have the vote coming in from Oregon, he said that night you may well pass the majority of elected delegates. And at that point, it becomes clear that only your candidate with can win among elected delegates, which is the standard which has been pointed to by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, as definitive. Will you that night declare victory?
AXELROD: Well, let’s see what happens on that night. I think his math is right about that. I don’t recall an occasion on which the candidate who won the most pledged delegates was denied the nomination. So, you know, that will be a big watershed event in this campaign.
OLBERMANN: David Axelrod of the Obama on what clearly is a good night for him and the candidate. Thank you for your time, sir.
AXELROD: Thanks, Keith. Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: As promised, let’s go back to NBC News and MSNBC political director Chuck Todd to find out what is going on in Indiana by the numbers. All right. We are taking our life in our hands again, too. We haven’t called Indiana yet, and here is Chuck Todd again to stand by, as perhaps we do. Go ahead.
TODD: Look, as you can see, 57 percent of the votes in. It is an eight-percentage point lead right now for Senator Clinton. Everyone is asking, why haven’t we called it? There’s a lot of African-American precincts that have yet to report. We can take a look at the map and I can show you exactly what we’re looking for. Number one, we are looking for that Chicago media market. Two counties in particular, Lake County and Porter County, literally these two border counties, right there on the border of Illinois.
Also, we’re still waiting for a lot of African American vote in Marion County, which is Indianapolis. There is plenty of modeling going on that we could look at that shows, if he won the remaining vote by a large chunk of margin, 75 percent, 80 percent—and obviously, this is a lot of African-American vote—he could make this very close. It could become a race that instead of us calling it too early to call, we suddenly would be calling it too close to call.
By the way, there is reasons why we use language the way we use it.
Too early to call says one thing. Too close to call would say another.
OLBERMANN: All right. So it’s—you are still largely talking about margin.
TODD: Well, we’re still talking about margin. But at the same time, it is more than a plausible—it is more than a plausible outcome that Obama can still win this. If we didn’t think it was, our folks would have called it.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd, who has tonight been endorsed by the senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill.
TODD: I don’t know how I feel about that. I heard that. That’s always scary. I don’t want anyone on any side taking sides.
OLBERMANN: Just take the compliment.
TODD: All right.
OLBERMANN: Thanks, Chuck. You’ve done a nice job. Chris?
MATTHEWS: I have been teased by the prospect of an upset by Barack Obama in Indiana. I still have that tease in my head somewhere. Let’s get reaction from former Democratic U.S. Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee, our insider.
I’m looking here again at the ethnic break down. It seems to me that everybody knows North Carolina has about 35 percent African-American. Gary, Indiana is an African-American community, as well as the other communities we’re hearing from in Lake County. It seems to me that this, once again, underlines the impact of the Democratic base, the people that always vote Democrat and are the reliable troops of the Democratic party and how big a stake they have in Barack Obama. Congressman?
HAROLD FORD JR., CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: There’s no
doubt, it is a big night all the way around for Senator Obama. Let’s take your analysis one step further. I think the real challenge right now for my party is what happens to the candidate who ends up with 49 percent of the vote, 49 percent of the delegates. It looks as if that will be Hillary Clinton. How do you heal this party?
I think one conversation that will begin to emerge in the next few days is whether or not Barack Obama, to unite the party and to address some of the concerns that Pat Buchanan has raised and others about his ability to draw votes from ethnic white voting blocks, whether or not he has to seriously consider bringing Hillary Clinton on to the ticket.
I know we are jumping a step ahead here and assuming that the things David talked about in your last segment, May 20th, and the things that Howard Fineman spoke about, will come to fruition. But I think you have to begin to seriously think about it. Does an Obama/Clinton ticket unite this party, erase or address some of the concerns that Barack has to have, and his campaign has to be concerned about when it comes to attracting white middle class, white working class voters.
As much as these numbers are important tonight, and we look at what may be a closer race in Indiana, the numbers don’t lie. The Obama campaign still has a challenge in closing this margin with white ethnic and white working class voters. Is Hillary Clinton the answer for that ticket? I think it is a question that he is going to have to answer and we in the party are going have to think seriously about as we seek to unite and put our strongest foot forward for the fall.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Hillary Rodham Clinton has the soul of a vice president? Do you think she would really feel right about that job? She was first lady, a supporting person to the president for eight years through all the turmoil of that. Do you think she really wants to be on the ticket that wins, wants to serve as VP for four or eight years under a young president?
FORD: I take Senator Clinton at her word. She is deeply committed to this country, believing that the last seven, eight years of leadership in the White House has been difficult, at best, if not disastrous on certain fronts for the country, and is committed to being a part of a team to straighten that out and to fix that. I can’t answer that for her.
As we jump a step or two ahead here, I think this is a scenario that we in the party, and Barack and Hillary and their campaigns and their teams, ought to begin contemplating. I wouldn’t be surprised, if I were advising the Obama campaign tonight—I’ll say it again, tomorrow morning they ought to find as many super delegates outside of the Pelosi and Reid and Gore, but in the category right beneath him, who are willing to endorse him and to call for this campaign to play itself out in orderly way, but to be clear that the one with the most pledged delegates and the popular votes—it looks as if that will be Barack on both fronts—is going to be the nominee.
I think we have to begin to think seriously about a healing process in this party. Frankly, an Obama/Clinton ticket might address huge concerns that both sides have about personal differences and animosity, and frankly, some of the concerns that some in the party have about Barack’s ability to attract white working class voters, particularly white men going into the fall election.
MATTHEWS: You’ve really nailed it. The one who wins the most elected delegates must be the nomination. That is what you are saying, Congressman?
FORD: I think the metric—Terry McAuliffe last week or two weeks ago around the Pennsylvania primary. These things have happened in such succession. I got married and I can’t remember when Pennsylvania was exactly. He was on saying that the popular vote will be an important metric here. It now looks as if it will be difficult for Mrs. Clinton to over-take Barack in the popular vote, if these numbers hold tonight. The margins tonight are important for a variety of reasons, this one being the most important.
I don’t know how you take the nomination from someone who has the most pledged delegates and has the most popular votes. If I were the Obama campaign this evening—I know they’re excited. They should be excited. Remember, this is a contest about winning the presidency. I hope my friend, Senator Obama, is humble. I hope he reaches out to the Clinton campaign, reaches out to her supporters, and makes clear that this campaign has always been about bringing change to the White House, and he needs every Democrat on his side in order to make that happen.
I mention only the Obama/Clinton ticket again because I think it’s something we in this party, Howard Dean included as a DNC chair, are going to have to begin to think about very seriously and in a very sober way about over the next several days and the next few weeks.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congressman Ford for joining us, again. Let me ask you, Keith, it seems to me that we are reaching some sort of congealing here, that come May 20th, as Howard Fineman points out, there will be a majority of elected delegates achieved by Barack Obama. At that point, don’t all these commitments kick in from Nancy Pelosi and others, who say the one who wins the most elected delegates is the winner.
OLBERMANN: You would assume so. They have been so hesitant to move in any way, shape or form. They have been hesitant to influence, let alone endorse or overrule what has been happening with the primaries and caucuses. But I’m fascinated by Harold’s point. Does it ring within the realm of possibility, have we been inside the arena with these two candidates, who have been to varying degrees bloodying each other for a year and a couple of weeks now. We are celebrating our first anniversary on the air doing this. Is it plausible Senator Clinton would go back to the White House in a subsidiary role?
MATTHEWS: Would she give up on her dream of being president, in other words? If she doesn’t join the ticket and it does go down in defeat, she could try again almost immediately to go after John McCain. That is a very plausible course for her to take at this point. She is obviously getting more confident and happy on the road. She enjoys running for president. Why stop?
OLBERMANN: Is it country or is it personal ambition? It’s Lyndon Johnson’s quandary of 1960 all over again.
MATTHEWS: Politics is not a team sport.
OLBERMANN: Sometimes it is. We are expecting to hear from Senator Obama coming up in the next hour. He is to address his supporters after what looks to be a significant win in North Carolina and certainly a better margin than whatever Senator Clinton may produce in Indiana, which is still considered too early to call. Chris and I will be back with you in just a moment.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: It is now 9:00 p.m. in the east and Barack Obama is projected to win a substantial victory in North Carolina over Hillary Clinton. In Indiana, high drama as we continue to mark the race as too early to call, two hours after the polls have closed.
I’m Chris Matthews along with Keith Olbermann. And we are expecting Senator Obama to speak to his supporters in North Carolina in just a couple of minutes right now. In fact, very imminently right now.
Right now, Norah O’Donnell is here to give us a preview of what we’re going to find out from our exit polling tonight.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Half of the voters in Indiana and North Carolina said the Reverend Wright and that controversy influenced their vote. We’re going to have more on that and the issue of race in this campaign. But also, those that said Reverend Wright was important, seven in 10 in Indiana went for Hillary Clinton, six in 10 in North Carolina voted for Hillary Clinton.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: So, some indication perhaps that the influence may have been a positive to a lesser degree than a negative. But both negative and positive are included in that idea of influence.
OLBERMANN: All right. Norah, we’ll just go and check back with you with the full exit polls coming up.
Tom Brokaw, NBC special correspondent, rejoins us now.
All right. What we got, we know we have what looks like a substantial victory for Barack Obama in North Carolina. He’s going to speak in a couple of moments. We don’t have an Indiana result yet. It’s still too early to call even as these numbers file up because so much of these key African-American precincts have yet to report. Can you give us the tentative overall view point of what this night has meant, Tom?
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think for Senator Clinton, part of her scenario here to night has been to pile up a popular vote because she wanted to be able at the end of the primary calendar season to go to the superdelegates and say, “Look, I won a lot more votes than Senator Obama did.”
But if he wins a big popular vote victory tonight and then closes, within very close to her in Indiana, they effectively split the vote, if you will, then that puts another nick in her scenario. They had as of Friday thought they may be able to pick off North Carolina tonight. Those fortunes obviously have been reversed.
So this big scenario that she has, big popular vote, “I’m the one who can win because I’ll be within 100 delegates of him at the end of the primary season and the superdelegates will have to go my way,” I think that that has probably been damaged if she doesn’t win Indiana by a considerable margin tonight and effectively checkmate what appears to be a very significant victory for him.
And when we hear from Senator Obama tonight, I think, one of the things we ought to be listening for because talking to people in both campaigns and Republicans as well, they’re waiting for him to move now from “yes, we can” to “here’s how.”
He’s got to take his campaign to the next level. He, obviously, has been a very charismatic candidate and he has delivered an electrifying speech primary after primary, but essentially the same speech from - what, six weeks ago, Chris, when he ran that thrill up your leg with his speech. So, he now has to move to more substantive territory probably.
OLBERMANN: Does he also, is he the one who has to provide the potentiality now of a climbdown for Senator Clinton and her supporters, because this has been so violent a rift or do you - is the etiquette is such that he just waits that out (INAUDIBLE)?
BROKAW: He can’t go to there, Keith. You know, I think, when you heard David Axelrod saying that’s her call, I think that that’s what they have to do. They have to stand well back, let her make the decision, and there will be contacts obviously in the back channel way about if it comes to that, how it might be arranged.
But it would not be appropriate for Senator Obama to step out. Remember he said at one point in the New Hampshire debate when he turned to her and he said, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.” That had the tone of condensation—that he was being condescending to her at that time and a lot of people think that helped her and hurt him. So, when he said three weeks ago now, “It’s her decision I hope that she stays in the race,” it seemed to me that that was the appropriate thing for him to say.
OLBERMANN: But what about Harold Ford’s point before the top of the hour that it’s serious, now, consideration to think of an Obama-Clinton ticket with Clinton as a vice presidential candidate? Is that within your estimations to the people you talked to? Is that within the realm of possibility? Has it even been considered at this point?
BROKAW: Well, a number of people do raise it but more or less on the margins, of course, it depends on which campaign you’re talking to. If you’re talking to Senator Obama’s campaign, they say, “You know, we’ll have to take a look at her.” If you talk to her campaign, they’ll say, “Well, she would be more than happy to have Senator Obama running with her.” That’s one of the ways to heal any racial rifts that maybe leftover at this primary.
This will all be worked out once the resolution comes for who is the nominee. And that may not be until the end of this primary calendar, at the end of this primary calendar which as we know is in very early June.
In the meantime, both campaigns have a lot of momentum going on. They’re raising money. This has been a fight, the likes of which we have not seen since 1968. A little historic footnote, if you will, Keith, that was 40 years ago tonight that Senator Bobby Kennedy won his first primary and it was Indiana.
OLBERMANN: Tom, all right, stand by. As we are standing by for a speech from Senator Obama from North Carolina, let’s check in with the Clinton campaign, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at Clinton headquarters in Indianapolis. Andrea.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: They are holding their breath, shouting and trying to claim victory in Indiana. They believe they have won Indiana. But as we know, all of those Obama areas have not come in yet. So, it is too early to call.
They believe they’ve won Indiana. They are spinning the loss in North Carolina, saying they never expected to win it. That it was always pretty much baked in the cake for him. With 400,000 banked votes in early vote-ins for Barack Obama.
That said, there’s a lot of concern here because they missed an opportunity to go after him on delegates and on the popular vote and in not being able to slow him down appreciably tonight by not denting him in North Carolina where he won that decisive victory.
They are plowing ahead towards West Virginia and Kentucky which they have big advantages. And now going all the way they say to June and Puerto Rico where they also are they believe far ahead.
So, Keith, this is not—as long as they win Indiana, this is not a knockout punch for Hillary Clinton. But he has widened the lead that he has in delegates and the popular vote. So, they’ve got some very hard work to do to hold those superdelegates from declaring.
OLBERMANN: One specific, Andrea, from - even from the spin point of view, is there an answer then to the question from what she said on Friday in Kingston about how this was going to be a game-changer, North Carolina would be a game-changer with parts of the world watching. Is there a spun version of what that means if they never thought they were going to win North Carolina?
MITCHELL: There’s no way to spin this. This was not a game-changer. They’re saying, “Well, he said that Indiana was going be the tie-breaker.” Barack said that some weeks ago and clearly it’s not if they win Indiana. So, they’re focused on Indiana, trying to explain North Carolina by saying, “Well, he had a huge advantage among African-American voters.”
They can’t still explain why he does so well on those campuses in the Research Triangle with white voters as well, and of course, that’s where Bill Clinton has been going, you know, just six, seven, eight, nine stops alone yesterday. They believe that Bill Clinton was effective in the rural vote in North Carolina but clearly, he could not fully narrow the gap there and narrow Barack Obama’s decisive victory there.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell at Clinton headquarters in Indianapolis. Let’s quickly check in at Reynolds Coliseum at NC state in Raleigh where Lee Cowan is standing by, waiting for the candidate there. Lee.
LEE COWAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Keith. Yes, we’re expecting the senator here in just a couple of minutes. In fact, the campaign as you heard, very relieved tonight and they think this is a very big night for a couple of reasons. One, this whole big state argument that Senator Clinton has been talking about for some time, North Carolina, they point is a very big state. They won this state pretty solidly. So, that takes away that argument.
The other part of this, they say, is that he did very well according to the exit polls anyway, with voters that are making under $50,000 a year and did not have a college degree. That they say goes to the electability argument that Senator Clinton has been making.
So, on both those counts, they see this as a big, big victory especially given the last two weeks that they’ve had that have been very tough and the fact that they can come out with a win this big and this early here in North Carolina, they say, is really, really important for them. Keith.
OLBERMANN: Lee Cowan over the mighty roar of the crowd awaiting Barack Obama at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh. Thank you, Lee.
Let’s check back in with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd by the numbers, with a look not at North Carolina which is real numbers at the 20-point margin right now for Obama, but Indiana where Obama’s lead or trailing and that is now down to six points. And Chuck, you’re seeing some anomalies in terms of where he is doing well in Indiana?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it’s interesting. There seems to be an Indiana Mason/Dixon line and I don’t want to go completely in draw but it’s somewhat of a diagonal, almost something like that, where he did pretty well in places in around like in Anderson and Muncie, he did pretty well. He did well in the northern part of the state.
But basically, Indiana is exactly what we thought. Very similar to Missouri where you have this idea that there’s—a northern part of the state that feels a little more Midwestern, maybe likes a little more open to voting for African-American. And then the southern part of the state which is just a little more racially polarized like we’ve seen in some southern voting.
And that may, they tell us two things. One, it maybe why this vote is a little bit closer than we expected, and two, this state could be in play in the fall. You’re going to have 1 million people turnout in this primary. That’s even 200,000 more than they expected in a high turnout situation.
OLBERMANN: All right, Chuck, some promise for Senator Obama in Indiana.
And meantime in North Carolina at Reynolds Coliseum, as we told you, Senator Obama is expected to speak shortly. He is there with his wife Michelle. They’ve come out of the way aisle way there and they’ve made their way to the stage. This is obviously a prolonged process. You don’t just jump in front of the stage on a good night and start talking.
The Tom’s point, Chris, about what he has to say here to sort of seal the value of North Carolina. He has got to put—he has to get them to their feet about 20 times in this speech, does he not?
MATTHEWS: Yes. I think he has to continue to talk about the real-life proposals he’s making, not just the audacity of hope but the reality of it. And he also, I think, he has to talk about some of the Democratic villains. I think he has to inspire the crowd with who he’s going after. Regular people want to hear that you share their enemies. I think he hasn’t done that yet.
But he may try to put a cap on this Reverend Wright story tonight. I think it may be a couple of weeks too early to do that unfortunately for him, but he might want to say I responded to those questions completely and comprehensively and satisfactorily to most voters as proved tonight by the results here.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama after what appears to be a large margin in North Carolina and Indiana changing from too early to call to too close to call. Here is Senator Obama in Raleigh, North Carolina.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.
OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, North Carolina, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, North Carolina.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you very much. I love you back.
I truly do.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: I want to thank Kim Wynns (ph) for that wonderful introduction. To the outstanding members of the North Carolina congressional delegation who supported me through thick and thin, the dean, representative David Price and his wife, Lisa.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: Congressman Mel Watt, Congressman G.K. Butterfield. Thank you so much.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: To James Oblinger, chancellor of North Carolina State University. Wolfpack.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: To the state, county and local elected officials in attendance to the North Carolina Democratic Party and most of all, to my North Carolina volunteers who worked so hard. This is your victory.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: You know, there are those who are saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election. But today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on what appears to be her victory in the great state of Indiana. I want to thank all the people—I want to thank all the wonderful people of Indiana who worked so hard on our behalf.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The people in Indiana could not be finer, they worked tirelessly and I will always be grateful to them. I want to thank, of course, the people of North Carolina.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: I want to thank them for giving us a victory in a big state.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: In a swing state—in a state where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: You know, when this campaign began, Washington didn’t give us too much of a chance. But because you came out in the bitter cold and knocked on doors and enlisted your friends and neighbors in this cause, because you stood up to the cynics and the doubters and the naysayers when we were up and when we were down. Because you still believe that this is our moment and our time to change America, tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: More importantly, because of you, we’ve seen that it’s possible to overcome the politics of division and the politics of distraction. That it’s possible to overcome the same old negative attacks that are always about scoring points and never about solving our problems. We’ve seen that the American people aren’t looking for more spin. They’re looking for honest answers about the challenges we face. That’s what you’ve accomplished in this campaign and that’s how together we intend to change this country.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: This has been one of the longest, most closely fought contests in American history. And that’s partly because we have such a formidable opponent in Senator Hillary Clinton. Tonight, many of the pundits have suggested that this party is unalterably divided, that Senator Clinton supporters will not support me and that my supporters would not support her.
Well, I am here tonight to tell you that I don’t believe it. Yes. Yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win, but ultimately, this race is not about Hillary Clinton. It’s not about Barack Obama. It’s not about John McCain. This election is about you—the American people.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: It’s about whether we will have a president and a party that can lead us toward a brighter future. This primary season may not be over, but when it is, we will have to remember who we are as Democrats, that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy, and that we are at our best when we lead with principle, when we lead with conviction, when we summon an entire nation to a common purpose and a higher purpose.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: This fall we intend to march forward as one Democratic Party united by a common vision for this country because we all agree that at this defining moment in our history, a moment when we are facing two wars, an economy in turmoil, a planet in peril, a dream that feels like it’s slipping away for too many Americans, we can’t afford to give John McCain the chance to serve out George Bush’s third term. We need change in America and that’s why we will be united in November.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The woman I met in Indiana who just lost her job, lost her pension, lost her health insurance when the plant where she’d worked her entire life closed down, she can’t afford four more years of tax breaks for corporations like the one that shipped her job overseas. She needs us to give tax breaks to companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.
She can’t afford four more years of tax breaks for CEOs like the one who walked away from her candidate with a multimillion dollar bonus. She needs middle class tax relief, of that sort I’ve proposed, relief that will help her pay the skyrocketing price of groceries and gas and college tuition. And that is why I’m running for president of the United States of America.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The college student I met in Iowa who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can’t pay the medical bills for a sister who’s ill. She can’t afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and the wealthy, that allows insurance companies to discriminate and deny coverage to those Americans who need it most. She needs us to stand up to those insurance companies and pass a plan that lowers every family’s premium and gives every uninsured Americans the same kind of coverage that members of Congress gives themselves. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The mother in Wisconsin who gave me a bracelet inscribed with the name of the son she lost in Iraq. The families who pray for their loved ones to come home—the heroes on their third and fourth and fifth tour of duty. They can’t afford four more years of a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. They can’t afford four more years of our veterans returning to broken down barracks and sub-standard care and they don’t want to see homeless veterans on the streets.
They don’t want to see veterans waiting years to get disability payments or having to travel for hours or miles just to get treatment. They need us to end the war that isn’t making us safer. They need us to treat them with the care and respect they deserve. That’s why I’m running for president.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around to look for a new one. He can’t afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies, a policy that’s only keeping gas at record prices but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet. He doesn’t need four more years of Washington policies that sound good but don’t solve the problem.
He needs us to take a permanent holiday from our addiction from oil by making the automakers raise their fuel standards, corporations pay for the pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean-energy future. That’s the change we need. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: The people that I’ve met in small towns and big cities across this country, understand that government can’t solve all our problems and we don’t expect it to. We believe in hard work, we believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance. But we also believe that we have a larger responsibility to one another as Americans. That America is a place, that America is the place where you can make it if you try. That no matter how much money you start with or where you come from or who your parents are, opportunity is yours if you are willing to reach for it and work for it.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: It’s the idea—it’s the idea that while there are few guarantees in life, you should be able to count on a job that pays the bills, health care for when you need it, a pension when you retire, an education for your children that will allow them to fulfill their God-given potential. That’s the America we believe in. That’s the America that we know.
This is the country that gave my grandfather a chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill when he came home from World War II, a country that gave him and my grandmother a chance to buy their first home with a loan from the FHA. This is the country that made it possible for my mother, a single parent who had to go on food stamps at one point to send my sister and me to the best schools in the country on scholarships.
This is the country that allowed my father-in-law, a shift worker, a city worker at a water filtration plant in Chicago to provide for his wife and two children on a single salary. This is a man who was diagnosed at the age of 30 with multiple sclerosis, who relied on a walker to get himself to work and yet every day he went and he labored and he sent my wife and her brother to one of the best colleges in the nation. And when he talked about his job he expressed that it was important not just because it gave him a paycheck, but because it described his dignity, his self-worth, his self-respect.
It was an America that didn’t just reward wealth but it rewarded work and the workers who created it. That’s the America I love. That’s the America you love. That’s the America that we are fighting for in this election.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: Somewhere along the line between all the bickering and the influence-peddling and the game playing of the last few decades, Washington and Wall Street have lost touch with these core values, these American values.
And while I honor John McCain’s service to his country, his ideas
for America are out of touch with these core values. His plans for the
future of continuing a war that has not made us safer, of continuing
George Bush’s economic policies that he claims have made great progress
these are nothing more than the failed policies of the past. His plan to win in November appears to come from the very same playbook that his side has used time after time in election after election.
Yes, we know what’s coming. I’m not naive. We’ve already seen it. The same name and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn’t agree with all their ideas; the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives, by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy, in the hopes that the media will play along. The attempts to play on our fears and exploit our differences, to turn us against each other for political gains, to slice and dice this country into red states and blue states, blue-collar and white collar, white, black, brown, young, old, rich, poor.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: This is the race we expect, no matter whether it’s myself or Senator Clinton who is the nominee. The question then is not what kind of campaign they will run; it’s what kind of campaign we will run.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: It’s what we will do to make this year different. You see, I didn’t get into this race thinking I could avoid this kind of politics. But I am running for president because this is the time to end it.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: We will end it—we will end it this time not because I’m perfect. I think we know at this stage of the campaign that I am not. We will end it not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the other side because that will lead us down the same path of polarization and of gridlock. We will end it by telling the truth.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OBAMA: We will end it by telling the truth forcefully, repeatedly, confidently, and by trusting that the American people will embrace the need for change even if it’s coming from an imperfect messenger, because that’s how—because that’s how we’ve always changed this country. Not from the top down but from the bottom up.
When you, the American people, decide that the stakes are too high and the challenges are too great, the other side can label and name call all they want. But I trust the American people to recognize that it is not surrender to end the war in Iraq so we can rebuild our military and go after Al Qaeda’s leaders.
I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness but wisdom to talk not just to our friends but to our enemies like Roosevelt did and Kennedy did and Truman did.
I trust the American people to realize that while we don’t need big government, we do need a government that stands up for families who are being tricked out of their homes by Wall Street predators, a government who stands up for the middle class by giving them a tax break, a government that ensures that no American will ever lose their lifesavings just because their child gets sick.
Security and opportunity, compassion and prosperity aren’t liberal values. They are not conservative values. They are American values and that is what we are fighting for in this election.
Most of all, I trust the American people’s desire to no longer be defined by differences. Because no matter where I’ve been in this country, whether it was in the corn fields of Iowa or the textile mills of the Carolinas, the streets of San Antonio or the foothills of Georgia, I found while we may have different stories, we hold common hopes. We may not look the same or come from the same place but we want to move in the same direction, towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
That’s why I’m in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this critical moment in history. I believe in our ability to perfect this nation because it’s the only reason I’m standing here today. I know the promise of America because I’ve lived it. Michelle has lived it. You have lived it. It is the light of opportunity that led my father across an ocean. It’s the founding ideals that the flag draped over my father’s coffin stand for.
It is life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is the simple truth I learned all those years ago when I worked in the shadow of all those shuttered steel mills on the south side of Chicago. That in this country justice can be won against the greatest odds. Hope can find its way back from the darkest of corners. And when we are told we cannot bring about the change that we seek, we answer with one voice. Yes, we can.
So North Carolina and America, don’t ever forget that this election is not about me or any candidate. Don’t ever forget this campaign is about you. It’s about your hopes. It’s about your dreams. It’s about your struggles. It’s about your aspirations. It’s about securing your portion of the American dream. Don’t ever forget that we have a choice in this country that we can choose not to be divided, that we can choose not to be afraid. That we can still choose this moment to finally come together and solve the problems we’ve talked about all those other years and all those other elections.
This time can be different than all the rest. This time we can face down those who say our road is too long, that our climb is too steep, that we can no longer achieve the change that we seek. This is our time to answer the call that so many generations of Americans have answered before by insisting that by hard work and by sacrifice, the American dream will endure. Thank you. Thank you, North Carolina. May God bless you and the United States of America. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: A re-energized Barack Obama at Reynolds Coliseum at NC State University. A lot of inspiration in that speech. A lot of rhetoric in that speech. A lot of references to the generic “you,” the voter, the American. Not much on the how. A touch of self-congratulation at the beginning. A touch of magnanimity towards Sen. Clinton at the beginning. A touch of doing some of our jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he pretty much called Indiana apparently for Sen. Clinton which he may have been premature in doing that. We’ll get to that in a moment.
But in terms of his recent public appearances specifically, I think, he had a very lackluster performance after Pennsylvania. This was a barnburner without too much detail to it.
MATHEWS: This was draw back to the big picture question of whether the country wants a change in this election year from the Bush eight years or not, what he called - to take us away from what he calls the politics of division and distraction. He’s clearly talking about Jeremiah Wright in that case. Over and over again, talking about the false controversy, the distraction, the word used again and again, clearly saying he is trying to bring back the big picture of the campaign that worked so well for him. And the withdrawal from the nitpicking, as he sees, the controversy that is not real, taking a shot, I suppose, at the media as well, for being drawn into that discussion.
OLBERMANN: He referenced us in particular there, about these items being thrown out in hopes the media would pick them up and run with them.
MATHEWS: Yes. And also, I think he faces not just the media attention to this issue because there’s been no other issue to distract from it. But our polling tonight in our exit polling, it has penetrated to voters. I think if you look at the polling - and Tim Russert pointed this out very early. The success in the Clinton campaign in focusing attention on Jeremiah Wright worked with old people. That’s where it worked - people who were not used to change, perhaps not comfortable with ethic change, with an African-American candidate to be blunt about it.
And it was used as a way to worry people, make them reconsider, make them think, “Well, better this way; better a safer vote, a Hillary vote.
OLBERMANN: And yet, with the saturation including one television operation that has done almost nothing but broadcast this story since it first broke with the wildest
exaggerations and the broadest interpretations possible, this thing being hammered again and again in all kinds of different outlets. The exit polling today was - it was about 50/50 split.
Whether it made any registration at all with voters in this Tuesdays and that included not just those with whom it made a negative registration, but also those who might have thought he did a good job separating himself from Rev. Wright after the last set of sort of goofy comments. So there’s the whole thing about how big an issue this was, not just how big a negative issue. It really does, thank goodness, prove, I think, some of the limitations of the media and of negative campaigning.
MATHEWS: Right and I think the word “dynamic” is overused. But in this case there was a dynamic not at work. In the case where he spoke with that elite group in San Francisco, Sen. Obama talked about the bitterness of the little town folks because of the failures of government and the economy. He said it himself. It wasn’t a derivative. It wasn’t the associates but what he said that made him sound elitist.
Hillary Clinton used that and propelled herself up as the regular girl from next door, as I said, north east Philly, the hometown girl. It propelled her up. The dynamic was he went down, she went up. In fact, to this day, she is doing tremendous numbers in Pennsylvania, 14-point spread over McCain.
In this case, believe the Jeremiah Wright story was a depressant for all concerned, including her. It made no one feel good. It didn’t make her look good. It didn’t make anybody look good. And as he pulled himself out of that issue, he was able to relieve that issue. We’ll see more tonight if Indiana does in fact swing all the way to him.
OLBERMANN: About your point about the elitism remarks, he did buy her that pickup truck to campaign from as she’s done since them.
MATHEWS: Right. He bought it for her. That was the dynamic. In this case, he didn’t help her. He hurt himself through - over the association. By the way, he pointed that out. He said, “Well, you’ve got to stop talking about - you’ve got to stop playing on every comment and association.”
OLBERMANN: Right. All right. Let’s get a little bit more material because as we’ve been listening to Sen. Obama, as we sit, perhaps he was premature in calling Indiana, even apparently for Sen. Clinton, that number has narrowed to a 4 percent lead from Sen. Clinton. And just before Sen. Obama spoke, we moved it from too early to call to too close to call.
Meanwhile, North Carolina is a 16-percent lead for Sen. Obama, with 52 percent reporting. But to get back to Indiana which is going to be fascinating because of the nature of the 26 percent that remains unreported. And for that, let’s check in with NBC NEWS Political Director Chuck Todd with perhaps the most fascinating set of numbers by the numbers we have yet had. Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, NBC NEWS: Well, if you look it, we’ve got about 75 percent and there is a margin of about 38,000 votes. So the question is can he make up that 38,000 votes and how much vote is out? We estimate that it’s somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000. At that rate, if that is how much vote is out, 350,000 votes, he only needs 54 percent, 55 percent to pull this off.
So what’s out? What we can tell you, there is still a lot of vote out in that northwest area. By the way, all these red dots I put on here are counties where we have very little numbers reporting, 10 percent or less. Everything else is pretty close to 100 percent, so it gives you an idea. A lot of these areas, big vote areas for Obama.
Those two counties up there that I pointed to, Lake and Porter, that’s the Chicago media market. You look here, West Lafayette, that is Purdue University. We know he does well with younger voters. Obviously, you have Marion right there, border county, suburban vote. That could be competitive, but Obama has been performing a little bit better than we expected with white suburban voters - it looks like tonight - so that that could be big numbers.
Of course, this stuff that borders the more southern and rust belt states, the smaller county should be good Clinton counties. But the question is, how much vote is really there? These aren’t huge numbers that are there. The only other huge number that could be good for her is down here the suburban county, right next to Evansville, except Evansville turned out to be a pretty good area for Obama, one of the few areas south of my fictional Mason-Dixon line that we created in Indiana that Obama over-performed in.
But beyond that, talking to the boiler room, by the way, of the Obama campaign, they think they come up just short. They’re starting to get some reports in from Gary. They think they come up 10,000 to 15,000 votes short. We’ll see. There’s a reason we made it too close to call because it is just that.
OLBERMANN: And no bells went off while you were talking. Call that
the other Jean Shepherd(ph)- Bob Knight(ph) line or something that may
differentiate it from the other Mason-Dixon line. Chuck Todd -
TODD: However, where’s French lick. I guess I should have figured out that.
OLBERMANN: It’s a Larry Bird line. Very good.
TODD: There we go.
OLBERMANN: You work on that. We’ll get back to you in a bit.
TODD: Fair enough.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd. Let’s turn to NBC NEWS political - the bureau chief in Washington, moderator of “Meet the Press.” Tim Russert, with whom we’ve not talked since it went to too close to call. Well, that’s a different dynamic altogether, is it not, in Indiana?
TIM RUSSERT, POLITICAL BUREAU CHIEF IN WASHINGTON: It’s huge, Keith. I’ve been talking to political operatives and some undeclared superdelegates. And here’s the view. What Sen. Clinton really wanted and needed tonight was to have an early call in Indiana, decisive victory. And have perhaps North Carolina too close to call so she can make the case that she had the overwhelming momentum coming out of tonight in light of the difficulties Obama has confronted these past few weeks.
The dynamic now, as you call it, is the exact opposite. A clear, decisive victory in North Carolina for Sen. Obama and Indiana, a state that the Clinton campaign felt more and more comfortable about, they are now calling too close to call.
The issues at hand, Keith - the Obama campaign is absolutely convinced that the debate over the gas tax holiday played to their advantage, that it was a gain changer and that it got people’s minds off of Rev. Wright and on to a substantive issue where they saw Obama taking a principled presidential position and Clinton taking a position that was political, or as he called it, pandering. There will be lots of research done on this, but they are absolutely convinced of that.
Number two, the Rev. Wright factor - nearly half the voters said tonight in our exit poll that it was a major concern of theirs. But they did not say whether that was a positive or a negative. Did they not like the things Wright said? Most likely, but did they appreciate the way Sen. Obama handled it? Perhaps, and that is an important piece to be considered here.
Lastly, I heard your discussion with Harold Ford about the vice presidency. Many people close to Sen. Obama understand the idea of a unity ticket, but others point out that his way to an Electoral College map if he is the nominee might be without Florida and without Ohio. He would need Virginia and Colorado and that she would not be an asset in those states. And so I think that any attempt to force a ticket now is very much premature in the eyes of the Obama campaign.
OLBERMANN: All right. That is obviously way down the track. Let’s get back to this thing tonight in Indiana. Chuck Todd giving us every indication to suggest that four percent might still be a relatively high watermark in the margin by which she leads with three quarters of the vote in. That’s where it is now, four percent. Is that going to cut it for her to continue? Is three percent going to cut it? If it’s half of that, the boiler room projections that Chuck courted of the Obama camp that they may lose that state by only 15,000 votes, which is one or two percent. Is that enough for her to continue? Is that win practically a defeat for her if it’s at four percent or less?
RUSSERT: Is that the necessary momentum? What is the psychology? I go back to my word patience. How patient will these superdelegates be? I listened very carefully to your conversation with David Axelrod. And he said if she no longer has a, quote, “realistic chance or path to the nomination,” will people conclude that the mission of the campaign is to destroy Barack Obama? That is what’s going to confront the Clinton campaign, I believe, tomorrow, in their pitch to these undeclared superdelegates, that they have a vision, a way that is honorable to win this nomination.
It is not simply delaying a campaign which could be detrimental to the Democrat against the Republican. What the Clinton campaign was hopeful tonight is the burden would shift. They would have the momentum, Sen. Obama would be on his heels or cornered, in the word of one Clinton operative, and that they would be able to say to the superdelegates, “You see, give us the benefit of the doubt.”
Now, I believe the burden shifts back to Sen. Clinton. She now has to prove and demonstrate to the superdelegates that they should be patient because she has, quote “a realistic path to the nomination.”
OLBERMANN: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bring in Tom Brokaw. Tom, how big is that burden that Tim just described and is she perhaps now cornered?
TOM BROKAW, CORRESPONDENT: Well, if I had one of Tim’s chalkboards or grease boards, I would say, money, money, money. It is a big problem for her if she doesn’t finish strongly tonight. And it appears it is going be a very tight race in Indiana that she’ll win, if she wins by a small margin. She got blown out in North Carolina. It’s going to be tough for them to pick up the phone at the end of tonight or tomorrow morning and talk to the money people and say we need help.
They are deep in debt at this point and it still will be a money game as they go forward. So that is a liability we have not talked about, given the reversal of fortune with just last Friday. A number of people in the Clinton campaign thought that they would have a close race in North Carolina and blow him out in Indiana. But when it flipped, as it often does in American politics - Tim, can I raise you up one more time?
RUSSERT: Please, do, sir.
BROKAW: the unforeseen will occur and it occurred again tonight. So you know, this is a big consideration for her because they’ve got to be able to continue to go to the bank to get the money to finance all this. It is very expensive and it’s going to continue to be expensive.
There are not any downstream states that are game-breakers for her, when you look at Kentucky and West Virginia and Oregon and the great states of Montana and South Dakota that are still coming up. They’re not going to determine the nominee, probably.
OLBERMANN: So Tom, to Tim’s other point there about the strategy in Indiana of introducing the gas tax holiday and whether or not as impressive as that might have seemed at first, how it might have been a distraction from what have been eating into his success there, namely Rev. Wright. Is there now a different perspective on the whole way that they have played the campaign - the Clintons did in Indiana for the last week to 10 days?
BROKAW: Right. You know, I’ve been out around this country a lot in the last year and a half, actually, but especially in the last six weeks, Keith, east to west, north and south. And I find almost every audience that I talk to or that bump up against on campuses and commercial groups and other people. They are very serious about the challenges.
One man said to me the other, “You know what? We are going to have to undergo some pain to get this straightened out. And I thought, that’s reflective of a lot of thinking. People don’t want to be pandered to anymore, to borrow a phrase that Sen. Obama may have used. They really want to have an honest discussion because they know the stakes are so big.
We have always believed from the beginning of this campaign, that it is much more about solutions than it is about ideology or dogma. And a short holiday on the gas tax in America when people know that bridges are crumbling and highways are going under and it probably wouldn’t put even a small nick in the profits of the oil companies could very well have been perceived as not the right answer and that Sen. Obama did stand by his principles and didn’t play what would be perceived as a conventional Washington game.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s go - Tim, you do this for me first and then I’ll ask Chris to do it as well. Where were these solutions, though, other in rhetorical terms, in general terms, in Sen. Obama’s speech just there? Was that not still the kind of broad based albeit terrifically inspirational, nonspecific speech he has been criticized for?
RUSSERT: Yes. It is different than the speeches he was giving in the final days in Indiana and North Carolina where there were smaller halls, very specific points about energy. I had a chance to interview him on Sunday and he took a lot of time on the whole energy issue and laid out exactly what he wanted to do. I think, Keith, the campaign learned from the events in Indiana and North Carolina and you’ll see in future state contests a lot of those small halls and a lot of town meetings and a lot specifics. Frankly, I was surprised we didn’t hear more of that tonight.
MATHEWS: Tom and Tim, it seems to me that Barack is learning from Hillary Clinton - her focus on the particular, on the people with needs as he cited again tonight as he did last night in Indianapolis, particular cases of people with needs, whether they be health needs or general economic needs.
Tim, first, it seems to me that she’s instructed him this is how to be a national Democratic candidate. You can’t just be an idealist.
RUSSERT: Well, we learned a lot about that in 1992, when a fellow named Bill Clinton from Arkansas beat an incumbent president by saying, “I feel your pain.” I was in New Hampshire when he came around from the podium and got on one knee and hugged a woman who couldn’t afford to pay for her medical bills. Those lessons are invaluable.
And they also, for someone like Sen. Obama, Chris, are a way of softening him and loosening him up. And suddenly, someone who is aloof and professorial can be someone who is down home and close to people just by that simple reference or that simple act. And yes, I think he has learned something about that from Sen. Clinton and from former president Clinton. There’s no doubt about it.
BROKAW: I think the other thing, Chris is that, tonight, he really did emphasize unity within the Democratic Party. He didn’t act as if this was a coronation for him. I think a lot of people on the Clinton side have looked at him and thought, this is a young man, a kind of prince who expects to kneel and get the crown put on his head. But tonight, he reached across divisive lines within the Democratic Party and said, “We’re all in this together, and whoever is the nominee, we’ll be in this together in the fall as Democrats as we lead this country back to the values we so deeply believe in.
What I think a lot of people are waiting to hear him say is to reach across the line to independents and Republicans as well in one of these speeches because he continues to draw especially young Republicans and young independents across his side of the line.
Tonally, at least tonight, his speech was slightly different, although as Tim indicated it was not as specific as we may have hoped. But then on the other hand, this is not a night to eat your spinach. It is a night to celebrate a big victory.
MATHEWS: Let me just ask you about something that hits me. You know, in the last couple of days, Barack must have been coming up in the polls in a way that Hillary Clinton has rallied on Sundays and Mondays before primaries. Do you think, Tim and then Tom - do you think that he may benefit here from the sense of overkill by his opponent and by the media on this Jeremiah Wright issue in the way that Hillary Clinton benefited from the sense that she was being hit too hard up in New Hampshire?
RUSSERT: I think he had an opportunity to explain himself about Rev. Wright. One, to separate himself which was very, very important. And then secondly, explain why he separated himself. Number two, I go back to the gas tax holiday, Chris. It became an issue. I was in Indiana for three days and I heard it morning noon and night from people. They were debating it in their own schoolyards and kitchen tables. And I think it did give people an opportunity to see him in a much different light, standing by principle, taking on a tough issue.
You know, as I look at these numbers tonight, if the race in Indiana, in effect, is a virtual tie and he wins North Carolina by 200,000 votes in the end, that wipes out any popular lead dent that Sen. Clinton made in Pennsylvania. He’ll be back up to a 700,000-vote - popular vote. His elected-delegate lead will be over 160,000, perhaps close to 170,000.
And so, this has put together a significant night for Sen. Obama - one, because he hopefully in his mind put Rev. Wright behind him. He took the gas tax holiday head on. He added to his elected delegate vote and his popular vote margin. That seems to be - they will conclude a pretty positive night.
OLBERMANN: 21 percent of precincts still out in Indiana and the lead now for Sen. Clinton at four percent, less than 35,000.
MATHEW: Can we find out, Keith, why we are so delayed in getting those precincts in?
OLBERMANN: I will ask Chuck Todd. We know what happens when do that - when we bring Chuck back into for a special request.
RUSSERT: Lake County, Tom. You’re in Indiana. They said we should know something at 10 p.m. Eastern.
BROKAW: OK. That is about eight minutes away.
OLBERMANN: And you are still waiting for Purdue and for what, some of the Marion County and basically the Chicago suburbs - the virtual Chicago suburbs.
BROKAW: Well, Lake County is a big piece of that. That’s in Gary.
So that’s what we want to hear from.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, Tom Brokaw, many thanks.
RUSSERT: Thanks, guys.
MATHEWS: Let’s go back right now to David Gregory and the race for the White House panel. David.
DAVID GREGORY: Chris, thanks very much. And we have all been sort of taking stock of this, listening to you all talk and underlining the drama that we’re watching unfold here, Pat. We are now hours away from where we began this discussion, the potential that Obama could actually win both contests tonight and completely change this contest in his favor against Sen. Clinton. If she loses Indiana in addition to North Carolina, it’s a much different calculus for her.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But even if she doesn’t lose, she’s got to ask herself a question. He gained in the popular vote. He gained in the states tonight. He gained in the pledged delegates. What is her motive now for going on, say, and beating him in West Virginia and beating him in Kentucky? Are you just whipping the nominee of the party and humiliating him and showing how weak he is with the white ethnic vote and all the rest of it? Is that all you’re doing, or can you win the nomination? Her argument for getting to the nomination and convincing people to come to her has been dramatically weakened by what happened today.
GREGORY: And Rachel, what I heard tonight in this speech from Obama
I think Tom is right, that he doesn’t want to appear that this is a coronation. But he did take a different step tonight to my ear, which is he stepped up and gave a speech where he talked past Sen. Clinton, talked about the need for unity in the party, sort of made an argument that we ought to stop this race and talked about McCain. This was, in my judgment, something of an acceptance speech for this nomination to say publicly what is being said privately in his camp which is that the race is over. That’s their argument.
RACHEL MADDOW, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that it was to a certain extent an acceptance speech, but it was also the first real overt acknowledgement we got from the candidate himself rather than his campaign about what needs to happen in order for him to end this thing. He talked about, “This is a big state. This is the state that I will contest to win in November ...”
GREGORY: Which is key. Right.
MADDOW: Bringing up all those issues about the process that this needs to end. I think we may see an aggressive push from the Obama campaign tomorrow if the Clinton campaign does as it said it’s going to do and releases some fundraising numbers. If those fundraising numbers are bad, they may hit her on electability.
GREGORY: All right. So if she wins by not a lot in Indiana, it’s still a win.
EUGENE GREGORY, POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it’s still a win, but it’s not what we thought it was earlier. It’s not a split decision tonight. It’s very much an Obama decision and now the focus turns to the uncommitted superdelegates. What do they do? They might move. They might start moving tomorrow.
GREGORY: All right. More ahead. Gentlemen, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, thank you. Hillary Clinton reported to add to the drama here, headed towards the Morris Center in Indianapolis to the party there. What she has to celebrate, hard to say with a four percent margin in Indiana, with still 20 percent out. We are going to continue to watch this one and listen for Sen. Clinton when Chris and I rejoin you after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: With 79 percent of the vote in in Indiana, it is still too close to call. In the delegate race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Obama tonight building upon his lead with a sweeping win in tonight’s primary in North Carolina. NBC News projecting the Illinois Democrat to win the Tar Heel state.
In Raleigh, within the past hour, Senator Obama rejecting his opponent’s attempt to move the delegate goal post, sticking to the old map that puts him that much closer to the nomination tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight we stand less than 200 delegates away from securing the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The senator, however, embracing the Clinton campaign big-state strategy and applying it to his victory in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want to thank them for giving us a victory in a big state.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: In a swing state, in a state where we will compete to win if I am the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama also congratulating his opponent for “what appears to be her victory in the state of Indiana.” And well-phrased that. At 10:00 p.m., four hours after many polls in that state closed, three hours after they all closed, NBC News now saying the Democratic primary too close to call with the hard number of 81 percent in and a 4 percent lead for Senator Clinton. And it was a lot more than that less than an hour ago.
Alongside Chris Matthews at MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in New York, I’m Keith Olbermann. And this is turning into the thrill that we were hoping for.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes. Yes.
OLBERMANN: Well, on that note, Norah O’Donnell is here again.
OLBERMANN: That’s the shortest thing you have ever said.
MATTHEWS: It’s to the point.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell is here with a preview of what’s ahead in
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Does that mean
I can use up the time?
O’DONNELL: You know, we are looking at this question of why it’s too close to call, essentially, in Indiana. Barack Obama is doing well among young voters, he’s doing well among the well-educated, he’s doing well among new votes. We have seen that in past primary contests. So what’s different this time?
Well, Hillary Clinton has done always done very well among white women, Catholics, and white working class. She did really, really well in Pennsylvania. He’s now cutting back into that a bit. She’s still winning among white women, Catholics, and white working class. But he’s doing a little bit better now then Pennsylvania. So that’s a key factor.
OLBERMANN: All right. We’ll check for the full exits in a little bit, Norah.
We also now know that she’s at the Mora (ph) Center in Indianapolis, has arrived there. What she is going to say, we can only guess at this point. It’s still too close to call in Indiana. A big surprise. Let’s turn to NBC News Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert.
And just—this thing gets more and more surprising as time goes by, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Keith, we are just getting word here in election central that late counting now not until 11:00 p.m. So the suspense builds.
We think there’s about 300,000 votes out and the margin is only about 35,000 there, 38,000 between the candidates. Again, the longer this is delayed, and the suspense build as to who might win Indiana, the less and less Senator Clinton can make the case for momentum, for game-changing psychology to those undeclared superdelegates.
There’s an awful lot of apprehension among some of the Clinton people I’ve talked to and—as this thing plays into the—late into the night.
OLBERMANN: Well, as you mentioned, it’s not just more votes but extra ballot counters have been brought in in Lake County. Not only that, more than a dozen pizzas were brought into feed the extra counters, which is—never mind metrics and calculus and our exit polls, the pizza exit poll is what is telling you what is going on in that county.
RUSSERT: And Russert’s rule, pizza slows you down, trust me.
RUSSERT: Yes. It is something to behold. We are now reaching out, again, one more time to some party leaders and to the undeclared superdelegates because we are trying to get some reaction as to, is there any now strong sense that there’s a “realistic path to the nomination” for Senator Clinton?
One observer said to me, this is like the Indianapolis 500. They are going around the laps. And laps and laps. Suddenly tonight, they are only a few lap away from the finish. And Senator Obama is more than a half-lap ahead. So how do you catch him? You have to—you need an explosion. You need a disaster.
And the more you rely on something like that, the less superdelegates will be patient. And I think that by tomorrow morning, we could have a lot more clarity to this race than we ever thought.
MATTHEWS: That’s the great question, Tim. Why would a superdelegate, if the evening projects—moves as it’s being projected now, to a very close finish, if not a victory perhaps by Barack Obama, in Indiana, making it a victory in the doubleheader, if that happens, why would a superdelegate wait all the way from now in early May all the way to early June to get more information?
If the projection, as you pointed out before, that bootleg copy you got of the projections from the Obama campaign looking forward from many weeks ago, if it is just going to play out this, what is to be learned between now and early June?
RUSSERT: Well, obviously, superdelegates now who are leaning to Senator Obama, they will be talked to tomorrow, saying, you know, it’s time to get in line. It’s time to get on this train that’s pulling out of the station. Don’t be the last one aboard.
Because if you’re 2,026, you won’t be remembered as well if you’re 2,024 -- 2,025 being the goal, the necessary number for the nomination.
However, there are some of the those superdelegates who still want to remain convinced that they are making the right call and don’t want to upset the Clintons, because Bill and Hillary Clinton have played a role in their lives and in their party’s life.
But go back to the point that we said earlier, that many of these superdelegates have known Hillary Clinton a long time. And the calculation of the Obama campaign is if they had interest becoming a superdelegate for her, it would have already happened.
And so they are going to work feverishly tomorrow trying to get to these superdelegates, saying, now is the time. Don’t wait. Get with us. And if they could ever pull it together by two weeks from tonight, where they think they are in very good shape in Oregon, they will have won a majority of elected delegates and would have enough superdelegates to say it’s a virtual lock, let’s end this nomination and stop (sic) healing. I think that’s their goal.
MATTHEWS: Wow. I mean, it sounds to me like you believe that this may be at the verge of a conclusion.
RUSSERT: That’s why the closeness of this race in Indiana has had such an impact tonight, because people are watching it. Remember, Hillary Clinton wanted to come out with the balloons and the streamers and tonight, and clapping ever so loudly with Bill and Chelsea saying, we have won Indiana decisively, the people have spoken on the gas tax, and not so suddenly, on Reverend Wright.
And Barack Obama can’t win these blue collar voters that are so necessary to win in the fall, and North Carolina is too close to call. That’s not the scenario that’s playing out. It’s the exact opposite. It has been flipped and that’s very difficult to sell to these undeclared superdelegates.
They will try, because they want to go forward to states that are safe for them like West Virginia and Kentucky. But then you’re going to hear the argument that Pat Buchanan was suggesting from members of the Democratic Party who will say, what’s to be gained?
So you beat Barack Obama in these two states and give John McCain two more weeks to get his campaign organized and oiled and funded. Big discussions tonight all night long, guys, within the Democratic Party.
OLBERMANN: So we are not even facing that subject of climb down here. We’re just—suddenly she’s faced with answering the question, why couldn’t you close the deal in Indiana?
RUSSERT: Keith, the way this shifts, as we have seen, just think, Senator Obama on his way to the nomination after the win in Iowa, he loses New Hampshire. People saying, uh-oh, Hillary is back.
Then he comes back and wins South Carolina. And we go back to Super Tuesday, Hillary is back. Texas, Ohio, just think how momentum shifts back and forth. Now however, there is not many contests left. There’s only a handful, 200 elected delegates left.
So she has to make a case that I know I can’t win the elected delegates, but you know that I’m a stronger nominee. I can beat John McCain and he can’t. After tonight, will they believe that argument, will they give her more time to make it? That’s the unknown. But it’s a case only she can make and only she can prove to these undeclared superdelegates.
OLBERMANN: Well, a reversal of fortune and I have got one to multiply it on a symbolic level. You know what Obama’s favorite baseball team is, don’t you?
OLBERMANN: Chicago White Sox. Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox, a fairly obscure pitcher, is throwing a no-hit game for them tonight at Comiskey Park in Chicago through seven innings. So it’s a big night for Obama in a lot of respects.
RUSSERT: And what’s Hillary Clinton’s favorite baseball team?
OLBERMANN: Cubs, Yankees, Washington Nationals?
RUSSERT: Look at you, huh?
OLBERMANN: Sorry. Thank you, Tim.
RUSSERT: Good bye.
MATTHEWS: Let’s bring in former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford. You know, tonight, Terry McAuliffe, with a big smile, used the word “momentum.” That was going to be the crowding word of the night that his candidate, Senator Clinton, the campaign he chairs, has momentum. That was a bad start for the evening if it ends up the way it is going.
HAROLD FORD JR., NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He identified a metric the last time he was on, that being the popular vote, and if Hillary was able to achieve a greater number of the popular vote or a greater number of votes nationally, would put her in a position to win. That is clearly in jeopardy and probably is impossible to happen unless wins in these next states, she’s able to accumulate 85 to 90 percent wins, which won’t happen.
But let me go back to two points that Chris made where I disagree. He made the point that bringing these two together may be a premature thought at the moment. You, I think, Keith, and Tom, and others were making this point.
But if you look at the total tally in this race so far among Democrats, if you unite an Obama and a Clinton on a ticket, you look at just the votes they are bringing, you put yourself in position to win—we put ourselves as Democrats in a position to win in states that we normally don’t compete very well in the president—during the general election time.
Two, I thought his speech tonight was great for one reason. He defined this race along the fault line that it will be defined when he and McCain engage each other here in the next few weeks. Do you want a Bush third term? I think the specifics that he began to lay out in Indiana, North Carolina, were critical to his success.
But tonight he needed to make clear to Clinton voters who are a little skittish about him, who may be skeptical about him that if you’re serious about change, I will bring the same change that Hillary Clinton sought to bring, the same kind of change Democrats want, and for that matter, independents and Republicans.
And, finally, I just happen to think, as you listen and watch closely this race as we head here in the next few weeks, this is not the time to continue to focus on the divisions within the party, the white voters here, the black voters there, the rich voters there, the college graduates here. Americans want change.
Barack Obama’s appeal is that he soars above all of this and transcends that. He hopefully will be able to bring a new equation, a new dynamic and a new paradigm to presidential politics.
And I thought tonight’s speech was the very beginning to that. And I think Hillary Clinton and her team are going to have to think very long and hard tonight not only about going forward, Pat’s point is spot on, do you hurt Barack in West Virginia, Kentucky when you don’t have a chance to win?
They have got to think long and hard tonight over the next 24 hours about what they do to strengthen the Democratic Party and put Barack Obama in the best position possible to defeat John McCain in the fall.
MATTHEWS: Congressman, are you recommending that Hillary Clinton be put on the ticket with Barack Obama?
FORD: No, I’m saying you have to step back and think. I think that the Obama campaign, in the midst of all that is happening and all that has transpired over the last 72 hours has to think seriously about, how do you draw the voters that she pulled to her side?
Because she created new voters also for the party. And if you just add those voters up, I think they put—just add up what Barack has done and what Hillary has done, you’re talking about a formidable team heading into the fall.
As they think more and more about it, there may be some flaws and shortcomings and he may decide to go another route. But I’ve got to tell you, I’m like Chuck Todd. I’m a numbers guy. And if you look at the numbers that these two have racked up, it’s an impressive start to a fall campaign for Barack Obama.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Harold Ford Jr. Let’s get more now from the Clinton campaign. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is at that very important place right now, Indianapolis, with that campaign.
Andrea, the mood swings must be steep and dramatic.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: This is
schizophrenia. I mean, the ebullience of Terry McAuliffe and a lot of the other Clinton aides earlier, as early as 8:00 this evening Eastern Time, thinking that they had in fact won it and talking about 5 to 8 points informally, you know, not officially. But they thought that it could be as high as 8 points.
And this mood swing, as you point out, is really devastating, because, as you have been discussing, she needed momentum coming out of here. She needed to win Indiana big if she’s going to lose North Carolina. And given the decisive nature of his victory in North Carolina, her—weaker here in Indiana, if she does end up winning it, is not going to be persuasive to the superdelegates.
She is not going to be narrowing the gap. In fact, the gap has now widened appreciably in terms of the elected pledged delegates out of North Carolina tonight. So she has got a major problem even though if she proceeds, and I think she will if she wins Indiana, she’s likely to win in West Virginia and in Kentucky.
They thought that they had a shot in Oregon, although tonight may change that. Montana, they thought was actually one of the states that she could also win, and Puerto Rico, they are very solid in.
So they had a lot of favorable signs in the states too come. But the news out of this evening, and if it does turn out to be an Indiana victory, the narrowness of this victory and then we have to dig down and see where she won and where she didn’t win and did she start losing among women. This is not good news for Hillary Clinton.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert’s point earlier, Andrea, where is the money going to come from if this is 4 percent or less in Indiana and if the gains of Pennsylvania were wiped out in North Carolina. Where is the money going to come from to just continue?
MITCHELL: Well, on the plus side for them, West Virginia, Kentucky, Montana, these are not expensive media markets. So they don’t need the kind of money that they needed up until now. But he could smother them, obviously, with money.
And he’s going to get a lot of support financially. And there may be a stream of superdelegates that go his way judging from what happened in North Carolina.
MATTHEWS: What about the possibility that—I’m thinking back on the old days where big city machines would hold back the vote. Is something going on in Gary tonight? Are those votes being delayed for dramatic purpose tonight?
MITCHELL: I don’t think at this stage that that is likely. You know,
we have both covered big machine politics in a number of cities, Chris, you and
I. But I don’t see that as a fact. They had a huge turnout there. And we don’t know the details. So I shouldn’t speculate as to why the vote hasn’t been counted. But that ought to be an area that was favorable to him. We don’t know why we just don’t have that raw vote.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I heard last night that the mayor was thrilled at the prospect of the turnout today in Gary, Indiana, and that clearly was the truth. We are waiting to see how big it turned out to be. Andrea Mitchell, thank you for joining us.
When we return, we are going to let the latest from Harold Fineman—
Howard Fineman from his campaign “Listening Post.” Plus NBC’s David Gregory and our “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE PANEL.” They are all coming back as we await the results in Indiana. Keith and I will be back with you in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: There are those who are saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: But today it was North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Eighty-four percent reporting in Indiana and still too close to call. The margin, slightly north of 40,000, with Lake County now saying its late ballots will not be counted before midnight Eastern, 11:00 Central time. This is going down to the wire. And it had looked like Senator Clinton had a comfortable lead in Indiana. We never called it one way or another. Nothing closer than too close to all. Originally too early to call. Meanwhile in North Carolina, the 14-point lead of Senator Obama is holding up with 77 percent reporting.
Now to our campaign Listening Post” on where Senator Clinton goes from here. Our MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, with his ear to the ground about what future there is for the Clinton campaign.
And I guess we have to add, it any, Howard?
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think “if any” is the question right now. But to the Clinton people I’ve been talking to, you know, I said earlier that Obama’s sort of victory date they hope is May 20th. And they have got every prospect of reaching a majority of pledged delegates by that date.
Hillary’s key date is May 31st. That’s the day in Washington she is hoping she can get to where the Rules Committee of the Democratic Party will meet and where the Hillary people will be supporting the appeals by the Florida and Michigan state parties that their delegates be seated. That’s Hillary’s only hope at this point.
But to me the interesting thing in just talking to the Obama people right here in Chicago, they are now saying, and this is news, that they are willing to talk about a deal over the Florida and Michigan delegates at that Rules Committee.
And the reason they are now willing to do so is two-fold. They think they are going to have the majority in hand by then, that they are going to be firmly in the driver’s seat and they won’t really need the Michigan or Florida delegates, number one, and, therefore, they can cut a deal with the Clinton camp at that point.
And also, you saw tonight Obama begin to try to start the process of healing within the party. To say that he can bring the party together, uttering soothing words to the Clintons. I think this is a measure of their confidence right now, that they are telling me that they are willing to do a deal on that May 31st date that Hillary had thought would be the beginning of her takeover of the nomination.
OLBERMANN: So that is the—the climb down and it is precipitated obviously by what happened in North Carolina and even to a greater degree what seems to be happening in Indiana, correct?
FINEMAN: Yes, yes. Because they look at the math and they see that they are going to end up soon enough, certainly by May 20th in their view, with the majority of the pledged delegates. And as David Axelrod said earlier tonight, nobody has been denied the nomination who has gotten a majority of those pledged delegates.
That’s going to be their argument. They think they will shake loose even more unpledged superdelegates by that point, the ones they don’t get between now and that date. They are going to be in control and in command by the time the event takes place on May 31st, that Hillary and her camp had been pinning her hopes on, which is that meaning of the Rules Committee to discuss Florida and Michigan.
Florida and Michigan are going to be moot and the Obama camp is going to move to find a compromise to allow a lot of those Florida Democrats and Michigan Democrats to somehow be seated at the convention, because they’ll no longer be a threat to his control of the nomination.
OLBERMANN: So if this was an Agatha Christie novel coming to an end and Hercule Poirot has put everybody in the room and is explaining what happened. And here’s what happens to Florida and Michigan after we pull the knives out of everybody’s back.
How do you pull the knives out of the—that have separated these two increasingly defined wings of the Democratic Party? Where is the—certainly seating Florida and Michigan is not going to be enough to calm the waters over - - you know, to continue these literary analogies, the Pequot having sunk. What is going to do that?
FINEMAN: Well, it is going to take a lot of work. It is going to take a lot of diplomatic effort. And ultimately, it’s going to will take Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and maybe Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama sitting down in a room together as principals working on this and piece by piece, brick by brick, time to put the party together.
If they are able to do it, Keith—and this is a big if, if they are able to stage a pageant of reconciliation of some kind in Denver, it could be an emotional blastoff unlike any you have seen in recent campaigns. That has got to be their hope. It’s not impossible to do. And I can tell you right now who is going to be a key actor in that if it happens.
It is going to be Bill Clinton, I predict right now, if they can put it together. This is going to be a one-man revival meeting with Bill Clinton as the soul being saved in Denver. You watch. That’s what’s going to happen.
OLBERMANN: Hercule Poirot doing the summing up and breaking a little news here. Obama ready to deal on Florida and Michigan. Howard Fineman, many thanks.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And right now let’s go back to the panel—the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel.
David Gregory, with these latest developments, of course, they are ready to deal on Florida and Michigan if they don’t count anymore, right?
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Right, exactly. It’s easy to be magnanimous in that circumstance. Thanks a lot, gentlemen.
All right. So here we are. We have this dramatic night that’s unfolding in front of us and we are waiting for Hillary Clinton, Gene. What is the calculation in her mind about how she comes out and tries to declare what tonight?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first she has got to
wait and see what the result is in Indiana. I mean…
GREGORY: Well, the upside here is a narrow victory after the worst period for Barack Obama in this campaign. And this is the most she can come up with.
ROBINSON: Congratulations for Senator Obama for his win in North Carolina. We won Indiana. We started—I guess she will claim, we started 35 points behind or something like that, and we closed and we showed that we are— you know, that we can attract the Democratic coalition and on we go to West Virginia.
GREGORY: But it is a momentum game, Rachel. And Terry McAuliffe talked about that early in the evening with Chris. Is there momentum to be had even if she squeaks out a victory here late into the night in Indiana?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think you completely avoid all math, spurious or not, in terms of—I don’t think you make a numbers-based or even a moment-based argument at this point.
I think at this point, if Hillary Clinton was ever going to give an inspirational speech, tonight is the night to do it. And she can either do it on the grounds of gender. She can talk about being the first woman president and try to do that in an inspirational way, or she can do it about redefining the Democratic Party and the future of the Democratic Party in this country.
Not in the way that Barack Obama did it, which was very much anti-McCain, but in a more inspirational way. She has got to get higher, higher, higher tonight.
GREGORY: Pat, what is the path?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: She is going to take a holding position tonight in my judgment. Then they’ve got to think it over. I think Howard Fineman is on the money.
Look, the legacy here, the interest of the Clintons and everyone is not to have the Clintons—if they are going to lose this thing, and it looks like they are going to lose it, perceived as sinking Obama. That will destroy their future, it will destroy their legacy.
There—powerful imperatives are going to pull this party together.
Obama opened the door tonight. You saw it. He is going to let her down easy. He was saying this race is not ended, but for all practical purposes, it is over.
And I don’t think the Clintons are going to go on a very hard, tough, rough, course against Obama the way they’ve been going. Tonight, whatever she says I think is less important than what they say tomorrow and the next day when they all get together and say, are we really going to kick Obama, you know, do the Hatfield/McCoys number on the kid there West Virginia?
I don’t think they’re going to do it.
ROBINSON: But it’s a practical consideration. And remember, she loaned her campaign $5 million. And she hasn’t gotten that money back yet. Now is she going to go on, not able to raise that much money being outspent by Obama and the possibility of never getting it back?
BUCHANAN: Bill will have that on the table in the negotiations.
ROBINSON: You bet.
GREGORY: Rachel, what do you spend the money on? You have contests here, as we talked about before, that are not real game-changers here. They have each got their states. You get to May 20th. The Obama goal is, you get over that majority mark with the amount of delegates.
In between you get superdelegates who will continue to break his way.
Maybe it’s a trickle. Maybe it’s a flood. Her argument starts to constrict.
MADDOW: There’s (INAUDIBLE) she needs to stay away from the math. There’s nothing about Kentucky, West Virginia, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Puerto Rico, there’s nothing about that list that gets her to mathematically winning this thing. Her only way to win is to bring it to the convention.
BUCHANAN: All right. Well, what—suppose Obama goes in and says, OK, you get your Florida delegates, you get in the (INAUDIBLE) percentages, we split Michigan even. How’s that? And it’s a magnanimous offer.
If it doesn’t put her over the top, and he wins, goes over the top,
what does he care if they are all seated? So that’s the…
MADDOW: I don’t think that we are going to see magnanimity from Obama
towards Clinton at this point. I really don’t. I think that when Obama said
BUCHANAN: Well, listen, if you’ve got it won, you’ve got it won.
MADDOW: When Clinton said today that the delegates are going to include Florida and Michigan, she is saying I’m going to the convention. That means he has to shove her out.
GREGORY: All right. I will interject here. We are less than a couple of minutes away, Keith, from hearing from Senator Clinton herself.
OLBERMANN: Yes. The two-minute warning been issued, David, so thank you. We’ll get back to you afterwards. Let’s turn right now to the anchor of “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS,” Brian Williams, as we await Senator Clinton.
What on earth could she say in your estimation given on all of the things that you have covered before in terms of presidents and would be presidents?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: She will talk about a tough fight. And to paraphrase, the dream endures, the Edward Kennedy speech. Keith, she will talk about a continuum, an ongoing fight. There’s no indication that her message will be any counter to that.
And we will be careful to put the picture up as she approaches the podium so none of us talk over her arrival, control room.
I wanted point out one thing. And this is not to pull a muscle patting ourselves on the back, it is just to throw a little light on part of our process right now. For all of the viewers who are coming in the house and joining us and saying, what do you mean there’s no call on the state of Indiana?
We have got a guy about 25 yards from me named Sheldon Gawiser (ph), he is our director of elections. And he is a great guy and great at what he does. And every network has a Sheldon, though we have, we like to think, the only true Sheldon. He is right now sitting with headphones. He can’t hear our coverage. We could be the last network to call this race, and he wouldn’t know it. He wouldn’t know that all the other—there he is, white shirt, hunched over, closest to the camera, headset. He wouldn’t know it if we were the last network to call an election, though someone is ribbing him that I’m talking about him right now. And we will find out how that leak occurred.
And he tries to stay in a kind of coverage agnostic zone, looking only at the numbers. And he is the one who sounds the tone and projects these races for us. It’s for a preponderance of caution that he’s in that protected area. It’s an outgrowth of the congressional testimony the networks gave a few years ago.
And, yes, it’s because of some mistakes that were made, but now we try to exert a lot of caution. And that is why we are all sitting here with a too-close-to-call race in Indiana. I just thought that should be pointed out.
OLBERMANN: And well done, sir, although you make him sound like he’s a contestant on the old game show “Twenty-One” in the isolation booth.
WILLIAMS: And he could very well have been.
OLBERMANN: Evan Bayh has preceded Senator Clinton on to the stage at the Murat Centre in Indianapolis.
So, we are close—the senator from Indiana—to finding out whatever is going to be said there.
But, Brian, again to this point now that Howard Fineman indicating that that Obama reach-out to the Clinton campaign may be a deal for Florida and Michigan, to seat them, because they are perceiving that Florida and Michigan are no longer factors in this equation.
Is it plausible that the whole Sturm und Drang between Clinton and Obama will be viewed from the perspective of history some point as laughable, as kind of hysterically ironic as G.H.W. Bush’s voodoo economics were after he became Reagan’s vice president? Is that what we’re going to have to see? And is that plausible that that could happen?
WILLIAMS: Oh, I guess it’s plausible. Boy, Keith, we’re going to need a whole lot of distance between that and our rearview mirror to view that as plausible on a night like tonight.
I don’t know. Howard has done some great reporting tonight. In those two advances, incremental advances, he’s reported that the Obama folks now think it is—quote—“within his grasp” and—and this second nugget about the—how Michigan and Florida could be viewed, potentially, by the Clinton campaign.
There’s real pieces now moving tonight, before this decision, before this call is even in for the state of Indiana. And Evan Bayh, by the way, a very cool customer, son of the veteran Senator Birch Bayh, a veteran political family in that state, you can bet the normally unflappable Evan Bayh is sweating this one.
The state of Indiana, he was really the godfather of the Clinton campaign effort there from the get-go. He was very sunny and optimistic today. But, during my hour on MSNBC, from noon to 1:00, I talked to Andrea Mitchell. She had just come from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and described Senator Clinton’s mood as—as wistful.
Andrea phoned in some quotes here. We later saw the videotape of it. And I wondered at that time whether there might have been some late internals inside the campaign that were shared by all. You often, on the day of the vote—this goes back several election cycles now—see a little bit of a barely perceptible change in the demeanor of the candidate. They are so exhausted, they can’t hide it and keep their game face on at all times.
I’m just wondering if we saw some inkling of that earlier in the day.
OLBERMANN: A telling metric of a different kind indeed, Brian.
Thank you, Brian Williams.
MATTHEWS: Let’s go right now to Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary and senior campaign adviser, Lisa, as we await to hear from Senator Clinton.
It’s a tough speech for her to give right now, isn’t it, Lisa?
LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY FOR HILLARY CLINTON: I think so,
I think that she’s following what was, I thought, was a terrific speech from Senator Obama, striking absolutely the right tone. And I think Senator Clinton has got to strike a similar tone, talking about uniting the party and talking about, you know, continuing in the race, which I’m sure she will do, more votes, more states.
But I thought Howard Fineman actually had an excellent point, which is, at some point, the two parties are going to have to come together, sit at the table, and hatch and deal, and unite the party.
MATTHEWS: Short of that, do you buy the argument from the outside that the campaign of Hillary Clinton will have to be careful now, given the fact that there is someone who is still a front-runner, and—and not do damage to the candidate who may ultimately win this fight?
CAPUTO: I think the Clinton campaign has to tread carefully, for sure.
And I think that they need to strike the right tone and keep the tone as positive as it can be kept, coming out of both North Carolina and Indiana. I think, if Senator Clinton wins Indiana, it will be by a narrow margin. And, again, we have heard all night long, this will come down to superdelegates. And how much credence will a victory in Indiana give to those on the phones calling the superdelegates?
Now, everybody in the Clinton campaign is encouraged by the superdelegates who have been publicly saying, we think this should go on. We think it is so close and let it go until early June. I heard Senator Clyburn earlier say—say as such.
So, I think that they will strike the right tone, and they will continue to get on the phones. And I think the Obama campaign will likely be working the superdelegates to try and trot out whoever they can trot out. But the Clinton campaign will go at it full gangbusters with the superdelegates.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this compromise that seems to be in the air that Howard mentioned, Howard Fineman mentioned, of the Clinton campaign asking for the recognition of the Florida and Michigan delegates to the convention, of which they would get the majority share, obviously, of both of them, in exchange for something else come May 20?
CAPUTO: Well, I think that’s certainly the Obama campaign wanting to bring this to closure. I think that they are disappointed they haven’t been able to close it out yet.
And I think Senator Clinton and her campaign feel that those are people’s voices and votes that—that should be counted. And, so, it’s trying to find a middle ground to get the party united as we head into the summer, which are key campaign months, certainly for a general election in a normal presidential year.
MATTHEWS: How about sticking your neck out, my friend? What do you think Hillary Clinton believes of the vice presidency? What does she think of that office, in terms of her strong public policy ambitions?
CAPUTO: Well, I think what you saw certainly in Bill Clinton’s White House was Bill Clinton empowering the vice presidency with than Vice President Gore to be a very active, very hands-on president.
CAPUTO: Is she coming to speak, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Yes, she’s coming.
MATTHEWS: We will—now we have to go over to her.
Thank you very much, Lisa Caputo.
CAPUTO: You’re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Right now, we are watching Senator Clinton come toward the platform. There she is with former President Bill Clinton and, of course, Chelsea Clinton. They’re bringing them all together for what many thought would be a big victory tonight. In fact, it looked like it when Terry McAuliffe was here earlier, the chairman of her campaign, saying this was a big momentum-building event tonight.
And, yet, it turns out, as we get near midnight, looking like a squeaker.
And here she is.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: Thank you.
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Thank you all very much. Thank you.
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: Thank you.
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: Thank you so much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Thank you, Indiana. Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Not too long ago, my opponent made a prediction. He said I would probably win Pennsylvania, he would win North Carolina, and Indiana would be the tiebreaker.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Well, tonight we have come from behind, we have broken the tie, and, thanks to you, it’s full speed onto the White House.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: This has been an extraordinary experience, traveling across Indiana, having an opportunity to meet so many of you.
And for everyone who holds your breath at the gas pump, afraid to see how much it cost today, and for everyone working day and night because you want the world for your kids, for every young person with big dreams, who deserves a world of opportunity, and for all those who aren’t in the headlines, but have always written America’s story, tonight is your victory right here in Indiana.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I want to commend—I want to commend Senator Obama and his supporters on their win in North Carolina.
You know, we are, in many ways, on the same journey. It’s a journey begun long before we were born. It is a journey by men and women who have been on a mission to perfect our union, who marched and protested, who risked everything they had to build an America that embraces us all.
And tonight, once again, I need your help to continue our journey.
CROWD: Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will!
Yes, we will! Yes, we will!
CLINTON: You know, this has always been your campaign, and this is your victory, because your support has meant the difference between winning and losing. And we can only keep winning if we’re able to keep competing against an opponent who does outspend us massively.
So I hope you will go to HillaryClinton.com and support our campaign.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: This is a very touching moment for me. I grew up in the Midwest, born in Chicago, raised in Park Ridge, Illinois. My dad was a World War II vet who started his own small business. My mother—and originally from Scranton, P.A. That’s right.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: My mother had a difficult childhood, but worked hard to provide a loving home for us. And she didn’t attend college herself, but was determined her children would. And I don’t think she ever dreamed she would see a night like this.
You know, their story, like every one of our stories, is the American story. It’s a story of men and women who embrace opportunity, never waver in the face of adversity, and never stop believing in the promise of America.
And yet today, I have met so many people here in Indiana and across America who feel invisible. You sure feel invisible when you’re paying $60 or $70 to fill up your tank. You feel invisible when the money you took to the grocery store no longer meets your needs for the next week.
You feel invisible when your health insurance disappears and college is out of reach.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And you can’t believe how invisible you feel when your loved one who served our country in war is ill-served back at home. But I know...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I know these stories. And I see you and I hear you. And I know how hard you’re working, working for yourselves and working for your families. And I will never stop fighting for you, so that you can have a future...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: Tonight, Hoosiers have said that you do want a president who stands strong for you, a president who is ready on day one to take charge as commander-in-chief and keep our families safe, a president who knows how to make this economy work for hard-working, middle-class families.
And there are lots of ideas about how best to do that, because we need all of the good common sense that Americans have to offer.
And I know that we have got an important debate going on right now about how we’re going to help families deal with these gas prices. They have gone up so fast, so out of sight in the minds of the people that I talk with, and I think it’s time that we really had a concerted strategy.
you have heard me say this, and I will say it again: I think it’s time to give Americans a break this summer and to make the oil companies pay the gas tax out of their record profits.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I say it’s time to cover every single American with health insurance.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And I say it’s time to freeze foreclosures for families most at risk of losing their homes, including our soldiers, who are in harm’s way and are being foreclosed on here in America.
Fundamentally, I believe that Americans need a champion in their corner, that for too long we have had a president who has stood up and spoke out for the wealthy and the well-connected.
But I don’t think that’s what Americans need or what they’re looking for now. And I think standing up for working people is about the American dream and the Democratic Party. And I think standing up for the middle class is about who we are and who we can be, if we stick together.
So it is important that, as we go forward in this campaign, that we recognize we are all on the same team. We are going to be standing up for you. We’re going to be looking for a way to turn this country around and bring it back to what it should stand for and be all about: better futures for you and your children, solving the problems that affect us here in America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And I know...
CROWD: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
Hillary! Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
CLINTON: I know that people—people are watching this race, and they’re wondering, I win, he wins, I win, he wins. It’s so close. And I think that says a lot about how excited and passionate our supporters are and how intent so many Americans are to really taking their country back.
But I can assure you, as I have said on many occasions, that, no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party, because we must win in November.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Yes, we will! Yes, we will! Yes, we will!
CLINTON: And I know—I know that Senator Obama feels the same way, because we have been on this campaign trail now for a long time.
CLINTON: And we know how desperately people want to see a change, and it will not be a change if the Republicans keep the White House. It will be more of the same, something that no one, no matter what political party you may be, can afford.
It is time for all of us to recognize what is at stake in this election, not just for Democrats, as we decide who will be our nominee, but for all Americans.
You know, the soldiers and the veterans that I meet, they always say to me, “Promise you will take care of my buddies.” They rarely ask for themselves. And they need a president who will take care of them.
And when I talk with the people who come to rallies and events like this, very often it’s with a bit of hesitation that they tell me they have lost their job, they have lost their health care, they can’t afford to go to college.
And it just breaks my heart, because when I think about the America that I grew up in, the future was unlimited, the potential was there for all of us, if we were willing to work hard and do our part.
So this journey that we’re on together is one that has been a blessing for me, because I know what this country has meant to me and I know what it still means to all of you.
It is now our responsibility to ensure that it will always mean the same for our children and our grandchildren.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: I will never—I will never give up on you and on your families and on your dreams and on your future. And I want to thank the people of Indiana for your hospitality and your vote of confidence.
And I especially want to thank your wonderful senator, Evan Bayh.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Evan is an outstanding leader for this state and for America. He’s been your governor. He’s now your senator. He’s someone whom I look to for advice and counsel. He’s worked tirelessly on this campaign. And I am so grateful to him and his wonderful wife, Susan.
I also want to thank the people of North Carolina, who were so hospitable and gracious to us.
And I especially want to thank Mike and Mary Easley for their friendship and support. Governor Easley is a visionary leader for North Carolina, and we had so much fun campaigning in the Tar Heel State.
And while we are celebrating tonight, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest sympathies to the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people there.
And I call upon the junta that has ruled Burma for so many years to please let the rest of the world in to help. This is a time when everyone should be there to lift up those who were affected by this deadly storm.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And I want to thank all of my friends who have worked so hard. I want to thank my friends in labor. I want to thank my staff, my volunteers, and my supporters.
And I especially want to thank my family for their incredible love and support, Bill and Chelsea and my brothers and my (inaudible)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: You know, people ask us all the time, “Well, how do you keep going?” We love getting out and meeting people. We love having a chance to be with all of you. And didn’t Chelsea do a great job?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: And I know a lot of people enjoyed seeing my husband again out on the campaign trail.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: So, now it is on to West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, and the other states where people are eager to have their voices heard. For too long, we have let places like West Virginia and Kentucky slip out of the Democratic column. Well, it’s time for that to change.
And these next primaries are another test. I’m going to work my heart out in West Virginia and Kentucky this month, and I intend to win them in November in the general election.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: You know, I want the people in these upcoming states to know we’re going to work hard to reach out to all of you, because we want you to know that the Democratic Party is your party and a Democratic president will be good for you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: So, please, come join us in our campaign.
And I am running to be the president of all of America: north, south, east and west, and everywhere in between. That’s why it is so important that we count the votes of Florida and Michigan.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Count the vote! Count the vote! Count the vote! Count the vote! Count the vote! Count the vote! Count the vote!
CLINTON: You know, it seems it would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states.
CLINTON: We have got a long road ahead, but we’re going to keep fighting on that path for America, because America is worth fighting for. And we believe in America’s potential and possibility that has so ignited hope and the dreams of people throughout our country and around the world.
You know, people who left everything behind in order to come here and be part of this great experiment in democracy, dissidents and dreamers on every continent who look to us and our ideals for their hope and inspiration, all those around the world who wept for us and prayed for us on September 11th, who laid wreaths and flew flags at half-mast, and printed that unforgettable headline, “We are all Americans,” that is the reach of America’s embrace, through time and place and history.
And I know we can, once again, open our arms to the world. We can, once again, be the can-do nation, a nation that defies the odds and greets the future with optimism and hope.
There isn’t anything America can’t do once we make up our minds to start acting like Americans again. And that is exactly what we intend to do.
Thank you. And God bless you. And God bless America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: Well, we saw two amazing American speeches tonight, including that one, a very, I have to say, charming address by Senator Clinton, after a very difficult night.
There was no stridency to it, not a single shot at her opponent, Barack Obama, hardly a shot against the Republican opponent, clearly, a solemn, but almost—I say it again—a charming presentation there.
Maybe it’s a new speechwriter. I don’t know what it is. But the tone was that of a person who wants to embrace her rival at some way—in some way in the weeks ahead.
I thought we are seeing something of a political mating game going on here...
MATTHEWS: ... a bit of a ritual here, whereby Barack Obama was very outreaching to her, very magnanimous to her. She was back to him in an even more humbler way. It was fascinating to watch this—this what I might call a ritual of reunification.
OLBERMANN: It is—to use Churchill from after El Alamein, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.
It was the exact quote between the two of them.
OLBERMANN: And the—as you began to sum up, the embrace between husband and wife there was extraordinarily genuine. In appearance, certainly, it seemed to be neutral support, to a greater degree than...
OLBERMANN: ... perhaps we have seen ever before on this—in this campaign.
I will argue one point with you. She did invoke Senator Obama’s tiebreaker comment at the beginning...
OLBERMANN: ... one last kind of...
MATTHEWS: Towel snap.
MATTHEWS: A towel snap in the locker room.
OLBERMANN: A towel snap, exactly, and then adding, at the other end, bookending that later on in the speech, “I will work for the Democratic nominee,” describing that position, even—almost as if there was no chance it was going to be herself.
OLBERMANN: There was such a—there was such a distance between her and the concept of, “I will work for the Democratic nominee...”
MATTHEWS: Let’s try...
OLBERMANN: ... and then adding, “Of course, Senator Obama feels the same way.”
MATTHEWS: Let’s try to put the story together tonight.
We don’t know the results in Indiana. We won’t know until East Coast, about an hour from now. But we do know a couple of things. I think Howard Fineman’s reporting, which is always illustrative, tells us that something is coming faster than we thought it was, some resolution, perhaps May 20, when it’s clear that perhaps Barack Obama has won a majority of the elected delegates.
That’s something you can look at on a schedule and see if it’s going to happen. If it happens, it’s happened. That means he can then freely negotiate the resolution of the Michigan and Florida delegation questions, the ratification of those delegates.
If he does so magnanimously, he does so at no cost to himself, because he will have wrapped up the majority. It could be that Hillary Clinton will hold out as a principle, that she was the one that fought for the sitting of those delegations. She achieved something here, manifestly important, by the way, to the unity of party, 50 states reported, plus the District of Columbia.
So, maybe she is finding a way, as you—I think the phrase we’re using, come down from and step down...
OLBERMANN: Climb down. Climb down, yes.
MATTHEWS: Climb down, a climbdown method.
And he clearly has, for weeks now, tried to offer her that—that staircase to come down and meet him at the foot of that stair. It really seems like they are trying to put this thing together. And I say that with wonder, because tonight did not begin this way. Tonight began with what looked like a knockout punch from her, a heavy, heavy, big win in Indiana.
OLBERMANN: Well, as we said all along, whenever it ended, it would probably end all of a sudden, and the attempts at least would be made to heal it up as quickly as possible.
Nobody could have predicted that it—that perhaps that moment was achieved because Indiana was such an unpredictable result.
MATTHEWS: Republicans won’t like what they saw the last two hours.
They saw the party that Will Rogers once described as not being a member of an organized political party, being a Democrat.
OLBERMANN: He’s a Democrat.
MATTHEWS: It looked a somewhat, if, what would I say, quickly put-together organized political party.
OLBERMANN: It looked like it—one of those Schwarzenegger movies where the machine’s arm gets cut off and reforms in front of your eyes, is what it looked like.
Maybe they will sleep on it and decide to fight again.
But I thought a couple of points. Thank you, Indiana. Indiana was the tiebreaker. You correctly point out that she snapped the tail to start the evening.
She did not acknowledge the help she got from Rush Limbaugh.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes.each weeknight