KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Those flying in and out of Washington’stwo airports could not have escaped the symbolism. Last Friday, facing what they said were declining sales, the managers of the America (ph) souvenir shops at Dulles and National took their “Madam President” shirts and their “Hillary for President” bobble head dolls, and even their “Anybody but Hillary” tees and marked them 50 percent off.
Ironically, this was done as today’s West Virginia approached, where the only thing likely to be 50 percent off is Senator Obama’s vote total compared to Senator Clinton’s.
OLBERMANN (voice over): At the State of the Union, a seeming snub. And high noon at the Capitol today, anything but. The anxiety of last week seemingly gone as Senator Clinton anticipates a blowout victory and Senator Obama anticipates an inevitable nomination.
Of course, we couldn’t hear what they said.
With Andrea Mitchell and Ron Allen with the Clinton campaign in Charleston, West Virginia; Lee Cowan at the Obama town hall in Missouri; exit polling covered by Norah O’Donnell; the analysis of NBC News Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert; and the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams. Political Director Chuck Todd, by the numbers. The insiders: former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; and former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.
And THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel: David Gregory, with Rachel Maddow, Pat Buchanan, and Eugene Robinson. And among our guests: Clinton campaign chair Terry McAuliffe; Governor Richardson of New Mexico; Senators Casey, Durbin and Klobuchar.
This is MSNBC’s live coverage of the West Virginia Democratic presidential primary.
OLBERMANN: Greetings from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York.
Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann.
A close one tonight.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: No.
OLBERMANN: No. Thanks for stopping by.
MATTHEWS: I don’t think it will, but I do think we’re at the beginning of an exciting three weeks in American politics, because right now it’s in the head of Hillary Clinton. She has to decide what to do now, and that’s internal. And you can look at what happens tonight, you can look at what happens next week. Part of what’s happening tonight is to give her a good exit.
If she wins tonight, she does decent while in Kentucky next week, we might see this thing all over in a week.
OLBERMANN: Although, it will be sorely tempting, I’m sure, to win big on a night like this, to win really big, to win in proportions that we have not seen on standalone primaries throughout this season, and not get out after something like that.
MATTHEWS: She will be tempted to stay in longer. But I think her words tonight are more important than her duration. If she takes a shot at this guy tonight and says something that will hurt him in November, we’ll know the game is still on. If she avoids that, it’s just a matter of time before she gets out.
OLBERMANN: And she has been pretty close to the vest with that stuff this past week. The things that she has said have been to some degree controversy, but they have not been directed at him since last Tuesday.
MATTHEWS: The worst she said is today, when she called him an empty suit. In not so many words.
OLBERMANN: All right. That’s pretty bad. I take back what I just said.
Let’s get an early check on the upcoming exit polls which will be critical, as they always are. But perhaps more so tonight because we think we know what the overall outcome is going to be.
And to analyze that, let’s get a preview from Norah O’Donnell, with a preview of those exit polls.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Looking (ph) at the demographics of West Virginia, 95 percent white, one of the oldest electorates we’ve seen thus far.
Seven out of 10 lack college degrees. Very poor state. So a large number of people support Hillary Clinton’s gas tax holiday.
We’re going to have more on just how bad the economy is in West Virginia and why they’re voting the way they are.
OLBERMANN: All right, Norah. We’ll look for the full report in a couple of minutes.
Now let’s get our early read on everything tonight from NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.
Tim, good evening.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This morning, our colleague Chuck Todd equated this to the last game of the football season that does not affect in any way, shape or form who’s going to the playoffs, no matter what the final score is.
Is that correct in your assessment, or is this more like one of those Mike Tyson fights, 91 seconds over Michael Spinks, and then they make Spinks the champion?
RUSSERT: A couple things. One is, obviously, we’ll look at the actual vote and see what it tells us. It could highlight some of the problems that Barack Obama has with various constituencies. I agree with Chris that we should all be criminologists and listen very carefully to every word, every syllable that Hillary Clinton utters tonight.
And then I think, finally, most important, it all comes down to this—what does Hillary want? And that’s the watch we’re on now. What does Hillary want?
Does she want to be vice president? Does she want to be the heir apparent if the ticket doesn’t succeed this time? Does she want to be a force in the U.S. Senate?
We’re trying to answer that question she probably hasn’t answered herself yet. But we’re looking for every bit of evidence, every hint, what does Hillary want?
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, what does she want? You know more about this than anybody else.
RUSSERT: Well, some people around her would like her to be on the ticket. I’m not sure she’s convinced that’s the best place for her. And I’m not sure Obama’s convinced it would be the best place for her.
Secondly, does she want to be positioned to be able to say to the Democratic Party, if this doesn’t work out for Senator Obama, “You see? I told you so. I could have been the stronger candidate”? Probably.
Would she like to be in a position to be able to say to the Democrats, “I have won more of” blank? A metric she can embrace and hold on to by including Florida, Michigan, whatever, to be able to say she had a successful primary run.
I think somewhere in there, Keith, we can answer that riddle, that question, what does Hillary want?
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about a mission statement. Does she want to be a running mate for Barack who helps him win, or does she want to be a ruining mate, someone who brings him down? What’s her mission here?
RUSSERT: Well, if you’re on the ticket, you have to win, there’s no doubt about it.
RUSSERT: Oh, yes. I mean, I do not know of a vice president candidate who thought it was in their best interest to lose. I mean, that’s so Machiavellian, that’s almost twisted. I mean, that’s pretty tough.
MATTHEWS: Call me twisted. I’m thinking here. I’m thinking here.
RUSSERT: No, no, not you.
MATTHEWS: I’m trying to figure her out because she’s very complicated.
The reason I raised that is because we have rarely seen a person, besides her husband, so clearly on a mission to become the next president and not anything else. There’s so many positions in politics that anyone else in politics would find extremely attractive, like Senate majority leader, like vice president. I just wonder whether she has conditioned herself to seek a lesser office than the one held by her husband.
RUSSERT: Well, it’s pretty hard. And when you look at this year, if this, in fact, is a historic year to be made, then do you want to be part of that? Or do you want to simply position yourself to be able to say, you know, “It should have been me. And I tried to tell you, I tried to stop you from making this mistake”?
I read an article the other day, however, that quoted Bill Clinton as saying this is a refrigerator year. That the Democrats could nominate a refrigerate and get elected president. A sense of a tidal wave they think is coming.
But the smart people I think all think that this is going to be a very closely-contested race. The nomination is worth winning, but it’s not a slam-dunk. But I keep going back to—I think one of the reasons we’re all scrutinizing every bit of behavior by Hillary Clinton is because we’re not sure what she wants. And I’m not sure she knows what she wants as we watch this primary race come to an end over the last two or three weeks.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s focus back in on tonight, Tim.
Is there an over/under on trying to figure out what she wants? Is there a critical number to saying, all right, I’m going to use my leverage and broker the vice presidency influence over the ticket, whatever it is on the one hand, versus, I’m going to stay in and still try to convince the superdelegates to declare the loser numerically the winner in the nomination?
Is there some over/under tonight on that?
RUSSERT: Well, I think leading up to tonight, we saw all the polls where she was winning, what, two to one in West Virginia. If she, in fact, I able to do that, she can underscore her special bond with the working white men and woman, working white men and women, as she put it, of West Virginia, and suggest that she is their spokesperson. Is the working man’s, working womans hero, and represent their interests in terms of the Democratic Party.
Now, how does she parlay that? Next Tuesday, certainly in Kentucky, but Oregon is a much different kind of state, one that is uphill for her. And so I think she has to make some decisions.
If she win ins a smashing way tonight, does it make it comfortable for her to say, I’m getting out on top, I want it big? Or does she keep trying to push this?
She’ll have every right to keep saying, look it, these are white working men and woman. You need them to win the—a Democrat needs them to win the election in the fall. You need West Virginia. I’m showing you how to do it.
One little tidbit, Keith, that I think is important. Bob Dole carried whites against Bill Clinton in 1996. So we’ve got to be careful we don’t overstate this. But nonetheless, I think Hillary Clinton will lay claim to that constituency tonight and use it as a rationale to go on to next Tuesday.
OLBERMANN: Am I just remember this, or misremembering it? Was the last Democratic electee for the White House who won the white vote was Lyndon Johnson?
RUSSERT: I believe so. In 1964, yes.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, we’ll check back with you later on and throughout the evening, Tim.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, many thanks.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think if Hillary Clinton says the word “white” one more time, she’s going to be accused of being the Al Sharpton of white people.
Let’s check in with the NBC News political director, Chuck Todd, on what tonight’s West Virginia contest means by the numbers—Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: All right. Well, let’s take a look. And here’s what we can tell you at stake tonight.
We’ve got 28 delegates and we’ve got about 450,000 popular vote. So we’re just trying to figure out, what is—what is she going to get? What can she maximize if she has the big 2-1 night like the polls have been showing?
Well, here’s what we know. We think she’s going to do well pretty much here, in the entire state of West Virginia. So, the question is, will she get those 2-1 margins?
If she gets it, she’s going to get 19 delegates, and Obama is going to get nine. The way proportional representation works, she could win 60/40 and get a 19-9 split, or she could win 74/26 and get the 19-9 split. She would actually need to somehow get over 75 percent of the vote to start upping her delegate number.
So we’re not going to hear a lot about delegates tonight when Senator Clinton claims victory. What we’re going to hear about is popular vote, because at 450,000 if she nets 65 percent of the vote, she’s going to be able to net, oh, about 130,000 in the popular vote.
If she nets 70, she suddenly gets closer to 200,000 in popular vote. And it would nearly erase all the gains that Obama made, bring down his overall total to 500,000 votes. And then, of course, you create your own metrics to get her back in the lead in the popular vote.
You throw in Florida, you throw in Michigan. Then they want to talk about throwing in Puerto Rico if they win that.
So, they will have a path to win the popular vote, which as Tim pointed out, is just something they want to be able to say they did. Even if they don’t win the nomination on delegates, they want to be able to say, hey, we have the support of a large chunk of Democratic voters.
MATTHEWS: Can she can win the popular vote without claiming Puerto Rican votes as well, as mainland votes?
TODD: She can win the popular vote if she counts Florida and Michigan. The question is, can she do it with only counting Florida?
It seems like everybody seems to be in agreement that, OK, count Florida, both of their names were on the ballot. So can she do it just without—without counting Puerto Rico or Michigan? I don’t think so.
She has to figure out how to count either Puerto Rico or Michigan. And potentially both, depending on the size of Obama’s likely victory in Oregon next week and how big her victory is in Kentucky.
MATTHEWS: OK. Two or three years from now, we’ll forget how she put her count together anyway.
So thank you very much, Chuck. That (ph) should be able to claim almost anything.
MATTHEWS: Let’s check in with the Clinton campaign right now. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell is at Clinton headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia.
Andrea, do the people down there know that they’ve already been counted and it’s about two to one down there for Hillary? Do they know what everybody expects?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Well, actually, there’s a lot of excitement here. This is the first time since 1960 when West Virginia really mattered. And the governor, whom you’re going to talk to in a minute, was telling me earlier, already in early voting, 76,000 people voted in early voting, which closed on Saturday.
Four years ago, that number was 27,000. So you can see that with the inclusion now of Independents, who can ask for a Democratic ballot—and most are—this is a very big turnout. A big number.
They are hoping, the Clinton people, that it’s a big number for them.
She’s going to be back home tomorrow. She was thinking of going to Kentucky, but I think tomorrow is all meetings with uncommitted and committed delegates. And also with supporters to see whether she can go on.
But with this big boost coming out of here, if it is a big boost, Chris, then she may have a big decision to make. Does she go on or does she declare victory and gracefully exit?
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, when do you think we’ll hear from her tonight? If we have the results at 7:30, as we look like we might have, do you think we might get an early, mid evening report from her, where she really states her intentions?
MATTHEWS: It could be pretty exciting.
MITCHELL: Yes, I think between 8:00 and 9:00 you’re going to hear from her. And this isn’t the case where, as you remember, the mayor of Gary, Indiana, or somebody else was sitting on that vote and they thought it would be earlier than it was, with a close finish in Indiana.
This is most likely a very early call. An early announcement from Hillary Clinton. But I don’t think she’ll announce her intentions tonight. I think that you’ll have to wait to see that down the road.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much.
Andrea Mitchell in Charleston, West Virginia.
Barack Obama is in Missouri tonight looking ahead to the general election in the state that he won.
NBC’s Lee Cowan is at the Obama town hall in Cape Girardeau, already under way.
Lee, this is interesting. Why Missouri?
LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think clearly he wants to show that he’s moving on. You know, he’s moving on into general election mode. And I think, you know, this is the kind of—this is so different a venue than anything we’ve seen on any of the other election nights.
This is a suit manufacturing plant. There’s only about 100, 150 people here. There’s actually more media here than there are invited guests here that are going to be answering—asking questions of him. The focus is going to be on the economy. He started speaking just about five minutes ago.
Let’s take a listen to what he has to say.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, there’s a lot of talk these days about how the Democratic Party is divided. But I have to tell you, I am not worried.
I have been campaigning in 46 states over the last 15 months all across America. And I’m not worried about the Democratic Party being divided come November. And the reason is, is that there’s too much that unites us as Democrats. There’s too much that’s at stake as a country. And there is going to be a clear choice when it comes to the election on November 4.
Now, there is one thing that is certain. And that is the name George W. Bush will not be on the ballot in November. We know that’s the case.
We’re certain of that.
The name of my cousin, Dick Cheney, will not be on the ballot.
Some of you all heard about that. That was a little embarrassing, but -
I said I would not attend the family hunting party, no matter—no matter what the request.
So, the Bush/Cheney won’t be up for re-election. But Bush/Cheney
policies will, because John McCain has decided that he is running for George
Bush’s third term in office. That’s what his campaign has been about, to offer
the American people four more years of the same approach that has failed the
American people over the last eight years.
Now, there’s a reason that record numbers of Americans think that the U.S. is on the wrong track. The number’s never been higher. Eighty-two percent of the American people think we are going in the wrong direction, and there’s a reason for that. Because we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, just since the beginning of this year. The cost of everything, from health care, to a gallon of milk, to a gallon of gas have gone up, at the same time as wages and incomes have actually flat-lined.
This is an amazing statistic. Before this recent downturn, we had gone through an economic expansion. There had been economic growth. But this is the first economic expansion since they kept records—started keeping records in World War II, where the average family income actually went down by $1,000. The economic pie is growing, but ordinary Americans were getting a smaller and smaller slice.
Millions of Americans are worried about losing their homes because nobody was regulating the mortgage lending industry. And so people were being offered mortgages that suddenly surprised them by doubling or tripling when the interest rates went up. We’re spending billions of dollars fighting a war that I believe should have been never been authorized and should have never been waged, while 47 million people don’t have health insurance in this country and there are millions of children who can’t go to college because they simply can’t afford it.
So, when I decided to run this race, it was based on the idea that the American people were desperate for change. Because part of the problem we have is not just that our policies aren’t working, it’s also that the American people have lost faith that Washington can or will do anything about it.
They don’t really have confidence that anybody is listening to them, because the troubling statistics only begin to tell the story of what’s going on around the kitchen table. The story of empty factories that shut down, and suddenly somebody that’s worked in a plant, a facility, for 20 or 30 years, they got the rug pulled out from under them. They don’t just lose their job, they lose their health care, they lose their pensions.
Suddenly, they’re having to compete with their teenage kids for a job paying $7, $8 an hour at the local fast food place. And they lose a sense of worth when they lose their job.
You know, people are proud in this country. They want to work. They want to be self-reliant. And when suddenly they can’t find a job, it’s not just the income that’s lost, but a sometimes a sense of self-respect and a sense of community. Because communities get torn up.
I can’t tell you how many people I walk around—or I meet as I campaign around the country who are so frustrated and angry that they can’t provide decent health insurance for their kids. I’m a father of two, 9 and 6. And I remember—you know, nothing scares me more than when my kids get sick.
And the idea that I couldn’t provide basic health care for them would be just—would drive me crazy. But there are people all across America who are in those circumstances. Not because they love their kids any less, but because the job that they have got don’t offer health care. Or if they do offer health care, the premiums and co-payments and deductibles have gone up so high that you can’t even afford to have your family member go get a regular checkup.
There are people all across America right now who not only are having trouble getting to their job because of rising gas prices, but I know people—
I’ve met a couple of folks who can’t even go on a job search after losing a job
because they can’t afford to fill up the gas tank. Imagine how frustrating
that would be. You want to work, but you can’t find the money to fill up your
gas tank to go find a new job.
Now, this is a story of the American dream slipping away. And what the American people need right now in this defining moment of leadership is a president who will restore the fundamental American belief that if you try hard in this country, you can make it. That your dreams matter more than the demands of special interests or the convenience of political posture.
You know, that’s what our government should be about, not about who’s high on the polls or who is saying what about who, but rather, who is helping you make sure you can achieve your American dream. That’s what this is at stake in this election.
So, that’s why I’m running for president, and that’s why I think the Democrats are going to be united in November. Because Washington failed the American people, and this election is our chance to turn the page.
That’s what this election is about.
Now, I just very briefly want to talk about John McCain, because he served his country with honor, and I respect that service. He’s a genuine American hero.
But for two decades, he has supported policies that have shifted the burden away from special interests and on to working families. And his only answer to the problems created by George Bush’s policies is give them another four years to fail.
Just look at where he stands and you’ll see that a vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush’s third term. Four more years of Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for it. Four years of a health care plan that works for the healthy and the wealthy, but doesn’t work for ordinary Americans who are struggling with rising costs.
Four more years of a president who supports privatizing Social Security. Four more years of a war that has cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions, soon trillions of dollars, while we’re running up a mountain of debt that is mortgaging the future of our children. Four more years of a White House that’s run by the kind of lobbyists who run John McCain’s campaign, while Washington tells the American people, you are on your own.
Now, we know that the American people cannot afford four more years of those policies, the Bush/McCain program. Not this time. Not when the stakes are so high. Not when the opportunities are so great. We need a new direction in Washington, and that’s what we’ve been offering throughout this campaign.
We know the government can’t solve all our problems, and we don’t expect it to. We don’t want our tax dollars wasted on programs that don’t work or perks for special interests. We understand that we can’t stop every job from going overseas or build a wall around our economy, and we know we shouldn’t.
We have got the best workers on earth right here in the United States. We’re ready to compete. But that’s not an excuse to spend another four years telling the American people there’s nothing government can do to help them reclaim their dreams.
We’re the nation that built the largest middle class in history. We’ve all got a stake in each other’s success.
We can’t continue an economic program that rewards Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, because then we all end up hurting. It’s time to end a failed approach that tries to build prosperity from the top down and start an approach that builds prosperity from the bottom up. That’s when our economy works.
So, here’s what I want to do. Instead of a tax code that rewards wealth and not work, we’re going to provide an income tax cut to ordinary families, like the ones who work in this plant, that’s worth up to $1,000 per family, per year. If you’re a senior citizen and you are bringing in $50,000 a year in income or less, then we don’t even want you to pay income tax on your Social Security, because you’re on fixed income and you need that money to keep up with rising costs.
Instead of more inaction on health care, we’re going to bring the country together and we are going to provide universal health care. If you have already got health insurance—if you’ve already got health insurance, then we are going to work with your employer to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family, per year, so that—and if you’re a member of a union, that means that you won’t have to sit across a table simply bargaining on health care. You can actually bargain for a better wage once in awhile. That’s going to be important.
If you don’t have health care, then we’re going to set up a program that provides you the option of health care that’s at least as good as the health care that Claire and I have as members of Congress. And you won’t be excluded for pre-existing conditions. If you can’t afford it, we will subsidize you.
We will emphasize prevention so that you’re getting regular checkups and regular screenings, because that’s how we will save money and improve quality and make sure that everybody has the health care they can count on. And we won’t wait 20 years from now to do it. We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.
Instead of putting a secure retirement at risk, we’re going to safeguard Social Security, we’re going to protect pensions instead of CEO bonuses, and we’re going to make sure that all Americans have the opportunity to save, because some may not have a pension plan through their job. But we’re going to make sure that every employer at least has to set up an account. And the government will provide some matching funds to make sure that people have an incentive to save more above and beyond what they’re getting on Social Security, because a retirement dignity, that’s something that should be the right of every single American who’s worked hard.
If you play by the rules, you should be able to retire with dignity and some respect. And that’s what I’m going to be fighting for when I’m president of the United States of America.
Instead of gimmicks like tax—a gas tax holiday, that every economist says will just go into the pockets of the oil companies, we’re going to be serious by not only passing tax relief for you to deal with immediate rising costs, but we’re going to invest in alternative fuels and raise fuel efficiency standards on cars. Help our carmakers create the kinds of new automobiles that will save our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and put millions of people back to work.
We can create a green economy in this country, so that the old steel mills are suddenly building windmills. And the old textile mills that have closed in some areas, they can start making solar panels. And we can start creating the kinds of jobs that pay well and provide the benefits that afford a middle class life.
And that’s something we can do just with some vision and some motivation and some inspiration out of this White House. Something that we simply have not had.
And by the way, while I’m on that topic of what the White House needs to do, it’s about time that we had a White House that enforced our trade agreements, because we can’t keep on letting our jobs go away. I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. I want to crack down on countries that aren’t allowing our products into their markets or don’t have labor and environmental standards, because that’s just not fair. Like I said, we can compete with anybody, but we can only compete if we’re on a level playing field.
And instead of providing a blank check to fighting an endless war in Iraq, I want to restore our military, finish the fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and invest some of those dollars right here in the United States in rebuilding our roads and our bridges and laying broadband lines in rural communities. And making sure that all of our young people can go to college by giving them a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, so they can compete and get the skills they need for a 21st century economy. That’s a priority.
Now, that’s the new direction that we need to take this country. The other party has already decided they want to run on the failed policies of the past. And that’s why we need to be the party that stands for the future.
Everywhere I go, I meet Americans who can’t wait another day for change. They are desperate for it right now.
They want change that refuses lobbyists. They don’t want lobbyists to be dictating the rules in Washington. They want change that puts folks back to work, change that finally delivers on the promise of health care that’s affordable and an energy policy that makes sense. Change that leaves behind the partisanship that stands in the way of progress, because we’re all in this together as Americans.
So this is our chance to build a new majority of Democrats and Independents and Republicans who know that four more years of George Bush just won’t do. This is our moment to turn the page on division and distraction and actually get things done.
That’s why I’m running for president and that’s why I hope you will support me here in Cape Girardeau and all across Missouri. We’re going to spend a lot of time in Missouri making sure we win this state.
So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.
COWAN: There you go. Chris. You just heard—he said he’s going to be spending an awful lot of time here in Missouri. He’s talking again to a group of about 150 or so workers here at a soup manufacturing plant here. You heard, right off the top, he talked about not Hillary Clinton, but he did talk about reassuring folks that the party will, in fact, be together come the fall and then spent a good portion of the speech making some pretty sharp distinctions between himself and John McCain.
There’s a couple things that the campaign is pointing out tonight. One of them is that if, in fact, they do lose by as big a margin as they think they may in West Virginia, they point out that in neighboring Virginia, they actually won by about 29 points. I think one of the reasons that they feel so confident being here in Missouri, going to Michigan later tonight, where we hope to be reporting for you, and then in Florida next week, is because if you look over the last week, they actually earned just as many super delegates as there are pledged delegates at stake tonight. So they the math works. I think it might be a subtle difference tonight, but for one of the first times, you heard him say, not if he’s going to be the Democratic nominee, but when.
MATTHEWS: As Brian Williams would say, a housekeeping question. Who did the advance on that seance we just watched?
COWAN: It was a whole host of folks.
MATTHEWS: I don’t get it. I don’t where the ra ra boys—where the warm up was, the excitement in the crowd. Where was the music. What an event. It was deadening. Anyway, it’s not your fault, you’re just covering it.
COWAN: They have been doing a lot of these, Chris. They have been doing a lot of these smaller, sort of town hall events, and they think it works for them. They really think it seems to. They certainly got the exposure tonight, even though it’s a small audience here. A lot of folks got to see it.
MATTHEWS: Any smaller, you won’t be able to see it. Thank you, Lee.
OLBERMANN: I miss those Abercrombie & Fitch kids. They livened it up.
MATTHEWS: How about the gum chewer.
OLBERMANN: The gum chewer was interesting too.
MATTHEWS: She was the most action in the room, I thought. Anyway, polls in West Virginia are ready to close in an hour. Now, we want to introduce our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel, which has been getting huge audiences, because what happens at 6:00, doesn’t just stay at 6:00. NBC’s David Gregory, the “Washington Post’s” Eugene Robinson, whose an MSNBC political analyst, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio—that’s a liberal broadcast—who is also an MSNBC political analyst. David?
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Chris, thank you. Thank you indeed, very much. All right, panel, good to have everybody here. There’s a lot to talk about tonight. Let’s get it started with the idea that we have two competing stories, Pat. Normally on primary night, we’re focused on who the winner is, who the loser is, what the end game is. Barack Obama, we just heard him. He’s off on a different game now. Whether you like the event or you didn’t like the event that he just played at, he’s playing for the fall. There’s new elements of his stump speech that are about a third Bush term with John McCain, whereas Hillary Clinton is focused on West Virginia and staying in the race.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I take that new stump speech back into the shop. That was boresville tonight. It really was. Here’s the thing, in West Virginia, he’s going to be humiliated tonight. The question is only how badly. The real question coming out of there is: is West Virginia a swing state even in play for Barack Obama in the fall? They are going to have to look at the exit polls, Norah’s polls and things, and answer that question. If I were he, I would not put huge resources in there if it’s that uphill a run.
GREGORY: He decided not to do that at this stage of the race. It doesn’t detract from Pat’s point that there is a problem in a state like West Virginia, in terms of winning white, working class voters. That is his blind spot right now.
MADDOW: Especially if he’s running against Hillary Clinton in the fall. That’s the issue. The process of extrapolating from primary victories to the general election is to political science what alchemy is to chemistry. There just isn’t a way to neatly project these things. If you win a primary, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will win it in the general election. That’s been true since time immemorial.
He’s just hoping that this isn’t going to be too embarrassing a night and that Kentucky isn’t going to be too embarrassing a night, and that people are going to be looking ahead and pretending like this whole evening is about Hillary Clinton. It says nothing about Barack Obama. He’s going to be off TV for the rest of the night. He’s not going to be in West Virginia. He’s not going to be speaking again. He’s trying to keep this quiet.
GREGORY: Gene, does West Virginia matter in some way? What is the import of at then, as the night plays out?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: West Virginia is kind of a singular state in a lot of ways. It’s not exactly line any other state. But we have Kentucky coming up next week. My understanding is the Obama campaign is playing Kentucky a bit differently, and putting more resources in. They have opened 16 offices across the state. In a sense, it’s kind of like a laboratory. They didn’t contest West Virginia much. He did a fly by. I would suspect they will contest Kentucky a bit more. Then—
BUCHANAN: They ought to. But look, West Virginia, you go to Wheeling, West Virginia, you have southwestern Pennsylvania. You’ve got southeastern Ohio. That is coil and steel and country folks. Those folks are crucial to winning those states. This is why it was such a mistake not to go out there and say, you may not be with me, but I’m with you. Go out and work on those voters because he can’t write them off.
GREGORY: These are old economy rust belt states, where he’s having demographic problems, but there’s also issue problems, thematic problems, in an area where John McCain is waiting to pounce. It won’t be Hillary Clinton. It will be John McCain who wants to play in a state like Michigan, may want to make a foray into Pennsylvania as well.
MADDOW: On “HARDBALL” tonight, when we were talking about what we were expecting to hear from Barack Obama today, Pat, you and we were in agreement that we need to hear some real economic populism from him. Obama needs to get out there and said you may not be for me, as you put it, but I am for you. If you read tonight’s speech, that speech he just gave in Missouri, it’s a very economic populous speech.
ROBINSON: It really was. Even if you listened, Pat, you would have heard it.
BUCHANAN: I started to doze off and it’s only 6:30 at night.
MADDOW: He put even his Iraq war opposition in the context of economic populism. The idea is right. The delivery sucked.
BUCHANAN: A fiery assault on moving jobs over seas and these Republicans don’t give a hoot about it. They care about K Street and Wall Street.
ROBINSON: There is time to get that message across and John McCain has to offer something different to those people too.
GREGORY: There is time to get that message across, but we’re out of time for now. And the night is still young. Keith, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David, thank you. Panel, thank you. Give you an idea of where they are; the Obama campaign, in terms of the expectations being raised for Clinton’s performance tonight, their email tonight noting that the Clinton campaign has already been touting their margins in these states. In fact, Bill Clinton said Hillary Clinton can win West Virginia with 80 percent and the West Virginia Senate majority leader said Clinton needs to win by 80/20 or 90/10. So if it’s less than 90/10, apparently it will be a good night for Senator Obama.
You’re going to stay all night to find that out, right? Still ahead, the insiders. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former U.S. Congressman Harold Ford join us. Plus, the governor of West Virginia, who is, himself, an uncommitted super delegate in what may be a totally committed state. Our first exit polls of the evening—you’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary. Polls to close there in a little under an hour, about 50 minutes. In the interim, let’s get some of the early numbers from our exit polling, from those who have completed their voting day. For that, we turn to Norah O’Donnell. Norah, good evening.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening to you, Chris and Keith. West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country, number 48 out of 50. West Virginians have been hard hit by the economy and by these costly rising gas prices. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers; 88 percent of the Democratic primary voters said today that the recession has had a negative impact—there’s the screen—on their families. Only 11 percent said it’s had little or no effect.
Also, in West Virginia, the average income is actually 38,000 dollars a year. Even though this state has some of the lowest gas prices in the country, the pain at the pump is still real. AS you can see, 63 percent think that Hillary’s gas tax proposal is a good idea; 34 percent think it’s a bad idea. Chris and Keith, here’s what’s interesting: seven in ten of the voter who voted for Hillary Clinton said they liked this gas tax plan. Only half of those who voted for Barack Obama thought it was a good idea. Of course, Barack Obama opposes the gas tax plan. Back to you guys.
OLBERMANN: All right, Norah. Many thanks. We’ll be back with you later on. Chris?
MATTHEWS: Now we turn to two insiders who know what it’s like to actually run campaigns and win them, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and former U.S. Congressman from Tennessee Harold Ford Jr. Governor Huckabee, do you buy that Bob Novak column the other day that wanted to stir up trouble between McCain and the Christian right, saying the Christian right believes that the election of Barack Obama is god’s judgment on a sinful people?
MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That’s total nonsense. I had a conversation on the phone with Bob Novak and told him that was absolutely off the wall. I have not heard one single person in the Evangelical community say, let’s get Obama elected because that will just be a great sign of God’s judgment. Look, people in the Evangelical community are going to support John McCain. They have done it a little reluctantly, because McCain wasn’t their first pick. Let’s be honest about that.
If they match him up against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, it’s an easy call. They will coaless. They will go to the polls. They will work for him. And I think he’s going to win the election.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman Ford, I noticed that other people notice that I try not to notice all these things—but Barack Obama was wearing a flag pin the other night. What do you make of it? After all that criticism from whatever for whatever, he’s wearing one.
HAROLD FORD JR., FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Whatever answers he may have to give on that, he should want to give in May, as opposed to September or October. I think Governor Huckabee’s point and this point here have some parallels and have a relationship. John McCain will continue to have some challenges coalescing and uniting that base of his. As we ask questions tonight about Barack Obama’s ability to hold working class whites, to bring working class Americans to his campaign, we must remember, Mike Huckabee continued in that campaign and made it somewhat difficult for John McCain to hold on to evangelicals.
This race for the fall, once it’s joined, I think we’ll have a different kind of campaign, a different kind of attention given to it by voters, including working class voters in West Virginia, who will have a simple choice: four more years of what we’ve had, high gas prices, a lack of clarity in our position in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, for that matter, what may happen in Iran, or a change. That will be the question that voters will have before them.
I happen to think, Barack Obama, if he’s the nominee, which looks very much like he will be, will have a decided advantage heading into the summer and the fall.
MATTHEWS: Would you have put that flag pin on under duress, not of your own volition, not because you thought it was a good idea, but because it was a PR problem?
FORD: I’ve always worn a flag, Chris. I’ve worn a flag for some time. Barack didn’t chose not wear a flag because he didn’t believe in the country. He thought it was a gesture that in many ways—he saw many wearing it in the Senate and the Congress who voted against legislation to help provide care and spending for our veterans, care and spending for our military soldiers and personnel. I applaud him for wearing the flag. I never interpreted his not wearing the flag as him not being patriotic. As a matter of fact, he was suggesting to those who wear the flag, be a patriot. That he is, and I’m glad he’s wearing the flag to accentuate that point.
MATTHEWS: Another tricky point, Governor Huckabee, this guy Hagee, this guy down in Texas who is the anti-Catholic minister; he put out a statement today saying that if he offended any Catholics, he wished he hadn’t, more or less. That’s good enough for Bill Donahue at something called the Catholic League, something I never heard of growing up. He’s head of it and he’s apparently happy with it. I wonder if you are. This thing about you take a knock at somebody else’s religion, and this wasn’t an accident. This wasn’t a misspeaking. He called somebody’s religion a giant whore. You hit the bullseye. You know what you are saying and you said it.
To say, somehow, that that might have offended somebody, and therefore you didn’t want to do that, does that have any credibility, that kind of talk?
HUCKABEE: I think the issue is it’s not John Hagee’s problem, not John McCain’s problem.
MATTHEWS: But he’s around the neck of McCain though, isn’t he?
HUCKABEE: John McCain distanced himself from that statement. He ran from it like a scalded dog would run from hot grease. It’s really not an issue that John McCain had. But there was definitely an issue that Hagee had. Let’s be honest, Hagee’s apology is a little bit soft. When you say, if I have offended somebody—hey, you offended somebody, no doubt about that. You really did offend them. Let’s not kid yourself and say, if I might have. I think that’s the weakest kind of apology, whether it’s John Hagee or me or you or anybody else.
You need to come out and say, what I said is wrong, it was over the top. It was inflammatory. It was intemperet. You say all those things and you just take the fall and get on the sword for it.
MATTHEWS: I think we agree. When you intentionally insult somebody, that’s not accident. You weren’t being not a gentleman. You knew what you were doing. You were being a perfect gentleman. You were saying who you didn’t like and making it clear. You better apologize for it, if you want that person to be on your side. Governor Huckabee, my respect for you rises every moment.
MATTHEWS: -- between John Hagee and the Reverend what’s his name, Jeremiah Wright.
HUCKABEE: Chris, I want to tell you, if I ever make a mistake, if I ever say something I shouldn’t, I hope I’ll be able to admit it’s wrong too. Hasn’t happened yet.
MATTHEWS: We all have to do it. Sometimes we do misspeak. I’m getting very biblical here, very biblical.
HUCKABEE: I have a long list of them.
MATTHEWS: You guys are pros and that’s why you’re here on the place for politics. Mike Huckabee, thank you. Harold ford, thank you both. We’ll be back with both you gentlemen throughout the night.
OLBERMANN: Two points to add before we go to our next interview, Chris. Reverend Hagee said nothing about his comments blaming Hurricane Katrina on a gay pride parade that was to be occurring in New Orleans. First he backed off, then he went back and said it again. Senator McCain has said nothing about that.
Number two, one thing about the Obama lapel pin, that was at a veterans’ event. That was while he was speaking to veterans. There’s rhyme and reason for him to have worn it in that instance yesterday. Howard Fineman pointed that out.
Let’s turn to the Democratic governor of West Virginia, the man whose state is in the news tonight, Joe Manchin. Governor, thanks for your time tonight.
Well, the audio is gone. The governor can hear us. We’re just getting a buzz back. We’re not going to do that interview now. There he is now. We want to try this again. Governor, can you hear me?
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I can hear you now.
OLBERMANN: We can hear you too. Tremendous. Let’s look past this tonight in terms of judging what you’ve had in terms of excitement and turn out today. Do you have a sense about Democratic chances, regardless of the candidate, in the general election in November?
MANCHIN: Let me say this. It’s an exciting time to be a Democrat in West Virginia. We’ve never had these types of turn outs and excitement, new people coming, new people registering that hadn’t before. This is an exciting time. I’m sure the other four primaries are looking forward to the same excitement. I’d like to see it continue for that reason. I think it helps the Democratic party. It doesn’t hurt it.
OLBERMANN: You’re—I’m telling you something as if you didn’t know this—you are an undeclared super delegate. Are you going to endorse after your state has voted? You’re going to wait until somebody is left? Have you set up a time frame?
MANCHIN: My intentions are to wait until June 3rd. I want to see all of my friends in Kentucky and South Dakota and out in Montana. Let them all vote. Then maybe that’s when I will make my decision at that time. This process here, it’s an exciting time for all of us. We have two wonderful candidates. Hillary has worked hard here. Barack has. He has a good ground group here, 11 different outposts, if you will. They are working hard, building a foundation. They’re just more familiar and they feel more comfortable with Hillary, I believe.
OLBERMANN: If you’re in the situation where Senator Clinton tonight, as all the polls suggest, has a 20 plus point victory over Senator Obama, and it could go much higher than that theoretically, if you have that scenario and then in November Senator Obama is your nominee, what changes on the ground in West Virginia. What do Democrats have to do there that obviously hasn’t happened with Senator Obama at this point?
MANCHIN: Keith, let me just say, I’m chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association. There are 28 Democrats governors around this nation. Twenty two have committed, six of us are uncommitted. But we are all committed to making sure that we rally back and bring our states together. We know how important November is. We are committed. We just need to work hard.
These are just good, hard working people. I say, they have a PHD in life. They will read you quick. They want to see it. They want to press the flesh. They want to talk to you. We need to bring Barack back. If he’s our nominee, we’re going to bring him back and we’re going to work this state very hard. I think he’s going to do great and he’ll win it.
OLBERMANN: Governor Joe Manchin of West Virginia, not only good enough to join us, but good enough to stand by while we sorted out some of the plugs and the pushes and the ins and the outs. Thank you, governor.
MANCHIN: Appreciate it. Thank you all.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
Up next, NBC’s Tim Russert, also the results in West Virginia come up at 7:30 Eastern, a little more than 41 minutes from now. You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
OLBERMANN: ®MD+IN¯®MDNM¯Poll ins West Virginia close in just over 36 minutes. We’re expecting what everybody has been saying we’re expecting. We’re going to go to Tim Russert in a moment. First out of Missouri, Tim, at the Obama event that we showed most of before, there was an interaction with the crowd after we left our coverage of it.
Senator Obama was asked the 64 million dollar question about whether or not a certain senator from New York might be his running mate. Let’s listen to his answer and then I’ll get your answer of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you become the president of the United States, what about Miss Clinton, is she going to be your vice president?
OBAMA: What, are you a reporter or—that’s what these guys have been asking all day long. It’s too early. Senator Clinton is still competing. We haven’t resolved the nomination. I haven’t won the nomination, yet. So what I’ve said is I’m not going to talk about vice president this or vice president that until I have actually won. It would be presumptuous of me to pretend like I’ve already won and start talking about who my vice president is going to be.
I still have some more work to do. So I’ll let you know, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Tim, what we heard earlier, where he described himself as when I’m the nominee, which was a change in his rhetoric and in terms of his future, it only goes so far. He is now back to saying, I haven’t won the nomination, so I don’t have to address this.
TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”: Yes, it’s something that he doesn’t want to say anything about, Keith, because they are trying to give Hillary Clinton as much space as possible to provide for an exit that will help unify the party. But it’s an interesting question to pose about Hillary Clinton, the strengths and weaknesses of having her on the ticket.
If you see any of the data that I’m looking at, a lot of the Obama supporters have real reservations about it. The Clinton supporters overwhelmingly support it. From Obama’s perspective, they have to look at several things. One, where does she help? Is there a conflict between Obama’s message of bringing change, turning the page, sometimes even saying turning the page on the Bushs and the Clintons, and having a Clinton on the ticket.
Secondly, in states like Virginia and Colorado, where they are trying to shake up the electoral college map, what does the presence of Hillary Clinton do there.
On the positive side for the Clinton camp is the need to appeal to women. Hillary Clinton has positioned herself as the spokesman, as the leader of women in the Democratic party. So this is not an easy decision for Senator Obama to make. I do know within the campaign people have very strong feelings on both sides.
MATTHEWS: Tim, the other part of the Democratic coalition, broadly defined as people on the blogosphere, people on the left, if you will, though that’s probably not exactly the right term, but it captures a lot of it, people who don’t like the status quo, who don’t like this whole era of Clinton and Bush rule; can Obama put Hillary on the ticket and deal with them?
RUSSERT: It’s an issue. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, the basis of his candidacy was changing the tone in Washington, changing the faces in Washington, not doing business as usual. The first thing people will suggest, some of his core supporters, is how can you be doing this? Are you selling out, quote unquote? You can hear the debate already.
Another piece of it will be what will Bill Clinton’s roll be? You don’t just get Hillary Clinton. You get Bill too. Do you want to have both of them functioning in your government as vice president and spouse of the vice president? This is going to be a very interesting discussion to have in the inner counsels of the Obama campaign.
OLBERMANN: Maybe if she runs as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Tim Russert, we’ll talk to you later on. Thank you, sir.
The polls closing in just over 30 minutes in West Virginia. Our coverage resumes right after this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, the polls are going to close in a
half-hour in West Virginia right now. Perhaps more important than the
final vote tonight will be the tone that Senator Clinton takes in the
speech we expect her to give from West Virginia tonight and whether she
is nice to her opponent or not or she is tough again.
We will know tonight by the end of the evening.
I’m Chris Matthews, along with Keith Olbermann, here on the tone watch on MSNBC.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, we will have more than just tone and speeches, obviously. At the bottom of the hour, we may have a characterization of that race in West Virginia. In fact, you could say it would be an upset if we did not.
In the interim, of course, throughout the evening, we will be checking these extraordinary exit polls out of West Virginia.
And, as usual, mastering those will be Norah O’Donnell, who is here with a preview of this hour’s selections.
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And extraordinary, they are.
And according to our NBC News exit poll, just about two-thirds of the state has whites with less than a four-year college degree. That is the highest we have seen in any of the primary states thus far. That tops Indiana, Wisconsin and Arkansas, where about half of the Democratic primary voters had less than a four-year college degree.
So, that’s key in how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will do tonight.
OLBERMANN: OK. We will look for that fleshed out later on, Norah.
Norah O’Donnell with the exits—Chris.
Let’s check in now with NBC’s Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press.”
Tim, that’s become unfortunately, or fortunately, the great leading indicator of these primaries, the percentage of Democratic participants who have got four years of college behind them.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: It sure it. It’s a real divide, a cultural divide, and often a racial divide.
And it’s going to be pronounced in West Virginia, because we know the demographics of that state, 95 percent white. The Obama campaign knew going into this, this was a Hillary Clinton state. Her campaign feels very strongly that a strong, smashing victory tonight, she hopes she will be able to appeal to the superdelegates to freeze in place, to give her a chance to go on to the next five races.
And we do not know, psychologically, what will happen tonight. We do know that the mountain to climb for both elected delegates and superdelegates, over 70 percent she would have to capture, is a bit overwhelming.
MATTHEWS: So, my question again tonight, the two theories of Hillary Clinton’s mission right now, is a Jimmy Durante exit, spotlight to spotlight, but inevitably leaving and saying good night, Mrs. Calabash, or is it the Scheherazade theory from “Arabian Nights,” where you keep telling a new story to keep it going and you don’t ever quit; you go all the way to the convention; you suggest you’re going to quit in June, but come June, you say no, I still want to get satisfaction 100 percent for Michigan and for Florida; and I want some other things; I want representation at the convention; I’m going to the credentials; I’m going to go to the convention?
RUSSERT: That would be scorched earth. And that’s the way it’s described by Democrats I talk to on both sides.
One called it the nuclear option. Chris, the way people are looking at this now is that, if Hillary Clinton had pulled out of the race before tonight, there’s a good chance she still would have won in West Virginia, which might have been an embarrassment to Obama. And they are willing to suggest that perhaps even next week in Kentucky, the same thing.
So, next week, if she wins Kentucky and he wins Oregon, wouldn’t that be a perfect time for them to both step and move out? What does her presence mean in terms of Obama? Does it weaken him as a nominee?
It certainly highlights his weaknesses with these kind of voting blocs that we’re talking about. But as I was listening to Governor Huckabee talk to you guys, I was going through and sketching some things down. After McCain won Florida, he beat Romney in Florida. We all said, that’s it. McCain has got a lock on this nomination. Huckabee went on to win Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kansas, Louisiana, and didn’t get out until March 4.
And no one is now talking about all the damage that Huckabee did to McCain. What we are talking about is McCain is still having a hard time with evangelical Christians. And my guess is that we’re in the heat of the battle. We’re sensing the presence and ferocity of the Clinton campaign in West Virginia and perhaps in Kentucky.
But once it is over, and she is off the stage, the discussion will be much more about how does Obama deal with those lower-educated, poor white folk that he did not win that Clinton had won? And I’m not sure the damage would be—quote—“as long term” as some are now talking.
OLBERMANN: And that of course raises the question of whether or not there’s anything instructive in any of the primary votes to suggest that that audience of Democratic voters, the less educated, the less salaried, all those very carefully defined demographics, are they locked in permanently? Is there indication that they warm to him as—generally in every one of these primaries his numbers have gone up towards the final result, whether he won or he didn’t. Is there any indication that they warm to him too or are they solidly against him?
RUSSERT: Really important point, Keith.
The Obama campaign will point to the “Washington Post” poll today, which shows Obama getting over 80 percent of the Democratic vote. And they compare that to—it’s almost exactly what Bill Clinton got when he was elected in ‘92 and ‘96.
Secondly, they point to the fact that Obama is beating McCain considerably amongst independent voters, these swing white independent voters. So, they think that the coalition that will help elect a Democrat will come back together, despite this—quote—“bitter primary,” because both Clinton and Obama have pretty high favorable ratings amongst the Democratic Party.
And Obama’s are higher with swing independents. So whether or not there will be some bad feelings left over, of course. But will it be something that’s ruptured the base permanently? the thinking now, as we speak today, is, probably not. But he still has more work to do to reassure people that he is someone they can see in the Oval Office.
The one thing we do know, and we have talked about this every Tuesday, is that Senator Clinton and Jeremiah Wright and some of Senator Obama’s own words have put a question mark over his head for a lot of voters. And he’s going to have to work very hard to address that, so that they see him as someone who could sit in the Oval Office, because, on the issues, people are now breaking overwhelmingly towards the Democratic side.
MATTHEWS: Great. Thank you, Tim.
So far—so, how far is Hillary Clinton going to go tonight in this fight? Terry McAuliffe is chairman of the Clinton campaign. He joins us from Clinton headquarters in Charleston.
Terry, you’ve had a long day. This morning, we started together on “Morning Joe.”
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: Tonight, it looks like you’re very optimistic about what you’re going to do down there in that state.
MCAULIFFE: Yes, I think we’re going to have probably a 2-to-1 win it looks like, probably, as Governor Manchin just told me, the biggest turnout in state history.
You know, last week, Chris, we had a breathless rush of commentators saying this thing was over, and yet here we are, a week later. We have the biggest turnout in the history of West Virginia, a 2-to-1 win by Hillary Clinton. That tells you something.
They like what they’re hearing on Hillary’s economic message. They want this race to go on, and it is going on all the way.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about Hillary Clinton’s prospects. You believe she can still win the Democratic Party nomination for president this year, you believe that?
MCAULIFFE: I do, Chris. As I said this morning, I believe we can move ahead in the popular vote. I think the delegates will be very close, less than 100 difference at the end. Then they have got to decide who’s the best one to take on John McCain in the fall.
She’s raring to go. I flew down, I sat with her down here. We flew down from Washington down here to West Virginia. She is in great, great spirits.
And you know what? She’s planning. She’s off to Oregon, South Dakota, Montana. We’re going to everywhere.
People need to understand: It is Hillary Clinton who can win the general election. She wins Florida, Ohio, Missouri. The governor will tell you she can win here in the general. We can win in Kentucky. That’s an important consideration for Democrats.
MATTHEWS: Let’s look at the board now. If you pick up a 200,000 net vote tonight in West Virginia, which is conceivable, if you pull about a 70 percent, a majority, you can pick up 200,000 votes here, how does that get you—counting all the states between now and the end, to beating Barack Obama in the popular vote? Tell me how it works.
MCAULIFFE: Sure. Well, first of all, Chris, I have always counted Florida and Michigan, as you know. I believe the DNC will resolve this issue on May 31st. I think the Rules and Bylaws Committee will vote in favor of seating these delegations.
But the point I have made to you, 2. 5 million people did vote. They were certified at the county and state level. So when you take all of those votes of who went and voted for Hillary Clinton, 16. 6 million to 16. 7 million for Senator Obama.
Tonight, with everybody who voted, it would put Hillary ahead. I think we win big in Kentucky, Puerto Rico, where 2. 5 million Democrats. I think that’s another big win for us. But, you know, and have a surprise in one of the other states.
So, you know, clearly, tonight, no one can deny, with a record vote turnout, Chris, that this is a big night for Hillary Clinton. She won. She won 2-to-1. It tells you something.
They had many more offices. They had much more on television than we had. They had more staff. And yet, once again, just like Indiana, just like Pennsylvania, just like Ohio, Texas, since March 1st, Chris, Hillary Clinton, before tonight, had gotten 235,000 more votes than Senator Obama.
Clearly, as this continues along, people think, “You know what? She’s the best one to take this economic fight to John McCain.”
MATTHEWS: I wish I was on the plane listening, because it is fascinating, because I’m looking at—I’m a student to what you say, Terry.
And when you say that you’ve got the majority of the popular vote including Puerto Rico, and coming out of the first week in June, and you show that you have this enthusiasm to go on and possibly win this thing, although you clearly are the underdog, you put that all together with the fact that you said you think the supers are going to start breaking, stampeding, perhaps, in that second week in June, do you expect two stampedes to go on?
Do you expect there will be a real Cherokee land rush here, with the Clinton people breaking to her because of her victory in the popular vote, and the Barack people breaking perhaps earlier than that for him because he’s got the elected delegates? Tell me about what you see is happening in June.
MCAULIFFE: Yes. First of all, what I see happening now, I think people who will see these results tonight, I think they’re going to think twice about it, another state that Hillary Clinton has now won with a 2-to-1 margin, with a historic record vote turnout.
I think that will give everybody out there who’s waiting, saying, “You know what? Let’s have some more contests. I would better wait, because who knows what could happen here?”
And then I think after June 3rd, Chris, I think most of these super-delegates who have been waiting will say, “You know what? It’s time for me to move.” They want to be part of this nominating process, and they’re going to start going and moving within the second, third week of June. I think it will be over in June. I have said this for a while now.
MATTHEWS: You know, one last question. I am concerned about watching what Senator Clinton says and what Barack Obama has been saying. He didn’t have the greatest speech tonight. We saw him at something of a seance a few minutes ago, bad advance work, by the way, by somebody.
But here’s Senator Clinton, I think in the last 24 hours, saying that she has the experience, the bona fides to be the next president, the commander-in-chief. Her case is clear now. But she said, even now, when it looks pretty tough for her, she’s still saying that Barack Obama is basically a speech, that he’s not a record.
Is that your position, that he’s basically still just a speech?
MCAULIFFE: I think if you’ve watched this campaign for 17 months, Chris, you have seen Hillary Clinton on issue after issue lay out in specific detail what she would do on health care, on education, on job creation, and the mortgage crisis, on the home foreclosure issue.
Senator Obama has not put the meat on the bones, as we say. Hillary has all along in this campaign. That’s why, when you look at this exit data today, which I just saw up on the screen here, 3-, 4- to-1 on experience, Hillary Clinton wins.
The L. A. Times, front page Sunday, experience—Hillary Clinton on experience walks away on Senator Obama, as well as Senator McCain. Experience is a very big issue when the world is at war—two wars going on, in a very, very damaged economy that people want to see get going again. And I think that all helps.
You’re going to see a great speech tonight from Hillary Clinton. Talked about it on the way down. I saw it. It’s going to be a great speech, one of the greatest speeches, Chris, ever given.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s good. You know, I like a good speech, and we’ll give it the full play. But let me ask you, I think you’ve just given me your negotiating position. You want a full representation for Michigan, a full representation for Florida.
You want a stronger program on health care, because when you’re talking about the records here, you’re really talking about Hillary and the positions. Hillary’s got a fuller, tougher position on health care. There will be some compromising, won’t there, on the way to an endorsement, on issues?
MCAULIFFE: You mean Senator Obama endorsing Hillary?
MATTHEWS: Whatever way it happens, you’re arguing—let me give you some leeway, an exit strategy here, actually, an escape hatch. If there’s going to be negotiations between now and the election, and certainly before the convention, you expect there will be compromising and negotiation on policy, as well as seating of delegates?
MCAULIFFE: Hey, listen, once this is over...
MATTHEWS: I just want an answer to that question. Will you guys negotiate over policy before we get to Denver?
MATTHEWS: OK, that’s what I wanted to hear. That is news.
MCAULIFFE: Sure, sure, I mean, this party has to be unified. We will be unified. However, they both have to have a—obviously, be working together, because they both have brought very important constituencies to this process. Thirty-five million people have voted.
Part of that, of course, is the policy issues. Hillary Clinton feels very strongly on health care, on education, specific plans on creating jobs in this country, dealing with the debt. She’s been a leader on the whole issue of creating all these new jobs, green-collar jobs. She’s been a leader on these.
So what’s important to her, the Democratic message in the fall reflects what she has said on the campaign trail. That’s why she won here tonight 2-to-1 in a historic turnout, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And I think you’re going to get Barack to compromise on health care to her direction. She’s got the stronger plan on mandating participation. I think you’re going to get him to go over with you on that or else he won’t be aboard, you won’t be aboard, whatever way it works for you, Terry, but there’s going to be fighting, I can tell, on policy. Everybody’s ignored that.
OLBERMANN: Terry McAuliffe...
MCAULIFFE: Sure, absolutely.
OLBERMANN: We’re done?
MATTHEWS: I’m done. Terry, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Mr. McAuliffe.
OLBERMANN: Yes, sir?
MCAULIFFE: ... good talking to you, Chris. Good talking to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You heard the bar, though, for the speech for later on, one of the greatest speeches ever.
MATTHEWS: You caught it?
OLBERMANN: This is it. This includes...
MATTHEWS: That was the hype.
MATTHEWS: ... boy was there.
OLBERMANN: Two thousand years, that’s a lot of speechifying.
MATTHEWS: Better than the Second Inaugural of Lincoln, perhaps.
OLBERMANN: We’re talking about a lot of the stuff you read in the Bible.
MATTHEWS: Better than “I Have a Dream.”
OLBERMANN: Better than stuff in the Bible, one of the greatest speeches ever.
MATTHEWS: A real Jeremiah.
OLBERMANN: Stay tuned. At least he’s helping us with that. We know that much.
Let’s bring back Governor Mike Huckabee, who is one of our insiders tonight.
You heard Tim Russert mention, Governor, that the impact, the overall impact may have been exaggerated by the media when you stayed in the race against Senator McCain after it had seemed as if—he was more or less in the position that Senator Obama is in now. It was not mathematically clinched, but it was almost impossible for you to catch up to him and then eventually it did become thus.
Reflect back on this. Is Tim’s point right, that there was a few dinks and a few dents in the side of Mr. McCain then, but the overall impact of your staying in the race was hyped?
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Oh, I don’t think it was a big deal. The fact is, the rules say that you go until there’s the nominee. Hillary is doing the same thing.
And I think one thing people forget, it’s real easy for folks in the news business to say, “Hillary ought to get out.” But, you know, she’s been at this 17 months. She’s poured her heart, her soul, her life into this, as have millions of her voters, hundreds of thousands of her contributors.
And until those people who got her there tell her to get out, it’s really, really tough to walk away from something you’ve put that much in.
And so I think people are assuming, “Why didn’t Hillary just walk away from it?” I will tell you why she doesn’t walk away: because the people who pushed her this far have not told her to walk away yet. There’s still that glimmer of hope. And I certainly can empathize with it in a way that few people can.
OLBERMANN: Certainly your empathy is the freshest of anybody who could empathize with her. So take me back into that line of thinking. As people told you this was inevitable and maybe you should get out, but not the people, as you say, who brought you there, in retrospect, do you think you could have served them better by getting out earlier? Or did you make the right call?
And what your advice to her be on that idea of that careful, sort of razor’s edge balance, you can do more by getting out, you can do more by staying in?
HUCKABEE: Oh, I think I made the right call, because I said I wasn’t going to leave until somebody beat me. I said, you know, you can beat me, and I will walk away, but I’m not going to just quit the field because the game doesn’t look to be going my way.
We don’t do that in sports. We don’t do that anywhere else. We shouldn’t do it in politics.
I think one of the things that we need to understand is voters in places like West Virginia ought to go get their opportunity to cast a ballot. They don’t do that if Hillary just walks away and quits.
And all this talk about, well, it’s going to ruin the Democrat Party, look, Democrats are going to come home, Republicans are going to come home. The battle is not for hard-core Democrats and hard-core Republicans. The battleground is going to be on the independent voters, and they’re still not totally settled.
And one other thing, Keith, keep in mind. When this thing really shapes up, the fact that we’ve got so many voters going to vote in a state, record numbers that Joe Manchin talked about in West Virginia, when all of you guys have said it’s already over, what does that say?
It says that Americans truly are passionate about this election. And I will tell you why: A lot of Americans are hurting. They’re hurting deeply, gas prices, education cost, health care cost. It’s strapping them upside the head.
And they care about who the next president is going to be. And that’s what we’re seeing reflected in these great, huge voter turnouts.
OLBERMANN: Governor Mike Huckabee, serving as one of our insiders tonight. We’ll get back to you with Harold Ford later on, but right now for that great thanks, great insight, sir.
Let’s go on to the Obama campaign.
Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, himself a former presidential candidate in this race, as we’re at about 12 minutes until those polls close in West Virginia, he, of course, since endorsed Senator Obama for president and he joins us now.
Governor, always a pleasure, sir.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Thank you, Keith. Nice to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The Clinton camp is going to use tonight’s results clearly to reiterate what it sees as the weaknesses in Senator Obama’s appeal. We already know all these demographic terms, who is included, who is not. Is there a lot of “there” there or is it hype?
RICHARDSON: Well, I believe it’s hype. The reality is that Senator Obama is going to win the nomination. Now, polls haven’t closed in West Virginia. Now, I do think that Senator Clinton will win. But is it going to be a real benchmark for the election? No.
The reality is, in the last week, Senator Obama picked up 27 super-delegates. And that’s momentum by some of the party leaders. So Obama is about 148 delegates away from the nomination.
I think he is very strong right now. National polls show independent voters—he’s the strongest Democratic presidential candidate since 1988 with independent voters.
You know, I think Senator Clinton deserves to continue a race she’s fought extremely well. And there’s several more to go. But I think eventually, after the last primary or sooner, we have to unite behind a nominee.
Look what John McCain is doing. He’s talking about health care. He’s campaigning in Democratic states like Oregon, talking about global warming. I mean, we have to end this, and the sooner the better.
OLBERMANN: How do you do what Governor Manchin said could be done, what Governor Huckabee just said can be done? What do you do if you are Senator Obama and you do eventually come down with this nominee and this race eventually does end, after what will probably not be a very strong result in West Virginia, in which a huge number of people, especially from specific demographic voting groups, say, “No, we do not support you,” even when it seemed like that race was over.
How do you go to change that? Is it face-to-face exposure? Or what is the strategy?
RICHARDSON: Well, the strategy is going to be what Senator Obama represents: unity, bringing the country together, bipartisanship. That’s his biggest asset.
Now, the American public in states like West Virginia, they don’t know him as well as they know Senator Clinton and President Clinton, who have been very popular there.
I mean, this is somebody who’s been on the national scene for not a very long period of time, because the American people see him in debates, as they see his themes of having sensible energy policy, a foreign policy that reflects our values, a stronger economy, incentives for the middle class.
They’re going to see a candidate not just that is very much like them, from a humble, modest background, but also somebody that can resolve some of the problems we have, Keith. That’s going to come out in the campaign.
And independent voters that are not affiliated are probably the best barometer. And Senator Obama is the strongest Democratic candidate we’ve ever had with those independent voters that are going to be crucial.
You know, and I will conclude: 32 states, Obama; 16, Clinton; more super-delegates; more popular votes; momentum with super-delegates, 27. There are 28 votes at stake today. That will be divided up proportionately. We feel strong in Oregon and other states that are coming up.
OLBERMANN: Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, an Obama supporter since shortly after his own candidacy ended, always a pleasure, sir. Thanks for your time tonight.
RICHARDSON: Thank you. Thank you, Keith.
MATTHEWS: We have more numbers now from our exit polling.
And, for that, we turn to Norah O’Donnell—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And good evening to
you, Chris and Keith.
You know, the demographics of West Virginia’s Democratic primary electorate really play to Hillary Clinton’s strengths. Those voting today are predominantly white and working-class. In many ways, this is a state a lot of like Pennsylvania, but minus the large cities and upscale suburbs.
In fact, about two-thirds of these Democratic primary voters are whites with less than a four-year college degree. Look at these numbers. That’s like probably the highest percentage for any primary state so far. That tops Indiana. It tops Wisconsin. It tops Arkansas, where about half of those primary voters fit this definition.
Also, West Virginia is one of the states with a very large percentage of white voters who live in rural areas, as opposed to cities or suburbs. In fact, more than half of West Virginia voters today lived in rural communities. That’s more than any other state except Vermont, interestingly.
And in terms of age, the makeup of the electorate is older than most states. A quarter of those voting today are seniors, you can see here. Just 12 percent are essentially under 30 years old. This age distribution is very similar to what we saw in Pennsylvania three weeks ago, again, tailor-made for Hillary Clinton.
And, finally, Chris and Keith, the Bill Clinton factor. Three-quarters of Hillary Clinton supporters said Bill Clinton campaigning there was in fact important to their vote—Chris and Keith.
Well, polls in West Virginia will be closed in about seven minutes now.
Right now, we want to send it back over to NBC’s David Gregory and his “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel—David.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: Chris, thanks very much.
One big factor, panel, that we have been looking at tonight in some of
the exit polling are feelings about Reverend Wright—that’s one issue
and then John Hagee, who has apologized today for the comments that he has made about the Catholic Church.
First, Reverend Wright.
Pat Buchanan, 51 percent saying in exit polls that they believe that Obama definitely shares or kind of shares the views of his former pastor, Reverend Wright. The key factor here, this is a big Clinton state. But a lot of people don’t know him there. He has got work to do if he wants to make a real play there for the fall.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, he’s got an enormous amount of work to do if he loses this very badly tonight.
And, David, I would tell him, frankly, he should have been in there. He should have been working it harder. And if he really gets beaten badly tonight, I would take a hard look at whether I put my resources in there.
And, look, you have got to concede some states to the Republicans. He can win Pennsylvania. He has got to win Pennsylvania, and Ohio and Michigan. He’s in real trouble in Florida. I would really hesitate putting a lot of funds and resources in there unless he’s got Hillary on the ticket, frankly.
GREGORY: Unless, Gene, Hillary on the ticket. Maybe it’s an Ed Rendell on the ticket, somebody who makes a play for that constituency that going to have a hard time with.
EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes. Clearly, he did not connect with voters or we believe he did not connect with voters in West Virginia. He didn’t really make the attempt.
GREGORY: He did make the attempt in Pennsylvania.
ROBINSON: Well, he did make the attempt in Pennsylvania.
I think he’s going to make much more of an attempt next week in Kentucky.
ROBINSON: We will see how that goes.
But I have got to agree with Pat, that if the choice is this kind of a futile campaigning in West Virginia vs. trying to win Florida, go to Florida and spend time there.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don’t know why we should think it’s futile, though. If you look at the voting history of West Virginia, yes, they are Bush Republicans. But before they voted for George W. Bush in 2000, 2004, they were Democrat all the way back. They have also elected people like Jay Rockefeller. The idea of Democrats carrying West Virginia has only been weird since George Bush...
GREGORY: You’re assuming that Obama is going to run even like a Clinton kind of centrist Democrat.
BUCHANAN: Look at the numbers. For heaven’s sakes, you look at these numbers, and you know what they say? Don’t come in here to West Virginia.
MADDOW: That’s what they say if you’re running against Hillary Clinton.
MADDOW: They don’t necessarily say that if you’re running against John McCain.
BUCHANAN: You have got nine weeks of campaigning after your convention. You’re going to tell me you’re going to go roll him—take a bus through West Virginia?
BUCHANAN: That’s nuts.
MADDOW: At this point, Barack Obama looks like he’s going to have enough money to compete everywhere.
GREGORY: I want to move on.
GREGORY: Reverend John Hagee again...
GREGORY: He apologizes today for calling the Catholic Church the great whore, for making other statements. What has he said? What does it mean? What has been left unsaid?
MADDOW: The John Hagee issue I think has been kind of almost bizarrely mishandled by John McCain, because McCain has said both that he—it was a mistake to get the endorsement, but he’s happy to have it.
He also has sort of denied having sought out the endorsement, making it seem like he was the passive recipient of it, which he was not. The problem with John Hagee is that he’s not just said those horrible things about the Catholic Church. He also said that God sent Katrina to New Orleans as a curse because New Orleans liked gay people too much. He said that God is going to send terrorists to make blood run through the streets of the United States unless the U.S. follows his Israel policy.
McCain needs to divorce himself from this guy.
GREGORY: All right, we’re going to revisit this issue as the night wears on. Now we’re going to pass it back to you guys.
OLBERMANN: All right. David Gregory, thank you kindly.
There’s much more to go on that. But we will let the panel do that later.
MATTHEWS: No. I love the Hagee story. Hagee could go all night here.
OLBERMANN: Apparently has.
When we return, polls will be closed in West Virginia. We will have the first results from the Democratic primary there. We know you’re on the edge of your seats. For safety’s sake, just back—back into the full chair. We hope to be able to characterize West Virginia for you as the polls close in three minutes.
We will be back at that moment. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton will win West Virginia, leads in the exit polls by a margin of two to one. With the voting have just closed in West Virginia, NBC News not projecting Senator Clinton will be the winner, an easy victory. And again according to the exit polls, she will beat Senator Obama there by an anticipated margin of two to one. We are expecting to hear Senator Clinton’s victory speech within the one hour. On one side Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. Right now, let’s check back in with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. OK, 2-1, your reaction?
RUSSERT: Overwhelming victory. Senator Clinton will show that and hope that it freezes this race, Keith, particularly those super delegates who 27 of them have moved to Barack Obama over the last week.
But let’s put this in perspective. There were 28 delegates at stake tonight. A 2-1 victory means Hillary Clinton wins about 19 of those. Obama will win nine, a net gain of 10. If Hillary Clinton won two-thirds of the elected delegates in the next remaining five contests, she would still need 80 percent of the undeclared super delegates to overtake Barack Obama. That’s the mountain she has to climb. So what she hopes to take is people to take a pause and give her a chance to finish the next five races.
OLBERMANN: But long ago, Tim, Senator Clinton threw the actual math out the window. We’re already hearing in terms of where they can win. We just heard Terry McAuliffe say not only is she going to give one of the greatest speeches of all time coming up tonight, but also that he’s anticipating in his math, in his mind, an upset in one of the remaining Obama states would have to occur.
So essentially we are in a political race of the mind. What does this do to those super delegates, if anything, a two to one victory or perhaps better in West Virginia for Clinton.
RUSSERT: The Obama campaign believes that it’s already been discounted, the way they do on Wall Street. And that their super delegates will continue to come forward and endorse Senator Obama.
We’ll find out over the next few days who’s right, whether or not this event tonight has frozen the super delegate path to Obama or it will continue.
Next week, the shootout in Kentucky and Oregon. Both campaigns believe Obama is the favorite in Oregon and Clinton is the favorite in Kentucky. Then there’s a two week pause and that’s an eternity at a race that has been moving at this kind of pace before we get to Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico.
OLBERMANN: Live from Puerto Rico, don’t forget that part, keep saying that. Tim Russert thanks, we’ll check back in with you later on.
Let’s get the latest from the Clinton campaign headquarters. NBC’s Ron Allen is in Charleston at the headquarters there in West Virginia. Ron, good evening.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith. We’re also angling for a trip to Puerto Rico. I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not, but anyway, we’re expecting Senator Clinton to be here fairly soon, some time after 8:00 we were told.
Everybody knew this wasn’t going to take very long to wrap up things here. It’s been strange being with the Clinton campaign for the past week or so because it’s almost like they are living in a different reality than the rest of the outside political world, if you will.
We hear plans of going to Oregon, South Dakota tomorrow, Kentucky fundraiser and California, day in D.C. tomorrow. They are talking as if the campaign goes on yet every day their headlines are screaming that it’s over. It’s a very different reality that they have. Now at some point of course this reality is going to confront them in the face. And I heard Terry McAuliffe and others talking the math earlier, super delegates, of adding Michigan and Florida into this.
But again, they’re up against such a high hurdle that it seems like this has to end some time. But then when you talk to Senator Clinton or you observe her, you get this sense of how determined that she is. And my sense is she’s going to continue at least through June 3rd, perhaps beyond because it’s a campaign for the presidency, but it’s also a message that this is about her and it’s going to be on her terms. It’s not about her, but it’s going to be done on her terms.
The one thing that you know about Senator Clinton is that she is a very determined woman. And that’s why, I think, that she’s not going to drop out. She’s going to go on, she is going to do these fundraisers and she’s going to continue to draw big crowds as well. There was a huge crowd last night in West Virginia here as Senator Clinton was wrapping up her campaign. This afternoon in a farmers market, she was like a rock star walking through this area where there are what you call a lot of ordinary West Virginians who were there of course still so excited to see her.
So the bottom line I think is that this campaign still has a lot of energy. And despite what the pundits might say, despite what you’re hearing in the media, I still think Clinton is going to continue on because she’s just that determined to send a message. Keith?
OLBERMANN: Logistics Ron, any word yet on when that speech is going to take place tonight?
ALLEN: We’ve been told sometime in the 8:00 hour. It’s sort of an odd thing here that there’s a huge ballroom here and it’s pretty much empty. There are people just starting to come in. And you have to wonder, why are they coming in now? We all knew this was going to be over around 7:30. But the crowds started tricking. We were told after 8:00 in the 8:00 hour.
Senator Clinton is at a nearby hotel. She is not far away. And again, we’ll listen closely to every word she has to say to her speech to see what hints there might be. But again, I don’t think, and I hate to be the prediction business, but my sense of it is that she’s not going to give up, she’s going to continue through June 3rd, she’ll at least send a message.
OLBERMANN: Well of course she is Ron, she’s going to give one of the greatest speeches of all time. We’ve already heard that. Ron Allen at the headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia. Thank you, Ron.
MATTHEWS: Well we have a result, it looks like from NBC News. It looks like, based upon how quickly we got it, it’s a substantial victory. We usually can tell that way.
OLBERMANN: Well especially if the projectors say it’s going to be by a two to one margin, the exit polls, I think that’s the number they are talking about.
MATTHEWS: Well you know, I think we could go beyond that based upon the way the numbers go. I think we’re talking 80. but as you say, the big event tonight is going to be the speech. And of course we’re all looking forward to that.
We have surrogates joining us now from both the Clinton and the Obama campaigns to react to Senator Clinton’s win tonight. Again according to the exit polling, she is leading there by two to one. I think that may be a minimum.
Let’s go back out to Clinton headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia and senior Clinton adviser Ann Lewis. Ann, thank you for joining us. How do you think the Democratic Party, of which you served so many years should fairly decide this nomination, in the end?
ANN LEWIS, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think the super delegates and the automatic delegates should now go forward and do what it has been expected of them ever since they were joined to the delegate selection process. And you will remember Chris, that was in 1982, and the idea was that they would use their experience and their expertise to help choose the strongest candidate to win in the fall. We have an important election. We have to take on John McCain. I happen to think Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate. I think tonight is the proof of that, winning in the strong kind of swing state the Democrats need. That’s a decision those super delegates will make.
MATTHEWS: Do you have enough super delegates still in play, Ann, to achieve that goal? In other words, Tim Russert pointed out that even if your candidate, Senator Clinton, were to get 75 percent of the remaining contests and then you would still have to get 80 percent of the uncommitted supers. Is that enough, or would you have to get some of the people pledged to make a decision in your favor?
LEWIS: No, there are enough as yet uncommitted super delegates to make that decision. And of course we’ve still got six contests to go. At the end of this campaign, we think Hillary Clinton is going to be ahead in the popular vote. She’s going to pile up victories, as we have said, in swing states like West Virginia, like Kentucky next week, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida. What’s interesting to note is it is Hillary Clinton who expands the electoral college map for Democrats and that’s an important decision for those super delegates to keep in mind.
MATTHEWS: But you’ve left out Oregon and South Dakota. If you don’t win every single event.
LEWIS: I’m happy to add them in, sorry.
MATTHEWS: I know what you’re trying to do.
LEWIS: I’m trying to be respectful of your short time, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You’re doing it right. I’m just trying to be tough here. If you get 80 percent of the remaining super delegates, that would be an astounding conclusion of this campaign. It would only seem possible or plausible if you really rolled it up again Barack at the end, just blew him out of the saddle for the rest of the season. Can you do that?
LEWIS: You know what? There have been so many surprises along the way in this campaign, that I don’t pretend to make predictions anymore because any prediction I might have made would have been left behind. We have had one surprise after another. What we are seeing today is when voters get a chance to come out and vote the way Democrats in West Virginia come out and vote and they express their opinion, that’s what really makes a difference and maybe the rest of us, instead of talking, we ought to listen to them.
MATTHEWS: Well you’re know, we’re listening, that’s what we do every night, but we also have to talk, Ann. It comes with the job. Do you think that it’s possible that you and I, after all these years, will see a convention in Denver, at the end of August, where there’s actually a roll call which has an Alfred Hitchcock suspense to it and we don’t know at the beginning of the roll call until the end who’s going to be the Democratic nominee?
LEWIS: I think that’s probably the least likely outcome. So you’ve already gotten me to back off. I said I wasn’t going to make predictions. You got me to make one. I hope you’re happy, Chris.
MATTHEWS: That was an open question, Ann. You suspect too much.
LEWIS: I see.
MATTHEWS: I’m trying to get a smart answer. You know more than I know about this. OK thank you, Ann.
LEWIS: Of all the options, that’s the least one.
MATTHEWS: By the way, your brother has been fighting a noble fight to help people with their mortgages. It’s too bad they’re not getting it done. Anyway, thank you. Now, down to the heat.
LEWIS: My pleasure. But remember, if we had more Democrats in Congress, he could get it done.
MATTHEWS: OK, a good case to be made there.
OLBERMANN: Now to the Obama campaign, Congressman Nick Rahall, of course the West Virginia Democrat, Obama supporter. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
REP. NICK RAHALL (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good to be here, Keith.
OLBERMAN: All right, West Virginia has apparently decided. We don’t have the hard numbers yet, but the projections are two to one in the exit polls for Senator Clinton. You’re an Obama super delegate. Do you change your endorsement now that Hillary Clinton has won your own state?
RAHALL: No, I don’t, Keith. I keep on with my endorsement of Senator Obama because I’m looking at the long range view of what is best for our Democratic Party and what is best for this country. Senator Obama has the courage and the conviction and wherewithal to not only win this fall, but to govern this nation and I think my role as a super delegate is to use that experience, that expertise to which Ann previously referred to to make those decisions that are in the best interest of our party.
OLBERMANN: The exit polls suggest that Senator Obama had extraordinary problems appealing to the voters in your state without college degrees and with incomes of less than $50,000. That and combining that what Ann Lewis just said about how she claims Senator Clinton expands the electoral map, how do you answer those in light of your contention that Senator Obama is indeed the most electable, never mind what the mathematics show?
RAHALL: Well let me say first, I congratulate Senator Clinton. She ran a very aggressive campaign. She and former president Bill Clinton, a very popular figure in West Virginia, as well as their daughter. They ran a very effective and hard-hitting campaign in West Virginia, and I congratulate them on that.
The fact of the matter is, Senator Obama has been doing better in each of these categories as we progress through this primary season. Because he did not do well with these groups in West Virginia today, does not mean that he’s writing off the state in the fall. He will be very competitive in West Virginia this fall. And as more and more West Virginians get to know Senator Obama, as he comes into the state, which he will do many more times in the future, they will realize that in him is a man that is an agent for true change. One who is genuine, who is trustworthy, who can end the partisanship across this country and provide progress and prosperity for all Americans, including hard working West Virginians.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, as you heard Tim Russert’s analysis of this, if this holds up as the projections suggest, it’s a 10-point delegate swing. So it’s not a huge impact to benefit Senator Clinton, but clearly, at this stage of the race, if a candidate loses in a primary by a ratio of two to one, there must be some perception that that is going to be a problem for the ones on the “one” side of the two to one ratio. Do what degree do you think this tonight hurts Senator Obama’s candidacy?
RAHALL: Well as I said, it’s always been an uphill battle for Senator Obama in West Virginia. And the numbers nationwide show that he is the presumptive nominee of our party. He has won more states. He’s ahead in the popular vote. He’s won more pledged delegates, has now taken the lead in super delegates.
And you’re going to see the trickle of super delegates turning his way, turn into a flood of delegates, super delegates turning his way within the next couple of weeks. Because we are allowing Senator Clinton her chance to make her case, that’s good for the process. These primaries have been good for the Democratic Party. It shows the diversity in our party. It shows a strength that we can have a difference of opinion and yet unite, which I fully believe we will do. Not to have that Alfred Hitchcock scenario at the convention, Chris, but rather to go into that convention united as a party ready to beat John McBush this fall – I mean McCain.
OLBERMANN: Oh yes, that was a slip, congressman. Plenty of different Hitchcock films to choose, the plot of your choice. Nick Rahall, the congressman of West Virginia and still an Obama supporter after tonight. Thank you, sir.
RAHALL: Thank you, Keith.
MATTHEWS: That was the congressman who knew too much. Just kidding.
Let’s take a look at how Hillary Clinton won tonight. For that, we turn to Norah O’Donnell with more of our exit polling. Norah?
O’DONNELL: Hey there, Chris and Keith.
You know, Hillary Clinton won by pulling together, pretty much the same coalition that gave her victories last week in Indiana and before that in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
As was the case in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Democratic primary electorate in West Virginia is primarily white. They made up 95 percent of the voters. Only 4 percent were African-Americans. And as you can see also Clinton won the white vote 68 percent to 28 percent for Obama.
Now while Barack Obama did narrow his margins in West Virginia among more affluent and better educated white voters, this state was all about working class whites, again, delivering their votes for Hillary Clinton. Working class whites earning less than $50,000 backed Hillary Clinton 72-24 percent for Obama. White women have been an important Clinton constituency. She won this group again handily tonight. She took white women by a margin of look at that, three to one. And white men by almost two to one, 63 to 33 percent.
Chris and Keith, this heavily white, older, and less well-educated electorate also felt a strong personal connection with Hillary Clinton than they did with Barack Obama. In fact, seven in 10 think Clinton shares their core values. Less than half felt the same way about Obama.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Norah. That’s tough information if you’re an Obama person. So what’s next for Hillary Clinton after a victory tonight in West Virginia? We’re going back to David Gregory right now to our “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel. You’re watching HARDBALL’s MSNBC live coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary. Nobody thought it was going to be close and it’s not. It is won tonight, according to our projections, by Hillary Clinton with a margin of two to one. Right now at least in the exit polls, your numbers may vary, but that’s the prediction at this point. So what’s next for Hillary Clinton? Let’s check in with NBC News and MSNBC political director Chuck Todd, standing by with the numbers, By the Numbers. Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, let’s go by the numbers. After tonight, there are now just 189 pledged delegates left in the states we have. It’s an important number because if the delegates split, as we think they do, then for Senator Clinton to overtake Obama in the pledged delegate count, of the 189, she has to win 172 delegates. It’s impossible, it can’t be done. That’s a 91 percent clip.
Looking at it from Obama’s perspective. You know, we’ve heard about what he’s going to do next Tuesday, May 20th. He’s talking about when he can declare victory in the pledged delegate tonight. He only now needs, after tonight, 18 more pledged delegates. To get that, all he needs 23 percent of the vote in Kentucky and Oregon combined, 23 percent. Now he’s favored in Oregon. He’s likely to get 50, 55, 60. But that’s where we’re standing by the numbers here.
When you start going through these states and you start picking it up, Kentucky is Senator Clinton’s favored, but the best she might be able to do is get say, 30 delegates, 31 delegates out of here. You can keep going down the line.
In Oregon she has an incredibly good night and maybe Obama narrowly wins by a couple. She’s only going to get 26 delegates. Montana only has 16 delegates. We’ve heard Terry talk about Montana as one of these states that they could upset Obama in. Not much that you get out of it, delegate wise.
South Dakota, another state that they think they might be a little more competitive in than some folks realize. Again, only 15 delegates.
The biggest prize, actually is not even a state and that’s Puerto Rico. And we learn for instance – what’s interesting about Puerto Rico is it does look like the Obama campaign wants to cover its bases a little bit because Michelle Obama is headed there tomorrow. It is worth 55 delegates. The Clinton campaign believes they it’s going to win big. They have been arguing that we should count the popular vote in Puerto Rico, that it should be part of that assessment when we talk about the popular vote.
But don’t assume that Obama does so badly here. He’s done well in these territories before, Guam, Puerto Rico. Yes, it has a Spanish heritage, a Hispanic heritage. Also a Caribbean and African heritage. So he could do a lot better here demographically than people realize.
OLBERMANN: As Guam goes, so goes Puerto Rico, perhaps.
TODD: Hey, Guam was decided by seven votes, if that doesn’t underscore the closeness of this thing sometimes. The popular vote, no matter the different ways we slice it when all is said and done, it is going to be remarkable that it’s going to be decided by about a percentage point between the two candidates.
OLBERMANN: Chuck, I did not mean to offend your abacus, I’m sorry.
TODD: It wasn’t my abacus, it was our friends in Guam who are watching sometime tomorrow. It is already tomorrow in Guam.
OLBERMANN: No, it’s today for them, just a different today. Listen, question, seriously if we can get back on this. Where then, on this night that Terry McAuliffe not only told us Clintons will be one of the greatest speeches ever, he apparently told the “Associated Press,” rather the “Washington Post,” this is the best election night in history tonight. So he said a lot of hyperbole. He also said that for her to get the math that she would need, there would have to be an upset in one of the remaining primaries, where is it?
TODD: The upset that they should be talking about and that frankly their campaign talked to me about oh say about a month ago when we were debating North Carolina – the other state they would tell you, or Oregon.
What’s interesting is you don’t hear them talk about Oregon anymore. But it should be a state that is an Obama state. It’s got this younger, it’s got the college educated crowd, plenty of Starbucks, you know? Supposedly if you layered a map of Obama’s strongholds, they would have a lot of Starbucks in them. So that means Oregon would be a great place for him.
But the fact is, they’re not talking about it anymore. I don’t think they have the money to put into that state to compete. It’s a male ballot. People have already – a bunch of people have already voted, maybe 15 percent of folks have already sent in their ballot. They’ve got to hope that some people hold onto it. A lot of people do hold onto their ballot in Oregon. It’s tough. They don’t talk about it anymore. Montana doesn’t cut it.
OLBERMANN: Clearly the lesson for Senator Obama would be, Chuck, to open more Starbucks. Chuck Todd by the numbers, thank you, Chuck.
TODD: You got it.
OLBERMANN: All right, let’s go back to David Gregory, reminding David Gregory and the panel of Chuck’s number right there. Of the remaining 189 available pledged delegates, to win that race, she has to win 172 of them. Begging perhaps the question, David, why are we all here?
GREGORY: Right, exactly. Well also begging the question, Keith, and the panel, is this a leverage game now? Is Hillary Clinton basically demonstrating what she can do, the kind of numbers that she can put up, the coalition that she can put together, and then Gene say, all right, this is what I can do, here is what I want. What does she want?
EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: Good question. I’m not sure that she wants to be on the ticket. My gut is that she won’t be on the ticket. That either she won’t want it or he won’t want to give that to her. Obviously the practically matter is she might like some help in retiring that $20 million debt that her campaign has.
But also, I think there are policy issues that she’d like to talk about.
I think she would like to get him closer to her position on health care.
They’re pretty close now, but she would like to close the gap and be
able to say that she’s made this impact. The question is, what kind of
leverage does she come out with? The stock market moves on the rumor,
not on the news.
GREGORY: Let me test this theory out. If Obama wins the presidency, it is going to be such a huge event in the history of this country and in political history. Do the Clintons want to be on the sidelines of that? Here’s Bill Clinton, the most famous politician in a generation. Does he not want to be in a position to say with Hillary Clinton, we were part of that? We were instrumental in helping him reach, cross the finish line.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think Hillary has got in mind winning the Democratic nomination. What’s her path to it? I’ve won the popular vote, I win states like West Virginia where that guy can’t even post. I’ll win Pennsylvania and Florida, which he will lose. Now, she can’t do that without some intervening event. She has the numbers. Something has to happen to the Obama campaign between now and that convention. Now, I don’t know if they’re thinking something’s going to happen, but something’s got to happen.
But I think she’s still holding out hope of winning this thing. If she doesn’t win it, I think when they step back from it, if they lose it, if Bill Clinton and his wife will say look, they may need us and if they do need us, take the vice presidency, if it’s offered.
GREGORY: But I argue it a little bit more strongly which is they may or not believe they can actually still win it but they want to force themselves to be part of this force that has a very good shot of winning the presidency.
MADDOW: Well, yes. I think the important part of either of those analyses is that in either case, Hillary Clinton is staying in. Because she’s staying in it to win essentially in an understudy role, if something happens to Obama and she’s waiting in the wings, then she stays in. If she’s not expecting to win, but she’s trying to get something else out of it, whether it’s policy, it’s process or position, then regardless, stay in.
BUCHANAN: Rachel is unusually right here. If you want to get something, you stay in. If you want to be the nominee, you stay in. You come with the strongest hand you can right to the convention. You throw in your hand now and he says well, we’ll talk about that.
ROBINSON: Next week, Kentucky and Oregon, if he wins big in Oregon, runs close in Kentucky, super delegates start flooding to Obama as opposed to trickling, she may have to suspend.
GREGORY: We’re going to leave it there. On that note, we’re going to Puerto Rico, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You’re making it sound like I have to buy the tickets. David Gregory and the panel, thank you. Coming up in the next hour, we’re expecting to hear from Senator Clinton after a big victory in West Virginia. Chris and I continue after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: If many are thinking only every state had
been West Virginia, the Mountain State is projected to give Senator Hillary
Clinton the two to one margin victory which she had needed in Pennsylvania, in
Indiana, in North Carolina, in every single one of the remaining contests, just
to pull even with Senator Obama in the pledged delegate count.
Instead, despite her overwhelming victory, Senator Obama is still pulling away, ever closer to the nomination. But Senator Clinton winning West Virginia and according to NBC News projections, winning it big and big plus. As we mentioned, leading in the exit polling by the margin of two to one.
Senator Clinton is expected to give her victory speech within a half hour.
Senator Obama having anticipated tonight’s results, already looking ahead to the general election. Earlier this evening, telling his audience of swing state voters in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, not to worry that the long nominating process might have divided the Democratic Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There’s too much that’s at stake as a country. And there is going to be a clear choice when it comes to the election on November 4th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, greetings again from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in Rockefeller Center in New York City, alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. Well, it’s a final score.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: You know, it’s amazing trying to dissect what you’d just said—because it is, in fact, a continual sweep towards Obama. Yet tonight, it’s interrupted by a dramatic victory in West Virginia, a state that the Democrats used to consider part of their core. And now, because of mining laws, because of environmental concerns, because of gun rights, the Second Amendment, it’s no longer considered part of the automatic Democratic fold.
OLBERMANN: And in terms of the victory by Senator Clinton tonight, as overwhelming and as impressive as it is, the fact is, as Chuck Todd described it just before the top of the hour, that now, with 189 pledged delegates to go, she has, in fact, not done as well as she needed to do in West Virginia tonight. She now needs to win 91 percent of the remaining delegates up for grabs. The number has gotten worse, even with a two to one triumph.
MATTHEWS: You know, we’re watching the Democracy in slow-mo but in fact, what actually happens in Capitol Hill or in politics, things move slowly. We’re just to these blitzkriegs of politics, when in fact, there’s a ground war.
Let’s bring in an expert on Pennsylvania, that’s Bob Casey, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, an Obama supporter.
Senator, thank you for coming on tonight. It’s a good night to have you on because you know Pennsylvania. We’re looking at some of the exit polls that Norah has been presenting in and the fact is, there’s a lot of similarities. If you look at people who didn’t go to college for a full four years, they tend to vote for Hillary Clinton. How do you help Barack Obama get those votes in November?
SEN. BOB CASEY, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Chris, I think a lot of the votes are going to come just by virtue of the fact that it will be Barack Obama, and I think it will be, versus John McCain—as opposed to Barack Obama challenging Senator Clinton.
Look, Senator Clinton is a strong Democratic candidate who’s campaigned very hard in places like West Virginia. But I think in the fall, in Pennsylvania and in places like western Pennsylvania, voters are going to have a very clear choice. They’re going to vote for someone who’s going to continue the Bush policies or are they going for change. And I think they will.
But we don’t – I don’t think we underestimate the challenge of a general election. I’m going to work very hard for Senator Obama across our state and beyond the state if necessary. But I think he’s got a very strong message in the fall against John McCain.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, the old political question—who’s one of us, who’s one of them? How do you convince the voters that you identify with so well in Pennsylvania, cultural conservatives, people who are economically-needy people, who need good government, they can’t ignore it. How do you convince them that Barack Obama is one of them?
CASEY: Well, because, I think, certainly, it starts with his life story. I mean, very few, if any American politicians in the last generation have come as far as he has. I mean, this is a life of struggle. He’s had to triumph over all kinds of obstacles and difficulties in his life.
So, I think just his own personal story is part of what the people of Pennsylvania and the people of America are going to continue to hear about. But also, I think, when you look at his ideas on the economy and his ideas to focus on tax cuts for middle income families, and his basic commitment to change the course of the country, I think is going to be a very powerful economic message in the fall. But we don’t underestimate the challenge of this campaign and we’re going to be working very hard for him.
MATTHEWS: If you could get Hillary Clinton to play any role in Pennsylvania between now and November voting time, and you had her, say, for two weeks, you won’t get her for two weeks, but you got her for two weeks, how would you use her to get Barack Obama Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, 21 electoral votes?
CASEY: Oh, I think if Senator Clinton were campaigning in Pennsylvania in the fall for Senator Obama, I think, I would hope that she would campaign the same way she did in our primary. She was all over the state. She had a strong message for the people of our state.
And I think that kind of unity that we’re already beginning to hear about across the country is the kind of message the people of our state and I think the people of America will respond to. The Democratic Party always has fights—because you know our history in Pennsylvania. We have real tough fights. But I think we’ll unify around the winner. I think that winner is going to be Senator Obama.
MATTHEWS: How do you get the toothpaste back in the tube though from what Hillary Clinton said about Barack? Some of those things about, you know, she’s the small town girl that had spent her summers in Scranton, regular person. He, some sort of the guy who thinks that working people are “bitter” and that whole thing. You know the whole fight that went on there.
Isn’t that pretty rough stuff to put it behind you and turn her around into an ally?
CASEY: Well, it’s tough, but, Chris, I think that there are lots of ways to do that. Some of that is between the two public officials, but also their supporters. We’ve got to make sure that starting very early in the summer, that we come together, we have a unified message across the country. And I think it’s going to happen, based upon my own experience. I’ve been through a lot of rough campaigns myself, a lot of them primaries.
But we can come together and win. Because, you know, the history in Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell and I ran in a tough primary for governor. He won, I lost. He was a very gracious winner; I was a gracious loser in that campaign. We came together and had almost a double digit win in the general election.
I think the same thing is going to happen here. I won’t say what the margin will be but I think we’re going to defeat Senator McCain if we stay unified, if we stay focused on the economics which I think is the central concern of most voters in our state, that and the war.
MATTHEWS: What are your feelings as a Democrat about this whole discussion? We’ve never had – you and I have never heard it in your lifetime and we have known it—ethnic and racial issues always get in the way. You know, arguing over issues and real issues, but this conversation, as it’s turned, I mean, I even hate saying things like white working class voters.
You know, I was taught growing up—don’t even say words like blue-collar. Don’t even get into that kind of elitist talk. We’re not socialists, we’re Americans.
MATTHEWS: How did we get back away from this where this people like Hillary Clinton so loosely say, hard working white workers and you know, it’s almost she’s the Al Sharpton of white people. I mean, how do you get away from that?
CASEY: Well, part of it, Chris, is, I think that too often the commentary in the primary has focused on how we can categorize voters and how those categories pertain to the candidate, in this case, Senator Obama. I think a lot it doesn’t make much sense because we’re talking about a primary election versus a general election.
And I think that some of the early polling already shows that in some voter group that have been analyzed to death really in the primary, Senator Obama is already making tremendous progress. So, I think his life story is a very compelling part of his message in addition to what he stands for in terms of focusing on change and focusing on real struggles of people in my home state of Pennsylvania and across the country.
But I think he can deliver that message without getting into categories and pitching a message to one group of Americans versus others. I think he can have a very broad based message.
MATTHEWS: OK. U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, thank you, sir.
CASEY: Thanks, sir.
OLBERMANN: The numbers after we get the actual results, much later in the evening from West Virginia. The numbers that are key, the exit polling telling us all sorts of things about who liked what and why, and who didn’t like what or why in West Virginia. Norah O’Donnell is here, again, with a little preview of what we’ll be finding in-depth with the exit polling later on—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know,
Barack Obama’s campaign didn’t expect to win West Virginia, but our NBC News
exit poll has some real warning signs for Obama. It was one of his weakest
performances in any primary among white working class voters.
Does it matter in November? There’s some suggestion in NBC exit poll that people may not want to vote for Barack Obama, if he’s the nominee. In fact, only 51 percent of all West Virginia voters say they would vote for Obama. Only 1/3 of Clinton supporters say that. So, there’s a real chance that John McCain could win many Democratic crossover votes in the November general election.
Remember, John Kerry did not win West Virginia. Al Gore did not win West Virginia. The last person who win West Virginia was Bill Clinton. But if Barack Obama is the nominee and he wants to win West Virginia, according to our NBC News exit poll, he’s got a lot of work to do.
OLBERMANN: Five electoral votes are five electoral votes. Norah, we’ll get that in-depth from you later on. Thank you. Chris?
O’DONNELL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.
Now, let’s turn you over to the insiders: Former Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee; and former San Francisco mayor, Willie Brown.
I’ve got to go to Mayor Brown and what we’re watching now. Mayor, you, as I’ve said, you and I talked before about this. You boys represented the diverse constituency, probably more whites than blacks. This new tone of the conversation, Norah has a report on it and we’ve been talking about it—white hardworking white workers is the way that Hillary Clinton refers them. Are we in a trouble spot here in terms of just a merit in this?
WILLIE BROWN, (D) FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: We certainly are. If we continue down this path and down this road, you’re going to begin to get people depending one way or another. And you can’t have that.
You’ve got to stay focused on the issues that affect the lives of people no matter what color they are and where they are. And this economy does that. Foreclosures, the downturn in the economy, the loss of jobs, it affects everybody across the board. The cost of gasoline affects everybody across the board.
And you can’t do the category number and I would hope that slowly, but surely, Hillary Clinton and all others who are uttering those words will move away from them.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Governor Huckabee. Governor, I want to talk internal politics with you. You know what it’s like to be doing well at the end of a primary campaign as you were winning so many states at the time must have known the math wasn’t there for you. What’s it like to be Hillary Clinton, as you know?
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, ® FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m not going to try to get into her head, but I think a lot of times, you’ve got to remember that some people would ask why she’s staying in? You know, she’s winning West Virginia but what does it matter.
Look, the boxer who’s defeated and takes a pummeling in the boxing ring, still gets the back rub after the fight. It doesn’t change the outcome, but the back rub sure feels good. This feels good for Hillary Clinton. This is great, it’s exhilarating. It gives her supporters something to cheer about. It gives them a reason to maybe go the distance.
And I think it was you, Chris, a few weeks ago, in the Pennsylvania primary that talked about, you know, the metaphor of Hillary going up to a library steps and even making some comment that, you know, the real point of that was Rocky lost that fight. But the real point was Rocky went the distance.
MATTHEWS: He sure did.
HUCKABEE: I think that that’s really what Hillary is trying to show—is that she’s not a quitter, she’s a fighter.
You know, let me mention one thing, a lot of Democrats are saying Hillary ought to get out. You know, she’s hurting the party. Let’s not forget that the Clintons really represented the only Democrat president with Bill Clinton that got elected twice since FDR.
So, you know, the Democrats sometimes forget that whatever they think of the Clintons right now, they owe them a lot in terms of sort of re-branding their party back in the 1990s.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me go over to Mayor Brown on that question. The Democratic Party has been the Clinton party now since 1991-92. Are we watching a changing of the guard?
BROWN: Not really. As a matter of fact, with the fact that she’s a woman and Obama happens to be an African-American, there isn’t any change. It’s simply the process by which the Clintons really move the Democratic Party. This Democratic Party would not accept Jesse Jackson’s offer for leadership in 1998.
When they accepted Bill Clinton’s offer for leadership, he instantly brought along with him, Ron Brown and a whole host of African-Americans, followed up by George Bush and his administration. So, all of the sudden, what has become the order of the day for organizer of the government, that came from Bill Clinton. And believe me—that helped make the opportunity for Barack Obama today.
MATTHEWS: Brilliantly said. Now, let’s go to Governor Huckabee.
How does in the current situation of party-building does Barack Obama have to rebuild a diverse party? Doesn’t he have to bring in people like AFSCME president, international president, Jerry McEntee? Doesn’t he have to bring in real working guys, real labor type white guys, if you will, to establish the fact that he’s got connection with the working roots of the Democratic Party?
HUCKABEE: That’s going to be his challenge. I think there’s no doubt that those comments in San Francisco, the mayor’s town out there, that, you know, people are “bitter” and they are clinging to guns and God. Whether he meant it that way or not, I can assure you, he’ll see that again all through October and early November, leading up to the election.
He’s got to show, if he really wants to win voters like the ones in West Virginia that he’s losing tonight, that those are people that he understands. You know, people don’t expect the president to solve every problem, but they would like to know that the president at least understands what the heck the problems are.
And he’s got to be able to demonstrate that he truly understands that a good economy trickles down, but a bad economy trickles up, which means that it hits the poorest people, hardest and it hits them first.
MATTHEWS: It sure does. Thank you, Mike Huckabee—the former governor of Arkansas; and Willie Brown, the author of “Basic Brown,” a great new book about the real life of a real political leader.
Anyway, coming up, NBC’s Tim Russert.
Plus: Our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel.
And we do expect to hear from Senator Clinton and what’s being billed as the greatest speech in the history of the universe. What tone will she said in that speech? We’ve got to hear that. Stay tuned.
OLBERMANN: It’s going to be loud. We know that one.
MATTHEWS: Well, it’s going to be important. Anyway, you’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary and the speech to come.
OLBERMANN: In 3D.
OLBERMANN: And the projection as we told you almost immediately after the West Virginia’s polls closed at 7:30 Eastern Time, Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama and the exit polls indicate that she is winning by a margin of two to one.
Pyrrhic victory is not the right term, Chris, but a victory that means what in the grand context of what she needed three to one victory or four to one victory.
MATTHEWS: If you listen to Chuck Todd, it’s a victory that comes after the division has been decided. There is a conference to campaign already, it’s already been decided and it doesn’t matter.
But if you listen to the Clintons, they look at this as a holistic thing. If they do well in all the states and if they do will in the Puerto Rican primary even though those voters can’t get counted in the general election, if you put it all together, there will be something of a shock to the system. And throw in some new variables, something that happens between now and early June and that could be enough that can bust the thing and they can blow out this guy and still win the nomination.
They’re obviously still talking about winning. Whatever we say here, you listen to Terry McAuliffe, you go listen to Ann Lewis, and certainly as we hear Senator Clinton tonight—what they are doing however to signal this may be over. No more pot shots, no more direct kneecapping of the rival. No more - - you know, a little bit of he’s not quite there in terms of record, but even when I challenged her in that, she can correct that if he will buckle some of her policy positions.
So, they’re negotiating. It’s what they’re doing right now.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Now, she has been restrained certainly comparatively over the last week since Indiana and North Carolina voted.
As you suggest, we’re going to hear Senator Clinton in a few moments and in advance to that, let’s go to Charleston, West Virginia. Andrea Mitchell covering the Clinton campaign throughout in advance, again, within five to 10 minutes or so.
Andrea, what’s the latest from there?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they are saying here is that this is the kind of vote count which will show the superdelegates, will show party leaders that she has the ability to put together a coalition. Now, that said, you can see from the exit polls, this was a predominantly white, older, less educated vote. And it’s a perfect vote for Hillary Clinton because it’s a vote, which she showed in part of Pennsylvania, part of Indiana.
But this was all been calculated here in this state according to the exit polls of the people who actually voted. That is the argument she is going to be making tomorrow to big contributors and to uncommitted delegates, Keith. But it’s an argument that goes in the face of the fact he has more in the popular votes, more states, primaries, caucuses, every other measure has Barack Obama as the presumptive nominee.
So, this is really a last hurrah. This is her last chance. In the next couple of days, they’ll try to persuade these superdelegates. They insist that she’s going on to Kentucky and Oregon, that they are up 40 points in Kentucky, they say, and that they are going to go on to June 3rd. That said, let’s face it, there’s always a possibility that key supporters will say—why don’t you go out on a high.
They are strongly denying, by the way, a report that one of their most important leaders, Jerry McEntee of AFSCME, a big labor leader of the American federation of state county workers. Excuse me. A big labor union of state and federal workers has sat down with her and told her that she’s got to rethink this. They say that it’s absolutely not true. And AFSCME people have just put out a statement denying that Jerry McEntee has told her just got to rethink and look for an exit strategy. Keith?
OLBERMANN: Well, Andrea, we’ll get back to you either before or after Senator Clinton’s speech. Thank you much.
One note to drop in about tonight’s events. Senator Obama has called Senator Clinton to congratulate her on her victory in West Virginia. I don’t how this happens but she was not there to take the phone call. So, he left a message. Chris?
MATTHEWS: OK. You know, given what Andrea just reported about Jerry, the president of AFSCME, clearly, that’s the kind of person who will be pivoting, key at some point. He will be the kind of person that Hillary has to yield over to Barack Obama if he’s to build a broad coalition of working people.
Let’s hear now from the Clinton campaign, Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Look at her. She’s still supporting Hillary Clinton.
Congresswoman, you know, if you look at a map of the United States, there seems to be something that started in Ohio, it went to Pennsylvania, it went in Indiana, it went to West Virginia. It’s all continuous territory in the United States. Look at the map somewhere—you’ll see the fact that Hillary Clinton does very well in that area.
Enemies might call it the rust belt but the fact that it’s older part of the country. It’s perhaps declining in population to some extent compared to the south and the west. But there you have it. What’s going on with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in that contested turf where Barack just keeps losing to Hillary Clinton?
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES, (D) CLINTON SUPPORTER: It’s the heartland of the nation. It’s the place where people must win if they want to be president of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton won in those states and has done a great job at it campaigning and getting her message through.
And the point we’re trying to make is that she’s the best qualified candidate to be president of the United States. And the votes are saying that for her in the heartland of America.
MATTHEWS: In your constituency, do you have people saying give it up?
JONES: I don’t have anybody telling me to give it up. They’re re asking me to change from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama because my congressional district voted for Barack Obama. But I say to them again and again, I made a commitment to Hillary Clinton and I’m sticking with that commitment.
And again, I believe, she is the best qualified candidate. If you look at the states that she’s won, look at West Virginia. No president has won the presidency without West Virginia. We’re ahead there. No one president has won the presidency without Ohio. These are the places where she’s strong.
And I beg to differ that there’s no focus on race by our campaign. Our focus is on working class folks who want the kind of president that Hillary Clinton can be.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that Hillary Clinton was misquoted by the newspaper when she said – I think it was in “USA Today” that she said white working class, hard working white workers—do you think she was misquoted?
JONES: Well, I think what she was doing was repeating what you and all
the other pundits have said about this election and white working class voters…
MATTHEWS: We’re writing her scripts now? I mean, come on, that’s pushing pretty hard.
JONES: No, facts. The facts that you’ve been giving on, the fact she’s stated. And so, you have to agree on that, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, she was quoting the “Associated Press,” but it was unusual for a politician to be caught using language which would cause a language problem. I mean, if she knew it was the wrong way to say and why did she say it that way?
JONES: See. I don’t think that was her intention. And all you have to do is look at her body of work. And her body of work shows that Hillary Clinton has supported the African-American community, has worked on issues that are important to the African-American community, has promoted the African-American community. And I find it strange that people now want to call her racist. Absolutely, not. I don’t buy it.
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you. Let me just say what I’m saying. I’m quoting her and I’m hearing her talk like a politician who’s willing to talk in the language of politicians like Al Sharpton who engaged in this type of politics, group politics. I find it unusual that she would do that. I do agree with you, there’s no doubt she wishes she hasn’t done it in a way she did it but she did.
JONES: And she was repeating what you and every other person that talks about the division of who’s voting for who and where. She’s always saying what you said. It is fact.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know what, (INAUDIBLE) because I hate the phrase white people. I find it weird. I think it’s weird we talk like this. I think this country has been built on not talking like this and here we are in 2008, talking like this.
JONES: We talk about white, we talk black, brown, yellow people. It’s a fact.
MATTHEWS: I know. It isn’t exactly progress.
Anyway, U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, thank you. It’s great. You are a happy person. Thank you for being on this program.
JONES: Blessed. Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Well, God bless, I supposed.
You know, it’s interesting, Keith. We have a big development today. Ray Nagin made his move today, not as fast as moving politicians in America but Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, who is a very charming guy around (ph) but not exactly a “licketty split” kind of guy. He decided today that Barack Obama should be the nominee of his party. I just found that a little slow on the draw, myself.
OLBERMANN: Well, and of course, the Obama campaign has been dealing out these superdelegates endorsements.
MATTHEWS: It’s the corralling process and releasing.
OLBERMANN: Or, you know, the catch and release kind of thing, perhaps.
MATTHEWS: I maybe false in my assessment here.
OLBERMANN: Well, or correct. We’ll find out.
We’re also going to hear again at some imminent moment from Senator Clinton in the wake of her large victory in West Virginia. Again, the exit polling is suggesting the margin is two to one. In the wake of that and in the interim, let’s join Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. He’s good enough to join us.
Congressman, good evening.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: Once again, you’re still uncommitted in this. Is that an increasingly difficult position for you or do you feel safe and secure in that?
CLYBURN: I feel safe and secure in it. The fact of the matter is the leadership of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, myself and Rahm Emanuel, we have all maintained neutrality in this race and we think it’s important.
We’ve got some very important things to do in the House for tomorrow. They’re going to taking up a profound (ph) bill, we’re going to be taking up a supplemental on Thursday to fund the Iraq war. And all these votes are going to be closed. And so, we’re trying very hard to maintain our neutrality so that the presidential politics don’t get mixed up in the House business.
OLBERMANN: And in terms of presidential business, is it important for you all to stay in that neutral position to keep this thing playing out, so nobody feels like it was called prematurely, or is it important for you to maintain your sort of neutrality to step in as a proverbial referee or which?
CLYBURN: Yes. I think both those things play into this. The fact remains that there are a lot of members of the House who still have not expressed their preference. And there are a lot of members who are rethinking their positions. And a lot of them talked to us and I talked to quite a few of them today.
And so, I want to maintain that kind of relationship with the members on the House floor so I don’t have any real consternation when it comes time to try to put all this back together.
OLBERMANN: About tonight’s result, if this had happened in February or March, I think we would have been saying what a decisive thing this was to Senator Clinton, how damaging it was to Senator Obama and yet, we can look at what might be a two to one or worse from the Obama perspective.
And here are the first hard numbers of the night, not even matching to what the projection suggests -- 56 to 36 as oppose to 66-33 or 66-34. How is this not damaging, in your perspective, if indeed that’s the case, to Senator Obama?
CLYBURN: Well, I think it’s reflective of a lot of hardwork that the Clintons have done in West Virginia. I’m really pleased to see that the voters of that state are, in fact, reflecting in their votes their appreciation to the Clintons for all that they have done working with their leadership there.
That is – it’s important for me, as a politician, to know that when you go out and you work hard for people, they will and, in fact, show their appreciation. So, I thank the people of West Virginia for doing that because it reinforces my belief in the process.
OLBERMANN: Do you think it’s just appreciation for the Clintons or is it saying something negative towards Senator Obama?
CLYBURN: I think it’s the appreciation to the Clintons and I think that’s important. I do believe though that all of us are aware that Senator Obama has expressed over time that his successors—I don’t think he expressed enough of his life story, where he came from, how he got to where he is, what kind of family background, how rooted he is in faith. Those kinds of things are important to people in West Virginia and I don’t think that he started early enough expressing that.
So, he got defined in ways that I don’t think will mean a hill of beans come November. It will be a choice between our nominee, which looks like it’s going to be him, and Mr. McCain. I believe people will start voting their pocketbooks. They will start voting their children’s education. They will start voting their own quality of life issues. I think it will bode well for whoever the Democratic nominee is.
OLBERMANN: A salient point about life stories raised by the house majority whip, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina. Thank you again for your time, sir.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: Still ahead, new exit poll numbers on why Obama did not do very well at all tonight in West Virginia. Plus, NBC’s Tim Russert joins us and we continue to await Hillary Clinton to give to her supporters and to you at home what her campaign manager, Mr. McAuliffe, described in advance as one of the greatest speeches ever, not just in politics, just in the world stuff. This is MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary. Senator Hillary Clinton will score a big victory. Exit polls showing a two to one margin tonight over Barack Obama. The hard numbers, at one percent of the vote, not quite to that level. We’ll hear from Senator Clinton momentarily, speaking at Charleston, West Virginia. That’s the venue of the speech which will happen before the top of the hour.
First, NBC Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. Tim, we know from what Terry McAuliffe said, one of the greatest speeches of all time is about to come our way. Churchill is handing in his cudgels even as we speak. They are all leaving the stage in anticipation of this. That’s tonight. What’s tomorrow? Where does she go from here, after this one has been rung up so loudly in her books?
TIM RUSSERT, “MEET THE PRESS”: Ich bin ein West Virginia.
OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, she will be back in Washington meeting with fund raising people and also some super delegates and other folks at her house in Washington. Two things, I thought Mike Huckabee’s conversation with you was very important. He said something that resonated with me. Hillary Clinton’s withdrawal is going to have to be arranged and accelerated by people closest to her, people who have her interests at heart, who go in and say, this doesn’t add up. It’s not going to happen.
A piece of that is money. One of the things we now have determined by the law is that the Clinton’s are over 20 million dollars in debt in their campaign, half of which is out of their own personal finances. If that money is not repaid to them by August, the convention, they lose it. They can’t get it back. They can’t raise it other ways. They sacrifice all but 250,000 of it. It’s a big hit.
I talked to someone very close to the Clintons and he said, if they want to put a couple more million dollars into the race, if they think the want to go forward, they will. To them, 10 or 15 million dollars invested in the campaign, they can get it back with book deals and speeches and so forth, even though it’s a significant amount of money.
The other, however, half of that debt, 10 million dollars, to vendors and to staff, there’s a campaign payroll that has to be met this Thursday. I think we have to watch that too. That’s a lot of little people who have been in the vineyards now for 17 months. Whether they meet that payroll and where they get the money from. That’s the two things to watch. The close, loyal supporters of Hillary, what are they telling her, and second, the resources and finances.
OLBERMANN: Is the payroll genuinely in doubt? Obviously, there were various valleys in the Clinton campaign, in terms of fund raising, that temporary suspension, as I believe it was called, of some payroll at the midpoint of all this. Is this really a serious issue coming up?
RUSSERT: Some of the vendors, obviously, payments are being postponed, delayed. The question is: what resources are available to meet the payroll on a regular basis. There’s no indication it’s not going to be met, but we don’t know level of difficulty. If you’re 20 million dollars in debt in your campaign, you have to find the resources somewhere to continue keeping this show on the road.
It’s a very expensive enterprise. Bill has his own plane. Hillary has her own plane. Chelsea is in Puerto Rico. It’s not something that is done on the cheap. In order to maintain that—that’s why I’m so interested in this fund raising meeting tomorrow. Those money people will give her a real straight read, this is where we are. If we want to continue this campaign in Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico, we’re going to have to raise this between now and the first week of June.
We don’t know where we’re going to get it. All our big donors are maxed out. Are you willing to kick in more of your money and Bill’s money into this effort? It’s going to be a very interesting discussion.
MATTHEWS: I’m trying to put it all together, what we can report on these interviews here tonight, Keith and I. I’m looking at Terry McAuliffe’s comments that he thinks there’s going to be a stampede of super delegates after the first week of June. Then I throw in Ann Lewis, who is rather grudging—she’s a nice I suppose—she grudgingly admitted this is not going to the convention. We’re not going to see an Alfred Hitchcock type of roll call.
It’s not going to the convention, in terms of the fight. It’s perhaps going to break sometime in June. Why not let it break next week? I guess I wonder what the advantage is of a June resolution, if they’re going to throw in the towel, rather than a resolution next Tuesday night?
RUSSERT: I think, Chris, if they decide they are going to finish the primary season, it’s because the people closest to her told her you have to see this through. You owe it to all those millions of supporters, particularly women, who stood by you. Secondly, you want to be able to make the case, in the very subtle way, after you work your heart out for the Barack Obama ticket, if it doesn’t end successfully, that you were there standing as a logical alternative and were passed over.
If you complete the race, finish the race, then you’re in a much better position to do that. I think there’s a difficulty with the resources, because after next week, May 20, there’s that two week gap between—before we get to Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana. That’s an eternity. We’re covering it every day, every day, every day. They have to make a judgment as how to fill that vacuum.
Today, Howard Wolfson, her communications director, was on “The Today Show,” kind of taunting Senator Obama, saying what is it about his campaign that he can’t beat senator Clinton in West Virginia? What’s the problem? I’m very interested to see if that kind of rhetoric continues tonight. What will be her demeanor? Will she even mention Senator Obama other than to praise him? Those are all the various components, rhetoric and tone, resources and what are those tight knit supporters saying to her in the private counsels.
OLBERMANN: All right, Time. By the way, we have an excerpt here, I’ve gotten from my own sources; “let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the Democratic primary lasts for a thousand years, men will still say this was their finest hour.” Tim Russert, thank you.
Obviously, I made that up. Let’s get more from on our exit polling on why Obama did so poorly tonight, as we await Senator Clinton’s speech. Norah O’Donnell is with us with the exit polls.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Chris and Keith, there are some hard facts in these NBC News exit polls for Barack Obama. This was one of Barack Obama’s worst performances among white working class voters in any primary contest this year. In West Virginia, where two-thirds of whites are not college educated, only 23 percent of those voters backed the Illinois senator. Obama got slightly more of those voters in Pennsylvania. He did even better with 34 percent in Indiana.
The response of the white, working class in West Virginia is more than just reflection of Hillary Clinton’s blue collar appeal. In fact, 60 percent say they would be dissatisfied if Obama is the Democratic nominee. That’s a more negative reaction than we saw in Pennsylvania and Indiana. We’re showing some trends here. Given Obama’s problems with this group, John McCain does seems in a strong position to win Democratic cross over voters if Obama is his opponent. Half of today’s voters say they would vote for Obama in a race against McCain. More than a quarter say they would defect to McCain; 17 percent said they would stay home.
Chris and Keith, get this, barely a third of Clinton supporters say they would vote for Obama in the November, barely a third. Just as many claim they would vote for McCain. One quarter said they would not vote at all. If Obama hopes to have a shot capturing West Virginia in the fall, our NBC News exit poll shows he has quite a bit of work ahead of him. Chris and Keith?
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Norah.
MATTHEWS: I think we learned a lot about his challenges going into November. As we continue to wait for Hillary Clinton’s victory speech, we want to send it back over to NBC’s David Gregory and our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel.
GREGORY: Chris, thanks very much. We’re waiting to find out what Hillary Clinton is actually going to say. I want to weigh in on what we expect to hear, what she telegraphs. This is what she’s writing in a fund-raiser letter tonight; she’s talking about after the victory in West Virginia, it’s clear the pundits declaring this race over have it all wrong. The voters, she writes, in West Virginia spoke loud and clear. They want this contest to go on. I’m listening to the voters and you, Pat. It’s a reference to West Virginia, a state she wins big. Exit polls say, stay in the race.
BUCHANAN: West Virginia is saying we want her to stay in the race. West Virginia is saying she’s the queen of West Virginia. They are saying if you guys have inaugurated or crowned a candidate for us, we’re not accepting Barack Obama. I would expect Hillary Clinton to come out as though she were a candidate who had just won New Hampshire and was going on the long run to the nomination.
I wouldn’t give in. Look, don’t go after Obama. But act as though—how else do you make voters enthusiastic in Kentucky and Puerto Rico, other than give them a fighting speech and say, it’s a long shot, we can do it. The pundits are wrong.
GREGORY: Rachel, if she does it—going against the media is fine. But it’s not just the media in this case. Does she run the risk of alienating people and maybe quieting some of that enthusiasm by making an argument that doesn’t seem realistic about her chances?
MADDOW: She has to define what counts as realistic. That’s been her challenge for so much of this time. I think tonight, if Senator Clinton addresses her comments to the Republican party and the challenge of John McCain in the general, then she is holding out for the brass ring and she’s not going to settle for anything else. If she talks about Barack Obama, process in the Democratic party, the things the Democratic party ought to be offering America, then she may be—then I will have been wrong.
GREGORY: What was interesting about her speech last week was that it was two speeches in one. It was part valedictory speech, kind of this is the end, we’ve had a great ride. And the other one was we’re going to keep fighting. What do you think we hear tonight?
ROBINSON: I don’t think we hear any of this is the end. I don’t think we hear any of that. I don’t think we hear another “USA Today” interview; look people, I win white people. White people vote for me, and they don’t vote for him. I don’t think we hear that sort of attack on Obama.
I think we hear enthusiasm and dedication to go on. If she’s going to go on, she has to raise some money. You don’t raise money by saying this is the end. You raise money by saying we have a chance to win.
BUCHANAN: I think we’ll be gone. I think she’s coming off a victory. Look, if McAuliffe is saying it’s the greatest speech of all time, it’s not a negotiating procedure. It’s going to be we’re going forward.
MADDOW: If that fund raising letter is any indication, this is not going to be a complimentary, let’s all get along speech. This is going to be an angry speech.
ROBINSON: -- dedicated to the proposition that all men are created—
GREGORY: Pat, how is it—does the speech tonight play a roll in her ability to keep super delegates on the sideline.
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something, Huckabee is the one individual we’ve heard who really understands this. He’s been in the fight. Even when you’re losing, and you’re going down in defeat, you keep rallying your troops and keep going on. You don’t sit there and analyze things and do some speech based on that. You give a rally speech. We’re going forward. That’s what I would do if I were her. That’s the right thing to do for raising money. Even if she’s got a shot, that is the thing to do. What’s the argument for the rest of these speeches? I don’t see it.
MADDOW: I think at this point, her strategy—I may be wrong here—
If I were her, I could see the path that results in me being president is the
understudy approach, which is that she’s campaigning for it. She’s not
settling for anything else. She’s in it to win it. She looks presidential
right to the very end. Even if nobody else believes her, she’s the one who is
standing there, as Chris and Keith said, when and if Barack Obama can’t make
GREGORY: If Barack Obama is not going to reach the magic number of 2,025, yes she doesn’t have a mathematical path to get there, but she is still in a position to make an argument about her qualifications, about her ability to be president, the ability to take on John McCain.
ROBINSON: She also has to make the argument that that’s not the magic number. He probably will get there within two or three weeks. She has to also argue that the magic number is 2,208 or something like that.
BUCHANAN: Popular vote, winning the big states, the tide has turned; super delegates ought to pick the winner.
ROBINSON: You argue what you’ve got.
GREGORY: As you see on the screen, our breaking news Senator Clinton is going to speak any moment now. We’ll toss it back to you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: 9:05 is the latest estimate we have. We have even more breaking news in that. I have another excerpt, David; the only thing we have to fear is Obama himself. We’re expecting that as part of one the greatest speeches ever, per Terry McAuliffe. I make it up.
MATTHEWS: We’ve been talking about what Hillary Clinton might say in her speech. Let’s bring in now MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, who is with the group Independent Women’s Voice. Michelle, it’s clearly—we have fought them in the primaries. We have fought them in the caucuses. We’ll fight them in the convention, perhaps. We shall never surrender, except that Winston Churchill said never surrender except in good sense. Of course, good sense is the question right now, isn’t it? It’s the question on the table, what’s good sense for Hillary Clinton at this point?
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know that’s up to
Hillary Clinton. I can tell you what I expect to hear from her tonight, is
this is going to be a speech about the sisterhood. It will be a speech about
fighting for the working class. I almost accidentally said fighting for white
working class voters. I doubt we will hear that slip up again tonight. She’s
going to continue reach out to her coalition.
I think her exit strategy is no longer what a lot of us have been looking for, which is maybe she’s stepping out before. I think she’s going to go the distance. I think what we can expect to see from Hillary Clinton is her basically writing what the history books will say about this campaign, about Hillary Rodham Clinton going farther than any American woman has even gone in our nation’s history, in terms of presidential politics. We saw Shirley Chisholm run as a woman and as an African American.
Senator Clinton has by far exceeded the expectations of most women of her generation and generations older than her. I think, for that reason, we will continue to see her go all the way through June, so she can—The history books will say how many states she won, what her coalition was comprised of, and the fact that she fought and fought valiantly to the very end. I also suspect that as part of that valiance and that grace that we may see from her, she will start to tamp down her attacks on Senator Obama.
MATTHEWS: Big question, will she release, at some point this summer, her people, her troops to Barack Obama or will she continue to lead them on his behalf? In other words, will she keep her people her people?
BERNARD: It’s a very difficult question to say. Her people are very committed to Senator Clinton. Money is probably going to have a lot to do with it. I’m being told from the Obama campaign that there’s a very good chance that he’s going to release astronomical figures for what he’s raised in April tomorrow, which is probably going to dwarf our discussions about the results in West Virginia tonight. Money is going to be a large part of whether or not she can release her people, and also whether or not her people will want to go and work for Senator Obama.
I do believe that once Senator Obama actually becomes the declared Democratic nominee, we will see her go out and fight for Senator Obama. Hopefully her people will follow along.
MATTHEWS: What do you think the African-American community feels about Hillary Clinton’s comment last week?
BERNARD: I would suspect many African-Americans are feeling not so happy about the statements that were made by Senator Clinton last week. You have a lot of African-Americans that are very hard working people as well. It was a very indelicate comment. I have to give her the high road and believe that she did not expect—she didn’t hope for her statement to come out the way it did. But African-American’s are still feeling very sore from what happened in South Carolina. Bill Clinton’s antics over the winter primaries, particularly in the deep south, have not been forgotten yet.
African-Americans are very forgiving people, though. I think in the long run, if this race continues to go as it appears it should go and Senator Obama becomes the Democratic nominee and Senator Clinton and her husband actually jump on the bandwagon and work very hard to get him elected as president in November, that we will see a lot of the antipathy that African Americans have for the Clinton campaign right now begin to dissipate.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Michelle Bernard.
OLBERMANN: When we return, NBC’s Chuck Todd, our political director, with the latest delegate math out of West Virginia, which despite this apparent two to one ratio for Senator Clinton tonight, still doesn’t look very good for her going ahead. Plus, the insiders, Governor Mike Huckabee and Mayor Willie Brown. Chris and I back after this. We’re awaiting Senator Clinton’s speech after her victory in the West Virginia primary tonight.
OLBERMANN: An hour and 24 minutes after the polls closed in West Virginia and only four percent of precincts reporting. This number may be conservative. Our NBC News projection, Senator Hillary Clinton will win West Virginia, and is leading in exit polling by a two to one margin, which would not be 58-36, but something closer to 63-34. We continue with MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary, won tonight by Senator Clinton, who is expected to deliver her victory speech at 9:05. She’s arrived at the venue in Charleston, West Virginia. As you see, there’s Terry McAuliffe, her chairman, speaking to the assembled right there. Mountaineers for Hillary, indeed, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Let’s turn to our experts or insiders, former Republican presidential candidate, former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and former San Francisco mayor and former speaker of the California House, Willie Brown. Mayor Brown, Speaker Brown, let me ask you this: what should Hillary say? She has a big platform tonight.
BROWN: She should do her best to try to figure out how to get some of that money back that she’s lent her campaign, which means that she has to tell them something that will give them the idea, they ought to put more money in to give her an opportunity to go to June, when Barack Obama may have 2,025.
MATTHEWS: Can she ask people to contribute to her own debt repayment?
BROWN: No, I don’t think she’ll do that directly. She’ll talk about the needs of the campaign going forward. Obviously, all the indebtedness is part of the campaign going forward. She will not say, however, give me some money.
MATTHEWS: If she does succeed in getting a lot more cash, and grabs ten million of the hot cash, that’s not going to be too heart warming, is it, for the contributors out there?
BROWN: There are so many vendors out there. I think she will be better off probably trying to pay off those vendors. After all, as said earlier by some of the people on this program, Bill and Hillary can make money. They have proven that. They left the White House and I think they had a U-Haul. Within two or three years, there were in the millionaire category. They can do that again.
MATTHEWS: Let’s go to Governor Huckabee, same question: what should she say?
HUCKABEE: First of all, I think she’s going to have a speech that’s going to be so overwhelming. Keith has been touting it. Terry McAuliffe said it’s the greatest speech ever. The reason it is and the reason we’re waiting is because she’s going to deliver it with two stone tablets post-marked Mount Sinai. That’s why this speech is going to be so dynamic. It’s just a heavy, heavy speech to carry up to the podium.
Let me tell you how interesting it is. Hillary is at a point now where I think her optimism is so incredible that today, no joke, I got a letter from Hillary asking me to donate to her campaign, at my home in North Little Rock.
MATTHEWS: Did you pony up, Governor?
HUCKABEE: No, you know what? I have a feeling she’s going to have to keep fishing. But she certainly wants to repay the debt. I think, tonight, she tries to avoid attacking Obama. We are at a point in the race where Hillary’s a smart enough politician to know that if she can’t win, she wants to make sure that she doesn’t do long term damage to herself by walking away having wounded the guy that beat her in the end. That is something that she has to be very thoughtful of. And she is going to be thoughtful about that.
MATTHEWS: The question then, mayor, is how does she do that? She has to remind people that she can deliver a vote in November that he can’t? How does she do that without making that a permanent indictment of the guy?
BROWN: I think she has to talk directly about the fact that we have to defeat the Republican nominee, Mr. McCain. I think she does that in a fashion that allows her wears and her abilities and her skills to be highlighted. She will talk, maybe, about Obama, but she will talk about how much more superior her skills will be in the real fight.
That’s not the kind of damage that the governor is talking about. It’s simply Mrs. Clinton doing the thing that she does best. She is one tough cookie. And she will demonstrate that when she appears tonight.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask about your view of the Clinton’s. You grew up in Arkansas and you know them. Do you believe Hillary Clinton had a plan to be president a long time ago?
HUCKABEE: I don’t know that I buy that. I think that over a period of time, it developed. One thing I can tell you, I often told people that running for president was not as difficult as any race I ever ran in Arkansas for any office. Granted, I was a Republican, and that means I was about as popular as a fire hydrant in a neighborhood full of dogs. You have to understand what a Republican is like in the state.
But politics in Arkansas, Chris, is bare bones. It’s football without pads. So I think people underestimate the toughness and resilience of the Clintons. They came out of a political environment that taught them, you don’t give up, you fight hard, you fight to win. That’s part of what that political culture has done for Hillary Clinton, given her that sort of absolutely, almost insurmountable amount spirit of resilience.
MATTHEWS: Did it teach camouflage though? Did it teach the wrong things? I mean, the Clintons came in down there as he was governor, young attorney general, then elected governor. He did it his way. He found that his way wasn’t popular. He decided to be a little more home grown. She changed her name to Clinton and stopped wearing the Coke bottle glasses. He changed his ways. He probably got rid of some of his Ivy Leaguers around him. He began to look a little bit more like the regular people.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: He decided to be a little more homegrown. And she changed her name to Clinton and in fact (ph) wearing the (INAUDIBLE) of glasses. And he changed his ways, he probably get rid of some of his Ivy Leaguers around him, and he began to look a little bit more like the regular people.
But does it teach you down there, if you’re a Democrat to go underground?
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, ® FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don’t think it’s so much that.
MATTHEWS: It did in the end (ph), didn’t it?
HUCKABEE: It’s an adaptability that people in this state, Democrats obviously play much more conservatively than when they do when they get on the national stage or they wouldn’t be elected in Arkansas. But there’s another side to that. I mean, it’s easy to say the politicians just pander to the crowds.
But look, if the ratings of anybody’s television show starts going down, guess what? They start changing the content and the format and the packaging of the show. It’s part of the whole idea. If you want to win, you try to go out there and you win voters.
And so, I think that what the Clintons are good at is looking at the landscape, seeing what they need to do to win and that’s why she’s stayed in this thing as long as she has. There’s a long history of even when it looked like there was no way they could win.
Remember Bill Clinton in early 1992 in New Hampshire, he was down for the count. The Jennifer Flowers story had just broken, and he came back, even though we didn’t win, but he might as well have because he was the comeback kid went on to win the presidency twice.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, Mike Huckabee. Thank you, Willie Brown.
We’ll be right back. Keith?
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: Let’s just keep bring you up to date. We’re expecting Senator Clinton’s speech within a matter of literally minutes. We’ve been saying that for a while but this truly—the time clock was set at 9:05.
She is winning by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin in the early returns. Nine percent of the precincts in West Virginia are reporting to this point and we’re expecting according to our NBC News projections, thee exit polls say anyway that she is winning by a margin of two to one or will win by a margin of two to one in this state. And her speech will come up shortly.
In the interim, let’s bring in, again, NBC’s Washington’s bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert.
All right. What is the correct speech here, apart from this bar that Mr. McAuliffe said of being one of the greatest speeches of all time? Seriously, what does she say and more importantly, what can she say?
What is she allowed to say by this titanic victory in West Virginia?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: How the voters of West Virginia heard her and her message resonated, and how that will continue her campaign into other states because it is a message of success both from a political standpoint and a policy standpoint. I think she’ll be careful not to, in any way, say or disparage Senator Obama, focus all her effort on the quality of her message and her policy programs; and obviously, how it compares in a very positive way against the Republicans.
Keith, I’ve had a chance to read the latest e-mail just fresh out of the Clinton fundraising campaign. She says, “The voters have spoken.”
And she listens to the voters not the pundits. That she said, “Let’s
keep going, I’m not going to turn my back on you.” It’s very clear that
and she mentions Kentucky and Oregon, specifically. I think she is full speed ahead, based on the size and scope of this victory and she’s going to be magnanimous but determined.
OLBERMANN: That e-mail though and the fundraising—I don’t want to
use the term “Ponzi scheme,” but if we were not talking politics and the
chance for a payoff for people who were investing or donating to a
campaign were as little as chances are of those who would donate to
Senator Clinton’s campaign right, if we were not in a political setting,
we might use the term “Ponzi scheme” or pyramid scheme.
At what point does it become a political scam to be insisting to people this can happen when the odds are—the proverbial odds of passing the camel through the needle?
RUSSERT: I think Terry McAuliffe has tried to frame it the last three days in all his appearances on TV shows—anything is possible. And as long as there’s a possibility, everything is done with the most noble intentions.
Her phrase in here, “I will not turn my back on you,” I think is an indication of her mindset. That she owes these people who have stood by her, particularly these older white women who have said to her, “Don’t quit, stay with it. You are the force in the Democratic Party that we want to be our nominee.” And she’s determined to see it through.
But she does need money. And that’s that fine line we’ve been talking about. Just when does it become a point where you know you cannot win. The math doesn’t add up, but you have to payoff your debts.
OLBERMANN: And still with these numbers, and Chuck Todd did such a wonderful job here of analyzing what we’re likely to see, a 19 and nine split between the delegates, this 28 delegates that will be awarded from West Virginia based on this primary tonight—this is still just improving her position by a matter of 10 delegates and requiring, as Chuck pointed out, her to win 91 percent of the remaining available primary and caucus delegates from this delegate season.
It raises this question once again, that this has to be, this nomination has to be taken away from her in a way that Democrats still perceive the 2000 election was taken away from Al Gore. Is there any other way to phrase it?
RUSSERT: No, because if you look at the remaining elected delegates available. She’d have to win the next five contests in the same way she won tonight. And that as Chuck said, she’d have to get over 80 percent of the undeclared superdelegates. They’d need a mass conversion of these undeclared superdelegates who haven’t moved, so far, towards her.
The Clinton people acknowledge that they need an event, they need something to intervene and they believe that as long as they are on the field, there’s a slight chance they can recover the fumble.
MATTHEWS: What stops the Clinton campaign from continuing to insist
this isn’t over yet as long as Michigan and Florida are not resolved, until we’ve heard from Puerto Rico, until this whole process has run its course, until the superdelegates have reached the number of commitments to Barack for him to get a majority, that the campaign is not over. What’s to stop them from saying that?
RUSSERT: Nothing. And that’s what you’re going to hear tonight.
And they’re going to say - if this was over and the voters want to end
it, then why do you win West Virginia two to one? You answer that if
you pundits who all know so much.
MATTHEWS: Well, we’ve just resolved with that.
OLBERMANN: Who’s this you, famous (INAUDIBLE)?
MATTHEWS: Well, blame the mathematicians.
RUSSERT: All right.
OLBERMANN: We just saw a sign as she walked to the podium there but I think maybe sum it up, Tim, until the last dog dies.
RUSSERT: Ah, we remember that one, don’t we—from New Hampshire from William Jefferson Clinton.
MATTHEWS: All right.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton enjoying this moment in - and not sun but in the spotlight. Here she is in West Virginia.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all so much. Thank you.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: You know, like the song says, “It’s almost heaven.”
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And, I am so grateful for this overwhelming vote of confidence.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: There are some who have wanted to cut this race short. They say, “Give up. It’s too hard. The mountain is too high.” But, here in West Virginia you know a thing or two about rough roads to the top of the mountains.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: We know, from the Bible that faith can move mountains. And my friends, the faith of the Mountain State has moved me.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I am more determined than ever to carry on this campaign...
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: ... until everyone has had a chance to make their voices heard. I want to commend Senator Obama and his supporters. This continues to be a hard fought race from one end of our country to the other. And yes, we’ve had a few dustups along the way. But our commitment to bring America new leadership that will renew America’s promise—means that we have always stood together on what is most important.
Now, tonight, I need your help to continue this journey.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: We are in the home stretch. There are only three weeks left in the final contest and your support can make the difference between winning and losing, so I hope you’ll go to HillaryClinton.com...
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And support our campaign. You’ve heard this before, there are many who wanted to declare a nominee before the ballots were counted or even cast—some said our campaign was over after Iowa, but then we won New Hampshire. We had big victories on Super Tuesday and in Ohio, in Texas, in Pennsylvania, and, of course, we came from behind to win in Indiana. So, this race isn’t over yet.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win. And both Senator Obama and I believe that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I believe we should honor the votes cast by 2.3 million people in those states and seat all of their delegates. Under the rules of our party, when you include all 50 states, the number of delegates needed to win is 2,209 and neither of us has reached that threshold yet. This win in West Virginia will help me move even closer.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Now, in a campaign, it can be easy to get lost in the political spin and the polls or the punditry, but we must never lose sight of what really counts—of why all of us care so much about who wins and who loses in our political system. An enormous decision falls on the shoulders of Democratic voters in these final contests and those Democrats empowered to vote at our convention.
And tonight, in light of our overwhelming victory here in West Virginia, I want to send a message to everyone still making up their minds. I am in this race because I believe I am the strongest candidate.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: The strongest candidate to lead our party in November of 2008 and the strongest president to lead our nation starting in January 2009.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I can win this nomination if you decide I should and I can lead this party to victory in the general election, if you lead me to victory now.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: The choice falls to all of you and I don’t envy you. I deeply admire Senator Obama, but I believe our case, a case West Virginia has helped to make. Our case is stronger. Together, we have won millions and millions of votes. By the time tonight is over, probably 17 million, close to it. We have won them in states that we must be prepared and ready to win in November—Pennsylvania and Ohio, Arkansas and New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and now West Virginia.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: It is a fact that no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: The bottom line is this. The White House is won in the swing states and I am winning the swing states.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And we have done it by standing up for the deepest principals of our party. With a vision for an America that rewards hard work again. That values the middle class and helps to make it stronger. With your help, I am ready to go head-to-head with John McCain to put our vision for America...
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: ... up against the one he shared with President Bush. Now, I believe our party is strong enough for this challenge. I am strong enough for it. You know I never give up. I’ll keep coming back and I’ll stand with you as long as you stand with me.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Together, we will draw the stark distinction that will determine the future direction of our nation. The difference between ending the war in Iraq responsibly or continuing it indefinitely, between health care for everyone and more uninsured Americans, between standing up for the middle class family that is you represent or standing up for the corporate special interest.
So, I ask you Democrats, to choose who you believe will make the strongest candidate in the fall and who is ready to execute the office of the presidency of the United States.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: People ask me all the time, why am I in this race? Well, I’m in it because of the people that I have worked for my entire life and the people I meet along the campaign trail—people who need someone who fights for them because they are fighting so hard every single day. The people who drive for miles to show their support who come with the homemade signs, who raise money by skipping those dinners out, who have stood fast and stood strong.
I am in this race for the millions of Americans who know that we can do better in our country. For the nurse on her second shift, for the worker on the line, for the waitress on her feet, for the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the coal miner, the trucker, the soldiers, the veteran.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: All of the hardworking men and women who defied the odds to build a better life for themselves and their children. You will never be counted out and I won’t either. You will never quit and I won’t either.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: The question is why do so many people keep voting? Why did 64 percent of Democrats say in a recent poll, they wanted this race to continue? Because—in the face of the pundits and the naysayers, they know what is at stake. They know that we have two wars, an economy in crisis on the brink of a recession, $9 trillion of debt, oil prices shooting through the roof, gas prices and grocery prices, hurting people who desperately are looking for a way to just keep going day-to-day.
They know they need a champion. They need someone who’s going to never stop fighting for health care that covers everyone—no exceptions; for an economy that lifts everyone up; for good jobs that won’t be shipped overseas; for college affordability, for all that you can do to own a home and then to keep it.
CLINTON: This election is fundamentally about whether or not the American dream remains alive and well for our children and our grandchildren. This is the core of my life and my political belief that we owe so much to future generations, that we do not want to see that dream recede. That we know people have to work hard and we expect you to just do that and it takes responsibility. But at the very least, you should have a president who’s on your side, again.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I believe that this campaign has been good for the Democratic Party and good for our country. People are discussing and debating issues. They are turning out in record numbers to register and to vote. There is an excitement about politics that is the lifeblood of our democracy.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: For me, this election isn’t about who’s in or who’s out or who’s up or who’s down. It’s about the common threads that tie us together. Rich and poor, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, Democrats, Republicans and independents—we are united by common values.
We all want a better world for our children and we want the best for our country. We are committed to putting a Democrat back in the White House and our nominee will be stronger for having campaigned long and hard, building enthusiasm and excitement, hearing your stories and answering your questions.
And I will work my heart out for the nominee of the Democratic Party. So, make sure we have a Democratic president.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: So, as we look at the stakes in this election, I think we can all agree it’s been unprecedented. We haven’t had an election like it for as long as anyone can remember. It is still so close and it really does depend upon those who will vote in these next contests and those who have the awesome responsibility as delegates of our great Democratic Party.
I’m asking that people think hard about where we are in this election. About how we will win in November because this is not an abstract exercise. This is for a solemn crucial purpose, to elect a president to turn our country around, to meet the challenges we face and seize the opportunities.
It has been a long campaign, but it is just an instant in time when compared with the lasting consequences of the choice we will make in November. That is why I am carrying on and if you give me a chance, Democrats, I’ll come back to West Virginia in the general election and we’ll win this state and will win the White House.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I am honored and grateful for the support and hospitality of the people of West Virginia. I spent a few minutes with your wonderful, national treasure, Senator Byrd this morning.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: We talked about his beloved West Virginia. I told him where I’d gone and what I’d seen. I talked about the people I had met. And he just broke in to the biggest smile. I don’t know that any man has ever loved a state more than Robert C. Byrd loves West Virginia.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I am grateful for the graciousness of Governor and Mrs.
Manchin. Governor Manchin is winning a great victory himself tonight.
I want to thank Joe and Gail for welcoming me to Governor Manchin’s
hometown as we went to Fairmont for a great election last night.
I want to thank Senate majority leader, Truman Chafin; former governor, Hulett Smith; Brigadier General Jack Yager (ph) -- all of the West Virginia veterans who honored me by their support and I honor their service.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Thanks to my friends in the labor unions who stood with us every step of the way. We wouldn’t be here without you. And a special thanks to my outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters here in West Virginia.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: You know, at least once, usually a half dozen times a day, Bill and Chelsea and I check in with each other and I wish every West Virginian could have heard our calls as we compared our experiences here in this state. We’ve had the best time.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And I will be back.
As we move on now, to the next contest in Kentucky and Oregon, in Puerto Rico, in Montana and South Dakota. Tonight, I’m thinking about Lauren Steen (ph) from South Dakota, 88 years old and in failing health when she asked that her daughter bring an absentee ballot to her hospice bedside. She was born before women had the right to vote. And she was determined to exercise that right.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: To cast a ballot for her candidate who just happened to be a woman running for president.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Lauren (ph) passed on a few days ago, but I am eternally grateful to her and her family for making this such an important and incredible milestone in her life that means so much to me.
I’m also thinking of Dalton Hatfield, an 11-year-old boy from Kentucky who sold his bike and sold his video games to raise money to support my campaign.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: This is a great and good nation because of people like Lauren Steen (ph) and Dalton Hatfield and their families. Her memory and his future are worth fighting for. As long as we remember, there is no challenge we cannot meet, no barrier we cannot break, no dream we cannot realize, so, let’s finish the job we started, America is worth fighting for. Thank you and God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all so very much.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
OLBERMANN: Terry McAuliffe said it would be one of the greatest speeches of all time. And there it was tied with the “Sermon on the Mount,” part fundraiser, part invocation of Florida and Michigan, part queue (ph) for the confetti, Senator Clinton speaking to her supporters, delirious supporters at Charlestown, West Virginia after a triumphant victory in that state in the primary there.
Our exit polling suggests it would be by a margin of two to one. The projection came in when the polls closed nearly two hours ago. The projection came in immediately.
There are some factual issues in this, Chris Matthews. Is it, as she suggests so close, when according to Chuck Todd’s calculations, there are 189 unvoted-upon delegates yet to be assigned and she would need 172 of them to clinch the lead and Obama would need 18. Does that mean it’s close?
MATTHEWS: Well, the way that she defined, as I thought she would, that the closeness is who is going to get the requisite number of total delegates by Denver and she’ll argue neither one of them are close to doing therefore it’s close in the competition.
She also said all delegates must be seated from Florida and all delegates seated from Michigan and in terms of the popular count Puerto Rican votes who can do (ph) so much as mainland votes. And her calculation, it does come up to the superdelegates voting pretty much in Denver, the end of summer.
Whatever Ann Lewis said earlier tonight, she’s saying much more like I’m carrying this to the end—that this is the midpoint of the campaign, halftime. Clearly, I mean, it’s Hillary talking, but it was impressive, I must say, the way in which she says her version of reality, which is upbeat and debonair and positive, and if you were one those people, you’d say, “Yes, that’s the truth.”
And the question is: Does she really count Chuck Todd as a pundit? I mean, people that count the numbers like Tim Russert, who sit there and go through numbers—studying the numbers—is this really a battle of opinion here or is it simply a person saying I refuse to accept factual information?
The mathematical certitude becomes (ph) of counting and I think the way they define this thing, they can always build up a bigger question than numbers can answer, which is: What with will happen if all the superdelegates vote for her in June? Therefore, it is close because we don’t really if they will vote in sufficient numbers for Barack to give him the requisite majority as they count the number of delegates.
OLBERMANN: Well, we know that this campaign has run on political self-martyr for several months. You and I have, at various times have been feed in to that mo (ph). And obviously, pundits are the fuel of the week if you hear that dropping out (ph).
MATTHEWS: Yes, I don’t think - I mean, I’m not going to say in anyone’s defense, certainly not (INAUDIBLE), that people have a right to criticize anyone including us but I think it’s not a question of one person’s opinion versus another. If you read all the objective news reporting—by the most rigorous reporting, in a wire services in the quality newspapers, everyone agrees on the numbers. It isn’t her against somebody else’s opinion; it’s her against everyone else’s assessment of the numbers. And that’s what’s going on.
By the way, it’s great politics, what she’s done because a lot of people will contribute money tonight on the basis that you might suggest, might be a Ponzi scheme, but the way they’ll look at it is—it’s a reasonable request for help.
OLBERMANN: And one final note here, the issue you raise that it’s not just a few people versus - her opinion versus a couple people. There’s also a question of her opinion now versus her opinion previously. And the quote was from October 11th last year, about Michigan on public radio in New Hampshire. It’s clear this election they are having is not going to count for anything. That was Sen. Clinton talking about Michigan ...
OLBERMANN: ... before all this evolved the way it did. And so, the conflict here is not you versus Sen. Clinton, me, Chuck, Tim, any news paper, any quality newspaper, any non-quality newspaper. It is an issue included in all of this of a certain element of erase the past, that doesn’t count. It wasn’t sincere.
OLBERMANN: It didn’t matter. It needs to be revised. It must be overruled. There is so much in this that only separates seemingly what the facts suggest now, but separates Sen. Clinton from where she stood previously on the implications of those facts as she perceived them earlier. Her facts have changed. What is our favorite late senator, Mr. Moynahan’s(ph) line about everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
MATHEWS: Well, that might be the case, and I think it is. You know,
it’s very interesting to watch this whole thing play out. Hillary
Clinton has sort of set up a fight here with pundits, as she calls
them. Now, that may work in her favor.
Back in 1962, when Richard Nixon lost that fight with Pat Brown for
governor. It was considered to be his final defeat. And the press was
just laying it in to ABC to the special, the obituary of Richard Nixon.
They overdid it and because they overdid. And people came on like Alger
Hiss - the communist came on and really put the guy down.
ABC really did try to throw the dirt on the coffin. Nixon came back
from that, and there was Kennedy watching. The president said, “They’ve
overdone it. These phony liberals.” So, I think she’s wrong in terms
of the way she set up this debate. I think it is in fact the numbers
versus her, rather than her versus someone else’s assessment.
But there will be people watching tonight who’ll say this is a battle
of opinion and we should stay out of it. And I think that’s a
reasonable - by the way, if I were sitting out there, I’d be skeptical.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes. One last point before we go to Tim Russert.
The Clinton supporters are fond of saying and to be fair many of the
Obama supporters say this as well, that this is not nearly as bruising
or divisive a fight within the Democratic Party that we’ve seen in the
last six months as some of us have been wont to suggest. I would
suggest that the terms of the media coverage towards Sen. Clinton has
not been anywhere what she has presented back to us as it has not been
brutal. It has not been disenfranchising -
OLBERMANN: It may have been fickle, but I just can’t imagine that we
would be sitting here tonight if the numbers were reversed, and this was
Sen. Obama claiming this race continued. I can’t imagine it. I think
we’d have cartoons on right now. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MATHEWS: Well, you know, I want to suggest to them and this is maybe
just many ways to analyze press coverage. Their own press relations,
the way they’ve handled the press. You could point to us one of the
Bill Clinton came into the White House in 1992, with a tremendous win
to this back in terms of press coverage because of generation. A lot of
reporters were Bill Clinton’s age. They had backgrounds like he did,
coming from humble roots to going to better schools. They liked him.
They thought he and Al Gore were the new breed. And George H. Walker
Bush seemed to be a bit out of it at that point.
This time around, I think Barack Obama has benefited from being the
new breed. Maybe that’s the function of the media, to always bring in
the new breed, the exciting new factor, to root for the underdog, if you
will. But by the way, if you want to make a Rocky comparison, she’s
Apollo Creed, by the way, not rocky. She came into this bout as the
MATHEWS: If this bout goes the distance, not necessarily a credit to Apollo Creed.
OLBERMANN: And if the media leaned at any point early on in this race, it was not against her, but towards her. All right. That’s enough with ours.
Tim Russert, the bureau chief for NBC News in Washington, moderator
of “Meet the Press” now joining us in the wake of this. All right.
We’ve vented. Now, tell us what actually happened.
TIM RUSSERT, BUREAU CHIEF FOR NBC NEWS IN WASHINGTON: Keith, I think
the headline, “I’m more determined than ever to go forward. I will
never quit. I will never quit.” That’s clear Hillary Clinton. She is
going to plow forward now through the remaining five primaries and
caucuses. Just a couple of factual things. One, Gov. Roy Romer of
Colorado, the chairman of the Bill Clinton re-election campaign in 1996,
said today when he endorsed Barack Obama, “The math is not there for
Sen. Clinton.” He is hardly a pundit. He’s a very serious politician
and a serious man.
When Sen. Clinton talked about the number of delegates necessary, the
number she is now using is changed. It’s changed from what she used and
what her staff used all through January and February. It was always
2025. And now, suddenly, it’s 2209. Because when she talks about
Michigan and Florida, you mentioned your comments in October.
Forty-eight hours ago, Terry McAuliffe, on “Meet the Press,” said
that he’d be willing to seat half the delegations of Michigan and
Florida. Why? Because when he was party chairman, he had a fight with
Michigan and said he would only seat half the delegation for breaking
Tonight, we now have the view as articulated by Sen. Clinton - it has
to be the full delegation, no punishment whatsoever for breaking party
rules. And lastly, in terms of swing states - yes, Sen. Clinton has won
some key and pivotal swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But Sen. Obama has won Iowa, in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, in Colorado,
in Virginia. Both can lay claim to some very important swing states in
terms of the Electoral College. But bottom line is, she’s going
forward. She wants to be seen, I think, and remembered as a fighter
first and foremost, a champion for the working class. And this means
she’s going to see this through to the first week of June.
MATHEWS: Tim, is there any way, that when you sit down and look at
her view of things, it’s called Hillaryland. But when you look at the
land that she described where nothing happens until everything’s decided
Michigan and Florida. Nothing is decided until those are seated.
Full delegation seated, with full representation in Denver. Then you
look at her way of looking at it, it’s still up to the superdelegates to
decide this thing.
How does she see this as victory in division somewhere out there?
Where does her eye go when she looks for victory?
RUSSERT: She’s saying to herself, “Tell these superdelegates they’re
making a big mistake if they don’t go for me. And how do I get their
attention?” It’s almost hypnotic. Watch this - you really ought to be
careful. There’s no need to rush for a decision. It’s only three more
And then, she will say, as Terry McAuliffe has been saying, what if
she wins the remaining five contests against all the odds? What will
the superdelegates think then? Freeze yourself, hold back, don’t
commit. Don’t declare. Stay where you are. Let this play out. Let it
finish. You owe yourselves that much. You owe the party that much.
Let’s be absolutely certain that you’re not settling for something but
the very best candidates. That’s their entire claim to try to secure
OLBERMANN: Tim, stay with us. You mentioned Terry McAuliffe,
chairman of the Clinton campaign. He joins us once again as he was with
us before the speech, from Clinton headquarters in Charleston, West
Well, sir, you have described that as one of the greatest speeches ever one does (UNINTELLIGIBLE) anticipate that. Did it meet your expectations?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHAIRMAN OF THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN: It did and I’m
sure it sent shivers up Chris Mathews’ leg.
MATHEWS: You know you keep going back to the golden oldies. How
about some new material tonight, Terry?
MCAULIFFE: It’s new for me.
MATHEWS: What was the line in the speech that you found the most
MCAULIFFE: Listen. What I thought when Hillary said we’re going on,
but in fairness, I’ve told Chris - you this for a while, and Keith, I’ve
mentioned it to you, we’re going through the rest of this process. We
have less than three weeks now to go. And we’ve got a lot of states to
vote. We’ve got millions of people to vote. We have a message out
there. It was a big win tonight.
No matter what you want to say, she came in here. They had many more
staff, if not ten to one in the staff number. Many more offices than we
had. And her message worked. And I think we ought to go through the
remaining three weeks, get that message out there and see where we are
after the June 3rd.
MATHEWS: Let me do to you what I did to Tim - is get out of you an
explicit scenario for Hillary Clinton becoming a Democratic nominee for
president. How does it look? Describe - map quest it from here to Denver.
MCAULIFFE: From here to the end of June 3rd, I think what we see
happen - Hillary Clinton moves ahead in the popular vote. As I said
earlier, it gets close in the delegates, probably the difference is 100
delegates difference, Chris. And then, I think on May 31st, the rules
and by-laws committee will seat Florida and Michigan, have been involved
but they still vote in the popular vote.
And then, the argument has to be after June 3rd, who they best can
think can win the White House on November 4th. That’s the argument. As
I say that process begins in three weeks when we finish up the voting.
MATHEWS: Tim has pointed out before - I think it was actually Chuck
Todd that pointed out that if you win 75 percent of the remaining
contests, the voting contests, and then it still takes about 80 percent
of the superdelegates, it’s very hard to see how you do it in that
universe alone. Are you still hoping to poach, to pick off pledged
delegates on your road to Denver?
MCAULIFFE: Well, we say right - for the next couple weeks, what we
want to do is continue to win. I think we’ll win Puerto Rico. I think
we’ll win in Kentucky. We’re going to have bigger campaigns in those
other states. We have offices open in all of them. We have purchased
media in some of them, full compliments of staff. We’re going to
continue to win pledged delegates. And what it will come down to in the
end is the superdelegates. Hillary Clinton has gotten -
MATHEWS: I’m asking this very important question. Are you going to pry loose some of the pledged delegates from Obama?
MCAULIFFE: Chris, I don’t see any other pledged delegates for Sen.
Obama today coming over to our campaign. I don’t see it. We would
welcome them, but I’m not banking on that, and I don’t see that likely
to happen unless something happens. We don’t know today. We’ve got to
continue to win states, win them with big numbers like we did here
tonight and make the argument that Hillary Clinton is the best in the
fall, not only to win the White House, but to help in the
OLBERMANN: Wow. Terry, I mentioned Michigan. The senator mentioned Michigan. I mentioned it coming out in sort of a perhaps a one-sided fashion. Take this opportunity, reconcile your position on seating Michigan with Sen. Clinton’s statement from October of 2007 that it’s clear the election they are having is not going to count for anything.
MCAULIFFE: Well, what happened, Keith, is that people came out and
voted. Everybody was on the ballot as you know. Sen. Obama, Sen.
Edwards, Sen. Biden - many of them decided to take their name off the
ballot. Some of it was done for political reasons. One - Hillary
Clinton is way ahead in Michigan. Two - they wanted to appease and
curry favor with Iowa and New Hampshire.
But it’s clear, Keith, that these people went out and voted.
Michigan is a key state for us in the Electoral College to win. Florida
as you know, they are very angry down in Florida. Most of it was done by the Republican legislature and the Republican governor, and it wasn’t the Democrats fault. And you had 1.7 million people came out and voted. You can’t pretend they didn’t exist.
This is a country of 50 states. They voted. We have a very close
election. We’ve five contests to go. This was a big win. It’s an
important win. Last week, many people declared this race over. How do
you balance that with a record vote turnout here tonight in a two to one
win for Hillary Clinton?
Obviously, something is going on. Her message is working. People
want this race to go on. You heard it here tonight. I think you’re
going to hear it next week in Kentucky.
OLBERMANN: I’m giving you Florida for the sake of argument, if not
for more than that. But I’d still - is it - can it be phrased in any
way other than this that Sen. Clinton’s position on Michigan has changed
180 degrees from where she was 2007, about whether or not Michigan
counted on the way that the primary was being staged by the Democratic
MCAULIFFE: Well, listen. Everybody, Keith, was on the ballot.
People make political decisions to take their names off the ballot.
What we know did happen is that 600,000 people showed up in Michigan to
vote. This is a state that is absolutely critical to the Electoral
College mix. These people, their voices ought to be heard.
I have always said I know we have a steep climb, as it relates to the
delegates, as it relates to the popular vote. It’s very important. If
you look at all the contents so far, 35 million people have voted. A
million voters came to the caucuses.
Hillary Clinton has won most of hers with primaries, which on average
over 12,700 people - they voted for the delegates for Hillary in the
primaries. These are important messages. Who can put together the best
argument that can help and put together that’s going to win in the fall
against John McCain. The polling data today says it’s Hillary Clinton.
West Virginia said today, a chief state, Hillary Clinton by two to one,
a state that Bill Clinton carried twice. We need to win again.
MATHEWS: What do you make of the new ABC-“Washington Post” poll that
came out today that showed that among people polled in a national poll
was 62-26 - something like that - who believed that Barack Obama is the
stronger Democratic nominee?
MCAULIFFE: Well, they also said whatever the number was, 55 percent said the race ought to go on. So you know what, Chris? I say leave it to the voters to determine.
MCAULIFFE: Less than three weeks to go, you would have heard that. Would that have applied here tonight in West Virginia? Will it apply in Kentucky? Of course not. Let the voters in these states - Chris, never before in the history of this great party, when it’s been this close, have we asked for a potential candidate or potential nominee to get out of the race.
In 1980, Sen. Kennedy, who had 1,000 delegates - now, took the
President of the United States incumbent Jimmy Carter all the way to the
Florida convention and had ballots on the floor of the convention.
1984, Gary Hart took Walter Mondale. You didn’t hear this drumbeat to
get out of the race.
MATHEWS: You know, -
MCAULIFFE: And I tell everybody Hillary Clinton - yes.
MATHEWS: Terry, let me just tell you something. You know, let me tell you something (UNINTELLIGIBLE) So you’re listening because you’re a pro. From my position, professionally, I love covering these primaries. I love the turnout.
MATHEWS: I love the fact that more people are registered. I love the fact that young people are telling their parents to get off their butts and go out and vote.
I love the excitement in this campaign. I’m one of those people out there that agrees completely with you. I don’t mind you using me as a punching bag, but at least get it through your head, you’re arguing with a straw man here. That everybody in our business of covering politics loves doing it, loves the excitement of it and has no interest whatever in it ending. So I don’t know who you’re arguing with, Terry. Not me.
MCAULIFFE: Well, I disagree
MATHEWS: But I understand why you’re setting this up.
But David, I know it’s all part of this “Rocky” thing against her.
MCAULIFFE: She shouldn’t get out of the race.
MATHEWS: I know and she’s not getting out of the race.
MCAULIFFE: Why should she go?
MATHEWS: That’s one thing you’ve convinced us all tonight.
MCAULIFFE: Until someone gets the number to be the nominee, the race goes on, Chris.
MATHEWS: I am waiting for that convention.
MCAULIFFE: It’s not up to you or anyone else.
MATHEWS: You know what I want?
MCAULIFFE: All right.
MATHEWS: Since you’re asking what we all want, we pundits - we all
want a convention. We all want to not know going to Denver who’s going
to win. We all want a roll call on a Wednesday night at midnight. We
want to not know until five minutes to midnight who’s going to be the
nominee. So when you come out ...
MCAULIFFE: Well, that’s going to happen.
MATHEWS: ... hour after hour complaining about the pundits who want this over with, you’re arguing with no one, Terry. No one.
MCAULIFFE: Then people should not say -
MATHEWS: No one.
MCAULIFFE: But let me say, Chris. It’s nice of you to say that.
MATHEWS: No one is arguing with you.
MCAULIFFE: But it means nothing because you keep saying the race is over. It isn’t up to Chris Mathews. It’s up to the voters.
MATHEWS: No. I don’t ...
MCAULIFFE: Don’t discourage vote turnouts by saying it’s over.
MATHEWS: You won’t stop. You won’t stop.
MCAULIFFE: You say it’s over - it isn’t over. It’s over when someone gets the nomination.
MATHEWS: Keep it up, Terry. Keep it up.
MCAULIFFE: It isn’t over. We’re going now. All right. Good to see
MATHEWS: You’re going to find a rival (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Keep it up.
Terry Auliffe, chairman of the Clinton campaign.
MCAULIFFE: God bless you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Terry.
MATHEWS: OK, now, reaction from the Obama campaign. Sen. Amy
Klobuchar is a Democrat. She’s in Minnesota. She supports Barack
Obama. Senator, you just got a fighting chairman there who believes
that it’s him against - well, Sen. Clinton against the pundits, the
referees, the mathematicians, the Barack Obama people, you, the
surrogates. It’s them against the house. But it seems to me the house
is enjoying this, myself.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), OBAMA SUPPORTER: I would quote Terry
where he said, “It isn’t up to Chris Mathews. It’s up to the voters.
MATHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) humility.
KLOBUCHAR: And when you look at the numbers here, Sen. Obama is something like 150 delegates away from capturing this nomination. He’s run a tremendous campaign. He’s unleashed an energy and enthusiasm in this country that’s just impossible to contain.
And Sen. Clinton gave a good speech tonight. And I think there are
some things, in all the yelling, weren’t touched on. She talked about,
in a very strong way, how she was going to support the nominee of the
party, just as I heard her husband say in Montana when I was there on
Saturday night to a standing ovation. She talked about the common
thread that united us as Democrats. And then she talked about the fact
there were three weeks left in this contest. And I think we all knew
she was going to stay until June. And I’ve always said as long as we
can resolve this in June, we will be stronger party.
OLBERMANN: Is there not, Senator, somewhere in that speech from Sen. Clinton the implication that those - this idea of having everyone sit down and seriously think who should be the Democratic nominee, who would be more successful against Sen. McCain. Is there not an implication that those who voted for Sen. Obama especially weeks and months ago either didn’t think or need to be overruled in some way?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, since 60-some percent of the people in my state
voted for Sen. Obama, I think they thought and they thought hard about
this, including a lot of working class people - Northern Minnesota of
the iron ore mines where my grandpa worked. They went over 60 percent
for Sen. Obama. And I think you’ve seen ups and downs in this contest
with Sen. Clinton strong in some states, and Sen. Obama in others.
But overall, Sen. Obama has won the heart of the heartland. He’s
showing Democrats how the west can be won and he is really marching
across this country to a victory that brings in new voters and
independents like we’ve never seen before. And I’m really concerned
that we have a candidate and are united at the party to get things done
in Washington, someone who can bring in those independents. As I look
at the struggles we have with healthcare, what people are facing with
the price of gas, what’s going on with the war on Iraq. I want to have
someone that comes in with that kind of broad support in the fall.
MATHEWS: It’s great to have you on, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of
Minnesota. Thank you very much for joining us. It’s great tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on and it was fun to listen to what was on before me.
MATHEWS: Well, it is strange to be part of it. Anyway, let’s bring
back the insiders. Mike Huckabee, the former Gov. of Arkansas and
presidential candidate on the Republican side. And U.S. Congressman
Harold Ford, Jr. Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.
What did you both think? I’ll just get - Oh, that’s not Harold
Ford. That’s of course, Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco. Sorry.
You first then Gov. Huckabee. Both of you, gentlemen, give me your
sardines(ph) late night review of what you saw in terms political
FMR. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
My thought is the happiest person in America tonight is John McCain who
just turned to Cindy with a great big smile on his face and said, “That
was a great speech by Hillary.” The fact is, it surprised me. I kind
of thought she was going to be like the pilot circling the field,
looking for a way to bring the plane in for a soft landing.
Instead, she basically said, you know, “We’re flying this thing until
the last drop of fuel goes out of the tank.” And I was surprised. I
thought it was far more of a combative speech in the sense that she’s
saying we’re going to take it all away.
I think two people are going to benefit. Number one, John McCain, as
I said. The others - Chris, you hit it right. You guys are going to
benefit, those of you that do this for a living. You’re going to have a
heck of a good time watching this thing all the way.
MATHEWS: Well, it definitely has aroused the country’s interest.
And Mayor Brown, I looked at the numbers in the new poll today that
shows that well over 60 percent, about two-thirds of the people do enjoy
I mean that’s not the right word - but want this campaign to be vigorous and continuing.
Maybe they just are really into it. They are into the debate.
They’re into the competition. You see it in the audience levels of all
the programming on television that has to do with politics. What do you
think is going on here? Do people want this to be a 15 rounder, a 25
rounder, infinite (UNINTELLIGIBLE) campaign. What do they want?
WILLIE BROWN, FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR: I frankly think people
want it to go all the way to Denver. I think people want and like the
idea that on the floor of the convention you’ll have a repeat, possibly
of what you had in New York with Kennedy and Carter. Or what you had in
1972 in Miami involving George McGovern.
I think people are excited about this prospect. Also, keep in mind
that Mr. Obama has produced a whole new collection of people who have
never, ever, participated in any aspects of this process. And believe
me, they are learning and learning and learning and so is he. Every
step that’s being taken, John McCain ought to be worried, because you’re
going to see at the end of the process a well-seasoned, well-trained
veteran, either Clinton or Obama, capable of matching and exceeding
MATHEWS: Gov. Huckabee, that is a challenge for the Republicans
although this continuing battle on Hillary’s part may be a problem for
Barack. Look at the numbers. Three million new registrants - an
incredible spike in turnout among the registered voters. Amazing
numbers in the last week. We’ve already analyzed it in North Carolina
and Indiana, enough primary voters on both sides of that fight to match
anything that John Kerry was able to do in the general. A huge
participation. Doesn’t that worry Republicans?
HUCKABEE: Well, it does at this point, but we’re several months from
the election. The issues haven’t been framed for the general election.
And I think John McCain is the best person to frame those issues in a way -
MATHEWS: It depends on who you’ve got.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think he’s going to be able to show that he’s not
just a traditional, predictable Republican. That’s how he was able to
do so well in the primary. And I think that’s why, you know, this is
going to be a great race. But if it goes to the convention, you know,
it’s going to be great theater. Everyone is going to enjoy it.
Everyone’s going to want to buy a ticket. It will be pay-per-view.
Don’t miss it because we haven’t had one like that in a long time.
MATHEWS: It will also be democracy. Anyway, it’s Gov. Huckabee.
Thank you, Governor. And Mayor Brown, thank you, sir. Mr. Speaker -
let’s go to Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. One thing you notice what we’ve had these examples used - 1972, McGovern, et al. 1980, Kennedy and Carter. 1984, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) - all three of them lost. When’s the last fore fight that produced a Democratic president? Maybe you can argue Kennedy, right? Maybe.
MATHEWS: Eisenhower, Taft, ‘52. They had a fight. They actually
had a fight.
OLBERMANN: But that’s the Republicans. When’s the last time a Democratic floor fight produced a Democratic president.
MATHEWS: No. Even the vice presidential fight between Kennedy and
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) did not help.
OLBERMANN: Do we have to go back to 1924 and the hundred ballots? I mean bad things happen with the Democrats on the forefront.
MATHEWS: Probably. I don’t remember how it worked, yes, but ‘32
might be as far back.
OLBERMANN: I guess your friends probably approve that. All right.
Enough of that. I’ll go research that. Here’s David Gregory and the
“Race for the White House” panel. Maybe somebody knows there, David.
DAVID GREGORY, CO-ANCHOR: All right, Keith. Thanks very much. Pat
Buchanan, you can chime in on that. But overall, what I heard Hillary
Clinton making as an argument tonight was one where she did not tear
down Barack Obama, but built him up. But she made a case to stay in
this race. What did you hear?
PAT BUCHANAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: I heard exactly what I thought I was going to hear. She’s going to stay in the race. She’s going to fight it all the way to the convention. She did not give in to that. She’s not going to quit. She did not attack Obama. She’s going to support the nominee of the party.
She spoke - you know, one of her problems in speaking is occasionally
she goes to the level where she’s strident. She has gotten beyond
that. That was a splendid speech, I thought. And frankly, look, they
have a plausible scenario, but it does require something to happen,
which none of us can foresee right now.
GREGORY: Rachel, there’s two other things. What is the something
that happens - in other words, there is a subjective argument to be made
that the superdelegates would have to ignore the math and make a
qualitative decision in her favor. Second thing is, did you not hear an
appeal to her biggest base - and that is women - to say, “They want to
shut me down. Don’t let them do it. They in the media - they, the
pundits - everybody wants to shut me down.”
RACHEL MADDOW, POLITICAL ANALYST: This was her most energized
speech. I feel like it’s weird - Pat and I are agreeing way too much
tonight. I agree; it wasn’t - I think it was the best speech that we’ve
seen from her yet in the campaign. I don’t think we’ve seen something
from her that good in a long time.
But there’s two arguments now. There’s the argument that the
superdelegates really want to hear, which is that you guys don’t really
need to decide right now. You don’t need to stick your necks out. Any
superdelegate who hasn’t declared yet, doesn’t want to declare. Hillary
Clinton is encouraging that. Barack Obama has not been making the
counter argument, which is what Keith was just pointing out, which is
that if this goes to the convention, the Democrats have very little
chance of getting the vote.
GREGORY: Hey, Gene, let me make an argue here that’s a little concurring, which is Obama arguing the math now, which is factual is a little like prose to Hillary Clinton’s poetry. And in the poetry, there’s some motivation. There’s a potential enthusiasm among her supporters among other Democrats.
EUGENE ROBINSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: To a certain extent. I mean I thought I did hear a bit of poetry in that and certainly, she appealed to women, saying, you know, help a sister out. You know, the boys are - she didn’t quite say the boys are ganging up on me.
MADDOW: There wasn’t a lot of gender stuff. There’s a little, but
not a lot.
ROBINSON: But there was a little bit.
GREGORY: But she’s picked it up in the last week. She certainly
made that appeal in the last week.
ROBINSON: You know, what I distinctly heard was, “We need money.
OK, not just we need time, but we need money.” And that is not an
insignificant factor as we go forward. It costs like a million dollars
BUCHANAN: She does have a powerful argument, at least, to make, “I
can win the swing states and I can help you on the down ballot.” And
that is a very powerful argument.
ROBINSON: Well, not what the polls say.
GREGORY: We’re going to leave it there for now.
BUCHANAN: State by state.
GREGORY: Back to Keith.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory and the panel. Thank you. Chris and I
will be back for another hour as our coverage of the West Virginia
primary won tonight by Hillary Clinton continues. Look, however, as we
go at these numbers - 65 and 28 do not add up to 100 percent. Where is
the rest of that going to tonight, that other seven percent in West
Virginia? It is going to somebody else who was still on the ballot
there - John Edwards. Our coverage continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: At Charleston, West Virginia, less than one hour ago, the announcer who introduced Senator Hillary Clinton, calling her the next president of the United States.
How much her overwhelming victory in the Mountaineering State actually can change the very long odds that that might happen remains to be seen—Senator Clinton winning West Virginia handily, according to NBC News projections, leading in the exit poll by a ratio of 2-1, and now nearly achieving that number, because Barack Obama is not the only other candidate in the race. Senator Edwards’ name is still on that ballot. And he has still received about 7 percent of the vote tonight.
With more than 40 percent of precincts reporting, the margin is growing towards expectations—minutes ago, Senator Clinton telling superdelegates to back her candidacy, because, she claims, tonight’s win will not be her last.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can win this nomination, if you decide I should. And I can lead this party to victory in the general election, if you lead me to victory now.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And her opponent, Senator Obama, tonight choosing to treat this race as if it already were the general election, watching returns from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and telling swing state voters that the choice in November is a choice between change and Bush 44.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just look at where he stands, and you will see that a vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush’s third term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, greetings from MSNBC and NBC News World Headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York City. I’m Keith Olbermann.
Let’s turn once again to NBC’s Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.
Good evening again, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, so, where do we stand here? Is this really a battle of whose reality is going to win here, or—or—or where are we?
RUSSERT: Well, there’s a stark reality, and it’s called the math you and Chris and everyone has been pointing out all night and all week.
Terry McAuliffe kept talking about the people who want Hillary Clinton to quit and get out of the race. I have been very careful in reporting this.
And I don’t find many people saying that on either side of this race. Most have been saying she has every right to continue. It’s just that the math doesn’t add up.
And I listened very carefully to your conversation and Chris’
conversation with Terry McAuliffe. And he acknowledged that Senator Clinton would get close, within 100 delegates, of Senator Obama with elected delegates.
And that, to me, is a very strong acknowledgment that Senator Obama is going to win the elected delegates. And, so, the Clinton path to the nomination is to have the superdelegates say to the elected delegates, although you have a majority in favor of Obama, we believe that Clinton should be the nominee.
Everyone I have talked to on both sides of this effort acknowledged what that would mean in Denver. You would have a sizable number of Obama delegates, many of them African-American, many of them young, being told that, even though they had more elected delegates, they were not going to win the nomination.
And that is a question that still has to be addressed and I think answered by the Clinton campaign. Are they willing to go to that level? And what would be the fallout and ramifications for a fall election?
It’s a very legitimate and honest question and debate to have. You mentioned ‘80 and ‘84 and ‘72. In ‘68, every time, the Democrats have had a—a havoc at their convention, it has ended in a very bad result for that party.
And that’s why many people have been suggesting, on both sides, both Clinton and Obama forces, wouldn’t it be nice if we could resolve this in June?
If in fact it is resolved in June, with the superdelegates in effect overruling the elected delegates, I think you would guarantee to have an extraordinary convention in Denver.
OLBERMANN: Is there anything that you heard in Senator Clinton’s speech or anything else that we have heard from Terry McAuliffe tonight or anything else anywhere that suggests that there’s anything being considered by the Clinton campaign, other than that solution that you just described, that there is a come to reality, the Clinton reality, moment, in which everybody says, nope, you know what, all of those votes for Obama were mistaken, ill- informed, well-intentioned, but they really don’t count now?
Is there anything else being entertained on the Clinton half of this equation?
RUSSERT: No, Terry McAuliffe said tonight, the best they can do is come within 100 elected delegates of Senator Obama, behind him.
And, so, with that scenario, they would have to get all the remaining undeclared superdelegates to say, en masse, we are going for Senator Clinton, or take superdelegates who have already committed Senator Obama to switch over, because he acknowledged, under Chris’ questioning, that he’s not going to peel away the elected delegates.
So, that’s the scenario. And that is one that the party—the party -- is there a legal right for the superdelegates to do that? Absolutely. They have independent judgment. They can vote for whomever they want. But understand, the Clinton campaign has acknowledged publicly, by their chairman, Terry McAuliffe, they will not catch up to or pass Senator Obama with elected delegates.
OLBERMANN: Or, as you pointed out, as Chris elicited in his question, nor will they attempt to move candidates—move delegates from the Obama camp into the Clinton camp, which is—seemingly creates the situation where all of the metrics are now gone. It is now a question of overruling each and every metric; is it not?
RUSSERT: Yes. And it—I mean, you were talking about conventions -- 1924, I believe it was 103 ballots. Maybe it would be 104 in Denver.
RUSSERT: And, yes, as Chris said, people in our business would love to cover such an event. But there are consequences for a political party. And I think, if—if that is the path to the nomination, those consequences, that fallout, should be discussed.
OLBERMANN: That was James Davis, right? James Davis again.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: I watched, as we all did, Senator Clinton’s speech tonight, Tim. And I just find it wonderful. That’s my word for it, wonderful, meaning, I find it wondrous, what—Hillary land has been described by print journalists now for months now as a place in which a lot of people, largely women, inhabit politically, and it has a point of view about the world outside, perhaps.
And, in that world, I think we heard a speech produced tonight by a speechwriter. And that world allowed for Hillary to win the nomination, in fact, almost breezily suggested that it was a very close contest at this point. This will that we saw tonight, this—this determination to see victory here, at this point, after last week’s disappointment in Indiana, where they didn’t win what they wanted to win, after the blowout in North Carolina, after the knowledge now—they were looking at the pattern from the Bloomberg begotten—that wonderful sheet that Al Hunt was able to get from the—from the Barack campaign that really laid down and discounted all these races, whose serve it’s going to be.
Well, we know pretty much it’s to be—I know this is pundit talking, and, therefore, critical, but the fact that we are going to have an Oregon vote probably for Barack Obama next week. We may have a surprisingly closer event than we saw tonight in Kentucky. And then we go on to Montana, South Dakota and the usual predictions. There’s nothing in there, is there, that’s dramatically interesting? It all is pretty much following the form, isn’t it?
And, therefore, you wonder, how does Hillary land ignore that path to the nomination of Barack Obama?
RUSSERT: They—they have agreed with your analysis, that they cannot overtake him with elected delegates.
So, what you do is, you craft a narrative that is most favorable to your situation. And if it means changing numbers, or changing facts, or changing previous statements—as Keith laid out in October, Senator Clinton said very clearly that Michigan did not matter. Her campaign said repeatedly, it was 2,025 delegates that were needed. That’s all been changed.
Terry McAuliffe on Sunday will say, well, if we seat half the delegations, they will have punished significantly, and now it should be all of them. Whatever is necessary in order to keep the narrative viable and real, you continue to put it forward. And you hope. You hope that something intervenes, something happens...
RUSSERT: ... because, in their political lives, many times, most of the time, something has happened. Something has intervened.
MATTHEWS: But there’s always been an enabler there, somebody like Terry McAuliffe to give another mulligan to his golfing partner. How many mulligans can they take? How many times can they find people willing to give them that enabling mulligan again and again?
I remember—Tim, you remember the whole history of the Clintons. He ran for governor the last time in ‘90 and said, I will never run for president. He told the whole people of Arkansas, I will never run for president.
And then he went out, after being reelected governor the last time, and got people’s permission, as he put it, to run for president. I mean, the rules are very fungible, very flexible.
RUSSERT: He asked the people of Arkansas to release him from his pledge...
RUSSERT: ... which is—but I do think that the magnitude of Senator Clinton’s victory tonight will allow her tonight and tomorrow...
RUSSERT: ... and the next day to say to the Democrats and to say to Senator Obama’s campaign, let me finish this race.
RUSSERT: Let me take on these next five contests. You can’t stop me from doing that. I have earned that right to continue to be a fighter. And I think you will not hear anyone, I would think, on either side saying, exactly right. Finish the race.
OLBERMANN: But, surely, it’s more than that, Tim. It’s not just let -- finish the race. It’s erase the race up to a certain point. I’m sorry. put an 18-and-a-minute half gap in the tape of the -
of the various Obama victories. It is—it is extradimensional. It is like—it’s like trying to watch something in the fourth dimension.
RUSSERT: Well, it’s selective. There’s no doubt about it.
OLBERMANN: That’s a better term. That’s a more traditional term.
RUSSERT: But, Keith, I listened closely to Governor Huckabee. He’s a Republican. He’s a partisan. He’s for John McCain.
And he said the two people who would enjoy this most are John and Cindy McCain, because they know, the Republicans know, that, for the next three weeks, the Democrats are going to be involved in this civil war. McCain continues to go, organize, raise money, put his campaign together.
And it’s going to put it into June. It means the Democrats have to get themselves united and organized in June and July by the convention in August.
Still time, they think, they believe, but it is going to keep the focus on the primary contest, and not allow the eventual nominee to go out and begin to define himself in a much broader context, because, as we learned in West Virginia tonight, there’s still a lot of questions about Barack Obama from people, because he’s so new to the American political scene.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s move away for the moment from the prospect of a 103rd ballot and recalling that Mr. Davis lost to Calvin Coolidge, the least-spoken president in American history.
There’s another development. That’s actually another political development of great import tonight. I would like you to frame this and put it in the correct context. And the Associated Press now having declared that the Democrat, Travis Childers, will win the special election for the 1st Congressional District of Mississippi, the third Democrat to win House seats in staunchly Republican districts.
Give us what that means and what that means in terms of the general and even it has some play in the Obama/Clinton...
RUSSERT: That’s a seismic election, believe me. You can—the earth moved, Keith. The Democrats have won Denny Hastert’s seat in Illinois, Republican seat, the seat in Louisiana, and now the seat in Mississippi. This is a district that voted for George Bush with over 60 percent of vote.
There was an initial election in the seat just a few weeks ago. And the Democratic candidate fell about 400 votes short, so it had to go to a runoff. Vice President Cheney was in there yesterday, campaigning all day for this Republican candidate—for the Democrat—for the Republican candidate.
And the Republicans went up on the air, linking the Democratic candidate to Obama with some ads that many people were questioning as to whether or not they did not have racial overtones.
But they kept hammering, saying, this Democratic candidate has the values of Barack Obama. And if in fact the Democrat wins that seat tonight, three Republican districts that have gone to the Democrats are a really extraordinary indication of what’s going on out in the country. And if I were -
I would like to hear Mike Huckabee on this, because that is the kind of empirical evidence that is just overwhelming as to what’s in the mind-set of the American people.
OLBERMANN: You asked. Let’s oblige you.
Governor Huckabee is in front of the...
MATTHEWS: Is he here? I’m sorry.
OLBERMANN: ... is still in front of the camera.
OLBERMANN: Let’s go right to it.
What does it—what does it mean, from your perspective, Governor?
MIKE HUCKABEE ®, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Yes, I’m still in front of the camera. After that question, I wish I wasn’t.
HUCKABEE: Look, let’s be realistic. We can spin it any way we want to, but that is not a good sign. That Mississippi race was a critical one.
It’s one the Republicans should have won.
I, in fact, went there and campaigned for the candidate. It looked like that we had a real shot at that. And I think that it really does indicate that the Republican brand is badly damaged. John McCain can’t run the Republican brand. He has got to run a different approach.
If he just says, I’m the Republican candidate, I don’t think it’s a very good year. But people ultimately don’t buy the brand. They buy the cereal. They are not buying Kellogg’s. They are buying Frosted Flakes.
So, what we have got to be able to do is to show that there are individuals out there that are worth supporting and worth electing, but they can’t go out there and ride the elephant down Main Street, because, if they do, the elephant’s going to get shot out from under them.
You know, gentlemen, I think—Tim first, then the governor—it seems to me that this raises the value of the Democratic nomination for president, doesn’t it?
I think Governor Huckabee just gave a very candid analysis and assessment. It’s one that Republicans have given me privately for months now.
They are very, very fearful of what is coming this fall.
If you talk to the McCain people, they know that, after Labor Day, the issues are going to be the economy. We are near recession. It’s time for a change. Gasoline prices $4 a gallon. Time for a change. Iraq war, year six.
It’s time for a change. Eight years of George Bush, it’s time for a change.
You can hear the chant.
And the only way to overcome that is suggest that the person the Democrats want to put in the Oval Office is not up to the job, because, on the issues, it’s going to be very difficult for a Republican candidate to deal with what I believe is the wave of change that we are sensing in the country, certainly witnessed by these three congressional districts...
HUCKABEE: ... which are solid Republican seats.
MATTHEWS: I have never seen anything like it. Ever in my life have I seen a party lose at its base these kind of elections. These are by-elections, but God.
Governor Huckabee, neither side, have I ever seen a party—it’s like the Democrats losing to Republicans in Brooklyn. I mean, it’s unimaginable.
HUCKABEE: Well, it’s not a good night.
But I still think that there’s a good opportunity for John McCain, perhaps better than any other Republican, to go out there and make the case that they are not voting for the Republican; they are voting for him as an experienced, seasoned, mature, capable, ready-to-go leader. And that’s what the election will come down to is, America may want change, but they may find that John McCain represents a change they can trust, rather than a change that, by November, not tonight, but, by November, with Obama, they are not sure they are ready for.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and, speaking of which, the Fossella election may be coming up for that seat.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of Brooklyn. Geez.
OLBERMANN: Yes, with extra—with extra congressional districts for the congressmen involved in the process.
Tim Russert, thank you.
Governor Huckabee, thank you.
And please stay with us. We will come back to you in a little bit.
Coming up here: new numbers from our exit poll, plus, the “RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE” panel on the November matchup between Barack Obama and John McCain, if that’s what we are still going to see, and then the implications of what we saw in Mr. Childers’ victory tonight.
You are watching MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
OLBERMANN: The hard numbers beginning to match up with the expectations and the exit polls, as our coverage continues of the West Virginia primary, won tonight by Hillary Clinton.
The exit polling suggested a 2-1 margin. We’re nearly at that. You have to also count what you’re not seeing appearing in your picture here, Senator Edwards’ vote total of about 7 percent tonight.
Now more numbers from our exit polling on the role that race and gender played tonight, along with everything else.
For those numbers, let’s turn to Norah O’Donnell—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And, Chris and Keith, racially motivated voting ran higher in the Mountain State today than we have seen in most of the other primaries. In fact, two in 10 whites said the race of the candidate was a factor in their voting. That’s second only to Mississippi.
And for those who said race was important, 85 percent voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. Non-college white voters were about twice as likely as college graduates to say race was important to them. And only a third of these voters said they would support Obama against John McCain.
That is fewer than in any other primary where we have asked this question. Now, while the issue of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, did not appear to be a big factor, remember, in last week’s vote in Indiana, we got a different story today in West Virginia.
In fact, half of the Democratic primary voters say Obama shares—shares the views of the controversial pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
And, Chris and Keith, we just want to also point out that, while we painted, in some ways, sort of a gloom-and-doom scenario tonight for Barack Obama’s chance of—of trying to win West Virginia in November, we should also point out that West Virginia is a very unique state.
In fact, half of the voters in West Virginia identify themselves as Democrats. But let’s point out, these Democrats actually vote like Republicans. In 2004, for instance, George Bush won the state with 57 percent of the vote over John Kerry. Al Gore lost the state in 2000.
As we have been talking about this within our NBC political unit, these white Democrats in West Virginia are very socially conservative in their views. In other states, these types of white voters, who are concerned about guns and God, they have gravitated to the Republican Party even 20 years ago.
That’s different in West Virginia. And, so, as we talk about sort of some of the things we have seen in the exit polling tonight, I wanted to point that out about the demographics and electorate in West Virginia.
OLBERMANN: Well done. Thank you, Norah.
O’DONNELL: You’re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Now let’s send it back over to David and the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel—David.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: And, panel, we have been sitting here thinking about the electoral map in November. It’s something that Hillary Clinton brought up tonight again, Pat, saying that she can win the big battleground states, like West Virginia, in November.
What’s her map look like that feeds that argument?
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Frankly, I wouldn’t make an effort at West Virginia. And, if I were Obama, I would write it off.
Where she can say, I can win, is, I can beat John McCain in Pennsylvania. I can beat him in Ohio. I can beat him in Michigan. And I can fight him to a draw or beat him in Florida.
BUCHANAN: Those are the big states for her. And I think it’s a very powerful and valid argument. I think, frankly, she might be able to do that, if they could unite the Democratic Party.
GREGORY: But, Rachel, Barack Obama has got an argument, too, about where he can win that perhaps she can’t. He wants to put Virginia in play, Colorado in play. He’s campaigning in Michigan tomorrow. He was in Missouri today...
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
GREGORY: ... a state that he narrowly won in the primary. He has got swing states in his column that he can go for as well.
MADDOW: That’s right. And his swing state map looks different and actually looks bigger than the John Kerry map or potentially the Hillary Clinton map, when he’s including not only Missouri and Colorado and Virginia, but also Iowa, looking at those states and those places where he thinks that he can compete.
I mean, when you look at him winning with 64 percent of the vote in Virginia, that’s a big deal, 67 percent of the vote in Colorado, even though that was a caucus.
MADDOW: He’s got—I mean, he could make the same argument. He has not been choosing to argue it on those terms yet.
GREGORY: But, Gene, we know that, on the Republican side as well, John McCain talking about global warming yesterday in Oregon, a state that he wants to turn red come November.
MADDOW: Yes, good luck.
EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
Right, good luck.
ROBINSON: I don’t think he’s going to turn the Pacific Northwest to the Republican column.
But, you know, he’s going to fight it out with the Democratic nominee in Florida. Florida could be a battleground state. Clearly, McCain would see a potential opportunity in Pennsylvania.
ROBINSON: And the Democrats have to hold onto Pennsylvania in most scenarios that you can imagine.
But I think—you know, I think the Democrats, basically—I mean, look at the Childers—Childers result in Mississippi.
MADDOW: Oh, yes.
ROBINSON: The Democrats have to be feeling really good about the fall, about the mood of the public, about the chances of either candidate as the Democratic nominee, probably Obama, perhaps Clinton.
ROBINSON: But the party has...
BUCHANAN: We have got to get into ethnicity here and the scenario in the West that Arizona, those four states.
BUCHANAN: Who does best with the Hispanic voters?
BUCHANAN: Now, thus far, Hillary Clinton’s been winning 2-1, which tells me she could win Colorado and she could win New Mexico and could can win Nevada.
ROBINSON: Not necessarily.
MADDOW: She lost Colorado 2-1 to Barack Obama.
BUCHANAN: But here’s the thing.
ROBINSON: Well, hold it, Pat. You can’t say that—that the primary results in Colorado, in which he beat her so badly don’t count...
ROBINSON: ... whereas the primary results in West Virginia, where she beat him, do count.
BUCHANAN: No, no, I’m saying he can. But I’m saying she can, because the Hispanic vote, she does very, very—she won it 2-1 out in California. If she can win the Hispanic vote and can hold those four states, she beats him.
GREGORY: What does that say about Nevada as well, where you have got a growing Hispanic population?
BUCHANAN: Nevada—look, Nevada is the most Hispanicizing state in the union right now. It’s moving tremendously rapidly in that direction.
MADDOW: But we are losing the forest for the trees here.
The state—the district that Childers just won went to Bush by 25 points in the last election.
MADDOW: There have not been—there are only 27 percent of registered voters coast to coast who identify as Republicans right now.
MADDOW: It hasn’t been that low in 16 years.
MADDOW: The Latinos are not going to go Republican.
BUCHANAN: You talk down there in that district—that’s the Okolona district. It’s northeast Mississippi. You put Obama at the top of the ticket -
that’s a largely white district—Childers will lose in November what he just won when you get that huge turnout.
MADDOW: That’s what the Republicans thought when...
ROBINSON: They tried to run against Obama, and they couldn’t beat him.
BUCHANAN: No, because he has separated himself from Obama. You put Obama at the top of the ticket, how does he separate himself?
ROBINSON: The Republicans tried to run against Obama. It failed.
BUCHANAN: They ran against Reverend Wright.
ROBINSON: It failed.
GREGORY: One final point, Gene, here on—as we look at the general election.
Barack Obama, we heard it earlier tonight in Missouri. What is the basis of his stump speeches to say that John McCain is an extension of George W. Bush? That Mississippi result underscores, beyond the demographics, beyond the ethnicity and the voting groups, that that is the core message of this campaign for the Democrats. It’s the brand, the Republican brand, that has been eroded.
The reason Barack Obama has done as well as he has done is that he got the core of the core message right, which is change. People want a change from these eight years of the Bush administration. That’s the basic thing. And what he added today, I think, was a very kind of populist economics-oriented speech to try to appeal to some of those Hillary Clinton voters, which he could use in the fall.
BUCHANAN: It didn’t sound like a hot populist to me.
GREGORY: We are going to leave it there.
BUCHANAN: ... tried populist.
GREGORY: Back to you, gentlemen.
MATTHEWS: David, thank you, the “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel.
Still ahead: What’s the next move for Hillary Clinton? We are going to talk to Clinton campaign senior adviser Lisa Caputo.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the red-hot West Virginia primary.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary tonight. It was won by Hillary Clinton handily, perhaps over two to one. Lisa Caputo is the senior adviser to the Clinton campaign and was Senator Hillary Clinton’s press secretary when she was first lady. Congratulations tonight, Lisa. I’m amazed, however, by that wonderful speech by Hillary Clinton. Those of us who looked at the numbers, look at a race that’s very much pretty close to being locked up, not locked up, of course, by Barack Obama. Yet Hillary Clinton called the race close. She pointed to a future of mystery, in fact, as to who is going to win this. Tell me about that view that Hillary advanced tonight, which is that this is wide open.
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON ADVISER: Well, Chris, I think what she did tonight was give a speech to the superdelegates, clearly. And also to her base of women when she talked about the woman who had just passed away and had the absentee ballot delivered to her in hospice. That was a speech to the superdelegates. As you heard, all the superdelegates tonight, whether it was Terry McAuliffe or Tim Russert and others, this is about the superdelegates at the end of the day. And she made a big—she’s trying to make a case to the superdelegates about Obama’s electability, looking at the swing states, and then saying, you know, I’m the strongest candidate, and I will be the one who is the strongest commander in chief.
And they are quick to point to the polls that show that she’s leading Obama in terms of most qualified to be commander in chief and best equipped to manage the economy. So that’s what you saw her do tonight. The interesting thing, I thought, was she seemed so relaxed to me and so much in a groove.
Almost on another level, I thought.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of that? Was that founded on reality or what?
CAPUTO: I think that—I think that probably in her heart of hearts, if I had to guess, she knows mathematically, if you look at the pledged delegates, it doesn’t work. But she’s 150 percent committed to the people who have supported her, as she said, you know, I’m not going to—don’t count me out. No one would ever count you out. So she is being loyal to those 16 million, 17 million-plus voters.
CAPUTO: And she’s going to continue on and heed their call to stay in the race. I think, you know, in the next three weeks, as everybody says, anything can happen. But it will come down to who’s ahead in the popular vote, who’s ahead in the pledged delegates and with what will the supers do.
MATTHEWS: You played sports. You’re a great athlete. Is this an alley-oop play where she is saying, some event will put that ball in the basket, in basketball terms. What is that event that is the second half of that alley-oop play here? What does she expect will take her, lift her from her numbers now and give her the nomination?
CAPUTO: I don’t know, Chris, what the alley-oop play is. Anything can happen. God knows, you have been covering politics for so long and have seen so much that can happen and in the 11th hour. And I think what we did see tonight was when you look at what happened in Mississippi, people are angry, and Democratic turnout is at record high.
CAPUTO: People are ready. Whatever the alley-oop play is, who knows.
But the point is, it’s what makes politics so interesting. Anything can happen.
MATTHEWS: I love it when people pay tribute to my knowledge of political history, and I have seen nothing like this thing. This election is phenomenal. You are right. It is unique to itself. Never seen before. Lisa Caputo, thank you very much for coming on tonight.
CAPUTO: Nice to see you, Chris.
OLBERMANN: When we return, NBC’s Tim Russert will rejoin us plus NBC News political director Chuck Todd with a general election preview, looking at all of these possibilities by the numbers. Chris and I rejoin you after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: The bottom line is this, the White House is won in the swing states, and I am winning the swing states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton will return to Washington tomorrow, we’re told, to meet with fund-raisers and superdelegates at her home. Tonight she is the victor, of course, big time in the West Virginia Democratic primary.
Sizable margin over Barack Obama.
OLBERMANN: The senator, of course, has been talking a lot, as have we, of the November match up between Barack Obama and John McCain. She would rather see it obviously being john McCain versus Hillary Clinton. Let’s put a little meat on the bones here and bring in NBC News political director Chuck Todd by the numbers with the numbers referring to the general. Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening, Keith. As you recall, and we have got the 2004 map, this is a campaign race, eventually to the magic number of 270. Throw out 2025, all of those other numbers we keep talking about, this race will eventually be about who can get to 270 electoral votes. John Kerry came 18 shorts last time. Hillary Clinton makes the case she’s a one-state solution candidate. That one state is Ohio. That that would make up the gap. Or that one state is Florida. She will carry the rest of the Kerry states and she’s a one-state solution.
Obama, of course, believes he’s a two-state solution in that way. He expands the map. So in his case it’s a Virginia and Colorado, which adds up to
22 electoral votes, 13 in Virginia, nine in Colorado. Or he’s Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, which together adds up to 21 electoral votes, 7 in Iowa, 9 in Colorado and 5 in New Mexico. That’s what is sort of interesting here about this Obama/McCain match-up. Because Obama is attempting to put a bigger playing field into motion.
To show you, this is what the battleground map could look like if it is indeed Obama and McCain. Obviously, mathematically, it looks like is going to be Obama. I will walk you through this map a little bit. There’s more than 20 states identified. Frankly, if the candidates, if both McCain and Obama were to be believed, they think they can each put in another five states but we left some of those out. The states that are striped are the ones that will be the pure toss-ups. Some of them are quite familiar, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania.
Where have we heard those three states before?
But then you have the ones in blue. Those are states that lean to in Obama’s category, the Democratic category but ones that Senator McCain is trying to put into play. He was just in Oregon, for instance, this week. He really believes that he can put Oregon in play. We will see. It’s a tougher -- it’s a tougher mountain for McCain to climb with Obama his opponent than it would have been with Clinton, at least in Oregon in particular.
And then you have the states in red. These are the places Obama’s been trying to make the case to the superdelegates he will somehow put into play.
Specifically here the Deep South. He believes because of a surge in African American turnout, that North Carolina, Georgia, even Mississippi and Louisiana, will somehow become competitive. That doesn’t mean he wins those states, but it means he thinks he can get 46, 47, 48 percent, and really make the Republicans squirm. And we saw the special election tonight in Mississippi in which the Democrats did everything they could to jack up African American turnout in that district. It was a very hard-fought battle.
There’s something here that potentially is going south for the Republicans literally and figuratively in the South. If you have a surging African American turnout and the Republican brand is soft, as we heard talked about tonight, this is becoming a real problem. And actually you’re going to see when you look at this map, you start looking at the whole vice presidential sweepstakes and you start seeing how each side may use a vice presidential sweepstakes and you start seeing how to shore up some things and going to the South thing, we have the man about it, Mike Huckabee, there’s been lots of whispers lately maybe Huckabee ought to be back in the fold as a potential McCain running mate because maybe he can make it so this southern strategy of Obama’s doesn’t work.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd, by the numbers. And this begs the question, which we will now pose to NBC’s Washington bureau chief and moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert. That statement we heard from Senator Clinton, on the way in from this segment, that she is winning the swing states. The analysis Chuck just presented suggests that might not be a complete statement.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS HOST: That’s correct. As we talked about after her speech, Keith, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, all swing states, Virginia. Won by Senator Obama. She did win Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Indiana maybe a swing state, a state Senator Clinton won very competitive. The fact is there are a lot of states that may be available, may be available to the democrats that were not available in ‘04 or in 2000. I’m particularly intrigued by Chuck’s analysis of the South. Because there’s been so much talk about former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia being on the ticket with Senator Obama, given foreign and national security credentials but also a geographic balance. He is from Georgia. And speaks with a pronounced southern accent.
Something that the Democratic candidates in the past who have been successful, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, were able to do.
So when we look at the Electoral College map of 2008, it not only has some interesting areas for John McCain and for Barack Obama in the south and the Midwest, but I love that rocky mountain area, too. It’s one that with New Mexico and Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, now with John McCain, now that Arizona’s gone, the other states are suddenly available and they are areas Obama and Clinton were very tightly contested in all of those states.
OLBERMANN: If we have already established that the metrics are all off the table, and this is about convincing the superdelegates that Senator Clinton is the better candidate, simply put, because she says so, the evidence that would be used to support this, I’m imagining, and I’m not an expert on this, I would imagine the evidence that the superdelegates would be looking at might resemble the maps that Chuck Todd just looked at for us. Does that suggest that even this last metric, convincing the superdelegates what they see before them is not accurate, that’s not going to work either with the superdelegates?
RUSSERT: Well, the Clinton campaign actually went to the hill with Electoral College maps. What they will say is that the Democrats are always enticed by the notion of a Virginia or a North Carolina or Colorado. But in the end, it comes down to Ohio and Florida. And don’t be fooled. And that’s where the one-state solution comes up. So they are trying to deal with that issue. But the Democrats that—who are running these congressional campaigns in light of the success they have seen in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi, do believe that perhaps there may be more states available. I don’t know if Chuck’s still there but there’s one really intriguing thing and that is Nebraska.
There’s one district in Nebraska. Nebraska’s one of two states where you can win a congressional district—the electoral votes are divided. You don’t have to win the whole state in order to get them. There’s a district, I believe it’s around Omaha, if Chuck’s still there, that the Obama people are thinking they can win and steal away, which would be even—which would be very interesting. That shows you how these numbers are being scrubbed, Keith, at every possible level.
And you’re right, the Obama people, when they make their case to the superdelegates will be saying, look at what we can do. We can put into states that only Democrats only dreamt about in previous elections. It’s going to be an interesting discussion.
MATTHEWS: Tim, where do you stand on basic political analysis these days about voting patterns? Do you go with the fundamentals or do you go with personality?
RUSSERT: In terms of the candidates?
MATTHEWS: Yeah, if you look at the fact this may be look like a recession going into this election and all recessions tend to yield a change in party. They just all do. You look at a war that’s gone on this long and at least unpopular as say the Korean War was. You look at the fundamental of the gas tax, a real symptomatic problem with real people that they do blame on government and the fact this administration is pro-oil and pro-oil patch.
Cheney and Bush both coming from those interests.
All of the fundamentals, including the display we got tonight from Mississippi, voters when it comes to brand will vote against Republicans and in every poll including ABC and “The Washington Post” poll, everything says democrat, democrat rather than Republican. Can a Republican candidate overcome all of the fundamentals, basics, and defeat the other guy on the basis of say ethnicity or age or whatever?
RUSSERT: Well, it’s very tough. That’s why it’s intriguing to me that the Republicans picked McCain and Democrats picked Obama. They both opted, both parties opted for what they were perceived as, the change candidate. Many Republicans have said to me that they lucked into McCain because he’s their strongest nominee in a very, very difficult year. But I think it underscores Senator Obama’s situation if he emerges as the Democratic nominee, which is all likelihood he will.
Why? All of these issues are stacked up in his favor but he still has to pass that threshold question with the American people, that they can envision him in the Oval Office. That’s why I think Senator Clinton’s comments of a few months ago, where she said that she could be commander in chief and John McCain can be commander in chief and Senator Obama has a speech in effect. I think that particular analysis was very damaging based on all of my reporting in talking to pro and anti-Obama supporters.
And Clinton supporters. And I think the most important credential, endorsement that Hillary Clinton will eventually give Barack Obama is an analysis, a recognition, an admission that he is more than qualified to be president of the United States. Because that was, I think, very, very telling at that time of this primary race, and it’s the one thing that Obama needs to do. He has to remove any question mark that’s above him to say, we know that he’s up to the job. And if the American people decide that, then the issues just wash in.
OLBERMANN: And one supposes if you can concoct that commander in chief threshold exam and give him a failing grade in the primary season, she can give him a retest and give him a passing grade during the electoral season. We will see if that happens.
Tim, great, thanks.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right, Chris and I will be back in just a moment.
You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
In a moment, President Bill Clinton speaking in Montana,
OLBERMANN: The battle of West Virginia is over and the battle for Montana has begun. Former President Clinton speaking live from the back of a pickup truck at Kalispell, Montana.
BILL CLINTON, HILLARY’S HUSBAND: … for 40 years in this country. If we just make a serious commitment to energy efficiency.
And let me tell you something, the Energy Department also has a study that says enough wind blows between Texas and the Canadian border with Montana and North Dakota to electrify America. We are not doing it. Why? This is in her energy plan. It’s one reason she won Texas. Because where the wind blows hardest, there are no windmills because there are no transmission lines to feed it into the power grid. One of the things you will get if you elect her president is a serious commitment to modern, efficient transmission lines that will permit us to produce wind and solar where it is most efficient and get our country back and clean up the environment.
OLBERMANN: Former president campaigning in Kalispell, Montana. As we said, the primary campaign already well underway there. This is MSNBC’s coverage of the West Virginia primary.
MATTHEWS: Isn’t it amazing? There is he in Montana and talking about wind and how strong the wind is in Montana, and how much …
OLBERMANN: As he comes running down the plane.
MATTHEWS: And we live in a wonderful time. On June 1st, voters in Puerto Rico will go to the polls to vote in the Democratic primary for president of the United States. We are joined my Maria Teresa Petersen. She’s with the group Voto Latino. Maria Teresa, it’s always great to have you on.
Let’s talk about this fascinating fact that Puerto Rico, which has chosen again and again, in its various votes out there on the commonwealth, they decide on commonwealth status that has chosen again and again over independence and statehood, but somehow it has this amazing role at the end of this process.
How do the people out there look at it?
MARIA TERESA PETERSEN, VOTO LATINO: Well, I think for the very first time they think their vote is actually going to count when historically it doesn’t, right? We are looking at Puerto Rico for June 1st. They have 63 delegates. Puerto Ricans vote in record numbers. We are looking at approximately 2.3 million people going to the polls. That’s nutty. And they are voting, for the most part, 70 percent of them are actually going for Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: What is their politics? They choose to be a commonwealth rather than a state. And they can be in the union, I can assume, if they wanted to be in the union as a state. They don’t want to be a state but they want to be what? What do they want as a role in picking our president? I mean, they are citizens …
PETERSEN: They are citizens but something that’s very important to disclose is they can vote during the primary season but they cannot actually elect during the election season. So come September, you know, after this primary, that’s basically their vote for who they not …
MATTHEWS: They can make it into a problem, if they want to be a state, they would vote for statehood.
PETERSEN: Chris, now you’re trying to get me into trouble with Puerto Rico. It’s actually very sensitive. You have folks who want state hood and other folks who want to be a sovereign nation. It’s much more complex than that. What they do have is an opportunity to look towards the majority of the population, that popular vote Hillary keeps promising and that’s her pipeline now.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Teresa. Splendid to have you stay up this late. Let’s turn now to our insider, Mr. Republican tonight, for our purposes, Mike Huckabee. Sir, you said tonight the big winners are Cindy and John McCain. Do you hold to that?
MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I do. I think the fact Hillary has pledged to stay on, she showed no signs of sort of, again, circling for a soft landing indicates this will be a bruising battle for the next few weeks. This campaign is going to be tough for Republicans but I think John McCain’s the right guy to carry the banner onto November.
OLBERMANN: Governor, Chuck Todd in analyzing all of this for November said the South will be instrumental and he who comes up perhaps with the best vice presidential candidate to succeed in the south may prevail. And that perhaps you’re that guy for the Republicans. How do you feel about that?
HUCKABEE: You know, my goal is getting John McCain elected. And I’m not sure who he will decide will be best for him on the ticket. That’s what I’m going to support. Whoever that is. And we will have to see where that goes.
OLBERMANN: Governor Huckabee, with his share of absolutely up-front and straightforward answers and then a couple good political ones in there too.
MATTHEWS: It’s great. I love the anecdotes. What are those things called you southern guys come up with …
MATTHEWS: Metaphors. They are so legion, there are so many of them.
HUCKABEE: It is part of the culture of the south to not just tell things but paint pictures with words. And you to be pretty creative. That’s why I think we tend to do pretty well in politics.
OLBERMANN: That’s one reason.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, governor.
HUCKABEE: Great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: It’s a pleasure.
That will conclude our coverage. Extraordinary night. And it continues to be an extraordinary campaign.
MATTHEWS: The beat goes on.
OLBERMANN: Our after-hours coverage is next. For Chris Matthews and all of us involved, thank you for being with us. I’m Keith Olbermann, good night.