KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: For Americans of an age uncountable and varied, memory, indeed the sense of a world, begins with the death of one leader, grows and hardens to reality even as it softens the host with the death of the brother of that leader. And now four decades on in one family, multiplied by 100 million families, all is evoked anew and tied together with the illness of the last brother of that leader.
And so the Democrats and their favorite candidates trudge on tonight, united seemingly only in sadness, perhaps to find again their shared heritage and urgency in the context of the diagnosis today, malignant brain tumor for Senator Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts.
OLBERMANN (voice over): We will cover the big night Senator Clinton expects in Kentucky and the big night Senator Obama expects in Oregon with Ron Allen at Clinton headquarters in Louisville; Lee Cowan, with the Obama campaign in Des Moines; Norah O’Donnell’s exit polls; the analysis of Tim Russert and Brian Williams; Chuck Todd by the numbers; Andrea Mitchell and Howard Fineman at the campaign listening posts.
The insiders: former congressman Harold Ford and Joe Scarborough. And David Gregory and THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel: Michelle Bernard, Pat Buchanan, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson.
And the latest from Boston and Washington and the medical community on the prognosis for the senior senator from Massachusetts.
This is MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries and of the health of Senator Ted Kennedy.
Greetings from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann.
Obviously Oregon and Kentucky vital tonight, but taking in some senses a significant second place to what we are talking about as well this evening.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: Right. A malignant brain tumor, brain cancer, if you will. Grim business. And of course as you said so well in the opening recording there, I think that here we are again, once again together.
I mean, this is something that Americans have lived through, the Kennedys, all three brothers. We don’t really remember Joseph, the oldest brother who was killed in World War II on a heroic mission. But just think about it, as you well put it, the’ 63 tragedy, the ‘68 tragedy, and now four decades later, we’re looking at a very difficult medical situation for the youngest brother.
He’s called the last brother. In Massachusetts he’s an institution. In the U.S. Senate he’s an institution. In the Democratic Party he’s an institution.
And in each of those institutions he’s the life force. He’s the emperor of ice cream, to allude to the poem. He’s the guy at the funeral who’s alive. And here he is threatened. And it’s a different circumstance.
The man on whose shoulders that whole family has been leaning now for 40 years or more is going to lean on someone else. And people are going to have to look out for him now.
OLBERMANN: And it certainly puts an exceptional context to what we’re going to be talking about tonight...
OLBERMANN: ... as these two Democrats continue to battle on.
Let’s get an early read on tonight’s double header of primary results from NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief. We’ll get to Tim Russert in a moment.
Forgive me. I’m ahead of myself.
Norah O’Donnell is going to give us a read on the exit polls and what we are expecting in the next hour.
Obviously we are talking principally here about Kentucky.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That’s right. And we’ve got really a tale of two states tonight in this doubleheader.
Kentucky is one of the least liberal states we have seen this entire Democratic primary season. Oregon, in contrast, one of the most liberal of those states.
Also, on the issues, the economy has been the number one issue in all these states, obviously. Two-thirds in Kentucky say it’s the number one issue. What’s interesting about Oregon, less than half say the economy is important. The Iraq war much more important in a state like Oregon.
So we’ll dig into the details on these two states.
OLBERMANN: Right. The day-night doubleheader.
Norah O’Donnell with a preview of the exit polls.
We’ll get back to you in a little bit. Thank you, Norah.
And now, as promised, theatrically, the Washington bureau chief of NBC News, the moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert.
Good evening, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, HOST, “MEET THE PRESS”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s start obviously with the news of Senator Kennedy’s brain tumor and the impact this has obviously on him, on the Senate, on the Democrats, on tonight even.
It’s an overwhelming story.
RUSSERT: It’s a cloud. I happened to be in Boston yesterday and today, Keith, and I cannot tell you how somber the mood was.
Democrats, Republicans, Independents, political friends, political foes, all have one thing in common. They recognize that Ted Kennedy loved politics and he loved policy. And he was the liberal lion, and he roared when he was involved in those kind of issues.
And people want to see him fight on and continue his battles. I’ve never seen such unanimity in the way people have responded to the news of this illness.
OLBERMANN: I don’t want to put more meaning to it than it already has. This is a man’s life, and it’s a leader’s life. And as Chris put it correctly, one of the bastions of the Senate now and in the past.
But does it potentially have an impact on the end game of this Democratic primary process? Is it a the sort of signal to both of these candidates what they are theoretically both or either representing in the Democratic Party?
RUSSERT: I think, perhaps, in people’s sadness, they can find unity, they can find common ground. They recognize that there is something larger than their own campaigns, and that is the Democratic Party and what it stands for in the legacy of Edward M. Kennedy.
It’s going to be interesting to hear Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton talk about this subject tonight. It’s very difficult when you’re at that podium proclaiming victory in Kentucky or Oregon to make a transition and talk about someone whose very life is threatened.
And Keith, if we step back and just realize the impact that Ted Kennedy has had on the United States Senate, from 1962 until 2008, think about that. It’s extraordinary.
It’s the longest span—for example, my program of “MEET THE PRESS,” no one has appeared on that program from 1962 to 1948 (sic). It’s the longest span of anybody in American politics, period.
And if you just look at his legislation accomplishments and talk to the Republicans, who would love to have him as an ally in the subcommittee battles, broker a deal, and then attack him with direct mail the very next day. And he loved it.
I mean, his humor was just infectious. He loved the game. He loves it deeply.
And I think that the more that the Democrats can understand that if they are going to win this campaign, they have to show that happy warrior aspect of politics. And the sooner they can unify the party, the more they’ll be likely to do that.
MATTHEWS: Well, this may not help that happen, but it seems to me that there’s two connections between the Kennedy family, two connections. One was the one that was fabricated by Mandy Grunwald in those TV ads that were used in the 1992 presidential election showing what looked like the ordination of Bill Clinton by then President Clinton (sic) in the White House rose garden, which was really putting together pictures that obviously Jack Kennedy had no idea who Bill Clinton was. He was just another student in the group.
But then you had the real passing of the torch by Ted Kennedy to Barack Obama. I’ve never seen a Kennedy pass the Kennedy torch to someone outside the family before. And there you are looking at it right down there, where that day, that great day I guess for them, where the Kennedy torch was passed by Ted to Barack Obama.
The significance of that, Tim?
RUSSERT: Hugely significant at that point in the campaign. And who was Ted Kennedy joined by? Caroline Kennedy, John Kennedy’s only daughter.
And she echoed the words of “Uncle Teddy.” That’s the remarkable thing about this family.
If you talk to his children or all the nieces and nephews, it’s always Teddy. He has been the father to more than 20 young people as they have grown up both in the families of John and Robert, absent their own fathers. And I think for him to stand up in this presidential campaign and say, in effect, we have always wondered if there was going to be another John Kennedy, and I believe we have found him in Barack Obama, I think was hugely important.
People will say, well, he didn’t carry Massachusetts, he didn’t carry California. But it gave the Obama candidacy a sense of legitimacy in terms of history that I think was very, very important.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, thanks. We’ll check back with you within the hour as we begin to gear up towards the results from Kentucky.
Thank you, Tim.
RUSSERT: Thanks, guys.
OLBERMANN: One other quote to read you hear about the reaction across party lines.
“I was so very sad today when I heard the reports that Senator Edward Kennedy had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. We have always been good friends and he and his family are all in my prayers.” That is from Nancy Reagan, issued tonight from California, the wife of course, of the late President Ronald Reagan.
For more on the actual condition of the senator, we’re joined now by NBC’s chief science correspondent, Robert Bazell.
Bob, thanks for your time, tonight.
ROBERT BAZELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: My pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The terms in the hospital statement here, let me read it—
“a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe.” The usual course of treatment includes various forms of radiation and chemotherapy.
There was nothing mentioned in any of the statements about surgery.
Don’t most recoveries from brain tumors involve surgery?
BAZELL: Well, Keith, you have to remember, there’s been surgery already in this case, because they took a biopsy. That involved going into his brain to get a piece of the tumor to actually confirm the diagnosis.
They probably knew on Saturday when he came in that he had a brain tumor and of this kind, because you can usually tell that from an MRI. But they wanted to be absolutely certain.
So they’ve already had some surgery. The question is, as you pointed out, can there be more? And it’s in the left parietal lobe, which is a part of the brain that controls a lot of sensory functions.
And one of the things surgeons have to consider is whether doing more surgery will actually do more harm to things like speech and movement. But they will certainly, as is said, go on with chemotherapy and radiation.
This is a really grim diagnosis. He has—glioma is a kind of cancer that comes on fast and grows very fast. And the chemotherapy and radiation in most patients’ progress—we can’t talk about Senator Kennedy or any individual patient, but progress is measured in months. It’s not measured in years.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Are there risks in terms of impairment, in terms of functionality, in terms of the quality of life—let’s put it in that most important term—regarding the treatments they have described, radiation and chemo?
BAZELL: Well, not necessarily from the radiation and chemo. They have pretty mild side-effects compared to a lot of the radiation and chemo that’s given for various other kinds of cancer.
The danger is the cancer can spread to other parts of his body, where it will cause an impairment. We’re going to unfortunately see that beautiful mane of gray hair disappear at some point, because his head is going to have to be shaved for the radiation treatment. The chemotherapy doesn’t make him lose his hair, but they probably shaved some of his hair already just to get that biopsy in.
So this is—when you hear stories, Keith, about someone dies suddenly of brain cancer, it’s usually this kind of cancer. It’s usually a glioma. This is something that comes on like a freight train and goes through the brain very quickly.
OLBERMANN: Such extraordinary sadness. But Bob Bazell, thank you so kindly for helping us understand it.
Our chief science correspondent Robert Bazell.
Thank you, Bob.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was straight from the shoulder.
Let’s go to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
This decision by the family to give us this information was pretty dramatic, wasn’t it?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It was dramatic, and this was after several days of no information coming out except for very optimistic information. We heard that he wanted food from Legal Seafood (ph), take out seafood. He was watching the Red Sox Saturday night.
And he was speaking, he was walking, he was not, in effect, hit by a stroke. So it was all good news.
But I already in talking to people over the weekend was hearing a more somber side, and there were clear warnings from the doctors. The doctors knew very quickly at this great, world renowned hospital that there was something seriously wrong.
And tonight, perhaps the most poignant and encouraging sign as an indication to what Bob Bazell was very knowledgeably telling us was Arlen Specter, on the floor of the Senate tonight. He, having suffered a malignant brain tumor a number of years ago and come back. Now, he’s had a recurrence, but he said that the original diagnosis was that he would three to six weeks.
That diagnosis clearly incorrect. That’s encouraging.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it turned out to be benign, didn’t it, the tumor in his case?
MITCHELL: In his case it was benign, even though they had told him it was malignant. So mistakes are made.
MATTHEWS: Well that was a turn of fate. It would be very wonderful if it happened here.
MITCHELL: It would be wonderful. But in the same token, he is such a fighter. You know about Ted Jr. with his bone cancer. I mean, cancer has really struck this family.
And as you recall, two weeks ago, only two weeks ago at that hearing, here he is the champion of health care in the Senate, and he declared war on cancer for the 21st century. He was full of energy, and full of energy, as you know, in this campaign. But he was dedicated to fighting cancer which has struck two of his children.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you, Andrea.
Of course tonight’s a strange night because you have two big political news stories tonight. The primaries in Kentucky and in Oregon, and also we have this amazingly grim news about the real—I guess the liberal lion of the Democratic Party, all in one day and all in one evening to report.
We want to now introduce our panel tonight, led by NBC’s David Gregory and his RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel.
The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, who’s an MSNBC political analyst; MSNBC’s political analyst Pat Buchanan; and Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Voice, who’s also an MSNBC political analyst.
Take it away, David.
DAVID GREGORY, CO-HOST: Chris, thanks very much.
It is a somber night, but it’s also a night, Pat Buchanan, to think about the Kennedy legacy, not only on his own terms, but as it relates to this campaign. But I’m initially struck as we talk about the political force of Ted Kennedy—I remember covering this Bush White House early on when the president was putting out his education plan, No Child Left Behind, and he formed this alliance with Ted Kennedy.
And they traveled together to Boston. And I remember this event they did, seeing the two of them together, kind of courting each other on this legislation. And a few years later you see Kennedy outspoken in his opposition of the Iraq war and taking Bush to task in very specific terms.
Both ends of the spectrum.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. And Bush said he went down to the corner down there in Crawford and tried to explain to the boys at the coffee house what a swell fellow Ted Kennedy is.
GREGORY: That’s exactly right.
BUCHANAN: He said, “I had a tough time at it.”
But, you know, I started out in journalism out of Columbia Journalism School in ‘62. I was writing editorials in November. First year, Teddy Kennedy was a candidate for the U.S. Senate at 30 years old.
That was 46 years ago, something like that. Before his brother’s death. Teddy Kennedy and the Kennedys, of course, in the ‘60s, but Teddy Kennedy all through, has been part of the furniture of our political minds.
Every time we talked about, and where does Kennedy stand, what’s their point of view, whether you’re on the conservative or the liberal side. And, you know, it’s a sense—it’s like some great war horse of politics that’s been there for 50 years. He’s always been a part of it.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And as you mentioned, David, if you wanted to get anything done in Congress, or you wanted to get anything done in the Senate on education, on health, on all these great domestic issues that he cared about, you had to go through Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was on board for all those...
GREGORY: And Michelle, it is a living political legacy that was brought to bear in this campaign.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
GREGORY: And you see how hard fought this campaign was, but how hard fought this endorsement was. We hear about the tough phone call between former President Clinton and Ted Kennedy, and now his endorsement of Barack Obama, and what that’s meant for a figure like to this to come out and say, I’ve seen this before in my own brother and I see it again in Senator Obama.
BERNARD: Absolutely huge. It was a momentous occasion that evening when Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. And I think it was his way of also saying that we are now in an era of political change.
When you talk about, for example, Senator Kennedy working with President Bush on the No Child Left Behind Act, but also opposing him on the Iraq war, we see a different type of politician. And maybe we’re actually entering an era of transpartisan politics where people can come together and reach common ground, as Senator Obama says he wants to do if he is elected the next president of the United States. And then agree to disagree where there’s a true disagreement.
GREGORY: Final thought here, Pat.
BUCHANAN: The name of Teddy Kennedy used to be on your direct mail. Put his name on it, “We’ve got to stop Teddy Kennedy,” and the money rolled in.
BUCHANAN: I mean, he was considered the partisan figure of the Democratic Party. But now I don’t think the money would roll in. I think he’s really risen above that. And he’s—he’s sort of like Joe DiMaggio in his prime years.
BUCHANAN: The Red Sox fans aren’t booing anymore.
ROBINSON: He’s the elder statesmen.
GREGORY: All right. A lot to discuss about Ted Kennedy as we continue, as well as tonight’s result.
Gentlemen, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David.
OLBERMANN: All right. And just for context, Ted Kennedy elected to the Senate on November 6th of 1962. Barack Obama was born on August 4th of 1961.
We’ll have more on the diagnosis of Senator Kennedy. His longtime advisor Bob Shrum will join us.
Plus, a first look at what to expect in tonight’s Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
This is MSNBC. We’ll be back in a moment.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
Now we turn to the two insiders who know what it’s like to run campaigns and win. They’re both former members of Congress.
Joe Scarborough is with us tonight between stops at the hospital, where—this is good news, ladies and gentlemen—his wife is expecting. And Harold Ford Jr.
Congratulations so far, Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”: So far. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Thanks a lot, Chris.
All right, Harold. We have got a very interesting situation here. Barack Obama is backing off of his plan to declare victory tonight. Why? Is that a good tactical move?
HAROLD FORD JR. (D), FMR. CONGRESSMAN: Probably so for one reason. No more victory laps need to be taken by anyone at this point.
He’s got to figure out over the next two to three weeks, how do you convince enough superdelegates to switch to his corner? When that happens, there’ll be plenty of time to declare victory, first of all.
Two, you don’t want to do it because you don’t want to anger the Clinton supporters. You probably in a lot of ways have sufficiently angered the Clintons, but they are pros at the game. They will come around. But her supporters, her donors, those who have been with her throughout, they probably want Barack to show a little more graciousness, a little more generosity...
SCARBOROUGH: If Barack has the hand—let’s say—Harold, let’s say Barack knows he’s going to win this thing. He’s holding the cards. Why doesn’t he come out and just say enough is enough?
FORD: You’ve been in this business.
SCARBOROUGH: We’ve got the delegates, we’ve got a majority of superdelegates. Nobody thinks you’re going to win at the convention, Hillary.
At the same time, he can’t afford the Clintons to keep saying what they’re saying, which is, we’ve got more votes than you, we have got more votes than anybody in the history of the United States as far as primary process is going. We’re winning big in Kentucky. You can’t win, Barack Obama.
Shouldn’t they just stomp her down and get her out of this thing?
FORD: Remember, the goal here for Senator Obama is to win the presidency. The nomination is pretty much his. It would be very, very difficult, if not impossible, for Senator Clinton to win it.
So, why would you run the risk of unnecessarily, irreparably, maybe, angering or disappointing or making mad many of her supporters? My politics are different...
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Harold. So you just answered the question then. You’re saying Barack Obama knows he’s holding an inside straight and Hillary and Bill can huff and puff with their two pair all they want. They are not worried.
So are you telling me they’re saying, we’re going to sit back, we’re going to let them run this out? If they want to flex their muscles, if Terry McAuliffe wants to jump up and down, let them do it, we know we’re going to win?
Is that what you’re telling me is going on inside the Obama campaign right now?
FORD: I mean, they have not shared this with me, but if I were advising, this is what I would suggest. Second, as you well know, Joe, they still have got to roll up their sleeves and finish this primary process strong, not because they may win Puerto Rico, but because they want to demonstrate to voters everywhere that we are going to take this campaign—we being the Obama campaign. We’re going to take our campaign to every state, to every county, to every neighborhood, to every street, because we believe America is ready for real change.
So I think...
SCARBOROUGH: At the end of this process, though...
FORD: ... smart one.
SCARBOROUGH: The end of this process, though, this ain’t going to play well. There is not going to be a knock down. It’s going to be a 15-rounder. It’s going to be, you know, Ali-Frazier, the fight of the century, and it’s going to be decided by judges at the end, because you know Barack is not going to—probably not going to win Kentucky tonight.
He’ll win Oregon. He’ll win a couple smaller states, but then they go to Puerto Rico. He’s going to lose big, probably, in that last big contest, and everybody is still going to be staring at each other at the end. And this is the way the Democratic Party goes to Denver?
FORD: Well, I think tonight is a special night for a lot of reasons. Our prayers go out to the Kennedy family. One thing—one lesson we can take from Teddy Kennedy is this: fight for what you believe in, fight for your values, fight for your vision, but never take it personal.
Both Barack and Hillary have to understand that craft of politics. I think they do. I think it’s smart for Barack tonight to talk and give us a soaring speech about America, how he sees us positioned around the globe, how he sees us fixing problems at home. And how, if the Democrats give him the nomination, he will fight valiantly, honorably and in a smart way and forcefully to win the presidency in November.
He needs Hillary’s help. And if Hillary somehow or another figures out how to win this thing, which is unlikely, she will need Barack’s help mightily, as well. That would be my advice.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Harold—Harold Ford, my cross-examination...
FORD: Thinking about you, buddy. Thinking about you down in Florida and praying for you, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, thank you so much, Harold. And of course, my cross-examination is over, and I’ll just say I agree with you. Why back somebody into the corner when you know that you’re holding all the cards?
All right. Thanks so much, Harold. We’ll talk to you soon.
Now back to you, Chris Matthews.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thank you Joe, the expectant father there, and Harold Ford.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Up next, we’ll talk to both campaigns about how they’re feeling tonight. One thing, they’re feeling crowded in Oregon. The turnout in a mail-in and drop-off vote is expected to be 50 percent of Democrats -- 50 percent—a million votes will be cast in Oregon tonight.
First, also, our first exit polling tonight from Norah O’Donnell. And Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell on tonight’s contests.
You’re watching MSNBC live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries tonight. Polls in Kentucky will be closed at the top of this hour, just about 25 minutes from now.
Now let’s get some early numbers for our exit polling, and for that we turn to Norah O’Donnell—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening, Chris and Keith.
You know, we talked about how Kentucky looks like Clinton country, and Oregon seems strong for Obama. And now, we’re getting some of the figures in our exit polls that show just what makes these states so politically different.
First, race is not the distinguishing factor today that it was two weeks ago, where North Carolina had a very large African-American population and Indiana did not. In fact, in both Kentucky and Oregon, more than eight in ten voters are white. Nine percent of Kentucky voters are African-American. That’s a larger proportion than in Oregon but lower than all the other states, with recent Democratic primaries, except West Virginia.
Where we do see differences in these states are political ideology, in religious focus and, actually, the size of the communities. In fact, 65 percent of those casting ballots in Kentucky describe themselves as moderate to conservative. It’s pretty interesting. Forty-six percent live in rural areas. And 47 percent—look at that. Almost half of those voting in the Kentucky Democratic primary are weekly church goers.
So we see that these voters have a lot in common with those voters in West Virginia, which of course, gave Hillary Clinton a big win last week. Now, it’s a totally different story in Oregon. In fact, 55 -- 57 percent of the voters there consider themselves liberal. It’s less rural, with 41 percent living in cities over 50,000. And only a third or, I should say, a third say they never go to church at all.
So we see that the Beaver State, Oregon, is much more like Wisconsin.
That was a state where the primary backed Barack Obama by a sizable margin.
There are also voter differences on issues. Far more Kentucky voters selected the economy as the top concern the country—as the top concern. But look here, see in Oregon, barely half said that about the economy. But much higher, they rated Iraq. And that is a high number compared to some of the other recent primary states.
And then finally, I found this so interesting, the difference between Kentucky and Oregon tonight, a big difference. The idea of the federal gas tax holiday. Well, it gets a strong backing in Kentucky, where it’s a hit with 57 percent of the voters, saying yes, it’s a good idea. It’s totally the opposite reaction in Oregon, where 63 percent in Oregon say it’s a bad idea. That’s going to influence this voting tonight—Chris and Keith.
MATTHEWS: Thanks, Norah.
Let’s go right now to the surrogates who’s joining us. One of the big ones is joining us right now, Dee Dee Myers, a Clinton supporter, who was White House press secretary for...
DEE DEE MYERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Chris, I’ve told you all year long, I’m neutral in this, although I did work for President Clinton and I have very fond feelings for Senator Clinton. But I am not—I have never taken a position in this primary.
MATTHEWS: I guess it was my mistake to read the prompter. Anyway, I’m sorry. We correct that, because you are the voice of truth in that, not the prompter. Thank you very much for correcting that, Dee Dee.
You know, it is interesting. You know, you’re younger than me, but it seems like things don’t change. Oregon has always been sort of the Gene McCarthy, Adlai Stevenson sort of state. It’s more concerned about the war, more liberal.
The other state, Kentucky, is much more bread and butter, kitchen table issue. Probably not as collegiate as Oregon is in that—in that spectrum we’ve been noticing throughout. It seems like Hillary wins in Hillary land and he wins in Barack land.
MYERS: It has become, in some ways, a campaign that’s very much about demographics. In Kentucky, you have more sort of working-class voters, certainly fewer college-educated voters. In Oregon, you have much more of a white-collar economy. People self-identified -- 60 -- more than 60 percent self-identify as liberal. You’re not going to find that in Kentucky.
So it’s almost like people are self-selecting based on demographics more than ideology.
MATTHEWS: Do you remember a campaign where it was less necessary to actually cast your vote? All you have to do is show up. Everybody sees what demo you are, and then they just assume. Well, you’re a black. You’re probably Obama. You’re an older woman. You’re probably Hillary.
MATTHEWS: You’re a working guy. You didn’t—you get four years.
You don’t even have to vote anymore. It’s just the demo makes your statement.
MYERS: If you fill out your demographic survey, and they’ll vote for you.
MYERS: But it is—it’s an interesting—one of the things that’s been so interesting about this primary is that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have split the Democratic electorate in a very unusual way.
In previous elections, it’s the sort of—you know, college-educated, higher income voters ended up in one pot and working-class voters ended up in another. But because Obama has done so well with African-American voters and some other people, it’s sort of scrambled the traditional, you know, silos that we find Democratic voters in. And I think what we’re seeing now is the result of all that.
MATTHEWS: What makes Hillary fight right now? Tonight?
MYERS: You know, I think it’s—I think she believes very much in what she’s doing. And I think, you know—I think the last several weeks in some ways have been her best.
She’s almost thrown the playbook out the window and is speaking from the heart in a way that maybe she wasn’t doing earlier in this race. Earlier, she seemed more cautious. She seemed more determined to present herself as the candidate of experience. And now she’s presenting herself as the momma bear fighting for her cubs, and I think what...
MATTHEWS: Against who? I mean, who’s threatening her cubs? Barack?
MYERS: Well, I think she thinks she’s better to fight for her cubs. I don’t think she thinks Barack would be bad for the babies; she just thinks she would be better.
She thinks that the people who are struggling, the people who really feel—again, you look at the numbers out of—coming out of Kentucky. Sixty-five percent of those voters say they feel the economy is the No. 1 issue. They also want a gas tax holiday. They’re really feeling the squeeze in that part of the country in ways that maybe people aren’t quite yet in other parts of the country.
And I think she really feels like she has the program. She has the sensitivity to what’s happening. She has the best vision for how to help those people.
You know, obviously, a lot of Democrats disagree with that. But I think that’s what’s keeping her fighting.
And I think it’s important to let the fight go on. Because by letting her finish the fight, I think Senator Obama is giving her voters a chance to finish that race with her. They want to see her cross the finish line. They want her to end this thing on her terms, whatever that is. And to do it any other way, I think, to short-circuit this process, would be bad for the party.
MATTHEWS: I just think it’s odd that she said that the commentators in Washington have health care, and that’s why they don’t care about her campaign. When as far as I can tell, there’s a big difference in the health-care plans of the two candidates on the Democratic side.
But they’re both pushing national health. In fact, I sort of—if anybody asks me my opinion, I think I like hers better than his. But I don’t understand why this is an issue between those who don’t care about what she cares about and those who do, as if they’re the ones against her. I mean, I think that’s a strange way to position herself at this point in the campaign.
MYERS: I don’t think that’s a dominant theme of her campaign. I do think she feels frustrated at times, as all candidates and all politicians do. And I’ve never worked for a candidate or an elected leader who didn’t feel they got a bad—you know, a bad go from the press.
MATTHEWS: I know, well.
MYERS: It comes with the territory. When you’re written about all the time, and people are often critical you end up feeling like you’re getting an unfair deal.
I do think Senator Clinton has had a tough press through a lot of this campaign. I think she’s been freer, felt freer to talk about it. I don’t know whether that helps her or not, but she’s certainly been more forthcoming about how she feels about some of that in recent weeks as this thing kind of heads toward a conclusion in one way or another. And so you do hear some of that.
It’s frustrating when you feel like you’re pigeon-holed and you can’t— you feel like the issues you care so much about aren’t being covered fairly. And you look for reasons why.
MATTHEWS: OK, Dee Dee Myers, thank you.
OLBERMANN: Let’s turn over to the Obama campaign. A congressman, Earl Blumenauer, of Oregon, who I don’t think will hesitate if we identify him as someone who is supporting Barack Obama for president and serving as a surrogate for him here tonight.
Congressman, thank you for your time.
REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Senator Obama is expected to reach tonight, barring the most unexpected and bizarre of outcomes in these two states, to have secured a majority of the pledged delegates. And there was some discussion that there would be some sort of celebratory moment after that threshold was achieved. And now it looks like it’s not going to happen. Do you know why that’s case, in fact, why that had to be changed?
BLUMENAUER: I think tonight will be a cause of celebration, in terms of passing that threshold of having the majority of pledged delegates to go along with the majority of votes cast, the majority of states, the majority of super delegates. This is a hallmark.
I was a little bit amused listening to people describe my home state of Oregon. Oregonians are very independent people. In fact, George Bush narrowly lost Oregon to Al Gore in the year 2000. But what we’ve seen here is what happens when people get a chance to get to know Senator Obama.
We had the national attention, 75,000 people at a rally on Sunday. And we have a vast network of people who are working around the country. I think people are going to feel good about where Senator Obama will be at the end of tonight’s voting.
OLBERMANN: Tell me, Congressman, give the audience a perspective, since off the top of our heads, I don’t think everybody knows population counts and such. When you talk about 75,000 people at a rally for anybody or anything and a million votes being cast, 50 percent of the registered electorate going to the polls, in a sense, casting votes today in Oregon, what do those numbers mean to you? How surprising are they to you as a veteran of the state’s political system?
BLUMENAUER: Well, we are a relatively small state. There are only 3.7 million people that are here. To have 75,000 people on maybe one of the few days that it doesn’t rain in Oregon on a weekend was astounding.
It was the largest turn out of the—by far of the Obama campaign, far greater than any other candidate all year long in either party has been able to mobilize. And it was by far the largest turnout in Oregon’s history.
This is the first time in 40 years that the Oregon presidential primary matters. People are voting in record numbers. We think we’re going to approach the all-time record for Democratic turnout. We had 15 percent increase in the registration. Some 40,000 independents changed their registration. Over 20,000 Republicans changed their registration, Democrat, to vote for Senator Obama. This is a pretty astounding reaction in a little state like ours.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, last question. It may be an odd one. I hope it doesn’t come across as an unkind one. But in Des Moines tonight, what would you like to hear? How much of the speech would you like to see Senator Obama devote to the subject of Senator Kennedy?
BLUMENAUER: Well, one of the things that has struck me about Senator Obama is his ability to take special moments and communicate in ways that people need and want to hear.
I don’t know exactly what it will say. But having had an opportunity to travel with him, to campaign with him, to watch him take that highly-charged moment on race and turn it into a teachable moment, I suspect that we’re going to get a glimpse of Senator Obama as the communicator that can speak on what’s on the hearts and minds of American voters.
OLBERMANN: Congressman Earl Blumenauer, obviously, an Obama supporter of Oregon. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
BLUMENAUER: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Up next, David Gregory and our “Race for the White House” panel. Results in Kentucky coming in at 7 p.m. Eastern Time after those remaining two polls close.
You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries. The last of the polls will close in Kentucky in nine minutes. And the numbers of nine percent of the vote are not what the pollsters have suggested. Yes, Senator Clinton in the lead, but with nearly 10 percent of the vote in, it’s still close. How much longer that will be the case, is another story altogether.
For the big picture in terms of delegates on this Tuesday night, let’s check in with MSNBC News political director Chuck Todd, “By the Numbers”—
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, first, on those Kentucky numbers, so folks know, it’s mostly vote that’s in from Louisville.
TODD: Jefferson County, a place we expect Obama to do well. So just a caveat on that.
So tonight, Senator Obama is declaring something tonight. And the something is being able to secure a majority of the pledged delegates, the delegates that were able to be won in primaries or caucuses, and then get the lawyers out, asterisk, not including Florida and Michigan. But we can talk about that later. I’ll speed up my voice. I’ll do my best.
So the magic number he’s looking at tonight is 16-20-7. That is one-half of all pledged delegates that were available in primaries and caucuses, including the three that are coming up after tonight.
So far, Obama has 1,612, and that includes ten from Senator Edwards. But he needs to find another 15. So where does he find it? Well, he finds it right in Kentucky. He’s going to get 18, we expect tonight, in Kentucky, we think, you know, minimum. He could lose by 30 points and probably end up with 18 delegates. That will put him over the top without needing Oregon, which is why he can be in Iowa before the polls in Oregon close and actually declare this.
So it will put him at somewhere at 1,630 after that. And then, when he goes into Oregon, he’s hoping to get at least 30 delegates out of there. It’s very possible. Fifty-two are at stake. He should be able to get 30 if he can win it by double digits. We’ll see. That’s the expectation. And if he gets 30 out of there, it’s going to get him to somewhere around 1,650, 1,660.
And what’s important there is if he can get it up another couple more or perhaps get some of these Edwards pledged delegates tonight, then he actually will be able to claim that he’s got enough—enough pledged delegates to have a majority, even if you seat Florida and Michigan as is. And that’s an important talking point for him tonight.
So the magic numbers to watch for for tonight are just getting those 17 -- 17 or 18 out of Kentucky. That initially puts him over the top, excluding of Michigan and Florida. And then, if he totals another 32, some form or another, 32 out of Oregon or maybe does a little bit better than expected in Kentucky, and gets more than 50 tonight, then he gets with Florida and Michigan included.
OLBERMANN: The benefits of having a big lead. Chuck Todd, many thanks.
Let’s have a final check-in before the top of the hour with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert.
Tim, if 1,627 is the number for the night, the first number for the night, but she doesn’t believe in that number. And he declares some kind of primacy, if not victory, is that not essentially waving the proverbial red flag to her? Does that not just give her more ammunition to say, “Look what they’re trying to do now”?
TIM RUSSERT, MSNBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: They’re trying to say this is over, and let Puerto Rico and Montana and South Dakota vote. But Keith, if you really crunch these numbers hard, as Chuck has done, after tonight Barack Obama will need about 50 delegates to reach the 2,025.
And if Hillary Clinton, just give her the 55 delegates, say, she’ll win tonight on her own ratio, by proportional allocation, and there’s then 86 delegates remaining to be won, in Montana, South Dakota, Puerto Rico. Give them all to her.
Guess what? She still would have to win practically all the remaining super delegates that are undeclared. It just doesn’t add up. Her people know it; the Obama people know it. Anyone who can do math knows it. It has nothing to do about any kind of bias, whether it’s gender, race or any logical. It’s simply hard-headed math.
And so, the question has to be, what does she do? The guessing is she goes on to Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota, and then in June says, “OK, it’s over, super delegates. Who should be the nominee, me or Obama?”
After tonight, those super delegates have to say to themselves, if they want Clinton, “We have to, in effect, overrule the elected delegates and award the nomination to someone else. That’s a very high hurdle, a very high standard that we have not found in talking to the undeclared super delegates.
OLBERMANN: You left out the bias. You left out media bias, too.
MATTHEWS: One question. Well, do you think—it’s a prognostication, but at the end of the voting in early June, do you think that Clinton’s—
Hillary Clinton will say to the super delegates, “Put your cards on the table. It’s time to vote”? Or will she say, “Take your time. We have till the last week in August”?
RUSSERT: Well, I think they’ll wait to see what happens on May 31, Chris, with Michigan and Florida. Some part of those delegations will be seated. And so the magical number will not be 2,026. It will be upwards, revised upwards somewhat.
But, it will still put Obama within striking distance. And he’ll just need a handful of these undeclared super delegates. And so what does she do? She could try to delay the process, or she can try and unite and consolidate the party around a presumptive nominee. That’s the unanswered question.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, many thanks. Polls closing at the top of the hour, all of them, in Kentucky. We’ll have the first results, the first characterization of Kentucky in just a moment. Our MSNBC coverage of the primaries continues right after this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: It’s 7:00 p.m. in the East, and the polls are now closed in Kentucky.
And NBC News can project that Hillary Clinton has won the Bluegrass State over Barack Obama by a significant margin. Good evening from MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters at Rockefeller Center.
We’re joined right now alongside with Keith Olbermann. I’m Chris Matthews.
Well, we knew there would be a doubleheader tonight. And we have got the first game behind us. The second game a little more problematic, because, apparently, you can vote over, like, 18 days in Oregon.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: It’s...
MATTHEWS: And we’re getting the final day’s report here tonight.
OLBERMANN: Get a roll of stamps and mail it in.
The most impressive thing, as Chuck Todd pointed out before the top of the hour, is, right now, if you’re Barack Obama or a supporter, you’re really happy with what the early results out of Kentucky show, because these are largely Louisville votes, for those of you not from the state or the area, Louisville, if you prefer to call it that.
There it is. It’s going to—much closer than what we are expecting. When all—as the old joke goes, the outlying precincts report, it should not be that close. If it is, we have a story of biblical proportions tonight.
MATTHEWS: Right. We expect something more on the order of 60-plus perhaps by the end of the evening. But we don’t know yet.
But the projection is that, in fact, Hillary Clinton has won another state in that contiguous mass of states, which includes Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia. She has won that whole glop.
Anyway, Norah O’Donnell is here with a peek at our exit polling and how Hillary Clinton won Kentucky—Norah.
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That’s right.
Well, coming up, we’re going to explain just exactly how she won the state. But it is important to point out that Kentucky is one of the most conservative states to vote this primary season.
It voted for Bill Clinton in ‘92 and ‘96. But it’s gone Republican since then. One of the interesting things we found in the exit poll numbers, only a third of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Barack Obama in the fall.
MATTHEWS: That’s consistent with some of those other states in that region.
Let’s bring in now NBC’s Washington bureau chief and moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert.
Tim, that question of this whole contiguous part of the country has been very difficult for Barack Obama to get even up to 40 percent in.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: It’s very striking. And it means that Senator Obama has a lot of work to do, not only in that region, but with that demographic group of white voters, not particularly high income.
He did not mount much of a campaign in West Virginia or Kentucky, compared to what he’s done in other parts of the region. And that’s why it’s imperative that he find a message that connects with these people , who are willing to vote Democratic if they in fact believe that they have a relationship, a way that they’re—a message that resonates with them. He has not yet found it in states like West Virginia or Kentucky and parts of Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: Do you know why he hasn’t gone in those states with the messages that seem to work for Hillary Clinton, which is, I’m on your side on bread-and-butter issues, I can get you stuff, whether it’s more secure Social Security or Medicare, health care, better education, child development, the usual array of issues Democrats are good on, or at least sharing in their attitude towards the people they don’t like, the big industries like oil and the defense industries, Halliburton, the people they don’t like, like Dick Cheney?
Has he—why has he avoided doing either of those bells—ringing either of those bells?
RUSSERT: Well, it’s a great question.
He tried in Pennsylvania to compete head to head and lost there by about 10 points. West Virginia, he just forfeited. Tonight, he opted to spend more time and energy and money in Oregon. But come the fall, he’s going to have to develop those themes and articulate those themes if he’s going to get the kind of vote necessary in the major industrial states with traditional blue-collar Democratic voters.
Otherwise, John McCain is going to try to poach some of them. And that’s why you have seen Obama retooling his stump speech. And I think it will be continually refined as we approach the fall election.
OLBERMANN: Tim, there was so much made in West Virginia. Senator Clinton’s theme out of that was, look, if he can’t win West Virginia, if he can’t beat Senator Clinton, if he can’t beat me in West Virginia, in the parlance of that campaign, how could he fair against John McCain in the general election?
Is there any actual expectation among Democrats in Kentucky that they could beat McCain in the general in November?
RUSSERT: No, West Virginia potentially. Kentucky, none. I cannot find an Electoral College map that thinks a Democrat can capture Kentucky come this fall. It’s just not part of the calculation, Keith.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Tim Russert.
Let’s take a look at how Hillary Clinton won Kentucky.
As promised, there’s new information from our exit polling. Norah O’Donnell is back in the exit polling location and now has that in depth for us—Norah.
O’DONNELL: That’s right.
Hillary Clinton rode to this big victory in Kentucky propelled by a lot of the same factors that helped her carry West Virginia by a similar margin just one week ago. She enjoyed high levels of support from this electorate. It’s one of the most conservative Democratic primary electorates in the country. You have heard me say that.
And her core groups have kept the faith, voting solidly for her once again. Let’s take a look at the numbers. In fact, she carried over three-quarters of the votes of seniors and whites living in rural communities.
Her margins among these groups were even higher than those we saw in West Virginia. She also won the working-class white subgroups, white with less than a four-year college degree with 74 percent, comparable to her performance, again, in West Virginia.
There was one dominant issue on voters’ minds today in Kentucky -- 65 percent named the economy as the number-one issue affecting their vote. And when you break out those economy voters, you see Clinton was again the favorite by a wide margin. She carried this group by more than 2-1.
Sixty—it will come up in just a minute—but, actually, she carried them by 68 percent to 28 percent. There you go, huge margin. Kentucky voters also felt closer to Clinton than Obama in terms of values. In fact, about three-quarters believed that Clinton shared their values, while less than half, 47 percent, thought Obama shared their values.
One bright spot for Barack Obama is that Kentucky voters were more likely to say they were looking for a candidate to bring about change—Again, we have heard that—than those interested in experience. And Obama narrowly, just narrowly, won the change voters to Clinton by 55 percent to 42 percent. In comparison, Clinton won all those who put experience at the top of the list - - get this—by 92 percent to 2 percent—Chris and Keith.
OLBERMANN: Norah, thank you.
And to explain once again in this complete year of disconnect— certainly, this is a night of disconnect—the hard numbers to this point in Kentucky still suggest Senator Clinton by 5 percent. And we’re expecting that margin to open up as the hours go by.
Once again, the caveat that much of what you are seeing there is from Louisville and environs, and the rest of the state is expected to be as some of those numbers Norah just gave you, nearly uniformly pro-Clinton.
Let’s get the reaction to the Clinton victory from the Obama point of view. Barack Obama is in Iowa tonight and looking ahead to the general election in a caucus state that he won back in January.
Our Lee Cowan in Des Moines with the campaign.
Lee, good evening.
LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening.
I think, Keith, what this is really going to be about tonight is the way—the way Obama was characterizing it is, it’s a thank-you for the most part. It’s not necessarily going to something where he’s going to declare victory. We have been talking about that all along.
He says he wants to thank the people here in Iowa first, who set him on this path, and then the voters around the rest of the country that will get him to what he’s considering a very important threshold, that threshold, as you have been talking about, being the majority of the pledged delegates.
But he still has to do this pretty gracefully. He has got to do it in a way that doesn’t look like as if he’s really trying to push Hillary Clinton off the stage, while at the same time, he’s trying to enter that general election stage. He’s going to be campaigning here. He’s going to be going down to Florida this week.
So, it’s still a very delicate balance. Don’t expect anything huge out of the speech tonight. I think it’s more of a, well, here we are now, but we have got to move on a little past this now. And that’s what you will see him doing in Florida the rest of the week—Keith.
OLBERMANN: Lee Cowan at Des Moines, we will obviously be hearing from you again throughout the evening, before Senator Obama speaks. Thank you, Lee.
OLBERMANN: Joining us now from Minnesota, the junior senator from Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who obviously is supporting Senator Obama.
Senator Klobuchar, thanks for your time tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Great to be on.
I got to tell you, it’s a sad day around here. Everyone is thinking of Ted Kennedy. And I—one of the first calls I made after I decided to endorse Barack, and I talked to him, was to Ted.
And I wish I could do justice to his voice, but how he said, “You will be a part of history,” over the phone...
KLOBUCHAR: ... just as if he was in the Senate chamber. But he’s a fighter. And we’re hanging in them with him.
OLBERMANN: Well, now, this raises a question that I asked earlier of one of Senator Obama’s supporters in Oregon. Under the circumstances, would it be more appropriate to speak largely or wholly about Senator Kennedy tonight, rather than—than give something that sort of fits into the expected political pattern on yet another primary night?
KLOBUCHAR: I think that’s up to Senator Obama. I think he’s shown a great ability to do what’s right. I’m sure he will mention Senator Kennedy.
This is a big night here tonight in terms of the campaign. I know we’re going to go through June. But it looks like, with what we predict could happen in Oregon, that he will be able to have a majority of the pledged delegates. And, as he moves through this long march through the country, it’s going to be a major night tonight in terms of success.
And I heard you all talking about Kentucky. And I was thinking—and you will know the numbers better than me, but I think that Bill Clinton lost seven states that he—in the primaries that he went on to win in his first election.
So, you know, I think we just have to give this some time here, as we get together and get our nominee set in June. And I think, the more people see Barack Obama and see him with his family and see his values and where he came from, the better we’re going to do with the voters and the people of this country.
OLBERMANN: Senator Klobuchar, one point—and Lee Cowan just mentioned this. And I thought it was a terrific point to bring up and a good one to ask you about.
The idea of mentioning this threshold of pledged delegates that’s achievable tonight, barring the most bizarre of circumstances, how is that done, how is that mentioned, how is that presented as a kind of primacy, if not victory, without handing Senator Clinton more things to throw at Senator Obama and Senator Obama’s supporters and the media or anybody else who she has perceived as trying to wrap this thing up too quickly?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think, first of all, I just see this as a major step. It’s not the end.
Senator Clinton has made clear in her last speech in West Virginia that the contest will go on through the end of these primaries into June. But this is a major step.
This was about delegates, the number of delegates, from both voters in primary states and in caucus states. And the fact that a come-from-behind candidacy was able to achieve this tonight, I think it’s significant. But, as has been pointed out, it’s not the end. we have a few more weeks to go here.
OLBERMANN: Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota, kind enough to join us tonight. And we share your concerns for Senator Kennedy.
And we thank you, especially under those circumstances.
KLOBUCHAR: It’s great to be on. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, we expect to hear from Senator Clinton at 8:30 Eastern tonight.
Right now, let’s check in with the Clinton campaign.
NBC’s Ron Allen is at Clinton headquarters in Louisville.
Ron, I’m looking at these numbers again. You can see the pattern again we have seen for so many weeks, older white voters, if you will, more for Senator Clinton, women voters more for Senator Clinton. College-educated people tend to be the other direction—a fairly consistent pattern again tonight.
RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Chris, yes.
And it’s those demographics, among other metrics, that the Clinton campaign is really clinging to, focusing on, I should perhaps say. They think that that is a broader coalition, the kinds of voters that will put a Democrat over the top in November.
They are also insisting, of course, as you know, that they are winning states that are important, states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, so on and so forth. And they are going on to Florida tomorrow to push to have Florida and Michigan delegates seated. She has not given up on that process. There’s going to be a big push there and I would suspect in Michigan as well.
The problem for the Clinton campaign is that, even though she’s making this argument about electability, the superdelegates are slowly trickling Senator Obama’s way. And I think it was a really big hit earlier this week, not when John Edwards went that way, but also when Robert Byrd of West Virginia endorsed Senator Obama.
That’s a state, West Virginia, that Senator Clinton won by 41 points. It was one of his biggest victories. Yet, the senior senator there didn’t back her. That had to take some of the wind out of her sails. The Clinton campaign also reacted very negatively earlier this week when the Obama campaign started talking about this milestone of elected pledged delegates.
For them, they said that was a slap in the face to the voters who haven’t voted yet. It was a slap in the face to the 17 million voters who have voted for Senator Clinton. They reacted very negatively to what had been a fairly civil campaign for the past week or so, a noticeably more civil campaign coming out of Indiana and North Carolina.
So, again, yes, we will hear from Senator Clinton a little later this evening. She’s determined to fight on. I think the best analogy is, it’s almost like a marathon runner who is determined to just see this to the end.
Senator Clinton, as you know, is a very determined woman. It’s almost become a matter of principle that she finish this race, that she push on until there’s a nominee. And I have every reason to think that she’s going to go on through the remaining primaries, to Florida, South Dakota, Puerto Rico, and until there is a nominee—guys, back to you.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Ron Allen, who is with the Clinton campaign.
It seems to me the question mark is still around the question of, will it end in two weeks, or will that just be another—another punctuation point and on to the last week in August? Will Clinton ever quit?
OLBERMANN: There was a joke on “Saturday Night Live” a couple of weeks ago, not one that the Clinton campaign would quote to anybody, unlike previous ones, that went along the lines of Amy Poehler, playing Senator Clinton, saying: I’m giving it up for the benefit of the party. I’m withdrawing, so Senator Obama—there’s a pause—she said, psyche. I’m not even going to get out even after the inaugural, which I’m—this is the only fair prediction.
It’s like picking against a team that continually runs upsets in sports tournaments. It’s just not worth after a certain point.
MATTHEWS: I know. Well, let’s take a look.
In fact, we’re going to have a man right now who knows more about this thing that we’re only guessing at, the longevity of this campaign.
Terry McAuliffe, do you believe—I think you’ve said this before— that after all the voting is over, which is what Senator Clinton wants to get done, fairly enough, after that’s over in the first week or so of June, the super-delegates will then begin to vote. Is that what you want?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Yes, I think that’s what’s going to happen, Chris. I think the super-delegates are looking tonight, a 2-to-1 here win in Kentucky, a 41-point win last week in West Virginia. I think the super-delegates are saying, “Wait, we’ve got to let everybody vote in this process. We’ve still got three contests to go.”
But you know what? Everybody keeps saying it’s over, but Hillary Clinton keeps winning and winning in purple states. As you know, Chris, Bill Clinton carried these states in ‘92 and ‘96. We lost it in 2000, 2004. We can win them back with Hillary at the top of the ticket.
And that’s what I think a lot of the super-delegates, after June 3, assuming the Rules and Bylaws rule on Florida and Michigan, they’re going to start moving, because they want to be part of the process. And their big decision is going to be, who is it that best can carry these states in the general election?
MATTHEWS: OK, you must have in your mind a very clear scenario going between here and the convention. Give us a sense of what happens between here and the convention, if it works the way you’d like it to work.
MCAULIFFE: Yes, I think what happens, Chris, on the 31st, the Rules and Bylaws meets and says, “You know what? Florida and Michigan, they paid a price. Nobody campaigned. No money was spent. And you know what? They tried to do the redo. They won’t let us do the redo. Let’s go ahead and seat these delegates. They voted. Let’s bring them into the process, because we’ve got to win the general election.”
June 1st, Puerto Rico, I think is going to be a big popular vote turnout, Chris, in Puerto Rico. We’re going to win Puerto Rico. And then we have South Dakota and Montana June 3.
Once that process is done, Senator Obama needs super-delegates, we need super-delegates. And then the hard decision process for the remaining super-delegates, about 240 of them, who is it that best can beat John McCain?
Every single poll we have seen that has come out shows Hillary Clinton beating John McCain, shows Hillary winning in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, shows her winning West Virginia. We just had a poll out here in the paper here in Kentucky, Hillary beats John McCain. She wins in all these purple states that we have to win in the general election, and the super-delegates move to Hillary. And then, as we get for the nominee, everybody gets unified.
That is our scenario.
MATTHEWS: You see Hillary Clinton getting the most delegates overall, then, and a majority of the delegates by the time we get to the convention? That’s what you see?
MCAULIFFE: I do, absolutely. We both are going to need the super-delegates after June 3, Chris. And then it’s going to be who can make the best argument who should be the nominee of the party.
Hillary will have won the popular vote, and clearly on the delegates it will be very close on those delegates. And I think it will be within a 100-delegate difference. Then they have got to make their hard decision: How do we win the White House? And then how do we win those down-ballot? You know, we have 30 retirements in the House of Representatives...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know all—I know that.
MCAULIFFE: ... of Republicans.
MATTHEWS: But, Terry, the question applies here. You have to answer it.
MCAULIFFE: I know you know that.
MATTHEWS: No, I don’t know as much as you, but let me tell you, Tim Russert was just on a few moments ago with Keith. And what he did was lay out what we know now about where the super-delegates are and the ones that have committed and the ones that haven’t committed.
And he points out that, even with a very good showing, the kind of showing you describe in the remaining contests, it’s almost impossible to imagine the requisite percentage of the super-delegates who haven’t committed yet to go to your side. You see it, though?
MCAULIFFE: Yes. I mean, it’s got to be—you know, we look at the same math. It’s about 75 percent of the super-delegates. But there’s a reason, Chris, why they have waited. You know, after Indiana and North Carolina, most people went out on television and said the race was over.
You would have assumed, Chris, at that point, 80, 90, 100, 150 super-delegates would have moved. They didn’t. They stayed in place. We’ve had some move, but not the majority that people thought.
The reason is they want to wait until the end. They are going to make a reasoned decision: Who is it that best can win the general election? And that’s been an argument all along. More people will have voted for Hillary Clinton, but, sure, Chris, we know we’ve got to win a vast majority of those super-delegates.
MCAULIFFE: But you know what? Is it possible to do it? Yes, it is. Is it impossible? No, it’s not. You can’t win unless you’re on the playing field.
MATTHEWS: I understand.
MCAULIFFE: Hillary has proven once again tonight, a 2-to-1 win...
MATTHEWS: That’s very game...
MCAULIFFE: She’s in this to win.
MATTHEWS: That’s—that’s very game of you and admirable. The question is, though, you’re arguing basically that silence by these super-delegates that haven’t committed, you’re really making the case that their silence is basically a tacit indication to you that they’re probably going to Hillary Clinton, is that what you’re saying?
MCAULIFFE: What I’m saying—we’re talking to them every day, and so is the Obama campaign. What they have told us they want to get through the process, through June 3. They want everybody to vote. They want to see Michigan and Florida resolved.
Then they’re going to make a decision, what they think is in the best interest of the party, and that is who they think can win the White House. That’s the discussions I have had with the super- delegates, the other folks on the Clinton team. I know the Obama campaign is having those conversations.
But, Chris, they haven’t moved yet.
MATTHEWS: Right, I understand that.
MCAULIFFE: And there’s a reason why they haven’t moved yet.
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s talk about that reason.
MATTHEWS: Let’s try to figure this out, as tough as it is to talk about this as Americans. And you and I are white guys. It’s a tricky situation.
MATTHEWS: Of the pattern of voting you’ve looked at, if you looked at it objectively, is it—I mean, I’m looking at Oregon here and our polling, our exit polling. Males, white males, 2-to-1 to Barack Obama. Is it fair to say that Barack Obama faces a race prejudice problem? Is it fair to say he faces a class problem? Or is it more narrowly that he faces a problem around Appalachia, a particular region of the country where white people, some of them, are having a hard time voting for him?
How narrow a problem, how big a problem does he face objectively in getting this election won in November?
MCAULIFFE: Well, Chris, you’re right. Obviously, something is happening. Why we would win by 41 points in West Virginia, 2-to-1 in Kentucky. But as you know, it was Pennsylvania, it was Ohio, it was Texas.
I’m not going to say against Senator Obama what I’m going to say. It’s Hillary Clinton’s economic message. I do believe that the voters, when they think about this race, they think about, who is best going to take care of gas prices, get the economy going, deal with the home foreclosure issue, the credit crisis?
Secondly, who’s going to keep me safe? Who will be the best on national security? And if you look at the exit data, Chris, you know, it’s not about race and gender. It’s about who they best think can deal with these economic issues and keep us safe, which is what this discussion ought to be about.
And I think they’re breaking in large numbers. You talk to them in West Virginia. You talk to them here in Kentucky. They’re hurting. They want help. And they like Hillary’s fight.
She’s out there fighting every day. She’s not giving up. I mean, even Clint Eastwood came out today to support Hillary Clinton and say, “You know what? She’s a great fighter.”
People like people fighting for them. They’re not quitting on her, and she’s not going to quit on them. That’s what I think the crux of what we’re seeing.
Since March 1, Chris, Hillary Clinton has won a majority of these primaries. She’s got a lot more popular votes. She’s even gotten more delegates since March 1st. Hillary has been on a roll since the beginning of March. And it has just continued to move through March, April and now into May.
OLBERMANN: Terry, something you just said about who’s going to keep us safe, is that not self-destructive for whoever the Democratic nominee is, if you’re going to bring that up as a significant point benefiting your candidate in the primary state trying to get the nomination? Isn’t that essentially a Trojan horse that you have brought in on Senator McCain’s behalf? Is he not going to win that debate between the Republican and the Democrat in November?
MCAULIFFE: Yes, Keith, I really think we have an opportunity for the first time in a long time to get that national security debate back on our side.
Clearly, after 9/11, George Bush has used it, I have said this many times, as a political weapon against the Democrats. You know, the ‘04 election, let’s be honest, they talked terror, terror, terror. It’s all they talked about in the general election against Senator Kerry.
But when you look at it, they think Hillary Clinton, her work on Armed Services, being a senator in New York after 9/11, talk about the 35 generals, I mean, General Hugh Shelton, as you know, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, campaigned all over North Carolina for Hillary.
So it’s the debate—John McCain has made it clear. He said on Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” on your network. As you know, he said this is going to be an election about national security. He said, “I don’t know much about the economy.”
You know what? We know what they’re going to try and do. But you know what? Hillary beats John McCain on these national security issues. And I think that’s what’s most encouraging coming out of Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and Ohio, is that they’re not going to be able to use that as an attack on Hillary Clinton in the general election.
MATTHEWS: Terry, you don’t believe...
MCAULIFFE: And she’s stronger on the economy.
MATTHEWS: You know, along these lines that Keith opened up, I have to ask this question. We’re rushed for time. You don’t believe that talking to foreign leaders, even hostile foreign leaders, it constitutes appeasement, do you?
MCAULIFFE: Say that again, Chris? You can hear they’re yelling behind me here.
MATTHEWS: You don’t believe that talking with foreign leaders constitutes appeasement?
MCAULIFFE: Of course talk with foreign leaders is not appeasement.
MCAULIFFE: I think the issue is, who do you think can best go about dealing with those leaders? Hillary traveled to 82 countries. She knows all these world leaders.
But, no, I mean, John McCain is going to try and make that argument. I think it’s a false argument. I think George Bush embarrassed our nation the other day when he went to the Knesset and said what he had said and then tried to say it wasn’t about Senator Obama and others after the White House press corps—told the White House press corps ahead of time that it was.
You know what? I think we have a huge opportunity as Democrats for us all come together. But, clearly, what happened in the ‘02 elections after 9/11, the ‘04 election, this is all George Bush and company ran on. They tried to scare people. They tried to say that George Bush would make you more safe. And as we all know, George Bush has made this nation less safe.
MATTHEWS: Terry McAuliffe, thank you for joining us.
MCAULIFFE: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Let’s send it over to NBC’s David Gregory now and “THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel—David.
DAVID GREGORY, HOST, “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: All right, Chris, thanks very much.
Pat Buchanan, let’s pick up on their conversation over there with Terry McAuliffe.
This issue of who is best positioned to keep you safe, it is an issue that is being injected, at this late date into the campaign, when everybody thought there was a cease-fire between them. This is the kind of issue that the Republicans are prepared to use against Barack Obama, if he’s the nominee.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
That’s what the president was up to with the appeasement charge.
McCain was grinning like a Cheshire cat when he heard it. He pounced on it.
The real question coming out of this Kentucky race is, what’s the matter with Obama? Is it ethic? Is it cultural? Is it issues? Is it remediable? I mean, I look at those numbers, I don’t think he’s competitive in the general election in West Virginia or Kentucky.
And whatever you say about Terry McAuliffe—he’s a passionate advocate—everything he said is true. There is no doubt she is competitive there. Obama has got problems in Michigan. I will tell you, she now has an argument for the nomination. It’s not conclusive, because he’s got the delegates, cold.
GREGORY: Right. But that assumes, Michelle, that you accept the premise that Terry McAuliffe is arguing, that superdelegates are waiting because they are concerned about Obama. They may very well be waiting because they want political cover and because they know it could over in a couple of weeks, and why antagonize the Clintons at this point, if they don’t have to?
MICHELLE BERNARD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
GREGORY: Let it run its course, and then render judgment.
BERNARD: Well, it assumes—it assumes that you accept Terry McAuliffe’s explanation. And it also assumes that you—that you think something is wrong with Senator Obama.
What we are looking at is sort of a tale of two different nations. People have argued that Barack Obama cannot win the white vote. But we have seen, in the whitest of white states, that he does get the white vote. It will be very interesting to see what happens tonight in Kentucky, what the voters consider the most important issues vs. what happens in Oregon.
In Kentucky, for example, I would assume that we’re going to see most of the Kentucky voters think that Hillary Clinton’s idea of a gas suspension— of a suspension on the gas tax this summer is a great idea. In Oregon, the voters will probably disagree with that.
GREGORY: But we know, Gene, that the economy was a very important issue in Kentucky.
And we know that there is a pattern in other states. Whether Barack Obama is competitive in Kentucky—you heard Tim Russert it’s not really on a Democratic electoral map—we’re still this same problem he’s having appealing to working-class voters.
EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: But you could slice this any number of different ways.
But economic problems are not the same everywhere. In other words, voters in Kentucky can say the economy is the most important issue. They can say the same thing in Oregon. They can have very different experiences of the economy. Kentucky is part of that region of the country that has been shrinking, that has been—whose livelihood has been going away, because there have been a lot of dislocations from globalization.
Oregon, part of the Pacific Rim, has been—has had more benefits, perhaps, from the kind of globalization. Now, that’s a gross oversimplification, but the point is, not all economic issues are the same in all regions of the country.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, you can’t give up—you can’t give up that whole community up there, from Ohio...
ROBINSON: No. No, you don’t give it up.
BUCHANAN: ... West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and all this.
Let me tell you, though, Hillary Clinton has an army now. She’s going for a majority of the popular vote. If she loses the nomination, I think she’s going to enter what could be a conclusive claim to the number-two spot on the ticket with Obama, go right into that convention and say...
ROBINSON: That’s possible.
BUCHANAN: Suppose—suppose Eddie Rendell gets up at that convention and says, we have got to pull this party together. I nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton for vice president of the United States.
GREGORY: That could happen.
But, as I pitch it back, and, Keith, as you all were discussing, there’s still a question of, has there been a superdelegate who was undecided who came out to validate Senator Clinton’s strategy and saying, yes, you’re right; I agree with her; he’s not ready yet?
That has not happened yet. And that’s a big test for them, when those superdelegates finally decide.
OLBERMANN: Great point, David.
I think, to some degree, don’t you, that many superdelegates have held back out of courtesy, respect, party unity, and maybe even a little bit of fear from being beaten up...
MATTHEWS: Politicians don’t like to make decisions. It’s not— because, in every district, there are Barack people and there are Hillary people. And you know for sure the people that you vote against won’t like you for a long time.
OLBERMANN: And the later you make that procrastination last, the better you are...
MATTHEWS: Hopefully, you make it after it doesn’t matter.
All right. Thank you to David Gregory and the panel.
Still ahead: the insiders, Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford, more from our exit polling, MSNBC’s Tim Russert.
We’re also getting the first heads-up from the Hillary Clinton campaign about her victory speech tonight, as the numbers begin to come in, in Kentucky, and that lead grows, as expected, to 18 percent at the moment, with about less than a third, but approaching a third of the vote in.
You’re watching MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries. Let’s go back to the insiders, Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford Jr.
SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much, Chris.
You know, Harold, when I had problems politically with certain groups, like for me, early on, I nailed down my base, but then I had to go to professional, then in the general African Americans. That’s where I went. I dove in and I made sure that I got them on my side. You did the same thing in your Senate run in Tennessee. You went to these people who are now voting Hillary Clinton.
You said weeks ago, Barack Obama needed to roll up his sleeves after he lost in Pennsylvania and get into West Virginia, get into Kentucky. Work hard for the voters. He hasn’t done it and keeps getting pounded. Why won’t he go there?
HAROLD FORD, DLC: I think he will. I think one of the things they
have to do, and you know as well as I do, after a primary the general campaign
is generally different. Very different in a lot of ways. You’re going to
amplify things that work. You have to nuke things that don’t work. I think
taking John Edwards, traveling throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, even once
this primary is over, is something that Senator Obama should do to thank those
voters for …
SCARBOROUGH: John Edwards? John Edwards. Everybody was screaming about John Edwards. Everybody a couple days ago said John Edwards endorsed him. They are going to love that in Appalachia. He’s losing two to one in Kentucky. John Edwards has no coattails.
FORD: Well, he’s not from there.
I’d roll the sleeves up and let them walk through. Voters as you well know, where we’re from, want you to come down. They don’t care how big the press says you are or how big you think you are or how big the country may think you are.
If you don’t go and meet voters in the Panhandle, in Tennessee, in Georgia and Kentucky and West Virginia they are not going to throw their vote your way. If I were advising them tonight, I would advise strongly, much like they have gone to Iowa this evening. Go back through or I should say go through Kentucky and go through West Virginia. See these voters. Roll up the sleeves and say, look, I’m going to need you in the fall. Because if you want change, I’m your best chance to change the direction of this country, when it comes to foreign policy, gas prices, food prices and the host of challenges and concerns people are having in Kentucky.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? Half way through that laundry list, all these white working class voters just tuned you out because they would listen to that message from you, but they ain’t listening to it from Barack Obama.
FORD: He’s going to have to go there if he’s going to have a chance of
winning. I would differ with you slightly …
SCARBOROUGH: Why won’t he go there? That’s the question, Harold. Why didn’t he roll up his sleeves? Why didn’t he go to Kentucky? Was that a mistake?
FORD: I think it was. I think they can see it. I shared over and over I would have done those things. So naturally I think he should have.
He still has an opportunity to do it, though. The clock, though, in those states may be running out in West Virginia and Kentucky. Because these voters feel slighted. You know as well as do. If you don’t travel to certain parts of your district, they won’t remember you come election time. Barack has got to make up to them here in the next few weeks.
SCARBOROUGH: You know what? Actually, Harold, I would reverse it. If you don’t come to their states, they will remember you election time and they will work overtime to make sure you lose.
Harold Ford, thanks so much for your insights.
FORD: You to.
SCARBOROUGH: Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joe and Harold.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s check in with NBC News political director Chuck Todd, by the numbers with another set of number that is feeds into this disconnection election. The states in which Senator Obama has been most successful demographically in the black versus white or black and white mix are which states?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we don’t need a poll. All you have to do is go to is to census.gov and find out what the percentage of African American population in a state is and you will know whether that state is going to be won by Obama or won by Clinton.
Let me take a look at the states that have been won by Obama. And this will tell why we’re so confident that Obama is going to win Oregon and why Clinton, we have already projected her to win Kentucky. In state that have an African American population of over 16 percent, Obama has won just about all of them. That’s those states here. In states that have an African American population of less than four percent he’s also done quite well. That’s all of these.
The only ones that he didn’t win New Hampshire, we know what happened in New Hampshire, and then New Mexico and Arizona, states with high Hispanic populations that he struggled with.
Now you look at the states where Senator Clinton has won and they are all mostly states that is have been won with an African American population of somewhere between 4% and 16 percent. Guess what old Kentucky has? Eight percent. I think our exit poll is going to says nine percent. Look dark blue of all here the states she’s won. The only states he has won with the African American population in that high single digits or low digits have been states that touch Illinois where he’s had a longer period of time to introduce himself.
Go to census.gov. And we can figure out Florida and we can figure out Michigan. We don’t need polls, we don’t need election days we just need the census.
OLBERMANN: Are there other explanations? Is it purely that question of it’s very, very small African American demographic in a state or on the large end of the scale percentage wise, those are Obama’s and everything in between is Clinton’s. Are there other explanations, economic, liberal versus conservative, anything else or is that as stark as it sounds?
TODD: Take the overhead projectors when you would take a clear piece of plastic. The basis here is race and identity politics. Then you layer some things. Where was the racial tension. Where there was racial tension between blacks and whites during desegregation in some of those places, that’s where you saw some places where Obama struggled. In these Border States in the South, we’re seeing that, along Appalachia. That’s where you see the struggle. There’s economic tension, maybe a competition for jobs at one point between blacks and whites. That’s where you see it.
Look at the states out here that we know Obama did really well in.
They never experienced the racial tension of the ‘60s. They never had it. They observed it. They watched it on television. They saw it take place. But they didn’t have the same tensions. There’s not a lot of African American population west of the Mississippi and it’s no wonder that Obama gets this opportunity to introduce himself on a bigger scale without the backdrop of race.
OLBERMANN: How many PhDs are going to be written based on that sort of information? Chuck Todd by the numbers. Always fascinating. Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: It’s a freshman statistics, Keith, actually.
OLBERMANN: Depends on which college you’re talking about. Up next, new information from our exit polling and of course, Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell will be joining us.
You’re watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic primaries. We’re on Clinton speech watch right now as well.
OLBERMANN: We continue with MSNBC’s live coverage of the primaries in Kentucky and Oregon. NBC News has projected Hillary Clinton the winner in Kentucky by a significant margin. We await the results in Oregon and we await these results in Kentucky, the hard numbers to stretch out as they have begun to again, after contracting. A 17 percentage point lead for Clinton. It may go much higher than that. We also have in terms of numbers much more information on exit polling. For that we turn to Norah O’Donnell and the subject is who’s going to be that eventually nominee and what happens to the one who is not the nominee.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: God evening to you, Chris and Keith.
Interesting information about who voters think will be the eventual nominee and whether there should be a dream ticket with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. First, even though Hillary Clinton won Kentucky tonight, a majority of voters believe Obama will be the nominee. Fifty-four percent say he is the one who is going to face John McCain in November.
Next, supporters of both candidates are divided over whether Hillary Clinton should get the number two spot. As you can see here, 64 percent of Clinton voters support her as a number two spot. But look at that. Fewer than four in 10 Obama voters want to see Clinton as the V.P. What about the endorsement of former South Carolina (sic) senator John Edwards endorsement of Obama last week?
Well, according to our exit polls the Edwards endorsement was a factor for nearly half the voters in Kentucky. Forty-five percent called it very or somewhat important in making their decision.
Finally, how divided is this party after this hard fought campaign? Well, it is interesting. Only half of these Kentucky primary voters say they would vote for Obama in a race against John McCain. About one third say they would defect to John McCain. Another 15 percent said they would stay home. I mentioned this to you guys earlier. The Clinton supporters don’t seem to like Barack Obama very much as a general election candidate. Forty one percent Clinton supporters in Kentucky say they would vote for John McCain if Obama becomes the nominee.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell with the exit polls. Thank you, Norah.
MATTHEWS: Let’s get the reaction from the Clinton campaign. And Clinton campaign senior adviser Lisa Caputo who was Hillary Clinton’s press secretary when she was first lady. Lisa, where is this headed? This whole thing. People watching are not just political junkies. They are American citizens and they are wondering how this election of a president is leading us. Is it leading us to a heated summer of three months of dickering about trying to get superdelegates to make up their minds? Could this go on to all the way to August?
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I really doubt it, Chris. I don’t think the Clinton campaign wants it to go to August. Clearly, the Obama campaign doesn’t either. I think this will – we’ll know where we stand. I think certainly, on June 3. And I think that the superdelegates, the ones that aren’t committed, are holding out to let the process play out. Which I think it’s the right thing to do.
Remember, too. If you take a step back and look at this with the next couple primaries coming up, Barack Obama cannot afford to go into a nomination on a losing streak and Senator Clinton needs to stay in the race as we heard from Norah in the exit polls to make sure her supporters are galvanized to support the ticket, whatever the ticket may be.
So I think that’s what’s going on here.
MATTHEWS: But we know a lot of that isn’t going to happen. We know, based on all the number crunching by Chuck and others and Tim and all the analysis that Barack Obama is going to get the most of the elected delegates. We know there’s not going to be a losing streak. As we’ve seen these weeks. Every time there’s two events, they split it, like a doubleheader. Tonight will probably be a split doubleheader based on all the projections ahead of time. You’re going to see this right through South Dakota and Montana. And perhaps Hillary Clinton will roll up the score in Puerto Rico but that one really won’t matter, because they can’t vote in a presidential election. So you’re not going to get a winning or losing streak. You’re not going to get a reversal of fortune with regard to the elected delegates.
What’s the waiting for at this point?
CAPUTO: Well, I think the waiting for, is to allow all of the people in all the primary states to cast their votes. To let the process play out. The reason is, we have a country that’s pretty much divided. It’s very close. Yes, Barack Obama is ahead in the pledged delegates. If Hillary Clinton wins Kentucky as you’ve called, she’ll maintain the popular vote lead. You have got a country, that at least on the Democratic side, is very split between these two candidates.
And you have voter turnout at record highs. And an enthusiasm that is off the charts. So the process should play out through the primary season for those very reasons.
MATTHEWS: We keep hearing new scorecards presented. The score card for months was who wins the most elected delegates. Then a new score was produced by the Clintons, which was who wins the popular vote, now, you’ve got a new score card, more recent than that, who is most likely, based on the track record, to win the electoral vote count. The Electoral College. Doesn’t it seem your side is more creative in coming up with new score cards than coming up with the majority of elected delegates?
CAPUTO: Well, I mean, I think we know it comes down to the delegate math. As Tim has pointed out, and others pointed out earlier this evening and beforehand, the math is the math and no one can get around the math. But in a way, I feel like we’re having a conversation dating back to 2000 and the presidential election when Al Gore won the popular vote and it had to go to the Supreme Court. The point is we have got a system. It’s around delegates. You can’t ignore when a candidate is ahead in a popular vote. You can’t. And that’s what the superdelegates are waiting for. That’s why the Clinton campaign is making its case. Look at what happened on the exits. On the economy and on sharing your values. Hillary Clinton knocked the socks off. That’s not irrelevant.
MATTHEWS: No, it’s not. I have to go back. I think I sympathize with one view. If Al Gore and his people asked for a complete recount in Florida back in 2000, they may have won Florida and with it the Electoral College. That is of course the cloying reality of that whole thing. They could have had a different strategy and perhaps they did get the most intended votes in Florida. They may well have won the election had they not pursued a narrow strategy of asking just a couple of counties to be recounted.
CAPUTO: It could have been. Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: We’re on the same page. Thank you, Lisa Caputo.
CAPUTO: You bet.
OLBERMANN: All right. Up next, NBC’s Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell.
We await Senator Clinton’s speech to her supporters after winning Kentucky by a significant margin. You’re watching MSNBC’s complete coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
OLBERMANN: We continue with MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries. As we await now the speech of Senator Clinton’s after what will be based on the NBC News projection and all of the early outcomes and results a significant victory tonight in Kentucky. In the interim, let’s check back in with NBC News Washington bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS Tim Russert and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell as well.
Tim, let me start with you. Chris made the point, we’re dealing with another night that will ultimately be a tie. Almost an identical number of delegates, 51 in Kentucky, 51 in Oregon. So what is tonight’s big picture meaning?
All right, Andrea, you can answer it first because Tim’s mike is not connected for some reason. What’s the big picture meaning tonight if this is yet another tie on a Tuesday?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I think what Tim would say is that Hillary Clinton is trying to run up the popular vote and again make her argument that he is quote, “not electable” because he doesn’t appeal to white, working class voters. But that he obviously is likely to run up a vote in Oregon. It is a tie. The meaning is, it edges him closer to locking up a nomination if he continues to move this way in being able to say he has a majority of the pledged delegates.
And it makes it more or less likely, more likely that he will be the nominee and she will have an argument with her supporters that she should either be on the ticket or should have some say in the way the campaign and this general election campaign progresses.
OLBERMANN: Andrea, one of the point that is was raised initially by Terry McAuliffe, it was batted around by our panel, the meaning of the silence of the superdelegates, it’s not an Anthony Hopkins film. It’s what we’ve been seeing.
There’s been enough to come out that Senator Obama has always had an increasing lead on this whether a day, a weekend or a week. But there was never a stampede. What’s your assessment from the campaigns? Is it in fact leaving Senator Clinton her space to get out? Is it prevarication on the part of the superdelegates? Is it fear? Is it just procrastination? Political wisdom? What is it?
MITCHELL: I think it is less carnivorous than the Anthony Hopkins film. I think it could be bloody politics. It means they are not willing to either sign up for him or the campaign, the Clinton campaign hopes, it’s continued loyalty to her. Trying to give her space. He’s likely to moderate his voice in victory tonight. When he is in Iowa. He won’t go over the top in saying this sews up the nomination. He wants to show her respect. Remember what happened in New Hampshire. When he was perceived at least in that debate, when he said, I like you well enough, he was perceived by many women voters, and these are precisely the women, the voters he’s trying find and trying to attract. He was perceived as being patronizing to her. You heard some of that today. The suggestion from the former president that gender played a role here.
Whether or not that’s accurate, that is a perception by many of her loyalists. And he needs them in order to win in the general election.
I think the superdelegates are trying to be respectful, but at some point, they will shift. And more likely, since she’s demanding they stay in it until June 3, it will between now and then or more likely at that point when she gives the signal.
OLBERMANN: So, Andrea, how does he get them? Is the only option—is that what this is about now? To make sure the only option is her being the other half of the ticket or is there another one besides that?
MITCHELL: I think there are a lot of other options. I think he is
unlikely, unless really fate forces his hand, and election returns between now
and then force his hand in some fashion, unlikely to offer this to her. It
hobbles him in all sorts of ways. It conflicts with his message of change, of
rejecting the way Washington works. That’s the rhetoric, that is the message
he’s been saying. He can accomplish it perhaps by choosing a Clinton loyalist,
like Evan Bayh the former governor and current senator from Indiana. From Ohio
he can chose the governor, Governor Strickland. He could go the route of Ed
Rendell which is Chris Matthews’ favorite route in Pennsylvania
But there are plenty of …
MATTHEWS: It is a smart idea, Andrea, as you know.
MITCHELL: Clearly, those are the main states that he has to play in.
I think he’s more likely to get Pennsylvania with Rendell’s help even without him on the ticket and he would do better to look towards Ohio or Indiana, a place where he really needs to win.
But they have been arguing that their electoral map is different. They can do this with North Carolina and Colorado and other places where they won primaries or caucuses. Other people, I should point out, other Clinton loyalists but realists say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard. There are Republican governors and secretaries of state. If you will, Katherine Harris type election officials in those states. Even though he may have won primaries or caucuses in those states, he has to go up to the establishment, which would be Republicans and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote if he is the nominee in those red states.
MATTHEWS: How does Hillary refine this question of whether it’s been a fair campaign? She’s complained about the moderators and commentators and that’s a normal part of politics, fairly or not. And there’s been commentary out of her campaign she’s been the victim of sexism or misogyny, but when she has to face the results, whatever they are, come mid-June, do you think she’s going to say something like that, it wasn’t a fair contest, she wasn’t fairly graded as a candidate by the commentators, by the voters. At the same time graciously allow that Barack did win fairly? How does she do both?
MITCHELL: She can’t do both. She has to give up this argument at that stage that it has been an unfair fight. She has to abandon that. She has to be gracious to a fault in order to not be blamed if something bad happens to Democrats down the road.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell, great thanks. We are expecting Senator Clinton at almost any moment. We’re going to take a break. In three hours, 11:00 Eastern, the results from Oregon. Our coverage continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: At 8:00 o’clock Eastern in Kentucky, Senator Clinton mailing in an easy victory and a big one in the Blue Grass State. But in Oregon at this hour, voters are still mailing it in. And quite literally, in that state, which votes by mail, residents having until 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time to drop off their ballots. Senator Obama heavily favored there.
In Kentucky, NBC News having declared Senator Clinton, who speaks shortly, the winner by a significant margin, with more than 1/3 of precincts reporting, her lead over Senator Obama exceeding 20 points. Senator Clinton is in fact expected to speak only moments from now in Louisville while the speaking is still good. That is before Senator Obama takes the stage about two hours hence, in Des Moines to mark a victory of sorts.
By the end of the night, the Obama campaign expecting to have locked up a majority of pledged delegates, a plurality, at least. And that figure, in fact, could come in after Kentucky.
At MSNBC and NBC News World Headquarters in Rockefeller Center in New York, alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann.
So, again, everybody gets to win. Everybody has a victory to announce.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: Is this Groundhog’s Day again?
OLBERMANN: Once again. (INAUDIBLE).
MATTHEWS: I think it’s amazing to watch. I’ve never covered elections since I was –not covered but watch since I was born, and I’ve never seen such demographic domination where you can – as I’ve said before, you don’t even need to pull up the lever—just show up. I’m a black; I’m probably for Obama. I’m an older woman; I’m probably for Hillary Clinton. I got four years of college behind me, I’m probably for Obama. So much of the statistical stuff does in fact identify you as a voter.
OLBERMANN: Unless as Chuck Todd pointed out, you live in a state where the black population is less than 4 percent, then you are likely to be an Obama voter. There is a strange middle ground in American politics built on the middle ground where the middle ground is the (inaudible) part.
MATTHEWS: Let me be very dangerous here and say something like – yes, I get along well with my ex-wife. I mean, that kind of thing, like, when you don’t have to engage maybe the social frictions aren’t there, like they are in big cities. Like they are in – in every ethnic neighborhood, there is social friction. Where there are no frictions, there are no frictions, and where people don’t even know each other.
And then again, when there is a large African-American population, that population itself becomes a critical mass, and can shift the results of the election. So, it’s either a critical mass for Obama or it’s just seen by the white working class as a competitive reality they have to deal with. I mean, we could – well, Americans watching this show know exactly what I’m talking about. And we dance around these subjects and everybody dancing those, I know what he’s talking about.
We are talking about American life. It is rife with rivalry and ethnic frictions and we deal with them, we hope they’re getting better. And by the way, look at these numbers, week after week people under 30 don’t have these realities. They get along. They don’t think into ethnic terms. They don’t think in turf terms, and so, maybe we’re just looking at a fading unpleasantness in American life perhaps.
OLBERMANN: So other dinosaurs, as we’re on our way out.
MATTHEWS: Being one of those people my generation that still knows that world too well, I don’t think it’s going to go away quickly. But, this election is so pioneering. We have a woman and African-American as the only Democratic options right now, it’s an astounding development.
And we got a guy in his 70s who has been through hell in North Vietnam as a POW, has lost badly before been beaten up by the Republican Party like an old blanket. They’re beating him up and he is still standing. So, it’s an interesting election.
OLBERMANN: Well, presumably, that next generation will still have exit polls. We have preview of what we’re going to hear this hour from our election polls – someone not about generation, but the next one, the younger one—
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And just as both of you were talking, I mean, race once again played a decisive role in Hillary Clinton’s victory in Kentucky just like it did in West Virginia. Barack Obama is making little progress in terms of chipping away at her strength, I mean, her dominance among the white working class voters.
But a little later on tonight, we are also going to take a look at whether it’s going to matter in November and whether education is more predictive of how these Democratic primary voters, actually who they pull the lever for.
OLBERMANN: Norah O’Donnell with preview of the exit polls for this hour. We prepare to hear from you after we hear from Senator Clinton, in fact.
As we’re on the watch for that, let’s turn to the bureau of NBC News in Washington, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert.
Tim, as we wait for Senator Clinton, Norah’s point right there—some of these, in both for Senator Obama and for Senator Clinton, some of these primaries have been viewed almost as elimination derbies. If you can’t win, fill in the blank here, how are you going to win it in the general election? Is there any consistent reality to that conclusion?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: There are many states that you lose a primary in, Keith, but you are a very strong general election candidate if, in fact, the Democrats come back together and unite. Kentucky was never a state the Democrats thought they could win in 2008. West Virginia - - probably, a better chance for Senator Clinton than Senator Obama. Virginia— a better chance for Senator Obama than Senator Clinton.
The interesting for me tonight listening to your conversations and Chris’ conversations and listening to Bill Clinton on the campaign stump, has been the positioning—the positioning of Hillary Clinton. What is she doing and why? Does she want to be vice president? Is that why she’s positioning herself to continue this fight, to continue to ask the superdelegates to hold?
Is she positioning herself to say—I told you so? I could have beaten John McCain if you had made me the nominee and therefore in 2012 it is going to be me. Is she positioning herself to have a Ted Kennedy like career in the Senate? Be able to go back and say—I speak for the women of the country, I speak for the blue-collar workers of the country, and that is going to be my legislative mission.
We don’t know the answer yet. But that, to me, is the most intriguing question of the night and I think the next three weeks—the positioning or repositioning of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
OLBERMANN: Tim, does she know the answer to that?
RUSSERT: I don’t think she does, Keith. And I don’t think Bill Clinton knows yet either. They’re going to see how this plays out. I had a Clinton person say to me a few weeks ago, “What if we win the last six primaries, we sweep West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota.” Well, that’s not going to happen.
What we’re seeing is: Clinton is winning where we expect her to win. Obama is winning where we expect him to win. And if it finishes up that way— where are we? Where we are is—as we have been saying repeatedly, he has won more elected delegates. Will the superdelegates override that? Unlikely.
And so, what does she want after that? Does she want to be able to say—you need me to win or I could have been a better candidate—you were simply a contender? We don’t know.
MATTHEWS: Tim, if she and her people, Terry and the rest of them, Bill Clinton, in their analysis and their gut, believe that if Barack Obama can’t win the general election for a combination of ideological, age, and whatever reasons, and ethnic reasons, racial reasons, all mixed up together—they believe that he cannot win the general based upon his performances in all these primaries.
Would she want to be on the ticket with him or not, if she makes that premise – he’s not going to win? Is it better to lose with him or watch him lose if you want to come back next time?
RUSSERT: Yes, it’s a terrific question. One school of thought would say, let him have it, let have him his run. And if it doesn’t happen, and so it’s going to come to me. On other hand if he wins, then you’ll probably not have another opportunity for eight long years.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but if you think he’s going lose for sure, is it better to share the loss with him? Where you get some credit as a party loyalist or not? That’s the trickier question to me if you make that assumption.
RUSSERT: It is because there’s also quotes from some of the Clinton campaign that, quote, “Even a refrigerator could win this year.” So, they see this as a Democratic year. There’s no doubt about it. And they have to make a decision as to how hard do they want to press to be on the ticket if that’s what they want to do.
Obama, on the other hand, is in a situation if he is within 60 delegates tonight of the 2,025, with that pool of about 212 undeclared superdelegates—what do they start thinking? How quickly they want to move and be the superdelegate that puts them over the top? Or do they want to hold back and just wait the next two weeks, allow him to play out Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota along with Senator Clinton and then move en masse after that?
I don’t know. But what I do know is that the discussion, the debate amongst Hillary Clinton supporters is—how do we position her for this election and the next one?
OLBERMANN: What happens and how soon does it happen—the process by which loss control of that hammer? How long does she know she has it and how long can she wait and can she miss her moment?
RUSSERT: Yes. And that’s why I think you need to win a state that you’re not expected to win, because if this plays out according to form, and she wins Kentucky and he wins Oregon. She wins Puerto Rico; he wins Montana and South Dakota, then people week up in June 3 and say—you know, where are we? Nothing has changed in terms of that dynamic of this race.
Obama has more elected delegates, he’s within 60 -- should we not make him our nominee? And if they all start moving then, it maybe too late for Hillary Clinton to say – wait, wait, let me help broker this deal.
If on the other hand, she pulls an upset and she wins in Oregon and she wins in South Dakota and Montana, then she’s in the driver seat saying – you know, superdelegates, if you don’t want to give me the nomination, why would you give it to him without me on the ticket? You could lose that opportunity if this plays out according to the way the poll show it’s playing out.
OLBERMANN: Do you buy into what Terry McAuliffe was telling us on the last hour which I think the first time this has been really articulated by anybody from the Clinton campaign that—the idea that if you’re going to really broach the subject of “I’m better than Senator Obama on who’s going to protect this country, who’s going to protect you”?
Which she has been bringing up since New Hampshire in various subtle and not-so subtle ways—that it really isn’t a loser for her against McCain in the general election, that it isn’t a kind of knee-jerk, it’s still – that ballgame still belongs to the Republicans no matter what empirical evidence there might have been in the developments of the last six years to suggest they didn’t serve that – that’s still an edge the Clintons really don’t think that would be a Trojan horse of their creation?
RUSSERT: You know, it’s one of those great moments, Keith, when I listened to your discussion with McAuliffe and Chris’ discussion with McAuliffe. Where I’m sitting, I’m thinking, I have never seen two candidates, Obama and Clinton who have diametrically opposed views on this.
Clinton believing that you have to stay on toe-to-toe with McCain and say – I’m as tough as you are on Iran. I’m as tough as you are on North Korea. I’m as tough as you are in terms of military analysis and withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
And Obama saying—we need a big debate. McCain wants to keep the troops there; I want to bring them home. McCain does not want to sit down and talk to the Iranians; I want to talk to them.
It really is a huge difference approach, world view on foreign and defense policy. And I think the Democratic Party has to make a decision as to which one they believe in.
OLBERMANN: But again, it would be a sea change to go in on the hard-line position and say, rather than to say – look, this whole premise has been wrong all this time from the Bush administration, the one that Mr. McCain has obviously following up or adapting to his own purposes.
It’s one thing to go in and say as Obama would—no, we need a complete rethinking of this. Nothing has worked, et cetera. It is another to say—no, he’s kind of got the right idea but my version of his idea is better than his version of his idea.
RUSSERT: Or I would manage it better.
RUSSERT: Yes. That’s the point. And the calculation there is, I believe, that the Democratic activist will stay with the Democratic candidate. And that the hard-line quote-unquote foreign defense policy will bring in the blue-collar, the “Reagan Democrats,” others who would normally drift sometimes to the Republican candidate because of the “fear factor” or the terrorism card, whatever way you want to describe it.
If you think it’s a fundamental change election that people are going to vote on the Iraq war six years in and on eight years of George W. Bush, you are going to adopt the Obama view. If you believe that this is the kind of election where it’s all about intensity of the base and winning over that 8 percent independent swing vote, largely of blue-collar ethnic voters, it’s the Clinton view.
OLBERMANN: Tim, stand by. We’re going to talk to you, of course, after Senator Clinton addresses supporters in Louisville. Terry McAuliffe is on stage, firing them up. And as we wait, we’re going to send it over to our panel, NBC’s David Gregory and the MSNBC RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel—
DAVID GREGORY, HOST OF “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE”: Keith, thanks very much. And, obviously, we are going to keep an eye on the speech and wait for those remarks and bring them to our viewers as soon as they have them from Senator Clinton.
Pat Buchanan, will Hillary Clinton say what she is undoubtedly saying beneath the surface in this campaign which she does not believe that Barack Obama can win in the fall—that’s why she’s still in this?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she not only believes that, I think that Hillary Clinton is making the case that she has to be on the ticket.
Look, we ask what does Hillary want—she wants to be president of the United States, the first woman president. She’s driving as hard as she can in case something happens and she can be the nominee. We say that’s probably outside of the realm of possibilities.
The second best thing is to go to Obama and say—I think I’ve earned the right to be on this ticket. I’ve got an army out there that’s even larger than yours. I win the states you don’t. We can bring those together and I want to be on the ticket.
He’s got a problem then. If he says “no”—she could get somebody to nominate her from the floor, or if he denies her and throws her out, then he’s responsible for losing his own election. She could put this guy right on the spot.
GREGORY: But, Michelle, it goes back to the same point which is, as she tries to figure out what she wants to do, how to broker a deal, whether she wants to pursue the number two slot as Pat suggests, what is behind that could be a lot of things and people can guess as to what those motivations are. But one of them is clearly that she believes he cannot win and that somehow the party in all of the enthusiasm for Obama, as we watch Senator Clinton come up to the stage right now, is not seeing that.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: She absolutely believes that he cannot win and she has said it. She has said it more than one time particularly last week when she said that hard-working white Americans are not voting for Barack Obama.
GREGORY: All right. And now we are watching Senator Clinton approach the lectern, approach the podium. Gentlemen, I’ll give it back to you.
MATTHEWS: Let’s listen now. Here’s Senator Clinton, I believe accepting victory in Kentucky.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D-NY) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you all so much. Thank you, Kentucky. Thank you all very, very much.
CLINTON: You know, I am so grateful for this victory and I am so appreciative because tonight I’m thinking about why we’re all here. And it’s not just to win a primary or even just to win an election. What propels us is the struggle to realize America’s promise—a nation where every child can achieve his or her God-given potential, where every man and woman has a fair chance. Where we fulfill –
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Where we fulfill the ideals our founders pledged their lives to defend and our nation was born to uphold. I want to say a special word this evening about someone who has spent his whole life dedicated to realizing the promise of America.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Senator Ted Kennedy—is one of the greatest progressive leaders in our party’s history and one of the most effective senators in our country’s history. He’s my friend and he’s my inspiration. More than that, he is a hero to millions of Americans whose lives he has fought to better. I’m proud to have stood side by side with Ted Kennedy to increase the minimum wage, to extend health insurance to millions of children –
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: To help stop insurance companies from discriminating against the sick. But the privileges that I have had and so many others have had, because of the battles we have fought side by side with him, are just a mere handful of what he has done during his entire public service—five extraordinary decades devoted to America. And as a life-long champion for social justice and equality, his work has made the path easier for me, for Senator Obama and for countless others. He’s been with us for our fights and we’re with him now in his.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And I know he’s going to fight with all of his legendary might, supported by his wonderful wife, Vicki, and his entire family, against this latest challenge and we wish him well and send our thoughts and prayers to him.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Tonight, we’ve achieved an important victory.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: It’s not just Kentucky blue grass that’s music to my ears, it’s the sound of your overwhelming vote of confidence, even in the face of some pretty tough odds. Some have said your votes didn’t matter, that this campaign was over. That allowing –
CLINTON: That allowing everyone to vote and every vote to count would somehow be a mistake. But that didn’t stop you. You’ve never given up on me because you know I’ll never give up on you.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: This is one of the closest races for a party’s nomination in modern history. We’re winning the popular vote and I’m more determined –
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I’m more determined than ever to see that every vote is cast and every ballot counted. I commend Senator Obama and his supporters and while we continue to go toe-to-toe for this nomination, we do see eye-to-eye with it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president in the fall.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: But I need your help. Your support has made the difference between victory and defeat, though we have been outspent massively, your support has helped us make our case on the air and on the ground. And your help will keep us going. We’ve made it this far together, so please go to HillaryClinton.com.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And together we will make history and I can’t do it without you. Now, you know that the stakes are high. After all this country has been through the past seven years, we have to get this right. We have to select a nominee who is best positioned to win in November.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And –
CLINTON: And someone who is best prepared to address the enormous challenges facing our country in these difficult times. That’s what this election is all about. Now, I’m told more people have voted for me than for anyone who’s ever run for the Democratic nomination.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: That’s more than 17 million votes. Now why? Why do millions keep turning out to vote in the face of naysayers and skeptics? Because you know that our political process is more than candidates running or the pundits chattering or the ads blaring. It’s about the path we choose as a nation and whether or not we will solve our toughest problems, whether or not we will have a president who will rebuild the economy and the war in Iraq, restore our leadership in the world and stand up for you every single day.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And, you know, the people I meet along the campaign trail don’t always make the headlines. The nurses and teachers, the truckers and soldiers, the waitresses and firefighters, the police officers and coal miners, the college students and line workers—the men and women who get up every single day, work hard to make a difference for their families—the people struggling to make ends meet, to find a good job, to pay the bills, to have a shot at the American dream. For too long, too many Americans have felt invisible in their own country.
Well, you’ve never been invisible to me. I’ve been fighting for you my entire life.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And I want—I want you to remember, we are in this race because we believe that every single American deserves quality affordable health care, no exceptions, no one left out.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: We are in this race because we believe everyone deserves a shot at the American dream, the opportunity to work hard at a good job to get ahead to save for college, for a home, for retirement, to fill the gas tank and buy the groceries with a little left at the end of each month, to build a better life for you and your children. We are in this race because we believe this new century poses new challenges to meet and new opportunities to seize. If we only had a president ready, willing and able to lead.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Turn the climate crisis into an energy revolution and create millions of new jobs, to turn the risk of the new global economy into rewards of new prosperity shared by all our people. We are in this race because we believe it will take a commander-in-chief with the strength and knowledge to end the war in Iraq safely and quickly, and a president with experience representing the people of the United States in more than 80 countries to restore our leadership and moral authority in the world.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And yes, we are in this race because we believe America is worth fighting for. This continues to be a tough fight and I have fought it the only way I know how—with determination, by never giving up and never giving in.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: I have done it—I have done it not because I wanted to demonstrate my toughness, but because I believe passionately that for the sake of our country, the Democrats must take back the White House and end Republican rule.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: This country needs our combination of strength and compassion, to help people struggling with their bills, living the hard reality of everyday life, in need our leadership on issues from health care to energy to Social Security. That’s why I’m still running and that’s why you’re still voting.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And I’m going on now to campaign in Montana, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And I’m going to keep standing up for the voters of Florida and Michigan.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Democrats in those two states cast 2.3 million votes and they deserve to have those votes counted.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And that’s why I’m going to keep making our case until we have a nominee whoever she may be.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Now, it’s especially—it’s especially sweet tonight because Kentucky has a knack for picking presidents. This state delivered two terms to a president named Clinton.
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: And it’s often been said, “As Kentucky goes, so goes the nation.”
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Neither Senator Obama nor I has won the 2,210 delegates required to secure the nomination. And because this race is so close, still separated by less than 200 delegates out of more than 4,400, neither Senator Obama nor I, will have reached that magic number when the voting ends on June the 3rd.
And so, our party will have a tough choice to make. Who’s ready to lead our party at the top of our ticket?
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Who is ready—who is ready to defeat Senator McCain in the swing states and among the swing voters?
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: Who is ready to rebuild the economy and the war in Iraq and protect our national security as commander in chief? Who is ready on day one to lead?
(APPLAUSE AND CHEERS)
CLINTON: You know, there are so many Kentuckians that I want to thank. I am so honored by your support and hospitality to me, to Bill, and to Chelsea.
And I want to thank Jerry and Charlotte Lundergan and my entire Kentucky steering committee, including former Governors Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown, Martha Layne Collins, and Paul Patton.
I want to thank Speaker Jody Richards and his wife, Neva, former
Attorney General Greg Stumbo, Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, and Tina Ward-Pugh and...
... Terry McBrayer, Jo Etta Wickliffe, and Moretta Bosley.
And I want to thank my friends in labor for standing by us every step of the way.
I am grateful to the Kentucky Veterans for Hillary and honored by your support and your service.
I want to thank my chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and my family.
I am so grateful to the outstanding staff, volunteers and supporters in Kentucky and in Oregon and across America who have worked so hard.
Now, I have one more request to all of my supporters tonight. To the people I’ve met along the campaign trail, to everyone who has knocked on doors, and volunteered, and put up signs, and donated to this campaign: Keep working, keep fighting, keep standing up for what you believe is right...
... because that is exactly what I’m going to do. People ask me all the time, “How do you keep going?” Well, it is you who keep me going.
And tonight I’m thinking about all of the women I’ve met who were born before women could vote. Just this week, I met 89-year-old Emma Hollis (ph), an African-American woman. She has seen so many barriers crumble and fall in her lifetime, but she’s not finished yet.
She’s been volunteering out of our campaign office in Covington to help our campaign break the highest and hardest glass ceiling in the land.
I’m thinking about Andrea Spiegel (ph), a strong and composed young woman, 20 years old, who drove across Kentucky to meet me. Her husband, Justin, is deployed in Afghanistan. And she told me how important it is that we have a president who will always stand up for our veterans. And I’m honored by her support and by her family’s service and sacrifice.
And I’m thinking, again, about Dalton Hatfield, the 11-year-old from Kentucky who sold his bike and his video games to raise money to support my campaign.
And then he asked others to give, too, and he was able to really give me a boost. And this week, I finally had the chance to meet him in Crestenberg (ph) and to say...
... Dalton, thank you so much. The $422 you raised helped carry the day in Kentucky.
That’s why I’m in this race: to fight for your future. And that’s why, whatever happens, I’ll work as hard as I can to elect a Democratic president this fall.
You know, the state motto of Kentucky is, “United we stand, divided we fall,” words that have a special place in our history. They inspire American revolutionaries to unite the colonies, to defy an empire, and create a new nation, to invent a new form of government, of the people, by the people, and for the people, and they bound our nation together in service and sacrifice, even in our darkest hours.
We will come together as a party, united by common values and common cause, united in service of the hopes and dreams that know no boundaries of race or creed, gender or geography. And when we do, there will be no stopping us.
We won’t just unite our party. We will unite our country and make sure America’s best years are still ahead of us.
Thank you. And God bless you, and God bless America.
OLBERMANN: Senator Clinton at Louisville, and if you had any doubt, expressing very early on that she is staying in through the remaining primaries, I don’t know who doubted that, but there it was, the confirmation of that.
While she recited some of that math in there, there was other math being done far away from her. NBC News has analyzed what we have seen so far in Kentucky and allocated to this point a 29 to 14 split in favor of Senator Clinton in Kentucky. Eight of the delegates not yet allocated.
And this would put Senator Obama one pledged delegate away from that other threshold of obtaining a majority of the pledged delegates, the plurality, the primacy we’ve talked about at 1,626, needing 1,627 with eight not yet allocated in Kentucky and 52 yet to be allocated later tonight in Oregon where he is the prohibitive favorite.
Back in New York with Chris Matthews. And that speech—and we are going to bring in Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell in a moment. That speech was assertive and once again that one line about whoever the nominee, whoever she may be, indicated where she stands on this. Your overall assessment of it?
MATTHEWS: I thought a giveaway line was, “who is best-positioned to win in November.” That is not exactly a self-crediting commentary. When you position yourself in politics it is a deliberate effort to try to find a space, not necessarily your own passionate position or your real position, but to find a place to triangulate, to try to find a place that appeals to a certain percentage of the voters that will carry you over.
And to advertise yourself as the best-positioned is not really a statement of authenticity. It is a statement of political positioning. It is a Dick Morris phrase, if anything. It is certainly an odd way to portray it.
I think I know what she is saying, which is, I am, perhaps, stronger on defense, perhaps, I’m white, perhaps, I’m appealing to the working class. I did think it was interesting that her entire crowd was white tonight. That was interesting. Usually they try to mix it up a bit up near the lectern on purpose to give it a sense of random selection. It didn’t look very random there.
But I’ll tell you, I thought it was also interesting that she went after the naysayers and the skeptics and the pundits and the chattering pundits. And I’m not sure who that works with. She said she’s toe to toe in the nomination fight.
Well, I don’t think that is an objective assessment. I think if the numbers are right at NBC, she is about to lose the elected delegate count for good and permanently. There is no way that she can turn this over in the next couple of contests which are left in the next two weeks.
So to say that you are running toe to toe and winning the popular vote that, again, that is a problematic claim. It assumes that the people who voted for you in those two disallowed states of Michigan and Florida will be counted all those votes in your favor eventually. It may well be the case, but that is an argument, not a statement of fact.
OLBERMANN: And none for Obama in Michigan.
MATTHEWS: And none in Michigan at all because he didn’t have his name on the ballot. It is a fair claim, though. I mean, she did get the most votes. I think it is interesting. You were commenting during her speech that it is an odd thing to claim say you have gotten more votes than anyone in history because she is shy of the elected delegates of Barack Obama.
But by her arithmetic, which her right to claim, she has won in Michigan and Florida and she is going to win in Puerto Rico and she is going to come out with the most votes won in this contest.
OLBERMANN: Let’s turn—to fulfill my theatrical promise, NBC’s
Washington bureau chief, moderator of “MEET THE PRESS,” Tim Russert, and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who has been covering the Clinton campaign.
Tim, I think Chris really hit the nail on the head there. This phrase “best-positioned,” does that—is that a positive in her supporters’ eyes that this is a political struggle, a political fight, a political chess game or checker game, perhaps, if we want to go into that working class role that she has put for herself recently, and she’s the one to win the process rather than to inspire people to victory?
Is that intentional, that word “positioned”?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Yes. She has no other case to make, because the elected delegate race is over. Barack Obama has won that. When I heard her talk about the popular vote and how she has gotten more in this election and more than any other Democrat seeking the presidency by counting Michigan and Florida, it was as if everyone else is distracted by this bizarre loophole called delegates.
It is the popular vote, didn’t you know that? And then, Keith, what I found particularly interesting was the line, toe to toe, fighting for the nomination, eye to eye on uniting the party. The whole speech was fight, unite, fight, unite. We don’t know which Hillary Clinton we are listening to, which side is she coming down in terms of the ultimate positioning?
And finally, I don’t know if you saw the piece about her suggesting the Electoral College map that had been put together by various people making the case that she is a stronger candidate. The two maps of McCain/Obama and Clinton/Obama. The one she was citing were put together by Karl Rove.
OLBERMANN: Yes, I noticed that, actually.
RUSSERT: The ultimate irony, that Hillary Clinton is saying that she is better positioned based on the analysis of Karl Rove.
OLBERMANN: Andrea, how does that fit into uniting the Democratic Party, if the person who says, as Tim then aptly phrased it, wants to fight and then unite, is to some degree fighting using the weaponry and, in fact, the visual aids of the chief bogeyman, if you will, of the Democratic Party, the guy that Democrats agreed to hate perhaps the most, more than the president.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is no way of reconciling those two positions. And she wants to be known as a fighter. She is being praised for her grit, for having kind of reached her tempo in this campaign. She obviously feels very comfortable and very strong in these numbers that are rolled up in Kentucky. And they will be belied later tonight most likely by Oregon.
But this is the role that she is carving for herself. It is this Norma Rae quality, as Chris and you have been discussing. This is the new Hillary Clinton, remade, repackaged this late in the campaign. We’ve seen it in the last couple of weeks, certainly in Pennsylvania and—it didn’t quite work in Indiana, although she scraped through.
But that was the Hillary Clinton you saw in West Virginia. This is what she is trying to sell to Democratic voters. She will pivot on June 4th, if, as we all expect now, this nomination goes to Barack Obama. She will pivot and she will be the gracious Hillary Clinton and she will be the uniter not the divider, to take another Republican page from their playbook.
And that is the way she is playing this. You did not hear a personal attack on Barack Obama tonight. And that will be her excuse, her explanation for how she is not further dividing the party, she is just fighting for herself.
MATTHEWS: Is that a—I’m sorry. Is that a consensus view? We asked that of Terry McAuliffe, Keith and I, that is this over in a month from now? I mean, let’s just talk prognosis here. We are here the next couple of weeks looking at results.
After that process is over, these contests have been decided, is that it or will there be a glimmer of more hope for the Clintons, Tim, more hope if they do—say they beat the spread in Puerto Rico?
Suppose something happens, a bad news story for Barack, will they at that point, having talked everybody into continuing the contest verbally and in terms of morale through mid-June, will they then say, no, that was good enough to get us this far. Now we want to begin what we call the exploratory two months of seeing how the superdelegates and even the elected delegates really feel because they should be able to reconsider?
MITCHELL: I think a lot would have to change on the ground. I really think that they are reconciled to ending this process the first week in June after the last primaries if the numbers still don’t add up.
MATTHEWS: But this is the Clintons.
MITCHELL: Yes, but…
MATTHEWS: The Clintons do not, to their credit and to their discredit, you could argue, ever agree to an objective scorecard. They find some other way, either take a mulligan, find some new means of judging the contest that allows them to either claim a protest or claim a victory of some kind, don’t they?
MITCHELL: Well, I think May 31st is the most important date now up ahead, because it will depend on whether he is so confident in his numerical advantage that he gives her the division that she is demanding in Michigan and Florida, or whether there is a real fight.
You know, if they can cut a deal there, it means he has won it and they’re all going to go away happily and she is exceeding but wants to get the biggest popular vote number for bargaining position. You can imagine what kinds of things she might be bargaining for.
MATTHEWS: Tim, are you convinced that it is over in mid June?
RUSSERT: Yes. If things continue the way they are now. Tonight was pretty predictable. You know, if there is a deal on Michigan and Florida, say, to seat half the delegates, you know the Clinton campaign is going to count the entire popular vote from both of those states. That has been decided—if the delegates are seated even 50 percent, we count the full vote.
The interesting thing in watching all of this is, Chris, if after June 3rd Obama has not picked up those 60 needed undeclared superdelegates, how quickly will they move—relatively quickly, will they ask for any conditions? If something did emerge, some event that begging to give people cold feet or more concern or a standoff or stand back, then what would happen? Would a condition of those superdelegates to finally go over and anoint Barack Obama be that he has to take Senator Clinton as his running mate?
That would be the positioning I was talking about earlier. But absent any other event, any other new information evolving or flowing, and we see Puerto Rico and Montana and South Dakota finish off the cycle according to form, I think you will see the superdelegates embrace Barack Obama very quickly.
OLBERMANN: Tim, there’s one issue here that obviously keeps being hammered in from Senator Clinton at every stage of this campaign and this is the intangibles of electability. Is not fundraising still a pretty important measure of electability?
The new numbers are out for Senator Obama for the month of April. And they were at $31 million. And we don’t have Senator Clinton’s yet. She has got until midnight to release them. But they’re probably going to come in—
Terry McAuliffe said it is her second best month. That would put it somewhere around $20 million, maybe a little more.
Is that not still a component to this? Have we just sort of been talked out of that one as another metric?
RUSSERT: No, it is a very serious component, Keith, because it will determine what kind of media they can buy in Puerto Rico, Montana, and South Dakota, how big their debt is, which means in terms of positioning, how will they be positioned for a general election if they are in debt?
That is something the superdelegates are going to take into account because they are party professionals. If you look at those Obama numbers tonight, the number of new donors, some 200,000, but half of those donors gave less than $25, which means they can go back to them over and over and over. It is a steady stream of money all the way through the November election.
Obama has some $30 million-some in the bank for the primary. Another $10 million for the general election. He is flush. And there is no doubt about it. And that is a very important credential in convincing the superdelegates that he is, quote, “better positioned to mount an effective general election campaign.”
OLBERMANN: All right. Senator Obama will speak later as we sign off for this portion of this, Senator Clinton spoke, as we heard. And Tim and Andrea, you will be amused by this. I’m reminded of this from a viewer, that line about standing toe to toe, that might in fact be a quotation from a song from Helen Reddy. “I am woman, watch me grow, see me standing toe to toe.” I will not sing the rest of it.
But thank you, Tim. Thank you, Andrea.
Up next, we will hear back from one of Barack Obama’s biggest supporters, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. And she won’t be singing either. Nor will David Gregory and the panel. You are watching MSNBC’s live singing-free coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
OLBERMANN: Ninety percent of the vote now reporting in Kentucky. And boy, the pollsters and the estimators hit this one right on the head. Hillary Clinton with 65 percent of the vote, 30 percent for Senator Obama. This was called a decisive and significant victory. And right now it is clocking in at 35 percent for Senator Clinton.
All right. Let’s go over to David Gregory and the MSNBC “RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE” panel for some perspective—David.
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Keith. We have been sitting here talking about Clinton’s speech and the message that she was ultimately sending, Pat, to Obama, which you think was a not so subtle one.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is not subtle. Her unstated message is, look, I’m winning these states, I’m winning the popular vote. He is losing and losing badly. I should be, by all rights, the nominee, but if I don’t get it, I should be the vice presidential nominee.
And if you spurn me and if you spurn all of these people voting for me, then you will lose this election and it will be your own fault. And she stated it gracefully and I thought graciously and quietly. And behind her are the numbers, the guy lost by 35 points and he is the nominee of the party, and he loses a swing state by a margin like that?
GREGORY: Well, but it is assuming that the calculus of this race this cycle has Kentucky as a swing state.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Is it really a swing state?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, you’ve been writing off swing states left and right, talking about Colorado, Colorado, come on, you can’t do it...
GREGORY: She made the argument—we were talking before, about positioning, who is best positioned. She made the argument about who is ready on day one. Who is ready to take on Senator McCain, who is ready on the issue of national security, on the issue of the economy.
So she is still making an argument that in part she is not somebody who buckled early on in this campaign. She is staying in to give resonance to her argument that I believe he cannot win, that I could, and I’m staying in long enough for the party elders to really understand this.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that’s absolutely what she’s doing. And the danger—well, the danger to the Obama campaign is that regardless of the fact that he is winning in pledged delegates, there is the symbolism of every win that Hillary Clinton has.
When she wins in Ohio, when she wins in Pennsylvania, when she wins in Indiana, when she wins in Kentucky, and wins by such enormous margins, she has an argument that resonates with some voters that Barack Obama cannot win the white vote. He cannot win in the swing states, therefore don’t throw the election away, hand it to me.
GREGORY: But Obama supporters, Gene, tonight will point out, the results in Oregon among these working class whites appear to be a very strong showing for him. We don’t know final numbers.
GREGORY: But appear to be a strong showing for him, which indicates it may be more geographic than it is socioeconomic. We are talking about Appalachia and that touches states Ohio and Pennsylvania, which will be very important for him in the general.
ROBINSON: Well, first of all, let’s acknowledge that this is a problem, 35 points is a huge victory for Hillary Clinton. And there is no question that in this part of the country, he is a weak candidate at this point at least in the Democratic primaries. Whether that translates to such weakness in the general election, I don’t think we know.
I do not think Republicans, for example, would be unmotivated if Hillary Clinton, you know, Hillary Clinton of “Hillarycare” fame and the way they go about demonizing her, if she was a nominee, I do not think there would be an unmotivated Republican Party.
But you know, it is what, six minutes to 9:00 Eastern time now. At six
minutes after 11:00 Eastern time we may be having a completely different
GREGORY: Right. But that is a long time from now.
BUCHANAN: Only one-third of Hillary’s voters said they would vote for Obama if he is the nominee in the fall. Now this is going to shrink.
BERNARD: But that’s Kentucky.
BUCHANAN: Well, this is going to shrink—everybody knows this is going to shrink.
BERNARD: That’s Kentucky, yes.
BUCHANAN: How much is it going to shrink when it’s that massive? I mean, look, superdelegates, I don’t think they are going to take it away from Obama. But if I were a superdelegate, I would say, jeez, you guys, look, is it possible that what she is saying is true? She is backing it up with these monster victories. And he is not doing a thing.
ROBINSON: It’s because there is no database for this. There is no database for an African-American candidate running against a female candidate down to the last two in the Democratic race. There is no database for that. And there is no database for how it plays with different states and different demographic groups to voters.
BUCHANAN: I’d be nervous.
GREGORY: We have got a question from the…
ROBINSON: Well, everybody has got to be nervous, right?
GREGORY: We’ve got a question from the floor from Keith.
OLBERMANN: … two minutes—take two minutes and answer this one for us, David. If—this is my microphone, not Chris’, thanks.
OLBERMANN: The events of February 5th of this year in the primaries, and I understand there are some geographical concerns and home state concerns in this, but on February 5th in the Republican Primary in Utah, Romney won by 85 points and in Colorado Romney won by 41 points, and in Arkansas, Huckabee won by 41 points. Those margins are all over Senator McCain, who I believe is still in the Republican race for that nomination. And the ranks seemed to close fairly well behind him.
Is—what is the relevancy of that relative to these monstrous losses by Obama in West Virginia and tonight in Kentucky?
GREGORY: Well, I mean, I think it is an important point and underscores that there is more party unity in the Republican Party that we didn’t think was necessarily going to be there early on when Rush Limbaugh and others were ganging up on John McCain.
But there are some other factors in the Democratic race that might be unique. The factor of race and the factor of gender, and whether Hillary Clinton represents a kind of voting base that she could hold back from Obama.
BUCHANAN: There is no—look, there is no doubt that even though Obama lost New York and California, we all—look, he’s going to beat McCain there. Utah is Romney, Mormon thing. But there is—I mean, McCain showed weakness in various states which, if I looked at, where people like Huckabee are beating him badly, and Romney is beating him, Michigan is one of them.
You have got to ask. And McCain—I think McCain is in trouble because of his position on trade in Michigan and Ohio, no doubt about it. And so these things tell us something.
GREGORY: All right. We’re going to take a break here and throw it back to Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. David, we’re about two hours away from the results in Oregon. Senator Obama is going to speak about an hour from now. He’s going speak in advance of Oregon based on what he will be able to say was his relative success in Kentucky in terms of that delegate count, that magic number 1,627.
Our coverage will continue here of the Kentucky—that Clinton’s victory, and Oregon Democratic primaries.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: Senator Hillary Clinton scoring a significant victory in Kentucky tonight, winning 2/3 of the vote in the Blue Grass State with over 90 percent of the returns in by now. In her victory speech in Louisville, striking an odd tone of asking her supporters to fight on, on the one hand, and calling for unity on the other hand.
The other state still out tonight, of course, Oregon, where Senator Obama has polled well. We’re going to have the voting there going to coming in over the next two hours.
Alongside right now with Keith Olbermann, I’m Chris Matthews, in MSNBC headquarters.
And let’s get some more new information now from our exit poll, and for that, we go to Norah O’Donnell.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And good evening to both of you.
And, you know, Hillary Clinton is holding on to the white working class voters in Kentucky. Barack Obama is making little headway in bringing those types of voters into his camp. In fact, Hillary Clinton had one of her strongest showing amongst these voters this whole primary season. In fact, Kentucky has one of the largest groups in the nation of people who did not go to college. And in that population, Clinton picked up ¾ of the vote.
Race also played a decisive role in Kentucky. About two in 10 white voters in the state said it was important in choosing their candidate. Of those voters who said it was important, nine out of 10 backed Clinton. That is the highest proportion among the 28 states where we have asked this question in the exit polls, even higher than West Virginia.
And, Chris and Keith, those who said race was important, only 1/3 said they would vote for Obama in November. More of the voters, nearly four in 10 said they would actually crossover and cast their ballots for John McCain.
I think we should also point out, Kentucky is a state—it is a red state. It’s not voted for a Democrat since 1996.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: And it’s also going to be a fascinating juxtaposition to look at the exit polls when they come out, when they’re compiled from Oregon because that state, you know think Oregon – well, that’s all liberal, kind of high-end territory, that’s right in the middle in terms of per capita income, is it not?
O’DONNELL: It is, and not that different from Kentucky. They are two different states in terms of Kentucky being one of the most conservative states, Oregon being one of the most liberal. But there are a large number of whites also in Oregon, not a large number of blacks. How will the white working class in the end turn out and vote in Oregon? If he wins that state, he would have won among the white working class in Oregon.
OLBERMANN: And when you’re talking about the per capita – it’s Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania bunched in a unit. So, again, another set of fascinating numbers and another set of disconnects provided by said fascinating numbers. Thank you, Norah.
O’DONNELL: You’re welcome.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let’s turn now to NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert, for a little bit more on this and what we’re still going to see out of Hillary Clinton’s supporters tonight. What maybe next? What Senator Obama is going to say?
Let me start on that last point. What can and what will Senator Obama say in light of what Senator Clinton just said in the last half an hour?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Keith, I think he’ll, like Senator Clinton, start by talking about Senator Kennedy. Senator Kennedy is such an important part of his campaign.
And then, find a way to say to the country—I’m back here in Iowa. And this is where it all started, where I won the caucuses. I was in first place because I put together a coalition of people from all different classes and cultures. And it’s propelled me when people thought that it was so improbable that I could win.
I think then he will probably focus on themes of the campaign and emphasizing change, change, change. You know, your comments about Oregon are so on target, Keith, because that is a battleground state. That is a state that the Democrats need to win in the fall election. Washington State, Oregon, California—they need that west coast trifecta.
And it’s no accident that John McCain went out there to announce his environmental plan. He went to Oregon. And so I’ll be very curious to look at those numbers tonight as to how well Obama performs in Oregon particularly with some of the subgroups that we’re looking at so closely in Kentucky.
OLBERMANN: The point about Iowa, does that feed again into this sort of voracious, I don’t want to use the word spin, it’s overused, but these theme domination arguments on the part of the Clinton campaign, does that – can she ride the fact that he was in Iowa tonight by saying – look, he’s now in reruns, I’m producing these big, you know, whopping 30-point, 40-point victories in Appalachia or rather in the southeast and he is back in Iowa with reruns?
RUSSERT: Well, it’s a state I think Hillary Clinton would like to forget about because she finished third. But it is a predominantly white state that did propel his candidacy and Iowa is another swing state.
If a Democrat can pick off Iowa, that’s a very good indication that they’re going to run very well in Wisconsin and Minnesota. And have a potential possibility of upset in Indiana. I mean, Iowa is a real Bellwether and so focusing attention on that, it kind of bookends Obama’s campaign.
To some of the Clinton folks, of course say that, yes, what about Kentucky? The counter will be – well, we won Oregon tonight and this where it all began in Iowa and it’s not a bad place to look at the demographics to show the appeal of our candidate across all those race and class lines.
OLBERMANN: I have often wondered, Tim, in the last few weeks, if we have not seen a Democratic primary that resembles one of those Wiley Coyote/Road runner cartoons, in the sense that Senator Clinton has stayed in this race even though it is believed statistically she doesn’t exist anymore. That it’s like that cloud of dust that follows the Road runner off the end of the butte and the coyote follows him into that space and continues to remain in midair without any visible means of support.
To the degree that amount of energy has to be used to keep her up there, has she won the battle of perception in the last months, six weeks, two months?
RUSSERT: Well, she certainly has won the battle of perception that she wants to be viewed as a fighter, not a quitter, see this through. And her vote total in Kentucky tonight is very impressive. She is beating Obama in the popular vote by over 200,000 votes. That will go into her column of popular vote.
Obama will hope to cut that down with a significant victory in Oregon, but Clinton could very well have a net gain of over 100,000 popular votes tonight in that all important category for her campaign to keep pointing to.
MATTHEWS: Tim, you know, there is a lot of talk about this being in a two-step process ahead of us right now, continuing conflict between Clinton and Obama for the next couple of weeks, then some sort of resolution. I wonder whether we’re not looking at the emergence of a real conflict here between Obama’s apparent victory in the elected delegates and ultimately the nomination and his inability to position himself or come out of this process able to carry the 270 electoral votes.
When I look at the votes for him in the Electoral College and the ones he has to play defense in, and I’d just think – it seems to me it has to be very closely run here for him to win this thing. He doesn’t have a lot of options outside of the Kerry states, does he?
RUSSERT: No. But neither party ever does – that’s the way our politics divides up. Obama believes he has options in Virginia and in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in Colorado. Clinton has to win Florida and Ohio, something that eluded John Kerry and Al Gore. So, it really is, in fact, this absolute fine tuning of that Electoral College.
You have to thread the needle no matter which party you’re in. Unless you get the whole change going that sweeps the country and states start falling like dominos but that’s very tough to do.
MATTHEWS: So, you don’t buy the Clinton sense that there is a real vulnerability in the part of Barack in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan – those industrial states? You don’t see a real deep vulnerability there?
RUSSERT: Well, I would say Pennsylvania is his best bet, followed by Michigan, and Ohio is the most difficult. But I do think that Obama runs better in Minnesota and Wisconsin than Clinton. And those states are essential for a Democrat to win, too.
So the map changes, variations on a theme. But, you know, again it’s these undecided independent voters that decide these things on the margins, in a couple of swing states. And Obama may introduce a few different states than Clinton does, but in the end, they all are going to need a solid Middle West victory in order to bring the Democrats back to the White House.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, thanks once again.
Speaking of swing states, we’ll go to the Obama campaign. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a swing state, supporting Senator Obama for president, joining us now. Thank you, senator.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right. Well, we’re talking about this, about swing states. And we heard Senator Clinton in that speech in Louisville about 40 minutes ago, talk about how she was best positioned. She didn’t use the word swing states specifically, but she’s talking about the whole election. What does best positioned mean to you and how to you answer her claim that she is such?
MCCASKILL: Well, I think the best positioning right now is the Democrat Party. We’ve have a candidate running for president on the Republican side that voted against increasing the minimum wage eight times.
Let me tell you, in rural Missouri, that’s hard for them to understand. We’ve got John McCain who wants to make sure he’s taking care of the very wealthy with tax cuts instead of the middle class. We have a John McCain who has voted with the oil companies as opposed to trying to get the money into the hands of families that are struggling to put gas in their tank.
We are positioned very well as a party. The key is going to be that when this nomination process is over, that number two, the person who doesn’t win the nomination does the right thing and tells their supporters—we all have to come together now with passion and enthusiasm to defeat four more years of George Bush.
OLBERMANN: Passion and enthusiasm. That doesn’t sound like a subtle message to Senator Clinton from you. That sounds like a rather explicit one. Is there some recalibration within the Obama campaign and supporters of him like yourself that the message has to go out to Senator Clinton—let’s be prepared to rumble out there on behalf of Senator Obama when it comes to that?
MCCASKILL: I don’t think it will be necessary. The respect for Senator Clinton is genuine and real. I think we all know she wants to do what’s right for the country. I think Senator Clinton will do the right thing at the right time. She has the right to finish out this primary process.
Tonight is an important night. You know, the delegates that you earned is how you win the nomination. And tonight, Barack Obama will earn the most pledged delegates, period. And now, the superdelegates will continue to do their jobs as they have.
Keep in mind, Keith, that since that horrible blowout in West Virginia, Barack Obama picked up 18 superdelegates after a 40-point loss. I don’t think that is showing a real reluctance by the superdelegates to continue in a slow and methodical fashion, come to the side of Barack Obama. And I think you’re going to continue to see that happen especially after tonight.
OLBERMANN: All right. Assess for me then, what is—with the least
amount of spin possible in this…
MCCASKILL: OK. I’ll try.
OLBERMANN: What is the meaning of West Virginia for the Democratic chances of gaining the White House in November? I’m sorry, of Kentucky, not West Virginia.
MCCASKILL: Well, I think Kentucky has been a very red state. I think that our nominee will compete in all of these states because we do have a strong message of change. The country is sick and tired of the Bush policies.
So, yes, but we don’t need—we don’t have to have Kentucky and keep in mind, Barack Obama only went to Kentucky a handful of times. He only went to West Virginia once. He camped out in very white Iowa and won across every class line, every geography line. And he did it very, very well.
He did the same thing in places like Kansas and Idaho. So, we have won many, many, in fact, I think a huge chunk of the working class voters in this country, just the geography of Appalachia has been tough.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the strategy of Barack Obama? I don’t want to call it rope-a-dope because it’s not as much fun, and I’m not sure it’s a winning strategy at all, of really not contesting these states. I mean, you can say afterwards, he gets the college kids and he gets the African-Americans, and he gets the whatever – the idealists of the party and he—but to give away the kind of numbers he gave away tonight in Kentucky without a real weekend fight, why didn’t he go in there and campaign like hell and try to keep those numbers down?
I mean, we’re looking, Norah just had some numbers here -- 75 percent of people without college degrees who are white voted for Senator Clinton. These are wipeouts. And they’re very consistent with happened in West Virginia. Why doesn’t he contest these people, why does he go see the working guy, the white guy, if you will, and say – look, I’m with you on bread and butter issue, I’m with you who you don’t like, I don’t like the oil companies either? Why he didn’t do that?
MCCASKILL: I think there are some tough choices you make in campaigns and, Chris, he spent a lot of time with working class folks out in Oregon, a lot of time in Montana, a lot of time in South Dakota. I think that in the closing days of the campaign, as we begin to shift attention towards John McCain, I think, he figured his time in those states—and from the very beginning Barack Obama has been about earning the most delegates.
I think he’s been very, very good at that. They have run a very strong campaign in terms of earning delegates as tonight shows.
OLBERMANN: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. That number right now, according to our calculation, is 1,626. They need 1,627. So, that would be a pretty safe bet. Senator, thank you for your time.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And the night is young. Lisa Caputo is back with us right now. She’s a senior adviser to Senator Clinton.
You know, I do, I guess, I could play the same record over to the other side. Senator Clinton can’t seem to win people who are highly educated. What’s the problem? I mean it.
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, I think that’s been a consistent, you know, issue for her campaign but let’s talk about where we are, Chris, because Pat Buchanan raised it, you just raised it.
We have a candidate in Senator Obama who everybody is touting to be the nominee yet he lost West Virginia by I think it was 40 points, outspent her there three to one; lost Kentucky by what appears to be 35 percentage points and outspent her there five to one. He is not chipping away at the blue-collar worker vote. You can’t have a nominee necessarily, who can win the whole thing without the Democratic base which is your blue-collar worker.
I also respectfully disagree with Senator McCaskill with all due respect. She said, you know, the issue in West Virginia and the loss there wasn’t relevant because superdelegates kept coming out. But it is relevant, Chris, because people are still voting for Senator Clinton. And what’s also relevant, I think, that’s important to note, when you see in the exit polls that 1/3 of the people who voted for Senator Clinton won’t vote for Senator Obama in a general, that’s a big deal.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think that’s the case?
CAPUTO: I think that she’s got a very loyal following, which is why she is staying.
MATTHEWS: No, that’s not the question. Why would people not vote for Barack Obama if they are voting in a Democratic primary?
CAPUTO: I think that they are not comfortable. They are not convinced yet of his electability for the whole prize. Quite frankly, we saw it in the exit polls tonight. People identified experience as a key issue. Those people went with Senator Clinton. That’s why you saw her in her speech make the experience and electability argument.
MATTHEWS: Can you imagine standing in line with somebody voting tonight or today, in Kentucky and an “exit poller” with a clipboard who are there, asked the person in front of you, and you are a white person, just (ph) go a white person, and they say—yes, race did matter in this election and I voted for Hillary.
To say that out loud is so candid. So odd that I have to believe that a lot more people believe it and acted on it than admitted it. Did you see the numbers tonight that Norah reported that two out of 10 openly said that they voted on race?
MATTHEWS: I mean, common sense tells me that’s a difficult thing to say to a total stranger, some, you know, a freshly scrubbed young pollster there with a clipboard in front of everybody to hear. You say race decided my vote. I mean, imagine saying that in public.
Can’t we assume that there are a lot more people that vote like that than admit it publicly? Isn’t that reasonably – and therefore, when I ask you openly—why are these people voting for a Democratic – and voting in a Democratic primary but openly saying they’re not going to vote for a Democratic candidate, you got to thing it’s race. It’d just have to be because they’re saying so.
CAPUTO: You know—God, Chris, I don’t know.
MATTHEWS: They know because they’re saying so.
CAPUTO: I surely hope that’s not the case.
MATTHEWS: But they’re saying so.
CAPUTO: But you know what, Chris—that concerns me as a Democrat and as a voter and as a citizen of the country because that means we, as a country, are not as progressive as we say we are about race in our country and, arguably, about the role of gender in our country and I think this whole Democratic primary has been a dialogue.
MATTHEWS: Has Hillary spoken out against racial prejudice lately or just against gender prejudice?
CAPUTO: Oh, you know, Chris. She’s been a long-standing…
MATTHEWS: No, I’m just asking. I try to monitor what she says and I’m telling you, you and I agree on this. The big chunk of the electorate are willing to say they’re Democrats and are willing to say they vote on racial lines and are willing to say they’re not going to vote for a Democratic candidate if that candidate is African-American and they’re white.
You sure, you do have a problem here. And it’s an old problem. It’s not a new one.
CAPUTO: Here’s what I do believe. I do believe though that she is in and staying in this race because I believe—contrary to what Andrea Mitchell said earlier that fighting and uniting are at odds with one another, she’s actually portraying to these people who are supporting her that she’s fighting for them.
And I think, at the end of the day, when everything happens on June 3rd and decisions are made, I think because she’s stayed in, people are going to move—I think that she’s holding true to them and they’re going to move and get behind the nominee. I do believe that. I want to believe that the Democratic Party will unite.
MATTHEWS: The danger is to the Democrats is that a short pass. They’re going to throw a longer pass in the general. They’re going to vote through to Hillary because they don’t want to vote for the black guy in the primary, but they’re intending in the action to vote against him in the general as well. That’s a problem here for the Democrats.
CAPUTO: Well, I would really hope, we, as a party, can do everything we can to get beyond any kind of bias that might exist like that because that would be a disaster.
MATTHEWS: You and I agree on that one. Thank you very much, Lisa Caputo, (INAUDIBLE) for the Clinton campaign, thank you very much.
CAPUTO: Thank you, Chris.
OLBERMANN: All right. Coming up: We’ll hear from our insider, Joe Scarborough and Harold Ford. Plus: What the campaigns are saying tonight. “Newsweek’s” Howard Fineman will join us from our campaign listening post for that.
You are watching MSNBC coverage of the Oregon and Kentucky Democratic presidential primaries.
OLBERMANN: We continue our coverage of Kentucky and Oregon. Those results from Oregon due at 11:00 o’clock Eastern Time. Senator Obama to speak in a little over an hour, perhaps less time to that, in fact.
And in the interim, we are going to go for the first time tonight, to our campaign listening post and talk about this relevance and what the campaigns are saying internally about Kentucky with an alumnus of the state of Kentucky, just in fact back from Louisville, his former place of employ—
“Newsweek’s” and MSNBC’s Howard Fineman.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, what is this—how are they characterizing meaningfulness or lack of meaningfulness depending on which camp you talked to?
FINEMAN: Well, certainly inside the Clinton camp, this seals their determination to really fight hard at this really important May 31st meeting that’s going to take place to try to figure out what to do about Florida and Michigan. Everybody has been talking about how they’re going to zip it up there, that they’re going to make a deal there.
I spoke with Rahm Emanuel, a key Democrat, undecided, in the House and member of the leadership. He said, “I’ll buy them all Uno’s pizza from Chicago as long as they end things the night of May 31st.” I don’t think it’s going to happen that way.
I think the results in Kentucky are bigger. They’re a little bigger than I expected they would be. I know that state very well. And what happened is that Obama barely won in Louisville, in Jefferson County, barely won in Fayette County which is Lexington and the University of Kentucky, got clobbered everywhere else in the state.
There’s not a huge black population in Kentucky but there’s a tremendous resentment (ph) between the city of Louisville and the rest of the state. And Obama got stuck is the downtown Louisville candidate, and couldn’t break out at all. He’s going to win by 250,000 votes there.
That’s a huge margin and I know, talking to the Clinton people that they’re saying – look, we’re going to carry this through June 3rd at least and when we go to that meeting of the bylaws committee on the 31st, we’re sticking to our guns.
So, even though Rahm Emanuel and all the party leaders from Howard Dean on down, want the final deal to be made at that meeting on May 31st, I now think it’s not going to happen because I think Hillary is going to push this through June 3rd, to pile up the biggest numbers that she can, not even knowing exactly what she wants with those numbers, just to say that she did it. That’s sort of no more complicated than that at this point.
OLBERMANN: How do they answer that question that Chris raised and is being raised by Joe Scarborough earlier in the evening, Pat Buchanan has raised this—how could they let something that bad take place in Kentucky? Why was that not—Claire McCaskill said – look, he camped out in Iowa and he won Iowa handily, a heavily white state, et cetera, he’s going to do well in a heavily white state in Oregon later tonight when those results come in no doubt.
Why didn’t he do that in Kentucky, and more importantly, what are they saying now about why he didn’t to that in Kentucky?
FINEMAN: Well, what the Obama says is they’ve had their eyes focused on what the rules say. And they’ve done a brilliant job of scoping out the rules, figuring out how to do it, threading the needle, if you will and more, with their tremendous fundraising and their tremendous tactical skill. But I think they were too smart by half here.
Two weeks ago, as I was reporting here, they were already focused on May 20th. May 20th is the big night. Oregon is the big night. We’re going to get over the line in terms of pledged delegates. They’re going to do that according to Chuck Todd, I think they’re within one vote of having done it already even though they’re getting clobbered in Kentucky.
But I think they’re missing the bigger picture here. It doesn’t do them any good to basically ignore a whole region of the country, the whole spine of Appalachia, from Pennsylvania down to Southern Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky. It’s not good to take those checkers off the checkerboard heading into a general election. Moreover, it’s not a good message.
I don’t care what happens later tonight in Oregon, for the first part of this night, to be all about Hillary Clinton winning by 250,000 votes in Kentucky, a state that her husband won twice, you don’t just sort of one of red states off the map here. If you look at that map right now, Hillary is piling up some strength around some of those margins of the states, those states that are necessary.
So, I think that the Obama campaign was too cute by half. I think they maybe are grudgingly realizing that now. They’re going to focus on the victory and the pledged delegates and more. Now, what I’ve also been told by people like Rahm Emanuel is, assuming this goes as planned that after June 3rd, when Obama not only has the pledged delegate lead, but maybe quite close to the overall majority that he needs under the current rules, I think then you’re going to see people like Emanuel and all the other House leadership coming out for Obama.
Now, Rahm didn’t say that to me, they are not there yet. But that’s the implicit threat – what’s going to happen on May 31st is they’re all going to get in that room there with or without Rahm Emanuel’s pizza, they’re going to try to work out a deal. The implicit threat to the Clinton people is— unless you take the deal, that doesn’t upset Obama’s lead, that we’re going to come down on you like a ton of bricks after June 3rd. That’s my sense of what’s going to happen.
But my sense is that Hillary has emboldened to dare them to do that after June 3rd. And I think they may have to. I think it may get nasty before it’s all over.
OLBERMANN: I have bad news for you, Howard, what you’re seeing right here, that’s Rahm Emanuel’s pizza. We’ve already eaten half of it. I didn’t know, I would have held on to it.
Howard Fineman, thank you for that, (INAUDIBLE) also for using checkerboard as oppose to chessboard, staying (ph) more country than city on that. Thank you.
FINEMAN: OK, you’re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Gentleman, let’s go back to the insiders, Harold Ford, Jr. and Joe Scarborough.
It’s one of these nights, Harold, I want you to tell me about the Tennessee race you lost by a heartbreak there, and what it’s like to deal with the ethnic factor, the racial factor in the American politics. You taught me that the Bradley effect was gone. You taught me that we’ve made progress and then I watch these people coming out of these exit polling, whatever, today in Kentucky, openly saying, forget the Bradley effect, openly saying they are going to vote on the basis of race, they’re going to vote for Hillary in this case, a fellow white person and being unashamed about to tell a total stranger.
Where are we at where people are quite willing to say, where we’ve been?
HAROLD FORD, JR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We’ve made tremendous progress. We lost our race in Tennessee. We’ll come back and get it right another time.
But I think there’s – I think we have to be very careful as we talk about this for one reason. White voters, rural voters, suburban voters, black voters, however you choose to categorize them, there’s something we all have in common as voters. We want candidates and politicians who we believe are for us, will come see us, will come speak to us, and listen and learn what we care deeply about.
I think Senator Obama made a mistake tonight. He should have been in Kentucky. Had he been there, I believe this margin would have been closer.
I asked, Joe Scarborough—what is it about Senator Obama and working class white voters and Appalachia? What is it that he has done and what is it that he has to do if he becomes the nominee to win those voters over?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: You know, Harold, they’ve run such an amazing campaign. I never thought he’d be here at this point. I don’t think anybody thought he’d be here at this point. But the one real mistake that Barack Obama and the campaign teams made are with these white working class voters. And if they are in a prison, it is a prison of their own making.
This is not so much about race. I remember interviewing you the day before your election, you were in a bar with your shirt sleeves rolled up. You had a camouflage cap on. You were talking to hunters. You didn’t get routed among white working class voters the way Barack Obama has.
It is not only the image that he has projected which is a very elitist image from, let’s say, the progressive George McGovern-Michael Dukakis part of the party. But also, he’s had these stumbles. He’s had these stumbles on Rev. Wright, which you hear time and again in middle America. You hear about his bitter comments.
I mean when a candidate says small town America is bitter and they cling to God and guns and bigotry because they are bitter, well, that’s probably going to cut into your margin in small town America, in Kentucky where he is getting routed tonight. So it’s still ruining the process.
FORD: Can he put this back? He can he put it back together if he is the nominee? Can he go on to Kentucky?
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, sure he can.
FORD: And how would he do it? How would you recommend if the campaign were listening to you tonight?
FORD: Harold, you and I both know as people who have campaigned — you and I both know that you’re going to have people who say, “I hate Harold Ford. I’m going to vote against him. I’m going to have my family vote against him.” And then Harold Ford goes and knocks on the door and says, “Hey, I’m Harold Ford. Listen, I want to be elected senator, but how do I do it? Can you help me get there?” And they’ll go, “Yes, Harold, we love you.”
That’s the thing Barack Obama has to do. He has to act like frankly he gives a damn. Now, I’m not saying he is being cool and aloof. I’m just saying he didn’t listen to you a month ago when you said he needed to roll up his sleeves and go into Pennsylvania. He didn’t listen to you when you said he needed to go to West Virginia, roll up his sleeves and knock on these people’s doors. He didn’t listen to you when you said he needed to go to West Virginia.
He has to act like he cares, like he understands. And most importantly Harold, as you know better than any of us, that when he gets to Washington, D.C., he’s going to fight for these people. If they believe that they don’t care if he’s purple.
FORD: Chris and Keith, back to you.
CHRIS MATHEWS, CO-ANCHOR: OK, thank you, Joe Scarborough. And thank you, Harold Ford, Jr.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-ANCHOR: All right. Up next, Sen. Chris Dodd plus NBC’s Tim Russert will join us once again. You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic primaries.
MATHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and the Oregon primaries. We have results from Kentucky. It’s going to Sen. Clinton. Oregon will be closed in less than 90 minutes from now. We are going to be expecting Barack Obama to speak within the hour here.
Sen. Chris Dodd is with us now. He ran for president this year, has since endorsed Barack Obama, and everybody knows he’s a close friend of Ted Kennedy’s. I have to ask you, Chris, about your feelings about tonight and this day?
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT): Well, you know, Chris, look. This is a — I’ve never met a stronger, a better fighter in my life in and out of public life. This is a guy who spent the last 46 years fighting on behalf of other people. And I have no doubt in my mind, given this family that’s around him, an incredible woman in Vicky, not to mention good doctors and others, that this is a guy who won’t quit.
And I kind of — I find myself listening to some of the coverage. They were acting like he was no longer with us. I had a young man in my office whose father had exactly the same kind of problem 22 years ago. He’s still with his family today. So things can happen here; we shouldn’t write this guy off.
And believe me, given the kind of fighter he is, I have every bit of confidence he’ll be back here. And Lord knows the country continues to need him. We’ve never had anybody in my 27 years here — I would venture to guess in the last 50 years — that has been as good a fighter, as hard a fighter on behalf of an awful lot of people.
The president of the University of Connecticut said to me today, he said, “How many people are alive today or were alive because Ted Kennedy went to bat for them and because stood up for them?” So I have a lot of confidence my pal will be back and Massachusetts and the country will still have Ted Kennedy fighting on their behalf.
MATHEWS: I didn’t mean to hang the crepe. Senator, I’m sorry.
MATHEWS: But I know people care so much. Maybe that has added to the gravity, or perhaps the grimness of this discussion. But I don’t think anybody has given up on Ted Kennedy.
DODD: You’re right. Yes.
MATHEWS: But thank you for saying that. Let me ask you — let’s switch to a brighter subject which is this crazed Democratic battle — if you want a brighter subject.
DODD: I know.
MATHEWS: I am worried, as an American, about what might be a conflict in all this. Barack Obama wins the nomination. At the same time, his electoral chances are being undermined by this so-called white working vote which has been cultivated and well, certainly exploited by Sen. Clinton. Maybe not cultivated by her but exploited by her. So the point where people find it quite open and quite easy to tell pollsters as they come out to vote was, “Yes, I voted race. Proud of it.”
DODD: Well, there’s always going to be some of that. I believe very firmly, Chris, that on November 5th people are going to do what they traditionally do at moments like this. They are going to vote their pocketbooks. They’re going to vote their future. They’re going to vote their children when they walk into that voting booth.
And they have never been given a better case for voting for Barack Obama, the Democratic choice, given the alternative. We are looking at an economy that literally goes back as bad. You’ve got to go back almost to the Depression Era to find an economy where there’s less hope and less optimism and less confidence. The American consumer — the level of confidence is lowest it’s been I think in 26 years or more.
Americans are looking to get back on their feet at home and around the world. And I think these attitudes that people are talking about are going to be trumped by their determination and desire to see the country moving again.
Barack Obama is drawing these crowds, I think, and will appeal to these constituencies. And I hear people trying to change his style. You know, he needs to do this. He needs to do that. Let the guy be himself. I think the reality of it — you start being someone that someone else creates and I can sniff that out. You can too and the public will.
He is who he is. There’s a genuine quality about him. He has character. He’s weathered some very difficult storms which I think every candidate must demonstrate. And I’m very confident that Hillary Clinton will be as passionately for this individual as a candidate as she has been for her own campaign when this race is over within a few weeks and she decides to make that decision which she will, in my view, at the appropriate time.
And then, I’m very confident — you get in Denver. You are going to watch one very excited, very, very united Democratic Party.
MATHEWS: Well, you know, if you look at the NBC-Wall Street Journal polling and the AP-Washington post polling, it shows that the administration is in tremendously bad shape with the American public. The direction of the country is wrong as people see it. And the Democratic Party is up and the Republicans are down in favorability.
But as you see the Titanic sinking in the White House, you see John McCain off in a long boat. They’re heading away from that sinking ship. He is now a man for global warming. He supports poor people. What else? I mean he seems like he is now going to get out of Iraq by 2013, not a long way off in terms of occupation. He is cross-dressing as Pat Buchanan would often say and offering himself as perhaps a woman in the lifeboat escaping from the sinking ship.
He is very much camouflaged, to use a phrase used about ten minutes ago here. He doesn’t look like a Bushie right now. Isn’t that a danger to your party?
DODD: Well, you know, you can dress it up in any way you want.
MATHEWS: He is, isn’t he?
DODD: Yes, to some degree. But yes, you can run, but you can’t hide.
And certainly, he’s not going to get to define himself in his own terms. And he’s got a record here that we’re very familiar with and America will be very familiar with.
You can’t all of a sudden, with 20 weeks to go, decide you are going to be something other than what you’ve been for the last 20 years in our major issues involving the economy, on war and peace issues, when it comes to the environment, education, and health care, social security. There is a record, it’s almost two decades long, and so clearly, that will be brought out.
But secondly, the American people are not going to be fooled themselves. They know what they are living through. They’re looking at healthcare costs and the ceiling, $126 a barrel for oil with no end in sight, deficits that are huge, college tuitions that are going through the ceiling. They know they’re facing that future. And they see in Barack Obama, not just an alternative to John McCain, but a brighter future for themselves and for their children.
Remember, people walk to that voting booth, they close it, they think about their kids, what kind of America they’re going to live in. And I think Barack Obama offers that sense of hope and optimism that John McCain may try to talk about but he just can’t come close to making the legitimate comparison.
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-ANCHOR: Senator, one other question that is not actually about Sen. Kennedy but does pertain to him and this race at the same time. I was thinking about this today. Sen. Kennedy never getting that nomination, seeking it at various points in his life to run for the presidency and never getting it.
In terms of tonight, is there a lesson in Ted Kennedy’s story, either for Sen. Obama or more likely for Sen. Clinton that sometimes not getting the nomination might be the best thing that ever happened to you or the best thing you could ever wind up doing for your country was to accept that fact?
DODD: That’s a good, interesting point. I began to think it was something about New England, Connecticut and Massachusetts, at least in the couple of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There is a lot to be said for that, Keith. I watched Ted Kennedy after 1980. And his contribution to this country has been just overwhelming.
You ask Democrats and Republicans here, name two or three best legislators they have ever served with. And on anyone’s list, Ted Kennedy’s name pops up at the very top of all of that. Because he has the ability to make a difference and he’s made that difference. You go down the list of his accomplishes over the last 25 years, 26 years, and they are phenomenal, what he’s been able to do. And you could make a case that his contribution to the country certainly equals and maybe exceeds what he might have been able to achieve as president.
OLBERMANN: The point I thought you might make under those circumstances. Here’s Sen. Chris Dodd. Great thanks, sir.
DODD: Thank you very much, both of you.
OLBERMANN: All right. Right now, let’s check back in with NBC’s Washington bureau chief, moderator of “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert. Tim, I don’t want to go off on a complete tangent here, it is a fascinating point with Ted Kennedy and it relates to two senators who are running, one of whom will not get the nomination. No matter how this turns out, we can say that with certainty. Everything else has gone out the window in terms of certitude.
But that idea that maybe, you know, in eight years in the White House, you can influence the country to an enormous degree, obviously. It is the highest honor the land can bestow. But the other option might be 20, 30, 40 —in Sen. Kennedy’s case, 45 years already in the senate to influence decades, generations.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Absolutely. Learning from defeat and getting comfortable with who you are and what you can contribute. And that is exactly what Ted Kennedy had decided to do. The torch had been passed to him. He thought it was his obligation as a Kennedy to run for president. Bui once he came to the recognition it wasn’t going to happen, rather than go off and sail the high seas for the rest of his life, he decided that he was going to be a senator’s senator. And that’s what he is.
As we talked about earlier, Keith, you talk to Republicans and they will confide without much prompting that they like to work with him and that they can get a deal. They can find common ground. They can get a compromise. That he doesn’t mind that they go after him on the floor a little bit and then go off to the cloakroom and joke about it. He has decided, Sen. Kennedy did, some years ago, that that was going to be his mission. That was going to be his legacy.
You know, I tell you a wonderful story. He told me the first time he was on “Meet the Press” in 1962, he was running for the senate. And John Kennedy and Ted Sorensen brought him over to the Oval Office to prep him, put him behind the Oval Office desk. And Jack Kennedy said, “They are going to ask you about aid to Catholic schools. Be careful because it is a very dicey question for me, being the first Catholic president.”
So Ted Kennedy came up and they asked that question. Right after the show, John Kennedy called and said, “That was brilliant.” And Teddy said, “I have no idea what I said. It was so confusing, my answer.” Jack said, “Precisely.” So it began.
But that’s the kind of humor, the kind of sense of openness and fun that he brings to politics as well as mastering the arcane details of legislating and the willingness to take a half a loaf — three fourths of a loaf knowing more will come down the road. It has been a joy to watch Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives come out these last three or four days, talking openly about one of their colleagues in a very candid and heartwarming way.
OLBERMANN: To bring it back to what we are seeing tonight, and to bring it back to the presidential race, is the lesson in that discernible to a presidential candidate in this kind of campaign that we’re seeing with two senators and you say to them, you get them in a room and you say, “One of you is staying where you are, theoretically, and this is why it may be better for you to do so.” Or is there no way to talk sense to a presidential candidate?
RUSSERT: That’s pretty hard right now in the heat of the battle on the Democratic side. But in a general election, the interesting thing about McCain and Obama, both have tried to stake out reputations as people who can work with Senators on the other side. And the tone of the campaign is going to be very interesting to me. Both of these men have said publicly that they really want to elevate the discussion.
This discussion back and forth about having joint town meetings throughout the summer brought me back to 1963 when John Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had all but agreed to fly around the country in the same plane, have town meetings and robust differences and then shake hands, go back on the plane and go to the next city. And I always wondered aloud would that ever be possible in 2008?
And McCain and Obama seem to be suggesting it may be doable. And if they both hold true to try to close down these five 270, so-called independent groups, you know, could we have a real debate about Iraq and about health care and about taxes where people take pride in their position and openly acknowledge it is different than the other candidate’s, and then say to the voters you decide which one of us should be president? That would be pretty interesting to cover.
MATHEWS: Keith and Tim, I remember when you were talking about the possibility of one of these two senators, Barack or Hillary, going back and enjoying a long life in the senate. Well, one of the candidates for president this year has explored that option. That’s John McCain. He went back and saw what it was like to be a senator again after losing a race for president. And he decided it was better to run for president. And so, it doesn’t look so good on one of the guys who did looked back in the rear-view mirror for five years.
RUSSERT: Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Every one of those senators yearns to be in the Oval Office. But in the end, I mean what Ted Kennedy realized in 1980 is it just wasn’t going to happen. And there is life beyond the presidential campaign trail as he has demonstrated.
OLBERMANN: And therefore, and we can leave this just as a theoretical for everybody to think of as we close off. You could rank for yourselves the influence, the long-term influence of the United States of America of the three Kennedy brothers and figure out which one is number one of the three of them. Tim Russert, thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right. Up next, Chuck Todd with the look at the popular vote by the numbers, plus NBC’s David Gregory and our race for the White House panel. You are watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC’s coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon primary. This has already been a sad night within Democratic Party circles after the news of Sen. Kennedy’s brain tumor diagnosis. Andrea Mitchell joins us now with some more breaking news that has saddened the hearts of many Democrats. Andrea?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I really hate to share more bad news. Sixty-three-year-old Hamilton Jordan, who, of course, was the chief of staff and brilliant whiz kid who brought Jimmy Carter to the White House in 1976, has died for cancer after suffering for 20 years over this course of 20 years from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and from prostate cancer, recovering valiantly from each of these diseases. Then a skin cancer, as recently as March.
He was at the Atlanta Press Club with an IV tube and oxygen and a wig, valiantly talking to people about his cause which was living with cancer, helping kids with cancer. He wrote a book, a memoir about his life and his struggles called, “No Such Thing as a Bad Day.” Hamilton Jordan, according to his close friend and former colleague Jerry Rafshoon will have a funeral service at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Friday. President Carter will speak. Keith and Chris — Chris condolences to you as well. You worked closely with him.
MATHEWS: I worked for him for four years.
MITCHELL: I know you did.
MATHEWS: He’s a great guy. He was great with the troops. He didn’t like the Washington establishment. He railed against it. Maybe he wasn’t that as effective as he could have been because of his attitude. He strongly opposed the big shots on top of the hill and elsewhere. He really was a man of the people. There’s no doubt about it.
MITCHELL: You may recall that he was so dismissive of the Democrats in congress and of the leaders who should have been the allies of Jimmy Carter at one point Tip O’Neill, your other mentor referred to him as Hamilton Jerkin.
MATHEWS: Hannibal Jerkin.
MITCHELL: Hannibal Jerkin.
MATHEWS: I’m glad you (UNINTELLIGIBLE). No, they were not the best. You know, I do — I’m proud though that one time Tip O’Neill asked me where I stood on Hamilton Jordan, and I said, “You know, he was great with the troops. He just saw you, Mr. Speaker, as the establishment.” And I tried to do that gingerly as I was working for him and Edwards, the other fellow.
But it’s true. I mean he saw people who had been in office too many years and he saw it as a problem. And you know, we see the Democratic Party in the same kind of conflict right this second. It seems to be the heart of the party. It is a revolutionary party and it’s an established party, the oldest party in the country.
But it’s also a Jeffersonian-Jacksonian party. So it’s always going to be populous. At the same time, it’s going to try to hold power. So there’s always going to be this conflict between the latest Clinton and there is always going to be a Clinton around and the latest Barack Obama. They’re going to be fighting. It is a permanent struggle between the populism in the party, the idealism in the party and the established power forces in the party. And there’s nothing that’s going to end this, I don’t think.
MITCHELL: Well, he was very brash, but he was very bold ...
MATHEWS: He was brash.
MITCHELL: ... and he elected a president of the United States. And he did great work for the last two decades in the fight against cancer, a fight he ultimately lost.
MATHEWS: Let’s give him credit for that amazing ability. We’re talking about chess — well, you’re talking about checkers, because we’re trying to be democratic here in lowercase D.
OLBERMANN: Democratic — yes, lowercase D.
MATHEWS: I’m always amazed that the ability of the great star fighters like Hamilton, the ability to sit down. And in your head, imagine how you win the presidency with a guy from nowhere. A one-term former governor from a small state in the south, the deep south, and take him and defeat the entire Democratic establishment of Birch Bayh and Henry Jackson, Walter Mondale, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beat them all. Figure out how to do that on paper and then take it to your boss, your principal and say, “Governor, here is how you win the presidency and do it.”
Bobby Kennedy did it. Hamilton Jordan did it. There are very few people who have been able to do it, especially the Democratic side all these years. And I think that is his place in history. He saw a way to take somebody from nowhere to the highest office in country.
OLBERMANN: Hamilton Jordan passing at the age of 63. Andrea Mitchell, thank you greatly for that. We’ll have one more headline as we await Sen. Obama’s speech in Des Moines after the top of the hour. We haven’t finished this count, but the apparently have. An E-mail has gone out to Obama supporters, the first — second sentence of which is particularly relevant, “We have won an absolute majority of all the delegates chosen by the people in this Democratic primary process.” So they are counting already at 1,627. Our latest MSNBC news count is 1,626.
So, ahead in the next hour, Sen. Obama and the results from Oregon expected to be an Obama victory. But he is already claiming overall victory or at least leadership based on what happened tonight in Kentucky. Our coverage continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: Despite his loss in the Kentucky primary tonight, Senator Barack Obama, scheduled to speak shortly, he’s only by our count, one pledged delegate away from obtaining a majority of them. According to his campaign, their math, he’s already done so. He’s about to put the nomination of out of reach. Senator Clinton, saying from Louisville, saying she’s not about give up her fight. NBC News declaring Clinton that winner of the Kentucky Democratic primary by a significant margin. Ninety-nine percent of precincts now reporting there. Her lead an extraordinary 35 points.
The story transcending political scenes tonight, however. The illness of Senator Ted Kennedy, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who is of course married to the senator’s niece saying in a statement, tonight, a speech that the tumor is inoperable, which would limit treatment options for the patriarch of the Kennedy family. Earlier this evening, Senator Clinton saying the entire dynamic of the current primary might have knot have been possible without Senator Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: As a life-long champion for social justice and equality, his work has made the path easier for me, for Senator Obama, and for countless others. He’s been with us for our fight and we’re with him now in his.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In the bulk of her remarks tonight, Senator Clinton, saying, quote, “We have a select a nominee best positioned to win in November,” but not without adding she would support the democratic nominee, whoever she may be in the general election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I commend Senator Obama and his supporters. And while we continue to go toe to toe for this nomination, we see eye to eye when it comes to uniting our party to elect a Democratic president in the fall there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: At MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in Rockefeller Center in New York City, alongside Chris Matthews, I’m Keith Olbermann. It is clinched, nearly clinched, or depending on your other point of view, not clinched at all.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I dare not say. Commentators should only listen to the math as its present do them. And not to add it up.
OLBERMANN: What about pundits if you want to use the other word …
MATTHEWS: I think the chattering …
OLBERMANN: Nattering nabobs of negativism.
MATTHEWS: Perhaps, on the old, what was his name?
OLBERMANN: Spiro Agnew. The lingo. No, I think the numbers ought to speak for themselves. And that’s probably the safest thing for us to do. Just read the numbers out. Apparently, Barack Obama, let’s say this. Barack Obama’s claiming victory in terms of the elected delegates tonight. That’s the significant news. And that will be the headline tomorrow.
MATTHEWS: A secured majority would have 1,627. We have it right now at 1,626. He, according to an e-mail that went out from his campaign has 1627 if not more. And Oregon let yet to be counted. And Senator Obama to speak yet.
And speaking of numbers, let’s get a preview of what Norah O’Donnell has for us in our exit polls this hour.
NORAH O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: We have seen, we have reported on the reluctance of white Democrats in Appalachia to vote for Barack Obama. Significant numbers say they would cross over in November and vote for John McCain. Decided to go see how many the white democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2004. I think you’ll be surprised when I show you the numbers coming up.
OLBERMANN: All right. Norah, thank you much.
MATTHEWS: That was a tease.
OLBERMANN: It was a tease.
MATTHEWS: It’s late at night. We need a tease.
OLBERMANN: As we await Senator Obama, let’s turn once again to NBC’s Washington bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert. Are you going to say which is? Is it clinched, is it one delegate shy of being clinched? Matthews wouldn’t say it. Is it not clinched? There are three options. There’s one set of numbers, three options.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS HOST: Keith, he won the majority of the elected delegates. The only way that Hillary Clinton could have the nomination is by having the superdelegates the overrule them. And we have not found an inclination among the undeclared superdelegates to do that. Barack Obama only needs, now if he is victorious in Oregon, about 60 of those undeclared superdelegates to embrace his candidacy and he’ll have a majority of all delegate, supers and elected.
We can repeat, I think, what we said the night after North Carolina, Indiana, based on everyone I talked to, any objective democrat, including Clinton supporters, they believe Barack Obama has secured this nomination.
OLBERMANN: There’s visceral stuff here. This isn’t a question, of, gee, we’re surprised when these things happen. After West Virginia, the headline that lasted for about 22 hours and then, boom, out comes John Edwards with his endorsement of Senator Obama, we had this—obviously, in many senses in demographic senses, particularly, significant and meaningful victory from Senator Clinton tonight in Kentucky, and, again, viscerally is the headline rewritten that this number has been achieved, has that been done by Senator Obama and does that indicate a certain skill that we may not have credited he and his campaign for?
RUSSERT: Yes. I think, basing it in Iowa is a nice symmetry, a bookending of his effort. Look at some of the events that have transpired after West Virginia. Not only John Edwards, but the other day, Robert C. Byrd, the senior senator from West Virginia, his state having done for Hillary Clinton over 40 points endorses Barack Obama. Those are the kind of indicators which indicate that people like Byrd, superdelegates who have been around a long time, can add and recognize the math and want to bring a unity to the party. And I think we’re going to see more and more of that as we saw with John Edwards and the people who, his delegates moving to Obama. Many people are being respectful of Senator Clinton. Respectful of her wishes to finish the race in Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota.
But absent any act of God or unforeseen event quickly thereafter, Barack Obama will have the not only the majority of the elected delegate, which he has tonight a majority of all the delegates.
MATTHEWS: I wonder if there’s any other way to report what you just did, Tim, objectively. If the media did not offer up the mathematical reality, and simply continued reporting as if the contest was, in effect, a doubt to its outcome, I wonder how that would be received by either side in this conflict. It seems, I will editorialize, people wanting reporting to go in the direction of their favorite, obviously, and if it doesn’t, they don’t like the fact there was a verdict rendered before the final moment of the campaign.
But it seems to me you’ve got several contests to go. If you look at this from the Clinton point of view, the odds are not good had her favor. The odds are their favor they will win upset reality in Montana or South Dakota. The odds are in their favor they will win well in Puerto Rico. A state, a commonwealth which will not have a role in the general election. So there really—it’s not just—it’s not just you’re reporting as having happened already. If you look at any reasonable perspective as to what’s coming, that, too, is fairly consistent with what you’ve said about the results.
RUSSERT: That’s what it means to report. It’s intellectual honesty, it is gathering all the data, all the facts and then discussing them with people involved in the process to make sure, to confirm what you’re finding. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last several weeks.
Now some people may not want to accept that or to deny it. I often think of the roll calls we used to hear at the conventions. You get to a certain state that puts a candidate over the top. Well, technically, a state could come back and ask for a re-vote or change their minds or not finish the roll call. Of course, those things are possible. But, the fact is, if you look at this, tonight, now even more so, there’s 86 delegates left after Oregon, in Montana, South Dakota, and Puerto Rico. If you assume they each get 43, a pretty good assumption, then what happens Hillary Clinton would have to win practically every undeclared superdelegate. That’s not going to happen, and we know that’s not going to happen. To talk about that, report on that, and to do a reality check with objective supporters of both campaigns, is what we’re supposed to do and share with our viewers.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank, Tim. And, you’re saying that they—the people want to hear news that makes their own candidate look best? I mean, now you tell me this?
MATTHEWS: You said you were appealing to everybody in your reporting.
RUSSERT: I was not offering a special comment, Keith.
MATTHEWS: It was not a special comment. I think it was hard analysis, I think it was a hard-nosed analysis of the numbers and they are there.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of a hard-nosed analysis of the numbers at this point, how about this for juxtaposition. It’s Chuck Todd time for a look at the popular totals so far. The naked truth. We call it by the numbers. That’s next week it becomes by the naked truth with Chuck Todd. I don’t want to talk to you about the stagecraft about that. Let’s look at the big picture here in that other, metric number 27, total popular vote in the Democratic primaries, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS ANALYST: It’s a goods thing we’re in the virtual reality room talking about the naked truth. Going into tonight, Obama will a little over a half of million lead vote lead in the thing. 575,000 to be exact. We’ve seen what happened tonight. This is with the, you know, cue the fast-talking lawyer without the ruts of Florida and Michigan. So 575,000 vote lead is what he will. Well, she’s getting 240 tonight, so that’s going to get it down to 330,000, 245,000 it looks like here net is. So she’ll make it down to 330,000. Now, this is where she gets her talking point, because Florida nets her 300,000, right, there’s her 330, Florida nets her 300. And then Michigan can net her 300 if you don’t give any vote to Obama. So she has the popular vote lead, now, if you count Florida and Michigan, and potentially by a couple hundred thousands.
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd by the numbers, and the process continue, whenever chuck speaks something gets interrupted. Here is Senator Barack Obama moving towards the stage in Des Moines tonight in which he will claim, after an salute thumping in Kentucky, that nevertheless, with 18, 19, perhaps, 20, maybe 21 pledged delegates coming from his side of the equation against Senator Clinton’s victory in Kentucky, he will have gone past the 1,627 mark and lead and secured a majority, a leadership, an untouchable leadership in the total number of pledged delegates. So even after what looks like at this point, a 35-point loss in Kentucky, there will be a victory speech as we heard from Senator Clinton tonight, there will be a victory speech in just a few moments from Senator Obama once he reaches that stage, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We’re going to have the first edition of the East Coast newspapers, the national papers going to press at this point, with a headline that says, Clinton rolls it up in Kentucky. Barack Obama claims victory.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. Once, again …
MATTHEWS: Another hard headline to read. And there you have the very attractive family coming up there. Look at them. There they are. Here they are.
OLBERMANN: A disconnect, once again. The theme of this primary season. Winners are losers. Losers are winners. Absolute declarations that votes don’t count, themselves don’t count. And they thumping, as I use that term again, in Kentucky with 100 percent reporting by Senator Clinton over Senator Obama leads to Senator Obama, now, in Des Moines about to give a lengthy and absolutely confident speech in which he will claim that his leadership among the pledged delegates, the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination process, is unassailable, is secured, cannot be beaten. He will be using a set of numbers that Senator Clinton will not endorse.
MATTHEWS: When was the last contest we covered sitting at this desk that had a surprising result?
OLBERMANN: An individual …
MATTHEWS: One of the states to came out anywhere different from what we projected in terms of, perhaps, even the Barack Obama cheat sheet they had put together months ago.
OLBERMANN: New Hampshire?
OLBERMANN: That was much closer than anybody had looked out New Hampshire being 10 days before 15 days before. It was a certain surprise in both directions.
MATTHEWS: We see the split Democratic Party. We saw the enthusiasm of Hillary Clinton’s people. Look at this now. Just as enthusiastic, as if in different planets.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How’s it going, Iowa?
It is good to be back in Iowa. I love you back, Iowa.
First of all, let me say thank you to Candy Shmeter (ph) for the wonderful instruction and the unbelievable work that she on behalf of our campaign and still does.
There are too many good friends and people who worked tirelessly on my behalf to thank. You know who you are individually, I just want to say, first of all, thank you do all of you for the great work that you did in helping to kick off this campaign.
And I do want to take a point of personal privilege and just say that I have a nice looking wife and kids, you know? You know, there is a spirit that brought us here tonight. A spirit of change, and hope and possibility.
And there are few people in this country who embody that spirit more than our friend and our champion, Senator Edward Kennedy.
He has spent his life and service to this country, not for the sake of glory or recognition, but because he cares deeply in his gut about the causes of justice and equality and opportunity.
So many of us here have benefited in some way or another because the battle he’s waged and some of us are here because of them. We know he’s not well right now. But we also know that he’s a fighter and if he takes on this fight, let us lift his spirits tonight by letting Ted Kennedy know we are thinking of him, that we are praying for him, that we are standing with him and Vicki. And we will be fighting with him every step of the way.
You know, 15 months ago, in the depths of winter, it was in this great state where we took the first steps of an unlikely journey to change America. The skeptics predicted we wouldn’t get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope.
And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out.
But the people of Iowa had a different idea.
From the very beginning, you knew that this journey wasn’t about me. Or any of the other candidates in this race. It was about whether this country at this defining moment will continue down the same road that has failed us for so long or whether we will seize this opportunity to take a different path, to forge a different future for this country we love.
That’s the question that sent thousands upon thousands of you to high school gyms and VFW halls, to backyards and front porches, to steak fries and J.J. dinners where you spoke about what the future would look like. You spoke of an American where working families don’t have to file for bankruptcy just because a child gets sick, where they don’t lose their home because some predatory lender tricks them out of it. Where they don’t have to sit on the sidelines of the global economy because they couldn’t afford the cost of the college education.
You spoke of an America where our parents and our grandparents don’t spend their retirement in poverty, because some CEO dumped their pension. An America where we don’t value wealth, we value work. And the workers who created the wealth.
You spoke of an America where we don’t send our sons and daughters on tour after tour of duty to a war that has cost us thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars but has not made us safer.
You spoke of an America where we match the might of our military with the strength of our diplomacy and the power of our ideals, a nation that is still the beacon of all that is good and all that is possible for humankind.
You spoke of a future where the politics we have in Washington finally reflects the values we hold as Americans. The value you live by here in Iowa, common sense and honesty. Generosity and compassion. Decency and responsibility.
These values don’t belong to one class or one region. Or even one party, they are the values that bind us together as one—as one country.
That is the country—that’s the country I saw in the faces of crowds that would stretch far into the horizon of our heartland. Faces of every color, of every age, faces I see here tonight. You’re Democrats who are tired of being divided, but you’re also Republicans who no longer recognize the party that runs Washington and independents who are hungry for change.
You’re the young people who have been inspired for the very first time. And those not so young folks who have been inspired for the first time in a long time.
You’re veterans and churchgoers, sportsmen and students, farmers and factory workers, teachers and business owners who have varied backgrounds and different traditions but the same simple dreams for your children future.
Many of you have been disappointed by politics and politicians more times than you can count. You’ve seen promises broken. Good ideas drowned in the sea of influence and point scoring and petty bickering that has consumed Washington.
And you’ve been told over and over and over again to be cynical. And doubtful. And even fearful about the possibility of the things can ever be different, can ever be better and, yet in spite of the down and disappointment, or, perhaps, because of it, you came out on a cold winter’s night in January in numbers that this country has never seen, and you stood for change.
You stood for change and because you did a few more stood up and then a few thousand stood up, then a few million stood up. And, tonight, Iowa, in the fullness of spring, with the help of those who stood up from Portland to Louisville, we have returned to Iowa with a majority of delegates elected by the American people and you have put us within reach of the Democratic nomination for president of the United States of America.
You know, the road here has been long. There have been some bumps along the way. I have made some mistakes. But also it’s partly because we’ve traveled this road with one of the most formidable candidates to ever run for this office.
You know, in her 35 years in public service, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has never given up on her fight for the American people and tonight I congratulate her on her victory in Kentucky.
We’ve had our disagreements during this campaign. But we all admire her courage and her commitment and her perseverance and no matter how this primary end ends, Senator Clinton has shattered myths and broken barriers and changed the America in which my daughters and your daughters will come of age. And for that we are grateful to her.
Now some may see the millions upon millions of votes cast for each of us, as evidence that our party’s divided. But I—I see it as proof we have never been for energized and united in our desire to take this country in a new direction. More than anything, we need this unity and this energy in the months to come, because while our primary has been long and hard fought, the hardest and most important part of our journey still lies ahead.
We face an opponent, John McCain, who arrived in Washington nearly three decades ago as a Vietnam war hero, and earned an admirable reputation for straight talk and occasional independence from his party. But this year’s Republican primary was a contest to see which candidate could out-Bush the other, that’s the contest that John McCain won.
The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans that once bothered john McCain’s conscience are now his only economic policy. The Bush health care plan that only helped those who were already healthy and wealthy is now John McCain’s answer to the 47 million Americans without insurance and the millions of more who can’t pay their medical bills.
The Bush Iraq policy that asks everything from our troops and nothing of Iraqi politicians is John McCain’s policy too, and so is the fear of tough and aggressive policy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in recent history.
The lobbyists who rule George Bush’s Washington are now running John McCain’s campaign. And they actually had the nerve to say that the American people won’t care about this. Talk about out of touch. I think the American people care plenty about that.
Now, I will leave it up to Senator McCain to explain to the American people, whether his policies and positions represent long held convictions or Washington calculations. But the one thing they don’t represent is change.
Change—change is a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth by cutting taxes for middle class families and senior citizens and struggling home owners, a tax code that rewards businesses that create good jobs here in America, instead of the corporations that ship them overseas, that’s what change is.
CROWD: Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can.
OBAMA: Change is a health care—change is a health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it, that brings down premiums for every family who needs it, that stops insurance companies from discriminating and denying coverage to those who need it most. That’s what change is.
Change is an energy policy that doesn’t rely on buddying up to the Saudi Royal family and begging them for oil.
An energy policy—change is an energy policy that puts a price on pollution and makes the oil companies invest profits in clean, renewable sources of energy that will create millions of new jobs and leave our children a safer planet. That’s what change is, Iowa.
Change is giving every child a world-class education by recruiting an army of new teachers with better pay and more support, by promising four years of tuition to any American willing to serve their community and their country by realizing that the best education starts with parents who turn off the TV and take away the video games and read to their children once in a while. That’s what change is.
Change is ending a war that we never should have started. Change is finishing a war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan that we never should have ignored. Change is facing the threat of the 21st century, not with bluster or fear mongering or tough talk or suspending due process, but with tough diplomacy and strong alliances and confidence in the ideals that have made this nation the last best hope on earth.
That is the legacy of Roosevelt and Truman and Kennedy. That, Iowa, is that change is. That is the choice in this election.
The same question that first led us to Iowa, 15 months ago is the one that’s brought us back here tonight. It’s the one we will debate for Washington to Florida, from New Hampshire to New Mexico, the question of whether this country, at this moment, will keep doing what we’ve been doing for four more years or whether we will take that different path.
It’s more of the same versus change, it’s the past versus the future. It has been asked and answered by generations before us and now it is our turn to choose.
We will face our share of difficult and uncertain days in the journey ahead. The other side knows they have embraced yesterday’s policies, so they will also embrace yesterday’s tactics to try and change the subject. They’ll play on our fears and our doubts. They’ll try to so discord and division, to distract us from what matters to you and your future.
Well, they can take the low road if they want. But it will not lead this country to a better place. It will not work in this election. It won’t work because you will not let it work. Not this time. Not this year.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
OBAMA: My faith in the decency and honesty and generosity of the American people is not based on false hope or blind optimism, but on what I have lived and what I have seen in this very state.
For in the darkest days of this campaign, when we were dismissed by all the polls and all the pundits, I would come to Iowa and see that there was something happening here that the world did not yet understand.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It’s what led high school and college students to give up their vacations to stuff envelopes and knock on doors.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It’s why grandparents have spent all their afternoons making phone calls to perfect strangers. It’s what led men and women who can barely pay their bills to dig into their savings and write $5 checks and $10 checks and why young people from all over this country have left their friends and their families for a job that offers little pay and less sleep.
Iowa, change is coming to America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Change is coming.
It’s the spirit that sent the first patriots to Lexington and Concord and led the defenders of freedom to light the way north on an Underground Railroad.
It’s what sent my grandfather’s generation to beachheads in Normandy, and women to Seneca Falls, and workers to picket lines and factory fences.
It’s what led all those young men and women who saw beatings and billy-clubs on their television screens to leave the safety of their homes and get on buses and march through the streets of Selma and Montgomery, black and white, rich and poor.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Change is coming to America, Iowa.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It’s what I saw all those years ago on the streets of Chicago when I worked as an organizer, that in the face of joblessness and hopelessness and despair, a better day is still possible, if there are people who are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it.
That’s what I have seen here in Iowa. That’s what is happening in America.
Our journey may be long. Our work will be great. But we know in our hearts we are ready for change. We are ready to come together. And in this election, we are ready to believe again.
Thank you, Iowa. And God bless you. God bless America. Thank you.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Starting tentatively, perhaps, at Des Moines this evening, finishing in, I think it’s fair to say, rollicking fashion, complimentary to Senator Clinton, initially complimentary do Senator McCain, then blasting him as fearful of tough and aggressive diplomacy, a shot back after the (INAUDIBLE) over appeasement and all the rest of that last week about Iran.
The man who is the loser tonight in Kentucky now claiming overall victory in pledged delegates half-an-hour before the polls close in Oregon, where the polls say he should actually be a winner.
It’s through the looking glass, to some degree, but back with Chris Matthews at MSNBC and NBC News world headquarters in New York.
It was a great finish to that speech.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: A lot of glamour here tonight and a lot of charisma. And I think it’s back to the—well, he does—he has the ability to take us back to his finer moments.
Great speechwriting, I have to say. Jon Favreau wrote this. You never know who wrote these. But I did agree with you. I mean, he went right to the - - right to the jugular right there with that question of, is the—he talked about the fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy that has left this country more isolated and less secure than at any time in history.
I mean, to say, it’s not just that the administration’s wrong to criticize him for negotiation and talking to the enemy, but it’s making us weaker by doing it.
OLBERMANN: Fear—and flipping that word, fear, which is used against the Democrats and has been for the last seven years, as if there was an endless supply of that word, as a projectile to hit somebody in the back of the head—
The word fear being turned over on to its head and used against both the Republican candidate and the incumbent Republican presidency, kind of a masterful twist.
MATTHEWS: It’s the first time—you know, they say when—I have never had this experience in military life, anywhere near it, but about the use of the bayonet. When you put it in and you get mush, you twist it.
OLBERMANN: Twist it.
MATTHEWS: When you hit bone, you pull back. This is the first time the administration has jammed in that bayonet and hit bone, and they have pulled back, because Gillespie pulled back from it.
They go in and they attack this guy for wanting to deal with the enemy. And then they say, it is appeasement, a la Neville Chamberlain. And then they realize, hey, people heard them said that. And then, God, what was right here and what was wrong? They realized, for the first time in this back and forth, the administration, that they made a big mistake.
They identified wanting to negotiate or talk to the enemy with giving in, giving away, but we can’t give away our principles and our interests and our security. And they made that mistake so clearly that Ed Gillespie, the sharpest mind over there, pulls back and says, oh, they were not talking about that. They were talking about believing the lies of tyrants. They weren’t talking about negotiating, even though clearly that is what the president was talking about. And they were not talking about Barack Obama. Oh, they were talking about Jimmy Carter.
Those defenses were so pathetic.
OLBERMANN: It was the...
MATTHEWS: It was the first time in this interesting battle back and forth, which could go the other way tomorrow, where clearly the opposition won over the incumbents.
OLBERMANN: And it was those fiends at NBC who did all those darn bad things. Don’t forget that.
MATTHEWS: I wouldn’t claim anything more than objective assessment here. The fact is that they did overstep what they have as their brief here, which is, they’re defending the country, but this country is rethinking what’s the best defense of this country right now.
OLBERMANN: And the context—and we’re going to bring in both Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell now—but the context of what was said, I think your point is perfectly taken. Also, the politics of what was said, it was also an overstep, and also a retraction. They pitted Barack Obama not just against John McCain, but against George Bush.
OLBERMANN: And, Tim...
MATTHEWS: Well, there was some diminished capacity there in those people defending them on the airwaves, too.
MATTHEWS: And that became clear in the days afterwards.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, there’s nothing, perhaps, that Barack Obama has gotten in this entire campaign that he would have paid more for than to find his opponent in this campaign being not John McCain, or not Hillary Clinton, or not any of the Democrats who had stepped out earlier, but George W. Bush.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: The day that George Bush was in Israel at the Knesset uttering his words, John McCain was trying to lay out his vision for a first term. And they were molded together, melded together, by the Obama campaign. It became Bush/McCain.
It is interesting how emphatic Obama was tonight to return to the theme of change, change, change. The McCain campaign will acknowledge, Keith, that, after Labor Day, when the voters start saying, Iraq war, do we want a change economy, do we want to change eight years of Bush, do we want to change, that’s a very powerful argument.
And McCain cannot give up that change message or turf. And he has to try keep separating himself from President Bush. And Obama is going to be tenacious in not letting that happen.
And the other thing I noticed was the narrative tonight, where Barack Obama, recognizing the difficulty he’s having with elderly voters and women voters, talked about his grandfather’s generation, the beachheads at Normandy, the women at Seneca Falls, where the women’s Hall of fame is.
And it was quite striking that he felt it necessary to try to weave those themes now into his speech. And, lastly, two good shots at Washington pundits, which tells me there is common ground between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
RUSSERT: They are unifying.
OLBERMANN: That could be the—could be the great—the great campaign—we-hate-pundits party.
MATTHEWS: What did Jesse Jackson call it? Common ground.
MATTHEWS: Common ground.
OLBERMANN: The people-who-hate-pundits party.
OLBERMANN: Andrea, one of the big complaints against Senator Obama’s uniformly great speechmaking throughout this entire time has been that there was not enough meat on the bones. When the issue of change was introduced, reintroduced, as Tim just mentioned, do you think he put more—more meat on the bones tonight on that particular set of them, the change bones?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he— he did, but I don’t think tonight was about meat on the bones. I think tonight was really to lay down his marker.
I think it was all politics tonight, to lay down the fact that they have achieved a majority of the pledged delegates. They’re back in Iowa, where it all began. They have got the state capitol behind them.
This was a symbol of a state which launched his improbable nomination quest. And he is now about as close to having it within his grasp as one could be. He has to get past the barrier of two more weeks of primaries. But he can see the finish line now. And I think, tonight, that was the excitement for him and for his campaign.
OLBERMANN: Of course, they get—they get all this, and they get that—that rollicking finish, Tim, with—with the results of Oregon still 20 minutes or more away.
That will be good news, the—the—a strong finish, once again, for a night that we were talking of, at least in those visceral terms again, as being Hillary Clinton’s as late as an hour ago.
The Obama campaign feeling increasingly confident about Oregon in the final days, when the huge crowd turned up in Portland, 65,000, 75,000 people. They see it, as I mentioned earlier, as a swing state. If they can get a solid victory there, add to their delegate count, they really can be within reaching distance of finding enough undeclared superdelegates to put them over the 2,025 that they now believe is the—is the goal line, at least until May 31, when the Democratic National Committee talks about Florida and Michigan.
But the symbolism very, very important tonight, Keith, and you can’t understate it strong enough, how he wanted to say to people, this is where it began. This is where I now have ended the battle for elected delegates. I cannot be beaten on that. And my opponent is John McCain, in effect, not Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Tim, do you ever wonder about this. You’re both—we’re both Roman Catholics. Do you ever think about the possibility that this is either a 1928 that is coming up this fall or it’s 1960? Is this Al Smith, the first real ethic Catholic to run for president, gets slaughtered, or is it John Kennedy coming?
Because I’m thinking about Kentucky was one of the states where Kennedy met real resistance as a Roman Catholic in the fall of ‘60.
RUSSERT: Well, you know, Hillary Clinton’s victory in Kentucky tonight is extremely impressive. And her vote margin of 250,000 is extraordinary...
RUSSERT: ... in terms of the number of people.
I mean, realize that the people in Kentucky, even while voting for Hillary Clinton, overwhelmingly and saying to the exit poll, we believe Barack Obama is going to be the nominee, still came out in huge numbers and cast their choice for Hillary Clinton.
It’s an indication of a very, very strong preference that Barack Obama is going to have to work on. And it just can’t be ceded away, because it’s not unique to Kentucky. Now, people say, well, Kentucky, West Virginia, he doesn’t need those states. Fine, but he does need Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania.
And he’s going to have to find a way to connect in a real and honest way. And it’s visceral. And I hear my dad’s voice in my mind all the time on things like this, a World War II veteran, who doesn’t sit there with a clipboard and check off issues. He sizes people up. He takes their measure. He wants to know that they understand what he is thinking and feeling and going through, and give it their best shot to help alleviate some of the problems that he and his buddies are confronting.
And I think that’s Obama’s challenge.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s a great question, Andrea, because, you know, it’s not entirely ethnic, although there is an ethnic piece to it.
You know, I think about a person who is very traditional on race, a white person, who may have a real resistance perhaps to voting for an African-American for president, who would probably be willing to vote for a Colin Powell, for example, a conservative—moderate conservative warrior who has fought for his country and led his country in battle, and might be willing to move another notch over for someone who had a gut appeal to him, who clearly shared his gut patriotism.
What do you think? Isn’t that really the cusp here, the question for Barack? Can he, as Tim said, connect with that guy or woman who has a gut love of country that is deep in their soul, and, say, yes, this guy is a soul mate when it comes to America?
MITCHELL: I think he—they have got to get to know him. And he is still a stranger to a lot of America.
As remarkable as it may seem to people who are following this very closely and to a generation of young people on every campus I have been on, there are people across this country—we saw them in West Virginia—we saw them in Kentucky tonight—who really don’t feel they know him.
MITCHELL: And maybe it was a mistake not to use some of his money and his time to campaign in those states to introduce himself. He ceded those states to Hillary Clinton and reinforced that negative stereotype.
And they have got to get to know him. I mean, when you talk to people, we saw the people willing to go on camera, Chris, and say things in West Virginia like, there have been too many Husseins.
MITCHELL: Where they get this, it is out there. And this isn’t just people being fed by rumors on the Internet. There’s word of mouth as well.
He seems strange and unusual to a lot of people who live in very isolated sections of this country.
MITCHELL: And that’s where his money, of course, will come into play, and all the endorsements may help, because people can validate for him.
And, you know, that’s where John Edwards can be helpful in Appalachia, for instance. But he’s got a lot of work to do in these communities. One thing that is notable, for all of our talk about Hillary Clinton continuing, Barack Obama has scored another big fund-raising victory, with $31 million. She has $22 million reported for this last month.
And he’s got 200,000 new contributors. This is remarkable, in April, after we have been going for whatever it is, 16 months, more than that now. And the other piece of it is that people on the ground say that, even though she’s flying her airplane and putting commercials on the air in inexpensive states, she has no ground troops left no. She has no advance teams.
That’s why you see 300, 400 people at her events, rather than the thousands who turn out for his events. It’s not only the magnetism. It’s that she’s got nobody drumming up these crowds.
MITCHELL: And that costs money.
OLBERMANN: These look like halftimes. This in Portland look like halftimes at Super Bowls.
OLBERMANN: Andrea, stay with us.
Tim Russert, stay with us.
Let’s go now to the Obama campaign.
Its communications director, Robert Gibbs, joins us now.
Mr. Gibbs, thank you for your time tonight.
ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Well, tell—answer that point that Andrea just raised, that there is a “We don’t know him” crowd still that you have to introduce your candidate to.
What is the strategy to get the point across to them who he is and what he represents and more—perhaps more importantly, who he is not, and what he does not represent?
I mean, I think you see it tonight. We have come back to Iowa. Look, we have spent a lot of time here. But I’m sure there’s people here that still want to know what we’re going to do to help bring down their health insurance costs or help send their kids to college.
But we will do this over the course of the next several months, until the story of who Barack Obama is, the son of a—raised by a single mother, raised by his grandparents—his grandfather was a World War II veteran. We will introduce him to this country and let people know what his values are and what he believes.
And we think that, when we put that choice in front of the American people of who Barack Obama is, of what he wants to do, and then compare and contrast that with John McCain, I think you will get, as Barack Obama said tonight, change vs. more the same. And I think that’s an election we will do well in, in the fall in the United States.
OLBERMANN: Was that speech tonight about the Democratic primary process, or was that speech tonight about Senator McCain and President Bush’s remarks in front of the Knesset last week and the general election ahead?
GIBBS: Well, obviously, it’s a little bit of both, truthfully.
We have got—we’re continuing on this process, but we have reached an important milestone tonight with the majority of pledged, or elected, delegates here. And, also, we’re looking forward to the fall and drawing that contrast with John McCain, who really just wants to continue another four years of George Bush.
It’s four years that the American people can’t afford. And that’s a choice we will put in front of them every day for the rest of this contest.
OLBERMANN: That one quote that we already cited earlier, fear of tough and aggressive diplomacy, was the word fear chosen by accident, or was it deliberately picked out to—to stand it on its head and use it against the Republicans, rather than having it used, as it has been so often, against the Democrats the last few years?
GIBBS: Well, look—look, for some reason, John McCain fears the fact that he would be used in a propaganda war.
Barack Obama understands that he’s tough enough to sit down and talk to dictators, talk to people that we—that we may not like, the same way that Reagan did with Gorbachev, the same way Kennedy did with Khrushchev , or the same way Nixon did with Mao.
Only through tough, strong, aggressive diplomacy are we going to strengthen our alliances in the world and start to make a real difference that makes this world safer again. We’re not safer than we were eight years ago, because we haven’t done the things that we needed to do, and we have watched the world get more dangerous around us.
OLBERMANN: Robert Gibbs, communications director of the Obama campaign, thanks for your time tonight, sir.
MATTHEWS: And now to the Clinton campaign, to U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. She’s a Clinton national co-chair.
Congresswoman, it’s always great to see you.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Good to see you, too, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You’re smiling.
MATTHEWS: And, you know, it’s another one of these split-screen evenings, where Barack Obama has just had this—again, a huge crowd up in Des Moines, and Senator Clinton’s had again, a big, huge victory down in Kentucky.
How do you put it together for people you talk to at home in Florida?
How do you explain the score?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, you explain the score this way. Hillary Clinton has, to this date, won the majority of the people who have gone to the polls in the Democratic primaries across this country and cast ballots for her.
She has won more than 17 million votes, more votes—more votes than any Democratic primary candidate in American history. And—and that is an important milestone as well.
We do need to make sure that the Democratic nominee is the strongest possible candidate for a general election. And when it comes down to the states that will matter and that will add up to Electoral College victory, Hillary Clinton has won those states, and won them big.
And, Chris, normally, when a Democratic primary winds down, and, you know, it clearly shifts over to one candidate or the other, the other—the candidate that has lost loses primaries, and, then, eventually, fades away.
Hillary Clinton just won Kentucky tonight by more than 2-1. And that is a really important thing that we need to consider. And that is the message that we are carrying through for the rest of this election.
MATTHEWS: There’s a story making the rounds. I don’t know whether it came from Chris Rock, the comedian. It came from somebody. Nobody ever heard of superdelegates until a black guy won the nomination.
MATTHEWS: I mean, it’s funny if you think things—humor like that are funny. But what happens if the party overturns what has now clearly been declared as the victory in the elected delegates tonight? If Barack wins the elected delegates, the party elders say, no way, Jose, we’re going to give it to somebody else, is that going to work in Denver?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think that’s putting the cart before the horse. But...
MATTHEWS: Well, what’s missing in the argument?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, what is...
MATTHEWS: What is missing there?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, what’s missing in the argument is that we have a nomination that is put together not just with pledged delegates, not just with superdelegates, not with PLEOs or with at-large, but by a combination of delegates casting their votes to select the—to select the nominee.
Superdelegates have their role and pledged delegates have their role. And they combine to select the nominee. So, there wouldn’t be an overturning of the—of the nomination. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to get there.
MATTHEWS: But you’re—you’re using a lot of words do say—you’re using a lot of words do say that the—that the Democratic process of selecting elected delegates won’t hold sway.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It’s a—no, what I’m saying is that selecting the Democratic nominee is a multi-part process.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It is not only selected by pledged delegates, not only selected by superdelegates. It’s a combination. And it’s a multi-part process that needs to play itself out.
MATTHEWS: And that would sell in Denver, what you just said?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I’m not saying that we’re even going get to—get to Denver. I think we’re much more likely to have had this nomination resolved long before then.
But it is important for people to know that the selection of the Democratic nominee is not purely...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... selected by one category of delegates.
MATTHEWS: Do you think this—do you think this is sort of farkakt process to begin with, this whole thing about having...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, I really do.
MATTHEWS: That’s what—I thought I could get you to say that, using a nice Yiddishism, because we don’t use the Anglo-Saxon.
It seems to me, if you’re going to have...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: My constituents can understand exactly what you just said.
MATTHEWS: That’s why they’re your constituents.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this.
How do you deal with the fact that a Clinton person—certainly not Hillary wouldn’t say this, I don’t think, because it would cause trouble—but could argue that this whole caucus system doesn’t make sense. It’s not democratic, in the sense of one person, one vote. It’s only for the activists, who know how to get to these voting stations, and they show up for two or three hours, and this whole process of elected delegates, where constituencies that have always voted Democrat have more weighting, more delegates at stake than, say, other constituents, so it’s not—it’s all this weird formula.
And every state is different.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Now, you talk about having, you know, equal—due process here, or whatever, as we had in the Florida voting back then.
It isn’t really the same. It isn’t equal treatment.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You’re 100 percent right.
And I’m not just saying—saying that because—I have thought for a long time, long before the outcome of this race has been unwinding, that the Democratic primary nominating process was badly broken.
I mean, to—particularly, as a Floridian, to have gotten ourselves into this situation, and as the fourth largest state in the country, and the biggest swing state in any general election in recent memory, to have there be a question mark hanging over whether we are going to have a role in selecting the nominee is just preposterous.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And it’s got to be fixed, in terms the way we do caucuses vs. primaries. It’s got to be fixed in terms of the calendar, and which states get to go first. We have got to go through a rotating system, so that you have regional primaries that rotate every four years.
There’s legislation that has been introduced by my colleague Senator Nelson that I have co-signed on to in the House. But we really have to fix this—fix this broken system.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you should...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And, honestly...
MATTHEWS: Excuse me.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Sure.
MATTHEWS: Do you think you should just have a real simple democratic process, where you have one primary, every state has to have a primary, and, when you do the primaries, you add up all the votes at the end? So, at the end of this process, Hillary Clinton would have won, perhaps, if it was all primaries.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I honestly think, because...
MATTHEWS: A clean system like that.
You don’t need superdelegates to say, you know, daddy and mommy know best if the kids get it wrong. I mean, this idea that you need these supernumeraries, these people that are above voters, that are going to save the Democratic voter from their sins and wayward ways, I mean, isn’t that is a statement you don’t trust...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It’s elitist.
MATTHEWS: Well, thank you. You said it.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It’s an elitist process, just like the Electoral College, to be honest with you, is an elitist process.
MATTHEWS: So, if Hillary Clinton wins this nomination because of the votes of the superdelegates over those of the elected delegates, that was an elitist ruling?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think we have just as much a case to make that the American ...
MATTHEWS: Did I trick you into that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: ... the majority of the America people who are Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton, and she will ultimately—and she may ultimately not be the nominee.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much.
You did say that the elite will decide this, if the superdelegates do overrule the elected delegates?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think that we need to go to a more pure nominating process. And, quite honestly, my personal opinion is that we need to go to a pure election of the president of the United States as well.
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well said.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: ... of Florida, one of the people that is not getting to have their delegates counted so far.
MATTHEWS: Right now, we go back...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Not yet.
MATTHEWS: I know.
MATTHEWS: I know. Again. You have had a problem down there with Florida generally.
Anyway, we go right back now to Tim Russert.
RUSSERT: Hey, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Here I am without a question.
Isn’t that interesting that, if you talk to people who are on the Clinton side of this fandango, as she said—and she’s obviously a—knows her stuff—she said, you know, she admits that the superdelegates have an elite role here. They do come in and sort of fix the problem of the little people, if you will. It certainly is a strange conundrum for the Democrats to be in, where you have Hillary Clinton pushing for, basically, salvation at the hands of the elite.
RUSSERT: But it was an interesting conversation, because there’s no more loyal, fiercer supporter of Senator Clinton than the congresswoman.
But I didn’t see any real passion there to go to the convention, to bring this to the floor. She acknowledged that the Clinton campaign could fall short and that it will, in all likelihood, be resolved much earlier than the convention, which brings us back to June. And that’s the sense we’re getting from people who are very, very partisan for Senator Clinton, which I think will be welcome news to a lot of Democrats who were watching that tonight.
OLBERMANN: Tim, stand by.
Chris, stand by.
When we return, we will have some characterization of the results, finally, from Oregon, where they have been mailing it in, in literal sense. The balloting closes in just three-and-a-half minutes.
Our coverage does not close. It continues after this, with the first word from Oregon.