Guests: Pat Buchanan, Eugene Robinson, Rachel Maddow, Susan Molinari
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, the summit. Obama and Clinton one-on-one on the eve of her official departure from the race. Is there unity in the Democratic Party? As the RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE rolls on.
Welcome back to the RACE. I‘m David Gregory, happy to have you here. It has been a pretty big week, don‘t you think? It‘s your stop for the fast pace, the bottom line, and every point of view in the room.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton‘s final “War Room.” What tone did she strike during the secret meeting with Obama last night? And more importantly, what will she say tomorrow? Is a graceful exit still possible? Later, why Clinton lost. Also tonight, “Three Questions” for Obama about the road ahead.
The bedrock of the program, as you know, a panel that always comes to play. And with us tonight: Gene Robinson, columnist and associate editor of The Washington Post and an MSNBC political analyst; Susan Molinari is back, Republican strategist and of course former New York congresswoman;
Pat Buchanan, former presidential candidate and MSNBC political analyst, he is also the author of the new book “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World”; and Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Air America, also an MSNBC political analyst.
We begin, as we do every night here, with everyone‘s takes on the most important political story of the day, it‘s the “Headlines.” I‘ll start here tonight. My “Headline,” words that hurt, words that heal. Tomorrow, we will hear from Senator Clinton, again. And this time she will end her campaign and endorse Obama.
Such finality after such a hard-fought race. We asked repeatedly what Senator Clinton wants. Well, tomorrow‘s remarks will go a long way toward determining her path in the Democratic Party. Her campaign chairman, Terry McAuliffe, signaled a new tone outside a party today for campaign staff in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, it was a great campaign, 17 months, everybody worked their hearts out. If you look at Hillary, talk about her breaking the glass ceiling, I think she shattered it. I mean, she got in, she got more than 18 million votes. She won a lot of important states. I think I speak for all of the staff here, they are very proud. It was an exciting campaign.
It was very close. But now we all do everything we can to help Barack Obama become the next president, because it‘s about the issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: And it‘s all about Obama now. OK. Pat Buchanan, what‘s your “Headline” on the day tomorrow and Hillary Clinton‘s speech?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Let there be peace in the valley and let it begin with me. I think that‘s exactly what she is going to do, David. You‘re right. I think she is going to surrender gracefully. She‘s going to emerge as the first surrogate for Barack Obama.
She realizes this is over. And it‘s going to be a very graceful exit and the beginning of the fall campaign where she‘s working with Barack Obama and for Barack Obama.
GREGORY: She signaled that she would go out there every day, if she needs to, that‘s what Terry McAuliffe said, as chief surrogate. That‘s a role she could play.
BUCHANAN: It certainly is. It‘s in her interest. I think she‘s a spokeswoman for 17 or 18 million people. She wants to lead this army. But the best thing she could do for herself and her party is lead that party behind Barack Obama and remain, frankly, the voice of that particular army, but in this battle, he‘s commander-in-chief.
GREGORY: Command-in-chief, Gene, that‘s what you‘re talking about.
He‘s remaking the Democratic Party in his image now.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, David, my headline this evening is Obama‘s DNC, 2.0. You know, Barack Obama, on Tuesday night, not only became the presumptive nominee, he also because the de factor head of the Democratic Party. He immediately began sending his most effective and trusted political lieutenants over to party headquarters to get things in shape for the fall.
I touched on this in this morning‘s column. I think we have the quote I wrote that “it will be written that Obama‘s nomination victory owes as much to adroit management as it does to stirring inspiration. Whether Obama wins or loses, history has been made this year, maybe there‘s more to come, maybe not. But already, it‘s safe to say that this nation will never be the same.”
And I think it‘s safe to say the party will never be the same as well. Look at the way Obama used the Internet. Look at the way he raised money on a scale never before seen. Look at the way he used not just barackobama.com, but social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Look at the way he organizes people on the ground as more of a network than a hierarchy. It was the first campaign of the 21st Century. Hillary Clinton‘s may have been the last of the 20th Century. Barack Obama has given us a new style of presidential campaigning and that‘s what he is going to give us in the fall.
GREGORY: All right. Susan, you‘re looking at McCain and his strategic moves now.
SUSAN MOLINARI, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That‘s right. My “Headline” is “McCain launches preemptive strike.” In the first ad blitz of the general election, Senator McCain takes out ads in the 10 battleground states.
And it‘s preemptive in that he takes on an issue that‘s going to seem to be his weakest, his support of the war in Iraq. And he does it by explaining that he has the background and the knowledge and the family history to make sure people know he hates war, but sometimes war is necessary to keep America safe.
I think it‘s a really smart idea. He‘s going to what is going to be where the strikes are going to come at his candidacy. And he‘s taking it on first day.
GREGORY: Right. All right. And, Rachel, you‘re thinking about McCain as well, in his week in review, what kind of a week was it?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that John McCain had a tough week. He had some unforced errors. That is my “Headline” tonight. He‘s making these errors not because of he has taken any big hits from the Democrats, he‘s doing it to himself.
On Monday McCain proposed a divestment campaign on Iran. His campaign seemed caught off-guard by the revelation that Obama proposed that idea last year without McCain supporting it.
On Tuesday, McCain‘s green backdrop speech in Louisiana was about as well-received as a Derek Jeter jersey in downtown Boston. On that same trip, McCain was also apparently caught off-guard by questions about his own record on investigating the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
Then it was off to the Everglades, where McCain had to spend his time defending his votes against protecting the Everglades, instead of what he wanted to do, which was to promote his environmental credentials.
I think it has been a week of unforced errors for the McCain campaign. And I think it‘s making people wonder whether or not he didn‘t take advantage of the three-month head start he got in this general election by sort of working the kinks out of his campaign.
GREGORY: But despite whatever may have happened this week and how you see it, has he taken advantage of this period overall strategically?
MADDOW: Well, I do think that John McCain is probably making good overall big decisions, but it‘s weird and it‘s worrying, I think, for his campaign that they are making unforced errors about things like how to stage a speech, how to time an event, how to make sure the candidate is adequately briefed on his own record before he gets inevitable questions about things that he‘s photo-oping about.
It‘s just basic campaign 101 stuff that you wouldn‘t expect to see in a congressional race or a Senate race, let alone a presidential race. He just doesn‘t seem like he‘s ready for prime time, and that‘s surprising.
GREGORY: All right. We‘re going to take a break here, come back and go “Inside the War Room.” Lots to talk about, including Hillary Clinton‘s exit tomorrow from the race. Will she endorse? How should we do it? How will she do it? And what will she telegraph about the road ahead for her?
Later on in the program, predictions from the panel. What is next for Senator Clinton in her political life? The RACE returns right after this.
GREGORY: Back on the RACE, now we‘re going “Inside the War Room” to talk about Hillary Clinton. This is her final time in the “War Room.” Back with us, Gene, Susan, Pat, and Rachel.
So topic number one tonight, the secret meeting last night between Obama and Clinton, a lot of skullduggery, I guess, is the word. A lot of elusiveness by those two to pull off that meeting, one-on-one, no aides. It was with Dianne Feinstein, at her house. It wasn‘t at the Clintons‘ home.
This was a take from the meeting, a statement—a joint statement that was put out. “Senator Clinton and Senator Obama met tonight and had a productive discussion about the important work that needs to be done to succeed in November.” Apparently no direct talk about the V.P. idea.
Senator Dianne Feinstein said this about the meeting, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I sat them in the living room in two comfortable chairs and I left. And it was the two of them. And it was a private meeting for about an hour. I went upstairs, was doing my work. And when it was over, Barack called and said, good night, Dianne. I came down and said, good night. And we laughed and said good night. And that was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Hey, Dianne, we‘re going, see you, thanks for having us.
MOLINARI: Lock the door on your way out, will you?
GREGORY: We took our plates in and we‘ll see you, call you later. Rachel, the tone, what is your sense of what the tone would have been like and how that sets up tomorrow?
MADDOW: You know, David, I know this is the wrong thing to say because of what we‘re talking about here, but I have no idea. And I am so struck by what I wouldn‘t pay or what I wouldn‘t saw off in order to have been a fly on the wall in that meeting. How did Dianne Feinstein not put a glass up to the wall to listen to what was happening?
I mean, everybody who has been paying attention to this race in America...
GREGORY: She did not deny doing that, by the way. She did not deny putting the glass up to the wall.
MADDOW: That‘s true. That‘s a very good point.
GREGORY: . anywhere in that sound bite.
MADDOW: Even just on the vice presidential thing, one of the big things we don‘t know is whether or not they personally have chemistry and get on. We really don‘t know that. So maybe.
GREGORY: Right. And this is one of the things that you‘re trying to test. Pat, I think Rachel makes a good point, which is we really can‘t divine substance. They don‘t want us to know, that‘s why there were no aides there.
But in terms of the fact that they had the meeting, what is the importance of having that meeting at this particular time?
BUCHANAN: Well, it signals that it is all over. And they are getting together and Barack Obama is the nominee. But think of what Hillary is thinking. She‘s thinking to herself, look, I won all of these late primaries against this guy. I have got more popular votes, the media piled on me. The African-American folks whom Bill and I supported walked away from me.
There has got to be a sense of, this guy here is the nominee, really doesn‘t deserve it, I did. And I don‘t know how she could contain and control that entirely and suddenly announce, you know, I‘m Barack Obama‘s first surrogate. So I think it was probably not—if not a tense meeting, I think it was probably, a correct, calm statement of views and my guess is it was not a lot of effusiveness on her part.
ROBINSON: You know, I would bend in a slightly different direction, actually. I think the sentiments that Pat just described, I think that‘s more of what we heard on Tuesday and in the intervening days.
One gets the sense over the last 24 hours or so that there has been a coming to the reality of the situation and I really do fully expect Hillary Clinton and the Clinton machine, as Terry McAuliffe indicated, to come in-line enthusiastically behind the nominee.
GREGORY: Well, let me ask Susan. What do you expect—Susan, what do you expect tomorrow from Hillary Clinton? Set up that speech that she gives tomorrow and contrast it to what she said the other night.
MOLINARI: Well, I think the big challenge for Senator Clinton has to be, you know, to answer the question. It goes something like, you know, the phone is ringing, it‘s 3:00 a.m. and, Barack, you have to pick up the phone.
I mean, she has had a year of basically telling America this guy is not ready to be commander-in-chief. She has said that. She has got to set the predicate if she is going to be any kind of hero of the Democrat Party in that speech tomorrow, it‘s how she didn‘t really mean it, could have changed her mind.
She had said John McCain has a lifetime of experience that allows him to be commander-in-chief, I have the lifetime of experience that allows me to be commander-in-chief, Barack Obama gave a speech two years ago. I mean, that‘s pretty much a paraphrase of the line she got off a few months ago.
She has to start to undo that pretty quickly because you know what?
The Republicans are going to bring back those videotapes.
GREGORY: Well, and on that point, Pat, you‘re on deck here, third point on our “War Room” tonight, John McCain taking some preemptive strikes here tonight. The first thing he did is prepare a new ad that‘s running in some battleground states. Let‘s take look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war. When I was 5 years old, my father left for war. My grandfather came home from war and died the next day. I was shot down over Vietnam and spent five years as a POW. I hate war and I know how terrible its costs are. I‘m running for president to keep the country I love safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: That‘s the ad and here is a clip from an interview with USA Today where he talks about his relationship with President Bush. We‘ll go to the quote board for that.
“I am not trying to separate myself,” says McCain, “I‘m trying to point out my own record and my own plan of action to solve our housing, energy, economic, and national security challenges.”
Pat, what is he up to?
BUCHANAN: This is an excellent ad. An excellent ad because it suggests strength, but softness. McCain‘s problem is he comes off as bellicose, in your face, too belligerent, too anxious to go to war.
But this comes off strong. And it‘s rooted in the history of his family who were strong, tough patriots who fought when they had to. And it‘s a very good ad in this sense. McCain is moving into these areas to contrast himself with Barack Obama. And the hope, of course, is they can keep Barack Obama out there with one foot, if you will, in the radical liberal, radical left camp.
So I think it‘s a smart preemptive strike to define McCain and indirectly define Barack Obama as well.
GREGORY: Let me move on. I want to get this one last one in here from Barack Obama. Does he have a problem now on the question of Jerusalem? Here was part of his speech to AIPAC , the pro-Israel lobby from earlier in the week. This was on Wednesday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: “Must remain undivided.” those are the key words there. Some backtracking from that by yesterday. This is now what Barack Obama is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Well, obviously, it‘s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: Rachel, I talked to somebody who knows these issues well, who was in the room when Obama gave his speech and said that it was a tremendous speech in his view, this is a Democrat, thought it was very well-received, better received than even Hillary Clinton, and that he made a mistake—a kind of novice mistake by getting into an issue of the status of Jerusalem as an undivided capital that George Bush got into mistakenly in the beginning of his administration, then backed off.
And that even Bill Clinton made the same mistake but then also backed off. In other words, he got himself into an area that no president has been in in the last 16 years, that it‘s really just in the peace process, the final status issue.
How big of an issue is this for him politically?
MADDOW: Well, it‘s as big an issue as it was for the other people who have made the same mistake. You‘re totally right to put it in that context. The issue of Jerusalem has been like the Bermuda Triangle for American presidents who have tried to be—you know, Democrat and Republican, have tried to be incredibly supportive of Israel, incredibly invested in the peace process.
But getting into the specific issue of Jerusalem is something that isn‘t really the United States‘ place to take. And I think he went there and it was a mistake, I think. But it was the same kind of mistake made by Clinton or Bush.
GREGORY: But, Susan, is it seen as pandering if you make a novice mistake here on this issue to reach out to Jewish voters?
MOLINARI: I think the difference between the others who made this mistake was that sort of their loyalty to Jerusalem and to Israel was not questioned. Barack Obama has a tenuous relationship with the Jewish-American community. The speech for AIPAC was very smart and he did a great job. He can‘t afford to make a mistake on Jerusalem and on Israel like some of the other candidates could.
MADDOW: How is his relationship with Israel a question?
MOLINARI: Because of his—not with Israel, but his support of sitting down with Hamas and...
MADDOW: He doesn‘t want to sit down with Hamas.
MOLINARI: . meeting with foreign leaders where he‘s going to go with Iran.
MADDOW: He‘s not going to—wait, that‘s actually not true.
MADDOW: He‘s not in favor of negotiating with Hamas. That was actually in the speech.
MOLINARI: His Web site says without preconditions, he‘d meet with leaders that demand the extinction of Israel. I mean, that‘s on his Web site.
GREGORY: Hold on, we‘re not going to settle this here. The issue is, he does face skepticism in the Jewish community, among Jewish voters about his views on Israel and whether he would be the kind of stalwart supporter that other presidents have been. He did a lot to change that with this speech.
The issue of Jerusalem took him into a level that not even Republicans have gone. And that‘s where there is some question. At the moment, however, I think there‘s many in the Jewish community who have embraced him more fully now. And there‘s a lot of Arabs in the Middle East, including the Palestinians who are taking shots at him. Maybe that‘s the kind of criticism he would not like to have to try to balance all of this out.
We‘ll take a break here, come back with “Smart Takes” right after this.
GREGORY: We‘re back with “Smart Takes,” the provocative, the analytical, something to make you think. And here again to go over them with us, Gene, Susan, Pat, and Rachel. We are tight on time, we‘ll get to as many as we can.
First up from Ron Brownstein of The L.A. Times and the National Journal, talking about the Democratic gamble now for Barack Obama. We‘ll go to the quote board. “Obama almost certainly presents Democrats with a better chance to redraw the electoral map and expand their coalition if all goes well. But in a year so tilted toward Democrats, Clinton might have represented a safer bet to accumulate the bare minimum of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
“Either Obama or Clinton would have pursued Iowa and New Mexico. Her next tier of targets would have included Ohio, Arkansas, and even West Virginia, lunch bucket states that all voted for Bill Clinton twice.
“Obama‘s difficulties among blue collar whites make him a tougher sell in those states. That makes it more likely that he will need to win Virginia or Colorado, which are trending Democratic but between them have voted for the party‘s presidential nominee just once since 1964.”
Pat, take it on.
BUCHANAN: I think Barack Obama‘s—his most serious problem, frankly, is this map problem. I think if—look, take Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan. McCain can win one of those three and win the election just like George Bush did. If he gets two, I don‘t see how Barack Obama wins the election.
McCain is going to probably, my guess, take New Hampshire back for the Republicans. He has won it twice. Obama lost it. And I think it‘s very risky for Democrats to think they can win Virginia, and frankly Colorado, with the Hispanic vote two-to-one against Obama all through the primaries, he has got his work cut out for him on the electoral map.
GREGORY: Let me go to Juan Williams writing in The Wall Street Journal today talking about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the race issue for Barack Obama. This is what he says, to the quote board: “Mr. Obama needs to give another speech on race,” is what Juan Williams is saying, “this time he has to admit to sins of using race for political expediency by knowingly buying into divisive, mean messages being delivered from the pulpit.
“He has to say that as a biracial young man with no community roots, attaching himself to Reverend Wright and the Trinity Congregation was a shortcut to move up the ladder in the Chicago political scene. He has to call race-baiting what it is, whether it comes from a pulpit or calls itself progressive politics.
“And he has to challenge his supporters, especially his black base, to be honest about real problems at the heart of today‘s racial divides, including out-of-wedlock births, crime, drugs and a culture that devalues education while glorifying the gangster life.”
Gene, quick comment here.
ROBINSON: Well, the second half of what Juan is recommending, Barack Obama does regularly. I‘ve heard him several times before—especially before black audiences talk about out-of-wedlock pregnancy and the whole cultural problems that are found inside.
GREGORY: Hey, Gene.
ROBINSON: . communities.
GREGORY: . we‘ll pick it up here. I have got to get a break in.
We‘ll pick it up right after this. Don‘t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it is not you, how disappointed will you be?
CLINTON: It will be me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: It will be me. It will not be Hillary Clinton. She‘s getting out of the race tomorrow. We‘re back on RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. I‘m David Gregory, happy to have you here. The back half coming your way now, and a special edition of the war room, the post mortem power point edition that asks the question, where did Hillary Clinton go wrong? What were her biggest mistakes?
Still with us, “The Washington Post‘s” Eugene Robinson, Republican strategist Susan Molinari, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and Air America‘s Rachel Maddow.
Topic number one, over before it started, the Iraq war vote. Pat, how big a factor in this race for the nomination?
BUCHANAN: Extraordinarily large. I think Hillary Clinton would be the nominee if she had voted against the war. The Democratic party is 70 or 80 percent anti-war right now. I think that‘s the big factor. It opened the door to Barack Obama who was against the war. In addition to that, he was an articulate African-American candidate so he could get that constituency. He put together the McGovern/Gene McCarthy part of the party with the Jesse Jackson part of the party, and left her with the Mondale wing.
GREGORY: Why it, Rachel, she could never effectively explain her views on the war? He was against the war, but never actually had to cast a vote.
MADDOW: She has a complicated story to tell about it. She says that she believed what she was told and therefore, voted to authorize the war. But she never expected that that authorization power would be implemented, that a war would happen because of that vote. She has a complicated story to tell that it‘s hard to explain, and to my mind never really made much sense. It‘s hard to make a campaign issue of that. I think what it boiled down to for most Democrats who care about the war is Clinton voted for it and she refuses to apologize for that vote. That‘s the simple story she was never able to get around with her more complex explanation.
GREGORY: Reason number two, Susan, change versus experience. Hillary Clinton picked the wrong side. She went for the experience argument and didn‘t understand how powerful the change vibe was in this election.
MOLINARI: I think that‘s right. I think it was also that combination of her experience which should lead to the inevitability of candidacy, which we saw from that clip. When you look at John McCain and the Republican line up a year ago, he was the least inevitable of all our Republican candidates. Yet, he fought, he fought, he fought and he scrapped his way.
The American public wants to see their political leaders fight for what they want.
GREGORY: What was the problem, Gene—I made the argument—we talked about this last night—making the argument that Obama was a roll of dice seemed to make a lot of sense in terms of her level of experience and what it seemed so many people were reacting to in the Bush years. Critics would say, too much ideology, not enough experience, that you wanted a more pragmatic, steadier hand. It made sense to think of her in that context.
ROBINSON: I think one of the big problems was the war position in the context of change versus experience. Her position on the war didn‘t represent change. Having lost that, just being kind of a steadier hand, roll of the dice—there‘s another dynamic, of course. The longer Barack Obama was around and the more people saw him, the less he seemed like a new entrant to the political sweep stakes. When someone‘s around you get used to them and you get used to seeing them in that light.
GREGORY: Pat, number three, dysfunction in the campaign. You know a thing or two about how important the internals of the campaign are. What went wrong here?
BUCHANAN: I think the Clinton campaign prepared for, if you will, a 220, a 220 yard race. They thought by Super Tuesday, that‘s it. We‘ll sprint by him. We have the resources. We‘ve got the good momentum. We‘ve got the machine. At the end of the 220, they were ahead, but it was an 880 race. Barack Obama kept right on moving and he went by them. And in February, he wiped her out in that 11 or 12 primaries. I think that broke it.
Frankly, she got her kick, if you will, and came back and beat him in the last three months or two and a half months, but it was not quite enough to catch him. It was a great race, but she was preparing for the wrong one.
ROBINSON: Part of the dysfunction, I think, David was who was she? She was the experienced candidate. They kept changing the slogans. They kept kind of changing her persona. I think Obama was rather steady throughout the campaign. And it took her awhile to settle on who she was as a candidate. Once she settled on it, she was a really good candidate.
MOLINARI: That‘s right. If you think back, there was those civil moments in the debates, where she was so happy and honored to be here with Barack Obama. Then the next day, they announced the kitchen sink strategy, where they‘re going to throw everything at him. You really couldn‘t get a feel for what the message was.
GREGORY: Number four we have here is over confidence, Pat. That speaks the idea of her feeling she was inevitable and that it would be done by Super Tuesday.
BUCHANAN: Exactly. That‘s why when she went out, she had voted for the war. She was running as a centrist candidate. She‘s running a general election strategy, thinking, look, the left wing will have its little jolly run in the yard. Then they will be coming around and I can face-off McCain and beat him as long as I keep my feet in the center. The problem was, from the left, they had a great candidate.
GREGORY: As a woman, she was cognizant of the fact she had to have the projection of kind of a Margaret Thatcher appeal to her, strong on military matters and on national security. She had to pass that threshold test.
MADDOW: Strong should also look smart. I think that‘s one of the things that Obama has been good at, defining his idea about foreign policy as the stronger because it is more likely to be effective. On the over confidence thing, I think one manifestation of the over confidence problem is how the Clinton campaign was always telling tales about each other. All these leaks, nasty stories about each other, ending up in the papers. Different advisers telling nasty tails about each other. It seems like they have an internal blame game going on as soon as things didn‘t go the way they expected, because they didn‘t have a plan B. They resorted to panic. We saw it unfold and all of the ugly stuff about the internals of the campaign that came out.
GREGORY: Number five here—
BUCHANAN: Next to run is Scoop Jackson.
GREGORY: Right, the hawkish Democrat. That was the problem. Although, it‘s a question we talked about last, whether Barack Obama will feel some need to inch back towards that way, be more hawkish. He gave a pretty hawkish at AIPAC. Number five, everybody, in a word, Bill. Gene.
ROBINSON: In a word, problematic, a mixed bag. I do believe he got her some votes. I think he lost her probably as many votes. He was a constant distraction. There were moments when it was probably good that he was able to take the heat and she didn‘t have to take it. There was one moment from the campaign that I remember, when they were in Iowa; she was at the super market. She lost sight of Bill for a second. There was such a moment of panic in her eyes as he wondered off to give an impromptu interview to HBO or something like that. You could tell that—what is he doing now? What is saying now?
BUCHANAN: David, that is a dog that will not stay on the porch. We should have known that before this whole thing started.
GREGORY: Yet, Susan, we cannot deny the fact that without her husband and the organization that he brought together, the establishment support, the Clinton brand, she would not have been in a position to mount the campaign and to have been as successful as she was.
MOLINARI: Absolutely, no doubt. There‘s got to be a time when you know to put a leash on the dog on the front porch. I think, the issue—towards the end of this campaign, she was a great candidate. She did not need Bill Clinton. She went out there. She established herself and became the woman‘s candidate. She became the lunch-bucket candidate. She pulled off a bunch of coalitions that‘s very difficult for anybody to do. Nevertheless, the first real serious female candidate. She didn‘t need Bill after awhile.
GREGORY: All right. We‘re going to take a break here. We‘re going to come back, talk about Obama‘s to-do list now in three questions. He told a supporter, enjoy the night the other night when he clinched, but tomorrow, it‘s back to work. What‘s on his worry list. What does he have to work on now?
By the way, an Obama VP stakes update; John Edwards said today he‘s not interested, quote, I had the privilege of doing that in 2004 and it‘s not anything I‘m interested in in 2008, being on the ticket. RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE comes right back.
GREGORY: We are back. So, Obama has work to do. He‘s now getting started on the general election. As I said, he told his supporter the other night, back to work. What‘s on his worry list? That‘s the theme tonight as he takes a little time off this weekend. He‘s going to have a date with his wife, a bike ride with his kids, but he‘s thinking about where he goes from here.
Question number one tonight, how does Obama expand the general election map? For the panel to pour over tonight; Monday, he‘s going to go to North Carolina. He kicks off an economy tour. He has to find his voice on the economy, Rachel. How does he expand the general election map?
MADDOW: On the economy issue, which I think is key to him expanding the electoral map, I think we look back to that amazing speech he gave—I thought was an amazing speech he gave at the Corn Palace this past weekend. With the focus on the Puerto Rico primary and the rules and bylaws committee meeting, Barack Obama quietly gave a kind of bang up economic populist speech. It was very likable. It was very down to Earth. It was really talking about all those bread and butter issues.
I think we‘ve heard the beginnings on the new Barack Obama stump speech on the economy. I thought it was a pretty good speech. I think the key is that he needs to get out there and have as many people hear him as possible. I think he needs to start spending a lot of money pretty quickly to not only move him around the country to meet people in person, but also to get some ads up on the air.
GREGORY: Yes, Pat, talk about—again, we talked about the importance of the map, the coalition he‘s trying to build. How does he expand it now? We‘ve seen him put a premium—he was in Virginia yesterday. He‘s going to these state early, trying to target smaller groups of voters, trying to really build these organizations up.
BUCHANAN: He‘s trying to expand the map to give him a number of options to win. Gene and I were talking off camera her during the break and the word that came through what Gene said was reassure. Barack Obama has to reassure middle America he is not some radical out of this crazy radical church. And then I agree with the previous comment. He‘s got to come off as something of a populist conservative, deeply concerned about middle America, the arrested incomes there, the loss of jobs.
If he can do those things, present himself as a man of the middle, who is fighting for work in America, that‘s his best shot of raising his general level nationally, to where many of these states like North Carolina and Virginia can really become competitive for Barack Obama.
GREGORY: It‘s interesting, Susan, we‘ll talk about groups like women here in the next question or Latino voters, but the shear ability organizationally for him to create new Democratic voters, African-Americans, young people to really turn out. Don‘t forget that‘s what was so successful about what Karl Rove did with President Bush in 2004. It was just create new Bush voters.
MOLINARI: That‘s right. The genius of what Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman did back in those days too was the micro targeting. They really went into every neighborhood and knew the demographic. You had to pull them out. Barack Obama‘s big challenge is going to be just what everybody else has said here. It‘s how to deal, through the his populist message, to reassure people that while they are bitter, he‘s going to help them get their jobs back. That elitism tinge really has to be taken off. And he‘s got to start to really talk to the people that were supporting Senator Clinton in the Democratic primary, because they thought she felt their pain.
GREGORY: Now, you get to the number two question here, which is a question of Clinton‘s base, her base of supporters. Question number two, how does Obama reach her base? We‘re talking about women. We‘re talking about white working class voters in Appalachia and beyond. We‘re talking about Latinos, particularly in the Southwest. Rachel, she is an important piece of this, but he has to do his own work. I think you pointed out last night, he wants to test a little bit to see what he can do on his own and gauge how much of her he needs.
MADDOW: I think that‘s right. All we know is how he performs against her when you‘re talking about the universe of Democratic primary voters. That‘s where we have come up with this idea that he‘s weak among working class white voters, that he‘s weak among Latinos, that he‘s potentially weak among women. That‘s when he‘s running against Senator Clinton.
So, when he‘s no longer running against Clinton, running against John McCain, there‘s two things that work. One, can he make the voters realize that John McCain is not their friend? Can he create that impression? Two, can he reach them without Clinton competing for their affections? He‘s really been testing that right away this week. Going to Appalachia I think was a bold move, not only to sort of tamp down Clinton VP discussion, but also to say, I‘m going to go for these voters on my own terms.
GREGORY: Susan, what about working class white woman? I know that in the McCain camp, they think it‘s a key demographic group for them, and that he can really reach them. How?
MOLINARI: Well, first of all, women are going to be 56 to 57 percent of the vote. Senator Clinton doesn‘t marginalize herself by trying to help Barack Obama gain that key demographic. What the Republicans are going to try to do through Senator McCain is show that he is the maverick, the independent, the guy that deal with small business, that understands the impact of increasing taxes on families, understands their concerns. He‘s been there trying to make a difference in a bipartisan conversation to try and make government more be responsive to people. He‘s got the record to show that.
GREGORY: Gene, I think there‘s something else. Remember way back when, Dick Cheney did a lot of good for George Bush in 2000, but notably in 2004, in reassuring a lot of women, closing that gender gap a little bit, because people thought OK, there is some reassurance that came with him. I think that probably went away as time went on. Does McCain make that argument as well?
ROBINSON: McCain doesn‘t start with the advantages with these voters
that Hillary Clinton had, vis a vis Barack Obama. So, he doesn‘t start
with any sort of organic connection there. I think Obama has to emphasize
number one, he has to spend time wooing working class women and working class voters in general. But number two, he has to emphasize the fact that he‘s a lot closer on real bedrock issues for these voters, a closer to their position than John McCain is, in terms of what do you about health insurance. What do you do about the forces of globalization, how they have affected these communities and how to bring back jobs and revitalize these kinds of communities.
I think he has a story to tell on these issues that‘s better than the story John McCain has to tell or perhaps potentially more resonant. He has to go out and tell it.
GREGORY: Let me get to the third question, how does Obama define himself before McCain defines him? Rachel, one of the issues that he faces is if there‘s a question mark over his head, he has to be the one to take it down, and not let John McCain keep hammering at it. That‘s what he will do to try to solidify this image in people‘s minds that yes, attractive guy, attractive candidate, but can we really trust him on the issues or trust that we know who the guy is?
MADDOW: I think that I‘m going to be a little contrary to the common wisdom. But I think that Obama‘s best strategy here is to try to keep McCain on the defensive, so he doesn‘t have to worry about McCain‘s offense. Think about the difference in resources and money that these two campaigns have. Obama really could go after McCain to such an extent that McCain would be constantly defending himself for awhile before the fund raising numbers caught up. I think that would not only keep Obama in the press, keep him better known among the American public, but it would also sort of insulate him a little bit for --
MOLINARI: That doesn‘t prepare for a wild card. When the world becomes a dangerous place again, as unfortunately it does from time to time, it reminds people that they want to go back to somebody whose judgment they trust. In the primary, it was --
ROBINSON: You can‘t control—you can‘t control for wild cards, but one thing Obama has done is go hard at McCain to meet his challenge on these national security issues, which I think is a smart tactic, not to back up on national security, but to say no, I have a philosophy that keeps us strong and safe.
GREGORY: I have to take a break. We‘ll come back with prediction.
Where is Hillary going to be a year from now, Bill Clinton too?
Predictions from the panel coming right up. Don‘t go away.
GREGORY: Remaining moments here and it‘s prediction times with our panel. A year ago, Hillary Clinton seemed like the inevitable Democratic nominee. We know what has happened and we know what did not happen. Just for fun, let‘s look in the crystal ball and make some predictions. The question to our panel, where will the Clinton‘s be a year from now?
Still with us, Gene, Susan, Pat, and Rachel. OK, Gene, start us off here, where are they?
ROBINSON: I see them toasting each other and plotting Chelsea‘s political future. Here‘s the way I see it; it‘s June 2009. It‘s been a tough year. They campaigned their hearts out for President Obama. Hillary has been busy, organizing her forces on health care. She‘s getting ready to help with that big push. Bill has been busy making back the money back they spent on the campaign. They are taking a well deserved vacation, maybe at Bob Johnson place in the Caribbean. He has an estate on an island down there. They are clinking glasses and looking at the map and saying, where would be a good place for Chelsea‘s first campaign?
GREGORY: OK, Hey, Pat, what do you see?
BUCHANAN: If Hillary is not in the corner of the White House, first occupied, incidentally, by the legendary Spiro Agnew, she will be on Capitol Hill in her office there. She will not take a cabinet seat because that gives up her role as leader of half the party and of a movement, and she would be an employee of Barack Obama‘s, who could be fired or ignored. She won‘t take that.
As for Bill, I‘m afraid he will have slipped the leash again.
GREGORY: Do you think if Obama is not elected, do you think she plots another run?
BUCHANAN: I think she will and I think she will go out and work for Barack Obama to get well with Barack‘s folks inside the party. She‘ll work as hard as she can. If Barack loses, she will be the leader of her half of the party and she will have inroads into the other half. She will go again, I would bet everything on it.
GREGORY: All right, Rachel, where do you see them a year from now?
MADDOW: I am the one who said Hillary would definitely take this thing to Denver. I‘m done making predictions about her for awhile. As for Bill, I wonder if this campaign has changed his feelings about that American rule that we have about ex-presidents staying out of party politics. I would not be surprised to see Bill try to break that taboo and try to get his hand back on the tiller of Democratic politics. I think he‘s getting back in the game.
GREGORY: Interesting. What would be a likely starting point?
MADDOW: Who knows, maybe it‘s going to be campaign manager for Chelsea, as Gene put forward. Maybe it will be through the Democratic party proper. It may be that he‘s done being just a philanthropist, world traveler, business guy. I get the sense that he‘s found his own political voice and his own political frustrations in the last year and a half.
BUCHANAN: No, Rachel. He‘s had it. He is gone. I think it‘s his last campaign. It‘s been a very bad experience for him.
MADDOW: I don‘t know that he wants to end on a bad note though. I think he might want to try to get back some of his glory. Don‘t you?
BUCHANAN: How? Unless he‘s going to get back in her campaign four years from now, when the experience did not work out well. I don‘t think so. I think he‘s going to try to refurbish his image.
GREGORY: Susan, what do you see a year from now.
MOLINARI: For the record, I just want to say, I‘m all for political nepotism. I see—Maybe she would be looking at the governor‘s mansion in New York. Here‘s one to send shivers down Pat Buchanan‘s spine, maybe the US Supreme Court. Who knows?
BUCHANAN: No way.
MOLINARI: I knew that would get you.
GREGORY: My one remaining question; Pat, is she in a better position if she campaigns for him, but is not on the ticket, in terms of running politically down the road?
BUCHANAN: If she‘s not on the ticket, go all out for him, not only work for him, but be perceived as working for him. That‘s a way to get well with Barack‘s people, win or lose.
MADDOW: I think if she does run, you just play her Tuesday night speech as the opening salvo of the 2012 campaign.
GREGORY: All right, we‘re going to leave it there. Thanks to a great panel. I want today end on this note. I read something today about how important it is to live a life of gratitude. I think it‘s especially important to point out tonight how grateful I am and how grateful all Americans are for the men who fought and died and the men who fought and survived on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, 64 years ago today, fighting for our freedom. We are deeply grateful.
Have a great night, a great weekend and a peaceful weekend. I‘m David Gregory.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2008 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2008 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.