Guest: Harold Ford, Charlie Cook, Dee Dee Myers, Hillary Rosen, Bob Bennett, Ron Silver, Jon Fund, Ben Ginsberg
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I‘m sorry, Congressman, we have to break with you again. This news keeps coming in. Here it is, another one that could be decisive. Alaska, the projected winner in Alaska is President Bush. We were just hearing from Joe Scarborough about the significance.
Joe, you think that‘s enough now?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, host, “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”: It is enough. You‘re at 246 after Florida falls. You add 20 from Ohio. The three from Alaska, you‘re at 269. That means the tie goes to the president. And George Bush, if these projections are correct has just been reelected president of the United States.
Let‘s go back to congressman.
Congressman Ford, on a good night looking forward, the Democratic challenger could win Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa. And he could still lose this election. That‘s a tough night. Isn‘t it?
REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: If the numbers hold up as you say, Chris, it is a tough night and certainly presents a difficult mathematical equation for us. All of these numbers have come in since being on the air with you so I want to wait until we get back in the war room and are able to compute the numbers. But if what you‘re saying is true and the numbers, the way you all have projected, it‘s a tough time for us at this point.
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘re a great guy to come on. You‘re always welcome on this show. Congressman Ford, by the way, you are the youth of the future. And I keep wondering where was the youth tonight in this vote turnout? Anyway, we‘ll be right back with you later on tonight if you have more information. Thank you.
Joe, back to you. You‘ve sized it, you‘ve got math there to kill. What‘s left for the president to pick up? What‘s his most likely pick up now to take him over the top?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, Nevada, he‘s doing well. He‘s doing well in New Mexico. That‘s really all he needs.
MATTHEWS: Four votes, he needs one.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. I mean if he wins New Mexico or Nevada, he doesn‘t have to go to the House of Representatives. But regardless, if these numbers hold up again, just so our viewers know what we‘re talking about and we‘re not talking in shorthand. Two sixty-nine is, I mean, if John Kerry runs the board, he‘ll have 269. The vote would then go to the House of Representatives. George W. Bush would win that. But it‘s not going to happen. I mean Nevada or New Mexico, most likely going fall toward Bush‘s way.
MITCHELL: Let‘s just point out what happens. Because if it were it to go to the House of Representatives. Then in the House of Representatives, because it is a Republican dominated House, the president would have more votes.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now, we‘ve got a big news opportunity now. Norah O‘Donnell at the White House. Tell us what‘s happening?
NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, the vice president‘s motorcade has been assembled. He has left his residence at the Naval Observatory, presumably headed here or to the Reagan Building. The president‘s motorcade is also starting to assemble. The travel pool, meaning that the president could shortly be headed over to the Ronald Reagan Building, where it had been planned, there would be a celebration or a speech by the president, where he announced that he did not win and deliver his concession speech. So there are things that are starting to move. You know, just a little color about sort of what happens at a time like this.
Also, the White House has called up the photographers, the still photographers, for the “Time” magazines, the news weekly “Time” magazines. They have been summoned up at the residence. We don‘t know why yet. But obviously to take pictures of the president, perhaps making a phone call, perhaps with his family watching the returns. All of that starting to take place here at the White House. Some of the things that are moving around.
As you know, of course, all of these states—significant states called in the president‘s favor. It was several hours ago that I and are into the 41-president. Former President Bush, who clearly had had a pretty emotional day and said to me that “I‘m feeling good now.” They, of course, went through an emotional roller coaster hear at the White House. In part, because of those early exit poll numbers which suggested that Kerry was ahead.
Then some of the votes started toed rolling in, the actual votes and that‘s when we started hearing from campaign officials, from White House officials, that those exit polls didn‘t jive with the actual vote counts that they were seeing in counties in Florida and in Ohio, Chris.
So some things going on, starting to move here. And it looks like the president at this hour and shortly could be headed over to the Ronald Reagan Building to address thousands of supporters that are gathered there to hear him speak tonight—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Norah. Keep reporting back to us as the night goes on. This is getting very interesting now. Thank you, Norah O‘Donnell, at the White House with the presidential party.
The tradition in this country, and I think some traditions do hold, join me in this, Andrea, that the losing candidate if we have one in the next couple of hours, will give a concession speech. John Kerry has said before, that he will speak tonight. He will have to say something in the next couple of hours. I don‘t think the president of the United States will make a victory speech without having heard something, somewhat declarative from the other guy.
MITCHELL: It‘s hard to say. If the Kerry people, depending on what happens next, if the Kerry people were to decide that there are still people voting in Ohio, and they have got enough absentee ballots elsewhere, and provisional ballots. And if they believe they want to push this, they won‘t concede because of the lessons of Al Gore. and you might hear from the president of the United States. I think you might hear a pre-emptive...
MATTHEWS: Well, let‘s go right now and get reading on that from Carl who is at the Boston headquarters, the challenger.
What‘s happening, any word of a possible statement by the challenger?
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: There is no word yet, Chris, about when we might see Kerry. There was actually a pool reporter who was close to the house and filed a report a few minutes ago, saying he had been able to see Kerry through a window. Through a third floor window. He appeared to pick up some papers off the floor, but other than that there was no activity. And we have not been told at what point Kerry might leave his house, come to the Weston as he was expected to, to make any kind of concession speech.
All of this has happened remarkably quickly. Just as the rain has sort of settled over Copley Place here, it wasn‘t too long ago, Chris, that the crowd was saying—was chanting Boston wants a party. Boston wants a party. But once Florida fell, and once the campaign began pointing so strongly to Ohio, and then once Ohio fell, it does appear at least in the minds of many people here, that that party is not coming tonight—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Carl, we‘ll be back to you whenever we get word from you, you want us back. Because this is obviously getting close to an important knowledge for all of us as to who won this election.
Let‘s go right now to Charlie Cook, who is one of the world‘s great experts on American politics.
Charlie, give me a sense of how this thing is going right now? We just saw Ohio fall into the president‘s column. Is that decisive?
CHARLIE COOK, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well we‘re about one hair short of a trifecta for Republicans. They have held on to the House, they are right now, they have got 50 seats in the Senate locked down and there are five more to go. Three Democratic, two Republicans, so they are a hair short of nailing down the majority there.
And when you‘re at 269 with the states you‘ve got left, you know, it‘s hard to see how they will pick up something there. So we‘re not quite there yet. But it‘s, you know, we‘re within a hair of this thing—of Republicans hitting all three.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the next apple to fall from the tree, do you think, for the president?
COOK: Well, I personally think Nevada. But I haven‘t watched to see which one is likely to fall over first. But that‘s the one, you know, that looked probably the toughest for him. But you know, boy, it‘s a—what‘s the Winston Churchill? There is nothing more exhilarating than having been shot at and missed. And I think Republicans have to feel awfully exhilarated today.
MATTHEWS: You know, we‘re looking at the Nevada numbers. We just showed them; they‘re even according to the count so far.
You know, when you look at this race, it‘s kind of been a roller coaster ride for both candidates. The president had a bad couple of days. He‘s obviously looking very happy right now based upon the visual sighting we got of him, and also the numbers we‘re watching and he‘s watching as well.
What you do make of the Kerry campaign in the closing days? They seem to have found something in the explosives issue, the fact that explosives were allowed to be lost, basically, as our troops arrived in Iraq. And that was an issue pushed for a week, with the help, I must say, of “The New York Times,” it was pushed heavily.
Do you think there was any hope there for Kerry in the last couple of weeks, or he was just too far behind?
COOK: Well, I mean I think they closed well. But I think Democrats need—they are going to have to come to grips with the fact that they are not doing well with small town and rural voters.
And it‘s not just in the south. The border south. But you look at Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Those three states went for every Democrat in 1988, in 1992, 1996, 2000. And Kerry has had to fight like hell for these states. And there‘s—you know, you would think that a Democrat would be doing better in those states. And Al Gore had to fight for them and Kerry has had an even tougher time.
I think there is just a social/cultural disconnect the Democrats have, that they are seeing the sort of too secular a party for these small town rural voters. And I think that‘s a problem.
I think the other thing is that Kerry didn‘t connect. I mean if you think about when challengers have successfully beat incumbent presidents in the last 30 years, they have been a very interesting people, interesting or compelling people with perfect messages for the year. Jimmy Carter was a fascinating person, whether you liked him or not. Ronald Reagan was a fascinating person. Bill Clinton was a fascinating person. Each one of them had a perfect message for the year.
And it‘s kind of hard to see, you know, John Kerry fit hand in glove the way those other three guys did when they knocked off their incumbent. So I think there were a lot of things. There are a lot of moving parts to this election.
MATTHEWS: The Republicans were very good at playing on what might have been Kerry‘s problems to begin with. The fact that he was too Eastern too elite, too French, too European educated. And maybe they had an easy target. Do you think that maybe, he seems like the kind of guy you wouldn‘t bump into in a diner somewhere in Sioux City? He just seems different, looks different, behaviors differently than loot of ‘em people in the middle of the country. Do you think that‘s it? Or do you think he just didn‘t campaign well enough?
COOK: Well, no. I think you‘re onto something there. And you know, I don‘t want to pile on the guy right now. But you know...
MATTHEWS: No. I‘m trying to give him a break and say he did a good campaign based on what he started with.
COOK: Well, no. No. Don‘t worry, Chris. I‘m not going to stick the knife in. The question is, did the guy add any value to the ticket? In other words, would any other Joe or Jane Generic Democrat be getting any fewer votes than Kerry got tonight? And I‘m not sure about that.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s the question that has pervaded the campaign. The president could never really seem to break 50. The Democratic candidate, John Kerry, could never seem to get much above 45. And do you think that may be the reality we end with?
COOK: I think so. An also, you have to hand it to the Bush folks. They ran a fabulous campaign. This was the best-run campaign—presidential campaign I‘ve ever seen with the Bush guys. The Kerry campaign had a competent campaign. But boy, these Bush guys; they just didn‘t miss a trick anywhere.
MATTHEWS: With that said, why did the polls show people all thinking, even the ones when the pundits, me included, didn‘t think the same thing happened. They kept saying Kerry won the debates. All three times. How do you figure, they all thought he won, the people thought he won. but they didn‘t vote for him, at least not in enough numbers to win?
COOK: Well, the third debate—I mean the third debate, I think people, you know, responded. I mean clearly people think that, you know, I mean President Bush would jumped up in the polls after the third debate. Now, you know, I mean whether he won or not, I mean he went up. So you know, I‘ll give to it him for that.
But you know, I don‘t think people scoring it on debate points. I don‘t think that‘s what these debates are all about. But it‘s—you know, I think Kerry was a good candidate but not a great candidate. I think his campaign was good but not great. You know, I think the president had huge liabilities. I think another Democrat might have been able to take him tonight. But I think they ran a great campaign. And you know, it‘s what team do you have on the field and how do you play that day? And you know, the Bush folks did very, very well.
MITCHELL: You know, I think, Charlie, is really on to something, especially when you talk about the cultural issues. And the bottom line is that, at least, if you believe the exit polling. Moral values as defined by the Republican campaign, is the equivalent of economic issues in terms of what people cared about. Any time you have got a campaign where people care as much about moral values than about the economy, especially at a time when, you know, the economy has not been perceived by many people as doing that well, this is pretty extraordinary.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s one of the most remarkable numbers at 21 percent in the exit polling of NBC, select moral values as the No. 1 issue...
MITCHELL: And let me just complete the thought, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and economics, 20 percent; and terrorism, below that.
MITCHELL: And let me just complete the thought because the way the swift boat veterans and the other groups define John Kerry early in the campaign, is to make him seem as though he were as not in sync with moral values, because he was, you know, a flip-flopper or whatever. By having defined him that way they really put him in a box. And it was very hard for him to get out of that box.
DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Right. And it‘s a very interesting moment in our politics. Because for, you know, most of the last 100 years, politics has been defined by economic interests. And you could tell, you know, what people‘s economic interests were by how they vote. That‘s no longer true.
The 20 percent of the people who said the economy was the most important issue probably voted, you know, substantially for Kerry. But nowhere near the numbers of people who said that moral values, moral issues were more important, voted overwhelmingly for President Bush. That‘s the most defining basket of issues.
MITCHELL: To fire an incumbent president.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘ve been saying for some time, I still believe it; I think tonight bears it out. You bring up the swift vets. It‘s not about what John Kerry did when he was over there. It‘s about what he did when he came home. I still believe Vietnam defines the electorate in so many ways. The 1960s defines the electorate in so many ways. The Democratic Party was not able to get around that, because they had a candidate that testified in a way that deeply offended many people there.
MYERS: But you know, there is something—I mean I think that‘s largely true. But still, if you go back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, economic issues were still better determinants of how people voted. Here we are in 2004, economic issue is no longer. Can‘t look at them and say that‘s going to determine how people vote. There‘s some other big sea change that we‘re in the midst of.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, the economy, though—and listen. The economy in 2004 was not that different from the economy in 1996. This George W. Bush economy is much better than the Bush economy in 1992 that Bill Clinton got elected by. That‘s one of the reasons why the economics, in the end, didn‘t make a big difference.
Listen, I mean the unemployment rate, we can argue about how much somebody is getting paid per hour. But with the unemployment rate at about 5.4 percent, with economic growth around 4 percent this quarter. Listen, that‘s not the roaring ‘90s but that isn‘t 1992.
MYERS: If you take a state like Ohio, we have had a loss of 250,000-plus manufacturing jobs, the wrong track numbers are high, the sense of anxiety is very high. People do not feel good in Ohio. And yet, George Bush has won that state.
RON REAGAN, JR. MSNBC HOST: See that‘s this moral value question induces people to, in many cases like in Ohio, vote against their economic interests.
MYERS: Exactly. Precisely.
SCARBOROUGH: I was actually talking to Phil Griffith this morning. We were talking about...
MATTHEWS: Who is Phil Griffith?
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m sorry, vice president of MSNBC. And we were talking about these states. And I said, you know, Phil, it really is a blue/red state. And I was saying why I thought Ohio was going to fall for George W. Bush. I said Pennsylvania, as I said to you earlier, is really a red state, if you take out Philadelphia.
And as you keep moving to the middle America, you get to Ohio, that‘s where they test market so many products. It is the heartland of America. George W. Bush, it drives people crazy on both coasts, but George Bush plays to the heartland of America. And it‘s those values that got him elected.
MATTHEWS: Well, something may have done it again because we‘re looking right now—let‘s take look light now at the vice president‘s motorcade heading to the vice president‘s house, toward the White House. Which is a sign that they are about to group for a final photo op for the night. Otherwise, known as a victory speech coming fairly soon now. It looks like they are getting together. And they‘re probably going to have a victory portrait of both families now. I drive by there all the time; it‘s on Massachusetts Avenue.
MITCHELL: It‘s about five minutes from the White House?
MATTHEWS: Right. They are heading down to Rock Creek Parkway where they‘re going to ride all the way to the White House. It‘s a very familiar route for me. The vice president is clearly going to be part of this victory. The victory does seem imminent right now.
Let me go to some other people. As Ron Silver and Hillary. Hillary Rosen we haven‘t talked to for a while. Right, we haven‘t talked to her tonight.
Hillary, are you despondent over the fact that apparently, the Republican Party has to some extent won this campaign on values?
HILLARY ROSEN: Well, you know, I might be the skunk at the party here, folks. But I just don‘t see that Ohio is so clearly in the president‘s camp. I mean with all due respect to our talented team behind the scenes at NBC news, you know, just as recently as 20 or 25 minutes ago there were still thousands of people standing in line handed out—and they were handed out paper ballots. So I will be surprised if the Kerry campaign comes out and concedes Ohio.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they shouldn‘t?
ROSEN: Well, I think that there is going to be a lot of pressure from Democrats around the country for him not to. Because I think we have seen in the past what‘s happened when we prematurely hand them the platform to say that they‘ve won. That gives you a huge psychological advantage that I don‘t think John Kerry should hand over right now.
MATTHEWS: But unlike four years ago, John Kerry unlike Al Gore is not approaching 270 electoral votes at this point and the president is. Isn‘t that a difference?
ROSEN: Well, I don‘t think that it‘s a difference when you think that, you know, we‘re likely to see Michigan and Minnesota and Wisconsin. and even Iowa fall for Kerry. And so I think those numbers are still there.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go to Brian Williams now to go through what may have happened to explain this decision by NBC actually and perhaps the reality as well, to give the president the state of Ohio—Brian.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MNSBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, all of this is, of course, Chris, predicated on the fact that it is a call at this hour. But we like to use these exit polls to go back in and deconstruct what happened there. Again, if this is an apparent big win by the president in Ohio, a state that, by the way, has struggled economically during the Bush years. Sixteen percent of its manufacturing jobs lost since March 2001. Our NBC News exit poll in Ohio finds among the voters a high level of unhappiness with the state‘s economy.
When asked to rate economic conditions in their state, six in 10 people said not good. While less than four in 10 take a positive view. Nonetheless, and this will be talked about and debated if it becomes the fact, John Kerry couldn‘t capitalize on that and close the deal. When Ohio voters were asked if they trusted the presidential candidates to deal with the economy, equal numbers said they trust each presidential candidate to handle that area. Even though incumbents usually get much more of the blame for economic problems and sometimes get hammered.
As for who voted, white evangelicals, 25 percent of the voters in Ohio, President Bush took three-quarters of that group. Chris, these numbers are fascinating when you look at the internals, how people voted, why they voted is, which numbers coming out.
Back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Brian Williams.
Just to show there, the power of the fact that much of Ohio is very much part of the Bible Belt. A very Baptist area, very culturally conservative area. It‘s not all the ethnic people up around the Great Lakes.
Anyway, we‘ll be right back with more analysis and hopefully better understanding of this race. But also, a lot more numbers. A lot more state information about Senate races, more results to give you from MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s get some more late night information on Ohio with Chris Jansing who is in Cleveland—Chris.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) Bob Bennett, thanks very much for joining us.
BOB BENNETT: Thanks, Chris.
JANSING: You‘re pretty confident right now?
BENNETT: Well, I think it‘s a tremendous victory in Ohio for President Bush.
JANSING: What was the difference?
BENNETT: It looks like it‘s going to be between 100 and 150,000 plus votes, even with the loss in Cuyahoga County that‘s still a tremendous victory for the looser.
JANSING: Now, in your statement you praised the other side. They had a tremendous ground game. They got out supporters in ways that they never done before. Why do you think the president still came out ahead?
BENNETT: Well, as I think that this was an election where I think you‘re going to see that it was the largest turnout in Ohio‘s history. And I think everybody‘s ground game contributed to votes for their candidate. And I wanted to give credit where credit was due. Because in the urban counties, particularly, Democrats did very well in getting the vote out, and in the rural and smaller counties is where we won it in Ohio in our green counties.
JANSING: Do you have the final numbers yet or are you still waiting for the percentages?
BENNETT: We‘re still waiting on them, because the counties that are out are still appear to be the Republican counties that haven‘t reported to Columbus yet. The major urban counties, all their votes are in, so.
JANSING: This is still a pretty divided state. A very divided nation. You and I were talking about this earlier. How does President Bush, if indeed he wins this election, how does he bring the country back together?
BENNETT: Well, I think that President Bush will tell you, I think compassionate conservatism, again, will rule. But I think any president in a second term, will act differently. And I think that you‘re going to find that the president is going to address the issues that are important to the country and that have been discussed in this campaign.
And I think that you‘ll find a Congress will be willing to work with him. It‘s going to make a big difference, and I look for good things to happen for the next four years.
JANSING: Bob Bennett, Ohio Republican chairman. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
We‘ve been saying this all along. Both sides had Ohio at the top of their must win list. Ground zero for this election and now called for George W. Bush—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Chris Jansing. Let‘s go right now to Keith Olbermann for so more information and results—Keith.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST, “COUNTDOWN”: Let‘s go through the House of Representatives, obviously a Republican stronghold these last two years. And we‘ll give you all 435 results, not individually, just as a projection.
The night began with the Republicans ahead, 227 to 205 with one Independent. Our NBC News projection is that they will add eight seats plus or minus four seats. That‘s a projection indeed, 232-202 approximately, the expected new House. Four redistricted Democrats already off the board in Texas, as an example supporting that evidence. So, minor gains for the Republicans respected in the House of Representatives.
We‘ve been talking all night about the ballot props around the nation. Eleven separate ones defining marriage as being between a man and woman. Variously reported as amendments—constitutional amendment. Amendment 2 in Michigan, NBC news projecting it will pass there by, obviously you see, by a half a million votes.
In Montana, it‘s C-96, requires a state constitution to define marriage between a man and woman. It‘s going to pass by about two to one there. And in Utah, it is Amendment 3, defining marriage simply as a union between a man and woman. And that is projected as coming out in favor of that, in fact, definition therein.
There is one other I wanted to report to you, Chris. South Carolina, the amendment has passed. And liquor can now be sold in forms other than two ounce bottles, which sounds like a good idea for all of us on the panel.
Back to you.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Keith. That was an interesting one.
You know, it‘s impossible to look at this—I‘m looking right at you, Ron.
MATTHEWS: I‘m looking right at you. These culture issues, stem cell was not a voting issue and that‘s your issue. But this other culture issue of gay major, it seems like every time people get in that voting booth, no matter what is said about the polling even we showed tonight. We showed more than a third of the country open to the idea of gay partnership recognition.
MATTHEWS: Some kind of legal recognition that doesn‘t quite meet the definition of marriage. They‘re go very right wing inside that booth.
REAGAN: Yes, they do. They do. Now, people get very upset when you use the word “homophobia” but there is a latent homophobia in this country. You know, I‘ve heard...
MATTHEWS: But in the secrecy of that booth, it‘s not like any gay couple living next door to you. It‘s not like gay teachers issues. It‘s just in that booth they vote against gays getting married.
REAGAN: That‘s true.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think that is?
REAGAN: Well, I‘ve heard religious reasons for that.
REAGAN: I‘ve heard political reasons for supporting these sorts of amendments. And I‘ve heard emotional reasons. I‘ve yet to hear a practical reason why gay marriage hurts anybody. Why does it matter to...
MATTHEWS: I think it‘s the word. Let me suggest, it‘s the word.
REAGAN: Yes, it is.
MATTHEWS: It is the word.
REAGAN: Yes. It‘s not a rational choice here. It‘s not somebody going in and saying well, there will be these consequences, actual, practical consequences, if Steve and Bill can marry. They‘re saying it just creeps me out and I don‘t want it, and I‘m going to vote against it.
MITCHELL: Of course, John Kerry is against this as well, even though it goes against a key constituency of the Democratic Party.
MATTHEWS: But nobody believed him.
MITCHELL: But nobody believed him.
MATTHEWS: I‘m glad you said it. Because I said that no one believes that John Kerry was against gay marriage.
SCARBOROUGH: The thing is though, John Kerry, again on so many issues tried to have it both ways on this. He talked about this amendment, which I opposed. This gay amendment that Bush really didn‘t support. But also, 1996 we had the Defense of Marriage Act, which would stop one state from forcing another state to recognize a gay marriage. John Kerry opposed that. Which was basically the same position that John Kerry...
MATTHEWS: Thanks for making our point.
SCARBOROUGH: ... this time. Well, yes. What I‘m saying is John Kerry—no. What I‘m saying though, is John Kerry was trying to have it both ways on this issue, like so many other issues. Because his position, which was let it be up to the individual states, is what he voted against and called homophobic 1996.
MATTHEWS: We‘ve got some big news. We‘re interested in following the ritual coming before us tonight. And it‘s taking place right now. Chris Heinz, who is of course, Teresa Heinz‘s son, is getting ready to—there he is, heading toward, he‘s getting—heading toward his father‘s house.
And then we‘re going to hear from Norah O‘Donnell right about what the trappings of victory will look like at the White House and in Washington—Norah.
O‘DONNELL: A couple of important points, Chris, some news to report. Mary Beth Cahill, who is the campaign manager for Senator John Kerry has just released a statement. And I will read it to you.
The statement says, “The vote count in Ohio has not been completed. There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio.” So clearly, Senator Kerry is not conceding the state of Ohio.
At this moment, we‘re in a wait and see pattern, if you will here at the White House. The president has summoned the news photographers up to his residence, presumably to take pictures of him at a historically, momentous occasion. Also, the president‘s senior staff, his top advisers, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Dan Bartlett chief of staff, all summoned to the president‘s remembers distance as well to be with him at this moment. Vice president Cheney, his motorcade, has left the vice presidential residence.
So there are a bunch of different things that are happening right now, presumably leading to some or the of culmination of this evening. But clearly, from the Kerry side, they are not conceding the state of Ohio and the president, of course, has not yet reached the magical number of 270.
This night was to end with the president going over to the Ronald Reagan Federal Building where there are thousands waiting to hear from the president, where he will make either an acceptance speech, or presumably a concession speech. They are waiting for him. It appears they certainly want to go over there. We know they have been itching to get of there.
I spoke moments ago with a very top official at the president‘s campaign headquarters. Very close with the president who said he is feeling ecstatic. They credit where they are at this race right now to a very disciplined candidate, very disciplined campaign.
And I think, Chris, when we are able to sort of look back and reflect on what has happened today and what the Bush-Cheney campaign has done, they‘ll will be a very interesting story. As you know, quite well, the Democrats have always beat the Republicans when it comes to turnout. Traditionally, they have always done better.
This year, and the past several years, the Republicans have been working to reverse that. And they had quite a ground war going on. And I think that‘s reflected, certainly, in some of the states and how they turned out tonight—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Norah O‘Donnell at the White House, with the plans down there, and the trappings, perhaps a victory.
Let‘s go to Carl Quintanilla and see if it‘s reciprocated up there in Massachusetts. Carl, are we seeing defiance on the part of the Kerry team?
CARL QUINTANILLA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, just before that statement came out from Mary Beth Cahill, Chris, we had asked some of the top officials at the campaign, whether or not Ohio was finished and basically their response was we don‘t agree with your assessment of Ohio, meaning, ours here on this platform, NBC‘s, of course, some of the other networks have not called Ohio yet. They pointed that out.
So there is a sense that once that statement was made, it is formal. They believe that once these quarter of a million votes are counted, that John Kerry will win the state.
This is in keeping with what they had said previously, in general terms, and that was that John Kerry would be obviously more reticent to concede anything tonight if the race, in fact, turned out to be close. He did spend a number of his closing days in Ohio, Youngstown. The last two days, Cleveland and Toledo, it was a full boar effort to win over that state. And clearly, Chris, it‘s something they are not willing to let go of easily.
MATTHEWS: Who is advising Kerry with regard to this? Is he lawyered up? Is it people, like Shrum (ph), the real hard fighting ideologue of the campaign? Is it Mary Beth? Can you tell who is really saying don‘t quit?
QUINTANILLA: Well, that‘s unclear, Chris. He certainly has a number of people who were extremely skilled in the ground game. Michael Hooley (ph) of course, who was with the DNC, John Sasso (ph). Shrum (ph) is more of a strategist type.
Mary Beth Cahill, though, obviously steering this to some degree. One of the things about this campaign that really differentiated it from his campaign that was faltering back in Iowa, late last year, was the lack of any kind of strong ground game, a lack of any strong organizational strategy. That may be the strength now, they are definitely trying to leverage, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Carl, thank you very much. Let‘s us know if anything happens in term of a statement, because we did hear earlier, Carl, you told us, in fact, that‘s how we know that Kerry was planning to address the troops sometime tonight, or early tomorrow morning. In fact, it is already early tomorrow morning. Thank you very much, Carl Quintanilla—Andrea.
MITCHELL: Very united in not wanting to concede Ohio. They believe that there are enough votes out there that enough people are still in line, late in the game. And...
MATTHEWS: What about the deficit in Cuyahoga County?
MITCHELL: But if you consider counting provisional and absentee ballots, they think that they can make it up, or they are going to check—they are going to insist on a count. This is going to go on.
MATTHEWS: Where are the strong Democratic areas that might reach this goal of two out of every three voters going Democratic?
MITCHELL: It would have to be in Cleveland.
MATTHEWS: I thought they were already assured—they have already...
MITCHELL: But they haven‘t counted absentees.
SCARBOROUGH: They have already shut done the urban areas for the most part. I mean, it‘s the rural areas...
MITCHELL: That‘s according to the Republican chairman.
SCARBOROUGH: I mean, that‘s according to that report. But again, we also heard from Chris Jansing earlier this evening. We also heard, though, from Chris Jansing earlier this evening that Cleveland was under reporting. And Eddy‘s been on the phone all night. The numbers are not adding up.
Listen, I have got no problem with him holding on as long as they want to hold on. But let‘s not fool ourselves. This doesn‘t smell like 2000.
MATTHEWS: We‘re going to get right back, because there are a lot of other states in the Great Lakes states certainly Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, haven‘t been counted yet thoroughly enough for us to make a call. Any two of those states could bring the president beyond that 270 necessary to win the electoral college victory that he seeks right now tonight.
Let‘s come back with some more numbers to count. We‘ll be back with my colleague, Keith Olbermann, with more results, more calls, more information on how this country of ours is taking shape. Look at the green in the North, up there in the Northern Midwest and over in there in the Southwest. More states to count tonight when we come back.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s go right now to the statement made just recently a few moments ago by the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED GILLESPIE, CHAIRMAN RNC: One more update for you on the electoral college tally, with Alaska coming in, Senator John Kerry has 211 electoral college votes, President George W. Bush now has 269 electoral college votes.
GILLESPIE: And hopefully, hopefully, we‘ll have one more update and then another guest speaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Funny guy. That‘s Ed Gillespie, the Republican National Committee chairman. They are really pushing the number a little more than NBC‘s experts are pushing it in terms of the strength of the president‘s electorate position right now—Andrea.
MITCHELL: I just talked to a top official within the Kerry campaign who says that they belief that there are enough provisional ballots out there in Ohio that the actual final number in Ohio is narrow enough that they can make it up with the provisionals. And they are united in demanding and insisting that they will not concede Ohio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the meantime...
MATTHEWS: I just heard through the magic of my ear that there is a whole car load of lawyers heading from Logan Airport as we speak to Ohio to try to litigate this thing and save it for Kerry.
Let‘s go to Craig Crawford out there on the rink. Craig, we‘re looking at a dispute over how to read numbers that are already in. And that is the question as to whether Cuyahoga County, not having met the normal level of expected of it to win a statewide race and overcome the out of city vote, now we‘re getting arguments about whether the back-up ballots are going to be enough to overcome this.
What‘s your sense of the numbers situation right now in Ohio?
CRAWFORD: My sense is it will wind up close enough, Chris, that I believe the Kerry people, when they have just recently told me, they have no intention of conceding Ohio. As a matter of fact, as you said I just heard they have planes at Logan with lawyers ready to go to Ohio, it‘s going to be that tight, they believe. They think that vote in Cleveland that‘s still coming in is going to get it so tight that a contesting of the election in Ohio is going to make sense, it‘s going to be that close. Whether it‘s as close as 537 votes, we‘ll have to wait and see, but at least the way they are talking right now, unless somebody shuts them down, it sound to me like we‘ve got Ohio, would the Florida of 2004.
MATTHEWS: Why do we assume that the provision, the tally of provisional vote held by Democrats or that involve Democratic votes, is superior to the number held by Republicans?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think, you know, at this point, we‘re going on a lot of boasting from both sides. Both sides have been pretty much right. I‘ve been very impressed tonight Chris, at the GOP turnout machinery they told us they had. And I was skeptical, I‘ve got to admit, but they‘ve done it. So both sides are saying they‘ve got—they can duel to a draw on these provisional ballots. Nowadays I think I‘m going to believe the Republicans when they say that.
MATTHEWS: OK, stay right there, Craig.
Let‘s go to Chris Jansing who‘s in Cleveland. What‘s the reaction there, this claim by, a statement of fact by the manager of the, the campaign manager for John Kerry, that they‘re going to contest this vote in Ohio.
They don‘t think they‘ve lost?
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Just seconds ago I talked to Bob Bennett who is the GOP chairman here in Ohio and he said to me, Chris, “I‘m not going to comment on someone making ridiculous statements. She has to show us the numbers from the state board of elections. 218,000 votes is the difference here in Cleveland. We‘ve talked about the number tonight that the Democrats said if they could get 200,000 or better in a margin, they felt confident about winning Ohio. So I asked him, how do you make up 218,000 votes?
He said they had very clear goals set in rural counties, also in the collar counties of the urban areas. He said, in almost every case, they exceeded our expectations. I said, how confident are you that this result will hold, that you believe George Bush has won the 20 electoral votes in Ohio?
He said the numbers may change but the result will not change. I‘m confident of that—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. Chris Jansing, thanks for that report from Cleveland.
So we have a stand-off now tonight or this morning. It‘s almost 2:00 on the East coast and the question has to be, are we going to have the normal ceremony that accompanies an apparent victory for the presidency? You‘re laughing.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Yes. Never again. Never again.
MATTHEWS: No more gentlemanly conduct. No more he‘s handing over the sword.
SCARBOROUGH: Here‘s the thing though. I mean, I know a lot of Republicans out there are saying, why in the world wouldn‘t John Kerry, if it appears obvious, why wouldn‘t John Kerry be a gentlemen, because you used the word gentlemanly and concede this race if that, in fact, is what it looking like. And you know, the bottom line is, he‘s fought a tough campaign and a long campaign, and I tell you what.
He certainly owes it to all of his supporters to make sure that every single vote is counted. Now, of course, if the trends are breaking wildly against him, if what we hear is the truth about these rural counties and these provisional ballots, now at that point, it‘s time to give. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but you know what. I mean, again what time is it now? It‘s 15...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quarter to 2:00.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s quarter to 2:00. Big deal. You know what, this is a democracy.
MATTHEWS: By the way there‘s an alternative route. And alternative route that‘s clearly laid out for us for a resolution to this campaign...
MATTHEWS: ... and that is through the Great Lakes. There are other state out there that will be decisive here, because John Kerry is nowhere near 270.
MYERS: But George...
SCARBOROUGH: He‘ll win Michigan, though, will he not?
Will he not win Minnesota?
MATTHEWS: We don‘t know the middle part of the country.
MYERS: : George Bush will have to go over 290 before John Kerry concedes tonight. That is because 20 electoral votes represented by Ohio are not going to be counted by the Kerry campaign. So if George Bush adds it up by winning several other states which are going to have to be Wisconsin, Nevada, New Mexico maybe Iowa. Some combination that puts him over 20.
MATTHEWS: If he wins Wisconsin and Minnesota, that‘s 20.
MATTHEWS: If he throws in Iowa, that‘s 27.
MYERS: If he wins Wisconsin, then it‘s over. But the question, is will the president go out and declare a victory before Kerry is ready to concede?
Based on what happened in Florida four years ago, the Bush campaign is going to be pressuring him to do that. To go out and say, look, just declare victor. The countries been watching all night. They see that you‘re ahead in Ohio. They see that you‘ve got—they‘re going to wait for one more state to fall so that they are over 270. And then the pressure is going to be on for them to go out and declare victory.
MITCHELL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as we do that tactfully...
MATTHEWS: The question is, does the Republican Party have the room tomorrow night or do they have to have the party tonight?
The concession speech tonight?
MYERS: They want to do it tonight to lock it in. And we‘ve already seen as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the motorcade coming down out the naval observatory heading towards the White House. They‘re starting to ramp it up the ceremony.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go—let me go to Hilary Rosen. I think she‘s going to be fighting until the last dog dies.
Hilary Rosen, give us a sense, if you can, of how hard the Kerry folks are going to fight before they give up on this one?
HILARY ROSEN, CNBC ANALYST: Well, I think they will fight it and I think they should fight. I think there is no reason to assume that...
MATTHEWS: What would be an indication that they should throw the—turn over the sword, three more states, two more states?
ROSEN: What I hear from the Kerry campaign is that they think that they are running much stronger than Al Gore did in the Cleveland suburbs, and they have every reason to believe that those other ballots are going to come through putting them ahead. And I think if you see Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, fall to the Kerry camp, it‘s going to be—it would be crazy for them to concede.
I agree with something Dee Dee said before, which is George Bush going out there and declaring victory, while John Kerry and his people believe that they have not lost Ohio yet, would be a terrible thing for president to do. It would incite a lot of anger, a lot of division. If he was going to be winning another term this would be the worst way for him to start it off. I think that the Bush campaign ought to be really careful right now.
MATTHEWS: So do you believe, Hilary, that there is the number of votes in Cuyahoga County, Democratic votes, sufficient to win this election?
ROSEN: I, you know, talked earlier to the folks from Act of America Coming Together where they had the most unprecedented registration and turnout operation they have ever seen. Democratic registration, new registrants were two to one over Republicans. There is every reason to believe those votes are there.
MATTHEW: Do they have 150,000 plurality coming out of the county—Hilary.
ROSEN: Well, I don‘t know. But I think that the folks who have spent the most time on the ground feeling confident gives me a reason to think that they ought to stick it out.
MATTHEWS: OK, Hillary.
Let‘s go to Ron Silver. Your thoughts about this race as it gets to the short end here?
RON SILVER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Well, this is the second election, now, we may have all of this litigation and last all this amount of time. And it remind me of a comment that Pauline Kael made years ago, when Nixon won the election. She says I don‘t know how he won. I don‘t know a single person who voted for him. There is a group of people in this country that are so divorced from the heartland, they say something must be wrong. This can‘t possibly be—we don‘t know anybody who voted for the guy. Let it go. Let it go.
MATTHEWS: I remember Abrel Harmon (ph) once saying, I don‘t know, Jimmy Carter. No, no no, none of my friends do either. How could he possibly be the Democratic nominee. Let me go right to John Fund.
You‘re more—perhaps more used to these kinds of nights than some of the others here on the table. What do you think? I mean, is this going to be a question of waiting out for the Cuyahoga County to get clear or wait for the Great Lakes states to give it to the president. And if they don‘t we‘re here all night.
JOHN FUND, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: We‘re going to wait for the lawyers, Chris. John Kerry is not going to concede. I predicted...
MATTHEWS: Do we need lawyers if he loses Michigan or Wisconsin and Minnesota, then it‘s over anyway, right?
FUND: I think Kerry will carry Michigan. I think Kerry will carry Minnesota. I think John Kerry is going to set the doomsday machine of litigators loose and here‘s the problem. Provisional ballots are counted after all the other ballots are counted. Both sides will know how many votes they need to win. Provisional ballots are each investigated individually. It can take over an hour per ballot, Chris. In Colorado, which is the only recent case we‘ve had where provisional ballots decided an election, it took dozens of new temporary workers, hired specially for the occasion, using three different standards, can you spell equal protection lawsuit, using three different standards, it took them 35 days to count only 2,700 provisional ballots.
Now, Bush‘s margin looks pretty good and I‘d have to say I disagree with Hilary. I don‘t think right now, if this margin holds up there are enough provisional votes to affect the difference. But if it narrows, John Kerry‘s going to litigate each and every one of those provisional ballots.
And notice how the 35 days in Colorado almost equals the 36 days we spent in Florida recounting?
MATTHEWS: I know. But more spatisized (ph). We‘ve got all of these other states with same problem. We‘re going to come back after this with some real live lawyers to talk about—an election lawyers, the best we could find. They‘ve been working for us tonight to try to litigate this ourselves and see whether—it‘s not just a question of how many votes to count, it‘s a question of how do you count those votes. We‘ll be right back with that question answered for you.
MATTHEWS: We‘re talking about the role that Ohio is playing now and how similar it may turn out to be to that of Florida four years ago, because the president may have well close to the 270 he needs to win in the electoral college. Right now he‘s up to 269, based to a large extent now on the call by NBC. We‘ve called it at our network that the president has won Ohio.
Let‘s go to Dan Abrams. Could this network be wrong or is there something we‘re missing?
DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I‘m not going to tell—I‘m not going to tell you the network could be wrong. But I can tell you what would happen if there were legal fights in Ohio. Look, the issues would first and foremost be these provisional ballots. Remember, a federal court of appeal has already ruled that you have to have voted in the right precinct in order for your vote to count. Now, certainly they could try and continue to litigate that particular issue but so far, that issue appears to be been resolved.
And that means that many of those provisional ballots would likely be disqualified. Then there‘s the possibility of a recount. Can you imagine another recount? In Ohio, you get an automatic recount if it‘s within a quarter of 1 percent, that doesn‘t appear to be the case here. But then, either the losing person can still ask for a recount anyway, and again, there is a standard in Ohio get this, or hanging chads.
Can you imagine if we had to litigate hanging chads all over again?
But in Ohio, unlike in Florida, they have a standard for what counts. Remember, 70 percent of the people voting in Ohio were voting with these old punch card systems. And so the issue of hanging chads, they say, that if a chad is attached by three or four corners a vote shall not be counted for that particular candidate. Meaning, they have actually set out a standard across the state for what counts for hanging chads and what doesn‘t to avoid the Bush v. Gore problem. But it‘s hard to imagine that this would actually happen again.
MATTHEWS: OK. Lets go right—thank you, Dan Abrams.
Let‘s go to Chris Jansing who is in Cleveland right there where actions—the action is occurring. Chris, is there any way to do the math on this right now, I know it‘s getting late, but we‘re hearing that there are 24,000 provisional—from you probably, 24,000 provisional ballots that have been taken by people and filled in and therefore, they should be counted, if this is a close race.
Can we look at the math and decide whether the provisional ballots can turn the results?
JANSING: Well, if my math is right, and again, I don‘t know that you can extrapolate Cuyahoga County to the rest of the state, but the number right here in Cuyahoga County, is 24,660 provisional ballots that have not yet been counted. As you know, there are 10 days that they have to look at those to see if they are legitimate, decide whether they are to be counted. Twelve percent of registered voters are here in Cuyahoga County. So if you take that number and the 24,660, you‘re coming up with about 210,000 provisional ballots. Now, again, I want to make it clear, that‘s a guesstimate based on Cuyahoga County. But if what Bob Bennett is telling me is so, that he thinks they‘ll win the state by 100,000 votes, maybe a little more than that. And we‘re look at potentially 200,000 provisional ballots, you decide, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Whether it‘s reasonable to assume there are that many Democratic votes net come out of those provisional ballots to overturn the apparent margin of victory as we talk.
JANSING: And there are plenty of lawyers to go at it again. They‘re going to look at these. The whole idea for people who don‘t know, you‘ve probably gone over it a million times about provisional ballots, if you go and there is a question about your eligibility to vote, one of the things they wanted to change from 2000 is that people would not be denied that right. So they get this provisional ballot so that they can see if, indeed, that vote should be counted. Apparently that happened an awful lot in Cuyahoga County. In fact, 24,660 times. We will see what happens in the rest of the state. We‘ll be looking for those numbers for you.
MATTHEWS: So—so just to finish up on the mathematics, those watching now trying to figure out if John Kerry can still win in Ohio, the question is, can you assume that the 24,660 provisional ballots that were filled in, in Cuyahoga County, can be extrapolated to eight times or eight times that number to 210,000 statewide, which would give you enough provisional ballots out there that could be certified and perhaps cast effectively in this race to offset the 100 and some thousand vote plurality the Republicans are now claiming?
JANSING: That‘s right. Now, we don‘t have the final numbers and this is just their projections. There are, because of these long lines, some of the counties that are coming in slowly and we‘ll have to see what those exact numbers are. But the Democrats will tell you that they thought all along, that if there were a high number of provisional ballots, it would favor them. That the people who would be questioned would often be student voters who are voting for John Kerry, in pretty overwhelming numbers and minority voters, who are also voting for John Kerry in overwhelming numbers. They feel confident if these provisional ballots are counted, they will go very strongly for the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: OK, Thank you, Chris Jansing. Well, we‘ve got a lot of questions out there now. I have a sense that we may find it easier to get results in those easier to count, maybe cleaner states like Wisconsin and Minnesota and Iowa, than trying to get a straight vote out of a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania. I‘m sorry, grew up in those kind of states. It‘s very tricky to get a clean vote. And the tricky question is, of course, what do we waiting for all night.
Let‘s go to Ben Ginsberg now and be optimistic about getting a count out of Cuyahoga and the rest of that state. You heard that argument we just got. We put it together basically, Chris Jansing and I, trying to understand the Kerry position, which is, if you assume a projection of the number of provisional ballots out there it‘s reasonable for the Kerry people to ask for a full count before conceding this election for the presidency after all of these years of trying to win it.
BEN GINSBERG, NBC ANALYST: Well.
MATTHEWS: Your thoughts?
GINSBERG: First of all, a full count is still a little bit premature. I think taking 24,000 provisional ballots in Cuyahoga and extrapolating that to the whole state is probably not accurate. And it‘s be higher in Cuyahoga than it will in the rest of the state.
Ken Blackwell, the secretary of state, has estimated about 140,000. And noted that there was also a very heavy church registration program. So I think the assumption that they are all Kerry votes somehow is probably fallacious but borne of the very difficult situation the Kerry campaign‘s in. I mean, goodness knows, they fought a hard campaign, they thought they were going to win. It is the most difficult position for a campaign to be in. You‘re instincts right now are to fight, even if the facts don‘t warrant it. And I think that‘s where the Kerry campaign is, with the number of provisionals and the setting in Ohio right now.
MATTHEWS: OK. And thank you. I‘m trying to do the algebra but I think the odd are even at the simple level that most of us can do algebra suggest to try to win 100 and plus net votes out of 200 votes is very tricky. Given the assumption that there is any kind of vote for the Republican, the math doesn‘t work.
GINSBERG: Yes. And you also have to remember, Chris, that someone who comes into a polling place and given a provisional ballot doesn‘t appear on the voter registration rolls. In other words, there is already a problem that was discovered that day. And so I think the experience of Ohio and other cities or other states, with provisional ballots is that not the all of those ballots, by any stretch of the imagination, come in, especially because it‘s a precinct in Ohio.
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