Guest: Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, Alan Simpson
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let’s go to Carl Quintanilla, who is with the Kerry campaign. And he’ll tell us how tough they’re to going to tonight.
Let’s go to Carl—Carl.
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, it at least appears—well, Chris, it at least appears that this is going to play itself out over the next several hours.
We’re now being told the Kerry is not going to leave the house any time soon. The poll reporters over who are at his apartment, they’re waiting outside his apartment for him to leave. We were told by a press agent earlier tonight that he would be preparing, probably preparing to come to the Westin Hotel over here in Copley Square. That is apparently now not happening and will not happen anytime soon.
Some aides have described the atmosphere over there as pandemonium, as Kerry continues to absorb what we believe to be is a flood of calls between his ground team, campaign manager and other strategists. This is happening all very quickly. And ever since that statement came out from Mary Beth Cahill, any hope that we would have heard from him tonight, which is what Joe Lockhart has told reporters earlier in the evening, is now essentially being invalidated, Chris.
So it does appear that campaign is going to bunker down and let this go well into the morning. Earlier tonight, we had been talking to a top aide who said, the closer race is, is going to depend—or the closer race is, that is going to depend how much both sides fight tomorrow morning. I don’t think even he was aware of just how true that statement turned out to be, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, Carl Quintanilla, thanks for joining us from the Kerry headquarters, where they are in fact hunkering down.
We haven’t seen the candidate this evening. We’ve had Vanessa. She was very nice to come on, his daughter, earlier in the evening. He was planning to make a statement several hours ago. He’s not apparently going to make one.
Pat, you’ve been through these fights.
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I have.
And what astonished me earlier, Chris, was the president of the United States, before he had won this, inviting the cameras up into the White House, I gather up onto the second floor to photograph him showing a real measure of confidence and humor. This was—to me, if they didn’t really feel they had it, this was an incredible gamble, because if it had gone the other way, he would have looked terrible with that, in effect, early victory lap.
I do think, taking a look at Ohio, if there’s 200,000 votes out and Kerry has got to win 100,000, it’s very simple, He has got to win 150,000 of the 200,000 and lose only 50,000 for the 100,000 margin.
MATTHEWS: The odds are...
BUCHANAN: But here’s the thing. I’ve seen the fact that there’s 8 percent votes out. That would be 400,000 and it would be a lot easier for Kerry out of 400,000 to get a 100,000 vote margin. But, still, it is a big hill to climb.
MATTHEWS: You think there might be 400,000 provisional ballots out?
BUCHANAN: I don’t know about that. When it says 92 percent, that leaves 8 percent of the vote out. And 8 percent of five million votes cast is 400,000.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you a question of ritual. Can a president declare or accept victory without a concession speech by the other side? Has it been done before?
BUCHANAN: I don’t know that it has.
Remember, Kennedy waited for Nixon.
MATTHEWS: But a letter...
BUCHANAN: Nixon came out in 1960 and he said it looks as though if this thing is going this way, Senator Kennedy will be our next president.
But I don’t know—but I’ll tell you this. If I were Kerry, I wouldn’t concede tonight. I wouldn’t concede, because you take look at the—to get 20 electoral votes, Bush would have to win Iowa, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Hawaii. If he loses Ohio—I doubt that he’s going to do that—and my guess is, he’s going to lose Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
So why would in heaven’s name would Kerry concede right now?
DEE DEE MYERS, NBC ANALYST: Right, unless the margin goes above 20.
BUCHANAN: Unless the margin—and it can’t. I don’t think it is going to get above 20.
MYERS: We have to win Wisconsin and Iowa.
BUCHANAN: You get Wisconsin in there then you have got something in the mix.
MATTHEWS: Well, at some point, is there a measure that requires that he do give this up? Or can he fight this for a couple weeks?
BUCHANAN: Look, if you’ve got the—if it’s undecided in Ohio and without Ohio, the president hadn’t won, why would you give it up?
MATTHEWS: Because the networks have told him he’s lost.
MATTHEWS: That’s why.
MATTHEWS: Don’t you accept the fact that it’s your job to accept it and salute it?
BUCHANAN: The president of the United States is winning the popular vote by more than three million. And we’ve talked about the possibility of the president winning the popular vote and losing the electoral vote, and that is within. It is far distant. It’s within the realm of possibility.
MATTHEWS: You are so cagey, Pat.
Throughout the night, you gave us the argument that it was almost impossible for Kerry to win this election. And then, when it looks like he did, you made the case that he probably didn’t. So what’s your game here?
BUCHANAN: No, my game here is that all these other states like New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nevada, Hawaii, have not come in.
MYERS: Well, but Pat raises a good point, which we haven’t talked about, which is that Bush is winning the popular vote by three million. One of the things that gave legitimacy to Gore’s fight four years ago was that he won the popular vote by half-a-million.
RON REAGAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
MYERS: So this gives, I think, the Bush campaign additional confidence to go out and declare victory before Senator Kerry concedes.
REAGAN: And what is the vote total look like here?
REAGAN: It looks like about 107 million.
BUCHANAN: I only saw 100 million. Maybe he was walking across the street, he got up to 107.
REAGAN: Yes, maybe I’m wrong.
BUCHANAN: But Bush is above 50 million.
I guess this means Bush got more votes, I believe, than Ronald Reagan, who got more than any man ever.
MATTHEWS: We have more problems tonight, because NBC has been so careful in calling it.
MATTHEWS: We have the hard numbers here, 51, almost 52 million votes for the president.
MYERS: But 20 percent are out.
MATTHEWS: And John Kerry at 48 million.
MYERS: But 20 percent are out.
MYERS: Or 15 percent. So we’re looking at 110 million.
REAGAN: One hundred and ten million.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And 110 million is...
REAGAN: A little lower than we thought it was going to be.
MATTHEWS: We are not looking at the 130 million highest notion of what this campaign could be about.
MITCHELL: If it’s 110 million, then it’s normal population growth. It is the same kind of election we had last time, the same kind of turnout, if that’s the way it turns out.
MATTHEWS: Not since the South Seas Bubble has there been so much hope in such a bad project.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, that everybody is going to be young and everybody is going to turn out.
Anyway, we’re going to come back with Alan Simpson, one of the old sages of the Senate from sagebrush country out there in Wyoming. We’re going to hear from him and we’re going to get a lot more information about this toughening position of John Kerry and this strengthening position, apparently, of the president, as we see 100 million votes already counted.
We’ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We’re back with the battle of Cuyahoga County in Cleveland, of course. Cuyahoga County is Cleveland. But the question is who is going to carry Ohio before this night is over.
It has come down to Ohio being the new Florida.
And let’s go right now to Carl Quintanilla. What is the position up there now of the Kerry campaign with regard to this finality of this election?
QUINTANILLA: Well, it looks like we’re going to find out at least something substantive, Chris.
We’re told by one source that John Edwards, who has been about 50 yards away in the Westin Hotel for hours now, with his wife, his wife’s family and his kids, is going to come across the street and speak here in Copley Square. We’re beginning to see some of the pool photographers lined up around the perimeter of the stage. No idea what he is going to say. No idea how long he’s going to speak.
But this will be the first public comment we’ve heard from either running mate, not just since the statement came out that they’re going to try to contest the count in Ohio, but since John Kerry voted today at the statehouse and made a few brief comments earlier this afternoon.
Also, Senator Ted Kennedy, we’re told, has just entered Senator Kerry’s home. He’s still over on Beacon Hill about a mile or so, two miles away. They’re obviously discussing what has widely been called among aides to be a rather crazed atmosphere. So we’ll be waiting to see what Senator John Edwards will say and we’ll bring you more details as soon as we get a sense as to when exactly he’ll cross the street, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Carl Quintanilla.
Let’s go right now to Lester Holt for an analysis of what he thinks is going on out there at the decision desk.
How are they seeing it there in terms of calling and why they did call, at NBC, Ohio for the president?
LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR: Well, Chris, the question is where are these additional votes, uncounted votes?
Democrats see them in Cuyahoga County. Seen a bit differently here at the decision desk. I just went over the numbers. And what they’re looking at is about 400,000 votes in Ohio that have yet to be counted. The belief here is that 287,000 of those votes are actually coming from the Cincinnati and Dayton areas, areas that traditionally break the Republican way.
So it is not out of the question that the Bush lead you’re looking at here on your screen could actually widen before all is said and done. Again, the decision desk here at NBC News believes about 400,000 remaining votes to be counted, the majority of those coming from areas that traditionally have broken in the direction of President Bush and the Republicans—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Lester Holt at the decision desk.
Let’s go right now to the White House with Norah O’Donnell.
Norah, what’s happening there right now in terms of preparing for a victory?
NORAH O’DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president is upstairs in the residence with his senior staff. They have also invited up some photographers from the news magazines.
Chris, you have posed a very interesting question about tonight and the calculus that is going on inside the White House. And that is whether the president needs or will require a phone call, a concession from Senator Kerry, before he goes to the Ronald Reagan Building tonight in order to make this victory speech, or a speech, if you will, before thousands of supporters gathered there.
A top campaign official saying that they are just waiting for a call in perhaps New Mexico or Nevada to, in their words, put them over the top. That suggests that type of language that, once such a call is made, they believe that will be the legitimate number, over 270 for the president to then go over and make the speech.
Of course, as we all know, that math also includes the 20 E.V.s in Ohio that are still contested at this moment, the Bush campaign doing the math there, saying, any way you slice it, they argue, Kerry wouldn’t be able to eke out enough amount of votes from those uncounted ballots. Nevertheless, what’s going on now appears to be is this wait and see and this calculus being made from the campaign for one more call that will send this president in his motorcade, along with the vice president, who is also here at the White House, over to the Ronald Reagan Building, where they will make this speech tonight—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Norah O’Donnell at the White House. We’ll be back to you later.
And let’s go to Alan Simpson now, a close friend of the vice president’s, a former United States senator, in fact, a former member of the Republican leadership.
Your thoughts tonight, Alan Simpson, sir.
ALAN SIMPSON ®, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: First, how are you, Chris?
MATTHEWS: I am great. I am great. That’s your kind of “Hee Haw” music back there, I guess. They must have brought it in for you.
SIMPSON: Well, we’re going to stomp. We’re going to stomp on the hay bails. I can’t even hear myself.
Anyway, I’ve been with the Cheneys all evening. We had dinner down there. It was a great—he’s being very steady. He’s not jumping up and clicking his heels. He knows it’s been a tough race. He knows he’s been in the eye of the hurricane. He knows they tried desperately to deem demonize this wonderful man I’ve known for nearly 40 years and it didn’t work. So he and Lynne I think feel very good.
Lynne is very pleased. She was ready to click her heels a little. Everybody is tired, but elated. And now we’re waiting for them both to come here with Laura and Lynne to the Ronald Reagan Building.
MATTHEWS: Are they optimistic about catching that state for the president that they went out and got out there into the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii?
SIMPSON: Well, Dick told me they had a tremendous rally out there. They had about 10,000 people. They have got a Republican governor. They don’t scoff at that one.
And then there’s a great tendency among people in Hawaii to vote for the incumbent. They voted for incumbent Democrats for so long, they nearly forgot they had another party.
SIMPSON: And they are very prone to vote for an incumbent.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, you’re a master of the gentility of the political sport.
MATTHEWS: Yes, yes, right.
Let me ask—I’m warming you up for this one. Do you have to get a concession speech out of the other guy? You’ve been through a lot of elections—your dad did, too.
MATTHEWS: Before you can declare victory?
SIMPSON: I’ve been through them all, Chris.
I watched my dad win as governor. I watched him defeated for reelection. I watched him win. I watched my brother lose. I was fortunate. I never lost one. But because I believe that politics is a contact sport and an attack unanswered is an attack believed. And whenever they savaged me, I gave it right back.
Now, your question, so I can get to it again. Do I believe...
MATTHEWS: Does a gentleman have to have the other side concede before he declares victory?
SIMPSON: I think, in this situation, they’re going to do that. because Kerry’s people, at least, not John, are making noises like Ohio is still in play.
I don’t believe that. And I don’t believe that’s just because of the projections. It’s just that I’ve been sitting all evening with the people who are running the strategy. They know exactly where these 350,000 or 400,000 votes are. And they’ve been exactly right on Florida and they’ve been exactly right on Ohio. And they’re going to be exactly right on New Mexico. And that’s what I have seen.
I can’t believe the precision with which they called this stuff three hours ago. So I don’t think much is going to change. So I think...
MATTHEWS: Does the president need to carry any of the Great Lakes states to win this for sure? Does he need Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa?
SIMPSON: Well, I think that it is a nice insurance policy to stick it in your pocket, but I think, with Nevada, I still say, and New Mexico, of course, Iowa, that things—he would not need one of those big states. Again, I think he could still pick one up.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, go back to your music, Senator. You’ve had a great night.
SIMPSON: I’m going to go out here.
SIMPSON: Chris, I’m going to go out here and I’ll look like a crane in the swamp when I get this dance flapping my wings.
SIMPSON: It was good to hear you.
MATTHEWS: Senator Alan Simpson, sir, it’s nice to have you join us from that...
SIMPSON: Always. Always.
MATTHEWS: ... that music that sounds like music back there. Anyway...
SIMPSON: They think Nat King Cole is a deceased pharaohs in Egypt.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Senator.
SIMPSON: You bet.
MATTHEWS: Let me go back here. Let me back the world of sanity and numbers, because that was the world of something or other, but it was fun.
Let me ask you this. The Republicans, according to the senator quite clearly, he stated there, Alan Simpson, the Republican number-crunchers have said that the votes still outstanding in Ohio are Republicans and any talk of a successful recount is nonsense.
MITCHELL: Well, and, in fact, they agree at the NBC decision desk.
MITCHELL: Which says that the outstanding votes are largely Republican votes.
But, in any case, you’ve heard from the Kerry campaign that they are not conceding. So this fight is on. I mean, Alan Simpson brings so much to this night, because he’s not only a great friend, of course, Dick Cheney’s, but he is one of the closest friends of Bush 41, was in the room with 41 and 43 the night that this whole mess erupted four years ago with Al Gore refusing to concede. He brings so much history to all of this.
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s go through this. Let’s pick this apart.
And, Pat, you’re very good at this, and Dee Dee.
MATTHEWS: Let’s do the numbers. Let’s do it quite simply here.
There’s two questions here on the table. One, are there enough votes out there to reverse the count under way right now, yes or no?
BUCHANAN: All right, look. Look at Ohio. It says 97 percent are in. That means three percent are out; 3 percent of five million is 150,000. What Kerry would have to do is win 125,000 of the 150,000 remaining.
MYERS: Well, that doesn’t count the provisionals.
BUCHANAN: Well, that doesn’t count the provisionals.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s the second question. That’s the second question.
BUCHANAN: That’s the second question.
MATTHEWS: If we continue the count under way, is there any chance Kerry can win, yes or no?
BUCHANAN: No. Yes, there is. Kerry would have to get something like six out of seven votes that are counted.
MATTHEWS: That’s implausible.
MYERS: There’s 200 provisional ballots and 150,000...
BUCHANAN: All right. That’s why the president should wait for one more state. He’s exactly right. And then go out and if Kerry doesn’t call him, put the moral pressure on this guy, because what Kerry is saying is, we’re fighting Ohio in the courts. And the president should accept that and say, OK, we accept that. We claim Ohio.
But he has got to wait for one more state.
MATTHEWS: What about the practicality of an expeditious count of these provisional ballots to lock it in?
MATTHEWS: It takes an hour for...
MITCHELL: The law is very specific. They are individually challenged. And you will have that whole issue contested for a month or more.
MYERS: No, you have a 10-day period in which to certify whether the specific provisional ballots are valid. At the beginning—at the end of that 10-day period, you can start counting those ballots.
But it would be at least 10 days before they will be able to certify...
MYERS: They have to go back and check and see whether they’re...
MITCHELL: But once you count them, you count them individually. And you can spend as much as an hour a piece.
REAGAN: With a lawyer apiece standing, looking over your shoulder.
BUCHANAN: Chris, as a practical matter, you just heard Simpson say they’re waiting for one more state to take them over 269, whether it’s one of these four electoral votes or five electoral votes. And then they’re headed for the Ronald Reagan Building.
MATTHEWS: Either New Mexico or Nevada.
MATTHEWS: And the other question is, if we go back to a more rigorous test for what they can—they have to meet to declare victory, you take the 20 votes away from the 269, you’re left with 249, right? Is there any way tonight in the next couple hours, they can come one the requisite 21 votes?
BUCHANAN: Here’s how, Iowa, New Mexico.
MATTHEWS: Iowa is seven.
BUCHANAN: Iowa is seven. New Mexico is five. New Hampshire is four. And Hawaii is four, OK? Wisconsin is 10.
MATTHEWS: That’s only 20, Pat.
BUCHANAN: Wisconsin is 10. If you lose Ohio, you only lose 10, Chris. I mean, you only...
MATTHEWS: So give me what they would have to do tonight to win without Ohio being necessary.
BUCHANAN: All right.
They could do it with Minnesota and Wisconsin, would give him back the 20.
MATTHEWS: That’s 20. They need one.
BUCHANAN: Michigan, I think, would give them 17.
MATTHEWS: They need two more.
BUCHANAN: Iowa would give him seven. New Mexico would give them five, New Hampshire, four, Hawaii, four.
MITCHELL: Nevada gives them five.
MATTHEWS: So they need five more states.
MYERS: But it is more likely that Kerry will carry Michigan or Minnesota.
BUCHANAN: Or two or three big ones, yes.
MYERS: So, yes. So...
REAGAN: And probably New Hampshire.
MYERS: The president would have to—and New Hampshire, which we haven’t called yet.
REAGAN: And Hawaii.
MYERS: And Hawaii.
BUCHANAN: Can’t do it.
MYERS: So, realistically speaking, the president, he has to win Wisconsin and Iowa.
BUCHANAN: He cannot do it. If what Kerry is leading in now, Kerry gets, you cannot get 20 more.
MYERS: You can. You can.
MYERS: If he wins Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Nevada, that combination of those four.
MATTHEWS: But all the states outstanding, I can tell you that NBC is being so rigorous about how they’re counting and making calls tonight. And you can bet that about, these things are going to be 50/50 in terms of how they break, because they’re just being so careful about the numbers. The numbers are very, very close.
MITCHELL: But there’s another issue here.
MATTHEWS: And that’s a reasonable assumption, that the president will get enough votes to pass 270 through a number of opportunities tonight.
MITCHELL: But even if he were not to, by declaring victory with perhaps one more state, which is what Alan Simpson told us the strategy is, there is a huge amount of moral authority that comes with that declaration.
There’s the international world. There are the markets. As the days progress, it becomes increasingly difficult for the Democrats to challenge it.
MATTHEWS: We’re going to have to take a break now, as we often do at this time of night, take a commercial break.
We’re awaiting, by the way—when we come back, we’ll see John Edwards coming out to make that statement. That’s the plan when we come back on MSNBC, still at Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center counting the votes.
MATTHEWS: We’re here at Kerry-Edwards waiting—we’re going to continue to wait until John Edwards, the vice presidential running mate, comes out. He is going to make a statement. I assume it will be a preliminary statement and certainly a statement of hope, based upon what we heard from Mary Beth Cahill. They’re not about to give up.
But look at all those volunteers out there still hoping for Kerry to pull this out tonight.
Let’s go right now to a piece of tape we just took of the secretary of state of Ohio, Ken Blackwell. He’s a Republican and here’s what he had to say about these provisional ballotings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH BLACKWELL, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: We’ll know how many ballots were cast and tabulated when we know it.
What I’ve told everybody to do is take a deep breath and relax. You know, what we’re going to give you is a solid tabulation when we give it to you. If it takes two hours, two days or two weeks, the result that we give you will be a good result that the voters of the state of Ohio can have confidence in.
So all of the speculation and all of the projections, I don’t get into. You know, a lot of folks came in to this state expecting to see a lot of confusion, a lot of havoc. But what you got was a well managed election by 50,000 election officials and poll workers over 88 counties.
As I’ve told many of you, elections are human enterprises. And you’re going to have a hiccup here or a hiccup there. What you manage against is chronic choking in the system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We’re going to wait just a second to hear from John Edwards, of course, the young running mate of John Kerry. And they’re going to have to figure out what his words are going to be. That’s probably what is holding them up in the headquarters there in the—where they’re trying to figure out what to say.
Do they say they’re going to wait to hear from all the results tonight? Are they going to say they dispute the results, the declaration by NBC and other networks, that Ohio has gone for the president?
What are they going to say? That’s a big question for them to figure out in there tonight, because it is going to be the headline in the papers tomorrow as we get up in the morning. That is going to be the fact, unless we get some quick reporting from the states of Minnesota and Michigan.
Here comes John Edwards to tell us where they stand and how hard they’re fight.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
EDWARDS: Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
EDWARDS: Thank you. Thank you.
It’s been a long night, but we’ve waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
EDWARDS: Tonight, John and I are so proud of all of you who are here with us and all of you across the country who have stood with us in this campaign.
John Kerry and I have made a promise to the American people that in this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
EDWARDS: Tonight, we are keeping our word and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
EDWARDS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s what you call talking points. He knew what he had to say and he said it. We’ve waited four years for this and we can certainly wait for another night to get the result.
Let’s take a look, for everybody who is watching now and keeping up with this incredible end game, I guess you would have to consider it, for the presidential election of the year 2004. Let’s go through the states that have yet to be decided by NBC and I presume by other networks as well.
Let’s take a look. There’s Michigan, with 78 percent of the precincts reporting and about a 90,000 vote difference, too close to call. There’s one, Michigan.
Minnesota, too close to call, 78 percent of the precincts in there, too close to call on that one; 87 percent of the precincts in there in the state of Wisconsin, too close to call. Well, too close to call. And another too close to call, Iowa, a bit smaller of a state, there, with 97 percent of the precincts in and a very small difference. Apparently, I’ve been hearing tonight that those are Republican areas that haven’t come in yet.
Nevada, too close to call, a very small state in terms of electoral votes, but 65 percent of the precincts reporting. Very interesting, 65 percent. There’s a lot to count there; 93 percent of the vote—or 98 percent of the vote in, in New Mexico. That’s also too close to call, but a small vote difference there, less than 30,000 in that count so far.
New Hampshire, this is one that stunned us. Why does it take so long to count such a small state? Anyway, 10,000, that’s the explanation, only 10,000 votes separating the two, with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Hawaii, 65 percent in of the precincts. Obviously, that’s a close vote there. But that’s simply we’re just calling that too early to call.
Let’s take a look at where they are. You can see they’re clustered over there in the Upper Midwest and two of them down there in the Southwest.
Pat, you’re raring to say it.
BUCHANAN: Yes, I’ll say it. Let’s give all the states where Kerry is leading to Kerry and where Bush is leading to Bush. Bush is leading Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico. Give those to Bush. Subtract Ohio and Kerry wins.
MATTHEWS: Subtract Ohio.
REAGAN: Subtract Ohio.
BUCHANAN: And Kerry wins.
MATTHEWS: So Ohio is worth the fight if...
BUCHANAN: Ohio will decide the election. If the trends are going as they’re going in these states, Ohio decides the election. Whoever gets it wins. It is the Florida of 2004.
MATTHEWS: We’re going to interrupt right now. We have another call. And here it comes.
Hawaii, John Kerry. John Kerry has won. One of your states has jumped in there. It’s a small state. And, by the way, the vice president, as we noted, did take the trip out there this weekend to try to win it. He also used it as in a case—and to remind us of a possible second Pearl Harbor, by the way, not incidentally. That was a powerful statement by the vice president.
So there you see the numbers shaping up, 211-269, no 270 by the president, even giving him—by the way, even giving him Ohio, he doesn’t have the 270 requisite to win yet.
MATTHEWS: And so this race is on.
And, Pat, you make a point there that if Ohio is still in play. So let’s go back to that contingency. Is it fair for a reasonable person to presume—certainly, NBC is not one of the people that presumes—that there are enough votes yet to be counted in areas with are open to a reasonable assumption of Democratic voting to say this isn’t over?
BUCHANAN: I’m not—no. The numbers are not, because there’s about, as I say, about 200,000 or some, and Kerry would have to get six out of seven. It is extraordinarily improbable, even in Cuyahoga County.
But that gets to the provisional ballots. And that’s something, I don’t know how many there are of them. I think Dee Dee knows about that. I just don’t know. But the Kerry people must know something about them, that if you add them...
MATTHEWS: You’re assuming, you know, when...
BUCHANAN: You make an assumption.
MATTHEWS: When your back is on a wall, you’re not always rational in term of numbers. You’re understanding the politics of the situation.
There are good reasons why people like Hilary Rosen on our show a while ago...
MATTHEWS: And certainly Mary Beth Cahill.
The Democratic Party feels, based upon everything you hear from those people, they were too genteel in conceding four years ago.
MATTHEWS: Al Gore gave a beautiful concession speech that the Democratic Party at its base wished he had never given.
MATTHEWS: They didn’t want to be genteel or noble. They wanted to fight that thing until the last dog died, and he didn’t.
BUCHANAN: Well, look, their back is to the wall.
I can’t disagree with what Edwards said. Look, first, there’s tremendous—everything has got to fall into place for them conceivably to make Ohio competitive. I think you have got to get the provisionals. Secondly, the president is sitting there on a lead of more than three million votes nationally. The whole world is watching.
And if the president comes down there after winning one of these small states, he has got 273 or 277, and says, we have taken the country, I mean, the pressure on Kerry will be incredible to crack and concede.
MATTHEWS: Why is the president—I’m trying to find a member of the Republican Party that—nobody even represents him, even philosophically, at this table.
BUCHANAN: Let me give it a stab.
MATTHEWS: Let me give it a stab.
MATTHEWS: Why can’t they just call it a night and wait for the returns to come in? Why do they insist on having a party or some kind of a victory speech tonight? Why is that important politically?
BUCHANAN: If they do not claim victory tonight, they are saying, de facto, Ohio is in play. And they’re not going to say that.
MATTHEWS: Is it also for world consumption? I go back to this argument. It does matter who wins these elections to the world.
BUCHANAN: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: The Brits are watching. Everybody in the world is watching.
MATTHEWS: To have the president say, I’ve won, does that close the deal?
BUCHANAN: No. It doesn’t close it.
But the president wants is to shift the onus, the burden, not—suppose the president went out and said, gee, we don’t know what is exactly the story here in Ohio? Then Kerry will say, you’re right. We don’t. We’ve got months to go.
So what the president is—shift the onus of the moral opprobrium on John Kerry, who will not, even though he has lost, concede.
MITCHELL: He becomes the challenger. He becomes the upstart. He becomes the person to blame if anything goes wrong in the world.
MITCHELL: That could you then conceivably argue...
BUCHANAN: They say, why don’t you do a Nixon?
MITCHELL: If not for John Kerry.
BUCHANAN: Do like Nixon did in 1960.
REAGAN: Yes, potential sore loser.
BUCHANAN: Play the man.
MATTHEWS: More problems. Let’s go to Iowa.
We have got Natalie Allen out there in Des Moines. Let’s hear from Natalie about the problems they have in getting a direct count out of the that state.
Natalie, what’s the problem?
NATALIE ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, that’s right; 97 percent of the votes have been tallied. George Bush is ahead of John Kerry by 11,000 votes. But now there’s a snag. Two counties had their machines break down on them. And between those two, there’s potential of 15,000 votes to count.
At first, we were told by the secretary of state’s office about 30 minutes ago that they would have to get new machines in from the manufacturer over in Nebraska. Now we’ve just received an update that one of the counties has its machines back up and counting and the second county will have its machine back up and counting in the morning. So it doesn’t look like they’re going to have the delay they expected.
They were telling us it would be a day and a half before they had the final vote ready to report from Iowa. Now it looks like it will take place sooner than that.
One other thing that’s the problem here is, one county is still tallying some 7,000 absentee ballots. And they could receive still some 60,000 absentee ballots if they were postmarked today. They have a week to count these ballots. So there’s still many, many votes that could be in place here in Iowa, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK. I was sorry to be so admonishing. I’m not holding you responsible for the failure of the Iowa electoral system.
MATTHEWS: But let me ask you this.
ALLEN: Thank you for that.
MATTHEWS: If you look at all the numbers as—are these balloting areas that we’re looking at right now, are they crucial to a decision?
ALLEN: They could be, because, as I mentioned, Bush is up 11,000 right now, with 97 percent reporting. And you’re seeing a potential of 20,000 votes, up to 60,000 more absentee ballots that could come in, so yes.
MATTHEWS: And they come from all over the state, right? So we can’t predict that they’re largely Democrat or Republican. We don’t know.
ALLEN: Don’t know that, right.
MATTHEWS: OK. It’s great. I’m sorry to—I really did feel like I blamed you for the screw-up out there. I’m sorry.
ALLEN: I didn’t take it that way.
MATTHEWS: Well, Natalie Allen, thank you very much.
ALLEN: All right, Chris.
MATTHEWS: We’ll go back to our panel.
We’ll be back to you later to get the update, probably later on in the morning.
Patrick, you have got more numbers. You’re just the most amazing track town here tonight.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Do this thing.
BUCHANAN: Well, this—it depends over in Iowa. You have got—what did they say? If there’s 60,000 out and Bush has 11,000 lead, you subtract the 11,000 from 60,000 you get 49,000. And Kerry—Bush can get 25,000, Kerry 36,000 and they’re out there, or just about that. You’re right there.
BUCHANAN: And so that’s a doable thing. So Iowa is still out. But the point is, Chris, he has got to get one state to take him over the top.
MATTHEWS: We have got to go. We have got a big highlight of the evening now, even though it’s the morning. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, is out there in public. Look at him. I guess he’s going to make a statement.
There he is. They had a ballot initiative on the ballot out there, obviously.
MATTHEWS: Let’s take a look.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you all for being here tonight.
I especially want to thank my wife, Maria, the greatest first lady right over there, a great partner. I want to thank her for all the support.
Thank you very much, Maria. Love you.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you.
All the polls have closed. And the results are in. And we have a winner for the night, the people of California. The people of California are the winners today.
A big hand for the people.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: Last year, last year, you elected me and last year you sent me up to Sacramento.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: Last year, you elected me and last year you sent me up to Sacramento.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHWARZENEGGER: I knew that I was doing the movie “Twins,” but I did not know...
SCHWARZENEGGER: But, anyway, let me just say, last year, you elected me and you sent me to Sacramento to create some action. And this is exactly what I have done.
We’ve turned around the state. We have created some action and we’ve tried to make it again the Golden State that it once was. Well, tonight, you gave me the tools that I needed to get the job done. And I wanted to thank the people for working so hard. There were thousands and thousands of volunteers that I saw when I traveled up and down the state of California, campaigning for my initiatives and campaigning for the different candidates.
I tell you that the kind of work that I’ve seen was so inspirational. It was uplifting. And I want to thank all those volunteers for putting up the yard signs, for going out, handing out leaflets, doing fund-raisers, knocking on doors, making phone calls and campaigning and campaigning and campaigning.
So, because of all this hard work, I think the people spoke loud and clear. This was a victory that was not a victory for me, but it was a victory from the people of California. So a big hand to the people of California. They have spoken out.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: And today, the voice of the people was loud and clear, that the people said no to the job killers and yes to a booming economy.
The people said no to the budget busters and yes to fiscal responsibility.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: The people said no to criminal loopholes and yes for safer streets.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: The people said no to out-of-control gambling and yes to a fair share for California.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SCHWARZENEGGER: And the people once again said no to the special interests and yes for reform.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: OK, we’re going to—that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, applauding the passage of a California ballot initiative.
We’re going to go now to Keith Olbermann to the get details on the meaning of that latest victory for Arnold Schwarzenegger—Keith.
KEITH OLBERMANN, NBC ANCHOR: It was a proposition in—Chris, yes, it was Prop 71 in California, a bond issue for stem cell research, if you can imagine a Republican governor of a most populous state coming out in favor—he endorsed this two weeks ago—of stem cell research.
It would establish $3 billion in stem cell research based on a bond, making California the nation’s largest financial backer of stem cell studies. In the middle of the entire debate and the way the numbers turned up in terms of moral issues and how important that was in the exit polling, a Republican governor of a state backs a pro-stem cell research bond.
While we’ve got you here, let’s go through the Senate quickly, where the Republicans have taken three Senate seats from the Democrats, the Democrats two from the Republicans, Ken Salazar in Colorado over Pete Coors, Pete Coors with a concession speech not long ago.
Look at that. Ken Salazar beat Pete Coors. Boy, that is beating the name brand after all, isn’t it? We have got some other races we haven’t seen, by the way. Oh, there he is right now. That’s Pete Coors.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
PETE COORS ®, COLORADO SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: And I will now go back to having the greatest job in America, running a beer company.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COORS: Thank you all very much. I love you. God bless you. Thank you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Coors battle was one of nine toss-ups in the Senate tonight.
The others, as you see, have been decided, with North Carolina, Burr, the Republican, over Erskine Bowles. South Carolina, Jim DeMint beat Inez Tenenbaum, another pickup for the Republicans. In Colorado, the Salazar-Coors outcome, you know about. And Tom Coburn in Oklahoma picking up the vacant seat for the Republicans.
And still under way, with 92 percent of the vote in, with a 5,000-vote difference, it is too early to call, too close to call, Daschle-Thune in South Dakota.
Quickly, in Florida, still too early to call, even though last Saturday, it was Governor Bush introducing Mel Martinez as senator-elect Martinez. Hasn’t happened yet, 78,000-vote difference.
Kentucky, although Jim Bunning gave a victory speech—you asked that question about, can you give a victory speech if the other guy hasn’t conceded yet? Jim Bunning did that, and it’s hours ago. Is he behaving erratically or that just the irascible ballplayer who last smiled on his bubble gum card picture in 1957?
Louisiana is still too early to call, even though 99 percent of the vote is in between the lead Democrat, Chris John, and the lead Republican, David Vitter. You have got to get 50 percent to avoid a runoff.
And, lastly, Alaska, where the polls just closed an hour and 45 minutes ago, where the senator who was appointed by her governor father, Lisa Murkowski, trying to stave off former Governor Tony Knowles.
That’s the everything-else desk—now back to Chris Matthews and Ohio, already in progress—Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
It looks to me like we have got a long list of states yet to be decided in terms of the presidential campaign, all the Upper Midwest states. And, of course, Pat, you’re right. There’s enough numbers to turn this thing, if you pull back Ohio. And it seems like that’s the question.
BUCHANAN: Yes, it’s not only enough. It’s hard to see how Bush wins if he does not get Ohio. But let me mention something, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, let’s make sure everybody is up to date watching us right now.
BUCHANAN: All right.
MATTHEWS: The assumptions you have to make to deny the president the state that this network and others have given him, which is Ohio—and we’re looking at all the numbers right now—you have to assume that the count, the 3 percent that you can see there hasn’t been counted, is going to swing that. And that’s a lot of votes to turn around.
Or you have to assume that these provisional ballots can come in and rescue John Kerry after the formal vote is over. And that’s a lot of assuming.
BUCHANAN: It’s a lot of assumptions, yes.
MITCHELL: One thing we should point out is that, at least according to the results that the state, Republican-controlled state officials are reporting from Cuyahoga County, the total number of provisional, overseas military, overseas civilian and military ballots, and absentee ballots, are 26,247 from the Cleveland area.
MITCHELL: Which doesn’t seem to be enough.
MATTHEWS: To make the difference.
MITCHELL: That’s at least what the Republicans...
MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, I’ve got a lot of confidence in NBC tonight. They are being very, very cautious, hesitant as hell by referencing—I’ll just reference all the states that we haven’t called yet. And to make these grand heroic assumptions about how things are going to turn around in Ohio may be true, if they occur. But they’re not to be predicted.
These are the ones that we haven’t been able to call yet. They’re too close or too early to tell.
Let’s go right now to Carl Quintanilla, because it looks like we are not going to hear anything more tonight before daybreak from the Kerry campaign.
Let’s go to Carl.
QUINTANILLA: Yes, Chris, in politics, they call it a full lid, that moment when they don’t expect any more news for the remainder of the evening.
And that’s what we have in the Kerry campaign tonight. Ever since John Edwards gave those brief remarks on stage, they started to play their signature tune by Bruce Springsteen. They’re running a brief video, a montage of Kerry images, something that was obviously planned for a much different appearance.
But you have got to hand it to some of these people who have been out here in the rain for several hours, Chris. And we’re told, meanwhile, over at Kerry’s house on Beacon Hill here in Boston, he continues to talk on the phone. He is joined by Senator Ted Kennedy. They’re talking to adviser John Sasso and Mary Beth Cahill, as the lawyers here at the war room continue to hammer out what is obviously going to be a very complicated day tomorrow, Chris.
MATTHEWS: OK, one last question. As they go to sleep tonight there and shut us off from any further word from them and their thinking, do you have a sense—I know this is hard for a reporter. Is this a numerical bet they’re making, that they can still pull this out or is it a political positioning they’re taking to maintain John Kerry’s leadership of the Democratic Party?
QUINTANILLA: My own guess is that they saw this coming long before any of us did.
I think, judging from the infrastructure they had built for this exact kind of scenario happening, that this really doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to them. I could be completely wrong about that. But my sense is with the speed with which they launched this plan into action suggests that they saw it coming a mile away.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Carl Quintanilla.
Are you going to shut down for the night, too? Or are you going to keep a listening post there?
QUINTANILLA: We’ll see you on “The Today Show” in the morning, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Carl.
It looks to me that you’re wet and cold up there.
OK. OK, “Imus in the Morning.”
Look, let me ask you this, Patrick, this question here. I’m losing my train of thought, finally.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
BUCHANAN: Let me raise a point.
Why did the president do so surprisingly well in Michigan and surprisingly badly in Pennsylvania, despite the fact he had taken 44 trips or something to Pennsylvania, and do so well in Ohio? Michigan and Ohio have a gay rights, gay marriage ordinance.
MATTHEWS: Let me suggest the word. And it’s words.
BUCHANAN: Gay marriage.
MATTHEWS: Street money.
MITCHELL: Street money.
BUCHANAN: No, gay marriage.
MATTHEWS: No. Street money.
MYERS: Street money in Pennsylvania.
MATTHEWS: Street money is—oh, let’s watch now—we’re watching the dispersal of the Kerry loyalists, the stalwarts up there in Massachusetts and Boston, who are finally making their way home, I guess by declaring a media lid, in other words, no more statements out of the campaign.
These volunteers realize they won’t be learning anything either before dawn. So they’re heading home. It is almost like at the end of a football game when there’s a couple minutes left on the clock.
MITCHELL: And when you say street money, it’s sort of a double entendre, because it is John Street, the mayor of Philadelphia, and it’s street money, walking-around money. And he told Chris the other night that they...
MITCHELL: ... $1 million.
BUCHANAN: Which did Bush do so well in Michigan, which he rarely visited?
BUCHANAN: There’s a gay rights, a gay marriage ordinance, Chris.
BUCHANAN: The under-the-radar stuff and, frankly, the fact that this was put on all these ballots.
MITCHELL: Eleven states.
BUCHANAN: I’ll bet, if you go around those states, you will find an increment for Bush in every one of those states.
MITCHELL: And, in addition, you’re finding in the exit polls that the voters were split.
BUCHANAN: Moral values.
MITCHELL: Evenly split on who could better handle the economy, instead of it being an edge for the Democrats.
MATTHEWS: We’re fighting on the same line, everybody.
BUCHANAN: Moral values was all Bush.
MATTHEWS: We’re going to right now to a U.S. congresswoman from the state of Ohio who is very much insistent on the viability, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. She’s been on the show just recently.
Congresswoman, what do you see as the opportunity here surviving of John Edwards—or John Kerry winning in Ohio?
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS-JONES (D), OHIO: You have to remember that we still have a significant number of provisional ballots out, somewhere close to 200,000 to 300,000 provisional ballots, the fact that there is a controversy operating here.
We have the chair of the Bush campaign as the secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell. In Cuyahoga County, the chair of the Cuyahoga County sitting on the Board of Elections. This race is still in play in Ohio. And we believe we have the opportunity to make up the difference in the provisional balloting.
MATTHEWS: How do you get that figure, Congresswoman, of 200,000 provisional ballots? I don’t think we’ve been able to come up with that number.
TUBBS-JONES: Well, I believe that’s the number that Secretary Blackwell gave.
TUBBS-JONES: When he was on earlier today, that are some 200,000 to 300,000 provisional ballots still left to be counted. And a significant number of them come from Northeast Ohio, where John Kerry has a great amount of support.
MATTHEWS: And you believe that those are—those—the plurality of those, the great mass of those ballots, will be validated? They don’t count automatically, obviously.
TUBBS-JONES: They don’t count automatically.
But one of the problems we had was the failure of people to be noticed about their absentee ballot location. And so, therefore, if they voted, it is on the state to give them the location—they did not—that they have an opportunity to vote. And that’s not only in Northeast Ohio. It’s in other parts of the state.
I think, around Franklin County, in fact, they went to paper ballots, even though they traditionally used computer balloting. So we sincerely believe that we have an opportunity to pull out the state of Ohio on behalf of John Kerry.
So these are people—just to make this clear to everybody—stay with us, Congresswoman—that people who applied for absentee ballots didn’t get them in time to use them, showed up to vote. And they were told that, you have already been counted as a voter because you asked for an absentee ballot. These are people who received provisional ballots in those instances.
TUBBS-JONES: Exactly right.
And a judge made a ruling that they were entitled to a provisional ballot if in fact they were noticed that they were be given an absentee ballot and never received it.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, thank you very—you’re optimistic. In fact, politically, not just numerically, you think this is a fight that the senator should make.
TUBBS-JONES: I think there’s still a fight left for John Kerry.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.
TUBBS-JONES: You’re welcome.
MATTHEWS: Who has been on the show before and will be back again.
We’re listening to a rally. I think we’re listening to the true New York sense behind us. Although the state went for John Kerry, the people that come to us are not afraid to say they’re from—they’re for Bush-Cheney.
Let me go back, as I always do, to Pat Buchanan at this moment.
BUCHANAN: We’ve got our friends out there, Chris.
If there are 175,000 provisional ballots, OK, the—Kerry would have to win 150,000 of them, by my count, and lose 25,000 of them, OK? In other words, he would have to win them 6-1, and that would wipe out Bush’s 125,000 lead. You would have a dead tie. I mean, for—to win it, he would probably have to have—virtually every single one of the provisional ballots would have to belong to John Kerry.
MITCHELL: It is just completely implausible.
MYERS: And that also...
MYERS: ... all legitimate.
BUCHANAN: That raises a question. You see 97 percent counted. Three percent are not counted. Are those the provisional ballots or are those uncounted ballots?
MATTHEWS: No, no.
MITCHELL: That’s raw vote.
MATTHEWS: That’s vote. That’s actually balloting.
BUCHANAN: OK. If that’s Cuyahoga County, it could help Kerry.
REAGAN: And the turnout is 5.8 million, nearly six million in Ohio, not five million. So that maybe gives a little hope...
MATTHEWS: I’ve been reminding us throughout the night, we fall into this habit of saying, when we see those numbers up there, 97 percent of the actual voting. That’s 97 percent of the precincts. Now, it may well correspond, for all we know. But there’s no reason to believe—it’s at 98 now. We’re not sure—there’s no reason to believe that refers to—that’s the numbers.
But, of course, it is a rough estimate, if you assume all precincts are equally sized.
MATTHEWS: ... heroic assumption.
BUCHANAN: Chris, his lead—Bush’s lead just went to one hundred and...
BUCHANAN: ... thirty-seven thousand.
BUCHANAN: So he is gaining.
BUCHANAN: That suggests that the fellows that say these are coming from Dayton, these final votes, are correct. The Republicans...
MATTHEWS: Dayton and Cincinnati, the more conservative areas of the state.
BUCHANAN: Yes. Exactly.
REAGAN: Now, if we talk about the other states here, if we give Kerry all the ones that he’s ahead and give Bush all the ones that he’s ahead, take Ohio off the table, you have got Bush at 266 and Kerry at 252.
You can check me on that.
REAGAN: Yes, take Ohio away and give Kerry all the ones where he is ahead.
BUCHANAN: Ohio decides it.
REAGAN: Ohio decides it, yes.
REAGAN: So, you know...
MATTHEWS: Well, here we are in downtown or midtown New York in the middle of the night. It’s almost 3:00.
MATTHEWS: We have got a bunch of people out here making noise, who seem to be happy with the result.
BUCHANAN: I think Don Imus is out there.
MATTHEWS: Why are we arguing with them?
MATTHEWS: It’s quite a night.
Anyway, we’re going to go to a break right now and come back. More from Democracy Plaza, well-named, because this has been a lot of democracy here tonight at Rockefeller Center, what a beautiful part of this country to be originating from.
We’ll be back with more about this very difficult situation for the Kerry folks. They simply look like—well, they went to bed. That seems to be their solution for a while here. And we may have to do the same.
We’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
MATTHEWS: Well, that’s the story of the night.
And you see the president’s band of success there, that red sheet going all the way to almost to 270. It’s at 269. The White House is waiting for a couple of more states to come in, so that they can formally declare victory tonight, perhaps Nevada, perhaps New Mexico. And, of course, we have also the states that are hanging here, the hanging chads of the year 2004. The states that haven’t decided yet will be coming up in a moment here.
We have got Kerry at 211, the president at 269. But, of course, we have states that have not made up their mind yet.
Let’s to right now go Dan Abrams, however, to talk about the state that is the most difficult for the Kerry folks to concede.
Let me ask you to, Dan Abrams—thanks for joining us, Dan.
These provisional ballots, I know it’s a new—a new line of country for us all. I said to you before, they’re simply kicking the can down the road by having these things. But they’re going to hector the Bush victory, apparently, because the Democrats are going to keep referring to them.
DAN ABRAMS, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that’s right.
Look, the secretary of state in Ohio has estimated that there were about 175,000 provisional ballots. Let’s even say that there were 200,000 provisional ballots. Remember, that doesn’t mean there are 200,000 votes out there. It means there are 200,000 efforts by people who said, you, the government, made a mistake by not having me on your voter roll.
And so they said, OK, here is a ballot. Go ahead and fill it out. If it turns out you’re right, we’ll count your vote.
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