Montana and South Dakota Primary Coverage
Guests: Michelle Bernard, president of the Independent Women's Voice and MSNBC political analyst; Howard Fineman, _Newsweek _senior Washington correspondent and MSNBC political analyst; Harold Ford, fmr. congressman (D-Tenn.) and NBC News analyst; Lisa Caputo, Clinton campaign sr. advisor; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.); Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); David Gregory, NBC News chief White House correspondent and host of MSNBC's "Race for the White House"; Pat Buchanan, MSNBC political analyst; Eugene Robinson, _Washington Post_ associate editor and columnist and MSNBC political analyst; Rachel Maddow, Air America Radio host and MSNBC political analyst; Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent; Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief; Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent; Chuck Todd, NBC News political director; Tom Brokaw, NBC News special correspondent; Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist and _Huffington Post_ contributor; Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.); Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.); Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), Clinton campaign national co-chair; Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.); David Axelrod, Obama campaign strategist; Robert Gibbs, Obama campaign communications director; Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.); Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.)
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: It seems like forever. In fact, it's five months, exactly five months. Five months ago tonight the Iowa caucuses.
This big picture this evening, an epic picture in the history of not just the politics of American but of the Western nations. A man of African decent to ascend to the penultimate stage in the competition for national leadership. And the smaller but more active picture. Not only did his most recent challenge, Senator Clinton today confirm to congressional leaders from the state of New York, her interest in being Barack Obama's vice president. But according to congressman Brian Higgins, quote, "She brought it up."
Forty eight hours of kaleidoscopic stories. He's already clinched, reports the Associated Press. But that counts undeclared superdelegates still keeping it a secret. She's told New York lawmakers she's open to being his vice president. Her campaign expects her to graciously bow out tonight. Her campaign insists she is not bowing out tonight. Her campaign has advised its employees, get your expense reports in by Friday.
Her campaign's other star attraction has said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: After all that, as Montana and South Dakota go, so goes the nomination. With Lee Cowan at the Obama headquarters at the Excel Center in St. Paul, Andrea Mitchell and Ron Allen with the Clinton campaign in Baruch College, New York. Kelly O'Donnell with the McCain campaign in Louisiana. Norah O'Donnell with the exit polls.
Chuck Todd and the delegate math by the numbers. Howard Fineman at the campaign listening post. The insider, former Congressman Harold Ford.
The analysis of, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert. The anchor of NBC NIGHTLY NEWS, Brian Williams.
NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw and David Gregory and the RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel, Rachel Maddow, Eugene Robinson and Pat Buchanan. And among our guests, Senators Dodd, Klobuchar, McCaskill and Tester. Representatives Clyburn, Tubbs-Jones and Meeks and Governor Rendell.
This is MSNBC's coverage of the Montana and South Dakota primaries and the most important speeches yet from Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.
Greetings from MSNBC and MSNBC news world headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York. Along side Chris Matthews, I'm Keith Olbermann.
In the last five months we have been misdirected several times by politicians who could double as Broadway magicians. Are we really at an end here and what is Senator Clinton doing about the vice presidency?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, I think the numbers are there, the math is there and I think no matter what happens out west in South Dakota or Montana, the numbers will be there by night fall, or by midnight. And I think Hillary Clinton has made an aggressive move on the vice presidency, offering herself in an aggressive fashion as you portray and as been portrayed in a meeting, where she made it clear to witnesses, political people, principals that she is quite open to taking that. Which means she wants it. Which means he needs to choose to make her happy in her request or not. It's not just a question about passing over her, it's about snubbing her now.
This is the tricky situation she's put him in.
OLBERMANN: And also changes what you would associate with the traditional race or the timing of when a vice presidential candidate would be chosen. We wouldn't see this until July at the earliest, August, perhaps.
MATTHEWS: This is his night. And to walk on the stage of a candidate who's about to win the nomination by the normal process and suggest yourself to be on the national ticket, that same day, is to challenge him for the only headlines he has a perfect right to which is if we wins this tonight. And we were talking earlier about what they have to confront. A double barrel. Which is he wins, she wants the veep.
That's an amazingly complicated situation to start a relationship with.
This is not a happy affair. This is perhaps, a dance of death. That's the question you have to ask about. Did that set the note?
OLBERMANN: Yes, that's about it. I think the last five months set the note, didn't they? All right, throughout the night, before and after the polls close in Montana and South Dakota, we'll have an entirely different but no less telling set of numbers. The exit polling and helming that for us as always and here now, with a preview of the first batch of those numbers, our own chief Washington correspondent Norah O'Donnell. Norah?
NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening Keith and Chris.
And our first look of the exit polls is giving us an idea of what is moving voters in and the prime mover today is the economy. People are very, very concerned about their pocketbooks and the impact on their family. Also got some interesting exit polls on the veepstakes.
OLBERMANN: Oh great. We're going to get that. We're starting that early.
All right, let's begin formally our coverage tonight with MSNBC's Washington bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert.
Good evening, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS HOST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right. What do we actually know about tonight and where is the thing that is the banana peel that's going to make this go on longer that tonight. Because there has been a banana peel every step of way.
RUSSERT: Keith, this is it.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. So long, see you later.
RUSSERT: This is the real thing. But, I listened so carefully to your introduction. It is so important, you framed it the way you did. We can't take our eyes off the big picture. There are a lot of very appealing interesting sexy subplots, but the big picture, think about this. A freshman senator from Illinois, who we refers to himself as the skinny black kid from the South Side of Chicago has defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. The Clinton machine. A former fist lady and former president. It truly is David versus Goliath. And it has happened. We have to focus on how historic this night really is.
OLBERMANN: And it's 60 years since the very party that will wind up nominating him, split apart over the issue of race. It was still a presidential candidate who could call himself a Democrat in 1948 and advocate the segregation of the races, that's a measure of American history, not political history, but American societal history in 60 years.
RUSSERT: Absolutely. In 45 years this August, Martin Luther king, "I have a dream" speech. This is an important night to look at from an historical perspective. We'll talk about all the other things going on with Hillary and the vice presidency and the superdelegates and back and forth. But the fact is, this man, Barack Obama, as he says, "with a funny name" is going to be the Democratic nominee tonight. He will lock up the necessary delegates we have talked about for the last several months. People can talk about the metrics and popular vote. That's all side show. The big news tonight, Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.
Remember in January, and you referred back to it, Senator Clinton had raised twice as much money, was ahead two to one in the polls and look what happened in the last five months.
OLBERMANN: Five months ago almost to the hour there was a poll, I might mention here it was a CNN poll that said she was ahead in Iowa. Within hours we had results that contradicted that entirely. But in the context of the big picture and what she has done already today, is there a sense she's in some way rained on the parade?
RUSSERT: Many Obama supporters believe that and feel that. There's been this tug of war all day long. Actually for the last three days. People saying you better be nice, you'd better be respectful, you'd better be gracious. They are saying it to each other. The Obama people saying what if this was the other way around? What if Senator Clinton announced she had enough votes or delegates for the nomination? Would Senator Obama be doing this? I have heard very harsh words today. I think we'll talk about it, I know we will all night long.
But I have to keep reminding myself, when I talk to people outside the bubble as Scott McClellan would call it, they say this is amazing.
Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton. I mean that's a very big story, no matter how many times, weeks, days people have heard it or want to discount it, tonight, it will become official. And I think we have to recognize it.
MATTHEWS: Is the criticism within the campaign of Hillary Clinton tonight, and we know from history, there's always going to be that, is any of it directed inward?
RUSSERT: What do you mean, Chris?
MATTHEWS: Do they blame themselves for screwing it up?
MATTHEWS: In other words, this. My question is always going to be as I look back on this year, had Hillary Clinton opposed the Iraq War with the same fortitude she ran for president, the same pizzazz and excitement and said this is a bad move for America, I will not vote to authorize it, had she taken that step, would she be where she is tonight? I don't think so. What do you think?
RUSSERT: Or what would happen if Bill and Hillary Clinton came out against the war, what would that have meant to the Democrats in both houses of Congress in terms of their support of the war?
RUSSERT: But let's just look at the campaign. Hillary Clinton decided to run as the inevitable nominee. Had more money, had more organizational support, had more endorsements, had more experience. Nobody was going to get in the way of that machine.
And this race, quote, "will be over by February 5," quote, unquote Hillary Clinton. That was the plan. When Obama won in Iowa and she was third, all that went off the rails. But the Clinton campaign had a hard time readjusting. What happened? From February 5 to February 19, Barack Obama won off 11 victories in a row, had a net gain of 120 elected delegates.
Look at the scoreboard tonight. He's going to win elected delegates by about 120. That was the race. It happened in that month of February where the Clinton campaign was not prepared for those caucus states. How did Obama get there? By beating her in Iowa. How did he do that? By a message of change versus a message of experience, inevitability. That in essence is the race we are watching and analyzing tonight.
OLBERMANN: As it apparently comes to its end.
Tim Russert, we'll check back with you later on, apparently as it comes to its end. I'm still looking for that banana peel.
RUSSERT: I hear you, I hear you.
MATTHEWS: Let's check in now with NBC News political director Chuck Todd on how close Obama is right now to securing the nomination. By the numbers, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I heard Keith say, apparently.
We're pretty close to saying effectively over. Here is the reality. He needs 14 delegates, supers or pledged delegates. What's he going to get tonight? He's going to get a minimum of 15 tonight.
Now of course the real semantics, of course, when do we, as a network, when does he officially get these delegates? When polls close at 9:00, he could get as many as six delegates at that point. So to go over the top at 9:00 he would need to roll out about eight superdelegates before 9:00.
If he wants to wait until 10:00 when the polls close in Montana, then he probably could get to 13 delegates and then he would just need to roll out one superdelegate if he wants at least according to our count to go over the top.
There will be other that do it different ways. We actually wait until the delegates are awarded or counted. But that's what we have today. We have to wait for the polls to close. Are we calling it Brokaw Tuesday, yet? With South Dakota and Montana.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, if he loses one of those two states out west.
Everybody knows that South Dakota is close. It's a closed primary.
Democrats only. That's tended to favor Senator Clinton. Does that rain on his parade, his plan to announce some sort of - the ultimate victory?
TODD: He's going to speak, from my understanding after 10:00. That's after Montana closes. That's the state they feel more confident about than South Dakota. I don't think losing South Dakota is going to rain on the parade. It's a nice little feather in the cap for Senator Clinton and I think she is going to be able to at least say something on a high note tonight when she talks to her supporters. It probably hurts the vice presidential candidacy of Tom Daschle that he couldn't get a victory for Obama in South Dakota but it was tough.
Look, the Clintons worked South Dakota hard. One thing we have seen, when all three of them focus on a state, they can do very well. And that's going to be part of the pitch, by the way. If you are the Clinton campaign, wanting to get on the ticket, you're going to make these pitches. You're going to say, hey, look what I did in South Dakota.
MATTHEWS: All three of whom, I'm sorry?
TODD: The Clintons, Chelsea, President Clinton, don't forget she's worked as hard as President Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Great. Thank you very much, Chuck.
OLBERMANN: All of those open to being Democratic vice president candidates please raise your hands. Just so we can check that out beforehand just so it's not just Senator Clinton out there.
All right. Let's check in in the interim with both campaigns. Starting with the Clinton camp and this epic speech, the contents of which still largely secret, we believe.
NBC's Ron Allen at Baruch College in New York where the Clinton event will take place later this evening. Ron, good evening to you.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Keith. The contents of that speech are secret. I have got to believe they are being rewritten as the day goes on. And the day began with we're in this until there's a number. Now there seems to be a number. I think it's the movement of superdelegates that's happened over the past even hours that has been even particularly disappointing for the Clintons for the past few weeks because these are the party insiders, elected officials who know this situation best.
And she's been on the phone all day today trying to appeal to them to just wait, to reflect on where we are, look at what I've done over the past 16, 17 months, look at the states I've won. Look at the voters who are supporting me. Let's please take a moment and think about it. And they are thinking about it and moving to Barack Obama. And that's been the problem for the Clinton campaign in the past few weeks.
What she's going to say tonight, again, it's unclear. But I think it is going to be a somewhat delicate dance, if, in fact she wants the number two position on the ballot. The case that she's going to make, of course, is that more people voted for her than anybody else than Barack Obama in primary history. Fudging the numbers from Michigan and various caucuses. That's going to be her message. And we'll see how she tailors that. Given the flood of superdelegate who have apparently put Barack Obama over the top. Keith?
OLBERMANN: We are not expecting an Obama/Clinton '08 button on her lapel when she comes out. That's one thing for sure.
Ron Allen with the Clinton campaign at Baruch College in New York. Thank you, Rod.
The Obamas are based tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota in the exact location where the Republicans will hold their convention. MSNBC's Lee Cowan has been covering the Obama campaign from the beginning of the year. Joins us once again. Good evening, Lee.
LEE COWAN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Keith. This arena here seats about 18,000 people and they are expecting it to be packed here in just a couple of hours to hear Barack Obama.
I think it's fair to say that you haven't seen this campaign as confident or as happy about where they are as they are feeling tonight heading into these last two primaries. I think what you can expect from the speech is certainly more than a nod that he's passed the magic number, if in fact that does happen.
But I think you can expect a lot about John McCain, laying out the differences, the very clear differences, this campaign thinks, between Barack Obama and John McCain. Expect a lot on foreign policy, expect a lot on the economy. And we're told, expect a lot of effusive praise, their words, not mine, of Hillary Clinton. We started to see that over the last couple weeks. And I think according to the campaign you're going to see more of that in tonight's speech. Keith?
OLBERMANN: And you don't see any Obama-Clinton signs or signage out there at the Xcel Center do you?
COWAN: Not yet, just big Os. That's about it.
OLBERMANN: Just checking. Lee Cowan in St. Paul. Thank you, Lee.
MATTHEWS: Polls close in South Dakota at 9:00 Eastern tonight. Montana at 10:00 Eastern. Now let's get some early numbers for our exit polling and for that we turn to Norah O'Donnell. Norah.
NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Hey, Chris and Keith. We're getting a pretty good idea of those issues and qualities that are of paramount importance to voters today.
As it has throughout the entire primary season, the economy is the top issue. In South Dakota, 54 percent say the economy is the number one issue. In Montana, the economy was selected by just under half the voters. The Iraq War is also having a little more impact in Montana.
Where a third say it is the key issue. Health care rates about third in both states.
When asked about the economy today, voters today are very clear about being in a recession and the impact it's having. In both states you can see, look at that, eight out of 10 say their families have been hit, many hit hard by the current slowdown. Big numbers there.
And when it came to making a decision about which candidate would get their vote, the majority in both states say it was the candidate's position and plans on the issues, like the economy, Iraq and health care that swayed them in the end.
As you can see, personal qualities also important to many voters. And in terms of the qualities that made a difference, it was the ability to bring about change that voters in both states said was more important.
Experience was of a little bit less importance to these voters than a candidate who cares about me. With even fewer concern you see there about electability.
And of course, Chris and Keith, change is the issue that Barack Obama has made his own. As the polls close, we'll see whether it translated into the votes he needed. Those votes of course translating into delegates he is looking for tonight. Chris and Keith?
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Norah. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, he's the Democratic majority whip, he is the third ranking Democrat in the House, counting from the speaker, majority leader and then him.
Today, he endorsed Obama for president. He joins us now.
Congressman Jim Clyburn, what an honor to talk to you tonight. And to wonder why it took you until today to do this thing which I would have thought it was almost instinctive to pick this guy.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SC: Well, thank you so much for having me, Chris. The reason I waited is because of the job I have as House majority whip. You know, I had to count votes on the floor. I didn't want anybody looking at me saying that I've been partisan against his or her candidate and therefore might not give me a vote on a motion to recommit or something of that sort.
And then traveling around the country, trying to fund raise for the party, for the DCCC, that is, I didn't want anybody feeling reluctant to participate in these events because they may have been supporting a candidate that I was not supporting. So when you look at my role outside of Capitol Hill and here, inside the House of Representatives, it was best that I keep my sentiments to myself.
MATTHEWS: Well you don't need to do that anymore. Your sentiments tonight, sir, on the probable nomination of the first African American by any Western country. We went through the list of every European country, Asia, Australia, New Zealand. The old days of South Africa, they never ran a black for president in those old days. Even in the South American situation, I think one non-Hispanic. This is the only time any country in the world ran a black man for their leader and he's gotten almost at least 50/50 there.
CLYBURN: That's quite true. There's something else. This is what started me to thinking. I'm the eldest son of a fundamentalist minister. I grew up in a parsonage. I was very much a part of the efforts in the 1960s along with many others in this Congress including John Lewis and to have our Democratic convention, the party that gave us the Voting Rights Act back in 1964 - the Voting Rights Act in '65. The Civil Rights Act in '64, to have our national convention being held on the week that we will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of that famous march on Washington, when the greatest petition at that time ever presented to the American government was in fact presented and have our nominee in position to give his acceptance speech on the 45th anniversary of that "I have a dream speech" Martin Luther King Jr. The dream that he talked about of a colorblind administration, to have an African American accept the nomination of the presidency of the United States, allow us to turn that dream into a reality.
My Lord, I don't know what to say about this except it's got to be providential.
OLBERMANN: Congressman, I asked Tim Russert this question, it's a delicate question. With all the talk about Senator Clinton today and about her and about the vice presidency and of her speech tonight, to some degree, do you think that a little of the rug is being pulled out from the historic importance of this day or is this just within the realm of acceptable political positioning and placement.
CLYBURN: I think we can't take politics out of this. This is a political process. I expect for Senator Clinton to try to put herself in as good a position as she possibly can. That is to be expected. I think, though, that even Senator Clinton will admit, that petition that took place back in August 1963 was about gender equality, it was about workplace equality as well as ethnic and racial equality. All of those things were presented on that day. Even she would have to admit, this is in fact, could be a great moment in the American history.
OLBERMANN: Finally, to that point, sir, would you want to see her on the ticket to add given the paucity of women leaders in the West and particularly this country?
CLYBURN: That's one of the reasons I talked about it in this statement that I released.
It would not be insulting to me at all, but I do know, it has to be the wishes of the nominee. I think that Senator Obama and Senator Clinton need to get together within the next few days, sit down and talk about this party, talk about this nation and how each one of them can be most effective in moving the ball forward. This is not about any one nominee.
This is not about our party. This is about our country that we love so dearly, and I would hope that whatever they do, they will keep in mind, this is for the children and grandchildren who are destined to come after us and forget about what may be best for the individual.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.
OLBERMANN: What an eloquent interview that was. Now, to NBC's Andrea Mitchell who has been covering the Clinton campaign and is in our campaign listening post. Andrea what do you have on the conference call with the New York State legislators in which the vice presidency came up somehow with Senator Clinton.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It was put out there and she sort of rose and grabbed it. According to a number of the people on the call including Charlie Rangel with whom I spoke, and others she said she was open to it and they want her to take it. They want her to be putting herself forward on this.
There's some feeling from the Clinton campaign, that perhaps they pushed it a little too far and a little too hard. But there is no denying what Charlie Rangel told me this morning, that feels Barack Obama's best move to the Oval Office is to have Hillary Clinton on the ticket.
And remember, it was Charlie Rangel who first proposed she run for the United States Senate when other people said it was crazy to even talk about a first lady doing that in a state in which she did not live.
OLBERMANN: Timing of this, as Chris and I were talking about earlier, this would not be the subject that would ordinarily come up the night that any Democratic or Republican candidate got their nomination, if not officially. Is there some sense this is being brought too soon to the floor?
MITCHELL: Indeed, from the Obama camp, raining on his parade, stealing his thunder, choose your meteorological metaphor, if you want.
But clearly, she is doing this, according to one advisor. They know that this is their maximum leverage. Right now she has not yet conceded. She has not yet endorsed. This is the last moment she will have prior to an endorsement or a concession. Where she actually has a lot of votes, might do well in one of the primaries tonight and can actually be on center stage until he comes and makes his big moment and that moment is the history making moment and that's the one we will all be covering.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell with a little more insight into that conference call today. Thank you, Andrea.
MITCHELL: You bet.
OLBERMANN: Coming up, David Gregory and our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel. You're watching MSNBC's continuing coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and the big Clinton and Obama speeches later this evening. Chris and I will return after this.
MATTHEWS: We're back with MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and a lot more tonight. Polls closing in those two states at 9:00 in South Dakota, at 10:00 in Montana.
With Barack Obama now catch this, just 12 superdelegates shy, or any kind of delegates, of clinching the nomination for president of the Democratic Party for 2008.
Tonight's the big night in American politics, this year so far. Now, we want to introduce our panel for tonight, the RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel. NBC's David Gregory is leading the show. "The Washington Post's"
Eugene Robinson, who is an MSNBC political analyst, MSNBC political analyst Patrick Buchanan and Air America Radio's Rachel Maddow, who is also an MSNBC political analyst. The only one who's not an MSNBC political analyst, I turn it over to, David Gregory.
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much. Chris and Keith, good evening to you. There's a lot going on, panel. We have a lot going on.
This thing is moving very quickly. Rachel, the news of the day to really chew on is vice presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That's what she said on her conference call, that she's now open to it. Has the campaign for the number two slot begun?
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA: It's bigger than that I think. Because I think it's a story about Hillary Clinton. Can she get the vice presidential nominee, is that her goal at this point and let us not lose sight of the fact, she apparently is not running for president anymore.
For me, at least, it's been an open question until at least yesterday.
The aggressive language we saw from her campaign and she's going to pivot, and the question at hand is whether she is going to be VP, this is news itself.
GREGORY: Why signal this now, today, Pat, on the precipice of this big announcement?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's why; because the nomination battle has just begun. What's the prize that's going to be sought and who's going to win? The Hillary Democrats in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia will decide this nomination.
Hillary Democrats in Colorado, who's got a claim to them? Both McCain and Barack Obama are going to go after them. Barack Obama will praise Hillary tonight. I wouldn't be surprised to see McCain praise her.
She is saying, I'm not giving up this estate. I still have a say over where they go, 17 million voters. Whoever gets the majority of them wins the presidency of the United States.
GREGORY: Gene, if you're Barack Obama, do you not still sit here and say, I understand the math, but I also understand the soul of this campaign, which is about turning the page from the Clinton's, not running with the Clintons.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Exactly. Barack Obama certainly gains some if he takes Hillary Clinton on the ticket. He loses some too.
I know a number of people who say he can't possibly do that. This is supposed to be about new politics, not old.
But the important thing, I think, is he becomes the nominee tonight. The power, the royal flush hand, poker hand, is his. It's not Clinton's anymore.
GREGORY: It raises an important point.
ROBINSON: He's not pressured to do anything.
GREGORY: Let me introduce this, for both of you; there's the idea of the good way to campaign for this, you just said it, the bad way to campaign to be on the number two slot. Joe Klein of "Time Magazine" had a few items in terms of what she could do tonight to actually position herself; give an endorsement to Obama tonight, have the finance team contact the Obama team and say, let's get a big campaign effort started with a big goal in mind, a massive women for Obama rally, plan to barn storm the country in those states that Clinton won. Does any of that happen?
MADDOW: Yes, the bad way to run for the vice presidency is to say you need to heal the wounds of the primary and my supporters are going to be sore unless you pick. The good way to run for the vice presidency is to say, if I'm on the ticket, we win, because look how much I can bring us towards the general. Looking back is a bad way to pick.
GREGORY: Does he have to come to her, or does she have to go to him?
BUCHANAN: He's got to come to her, there's no doubt about it. I think Klein overdoes it one way and jamming him overdoes it another way.
Again, Gene, when you talk about it, he's got to get the Hillary voters.
Maybe you don't need her. Get rid of her. He's got to get the Hillary Democrats or he loses the election.
GREGORY: We have a lot to talk to as the night goes on. We'll talk about it all. Gentlemen, back to you.
OLBERMANN: This just in, since we started at 6:00, three more super delegates have now turned in for Senator Obama. There was one while David was taking. He's down to 11 overall delegates needed to cinch the
2008 Democratic nomination.
When we return, the former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, our insider, plus early word from both campaigns. This is the MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and a lot more business tonight in American politics.
Now we turn to a real insider who knows what it's like to run campaigns and win, former member of Congress Harold Ford Jr. Congressman Ford, thank you for joining us tonight.
HAROLD FORD JR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: You must have a feeling about tonight. This is going to be a history making tonight, as far as we can see it coming, in American history.
FORD: It's a great night for Senator Obama, a great night even for Senator Clinton. Both have run great races and made history in their own right. I think the history Barack really wants to make is to be the 44th president of the United States. Some of the attention, and it's expected and probably some of it appropriate, that he's the first African-American nominee should be noted.
But going forward, this race is about whom the American people believe in. Barack has demonstrated, in a very close race with Hillary Clinton, that he's able not only to win the hearts and minds, but win the confidence of a majority of Americans. Between now and August, the next two weeks will be key how he and Hillary come together, wrap their arms around one another, reconcile, help their supporters reconcile. But then he now has to pivot and get ready for what will be a very spirited and tough general election, one that he has a decisive advantage though.
People in America, from coast to coast, from north to south, are interested in change. He has defined the theme of this campaign. As long as he continues down that path, wraps specifics around what that change actually means, and is willing to take his campaign to every part of this country, even places where we believe people may not be as kind or may not be as willing to embrace him because he's a Democrat - I'm a believer that as big a challenge as he may face on race, party may be as big a challenge in parts of the country, or his party identification.
He's been able to transcend a lot of that in the campaign. The question now will be, and one I think he will answer in an affirmative way, because of the way he's campaigned over the last several months - but the challenge now will be to take this campaign to the people, to be honest with people and to wrap some specifics around what change really means.
MATTHEWS: If you look at all the numbers, the Republican party is in terrible shape right now. It's the party, not just President Bush. It's the party itself in the poll. If you identify a policy position with the Republican party, people say they don't like the policy. It's that bad.
How does he exploit that? How does he get Republicans, people who always said they were Republicans, leaners or actually hardcore Republicans, to vote for him or does he not need that?
FORD: He needs that. You know better than I and most people in this business, presidential races are really about two huge themes each and every time. One constant is always national security. Republicans have been able to exploit that issue against Democrats in the last several elections, at least in my adult life.
This election is different, because this president has completely, in the eyes of a majority of Americans, mismanaged a winnable effort in Iraq. Barack has a unique opportunity to not only appear tough, but to be smart, to talk about leveraging every aspect of America's force, from diplomatic, political, moral and military.
Two, the economy. That issue will emerge, as you and I both know, as foremost on the minds of most Americans. The war is still prominent and dominant in many ways, but the economy, gas prices, food prices, kids going back to - going back to school at the end of summer, the price of goods and clothing to get your kids back in school. The candidate, and I believe Barack can do this - the candidate that best exploits these issues in a positive way, speaks to America's best days, and how will create a better tomorrow - Barack has been able to do that by his biography, by his person, by his DNA, by his politics.
If he continues down that path and approaches this with the kind of aggressiveness, the kind of forcefulness, and the willingness to bring all of us together, he will make history in November by being the 44th president and also being the first African American. I think he's more interested in being the 44th president than anything else.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Harold Ford Jr.
OLBERMANN: Up next, we'll talk to representatives from both campaigns about how they're feeling tonight. Also, NBC's special correspondent Tom Brokaw joins us. You're watching MSNBC's live coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC's coverage of the final primaries of this Democratic race in South Dakota and Montana, with Barack Obama now just 11 delegates away from clinching the nomination. He could get those delegates either from super delegates or in the two remaining primaries we'll get the results of tonight. We have super delegates joining us now from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns. We begin with Lisa Caputo, a senior advisor to the Clinton campaign.
Lisa, how's it feel? I have a sense that, as of yesterday, there's still some people that wanted to fight on and some that didn't.
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Yes, I think that's absolutely true, Chris, for sure. If you know the Clinton's well, the Clintons like to fight. Those who are Clinton loyalists are fighters to the death. So, absolutely, I think it's fair to say Harold Ickes, whom I just love, led that charge clearly on Saturday in front of the rules committee at the DNC.
I think as people looked at what the numbers were, and in fact Senator Clinton knows the math isn't there - everyone has to be a realist and figure out what are the next steps.
MATTHEWS: Are you surprised she was so open to the idea in that telephone conference call with the New York congressional delegation to the vice presidency?
CAPUTO: Actually, no, Chris, I'm not. I thought for some time, if this doesn't work out for her, she needs to decide what she wants to do. I've long thought of putting her on the ticket and accepting the offer if it's made would be a fantastic way to not only unite the party, but really make what would be an unstoppable ticket in the fall. When you think about it and peel it back, think about what she brings to the ticket. She brings the female vote in spades. She obviously brings the older vote that we've seen in the exit polls throughout the primaries.
She's also bringing the swing states. She's brining I think the Latina and Latino population.
And I think also, it's important to note that the popular vote is close.
Depending on how you do the calculation, including Michigan or excluding Michigan, you can't take away from the fact that over 17 million people cast votes for her. She brings a lot of momentum to that ticket that I think could make quite an unbeatable ticket.
OLBERMANN: Is she able to instinctively obey Barack Obama? That is what comes with the territory of being somebody's VP. You obey the other person. Is she that kind of person?
CAPUTO: You know what, Chris, she is incredibly disciplined. I think you would probably agree with that, she's a very disciplined legislator, a very disciplined campaigner and a very disciplined candidate. I think she would do exactly what it would take and exactly what would be asked of her to make sure the Democrats win the White House in the fall.
MATTHEWS: OK, Lisa Caputo, it's always great to have you. Thank you.
CAPUTO: Nice to see you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Now to the Obama side of things. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has been one of Senator Obama's biggest supporters. Good evening to you, senator.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Good evening to you guys.
OLBERMANN: This must be a transcendent evening for you. Place it in terms of your assessment of American political history and American history in general.
MCCASKILL: I'm filled with pride for both of these candidates and for my party. My party has done a remarkable thing. They have nominated two candidates that - their candidacies would have been unheard of just a very short time ago in our country. They both did very, very well. I have been honored to be a part of this. It's been the highlight of my political career. This is history and you can't help but take a breath and wallow in it.
OLBERMANN: Senator, if your party does nominates two people tonight, in effect, how would you feel about what is being so widely talked about today on two levels? Is the discussion of Senator Clinton as a vice presidential candidate inappropriate today because of the historic nature of Obama's reaching the magic number or about to be? Secondly, is there some aspect of that candidacy that might be difficult for you and the other supporters to agree to?
MCCASKILL: First of all, certainly, it's appropriate to talk about it.
This is a remarkable woman. She's done a great deal for women in this country by the kind of campaign she's run. There's a lot of passion in her supporters and a lot of disappointment about this outcome. I get that. Nobody wants to see a woman president more than I do. So it's very understandable.
Of course she should be talked about for vice president. As to the decision, that is one that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will have to make, the two of them, in a room, discussing this and deciding what's best for our country. I trust the two of them to make the right decision.
OLBERMANN: To Chris' point right now to Lisa Caputo - I'll phrase it in a different way, is there fear among Senator Obama's supporters that Senator Clinton as a vice president would be more in a position of believing herself to be a co-president?
MCCASKILL: Well, I think, whenever a vice presidential candidate is picked, this is always one of the narratives. Are they capable of being a number two? Are they just looking to be number one? This is not new in history.
What's new are these two candidates and what they represent. They have to figure that out. We're going to play parlor games about it for the next two or three days or two or three weeks. Eventually, the two of them will come to the right decision. I know what's going to happen over the next several days; this party is going to unify in a way that is going to really depress John McCain.
OLBERMANN: Senator McCaskill, bringing the Democrats back to the big picture. Thank you, senator.
MCCASKILL: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Up next, NBC's Tom Brokaw on how tonight may unfold and more of that talk of the so-called dream ticket. You're watching MSNBC's live coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and, ahead, the Clinton and Obama speeches.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC's coverage of the final primaries of the Democratic race in South Dakota and Montana.
OLBERMANN: Let's bring in NBC special correspondent Tom Brokaw, who, as Chuck Todd alluded to earlier, knows South Dakota and Montana as well as anyone. Chuck used the phrase, this is Brokaw Tuesday. As South Dakota and Montana go, so go the nation. Correct, Tom?
BROKAW: That's right. I told you earlier in this process, these are the king makers, the two giant states in the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain West. It's been an interesting campaign out there. The Clintons have worked South Dakota very hard. They have gone to town that I no longer go to and I have been to most of the towns in that state, including my birth place, which has a very small population. I think Bill Clinton showed up there the other day. I would like to think it was a pilgrimage, but I think he was more interested in campaigning, probably.
OLBERMANN: We joke about the influence of these two states tonight, but, in fact, to some degree, at least in terms of juxtaposition, do they get Hillary Clinton the vice presidential nomination?
BROKAW: I think what she wanted to do in South Dakota - she didn't spend as much time in Montana, obviously, because the signals weren't as strong for her there. In South Dakota, they have been throughout the night. She could have a very good night there. I think what she wanted to do was pile up more popular votes there and also say, look, this is a state in the northern latitudes, white, primarily, working class and quite conservative in its politics; look how well I did.
Talking in the last 24 hours or so to some of the people in the Clinton campaign, including one very close to the Clinton's, I think we're going to hearing a lot tonight about Hillary Clinton should be number two on the Barack Obama ticket if she doesn't get the nomination. As one of them said to me, we could have 16 years of a Democratic president. She could still get to be the first woman elected president in this country.
When I tried that out with senior people in the Obama campaign, however, there was not much excitement, to put it quite mildly. One of them said, all we have to do is call her in and say, well, we'll talk about this, but first, let's talk about Bill Clinton and all the contributions to his library, where he's gotten his business fees in the last eight years, would he be willing to give up his speech fees as well.
Concern among the Obama advisors, at least, that if Hillary Clinton went on the ticket, it would reintroduce Bill Clinton to the campaign. That might electrify the Republican base, which, at the moment, I think it's fair to say is not wildly excited about its prospects come this fall.
OLBERMANN: That doesn't even address, which we're running out of time to do so, Tom, the prospects of, as Chris alluded to before and I did too, of whether or not Senator Clinton would be number two on the ticket or we're looking at a 1-B position, let alone the implications of what you said about the former president.
In any event, Tom Brokaw, thank you. We'll be back with you in the moments to come. Chris and I will rejoin you with much more on this historic night. We'll talk to former presidential candidate Chris Dodd, now an Obama supporter. NBC's Tim Russert will rejoin us. And our coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and the Obama and Clinton speeches tonight continues after this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: The beat goes on. Barack Obama is now just
11 delegates away from clinching the Democratic nomination for president
in the year 2008.
We rejoin you with MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana
primaries. And a lot more tonight.
Alongside Keith Olbermann, I'm Chris Matthews.
And at the rate we've been going, we may not need to wait.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: No.
MATTHEWS: With the polls to close in those two Western states for Barack
Obama to win. I'm thinking - I'm Barack Obama. Tonight is the night.
I've been waiting for it for what - a year and a half, since Springfield.
MATTHEWS: And it's supposed to be about a headline going around the
world; a shot heard around the world everywhere - Timbuktu. People are
getting up, 6 billion people and reading an African-American, me, has
just become the nominee of a major political party.
And yet all the buzz tonight including here is about whether Hillary
might be interested in sharing this honor. Just guessing, they're mad.
OLBERMANN: Well, everything we have heard about this so far indicates,
yes, that the supporters for Senator Obama have been uniformly
displeased - let's use that phrase - with Senator Clinton's behavior
regarding the vice presidency. All along, whether it was that point back
at the beginning of this where she was offering it to him while he was
significantly ahead in delegates.
Again every source though says that again Senator Obama himself has
retained and stayed calm in the center in this which is perhaps the
reason why he got the headline.
MATTHEWS: I go back to my trouble making question.
MATTHEWS: Would you expect Senator Clinton who is finally, since 2001,
winning the senate seat in New York and all these years being her own
person, the boss of her life, the captain of her ship - is she willing
at this point, after eight years now of independence, to once again
offer her subservience to another politician, in this case to Barack Obama.
To say, I will not love, honor, but obey you because that is what comes
of being a vice president. You must obey the top guy. I think it might
- I remember somebody once saying that - a guy who I won't mention his
name because it's an unkind comment - the other senator said he has the
soul of a vice president.
I don't think Hillary Clinton has the soul of a vice president.
OLBERMANN: What's the line from advising consent, it's not exactly a
crime to be vice president, but they don't give you a statue for it?
This is the LBJ question in 1960.
MATTHEWS: A miserable man for three years.
OLBERMANN: It's not a question of whether or not he wanted to be a vice
president but would the Kennedys accept him? Did they think he could
restrain himself and the Ford/Reagan question of 1980 which Reagan for
Ford after Ford said he is sort of co-presidency demands out there.
MATTHEWS: The Kennedys were so on top of LBJ when they sent him on some
trip overseas. They sent some guy with him to keep an eye on him, like
Steve Smith to watch him.
Hillary Clinton, well, she might be ready for it. You never know.
Ambition carries people to new heights.
Anyway, now Norah O'Donnell with a preview of our exit polling tonight.
You like that phrase?
NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: It is amazing, five months after
Iowa after January. And so voters are weighing in finding out in our
exit polls whether they feel exhausted or energized. We're going to have
the results of that coming up.
Also, something interesting we've found that Hillary Clinton's backers
are feeling less hostile towards Barack Obama than we've seen in some of
the previous contests.
OLBERMANN: So I hope they have enough energy to answer your first
question there. Norah O'Donnell with a preview. Thank you Norah.
O'DONNELL: You're welcome.
MATTHEWS: If they are not hostile, why did they pull this aggressive act
today? Why did Senator Clinton, "I want it"?
OLBERMANN: No, no, no, the supporters in South Dakota and Montana. The
good people of South Dakota and Montana.
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. I got it.
OLBERMANN: All right back to NBC's Washington bureau chief, moderator of
"Meet the Press," Tim Russert. Good evening again, Tim.
TIM RUSSERT, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, NBC NEWS: Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right let's talk about these points that we're just
making here. It's fine and dandy to have Senator Clinton saying in a
conference with New York lawmakers today that she'd be open to being
asked to being vice president. And it makes all kinds of sense, although
it also makes sense that she shouldn't be on the ticket. There are all
sorts of pluses for Obama to consider.
There's always that issue of whether or not it's appropriate for it to
be discussed tonight. But what about the Ford-Reagan question and
LBJ-JFK question, could she be vice president?
RUSSERT: A very legitimate point in history. If Barack Obama concluded
that he needed Hillary Clinton in order to be elected, he would no doubt
consider her. I spoke a short while ago to a leading Obama supporter and
I said what do you make of all this, he said what? I said the vice
president. Response, she'd be a great member of the Supreme Court.
Oh, yes. So, that's where we are. But, it's not ruling it out or in. But
then he went on to say this, Keith, and I found this really interesting.
We had hoped tonight, we would be on the board. Obama versus McCain and
there would be a secondary board, our relationship with Senator Clinton
and how to deal with that and keep her involved and engaged in a unified
But it appears we're are still going to be playing this three-way chess
game where they fully expect John McCain to be effusive of Hillary
Clinton tonight as Barack Obama will be because he's going to be playing
for her constituency.
And one other point, made by this Obama supporter is this will now say
to John McCain, if Obama decides not to take Hillary Clinton, John
McCain should pick a woman and tap into that whole reservoir of anger
directed toward Barack Obama. So tonight, the chess game is being
played, three corners, McCain, Clinton and Obama.
MATTHEWS: You know, I wondered because I've watched Senator Clinton, as
we all have, say great things about John McCain, almost to the exclusion
of her Democratic rival. She said that he's qualified to be
commander-in-chief; all but using the language she reserves for herself
which is ready to serve from day one.
And this (INAUDIBLE) continues now. If he returns the favor tonight,
they will have recognized each other as equals and co-applicants for the
presidency to the exclusion of Barack. They will have closed the circle
RUSSERT: I had Senator McCain and Clinton together from Iraq one time
and Senator McCain said she would make a good president. He paid a price
on that day with a lot of conservative blogs and radio programs. But
that's part of the record. And they have gone out of their way to saying
good things about each other.
Keith, your point about energizing the Republican base with the addition
of Clinton to the ticket, if you look at the electoral college map and
the Obama people I've talked to, they acknowledge that in a state like
Florida, she could be helpful. But they're not sure if Florida is going
to come their way.
Pennsylvania, they believe if they can't win Pennsylvania alone, then
they are not even in the game. What their concern is, what about
Virginia and Colorado and Iowa and Nevada? Does she help Obama win those
states? And a hard headed calculation at this point is no. But if he
needs her to win Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, then obviously the
equation may change.
MATTHEWS: Isn't it smarter - I'm sorry.
OLBERMANN: Go ahead Chris.
MATTHEWS: Isn't it smarter to put someone like Mark Warner on the
ticket? I mean get him out of that senate race and really bring aboard
Virginia, bring aboard some of those western states with a guy like him
who's a real business guy, moderate, young, futuristic (ph)?
RUSSERT: If you assume that you will win the same states Gore won in
2000 and Kerry won in 2004, which is a pretty good assumption. A lot of
them are as close, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, they are not
runaways. But assume you can win the base states, then how do you get to
that magical 270 electoral votes?
And if you need to go not the Ohio-Florida route but the Virginia,
Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico route, who can help you? And it
appears that it's the notion of the new Democrats defined by Mark
Warner; some would say Tim Kaine, the current governor of Virginia; Jim
Webb, the current senator from Virginia. Is that the kind of person they
should be looking for? Do they want to find someone with national
security credentials who can be a pit bull against John McCain?
That's what is going to be played out but normally this is a July parlor
game. Here we are, the night that this man is going to claim the
Democratic nomination, we are discussing it. Your instincts are exactly
right, guys, the Obama camp is none too happy and find it less than
OLBERMANN: So what does it mean in terms of that decision? Has the time
line been altered for him - not necessarily to choose her but to choose
somebody else? Or for him to choose somebody else, did she just change
that time line? Did she just change another set of metrics on us?
RUSSERT: I don't know, Keith. But what we're clearly going to have to
watch for is does this turn into a campaign? Do women and do blue collar
unions that were for Hillary Clinton and Hispanic organizations, do they
start in chanting in unison, it must be Hillary trying to force Barack
Obama? And then it becomes in many ways, his first quasi-presidential
decision. Is he going to be forced to do something if he resists them too?
I remember discussions with Senator Obama about his views of the
presidency in the country. And he said the following. We have to turn
the page on the Bush's and the Clinton's. He was very clear about a
generational change. His campaign repeated that as well. And so it's
going to be difficult, I think, for him to explain to many of his
supporters why he found this necessary. Doable? Yes.
If you look at the exit polls that Norah is going to talk about, you
will see this extraordinary dividing line between Clinton supporters and
Obama supporters as to whether or not she should be on the ticket.
OLBERMANN: Is it unavoidable that this is going to be a distraction for
the start of his campaign when he comes out tonight at the Excel (ph)
Center? Upstaging the Republicans by several months in their building,
on their home court, if you will, and makes this speech and the rest of
the conversation now for tomorrow, next week, the week after?
Is he going to pick her as the vice president, is he going to snub her?
What does he do? If he does snub her, how does he get that part of it -
the whole thing unrolls as if the primaries did not end tonight.
RUSSERT: Obviously, the Obama campaign would much prefer to have John
McCain in their sights and no other distractions. That is not going to
be the case tonight and probably for the days and weeks to come.
Although, I do think that the power of the moment at 10:00 p.m. tonight
will overwhelm everything else.
But you're right, this other side conversation is going to linger for
some time until it's resolved.
OLBERMANN: I knew there was a banana peel somewhere for tonight. There
it is. Tim Russert, we'll talk to you later on.
Thank you Tim.
RUSSERT: All right.
MATTHEWS: While U.S. Congressman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio has been
one of Senator Clinton's most vocal supporters. She joins us now from
the Clinton event at (INAUDIBLE) College of New York.
Congresswoman, thank you very much. Would you explain all that's going
on right now? I don't know if you talked to Congressman Rangel, the
chairman of Ways and Means or any of the other members from New York,
but what's up?
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES, (D-NY): I haven't talked to Congressman
Rangel. I'm in New York. I've been watching TV, much like you.
The reality is that Senator Clinton has said all along that she will do
whatever it is that will make the Democratic party successful and
included in that, I suppose is the opportunity to being considered for
the VP position.
MATTHEWS: But the VP job, you know, you're an independent political
figure. You're who you want to be every day of your life. The vice
president's job is so unique in American politics. It really only has
two rolls, preside over the Senate and wait if you're necessary to fill
the office in a tragedy situation. It really doesn't have any
independent authority. Why would Hillary Clinton want to be that kind of
almost robotic person?
TUBBS JONES: Well, you know, keep in mind, she said she's willing to do
what is necessary to help the Democratic Party, if that is part of what
can help us. But keep in mind, this president, George Bush has left this
country in such a mess. It may well take two people to bring it back around.
There's enough work on this plate to allocate work to her, to the
president, Senator Obama, whoever else there is. There's a lot of work
to be done. So it's a possibility.
You know, that's not my decision to make. That's Senator Obama's,
Senator Clinton's, but that's not mine.
MATTHEWS: Well, one thing you can tell us is, do you think - you're a
political person, you represent a big district and significant district
up there in Cleveland - will an Obama-Hillary ticket deliver Ohio?
TUBBS JONES: I think that an Obama-Hillary ticket can deliver Ohio. Keep
in mind that Hillary Clinton did very well in the state of Ohio With the
assistance of our governor Ted Strickland and with my assistance. It
appears to me that the combined work of Senator Clinton and Senator
Obama could make for a great ticket. But that's not my decision to make.
MATTHEWS: How does Hillary Clinton go - how does the senator go around
to the people that she convinced not to vote for Barack Obama that she
was wrong? In a sense, they should vote for him.
TUBBS JONES: There's some historical stuff happening in this process,
historical things and you think back to John Kennedy and you think back
to his running mate, Senator Johnson, back in those days. They weren't
talking. They weren't good friends. But ultimately, they came together
to make a ticket and make it a winning ticket for the Democratic Party.
So it's a possibility.
MATTHEWS: It's great having you on. Go I head, I'm sorry.
TUBBS JONES: In politics you never know what's going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Well, they used to say, it makes strange bedfellows, we mean
that in a political sense. Anyway, thank you very much Congresswoman
Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio.
Let's send in - send it all back down to David Gregory. Lots of food
for thought here. Lots of grist for the mill in the race for the White
House panel - David.
DAVID GREGORY, MSNBC ANCHOR, "RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE": Chris, thanks a
Pat Buchanan we've been talking about this for the last several weeks.
The fact that Hillary Clinton is in a position to say, "I own a certain
block of voters, they are women, they are blue collar voters, I can
bring them to you. You can't get them on your own Barack Obama."
And now John McCain, as Tim Russert was alluding to, is prepared to say,
"And Barack Obama, I've got a stake to those voters as well." He's going
to talk positively about Senator Clinton tonight. What does it mean?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And so is Obama. And what it
means is basically, Hillary's estate, 18 million voters, part of it will
naturally go to Obama, part of it will go to McCain but the rest of it
goes to probate. And I think it is up for grabs quite frankly.
McCain will go right for it; he will appeal to them. And Obama had
better move to the center and these white working class votes, middle
Americans, the Catholics and ethnics. These other folks and also some
Hispanics or he's going to lose the election. Now she said -
GREGORY: But Rachel, you made your point that this is just an argument
that a vote in the primary doesn't make a vote in the election.
RACHEL MADDOW, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Right.
GREGORY: - against Obama just because it was for Hillary Clinton in
MADDOW: That's right. And so Clinton Democratic primary voters can't be
the universe over which the general election is going to be fought. Tim
used the analogy that this is like three-person chess.
I see this as like anarchists' (ph) soccer. Three teams, two goals.
There's no - people aren't necessarily fighting over the same turf here.
McCain has got to think about soft Republicans who don't like Bush who
might be attracted to a young, different, new kind of Democrat. He can't
just think about the Clinton supporters that Obama can't win.
GREGORY: He's talking about moderate, you know the South Dakota
Democrat, will he have that place tonight? More moderate and
conservative in views who might be inclined to vote for John McCain
who's got cross-over appeal.
Does he set his sights in the first few weeks of the general election
campaign and say I want to continue this wedge between these two
candidates? And if she is in the picture as a potential vice president,
it's there for the picking. That is possible.
BUCHANAN: McCain would be delighted to have a three-way race instead of
a two-way race. I don't think he gets it actually. I think - we're
going to talk tonight about Hillary as vice president. We're going to
talk about it for a couple of days. Obama I think will say very nice
things about her, will say extremely nice things about her voters. And
then say, it's going to take awhile to make the decision. I think it
goes away for awhile.
And I think you've already heard Obama make the move that Pat was
talking about. We heard this on Sunday.
GREGORY: Does McCain say part of this calculation and I think about
picking a woman?
BUCHANAN: No, no, no. What he does - look you go after the working
class, Reagan Democrats on their issues. That's not Kyoto, that's bibles
and guns, when you get right down to the basics of it. He has to go
after those voters on their concerns, their cultural values. And
Republicans have got to keep pushing Obama out of the center with the
Reverend Wright stuff.
You know the one thing, David, they found out, on all those voters in
Virginia, the only thing they knew about Obama, was he was in that crazy
guy's church. Now unless he gets more of an identity, the Republicans
will define him and they're going to begin defining him very soon and
cut him out of some of those Hillary Democrats.
BUCHANAN: And what did we hear from Obama on Sunday? It was a good
speech. We heard a very kind of centrist speech. We heard a lot about
family; we heard about faith. We heard about those issues that you're
GREGORY: All right, we'll leave it there. More to come as this
Gentlemen, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, thank you. Panel, thank you.
Now to the Obama campaign. Senator Chris Dodd of course ran for
president this year. After leaving the race he endorsed Senator Obama.
He joins us now from Washington. Thank you for your time tonight, senator.
SEN. CHRIS DODD, (D) OBAMA SUPPORTER: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We've been asking a lot of people about the historic quality
of this night. You know it from several different aspects. I was just
thinking about the view your father would have had as not just a long
standing public servant in this country, but from his role as a
prosecutor at Nuremberg. Perhaps the exact opposite of society as it's
never been better expressed than perhaps tonight, where someone from a
perceived minority group rises to this penultimate stage on the
political scene as opposed to the horrors of what your father prosecuted
in Nazi Germany. Is that a worthwhile comparison tonight?
DODD: It could be but I'll take it even a step back further. Before he
went to Nuremberg in 1945, Keith, he was a prosecutor with the Justice
Department and tried several civil rights cases in the south and
actually won them in the 1930s. 1940 he actually prosecuted the Ku Klux
Klan in South Carolina and won that case. Won one in Arkansas - he and
my mother were escorted out of the state of Arkansas by the state
police, it was such a huge issue at the time.
Thinking about my parents in the 1930s and where the country was, not to
mention as you say in Nuremberg where you had tremendous, of course, not
just discrimination but you had efforts to - the Olympics of 1936 with
Jesse Owens demonstrating to the world that the United States could put
athletes up to do very well, but simultaneously wouldn't allow Jesse
Owens to serve in the same military units with white soldiers.
It took Harry Truman. So to think about those periods of time and to
realize the Civil Rights Act was only passed in 1964; the Voting Rights
Act in '65. It's just amazing to me how far we've come. How good it is
to see an America in which we embrace everybody by the basis of their
talents and character; to use the lines of Dr. King.
This is an incredible evening for our country. The outcome, I hope, will
be to elect Barack Obama. And I'm confident that can happen. But it also
says a lot about who we are as a people and we've come a long way from
only a few decades ago. So it's an historic moment, yet to be completed
because I think the work is going to be done on November and then the
real work begins in January.
MATTHEWS: You know, Senator, I remember being at the '64 Democratic
Convention, I was a busboy in Ocean City that summer. I remember going
over there after all the hoopla and picking up a Tom Dodd for Vice
President placard off the floor.
I'm thinking this is interesting because I always remember him as a
tough anti-communist and a really patriotic kind of guy. Can you run for
vice president? That's what seems like - you have to think about after
Hillary Clinton's comments today with that New York delegation.
DODD: You don't run for it. I've always found, Chris, and by the way,
you should have kept that. That would be - on eBay that would have been
worth a lot of money. I wish I had that.
It lasted about an hour and I remember the great story was - just a
little bit of history, he walked into - Hubert Humphrey was going to be
the nominee and Lyndon Johnson was remembering that in 1960 my father
seconded his nomination at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.
They've been friends since the 1930s when they were both state directors
in the National Youth Administration, Franklin Roosevelt's administration.
But the point is, I think about vice presidential nominees - it's not
about how you win an election. It's about - the date is not November 5
that's important. The date is January 20. You don't win or lose
elections with your vice presidential choice. You govern well with your
vice president choice.
I've never known, except a vice presidential candidates family that will
walk into a voting booth and vote for the president based on who the
vice presidential candidate is.
MATTHEWS: A stunning verdict on all that we've been talking about.
DODD: You know, I remember I started to tell you that my father walked
into that Oval Office with Hubert Humphrey and he said in the words my
father said to Johnson, the words of Samuel Goldwyn, include me out.
OLBERMANN: Senator Chris Dodd, one of Senator Obama's supporters. As
ever, thanks for your time, sir.
DODD: Thank you Keith.
OLBERMANN: Coming up, with all the talk about Senator Clinton as a
possible running mate, NBC news political director Chuck Todd takes a
look at some of the other possibilities Senator Obama may in fact and
indeed is considering for the number two position.
This is MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana Primaries. And
upcoming, the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama speeches.
We'll be back in a moment.
OLBERMANN: We rejoin you with MSNBC's coverage of the Montana and South
Dakota primaries being to some degree overlooked in the process by this
continual talk of the vice presidency and who will join Senator Obama
when he inevitably gains the head of that Democratic ticket later this
evening. He is, by our count, 11 delegates away.
Let's do this with numbers because the numbers don't lie and neither
does NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. "By the Numbers," looking
at what a vice president and what these vice presidential possibilities
might mean on the map - Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we heard Senator Dodd say
you pick a vice president to govern. Well sure, but you pick a running
mate to try to do a couple of things either to help with a constituency
or help win a state.
So we did try to break down the potential Obama shortlist using the
battle ground map; using electoral votes and breaking it down just
purely, as you said, by the numbers.
So what does HRC bring? She will make the argument that she brings two
states, truly potentially in Obama's column; one is Arkansas. Arkansas
is a state that is not on the Obama playing field at all, but because of
Bill Clinton's ties, they think they can carry it. And then Florida;
older senior women and Jewish voters; two constituency groups Obama is
really struggling with.
If she can make a compelling case that she actually brings Florida and
Arkansas, suddenly you can see that, you know, if you're just purely
picking on those terms then she might have a case.
But take a look at these other states and I'll show you which ones we
highlighted. So Colorado we threw in there; one of the swing states. Ken
Salazar, the Senator there, he's been in there longer than Jim Webb;
somebody that you hear all the time. He's Hispanic, 400 years though,
he's been there. He's sort of Hispanic-American back when the Spaniards
were here before the Americans were in Colorado.
Then, you have Nebraska, the Chuck Hagel talk. He might not be able to
carry the state for Obama and might not be able to carry two of those
electoral votes because of the state split things. Then you have
Kathleen Sebelius there from Kansas, six electoral votes. Talk about
taking a ruby-red state and flipping it, potentially. But can she do it?
That's another one.
The most intriguing one may very well be Indiana. Right during the
Indiana primary, we saw polls out that showed Indiana much more
competitive than anybody thought. This is a very big time, normally
Republican state but moderate Republican. It's not necessarily a heavily
conservative Republican state. Evan Bayh, you match him up with Obama,
you flip that state; it really messes up the Republican math.
Then of course, the obvious states we have seen there - Strickland, the
governor of Ohio, he's very popular there. Bring Ohio in the Republicans
don't know how to get to 270.
We heard Tim talk about the all the Virginia guys; at least three of
them might be on the short list. The current governor Tim Kaine, former
governor, Mark Warner and of course Jim Webb; you lock in those 13
electoral votes. There is that.
Then I have these blue states highlighted because there are few
Democrats being floated that come from blue states. But if you're
picking on electoral map, they might not make so much sense. You have
Pennsylvania with Ed Rendell, 21 electoral votes. But that better be a
blue state without the help of a VP candidate.
Then of course you've got the rumors of Michael Bloomberg, not a
Democrat. So it would be this idea of reaching across the party aisle,
but what does he bring? Arguably, he will at least lockdown New Jersey.
There's been chatter that Obama if he struggles with Jewish voters, that
New Jersey can be a little more competitive than it should be. Not sure
if McCain would have the money to actually compete there.
And then of course you lock in New York. But New York should be a lock
anyway. So it is interesting to follow the veep stakes using the map. I
think the most fun is look at Indiana and look at Kansas because these
are two states that wouldn't even be on the battleground unless their
vice presidential candidate put it there.
OLBERMANN: All right, Chuck. If you have a number of what Senator
Clinton's highest potential net value in electoral votes is? Is it the
highest among all the people you just mentioned?
TODD: I think it is, arguably but I'm not 100 percent convinced she can
bring Florida. But if she did and you throw in - that's 33 electoral
states, that's big. That's a huge lock and those are two red states. So
if she makes this case and if the polling truly shows that she's the
difference maker and takes these from being red to blue she actually can
be the candidate that can argue that she brings the most electoral votes.
MATTHEWS: Do we still have the old geography, where it was really
important where you come from?
Al Gore lost Tennessee. Lieberman couldn't deliver Florida. I wonder
whether we are not thinking old time here? I mean, LBJ delivered the old
solid South to some extent back when it was the solid South, when there
was a real North-South fight going on.
Does everybody - do people think of themselves as being from states
anymore? I mean, how many people think like that?
MATTHEWS:... fond of it.
TODD: Well, it's interesting you say that.
MATTHEWS: But it is something to fight and die for, like you are
TODD: Well, it depends.
We have been asking - we're going to add a new demographic question to
our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, which is going to ask, are you from
the state you live in originally? Were you born in the state that you
And what we have noticed - we have tested this. Our pollsters have
tested this in other states. And Obama does better with folks that live
in a state that they weren't born in, where the Republican does a lot of
better with folks that live in the state they were born in.
Intuitively, that seems correct, but you do really see it in the
numbers. The test that it was done was in Wisconsin, a state, and it
really explained the lead that Obama had there. It was very interesting.
MATTHEWS: That's like the old line that Democrats fall in love and
Republicans fall in line. Apparently, they stay where they're placed.
TODD: Well, you can interpret that all you want. I'm not going anywhere
OLBERMANN: Chuck Todd speechless. There it is. I hope you back that up
on the TiVo and look at it again.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: You got it.
OLBERMANN: New numbers from our exit polling, speaking of poll numbers.
And, later, NBC's Tom Brokaw will join us once again on Brokaw Tuesday.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and
Montana primaries and a lot more tonight, 90 minutes away, right now,
from the first results of this night in South Dakota.
And, right now, we have new numbers from our exit polling.
And, for that, we turn to Norah O'Donnell - Norah.
O'DONNELL: And good evening, Chris and Keith.
You know, it's been a long five months in this historic primary contest.
Voters are now weighing in on whether they feel energized or exhausted.
Our NBC exit poll shows, for the most part, they feel the campaign has
actually energized them.
In South Dakota, where the polls will close first tonight, 46 percent
say the primary process has energized the Democratic Party, while 45
percent say it's divided them, kind of split.
Now, in Montana, voters are more positive about the impact of the
campaign, with 55 percent saying this has been good for the party. You
know, after all, there have been more than 34 million people who have
voted in these primaries since January. And many of them were first-time
Now, with all the talk today of Hillary Clinton ready to consider a
second spot on the ticket, how do voters feel about how the way
candidates dealt with each other during the campaign?
Well, tonight, in South Dakota, more voters believe that Clinton did not
attack Obama unfairly. You see that 48 to 47 percent. You can also see
however that voters in Montana not so convinced. That are these numbers
And now also another veepstakes question. Our exit poll also asked
voters if they think Obama should choose Clinton as his running mate.
Look at these numbers. In South Dakota, more than two-thirds of Clinton
supporters think Obama should pick her as his V.P.
But check out - but check this out. The majority of Obama supporters
don't think he should give her the nod. Remember, Tim was talking about
that earlier. Pretty interesting.
And finally tonight, there is some indication, though, some of the hurt
feelings from this hard-fought campaign are dissipating. In six out of
the last seven primaries, at least 60 percent of Clinton voters said
they would be dissatisfied if Obama won the nomination. Tonight, only
about half of Clinton backers in Montana and South Dakota said that
would dissatisfy them.
So, it does look like there is some healing taking place - Chris and
MATTHEWS: Norah, thank you very much.
MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard is with us now.
MICHELLE BERNARD, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello.
MATTHEWS:... I have worked with you now all these months. I have sat
next to you and listened to your thoughts. And tonight is a night for
history, perhaps, if Barack Obama wins the nomination.
MATTHEWS: Your feelings. I want your feelings.
BERNARD: I have got to tell you, as an American first, and as an
African-American, I just - I find what could possibly happen this
evening to be just a momentous occasion for our evening.
I was thinking back to a conversation I had earlier this year with a
woman, or a female African-American member of Congress who early on was
supporting Senator Clinton, and then she switched over to Obama. And we
were talking about the sort of animosity that we were seeing between the
two camps, particularly between African-Americans and women and people
who wanted - who felt so emotionally passionate about making sure that
their candidate gets the Democratic nomination.
And she said, you have to remember that slavery was the original sin of
this nation. And if you keep that in mind and you think about the many
overt acts of racism that have taken the lives of people like Emmett
Till and Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King and many, many men and
women whose names we don't know, you have to think back about where our
nation is going and where we have been, and sit back, and, as an
American, whether you're Democrat, Republican, black, white, Hispanic,
woman, or man, you have to be very proud about where we are going and
what it speaks - speaks about our nation.
MATTHEWS: Well, what are you feelings about that, because it seems to
me, if you go back to the Civil War in this country and to what came
after, Reconstruction - and Reconstruction was dumped in 1876, way too
prematurely, and nothing really got done for the African-American male.
He didn't get the mule. He didn't get the 40 acres. He was starting with
nothing as a sharecropper for almost 100 years of nothing but dirt. And
do you think we are ever going to resolve this at the top like this? Do
you think even the election of an African-American as president, does
that deal with the undercurrent problem in American life, which is race?
BERNARD: I think that Barack Obama, whether he becomes the next
president of the United States or not, as the Democratic nominee, and
for someone, for a black man in our nation to have run the type of
campaign that he ran - and think about it.
He came out of nowhere. No one, black or white, ever expected this. What
this tells me and what I will tell my children is that, in this nation,
if you work hard, anything is absolutely possible. I believe that with
all my heart. And I think that what this says about our nation is
I think the world - people around the world, no one ever believed this
to be possible. And they will look at the United States with pride,
regardless of who is elected the next president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Michelle Bernard.
BERNARD: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: All right.
Up next, NBC's Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw.
You're watching MSNBC's live coverage of the South Dakota and Montana
And later this evening, from New York, Senator Clinton's speech, and
from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Senator Obama's speech.
OLBERMANN: And we're back with MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and
And later in the evening, after those polls close, we expect the
speeches from, in Minnesota, Senator Obama, and from an unusual venue,
in the basement of Baruch College in New York, Senator Clinton.
And right now, let's check back in with NBC's Washington bureau chief,
moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert.
Let's pick up, to some degree, where we were. A quote from David
Axelrod's today, when asked about these Hillary Clinton "I would be
interested if they asked me" vice presidential stories, his response to
that was, "We're just savoring the night."
OLBERMANN: How much savoring are they going to be able to do? Is this
going to be the topic for the next few weeks? And how does Senator Obama
resolve it, one way or the other?
RUSSERT: Well, it's clear from interpretation, I think, of David
Axelrod's comments, Keith: This is our night. Please, just go away.
So, what we have, I think, is a recognition that tonight will be exactly
that, Obama laying a claim to history, being very gracious to Senator
But, tomorrow morning, it will be reality again. And he's going to have
to deal and finesse the Hillary Clinton situation.
The interesting thing that might happen however, Keith, is, how much of
a bounce does Obama get out of tonight? Because the stronger he gets in
the polls, the stronger nominee he is, the more independence he has in
terms of driving the Democratic Party between now and the convention.
And the McCain people fully expect that, once he is designated as the
nominee, he will get a bounce. And, so, I'm very anxious to see how that
happens over the next couple days.
Secondly, the intensity of the Democratic Party, the numbers that Norah
gave us tonight, I think, are very instructive. We're talking about this
race now in terms of almost a static equation between 2000, 2004, and
The Obama people believe very strongly that they can reconfigure the
electorate, that, if they get blacks and young people and Democrats,
self-identified, to turn out in larger numbers than 2000 and 2004, they
can really reshape the Electoral College map.
And I think tonight is going to be Obama's real attempt to do that,
define this as the quintessential change election, that he's the change
candidate, and that John McCain does not qualify to be the leader of the
MATTHEWS: Tim, when Jack Kennedy was elected president in '60, he was
the Irish Catholic candidate, of course. And he got a good vote from
But he won with a lot of other communities, because he was seen as a
door-opener for a lot of people, a huge Jewish vote, a huge black vote,
Polish Americans, Italian Americans. All kinds of people that were
outside the door of presidential possibility saw him as the man, the
first one through the door for everybody.
How does Barack Obama get there? Because it seems to me, so far, he
hasn't been able to do that, to say, if I win, you win, for people
RUSSERT: I think that's his challenge. You have identified it and
defined it exactly right.
I remember my dad in south Buffalo hammering the Kennedy sign on to our
house. And I said, "Dad, are we for him?"
He said, "Yes."
And I said, "Why?"
He said, "He's one of us."
RUSSERT: I will never forget it.
MATTHEWS: But that "us" has to be bigger.
RUSSERT: Well, it does. And you have to have a lot of people say that
"Obama is one of us" if he's going to be successful.
John McCain is going to make that point, that he is the person who
represents the American dream. He is the person who has represented
change in American politics by differing over the years with George W.
Bush. He is the one who can work across party lines.
It's a real challenge to Barack Obama to basically infuse that idea of
change and uniqueness and newness and shattering the ceilings that have
held folks down, beyond an African-American base.
But don't underestimate the significance of the African-American vote in
these states, Chris, in - in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin.
I'm telling you, it can make a profound difference, simply on turnout.
OLBERMANN: Is - ultimately and briefly, Tim, ultimately, is the
Democrats' challenge not to overdo this thing? Because of that speech in
front of the corn palace day before yesterday that Obama gave, for all
the support that he got from this homogeneous crowd, the loudest
applause lines were just for two major points, end the war and no third
term for Bush.
Keith, he has to lay out three things, and say, it's time for change,
and I'm going to change these three things. You have got to keep
people's focus. Keep it simple. Keep it understandable. Amen. That's the
OLBERMANN: Yes, price of gas and mortgage prices, and that's the whole
thing right there, probably.
Tim Russert, we will check back with you in the next hour.
Thank you, Tim.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
MATTHEWS: Let's go to a real political insider, Harold Ford of
Tennessee. He ran for the Senate, almost made it.
We're talking about exactly the challenge you faced, and almost
succeeded with. And I mean that as an obvious compliment, because you
closed that door. You closed that lead very much at the end there with
How does he do it? How does he do what we were just talking about,
include the victory here - include in the victory a lot more people
than African-Americans, because it's still a country which is largely
HAROLD FORD (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think you touched on it
best, Chris, in your answer. And Tim - Tim addressed it.
Barack is going to have to identify with those basic, quintessential
American values, his upbringing, his family's connection, not only to
this country, but their patriotism, and the fight that his grandfather
made on behalf of this country, the ultimate sacrifice that he made, the
fact that he grew up in such a humble way and made his way to the most
prestigious law school in this country and emerged and earned his way to
be the - the president, or the editor of "Law Review."
This is a story that most Americans don't know about him. And he has to
tell that story or retell that story to a broader cloth of this great
As you well know, primaries are played on about 30 or 40 yards on a
football field, if we - to use that metaphor.And Keith will appreciate
this. This general election is an entire field. So, in some ways, you
have got to campaign a little differently. You have to be a little more
aggressive with it.
And I think you touched on it very well, Chris, when you talked about
McCain's speech this evening. The beginning of his speech in New Orleans
tonight, he lays out that you will hear a lot of speeches, you will get
a lot of press releases, and you will hear a lot of talk from the Obama
campaign that he, John McCain, represents a third term for George Bush.
He says that's false. He makes clear that he's a reformer that he can
actually implement change.
Tim's last point - and I hope the Obama campaign listened closely -
you have to identify those three big things and wrap some real
substance, simple, understandable substance, but you have got to wrap
some substance around that.
He has time to do this over the next several months. We ran out of time
in Tennessee. And, hopefully, we get another shot at it in the coming
years. But he has an unbelievable opportunity, Senator Obama does, over
the next five months to make this case to the American people, not along
black lines, white lines, Hispanic lines, Asian lines, Native American
lines, but as an American.
And in his story and his biography, there's not been a story as
quintessential as his, a biography that is as quintessential as his
running for the presidency. And he has this great opportunity.
MATTHEWS: But isn't there something missing - isn't there something
really missing in his biography that people can identify with? He's gone
from being a poor kid growing up in Hawaii, in Indonesia part of his
youth, mixed family background, had to struggle, worked with a community
organization, went to these incredibly elite schools, Columbia and
Harvard Law, making "Law Review" and all that.
He missed the middle part.
MATTHEWS: Most Americans don't know anything about being dirt poor and
don't anything about the Ivy League. They're sort of in the struggling
class, the people in the middle worried about paying bills, for whom
going to the movies, paying $35, $40 for the whole cost of going to the
movies with your wife, is just too much money. OK?
FORD: Senator Obama...
MATTHEWS: Does he have that experience that people, most Americans,
have? Does he connect on that basic struggling class level? And I'm not
sure he does.
FORD: Before he wrote these two terrific books, he still owed money on
his student loans.
Barack Obama and his wife understand, and his children understand, in
many, many ways, the plight and the reality of an overwhelming majority
I might add, Senator McCain may make this case, but he is married - and
this is no disrespect or slight to his wonderful wife, but he married
into a wonderful beer fortune.
FORD: The reality is, Barack Obama finds himself not only able to relate
throughout his political life, but in his formative years, in his early
And I might add, who in their right mind would not root for their child,
does not want their child to go to the very best schools? When you look
at how Barack was born, where he was born, the conditions he was born,
here's a young man who lived around the world, who has not only the - a
global DNA, but lived the world in many ways.
And at a time in which America's standing and credibility is questioned
in many ways and misunderstood, his candidacy and his presidency, in
many ways, will answer many of those questions.
Again, I don't mean to slight Senator McCain, but to your question,
Chris, just a few years ago, he and Michelle both - Mrs. Obama - still
owed on their student loans.
FORD: So, this is a young man who although has lived an American life
and has been afforded the opportunity to go to some of the great
universities and great learning centers in the country, he worked his
MATTHEWS: So, it's Saul Alinsky against the beer barony.
FORD: No, no, no.
FORD: And, again, I only say it's a fortune. It's a fortune.
MATTHEWS: I know. But it's so funny. I had never heard it put together,
that he married into a beer fortune, and he doesn't know what it's like
FORD: And I don't - no, no, don't get me wrong.
Whatever fortune, that's - her family worked their way also.
FORD: But understand...
FORD:... we cannot at any moment suggest that he doesn't understand
He gets it, understands it, lives it, has worked it, and has tried his
hardest, as a senator from Illinois, to represent and help improve the
lives of those. And what I hope he and John McCain will debate about in
this campaign is where they want to take the country...
MATTHEWS: OK. Harold Ford...
FORD:... and do it well.
MATTHEWS: Harold Ford Jr., thanks. That's all the time we have this time.
FORD: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We will be back with you later.
OLBERMANN: This Bud's for you.
OLBERMANN: All right.
Let's bring in NBC special correspondent Tom Brokaw on this same point.
And not to sound like a "Monty Python" sketch here, Tom, but is that
Senator Obama's problem, in terms of this biography and getting his
point across, that there are people who are saying, still owe money on
my student loans; we were so poor, we dreamed of having student loans?
TOM BROKAW, NBC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No. No, I think people know who
he is and where he comes from.
But I think there's been an oversight in this discussion. Obviously, his
life was formed powerfully by his race. He went through life as a black
man and all that brings with it, not just in this country, but around
But let's not forget that he's the product of a biracial marriage, that
his father came from Kenya and married a woman from Kansas. And he has
talked quite eloquently about the influence of his grandparents in
Kansas, went back to the town where he used to visit as a child.
And his mother - once his father left them, his mother took him to
Indonesia, where she was doing graduate work in research. He grew up in
a multicultural environment in Hawaii. He came back, lost his way for a
while as a young man, as he has freely confessed.
But then he got back on track at Harvard and at law school. I remember a
young black man that I saw earlier this year in South Carolina that I
have stayed in touch with. And he said he remembered when he was at Duke
Law School, and he read that a young black man had became the editor of
the "Harvard Law Review," the first black ever to do that.
And he said, "I was determined to find out who he was. And it was Barack
So, all those experiences have formed him. And he does come from what I
think is a kind of post-'60s family background. His father came from
Africa. His mother came from the Great Plains. He lived around the
world. And, as we get ready for the 21st century, those are very strong
BROKAW: On the John McCain side, five-and-a-half years in the Hanoi
Hilton, from a long, distinguished military family. His life is about -
about service to his country.
He was a wild child, by his own admission as well, and then got into the
United States Senate, married Cindy. And, six months ago, we were saying
he had no shot at this nomination, and won, too. So, we have two
remarkable stories taking shape here tonight, it seems to me.
OLBERMANN: And a third one trying to shoehorn her way in to - the
coverage of the first two.
BROKAW: Well, I'm not - I think that's unfair, Keith. I don't think she
shoehorned her way in.
When you look at the states that she won, and the popular vote that she
piled up, and the number of delegates that she has on her side, she has
got real bargaining power in all of this. You will remember, it was on
that New Hampshire primary night when people were saying she can't
survive the next 24 hours after just Iowa, and here we are at the end of
the calendar, and she looks very strong in one of these states tonight,
and will have some real bargaining power, and has people, which I think
we ought not to overlook - there are a lot of people who voted for her
who might have been denied that if she dropped out, blue-collar workers
and especially women.
And it's a delicate time for Barack Obama as he now deals with her,
because he doesn't want to disenfranchise them come the fall.
OLBERMANN: And the question raised here was the timing on the vice
presidential talk. But we will have more time to talk about that in the
next two hours.
BROKAW: We will, indeed.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Tom.
OLBERMANN: Our first results of the night coming in from South Dakota
and in the next hour. That will be about an hour when hence in South
Dakota, when the polls close.
In the next hour, we will hear from John McCain's speech, taking
advantage of the political environment today and the crowning of the
Democratic nominee, presumptive, and, then, later tonight, Senator Obama
and Senator Clinton and their speeches.
We will have full coverage and a full evening, the South Dakota and
It continues after this here on MSNBC.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Five months to the night later, there are only two hours left, from January 3rd, when Senator Barack Obama defied expectations in Iowa, capturing his first victory in the first nomination caucuses there to June 3rd, the Illinois Democrat now a little more than 120 minutes away from clinching the Democratic nomination.
Senator Obama having captured enough superdelegates to put him over the top after the polls close in South Dakota and Montana tonight. That will happen at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time in the Badlands and 10:00 p.m. Eastern in Big Sky country.
Senator Clinton is already maneuvering for the vice presidential spot on the ticket today, telling New York's congressional delegation that she is open to being Senator Obama's running mate - a subject she apparently brought up during a conference call.
Meantime, the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator McCain, expected to speak a half hour from now. Apparently, Republicans voted today, too, although that has been long been decided.
From MSNBC and NBC News World Headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York City, alongside Chris Matthews, I'm Keith Olbermann.
So, is the history of the night now, again, going to take first place ahead of the discussions of the vice presidency or are we going to mix this throughout the evening?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: You know, I think the quality of the speeches tonight could decide a lot. I think, if Barack Obama gives us something like new frontier tonight, something that's a message that says times are going to change and here's how - a real picture of the change he's offering. If he can do that tonight with some great words, I really do think he can steal the headlines big time and Hillary will be near the fault as Eugene Robinson said a moment ago, a couple hours ago.
Actually at this point, I think he can dominate the headlines because it's still is the big story in American news that he has won the Democratic nomination tonight.
OLBERMANN: And the purpose of John McCain's speech tonight is to throw salt on whatever wound is still there?
MATTHEWS: What you said, you said a three person chess game. I look at the lingo that's - I guess this is embargoed, how dare I suggest that I know what's going on, but the idea that he's going to do some kissy-face with Hillary Clinton tonight, to make sure that he is the one who is supportive of women's opportunities in this country, and Barack Obama has barred the door to their opportunities. This is going to be the politics we are going to see tonight.
And by the way, Hillary Clinton has been very supportive of John McCain.
To a large extent, they have been up there in that tree house that says
- no Barack Obama gets up here. And so, that's been going on now for a while.
OLBERMANN: The commander-in-chief threshold.
MATTHEWS: And by the way, he's now at the top of the tree, Barack Obama, but that wasn't the plan.
OLBERMANN: Commander-in-chief threshold tree house.
All right. And now to NBC's Washington bureau chief, the moderator of MEET THE PRESS, Tim Russert, who joins us yet again.
Tim, let's pick up on what McCain is going to say and why he's going to say it and what he hopes the results are going to be tonight.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Keith, tonight is the Democratic night and the McCain campaign knows that and they want to crash the party. They figured that if they can go on early enough, they can get some attention paid to them, and they can talk to Democrats and independents. Their calculation is - not many Republicans are going to watch the wrap up of the Democratic nomination battle.
I have spoken to a senior McCain aide, so I don't have to worry about breaking an embargo.
RUSSERT: And this is what he told me. They want to clearly lay out why John McCain is the true independent, the true maverick, the real person who will bring about change, and they will clearly attempt to separate John McCain from George W. Bush on the environment, on the energy issue, and on the war in Iraq, by saying he had been repeatedly critical of the management of the war.
They are hopeful that by talking to Democrats and independents tonight, they can cause more angst for Barack Obama as he tries to broaden his coalition. That's what they're after.
OLBERMANN: But one would think a lot of that would, in fact, go a long way with a lot of these - what would be disaffected Hillary Democrats certainly tonight, except in that one area of Iraq. Opposing Iraq and, you know, disagreeing with the, you know, the conduct of the war, to use that civil war era term. Those are two entirely different things. Could that be a backfire for Senator McCain tonight?
RUSSERT: Risky. And that's why he'll emphasize managing. He is going suggest that he is better equipped, better suited, better trained to manage this difficult situation and not make it a "let's stay" or "let's get out" proposition. That's what Obama has to counter with.
The other point that I think is important, Chris began to talk about it and we have discussed it in other primary nights, the stage craft tonight. This is the first time we are going to see John McCain, Barack Obama, as the presumptive nominees of their party. We want to see that contrast. We want to see how they look giving a speech to the nation.
And that's going to be analyzed and talked about by the American people and by the audience tonight. What do these men give me? How do I feel about them as potential presidents? And that is an area where John McCain knows that he needs improvement in terms of mastering and improving his skills from the podium.
MATTHEWS: Here's the part that I will speak to now, Tim, because it is not embargoed. I'm looking at it until we got here. I can't wait to read this stuff to you all because this is politics at its highest or lowest form, depending on how you read this stuff. Here is John McCain who is preparing to run against Hillary Clinton and say nothing good about it because he's going to run against her - now, pivoting and running against the person who beat her.
Here he is: Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage, quote, "the media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans."
He is now declaring war on the media. Now, catch this line. Pundits -
OLBERMANN: Now, take a number.
MATTHEWS: This isn't - I'm sorry, this isn't good.
OLBERMANN: Take a number.
OLBERMANN: "Pundits and party leaders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent."
No, Senator McCain. The numbers, it's arithmetic. He is now saying Hillary didn't lose this fight by the numbers she lost it because pundits and party leaders have declared Obama to be my opponent. I guess there is somebody out there who will believe this but it's not an honest statement.
RUSSERT: Chris, you better correct your pronunciation of pundit quickly or you ought to be in big trouble with that (INAUDIBLE). I'm only teasing you.
MATTHEWS: No, but I'd just think it's interesting that he's not only tried to separate Barack from working white women, of course, that's been called, but he's now separating Barack Obama from what he sees as the media by knocking party leaders and pundits for having declared - I mean, this is real politics, isn't it.
RUSSERT: Yes. He's embracing her in the campaign against the press, against the media, against the Washington fracas, absolutely. There's no -
MATTHEWS: What is his beef with the media? I'd like to know that, for example, after 10 years of covering this guy, I have yet to see anybody lay a glove on him.
RUSSERT: Well, he used to call it his base.
MATTHEWS: Right. What's the beef, John?
RUSSERT: That's why it's politics.
RUSSERT: Stay tuned.
OLBERMANN: How many - are there any groups left that have not beaten us up as the media, we decide all things?
MATTHEWS: We are not in that tree house. We are not getting in that tree house.
OLBERMANN: We are not paid well enough to be in that tree house apparently. Our magnificent magical properties have been sorely underestimated, have we not, Tim?
RUSSERT: But as long as we get it right, we're going to be OK.
OLBERMANN: All right. Fair enough. And the man who gets it right more often than anybody else, Tim Russert, we'll check back with you later on the evening and throughout the hours.
RUSSERT: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Tim.
Barack Obama, as we said, is in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a very arena where the Republicans will hold their convention at the end of the summer. He will speak sometime after 10:00 o'clock Eastern.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is an Obama supporter, she's joining us from the floor of the Xcel Center in St. Paul right now.
Senator, thanks for your time tonight.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, Keith, it's great to be on.
They have the Jumbotron on. They're either cheering for you or me.
MATTHEWS: It's you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Well, it can't be - it can't be us in the media. We already know that.
OLBERMANN: It can't be us. It's got to be you. Congratulations on the cheers.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, as you can see, we are so excited here today in St.
Paul. We couldn't be more exciting to have Barack Obama here on this day that he is going to clinch the Democratic nomination. It's a historic moment. And as you can see, we're ready to roll here in St. Paul.
OLBERMANN: Is the history of the thing being overwhelmed? We've asked this question several times tonight. Senator Clinton's discussion of the vice presidency today which has been all over the media and perhaps, this is one area where the media can be criticized for doing that. Are we putting an irrelevancy up against a historic moment?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think you can see here that's not what people are thinking about. I think, in the end, Senator Clinton will handle this in an elegant manner and things will go well. One of the most exciting things for us here today is that we're going to be hosting the Republican convention. We'll do it with open arms.
So, we're hoping these cheers will be so loud tonight that they're going to hear them in September when they come.
MATTHEWS: We are hearing, senator, that Larry Craig is going to start his book tour at the airport out there at the Republican convention in summer. Is that true?
KLOBUCHAR: OK, Chris. Tonight is Barack Obama's night. That's what we're focused on.
MATTHEWS: Well, congratulations on this very important moment.
KLOBUCHAR: We want to welcome you to our city.
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
KLOBUCHAR: We welcome you to our airport and our city. We're ready to go.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, senator.
OLBERMANN: What a crowd. Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: Now the Clinton campaign senior adviser, Lisa Caputo.
Well, we're having a little bit of fun here tonight with the opportunity of Republican conventioneers to arrive at the airport out there and they merely go the Larry Craig memorial bathroom and check in - I want everybody to know they know some history - then, go to the bridge that fell down in St. Paul. There is a lot to celebrate for the Republican conventioneers as they get together.
LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Yes, Chris, we Democrats invite you on your next book to come out to Denver. They want (ph) your next book.
MATTHEWS: I always got a mixed reaction when I go to these places.
Let me ask you about tonight. Are you getting vibes about this incipient campaign for the vice presidency by Senator Clinton?
CAPUTO: You know, it's consistent with what everybody has been saying all night long. Indeed, she did say it to the New York legislators this afternoon on the call that she would be open to it. And I believe those who have encouraged her to run for the Senate led by some of the senior members, Charlie Rangel of the New York delegation were really encouraging of this notion.
So, I think tonight you're going to see her make of what is a very dignified speech and a speech that will aim to unite the party and I think she'll be very generous to Senator Obama.
MATTHEWS: Do you think that Senator Clinton, knowing her as you do and having worked for her when she was first lady, will try to hold together her army and bring it together to the cause of Barack Obama or let it get disbanded and allow for individual recruits to join Barack?
CAPUTO: No, I actually think she will hold together the army and deliver it to the presumptive nominee, Senator Obama. I absolutely do. And you know, Chris, if the Obama campaign is really looking at her operation, there's just no question that he should have a profound interest in that women's operation that the Clinton campaign has advised and has been very effective.
Arguably, he ought to think about lifting that whole operation out of her campaign and into his campaign because it's been very effective.
MATTHEWS: Will people like yourself be awaiting orders from the high command before joining the Obama campaign?
CAPUTO: I'm going to support whoever the nominee is.
MATTHEWS: No, no, no. This is a very important question because I ask you - well, everyone moves together in discipline to Barack if the senator from New York said so or will you feel free, once the campaign for Senator Clinton for president is over, to individually go and join up with the Barack Obama campaign?
CAPUTO: I think it will be on an individual basis. I think a lot of the long-term Hillary Clinton people will perhaps kind of wait a cue from her once she decides what she's going to do. I think others will decide in their own rights. So, I think it will vary from person to person.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you again, Lisa Caputo.
CAPUTO: You're welcome.
MATTHEWS: Let's send in all back now to David Gregory and THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel with a lot more development to handle.
DAVID GREGORY, "THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE" HOST: Chris, thanks a lot.
We are awaiting the remarks from Senator McCain who, as Tim Russert suggested, wants to get into this night. He's got a big Democratic audience, Pat Buchanan, and an opportunity to speak to those Hillary Clinton supporters, to those independent voters to make an argument that he should be considered a part of this movement for change, but specifically to the point that Chris was bringing up - talking about the media, talking about pundits in Washington, effectively siding with Hillary Clinton. What's he up to?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Here's what he's up to. He's talking about pundits and party leaders. By party leaders read superdelegates. Pundits, the media, that's been trashing Hillary.
What he's doing - he's wiring in, he's plugging in to the resentment that Hillary Clinton's people, the unhappiness, the despair they're going to feel. He's cutting into this idea that she won the popular vote and he won the delegates. The party leaders delivered it. But she was the real nominee.
And he's trying to draw these people over and say in effect - I'm on your side. You were robbed. You are right.
And it's a very, very smart thing to do. It also helps him with Republicans. You mean, you can't beat up the media hard enough for the Republican conservatives who don't like it really.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But I don't think that so much a pitch for Hillary Clinton Democratic primary supporters to vote for John McCain. This is his pitch like he said explicitly on "Saturday Night Live" as part of a joke: "I would love it to have both of you on the ballot come November. Why decide? Don't decide after the convention. I love to be running against both of you."
GREGORY: Right. He wants to play the wedge issue.
Gene, for those of us who covered him back in 2000 against George Bush, for those who covered the battles between him and George Bush in the early part of the administration, for those of us who covered the early part of the war when he talked about having more troops and he criticized Don Rumsfeld - why is he not saying on solid grounds saying to Barack Obama - this is a specious argument. I am not the third presidency or the third term of George Bush?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he can make that argument but that's not, I think, where the fault line is. I think the fault line is Iraq war or no? The fault line is - do you support the war or do you oppose the war?
ROBINSON: And then, it's an argument on the margins about how quickly you get out. I think -
GREGORY: We know that there is a sizable minority of people who don't want immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. They may have turned on the war but the question other than withdrawal...
BUCHANAN: Let me tell you where you are right here. McCain is going to hit and hammer the idea this is not Bush's third term. I disagreed with him. I disagreed with Rumsfeld.
What does that tell me? Barack Obama has drawn blood. This is very defensive. And obviously, they polled (ph) this thing and this third Bush term is hurting him. And so, he's got to go at that. But he sounds very defensive in the way he (INAUDIBLE).
GREGORY: Here's my question for Rachel, we know the experience versus change argument is one that Hillary Clinton tried unsuccessfully against Barack Obama. How does McCain do both? How can he say change is one thing, the wrong kind of change is another? I am experienced change? Can he make that argument effectively?
MADDOW: He's going to say I'm a reformer. I'm not going to upend anything in this country but I'm going to tweak everything to make it slightly better. I've been in Washington for 26 years. You know exactly who I am. I don't represent change but be afraid of the kind of change that Obama represents. That's what he says.
ROBINSON: A long way to go before he gets to where the American people are, for example, on the economy, on health care, on issues that really matter, and where drastic changes...
BUCHANAN: I think it's going to attack (ph) right tonight to Iraq, he's saying this guy will unconditionally go and see Ahmadinejad but he won't go and see General Petraeus - the patriotism argument.
GREGORY: As we throw it back, gentlemen, as you know, you've been talking about - the big issue here is direction of the country. It's not that complicated. Do people want a fundamental change - that, as we know, is one of the things that McCain is up against.
Back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory and the panel, thank you.
We are awaiting John McCain's speech listed by the McCain as being in New Orleans, maybe actually in Kenner, Louisiana.
When we return, who John McCain may be considering as a running mate?
NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd and NBC's Andrea Mitchell join us next on that.
This is MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries. And speeches from senators: Obama, Clinton and McCain - McCain in just a little bit.
MATTHEWS: We're back with MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries. Polls in South Dakota will be closed at the top of this hour. And Barack Obama's picked up another delegate. He now needs just 10 more to win the Democratic nomination for president.
OLBERMANN: Yes. The state chair of Oklahoma, Mr. Holmes, will endorse later tonight. He was number 11 on your countdown.
Meantime, John McCain is set to speak from Louisiana in just a few moments.
We also now, in anticipation of Senator Obama's speech at 10:00 o'clock, the script for which was embargoed, the script was embargoed, portions have appeared on "Reuters" news wire. A couple of highlights in his speech according to "Reuters," he will say - I will be the Democratic nominee for U.S. president, which looks like a pretty safe prediction.
He will also praise Senator Clinton saying, it's time for Democrats to unite and he will turn quickly, according to "Reuters," to attacking Republican John McCain as little different than President Bush.
To the point of the McCain's speech, let's check in now with NBC News and MSNBC political director, Chuck Todd, on who McCain might be looking at as a running mate. By the numbers, Chuck, did this before with the Democrats and the value of Hillary Clinton on the electoral math.
Who are the candidates and what are their numerical values, Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as you see on this map that we have here, we've got some red states and we've got some blue states. The blue states are states that Democrats carried in 2004. So, I want to start there.
Let's start where Barack Obama is going to be tonight and talk about Minnesota. Minnesota, the governor there, Tim Pawlenty, that somebody that is seen very much is going to be on the short list. He is somehow won re-election in 2006, in a year where Republicans were getting killed everywhere. It's a big deal for him. The bridge collapse, it might be something that gets held against him. We'll see but it was - that's about the only black mark he's got on his resume, winning in a blue state.
Then you've got a place like Michigan. Michigan's interesting because of the delegate fight, Barack Obama hasn't yet campaigned there. Mitt Romney is seen as the candidate of Michigan. There's no Republican from Michigan but his father was governor there and him being on the short list, he can help there. He can also help, by the way, in Colorado and Nevada. I don't highlight them here in these states but these are states that Obama is trying to target. He could drive up Mormon vote in both Colorado and Nevada, it could help there.
Then the other intriguing possibility is Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security director, former governor of Pennsylvania, very popular.
Pennsylvania is a state that some were wondering - is Obama going to struggle there? Is he going to have a difficulty carrying a state that both Gore and Kerry carried?
Tom Ridge is somebody that John McCain is very close to, also a Vietnam veteran. The only mark against him with some conservatives is that he's pro-choice and that's not clear.
Then we look to the red states. He may have to go to places where he has to, you know, get the base or maybe he picks somebody because it helps with constituency groups. I highlight Texas because Kay Bailey Hutchison is somebody who's going to be on the ticket. John McCain think that she can help carrying Texas, but Kay Bailey Hutchison, being a woman, we talked about that earlier tonight, she could help there.
Another woman on our short list, potentially, the governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. She and John McCain have one thing in common, they hate Ted Stevens, senior senator, former chairman of the appropriations committee. She is very much a reformer, just gave birth, by the way, fairly young, conservative governor. I know Pat Buchanan has a lot of good things to say about her, somebody that helped his campaign in '96.
Then we circle here, we've got Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee not only would help, obviously, keep Arkansas from somehow getting into the battleground. He'd actually help in the entire south. McCain has a problem exciting evangelicals. So, if he could excite evangelicals with a Mike Huckabee pick. There you go.
Finally quickly, I circle New Jersey and Florida. This would be the Joe Lieberman pick. Lieberman could help excite the Jewish vote and help in the place, hold Florida and maybe pick off New Jersey.
OLBERMANN: Right, Chuck Todd, by the numbers looking at the possible Republican vice presidential choices. Thank you.
A couple of other notes here - the count is down to nine. Congressman Brady of Pennsylvania is declaring for Obama. So, that's now nine on the count, the NBC count towards the unofficial nomination victory for Senator Obama tonight.
And another quote now from the advanced script of Senator Obama's speech, "Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America. And we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Start leaving, we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future."
Those are some of the items the "Reuters" news service is carrying for some reason or other in advance of Senator Obama's speech at about 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Senator McCain at about 8:30 Eastern Time, just a few minutes away.
And in the middle somewhere we expect, Senator Clinton to speak in an unusual venue, to say the least, at Baruch College in New York City.
Andrea Mitchell who's been covering the Clinton campaign joins us from this unusual, is that a correct word to use, to describe this location, Andrea?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I am in the Bearcats gym, home of the Baruch College Bearcats. And we are two levels below street level here in New York City. So, there is no cell phone, no computers. I mean, we are in a hermetically-sealed environment here.
This is where Hillary Clinton will come later tonight. And I suspect fairly early because she has pretty good prospects she thinks in South Dakota and she would like to end this on a high before the results come in from Montana where she never had very much hope.
So she might come out sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 o'clock, and that would be before Barack Obama. So, she wouldn't have to acknowledge that he has gone over the top even though he is so close. But she will certainly praise him.
And we expect, as you know, that he will be lavish in praising her tonight. He will talk about her record, her husband's record, all of her contributions and her future prospects for helping with the major
issues: health care, education, energy reform - that she has been talking about in this campaign.
We are going to hear a lot from him about her and from her about him.
But this is not a concession speech tonight. She wants to talk about the future. She will not be conceding. That will be for another day - Keith.
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell, in the Bearcats den, below ground in Manhattan, at Baruch College. Thank you, Andrea.
When we return, "Newsweek's" Howard Fineman reports from our campaign listening post.
And, of course, the candidates' speeches are lining up like planes delayed during rush hour: 8:30 McCain; we think maybe 9:00 o'clock Clinton; and 10:00 or so, Obama. Obviously, McCain is first up in just a few moments.
This is MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and all the speeches.
MATTHEWS: We're back with MSNBC's coverage of the South Dakota and Montana primaries and all other kinds of fireworks. We are awaiting John McCain to speak in Kenner, Louisiana. We'll have that live for you in just a moment. Then after 9:00, Hillary Clinton will speak from New York. And around 10:00, it is Obama's turn for his big night.
He may well win. He is only nine delegates away from winning and clinching the Democratic nomination for president for the year 2008.
"Newsweek's" Howard Fineman joins us now from our campaign listening post. Boy, what a night to be on the listening post, Howard.
HOWARD FINEMAN, "NEWSWEEK": It is deafening.
MATTHEWS: Are we hearing war drums, peace pipe smoke? What's going on out there?
FINEMAN: It is more like theater that we're about to enter, the theater of the absurd. First of all, let me say that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have not spoken today, but they are beginning to negotiate and posture in public.
I'm told, first of all, that a lot of Hillary's aides wanted her to quit a month ago. She stuck with it and is sticking with it now. What is likely to happen, I think, what at least the Hillary camp wants, and the Obama campaign may put up with, is that he would offer her the vice presidential slot but only, only if he's guaranteed that she won't take it.
FINEMAN: This is where we're going to. What I'm told by somebody very, very close to both Clintons is that she does not really want the job.
It's sort of been there, done that in a way. She doesn't want to go back in the White House, certainly not in that role. Obama doesn't really want her and most of his big supporters and fund raisers don't want her either, because to them she is yesterday's news.
But the ceremony of this, the politics of it, the egos of it, if they could work it out, would be for Obama to in some way or other hint that he would offer it to her but only on the proviso that he be guaranteed in advance that she won't take it. That is the kabuki theater we are about to enter into now.
MATTHEWS: To what purpose is all this?
FINEMAN: Ego, props, 17 million votes, a candidacy that came this close.
If Hillary Clinton had been blown out, if she collapsed in a heap a few months ago, this wouldn't be necessary. But she stuck with it to the end. She's in the ball game in South Dakota, as Andrea Mitchell was saying. There is a lot of pride here. There's a lot of emotion here.
What the Clinton people are signaling is they want her to be offered the job. The Obama people are saying only if she agrees in advance not to take it. That is what people who are beginning to serve as intermediaries for the two of them are talking about. That is what they've been talking about for the last 24 hours, up to a few minutes ago.
OLBERMANN: In addition to the ego reference that you correctly cite, Howard, the Kabuki theater quality, as we see - is that Governor elect Jindal arriving on stage in advance of - Governor, excuse me, Jindal of Louisiana, arriving in advance of John McCain's speech. This Kabuki theater that you speak of, Howard, also has something of the psychic surgeons quality to it, because without healing anything, it makes it look like the entire Democratic party is healed.
FINEMAN: Exactly. They would be gestures of respect, that neither of them wants the other to accept. The other thing that at least the Clinton people are saying - and the Obama people aren't interested in this at all, at least talking about it. The Clinton people are saying whatever you do, Mr. Nominee, presumptive and now actual, don't pick another - Hillary is not going to take the job, but don't you dare pick another woman. That is what the Clinton people are saying. You can speculate as to the reasons for that, probably because Hillary feels that she has earned, with some justification, the role of the tribune of Democratic women, especially Democratic working women, and she's not about to give that up to somebody else that Obama might pick to run on the ticket with him.
That is the psychodramas that are going on behind the scenes now, but with very real substantive people. These are not flakes. These are people who are very close to the Clinton and, by extension, the Obama camp at this point.
MATTHEWS: How does this piece fit in? I have hard that the Clinton people were told by the Barack people, don't try doing this on the phone. We'll meet. In other words, don't try the game of having a quick conversation which sets your guy up, Senator Clinton up in the cat bird seat here. We want to have a sit down meeting, out of which will come some dignified communication.
FINEMAN: Hillary has already preempted that, Chris, because she had this conference call today, which supposedly was off the record. Everybody in politics knows that no conference call has ever been off the record, because anybody off the street can get on the conference call. Hillary said in that conference call that yes, she would be open to the possibility.
That doesn't mean I'll take it. That doesn't mean I want it. But she initiated the public bidding.
MATTHEWS: Was she is sticking it to him? I'm sorry, Howard, but if his people put out the word we are going to do this in a dignified fashion; I'm not going to let you go looking for this thing. We're not going to have fun here. We are going to have a serious meeting. She says, oh, yes? You think we're going to have a serious meeting? You don't want to do this on the telephone? I will do it on the telephone call with my pals, have it leaked. You won't even be part of it, and I will be out there as the person offering to be the team player and you have to deal with it.
FINEMAN: He has exhibited great patience for the most part so far in dealing with Hillary Clinton. I think overall he has done a masterful job at it. His task is just beginning. Now comes the short strokes. Now comes the putts for birdie. Let's see if he can do it. He has to deal with the egos of both Clintons.
I'm also told by some of these same people that Bill Clinton, as angry as he is right now, as upset at the world as he is right now, is itching for the opportunity to redeem himself with hard, tough campaigning if Obama asks him. I think, in that case, Obama will ask him and Bill Clinton will say yes, because he's got a lot of redeeming to do between now and November.
When he said the other day, out on the campaign trail, this is the last time you'll see me in this kind of role, that doesn't exclude him being a hard campaigner for the Democrats in the fall.
MATTHEWS: When you put it all together, Howard, you really get the reporting here adding up to the fact that both sides realize this would be a terrible political arrangement having Hillary Clinton as vice president.
MATTHEWS: Let's face it, the vice presidency and the presidency are not community property. The presidency is the power. The vice president is entirely derivative and under the Constitution has absolutely no executive authority, no deputy authority, no authority whatever in the Executive Branch of the government. So whatever Hillary had in terms of authority would come from him. I'm asking you an open question, how could that work out, even if somebody wanted it to?
FINEMAN: It probably couldn't work out. Of course, the irony is that neither side wants it to work out, but they want a public display of offer and rejection to try to make people happy. That's what I'm told the people want.
OLBERMANN: All right, Howard. Thank you. John McCain now speaking at Kenner, Louisiana, introduced by Governor Bobby Jindal of that state.
Here is Senator McCain.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you from the great governor. My friends, good evening from the great city of New Orleans. Thank you and good evening.
Tonight, we can say with confidence the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun. I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign.
Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage.
The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received.
As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent.
He will be a formidable one. But I'm ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.
The decision facing Americans in this election couldn't be more important to the future security and prosperity of American families.
This is, indeed, a change election. No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically. But, the choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward.
America has seen tough times before. We've always known how to get through them. And we've always believed our best days are ahead of us. I believe that still. But we must rise to the occasion, as we always have; change what must be changed; and make the future better than the past.
The right change recognizes that many of the policies and institutions of our government have failed. They have failed to keep up with the challenges of our time because many of these policies were designed for the problems and opportunities of the mid to late 20th Century, before the end of the Cold War; before the revolution in information technology and rise of the global economy. The right kind of change will initiate widespread and innovative reforms in almost every area of government policy - health care, energy, the environment, the tax code, our public schools, our transportation system, disaster relief, government spending and regulation, diplomacy, the military and intelligence services.
Serious and far-reaching reforms are needed in so many areas of government to meet our own challenges in our own time.
The irony is that Americans have been experiencing a lot of change in their lives attributable to these historic events, and some of those changes have distressed many American families - job loss, failing schools, prohibitively expensive health care, pensions at risk, entitlement programs approaching bankruptcy, rising gas and food prices, to name a few. But your government often acts as if it is completely unaware of the changes and hardships in your lives. And when government does take notice, often it only makes matters worse. For too long, we have let history outrun our government's ability to keep up with it. The right change will stop impeding Americans from doing what they have always done: overcome every obstacle to our progress, turn challenges into opportunities, and by our own industry, imagination and courage make a better country and a safer world than we inherited.
To keep our nation prosperous, strong and growing we have to rethink, reform and reinvent: the way we educate our children; train our workers; deliver health care services; support retirees; fuel our transportation network; stimulate research and development; and harness new technologies.
To keep us safe we must rebuild the structure and mission of our military; the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies; the reach and scope of our diplomacy; the capacity of all branches of government to defend us. We need to strengthen our alliances, and preserve our moral credibility.
We must also prepare, far better than we have, to respond quickly and effectively to a natural calamity. When Americans confront a catastrophe they have a right to expect basic competence from their government.
Firemen and policemen should be able to communicate with each other in an emergency. We should be able to deliver bottled water to dehydrated babies and rescue the infirm from a hospital with no electricity. Our disgraceful failure to do so here in New Orleans exposed the incompetence of government at all levels to meet even its most basic responsibilities.
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It's the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that's not change we can believe in.
You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false. So he tries to drum it into your minds by constantly repeating it rather than debate honestly the very different directions he and I would take the country. But the American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama. They know I have a long record of bipartisan problem solving. They've seen me put our country before any President - before any party - before any special interest
- before my own interest. They might think me an imperfect servant of our country, which I surely am. But I am her servant first, last and always.
I have worked with the President to keep our nation safe. But he and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We've disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees; over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks; over energy policy and climate change; over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.
I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I was criticized by the press. But I don't answer to them. I answer to you. And I would be ashamed to admit I knew what had to be done in Iraq to spare us from a defeat that would endanger us for years, but I kept quiet because it was too politically hard for me to do. No ambition is more important to me than the security of the country I have defended all my adult life.
Senator Obama opposed the new strategy, and, after promising not to, voted to deny funds to the soldiers who have done a brilliant and brave job of carrying it out. Yet in the last year we have seen the success of that plan as violence has fallen to a four year low; Sunni insurgents have joined us in the fight against al Qaeda; the Iraqi Army has taken the lead in places once lost to Sunni and Shia extremists; and the Iraqi Government has begun to make progress toward political reconciliation.
None of this progress would have happened had we not changed course over a year ago. And all of this progress would be lost if Senator Obama had his way and began to withdraw our forces from Iraq without concern for conditions on the ground and the advice of commanders in the field.
Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he's ready to talk, in person and without conditions, with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn't traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus, and see for himself the progress he threatens to reverse.
I know Americans are tired of this war. I don't oppose a reckless withdrawal from Iraq because I'm indifferent to the suffering war inflicts on too many American families. I hate war. And I know very personally how terrible its costs are. But I know, too, that the course Senator Obama advocates could draw us into a wider war with even greater sacrifices; put peace further out of reach, and Americans back in harm's way.
I take America's economic security as seriously as I do her physical security. For eight years the federal government has been on a spending spree that added trillions to the national debt. It spends more and more of your money on programs that have failed again and again to keep up with the changes confronting American families. Extravagant spending on things that are not the business of government indebts us to other nations; fuels inflation; raises interest rates; and encourages irresponsibility. I have opposed wasteful spending by both parties and the Bush administration. Senator Obama has supported it and proposed more of his own. I want to freeze discretionary spending until we have completed top to bottom reviews of all federal programs to weed out failing ones. Senator Obama opposes that reform. I opposed subsidies that favor big business over small farmers and tariffs on imported products that have greatly increased the cost of food. Senator Obama supports these billions of dollars in corporate subsidies and the tariffs that have led to rising grocery bills for American families.
That's not change we can believe in.
No problem is more urgent today than America's dependence on foreign oil. It threatens our security, our economy and our environment. The next President must be willing to break completely with the energy policies not just of the Bush Administration, but the administrations that preceded his, and lead a great national campaign to put us on a course to energy independence. We must unleash the creativity and genius of Americans, and encourage industries to pursue alternative, non-polluting and renewable energy sources, where demand will never exceed supply.
Senator Obama voted for the same policies that created the problem. In fact, he voted for the energy bill promoted by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, which gave even more breaks to the oil industry. I opposed it because I know we won't achieve energy independence by repeating the mistakes of the last half century. That's not change we can believe in.
With forward thinking Democrats and Republicans, I proposed a climate change policy that would greatly reduce our dependence on oil. Our approach was opposed by President Bush, and by leading Democrats, and it was defeated by opposition from special interests that favor Republicans and those that favor Democrats. Senator Obama might criticize special interests that give more money to Republicans. But you won't often see him take on those that favor him. If America is going to achieve energy independence, we need a President with a record of putting the nation's interests before the special interests of either party. I have that record. Senator Obama does not.
Senator Obama proposes to keep spending money on programs that make our problems worse and create new ones that are modeled on big government programs that created much of the fiscal mess we are in. He plans to pay for these increases by raising taxes on seniors, parents, small business owners and every American with even a modest investment in the market.
He doesn't trust us to make decisions for ourselves and wants the government to make them for us. And that's not change we can believe in.
Senator Obama thinks we can improve health care by driving Americans into a new system of government orders, regulations and mandates. I believe we can make health care more available, affordable and responsive to patients by breaking from inflationary practices, insurance regulations, and tax policies that were designed generations ago, and by giving families more choices over their care. His plan represents the old ways of government. Mine trusts in the common sense of the American people.
Senator Obama pretends we can address the loss of manufacturing jobs by repealing trade agreements and refusing to sign new ones; that we can build a stronger economy by limiting access to our markets and giving up access to foreign markets. The global economy exists and is not going away. We either compete in it or we lose more jobs, more businesses, more dreams. We lose the future. He's an intelligent man, and he must know how foolish it is to think Americans can remain prosperous without opening new markets to our goods and services. But he feels he must defer to the special interests that support him. That's not change we can believe in.
Lowering trade barriers to American goods and services creates more and better jobs; keeps inflation under control; keeps interest rates low; and makes more goods affordable to more Americans. We won't compete successfully by using old technology to produce old goods. We'll succeed by knowing what to produce and inventing new technologies to produce it.
We are not people who believe only in the survival of the fittest. Work in America is more than a paycheck; it a source of pride, self-reliance and identity. But making empty promises to bring back lost jobs gives nothing to the unemployed worker except false hope. That's not change we can believe in. Reforming from top to bottom unemployment insurance and retraining programs that were designed -
KEITH OLBERMANN, CO-HOST: We interrupt Senator McCain's address at the
Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana for this breaking news.
Senator Barack Obama is as of this hour, the presumptive Democratic
nominee for president of the United States.
As the polls close in South Dakota, NBC news projecting Obama has
cleared the plateau of the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch this as NBC
News is characterizing South Dakota too early to call. But with Senator
Clinton leading in the exit polling, and get between the 4 1/2
superdelegates declaring for Senator Obama at this hour at the minimum
of six elected delegates, he will get from South Dakota.
The news again at this hour, Barack Obama is the presumptive Democratic
nominee for president of the United States.
At MSNBC and NBC News World Headquarters in New York, alongside Chris
Matthews, I'm Keith Olbermann. And American history has met the 2008
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: You know, I think around the world, this is a
news story in among the 6 billion people on this planet. I think,
tomorrow morning, everywhere in the world, in the few hours, in Europe,
in Africa, in Cape Town, in Nairobi, in everywhere - Bangladesh, in
Asia, this is a huge story, because in the world dominated by European
powers, forever it seems, this is the first time that a major political
party anywhere in that world has nominated an African-American to lead
their country, in fact, a person of color.
This is a unique, perhaps, trendsetting change in our planet. This is a
big story for everybody. There's 15-year-old kids right now in Kenya are
waking and reading the paper. They're excited. Barack Obama, with a name
like that, a familiar name in much of the world, but not here. They're
saying something's up and they're cheering.
OLBERMANN: And even in the context of not just of the world of today,
but of the world of the past, the country of the past 140 years, 145
years, of all the extraordinary turmoil in this nation about the issue
of race, this may not be, as you pointed out last hour, this may not be
the resolution by any stretch of imagination of this constant friction
on this subject in this country. But what a culmination of this road to
this point, this represents, if you go back from the earliest arguments
in the Continental Congress about what to do about the issue of slavery
in this country.
OLBERMANN: And then throughout the independence process and
constitutional process, and the early years in Democracy, the civil war,
reconstruction, the bailing out of reconstruction, the 1876 deal that
sentenced this country to Jim Crow. I mean, the extraordinary things
that lead up to this moment really do provide the context that puts the
tingle up your spine for all of this nation's history and for what's yet
MATTHEWS: I was lucky to be there when some African blacks were allowed
to vote for the first time. We have a true general election. I was where
with Bishop Tutu, a man of my age now, getting to vote for the first
time. Archbishop Tutu and I was with him. We had him wired and he walked
in that polling and he said, "This is a personal thing for me. This
isn't just about people, this is me. I get to be a grown-up. I get to be
a citizen now."
He said this about what this - what was going to happen tonight, last
week, for the "Chicago Tribune." He talked about the problem of being an
African-American, how he was always stunned coming over here from the '70s.
He'd say, "You're equal, so what's the problem?" And he said, "You know,
there is this thing out there. It is the institutional equality, but,"
he said, "When I first came to this country in '72, I was quite shaken,
actually (ph) by the intensity of feeling that African-Americans had.
And I said, I couldn't understand, why are they so bitter, why are they
There in South Africa under apartheid, they told you, 'You're nothing.'
And we're going to treat you like you're nothing. You are. And don't
ever hope to think you're going to have a chance of being treated
differently. And here in America," he said he found this. "People said
you're equal, the sky is the limit but they keep bumping their heads
against this thing that stopping them from reaching out to the stars."
And he said all this.
And then he said this wonderful statement, about our country and Barack
Obama. This Archbishop Tutu was one of the people who fought against
"You've all of that going against you and yet you produce Obama. Where
else in the world would you ever have anything like that? I mean, an
African-American being not just a credible candidate but one of who has
galvanized, I mean, the number of young people who have come out and
said, yes, we think it is actually possible to have a different kind of
society. Only here."
And this is Archbishop Tutu looking at us and seeing the profound
historic importance of tonight.
OLBERMANN: And to the promise out of so many promises that were
unfulfilled. One of the promises that we can proudly say in this nation
has to some degree been fulfilled in a very symbolic way tonight. We'll
see what the practicalities of it are in the next months to come. But in
one sense, we have hurdled yet another barrier that many nations failed
to do and this nation failed to do so many times. It is an extraordinary
MATTHEWS: And I hope now we face an equal contest in terms of ethnicity
because everything else is on the table, who's the best qualified? Who
has experience? Who will lead us in the right direction? All of that is
on the table. But I've got to hope that ethnicity is not. That what's on
the table now is who will be the best leader for all of us. It would be
nice if that were the case.
OLBERMANN: Let's invite NBC News correspondent, Tom Brokaw, into this
As we, before we let go of the historical moment, you know, I remember
from youth, watching your predecessors and predecessors at other
networks, Walter Cronkite speechless at the moment we landed on the
moon, politically this is kind of like landing on the moon right now.
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It is and it's 40 years
after 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. This country was
going through a volcanic experience in every conceivable way,
politically, culturally, 16,000 people were lost in Vietnam, the inner
cities in this country went up after the Dr. King was killed, there was
a rise of the black power movement. A lot of people wonder where we're
going. Bobby Kennedy, of course, was killed just when he thought he
might be able to win the Democratic presidential nomination in Chicago.
And now, 40 years later, a man with the name Barack Obama is going to be
the nominee for the Democratic Party for president of the United States.
It's also a commentary, it seems to me, both Chris and Keith, on the
extraordinary generational changes that we're going through in this
country. It's not just that young people who are coming into this
process this time, that they see race in an entirely different way than
those who are 45 and older. They are not nearly as affected when someone
walks into a room who may be a different color. They just don't see it.
And I think that part of the success for Barack Obama this time has been
that younger people especially are much, much color blind now than their
elders are. And that's a great tribute to this country.
But after tonight, as you said earlier, Keith, he's going to have to run
for president. And this is not the election. We still have a long way.
It's still the toughest job in the world to earn and he'll have to earn it.
But this is a moment to savor. And I would think that probably has the
same effect on the Republican Party as well as it does on the Democratic
Party. This is a - however you feel about his candidacy - this is a
milestone in American politics.
OLBERMANN: It is one I hope in that same sense is transcendent of party
and whether there is any - whether you support Senator Obama or think
him utterly unqualified, his presence here is such an extraordinary thing.
BROKAW: Well, one of the things, Keith, that I think has been quite
striking about this campaign for Barack Obama and this is unsettling for
a lot of Republicans, are the number of young Republicans that he has
pulled across the line in those crossover states and makes them very
nervous about the fall. Young Republicans in the Dallas suburbs, for
example, and other parts of America who decided that this was somebody
they could be comfortable with, voting for.
So, we're going through some profound changes in this country at the
moment and with good reason. There are lots of big challenges out there.
You heard Senator McCain talking tonight more about change than he has
at any other time in the campaign and about what he hopes to do with change.
OLBERMANN: All right. I'll recap this news briefly and then we'll share
this moment with two people who have a lot to contribute on this topic well.
NBC News projecting at this hour that Barack Obama is indeed the
presumptive nominee for president for the Democrats in 2008, having
gotten at least six delegates in the South Dakota primary. Polls were
closing there at about 8 1/2 minutes ago. Too early to call that one,
but he will get at least six delegates and he has gotten 4 ½, the
support of 4 1/2 more superdelegates in this last hour.
And under those circumstances, let's bring back into our conversation
the Washington bureau chief for NBC News, moderator of MEET THE PRESS,
Tim Russert; and our insider tonight, former congressman, MSNBC
political analyst, Harold Ford.
Harold, let me start with you. Take the moment, tell me how this feels
for you as a politician, as an American, as an African-American.
HAROLD FORD, JR., (D) FMR. U.S. CONGRESSMAN: As an American you have to
be proud of what has been accomplished over the last five or six months,
really the last year and a half, rally, by Senator Obama. You have to be
reminded that this country is not only as great, but only in this
country could this happen. I was struck by Chris's words.
But now, the attention has to shift from Senator Obama and Senator
Clinton and whatever rivalry, tension may be there, they have to get
that patched up very quickly. What John McCain said tonight was powerful
and compelling. I know we will come back to it.
But I'll make two quick points. One, his speech tonight tried to revive
the McCain of 2000. He overlooked the 95 percent voting record with
George Bush and wants to resurrect the maverick, independent John
McCain. Two, I found the symbolism of a leader we can believe in on a
green poster or a green placard behind him. Green representing the
future, a leader we can believe in, obviously, a play and recognition
that Barack's message of change, indeed, is connecting.
And to Tom's point, there's no doubt younger voters are not as, let's
say, impacted or influenced by some of the old influences and prejudices
that may have existed in politics.
But let's not be mistaken. This speech tonight by John McCain may be the
best he's given on the campaign trail. I hope the Obama campaign is
watching very closely this evening because McCain tonight wraps (ph)
specific around the future. He tried to put Barack in two or three
frames, in raising taxes, being weak on security, the word is military,
patriotism, defend America were mentioned some 15 times up to my count
before we switched over. And he made clear that Barack Obama, in his
estimation, is a special interest candidate.
The Obama campaign has to be very thoughtful, careful, and aggressive in
how they address this issue because what McCain is trying to do tonight
is identify with basic American values and wrap himself not only in the
flag but all that America represents, including the idea of Barack Obama
being the nominee of the Democratic Party - a powerful speech by John
McCain this evening.
OLBERMANN: Tim Russert, this moment of the actual going over the top for
Barack Obama, is it tangibly different? Is it - the reality is far
greater than the anticipation to twist the Shakespearean phrase, on its
TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Keith, I think it is.
When you sit and reflect just for a flabby (ph) second about what we are
witnessing, this young 46-year-old African-American man now the nominee
of the Democratic Party. Just put that in the context of our nation and
the whole issue of race, it's breathtaking.
But Harold is right. Now Barack Obama is the nominee. And he is going to
have to present himself to all voters, not just Democrats or the few
independents or Republicans who decided to vote in the primaries and
caucuses, but all 300 million people in this country and say, "I can be
your leader. I can sit in the Oval Office and make tough decisions about
war and peace." It's a whole new threshold.
John McCain tonight used the word change 32 times. You count climate
change it was 33 times. But what he tried to do, Keith, was something
different than what Hillary Clinton had done. Rather than simply say -
I am the candidate of experience, he said, "Barack Obama doesn't have
the judgment on the big issues of the day to be the president of the
If Obama can answer that threshold question, that he has the basic a
ability to sit in the Oval Office, and make tough decisions, and
exercise good judgment, then the issue of change, I think, will win him
the White House. But it's a big challenge and one that starts tonight.
OLBERMANN: That threshold even goes to sort of the Senator Clinton
implied point of the legitimacy of this candidacy and puts it on some
sort of performance enhancing drug, it amps it up to some degree as
Senator Obama has arrived at the Xcel Center. And we'll give you the
timing again in the middle of this question to Tim Russert.
We're expecting Senator Obama to speak sometime around 10:00 o'clock
Eastern Time, and shortly, Senator Clinton will speak from New York and
what she says will be fascinating in its own right.
But Tim, Senator McCain dismissed Senator Obama as essentially being
chosen by the pundits and the party elders, and was interrupted by the
news that he had been, in fact, chosen by enough people who voted for
him in South Dakota. How long does this - can you carry the idea of
illegitimacy into a presidential campaign? He is the candidate one way
RUSSERT: Absolutely. And he will be respected in that way by the
American people whether they vote for him or not. I do think it is
important for Senator Clinton not to validate people who want to vote
against Barack Obama because some of resistance that she may have put
forward in her campaign - whether it's white women, blue-collar
If she is going to help Barack Obama win the presidency, unite the
Democratic Party, she is going to have to proactively say - I have come
to learn a lot more about Barack Obama, about his positions on the
issues, and about the need for change and really be a true partner for
it. Otherwise, she risks her own position in the party.
But, Keith, as we are talking here, I keep watching John McCain and
listening to what Harold Ford said and what you and Chris have said -
if McCain is now going to be the McCain of 2000, and talk about all his
differences with Bush, that doesn't come free. It may help him with
independent voters against Barack Obama, but what does it do to the
hardcore Republican base?
And the fundamental theory of Karl Rove is, this is an election of base
versus base. You've got to energize, intensify, and excite your base.
So, we've got to watch this very, very carefully. We have no doubt that
the Obama Democratic base is going to be excited and energized. Can John
McCain do that on the Republican side by still differentiating himself
from George W. Bush in order to deflect the third Bush term comments of
What a night.
FORD: Can I say one thing?
RUSSERT: Yes. Sorry.
FORD: I think, Tim, I want to add (ph) one thing - and everything Tim
said, I agree with. But there are two things, Tim, I think, as we talk
about this base vote. The first is, if you look at these three last
special elections where Democrats beat Republicans with their own base,
in Mississippi, Louisiana and Illinois, those Republican-held districts.
Two, you consider what John McCain was able to accomplish when he was a
different kind of politician. His belief firmly, maybe, is that the Rove
paradigm may be irrelevant in this political context. Now, Barack can
overcome all of this.
I only mention tonight's speech for two reasons. John McCain, if he is
able to resurrect and I use that term intentionally, resurrect this 2000
image of himself, you combine it with the beginning of that speech where
he praises his family, his three daughters and talked about the role
that Hillary Clinton played in inspiring them.
Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, I would agree, Senator Clinton cannot
be critical. She has to validate this man, his campaign, and his vision
for the future. But Barack Obama will have the challenge. I've been in
And when you run against a Republican who makes the case that a Democrat
will not protect seniors, will not protect small business owners, will
not protect parents and investors from big taxing government, I can tell
you from first hand experience, that is an incredible argument to go
against. Barack Obama should (ph) listen closely tonight.
OLBERMANN: Harold, forgive me. We've got breaking news from Andrea
Michelle at the Clinton event that's coming up within moments at Baruch
College in New York about a possibility of a Clinton-Obama conversation
Before we hear Senator Clinton speak, Andrea, what do you have on this?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Clinton advisers are telling me
that she wants to sit down very quickly with Barack Obama and she wants
to do this in a private way. There are a couple of opportunities.
They're both going to be at the Pro-Israel lobby, APAC, in Washington,
D.C., speaking right after each other.
Of course, that would not be the greatest venue in order for them to sit
down together, but he is going to be back here in New York City tomorrow
night for two Democratic National Committee private fundraisers for
wealthy donors. And there are opportunities. She originally had been
invited as well. He's the headliner but there could be a private meeting
as early as tomorrow night.
But she doesn't want to concede or embrace him, and of course, she got
the chance to sit down with him and explore what is on his mind and her
MATTHEWS: There's something disconcerting (ph) in this report, I mean,
if they want to have a private meeting while are they telling the media?
If they want to have a private meeting why don't they just have one? Why
are they using us or the media to get the message across?
MITCHELL: They are not telling the media. Well, I think that this is the
kind of information that I've been able to dig out. But it's not being
publicly disclosed to the media. This is not a press release.
MATTHEWS: I got you.
OLBERMANN: Now, what else do you have on this other point that Howard
Fineman raised in our last conversation before Senator McCain spoke that
what this is about at this stage is that Senator Clinton wants the offer
for the vice presidency but has already assured or her people have
already assured Senator Obama's people that she would turn it down, that
this is (A), a sort of pro forma gesture of respect, and (B), a rather
effective albeit not very deep means of healing the wounds between the
two candidates and their supporters in the Democratic Party?
MITCHELL: Well, I didn't hear Howard's reporting because we were doing
our own reporting here. With that would work as a tactic, certainly. But
every indication that I've had from people is that she really would want
the vice presidential offer and would actually want to run for vice
president. I really have been hearing this consistently for quite some
time and from people who are pretty close to her. But clearly, there
could be some tactical advantage.
One of the things that Lisa Caputo was talking to you earlier about was
why not have Barack Obama take the entire Hillary Clinton's women's
outreach organization and transfer it over, begin to meld these
campaigns. So, that takes a lot of trust and faith on the part of people
who have been so directly involved in combat against each other.
But clearly, this is an in-place organization, as Lisa points out, which
would immediately be able to have the database to reach out to all of
those women who have been, a lot of whom have been resistant to Barack
OLBERMANN: Andrea Mitchell, at Baruch College, where, now, we
understand, Senator Clinton will speak in eight or nine minutes. Andrea,
thank you for your reporting on the prospects of a conversation, a
private meeting between the two senators perhaps tomorrow, and the venue
to be decided.
As we wait for Senator Clinton to speak, let's send it back over to
David Gregory and our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel on a momentous 20
minutes in American political history - David.
DAVID GREGORY, "RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE" HOST: It is, Keith.
And, Pat, in the middle of all of this, as the Obama campaign says that
it wants to savor the night, we are, of course, talking about the
prospect of this unity ticket Andrea Mitchell is reporting right there
about the potential for a private meeting. So, let's talk about the
political aspect of this. What happens in that kind of conversation as
early as tomorrow between Obama and Clinton?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you believe - I mean,
Howard Fineman, obviously, got good sources, but I find that very hard
to credit and to believe for this reason. It looks as though from
Howard's report that what she wants is for him to offer her the
nomination for V.P. and her to turn it down, which means Barack Obama's
choice would be his second choice automatically and publicly he would
not get the person he wants.
I mean, if I were Obama, I wouldn't go with some kind of a deal like that.
BUCHANAN: So, I honestly believe that she wants it. I really do. I think
it's the avenue to power. Rockefeller didn't take it and they lost and
Rockefeller went nowhere. Reagan, of course, didn't take it and Ford
went down. I think she wants it.
And if that team wins, she's there. And look, is the vice presidency
worthless? Talk to Dick Cheney. No, it is not. It depends on the
individual. You can rule (ph) America's foreign (ph) policy from there.
GREGORY: Rachel, one of the questions that I think a lot about - at
this particular moment Obama has just made history as has been discussed
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
GREGORY: Tonight, he savors this moment. Does he say to himself - I
need her? Or does he say to himself - I'm doing pretty good so far on
MADDOW: I think he says this is not a decision I'm going to be pushed
into tonight. And I think that the way Barack Obama wins tonight,
vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton, is for her to become one of the people he is
considering as his vice presidential choice. I mean, you look at, we've
already seen, for example, the front pages of some of the European
papers that are going to come out tomorrow. They don't have Hillary
Clinton on the front pages and that means that he is winning this case
This is a historic moment not only because of his race but because he
it's clinched and if he gets the spotlight to himself tonight, that's
probably the biggest victory he can get out of the press coverage.
GREGORY: We, and in fact, we have some breaking news tonight, it has
been projected by NBC News that, in fact, Hillary Clinton has won the
state of South Dakota. A state where she and her husband campaigned
vigorously, as well as Chelsea Clinton worked a lot of the small towns.
And those who know the state well beyond Tom Brokaw, had said, that
look, this is a difficult thing for Barack Obama. He had to make some
choices about going to some swing states but -
BUCHANAN: He's ahead.
GREGORY: He was ahead at one point, Pat, but he also puts her in the
position, it maybe too late to say - look, more moderate Democrats who I
was able to attract and he was not.
BUCHANAN: This gives her a stronger claim, I mean (ph), claim to the
nomination. Look, she can't make it so hard that he's got to take her.
He could take anybody. But it's looking like she's got a very good case
to be on that ticket.
MADDOW: This is a way to have her way into the spotlight.
GREGORY: Gene, getting all this, again, Clinton projected to win South
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The number that counts tonight
is 21, 18. You know, it's the number of delegates. I mean, he clinches
the nomination. He's - we have Montana yet to come. If he wins in
Montana, as is expected, it won't be, you know, the greatest, you know,
kind of double victory that he actually would have hoped for but I think
he'll take it.
You know, Pat, can speak to this but my impression is you don't get a
lot of time to savor if you're running for president. So, you know, so,
I think that -
BUCHANAN: We are into Hillary tonight. But we'd be into her by Thursday,
the Hillary-Obama thing after he had his big night (INAUDIBLE).
GREGORY: You don't have lot of time because the general election has
already started. Let's play a piece of sound from John McCain who has
already launched the newest debate against Barack Obama. Watch this,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't seek the
presidency on the presumption I'm blessed with such personal greatness
that history has anointed me to save my country and it's hour of need. I
seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget my country
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY: What is he saying, Pat? What's the message here?
BUCHANAN: Well, he's saying - this is Barack Obama's acting like he's
entitled to this presidency. And I'm someone who seeks to serve my
country as I always have and that brings him back to his strongest suit
which is Vietnam and a POW.
ROBINSON: I think it's actually a subtler kind of argument. I think he's
kind of saying - Barack Obama, it's all about him and whereas for me
it's all about something greater.
GREGORY: A couple of points. McCain tonight talked about change, that he
is the one who can bring change. He talked about Obama not having the
judgment, the wrong kind of change. But, as Tim Russert suggested, and
he talks about distinguishing himself from President Bush, that's not an
argument that he can make without some cost among Republicans.
MADDOW: Right. He is speaking presumably tonight, he knows who's
watching TV tonight. He thinks it's going to be a lot of Democrats
watching tonight because of what's going on in the Democratic side. He's
making essentially his pitch to independents tonight, but it was a
multifaceted attack on Barack Obama. If I think Barack Obama as the
person who represents the old ways of government, that's something
coming from John McCain.
GREGORY: Yes. All right. We'll have more time to get into all of this.
Gentlemen, a lot to chew on here, a lot of news to discuss. Back to you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, David.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David. We are waiting now for Hillary Clinton to
address supporters in New York in just a few minutes now. And as we
wait, we're joined by New York Congressman Gregory Meeks who supports
I guess, the question, sir, what do you expect to hear, what do you want
to hear from the woman, the candidate you've supported all these months?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS, (D-NY) CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I think that we're
going to hear that she's going to do anything that she can to make sure
that we are together and united to win in November. That's what's
important as this was all about. I think that she's going to stand and
thank the people that have supported her throughout this campaign but
she's going to be focused on saying that we've got to come together.
And she's going to do all that she can to make sure that we win in
November and support the Democratic nominee. So, that's what it's really
MATTHEWS: Is she willing to accept the vice presidency?
MEEKS: Well, I think that she has indicated that she will do whatever
that the Senator Obama asks her to, whatever is necessary to make sure
that we can win in November. And so, I'm sure that Senator Obama will
look at it, has her on a short list, and make a determination as to how
we can bring this thing together so that we can make sure - because the
key here, Chris, is winning in November.
We've got to make sure that we win. And so, I think that she will accept
it if offered. I think that she will do other things if not offered. I
don't think that it's a do all of me all thing (ph) on her part, she
wants to make sure that we win. I think it's important that we do that.
It's important, I heard the rumor, I think, that they sit down at some
point and have a conversation. And we move on together. And I think
you're going to see Democrats coming together like never before. This
has been a great primary season. More people are excited about it than
ever before. And it's primarily because of these two candidates. And
now, with them coming together, we're going to go on and have victory in
MATTHEWS: If you were Barack Obama, you're a political figure,
congressman, would you wait a couple of weeks until things calm down or
would you try to make a move, a decision quickly?
MEEKS: Well, no. I think that Senator Obama needs to do whatever he
needs to do in regards to vetting his vice presidency candidate. I think
that, just as Senator Clinton, I think, will ask and looking forward to
having a few days so that she can talk to her people before she concedes
anything. So, I think that we've had a very emotional primary campaign,
both sides need to take some time to have a private conversation, I believe.
And we just need to begin to focus on bringing our party together and
working together because we're going to have a great convention in
August. All of us united together to make sure that we elect the next
president of the United States of America.
MATTHEWS: Do you think former President Clinton would be willing to shut
down his international business activities in the interest of his wife
serving as V.P.?
MEEKS: Well, you know, I think what President Clinton has been doing
since he's not been the president has been some great things. If you
look at the Clinton Global Initiative, and helping to eradicate poverty,
try to make sure that we get medicines, affordable medicines to
eradicate HIV and AIDS. Those are very positive things that a Bill
Clinton can do because that's what he stood for when he was president,
and that's what he represents.
And so, I think, that he can work in partnership, as he has, as Bill
Clinton has done even in those regard with the George Bush
administration. But this would be even a greater partnership and trying
to make sure that we bring the message of Democracy, eradicating poverty
to the greater world. What a great partnership that would be.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the mag (ph), that "Vanity Fair" article
is running this week. The former president is very upset about it. He'd
use very tough language attacking the journalist who wrote it. What's
your view of it?
MEEKS: Well, you know what? You know, I think that the journalist, I
don't know, no one was quoted in the story. I don't know where it came
from. I know I've traveled a great deal with President Clinton during
this campaign. So, I know, I didn't receive a phone call from this
reporter. So, I don't know the validity of the report.
So therefore, you know, sometimes, in the heat of the moment, when
you're politically attacked in that way without any basis, in fact, then
you react the way you would personally or privately in a public way. And
I think that the president wishes he did not, but he'd just, that's how
he felt and so, therefore you heard it.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Bill Clinton has been a plus or a minus for this
campaign of his wife?
MEEKS: Well, you know what? I think that what he's done what any spouse
would do, he worked very hard in this campaign, doing everything that he
thought that he could possibly do to win. I think that every word was,
you know, because this is a historic situation also, you never had a
former president of the United States actively campaigning in the way he
So, therefore, a lot of things that would have been either not covered
or not scrutinized for a normal spouse was done in this particular
instance. But if the emotions that any spouse would have for their
spouse if they were running for any office, least known (ph) as the
president of the United States, and you saw some of those real moments
because he's a real man.
He may have been the former president of the United States of America
but he still a man who was supporting his wife. And that thing is
something that's worthy of merit.
MATTHEWS: Let's get beyond the current fight that's just over right now
between Clinton and Obama. What do you think? You grew up in New York,
Congressman. You've made it in a political career. You've put things
together for yourself and yet you must have some feelings about the
first African-American candidate of either political Party in the entire
western world, really.
MEEKS: But, you know, I've said all along and everyone knows that I've
been a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. But I also said that I'm proud
of Barack Obama, and that my support of Hillary Clinton never was
anti - Barack Obama. Barack Obama, I think, has a true story to tell and
it's an American story. It is not necessarily just an African-American
story; it is a true American story that can be told, of talking about
how he has come up and the hard work and the school loans, why education
is so important for every American in this globalized world that we are
living in. And I think that is a story that needs to be told and I think
that Barack Obama will get an opportunity to tell that story.
MATTHEWS: Great to have you on this show as always, Congressman Meeks -
Congressman Greg Meeks of New York, a Democrat who supported Hillary
Clinton. He's now going to support the Democratic nominee, I can only
KEITH OLBERMANN: One would assume that that's the case. You are seeing
on the right, the other portion of the screen, Terry McAuliffe, the
chair of the Clinton campaign in the basement of Baruch College at the
Athletic and Recreation Center there, the Bearcats' den - unusual, and I
guess the phrase is - not close-knit, but comfortable and intimate
setting for Sen. Clinton. And we're wondering now if there was a cue
missed somewhere because it sure sounded like he just introduced her.
MATTHEWS: A room, by the way, free of any TV monitors, as it's been
pointed out. It's an interesting room, not only removed from any windows
below the surface by a couple of floors, but no TV monitors in that room.
OLBERMANN: There was the cue. It's a little belated. We'll leave the
symbolism of that to others. There is former President Clinton and the
senator somewhat obscured by him as he proceeds out ahead of her toward
the stage. This address - there have been no advance copies of it
We have some idea from Andrea Mitchell about what Sen. Clinton may say,
that it will be conciliatory without being a concession speech. And
according to Andrea's reporting - you heard about 15 minutes ago, that
right now, Sen. Clinton's primary concern on a practical basis is a
private meeting with Sen. Obama in the immediate future.
MATTHEWS: There is Chelsea as well who has become very much a part of
this three, this triple play, if you will.
OLBERMANN: So what is - what can be the tone here that serves all the
MATTHEWS: I think it is to keep the army together. I think Hillary
Clinton will not disband her army until she's got what she wants. She's
put together an army which is roughly half the Democratic Party - women,
of course, working people, Latinos - a lot of interesting elements to
her campaign. She is not giving it up. You watch.
OLBERMANN: Here she is.
(CHEERS AND CHANTING FROM THE CROWD)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank
you so much. Thank you all so much. Thank you and thanks so much to
South Dakota. You had the last word in this primary season and it was
worth the wait.
I want to start tonight by congratulating Sen. Obama and his supporters
on the extraordinary race that they have run. Senator Obama has inspired
so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to
get involved. And our party and our democracy is stronger and more
vibrant as a result, so we are grateful. And it has been an honor to
contest these primaries with him just as it is an honor to call him my
friend. And tonight I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize
him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Now, 16 months ago, you and I began a journey, to make history and to
remake America. And from the hills of New Hampshire to the hollows of
West Virginia and Kentucky, from the fields of California to the
factories of Ohio, from the Alleghenies to the Ozarks to the Everglades
to right here in the great state of New York, we -
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
We saw millions of Americans registering to vote for the first time,
raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls,
talking to their friends and neighbors. Mothers and fathers lifting
their little girls and their little boys on to their shoulders and
whispering, "See, you can be anything you want to be."
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I think, too, of all those - all those wonderful women in their 90s
who came out to see me because they were born before women could vote
and they wanted to be part of making history and the people who drove
for miles who waved their handmade signs, who went to all the events we
held, who came to HillaryClinton.com and showed the tangible support
they felt in their hearts.
And I am just enormously grateful because in the millions of quiet
moments in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question.
Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest president? Who
will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as
commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?
People in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the
territories all had a chance to make your voices heard. And on Election
Day after Election Day you came out in record numbers to cast your
ballots. Nearly 18 million of you cast your votes for our campaign,
carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that
this race was over, you kept on voting. You're the nurse on the second
shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small
business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the
soldier, the veteran, the student. The hard working men and women who
don't always make the headlines, but have always written America's story.
You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House. And
because of you, we won together the swing states necessary to get to 270
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And, you know -
CROWD: Yes, we will. Yes, we will. Yes, we will.
CLINTON: In all of the states, you voted because you wanted a leader who
will stand up for the deepest values of our party, a party that believes
everyone should have a fair shot at the American dream. A party that
cherishes every child, values every family and counts every single vote.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I often felt that each of your votes was a prayer for our nation, a
declaration of your dreams for your children, a reflection of your
desire to chart a new course in this new century. And in the end, while
this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Because we stood our ground, it meant that every single United States
citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard. A record 35 million
people voted in this primary. From every state, red, blue, purple,
people of every age, faith, color and walk of life. And we have brought
so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among
those we seek to serve.
And I am committed to uniting our party so we move forward, stronger and
more ready than ever to take back the White House this November.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
You know, for the past seven years so many people in this country have
felt invisible like your president didn't even really see you. I have
seen the shuttered factories; the jobs shipped overseas, the families
struggling to afford gas and groceries.
But I've also seen unions retraining workers to build energy efficient
buildings, innovators designing cars that run on fuel cells and
bio-fuels and electricity, cars that get more miles per gallon than ever
before, cars that will cut the cost of driving, reduce our reliance on
foreign oil and fight global warming.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I have met - I have met too many people without healthcare, just a
diagnosis away from financial ruin. But I've also seen the scientist and
researchers solving the medical mysteries and finding the treatments and
cures that are transforming lives.
I've seen the struggling schools with the crumbling classrooms and the
unfair burdens imposed by No Child Left Behind. But I have also met
dedicated and caring teachers who use their own savings to buy supplies
and students passionately engaged in the issues of our time from ending
the genocide in Darfur to once again making the environment a central
issue of our day.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
None of you - none of you is invisible to me. You never have been.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I see you, and I know how hard working you are. I've been fighting for
you my whole adult life, and I will keep standing for you and working
for you every single day. Because in your courage and character, your
energy and ingenuity, your compassion and faith, I see the promise of
America every day.
The challenges we face are great but our determination is greater. You
know, I understand that a lot of people are asking, "What does Hillary
want? What does she want?" Well, I want what I have always fought for in
this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this
economy around. I want healthcare for every American. I want every child
to live up to his or her God-given potential and I want the nearly 18
million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no
longer to be invisible.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
You see, I have an old-fashioned notion, one that's been the basis of my
candidacy and my life's work, that public service is about helping
people solve their problems and live their own dreams. This nation has
given me ever opportunity and that's what I want for every single American.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
That's why I want universal healthcare. It is wrong that Americans pay
50 percent more for health care than the people of any other wealthy
nation with costs doubling this decade and nearly a 50 million people
without any health insurance at all.
It is wrong for parents to choose between care for themselves or their
children, to be stuck in dead-end jobs to keep their insurance or to
give up working altogether so their kids will qualify for Medicaid.
I have been working on this issue not just for the past 16 months but
for 16 years. And it is a fight -
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
It is a fight I will continue until every single American has health
insurance, no exceptions and no excuses. I want an economy that works
for all families. That's why I have been fighting to create millions of
new jobs in clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure. Jobs to come
to all of our states in urban and rural areas and suburban communities
and small towns.
And that's why I sounded the alarm on the home mortgage crisis well over
a year ago because -
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
These are the issues that will determine whether we will once again grow
together as a nation or continue to grow apart. And I want to restore
America's leadership in the world. I want us to be led once again by the
power of our values, to have a foreign policy that is both strong and
smart, to join with our allies and confront our shared challenges from
poverty and genocide to global terrorism and global warming.
These issues are that brought me into this race. They lifeblood of my
campaign, and they have been and will continue to be the causes of my
life. And your spirit -
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Your spirit has inspired me every day in this race. While I traveled our
country talking about how I wanted to help you, time and again you
reached out to help me. To grab my hand or grip my arm, to look into my
eyes and tell me, "Don't quit. Keep fighting. Stay in this race."
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Now, there were days when I had the strength -
There were the days when I had the strength enough to fight for all of
us. And on the days that I didn't, I leaned on you. The soldier on his
third tour of duty in Iraq who told his wife, an Iraqi veteran herself,
to take his spending money and donate it to our campaign instead. The
11-year-old boy in Kentucky who sold his bike and video games to raise
money for our campaign. The woman who came to a rally hours early,
waited and waited to give me a rosary. And all those who whispered to
me, simply to say, "I am praying for you."
So many people said this race was over five months ago in Iowa but we
had faith in each other and you brought me back in New Hampshire and on
Super Tuesday and in Ohio and in Pennsylvania and Texas and Indiana,
West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico and South Dakota.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I will carry your stories and your dreams with me every day for the rest
of my life. Now, the question is, where do we go from here? And given
how far we've come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I
don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign and I will be making
no decisions tonight.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But this has always been your campaign. So to the 18 million people who
voted for me and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I
want to hear from you. I hope you'll go to my Web site at
"HillaryClinton.com" and share your thoughts with me and help in any way
that you can.
And in the coming days, I'll be consulting with supporters and party
leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interest of our
party and our country guiding my way.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And I want - I want to conclude tonight by saying thank you. Thank you
to the people across America for welcoming me and my family into your
homes and your hearts. Thanks to all of you in every corner of this
country who cast your votes for our campaign. I am honored and humbled
by your support and your trust.
Thanks to my staff and volunteers for all those long hours and late
nights. And I thank your families and your loved ones as well because
your sacrifice was theirs. I especially want to thank all of the
leadership of my campaign, our chairman, Terry McAuliffe and everyone
who worked so hard.
And, of course, my family for their incredible love, support and work.
Bill and Chelsea, Sue and Maria, Tony and Megan, Zach and Fiona and my
mother, who turns 89 tomorrow.
And finally, I want to thank all of the people who had the courage to
share your stories with me out on the campaign trail.
Tonight, I am thinking of a woman I met just yesterday in Rapid City,
South Dakota. We were outside Callie's Restaurant, there was a crowd
there as I was walking into the restaurant and she was standing right up
against the barrier. She grabbed my hand and she said, "What are you
going to do to make sure I have healthcare?" And as she was talking, she
began to cry. She told me she works three jobs. She has suffered from
seizures since childhood. She hasn't been able to afford insurance ever
since she left her parents' home.
It is shameful that anyone in this country could tell that story to me.
And whatever path I travel next, I promise I will keep faith with her
and with everyone I met across this great and good country.
You know, tonight we stand just a few miles from the Statue of Liberty,
and from the site where the Twin Towers fell and where America rose
again. Lady Liberty's presence and the Towers' absence are a constant
reminder that here in America, we are resilient, we are courageous, we
embrace all of our people and that when we face our challenges together,
there is no barrier we can't overcome, no dream we can't realize,
nothing we can't do if we just start acting like Americans again. Thank
you all very much. God bless you and God bless America.
OLBERMANN: Sen. Hillary Clinton speaking at the Athletic and Recreation
Center, the Bearcats' den at Baruch College in New York City, one level
below the basement of that university, that college facility. "I will be
making no decisions tonight," she said. "Whatever path I travel next,"
began one of her sentences. And one is almost forced to ask whether they
picked this particular venue with no TV monitors and cell phone or
blackberry service so that nobody there would know that 54 minutes ago,
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois had become the presumptive nominee of the
There were nice words to Sen. Obama, Chris. There was a description of,
"It is an honor to call him a friend." But she also said that "People
have been asking themselves a simple question, who will be the strongest
candidate and the strongest president? Who will be ready to take back
the White House and to take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our
country to better tomorrows?"
And she was introduced by her chairman, Terry McAuliffe with this
introduction, "Are you ready for the next president of the United
States?" What was this speech?
MATTHEWS: Well, it was implied. It wasn't spoken. I think it was a look
back over the campaign. It was eloquent, I thought, what she said about
Lady Liberty and the resilience of this country was certainly matched by
her performance in this campaign.
Time and again, it looked like she was going to get knocked out by the
voters and she kept coming back after losing a big surprise defeat of
course, in Iowa, and then really losing probably ultimately in the
failure to move ahead in North Carolina and a narrow victory in Indiana
where she really needed to make a surge and couldn't do it. I think that
there were many times in the campaign where it looked like a normal
person would have quit. She didn't. The resilience was manifest and I
think he's sitting in tonight. There was a surreal quality here tonight.
But I think at the end of this speech when she began to look back at the
campaign - and by the way, these people here on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do know
what planet they are on. I mean they are aware this is an Auld Lang
Syne. This is the end of campaign, not the beginning of one or the
They must all know, having walked in there tonight, that Barack Obama
was on the edge of sealing this thing up. And I think you can see it
from the nostalgia which is already there with people. But you never
know. Some people don't always get the message. But you are right. The
irony of this thing - you're right. There is something humorous about
three floors below where there's no monitors on the wall, no telephone
OLBERMANN: No outside communications of any kind.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, but in all seriousness, I think she did give a speech
with a lot of eloquence. She is right about resilience whenever you
think of the message of the campaign. I will stick to my assessment that
Hillary Clinton's most profound mistake in this campaign wasn't a
political mistake. It was a policy decision.
When she voted to authorize the war in Iraq in 2002, she put herself in
a position squarely in league with the president and with John McCain
and those who supported the war. And because she did that, it was very
hard for her to pivot and become the candidate of change, whereas Barack
Obama, through whatever serendipity, was able to establish himself in
2002 as an opponent of the war. And I think that is what made him the
change candidate. Had you changed parties with regard to the war, I
think you would have had a different result.
MATTHEWS: The traffic, as they say, for the next few minutes. Montana's
polls close in two minutes and 40 seconds. We hope to have a call of it
at that point. About two minutes after that, Sen. Obama will make his
first speech as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party from St.
Paul. In the interim, let's get the thoughts of NBC's Washing bureau
chief, the moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert.
Tim, this certainly was an eloquent, as Chris says, speech and had great
merit to it, but what was your perception as to what this speech was
meant to say?
TIM RUSSERT, NBC'S WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: I was taken by her choice of
words, "I congratulate Sen. Obama on the race he has run," not the race
he has won. She said, "I will make no decisions tonight." Well, the
Democratic Party has made a big decision tonight. You know, they are
going to nominate Barack Obama.
Her speech was passionate. It clearly was descriptive of her journey.
But it left unanswered just what she wants and how passionate she will
be on behalf of Barack Obama. Obviously, she wants to have direct
contact, direct discussions, negotiations, whatever, before she formally
endorses Sen. Obama. And how that will be viewed within the Obama
campaign and by many in the Democratic Party is a very open question.
OLBERMANN: All right. We've had reporting of various kinds. Howard
Fineman saying that that offer is what she wants. She doesn't want the
vice presidency. Andrea Mitchell says she's not sure about that and her
reporting was that what Sen. Clinton wants more than anything else is a
one-on-one meeting right away with Sen. Obama. What are you hearing as
to the next that even she said in this speech, "whatever path I travel
next." What is the likeliest path?
RUSSERT: Keith, I can report to you that a very important adviser to
President Clinton told me she would like to be vice president. So I
believe that this is where we are now headed. She will have to have her
discussion with Sen. Obama, ascertain his interest in such a unity
ticket and then make her decision as to what she will do if in fact he
is in a different mindset.
OLBERMANN: And I'm still somewhat befuddled by this speech and how it
dovetails into that.
RUSSERT: Exactly. Clearly she's trying to position herself, keep her
options open. There are many in the Obama campaign who feel that the
more gracious thing tonight would have been to congratulate him on
winning, not just running. And how that will affect his decision in
terms of ultimately selecting her or rejecting her as vice president,
the Obama campaign is in no position to want to make that decision now.
It's only June. They do not know what the political landscape will look
like in August. And so we may see a kabuki dance going on for some time.
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: We've had the theater invoked and now the dance as well. Stand by a second, Tim. Stand by a second, Chris. At 10:00 Eastern time, NBC News has projected that Senator Barack Obama, who is now the presumptive nominee and has been so since delegates began to be awarded at the closure of the polls in South Dakota, will be the winner of the last of the Democratic primaries, the Montana primary. Polls have just closed in that state. There's no margin estimated here but it closes with first a victory for Senator Clinton in South Dakota that did still provide enough delegates for Senator Obama to go over the top and now it closes with Montana going to Obama, per our NBC News projection.
To resume obviously the headline there the presumptive nominee, Barack Obama. Tom Brokaw, NBC's senior correspondent or special correspondent joins us once again. Line these things up for us tonight. We know Barack Obama who will speak in a couple of moments in Minnesota is the presumptive nominee, closes it out with the win in Montana. What was the Clinton speech? How does that fit into the night's narrative?
TOM BROKAW, FORMER NBC ANCHOR: I think it was about leverage. And by the way, I agree with Sam. We may have been talking to the same very close adviser who in fact has been in conversations directly with both Senator Clinton and President Clinton and it was pretty clear to me in my conversations with others around her that she in fact would accept the vice presidential nomination. I'm not denigrating in any way what Howard was reporting earlier. There could be a lot of people who are weighing in on this. But this was someone extremely close to the couple and he was even talking about 60 years of a Democratic presidency would be her best hope of becoming the first woman president of the United States.
So I think her speech tonight really was about leverage, inviting her supporters to load up her website with their recommendations to her about what she should do next, conferring with party leaders. She'll build the case, if you will, to those 18 million people who voted for her, blue collar, white women in their middle years, very powerful constituency traditionally for the Democratic Party. And that's what she will take to the table when she meets with Barack Obama. Will he accept that? Does he believe that he needs that? That's an entirely different question. I also agree with Tim that they will wait a while before they will make this decision because it's not just the political landscape.
They will want to have a read on what McCain is likely to do as well. So there will be a lot, if you will, Bill Belichick moments here in the next three months and of taping each other's practice plays trying to figure out what's going on.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, CO-HOST: Tom, it's me. I thought there was an interesting comment in the senator's very resilient speech. It was a powerful speech. She said that the 18 million people who voted for me must be respected. Was that an ultimatum that she would speak for them, that she had to be respected?
BROKAW: Well, I think it was. I mean, one of the people in the Obama campaign who knows the Clintons very well said today, I think she wants three things at this point. I think she would like to be vice president.
I think she would like to have a Teddy Kennedy moment at the convention.
You remember Senator Kennedy in 1980 when he went on and the dream will never die, made that memorable speech. And then was not very kind to Jimmy Carter, of course, in the election later in the phone (ph) in terms of offering his support for that and he said, she will want to continue her message. Those are constituents who are important to her and her followers have been very passionate about the issues that it's time for them to vote for.
Let me just say something else, votes for Senator Obama and Hillary Clinton have been at this for a very long time, as we know. It is the most grueling campaign in American presidential history, going all the way back and what they all have to do all day every day. And the two of them at the end of it I must say look very fit. They're still ready for the fight. They are still very articulate about their message and who they are. They had a couple missteps in South Dakota and Sioux Falls.
Obama said it's great to be here in Sioux City, which is in Iowa. And then in Yankton, South Dakota the other day, you knew I would have to work that in, Senator Clinton thanked the mayor but it turns out she thanked the mayor who had been recalled four months ago and had the wrong mayor in the line. So apart from those small stumbles, I think that you have to say about the two of them that they look great. They have been on their game here for several months going after each other.
The stakes couldn't be higher. There's one more reminder that there is no more difficult job in the world than to run for the most powerful office in the world, president of the United States.
MATTHEWS: I wonder whether the people around Senator Clinton, who are politically inspired in many cases, people like James Carville. I'm watching on one of the TV screens here right now from one of the other networks, I just wonder whether the really smart people, really believe, even though they know that Senator Clinton because of a personal conversation wants to be on the ticket, if they believe that this is the best ticket? Tim, when you go around the brain power in the Democratic Party, the real candle power, do people think that this is additive to put Hillary Clinton on the ticket or subtractive as well?
RUSSERT: Both. Some believe that she can be very helpful with Florida and Ohio. Others fear that the change of an African-America and a woman at the same time might just be too much to some of the new states that Obama is trying to bring into the electoral college map like Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada and so forth. Just to add a bit more to this conversation and to the people who are talking to Tom and myself, the announcement today that Bill Clinton was going back to work for his foundation in his Harlem office, one Clinton supporter explained to me, we understand that his presence could complicate this decision because of all of the discussion of having him running around in the back field.
And when you take Hillary, you get Bill, too. It would be fascinating if in fact part of this discussion would be Bill sticks with his work and will not be part of the campaign. I would be very curious to see how that works in practice.
MATTHEWS: Is that, do you think, Tim the reason and Tom, that Bill - and this is in a fair estimate went ballistic the other day about the Todd Purdum piece that was picked up by someone on their cell phone, was that he felt that this was a submarining of his wife's attempt to get this second opportunity to be vice president?
BROKAW: Well, I'm not sure about that. I think as we know, that he can have a short fuse and he felt very strongly about that. But to pick up on what Tim was saying, there are some people on the Obama side who say that what we don't want to do is have Bill Clinton around crashing through the wilderness come in the fall however all of this works out.
And on the Clinton side, they are saying, we'll give them assurances that he will just go off and do his foundation work and that announcement that Tim just referred to is the first step in that direction.
The former president has become radioactive in a lot of ways.. He was out there trying to help his wife as best he could. He did help her in some instances. But he really became kind of a lightning rod. I'm mixing up my metaphors here along the way as well, especially in the last few days. So I think the Obama campaign would have some very tough questions about his finances, his contributions to his library, about his speech fees, about the money that he's gotten from foreign governments, about the consulting fees that he has had and they would put down some pretty strict markers about what would be acceptable behavior for him if she were to go on the ticket but we're a long way from that. In any rate, he would be a big part of it.
Here now, of course, come the Obamas, Michelle Obama and Senator Obama, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. This is an historic moment, as we have been saying all evening long. These two young people from the south side of Chicago, who grew up under difficult circumstances, went off and got ivy league educations, met as community organizers and now they are going to lead the Democratic Party into one of the most challenging presidential elections of a new century.
RUSSERT: And we know, Tom that Senator Obama will address what has happened. He will say he has enough delegates to be the nominee now, even if Senator Clinton was not willing to raise that issue. The Excel Center in St. Paul is, as you heard no doubt by now, where the Republicans will officially anoint John McCain at the end of the summer at their nominee.
RUSSERT: So there's great significance to this on the symbolic level in addition to whatever the senator says tonight. Senator Obama in St.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Minnesota!
Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you! Thank you, thank you! Thank you so much, everybody! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, everybody! Thank you!
Thank you, everybody! Thank you. What a wonderful reception. Thank you, St. Paul. Thank you, Minnesota. Thank you Joan Seiverson (ph) for the wonderful introduction. Thank you Michelle Obama and Malia Obama and Sasha Obama. Thank you to my brothers and sisters. Thank you to - thank you to my staff. Thank you to our volunteers. Thank you to my political team. Thank you to our campaign manager David Plouffe, who never gets any credit but has built the best political organization in the country.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Thank you to my grandmother, who helped raise me...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA:... and is sitting in Hawaii somewhere right now, because she can't travel, but who poured everything she had into me, and who helped to make me the man I am today. Tonight is for her.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Tonight, Minnesota, after 54 hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Sixteen - 16 months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled; millions of voices have been heard.
And because of what you said, because you decided that change must come to Washington, because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest, because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA:... a journey that will bring a new and better day to America.
Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: But I want to thank - I want to thank all those in Montana and South Dakota who stood up for change today. I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign, through the good days and the bad, from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls.
And, tonight, I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for president.
At this defining moment, at this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for office.
I have not just competed with them as rivals. I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.
And that is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: She has made history not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she is a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.
I congratulate her on her victory in South Dakota, and I congratulate her on the race that she has run throughout this contest.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We've certainly had our differences over the last 16 months. But as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning - even in the face of tough odds - is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago, what sent her to work at the Children's Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as first lady, what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency: an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be.
And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country - and we will win that fight - she will be central to that victory.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen.
Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well, I say that, because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: There are independents and Republicans who understand this election isn't just about a change of party in Washington, but also about the need to change Washington.
There are young people, and African-Americans, and Hispanic- Americans, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply.
But at the end of the day, we aren't the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn't do that...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing.
We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future.
And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say: Let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.
In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I honor, we honor the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: My differences with him - my differences with him are not personal. They are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign, because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.
It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college, policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.
It's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians, a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.
So I will say this: There are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new, but "change" is not one of them.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: "Change" is not one of them, because change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years, especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in, but we - but start leaving we must.
It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care and the benefits they deserve when they come home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It's time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st
century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's what change is.
Change, Minnesota, is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy: tough, direct diplomacy, where the president of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: We must once again have the courage and the conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt and Truman and Kennedy.
That's what the American people demand. That's what change is.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and the workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a middle-class tax break to those who need it, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was president.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy - cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota - he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill, he'd understand she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and the wealthy.
She needs us to pass health care right now, a plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we need, Minnesota.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Maybe if John McCain went to Pennsylvania and he met the man who lost his job, but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he'd understand we can't afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators.
That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future, an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's the change we need, Minnesota.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And maybe if John McCain spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul, Minnesota, or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, Louisiana, he'd understand that we can't afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early-childhood education; and recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; and finally decide that, in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the few, but a birthright of every American.
That's the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Now, the other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a good thing. That is a debate I look forward to.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It is a debate that the American people deserve on the issues that will help determine the future of this country and the future for our children.
But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: What you won't see from this campaign or this party is a politics that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to polarize, because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Despite what the good senator from Arizona may have said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself.
I have walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the south side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools.
I have sat across the table from law enforcement officials and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent 13 innocent people to death row.
I have worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break, to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent, and reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because, behind all the false labels and false divisions and categories that define us, beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes.
And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.
So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union, and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.
So it was for the greatest generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.
So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines, the women who shattered glass ceilings, the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause.
So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better and kinder and more just.
And so it must be for us.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: America, this is our moment. This is our time, our time to turn the page on the policies of the past...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA:... our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face, our time to offer a new direction for this country that we love.
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge - I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations, but I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people.
Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA:... this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA:... this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: This was the moment, this was the time when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.
Thank you, Minnesota. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OLBERMANN: The presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States embraces his wife on stage at the Xcel Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in front of at least 19,000 screaming partisans on this epic night in American political history and American history, the first African-American candidate for president of the United States standing right now perhaps on almost the very spot where the opponent he will face in the November election will be formally nominated in the late summer, when the Republicans convene on that very same venue - or at that very same venue, a speech entirely different from the other two heard tonight, that was generous to Senator Clinton, and that started with the hard news - the first sentence if you missed it, "After 54 hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end" - that was not at all generous, beyond the recognition of his service, to Senator Mr. McCain.
"I honor that service and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine."
The use of that word "embrace" regarding McCain's embrace of George Bush's policies, that is not by accident. That is a reference to a photograph that is the most popular image among many Democrats, President Bush and Senator McCain embracing.
MATTHEWS: That will be the caption for that picture.
I think the line here was - and this is sticking it to the other side
- this is classic political swordsmanship - "I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next 100 years."
That is in the heart, because it's what John McCain said and has had to deal with now for weeks, trying to explain what he meant, the nature of that - that commitment of troops, over 100 years, which he has been at pains to point out was only in the context of a peaceful duty, not a war situation.
OLBERMANN: An explanation...
MATTHEWS: But it has haunted him.
OLBERMANN: An explanation, yes, that has somewhat enlarged the problem, because it reminds people that it is not a peaceful situation, and the 100 years would only begin after the shooting...
MATTHEWS: At the end of the war.
OLBERMANN: Yes, after the shooting stops.
MATTHEWS: At the end of that war. So, it would be a very long-term commitment.
And I think John McCain, to his credit, has tried to make it clear now he wants to win the war and come home, more in the style of Eisenhower, rather than in the style of the Korean occupation or the commitment of our troops to Korea all these years.
OLBERMANN: All right.
Let's - let's now take the advantage of the - the skills and expertise of the anchor of "NBC Nightly News," Brian Williams, and once again, our NBC Washington chief, the moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert.
Brian, compare these - these three speeches we have heard tonight as - as political statements and as news events.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": Well, three veteran politicians setting out to - to give the message they all thought they had to give, Senator Clinton, knowing her wording would be parsed so carefully - and we haven't disappointed here tonight, and for good reason - and Senator McCain, ditto, down in Kenner, Louisiana.
Barack Obama had, in a way, the easiest task of the three, really to accept the mantle of presumptive nominee. And if it's possible to give motive to the faces of a couple, this was one relieved couple. It's tempting to say they have just finished an extraordinary journey, until you think about the journey that now awaits.
And a Democratic politician sympathetic to them said to me in an e-mail tonight - quote - "They want to take 10 minutes to enjoy how good a game their campaign ran. They want to spend 10 minutes not having to think about or strategize about a politician named Clinton."
And this is the third pronouncement that I have seen tonight on behalf of the Obama campaign just to enjoy this, a crowd of 20,000 in what a veteran of the political advance business said to me tonight was - quote - "a bit of superb stagecraft," taking it to the Republicans'
house this summer.
We saw the couple exchange what was intended to be a small, private fist-pound there before the event started, when the applause would not even let him begin. It's hard to pull off anything private with a national audience and 20,000 people looking in, in the hall.
But "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" is the music that played them off the stage. And I noted "Beautiful Day" by U2 brought them into the hall, so, clearly a night they're enjoying.
And, of the three speeches, I think this was probably the easiest to enjoy delivering.
OLBERMANN: Brian, you and I may have both been, in fact, conservative in our numbers.
The crowd, estimated by the assistant fire marshal of the city of Saint Paul, 17,000 inside the Xcel Center and another 15,000 outside. You can count them together, if you want, for 32,000.
Tim Russert, the - the 20 minutes to enjoy it that Brian just mentioned really does seem to be about all you get in this lightning-speed politics of 2008.
The questions now facing this man are manifold, and they still begin with the names of the people the questions began with - or began about earlier today, earlier this month, earlier last month, and earlier this year, specifically Hillary Clinton, and - and, to a lesser degree, Bill Clinton.
TIM RUSSERT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Absolutely.
And that's why Senator Clinton's refusal to endorse Barack Obama tonight, Senator McCain choosing to use this evening to begin the fall campaign are indications of our fast-moving and all-encompassing political debate and political campaign.
Just a quick note on the content of Senator Obama's speech, Keith - I thought he tried very hard to weave in some of the patriotic themes, some of the lessons and observations he had made about America as he traveled throughout the country with the populist and economic notions as well.
You can see an evolution of his candidacy, and of his campaign, and of his rhetoric, as he tries to broaden his base, reaching some of the constituencies he had a hard time with.
And, secondly, to the point we talked about earlier in the night, the stagecraft, you compare this event to the John McCain event, and I think the McCain campaign is going to have to make some decisions in the weeks and months ahead as to how to contrast themselves in a favorable way, ceding to Senator Obama his ability to draw huge crowds, to give uplifting speeches, and try to underscore, emphasize their candidate's solidness, a comfortable old shoe, if you will, just try to make the contrast, willingly acknowledge that they can't compete in this kind of arena vs. arena.
It is clearly the curtain-raiser on the fall race. And there couldn't be a more striking contrast between the presentations and the forums and the settings and the speeches of John McCain and Barack Obama.
OLBERMANN: And, once more, let's turn to NBC News special correspondent Tom Brokaw, who joins - joins our group right now once again.
The - that contrast of the speaking styles, the - the ability to fill a room with your voice, to get 17,000 people who all have this same expression that Chris is literally tapping the glass on the TV monitor.
MATTHEWS: Look at these pictures, this camera angle, the ability of them to - to create and demonstrate this crowd appeal, this personal touch of Barack Obama to the crowd. This is camera work and showmanship that McCain hasn't even started to compete with.
Look at this.
OLBERMANN: How - how - how does he counter that, Tom?
TOM BROKAW, NBC SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have a long way to go. I think that's important to remember.
This is the most triumphant night for Barack Obama. So, the conditions were all right for him. However, having said that, he is one of the most charismatic figures we have seen on the national political stage in a long, long time.
Most of us met him, in a manner of speaking, at the Democratic Convention in Boston, when he introduced himself as the skinny guy with big ears, and that name Barack Obama. That, too, was an electrifying speech. And it was - in a that way he could not have known at the time
- his first step toward the presidency.
Watching Barack Obama and Michelle on the stage tonight, you can only imagine what - what must be going through their minds. These are two young people who did everything that was asked of them, as they - as she has often described it. She grew up in a very small home in south Chicago, went off and got an Ivy League education, and married this man who got elected to the United States Senate after serving in the state legislature in Illinois, and then rocketed to this upset victory - and you can only describe that as that - of Hillary Clinton, one of the biggest names in Democratic Party politics.
What I thought was not just impressive, but appropriate, for his speech tonight, that he has moved now from, "Yes, we can," to "Here's How." I think a lot of people have been waiting for that.
We have been doing some polling of independent voters in borderline Southern states. And they have been saying, we think we're impressed with him. We want to know who he is.
And now he will begin to define himself to that wider body of voters that will be important to him in the fall. He has been campaigning within the choir since Iowa. Now he's got to reach out to the entire congregation. And he began to do that, I thought, quite effectively tonight.
OLBERMANN: Brian, we forget, at this stage of this event, where we were five months ago tonight, five months and longer ago tonight.
Assess this now. It certainly was a rapidly-moving change of the playing field. But this still represents, to some degree, one of the great political upsets of modern American political history; would you agree?
WILLIAMS: I think it's easy to forget, because of our news cycles, Chris, referenced in your question, because we kind of live lurching day to day - and sometimes less than that, eight ours by eight hours - it is easy to forget how much of the kind of presumed Democratic nominee Senator Hillary Clinton was at one time in the news media coverage.
And, so, when you take a step back and look at what has happened here - I was reminiscing with Tim Russert tonight the night all of us on the air kind of realized, oh, my goodness, this is going to the end. And guess which the last two states are? You know, we called it Brokaw country, for good reason, Montana and South Dakota.
And here we are, at the end of the line, Montana and South Dakota having now reported.
To Chris' point, I'm sitting here looking at these pictures, looking at the Secret Service front four, remembering all the rope lines all of us have ever covered. And, while I was covering the White House, it's - it is just a part of your life, the kind of rhythmic sea of hands that come over the agent that goes on in front and says, "Hands up where we can see them."
It's always a - it gets your attention. It is a riveting time. It is a crush of people. How they stay alert and awake, it's - it's tough. But this is a tactile crowd. It is a tactile politician. This is something to watch. And it's a crowd that's been in there for several hours in Saint Paul tonight.
MATTHEWS: You know, gentlemen, starting with Tom - it seems to me - you know, I grew up, as we all did, thinking that rallies were something that were the stuff of the '60s, ending in '68, where you could get a huge crowd of people out for an occasion. And I thought those days were over.
And this campaign - and I give credit to Senator Clinton as well, the ability to draw enormous crowds. What has happened, in this age of YouTube and instant communication 24/7, that people now, more than ever, want that tactile touch of the candidate?
BROKAW: Well, in the age of YouTube, you can still fill Madison Square Garden with Bruce Springsteen, for example.
BROKAW: I was in Chicago last year at the United Arena, and he sold it out for two nights running. I think people do still want those authentic experiences.
I don't think that the big congressional rally has ever have gone away for the people who seem to be authentic and excite their constituents.
And it's one of the reasons that, I think, Chris, we all keep coming back to it. This will define our time, whoever wins this poll.
BROKAW: The politics of America - or any country, for that matter - are a reflection of all of us. And this is a rare opportunity for everyone to step into the arena, because both candidates, John McCain saying tonight that he wants to change, and that has certainly been the leitmotif, the whole theme of Senator Obama's campaign.
They are inviting people back into the arena again, whether they are in the rallies, or working phone banks, or just turning out on Election Day. That's pretty reassuring, in many ways. And I think that Senator Obama gets a lot of credit for that alone.
MATTHEWS: Well, there's that word, leitmotif, Brian.
MATTHEWS: And I love it well, because it's so much about the backdrop.
It is a war situation. We're in a war. It's not a draft situation, but we're at war. Service people are getting killed, even though - even though the casualty level this last month was lower than it's been.
There is, Brian, an edge to our politics right now.
WILLIAMS: Well, that's right.
And without being so verbally agile as my friend Tom, I was going to express the fact that, of course, we are at war on two foreign lands, that this has been called perhaps a change election. Maybe it's a result of what happened in Florida, and people saying, then, never forget, something.
But there is something that has energized folks this time around. And one more thing about community - there's a lot of talk about various Internet communities, but, you know, it's been theorized that that's not a community at all, that what you're seeing there tonight, that, 17,500 people in an arena, with an elbow in your face, that's community. A New York subway train is community, a ball game in Ames, Iowa, on a Friday night, that, maybe, with all that we have, and with all the distractions open to us in the Internet - and I'm doing the same thing on my computer here - that maybe there is a yearning on the part of all of us to still get together, feel something together...
WILLIAMS:... Republican or Democrat, big arena, or small hall, in Kenner, Louisiana, tonight.
MATTHEWS: People want to go see the movie, not watch it at home.
WILLIAMS: Yes, that's true.
OLBERMANN: Let's, at this point, bring in our insider, former Congressman Harold Ford.
Harold, the quality of that speech, you had certain expectations and advice to Barack Obama going in there. What did you see, and what worked, and what did not?
HAROLD FORD (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: He exceeded, I think, every expectation.
First off, his speech was the four, I think, things he needed to be tonight. He was gracious. He was patriotic. He was smart. And, frankly, he was - he was generous, and - and gracious, and visionary in where he wanted to take the country.
There are three big points from it I take. And you all have touched on many of them. One, he invoked the names of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy, three of the most successful presidents of the last 100 years, Roosevelt, who said to poor people and those suffering through a Depression that your government would be there in the right way, and won a war, Truman, who engaged us and began a process of engaging us around the globe, that allowed America's diplomacy and military force to be used, and Kennedy, who challenged not only our faith by investing in science and research, but showed all America what we were capable of being if we believed in ourselves.
Two, he went right at John McCain on military service, made clear that he respected him, even if John McCain chose to deny all that Barack Obama has come to represent and be. He made clear to all Americans that his support for veterans and basic hard-fought belief in American values is what he stands for and how he has conducted his political life.
I thought one of the more telling moments is when Senator Obama said that - that, John McCain has challenged me to travel to Iraq. Well, I challenge him to travel to cities in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Ohio and Minnesota.
He basically said, as much as John McCain wants to distance himself from the policies of George Bush, with a 95 percent voting record, which will be difficult, the reality is that the Bush economic policies have stimulated the economy for a small number of Americans, and maybe has done more for the Middle East and Asia and Europe than it has for small towns and big cities in this great country of ours.
And, finally, the point that has been made tonight, the energy, the strength of diversity, the strength of that picture tonight, the - the level of enthusiasm for this campaign, this is something from the outset, and I think from here until November, that John McCain, despite his many, many efforts - and I agree with Tom Brokaw this is early.
But watching tonight and throughout this campaign the number of people who have gone to vote for Democrats, this is going to be a very difficult contest for John McCain to overcome, especially if he engages in the detached and predictable kind of Republican campaigning. If he doesn't offer something new, he won't win.
What - what Barack Obama did tonight was to remind all of Americans what we can be when we are at our best. And, frankly, he made clear that the real change candidate, if you're looking for that in this race, is indeed him.
OLBERMANN: Former Congressman Harold Ford, great thanks to you.
To Tom Brokaw as well, to Brian Williams, and to Tim Russert, thank you, all, gentlemen, as we wrap up another hour of our coverage.
We are going to look ahead to the general election matchup between Senators McCain and Obama, and think perhaps of what those debates will look like after what we saw tonight.
MATTHEWS: They are going to be interesting to watch visually.
OLBERMANN: I wonder if he can be as aggressive against McCain as he was in - from the platform tonight in Minnesota.
NBC's David Gregory and our panel will be back with us, plus more of the exit polling on what voters see as Obama's strengths.
Our coverage of this big night in American political history continues after this.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC ANCHOR: This much is certain. It was the final night of voting in the democratic primaries. Senator Barack Obama now the presumptive nominee. More on that is where the certainty ends.
Senator Clinton making clear in a speech tonight in New York, she is not yet ready to concede the fight. At the polls this evening, a fitting ending, a split decision. The presumptive nominee, the projected winner in Montana, the Illinois democrat having passed the delegate threshold to secure the nomination earlier tonight after polls closed in South Dakota. Senator Clinton, the projected winner in South Dakota. But in St. Paul, Minnesota, tonight her opponent claiming the nomination of the democratic party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another, a journey - a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight I can stand here and say that I will be the democratic nominee for the president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But in New York, Senator Clinton almost sounding if she had secured the nomination tonight with Senator Obama as he also ran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You asked yourselves a simple question, who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest president? Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander in chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As to what the next series of tomorrows might bring, Senator Clinton adding she would be making no decisions tonight and speaking about whatever path I travel next, as if there were very many options.
In the meantime, outside New Orleans tonight, Senator McCain claiming that the media gave Senator Obama the democratic nomination just at the very hour that democratic delegates in South Dakota did so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable one.
Anchor: From MSNBC and NBC News World Headquarters in Rockefeller Center in New York, and alongside Chris Matthews, I'm Keith Olbermann. All right. Well, it's done, isn't it?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: Well, I'm not sure. Senator Clinton made an interesting statement tonight. She said I'm going to look out basically for the 18 million people who voted for me. I think she was stating that I'm keeping together my political army intact. I'm not disbanding it. If you want to deal with that army, deal with me. It's a classic move by a classic political broker, power broker, if you will, saying, this isn't about me anymore, it's about the 18 million or so people who voted for me. If you want those votes, Senator Barack Obama, meet with me tomorrow night, according to Andrea's reporting, Andrea Mitchell, meet with me tomorrow night and I'll talk to you about the turning over of my troops to you. By the way, they outnumber your troops. So let's talk.
OLBERMANN: But is this a General Lee's bargaining position? In the spring of 1865?
MATTHEWS: She's not turning over the sword.
OLBERMANN: Yes, that's -
MATTHEWS: She's demanding it.
OLBERMANN: What does she do with the army?
MATTHEWS: Well, she's got it and I don't think she's giving it up. And from all of the conversations and reporting tonight, it looks to me like she will hold it together. We had Lisa Caputo on, Lisa Peter talking about how they are all going to wait for orders basically before they went and work for Barack Obama. They are waiting to hear from their regimental commanders. So it's an army that's not been disbanded. It's an army which will play its part in the general election under the leadership of Hillary Clinton. And that's so interesting because if she's not on the ticket, will she be field commander of this enormous army of women and working people and Latinos, separate from the Barack Obama campaign? Is she actually going to merge armies? It doesn't look like that's been done yet. As she said, I'm not making any decisions tonight. He's going to have to negotiate this alliance, and it's not been done yet.
OLBERMANN: And to what degree is it to her value to string this or to her benefit to string this out as long as possible? Could we see this not - the discussions for the last few weeks have been there could be certain appeals to the credentials committee in Denver. Could it be even larger than that? Could it be I'm taking my 18 million or as many who are staying with me, my 18 million votes and I'm holding them out until Denver, until I can be assured I'm getting what I want, whether that's the vice presidency or something else?
MATTHEWS: When people accumulate assets, they hold onto them. They don't have to have a motive for doing that. It's an instinct. She has built this army of power and I'm sure that she will figure out how to broker it at some point to her advantage. Obviously, she's a political figure who has achieved an enormous success here. When she said, I've got more votes than any democratic candidate for president in history, that included Barack Obama, obviously, she's not going to walk away from that. That is an enormous success. And I think now, it's June, it's early June. She has until late August to broker something. She's in no hurry. And by the way, her people are probably more militant now in defeat and more united.
OLBERMANN: And perhaps based on Terry McAuliffe's introduction, are you ready for the next president of the United States tonight?
MATTHEWS: I don't think it's delusional entirely. I think it's just excitement and a bit of nostalgia. I did think her speech was looking backward. I think if you look at the content and the structure of the speech, it was about happened. Barack Obama's speech was futuristic, it was the future. And by the way, he was sticking it to John McCain. This was a very aggressive speech tonight.
We got Senator Jon Tester joining us now from Montana. He's up on Capitol Hill right now. We have been waiting all day. Senator, I have been hearing from the producers of "Hardball" now for at least 48 hours that you were going to endorse a candidate tonight. Is now the moment?
SENATOR JON TESTER (D-MONTANA): Yes, now is the moment.
TESTER: Montana has voted and they turned out for Obama, and we're going to endorse Obama tonight.
MATTHEWS: So you're an Obama guy right now?
TESTER: Yes, we're an Obama guy right now and we're in full hopes that Obama reaches out to Hillary and Hillary reaches out to Barack and brings the party together over the next few days. Because I think that's really critically important. Both of these people have worked so very, very hard in this primary. And what's happened is South Dakota, Montana is just proof. I mean, they have crisscrossed the state of Montana and given people in the state of Montana a real opportunity to be involved in this process. And I really appreciated that and I know Montanans did, too.
MATTHEWS: Why do you think Barack Obama, a guy with as unique background with an African father and a mother from Kansas with an Ivy League education who's worked in Chicago politics has been so surprisingly successful in the western states, especially like Montana? But all around the west it seems like he's picked up so many surprising victories out there.
TESTER: Well, I think, you guys have been talking about it tonight. He has got charisma and his speech tonight has shown he's an amazing communicator. And people respond to those qualities. And he's got a vision for this country and I think, you know, I think that's what got him through the primary in the shape that he's gotten through to get the nomination. And that's also going to make him very difficult to beat come November.
MATTHEWS: How does he get to the guy on the tractor?
TESTER: Well, I think he's got to talk to the guy on the tractor. He has got to talk about rural policies. He has got to talk about the role of family farm and agriculture can play in this country's energy independence. He's got to talk about hunting and fishing opportunities and infrastructure needs in rural America. I think that's how you do it.
You got to talk to him, talk about issues that they care about.
MATTHEWS: Do you think Hillary is a plus or a plus and a minus on the ticket if she would get on the ticket?
TESTER: Well, you know, I really don't know about that. I really can't say. I mean, you know, some people love her and some people don't. I think she's definitely a smart, smart lady who has got some great qualities and definitely a hard worker as we have seen over the last year and a half.
MATTHEWS: Is John McCain perceived to be a Bush republican in Montana?
TESTER: I think so. I think, you know, the fact that some of the statements he's made are very, very similar to what President Bush has said over the last seven years, and I think it's really important that we break that mold. I mean that's not to say John McCain isn't a good guy. He's a fine man. But we really do need a change in this country.
MATTHEWS: How much are people willing to vote for change? Will they pick an African-American, a guy for president to get change or is that a conflict for them out there? Is it? I know there are always some people who are not ready for change. You and I don't have to exchange glances to get that straight. Everybody knows there are a few people that's not going to vote for an African-American guy but in the large, in the main, how big a hurdle is that?
TESTER: Well, I think people are ready for change. I think change is difficulty, just human nature is difficult but if you take a look at what the economy has done, you take a look at what's going on in foreign policy and what's going on in Iraq, I think folks are ready for change.
And you can go down the list. As I tell folks, there's plenty of opportunity right now in Washington, D.C. because there's a lot of stuff screwed up.
MATTHEWS: Is there any western who fits on the ticket with Barack?
TESTER: Yes, the governor of Montana.
TESTER: There you go.
MATTHEWS: I thought he was running for re-election this year?
TESTER: He is.
MATTHEWS: He would give that up to be VP running mate?
TESTER: I would think he would, yes. I haven't talked to him about this but you know, I got to give my friend Brian a pat once in a while.
MATTHEWS: OK, you just did.
OLBERMANN: You have to talk to him now about it.
MATTHEWS: I think you now nominated the guy.
TESTER: Good deal.
MATTHEWS: Congratulations on holding your vote this long. It must have been a tremendous amount of self-control to save it for - you didn't give it to me on "Hardball" tonight but you gave it to us as part of the anchor team and I accept it in a full heart.
TESTER: Absolutely. I will tell you, I think it was very important for Montana to be a part of this process and I appreciate that. And that's really what's important.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
TESTER: Thank you too.
MATTHEWS: Now back to the anchor of NBC "Nightly News," Brian Williams and NBC's Washington bureau chief moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert. Brian, I guess we're waiting for Jon Tester, the man with the crew cut. He has certainly kept his cards down throughout this fight tonight.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR NBC "NIGHTLY NEWS": Party aside, I'll say he is - I think he's a great addition to the U.S. Senate. Here's my question as you may know, Chris, Keith and Tim, I spend a fair amount of time out there. Most of it at a place called Gallatin International Speedway, which is just on the outskirts of Bozeman, Montana. And they race on Friday nights. And it is just a fantastic collection of Americans. A hugely patriotic crowd. During the anthem at the start of the race card, you can hear a pin drop. I would give anything right now to have a focus group, a camera crew out there this coming Friday night to find out how that crowd is going to vote in this upcoming election.
It's a largely, you know, tough working class bunch of folks. They come out to see in many cases friends, family and neighbors running super stocks, modifieds, just basic entry level stock car racing on a dirt track, on a Friday night. It's a slice of heaven. And I would just love to know, all of us have our favorite focus group for these elections, whether it's a firehouse, a union hall, whatever. But that's mine. And I would love to know how this election's going to break at Gallatin International Speedway.
MATTHEWS: Well, I can't beat that Tim, how about you? I don't have any raceway experience.
TIM RUSSETT, NBC WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: You know, actually -
MATTHEWS: That is really remarkable story. Brian, I thought you were an east coast guy. I mean, how do you do this?
WILLIAMS: Man, wherever cars are going too fast in a circle, I will be there.
MATTHEWS: OK. Tim.
RUSSETT: Hell, all I talk to is my father and three sisters.
MATTHEWS: That's my focus group, too.
RUSSETT: You know, it's interesting. Senator Tester, I don't know if you remember this, but a year ago I asked him if any democrat could carry Montana. And I remember, he said to me, of all of them, I think Obama would have the best chance. And pretty interesting. Pretty revealing. I just wanted to make one quick comment because I have been thinking a lot about the speeches we heard and what presidential elections can mean to a country. Everybody has hopes and dreams and aspirations about how we see our country and how we see our world. And I do think that John McCain and Barack Obama are really going to paint very different pictures. We saw the beginning of that tonight. And it's going to be really extraordinary for us as a country, as a people, to have this chance to listen to this. And when I heard Obama begin to talk in these patriotic themes about how he envisioned the country and the world, I automatically called up John McCain saying, we always have to be conscious and aware of something beyond ourselves, something more important than ourselves. We have two very idealistic men. We have two very patriotic men. But we have men with very, very different senses of what our country should be in the surrounding world. And if we can have an election with huge differences on big issues, it will be so important for our country and our democracy and it can really add even more to this already historic election.
MATTHEWS: Brian, I want to ask you about that. That's something you're very good at understanding. I once met a West Virginia guy who said to me, a real regular guy, he was an MP in the Army and he is a capital policeman. He said, Chris, you know, why the little man loves this country? I said, no, why? He said it's always god. It's the basic gut sense of love of country. Does Barack have to bridge some gaps to get to that in the eyes of many Americans?
WILLIAMS: I guess so but no one at that level, no one in the United States Senate, no one who's been the recipient of such greatness that this great country has to offer, I don't think, that includes you or me, should ever have to prove love of country. You know, I always say, in mine I yield to no one. Because, you know, my life has turned out so far beyond my expectations. I will say this, I went back, Chris, and I re-read the chapter of John McCain's book that starts with the surface-to-air missiles, as he puts it, like flying telephone poles going up around his jet over Hanoi and his last bombing run, he dips a wing in, passes low over the city, is shot down, ejects over the lake, and then it goes into his captivity. Part of his five years he spent thinking about ways he could have lived his life better beforehand, before and including his time at the Naval Academy. You know, Leo Thornus, a medal of honor recipient who was in there with him for years is about to come out with a book, detailing how he spent his five-plus years, in part walking his five foot cell, walking home to his wife and daughter in the United States, doing the math and taking the equivalent number of steps to pass the time and keep him mentally sharp in solitary confinement. What these guys have done and put up with is so much a part of who they are today, I think it should be required reading for everyone looking to bone up on background and biography as we head into this race.
MATTHEWS: That was so interesting tonight in sort of the sparring that went on at a distance by Barack Obama tonight saying, he doesn't respect - I respect his achievements, even if he doesn't respect mine. That was a shot, Tim.
RUSSETT: It really was. And Senator Obama's campaign took great umbrage to Senator McCain's use of the word surrender over the last couple of weeks. But I think the debate that we have an indication of tonight can be truly hugely significant. I'm thinking of the kinds of things that Donald Rumsfeld said early on in the war in Iraq, do we know whether we are creating more terrorists than we are killing? That's what I want to hear Barack Obama and John McCain talk about, what are the ramifications, the consequences, some of them unintended of American foreign policy and defense policy, and the war in Iraq? Paint that vision for me. Paint that understanding. How is our country perceived?
How do you want it to be perceived? Because they have fundamental differences of opinion. Negotiating with people who seek our - who have ill will towards our country. Do you sit down and talk or don't you? And when do you draw the line? What's the difference between a Gadhafi and the president of Iran? How do you make that decision? Take us on that journey. If we could ever get a campaign at that level, I think the American people would be so into it, so moved, inspired, motivated and we really would have an opportunity to say, this isn't just a choice between a party that is trying to blend their differences like so many other campaigns and so many other elections. This is real. This is choice a and choice b, and where do we want to go as a nation? Nothing more important.
OLBERMANN: Brian, there's more than a dime's worth of difference to use an old phrase by George Wallace between these two guys. It is a grand debate. Can we have it?
WILLIAMS: I think if we're not careful, and we let it happen and help it where possible and get out of the way when that's what's called for, wouldn't that be something. You know, it might read like an Aaron Sorkin screenplay of what political discourse is supposed to sound like in this country, what it sounds like in our dreams. If we're going to have it, this is the first time perhaps since Ike versus Kennedy that it's going to happen.
OLBERMANN: OK. Thanks very much, Brian and Tim.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, we look ahead to the general election between Obama and McCain. NBC news political director Chuck Todd looking at the November battle grounds by the numbers. And we will be back with that in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In just a few short months, the republican party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. [ booing ] they will - they will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor - we honor the service of John McCain. And I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The presumptive nominee of the democratic party tonight with two numbers to talk about, the 2,118 threshold, crossed early in the evening and he being declared presumptive nominee. Now our NBC political unit doing a little bit more calculation as the superdelegate endorsements for Barack Obama continue to flow in. The number that has been floated by the Clinton campaign these last few weeks, 2,210 to nominate. Obviously a little bit higher. And our political unit calculating Senator Obama has passed that threshold as well tonight. He will end the evening probably at 2,219.5 delegates even without a full allotment of superdelegates from Florida or Michigan or the Edwards'
pledged delegates from those states that have pledged their support to the Obama campaign. So, w series of thresholds exceeded tonight by Senator Obama. There's almost no math left for the Senator Clinton campaign to hang its hat on. And speaking of numbers, Norah O'Donnell has a new set of them from our exit polling about the perceived strengths of Senator Obama. Norah.
NORAH O' DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And good evening. Chris and Keith. We got some special for you. We have taken an overall look of our exit polls this entire season and what they are telling us about the story of Barack Obama's strength, the key that helped him win as well as showing us very clearly why Hillary Clinton failed to clinch the democratic nomination. What voters have said they want from the beginning of this primary season to the end is change. You can see that across all democratic primaries, 50 percent of voters called it the single most important candidate attribute. You can see that's more than double the percent of voters who chose experience and change voters favored Obama by a huge margin, almost 40 percent.
Now, while we noted throughout the primaries that Obama did remarkably well with young voters, he actually also won by a 15 point margin among democrats up to age 45, a group that made up a third of the electorate.
And on this historic night when a black American has become the presumptive democratic nominee, we have to note his incredible showing among African-American across the country. Eight out of ten blacks voted for Barack Obama. White men also proved to be a crucial swing vote.
Obama took nearly two-thirds of that group tonight in Montana. He also scored a solid win among white men in Virginia and surprised Clinton in California by winning that group by almost 20 points and even in Georgia, he scored a narrow victory among white men.
Now, Obama's path moving forward is tricky. He has a well documented weakness among older and less affluent voters and it underscores his potential hazard of a campaign built more on aspirational themes than on an image of a nuts and bolts, problem solving. He lost white seniors to Clinton by a 34-point margin. I mean that's pretty big, 63 percent to 29 percent. Seniors in particular are much less open to change than their younger counterparts. Working class, white voters. Those without college degrees, flock to Clinton, 62 percent to 31 percent. And white women chose Clinton over Obama by 60 percent to 35 percent margins. In fact, Obama won the majority of the white female vote in only four states.
Now, both democratic candidates freely admit there isn't much of a difference between them on the issues. But going forward into the fall election, issues will define - definitely, I should say, come to the forefront with the economy and its problems as well as the war in Iraq and their definite differences between Obama and the McCain, as you guys were just talking about, two different candidates. You will see a clear contrast between the two of them going forward.
OLBERMANN: Norah O'Donnell with the exit polls, thanks.
OLBERMANN: One quick note, we have a word from our embed with the Obama campaign that Senator Obama called and left a message for Senator Clinton at 11:06 Eastern time, congratulated her on her victory in South Dakota and asked her to call him back. Further developments when we get them. Chris.
MATTHEWS: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was an early and resolute supporter of Hillary Clinton. He still is. Governor, it's great to have you on. Thanks for staying up tonight. What do you think Senator Clinton means? You may well know when she says, I want to think about this thing before I make a decision?
GOV. ED RENDELL, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think she just wanted a little breathing space. You know, I think she wanted to contest in all of the primaries and it was important to maintain that competitive edge all the way through South Dakota and Montana. And again, she scores another outstanding victory, winning in Tom Daschle's home state by well over ten points. She continues to churn out victories in the last three months. I think scored over 55 percent of the vote in the primaries in the last three months. It's really been a remarkable run. You wouldn't know it by the way the superdelegates broke. But I think she wanted to do that. I think she's going to assess the situation tomorrow, and I think you will see her very swiftly move to endorse Senator Obama and unify the party.
Now, I don't have that on any inside information, Chris. That's just my gut. I know that Senator Clinton cares very deeply about the issues she spoke about. She's very close to Senator Obama on those issues. Miles and miles apart from Senator McCain. So I think she's going to be an avid Senator Obama supporter.
MATTHEWS: Well, you're very good at this question so I will put it to you, how does a guy like Barack Obama, with an exotic sounding name, an African-American guy with an interesting background, an African father, how does he convince Pennsylvania, regular people, he's more like them, he's one of them, when you're up against a John McCain, a war hero? How do you do that?
RENDELL: The economy. Senator Obama has got to talk economic issues to Pennsylvanians. He's got to say, forget what my name is. Forget what my background is. Here's my plan to get this economy going and to help you with gas prices and food prices and college loans. Here's the other guy's plans. They are designed only to help the rich and preserve the status quo. We need to change the economic outlook for this country. I'm the best vehicle to do it. I believe he is. And I believe that's the message, just pound the economy, pound the tremendous disparity in this country between rich and poor, the growing disparity. Pound the difficulties that middle class families are having keeping up and talk about our solutions, which I think are the best solutions. That's how he brings all of those voters back, in my judgment, on economic issues.
MATTHEWS: It's a tricky question. People have been saying tonight if Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton to carry Pennsylvania, he's going to lose the election. He needs to be able to win it on his own. Is that your sense?
RENDELL: Yes, and he can win it on his own. Our state is a state, our economy is doing slightly better because we're more diverse, steel and coal, as you know, are having a little bit of a comeback - it's not a little bit, it's significant comeback. But we still in parts and pockets of the state feel the economic recession significantly. He can by stressing what he believes in, what his answers to the problems are, win back those voters. I analogize it a little bit, Chris, you remember when Jesse Jackson in his first campaign did very well among white working class factory workers because he sounded the populous message? I think Barack Obama can do that and can do that far more effectively. I think he can be a good candidate. Does he need - would Hillary Clinton as a running mate help him carry Pennsylvania? You bet she would. But can he carry it without her? Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: Would you recommend to Senator Clinton that she go for VP if she asked you?
RENDELL: If asked by Senator Obama, I would hardly recommend her to take it. But that's a decision, you know, I have said and people have said, this is pie in the sky. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have to sit in a room without any staffs, without any strategic advisers, talk it out among themselves, talk it out, can they run as a ticket? What would the White House look like with the two of them? Can they be compatible? If they can, I think it's the best and strongest ticket we can field. If they can't, there are roles for both of them, roles for Senator Clinton.
She's going to be a major factor in what happens in this country in the years ahead no matter what. She doesn't have to be on the ticket. I think it would be a great ticket.
MATTHEWS: When you last talked to Senator Clinton, I don't know, when was it? How fresh is your memory of her - of her feelings?
RENDELL: The last time I talked to her she was still very upbeat and thought we had a significant chance to pull this thing off.
MATTHEWS: Let's talk about the states. I think she would help with Pennsylvania. You agree with that. What other states could Hillary deliver? Could she help in Florida and Ohio? Where else could she bring in? I think she might not be a big help out west, but in the east, where you're most familiar with, where would Hillary deliver electoral votes as a running mate?
RENDELL: Deliver is a strong word for vice president. Query, Chris, whether vice president ever fully delivers. I think it would add a comfort level to undecided Clinton voters to have Hillary on the ticket in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in West Virginia, in Arkansas, in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, which I don't think is a slam dunk state for Democrats in the fall. In states like that; in Michigan, I think she would be a significant help.
So in five or six of the crucial, big electoral prizes, states where we basically have to win four or five out of the five, I think she would add a comfort level and make it easier for Senator Obama to carry those states, much more so than any other potential vice presidential candidate. Would she hurt to take it out west? Absolutely not. Out west, where Senator Obama has strength, he would do well.
But don't forget, a lot of those western states are going to turn on the Hispanic vote. The one thing that we demonstrated all throughout this campaign is the Clintons, and particularly Hillary Clinton, extremely popular among Hispanics.
MATTHEWS: We are wearing the same tie tonight, governor. I don't know why I'm, but I'm proud to have the same tie on as you. I don't know what's going on here. Thank you for staying up late, Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, who played a big role in getting that victory for Senator Clinton in the primary.
RENDELL: Thanks, Chris.
OLBERMANN: Still ahead, what we can expect in the general election based on what we heard in the speeches tonight from Barack Obama and John McCain. David Gregory and our RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel will return when we do. Our coverage continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Now, the question is, where do we go from here? Given how far we have come and where we need to go as a party, it's a question I don't take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With that, Senator Clinton proving that she does pay attention to what's being talked about on television, refusing to talk about her next move, even though she knows everyone is asking. Right now we want to go back to David Gregory, and THE RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE panel, to talk about what we can expect to see in the general election campaign between Barack Obama and John McCain. David?
GREGORY: You know, Chris, I have this image of somebody in the crowd at the Hillary Clinton event screaming, don't decide! Don't decide! And that was Senator McCain. That was Senator McCain -
GREGORY: That's right. He came out tonight and made a spirited appeal to her supporters, to say the media's giving you a hard time. They didn't appreciate everything that Hillary Clinton brought to this race and the compassion that she showed when she talked about these issues. So as we talk about how Obama and McCain set up the general election contest, we have to start, it seems me, with the fact McCain wants this to continue and Obama has to make a fundamental decision about whether he needs Hillary Clinton or not as he moves forward.
MADDOW: I think it's right that McCain sees a divided Democratic party as an advantage to him. Perhaps there's no surprise in that. But I guess the thing that surprised me tonight is that I felt Obama and McCain were really on the same page. Barack Obama's slogan is change we can believe in, right? John McCain is there with a horde of slogans that says, a leader we can believe in.
He's almost saying, let's fight this on your turf. I thought McCain's speech tonight was, let's make this a referendum about Barack Obama.
Change doesn't sound like such a good idea to me. I would rather be a reformer. I think change is scary. Change can be bad. Let's talk about Obama. And Obama played right into it and said, you know what, John McCain represents the status quo. Let me tell you a little bit more about me. He added a lot to his bio.
GREGORY: I think that's an interesting point. But there's a couple of aspects to this. On the one hand, McCain realized, it seems to me from the speech, he cannot cede the ground on change. He can not just let Obama have that. At the same time, he seems to be channeling Clinton by saying, in effect, who is this guy?
GREGORY: He's this young, inexperienced guy with no judgment.
MADDOW: America doesn't know him.
BUCHANAN: But I think Obama, look, has cornered the market on change. If this is a change election, he's going to win it. Let me say this, something's wrong with Obama. This is why I say that, this is an inspirational speaker. He's at the top of his political game. That was a tremendously impressive speech. He pounded McCain toughly but fairly.
He's got more money than Hillary. And yet the guy's been clobbered in the last two months and he's running even with McCain when the Republican party - the whole country wants to get rid of him.
What is the matter with Barack Obama that he has not put this thing away months ago? When you look at Barack Obama, he looks better than Jack Kennedy did in the election 1960 right now. And yet, she was beating him the last two months.
GREGORY: Is that a function of the spotlight not being on McCain the way it will be with all of the scrutiny of Hillary.
ROBINSON: Exactly. That's the function of the fact this was a primary campaign, and Hillary Clinton was a very strong candidate who got the vote of 17.5 million people.
BUCHANAN: Why is she beating him at the end? She's borrowing money. He's outspending her four to one. She made a fine speech tonight, but his was an excellent speech.
GREGORY: But it is a reality, Rachel, that he did not finish strong in this campaign.
GREGORY: It was a long, drawn-out campaign. And as Chris and Keith we were talking about, there's 18 million voters there, and she's not getting out yet.
BUCHANAN: It's the Romney problem. Romney is a terrific looking candidate. I liked him. But there was a lack of bonding with the Republican base. He just didn't bond.
GREGORY: I don't think Obama has had a bonding problem.
BUCHANAN: He bonded with these kids. Look at them, 32,000 people.
Normally looking at something like that, you would say it's all over.
But he's not bonding with middle America.
GREGORY: Rachel, there's the fundamental question that Chris raised a couple minutes ago, is he one of us? There's a lot of voters saying, is he one of us?
MADDOW: I think that is a relevant question if you believe that John McCain is one of us. I think John McCain with 26 years in Washington, the sun and the grandson of admirals - yes, he has a very exciting biography and he's an American hero, but he doesn't feel like one of us either, frankly.
BUCHANAN: Why is he running even when the Republicans - Bush is at 28 percent?
GREGORY: To be continued. Keith, back to you.
OLBERMANN: David Gregory, panel, thank you.
Up next, NBC's Tim Russert will be back with us. Plus, a look ahead at the November battle ground states. Chuck Todd gets out his map and his pen once again. Our coverage continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all of those who dream of that future tonight, I say let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, despite what's going to happen, or not happen, with Senator Clinton, the Obama/McCain general election campaign is now under way. Barack Obama having cleared the burden of becoming the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. And what that means in terms of battleground states; Let's check in with NBC News and MSNBC political director Chuck Todd for a look at those battle ground states and how they would map out literally by the numbers. Chuck?
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Keith, we are taking a look at each candidate's base state. Let's start with John McCain here. We have him at 200 in electoral votes just simply by carrying what we would call the base Republican or lean Republican state. We have 116 base states, places like Texas and Oklahoma and Kansas. And then we've got 84 lean Republican states that we feel pretty good about, although we always have to be nervous.
How does he find that 70 that he needs? He has a four-state path if he did it this way: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. That would get him 72 electoral votes, get him to 272. Seems pretty simple.
The problem he's got is if he doesn't get Pennsylvania, then suddenly he has to put together a whole bunch of other states, possibly Michigan, figuring out Iowa, maybe holding New Mexico. Places that, frankly, have been a little bit tougher.
The good news for him, those first four states, that base four I was talking about, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, he's as well positioned as any Republican has been in the last eight years. He's just,, by the way, needs to also make sure he holds some of his lean states. Look at a lot of pink on this map, not so much red.
Compare this, for instance, when we move to the Obama map. He's got also 200 electoral votes in sort of his base map, but 153 are truly base states, places he doesn't have to worry about at all. These light blue states are places he might have to worry about a little bit; Minnesota, where Barack Obama was tonight, where the Republicans are having a convention. Oregon is a place that McCain would like to contest. We'll see. You heard Ed Rendell talk about New Jersey.
How does Obama add, well, obviously he can get to 270 the same way, right? He puts these four states together and gets that same 72 electoral vote that's would put him over the top. Look, he's not going to carry both Ohio and Florida, assuming we have this very close electoral college. So he's going to put it together another way.
Probably make sure Pennsylvania's on that list. Also make sure he holds Michigan. Sweep the Midwest, grab Colorado and New Mexico. They feel pretty good about that.
And then he has to figure out how to take one other state. Maybe it's Virginia. Also, he may need to hang on to New Hampshire if these numbers start getting tight. Maybe he steals an electoral vote out of Nebraska.
Maybe he figures how to win Nevada. He has to piecemeal it together. He doesn't have that same big-state strategy because I don't think they have the same confidence in sort of running the table of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
And then you've got John McCain, who doesn't have the luxury of trying to play in 20 states. He may simply go for that four-state strategy, realizing his resources are tighter but it's - it's the easiest way to get to 270.
OLBERMANN: It is a fascinating dynamic. Thanks for mapping it out for us, Chuck Todd.
Right now, let's check back in with NBC's Washington bureau chief, moderator of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert. It's extraordinary to start with the idea that there are 200 electoral votes already set for McCain and 200 electoral votes already set for Obama. This has election night trouble written all over it for both of these candidates and for us, of course.
If it's not Florida, Florida, Florida, what is it? Is it Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania?
RUSSERT: In '04, I said Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. So in '08, I really do think it's that strip, Keith, of New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada. You can probably say Iowa, Virginia, the new swing states. That will give us some sense of it. As you look at these numbers and sift through them, you're exactly right. This has the potential of being another 2000/2004.
Even if you have the Democratic and Republican candidate run up the vote a little bit in their respective base states, those swing states don't change. They just sit there and you keep looking at them and watching them. This thing is wide open, no doubt about it.
OLBERMANN: So the Obama western appeal is more relevant than simply a campaign advertising point against Senator Clinton in this now-concluded primary season?
RUSSERT: Yes, because of the changing demographics. It is hugely important. If you look at those states in New Mexico and Colorado, particularly, the influence of Hispanic votes. Now, she will say she can help with those Hispanics. The question is, can she bring out those swing independent voters that you also need to put that coalition together.
Also, Iowa, where she ran third in those caucuses with John Edwards second, Barack Obama winning. Virginia, because they have a Democratic governor and a Democratic senator, they see real potential there. But, again, Senator Obama runs much stronger than Senator Clinton.
MATTHEWS: What about John McCain perhaps being attended by his bad angels? Some time in October deciding he has to win this campaign in the worst way. Isn't there a tremendous opportunity against a guy named Barack Hussein Obama to run a very tough negative campaign and win, perhaps not in a happy country, but just win it in the worst way. Isn't that opportunity sitting there for him?
RUSSERT: I think you heard Senator Obama talk about wedge issues of patriotism and religion, trying to put that down as a marker. I heard Mike Murphy, a former McCain adviser, saying that he thinks Senator McCain should not be criticizing Senator Obama as much as he has, but be much more optimistic and not perceived as angry.
But I don't think that's the kind of campaign Senator McCain wants to run. There may be some so called independent groups, 527s, who might take a different tact. But I - in an interesting way, based on our previous conversation, it's a role I think the media can play in really trying to keep pushing this back to this big debate on big issues, and not get caught up in a lot of this minor skirmishing that goes on and videotape that gets released, where we just run wild with it and sit back and say, what happened? Why did we not cover some of these big differences like Iraq, like Iran, like negotiating around the world, like health care?
There's profound differences between McCain and Obama in health care.
You know, as I sit here tonight just watching you guys and being part of this great coverage, I was thinking tomorrow what - what would I like to do tomorrow? No more primaries to cover. One, I would like to be in that meeting with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But absent that, I would love to teach American history at an inner city American school tomorrow morning. How great would that be? Just to look in those faces and listen to those kids, what they witnessed and saw tonight. That's one thing I am sure Barack Obama and John McCain could both agree on.
OLBERMANN: Yes, or get - the other one, we will go off into dreams.
Seriously, I would love to be able to get Abraham Lincoln's reaction tonight. I know I'm corn ball.
RUSSERT: I love it, Keith. You're right. Team of Rivals. I love that.
OLBERMANN: How about that. Tim Russert, as always, sir, a great pleasure.
RUSSERT: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Up next, Howard Fineman of "Newsweek" on the prospect of that meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that Tim just mentioned and whether an Obama/Clinton ticket is a real possibility, as perceived by both candidates. MSNBC's continuing coverage continues, which is why we use the word, after this.
OLBERMANN: Barack Obama, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party. Hillary Clinton reportedly told New York lawmakers earlier in the day that she was open to the idea of being Senator Obama's running mate, if asked. Now to "Newsweek's" Howard Fineman in our campaign listening post about that and the earlier reports from Andrea Mitchell about a meeting between these two in the immediate future. Howard?
HOWARD FINEMAN, "NEWSWEEK": Yes?
OLBERMANN: What do we know about the prospects of this meeting?
FINEMAN: Well, I think they're going to have a lot of interesting things to talk about. I have to trust my sources, who I think are pretty good.
And what they tell me is that Obama doesn't want to offer it to her if
- the vice presidency, that is - if he thinks she'll take it. While there's a lot of talk from people around her that she definitely wants this job, all I can tell you is that the people I know who know her personally, and some of whom are not as political perhaps as some of the others, but who know her more on a personal basis, say she really doesn't want the job.
Again, begging the question, what does she really want? I don't think it really is the vice presidency. Now, they can maneuver each other almost by accident into becoming a team. But I don't really think that's what either of them wants. Andrea may know differently, but that's what my reporting tells me. So it's going to be a fascinating meeting.
As others were saying, it would be a great to be a fly on the wall when they do get together.
OLBERMANN: This is the way the First World War started, by accident. If we only knew. So what happens at this meeting? Do you have an idea what she really wants?
FINEMAN: First of all, I think she wants to more credit for what she's done. He said it publicly and very graciously tonight. She said it about herself tonight. I think she wants her props from him. She wants him to say, you've done a great job and you are a terrifically important part of this. How can we work together?
And I think he may put it in an open-ended fashion. He may ask her, do you want to be considered? I don't know how he's going to handle it. All I know is that it's the biggest diplomatic mission he's been on so far.
And if, as he says, he wants to be a diplomat to the world and use his skills of diplomacy, long before he ever gets to some other leaders around the world, he has to figure out how to handle both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and I think he will be gracious.
I think Obama is gracious by nature. He will listen to her. He will ask her, what does she want and what does she see her future as? I think he will play his cards very close to the vest, and let her take the lead actually in discussing her own future.
MATTHEWS: Let me guess, Howard, Hillary Clinton understands more about politics than 90 percent of the people talking about it right now.
MATTHEWS: And she understands the vice presidency is not the silver medal.
FINEMAN: Right. She knows it's no -
MATTHEWS: It's not what it looks like.
FINEMAN: It's no medal at all, unless you're Dick Cheney and, of course, Barack Obama is not about to allow any vice president to become Dick Cheney. Don't forget also in his speech tonight, Obama was very gracious, but he also said, this is our time. This is a new time. And when he talked about Bill and Hillary Clinton, he said, it's the same kind of dedicated - dedication to public service that sent Bill and Hillary Clinton down to Texas on their first campaign many years ago, OK, with the stress on many years ago.
He doesn't want this to happen. I really don't think she wants it either. So it's going to be an unbelievably fascinating series of mixed messages going on in that room with too many to count.
OLBERMANN: I won't dance. Don't ask me. I won't dance. Don't ask me.
Howard Fineman, great thanks. Dan Abrams picks up our coverage next on AFTER HOURS. For Chris Matthews, I'm Keith Olbermann. It's been a big night. Thanks for being with us. Good night.