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'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for March 3

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Chrystia Freeland, Chet Edwards, Margaret Carlson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Hillary Clinton, can she survive if she loses in Texas?  Can she claim a win if only in Ohio and Rhode Island?  But what if she loses three out of four tomorrow?  Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening, I‘m Chris Matthews and welcome to HARDBALL.  It‘s one day before the biggest day since Super Tuesday with voters in Texas and Ohio going to the polls tomorrow in two hugely important contests.  What does Hillary Clinton need to do to stay in this race?  Does she need to win both Texas and Ohio?  And will Clinton stay in even if the numbers say she can‘t win this thing? 

We have all sorts of new polls to coming out to tell you where the races stand right now and where they are perhaps headed tomorrow.  We can tell you this much, it‘s close.  It‘s also getting a little nasty.  The Clinton campaign accused the Obama campaign of doublespeak on the subject of NAFTA.  And that‘s, of course, important in Ohio. 

Gloria Steinem, a Clinton supporter, mocked Senator John McCain‘s time as a prisoner of war in communist North Vietnam.  And Hillary Clinton seemed to pass up an opportunity to once and for all put to rest the false rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim. 

We‘ll take a look at all of these items and more in a few minutes.  But we begin with tomorrow‘s big contest.  Chuck Todd is, of course, NBC News political director.  And Chrystia Freeland is with the Financial Times.

Let‘s first take a look at the latest polls and then I want your comments.  In Ohio, a poll by MSNBC, Mason-Dixon and The Cleveland Plain Dealer has Senator Clinton with 47, Barack Obama with 43, a 4-point spread there. 

Here are some other Ohio polls.  Quinnipiac‘s poll has Senator Clinton up by 4.  The University of Cincinnati has Senator Clinton up by 6.  Suffolk University has her up by 12.  And the Real Clear Politics poll has her leading roughly about 5.5 points.  That‘s an average there.  You see all of those numbers together. 

Let me go right now to Chrystia Freeland, your sense of this race. 

Hillary looks like she‘s ahead in Ohio so far, but these races change. 

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, FINANCIAL TIMES:  Well, absolutely.  And I think all of us are a little bit chastened by New Hampshire, so no one is calling things right now.  But certainly what it looks like and what the conventional wisdom has been is she is ahead in Ohio.  Barack Obama maybe has a good chance in Texas.  So, we‘re in this.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s just stick to Ohio.  What do you think?  It looks like her in Ohio. 

FREELAND:  It does.  And it has that blue-collar, working-class group that has been good for Hillary Clinton in the past.  The popular governor is with her.  Having said that, the demographics of Ohio are awfully similar to Wisconsin and we know what happened there. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  And also the economy is the number one issue up there and certainly NAFTA is.  Let me go to Chuck Todd.  Ohio, what can we figure out in all of these numbers? 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR:  Well, there are a few things to look at that is beyond the polls, one is the early vote.  And we saw some reports today that indicate that in places that Obama expects to do well, he has had a better early vote than her.  In fact, we ought to think about this with the early vote this time. 

In previous contests, the early vote in these states started at a time when Hillary Clinton was ahead in the polls and on a roll.  This time in both Ohio and Texas, when the early vote began, it was at a time when Obama was on the roll and started to—and the momentum and the trajectory has been on the up curve.  So he may have the benefit of the early vote and doing his, what normal—what we see in a normal pattern of having a pretty good election day turnout as well. 

So, that‘s one thing to keep an eye on.  And the other is, some of these polls are assuming a normal electorate, an electorate that—what the primary electorate looked like four years ago or two years ago.  What have we seen?  Obama changes the faces of these electorates.  You will have a higher African-American turnout, you‘ll have a higher youth turnout.  Throw in the weather factor tomorrow where you could have older voters stay home because it may be a little icky to go out and head to the polls and, you know, we just don‘t know what the electorate is going to look like. 

So, that‘s one sort of caution in the wind that I would throw with some of these polls. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go to Texas, both of you in Texas, a poll by MSNBC, Mason-Dixon, and The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has Senator Obama at 46, Hillary at 45.  Now that‘s interesting because for a long time there—let‘s take a look at another tracking poll, it‘s very close to Texas as well, in another poll, in a Belo tracking poll that has got Clinton and Barack even.  The Real Clear Politics average of recent Texas polls has him up by just 1 point. 

Chrystia, again to you, that shows a trend, however, toward him. 

FREELAND:  Yes, and what I think will be really interesting about Texas is what happens with the Hispanic vote there.  Because in the race so far, it has become conventional wisdom that the Hispanic vote is really helpful to Hillary Clinton.  We may see that trend break in Texas.  And there are lots of explanations for that. 

The Hispanic voters in Texas tend to be younger, which favors Barack Obama.  And there is maybe more of a history of good relations between the Hispanic and African-American communities.  So, I think that will really be a pivotal group for him. 

MATTHEWS:  Chuck, I‘ve noticed that both the senators are campaigning in Texas and Ohio today.  They must both believe that those states are competitive at least for delegates.  I guess that‘s a statement of no obvious importance, but since they clearly are fighting for delegates, does that mean that Senator Clinton believes she can hang on to Texas as well as Ohio? 

TODD:  Well, I think no, but I do think the fact that she went negative with a TV ad today in Texas and not Ohio tells you that she‘s going—you don‘t usually close on a negative if you‘re ahead.  You close on a negative if you‘re behind, if you‘re sort of throwing not quite a Hail Mary but you‘re certainly trying to play catch-up.  And I think that that says a lot. 

Also note where Hillary Clinton is spending tomorrow night.  She‘s not spending it in Texas.  She‘s spending it in Ohio.  Where‘s Barack Obama spending tomorrow night?  In Texas, not Ohio.  I think that tells you the body language of each campaign.  I think the Obama campaign thinks they have their best shot at winning Texas.  The Clinton campaign believes their best shot is winning Ohio, though they know they have the burden of having to try to win both big states where Obama really only has the burden of having to win one. 

MATTHEWS:  Chrystia, it does seem to me, if you look at the Senator

Clinton campaign over the last couple of days, over the last four or five -

they are really doing the kinds of things that politicians do when they‘re losing.  This very tough 3:00 a.m. in the morning thing, suggesting that Barack Obama is not to be trusted at 3:00 in morning, I don‘t know how you can read it any other way. 

Going after him on this Muslim issue, we‘ll get to it in the next block of the show, giving up a clear chance to dismiss these bad stories being pushed by bad people that he‘s not the religion he clearly to try to disturb people.  She had a clear opportunity on “60 Minutes” to clear that up and she didn‘t take it. 

FREELAND:  Yes.  That‘s absolutely right.  And the fact is they are losing.  The Clinton campaign has tried quite hard to talk about this notion that there is media bias against Hillary Clinton.  But in one respect I think she has really benefited from a nice media, which is, after losing these 11 straight primaries, people are still treating it as a two-horse race.  That‘s a pretty big deal. 

MATTHEWS:  I mean, if she had beaten Barack 11 in a row, there might be a sense, get out of the way, Barack? 

FREELAND:  Very possibly.  So I think, you know, they are desperate.  They‘re in a really, really tight corner.  Bill Clinton has said if Hillary doesn‘t win both Texas and Ohio, she‘s out of the race.  That‘s a very, very high bar.  And I‘m not sure that Hillary Clinton will choose to be judged by that standard Wednesday morning.  

MATTHEWS:  By her husband‘s standard.  Let me ask you, Chuck, about the final thing as we end this segment.  Let me ask you about the bar.  A lot of people will get up tomorrow morning, they will be watching our program tomorrow night, watching our coverage with Keith and I tomorrow night, trying to figure out what the win is. 

If Hillary Clinton, it seems to me, is able to win in Texas and Ohio, we‘ll all agree it was a big night for her, and the game‘s still on no matter what the numbers mean, she‘s still obviously rocking and rolling and heading on to Pennsylvania. 

If, however, she only wins Ohio and she only wins Rhode Island, a squeaker out there, does that give her something to say despite what her husband has said, despite what Bill Richardson said yesterday about how who is ever leading in numbers ought to be the winner, and declared so, despite what Eddie Rendell of Pennsylvania did, backing up President Clinton, saying, you have got to win both, can she ignore that bar of having to win both and simply say, I don‘t care what my husband said, I don‘t care what Eddie Rendell said, I don‘t care what Bill Richardson said, I‘m going to Pennsylvania for six or seven weeks. 

TODD:  I think if she has to win three of four.  I mean, I think if she won Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas then she, while delegate-wise would make up very little ground, maybe 10 delegates at the most, still would be down by a lot of delegates.  Very hard to actually overtake Obama in that pledged delegate lead over time.  But that could give her a perception momentum and would at least allow there to be some pause—some pause.

MATTHEWS:  So you‘re saying—excuse me, just to reiterate your bar, you believe the line is win three tomorrow, I mean, everything but Vermont. 

TODD:  I think she has got to win three tomorrow.  I think that she has been ahead in the polls in all three states really up until the last four days.  I think that if she plans on being the nominee, it means she won three or four tomorrow. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, who is going to tell her this?  Not you. 


FREELAND:  I disagree with Chuck.  I think that if she wins two and maybe even if she wins Ohio by a big margin and loses Texas by a small one, I think there‘s a real chance that she keeps on going.  Her campaign is well-financed.  She hasn‘t raised as much money as Barack Obama but she has enough to keep going.  And.

MATTHEWS:  Chuck, you disagree. 

TODD:  Well, that is not—I mean, I don‘t want to sit in there and say that she keeps going.  I agree, I don‘t think she can get out.  I don‘t think she will walk away from this race after winning Ohio.  I think if she wins Ohio, she‘s going to say, how do I get out after winning Ohio, the single most important swing state in the country? 

So I think that that‘s in her head and that‘s in her campaign‘s head.  If you‘re asking me, how does she get the nomination?  Then I think it starts with winning three of four tomorrow.  If she doesn‘t win three of four tomorrow.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  I agree.  So there are.

TODD:  . I think she still.


MATTHEWS:  . two separate questions. 

TODD:  Correct.  I just don‘t know how she wins the nomination without winning three of four tomorrow. 

MATTHEWS:  I agree.  But we have got to stop thinking that Hillary Clinton is going to agree with the objective world.  We have to assume she has the perfect right as a candidate to keep spending money, to keep campaigning even it‘s a hopeless cause.

FREELAND:  Well, that‘s right.  And there is one chance, if you keep on going until Pennsylvania, Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS:  Something could happen.

FREELAND:  . can make a big mistake or something can happen.

MATTHEWS:  Super Rezko.

FREELAND:  . in the world. 

MATTHEWS:  Something hits really big.  Anyway, here‘s today‘s New York Times poll, it says here: “Mrs. Clinton herself has privately told advisers that she has a hard time imagining ending her campaign if she wins Ohio and narrowly loses Texas, given that she has money in the bank and that she believes she would have an edge in the next big vote, in Pennsylvania, on April 22nd,” it‘s because the demographics there are similar to Ohio. 

I agree.  I don‘t see her quitting.  But I do it‘s going to be very hard for her to sell the country that she is still in this race unless she wins Ohio and she wins Rhode Island.  She has got to win at least two tomorrow.  If she loses little Rhode Island, I think it‘s very hard to say, I won one in four, I‘m still in this race. 

Anyway, that‘s my own separate view of this thing.  Anyway, thank you, Chuck Todd.  Thank you, Chrystia Freeland. 

When we return, the Democratic campaign takes a tough new turn.  A lot of nastiness going on one night before the make or break primaries in Texas and Ohio.  It‘s HARDBALL out there, and actually it‘s nasty out there on the campaign trail.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  And I believe that we‘re going to do well tomorrow, and I believe that that‘s going to be a very significant message to the country.  And then we move on to Pennsylvania and the states still ahead.  So I‘m just getting warmed up.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  The crunch time in the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has come upon us.  And all bets are off.  Joining me now is MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell, who is up in New York, and the host of MSNBC‘s—Joe Scarborough.

Joe, you are with us.  Joe, let‘s take a look—let‘s all take a look at this, here‘s Senator Clinton last night on “60 Minutes.”


STEVE KROFT, “60 MINUTES”:  You don‘t believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim.

CLINTON:  Of course, not.  I mean, that‘s—you know, there is no basis for that.  You know, I take him on the basis of what he says and, you know, there isn‘t any reason to doubt that. 

KROFT:  You said you take Senator Obama at his word that he‘s not a Muslim.  You don‘t believe he‘s a Muslim or implying, right? 

CLINTON:  No, no, why would I?  There is no—no, there is nothing to base that on as far as I know. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, Joe Scarborough? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, “MORNING JOE”:  Well, I make that Hillary Clinton says there‘s nothing to base that on.  It doesn‘t seem to me that she has got the affirmative responsibility to jump up and down and point her fingers and get upset.  I think she did all that was required of her.  She did not veer off the road to strike anybody.  She kept it pretty much down the center and said she didn‘t think he was a Muslim. 

MATTHEWS:  “As far as I know.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, yes, sure, as far as I know, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Well, Joe... 


SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, I.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re on television with me right now, as far as I know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, I am, I am as far as I know.  I don‘t know what‘s in your heart, but I think—again, I think that Hillary Clinton—

I mean, Steve could have asked that question a hundred different ways, I think she answered it sufficiently the first time. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, suppose I said, Albany was the capital of New York as far as I know. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, but that‘s actually an objective fact. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Oh, isn‘t the fact of a person‘s religion an objective fact? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, that‘s more subjective.  That‘s in their heart.  They know whether they are or not.  If he says he is, then, yes, he said he is and she said that yes, as far as she knows, he is. 

MATTHEWS:  Norah O‘Donnell, “I take him on the basis of what he says.  I take him at his word,” “as far as I know.” Are those qualifiers?  Do they suggest someone who wants to keep the pot a bit stirred even if by the bad people in the country? 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, that‘s what critics of Senator Clinton are saying today.  It was an unusual question and it was an unusual answer on the part of Senator Clinton.  This issue about whether Senator Obama is a Muslim or not is sort of a strange undercurrent in this entire campaign. 

He has responded to it just today saying he‘s a Christian, a devout Christian, even saying he prays to Jesus every night.  I‘m not sure what the suggestion would be to even asking the question, as if there were something wrong with being a Muslim.  But that is sort of the undercurrent. 

And as some have pointed out, even Republican strategists, that it may play to Americans‘ xenophobia and it may play to other fears that Americans have.  Nevertheless it was a strange question. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, well, the answer was a bit hesitant, I think, “as far as I know,” and take him on the basis of what he says.  I don‘t think it was very helpful to Obama the way she answered it.  But maybe Joe is right, why should she be helpful to Obama except that those people concerned about the Middle East, Jewish voters, for example, hear that the guys is an Arab or he is an Arab sympathizer or whatever, this is fraught with peril for him. 

Anyway, here‘s Senator Clinton today when asked about it by Andrea Mitchell. 


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  The question is, were you trying to raise any doubts about his being a Christian? 

CLINTON:  No, not at all.  No, not at all.  I mean, obviously, I‘ve been the subject of scurrilous rumors for years, and, you know, it‘s hard to get them to go away.  And they—you know, they just keep coming back.  And, you know, I really sympathize with Senator Obama.  It is—it‘s—you know, it‘s disturbing to turn around and see this all the time.  And, you know, obviously I hope that people get beyond it and ignore it. 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s Gail Sheehy sitting over there, her biographer.  Let me ask Joe Scarborough again, what do you think is going on with her answers to the questions?  The second one was more was self-regarding about her own challenges in facing down stories about her.  But she said, well, this is the business we have chosen, basically seemed to be the answer.  Tough, it‘s tough out there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, sure, it is tough out there.  And Barack Obama, if the worst thing that he can have happening to him is for his opponent, at the height of a primary season saying, no, I don‘t think he‘s a Muslim, then Barack Obama has got it pretty good. 

Hillary Clinton—and, again, I was part of a Congress back in the 1990s that went after her non-stop, she has been through the gauntlet, she has been through the ringer.  It‘s hard to think of anybody that‘s in public life right now that has had a tougher run of it than Hillary Clinton.  So, I‘m sure she can sympathize with Barack Obama.  But my gosh, this is child‘s play compared to what Hillary Clinton has endured since 1992. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, but suppose I said, is Hillary Clinton a Methodist, and you would—I would answer, on the basis of what she says, yes, as far as I know.  Doesn‘t that seem a little bit more complicated than simply, of course, just saying, no, he‘s not? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, again.

MATTHEWS:  Again, I don‘t know why we don‘t simplify this and end the conversation.  Why is there an attempt to keep the conversation going with these long answers to a simple question? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, you know, Chris I said earlier in this election season that I thought Mike Huckabee—a guy I like very much, I thought Mike Huckabee was playing on some doubts regarding the Mormonism of Mitt Romney.  I did not pick that up here.  I didn‘t think.


SCARBOROUGH:  I didn‘t think it was quite as—as crudely used as Huckabee‘s attempts to raise doubts about the—the Christian beliefs earlier of Mitt Romney.  I just—I didn‘t it that way, personally. 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, it does look—it does look worse in print—it looks worse in print it does when she says it.  It sounds quite reasonable the way Senator Clinton made the statement. 

Here‘s Senator Obama, by the way, explaining his own religious faith, to put this thing at rest, at least tonight. 


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am a Christian.  I am a devout Christian.  I have been a member of the same church for 20 years.  You know, pray to Jesus every night, and try to go to church as much as I can, when they‘re not working me. 




MATTHEWS:  This weekend...


MATTHEWS:  What?  What, Joe?  What is the hemming and hawing about? 


SCARBOROUGH:  Oh, my God, it‘s just—talk about a religious test. 


MATTHEWS:  I know.  I don‘t like this.  I don‘t like this part of our country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I don‘t like it at all.  The guy—the fact the guy

MATTHEWS:  This is not what we do in this country. 

SCARBOROUGH:  My God, the fact this guy has to go out and say he‘s a devout Christian, he tries to pray to Jesus every night...

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know—it is what I don‘t...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... it makes me wince. 

MATTHEWS:  We are a free country.  And that First Amendment should guide us, freedom of religion. 

Anyway, His weekend, Gloria Steinem campaigned for Hillary Clinton.  And “The New York Observer” reports that she said this about John McCain‘s Vietnam service—quote—“Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain, and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight years.  ‘What did you do wrong to get captured?  What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive for eight years?‘  I mean, hello?  This is supposed to be a qualification to be president?  I don‘t think so.”

What do you think of that comment by Gloria Steinem, Norah?  Do you think that will be helpful to Senator Clinton? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, the Clinton campaign has already distanced themselves from Gloria Steinem. 

She‘s obviously a recognized leader in the—the feminist movement, but some of the comments she made this weekend about—she said, you know, sometimes, being a secretary to someone powerful makes you qualified to do the job, and then suggesting, of course, that Hillary Clinton being there inside the White House next to her husband, Bill Clinton, that she‘s qualified by the fact of being there near him. 

So, some of the comments were—were quite strange.  In terms of with Senator John McCain, I‘m not sure that anyone‘s suggesting that, because he‘s a POW, that he‘s more qualified on issues of national security.  I mean, he was a squadron commander in the Navy, and then, of course, went on to serve many years, his country, in the United States Senate and on the Senate Armed Services Committee.  So, it‘s an—it‘s an odd turn of phrase for her to use. 

MATTHEWS:  Smart politics by your surrogate there, Joe? 


MATTHEWS:  Would you like to have somebody campaigning like her for you? 

SCARBOROUGH:  I would—I would—Gloria Steinem has said many things that have rung very true to a lot of American women during this campaign, especially the op-ed that she wrote right before the New Hampshire primary.

But this was just a terrible thing for her to say, to say, “Hello, this is a qualification for president?”  You know, I wonder how whether Gloria Steinem or Joe Scarborough or Joan McCain...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... would have had the opportunity to leave Vietnam after having the hell beaten out of them year after year after year, but then say, no, I‘m not going to leave until the last man can leave with me?  That‘s what John McCain did. 

He decided that he was going to allow them to continue to batter and abuse him, break his arms, humiliate him, mutilate him.  He made that choice.  And I will be damned, if that doesn‘t show the type of character we want in a leader, then I don‘t know what does. 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, Chris...

SCARBOROUGH:  I—I don‘t know what‘s wrong with Gloria Steinem to have such things come out of her mouth. 

O‘DONNELL:  But, Chris, it‘s also an interesting to—to bash essentially a veteran in Ohio and Texas.  These two key primaries that are coming up, Ohio and Texas, have some of the largest casualties in the Iraq war thus far. 


O‘DONNELL:  Between the two states, I think it‘s one-eighth.  There was a wire story today about that.  I mean, that‘s part of the reason Hillary Clinton is running this, you know, 3:00 a.m. National security ad and trying to claim that Barack Obama doesn‘t have experience. 

You have voters in those states who have a lot of military ties, specifically in Texas. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I don‘t understand the comment, period, but I better not comment further on it, because my attitude toward it is so complete. 

I will say this.  She at least ought to do the minimal amount of homework to know that he spent five-and-a-half years in...

O‘DONNELL:  Not eight.

MATTHEWS:  .. .in captivity, not eight, and get the minimal amount of homework before you shoot your mouth off. 

Anyway, let‘s take a look at the exchange from the Canadian Congress today.  This is up in the parliament today, up in the House of Commons in Ottawa, big stir about the role that the Conservative government, the Tory government of Prime Minister Harper, may be playing in our election for president. 


STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER:  I‘m a little bit amused by the question of the leader of the NDP, who is suggesting that we are so all-powerful, we could interfere in the American election and pick their president for them. 

Mr. Speaker, this government doesn‘t claim that kind of power.  I certainly deny any allegation that this government has attempted to interfere in the American election.  The American people will make the decision as to their next president.  And I am confident that, whoever that person is, man or woman, that—Democratic or Republican, that person will continue the strong alliance, friendship and partnership that we enjoy with the United States. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, whether you feel like saying hear hear if you‘re a Tory or are the other side, let met tell you what it was about. 

Today, the Canadian government had to issue a statement which read in part: “In the recent report produced by the Consulate General in Chicago, there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA.  We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect.”

Now, the question, of course, was a memo that was leaked about a meeting between Senator Barack Obama‘s senior economic adviser and a member of the Canadian Consular team in Chicago, wherein it was suggested by the consular official that the economic adviser to Senator Obama was suggesting that they had a softer line on NAFTA than the candidate was expressing on the stump. 

Joe Scarborough, is this an issue? 

SCARBOROUGH:  It is an issue. 

And this is exactly why Hillary Clinton should hold on as long as she can during this election.  I heard your previous segment.  I think, if Hillary Clinton wins Ohio, barely loses Texas, I think she needs to hold on, because, the longer this campaign goes on, the more Barack Obama‘s going to look like—well, what he is, a real politician.  You know...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... if you have him coming out strongly against NAFTA, when there may have been some conflict with what he said earlier, and then you have his chief economic adviser whispering to the Canadians, don‘t worry, he may be saying this in Ohio, but he doesn‘t mean it, we‘re not going to turn back on NAFTA, which everybody knows that‘s the case anyway, then that looks bad for him.  He looks more like a politician. 

You can say the same thing about how he‘s going to finance his campaign. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And, so, I—you know, Hillary Clinton, again, the longer—the longer she can stay in this race, the more opportunities she has to paint him as a run-of-the-mill politician, somebody that sort of hedges, just like every other politicians. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Yes, that‘s a great point. 

O‘DONNELL:  And, Chris, Hillary...

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Norah? 

O‘DONNELL:  Hillary Clinton said today, I‘m just getting warmed up.

And her chief strategist, Mark Penn, pointed out to reporters today that there are 16 more contests.  I think they‘re gearing up to go on, no matter what happens tomorrow. 


O‘DONNELL:  And they have spun that, if—unless Barack Obama wins all four contests tomorrow, that that signals that there‘s some—quote, unquote—“buyer‘s remorse.”  So, they seem to be making the case that they could go on past Tuesday...


O‘DONNELL:  ... through Pennsylvania and April 22. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And—and that‘s a great point, too, Chris.

When you consider how much Barack Obama is outspending Hillary Clinton now, 4-1...


SCARBOROUGH:  ... if Hillary Clinton wins Ohio and Texas...

MATTHEWS:  I get it.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... this race is reset. 

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  Thank you very much, Norah O‘Donnell.

I agree with both of you, Norah O‘Donnell and Joe Scarborough, except, if she loses three out of four, I think she‘s still go problems.

Up next:  Hillary Clinton gets laughs on “Saturday Night Live,” but will she get enough votes to live beyond Tuesday night?  That‘s our big question on this eve of the big votes—the big votes in those four states tomorrow. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

So, what else is new out there in politics? 

Well, it‘s not often that someone steals the spotlight from Donald Trump, but, Friday night, it happened.  After a year-and-a-half in exile, who showed up at the charity gala opening of the Palm Beach Fashion Week?  None other than former U.S. Congressman Mark Foley.  He told “The Palm Beach Post—quote—“This is the first time I‘m back at Mar-a-Lago in two years.  It feels good.  People have been wonderful to me.  Thank God that I worked hard for these people.  I think they recognized I did so much for the community, and I‘m thankful for that.”

Well, who knows?  Mark is a very popular guy.  For everyone‘s sake, I hope his troubles are behind him. 

Did you catch Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend? 

Here it is.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I simply adore Amy‘s impression of me. 

AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS:  Oh, well, my ears are ringing. 



CLINTON:  How are you? 

POEHLER:  Good.  Thank you. 

CLINTON:  Well, I‘m...


CLINTON:  I‘m glad to be here.  Thanks for having me. 

POEHLER:  Oh, I—oh, yes, thank you for coming.  I love your outfit. 


CLINTON:  Well, I love your outfit. 

POEHLER:  Why, I thank you. 

CLINTON:  But I do want the earrings back. 



CLINTON:  Do I really laugh like that? 




POEHLER:  So, how‘s the campaign going? 


CLINTON:  Oh, the campaign it‘s going very well, very, very well. 

POEHLER:  Great. 

CLINTON:  Why?  What have you heard? 

POEHLER:  Nothing. 





MATTHEWS:  I love to do that with Darrell Hammond sometimes.  He‘s the guy that does me. 

Anyway, that‘s closer to the Hillary you meet if you actually meet her one-on-one.  And I mean it.  She‘s much more like that. 

And here‘s Jack Nicholson giving Clinton a little boost in a new campaign ad that he has put out.  Let‘s take a look. 


JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR:  OK, I will make it as easy for you as I can.  There‘s nothing on this earth sexier, believe me, gentlemen, than a woman that you have to salute in the morning. 

I‘m Jack Nicholson, and I approve this message. 



MATTHEWS:  I have nothing to add. 

And now it‘s time for the HARDBALL “Big Number.” 

By now, you have probably seen that new 3:00 a.m. Clinton ad.  You know, the one with the ringing telephone?  If you watch it a few times, you can‘t help but notice how many times the phone rings without somebody picking it up.  Take a listen. 


NARRATOR:  It‘s 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. 


NARRATOR:  But there‘s a phone in the White House and it‘s ringing. 


NARRATOR:  Something‘s happening in the world.  Your vote will decide who answers that call...


NARRATOR:  ... whether it‘s someone who already knows the world‘s leaders...


NARRATOR:  ... knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. 


NARRATOR:  It‘s 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep.  Who do you want answering the phone? 


MATTHEWS:  That‘s right, six times, six telephone rings.  What‘s the message?  That it would take Obama seven or eight rings or, God help us, more, to get to the phone? 


MATTHEWS:  I don‘t care if it is 3:00 a.m.  Answer it.  Six rings—here at HARDBALL, if you can count it, it counts—tonight‘s “Big Number.” 

Up next:  Will Hillary Clinton stay in the race if she only wins one of the big states tomorrow night, Texas or Ohio? 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  


MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I am Margaret Brennan with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks closed mixed this Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing a little bit more than seven points.  The S&P 500 gained, but just fractionally.  And the Nasdaq lost about 12 points on the day. 

Oil hit a record high of $103.95 a barrel intraday, before prices retreated by the close.  Crude closed in New York‘s session at $102.45 a barrel, up 61 cents on the day.  Prices were driven up by speculation that OPEC won‘t increase production when it meets later this week. 

The latest signs of a struggling economy include manufacturing activity falling in February to the weakest level in nearly five years.  Also, construction spending took its biggest nosedive in 14 years. 

Ford and General Motors are cutting their production levels in the second quarter, after big drops in sales in the month of February.  Ford says its sales fell 7 percent.  GM‘s sales plunged almost 13 percent.  Meantime, Chrysler sales fell 14 percent. 

That‘s it from CNBC‘s, America‘s business channel—now back to Chris and HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

U.S. Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas is an Obama backer.  Kiki McLean is a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign. 

Let‘s begin with U.S. Congressman Edwards. 

Sir, you represent the—the—the camping grounds of our president down there, don‘t you, Crawford, Texas? 

REP. CHET EDWARDS (D), TEXAS:  That‘s correct, the heart of Texas. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, how does a guy like you, a Democrat, get to represent what is such an assumingly culturally conservative area? 

EDWARDS:  Well, I—I think I‘m an example of, if a Democrat stands for a strong national defense, fights for our veterans as the heroes they are, and fights for a fair chance for average working families, that, to me, is the equation of a winning campaign in red districts for Democrats.

And I think Senator Obama has the ability to reach out to independent voters in districts such as mine, and do very well there and across the country. 

MATTHEWS:  Can he defend the country? 

EDWARDS:  Absolutely. 

He‘s got the kind of solid judgment that—that our voters and our citizens want in a commander in chief.  I think he would do an excellent job.  And what‘s more important, in my opinion, Chris, is the opinion expressed by millions of voters in primaries and caucuses all across this land of ours, who have said, yes, they believe he can not only bring the change to Washington, but he has experience and the solid judgment to be a great leader of our country. 

MATTHEWS:  Richard Nixon used to believed in peaking.  Campaigns shouldn‘t be run too early, too late.  They got to be timed so they should peak at the right time.  In this campaign, the right time seems to be now.  Has senator Obama peaked too soon? 

EDWARDS:  Well, there‘s a lot of spinning going on.  Let me try something a little bit different.  Let me try the truth.  The truth is: nobody knows for sure what will happen in Ohio and Texas tomorrow.  But I believe that Senator Obama will do very well in Texas, because his message of real change, and not change for change‘s sake, but change that will impact in a positive way the daily lives of average working families; that message is resonating, as it has in 11 straight victories across the country. 

But senator Clinton is a good candidate.  They‘re a strong dynasty.  She had a 32-year head start in Texas and Senator Obama has had to come a long way to really close that gap.  So, it‘s going to be an interesting race to watch tomorrow, both in Texas and Ohio. 

MATTHEWS:  Where is Senator Edwards—Senator Obama on NAFTA?  Is he going to keep NAFTA, which is popular in Texas and not so popular at all in Ohio?  Or is he not going to—or is he going to do what his economic adviser seems to be whispering to the Canadian government, something a little bit more subtle? 

EDWARDS:  Well, I think he‘ll do what makes sense.  That is to say we need continue trade agreements with Mexico, Canada and other countries, but we want them to be fair.  We want them to have environmental and labor standards, and we want them to be enforced in a way that‘s fair to working families in America.  I think that‘s a message that will sell in Ohio, sell in Texas and, frankly, I think it‘s the right thing to do. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, is NAFTA the way it works now OK or not? 

EDWARDS:  Well, I think it‘s not OK the way it works now.  There‘s some pluses in some parts of Texas and other parts of the country, and there are a lot of negatives as well, in Ohio as well as Texas and elsewhere.  I think what we need to do is revise NAFTA.  We ought to work in a way to see, not only with NAFTA, but with other trade agreements, that they‘re enforced more fairly. 

I voted for some trade agreements and voted against others.  And I‘m convinced they have not been enforced well.  In many of those cases, they‘ve hurt American workers and jobs. 

MATTHEWS:  If Hillary Clinton loses in Texas tomorrow, will there be a delegation of top congressional people, led by the speaker of the House, your leader, Nancy Pelosi, to go to Senator Clinton and tell her to leave the race?  Will that happen? 

EDWARDS:  Well, I can‘t speak for senators or for Speaker Pelosi.  But what I can say is that that‘s a decision that Senator Clinton has to make.  But this isn‘t rocket science.  It‘s simple math.  If she doesn‘t dramatically close the gap, the advantage that Senator Obama has with delegates at this point, then there are not that many delegates left and each week it gets harder and harder for her to have a chance to win the nomination. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, it‘s great to have you on, Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas.  He represents the Crawford ranch of our president.  And now to Kiki McCain.  Let me ask you about this NAFTA thing.  Senator Clinton and Barack, is there any differences on these two people?  They both seem to be saying the same thing.  They don‘t thing it‘s perfect.  They don‘t hate it.  They want to renegotiate it.  How is it any different? 

KIKI MCLEAN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN SR. ADVISER:  Hillary Clinton put out a full plan that also includes a prosecutor, but let me tell you what‘s really different here today.  We found out from the story in AP, that, in fact, Senator Clinton—excuse me, Senator Obama‘s senior economist and representative Austan Goolsbee went and had a side, backdoor conversation with the Canadian government and said, really, don‘t worry what we‘re saying there, because we‘re not going to change anything.  That‘s what‘s different.  That‘s not right. 

MATTHEWS:  You said he wasn‘t going to change anything? 

MCLEAN:  If you read the memo that went throughout the Canadian government, it said, don‘t worry, this is mostly politics.  The reality—

MATTHEWS:  What about the statement saying that came out today denying that was the case? 

MCLEAN:  Well, what do you do when a memo‘s coming back telling you the facts? 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you believe the first memo and not the second? 

MCLEAN:  Because I believe there have been a variety of different answers coming out of the Obama campaign, including with Senator Obama himself.  It didn‘t happen, well—

MATTHEWS:  You think the Canadian government, which is Tory, and pro-Republican, would be out to mess up our election?  Just guessing here. 

MCLEAN:  No, I don‘t think that.  I think somebody went and had a conversation.  It probably wasn‘t a good idea.  But what‘s interesting to me is that you can‘t get a straight answer out of the Obama campaign.  They say it never happened. 

MATTHEWS:  Good point.  They never admit an—they never gave an honest statement about whether there was a meeting or not. 

MCLEAN:  And so then you look up and you have the Rezko trial, right, the guy who is on trial for kick backs and bad-money deals and people are asking questions.  Journalists are asking questions about Senator Obama‘s relationship with this guy who raised a ton of money for him and they don‘t answer the questions.  Yesterday, David Axelrod, who is my good friend, said the senator has answered questions from those journalists who have been covering the story. 

We hear from the journalists today, no he hasn‘t.  He has not sat down and answered those questions.  There are questions that have to be answered.  I‘m always proud to be on a show with Congressman Edwards.  I‘m a Texan, born and raised, out of south Texas, San Antonio, and I think we have important issues we‘re talking about, who is best suited and best qualified to be commander in chief?  Who is going to help turn the economy around? 

As a Democrat, when I make that choice on election day, I choose Hillary Clinton, because of the record that she has and the experience she has and the ideas and the solutions she‘s laid out for the future.  It‘s really that simple, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  What about the Muslim thing?  Is that a question?  Is that one of the list of questions? 

MCLEAN:  No.  No. 

MATTHEWS:  So you think Hillary Clinton put that to rest yesterday? 

MCLEAN:  I believe so, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  But she said, as far as I know.

MCLEAN:  I think people—

MATTHEWS:  I‘m just curious.  Why would people talk like that? 

MCLEAN:  I think people are picking hairs because they are looking for something to fight over. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m asking.  This was pointed out to me about why wouldn‘t she say, of course, he‘s not a Muslim.  He‘s a Christian.  Why didn‘t she just say that? 

MCLEAN:  I think that she believes she said that and she said that.  I think people are picking apart words.  That‘s not what this campaign is about.  I thin this campaign is about national security and the economy.  I think Senator Clinton has been leading on those two issues and I think that‘s why she‘ll do very well tomorrow night in Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island and Vermont. 

MATTHEWS:  Can I ask you the toughest question? 

MCLEAN:  Ask me. 

MATTHEWS:  Where is the bar set?  Former President Clinton, the candidate‘s husband, said that you have to win both.  Ed Rendell backed him up and said you have to win both.  Yesterday, the Senate—the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, said, unless there‘s a switch in the number of delegates, the one who is leading in delegates tomorrow night should be the one who is the leader and the other one should drop out. 

Then again, Harold Ickes, one of your campaign guys, said, no, she only has to win one.  Then we hear she only has not to lose four.  What is the standard?  There‘s four races tomorrow?  How many does she have to win to stay in the race? 

MCLEAN:  I think the standard is let people vote. 

MATTHEWS:  No, no, no—Of course, that‘s what we‘re talking about. 

MCLEAN:  My prediction to you is that she‘s going to do very well tomorrow night, and I think what we ought to do is let the election happen and then let the—

MATTHEWS:  Let me tell you what I‘m asking you as my guess; how many does she have to win? 

MCLEAN:  I‘m not going to play that jump-around game.  I‘m going to say that tomorrow the people of Texas and Ohio and Rhode Island and Vermont get to vote. 

MATTHEWS:  You mean, if at the end of tomorrow, she has lost 15 straight, she‘s still in the race? 

MCLEAN:  I‘m about the reality and not the hypothetical.  Thanks, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  I appreciate your situation, because it‘s so confusing.  It is.  Everybody in your campaign has a different answer. 

MCLEAN:  We feel good and people need to go vote in those four states tomorrow, participate in the process. 

MATTHEWS:  I thought the campaign, according to Senator Clinton, was not how you feel.  It‘s about solutions. 

MCLEAN:  It‘s about the future and solutions. 

MATTHEWS:  You know what it‘s about?  It‘s about the conditions of this country right now.  Anyway, thank you Kiki Mclean. 

MCLEAN:  Thank you, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Up next—did you write a song? 

Anyway, the politics fix, one day before the big primaries in Ohio and Texas, it‘s a two-person race.  What will it be on Tuesday?  I bet it‘s still a two-person race.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL and the politics fix.  The round table tonight, Bloomberg‘s Margaret Carlson and Roger Simon of “The Politico.”  I want you to all look at this.  Look at this one more time. 

This is Senator Clinton last night on “Meet The Press.”  Let‘s take a look

on “60 Minutes,” rather. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You don‘t believe that Senator Obama‘s a Muslim? 

CLINTON:  Of course, not.  I mean, that‘s—you know, there is no basis for that.  You know, I take him on the basis of what he says.  And, you know, there isn‘t any reason to doubt that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You said, you take Senator Obama at his word that he‘s not a Muslim.  You don‘t believe that he‘s a Muslim or implying, right? 

CLINTON:  No, no, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know. 


MATTHEWS:  So, it‘s hard—you know, when you read that—I have to be very positive towards Senator Clinton here—when you read that, it sounds like she‘s being somewhat hesitant, Margaret.  But when you listen to the way she says it with the inflection, it sounds like she‘s not exploiting it at all.  How did you read it?  

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG:  No, when you see it, it doesn‘t seem that way.  As far as I know is a qualifier, but the way she said it, she was asked a second time and so she was making the answer slightly different. 

MATTHEWS:  But her first answer was abruptly no way. 

CARLSON:  Although she did have a qualifier there, on the basis of what I know—on the basis of what he says. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, Roger, you break this tie.  I think after listening to it two or three times, I think it‘s unexceptional what she says.  I don‘t think she was playing anything politically.  Everybody has a view these days. 

ROGER SIMON, “THE POLITICO”:  I think it was exceptional what she said.  I think it was a bad way to put it.  You can say things on television that we all regret, as we all know, but this was the last thing she said.  She could have made her answer more clear and less divisive, but instead she went the other way. 

He‘s not a Muslim, as far as I know.  I don‘t think that was a good thing to say.  Maybe she didn‘t want to make it that way.  But when she was asked today to explain it, she went back to her victimhood thing.  Look, I‘ve been the subject of unfair attacks.  Let‘s talk about me.  I don‘t think that cleared the air. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s see if we can show her.  This was her updated interview today with our own Andrea Mitchell.  Do you have it ready?  We‘ll have it in a minute, which shows her.  Margaret, your thoughts? 

CARLSON:  She did say, I am the victim of scurrilous rumors, and so, I have sympathy.  But she doesn‘t have enough sympathy to say, of course he‘s not a Muslim.  This is rumors.  This is Internet stuff that‘s been spread. 

MATTHEWS:  There is somebody out there that has been pushing this baby and every once in a while I will be at an airport, Roger, and some guy comes up to me—I‘m sure he does it with you and Margaret—we don‘t know enough about his background.  We don‘t know who his people are.  Let‘s take a look.  Here‘s Andrea Mitchell talking to Senator Clinton today. 


ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  The question is, were you trying to raise any doubts at all—

CLINTON:  No, not at all. 

MITCHELL:  -- about him being a Christian? 

CLINTON:  No, not at all.  Obviously, I‘ve been the subject of scurrilous rumors for years.  And, you know, it‘s hard to get them to go away and, you know, they just keep coming back and, you know, I really sympathize with Senator Obama.  It is—it‘s—you know, it‘s disturbing to turn around and see this all the time.  And, you know, obviously I hope that people get beyond it and ignore it. 


MATTHEWS:  And she has said to Steve Kroft, will you shut up about this Muslim nonsense, would that have been a better answer? 

CARLSON:  She says, it‘s hard, but I‘m not going to help.  That‘s his problem. 

MATTHEWS:  Roger, your last thought.  We have to go to break.  What‘s your thought about this?  Is this in the can tonight, or is it going to continue to worm around for a while? 

SIMON:  I think it will continue to worm around if she wants it to worm around among voters in Texas and Ohio who have doubts about Obama.  This came in response to an interview with a voter who said, you know, I like the guy, but I think he‘s a Muslim and won‘t take the oath of office on the Bible.  You know, it‘s out there.  She could have cleared it up and she didn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  We‘ll be right back with Margaret and Roger Simon.  More of the politics fix.  You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with the round table, with more of the politics fix.  I want to talk the politics of Hillary Clinton, who is fighting for her life politically.  She could win two tomorrow.  She could win three.  I don‘t she is likely to win in Vermont.  Roger, how do you score this thing tomorrow night in any reasonable way?

SIMON:  If she wins Ohio and Texas, she certainly goes on.  If she wins just one of them, she has a hard choice to make.  But even if she wins both of them, Ohio and Texas, I think it‘s going to be hard for her to get to the convention with a majority of pledged delegates.  If she doesn‘t do that, if she has to overturn the choice of pledged delegates with super delegates, I think that‘s going to be a terrible rift within the party.

MATTHEWS:  Your score card, Margaret?

CARLSON:  Chris, two different things, going on because you can win and just going on.  I think Senator Clinton goes on almost no matter what.

MATTHEWS:  Just to be in the game, to be a Huckabee?


MATTHEWS:  Pull a Huckabee.

CARLSON:  Huckabee without the guitar.     

MATTHEWS:  Pulling a Huckabee is not going to go down in the book as a positive thing.  Thank you Margaret Carlson.  Thank you Roger Simon.  Both pros.  Join us again in one hour for more HARDBALL.  We have a new special edition tonight.

Tomorrow, at 6:00 Eastern, I‘ll be back with Keith Olbermann for MSNBC‘s prime time coverage from 6:00 on of Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island.  That‘s all tomorrow night at 6:00.  Now it‘s time for “TUCKER.”



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