tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 6, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
it is 7 p.m. in theeast coast, polls are now closed in georgia, vermont and massachusetts. it is projected that newt gingrich will win the georgia primary, the home state of the former house speaker. now to virginia, a state where only mitt romney and ron paul are on the ballot. in virginia, this is interesting, too early to call. same story in vermont, too early to call. again, nbc news can say mitt romney is leading in the green mountain state. again, newt gingrich, the winner
in georgia. that is the second state he has won during this campaign. he also won south carolina. as of this hour, we are too early to call in both virginia and in vermont. newt gingrich lives to fight another day, chris. >> i think it's very important, he saved his dignity, i think that's what he had to do making clear, you got to carry your own state, he is not going any where he is finished. >> ed schultz, looking ahead at newt gingrich's future, what -- looking ahead at mitt romney's future? >> he has been furious since day one, hasn't been represented, doesn't have the money expect one guy bankroll it he is the biggest joke in the field right now. where it s okay, he is going to win georgia. he ought to. that's where he is from. i tell you what he will win georgia better than mitt won michigan. >> there is something to hang your hat on. >> lawrence, do you agree? >> i think the problem is for
romney more than anyone, tested in tennessee in a serious way. if he can take tennessee, it says a lot. but he is still now up against, as we heard earlier, some very hard delegate math. this may be a republican nomination which is not winnable from the voters f mitt romney thinks he can comfortably go into the republican convention simply a saying i got more delegates than anybody else and think that is going to inspire confidence in the republican establishment and everyone to gel around him, that cannot be true because the press will not allow it to be true. we will be watching the weakest march toward a nomination that we have ever seen. >> didn't we -- we did see the democrats gel around barack obama once that -- >> he won it. forget the press. he won it from the voters. he got his nomination from voters. if we have a republican nominee
couldn't get his nomination from voters, you are looking at the weakest nominee ever delivered. >> here is what his best play is, romney will be able to make phone calls, ask for help, whatever. he has won florida. he has won arizona. he has won michigan. he might win ohio. he is nipping at his heels in tennessee. and virginia. how can you win -- those are pretty influential states. he would be able to go into the room and say i know i'm short on delegates but i've won where this party has to be well-to-foot in november. so, it would be really strange to go through this whole primary process and have a republican win those states and then not get the nomination. how could that happen? how you win florida, ohio, michigan, virginia, arizona and then not get the nomination? >> i think it is really -- >> that's -- >> but winning the nomination doesn't just meaning convincing the majority of republican
voters around the country that you are a good guy and ought tonight nominee it is convincing them that you ought to be the nominee over other republicans, right, so it just means beating in this case, rick santorum, newt gingrich and ron paul. >> not if you have heading into a convention where a candidate does not have enough delegates. then you have to beat the people you ran against but jeb bushes and the other people you talk b andy card last week, who is not a hip shooter, former white house chief of staff, who is a bush loyalist, andy card was saying publicly what about jeb bush as a possible nominee, given how bad this field is? >> the republicans will say what about the name bush? that's the -- >> steve, can somebody come in late? >> i think it's very difficult but what's true is that if the voters don't award the nomination to you, if you don't get enough delegates through this process and the you go into the convention, you have lost
chro control of the process, after that first ballot, anything can happen. wh when you talk to a presidential campaign scaling to almost a billion dollar organization overnight, three republicans on the bench potentially ready from day one, one is jeb bush, one is chris christie, one is mitch daniels, all of them have been pretty straight saying that they don't want to run, they don't want to be the nominee. so, i think that, you know, it is theoretically possible it could be someone else, but it is most likely to be mitt romney if he comes ahead. but the narrative around his weakness as a candidate will be something that is not good heading into a general election. >> the perception problem. i agree with ed that if he wins those major starts, it is hard not to give him the nomination but when you talk about lawrence saying obama won, he won against hillary clinton. >> right. >> i mean, he is going through all of this -- >> very viable -- >> santorum and newt gingrich. and you couldn't get the number
against santorum and newt gingrich and we think you can beat president obama? how do you sell that? >> i think it may mean brokered. we may find, lawrence, a new meaning to the word brokered. like, yeah, you will be the nominee, but. there's some buts. we want you to sign things here. like maybe it is the running mate. maybe the platform comes out of no where nobody reads them, bring that out. may got in for ron paul's votes. promise him something about monetary policy? what is a brokered convention. >> if -- surely the romney campaign has been on this math a while, looked forward and said there is a version of this we don't get enough delegates to lock it in, who can we be nice to here and they look at the newt gingrich super pac bombing romney. think, can we can't go there santorum, he is trying to win, he can't win and they cozy up to ron paul t is a second ballot thing. once you get to the second ballot thing, ron paul can make all the speeches he wants to their delegates, they can do
whatever they want. >> ultimately, if you wins, you have won the parliamentary style coalition-building socialist european model which, of course, would be difficult for the guys to run on. i want to go straight to kelly o'donnell at gingrich headquarters in atlanta where they must be delighted to find out about the results at the poll close. kelly, any response thus far from the campaign and on site there? >> no we have been trying. i have got the blackberry in hand hoping to hear from the campaign right now. we can tell that you they expected this good news. newt gingrich had said he expected to whip by a big margin for his state and for him, a way to make the case yet again that he will stay in the race and that a southern strategy is important for republican candidates. and with that, he implies that a mitt romney would not do well in the south and that is part of his argument for staying in this race. so he spent part of this day in alabama campaigning where they will vote next week and he will meet supporters here very
excited and we talked to people earlier today who reminded us about the fact that maybe in georgia, people see newt gingrich a little differently than do you more broadly because for those years when he was in congress, he brought a lot of national attention to this daste and some instances talked to people in his home district who had known him when he was in office, there was that personal connection. this is also the only campaign where i have ever seep the logo for the night as a gas pump. he has been talking a lot about trying to get gasoline down to $2.50. he has been hammering the president about that so just in the stagecraft, that is something a little different that we typically don't see. it is part of the logo that's on the podium where he will speak tonight. we would expect that he would get here fairly early because when you have a big whip, it is a nice, early night for you and your supporters. so we are waiting to hear an official word but he had expected to win and now trying to turn those expectations into something that can give him ongoing credibility to stay in the race.
rachel? >> kelly o'donnell at gingrich headquarters in atlanta. thank you. i asked ron mott about this earlier, we had him on from the rick santorum campaign, right? i asked ron about the organizational difficulties that the rick santorum campaign has had, he can't get all the del gatts out of ohio, even if he didn't sweep ohio, he can't get it logistically to do that, newt gingrich tonight not able to vote for himself in virginia, because he didn't get his name on the ballot there also just talking to kelly o'donnell in georgia where newt gingrich just won at poll closing time in front of an empty ballroom and nobody knows where the candidate is and there has been no response from the campaign. don't you want to have your cheering crowd there ahead of closing time if you think you're going to win big? >> you do. i think when you look at the gingrich capped dash circumstance he is somebody whose campaign went brurnlgt the entire staff quit. for a long time, it was him and mrs. gingrich campaigning by himself. he has been an enormously consequential candidate in this process. he came close to derailing mitt romney. i think gingrich created the conditions that santorum rose up
from. he has played a major role in this nomination fight and played it from a place where no one had any expectation other than he was going to finish in last place, i think the fact he has got this far, won his home state tonight, as chris pointed out, think he will be able to get out of the race with a measure of dignity, if he can strength together whips in the south, i do think it is an imposition of a degree with, you know, a nominee from massachusetts being put, you know, put in place in the republican party when you can't win any of the southern states that are cultural part of the republican party. >> is that the secret there he wins a bunch of the deep south states and throws romney in tampa? >> helps romney put together a coalition for the delegates. kelly o'donnell, go back to her. she is at atlanta, the headquarters of the gingrich campaign. you have got a comment from the candidate now, kelly? >> yes, under newt gingrich's name, he is send out a message saying thank you, georgia, it is gratifying to win my home state so decisively and to launch our march momentum.
so, that will be how newt gingrich will frame this, that a win on super tuesday will launch him in a new way, march momentum will be the word of the night from newt gingrich. and typically on these nights, it is not unusual to see somewhat sparse crowds right at the time the polls close. it tends to build as they get word that the candidate is coming. so, this is fairly typical. they are absolutely enthusiastic, saw a few ladies in glittery flag vests, great americana when you come out on the primary nights. i appreciate that the perception of whether or not they have done a good job organizing that may feel very different in the room than it does on tv, most people are experiencing it on tv, hence my earlier comment. i will just eat one other point to this did a back envelope math what has been spent in the 11 races. as of friday, $3 million spent by newt gingrich across various numbers of the states contested tonight. of that $21,000 was campaign
money and the rest was all his casino billionaire guy. the pac money spent all but $21,000 of the $3 million spent by gingrich going ahead. >> macao has spoken. >> coming up at 7 can 3 0, polls will be closed in ohio, which everybody acknowledges is the biggest prize of the night. a preview of that race and talk with ohio senator sherrod brown when we come back. msnbc's coverage of super tuesday tops in just a moment.
the georgia republican primary. and it is too early to call the race in virginia, where, again, mitt romney and ron paul are the only candidates on the ballot. we are just now -- this happens -- happening live, we are just now calling virginia. the republican primary in virginia, 46 delegates at stake, again, only mitt romney and ron paul on the ballot in virginia. but as of right this second, mitt romney being projected as the winner in the great state of virginia. mitt romney and ron park the only two candidates contesting that state. also tonight, we have had polls close in vermont. in vermont, the nbc projection at this point is that it is too early to call in the state of vermont. again, vermont too early to call. mitt romney in the lead. mitt romney had been favored heading into this race, in part because of its proximity to the his home state of massachusetts and its relatively moderate
republican voting population. but at this point, too early to call in vermont. newt gingrich has won georgia and mitt romney has won virginia. let's go to chuck todd, nbc's political director, ahead of what we will hear from ohio. what are you watching for? >> i want to make a couple of delegates points on georgia and virginia for everybody. if mitt romney, watch percentage numbers here, mitt romney gets over 50% state-wide, he gets all the at-large delegates. if he carries every congressional district, even if he doesn't get 50, he gets the rest of them, he is likely to get all 46 tonight, we will see. maybe ron paul can sneak in a delegate or somehow hold him under 50. we called it, two men on the race, not under 50. the question does he win one congressional district? the other thing is in georgia, 20% is threshold to get a delegate. so, as you're watching returns come in, worth watching to see, can santorum or romney, can they make threshold then that's when
they can start racking up delegates. let's have a delegate conversation. ohio, as we have told you, 63 delegates. why have we already projected mitt romney to win the delegates no matter what happens tonight? because look at these districts in red here. these are those three districts, the 6th, 9th and xiiiixth and - 13th are rick santorum didn't file rates. you had to vote for your statewide preference for the statewide delegates and then you voted a second time for the group of delegates in your congressional district. there was no second time to vote. if i had the rest of the country here connected, what's interesting about the sixth congressional district, rachel,s's what connects to western pennsylvania. this district is almost a sure bet for rick santorum to car rained he will win zero delegates out of here. so, one of his best districts and likely to carry the 13th and
might do well even here, though that is the cleveland market, we expect romney to do better, amazing his best congressional district, that he is going to carry tonight, i promise you this, there's no way he can win a single delegate. >> that's also where rick santorum has had put his headquarters for tonight, where he is going to be speaking from, thus reminding republicans cheering for him. >> no organization. >> organizational problems. >> stubenville, more like stumpedvill stumpedville. >> anything gone well for the republicans in ohio? senate bill 5, gone. john kasich is polling worse that he has ever polled there. if they were to have the election today, woe lose to ted strickland by 56-36. they don't have anything going. the automobile situation, 1-8 workers in ohio is connected to the automobile industry. the republicans were against that, too. what good has happened in ohio
for republicans in the last -- since the midterm? >> interesting to think about how in those states, the state politics and the state -- part of the state level partisan politics like they have seen with kasich and the union stripping bill recalled there, how that affect national politics and what the parties mean. for that discussion, we are joined now by senator sherrod brown of ohio. he is the united states senator from the state of ohio and a democrat. senator brown, thank you very much for joining us. >> good to be with all of you. thank you, rachel. >> to that point that ed just teed up, how do you think that ohio's politics with john kasich, with the union stripping law being recalled by voters this by that huge margin, all the protests in the street there, how has that affected the way ohioans think about the two parties on a night when republicans are going to be picking their presidential preference? >> i think the answer to that is a couple of things, one a sing lar lack of enthusiasm in ohio
during the season, partly because they are all against the auto bailout, partly because so much dissatisfaction with the legislature and governor that ran on the jobs 15 months ago and spent their time going after workers rights and voters rights and women's rights. the other thing happening here, my wife connie and i were watching -- we had the tv on the last several days, all you saw, you saw two kinds of ads. you saw mitt romney ads, both negative -- mostly negative, a few positive and you saw some of the $4 million literally that outside groups are spending against me and my senate race and i think voter enthusiasm is sick.of all this corporate money, sick of all the negative stuff, so early voting is down in ohio this year, this primary and voting generally is down. that to me begs the question of what's happened with citizens united, i have a petition with 125,000 signatures on it. i encourage people to come and
sign up, sherrod brown.com and sign our petition to get a -- to organize and get a constitutional amendment to overturn citizens united because it is clear you can see the impact that its had on ohio voters right now. and i assume in the fall. >> senator this ed is. what do you fear? if things are going and happening for the democrats in ohio, how could -- how could it unravel? the president's polling very well in ohio right now. a lol of policies worked well. how would republicans get back in good favor between now and november and win? how what do you fear? >> what i know they are doing, watching them up close, is the whole mitch mcconnell strategy of doing nothing, nothing to cooperate with the president. you remember his statement from a year and a half ago, my number one goal, mitch mcconnell, the leader of a political party in the united states senate, says my number one goal is to defeat
this and make barack obama serves only one term. with that, there -- they have done things, they will continue to do things. i think not to -- necessarily to hurt barack obama politically, which it might, but what hurts the country's recovery. and that's about the only thing i worry about i think we are going in the right direction, the auto rescue, we saw 12 years of manufacturing job loss in ohio and across the country. we have seen most of the last 23 months with manufacturing job gains pretty much kicked off, not precisely but pretty much kicked off by the growth -- by the auto rescue and the growth in that industry, the growth in aerospace, the growth in food processing, in clean energy that we are seeing in ohio and it's happening in ohio and, you know exohio is the third leading manufacturing state in the country so we know how to make things and if republicans would cooperate with the president and with -- and in both houses, we would see this vans, a i think in a better direction even. >> senator sherrod brown of
ohio, thank you, sir, for joining us tonight. we are looking forward to having the polls closed in your state in a couple of minutes. poll in ohio do close at 7:30 eastern. just moments away, about 6 1/2 minutes from now. msnbc's coverage of super tuesday continues in just a moment. ohio is a big deal tonight.
it is now 7:30 on the east coast, polls are now closed in ohio and the caucuses in north dakota have begun. let's start with ohio. all eyes have been on ohio tonigh tonight. nbc news is declaring the race in ohio too close to call in ohio. the polling heading into ohio couldn't have been closer and so far, too close to call in that state. in north dakota, we will no have the a characterization until later in the night. the caucuses there.
in vermont, too early to call but we can report that mitt romney has a lead in vermont. right now, too early to call in ohio, chris. >> ohio is the big enchilada tonight, all going to learn a lot. i think the headline will be tomorrow morning in the paper who won ohio? because it is, no matter what anybody says, the end of the rick santorum campaign. he has no more rationale if he loses in ohio, right next to pittsburgh, where he is from, it is the classic blue collar statement i was looking at the results from the polling tonight. people are scared about the economic future there. blue collar people worried about their own lives, worried, concerned about the federal government and its misdirection as they see t these are republican voters them should you can perfect for rick santorum. it is just a question of the pounding, i mean, whatever you think of as politics, the fact
is he has been outspent overwhelmingly in that state, he's been pounded to death basically by this restore our future super -- super pac campaign of romney's. it's romney's and he has done basically a destruction of this guy and i think he is eliminating him just as he eliminated newt gingrich from contention with his highly negative, highly funded, negative campaign put together by the super pacs. it is not a healthy sign of our political future in this country. all you have to do is raise tons of money identified by the supporters, unmarked bills, basically, tons of money from wealthy people, like sheldon adelson and people like that and the koch problem brothers and use that money to systematically destroy all your opponents, you are the last man standingsome this how democracy is supposed to work? sounds like a communist explanation of the economy. the worst case scenario, we run by destroying each other and why
newt -- is in very bad shape his polling versus the president. unfortunately, now we are going to see the president engage in the same kind of politics. it's coming, coming from both sides. the big, powerful negative ad campaign run by the super pacs. >> in terms of understanding why it is too close to be in ohio, tamron hall has exit polling from ohio. what are you seeing? >> ravening, a lot of interesting information and you were talking with chris about ohio will matter tonight t is interesting how many people made their minds up in the last few days. we have talked a lot about momentum this year, we have seen momentum regarding mitt romney. let's look at the numbers. more than a quarter of ohio voters, take a look, rachel, 27%, made their minds up in the last few days. i want you to look when we break the numbers down, people that made their minds up in the last few days, mitt romney has an
11-point advantage over rick santorum. santorum there at 34%. that is an interesting dynamic there we want to take a look at some other numbers there perhaps give us more insight into what you were talking about. who understands the average american? santorum, 32%. i told you earlier in the day, the average or median income in ohio is around $40,000. that is below the national average or median that we are talking about here. they feel that santorum feels their pain when it comes to relating to americans. what about the government snow a lot of people in this state pretty angry, 37% have a lot of anger around that may eventually in the jeep election give the republican party some of that enthusiasm that they are sorely lacking it seems at this point. let me take you closer here. when we look at hot angry voter is enjoying or at least siding with in ohio tonight, take a look, 44%, my circumstance there will is a little small, you see the number there 44% going for romney, 28%, rachel, for
santorum, 13% for gingrich, 12% for paul. this san interesting dynamic, i think, because the tea party, for example, those people who largely support them, angry at the government, traditionally, the numbers we have seep, they have not liked me, but tonight in ohio, that maybe a different story. we will have to see. chris is absolutely right, numbers shaking out in ohio will make for an interesting evening for governor romney. >> tamron, thank you. that is totally counter the national narrative, if you are not an angry republican, you are going to vote for mitt romney, if you are an angry voter, you are looking for somebody else. those exit polls that tamron went through show exactly the opposite, big numbers among people who describe themselves as angry for mitt romney. >> and they are scared too according to the ap assessment of the exit polls, scare about the economic future out there. >> let's bring in attorney general from ohio, mike dewine, former senator and also a former
supporter for mitt romney before shifting his allegiance to mr. santorum's campaign. happy to have you with us. too close to call in your home state? >> amazing race. romney has spent about $12 million in the last two weeks. we never seen as much money spent in ohio in such a short period of time. and yet it still looks too close to call. so, i think it is going to be a long night. >> is this democrat sit battle of who has the most negative money to spend against the other guy? i mean, i watched your candidate out there, santorum tonight, i have always thought -- mixed attitude about that gay, all his career, i have to tell you personally, i like him i tell you, santorum, not just what he said. >> i have to interrupt you for a second -- we got a call this is the grounds on which i get to inter. are you nbc news can project that the winner in the vermont republican primary is mitt romney. mitt romney, again, whipping vermont. sorry to interrupt you. >> just answer it, senator it looks to me like democracy means how much negative money can you
run from unmarked bills, how much money can you get from bic shots like the koch brothers and destroy your opponent? is that democracy? >> i tell you what's happening in ohio. >> that is what's happening. >> yeah. romney -- it was 12-1. $12 million to about $1 million. my wife and i were home sunday afternoon for five hours, got off the campaign trail, we got five phone calls from romney. you cannot turn on a radio. you cannot turn on tv with more anti-santorum ads run by mitt romney. so, i think though the one thing it tells us, chris, this is a fundamentally flawed candidate, romney s he cannot really appeal to the average voters and what he has done by winning time after time is taken all that money and leveled that gun directly at whoever is challenging him. and so i think, you know, he has got a real problem and he may win tonight, he may not whip tonight in ohio but either way, it is going to be close and i don't think romney can look at this as a great victory tonight.
>> why are people in your state voting for somebody they think doesn't identify with them? i'm stunned by that. we have got an exit poll showing they identify with your candidate maybe the numbers may be going the other way. what do you say? i don't know how they are going to come out. it looks close. >> i don't know how it's going to connect either. we are waiting for you to tell us. >> ha! >> but you know, i think -- i think that what i've been hearing from people who are voting for romney are doing so with very little enthusiasm. some of them, you know, chris, republicans are not like democrats, democrats like to fight and they go at it, just hillary and barack obama went at it clear until june and they patched things up and they won't election. republicans somehow get really nervous about these fights. and we should take a lesson from the democrats, go fight it out. unite and go and beat the other side lot of republicans who voted for romney because they
want this race over with. >> why are they taking this pill, taking romney they don't like him, nobody identified with him. >> no question of not liking him, no enthusiasm for him and into great attachment to him. some people think he is the candidate, polls show him ahead nationwide. we really need to get this race over with because it is hurting the opposite of the truth because i think that santorum, when you look at those exit poll, clearly, he is the person that people can relate to you get beyond the republican primary, jeffersonville and stubenville, the person that is going to win this county, a good shot at winning for the republicans is not mitt romney. it is rick santorum.
i would be afraid of that. >> i'm going to enjoy watching you, mike dewine, you were for romney and then you went to santorum and some time around tampa time, i guess you will be back with romney s that gonna be a sweet reunion or what? >> i hope i'm not. i hope i'm with rick santorum. the race is long from over, we don't know what the results will be in ohio. i think we have a fundamentally flawed candidate in governor romney. look at the exit polls i saw a few minutes ago in virginia, those are not ron paul, pro-ron paul votes, all of them, some may be. a lot are anti-mitt romney. if we ever could get this race down to mitt romney and rick santorum, rick santorum would whip. >> mike dewine, the attorney general of the state of ohio, former seine to thank you for that none too subtle shove to mr. gingrich on the way out. nice to have you here. howard fineman also talking with the santorum campaign directly.
howard what are you hearing from them in terms of their initial responses tonight? >> i went so far as to go to stubenville on sunday, so i was there that is santorum country, even though he won't get delegates out of there. what the santorum people are saying, look we don't have the money, we don't have the organization, we screwed up on those districts in ohio for sure but we don't need a lot of money and we are keeping on keeping on. they are going to put ads up on television in alabama tomorrow. he is going to kansas tomorrow. they have enough money running the kind of campaign they run, they say to go all the watch and their intention is to go all the way to tampa with what they've got. and their concern tonight is they want to whip somewhere. they may or may not win ohio, but they are pipping their hopes on oklahoma and tennessee and they have got to have some victories. if they have some victories, they will have something positive to talk about but they are in it regardless. >> howard fineman, thank you. the race in ohio, again too close to call tonight. and the as howard says there, it is true.
right now, with ohio still too close to call, oklahoma and tennessee become all the more important in terms of whether or not mitt romney comes out of tonight with clear sailing ahead of him. at the top of this hour, polls will close in tennessee and in oklahoma and in my home state of massachusetts. msnbc's coverage of super tuesday continues in just a moment.
santorum, the polling was close heading into this race and right now, it is too close to call. but in georgia, newt gingrich is the projected winner of the georgia republican primary. nbc's kelly o'donnell is at gingrich campaign headquarters along with some of mr. gingrich's supporters there. kelly? >> absolutely, rachel. we have a little color to bring to this. these ladies are from the east cobb kickers and they are supporters of newt gingrich. what is your sense tonight, ladies, about what this means? you're obviously decked out in the red, white and blue, what is your message in being here? >> well, we are the east cobb kickers and we want to kick those other people out and put newt gingrich in the white house. >> yay! >> you know this has been a tough race for him. obviously georgia is a big whip. what makes think he can keep going and kind of get back in it? >> well, he knows how to handle the people in washington. he is the only one that does. and i really think that his experience will help him move
other -- >> and do you think that winning tonight here in his home state will make a difference to voters next week in alabama or mississippi? >> i think so. well, the southern state, i think he should take all the southern states. you know, we have supported him in the past. we love what he's done. we think he is the most capable candidate and why not vote for him? and i think we will. i think he has got the support. people say he might not whip, but i think he will. i really do. >> and is there something about the other candidates, not with standing your georgia ladies, that just couldn't get you behind them, the other republican candidates in this race? >> no i think they are all good candidates. i really do. but we are newt gingrich supporters. he is our home state boy. and we want to put him in the white house. >> is there something that as georgia you know about newt gingrich that people around the country do not? >> he is the most intelligent. he is the most experienced. and what you see is what you get. he is a good ole boy.
and i would like for people to send him more money because that's what he needs. >> is that what you think he needs to -- >> he needs more money and he needs sarah palin to get behind him on the news. >> well, sarah palin has gotten close to endorsing him. todd palin has endorsed him. you get a sense, rachel, of the level of support that hometown -- not sure i have had somebody say that he is a good ole boy and that is the reason to vote for him. that is what you have in georgia. there is a genuine sense of knowing newt gingrich and wanting voters to get to know him elsewhere. >> excellent work in assemble the east cobb kickers, that was really cool. please tell them hello from all of us here in new york. oh, excellent. at the top of the hour, polls will be closed in oklahoma, in massachusetts and the in tennessee. tennessee getting more and more crucial the longer ohio stays too close to call. harold ford jr. served in the u.s. house of representatives from tennessee. he is now an nbc news political analyst. it is nice to see you. thanks for joining us.
>> in fairness to those women calling him a good ole boy, i don't think they meant it in a negative way, it was it is a southern expression. >> they meant it in the most positive way possible what about the argument that newt gingrich knows how to win in the south, ought to win in the south, ought to win in places like tennessee and ought to make him a compelling potential nominee for republicans, republicans ought to give him a second look. >> maybe they should. i think that home up to spirit certainly was on display there. i think newt gingrich brings history in the republican party, he brings some baggage that is well documented. he has had two or three moments in this campaign for whatever reason, for a number of reasons shall not able to blobs is. i think tonight will be a big night for mitt romney. i think he whips my home state of tennessee. i think it will be a close race tonight. he enjoys the support of the republican apparatus there tennessee has a history of supporting very wealthy republicans from -- and very moderate republicans at the state level, including our own governor now and dates back to
howard baker, bill brock, lamar alexander, fred thompson and others. so he should do well there tonight and it has been said all along this evening, ohio and tennessee, fess able to secure both of those states and win both of those changes and you can see the end in sight. i would agree with the analysis this evening. >> harold, in terms of how to win tennessee, we have seen governor romney really lock up a lot of the for lack of a better term, establishment republican support. that has not been key to winning a lot of other states. a lot of place where you got the endorsement of governors and senators, doesn't translate in a win for the candidates this year. do you see a split between the electorate and establishment in the republican party in tennessee this year, are those establishment endorsements going to help him? >> i think the fact you have both gingrich and santorum still in the race helps romney without both in the race, meaning santorum and gingrich, romney would probably be at a disadvantage heading in this primary but with both there, he should be able to split the vote
and win it but you're absolutely right, the establishment support is not always translated in votes for, for romney it's a continuation of obviously 2010 when the tea party performed well, even though many in the establishment continued to this date to not be huge fans and huge supporters of what the tea party may want but in tennessee you will see a big turnout but that split between santorum and gingrich, which has happened across the country, will benefit romney this evening. >> harold ford, jr., nbc political analyst, harold, thank you very much, we'll look forward to the poll closings. >> nanthanks for having me. >> harold ford is getting to the point we have been hinting at, gingrich and santorum may see they have a path forward, they may imagine themselves as nominees but as long as both of them are imagining themselves as potential nominees, neither can be a nominee. one of them has to get out in order for one to win. >> they are both looking at the same math that says it may be that no one has all the
delegates locked up going in the convention. what that means you're put at risk for everything. if mitt romney has a misstep, if he has a rough day on something, you can easily start a movement we have to dump this guy, he can't be the one. but the big news i heard from harold was the notion that mitt romney is going to win tennessee, which he said with some confidence. if that happens, that is mitt romney winning a southern state and that is defying a lot of predictions people have made. >> i think if romney wins tennessee and clearly if he wins tennessee and ohio, it does give the perception. i think what is really -- it's interesting when the ex--senator now supporting santorum was on, i think what we are not dealing with is the impact of citizens u n united, the angry voter in ohio is going to romney, is that if you have enough money you drive the anger another place.
they are very successfully making santorum look like the washington guy that played with the liberals. they have been told you should be more angry at this guy than me and they flood that so the anger is just guided another way, only because of money. no matter how much you would question him or chris would question him he would not attack citizens united because that is who is winning the race for mitt romney outspending everyone he can tell you i know you're mad you should be mad at santorum because he's in bed with the guys you're angry at which may or may not be true b if you hear it enough and he can't rebut it because he doesn't have the money the anger is misplaced. >> the romney super pac hit santorum on raising the debt ceiling. that is tea party anger stuff. ear marks, and so you can see with that kind of money he could drive some anger, angry voters
to romney. >> but it's also the case that rick santorum shattered his electability argument with a series of statements from the criticism of john kennedy speech to the sometimes you have to be a team player quote, and on and on and on. in all of these states what has driven the ballot is the notion of who can win in november against the president. and those voters may be angry, but they are also focused on electability and that is what has done harm to rick santorum, wasn't the tv ads that did it came out of rick santorum's mouth. >> steve, they all have said things that have been, in my opinion, detrimental. they all have baggage. romney has enough money for bell hops to carry his and santorum carries his own. >> in the gaffe contest, santorums was worst. the $10,000 bet is not as bad deciding you want to run against john kennedy who has an 85% approval rating in the country.
i think santorums gaffes add up in a negative way. mitt's have an emptiness, they leave us with question marks about who is this guy? santorum's you can see the direct voting result of them. >> i would say also the difference with the romney ones, leaves us with the same question mark people had all along when santorum made the gaffes, it raises new question marks all the time. wait a second, john f. kennedy is a bad guy? going to college is snobery? he's bringing in new questions all the time in a way that keeps -- >> you may be answering the question, that might be the problem. >> you have mike dewine saying it was the money. a week ago tonight mike dewine was telling us how good santorum was in ohio. now he says the money. >> that is part of how you win. >> well, that's true, a lot of these have been self-in flicked political wounds about rick santorum. he gets off the script he
damages himself. >> he's talking about the fact that he's outspent 12:1. wait until the general election. >> who would have believed that the win the republican nomination all you have to do is beat rick santorum and newt gingrich. that is all you have to do. this is little league, this is a low level competition. >> polls will be closed in tennessee and oklahoma and in massachusetts at the top of the hour, we'll have the first characterization of those races in just a second when we return, stay with us.