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Sweet: Does middle name matter? Obama on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews"

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WASHINGTON--In the wake of Republicans making it a talking point, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews asks Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) if his middle name matters in an interview Tuesday after Obama's Mississippi victory.

MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa as a Republican said that the radical Islamists will be dancing in the streets if you're elected president. He said your middle name does matter. What's your response?

OBAMA: Well -- I think this is the way a guy like Steve King gets on TV or radio. But, let's look at the facts. Terrorist recruitment has increased significantly since we went into Iraq. If anything, the policies that George Bush has followed and that John McCain and Hillary Clinton supported, in going into Iraq, has been an enormous boon. And al Qaeda has been able to strengthen itself because the pressure was taken off them and they are now stronger than any time since 2001.

click below for complete interview


SEN. BARACK OBAMA ON MSNBC'S "HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS"


NEW YORK - March 11, 2008 - MSNBC's Chris Matthews interviewed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama tonight on a special edition of "Hardball," following the Senator's victory in the Mississippi primary tonight. Following is a transcript of the interview. "Hardball with Chris Matthews" telecasts weeknights, 5-6 p.m. ET and 7-8 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We're joined right now by Senator Barack Obama, winner of the Mississippi primary today. Senator, thanks for joining us. Congratulations. How does this fit into the end game of this fight for the nomination?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, we've had a terrific week. We won Wyoming and we won Mississippi, and we now have accumulated more delegates. And I think that we just continue to campaign on. The message that we've had throughout this campaign: We need to change how business is done in Washington; we need to push back some of those special interests, bring the American people together,
and start solving problems like health care and education and dealing with the home foreclosure crisis, problems that ordinary folks are trying to grapple with all across the country.

MATTHEWS: Well, one of the concerns people have is this war in Iraq. The Department of Defense is going to report tomorrow, Senator, that after reviewing 600,000 Iraqi documents -- this is our occupying forces have done that -- after reviewing a thousand -- or thousands of hours of interrogations,
they have not found any connection between the old Iraqi government we overthrew and al Qaeda, the organization which attacked us on 9/11. What's the significance of that failure to find any connection between the country we overthrew and the people who attacked us on 9/11?

OBAMA: Well, I think it just confirms what I knew before we went in, which was there was no connection. And unfortunately, President Bush and Dick Cheney insisted there was a connection. Senator Clinton on the floor of the
Senate suggested that there was such a connection. I think it was part of a series of misjudgments that have not only cost
us dearly in terms of lives lost and people who are injured, has distracted us from Afghanistan and our ability to pin down bin Laden and al Qaeda, but has also cost us hundreds of billions of dollars. And I think that one of the things that we haven't talked enough about in this campaign is the connection between the enormous expenditures we're making in Iraq and our inability to deal with some critical pressing
economic problems here at home.

MATTHEWS: What do you have to say to a working-class person, a white person -- I hate to talk ethnically but I'm going to -- who lives up in Scranton, who lives out in Wilkes-Barre, who lives in Erie, who is very sort of enamored of the Clintons because of the job that President Clinton did back in the '90s. How do you get them to vote for you in this Pennsylvania primary?

OBAMA: Well, I think what I tell them is, is that President Clinton deserves credit for some of the work that he did. But that the trends of growing inequality, of jobs being shipped overseas, of wages and incomes flatlined, so that people are having a tougher and tougher time keeping pace with rising costs of everything from gasoline to health care. That many of
those trends started even before George Bush took office. And the problem we've got in Washington is that a lot of people
recognize the problem but we're so paralyzed with the bitter
partisanship -- the government is so gummed up because of the influence of big money and lobbyists and special interests that the voices of those folks here talking about are never heard. That's not the priority. And what this campaign has been about is to try to restore that sense that Washington is fighting for the working family and is actually trying to get some things done. And I've got a track record of doing that over 20 years. My first work as -- in public service was as a
community organizer with -- working with churches that were trying to deal with the steel plants that had closed in the South Side of Chicago, the same way that they closed in parts of Pennsylvania.

And so -- these are the folks I've been fighting for since I got into public service. Hopefully, when they know that track record, and they see the plans we've got to actually invest in infrastructure, invest in clean energy, create a trade system that actually works for American workers, hopefully they'll have confidence that I'm going to be fighting for them when I'm
in the White House.

MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman Steve King of Iowa as a Republican said that the radical Islamists will be dancing in the streets if you're elected president. He said your middle name does matter. What's your response?

OBAMA: Well -- I think this is the way a guy like Steve King gets on TV or radio. But, let's look at the facts. Terrorist recruitment has increased significantly since we went into Iraq. If anything, the policies that George Bush has followed and that John McCain and Hillary Clinton supported, in going into Iraq, has been an enormous boon. And al Qaeda has been able to strengthen itself because the pressure was taken off them and they are now stronger than any time since 2001. So what
we're advocating, what I have been talking about throughout this campaign, is changing the conventional wisdom in Washington and going after the terrorists in a ruthless and systematic way in Afghanistan, in the hills between
Afghanistan and Pakistan. But also, using our diplomacy and our ability to build alliances to restore that sense of trust so that we can start winning hearts and minds. That's how, ultimately, we're going to defeat terrorism around the world.

MATTHEWS: In "The New York Times" today, Senator, Harvard professor Orlando Patterson said that the Clinton ad, the one that's about 3:00 in the morning and what we're going to do and who to trust, is directed at you and that it's racist. You're view of that?

OBAMA: You know, I'm not buying into the notion that race played a factor there. I do think that Senator Clinton took a -- page out of the Republican playbook and tried to use fear as a campaign tactic. Now, I think that it is entirely legitimate for us to talk about commander in chief and who can best respond in these situations. And I -- what
I have said is that if I get a call at 3:00 in the morning, I am going to answer the phone and apply the same judgment that led me to say that Iraq was going to be a distraction from Afghanistan; that is was going to fan the flames
of anti-American sentiment. I'm going to use the same judgment that led me to say that we shouldn't put all of our eggs in the Musharraf basket and that we should actually take out high value al Qaeda targets if the Pakistani government is unwilling
to act on our intelligence. Those are the kinds of judgment calls that we want out of a commander in chief.

One other area where I think we need a commander in chief to start focusing on is how we're caring for our veterans, something that this administration has been neglecting, and something that I intend to rectify when I'm president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: Very last question. There's word from Florida that they intend to put out a mailing sort of a campaign -- I mean, an election process -- whereby they make up for the primary they had before, which was ruled out of order by the Democratic National Committee and you did not campaign in. They're talking about mailing it -- people mailing in their ballots. Do you trust the security, the honesty of such an election process?

OBAMA: Well, I think we'd have to figure out whether this was fraud-proof. I mean, Oregon, for example, has a terrific mail-in system, but they've already scanned everybody's signatures who's registered to vote, so that they can check to make sure that in fact the right people are voting. And that's something that I think you'd have to figure out. But our general view has been that we've just played by the rules throughout. We were told that Michigan and Florida wouldn't count, and so we said we wouldn't campaign there. Senator Clinton said the same thing, that they wouldn't count. Now, her campaign is suggesting that they should.

What we want to do is to make sure that the Florida and the Michigan folks are seated, but to do in an equitable way. And whatever system the Democratic National Committee comes up with that is fair and equitable but also makes sure that the votes of people of Michigan and Florida are dealt with, we're going to be open to that. We want to make sure that they're seated as
well.

MATTHEWS: OK, great. Thank you very much, Senator Obama. We look
forward to possibly host you at a college or a university tour in
Pennsylvania. We'd love to have you for that. Thank you very much,
Senator.

OBAMA: Thank you. I appreciate it, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Senator. Thanks a lot, Senator.

OBAMA: You bet, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on tonight. Thank you.

OBAMA: You bet.



1 Comment

I live in Florida and I voted for Hillary in the Democratic primary in January.

If a re-vote is decided in Florida, I WILL VOTE AGAIN FOR HILLARY. The Democratic party and both candidates should support this idea since they all have an interest in resolving this issue.

HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT !!!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 12, 2008 9:05 AM.

Sweet column: NRCC will be reluctant to send cash for Oberweis rematch after Democratic Foster grabs seat. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet: Plouffe advances Obama math-as-destiny. Obama press conference today. Conference calls, memos. is the next entry in this blog.

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