NBC's Mitchell Suggests Republicans May Cheat Obama in November

During MSNBC's live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell seemed to take seriously suggestions by Hillary Clinton "loyalists" who argue that Republicans in control of the election process in some red states Barack Obama hopes to carry may deny him a "fair vote" in the November general election. Mitchell: "Other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are ... Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. ... [Obama] has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote, if he's the nominee, in those red states." (Transcript follows) [audio available here]

During an interview with Lisa Caputo of the Clinton campaign, Caputo commented that the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote among Democratic primary and caucus voters while Obama wins the delegate count reminds her of the 2000 election. Matthews then contended that Al Gore "may well have won the election" if he had requested a statewide recount instead of "just a couple of counties" because Gore might have won most "intended votes."

A few minutes later, at about 7:56 p.m., Mitchell appeared and brought up an accusation by the Clinton campaign, which Mitchell treated as credible by calling her sources on the Clinton campaign "realists," that "Katherine Harris-type election officials" in some red states may make it difficult for Obama to carry some states he hopes to win, as Obama would have to "figure out a way to get a fair vote." Mitchell:

[The Obama campaign have] been arguing that their electoral map is different, that they can do this with North Carolina and Colorado, and other places where they have won either primaries or caucuses. Other people, I should point out, other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are, you know, Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. So, even though he may have won primaries or caucuses in those states, he has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote if he's the nominee in those red states.

Below is a transcript of the relevant comments from MSNBC on Tuesday May 20:

LISA CAPUTO, CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISOR, AT 7:47 P.M.: In a way, I feel like we're having a conversation dating back to 2000 and the presidential election when Al Gore won the popular vote and it had to go to the Supreme Court. The point is, we've got a system, it is around delegates, but you can't ignore when a candidate is ahead in a popular vote. You can't. And that's what the superdelegates are waiting for, and that's why the Clinton campaign is making it's case to the superdelegates on electability. ...

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I have to go back since I think I sympathize with one view. If Al Gore and his people had asked for a complete recount in Florida back in 2000, they may well have won Florida, and with it the Electoral College. And that is, of course, the clawing reality of that whole thing, isn't it, that they could have had a different strategy and perhaps they did get the most intended votes in Florida? They may well have won the election had they not pursued a narrow strategy of asking for just a couple of counties to be recounted.

CAPUTO: It could have been, absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, we're on the same page.
...

ANDREA MITCHELL, AT 7:56 P.M.: They've been arguing that their electoral map is different, that they can do this with North Carolina and Colorado, and other places where they have won either primaries or caucuses. Other people, I should point out, other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are, you know, Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. So, even though he may have won primaries or caucuses in those states, he has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote if he's the nominee in those red states.