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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
McCain, Obama Winners in Potomac Primaries
Aired February 13, 2008 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COOPER: And that does it for the special edition of 360. We have more election coverage coming up with Larry King -- Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST: Thanks, Anderson.
A special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Another big night for Barack Obama stacking up three more victories. He sweeps Hillary Clinton, beats her in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Good night, too, for John McCain, although Mike Huckabee gives him a scare in Virginia. In fact, we'll talk with Mike in a little while.
We continue CNN's election night coverage on this special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE, 9 p.m. on the West Coast. And our guests in this first half hour are John King, CNN's national -- chief national correspondent. In Madison, Wisconsin, Candy Crowley, CNN's senior political correspondent. Here in New York is Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst; Amy Holmes, CNN political contributor and Republican strategist; and Laura Schwartz, the known Democratic strategist.
Let's get a perspective in case you just tuned in, were out somewhere. John King, what happened tonight?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, let's start with the Republicans. John McCain wins all three contests. Let pull out the map here a little bit, and we'll show you what it means.
John McCain wins in Virginia. We're going to assign this to John McCain right here. He wins the delegates in Virginia. He wins the delegates in Maryland, most of them. Let's open it up, get to the District of Columbia. He wins those. We're going to assign that to John McCain, as well. And we shrink back down here, Larry, and I will show you what happens.
This is what happens right now if you look at this race on the Republican side. You've got John McCain way out here, Mike Huckabee back here. Mike Huckabee says he will stay in the race, Larry. But watch this scenario. Let's give the rest of the states to Mike Huckabee. This is not the order they will vote. But I'm just going to assign them.
Out here -- let me see if I can get this to work. It's fighting me at the moment. It happens every now and then. Let's get this. Let's assign all these states to Mike Huckabee, every single one of them. There's no reason to believe he would win them all, but he wants to stay in the race just in case. Let's say Mike Huckabee swept them all, Larry, and he's winning these states 55-45 or so. Look what happens.
Let's toss in Hawaii, and John McCain is right here at the finish line, and he is your Republican nominee, even if Mike Huckabee wins them all. So that is the daunting math facing Mike Huckabee, even as he says he will stay in the race.
Now, this is fascinating. Let's switch over to the Democratic side. And this is with today's states assigned. You see that Maryland and Virginia, the District of Columbia is in the middle is already assigned. The darker blue is Barack Obama.
And wow, look at this. Obama has passed Senator Clinton, Larry, for the first time. He has a very narrow advantage. But you have a very similar effect now, a stalemate on the Democratic side.
Pick your candidate. We can give these up to Barack Obama, the rest of the way out. If Barack Obama starts winning, all of the states, if he wins them all, 55-45, Larry. I'm just going to assign them all out. And the same scenario would work for Senator Clinton if she won them all, 55-45. Again, no reason to believe any one candidate would do that. But let's give them all to one candidate at 55-45. And guess what? Nobody wins. And you go to the Democratic super delegates at this point.
So if they stay close and they stay competitive -- and again, the same scenario would play out if I gave Senator Clinton every primary from here on out. She would end up at about the same spot just short.
So for a Democrat to win this, Larry, outright, it needs to break. You can't keep winning 55-45. Someone needs to start winning by big margins fast, or else it will come down to the very controversial question we've been dealing with for weeks: those super delegates and whether or not the party will revisit what to do with Florida and Michigan, because their delegates at the moment don't count.
L. KING: Mr. Schneider, we bow to your expertise to analyze this.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it means the Democratic race is really, totally up in the air.
But I point out that Barack Obama did win by more than 55 percent. He got over 60 percent in Maryland and over 55 percent in Virginia. He's building momentum. There's a dynamic aspect to this race that a lot of people haven't noticed.
They say, well, women vote for Hillary Clinton, and older people vote for Hillary Clinton and African-Americans for Barack Obama. But he made gains in every one of those groups across the board tonight. So there is really something like momentum going on behind him. And she has got to figure out how to stop his momentum or he will build up big enough margins that John was talking about.
L. KING: And McCain, a foregone conclusion?
SCHNEIDER: McCain, I think, is a foregone conclusion, which raises an interesting question: what in the world is Mike Huckabee doing?
L. KING: I'll ask him in a couple of minutes.
Candy Crowley, you are in Madison, Wisconsin. Has -- has Hillary chucked it there and has she said forget it?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She hasn't said forget it. But there have been people that we've talked to here that do wonder why she isn't spending more time in this place.
I mean, Wisconsin looks doable for her. It is -- has a lot of suburbs that have a working class whites, the kind of people that tend to vote for her, like traditional lunch-bucket Democrats. They are here in Wisconsin. There have been polls showing her ahead.
But she chose to go to Texas. Now, she will be here this weekend.
But Barack Obama is spending all but one day between now and that Tuesday primary in Wisconsin here in this state. So there are those wondering why she isn't putting in more of an effort here, although obviously they say, look, we have to look ahead. We have to be in Texas and we have to be in Ohio. But nonetheless, this is where Barack Obama will be while she goes back and forth.
L. KING: Amy Holmes is a political contributor to CNN, also a Republican strategist. Barack Obama has to give you pause.
AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He does. He gives a lot of Republicans pause. And leading up to Virginia, there was some talk among Republican voters and on Web sites whether or not they wanted to vote for Hillary to try to get -- because Virginia was an open primary, to give those votes to Hillary, so that they face her in the general election instead of Barack Obama, you know.
For risk of Jon Stewart making fun of me, this is fascinating. You look at the map that we saw John King just put up, and that neither Democrat could outright win.
Now, I talked with a top fund-raiser for the Clinton campaign, and he said that they're pretty confident they could get the majority of those super delegates. But boy, if Obama pulls in the pledged delegates and brings in the majority of that, and the Clinton tries to win with the super delegates, there could be an outright -- outright war.
L. KING: Laura, does this appear to be, as they say in sports, the big mo? Momentum his way?
LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Momentum is everything, and perception is everything. That's why Hillary Clinton supporters and endorsers and donors were so worried yesterday. She got on a conference call.
When you have a losing streak like this, even when it's smaller states, and it's caucuses that she tries to dismiss as such, this really is perception.
And the money crunch is on as it is. She's raising half as much as Obama is. She's getting back on track. But unless she wins the big three of Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania by large, substantial margins, she'll have a tough time coming back.
L. KING: Has to win all three?
SCHWARTZ: All three. She put her hat in the ring for all three.
L. KING: You agree, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. She does have to win all three, because she's losing everything else. She has to win those big states.
But look, when you talk about the super delegates, the super delegates are not -- repeat, not -- going to reverse the decision of the pledged delegates. The people have voted for those pledged delegates. The super delegates have the legal right to come in and say, "You may have chosen Barack Obama. But we're going to make Hillary Clinton the nominee." Ain't going to happen.
Now, a lot of the super delegates don't want to make a choice. A lot of them are elected officials. Their constituents are divided between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
I was there in 1980 when super delegates had to pick between Kennedy and Carter. Do you know what happened? A lot of them said, "You know, I'd love to go to the convention, but I have to go visit my Aunt Mildred in East Icicle (ph), Vermont. She's been poorly."
HOLMES: There's a fascinating example of just this dilemma. Senator Ted Kennedy. So Hillary wins his state. He's a super delegate. He's endorsed Barack Obama. What does he do?
KING: Where does he go?
SCHWARTZ: Well, he goes with the national delegates. And Obama's been talking about that for the last week, is these super delegates should go with the popular vote and the pledge delegate count.
L. KING: Let me get a break. And when we come back, we'll hear from Governor Mike Huckabee and then more of our panel. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have now won east and west, north and south and across the heartland of this country we love. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will fight every moment of every day for what I believe is right for this country. I am fired up and ready to go.
Thank you and God bless you. Thank you and God bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. KING: Welcome back to -- I feel like calling it MIKE HUCKABEE LIVE.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That would be fine.
L. KING: He's a regular.
HUCKABEE: I'll tell you, Larry, I'm like -- I'll tell you, I'm like a bad penny. I just keep turning up. But thanks for having me back.
L. KING: You ran great tonight in Virginia. What does this mean?
HUCKABEE: I think it means that Republicans are still looking for somebody conservative they can get behind, and the strength that we had in Virginia tonight shows that there's -- there's a lot of room left in this Republican process.
L. KING: Do the numbers, though, stack up against you, honestly?
HUCKABEE: Well, sure they do. I mean, let's face it: it would require me winning virtually everything else on the field.
But here's the thing. We've got to get to 1,191 delegates in order to have a nominee. And it's possible that I may not get to 1,191 before the convention, but it's possible neither will Senator McCain, meaning that we would all go to the convention, and that's where we would decide upon the nominee.
L. KING: What is the problem you and fellow conservatives have with Senator McCain?
HUCKABEE: It's not so much a personal problem I have. I mean, there are some differences: my support of the human life amendment, my belief that we need to be tougher on putting a fence at the border and having a sealed border. That's part of it.
I don't support the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Act. I think it really hurt politics rather than enhanced it. Embryonic stem cell research, I don't agree with Senator McCain that we should be doing it.
But I think a lot of it has to do, also, with some of our experience. I've had a chief executive experience, running and leading and managing a government. That's very different than being a legislator, where you're one of many people. But you're not singularly sitting there, making those decisions day after day, actually running the government.
L. KING: Does it bring you pause, Governor, that you might end up hurting him?
HUCKABEE: I don't think I'm hurting him. In fact, I think it hurts him more if he were to suddenly have absolutely no contest to compete in. I think it hurts the party if we don't continue to discuss the ideas that make us strong against the Democrat. We're talking about nuances within the Republican Party.
But let's face it, both of us are going to have similar views when it comes to looking onto the Democrat: being on offense when it comes to terror, wanting to believe that lower taxes are better than higher taxes. And I can think of many ways in which, no matter which one of us ends up with the nomination, we certainly are going to go into that process with a very clear, stark contrast with either of the two Democrats.
L. KING: Are you, Mike, getting any pressure from fellow Republicans to leave the race?
HUCKABEE: Only from supporters of Senator McCain. I'm not getting any at all from what I would call truly objective party officials, because I think they know that they're the ones who set up the rules for the way this is played. I'm playing by the rules. They could hardly come and say, "We don't want you to do that anymore."
And my supporters, if anything, have been energized. We're having more people go to MikeHuckabee.com, hit our Web site and contribute than we've ever have. So they're not giving up yet. And as long as my supporters, contributors and the people who are with us and got us here, when they're not giving up, it would be a pretty lousy thing for me to quit on them.
L. KING: If none of you have the necessary totals, will you go to St. Paul?
HUCKABEE: Oh, sure. I mean, that's why we have conventions. You know, in the old days, conventions were where the drama happened.
L. KING: Right.
HUCKABEE: And you got to the convention, and that's where you really decided to hear the speeches and listens to the pleas and see who could maneuver their way into the position.
Maybe it's a time to create some serious ratings for a Republican convention. And boy, that ever would do it.
L. KING: And boy, is this going to be a year, huh?
HUCKABEE: It already has been. And you know, what a great country, though, to live in, Larry. Every day I stop and I marvel. When people say, what's this process like? It's about a kid like me coming out of Hope, Arkansas, from a family who never had a dad graduating high school, running for the presidency of the United States. And it's got to be one of the most amazing things to me that just affirms my faith in this great country of ours.
L. KING: Candy Crowley in Wisconsin, are they expecting a big turnout there next week?
CROWLEY: Yes, they are. I mean, I think we have seen that across the board for the Democrats. Whether they support Hillary Clinton or support Barack Obama, they tend to really draw them out. These Democrats are very hungry to have the White House back.
But here in Wisconsin, anybody can vote in the primary. So Barack Obama could well bring in independents and Republicans. So this ought to be a fairly exciting election in Wisconsin, as it has been kind of across the nation for Democrats.
L. KING: Bill Schneider, you had an interesting take on the conservative vote tonight in the Potomac Primary.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, well, we found in the Potomac vote was that John McCain made a real breakthrough. This is the first primary in which he has carried conservative voters. Not by a big margin and not by a majority, but he did carry conservative voters in Maryland.
In Virginia, Mike Huckabee carried the conservative voters. Virginia is a southern state. What that suggests is that Mike Huckabee can take conservatives if they're southerners. Mike Huckabee is still very much a regional candidate. McCain is making in-roads with conservatives outside the south.
L. KING: John King, to date, what has surprised you the most?
J. KING: Well, on the Democratic side, Larry, it's just stalemate. This is just -- usually, elections break. At some point, momentum kicks in, and somebody's momentum carries the day. How many election cycles have we been through where somebody wins two of the first three, and then it's over? Well, we're going on now into the second and third month. Even with that big Super Tuesday, no one knew anything about it. And the Democratic race goes on.
The point Bill was just making, that is an interesting question on the Republican side. Let me show you a little bit about what Bill was just talking about. This is Maryland. The darker red is Senator McCain. This is the only county in Maryland that Mike Huckabee is winning, Washington County. It's about 2.5 percent of the population, and he's even winning that very narrowly. That is the most conservative part of Maryland, way up there.
So Senator McCain doing quite well. These are the Republican -- these are the conservative areas of Maryland, Larry. Over here on the eastern shore and up here across here, and Senator McCain is doing quite well.
But to Bill's point, in Virginia, watch this. Now, this is McCain winning just about all of Maryland. Watch this when we bring up Virginia. This is the conservative, rural, evangelical part of Virginia; that piece (ph) is Mike Huckabee.
So Senator McCain still has a lot of selling to do, Larry, to the conservatives in his party who right now, with a choice of McCain or Huckabee, are sticking with Huckabee, even though the math is crystal clear that John McCain will be the Republican nominee.
L. KING: Candy Crowley has had a long night, so we'll give her the rest of the night off. Thanks so much for all of your contributions.
We'll come back with John King, Bill Schneider, Amy Holmes and Laura Schwartz on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And it's the same message we had when we were up, the same message when we're down, that out of many, we are one; that our destiny will not be written for us but by us; and that we can cast off our doubts and fears and cynicism, because our dreams will not be deferred, and our future will not be denied, and our time for change has come.
Thank you very much, Madison. I love you guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
L. KING: Welcome back.
By the way, Donald Trump will give us his two cents on the political campaign so far when we're back at our regular time tomorrow night, 9 Eastern, 6 Pacific.
Bill Schneider says he has an interesting thought -- and if he says he has an interesting thought, he has an interesting thought -- on a comparison between the two major contenders.
SCHNEIDER: Right. Well, I think the same force is propelling Barack Obama in the Democratic side and John McCain on the Republican side.
You know, if you look at elections, Americans always want something that they're not getting from the incumbent. After Watergate they wanted morality, Carter.
After Carter, they wanted leadership, Reagan.
After the first President Bush was out of touch with the American people, they wanted empathy, Clinton. What do they want now? They want someone who can deliver what George Bush promised in 1999 when he announced he was running for president and utterly failed to deliver. He said, "I'm going to be a uniter, not a divider." He took a divided country under Clinton and divided it even worse.
What do McCain and Barack Obama have in common? Both reach across party lines. Both have a unifying appeal. Both are able to speak a language of bipartisanship. And both are seen by a lot of voters as reasonable and acceptable. They're not strident partisans, even though they have to be a little bit to win the nomination. That's what they both have in common.
L. KING: And both likable.
L. KING: Yes. All right. Does this give you great hope, Laura? Are you optimistic for this November?
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. You know why, Larry? That there is a record turnout among Democrats. So I think, even though this is going to come down to the super delegates, the Democrats are standing up and saying, "We're excited about two potential nominees." I think that's really good for the Democratic Party.
But that means that those super delegates have to get behind the popular vote of this country, because if they end up deciding, it's really going to become divisive. And that's exactly what the Republicans would love to have happen.
L. KING: Are you worried, Amy?
HOLMES: Well, it would be a delicious irony if Democrats were having to decide between the popular vote versus the delegate count. Where we were back in -- back in 2000.
L. KING: And keep Florida?
HOLMES: Right. A point on the voter turnout question. My friends over at "National Review," they point out that, in 1988, Democrats had 23 million voters turning out for the primaries. Republicans only had 12. And in 1990 -- 1988, we didn't elect President Dukakis.
So there are some precedents here that voter turnout...
L. KING: There is a surge that Republicans must pay warning to.
HOLMES: Well, certainly, I mean, excitement behind Barack Obama's ability to draw those independents.
L. KING: He's not Dukakis.
HOLMES: Right. Well, he hasn't ridden in a tank yet. So I don't think we know. But another interesting point with this exit-polling data is, if you were a Republican and you listened to conservative talk radio, you voted for Mike Huckabee. If you voted for it sometimes, it was evenly split. If you voted for it not very often, you went for McCain.
So we're seeing that the top radio show hosts on the conservative side have some influence. Certainly, for the people that listen to them. But that's not necessarily the whole entire Republican Party.
L. KING: Why is that, John King? Why is Texas considered in Hillary's corner this -- at this moment?
J. KING: Based on the demographics, Larry, before tonight, the state of Texas is much more favorable to her in the sense that you have more of the down-scale, lower-income, working-class, lunch- bucket, as Candy Crowley called them, Democrats, who have tended to vote for Senator Clinton before tonight.
Obama did very well tonight, but blew out -- blew her out in both Maryland and Virginia. And sometimes in a blow-out, as you know from basketball days, sometimes the guys on the end of the bench score a lot of points in a blowout but they don't show up for the rest of the season. So hard to understand whether the numbers Barack Obama put up in Virginia tonight, especially.
If Senator Obama carries those over, Senator Clinton is in a lot of trouble.
But if you look at all the contests to date, with the exception of tonight, she's done very well with the down-scale, rural, blue- collar Democrats. A lot of those in Texas. She's done very well with Latinos. A lot of those in Texas. She has the support of some of the key congressional officials and other local officials on the ground. So the infrastructure favors her in Texas, based on everything we've seen up to date in this campaign.
The question is the point you made at the top of the show. Does "big mo" make all of that irrelevant? That is the defining issue.
The other factor that helps her in Texas is, with the exception of Wisconsin, where many believe she should make a harder play but where Barack Obama is favored right now, she has time: three weeks until they vote in Texas and Ohio. And her campaign has gone on the record saying they are must-wins, Larry. And you know what happens when you say "must-win." It means she better win.
L. KING: You must win. What about Ohio, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: Ohio is the same story but a different demographic. Ohio is a blue collar state in great economic distress. The economy is supposed to be her issue. A lot of Democrats...
L. KING: The governor is supporting her, right?
SCHNEIDER: What's that?
L. KING: The governor is supporting her?
SCHNEIDER: The governor is supporting her. A lot of Democrats remember her husband's administration, the good old days of the '90s. Democrats call it a boon. Republicans call it a bubble. But it was good times. And they remember that, and they think Hillary can probably manage a good economy. So that should stand her very well in Ohio.
The problem is, blue-collar voters and less well-educated voters who have usually in the past voted for Hillary Clinton, today in Maryland and Virginia, they voted for Barack Obama, and she lost the economic issue.
L. KING: As always, Bill, thanks.
Amy will -- Amy Holmes and Laura Schwartz will remain. So will John King.
Bill Schneider leaves us. Have a good evening, following -- you're going to be in Hawaii or Wisconsin?
SCHNEIDER: Wisconsin. Who wants to go to Hawaii?
SCHWARTZ: Amy and me. We'll be there.
L. KING: Shows you why Bill is not wound up too tight.
And we'll be joined by Ed Schultz and Andrew Wilkow, two very prominent radio talk show hosts, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. My friends, we are the makers of history, not its victims.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to this special midnight Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Pacific edition of LARRY KING LIVE. It was Potomac primary night and a clean sweep for Obama and McCain. John King, CNN's chief national correspondent remains with us. So does Amy Holmes, our CNN political contributor and Republican strategist. And Laura Schwartz, the Democratic strategist.
We're joined now in Fargo, North Dakota by Ed Schultz, host of the "Ed Schultz Show," one of the most prominent liberal radio talk show shows in America. And joining us here in New York is Andrew Wilkow. Andrews is host of the "Wilkow Majority," a conservative talk show on Sirius Satellite radio. In this conservative swirl of Huckabee and McCain, where do you stand, Andrew?
ANDREW WILKOW, HOST, "THE WILKOW MAJORITY": Me personally or are you asking me to be the barometer of conservatives?
WILKOW: Me personally, John McCain upset many conservatives by -- it's not just bucking the party. It's certain core conservative issues that he basically thumbed his nose at conservatives and said, I don't care what you think. And now he's got to come and ask those people to vote for him. Let's be honest, on the Democratic side, you don't win without liberals and on the Republican side, you don't win without conservatives. Now he's got to come and say, forgive me.
KING: Do you forgive him?
WILKOW: On immigration, absolutely not.
KING: Does that mean you would support him or not support him?
WILKOW: It's going to be very tough for principled conservatives to go into that voting booth and cast a vote for someone which is supposed to be a sign of support. But then again, most conservatives don't want to wake up on the day after the election and hear president-elect Clinton. So it's -- I guess it's the lesser of two nightmares.
KING: So this is a nightmare election for you?
WILKOW: Yes, it is. Because on one side, some people are saying, just get with the program, you know, the Republican party has obviously moved to the middle or moved to the left. The thing about being a core conservative is you don't negotiate those things. I personally would rather die on the hill of my integrity than live on the hill of someone else's compromise.
KING: Ed Schultz, do you feel the same way about your liberalism?
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": Well, I think that competition is a great thing, Larry. If you're looking at this race between Clinton and Obama right now, and you're a super delegate, you have to take a look at the margin of victory. The people are speaking in a big way right now. And it looks to me like the Clinton camp has an almost Giuliani strategy. Hey, wait until we get to Texas and Ohio.
KING: Does that mean you leave Senator Clinton, who may stand for all your principles -- does that mean you leave her to go for Obama?
SCHULTZ: Absolutely not. I will support the nominee. Absolutely not. I would support either Hillary Clinton -- I think she would be a great president. I think Barack Obama would be a great president. There is nothing wrong with competition. But the fact is, the people are speaking in a big way. We're seeing a huge wave right now. And I know there's a lot of talk about Super Delegates. But the margin of victory is beyond what John King is talking about, that 55- 45 model. When you win by 50 percent in D.C., 23 percent in Virginia, 27 percent in Maryland, then you look at Louisiana by 21, Nebraska by 36, come on, the people are speaking here. These Super Delegates and the party leaders are going to be saying look at Obama.
KING: Amy, what do you say to Andrew's dilemma?
HOLMES: I think you could point to John McCain's over 80 percent rating from the American Conservative Union and say you can be a principled conservative and vote for John McCain. You also, of course, look at the alternative, a President Hillary or President Obama. If you're serious about Iraq, if you're serious about the Supreme Court, then you'll want a conservative Republican in the White House. John McCain has promised to conservatives that he would nominate a Supreme Court justice along the lines of an Alito, a Roberts, a Scalia. And when it comes to the Iraq war, we know that John McCain is the only candidate in this race that wants to stay in Iraq until you have a successful political resolution and not cut and run.
If those are two issues that you take seriously and sincerely, then you're not going to want to see Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House.
KING: Laura, do you enjoy his dilemma?
SCHWARTZ: I think it's good for the Democrats. I can't deny that. The one party -- the Republican party, to their credit, has been unified. They get behind a candidate. They propel that candidate. And it's tough to do that this year. Although, I think the Democrats are doing John McCain a favor by keeping themselves in play for so long. John McCain could really take this time and unify and solidify himself among southern conservatives, as well as the others.
WILKOW: There's one more thing. It's not a visceral hatred of John McCain. Of course, all conservatives respect his war record, his patriotism, his --
SCHWARTZ: I think the Democrats do, too.
WILKOW: There are some things that make conservatives insane. But conservatives are not going to jump in bed that easy. You've got to come to conservatives --
HOLMES: No, we leave that to Democrats.
SCHWARTZ: No slurs here.
WILKOW: The conservatives aren't going to be the first ones to jump on the bandwagon, unless that person is a core conservative. You know, 80 percent of my disagreement is not 20 percent my enemy. It's not like John McCain is the enemy of conservatives. There are just deep disagreements that have to be healed.
HOLMES: What do you say to that 43 percent of self-identified conservatives in Maryland who pulled the lever for John McCain? I don't think that they're walking out of that polling booth feeling ashamed.
WILKOW: Everyone has the right to cast their own vote based on their own values. You can vote --
HOLMES: Are you saying they lack principle? They're self- identified conservatives. Are you saying they lack principle because they voted for John McCain?
WILKOW: No, I'm saying the type of conservative that I am, I'm not going to simply just say, well, it's over. It's done with. I'm going to cast my vote because I owe it to someone.
KING: Let me get in a break and John King with a thought on how amazing this race is, as it's been pointed out in the last six minutes. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: If we work together, if we fight together, we will take back America and we will make history together. Thank you all and god bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John King, does not the past opening segments of this segment point up the unusual aspect of this campaign?
KING: Larry, both parties are undergoing these dramatic transitions. The Democrats, who should lead them into the era where they hope to take the White House back after eight years of George Bush? And look, the Democrats should be favored in this election. History says normally -- George H.W. Bush is an exception -- normally after one party has the White House for eight years, the other party wins.
The economy is teetering in recession. There's an unpopular war. So the Democrats should win this election, which is one of the reasons they have higher turnout and a lot of energy. But there are still a lot of people saying the party has some work still to do.
But the conversation you were just having about the Republican party and about conservatives was fascinating, because consider the conversation you were just having, the emotions about the immigration debate and conservatives who can't make peace with John McCain because of his position on immigration. Larry, whose immigration plan was he pushing through the Senate? George W. Bush's.
George Bush ran on that immigration position in 2000 and 2004 and won two very narrow elections by a bigger margin in 2004, but a very narrow margin -- The Supreme Court had to get involved in 2000 -- with overwhelming support of conservatives, the very same conservatives, because the immigration and the emotion of that debate has changed so dramatically. They now say they can't support John McCain for holding the position that their hero, George W. Bush, put on the national agenda. It's a fascinating testimony about the changes of the immigration debate and the changes of the Republican party.
Larry, one quick look of where we're going next. Here is where we're going. Here is Wisconsin, everyone's talked about up here. Hawaii down here. Bill Schneider didn't want to go. I'd like to pack up this wall and go myself. I'll be there in no time. And Washington State up here. And one other event we haven't talked about that is not on the official primary calendar but is on our CNN calendar, we talk about how important Texas is to Senator Clinton -- a little self- promotion, we're going to have a debate there on February 21st, could be a key debate. Barack Obama one-on-one with Senator Clinton in the state she now says is a must-win at the LBJ Presidential Library. That could be a game-changer.
KING: Ed Schultz, where are you on this -- I guess you support President Bush and you support also Senator McCain on the immigration bill?
SCHULTZ: Well, I do. I thought the president actually tried to get something done with the Democrats on this. And it seems to me that the conservatives just stole the debate and got the microphone and just pounded back on it. The Democrats, I think you'll find that Hillary and Barack are pretty much the same on illegal immigration. They're going to defend the border, but they're going to have a compassionate way to get folks to citizenship. And that really logistically is probably the best way to go.
As far as Texas is concerned, this is going to be a tougher hurdle for Hillary Clinton than what most people think. I don't see too many guys in Texas with pick-up trucks voting for Hillary Clinton. She may have the Latino vote, but I think it's important tonight to point out that Barack Obama out-did Hillary in Virginia by 14 percentage points in white men. That could hold true in Texas as well. Texas is not a firewall for the Clintons. They're going to have to earn it down there. It's going to be very interesting.
KING: Andrew, has Obama surprised you?
WILKOW: Yes, the amazing thing about Barack Obama is two years ago, or even a year and a half ago on any network, we were pretty much of the belief that if Hillary Clinton ran, anyone that was going to run against her was going to be window dressing. It was hers. And here's this guy that was getting patted on the head, isn't it cute, you're running for president. Here we are two years later and this guy's in the lead. So I don't know if I'm surprised so much as I am amazed.
I'll give him that compliment. The man has run a positive campaign. He never went dirty. He didn't kneecap anyone. He doesn't have his spouse out on the campaign trail making somewhat veiled racist remarks. He's run a positive campaign and it's worked for him. I celebrate him for that.
HOLMES: Larry, I think it's really hard for the Clinton campaign to spin the fact that the freshman newbie is kicking the patuckus of the senior class president. How do you go from being Hillary Clinton, married to the former president, with that Rolodex, all those political chips that you can call in your own presidential run, and here is Barack Obama who tonight swept, as well as last Saturday.
KING: Kicking the --
HOLMES: Patuckus. Is that politically correct.
KING: We'll be right back with more. It's late. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I'm fired up and ready to go. Thank you and god bless you.
CLINTON: I'm tested, I'm ready. Let's make it happen.
HUCKABEE: There's still a real sense in the Republican party of a desire to have a choice.
OBAMA: This movement won't stop until there's change in Washington, D.C. and tonight we're on our way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Laura Schwartz, haven't heard from Senator Edwards.
SCHWARTZ: No we haven't.
KING: What do you think is going to happen?
SCHWARTZ: I think he'll endorse probably before Texas, not necessarily before Wisconsin. I think he really wants to put a lot of time and thought in this. He was supposed to meet with Barack Obama yesterday. That didn't happen. Scheduling conflicts, media circus and all that jazz, call it what you want. I think he enjoys being in this king-maker position. I think it might help one of the two candidates.
For example, in the state of New York, there were some districts that Hillary and Obama split three to two in delegate counts because of that Edwards vote. If that Edwards vote wasn't there, it could have been easily been Barack Obama three delegates and Hillary Clinton two. It could make a slight impact. At this point in the game, every impact is a major one.
KING: Ed Schultz, where do you think he goes?
SCHULTZ: I think if he goes with Obama, it's going to help him erase that 17-point Clinton lead in Ohio. That was the latest poll today. I don't see John Edwards going with Hillary Clinton. I don't know how John Edwards can go out on the stump, talk about corporations and talk about changing the culture in Washington and then go right to an insider with Hillary Clinton. I don't know how that's going to happen. I don't know how John Edwards would explain that to his followers.
But he would easily explain it to Barack Obama's voters because he's been more of an outside Washington kind of guy. So I think maybe Edwards might not jump into this thing at all. You know, Larry, looking at the Clinton camp right now, I think that they're going to have to defend Nafta and jobs. Tomorrow, Barack Obama's going to be speaking to a GM plant and the workers in Janesville, Wisconsin. I think he's going to hit them on Nafta. I think he's going to challenge Hillary Clinton to repeal what her husband passed because it's forced a lot of jobs out of this country.
KING: John King, I don't know anyone who has more ins in Washington than you. What do you hear about Al Gore?
KING: Al Gore, Larry, is staying out of this. The interesting part is if this becomes a Super Delegate question, Al Gore could have a role at the convention playing referee, if you will. There's still pressure on al Gore to endorse. Many believed he would be inclined to support Obama because he believes in a change election. He believes Obama has an enormous potential to win the sweeping kind of victory that most people in either party believe is necessary to really change Washington.
Remember, we're talking about a president. You still have those narrow majorities in Congress. But by all accounts, Al Gore is going to stay out of this. He thinks endorsing would somehow demean his senior statesman status. All Gore could be somebody they all call upon if it becomes a super delegate question or a crazy convention question. Keep your eye on Al Gore. You might want to get him on the program.
KING: You bet. Andrew, the question is about Joe Lieberman, is he a conservative hero? He has a 90 percent rating from the --
WILKOW: On certain issues. It's like disagreements with John McCain. You've got to understand, conservatives don't hate John McCain. It's just that it's going to take some time to bridge that gap. I don't want you to think walking out of here that I represent some faction that's out there burning John McCain in effigy. Certainly that's not the case. There's a divide to bridge.
Joe Lieberman on a lot of issues does appeal to conservatives. He's very strong on defense and that is one of the basics of core conservatism, a strong defense benefits everyone. A strong military benefits every single citizen of the United States. There's no citizen, even in Berkeley, California, that can truly make an intellectually honest case that a strong military doesn't protect every single American citizen.
KING: Health care doesn't?
WILKOW: If you're talking the general welfare clause of the constitution. KING: Health care.
WILKOW: What about health care?
KING: Benefits every American.
WILKOW: That depends if you believe having your resources taken away from you to provide --
KING: If you believe making someone healthy is a good idea.
WILKOW: If you're talking the idea of big sister government saying, I'm going to garnish your wage; I'm going to force you into my program and I'm not going to give you a choice, that is the collective infringing on the rights of the individual.
KING: Garnishing wages?
WILKOW: Hillary Clinton did say it. If you believe in the collective infringing on the rights of the individual then you believe in the collective over the individual. I believe in the rights of the individual for better or for worse.
HOLMES: Larry, getting to your question about Joe Lieberman, a lot of Republicans and conservatives have deep affection and deep regard for him.
KING: Even though he has a 90 percent rating from the liberals?
HOLMES: For what he risked in 2006, and the treatment of his party -- the treatment he received by his party.
KING: He lost his primary.
HOLMES: -- to eat your own because of one issue. He went back to the Senate as an independent. But a lot of Republicans were looking at this and saying, how can we help you, Joe? And I think he said, stay out. With friends like these --
WILKOW: Some issues aren't negotiable. The other ones we can negotiate. Strong defense, no negotiation.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll be back with our remaining moments. We'll pick it right up. Don't go away.
KING: Ed Schultz, do Mrs. Obama and Mr. Clinton add to this?
SCHULTZ: I think they do. And now it's going to get really interesting. Just watch President Clinton. He's made some mistakes. He's apologized for them. He's overstepped his boundaries. Now where does Bill Clinton go? That's going to be a story to watch.
Michelle Obama on your program last night, Larry, I thought she was absolutely outstanding. It's almost as if maybe she might get more involved and get more visibility because she's so tremendous. This is going to be really interesting to watch. I think that the Clinton camp right now -- the context of these calls to Super Delegates now changes. The Clintons are going to be begging. The Obama people are going to be saying, hey, look what we're doing.
KING: John King, what do you make of the first mates?
KING: I think any time you have surrogates in a competitive election, not quite as important on the trail, Larry, because you don't have the scope of states like you had on Super Tuesday. But when you're going into a place like Ohio, Bill Clinton is still quite popular. In Texas, he managed George McGovern's campaign down there back in 1972. We hope he still knows the back roads. Maybe he can get out and help Hillary Clinton.
Larry, one quick second, if I can steal it. Ed Schultz made a great point earlier. Obama is winning by big numbers right now in recent days. We ran our math in the what-if scenario. This scenario gives Obama every state that hasn't voted by a 60/40 margin, so a bigger margin, still not 65-35, but a 60-40 margin, and guess what? He still comes up short, Larry. So even if he wins by 60/40 and the delegates are awarded proportionately under the Democratic rules, Obama builds a health lead, but he's still short.
So to clinch, he would have to win somewhere in the area of 70- 30. Perhaps that will happen, but I think that's unrealistic, based on what we've seen in the past, despite his strong weekend, and tonight, unrealistic to think he can do something like that. So this Democratic race is still highly competitive.
KING: Andrew, give me a forecast, what do you think's going to happen in November?
WILKOW: Wow, depends on -- and I'm getting --
KING: It might be different if it's Obama versus McCain, as opposed to Clinton versus McCain.
WILKOW: I think if it's Clinton -- what I'm trying to say as my throat is clinching up. I think her negativity rating -- there's a very small margin there. I mean, 49 percent -- doesn't matter what the polls -- Lake Research is a Democrats firm. They scared Democrats when they ran the numbers on her.
I think Obama is -- I wouldn't say it threatening. I wouldn't say the word threatening. I think his candidacy is exciting. And for those it excites, they'll vote for him. For those that believe McCain is more stable and more experienced, they'll vote for McCain.
KING: What do you see happening Laura? SCHWARTZ: I think Texas is going to be very close between Obama and Hillary. What we didn't talk about tonight is that 21 percent of Texas is African-American. And Hispanics, the younger Hispanics especially, like Barack Obama. I think that's going to be a very close race, which is going to be tough for Hillary to explain her donors.
HOLMES: If there's anything I've learned this year, it is to not make predictions. A year ago, I would have told you this was going to be a Hillary/Giuliani match-up. Now it looks like it could be an Obama/McCain match up. Boy, it's anybody's guess.
KING: What happened to Giuliani?
HOLMES: That's a really good question. I think the simple lesson of that is you can't win by losing. It would seem like an obvious point. But Giuliani allowed those early states to go to other competitors.
KING: He was smart.
HOLMES: He was smart or maybe too smart for his own good. I don't know.
KING: Thank you, John King, brilliant as always. Thank you, Ed Schultz. Andrew Wilkow, great meeting you. And Amy Holmes and Laura Schwartz, our dynamic duo. We'll be back at our regular time tomorrow, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.
Right now, more recoverage with Anderson Cooper. Stay tuned for that. See you tomorrow.
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