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John McCain Increases Delegate Lead; Is Hillary in Trouble?; Search Continues for Missing Pilot After U.S. Fighter Jets Collide

Aired February 20, 2008 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, more political blows for Hillary Clinton. A powerful group that has been friends to the Clintons would rather not see Senator Clinton in the White House, this as Barack Obama peels away more votes and assumed Clinton voters.
John McCain increases his delegate lead and his rhetoric against the Democrats. He's accusing Barack Obama of doublespeak and demands that Obama keep his word. I will talk about that with the best political team on television.

And two U.S. fighter jets crash into each other. Now there is a desperate search for the missing pilots. We are following the breaking news.

I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

A group that has long supported Bill and Hillary Clinton is now turning its back on her presidential candidacy. The Teamsters union is one of the largest and most powerful unions in the country. But today it's passing over Clinton and endorsing Barack Obama instead. This comes as Obama grows his winning streak to 10 straight contests.

Let's go to our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She is watching all of this in Austin, Texas. Texas an important state coming up. In 13 days, they have their primary there.

This is a big day for Barack Obama, getting this endorsement, Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A big day and a big night last night. And you know, Wolf, that in the dynamics of any campaign when one campaign is up, the other goes down.


CROWLEY (voice-over): You know it was a bad night when you have to say this the next day.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And this campaign goes on. And this campaign moves forward.

CROWLEY: She is limping. He blew her out again last night in Wisconsin and Hawaii and stomped on her in the headlines today.

JAMES HOFFA, PRESIDENT, TEAMSTERS UNION: And we came to the conclusion that Barack Obama gives us the best opportunity to rebuild America and to win in November.

CROWLEY: A timely endorsement from the 1.4 million-member Teamsters union and the Boilermakers Union will help Obama in Ohio and later in Pennsylvania, two states with a higher than average number of union workers. The endorsement comes as polling numbers show Obama has reached a lion's share of what she once dominated, working-class voters. Heading into what her campaign calls the critical, critical primaries Texas and Ohio, she needs them back.

CLINTON: Now, others might be joining a movement. Well, I'm joining you on the night shift and on the day shift. And I'm asking you.

CROWLEY: Her campaign says she has been losing because she has been outspent and he has been unscrutinized. They say they are better funded and in friendlier territory in Ohio and Texas. There is no hint of a major overhaul. But there is an urgency to her.

CLINTON: But it is time to get real, to get real about how we actually win this election and get real about the challenges facing America. It is time that we moved from good words to good works, from sound bites to sound solutions.


CROWLEY: And there is a 10-0 confidence in him.

OBAMA: Contrary to what she has been saying, it is not a choice between speeches and solutions. It is a choice between a politics that offers more of the same divisions and distractions that didn't work in South Carolina and didn't work in Wisconsin and will not work in Texas.



CROWLEY: Despite the fact that right now he's up and she is down, there is no mistaking this. This is still a very, very close race. It is anyone's to win, but in fact both campaigns believe they will go into that Denver convention with neither one of them having enough votes for the nomination -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Candy, in Austin.

Let's take a closer look now where the race stands in the all- important delegate count. By CNN's estimates, take a look at this, Obama now has total of 1,300 delegates, Clinton 1,250. Although she leads in the number of superdelegates, he is way ahead in those pledged delegates or those actually elected.

For the Republicans, the presumptive nominee inching closer and closer to actually becoming the nominee. John McCain beat Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin and Washington State in last night's primary and now, by CNN's estimates, McCain has 918 delegates, Huckabee 217 -- 1,191 needed to win.

What's next for Senator McCain appears to include some stepped-up attacks on the person who could be his Democratic rival, Barack Obama? Let's go to Columbus, Ohio. Dana Bash is watching this story for us.

Dana, this is a contest that really hasn't started yet between McCain and Obama. And it might not get there if Hillary Clinton has her way. But he's certainly going after Obama right now.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. And you are right. Barack Obama is definitely on a roll right now. But it is far from clear that he will be John McCain's Democratic rival for the White House. But McCain clearly sees Obama as a big enough threat that he is engaging in some scathing criticism. Last night, it was about his inexperience on the world stage. Today, it was about Obama's character.


BASH (voice over): With his GOP primary battle all but behind him, John McCain launched his most direct assault yet at Democrat Barack Obama, accusing the candidate running as a reformer of reneging on a pledge.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We either keep our word or we don't keep our word. I intend to keep my word to the American people.

BASH: At issue, whether Obama would agree to limit campaign spending by accepting public funding for the general election. In an op-ed in Wednesday's USA Today, Obama proposed the Democrat and Republican nominee make a meaningful agreement in good faith that results in real spending limits.

MCCAIN: And that's Washington doublespeak. I committed to public financing. He committed to public financing. It is not any more complicated than that.

BASH: McCain is pointing to this survey from a watchdog group he and Obama both filled out this fall. And both said, yes, they would accept public financing.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama did make that commitment in writing. I expect him to -- I think the American people would expect him to hold to that commitment, especially if we want to bring about change.

BASH: With that, the probable GOP nominee is trying to undermine Obama's character, the heart of the Democrat's I'm an agent of change candidacy. But McCain is also going after Obama on public financing for a more practical reason. Without spending limits, McCain advisers know they would likely be at a huge financial disadvantage. Look at the history. Last year, Obama raised a little more than $102 million. McCain raised less than half, about $41 million. Since McCain's political fortunes turned around, so has his ability to bring in campaign cash, but nothing like the tens of millions flowing into Obama's coffers.


BASH: Now, a spokesman for Senator Obama said that John McCain -- this is the way they responded to John McCain's attack. They said that he's abandoned new efforts on campaign finance reform. Now, you know, Wolf, that campaign finance reform had been a signature issue for John McCain, but it is hugely unpopular with his Republican base -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana, thank you.

She is the first woman in America with a serious shot at the presidency. But if Hillary Clinton can't win the Democratic nomination, let alone the White House, what will it mean for others in her path who aspire to break the nation's highest glass ceiling? It's a story Jack Cafferty spoke about yesterday.

Deb Feyerick, though, is here with a little bit more on this story. And you are going in-depth.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely. And, Wolf, when Hillary Clinton used the word glass ceiling, it struck a chord with many in the women's movement, who really fear that, if she doesn't get the presidential nod, that it will be a setback for women everywhere.


CLINTON: And, yes, with your help, we will shatter the highest, hardest glass ceiling, because that's what we do in America. We break barriers.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Here's how a number of feminist groups see the Clinton/Obama race: a highly qualified woman running for president against a younger candidate with captivating style. For feminists, like Martha Burk, who has endorsed Clinton, to call it frustrating is an understatement.

MARTHA BURK, FORMER CHAIR, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS: Were he female, put lipstick and long hair on him, I don't think he would be anywhere near the presidency of the United States right now.

FEYERICK: Style vs. substance always comes up in politics, even between men. But Burk believes voters judge personality traits differently between men and women.

BURK: Women are perceived differently. They get punished for being competent more than men do, because they're seen as too tough, not gentle, not womanly enough. Conversely, men benefit from gender discrimination.

FEYERICK: Ridiculous, say some critics, like Republican strategist Amy Holmes.

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is an argument Gloria Steinem tried to make in "The New York Times." That it is preposterous on so many levels, that a white multimillionaire who was married to a former president would somehow have a tougher road ahead of her becoming president of the United States than Barack Obama.

FEYERICK: When Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House, many women saw it as a major victory. Even so, some feminists point out no woman has ever been chief justice or Senate majority leader. And only 15 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.

CAROL HARDY-FANTA, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS: If Hillary Clinton does not get this nomination this year, I think it will be almost impossible for a woman to get elected in the decades to come. I think that she brought name recognition, money, fund-raising ability, an entire Democratic establishment.


FEYERICK: But there are critics who say that it is really more complicated than gender, that there are other factors at play. Clinton, even with her experience, brings a lot of negatives, they say. And that has nothing do with being a woman -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Deb, thank you -- Deb Feyerick reporting.,

Let's get back to Jack. He has got "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, these days, Wolf, politics all about voting blocs. You have got your African-Americans. You have got your Latinos or you have women.

There's one group that might not be getting as much attention as it deserves, white men, like right here. These guys go unnoticed a lot of the time, even though they could play a big role in deciding both the Democratic nominee and next president.

Working-class white men make up almost one-fourth of all the voters. That's more than blacks and Hispanics combined. The group is usually defined as those without a college degree, including union members and those with service and technical jobs. They typically make less than $50,000 a year. They make up huge chunks of the electorate in key places like Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. "

The "Wall Street Journal" reports, when it comes to the Democratic race, some of these white men are finding it difficult to identify with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. In interviews with "The Journal," some of them said that, because Obama is black, they will cross over and vote Republican. And others say the country is not ready for a woman president yet. One Ohio political strategist points out that a -- a lot of blue- collar men over 40, Hillary Clinton is -- quote -- "a poster child for everything about the women's movement they don't like, their wife going back to work, their daughters rebelling, the rise of women in the workplace. "

So, stay tuned for the general election, where blue-collar white males could be the key group of swing voters, either backing the Democrats' nominee or putting their support behind John McCain, whose war record and straight talk could appeal to a lot of them.

Here's the question: Is the importance of white male voters being overlooked in this election cycle? You can go to Post comment on my blog.

BLITZER: The Teamsters endorsing Barack Obama today, that is a significant development for this one group.

CAFFERTY: For this one group and for the states that are coming up that are so important, Ohio, blue-collar, industrial. Teamsters union endorsement of Barack Obama, I mean, that's right in the wheelhouse for him.

BLITZER: Jack, stand by. We have got the best political team on television coming up.

CAFFERTY: I have heard...


BLITZER: With you.

CAFFERTY: Oh, I'm part of that?

BLITZER: A Republican insider on which Democrat would be the most formidable challenger.


MARY MATALIN, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I think she is a much tougher candidate. You know, she is right about Barack Obama. He has not been vetted.


BLITZER: Former presidential adviser Mary Matalin joins us. We will talk about that and why John McCain's conservative gap may be closing.

Also, new developments in the Pentagon's plan to shoot down that dying satellite before it hits Earth.

Plus, the Clinton campaign fighting for every delegate it can get and going online with its version of the delegate race. We're going to show you what is going on.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: John McCain is closer to becoming the Republican presidential nominee. So, are conservatives any closer to silencing their criticisms of him? My next guest has had her own issues with the presidential candidate.

Joining us now in THE SITUATION ROOM is Mary Matalin. She's a former senior adviser to the vice president and the president, and a longtime friend.

Thanks, Mary, for coming in.

MATALIN: Wolf, how are you?

BLITZER: What do you think? You have been critical of John McCain in the past. You liked Thompson, you liked Romney. What about -- what about now?

MATALIN: I am a conservative. And I went with Thompson because he represented the broadest spectrum and the most consistent conservatism in the race. If John McCain is going to be the nominee, we're all going to rally behind...

BLITZER: So you are ready to jump on that bandwagon?

MATALIN: I'm for the most conservative person in the race. And it's -- now everything is relative and relative to Barack Obama or Hillary, whom I would never count out. And he does have a conservative record, and what he's been saying since he has been trying to not just unite but energize the conservative base is -- are things that are sounding right.

BLITZER: Here was a quote that jumped out at me from The National Review on February 5th, Super Tuesday. Remember? It seems like a long time ago.


BLITZER: "I don't think he rests comfortably anywhere that conservatives would call home today. If it was true yesterday, it's not true for tomorrow's issues. The ones that he has chosen to take a lead on are the ones conservatives either don't prioritize or flat-out loathe."

MATALIN: Like...

BLITZER: Like what?

MATALIN: ... some global warming issues. But he's going...

BLITZER: They loathe that?

MATALIN: Because it's a largely unscientific hoax. And it's a political concoction. BLITZER: But he believes with Joe Lieberman -- he's co- sponsoring legislation on that.

MATALIN: He's going to have to put together an energy policy that has elements of conservation but productivity, and reduces our dependence on oil. He has said that. Some of the other issues though...

BLITZER: But on global warming he's a true believer.

MATALIN: But he's not going to prioritize that, because that's not where the country is right now. And you haven't heard him prioritizing that. What you have been hearing him say since he's achieved the nomination -- Huckabee's inertia notwithstanding -- is to prioritize security issues. And on those things, no Republicans or conservatives or Independents or even Democrats have got him on that. On immigration...

BLITZER: So you think the Rush Limbaughs and the others who have been so critical of him will join you and come on...

MATALIN: I'm not -- what Rush and Laura and Mark Levin and the rest of them have been saying is -- they have been advocating for conservative policies, not the least being immigration. And what he's now saying about immigration is we're going to secure the borders first.

What the critics of the critics need to stop doing is attacking the critics with whom are standing up for core conservative principles. They're not attacking McCain. This is not personal.

In fact, he's called by all of them, and we all agree -- he's a hugely honorable man, and highly, fiercely competitive in what's going to be a competitive race. He's a great candidate. And we're happy to rally around him. But in the same -- these same conservatives took issue when President Bush or President Reagan or any other of their heroes have been not toeing the line they think are core conservative issues.

BLITZER: I'm going to play this little clip from John McCain. Listen to this.


MCCAIN: My friends, I'm not the youngest candidate, but I am -- but I am the most experienced.


BLITZER: Let's say it is John McCain versus Barack Obama, who's only 46-years-old. he will be 72 if he's president. Is that going to be a factor, you think?

MATALIN: I think it's going to be a factor for Barack Obama. I mean, it's very helpful that John McCain's mother trails around with him and he... BLITZER: She's in her 90s.

MATALIN: In her 90s. And he's run an incredibly vigorous campaign. He practically went man-to-man to be the comeback kid in New Hampshire. So no one doubts his grit, his tenacity, his perseverance.

BLITZER: Who would be a stronger candidate against John McCain, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?

MATALIN: You know, the conventional wisdom is Barack Obama, because people are looking at these national polls. I don't think so. I think she is a much tougher candidate. You know, she is right about Barack Obama.

He has not been vetted. The press is largely swooning, maybe present company excluded, but he has not been vetted by the press, he's not been vetted by any Democrats because they all believe in the same thing. It's been a personality contest.

BLITZER: So what would he do to undermine him in a general contest that Hillary Clinton was unable to do?

MATALIN: Well, when you sweep away the soaring rhetoric, which is magnificent. He's the best orator since Cicero. But you take that out of there, he's pretty standard issue liberal, way liberal on every conceivable issue. And that's a good contrast.

If someone has added up all of his spending proposals, we are already at $800 billion. He wants to centralize health care. He's a big-government, redistributionist liberal. And the Democrats have only won three out of 10 contests in the last presidential, and they have not been liberals. They have been Southern centrists. So, he's just a great contrast.

BLITZER: Mary Matalin, thanks for coming in.

MATALIN: Wolf, thank you for having me.

BLITZER: A major search under way right now for two U.S. Air Force pilots. Their planes vanished this afternoon. The military now knows what happened. You're going to find out the very latest on the rescue mission. That's coming up.

Plus, Bill Clinton uses some pretty frank words to talk about his wife's future in the race for the White House. You are going to hear what the former president told a crowd.

That and a lot more -- coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: John McCain attacking his rival, not Mike Huckabee, but Barack Obama. McCain is attacking Obama's character. Does he see Obama as a bigger political threat?

Also, the powerful Teamsters union endorsing Barack Obama -- why is it such a coup for him and a blow to Hillary Clinton?

And is the Clinton campaign using fuzzy math to add up its delegates? You are going to want to hear about an Internet site pushing their version of who is ahead in this race.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, Barack Obama strengthens his lead and finds himself a growing target for John McCain. We are going to have details of McCain's sharp new attacks on his Democratic rival.

Also, Hillary Clinton desperately in need of a comeback. Even her husband is now saying everything is at stake in Ohio and Texas. But will those states deliver? And we are going to talk more about that with the best political team on television.

Plus, Michelle Obama taking some considerable flak for her comments about the United States. Now she's clarifying what she had to say. We are going to have details of all of this.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Republican John McCain is increasingly targeting Democrat Barack Obama as he pulls ahead of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contest. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He is watching all of this, details of a sharp new attack by McCain on Obama.

What's the latest? What's going on, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, more often in recent days, John McCain is focussing on threats against U.S. national security and is pounding on Barack Obama over his perceived lack of experience.


TODD (voice-over): Ten straight wins bring Barack Obama clear momentum and more clearly focused barbs from the presumptive Republican nominee.

MCCAIN: I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent, but empty call for change.

TODD: Recently, John McCain has repeatedly sent strong signals of how he'd go after Obama in the general election.

MCCAIN: But we would risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate, who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan.

TODD: That's a slap at this remark from Obama in August.

B. OBAMA: If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.

TODD: When pressed on that later, McCain said Obama's position means bombing Pakistan and called the idea naive.

MCCAIN: You don't broadcast and say you're going to bomb a country without their permission or without consulting them.

TODD: Obama's camp says in going after their candidate on that score, McCain is also criticizing President Bush, who said something nearly identical in an interview with Wolf Blitzer.


BLITZER: If you had good, actionable intelligence in Pakistan, where they were, would you give the order to kill them or capture them?


BLITZER: To go into Pakistan?

BUSH: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Even though the Pakistanis say that's their sovereign territory?

BUSH: Absolutely. We would take the action necessary to bring them to justice.


TODD: Just in recent weeks, a top Al Qaeda leader was killed inside Pakistan in a U.S. air strike. And "The Washington Post" reports U.S. forces fired the missiles without telling the Pakistanis first. Despite the apparent meshing of Bush's and Obama's ideas on hitting terrorists inside Pakistan, McCain's campaign vows to keep holding the foreign policy spotlight right over Obama's head.

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: They want to paint Barack Obama right now as inexperienced to try to burn that image in with voters, just as they're starting to pay attention to this potential match-up.


TODD: Obama's advisers told me they're ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain. They'll take him on for what they call fear mongering and for being an extension of President Bush, especially on Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd. Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting. Let's talk a little bit about this and more with our panel. Candy Crowley is joining us from Austin, Texas. Jack Cafferty is here in New York, as is Gloria Borger. They're all part of the best political team on television.

What do you think about this latest development -- McCain in his speech last night deciding it's a good moment to underscore differences with Barack Obama?

CAFFERTY: Well, that's one way of characterizing it. You know, starting to call people names is another way you could characterize it. And that's what he was doing on the free air time that was provided to him by all three of the cable networks.

Has it occurred to anybody that the only one who is not doing this stuff is winning everything in sight -- that would be Barack Obama? He's not calling people names. He's not going out of his way to attack people. He's not running attack ads. And he's winning everything. McCain can't get rid of Huckabee and Hillary can't get out of her own way these days.

BLITZER: He's certainly on a roll right now, you've got to admit 10 in a row.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, of course. And -- but he did respond to McCain a little bit last night. It was very clear. He said, you know, we have to respect this senator's experience, but, you know, he's a guy who's made wrong decisions. He's sided with George Bush too much of the time. He's wrong on the war. And you're going to -- you're going to hear more about that --

CAFFERTY: That hardly --

BORGER: That's what elections are about.

CAFFERTY: -- That hardly constitutes an attack.

BORGER: Well, but it's what elections are about.

BLITZER: Candy, we did see that Barack Obama got a major endorsement today, as we have been reporting, from the Teamsters.

Here's a little clip of what the president of the Teamsters, James Hoffa, told me just a little while ago.


JAMES HOFFA, TEAMSTERS PRESIDENT: This is not about the Clintons, this is about Obama and the momentum he has that I think everybody detects out there, that we really have a phenomenon of him having the opportunity to win in November and to basically remake America.


BLITZER: It's a very important endorsement for him because the Teamsters, at 1.4 million members, they could actually go out there and do some work.

CROWLEY: They really can. Let's look at Ohio and Pennsylvania, which comes a little later than Ohio. All of them -- both of them have union members in far greater numbers than most other states. So, obviously, this helps. It helps put people out knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes and raising money. It gives an infrastructure to Obama.

And, also, you know, think of the word Teamsters. Nothing says working class America so much as the word Teamsters union. So as we go into Ohio, where it is -- as the Clinton campaign says -- very, very critical for her, you have the emperor (ph) of the working man on Barack Obama.

BLITZER: The Teamsters, as you know, Jack, endorsed Bill Clinton in '92 and in '96, Al Gore in 2000, Gephardt before endorsing Kerry in 2004. But they did, years earlier, under the father, Jimmy Hoffa, they endorsed Richard Nixon. So there's a history there, as well.


BLITZER: But there's no doubt right now that this is a significant blow for Hillary Clinton.

CAFFERTY: There were some dealings with the Kennedy family, as I recall, as well. But that's a different story.


CAFFERTY: This couldn't come at a worse time for her. She's hanging everything now on Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Last night in Wisconsin, Obama started to take her base away. Her base is blue collar workers. Her base is people who make less than $50,000 a year. Her base is the very kind of people the Teamsters can go into Ohio and turn out for her (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: In almost every one of those categories, if you saw our exit polls -- and I know you did, Gloria.


BLITZER: He was making tremendous inroads compared to where he was in Iowa and New Hampshire.

BORGER: Right. You know, it's the -- it's the John Edwards voters also, Wolf. And, of course, at this point, we don't know whether John Edwards is going to endorse, if he is going to endorse who he's going to endorse or if it would make as much difference as this Teamsters endorsement right now. I mean everything seems to just be going in his direction. The momentum is there and the numbers are there.


CAFFERTY: There's an old Jerry Reed song called "When You're Hot You're Hot." And he's hot. BLITZER: Candy, you're there in Austin. There's a big debate that we're televising tomorrow night -- one-on-one, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. You know, it's -- I guess it's anyone's guess how that debate is going to unfold. But I assume both of these candidates are starting to practice and rehearse their lines.

CROWLEY: Sure. They will do more of that tomorrow. I have to tell you that Camp Obama thinks that in some ways, Hillary Clinton is in a bit of a box. They say, you know, when she comes out swinging, when they put up a negative ad -- and, by the way, Obama responded with a negative ad. But they say when Clinton puts up a negative ad, when her mailers are negative, it makes her look like the non-change candidate. It makes her look like old-style Washington and works against an electorate that clearly wants to have something new.

So it will be interesting tomorrow night to watch her walk that line. In the Clinton camp, they call it defining the differences. And I think have you heard this over and over again throughout this campaign. It has yet -- at least over the past several weeks -- to really take a hold and be able to keep those voters that she once called hers.

So she definitely has a lot at stake. But let me tell you something, so does Barack Obama. Because the one thing that would really help Hillary Clinton at this point is a big stumble by Barack Obama.

BORGER: You know, and to build on what Candy is saying, the problem is that there aren't that many real differences between these two candidates. She's going to try and say, you know, I want to insure all people, he only wants to make sure that it's universal for children. She's -- you know, she's just trying to make differences where there really are none. And so the voters -- the Democratic voters are looking at something else.

BLITZER: And they're also...


BLITZER: They're also saying, you know, I don't want these two Democrats tearing each other apart, tearing each other down.

CAFFERTY: That's part of it. And they -- you know, they keep harping about Barack Obama's lack of experience. When you look at the condition the country is in, how does that speak to the value of the so-called experience that old-style Washington has? I mean they --

BLITZER: He keeps saying -- he keeps saying that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld...


BLITZER: ... had more experience in government than anyone.

CAFFERTY: And look at fine examples they are. I mean, come on.

BLITZER: That's what he says.


BORGER: Well, she's running the race John McCain is going to run. But so far, it hasn't been working out.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys, because we're going to continue this conversation.

She hasn't had a win since Super Tuesday. What will it take to keep Hillary Clinton's campaign alive? Her husband speaking bluntly about that right now. You're going to want to hear what the former president is saying.

Plus, your answers to Jack's questions this hour -- is the importance of the white male voter being overlooked in this election cycle?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Barack Obama solidifying his lead. Hillary Clinton desperately in need of a big win.

Let's get back to our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, Jack Cafferty and Gloria Borger. They are part of the best political team on television.

Bill Clinton is a pretty good strategist, when you think about it. He knows politics.

And this is what he said today. Listen to this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If she wins in Texas and Ohio, I think she'll be the nominee.


B. CLINTON: If you don't deliver for her, I don't think she can be. It's all on you.


BLITZER: All right. He says -- he's blunt about that -- she's got to win both those states.

CAFFERTY: Well, he's not the first guy who's figured that out. Anybody who looks at the math has come to the same conclusion. She not only has to win, she's got to win by overwhelming margins just to catch Obama in the pledged delegates -- 65, 70 percent of the vote she has to win.

BLITZER: Given the nature of how they distribute those delegates.

CAFFERTY: Well, the pledge delegates, yes.


CAFFERTY: For her to even catch him. That's not the super- delegates, that's just to get even in the race.

BLITZER: But do you agree with Bill Clinton, Gloria, that if she does win Ohio --

BORGER: Always. I always agree with Bill Clinton.

BLITZER: If she does win Ohio and Texas, she's going to be the nominee?

BORGER: Yes, it -- no.


BORGER: If she wins, Ohio and Texas, she's in the game. But if she -- you know, she's got to win by those large margins Jack was talking about. But if she wins Ohio and Texas, it doesn't mean she's the nominee at this point.

BLITZER: If she wins, Candy, in Ohio and Texas, it clearly goes on to April 22nd in Pennsylvania. They'll be -- for March 4th and April 22nd, there'll be an intense -- we'll be spending a lot of time in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.


CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I have to tell you, Wolf, both these campaigns today reiterated that they don't believe anyone will have the nomination before Denver. Now, you know, there's a lot of talk about well, won't the party elders go to wherever doesn't have the most pledge delegates and say you know what, we really don't need a mess in Denver. That's possible.

But neither one of them -- not the Obama campaign, not the Clinton campaign -- is willing to say, well, by the time Pennsylvania is over with, somebody will have enough pledge delegates for the nomination, because they actually don't believe that.

It's easy to forget in this wave of Obama land, with the 10 victories and now this big endorsement, that it's really close in the pledged delegates. The math makes it difficult for her, but it's still pretty close. And we still could come out on the other side of Pennsylvania without a nominee.

BLITZER: And walking that delegate line between attacking and sort of underlining differences, that's not easy for the candidates.

CAFFERTY: No. Well, she's kind of damned if she does and damned if she doesn't. If she's nice, he just gets farther ahead. And if she gets nasty, people go oh, there she goes again. So she's in a tough spot.

BLITZER: You know, James Carville, when I spoke to him a little while ago -- and supports Hillary Clinton -- he said she's got to focus in on this recession he says that exists, on the economy...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ... and make it stick.

BORGER: We've heard James Carville talk about the economy before --

BLITZER: He still believes it.

BORGER: Well, I think he's got a very good point. What she seems to be talking about now is that she's ready on day one to be commander-in-chief. And, you know, the voters last night chose Obama -- or it was almost evenly split on the commander-in-chief question in the exit polls. And so she's trying every -- everything she possibly can throw at him -- as well she should right now, because it's all or nothing for her.

BLITZER: All right, Gloria, Candy, guys, thanks very much. Jack is sticking around for "The Cafferty File." Thank you.

Lou Dobbs getting ready for his show. That begins right at the top of the hour.

Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf. Coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we'll have much more on the presidential campaign. We'll be examining Senator Clinton's huge challenge as she struggles to defeat Senator Obama.

And communist China losing a battle to buy a stake in an American company that provides computer security for the Pentagon. Has the government finally done something right? But China is still trying to take control of other critical assets in this country. We'll be telling you all about that.

And the good people of Texas refusing to be intimidated by powerful corporate and political elites and a lame duck governor. Citizens fighting back in Texas against efforts to build a NAFTA superhighway through their glorious state. We'll have that story.

And buyer beware -- Americans not concerned about dangerous imports should also be very concerned about our government's complete failure to protect them and their families. We'll be taking a look at the latest examples of government bungling and incompetence, and the safety of the American consumer.

Join us for all of that, all the day's news at the top of the hour -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see you in a few minutes. Lou, thank you.

After Barack Obama's wins last night in Wisconsin and Hawaii, the Clinton campaign is fighting for every single delegate it can get. And it's going online with its version of the delegate count right now.Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, has got more on what's going on.

Abbi, what's on this new Web page?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these are the delegate delicate facts according to the Hillary Clinton campaign, using this Web site to push their position that Florida and Michigan should count.

What that means, then, is that the Clinton magic number -- the Clinton goal posts are slightly different then than everybody else's, including the Democratic National Committee's, that set the rules.

This site also tackling the issue of super-delegates that could be pivotal -- or automatic delegates as they're called on this site. Whatever you call them, this is an area where Hillary Clinton leads. And on this site, saying through videos, through clips, that these people should be free to support whomever they choose.

Some online persuasion tactics coming from the Barack Obama campaign -- e-mailing all their supporters across the country, saying share your story with a super-delegate. Tell us why you support Barack Obama. We'll be passing along your stories for some persuasion in the coming weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you.

Damage control by Barack Obama's wife -- taking some serious flak for her comments about the United States. You're going to find out what she's saying right now.

Plus, we're going to show you who's desperately is seeking an Obama look-alike and why.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: In today's political ticker, Barack Obama's wife explains herself. You may recall some uproar over something Michelle Obama said Monday. She told an audience in Milwaukee that for the first time as an adult, she was "really proud of my country."

Now, Michelle Obama is clarifying what she meant.


MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: I'm proud of this country and I'm proud of the fact that people are ready to roll up their sleeves and do something phenomenal.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: I'm not sure we actually heard what she said. We'll try to fix that, if we didn't.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out The Ticker, by the way, is the number one political news blog on the Web. That's where you can also read my latest blog post. I just filed one a little while ago.

Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File."

CAFFERTY: And this -- it's good reading.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: You should check it out. It's good stuff.

The question this hour is: Is the importance of white male voters being overlooked in this election cycle?

We make up 25 percent of all voters in the country -- more than the blacks and Hispanics combined. So, it's a big voice.

Heritage writes in Maryland: "Yes, I think the white male vote is critical in this election cycle. White males have the biggest choice of all, particularly in the Democratic primary. None of the Democratic candidates is exactly like them and they have to make a decision. It's difficult. But as an African-American woman, I've been making that kind of decision since I've been old enough to vote."

Chris in Alabama writes: "I'm a white male redneck from Birmingham, Alabama, who, a few weeks ago, went into a Catholic church to nominate a black man to be the candidate for president of the United States -- the first Democrat I voted for since my 18th birthday, when I voted for Michael Dukakis. There's a window of opportunity at hand for a significant change here in this country and Obama will make history for being the right candidate at exactly the right moment."

Adam writes: "As a 35-year-old white male, I'm ready for change and will not vote Republican regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. The Bush administration has done nothing for the ordinary blue collar, white American male. I'm ready for change. I've seen what the Republicans can do and it couldn't possibly get worse under Clinton or Obama."

Gerald in Ackworth, Georgia: "Finally, we, as white men, have the opportunity to prove to the country we're not all bigots and racists. While our vote may be overlooked, it's important if we're to move forward as a people and usher in true positive change. To elect a president simply because he's a white male would set this country back another 100 years."

And Eric writes: "As a white male, all I have to say about us being overlooked -- stop crying. Women and other races have been overlooked every single year for the last 230 years. It's about more time we had more choices for the White House than just another old white guy." -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.

And tomorrow, by the way, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will take part in a CNN debate in Austin, Texas. It's co-sponsored by Univision and the Texas Democratic Party. These are the first live pictures that you're seeing now of the debate hall on the campus at the University of Texas.

It airs, by the way, on CNN beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. It airs later tomorrow night in Spanish on Univision. Journalists from CNN and Univision will ask the questions. Our own Campbell Brown will moderate the debate. 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night in Austin.

Do you have what it takes to be Barack Obama? There's an all-out search underway right now for whoever can impersonate the Democratic candidate. It's a tougher job than you might think and it's Moost Unusual.

That's coming up next.


BLITZER: Wanted -- a Barack Obama look-alike who can walk the walk and talk the talk. So who's got what it takes? NBC's "Saturday Night Live" will be the judge.

Jeanne Moos has this Moost Unusual look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Will the fake Obama please stand up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name's Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary, come over here, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you not touch me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the American people...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will not touch me.

MOOS: Calling all Obamas -- your dream gig is up for grabs. "Saturday Night Live" needs to find an Obama -- fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that under there?

MOOS: The real Obama is the only one to ever appear on the show. And now, with the writers strike over, they need an impersonator who can go the distance. It's tough for Kenan Thompson, the only black male actor already on the "SNL" staff, to play lanky Obama, since Thompson has been big enough to star in "Fat Albert." KENAN THOMPSON: Hey, hey, hey, man.

MOOS: reported that Thompson was trying to lose 60 pounds so he could play Obama. There are a few impostors out there.


MOOS: For instance, the star of "Barrackula," a musical about a young Barack Obama's run-in with vampires. You can find look-alikes looking for work online. Ron Butler got a gig simulating a breakdancing contest with Hillary.

MOOS: Impersonators say it's not easy being Barack. He's not clumsy, he doesn't mispronounce things...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are for a sex change in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't know about that. We're really...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The face of the next president -- excuse me, sir.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... will be a feminine face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, thank you. I do think I have some feminine...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A feminine face in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... features and somewhat...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An actual female...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And someone who's androgynous in some way...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With all the fully functional organs of a female.

WYATT CENAC, COMEDIAN: It's a shame that he's not a stupid man, because it would make -- it would make doing an impression of him a lot easier.


MOOS (on camera): So even when comedians make fun of Obama, it's usually for things that tend to make him look good.

(voice-over): For instance, showing everyone swooning over him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, well. OK, just one. Just a small hug, a little one, all right?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He smells like caramel.

MOOS: Impersonators have to make do with a few measly gestures.

CENAC: He gesticulates a lot with his hands.

OBAMA: Live from New York, it's Saturday night!

MOOS: "Saturday Night Live" is expected to announce late Thursday who will play Obama -- someone who can convincingly say yes, we can from day one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're in the wrong country!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: You've helped make our politics pod cast one of the most popular on iTunes. To get the best political team to go, subscribe at or iTunes.

Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.