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THIS WEEK IN POLITICS

The Week's Campaign Happenings

Aired March 2, 2008 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TOM FOREMAN, HOST: Going into this week, it looked like the game was almost over. John McCain was about to win on points. Barack Obama looked unstoppable. And Hillary Clinton's campaign looked like it was all downhill. But once again, things are beginning to tilt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Shame on you, Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Barack Obama's smooth ride got bumped around by accusations of campaign dirty tricks. His reply in essence -- stop whining.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Clinton has -- her campaign at least has constantly sent out negative attacks on us. And we haven't whined about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have Merlin's magic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: But then he had to spin fast when the controversial minister Louis Farrakhan spoke out in his support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If the word reject, Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word denounce, then I'm happy to concede the point. And I would reject and denounce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: He wasn't happy about criticism of his work on Capitol Hill either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: My opponents say he never held a substantive meeting because he was off running for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: By the end of the week, Obama's Teflon coating was beginning to look a little scuffed, but Hillary Clinton got banged around as well. Long time friend and supporter John Lewis proved that with friends like him, you don't need enemies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Barack Obama somehow in some way has been able to emerge to carry the hopes and dreams of aspirations of millions of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: And she had to take her turn rejecting and denouncing. This time to the word of a Latino supporter in Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADELFA CALLEJO, HISPANIC ACTIVIST: When the blacks had the numbers they never did anything to support us. , UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to my empire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: On the GOP side, John McCain's march to victory developed a limp.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CUNNINGHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Barack Hussein Obama...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Conservative radio host Bill Cunningham was only trying to warm up the crowd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUNNINGHAM: Well, my Americans, now we have a hack Chicago-style Dailey politician who is picturing himself as change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The candidate got hot instead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will take responsibility and I apologize for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody gets past us.

FOREMAN: His conservative critics however, did not wait a second.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Sorry. It's over. It's uncalled for in American politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Not the world's best imitation, but we'll critique the GOP race in just a moment.

Right now, let's plunge into the Democratic race, as we head into Tuesday's critical four primaries. Politico's editor and chief Jim Vandehei is over at the Virginia headquarters. And one of CNN's political contributors talk show host Roland Martin joins us from Houston.

Roland, let me start with you. Hillary Clinton was stamping her feet and yelling and making a huge fuss this week about everyone saying that she's finished. Did she make any progress?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think she has made some progress, but the bottom line is that she has to win. Keep in mind she can't complain about the media doing it when even her own husband, former President Bill Clinton remarked that has to win Texas and Ohio or Obama's going to win the nomination. So if she wants to look any further, she might want to talk to her own campaign staff and her husband. That's where a lot of this stuff is coming from.

FOREMAN: Fair point, but Jim, she's really not that far behind in the delegate count. She's still very much in this thing.

JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO: She is, but she very much needs to win both Ohio and Texas. She's behind when it comes to pledge delegates. She's behind in the number of states that have been won. And she's behind in the total popular vote.

And she has to be able to make a plausible and intellectually defensible argument that in fact she can win the nomination, that she's the strongest candidate. If she wins Texas and Ohio, I think she can start to do that, because she can say, I'm winning the big states, especially those swing states like Ohio that matter in the general election. Then the fight moves on the Pennsylvania and probably well beyond.

FOREMAN: Roland, I wonder if she's fighting a bit of a difficult battle right now, because she has to go on the attack. She's got new ads coming out in Texas, which are suggesting that your sleeping children may be in danger if Barack Obama becomes the president. The problem is that it may hurt him, but it seems like all of this is also hurting her, because it makes her look mean and desperate.

MARTIN: Well, the bottom line is that you have to win. And so you have to do whatever you can do to win. She's lost 11 consecutive races. She can ill afford to frankly lose even one of these two.

And the bottom line is if she loses Texas or Ohio, even more than the super delegates will be flooding to the way of Barack Obama. We saw that with John Lewis, this week. That's critical for her again. She's basing her strategy on the super delegates coming to her rescue. That's very a risky strategy when these people are also - they have constituents. They're elected officials. And they also want to go with the winner. And so it's a very risky strategy.

And so again, she doesn't win both. She's got huge problems. I really believe that if she loses one, that she's going to be out of this race, because those delegates are going to go somewhere else.

FOREMAN: Jim, do you think we are closer to that moment where the super delegates have to make up their mind? One of the predictions I've heard is that if she does not do well enough in Ohio and Texas, then you will see groups of seven, eight, nine, 10 super delegates stepping up to podiums and saying, we were backing her, but like Mr. Lewis, we now need to turn toward the people our state supported.

VANDEHEI: Right. Well, most super delegates are giving her the benefit of the doubt until Ohio and Texas results come in. I think everything is dependent upon that. I completely agree that she needs to win both.

I think the only caveat there is that if she were to win Ohio convincingly, and just narrowly loses Texas, she could continue to make that argument that I'm winning those swing states that matter most in the general election. And that might have a powerful constituency with some Democrats.

But the truth is a lot of Democrats want this thing to be over. They do not want to have Republicans running basically unchallenged, you know, for a several month period, spending a lot of money banging on Democrats when they're not there to defend themselves. So if she comes out even more weak out of those two states, there'll be a tremendous amount of pressure from those super delegates. But also, Hillary Clinton herself understands the numbers of politics that when you lose 12, 13 in a row, that you cannot survive. And I think that she'll come to that realization and certainly people around her will help her come to that realization if that's in fact what happens.

MARTIN: Hey, this is what I think...

FOREMAN: Yes, Roland?

MARTIN: Another issue is very important. This is March 4th primary on Tuesday. The Pennsylvania primary is April 22nd. That is a long stretch for somebody who would lose a significant number of races, because you also have the raise money. Sure, she's raised a bundle in February, $35 million. But again, to have 40-plus days where you're having to answer these questions over again and sort of the slow bleed, that could be a problem as well. If Pennsylvania was two weeks later, I think it's a different story. That length of time, it's very difficult if she doesn't win both.

FOREMAN: May be a long time to be backing and filling if things aren't going well.

Let's look at our watch points that we should all be paying attention to, as we head into this. Is Tuesday a true firewall? That was the idea all along that she could defend herself with it. The white working class. It's coming down to big questions about how they're going to vote in Ohio. And of course, we always put our wild card up on the wall. And the wild card here is this question of the super delegates switching sides.

Roland, what about the white working class in this? There's been a lot of talk among Democrats about the black vote, the female vote, the Latino vote. I was just in Ohio this week. And there were some folks there who were saying, hey, we're kind of normal average day-to-day white working guys, and we don't think we've been talked to enough.

MARTIN: Well, you know what? They're right, Tom. And look, I've been saying on CNN for a couple of months now, I said I'm the black guy hollering don't forget the white folks, because - look, because you can't.

You know, because even in Texas, a lot of the attention in my home state has been about Latino vote. African-Americans over indexing, but the reality is white voters, I think they are going to make the critical difference. I think she'll garner the Hispanic vote. He'll get the black vote. Whoever wins the white vote wins in Texas.

Ohio, the exact same thing. You can't leave that out. I think we made a mistake, frankly, in not talking to those voters, because they have issues and concerns as well. And so, you cannot leave them out. You can't.

FOREMAN: I want to come back to Jim very quickly. Jim, Obama has come under pressure this week, more so than he's seen before. Is it wearing on him? Is he holding up well as people have started leaning on him harder?

VANDEHEI: I think so. His performance in the debate was pretty good again. He seems to be growing into the role. He has a lot more self confidence. He seems to have greater control of the facts on a bigger grouping of issues than he did earlier in the campaign. And he's very good. He's almost impenetrable in some ways to these attacks from Hillary Clinton, because he always just brushes them off and says that's the old way of politics. That's the old way of politics, even when they are legitimate.

FOREMAN: (INAUDIBLE), and he plays protection ball like that. And people just see him as just playing it safe. Is that the same thing that'll happen to him that happened to her. She tried to play it safe when she had the lead, and it cost her.

VANDEHEI: Right. There certainly is that danger. And we'll find out how big that danger is when you get to Ohio and Texas. The truth is, though, he's looking at those polls, particularly in Texas and seeing the trend line working in his favor in a state that a lot of people thought would not be a good state for him early on because of the large Latino and Hispanic population there.

What he has to watch out for is to not be too passive in Ohio, where I do think that those working class white men are the big swing vote there, because most white women do seem to be backing - going with Hillary Clinton in a lot of these states. And he has to make sure he's speaking to those economic issues, which is why there's been such a heavy emphasis on NAFTA and the general economic unease that you feel very strongly when you're in the Midwest. FOREMAN: Fair enough.

VANDEHEI: And you certainly feel it strongly everywhere.

FOREMAN: Fair enough. And in the interest of budgeting our time, we're going to have to say good-bye. Thanks Jim for being here. Roland, we'll see you and all the rest of the best political team right here on CNN Tuesday night, as we stay up to cover all the races. That's right. Get your cold cults and popcorn. It's Tuesday, March 4th starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Make an evening of it only on CNN.

Coming up, a look at history's most amazing upset victories. A long strange trip through Texas with our own Ali Velshi. And a sneak preview of the looming storm called the general election. Stick around. We've got a lot more coming up on this week in politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Do you have any idea who you would vote for now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's running?

FOREMAN: Well, there's John McCain. He's a Republican. And Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama.

FOREMAN: Obama, why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I just like what he's doing, what he said. I've caught some of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Far too often, it seems that campaign politics gets more attention than the big issues facing this country, like the war in Iraq. If this week is any indication with the general election only eight months away, that is about to change.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, HOST (voice-over): Eight months is a long time. Eight months ago, U.S. troops in Iraq were dying at record rates. And Senator John McCain was out of the money and answering questions about what it would take for him to quit.

MCCAIN: Contracting a fatal disease.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything short of that?

MCCAIN: Not that I know of.

FOREMAN: Now McCain is about to clinch the GOP nomination. A result, he says, is at least in part, a result of the turnaround in Iraq. MCCAIN: I think that clearly my fortunes have a lot to do with what's happening in Iraq.

FOREMAN: And he's betting that eight months from now, continuing success in Iraq will be the issue that puts him into the White House. And right now, that looks like a safe bet.

FOREMAN: In fact, we are succeeding in Iraq. We are succeeding militarily. And we are succeeding politically.

MCCAIN: So this week, we got a preview of what the general election could look like.

OBAMA: If al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad.

MCCAIN: I have some news, al Qaeda is in Iraq. Al Qaeda, it's called al Qaeda in Iraq.

OBAMA: But I have some news for the John McCain. And that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.

FOREMAN: But like we said, eight months is a long time, a long time on the field of battle and an eternity in the crazy world of politics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: CNN's Dana Bash is covering John McCain. She joins us from the windy country of Round Rock, Texas. And in Houston, Jessica Yellin, who's been on the trail with Barack Obama.

Dana, let me start with you. Is it possible, do the McCain people think now that they could actually turn the war, which was an albatross around his neck six months ago, into a winning issue in the general election?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think that -- I know that they think that they don't have a choice but to try, Tom. You know, they have been, and you heard John McCain himself say this week, you heard on that tape, that he understands that his fortunes, for better or worse politically, are very much absolutely tied to what goes on on the ground in Iraq. And they understand that making the case that the surge is working, and making the case that John McCain was right about that to the Republicans in the primary season is so different from making that case to voters in the general election season.

What they are hoping that they can do during this transition time that John McCain seems to have is to lay the groundwork for -- to making the case that there is success in Iraq.

There aren't a lot of people talking about that right now. President Bush might be talking about that, but he's basically, you know, talking into the winds, so-to-speak. Nobody's really listening. So in terms of anybody with a megaphone, John McCain is it, talking about that. So he is trying over and over again to make that case, because again, he doesn't have a choice.

FOREMAN: And Jessica, what does Barack Obama make of that? He took a few hits this week over this question of are you ready and are you acknowledging what's happened with the war?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is playing right in Obama's wheelhouse. I mean, he could not be happier to be having a debate about the Iraq War. He knows a, that this is a wildly unpopular war in the country, and that he was on the side that certainly the Democratic base supports, which is against the war.

The fact that he's being attacked by John McCain on this issue only further helps him draw the contrast with Hillary Clinton that he was the one who opposed the war from the start, that he is the one who is in stark opposition to McCain, who wants to stay in Iraq for maybe up to 100 years, he said. So this is absolutely helping him in his view win the Democratic nomination. And it's not in any way a minus for him. He wants to be having this fight, Tom.

FOREMAN: Jessica, is there not any fear at all? Because the fact is the war is not a static thing. Things are changing. It's been getting much better. And as we said, eight months is a long time, even though two-thirds of the public still opposes the war. Eight months is a lot of time for them to say, look, it is better, it worked. The Democrats were the cowards. They wanted to quit.

YELLIN: Well, the one area in which, you know, there is a challenge is this question of experience. And you know, does he have the national security credentials to be the commander-in-chief during any circumstance, no matter what happens in Iraq or with al Qaeda or anywhere else.

We've seen Senator Clinton go after him on this with this new "scary ad." But again, this is an argument that Obama and his camp -- perhaps they're overconfident. But I'm telling you, they genuinely believe that this is a winning issue for him, because he can underscore that it's a question of judgment, and that he can adapt to any situation, because he has the good judgment.

Now who knows how that'll play in the general election, but it certainly has worked for him in the primary. Yes, Dana?

BASH: No, Jessica, that was so fascinating to watch, because what you described -- the dynamics between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - that's something that the McCain campaign has clearly been watching, this whole issue of experience versus judgment, because that's going to be and already is the argument that John McCain, somebody who's a veteran, somebody who's been in the Senate for 24 years, that's the argument he's already making that he's the man with experience.

But what they have been doing, and what John McCain did this past week is try to really tap into that and counter the argument that Obama makes on judgment, saying, you know, regardless of whether you're right or you're wrong, and going into the war, it's not about that anymore. It is what it is. That's the past. The question is, what you do in the future? And that's why John McCain has been trying to say, admit it, Democrats, admit it, the surge is working. I was right on it. That's a judgment issue. Try to use that argument that Obama has made time and time again pretty successfully against Hillary Clinton, trying to really try to squash that.

FOREMAN: But Dana, isn't that a potential liability for McCain as well, though? Because it seems to me Barack Obama is going to say, while the Republicans are saying, ah, you Democrats, you ran away from the war, Obama's going to turn around to McCain and say, yes, and you have embraced it too much. That's why it got as bad as it did. And just like he said against Hillary, let's turn our back on the past and look at the future. And that means a new leader, not John McCain.

BASH: Absolutely. It's a big challenge for John McCain. And he knows that full well. I mean, the reality is even though if you look at the latest public opinion polls, the American public does seem to be a little bit less down on the war than they had been over the summer and over the past few months.

You know, John McCain understands that George Bush is not popular. And what, that's why, if you listen to every single speech that he gives, even when he was standing in front of Republican audiences, he reminds people that he is somebody who was very critical of Donald Rumsfeld. He was somebody to his peril with Republicans was very critical of the president's strategy for a long time.

So he's trying to remind people that he is an agent of change, even though at this point, at this point, he is very much supportive of this strategy that's going on here.

FOREMAN: And Jessica's starting to jump in here. Jessica, what have you got to stay?

YELLIN: Well, this is exactly what Barack Obama is pointing to all the time. I mean, he is trying to tie McCain to George Bush as much as possible. And it's well and good that John McCain was critical of Donald Rumsfeld, but it's really much easier for him to make the point that he's supporting the president's war, which even if it's going better, we all know that Americans still want the troops at some point sooner than 100 years. And so Obama feels he's got the winning position on this. And as much as he can tie McCain to Bush, he's going to do it.

FOREMAN: And so it comes down to the war again. Dana, thank you very much. Jessica as well. We'll see you down the trail. And we'll see you both at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday night when the award- winning best political team on television goes all night to bring you what could be the most important primaries of this fascinating campaign. Straight ahead, Ali Velshi's saddling up and checking his holsters in the battleground state of Texas. It's a tough job, but someone had to do it. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Ali Velshi in Bandera, Texas. And I'm bullish on America. I won't steer you wrong and that's no bull.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: One man we can always count on having a good time is our man in Texas, Ali Velshi. And he joins us now.

Ali, we've been watching the race there for weeks, talking about how big it's going to be in that great big state. And it's looking tighter and tighter, isn't it?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's tighter and tighter. And we know we're going to get a lot of people coming out to vote. We've been riding the CNN election express around the state. Everybody is involved. Everybody is interested. Everybody is following it.

And the top of everybody's list of concerns is the economy. We don't even have to prompt them when we ask them. The bus pulls up. People start to talk to us. And they tell us that that's what they're concerned about, Tom.

FOREMAN: And yet, Texas is also a state that has a lot of history with people going off to military service. You're in front of the Alamo there, for crying out loud. Is the war coming up as a big issue as well? Or is it always the economy first?

VELSHI: You know, a lot of people are telling me that they're uncomfortable with the U.S.' position in the war. And that is largely, again, it seems to come back to the economy. They're worried about the money that is spent on the war. They're worried - I've heard from people whose kids have been in the service or come back from Iraq. And they can't find adequate work or they've had problems with their mortgages or their home.

Immigration, again, that's a major issue for a lot of people around here. But again, it comes back to the economy. They're saying that illegal immigration has caused wages to go down in the state and made it harder to find jobs. So again, it all comes back to that. People have been talking about inflation, but inflation is about oil prices. And that's what even in a state where they export so much oil, that is a major concern. They all seem to come back to wallet issues here in Texas.

FOREMAN: Interesting they do that, because the Democrats right now are launching a fairly ambitious campaign to say one of the real downsides of the war, aside from it being war, of course the loss of lives, is this impact on the economy. They're saying it's really made many of these things worse.

You're an economic guy. Is the war really responsible for what's happening with our economy now? Or is the link more tenuous? VELSHI: Economies go in cycles. I mean, the fact is markets go down every several years. Home prices go down. In fact, if you look at home prices, for instance, they're not down if you look at them over 10 years or 15 years.

The fact is these things go in cycles. But when we get into a tough time like this, then we start to shine a real light on the money that's spent on things that people don't think affect them or increase their standard of living. And that's where we are right now.

In good economic times, people are concerned about a war for the effect of the war. In bad economic times, people are concerned about war because of the war and because of how it affects the money that could be spent on health care, on job creation, on things like that. That's why people are concerned about the war as it ties into the economy.

FOREMAN: So is anybody confident with all that on the table who's going to win down tin Texas? Or is it still very much up in the air?

VELSHI: Oh, absolutely up in the air. We're running into people who are very clear about the fact that they're going out there, but there are real good reasons why people have to support Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. And our rough gauge of things is that this is going to be a tight race right down to the finish.

But they are good. I am predicting now the turnout is going to be very heavy. We have not run into anybody who doesn't have an opinion, isn't going to vote, and doesn't feel that this vote is going to make a big difference in the future for America at least in terms of their money.

FOREMAN: Hey, what's your opinion? What's the best thing you had to eat in Texas? I like Texas food.

VELSHI: I've been having a lot of brisket. We've had a lot of brisket and a lot of food. Opinion and isn't going to vote and doesn't feel that this vote is not going to make a difference in the future for America in their opinion.

What is the best thing to eat down there in Texas? I like Texas food.

I've been having a lot of brisket. We've been having a lot of barbeque. We're eating very well in Texas, let me tell you, Tom.

FOREMAN: I'll buy you a scale when you come back home. Thanks for joining us, Ali.

Straight ahead, how bad is the press at picking the winners? But first...

Sometimes you've just got to dance to the music. Barack Obama proved that this week on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Other times, you've got to face the music. And that brings us to this week's side show politics. Yes, that's the mayor. The mayor of tiny Arlington, Oregon perched on the town fire truck. When the pictures were discovered on Internet, as they always are, the inevitable firestorm broke. Carmen Kontur- Gronquist, that's her name, made no apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARMEN KONTUR-GRONQUIST, FMR. MAYOR OF ARLINGTON, OREGON: No. That's my space. That's why they call it myspace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The voters disagreed and voted to strip her of her position. Now she's selling signed copies of her picture on ebay and will donate some proceeds to local charities.

Speaking of overexposed, here's a personal ad for you. Embattled Idaho senator in search of -- yes, folks, Larry Watcherfee (ph) Craig is seeking a summer intern to help out during his last few months in office. The job solicitation promises "an incredible opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how our government functions." Insert your joke here.

And why you should never talk money, religion, or politics. Two Pennsylvania brothers in law, one a Clinton supporter, one an Obama fan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RISA VETRI FERMAN, MONTGOMERY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They were talking politics. And talking politics became fighting politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: By the time police showed up, political discourse had turned into a knife fight. Despite some injuries, both are reportedly going to be OK. And for the moment, so are their candidates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time.

JON STEWART: I guess the media's conspiring to talk to Hillary first. You know, Hillary, it's not sudden death overtime for god sakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: This week, serious media critics from Jon Stewart, to "Saturday Night Live," took shots at the press, saying that Barack Obama has been getting a free ride, while Hillary Clinton is seen as a loser. On the other hand, we haven't been all that good at picking winners in this campaign so far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER: If Hillary Clinton's to lose right now...

CANDY CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton is a tour de force.

DONNA BRAZILE: The only person that can stop Hillary Clinton...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary's the frontrunner. The other candidates look like dwarfs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama, the rising rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama, the rock star...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Popularity, rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Literally, they would make a rock star envious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think there's no question that the McCain campaign is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Campaign is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCain imploded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a wake for him a week ago. His campaign is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the Huckabee express?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I tell you - he's a walking nightmare.

TUCKER CARLSON: The national media falls deeper in love with Mike Huckabee.

SUZANNE MALVEAUFOREMAN: Fred Thompson steals the spotlight from people actually in the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking at Fred Thompson...

BLITZER: ...of Ronald Reagan, a very likable, conservative...

BILL SCHNEIDER: They see someone who they believe can be a great communicator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Well, maybe we've made a mistake here and there, but not that many. Matthew Felling was the co-editor of Public Eye on CBSnews.com, a website where the media took a critical look at the media. And now he's contributing to NPR.

So what do you think? The Clinton camp says it's all unfair to them right now. Are they right? Are they wrong?

MATTHEW FELLING, MEDIA ANALYST: Oh, well, from one rock star to another rock star...

FOREMAN: Yes, exactly.

FELLING : ...my man. You know, I think that -- what their campaign is saying is that he's getting a little bit of a lighter, easier go of it. And I think there is some ammunition to that, because the media for so long, have been fans of the attack Clintons. And they have so much baggage, so much material for the reporters to work with, that Barack, this new fresh face, he's getting a little bit of an easier go.

And I think -- there was even a columnist, a conservative columnist last month who said, go ahead. You be the first one to take down this guy.

FOREMAN: OK.

FELLING : You...

FOREMAN: But let's talk about a few months ago before any voting had taken place. The media was anointing Hillary Clinton. They were telling Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and everybody out there just pack your bags and go home. She's the nominee. There was no complaint from them then.

FELLING : This is what drives America nutty about the media is that they are prognostication junkies. They just can't get enough of it. In New Hampshire, everybody was sure that it was going to be Barack because after Iowa, it was going sweep. And then Hillary pulled it out. And the media said, oh my gosh, what happened? You know what? We really got to just take a step back and let the people vote.

FOREMAN: And the huge rising power...

FELLING : Exactly.

FOREMAN: ...is going to make a big difference.

FELLING : No, every time the media comes forward and says, you know, what we need to let the news develop. We need to let the facts play out. A week later, they're back saying it's over, everybody. Hillary's gone.

FOREMAN: On the other hand, Barack Obama is the frontrunner right now. Back when Hillary was getting the bump, her campaign wasn't complaining the frontrunner shouldn't be covered that much and we should be listening to John Edwards more. He is the frontrunner. FELLING : Yes, he is. And I think it's very - this last week, journalism and the media is just like high school. And just like high school, there's always the hot gossip. This week, the hot gossip has been why doesn't Hillary just pack it in? That's been the little theme for a lot of columnists this week, led off by Jonathan Alter at "Newsweek." And then we had some "Washington Post," columnists, "New York Times" columnists. So she had to suffer from the spotlight back when it was - back when it was helping her out. And now that same spotlight is trying to shift her off the stage. It's very curious.

FOREMAN: How has she think she's been successful? Her people and her operatives have been beating, beating on the media, saying you're being unfair. And I've heard the rumbles in hallways of people saying, well, maybe we are. Maybe we shouldn't be this way. How successful do you think she's been?

FELLING : Well, to an extent, she's working the referee like a coach on the sidelines. And it plays very well in the media, because the media starts looking at themselves and thinking, you know, maybe we should look into this financial dealing with Barack in Chicago.

But at the same time when she's whining at a debate about why do I always get picked on first? I mean, Hillary, you get to set the terms of the debate. Go first. Don't gripe about it.

FOREMAN: Wow. And it seems like it's one of those things that's not going to get much better. What do you think is going to happen now? We're all looking at Tuesday and saying, oh gosh, maybe it'll all be over there. What's your advice? What ought we to do there?

FELLING : Let the news happen. And don't be afraid if you're the news media, don't be afraid of those little words "please stay tuned" as developments occur.

You don't have to be right first. You don't have the - there's all these columnists who just want to write their obituaries of Hillary now. So that in a month, they can go on some prestige show and say, you know, I nailed it a month ago when I buried her.

And I think that -- what is going to happen on Tuesday is not going to decide anything. We're going to keep going. I mean, the super delegate debate is going to keep going on. And they're going to keep throwing spitballs at each other.

FOREMAN: We'll talk to you again, Matthew. And I have to say to you, please, stay tuned for further developments. Our list of history's biggest upset is coming right up.

But straight ahead, an inside look at the incredibly tight race in Ohio. And the best political team on television will stay up all night to bring you the results from Ohio, and Texas, Rhode Island, and Vermont. That's Tuesday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Be there. And we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: What do you think of the election? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's too long. People get tired of the whole process. I wasn't going to go vote at all until yesterday, when we got the new candidate.

FOREMAN: Ralph Nader?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

FOREMAN: Really? You like him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I like him better than the other three.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

FOREMAN: An unsentimental look back at Ohio by Krissy Hynde of the Pretenders. She's a native of Akron. And on Tuesday, her home state with its longstanding and intense economic concerns will get to weigh in big time on deciding who the Democratic nominee will be.

I'm joined by Joe Frolic, and editorial page writer for Cleveland's "The Plain Dealer." His paper has already endorsed Barack Obama in Tuesday's primary.

Is it going to be all about the economy, Joe?

JOE FROLIC, EDITORIAL WRITER, "THE PLAIN DEALER": I think that's a huge issue. As you noted in your intro, Ohio's economy has been - has really suffered in the last few years. The median income in the state has declined in the past decade. It's below the national average now. People are looking for somebody to give them some answers and give them some hope.

FOREMAN: A lot of people there dislike NAFTA a great deal. And yet, I've heard a lot of Ohioans say they're more than happy to listen to Hillary Clinton on this plan, even though NAFTA was signed into law under Bill Clinton. Why is that?

FROLIC: Well, I think she has a -- this is a good state for her in terms of the demographics. If you look at who's been voting for her in other states, they tend to be Ohio skews older. There's a lot of blue collar voters. She's done well with them. I think they feel that yes, NAFTA wasn't great, but overall, they did well during the Clinton years. So you might be able to bring some of that magic back.

And I think there's a sense of the fact that she is a little more experienced, that that's something they want to see in a president.

FOREMAN: What are the challenges that Barack Obama faces, there since really, it's coming down to what the Democrats will do there for their nomination. John McCain's pretty well set at this point.

FROLIC: Right. I think the thing that Obama has to do, and he's doing very effectively, is just get out and to sell himself. Hillary Clinton going back to last year in some of the early polls is consistently had a double-digit, even in the 20-point range lead here in polls in the state. A lot of that early on. People felt were really -- it was really based on a name recognition and the Clinton comfort factor.

I think what Obama has had to do, as he's done in other states, is to get out, show himself, show people there is an alternative. And I think the tightening you've seen in the polls, including the ones that have been coming out this week, to show that that seems to be working for him as it has in other states.

FOREMAN: What is not working for him there? A real basic question. Is his race not working for him there? Or are people there willing to overlook that?

FROLIC: I think most people are willing to overlook that, just as most people are willing to overlook any gender issues they might have with Hillary Clinton.

I think the biggest sell for Obama is again, is the experience issue. And I think the things that the Clintons have said about where is sort of the beef question, I think the - I've been hearing that from voters. So you know, when they start to repeat back what one candidate or the other is saying, you know, it's beginning to sink in.

FOREMAN: What about the Republican side of this equation? When we start looking at the general election, obviously, Ohio also has a tremendous number of young people who have gone off to the war. A lot of families very invested in the war, either for it or against it. Will the Republicans have a real play in the general election? And if so, will it be different if they're against Obama or against Clinton?

FROLIC: I think the Republican are going to have a - it's going to be a - this is going to be a tough state for them to win. And Ohio, or Republicans have never elected a president when they haven't carried the state of Ohio. John McCain -- having said that though, John McCain is the kind of Republican who has done quite well in Ohio. He is conservative, but he -- comes across as a - with it's the patina of moderation. He's been willing to work enough across partisan lines and has enough of a moderate streak that I think that -- or a maverick streak that that will appeal.

The war issue, it's very hard to see - to figure at this point how that's going to work. I think like in other parts of the country, a year ago, it seemed like that was so hot. I mean, it really drove the election, certain process I thought in 2006 to some degree.

People's attention has shifted to the economy. Also a sense that the situation on the ground in Iraq is not now what it was a year ago when the surge began. So I think it could play out either way at this point.

FOREMAN: We'll have to check back in with you. Thanks so much for being with us, Joe. FROLIC: Happy to do it.

FOREMAN: In just a minute, our political lightning round. Fast track is coming up.

But first, I went to Ohio this week for a report on those white male working class voters. It will air on "AC 360" Monday night. Make sure you're there. But for now, we thought you'd might enjoy a little slide show of a day in my week in politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN (voice-over): Left D.C. at about dawn on a small plane for Dayton, Ohio, where I picked up a rental car. And it was mighty cold about 15 degrees, drove north a little more than an hour, just enjoying the scenery along the way.

And then I hooked up with Clayton Hadding. He worked for the same factory all of his life. About two years ago, lost his job. He feels like the candidates aren't really talking enough about the struggles of just normal working class folks here in Ohio and telling them how things can get better.

After that, we had to pass up some of the more interesting lunch offerings and settle on a Pizza Hut, because were we were in a hurry.

Then we went over to the union hall, where these guys were all dye in the wool Democrats, but they're not entirely sure who has the plan among their candidates that will really help out these rust belt towns when things look so bad and so many jobs have gone away.

After that, I headed back down to Dayton. Started snowing again. Hopped on another small plane, flew off to Philadelphia, where I had about an hour and a half layover. Then another small hop back into Washington, D.C., where Reagan Airport was virtually abandoned well past midnight. A 20-hour day or as the union guys would say, a double shift on the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: It's time for the political fast track, where we tell you how to take care of your house, raise your kids, and even offer a few fishing tips for the coming week in politics. But who's better for that than CNN's senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Iraq, big on the scene again right now. Democrats and Republicans duking it out . What's their point right now?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the Democrats argue that the United States security will be threatened if we stay in Iraq any longer, because it's recruiting terrorists. It's making the United States an enemy to the Muslim world.

The Republicans argue if we leave too quickly, it'll create a security threat to the United States, because the terrorists will take over Iraq. This is as stark a difference on an issue as we're likely to see.

FOREMAN: Getting a whole new juice right now, if they jump all over. Going to play out in Texas and Ohio. Everybody has been looking at these for weeks. Is this the deciding ground finally?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it looks like the end game, but it might not be. If both states vote for Barack Obama, he's probably the nominee, because Hillary Clinton's husband said he can't see how she goes on to the nomination.

If vote states vote for Hillary Clinton, then she'll claim momentum. And she'll go right on, possibly to the convention. If it's a split decision, wait and see. We don't know what's going to happen.

FOREMAN: If we're put in the wait and see position then, what is the next end game ? What's the next target where we can say this will be the decider?

SCHNEIDER: Then it will be the delegate counts, which is slow and agonizing. The super delegates play a role. Can Hillary Clinton amass enough delegates to claim a majority before the convention?

If it doesn't look like she can, then you're going to see some Democrats begin to l urge her to step aside. Who can do that? Her husband, of course, is the one who may play a key role here.

FOREMAN: Well, we'll have to see. Thanks very much, Bill Schneider.

In just a moment, getting upset really upset on the campaign trail. But first, our late night laughs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN: Hillary's down there campaigning in Texas> She's a little nervous, doing everything she can pulling out all the stops in Texas. Today, she was campaigning in a raw hide pantsuit. Really, that's the truth.

STEWART: Enough with the speeches, and the rallies, and the winning, and the beating me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you, Barack Obama for stealing other people's words. You're going to regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. Mr. Obama, tear down this wall.

I'm as mad as hell. And I'm not going to take it anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: When the frontrunner gets beaten at the last moment, we call it an upset. And we've been talking about upsets an awful lot in this campaign, but it's not something new. In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes lost to Samuel Tilton by some 250,000 votes. He lost, but Congress decided that Hayes should be the president anyway. Everyone but Harry Truman thought that Thomas Dewey was a lock in 1948.

Instead, Dewey took a walk and Truman was the new front page news. And George Allen's macaca moment when he seemed a shoo-in for re- election instead gave his Virginia seat to underdog Jim Webb in 2006.

But the biggest upset of all time, well, the world of politics can't even claim that title. In August 1919, man of war, quite possibly the finest race horse of all time, suffered his one and only loss beaten at the finish line by a horse named-- no kidding -- Upset.

That's it for this week's look at the presidential horse race. THIS WEEK IN POLITICS. I'm Tom Foreman. Thanks for watching.

Straight ahead, "Lou Dobbs This Week."

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