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Continued Reporting on Election Events

Aired April 13, 2008 - 17:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, and welcome back. It's the 5:00 o'clock edition Eastern Time, that is, of CNN's BALLOT BOWL. This is your chance to hear these candidates taped, sometimes live, always unfiltered as they run around the country, basically, pitching for your vote, for the vote to people in the states that are holding primaries. Pennsylvania is next up, as you know, on the 22nd. That's where tonight we will find both of these candidates.
I'm Candy Crowley in Grantham, Pennsylvania, where tonight these candidates will attend a Compassion Forum. Right now I want to bring in my colleague, Jim Acosta. He is in Indianapolis with a little look ahead at what we're going to look at.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy, yes. We're actually coming to you live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. We thought it would be fun to take cover here at the museum. A lot of cool cars behind us over the next hour but also lots of good sound from the campaign trail over the last 24 to 48 hours.

There is still plenty of fallout from Barack Obama's comments that he says he now deeply regrets, referring to blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania as being bitter. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in the Keystone State today in advance of the big Pennsylvania primary coming up on April 22nd.

Hillary Clinton, as we mentioned, she is in Pennsylvania. She is campaigning in Scranton today, highlighting her blue-collar and middle class roots in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We'll get to that.

And also, coming up this hour, we should note, John McCain, he is not campaigning this weekend out on the campaign trail, but, his campaign has released a statement weighing in on the Barack Obama controversy regarding the comment that blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania are bitter.

And with that, I will turn it back to my colleague, Candy, who is standing by live.

That Compassion Forum is coming up in just less than three hours, if I can see the countdown clock on my monitor, which is very small, Candy. I think it says less than three hours to go there where you are.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. I think you're right. You're right. In any case, 8:00 o'clock Eastern Time.

So, you know, we've been talking a lot about this Barack Obama comment. It is not just the word bitter, but many of his critics say what he did was say that working class Americans in these small towns are bitter because the government hasn't helped them in decades, their economic plight and they have turned, or as he had said, "cling to their guns and their religion," that is causing quite an uproar here in Pennsylvania. Certainly, it is being stoked by the Clinton campaign as Hillary Clinton campaigns here as the candidate of the working class.

It all really began last Sunday at a fundraiser Barack Obama attended in San Francisco. It was also attended by a so-called "citizen journalist" who had a tape recorder to tape record these remarks of Obama's. It went up on the Huffington Post on Friday. Here's a little bit of it.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.


CROWLEY: So, that was last Sunday night. It took a while for this to percolate up and it was posted on the Huffington Post Friday. The Clinton campaign all over it immediately, with news releases, phone calls, and eventually, the candidate herself. At some point on Friday night we were with Barack Obama. He was in Terre Haute and he felt the need to address the quote that's being attributed to him.

Here's a listen.


OBAMA: No, I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on. I know what's going on in Pennsylvania. I know what's going on in Indiana. I know what's going on in Illinois. People are fed up. They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter and they want to see a change in Washington and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.


CROWLEY: But it wasn't over at that point. Then, Barack Obama was holding on to what he said saying I was right. People are bitter. Again, it continued and by Saturday in Muncie, he was still explaining.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: So I said, well, you know, when you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on. So, people, you know, they vote about guns or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country. Or they get frustrated about how things are changing. That's a natural response. And I didn't say it as well as I should have.


CROWLEY: So, after that, Barack Obama did an interview in North Carolina because this may have an effect not just on Pennsylvania, but in coming primaries, particularly in North Carolina and Indiana, where you just saw Obama. Both those states have primaries on May 6th.

So, in this interview with the "Winston-Salem Journal" yesterday, Obama said and I quote, "If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that. The underlying truth of what I said remains, which is simply that people who have seen their way of life have upended because of economic distress are frustrated and rightfully so.

And I hear it all the time when I visit these communities. People say they feel like no one is paying attention or listening to them and that is something -- that is one of the reasons I am running for president. I saw this when I first started off as a community organizer and the steel plants had closed. I was working with churches in communities that had fallen on hard times. They felt angry and frustrated."

So, again, that was an interview that Barack Obama did with the "Winston-Salem Journal" saying that he deeply regrets if his words offended anyone. On the central point, he remains solid. He says it is that people in economic distress have been ignored by their government and they have been frustrated by that for over 20 years.

Now, as I understand it, we are now going to my colleague Jim Acosta in Indianapolis.

That may be right, Jim. I know that others ...

ACOSTA: That's right, Candy, yes.

CROWLEY: ... have already talked about this, in particular, John McCain and Hillary Clinton.

ACOSTA: That's right, Candy. And as this story was developing over the weekend, we were seeing surrogates from both side of this campaign weighing in. Yesterday, when I was in Indiana, parts of Indiana, covering Hillary Clinton, you know, our Blackberry run it over with e- mails from Hillary Clinton's campaign mentioning some of their surrogates, their superdelegates surrogates and what they were saying about this verbal gaffe from Barack Obama.

But the Obama campaign is also sending out its surrogates. On one of the Sunday talk shows this morning, Tom Daschle, the former Democratic majority leader in the Senate, he also weighed in on the controversy and defended the Illinois senator.


TOM DASCHLE, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm amused of anybody who's made over $110 million would call someone else elitist. But I - this is a man who was raised by a single mother, who chose to work in the poorest neighborhood of Chicago, who's dedicated his whole life to the disenfranchised. Barack Obama understands with a passion how important that it is that we change this country and recognizes that unless we change Washington, we can't change the lives of the people that he was talking about over the last couple of days.


ACOSTA: Tom Daschle talking to reporters there, staking out one of the Sunday talk shows, defending the Illinois senator and taking a jab at Hillary Clinton in this controversy.

And speaking of Hillary Clinton, she was campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania this morning, not only to highlight her biography and how she spent part of her childhood in that part of Northeastern Pennsylvania, she, too, was keeping the drumbeat going in this controversy, calling on Barack Obama to fully explain his comments.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think what's important about this is that Senator Obama has not owned up to what he said and taken accountability for it. You know, first, he said he was right and attacked me for raising his remarks and referencing them. Then he admitted he may have said what he said unartfully and now he's deeply apologized if he's offended anyone.

But what people are looking for is an explanation. You know, what does he really believe? How does he see the people here in this neighborhood throughout Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, other places in our country? And I think that's what people are looking for. Some explanation and he has simply not provided one.


ACOSTA: And the second half of team Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania today. The former president, Bill Clinton was in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He was asked about this controversy and despite being dialed back just recently by his wife over his misstatements regarding that controversy involving Hillary Clinton and her trip to Bosnia -- Bill Clinton being asked by the former first lady to not weigh in on that controversy, he did weigh in on this controversy swirling around Barack Obama.

Here's Bill Clinton in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Folks, I was shaking hands and taking a few pictures back stage and this fellow looked at me and he said, "I just want you to know the people you are about to see are not bitter. They're proud."


CLINTON: They just want this country to go in a different direction. They want to restore the middle class, reclaim the future for our kids, reform the government and take it away from the special interests, restore America's standing in the world, bring our troops home from Iraq, and take care of our veterans and our men and women in uniform. That's what Hillary offers.

And I - you know, there's been a lot of hoopla about who said what and who shot John the last couple days. But one of the things that I thought was kind of overlooked in all this, is that one more time, the campaign opposite of Hillary said, "Well, there really wasn't any difference in the Clinton years and the Bush years. Rural Pennsylvania didn't do very well." Do you agree with that?


CLINTON: I just thought I'd get a few witnesses here. So, you know, I'm a Baptist. On Sunday, we look for witnesses.


ACOSTA: Bill Clinton looking for a few witnesses there in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. A few political writers have noted today how the Barack Obama controversy has sort of wiped off the political map. The controversy that almost rose up around Bill Clinton when he misstated that Bosnia controversy involving the former first lady and her misstatements about what happened there in Bosnia in 1996.

We also want to note that coming up tonight at 8:00 o'clock Eastern here on CNN, you're going to want to tune into this and keep an eye on that countdown on the bottom of your screen. CNN is hosting a Compassion Forum hosted by Campbell Brown and Jon Meacham from "Newsweek" magazine, who writes on faith and politics. The two of them will be sitting down with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton individually to talk about these issues. That's coming up tonight on The Compassion Forum at 8:00 o'clock on CNN.

And coming up after the break here on BALLOT BOWL on CNN: We'll also be taking a look at other issues out there on the campaign trail as the candidates are talking about them to voters.

Stay with us. This is BALLOT BOWL on CNN.


CROWLEY: Hi, and welcome back to CNN's BALLOT BOWL. I'm Candy Crowley in Grantham, Pennsylvania. Site tonight at Messiah College of The Compassion Forum: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about faith, religion and how all of that relates to politics.

However, both these candidates have been across the country, mostly Pennsylvania and Indiana and North Carolina, talking about a number of issues. Hillary Clinton yesterday in Mishawaka, Indiana, the subject was health care.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is concerning health care. Example, my grandson does not have health care. He's not available for assistance from the state or the federal because it is available through my daughter's employer. It costs 1/4 of her monthly wage, approximately, to cover that. She can't afford that. What about health care?

CLINTON: How old is your grandson? Your grandson is 2 years old. Does he have special medical challenges? OK. He's healthy, but you have no insurance for him.

Well, I want to tell you about a program that I hope that maybe we can see whether or not you're eligible for and one of Evan's staff can maybe talk to you and help you with it. Because for people like your daughter and her son, I helped to start a program little over 10 years ago now, called the Children's Health Insurance Program and it was for working people. It was for people like your daughter who got up and went to work, brought home a wage, couldn't afford health care or the health care she got didn't cover her children.

And that Children's Health Insurance Program insures about 6 million kids a year, actually every month. It insures about 6 million kids across America and thousands of kids here in Indiana. So, let us find out whether she could be eligible for that, number one. Number two, I want it make sure every child is eligible. Evan and I have been working to try to get President Bush to help us extend it because we still have 9 million kids like your grandson who are just not eligible for health care.

They don't have an employer providing it, make too much money to be eligible for, you know, free care. They're just stuck. But the real answer is universal health care -- quality, affordable health care for everybody. If you have health insurance that you're happy with because you've got a good contract or your employer provides it, nothing would change. You're going to keep what you got.

But if you don't have health insurance like your daughter doesn't have it for your grandson, or say you've got a policy but it doesn't cover what you need, we're going to open up the congressional plan so that everybody can have access to the same options that members of Congress have for themselves and for federal employees.


CLINTON: You know, we're going to provide health care tax credits because it will be on a sliding scale. If you, you know, have a good income, you won't get much help, but if you're just getting by, you're going to get help. You're going to get these health care tax credits. We're going to limit the amount of money that anybody ever has to pay for their health insurance to a small percentage of your income.

Because here's why: Number one, I think it's the right thing to do. You see, I really think it is morally wrong for us to not provide health insurance for every American. Too many Americans get sick and don't get taken care of. Actually, too many die because they don't have health insurance and so they don't get to a doctor except through the emergency room often when it's too late.

But it's also the economically smart thing to do. Every time we deny somebody care, they go to the hospital sicker than they would have if you'd taken care of them earlier. So, we all end up paying for that through tax money or through increases in our own premiums.

So, I believe that if we do this, we will have lower costs for everybody and we will be able to cover everybody. Now, it's going to be important that we end the insurance company's ability to make life and death decisions. They can no longer discriminate against people for being sick. They're going to have to provide health insurance to everyone.

And my offer, which I think is a pretty good one, is once we add all these new people and we get a little bit of money from a lot of people, they're going to be able to continue to do this and provide health care to everybody. But they're not going to do it the way they're doing it now which is by eliminating people like your grandson.

So, I think this is going to be a major effort in my administration, but if you look at the lineup, we're going it have labor and business, because you guys are the ones that pay the bills, you're the ones who negotiate over it, you're the ones who have to postpone or forego wage increases in order to get health care.

So, labor and business, doctors and nurses, and health care professionals, and families, I think if we all get together and we have a president who's committed to it, we can take on the insurance companies and we can change this system. That is my highest priority, because I want everybody to have health insurance and that's what I'm going to fight for.


CROWLEY: Hillary Clinton on health care. Even more than Iraq, health care has been the consistent, most asked question in these town hall meetings for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and John McCain.

Hillary Clinton, of course, has had a lot of help on the campaign trail from her daughter, Chelsea, and former President Bill Clinton, her husband. He has sometimes been a bit of a mixed blessing and some of that this week when he got into the whole Bosnian issue, as you may recall Hillary Clinton told the tale of coming under sniper fire when visiting Bosnia while a first lady.

Video of that event turned out to tell a different story. Hillary Clinton being greeted by an 8-year-old, in fact, a very calm situation, as you can see, lots of children and, of course, daughter Chelsea by her side. Hillary later said that she did not remember this correctly. And this week, Bill Clinton got into it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: You know, that she'd robbed the bank the way they all carried on about this. And some of them when they're 60, they all forget something when they're tired at 11:00 o'clock at night, too.


CROWLEY: Couple of problems with that when he recounted the story, Bill Clinton also made some mistakes. Hillary Clinton, of course, had told the story several times, the last time she told it, it, in fact, was early in the morning. Now, the last thing Hillary Clinton wants at this point is for the whole Bosnian story to come up again, so she tried to tamp it down.


CLINTON: Hillary called me and said, "Look, I misstated it, you said I misstated it but you don't know it and you got to let me handle it because you don't remember it either." So, I'm going to let her answer it.


CROWLEY: So, that, Hillary Clinton hopes, is the end of that.

Next up on BALLOT BOWL after the break: Barack Obama talks about health care, right after this.


ACOSTA: Welcome back to BALLOT BOWL on CNN. I'm Jim Acosta in Indianapolis.

And yesterday here in Indiana, Barack Obama was talking to voters in Muncie, in advance of the big primary coming up here, a potentially decisive primary coming up here on May the 6th. He was talking to voters there in Muncie about the issue of education and all the fallout of this controversy over those remarks Barack Obama made about blue-collar voters. A lot of the voters who showed up at these events aren't really talking about these controversies that come up in the media. They want to hear about the issues.

And so, Barack Obama is talking about one of those issues here in this next bit of sound on the issue of education.


JULIUS ANDERSON, MUNCIE RESIDENT: Julius Anderson, president of the Muncie Community School Board of Trustees.


ANDERSON: My question is -- that's kind of close (INAUDIBLE). My question is along with hers is dealing with education. What are your plans as president to either change or to fund that No Child Left Behind? Here in Indiana, in our district here, we're trying to comply with the changes, but there's no funding behind the change to help our children. Could you expand on that?

OBAMA: Yes. Well, No Child Left Behind had a good idea behind it, which is that every child can learn. I believe that. Every child can learn. And, so, the slogan "No Child Left Behind" is the right one. But, the implementation, the way that the Bush administration went about trying to lift up and improve our schools was poorly conceived.

And let me -- let me be very specific about two major areas where it failed. Number one, as I said, it did not fund these federal mandates properly. That's not the first time that that's happened. The same thing was true when the federal government said that we're going to fund special education. They promised that they would provide 40 percent of special education funding, the federal government's never spent more than 18 percent on special education funding.

So, local school districts have had to pick up the tab and that's a huge burden on them. So, that's one problem. But that's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem with No Child Left Behind was how you assessed local school districts, how you assessed progress and how you used testing.


OBAMA: As I said before, we need the highest standards for our kids, especially in math and science, areas where we're falling behind other countries. So, we've got to have high standards. But, the way No Child Left Behind did it, they said, all right, we're going to have a single high-stakes standardized test and we're going to do it sort of somewhere in the middle of the school year and we're not going to measure progress that was made in that school year, we're just going to test them and we won't take into account the fact that some kids may start off already behind.

Some child may come in three years behind, at the end of the school year, they may only be one year behind, that school has actually done a really good job, but under No Child Left Behind, that school is still a failure. They set very high standards in terms of reading scores and math scores for kids who are in special ed, who, by definition according to special ed, are behind, and didn't provide local school districts much flexibility on this. And then schools, instead of getting help, were punished or threatened to be punished, if they didn't meet certain test scores.

So, what ends up happening? What happens is that school administrators, they start telling teachers: all I care about are your test scores. So, the teachers, what do they do? They start teaching to the tests. So, that means that kids now are just learning how to take tests, they get uninspired, the teachers are uninspired, the schools are constantly worried about funding, and the result is not the kind of school improvement that we'd like to see.

So, here's what I'm going to do. We're going to change the assessment process. We're going to say to school districts that we may use a test at the beginning of the year, but it's just going see where kids are at and to help teachers give them a tool to learn. Then during the school year I want them to teach teaching. I want them to teach do what they do best which is actually teach literature, math, word problems and all the things that go into teaching and inspiring and exciting students to learn.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, there you have it, Barack Obama on the issue of education touching on the no child left behind law, which, by the way, Hillary Clinton mentioned yesterday up in Valparaiso, and sharply criticized that law as does Barack Obama. It's one of those applause lines where you'll hear at many of these events out at the campaign trail.

After a break on "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN, the campaign crosses through Capitol Hill. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain each get a chance to question General David Petraeus on progress in Iraq. That's coming up after a break. This is "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, welcome back to "CNN's BALLOT BOWL," the Sunday edition. Your chance to hear these candidates unedited and unfiltered. I'm Candy Crowley in Grantham, Pennsylvania, the site tonight here at Messiah College of the Compassion Forum. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talking about faith, talking about values and talking about politics.

We already heard Hillary Clinton on health care and Barack Obama on education and time to turn to the Iraq war.

General David Petraeus was on Capitol Hill this week talking to them about the situation on the ground in Iraq. Petraeus, as you know, is in charge of the war there. He came back saying what the U.S. needs is a pause in troop withdrawal this summer after the so-called surge troops go home.

All three presidential candidates went back to Washington for these hearings and it was not only a chance for them to get an update on what was going on, on the ground, but a chance to take a national forum and talk about their views on Iraq.

First up, Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the beginning of last year we were engaged in the great debate about what to do in Iraq. Four years of mismanaged war had brought us almost to the point of no return. Sectarian violence in Iraq was spiraling out of control. Life had become a struggle for survival and a full-scale civil war seemed almost unavoidable. Al Qaeda and Iraq was on the offensive and an entire Iraqi provinces were under the control of extremists.

Yet rather than retreat from Iraq and face, there by, the terrible consequences that would ensue, we chose to change strategies and try to turn things around. Instead of abandoning Iraq to civil war, genocide and terror, and the Middle East to the destabilizing effects of these consequences, we changed the strategy and sent additional troops to carry it out. And by the time our two witnesses testified in September, it had become clear that these new efforts were succeeding.

Since the middle of last year, sectarian and ethic violence civilian deaths and deaths of coalition forces have all fallen dramatically. This improved security environment has led to a new opportunity, one in which average Iraqis can, in the future, approach a more normal political and economic life. Reconciliation has moved forward and, over the weekend, Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders backed the prime minister in a statement supporting his operation in Basra and urging the disbandment of all militias.

Much, much more needs to be done. And Iraq's leaders need to know that we expect them to show the necessary leadership to rebuild their country. For only they can, but today it is possible to talk with real hope and optimism about the future of Iraq and the outcome of our efforts there.

But while a job of bringing security to Iraq is not finished, as the recent fighting in Basra and else where recently demonstrated, we're no longer staring into the abyss of defeat and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success. Success -- the establishment of a peaceful, stable, prosperous, Democratic state that poses no threats to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists. This success is within reach.

And with success, Iraqi forces can take responsibility for enforcing security in their countries and American troops can return home with the honor of having secured their country's interests at great personal costs and of helping another people achieve peace and self- determination.

That's what I hope every American desires for our country and our mission in Iraq. If the United States should choose to withdraw from Iraq before adequate security is etablished, we will exchange with this victory a defeat that is terrible and long lasting. Al Qaeda in Iraq would proclaim victory and increase its efforts to provoke sectarian tensions, pushing for a full-scale civil war that could descend into genocide and destabilize the Middle East.

Iraq would become a failed state. It could become a haven for terrorists to train and plan their operations. Iranian influence would increase in Iraq and encourage other countries to seek accommodation with Tehran at the expense of our interests. American failure would almost certainly require us to return to Iraq or draw us into a wider and far, far costlier war.


CROWLEY: Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, arguing about what would happen if the U.S. withdrew precipitously from Iraq. It would be, in general, he said, a calamity.

The Democrats have very different views about that. We heard from both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on that subject, as they, too, listened to the Petraeus hearings. A little of Barack Obama now.

OBAMA: I just want to close with a couple of key points. Number one, we all have the greatest interest in seeing a successful resolution to Iraq. All of us do. And that, I think, has to be stated clearly in the record.

I continue to believe that the original decision to go into Iraq was a massive, strategic blunder. That the two problems that you've pointed out, al Qaeda in Iraq and increased Iranian influence in the region, are a direct result of that original decision. That is not a decision you gentlemen made and I will not lay it at your feet, you are cleaning up the mess afterwards but I think it is important as we debate this forward.

I also think that the surge has reduced violence and provided breathing room, but that breathing room has not been taken the way we would all like it to be taken. What happened in Basra is an example of Shia versus Shia jockeying for power that underscores how powerful the political situation is there and how we still have to continue to work vigorously to resolve it.

I believe that we're more likely to resolve it, in your own words, ambassador, "If we are applying increased pressure in a measured way." I think that increased pressure in a measured way, in my mind, this where we disagree, includes a timetable for withdrawal. Nobody's asking for a precipitous withdrawal, but I do think that it has to be a measured but increased pressure, and a diplomatic surge that includes Iran. Because if Maliki can tolerate, as normal neighbor-to- neighbor relations in Iran, than we should be talking to them, as well. I do not believe we will be able to stabilize the situation without them.

This last point I will make. Our resources are finite. This is a point that just was made by Senator Voinovich. And this was made by Senator Biden, Senator Luger, Senator Hagel. There is a bipartisan consensus that we have finite resources. Our military is overstretched and the Pentagon has acknowledged it. Our -- the amount of money that we're spending is hemorrhaging our budget and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, I think, is feeling a lot more secure, as long as we're focused in Iraq and not on Afghanistan. When you have finite resources, you've got to define your goals tightly and modestly.


CROWLEY: As you can see, these hearings on Capitol Hill are often not just about questioning, but about statements, as well. You have heard from Senator McCain, you have heard from Senator Obama, and next up Hillary Clinton and my co-host Jim Acosta.

We'll be right back.


ACOSTA: Welcome back to "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN. I'm Jim Acosta in Indianapolis. You just heard from Barack Obama and John McCain up on Capitol Hill. Now it's Hillary Clinton's turn. You'll hear from her remarks, and you probably can tell for yourself, that much of what she says in her remarks you'll also see in her stump speech, which is why we're bringing those comments to you.

Here is Hillary Clinton addressing General Petraeus up on Capitol Hill earlier this week.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our troops are the best in the world and they have performed admirably and heroically in Iraq. However, the purpose of the surge, let's not forget, as described by the Bush administration was to create the space for the Iraqis to engage in reconciliation and make significant political progress.

However, since General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker last testified in September, even General Petraeus as recently as three and a half weeks ago has acknowledged that the Iraqi government have not made progress. And current strategy in Iraq has very real costs. We rarely talk about the opportunity costs, the opportunities lost because of the continuation of this strategy. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more we divert resources not only from Afghanistan, but other international challenges, as well.

In fact, Admiral Mullen last week said that the military would have already assigned forces to missions else where in the world if it were not for what he called the pressure that's on our forces right now. And he admitted that force levels in Iraq right now do not allow us to have the force levels we need in Afghanistan.

The vice chief of staff of the Army, General Cody, testified last week that the current demand for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies.

And, finally, the cost to our men and women in uniform is growing. Last week the "New York Times" noted the stress on the mental health of our returning soldiers and Marines from multiple and extended deployments. Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress, according to an official Army survey of soldiers' mental health.

The administration and supporters of the administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater costs of continuing the same failed policy.

You know, the lack of political progress over the last six months and the recent conflict in Basra reflects how tenuous the situation in Iraq really is. And for the past five years we have continually heard from the administration that things are getting better, that we're about to turn a corner, that there is, finally, a resolution in sight. Yet each time Iraqi leaders fail to deliver. I think it's time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, the global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America.

I understand the very difficult dilemma that any policy with respect to Iraq poses to decision makers. If this were easy or if there were a very clear way forward, we could all perhaps agree on the facts about how to build toward a resolution that is in the best interest of the United States, that would stabilize Iraq and would meet our other challenges around the world.


ACOSTA: Hillary Clinton there on Capitol Hill addressing David Petraeus. If you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, we're heading into the final lap here on "BALLOT BOWL," CNN.

Coming up after the break, the lighter side of campaign 2008. John McCain visits the ladies on "The View." That's coming up after a break. This is "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN.



CNN REPORTER: The scent of cherry blossom, the things you can expect to experience during a vacation in Japan or Japantown.

PETER FISH, SUNSET MAGAZINE: Everybody knows San Francisco's China town, but a lot of visitors from outside the bay area don't realize that San Francisco also has a really cool reviving Japantown. And it's a really fun place to go to experience Japanese culture.

CNN REPORTER: Just a mile from San Francisco's Union Square visitors enjoy karaoke lounges, restaurants, theaters and merchandise from the Far East. After that long day out in the city, why not relax like the Japanese.

FISH: The Kabuki Hot Springs which is really quite inexpensive compared to a lot of your day spas. You have communal bathing options, if you want and pretend you're in Kyoto or someplace.



ACOSTA: Welcome back to "BALLOT BOWL" on CNN.

One of the two people you didn't expect to see together on the campaign trail is probably John McCain and Whoopi Goldberg. And they were sharing the same stage this past week on "The View" when the Arizona senator paid a visit to the ladies there on the "ABC" program. And it was during this appearance that Whoopi Goldberg came up with a new nickname for John McCain. Here it is.


MCCAIN: You shouldn't have gotten all dressed up, really.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I'm trying to appeal to the younger folks. You know, I have a nickname for you. I renamed you for when you go to talk to the younger crowds. I'm calling you Jack Mack.

MCCAIN: Jack Mack?

GOLDBERG: Jack Mack's running for president and here he is.

MCCAIN: That's great.


ACOSTA: And as I bring in my colleague, Candy Crowley, I suppose this goes to the point that sometimes these talk shows serve a purpose out on the campaign trail and I suppose Jack Mack is better than John McNasty, which used to be his nickname in his younger days, right, Candy?

CROWLEY: I like it. I can see the bumper sticker for Jack Mack. Not bad, actually.

ACOSTA: There you go.

CROWLEY: But, you're right, Jim. These give the candidates a chance to kind of show a softer side, these light moments. And there are some, as you know, on the campaign trail, as well. It's not all about policy and back and forth with the other guy. Sometimes just a little bit of humor and we have this for you from Hillary Clinton.


CLINTON: You know, one of the highlights of this campaign has been when out of the blue Jack Nicholson endorsed me. And he called up a radio station in Los Angeles and he said, "You know, I've been thinking, I'm for the woman." Then went on to say, "Real men are for Hillary." So, I thought that was a pretty good endorsement.


CROWLEY: Well, I don't know, Jim. I think she makes a great politician at this point. But, you know, kind of fun to see them like this. I know Barack Obama has this great line where he says, "I've been running for 14 months and babies have been born and walking and talking since I've been doing this." That always gets a fun laugh. So there are fun times along the campaign trail where, I think, you see a little bit of the candidate.

ACOSTA: And surpise, sometimes they're actually funny.

CROWLEY: Every once in a while they manage to do that.

ACOSTA: Every once in a while. That's right, that's right, about as funny as we can be every once in a while.

Candy, thanks so much.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: We want to remind our viewers that, coming up at 8:00, is the Compassion Forum hosted by Campbell Brown right here on CNN and John King's "Route 2008." That's at 10:00 eastern.

And thanks for watching "BALLOT BOWL." We'll see you next weekend.