Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Senator Feinstein, Congressman Hoekstra; Interview With Senators Schumer, McCaskill

Aired April 27, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: The American people don't quit.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: We will keep this country's promise alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Pennsylvania voters keep Hillary Clinton's campaign alive. Will the nomination battle tear the Democratic Party apart? The view from Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill and Clinton supporter Senator Chuck Schumer.

An alleged nuclear threat in the Syrian desert.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How solid is the evidence? And why did the Bush administration wait seven months to make it public? We'll talk to two key members of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Peter Hoekstra.

How would the Democratic candidates handle a national security crisis? We'll ask senior foreign policy advisers from both campaigns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Hamas' apparently the North American spokesperson is endorsing Senator Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: John McCain takes off the gloves with an attack on the frontrunning Democrat. Barack Obama also has to deal with new statements from his old pastor. And former President Bill Clinton discusses the issue of race, again. The ups and downs of the campaign trail with three of the best political team on television.

And new insights into what drives Osama bin Laden from two reporters who follow his every move. "Late Edition's" lineup begins right now.

It's 11:00 a.m. here in Washington, 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, and 6:00 p.m. in Damascus, Syria. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition."

One of the few things we know for certain about this facility in a remote region of Syria is that it was destroyed last September by Israeli jets. Was it a nuclear reactor being built by North Korean engineers? Was it months, perhaps even weeks, away from going into production? Could it have made materials for a nuclear weapon? And why did the Bush administration wait seven months to release corroborating evidence?

To help us sift through all of this, the ramifications very, very serious, we're joined by two guests. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is a key member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She's joining us from San Francisco. And with me here in Washington, Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan. He's the highest ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Thanks to both of you very much for coming in.

And Senator Feinstein, let me start with you. You believe this evidence that the administration released this past week is absolutely, positively the accurate bottom line as far as North Korea cooperating with Syria in developing clandestinely a nuclear reactor?

FEINSTEIN: Well, Wolf, the Senate Intelligence Committee did have a classified briefing. And I can say this, based on the analysis of the people that were there, namely Admiral McConnell, General Hayden and national security adviser -- the national security adviser, the facility was not configured for civilian use. They had a number of I think documenting points to make the case that this was, in fact, a nuclear weapons facility.

Now, having said that, I was surprised that they hadn't given the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and I was also surprised by the timing of it, because there have been some reports that Israel and Syria were looking at a settlement, quite possibly, and this could very well disrupt that settlement. So I...

BLITZER: But you believe -- based on what you know, Senator Feinstein, you believe that this was a nuclear reactor that North Korea was constructing in Syria?

FEINSTEIN: Look, none of us on the committee are nuclear experts. We take the views of nuclear experts. According to those experts, the answer is yes, this was a nuclear facility. I would be very surprised if it turned out to be anything other than that.

BLITZER: Because, Congressman Hoekstra, you know there's a credibility problem, that the Bush administration has given the evidence that Colin Powell, the then-secretary of state presented to the United Nations Security Council on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which proved to be at, at least some of that evidence, bogus. Are you 100 percent convinced as the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee that this evidence is solid?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, I am. I believe that the evidence that was presented -- and we had the same group of briefers come into the House Intelligence Committee -- this is compelling information.

But I think this points out the problem that we have. You know, we had two and a half hours of briefings on Thursday morning. This is the reason why the administration should have briefed us -- at least the Intelligence Committees -- seven months ago. Because there is a lot of other questions that are out there, questions about how close was this to being operational? Who funded this for Syria? How close was the North Korean/Syrian cooperation in this? And where else might North Korea have been involved in proliferation?

BLITZER: Do you have answers to any of those questions?

HOEKSTRA: Not at this point. And that's why we should have -- if we would have gotten this information seven months ago to the full Intelligence Committee, we could have spent the last seven months going through and peeling back the onion and having a lot more information than what we have at this point.

We're now going to have to start with the information we got on Thursday and now start moving forward. We should have been doing this months ago.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, spoke with me after the U.S. released this evidence, and he says this is all a lie, it's not true. I'll play a little clip of what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMAD MOUSTAPHA, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: If they will dare to present this evidence to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Commission, it will be a mockery for the U.S. delegation, because it's just photographs of a vacant building. This will be a major embarrassment to the U.S. administration for the second time. But prior to that, they lied about the Iraqi WMDs, and they think they can do it again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think of that very strong reaction from the Syrian government?

FEINSTEIN: Well, in the first place, there's more than just evidence of a vacant building. And perhaps the ambassador, if he saw that, wouldn't have made that statement.

However, I do agree it should have -- with Mr. Hoekstra. I think it should have gone immediately to the IAEA. That's why the IAEA is there. And by not sharing information immediately, what we do is destroy their verification potential as an independent, outside agency.

BLITZER: But when you ask the question, when you ask the question -- because this administration suggests this facility was under construction since 2001 -- when you ask why didn't you go to the International Atomic Energy Agency with the evidence, what do they say, Senator?

FEINSTEIN: I haven't asked them. I don't know. But that's a good point. I think I'll put in a call to Mr. ElBaradei and ask that question.

BLITZER: Did you ask that question, Congressman?

HOEKSTRA: You know that way back in October, October 20, I had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, making a public case as to why the administration should at least bring in the intelligence committees, because I thought it was a huge mistake for exactly the reasons that you're implying, that the administration has a credibility problem. And if they're going to deal with this credibility problem, the way to deal with it is to be more open, especially with members of Congress so that we can get this information, not to hold that information back and hold it close to your vest and not share it with anybody.

BLITZER: Are you saying, Senator Feinstein, that over these seven months since the Israelis knocked out that facility, whatever it was, the administration didn't share any of this evidence with you as a member of the Intelligence Committee?

FEINSTEIN: That's essentially correct. And the point is then when they do, it makes us very suspicious as to why are they doing it right now?

BLITZER: Well, why are they doing it? Why are they doing it now, Senator?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think they're sending some kind of a message, which candidly I don't understand, to North Korea, and I think they're also one way or another influencing an agreement with Syria and Israel. And to me, the timing is very suspect.

Now, I think Mr. Hoekstra is absolutely correct. We want to know what kind of involvement North Korea has had with other countries as well. And the fact that this nuclear weapons facility seems to be along the lines of the North Korean prototype, that there are actual photographs of North Koreans and Syrians in nuclear-related surroundings, makes one believe that there's been an ongoing relationship for some time.

If this had been dealt with in an open way at the time, I think all these things could have been nailed down. The North Korean talks perhaps could have been more successful, and Syria might have been put in a place where an accommodation with Israel is more appropriate. Right now, it can well blow up the situation, and I think that's too bad. BLITZER: Congressman, let me read to you from Friday's editorial in the New York Times on this question of why now. "It is no secret that Republican hard-liners are outraged over a State Department- negotiated deal intended to eventually shut down North Korea's nuclear weapons program."

BLITZER: They are desperate to stop it.

Thursday's presentation to certain congressional committees will also make it harder to win approval for aid to dismantle North Korean nuclear facilities, an essential part of the agreement.

Is that -- would you say that's accurate?

HOEKSTRA: I think that's accurate. The information was released on Thursday. I think the administration believes it will help them get to a deal with North Korea.

I think that many of us believe that the timing of it, what information they released, what information they did not release, and who they released it to is going to make it more difficult for them to reach an agreement that will be supported by Congress and supported by the American people. The administration has handled this very badly.

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence that North Korea's involved in proliferation, along these alleged lines, with Syria, with any other country, right now?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think this is the question. I mean, a very small group of us knew about this a year ago. What we really wanted to delve into was, if they're proliferating with North Korea, who else -- or, if North Korea is proliferating with Syria, who else might they be dealing with?

BLITZER: Well, have you been presented any evidence of dealing with anyone else?

HOEKSTRA: We haven't been able to dig down into that issue. And that's what we should have been doing over the last seven or eight months.

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence, Senator Feinstein, that North Korea is proliferating nuclear materials or know-how with other countries, right now?

FEINSTEIN: No, I do not. But I'm not the chairman of the committee. Mr. Hoekstra is the ranking. And sometimes this just goes to the leadership of the committee. But I have none.

BLITZER: All right...

HOEKSTRA: If I can just add to that, Wolf? BLITZER: Yes.

HOEKSTRA: What happened in North Korea shows how far a proliferation program can move in its development before it is actually discovered through intelligence. So this facility may have been just a few months away from going operational, and we never knew about it.

BLITZER: And I'm going to take a break, but I want to wrap this part up with a quick question to both of you.

Did the Israelis do the right thing by knocking out this facility last September, Congressman?

HOEKSTRA: I think that this was a huge problem in the Middle East, a destabilizing effort. I believe the Israelis did the right thing by taking out this facility.

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, what do you think?

FEINSTEIN: I think so, too. I think Israel just can't countenance a nuclear facility from a hostile nation that's their neighbor. I think it's just that simple.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation -- a lot more to discuss. We'll also turn to some other topics, including former president Jimmy Carter's controversial meetings with Hamas.

And later, we'll look at the next battlegrounds, North Carolina and Indiana, with key advisers to both Democratic presidential campaigns. "Late Edition" continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back. In a few moments, we'll speak more about national security and politics with top foreign policy advisers to both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

But, right now, we're back with our conversation involving Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Republican congressman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan.

Congressman Hoekstra, Iran's role in Iraq right now -- it's very complicated. A few weeks ago, we saw the Iranian president Ahmadinejad get the red carpet, warm welcome by the Iraqi leadership, including the prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. But then, the other day, Admiral Mike Mullen -- he's the chairman of the Joint Chiefs -- he said this. And I want to play this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I'm extremely concerned about what I believe to be an increasingly lethal and malign influence by that government, and the Quds force, in particular, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. I believe recent events, especially the Basra operation, revealed just how much and just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And the defense secretary, Bob Gates, says Iranians, through their efforts in Iraq, are killing Americans right now. What's going on?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think that's exactly accurate. It has been going on for a number of years.

BLITZER: So why is the Iraqi government so cozy with the Iranian government?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think they've reached out and tried to go to Ahmadinejad, to try to influence him to put a clamp on Iran's assistance to these forces in Iraq, including supplying weapons to these forces, you know, very deadly weapons. We believe that they're the ones that have developed the enhanced improvised explosive devices and these kind of things.

BLITZER: Is the Iranian -- based on the intelligence, based on the information you get -- and I'm not asking you to release any classified information. But based on what you know, is the Iranian involvement in Iraq, right now, getting worse, staying the same, or getting better?

HOEKSTRA: No, I think it's staying about the same. They've been very active in Iraq, and I think they continue to stay very active in Iraq.

What's your assessment, Senator Feinstein?

FEINSTEIN: Well, my assessment is this, that you have a belligerent and isolated Iran extending its influence.

I think Mr. Hoekstra is correct about the equipment that's gone in. I think there's no question that some elements of the Iranian government are also buying businesses in Iraq. They are extending their sphere of influence.

We have had no meaningful dialogue with Iran for 30 years, and I have a very hard time understanding why this administration does not try to do so.

BLITZER: Well, what do you want...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, what do you want the U.S. -- the Bush administration, Senator, to do?

FEINSTEIN: To make some outreach to the supreme leader, not to the president, Mr. Ahmadinejad, but to the supreme leader -- he is the one, and the council, that will control this area -- and to have some direct discussions without preconditions.

The minute you precondition the discussion, you create the loss of face for the Iranians to sit down and talk and try and see if we can't evolve a meaningful relationship that can keep them out of Iraq, that can use this window of opportunity that's produced by the halting of their nuclear weapons program. That was, as you know, a national intelligence estimate. It has not been contradicted to this date. So there is every reason to believe there is a window of opportunity to develop a series of proposals, carrots and sticks, if you will.

The Iranian economy is not good. But nobody should believe that Iran is Iraq. And it is a big mistake for us to only look at military options when it comes to Iran.

BLITZER: Does she have a point, Congressman?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, I think it would be a huge mistake to consider that we would take a military action into Iran. I think she's laid out a...

BLITZER: Well, what about opening a dialogue -- trying to open dialogue with the supreme leader of Iran?

HOEKSTRA: Well, that was going to be my second point. I believe that reaching out and engaging with Iran, but doing so with Russia, doing so with our European allies, recognizing that they do have contacts into Iran, and engaging in a full-court diplomatic press with Iran is a good thing to begin the process of doing that.

HOEKSTRA: You know, we're not going to go into Iran militarily. The senator is absolutely right. Iran is not Iraq. And going in there militarily would be, from my perspective, a huge mistake.

BLITZER: On the Israeli-Palestinian front, I want you to listen, Senator Feinstein, to what President Bush said this week about his efforts -- he's trying to achieve some sort of arrangement, some sort of deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians before he leaves office.

He offered this assessment, this week, at a meeting with the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, here in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I assured the president that a Palestinian state's a high priority for me and my administration, a viable state, a state that doesn't look like Swiss cheese, a state that provides hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he's speaking right after the former president, Jimmy Carter, had these very controversial meetings with Hamas in the region.

Here is a clip from what Carter said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: The problem is not that I met with Hamas and Syria. The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with these people who must be involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think? Is Jimmy Carter right?

FEINSTEIN: Who are you asking?

BLITZER: Senator Feinstein?

FEINSTEIN: I wish he hadn't done it, candidly. I have great respect for President Carter. But he is a former president. And I think, to just go in there and meet with a group that is a terrorist enterprise, when this administration is making as full a court press as they see fit, at least, to try to bring the sides together, is a mistake.

I think it creates a, kind of, unpredictable nature.

It's one thing to go and talk to President Abbas and try to work from the Palestinian point of view that way, but to take an entity which is essentially a terrorist entity, that's taken over Gaza, and try to negotiate something separately, I think, is a big mistake, particularly without telling or asking President Bush or the State Department, and then going public with it.

I think it, kind of, looks like a rolling marble on the deck of a ship.

BLITZER: Congressman, what do you think?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think it points out a couple of things. Number one, it points out how weak this president is on a diplomatic front, and the loss of credibility that he has...

BLITZER: Which president are you talking about?

HOEKSTRA: President Bush -- that a former president believes that he can go over there and perhaps negotiate on behalf -- or speak for the United States. So it's a loss of credibility of this president.

But I think the other thing that you really need to focus on, and this is why I think it was bad for President Carter to go over there. When we go overseas -- I was just in Israel three weeks ago -- we need to send a unified message to the Palestinians, to Hamas, to the Israelis, as to directionally where we want to go.

As soon as you have a former president going over there with a different message, you start creating additional confusion in a very complicated situation. And it just makes it that much more difficult to get to a resolution, a resolution that will actually bring us forward into getting peace in the Middle East.

BLITZER: Congressman Hoekstra, thanks for coming in.

HOEKSTRA: Thank you. BLITZER: And Senator Feinstein, always good to have you here on "Late Edition" as well. Thanks to you.

And still to come, how will the Democratic candidates deal with foreign policy crises?

I'll put that question to two top national security advisers for the Clinton and Obama campaigns.

Straight ahead, we'll also have a live report from the campaign trail on today's political events. Stay with "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition". I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can't rest these days. That's because it's only nine days away from the next two contests in North Carolina and Indiana. That takes place on May 6th.

CNN's Jim Acosta is following every move the Democrats are making this weekend. Let's go to Indianapolis. That's where Jim is right now. What is the latest, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, yesterday Hillary Clinton threw down the gauntlet, challenging Barack Obama to a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate with no moderator, a la Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, who ran for the Senate in Illinois in 1858. Abraham Lincoln lost that race, by the way, but went on to win the presidency.

But the Obama campaign is having none of it. We talked to David Axelrod, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign. He told us that they have had 21 debates so far and that there is no need for a 22nd.

And Barack Obama -- he was on one of the Sunday talk shows this morning. He said he would like to focus his efforts, over the next week and a half, making a direct appeal to voters here in Indiana and in North Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I'm not ducking one. We've had 21.

(LAUGHTER)

And so, you know, what we've said is, with two weeks, two big states, we want to make sure that we're talking to as many folks as possible on the ground, taking questions from voters. You know, we...

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: No debates between now and Indiana?

OBAMA: We're not going to have debates between now and Indiana.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Now, as for both of these candidates, they're enjoying a bit of a down day today. Hillary Clinton is traveling to North Carolina for an event this evening.

Barack Obama is attending church in Indianapolis this morning, before he enjoys some downtime in Chicago. He will also head down to the Tar Heel state.

But what we saw, over the weekend, here, Wolf, is Barack Obama trying to change the dynamic of this campaign from confrontation with Hillary Clinton to spending more time defining himself. That's why we saw, on Friday night, in Kokomo, Indiana, Barack Obama playing some basketball, three-on-three basketball, with some high school students, and then attending the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday, Barack Obama trying to make that direct appeal to Hoosier state voters that he understands not just politics, but basketball as well. Wolf?

BLITZER: And he looked good on the basketball court. He's a much better basketball player than he is bowler. That's for sure.

All right, Jim. Thanks very much.

Straight ahead, I'll be joined by two State Department veterans now advising the Democratic presidential campaigns. How would the candidates handle these difficult foreign policy issues?

"Late Edition" continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. January of next year a new president will be sitting in the Oval Office, and inevitably dealing with many of the same international problems President Bush is facing right now. Of the two Democratic candidates, who is best to handle these kinds of responsibilities? I'm joined now by key foreign policy advisers from both campaigns, both of whom served during the Clinton administration. Susan Rice supports Barack Obama, Jamie Rubin is advising Hillary Clinton.

Thanks to both of you for coming in. Dr. Rice, I'll start with you. Isn't it Dr. Rice?

RICE: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: Because there's another Dr. Rice that many of us are familiar with, no relation.

RICE: Different Dr. Rice.

BLITZER: Different Dr. Rice, different political persuasion as well. Did the Israelis do the right thing in knocking out that suspected nuclear facility in Syria?

RICE: Yes. BLITZER: If Obama would have been president of the United States, how would he have handled that kind of situation, if he would have handled it differently than the Bush administration, assuming evidence started coming into the U.S. intelligence community back in 2001 that North Korea allegedly was working with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility?

RICE: Well, obviously any threat to Israel is of grave concern to the United States, it would be of grave concern to President Obama. And we have to view that facility in Syria as such a threat. The bigger problem though, Wolf, is we have had a completely dysfunctional approach to North Korea, which has enabled Syria to begin to build that nuclear facility.

The Bush administration has been divided amongst itself along ideological lines. It failed to engage early and effectively in negotiations, and now it's coming back with a deal about which we have to have some real questions or at least a potential deal about which we have real questions. Unanswered still is the question of North Korea's proliferation, its uranium program. These are things about which we would need concrete answers. And Senator Obama as president would ensure that we had those answers and we wouldn't have a divided administration. We'd have a clear, forceful approach to negotiations with the North Koreans and we wouldn't accept a deal that didn't answer all of those critical questions.

BLITZER: Jamie Rubin, did the Israelis do the right thing in unilaterally knocking doubt that suspected facility?

RUBIN: Yes.

BLITZER: And if Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States, would she authorize that kind of unilateral action as opposed to going to the International Atomic Energy Agency with evidence and trying to deal multilaterally with these kinds alleged proliferation efforts?

RUBIN: Well, I think that Susan put it very well. I don't think whether it's President Clinton or President Obama we would have been in a situation where the whole world has so many doubts about the United States and so many questions are raised about such a compelling briefing that was given.

The fact that we are being challenged and questioned around the world by this sort of compelling intelligence is a disaster that resulted from the Bush administration's mishandling of Iraq, mishandling of the IAEA.

And I think under a President Clinton what we would be seeing would be an effort to deal with nuclear weapons proliferation in a much more comprehensive way where the world would know that the United States was willing to talk to resolve these problems first.

The world wouldn't fear that every time there's a problem the United States is about to pull the trigger and go to war. I think instead what you'd see is our allies, the United States, working together on problems like Iran, problems like North Korea.

BLITZER: Basically you're saying that the evidence that the administration has put forward is compelling and that you buy it.

RUBIN: I do, yes.

BLITZER: And you do as well?

RICE: The evidence of their program, yes.

BLITZER: The evidence of the alleged North Korean facility in Syria. And when Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says, you know what, we have an international organization that's supposed to deal with this, why not come to us, present the evidence before Israel goes ahead and strikes, what would a Barack Obama administration say in response? RICE: Well, yes, present the evidence, and, yes, involve the IAEA, which, as it turned out, was right about Iraq. When others made the wrong judgment, it was in fact the IAEA that had the right information.

So, yes, indeed, work with them and talk with them, but here we have a case of what appeared to be an imminent threat, a clear case of a potential imminent threat to Israel, and Israel acted, and President Obama would always support Israel's right to defend itself.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about where the two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, disagree, and I'll play this little clip to underline one area of disagreement on a major national security issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I do think that it's important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.

CLINTON: There has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process, but I don't think it should be offered in the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. The issue is whether President Obama, if he becomes president, would go ahead and meet with leaders of Iran or North Korea or Venezuela without preconditions. He says there's nothing wrong with that. She says there is something wrong with that.

RICE: Well, first of all, without preconditions doesn't mean without preparation, and that has been a point that Senator Clinton has chosen to distort. What Senator Obama has said is this, that it has long been in the United States' interests to deal directly with our adversaries in order to make progress on critical issues that threaten our national security. That's how we dealt with the former Soviet Union. That's how we dealt with communist China. That was the policy that John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon pursued to some success.

When it comes to the countries you listed, Senator Obama's view was as and when we think it is appropriate, after due preparation for direct negotiations at a senior level to proceed, he's willing to lead those negotiations without preconditions.

It's exactly what Senator Feinstein said this morning on your show, who happens to be a Clinton supporter. This is not a radical notion. The Bush administration has taken the view that negotiating with our adversaries is a reward for our adversaries. That's the John McCain point of view. It's a patently false point of view that has led us down a very dangerous path. BLITZER: All right. Let's hear from the potential Clinton administration.

RUBIN: Well, look, this is a classic issue to discuss because what it shows is that by and large the Democrats, who have been watching President Bush screw up American foreign policy for eight years, broadly speaking, agree.

It was dumb to give the silent treatment to Iran. It was dumb for the first few years to give the silent treatment to North Korea, as if these countries were going to just go away. It took President Bush years and years and years to come around on many of these diplomatic issues.

If a Democrat is elected, as I certainly hope it would be, whether it's Obama or Clinton, the Democrats are going to realize that it's wise to deal with countries we have problems with, deal with countries that are threatening the United States with a combination of diplomatic and other means, something Bush administration has forgotten.

The difference between us is relatively small compared to the Bush administration's overall failure. Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton, has made what I think is a pretty compelling point, that when you're dealing with people like Chavez, you're dealing with Ahmadinejad, you're dealing with crazy dictators like the Kim Jong-il in North Korea, that you want to be really, really careful that you don't have a meeting with the president that ends up giving advantages to those people.

Imagine Hugo Chavez -- please let me finish. Imagine Hugo Chavez taking such a meeting and using it to his advantage. But the idea of negotiating with Iran, yes, we have to negotiate with Iran. It would be sensible to get them at the table so that their leaders can't use the fact that the United States is avoiding them to their advantage.

It's a question of what level the meetings happen and how that meeting process is brought up the chain. And that's a relatively small difference compared to McCain and Bush and the failed foreign policy of the Bush administration.

RICE: There are differences also, Wolf, in judgment and temperament. We heard Senator Clinton say just a couple of weeks ago that we ought to obliterate Iran. That's the kind of cowboy language that we've heard in the past from George Bush and indeed John McCain, who talked about bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.

So we need someone in the Oval Office with a temperament and a judgment to make the right decisions, whether it's on critical issues of war and peace, like the decision to go to war in Iraq, which has had the effect, unfortunately, of strengthening Iran, strengthening Hamas and Hezbollah in the region, or whether it was the decision to join with very conservative Republicans, including John McCain, and vote for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which gave a blank check to the administration to...

RUBIN: I'd like to respond.

BLITZER: But before you respond, I want to read -- she raises that quote, and I heard Senator Clinton on "Good Morning America" say it this week, and I want you to explain what she was talking about.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I am the president, we will attack Iran in the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel. We would be able to totally obliterate them."

What is she suggesting?

RUBIN: Well, let me respond to several of the points that Susan made, because these are areas of difference.

First of all, on the issue of Iraq. We've been talking about this for a long time, and Senator Obama has made a lot of hay out of it and done a pretty good job at trying to say that she would have shown better judgment.

What I have always been puzzled by is why Senator Obama has never acknowledged that back in 2005 and 2004 and 2006, this is what the man had to say about Iraq. He said, "I have always been careful to say I don't know how I would have voted if I were in the Senate." He said this in 2006 in the New Yorker. I could get the quote. This is very important, Wolf. This is the heart of the foreign policy debate, and please let me finish, Susan.

RICE: I haven't interrupted you yet.

RUBIN: Yet.

BLITZER: We're almost out of time, so you've got to go quickly.

RUBIN: No, this is important. I don't know how I would have voted if I had access to the intelligence. Go ahead.

RICE: On your show, Wolf, in 2004, during the Democratic convention, the quote that the Clintons always point to. And he was very clear that he would have voted against this war. There's no doubt about what their stands were. There's no doubt about who made the right judgment on Iraq. This is a critical difference. BLITZER: What did she mean when she said we might -- if they foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them?

RUBIN: I would urge all of the people watching this show to get the quote from 2006, Susan, in the New Yorker, in which he says "I have always said I don't know how I would have voted if I had the intelligence."

RICE: Jamie, nice try.

RUBIN: That's very important.

BLITZER: We'll look it up. What about the question, what is she talking about obliterating...

(CROSSTALK)

RICE: Please answer the question.

RUBIN: Wolf, she said a statement of fact. If you read the quote, she said the United States has the capability to obliterate Iran. That's what the quote says. Please read the quote from her comment in ABC News.

BLITZER: "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran in the next 10 years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel. We would be able to totally obliterate them."

RICE: We will attack them?

RUBIN: Excuse me, Susan, please. She would be able -- we would be able to obliterate. That is a statement of fact, Wolf. Deterrence is a very, very important thing, and what Senator Clinton has done in this case, as Senator Obama has, is answer some questions about what would happen if a nuclear Iran -- Iran has nuclear weapons we're talking about -- and attacks Israel with nuclear weapons. In the debate, Senator Obama answered...

BLITZER: In that circumstance, the U.S. would obliterate Iran?

RUBIN: Under that circumstance, Hillary Clinton spoke very carefully. She said we would respond, and we have very, very strong capabilities. And she went further than that, and she explained, in a way that Senator Obama hasn't yet, how is the world going to deal with the situation like that? And I think to try to pick a word out and say that she said, as Susan said earlier, she was going to obliterate -- that's not what she said. She said that we were able to obliterate, which is technically a true statement of fact, and she said it was appropriate for the United States to be very serious in showing its commitment to Israel's security.

BLITZER: If Iran launched a nuclear attack against Israel, how would an Obama administration attack? RICE: Well, of course, we would do anything necessary to defend and protect Israel. And we would extend -- we would treat an attack on Israel as an attack on the United States. There is no question about that.

But that's not -- Jamie is parsing a quote. You read it three times. It's not what she said. She didn't say would be able to obliterate.

RUBIN: Would you read it again now, Wolf? That's what she said.

RICE: There is another major...

RUBIN: Please read it, Wolf.

RICE: There's another major policy issue here and a point of difference. Senator Clinton and Senator Obama agree on the critical importance of defending and protecting our ally, Israel. But Senator Clinton went a step further. She said she would extend the United States' nuclear shield to all of the countries in the Middle East, regardless of their status.

BLITZER: If Iran attacked them.

RICE: No, no, no. No. This was a broader approach to what she's now called deterrence, which is to equate all of the countries in the Middle East, whether it's Syria or Yemen or whatever, putting it on the same level as Israel and suggesting that, you know, should they agree to...

BLITZER: I don't think she was referring to Syria.

RICE: She extended the umbrella to the broader Middle East. She didn't name countries. She said any country in the region that is forswearing a nuclear program...

BLITZER: The way I read that statement, and I'll let (inaudible) because we've got to go, we're out of time, was that friendly countries who might feel endangered by Iran...

RICE: She didn't say friendly, Wolf.

BLITZER: ... like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, UAE...

RICE: She didn't say friendly. I hope that's what she meant. BLITZER: I think that's what she was referring to. Go ahead.

RICE: Why don't you let Jamie tell us?

RUBIN: Clearly, she was -- and I would like you to read the phrase again in the quote, because Susan keeps misquoting it. Please read it.

BLITZER: But is she proposing extending the nuclear...

RUBIN: She wasn't talking about extending our nuclear deterrent to Syria.

RICE: She said all the countries in the region.

RUBIN: And that use of the phrase "Syria" is an example of trying to throw out an effort to mask.

What Senator Clinton was doing is in serious policy debates in this country, we understand that if President Bush fails, if Iran gets nuclear weapons before either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton is president, we've got a real problem here, and in that event we face a nuclear arms race in the region.

RICE: Right. But that's another...

RUBIN: Please let me finish, Susan.

RICE: ... problem to assume...

RUBIN: Susan, please let me finish.

RICE: ... Iran will get nuclear weapons.

BLITZER: We're out of time.

RUBIN: Susan, please let me finish.

RICE: Senator Obama is not prepared to concede that.

RUBIN: Susan...

BLITZER: Go ahead, finish your thought.

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIN: ... moderate here, please, Wolf? We need some moderation.

BLITZER: Go ahead. Finish your thought, but quickly.

RUBIN: In the region, we have a serious problem, and that is the possibility that Saudi Arabia would go nuclear in response to Iran, and Senator Clinton has thought this issue through in a serious way and she understands...

RICE: So who would she extend the shield to?

RUBIN: I'm just explaining to you that in the Gulf states, we need to have a discussion with them. The Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, we don't want them to get nuclear weapons. What we want to do is the responsible thing, is start talking to them about what we would all do as Iran becomes more and more dangerous. That's a responsible, wise commander in chief planning for the future.

BLITZER: Final thought on that.

RICE: Very strange to throw out such a complex policy proposal as a throw-away line in a debate.

Wolf, the real challenge here is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Senator Obama has said repeatedly that when he's president, he will do everything possible to prevent that eventuality from happening. It's really not constructive to concede that possibility and then talk about some...

RUBIN: He did it in the debate, Senator Obama conceded it in the debate.

RICE: He did not. His critical point in the debate was we cannot allow Iran to become nuclear.

RUBIN: No, but he accepted the premise of the question.

RICE: No, he did not.

RUBIN: Of course he did.

RICE: He disputed the premise of the question. That was the difference.

RUBIN: Susan. Now, would you read the quote, please?

BLITZER: On that note, I will read the quote and then we're ending this discussion, but we'll continue down the road, because this has been a very good discussion. "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 yours during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate..."

RUBIN: Be able.

BLITZER: ... totally obliterate them."

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIN: Be able, Susan. Be able.

BLITZER: Jamie Rubin, Susan Rice, thanks to both of you for coming in.

RICE: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: And coming up, two men who follow Osama bin Laden's every move on where he might be right now. "Late Edition" continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Six-and-a-half years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still in hiding and a grave danger to the United States. What drives him? And what can we predict about what he might do next? For some answers we turn to two men for special insight. Steve Coll's new book is entitled, "The Bin Ladens." He's joining us from Berlin. And with her in Washington, our CNN terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen, his book is entitled "The Osama Bin Laden I Know." Thanks to both of you very much for coming. A quick question on the news today, Hamid Karzai, Steve Coll, apparently an assassination attempt in Kabul today by Taliban, perhaps al Qaeda elements. He survived. Others weren't so lucky. What's the latest in terms of the hunt for bin Laden? Is the U.S. and the West any closer to finding him?

COLL: Well, I'm not aware of any specific intelligence that has lit up the trail in the last six months or so, but the circumstances in which he's hiding have changed. And he's probably in Pakistan and there his popularity has declined considerably, and also you've got a new government in power, so the motivations on the Pakistani side are changing very quickly.

BLITZER: What do you think, Peter?

BERGEN: Yes, I think the hunt for bin Laden is going very poorly. As Steve said, bin Laden's support is evaporating in the North-West Frontier Province, where he's almost certainly hiding. A recent poll showed he had dropped from 70 percent favorable in August of 2007 to 4 percent.

BLITZER: So wouldn't that make it easier for Pakistani or other -- or the U.S., Afghan troops, somebody to find him?

BERGEN: Yes. And I think the short answer is yes. Also a very sharp decline in support for suicide bombings amongst Pakistanis. Unfortunately, on the other hand, you have got a Pakistani government which is doing a deal with some of the militants in the North-West Frontier Province at the same time. So as always, sort of a mixed message here with the Pakistanis.

BLITZER: You had written, and I'll read the quote to you here from a piece, Steve, in The Los Angeles Times back on April 13th. You wrote: "Bin Laden may well understand what many Americans do not, that he's more likely to be killed or captured during the next year or so than at any time since late 2001 when he escaped U.S. war planes bombing him in eastern Afghanistan at Tora Bora."

Explain what you meant.

COLL: Well, the first and most important factor is the one that Peter cited, which is that the popularity that he enjoys in the area where he's almost certainly hiding has collapsed, and the way these hunts have always ended in the past in Pakistan -- or almost always, is that somebody has dropped a dime on the fugitive, and it just seems entirely logical that this is more likely now than it was when his favorability ratings were in the 70s.

I also think that the new government in Pakistan, although they have just cut a deal with the Ayatollah Massoud (ph), that raises questions about their strategy. And nonetheless they come to office with a different set of motivations than President Musharraf had.

The U.S., perhaps unintentionally, got itself into a perverse situation with Musharraf in which the structure of its aid almost incented the high command of the Pakistani army not to find bin Laden, because then their rent that they were charging the United States would be cut off or reduced.

And here you've got a democratic government that argued in Washington vehemently that they'd be a better counterinsurgency and better counterterrorism partner than Musharraf. Finding bin Laden would certainly be a way to demonstrate that and I think some of them are aware that they would be rewarded rather than punished if they succeeded.

BLITZER: Well, that's an optimistic assessment, Peter, that perhaps we could wake up one morning in the not-too-distant future and hear the words "bin Laden captured or killed." Is that something that would shock you?

BERGEN: Well, one day it's inevitable because he's a human being and a human being makes mistakes. And I think, again, Steve is completely correct. The political winds have shifted in a way which is quite damaging to al Qaeda and the Taliban itself in Pakistan. So one can only hope.

BLITZER: Here is a quote from bin Laden in a statement he released last March 20th, Steve. And I'll read it to you. "The nearest jihad battlefield to support our people in Palestine is the battlefield of Iraq. The people of the blessed land should sense the great favor God has bestowed upon them and do what they should do to support their mujahedeen brothers in Iraq."

How important to bin Laden is what's going on in Iraq right now?

COLL: Well, I think it's one of three or four countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he sees his followers in action, and -- but the statement itself is the broader significance of his importance now. He may have a small operational role when operatives from Europe reach the border and plan attacks in Europe.

But mostly what he's doing is narrating the war that he believes he's leading. And when narrates that war, he tries to send a message to his followers to motivate them, to remind them of what the most important targets are.

Sometimes these followers act even when they have no contact with him. So I think that's the significance of his role now is his ability to communicate and also the continuity of leadership that he provides symbolically and actually to al Qaeda. This is an organization that has had the same two leaders in place for 20 years now, never been tested by a succession crisis.

BLITZER: He's talking about Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian number two. Do you agree with that assessment, Peter?

BERGEN: Yes. I mean, it's quite unusual for a terrorist organization that is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. They've been quite successful, and both the leaders are still in charge of the organization. BLITZER: Here is a quote from your new book "The Bin Ladens," Steve, and I'll read it to you. We'll put it up on the screen, page 569: "He mocked his Western adversaries for misunderstanding him as a pre-modern fanatic, a bearded loner in a far away cave. He saw himself instead as a master of global technology and change."

Explain your point.

COLL: Well, I think in the West we've had a tendency to locate Osama in our minds as a backward looking, long-bearded, medieval sort of character, when in fact his success has been a product of his grasp and use of modernization, particularly the technologies of global integration.

His first great innovation as a terrorist leader was to use a satellite phone to carry out simultaneous attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa while never leaving Afghanistan. And he has also used the media, satellite television, and, of course, aviation to innovate.

And so I think it's just important to understand that's who he is. That presumably would help figure out -- aid the effort to contain and defeat him.

BLITZER: Steve Coll's new book is entitled "The Bin Ladens." Steve, thanks for coming in. Peter Bergen has got a good book entitled, "The Bin Laden I know." Thanks to you, as usual, as well.

And there is much more ahead on LATE EDITION. Two key supporters give us insight into the search for a Democratic presidential candidate. LATE EDITION continues at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is "Late Edition", the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: The way we're going to close the deal is by winning. And right now, we're winning.

CLINTON: Let's go win an election, Indiana. Let's make it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER (voice over): The Democratic candidates move on to the big primary contests of North Carolina and Indiana. And the tensions are rising.

Will the increasingly bitter competition undermine the Democrats in November?

(UNKNOWN): Syria attempted to maintain its secrecy.

BLITZER: Startling new evidence North Korea allegedly was helping Syria with a nuclear reactor. We'll discuss politics and policy with two senators, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and supporter of Barack Obama, and Chuck Schumer of New York, a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

MCCAIN: Never again -- never again will a disaster of this nature be handled in the terrible and disgraceful way that it was handled. Never again -- never again.

BLITZER: Can John McCain distance himself from the legacy of George W. Bush?

That question and more for our political panel, three of the best political team on television.

Plus, a conversation with Yasser Arafat, just one classic interview from a decade of hosting "Late Edition", the last word in Sunday talk.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN in Washington, this is "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition."

The long awaited Pennsylvania primary did not result in a knockout blow for the Democratic presidential candidates. Even though Hillary Clinton faces a tough path to victory, Barack Obama cannot seem to clinch the nomination, at least not yet.

Let's get an inside view of the road ahead. For that, I'm joined by advocates of both campaigns.

In St. Louis, the Missouri senator Claire McCaskill. She's endorsed Barack Obama. And in our New York bureau, the New York senator Chuck Schumer. He's a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Thanks, Senators, to both of you, for both of you coming in.

And I'll start with you, Senator Schumer. Indiana, on May 6th, only, what, nine days away. The latest CNN poll of polls, our average of the major polls in Indiana shows a dead heat right now, 45 percent for Obama, 45 percent for Clinton.

Look at this, though. Ten percent remain unsure at this point. Some have suggested that Indiana is the tiebreaker; whoever wins Indiana will go on and get the nomination. What do you think?

SCHUMER: Well, I don't think that's going to happen. I do think Hillary Clinton is going to win Indiana. She's going to win by a significant amount. I think she's going to surprise the pundits.

The message that she's been talking about, talking to average folks about their needs and concerns, health care and education and the cost of gasoline, really resonate with Indiana voters.

This has been a race where Barack Obama had a substantial lead a few months ago, and Hillary Clinton now has the momentum. It's a very close race. But if I had to bet on who's going to win this, I'd bet on Hillary.

BLITZER: What do you think, Senator McCaskill?

MCCASKILL: Well, I would disagree about who has the momentum. If you look at what's going to make the decision in this race, it's winning delegates, which Barack Obama continues to do, continues to be ahead, in terms of pledged delegates and in superdelegates.

And if you drill down and look at the superdelegate race, right now, you see where the momentum is. By 86 to 5, I think, is the number Barack Obama has been winning superdelegates over the last six days.

That has continued after Pennsylvania. That tells you that most people who are going to have a vote in this primary, and most people who are going to have a vote in terms of who our nominee is, knows that he is the candidate that brings real change.

He is going to keep his head down. He's going to have a conversation with the voters of Indiana. And even if Hillary Clinton wins by a few, he will take a number of delegates out of there. He will take a number of delegates out of North Carolina, and he will continue to march toward the nomination.

BLITZER: All right. Here are the delegate counts, the estimates that we have, Senator Schumer. I'll put them up on the screen right now.

For Barack Obama, he has 1,724 delegates. That includes both the pledged and the superdelegates. Hillary Clinton has 1,589.

It's almost certain -- and correct me if I'm wrong, Senator Schumer, that he'll wind up with more pledged delegates. The question is, who will get more of those superdelegates? And in the end, who will reach the magic number of 2,025?

SCHUMER: Right. Well, I think you're right. I do think the number of even pledged delegates is going to narrow. I think Hillary is going to do better in the upcoming primary contests and catch up a little bit. And the one that people often forget is Puerto Rico. It's the last one. It's on June 3rd. It's 63 delegates, I think it is, and it's winner-take-all. She's way ahead in the polls there.

So, even assuming that all of the delegates that are pledged in these primaries break evenly -- and I don't think that will happen -- then you have a margin of 60 or 70 in the superdelegates. There are 300 of them. They could go either way.

And I think they're going to see that Hillary Clinton is a better candidate in November, is a stronger president, and they're going to go with her, and she's going to win this by mid-June, when most of the superdelegates decide.

BLITZER: He had a hard time in Pennsylvania, Senator McCaskill, getting those white working class voters. She did much better with that category, a least in Pennsylvania. She also did better with the same category in Ohio six weeks earlier. Is that a big problem that you see?

MCCASKILL: No, because here is what all working-class families know, right now, in America. They want change. They don't want same as John -- same as Bush. They want change.

They want someone who understands that they can't get their bills to even out at the end of the month. They want someone who is going to bring dramatic change to Washington, not the same old political games.

That's why you're going to see Barack Obama, over the next couple of weeks, talking and having a conversation with middle America about who can change Washington dramatically, people who have been there for decades, playing the same tit-for-tat political games, or someone who is authentic, who tells the truth, and who's going to motivate new voters to participate for the first time ever.

BLITZER: What do you think, Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Well, I think there's an obvious reason why Hillary Clinton's been winning these voters. She talks directly to them.

And, you know, change is nice, but you've got to delineate how you're going to create the change and what the change is going to be. And the voters -- these voters -- life isn't easy for them these days.

There was a study by Elizabeth Warren that showed, even during the Bush years of prosperity, the average middle-class person lost about $8,000 in buying power, from $48,000 to $40,000.

So, you know, they don't want pie in the sky or broad formulations. They want to know, how are you going to make may health care costs less; how are you going to make my kids' schools be better; how are you going to go after the gas companies and bring down the price of oil and gas?

And I think Hillary has a more concise, clear message. She's been laser-like in focusing on those voters. And now it's beginning to pay real dividends. And I think you'll see the same thing in Indiana.

BLITZER: She raised this question after she won in Pennsylvania. And I'll play the clip, Senator McCaskill. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I think, maybe, the question ought to be, why can't he close the deal? With his extraordinary financial advantage, why can't he win a state like this one?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He did outspend her in advertising at least 2-1; some way 3-1, and others say maybe even more.

Why couldn't he close the deal? If he would have knocked her out in Pennsylvania, she probably would have had to drop out of the contest.

MCCASKILL: Listen, Pennsylvania fit Hillary Clinton like a glove. She had the institutional support of the old-line political party in Pennsylvania.

And if you look at this journey that Barack Obama has been on, he never was taken seriously at the beginning; she was inevitable. This is a remarkable story for the history books. And he continues to motivate voters, inspire voters.

And it is about real change, Wolf. It's not just about talking change. I mean, he has specific proposals. He has been straight with the voters. He's going to continue to have a conversation with the voters.

And the question is, are we going to revert to the political tit- for-tat games, where the person in second place tries to drag down the person in first place? Or are we going to keep our head down, talk to voters about real change, get the most delegates and unite?

And my hope, of course, is that Hillary Clinton will be out there defending Barack Obama in September and October, as we unite to take back the White House.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer...

SCHUMER: Just one point, Wolf?

BLITZER: Senator Schumer -- go ahead.

SCHUMER: Just one point on Pennsylvania -- I mean, Claire -- and she's a very astute politician, in the very positive sense of the word -- said that Pennsylvania fit Hillary like a glove.

But the suburbs of Philadelphia fit Barack Obama like a glove. They're upper income, college-educated. It's where he was supposed to be doing very, very well. She carried Bucks County by over 60 percent. And she even, in the, sort of, archetypal suburb, where Barack should have shown strength -- she even carried Montgomery County, which surprised everybody.

So her strength was across the board in Pennsylvania. And I think people are beginning to see, once again, who can best win this election in November? Hillary. Who will be the best president? Hillary.

I think Barack's a great guy. But I think Hillary is going to take it.

BLITZER: Senator McCaskill, what do you say to those supporters of Hillary Clinton who argue that the Democrats, in November, against John McCain, desperately will need states like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida, for that matter, Michigan, both of which don't count, in terms of the delegates, right now -- but those are the states that will decide the presidency, not states, let's say, like Wyoming, where Barack Obama has done well?

BLITZER: The key Electoral College states where she has done well are the states the Democrats need in November, and she has the advantage going in?

MCCASKILL: Wolf, I live in one of those states. I understand it very, very well. And let me tell what you makes the difference in states like that. We didn't have any independent voters in the Pennsylvania election. It is independent voters that decide presidential elections in the United States of America because we are very evenly divided.

And from day one Barack Obama has done better with independent voters than any of the candidates running, and he still is polling much better in most of these states than Hillary Clinton. So we've got to really step back here and say, this isn't about the hard core Democrats or the hard core Republicans. It's about that grand and glorious middle that decides elections in Missouri and decides elections in November for this country.

And those voters fundamentally understand that we've got to have real change. We can't turn back. We've got to go forward with a new and different kind of candidate that's authentic and inspires us and can lead very well into the future.

BLITZER: We're going to take a break. But I want you to respond in part, Senator Schumer, to the argument that the Obama camp makes that more states would be in play, states like Virginia, for example, or her home state of Missouri or Wisconsin, if he's the Democratic nominee as opposed to Hillary Clinton, who brings a lot of high negatives with her. Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: Oh, you want me to respond now? I thought we were going to commercial break.

BLITZER: No, go ahead and respond, then we'll take a break.

SCHUMER: OK. Good. Well, the bottom line is that are who are these swing voters? Most of them are not people making $150,000 or $200,000 a year. They're people making $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year whose lives have gone -- you know, they're not doing poorly. I mean, you shouldn't condescend to people like this. And any politician who does, does it at their own risk.

But they're struggling right now in certain ways because of the price of gasoline, the price of food. Our Joint Economic Committee is going to have a hearing this week on the high price of food. I just went shopping yesterday in a supermarket. The prices are through the roof.

And they want somebody who knows how to get things done. Let's face it, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would bring welcome change to the middle class compared to George Bush and John McCain, who issues his policies.

And I think what the voters are doing is taking a hard, realistic look, who can bring about that change? Not broad rhetoric, but specific change? Who knows how to get it done? Who has shown an ability to get it done? Who has shown an ability to know how to roll over certain obstacles to get it done?

You know, there's nobody, Wolf, better at getting from point A to point B than Hillary Clinton. And I think the middle class independent voters are recognizing that and are going to go for her.

BLITZER: Stand by, guys. We have a lot more to talk about. We're going to take a quick break, a short break. When we come back, we'll also have a 10th anniversary classic. My conversation with Yasser Arafat, one of 10 years of interviews with the people who have changed history. That and a lot more coming up right here on LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're continuing our conversation with two U.S. senators, Barack Obama supporter Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Senator Chuck Schumer is supporting Hillary Clinton.

John McCain weighed in on Barack Obama this week. And among other things, he said this, let me play the clip -- actually, I'm going to read it to you. He said this, he said: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas, I think people can make judgments accordingly."

Senator McCaskill, he was referring to a statement by a North American representative of Hamas that they like Barack Obama. What do you think about that?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think that's irresponsible. I think John McCain knows that Barack Obama is a strong -- very strong on national security. He is going to be a no-nonsense president when it comes to protecting America, and he knows that from his time on the Foreign Relations Committee, Barack Obama worked with Dick Lugar to secure loose nukes around the country, around the world, and make sure that America is safer going forward.

I think that what our enemies don't want is they don't want a president who will restore our standing in the world, and that's what Barack Obama will do. He will take a wide view of our safety and security, get us out of this mess in Iraq that is completely undermining our economy.

You talk about having economic problems going forward, if we're in Iraq for 100 years, I'll guarantee you the middle class is going to continue to suffer, as Chuck was referencing before the break.

BLITZER: You're a strong supporter of Israel, Senator Schumer. Is there a significant difference from the perspective of U.S. support for Israel between these two Democratic presidential candidates?

SCHUMER: Look, I think Hillary Clinton's support for Israel is second to none. I have worked with her as we've worked in the Senate now for seven years, seven-and-a-half years together, and I know how passionately she feels about a strong Israel.

But look, let's make no mistake about it, I don't think that Barack Obama needs to be ashamed of his record. It has been very strong on Israel as well. I think that both Democratic candidates, frankly, will do better for Israel than John McCain because any policy that keeps us in Iraq for another five, 10, however many years, is not good for Israel.

BLITZER: Here is what Representative James Clyburn said on Friday. James Clyburn, the majority whip, the number three Democrat in the House of Representatives, himself an African-American, he said: "There are African-Americans who have reached the decision that the Clintons know that she can't win this, but they're hell-bound to make it impossible for Obama to win."

Very strong words. He's neutral in this contest, Senator Schumer, but he's making a very strong allegation against your side.

SCHUMER: Well, first of all, I talk to Hillary Clinton and some of the people in her campaign regularly, and this idea that they know they can't win is absolutely wrong. I think Hillary Clinton and her campaign -- you can see it in the way she's campaigning now.

She has found her stride. She's talking directly to people. She's doing great. And I think the view in the Clinton campaign, one which I share, is that we are going to win, and it's not going to take until the convention.

As for the comments that certain people make here and there, I don't know who -- I have great respect for Representative Clyburn, he was saying certain people thought that.

SCHUMER: You know, you hear this from both sides in the campaigns, and some of these campaigns, there's a little bit of push and pull.

But I'd make this argument, Wolf, to Democrats, and that is that whatever each candidate has said about one another is nothing compared to what the Republicans are going to throw at whoever our winner is come the fall. They know, the Republicans do, John McCain. His position in Iraq is unpopular. His position on the economy is unpopular. And we need a battle-tested, seasoned candidate who can fend off those attacks, because the Republicans aren't going to go on the merits here. They're going to try to find diversionary issues.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator McCaskill.

MCCASKILL: Well, what I was going to say is, the superdelegates are going to decide this. And I can assure you, they are listening very carefully to both candidates to see who is being positive and who is, in fact, tearing the other one down. And I think that Senator Clinton going forward must be very careful, because after Pennsylvania, she didn't get a big number of superdelegates. In fact, Barack Obama has gotten more than she has this week. And I think going forward, I agree, we have to unite, and I think we will, and I think we have two terrific candidates. The women, some women feel very strongly...

SCHUMER: I agree.

MCCASKILL: ... about Hillary and African-Americans may feel very strongly about Barack, but they are two important parts of our party that will come together as long as our candidates remain positive and responsible about campaigning in the last days of this primary contest.

BLITZER: All right. One way that these two sides of the Democratic Party could unite would be, irrespective of whoever gets the nomination, to form that so-called dream team, that dream ticket. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, thinks that's a bad idea. Listen to this exchange she had with Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: If you had your power, would you want them to run together?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: No.

KING: No?

PELOSI: I don't think it's a good idea.

KING: Not a good idea?

PELOSI: No, I don't think so.

KING: Because?

PELOSI: I think that, first of all, the candidate, whoever he or she may be, should choose his or her own vice-presidential candidate. I think that's appropriate. That's where you would see the comfort level in not only how to run, but how to govern the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I don't know about you, Senator Schumer, but if Hillary Clinton were to get the Democratic nomination, I could easily see her asking Barack Obama to be her running mate. What do you think?

SCHUMER: So could I. I think Barack Obama would be a strong running mate for Hillary Clinton. I think he has shown an ability to reach out to people and a freshness to politics that is very good. And her experience and leadership at the top of the ticket and him right behind, you know, right as vice president, I think it would be a very strong ticket. I don't agree -- I certainly agree with Nancy that the candidate, he or she who wins the nomination, should make up their own mind. But I for one, I would advise Hillary Clinton that Barack would make a very strong vice president. BLITZER: What about the same question to you, Senator McCaskill? If Barack Obama gets the nomination, do you think as part of an effort to reach out, unite the party, he would offer that No. 2 spot to Hillary Clinton?

MCCASKILL: Listen, my friend Chuck has been in Washington a lot longer than I have. He may have more pull than I do. I would not be so presumptuous to tell either one of these great candidates who their vice president should be.

I think Hillary Clinton is a strong and smart and wonderful leader. I think Barack Obama is going to be a terrific president. I know he'll want a vice president that will underline his message of fundamental change, changing the way we do business in Washington. It is so broken now. Anybody who has been there even for the short time I have been there can see how broken it is. So I know that's what he will select, and ultimately that's his decision. And I know America will support him in whatever decision he makes.

BLITZER: All right. Let's see what happens. Senators, thanks very much for coming in.

SCHUMER: Thank you, Wolf.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

BLITZER: And coming up later, I'll be joined by our weekly political panel. But straight ahead, we'll have a look back at 10 years of the last word in Sunday talk. That's coming up right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It's 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, noon in Washington, 5:00 p.m. in London, and 7:00 p.m. here in Botswana. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for our special "Late Edition" from Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was me reporting from Africa back in 1998, 10 years ago. That was the year I began hosting "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. It's been a decade of extraordinary events, including the joyful beginning of a new millennium and the terrible tragedy of 9/11. Starting this Sunday, we're going to be taking a look back every week and bringing you some of my best interviews with politicians, world leaders, and other newsmakers.

Today, part of my conversation with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. We met in Ramallah on the West Bank back in May of 2002. I spoke with him in the middle of the night during a period of extreme instability in the Middle East.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Are you prepared, Mr. President, to live in a new Palestine alongside a Jewish state called Israel?

YASSER ARAFAT: You have forgot that this had been declared in '88, in our P&C (ph), in Algiers, accepting two states beside each other.

BLITZER: So are you saying...

ARAFAT: When I was a small boy, I used to play side by side -- I was living with my uncle in Jerusalem, my uncle Aria (ph), and I used to go -- as a small boy to play with the Jews in the Jewish quarter, and they used to come to play with me in my area. You forgot this? I don't forget. I was a small boy, but it's still in my mind. Historically, we were living together. We never -- do you know that until now we don't call them Jews? Do you know what we call them? Our cousins. Still, it is a popular pronounce (ph). We never say Jews. We say he is one of our cousins. Because historically, we are cousins.

BLITZER: One of the...

ARAFAT: You're forgetting historically? BLITZER: I know that, I know that, and I haven't forgotten it. But let's get back to the point of a Jewish state of Israel. The Israelis are...

ARAFAT: We had agreed upon in '88 in the P&C. And you remember after that directly, I call upon for the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

ARAFAT: But I was advised to meet in Geneva. And after that, the American government recognized that and opened the talks between the Palestinians and the Americans officially in Tunisia.

BLITZER: I remember that very carefully. But there was a point...

ARAFAT: Because we had arrived to this conclusion. And after that, (inaudible) we are searching for a solution for our children and for their children.

BLITZER: Two states?

ARAFAT: Two states.

BLITZER: One Jewish state...

ARAFAT: It's an Israeli (ph) state, because they have Jews and they have Christians and Muslims.

BLITZER: See, when you refuse to say "a Jewish state," the Israelis say...

ARAFAT: No, I am not...

BLITZER: ... you're not going to accept a Jewish state. ARAFAT: No, I am not -- I am not refusing. They don't call it a Jewish state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Yasser Arafat. We spoke -- it was almost exactly 10 years ago -- in Ramallah. It was the middle of the night, around 2:00 a.m., during that interview, a memorable interview, indeed.

Every Sunday, from now on, over the next several months, we're going to be playing classic interviews that we've done over these past 10 years. We're celebrating my 10th anniversary as the host of "Late Edition."

And up next on "Late Edition," Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama take their fight for the nomination to Indiana and North Carolina. We're going to get the inside story from our political panel. "Late Edition" continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition". I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. The Pennsylvania primary has now come and gone. No winner has emerged, though, in the effort to try to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

To cover this marathon, though, you need reporters with real endurance, and none better than the three we have right here. Our congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, the guy who keeps politicians honest for AC 360, Joe Johns, and our senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, I'll start with you. Listen to Obama and his reaction to this argument that he's not doing well with white working-class voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I mean, it's not like I've been winning in states that only have either black voters or Chablis-drinking, you know, limousine liberals.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean, we've been winning in places like Idaho. We've been winning in places like Colorado. There is this selective memory about how this campaign has proceeded. There's a reason why we won twice as many states and won more delegates and won a larger popular vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Does he have a point?

BORGER: I think he does have a point. However, Hillary Clinton also has a point in saying that the big states that he's lost are going to be battleground states, come the fall, and that he has to make the case that he can win over those voters.

He's saying, if he's the Democratic nominee, he is going to win over those voters. But, you know, he's got a problem. He has let Hillary Clinton define who he is. And the first rule of politics is, don't let your opponents define you.

BLITZER: Because the Clinton people make the point that, with the exception of his home state of Illinois, she has won in all of these Democratic contests, the other big states...

JOHNS: Right.

BLITZER: ... the states the Democrats will desperately need, come November.

JOHNS: Absolutely. And one of those problems is -- it's the issue of familiarity. When you go and talk to the voters on the ground, like I did in Pennsylvania, people have been listening to Bill Clinton, and now Hillary Clinton, talking for years and years and years about the bread-and-butter issues that matter most to them.

Obama has been talking about these very same issues as well, but it doesn't resonate as much, because they're not as familiar with him as they are with them. So that's the sort of uphill battle that he has to face.

YELLIN: But, Wolf, I'll add that this group, white working-class voters, are a group the Democratic Party has had trouble with, in general, for election after election. Gore had trouble with them. Kerry had trouble.

BLITZER: They used to call them the Reagan Democrats, to a certain degree.

YELLIN: Right. So this isn't a uniquely Obama problem. It's a problem for the Democratic party. And this argument about the big states is Clinton's argument. We're picking up on it.

But when go out there and talk to folks, as I have, and Joe has, and Gloria, folks say, you know, I voted for Clinton this time, but most of them I'm talking to say, you know, I'd be open to voting for Obama in the general.

BLITZER: But there are some -- and exit polls show -- Clinton supporters, who say, under no circumstances, maybe 25 percent...

YELLIN: And Obama supporters, too.

BLITZER: Right -- do they want to vote for the other -- is that just the heat of a moment right now?

Will they reconsider when the dust settles?

BORGER: The Democrats are hoping it's the heat of the moment. Because you see how these polls have changed over the months, as long as this has gone on. Opinions have hardened. The sides are angry. I think, if this ends in an amicable way -- and that's a big if -- and no side feels cheated by the result, then I think they're all going to get together. But that's a big if, and that's a big problem.

BLITZER: It's a huge if, Jessica, right now, because no one knows if the Democrats can unite afterwards and get their act together.

YELLIN: You know, I interviewed Representative Clyburn the other day, who has come out with some very sharp criticism of the Clintons, recently, saying that there's a possibility that they're really dividing the party with some of their talk. And he thinks it's very race-charged.

He says the most important days are going to be in Indiana and the way the campaign is conducted in the next week. And also, the number two person, the person who loses is the most important person, right now, and how they conduct themselves. If they bring their people along, that will unite the Democratic Party. BLITZER: I think they are trying. Correct me if I'm wrong. At least on the Sunday talk shows today, they seemed a little bit more pleasant...

(LAUGHTER)

... the Clinton and Obama surrogates, than they have been in the past. But maybe that's just me.

JOHNS: Well, to use your analogy, it's a very polarizing marathon right now.

And the fact of the matter is, when they get out there in the heat of the battle, a lot of things get said that people are going to have a very hard time taking back.

And the other problem is John McCain is getting the playbook from Hillary Clinton, for example, on how to deal with a Barack Obama.

JOHNS: He's looking at the things that are getting said and the way they're being framed and he is going to be able to use them, assuming he's running against Obama.

BORGER: And the one thing that really struck a lot of Democrats during this campaign was when Hillary Clinton said, I know how to be commander-in-chief, John McCain knows how to be commander-in-chief, and Barack Obama has given us a speech.

And that kind of thing, where you cross the line and essentially say that the Republican nominee is more qualified than one of the Democrats, that's something we haven't seen in a long time. So I think there's a lot of pressure on these candidates to just pull back a little bit.

BLITZER: Those are pretty fighting words, and you have heard them out on the campaign trail, pretty specifically.

YELLIN: Yes. And Obama has made sharp criticisms of Clinton too. They will both have to walk them back when the other one becomes the nominee.

BLITZER: And they will be running backwards at that point, whoever gets this nomination.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by. A lot more to talk about. Barack Obama, he has been speaking out today. We're going to tell you what he has been saying. We're going to wrap up all of the other Sunday morning talk shows here in our very popular "In Case You Missed It" segment. That's coming up. You're watching LATE EDITION. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We'll get back to our political panel in a moment. But now, "In Case You Missed It," let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States.

On FOX, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama discussed the possibility of accepting public financing for a general election campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I have promised that I will sit down with John McCain and talk about, can we preserve a public system as long as we are taking into account third party independent expenditures?

I would be very interested in pursuing public financing because I think not every candidate is going to be able to do what I've done in this campaign, and I think it's important to think about future campaigns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: On NBC, the Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, discussed when the Democratic race will be decided and what the losing candidate needs to do after a nominee is chosen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I'm hoping it will be over by the end of the month of June. We have made great progress in the last few weeks.

We need time to heal, and actually I'm not the most important person in terms of bringing the party together. The most important person is the person who doesn't win the nomination. Because I can remember when I lost to John Kerry, I had to go out and convince my supporters, it took me about three months, that they needed to support Senator Kerry.

I endorsed him, I campaigned for him, I went to all of the college campuses. And that's what the person who doesn't win this with 49 percent of the delegates is going to have to do in order to keep the party together. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: On ABC, Clinton supporter Evan Bayh and Obama supporter Tom Daschle debated over whether Florida and Michigan's primary vote should count in the Democratic presidential race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EVAN BAYH, D-IND.: Florida does count in terms of the popular vote. I mean, the DNC can choose not to seat the delegates, but they don't have the right by law to not count the votes. The state of Florida counts the votes. They voted for state legislator, for state senator, for Congress. The people they voted for are running in those offices.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "THIS WEEK": So let me just get this...

BAYH: They voted to amend the state constitution, as a matter of law those votes count.

TOM DASCHLE, FORMER SOUTH DAKOTA SENATOR: There have been 45 contests, Barack Obama has won 30, Hillary has won 15. They chose not to compete in Florida, not to compete in Michigan. So you can't really count the popular vote there. There's really no mathematical way to -- for Hillary to catch up on either the popular vote or the delegates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Highlights of the other Sunday morning talk shows here on LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk. Don't go anywhere, our political conversation turns to John McCain in just a moment. He's focusing his attention on Barack Obama. We'll tell you what's going on. LATE EDITION continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're back with three of the best political team on television. Gloria Borger, Jessica Yellin, and Joe Johns.

Joe, it seems to me -- but correct me if I'm wrong -- the last thing Barack Obama needs right now is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright going on television. He's going to be speaking tomorrow at the National Press Club.

Here is how he's defending what those clips that have received a ton of publicity. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT: I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue. I felt that those who were doing that were doing it for some very devious reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: What do you think? How much damage potentially this revival, if you will, of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright issue right now is going to cause Barack Obama in advance of Indiana and North Carolina?

JOHNS: I would imagine if you worked for the Obama campaign and he worked for the Obama campaign, the Obama campaign would like nothing better than for him to be on another island or another planet right now, because every time he opens up his mouth, he starts another new cycle on the very same thing.

And sure, it's guilt by association, that's what's happening here, but it happens all the time in politics. And as long as it's a free country and there's free speech, people are going to look at the words of Reverend Wright and ask whether this makes sense to me in middle America? And there are a lot of people out there, even some African-Americans, who really shook their heads when they heard some of the things Reverend Wright had to say. He defended himself. That's what he should do in this situation, but it doesn't necessarily help Obama.

BLITZER: Do you think he appreciates that even as he tries to defend himself, which of course he has every right to do, he's hurting Obama?

YELLIN: It seems that this is very much about defending his own legacy. It's really about defending his own work.

The one silver lining for Barack Obama, if there is one, is that it is coming out now, as opposed to let's say he becomes the nominee. Maybe he's inoculated from all of this by the time the general election comes up. But if this isn't a plus for Barack Obama, and it doesn't seem Jeremiah Wright is too concerned about that.

BLITZER: Gloria.

BORGER: You know, I generally agree with these folks. But also, if you kind of look at it, Jeremiah Wright, who is doing this because of his own need for redemption, if you will, that Wright will be judged on his words and Obama will be judged on his words. It gives Obama another opportunity, although he'd rather not have it, believe me, to sort of distance himself from this fellow. I'm sure he would rather he would not appear at the Press Club.

BLITZER: Speaking of distancing one's self, John McCain was in New Orleans distancing himself from the current president of the United States and the whole Katrina fallout. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: America will never forget, I will never forget, and never again will there be a mismanaged natural disaster, manmade or natural, again that will occur in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think? Is that strategy going to work for him?

JOHNS: It's very hard, because he's already been tied by Democrats to this president of the United States on Iraq, his vision on keeping the tax cuts in place that President Bush put in place.

BLITZER: He opposed them originally.

JOHNS: Exactly. On the other hand, there are some ways he can distance himself, and that's what he's trying to do, particularly on this issue of New Orleans. He is also not out there talking about religion in a way that President Bush has. So he can differentiate himself a little bit, but he's still going to be tied by Democrats in the general election to President Bush.

BLITZER: You guys were at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night. The president had a little fun with this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Senator McCain is not here. He probably wanted to distance himself from me a little bit, you know. He's not alone. Jenna is moving out, too.

The two Democratic candidates aren't here either. Senator Clinton couldn't get into the building because of sniper fire and Senator Obama is at church.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I thought it was pretty funny. What did you think?

YELLIN: I thought he was funny. And then at the end of it, he conducted a marching band, and he actually seemed to be having a good time, really enjoying it.

BLITZER: He seems so much more relaxed now that he's getting ready to leave.

BORGER: It's almost over. Right? His daughter is getting married and he's relaxed. Right?

BLITZER: He was conducting the Marine Corps band. I thought he did an excellent job with that. What did you think?

BORGER: Yes. I think he did. I'm no judge of that, though, because to me it looks like this, you know.

BLITZER: Wasn't Leonard Bernstein, is that what you're saying?

BORGER: No, it wasn't Leonard Bernstein.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It wasn't exactly, but he was having a lot of fun moving down the road. What do you think about this whole notion of the president right now, he's got major issues on his agenda, but to some he's already a lame duck?

JOHNS: Absolutely. He has a huge unfinished agenda here, and the thing that's going to hang out there for so long is going to be the Iraq war. Now, a lot of people say it's been going better recently, so that's perhaps a high point, but we have to see by the fall how much it's going to affect, help, or hurt John McCain.

BLITZER: Joe, thank you very much. Gloria and Jessica, thanks to both of you. You looked lovely last night, both of you.

YELLIN: So did you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. I wore a tuxedo.

This reminder: If you'd like a recap of today's program, you can get all the highlights on our "Late Edition" podcast. Simply go to CNN.com/podcast.

And coming up at the top of the hour, "This Week in Politics" with host Tom Foreman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: That's your "Late Edition" for this Sunday, April 27th. Please be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. Remember, I'm also in "The Situation Room," Monday through Friday, beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until tomorrow, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

For our international viewers, stand by for world news. And for those of you in North America, "This Week in Politics" with Tom Foreman starts right now.

Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2014 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.