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100,000 Feared Dead in Myanmar; Barack Obama Speaks Out; What's Next for Hillary Clinton?

Aired May 8, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: It is a big, big night here in the ELECTION CENTER. I'm going to have that CNN interview with Barack Obama that everybody is talking about, and that the McCain campaign is fuming about. You won't want to miss any of this. Just listen to this bit.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.


BROWN: I'm going to have much more of the interview that has sparked a powder keg within the campaign.

There is also some big news tonight as we keep an eye on the devastation in Myanmar -- 100,000 people are feared dead. At least one million more are homeless. And still, right at this hour, the government there resists offers of aid for cyclone victims.

These are the pictures that you're not supposed to be seeing, because journalists are being denied visas into the country. I'm going to bring in Christiane Amanpour to find out why aid is being refused while people there are dying. We're going to talk about that in a lot more depth coming up.

But, first, the race for the White House.

I want to show you the "View From 30,000 Feet" tonight. Hillary Clinton campaigned in three states today, starting in Charleston, West Virginia. She moved on to hold a rally in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and will finish later tonight in Central Point, Oregon.

Bill Clinton had another marathon day of campaigning, hitting five towns in West Virginia, where voters go to the polls on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama spent his day in Washington, D.C., meeting with Democratic superdelegates. And John McCain is in New York City, raising money, and attending an evening gala.

Now, imagine Hillary Clinton waking up this morning under intense pressure from Democratic officials who think it is time for her to quit. And then she has to look at all of these morning headlines, newspapers all over the country saying the race is over and that there is no way she will be the next president of the United States.

What could she be thinking about right now?

I want to bring in senior political correspondent Candy Crowley to talk about that -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, right now, Campbell, what she's thinking about is the next state and the next event. Still no sign here that Hillary Clinton has any intention of giving this up.

You pointed out on your map today that Barack Obama was planted here in Washington. And what we really have now is a tale of two campaigns.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Colleagues, tourists, pages looking for a picture and press scrums.

QUESTION: How much longer will the race go on, Senator?

C. CROWLEY: Barack Obama was on Capitol Hill this morning with the aura, though not the votes, of a presidential nominee.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why I'm running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you win, too. You win it.

C. CROWLEY: So, is she putting together an exit strategy? A Clinton insider replies, N-O, exclamation point.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a little bit like deja vu all over again. Some in Washington wanted us to end our campaign, and then I won New Hampshire.

C. CROWLEY: The itinerary speaks to her current state of mind. Having made he case in West Virginia, which has its primary next Tuesday, Hillary Clinton took off for South Dakota, very much in the race.

H. CLINTON: So, on June the 3rd, Montana and South Dakota will have the last word.

C. CROWLEY: She needs a 9.0 on the Richter scale to shake this up in her favor. And guess who is in West Virginia today, waiting for an earthquake?

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She can still win this thing if you vote for her big enough.


W. CLINTON: They're going to have to resolve Michigan and Florida, and when they do, she can win the popular vote. C. CROWLEY: It's not a widely held theory. Some Clinton supporters are jumping ship, and Obama is still gathering up superdelegates.

But one Clinton adviser says she's not campaigning in some kind of parallel universe. She doesn't think this is over. Clinton believes she's the best candidate to beat John McCain, so the superdelegate courtship continues.

H. CLINTON: I'm winning Catholic voters and Hispanic voters and blue-collar workers and seniors, the kind of people that Senator McCain will be fighting for in the general election.

C. CROWLEY: Another source close to Clintons adds, there is more to this than math. She has a loyalty to the history she and her supporters are writing.

H. CLINTON: Too many people have fought too hard to see a woman continue in this race, this history-making race. And I want everybody to understand that.

C. CROWLEY: And it is her supporters, including millions of women, that give caution to many Democrats and the Obama campaign. They need those votes in the fall. They cannot be seen trying to muscle her out.

OBAMA: So, I don't want to get ahead of myself here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate.

C. CROWLEY: Privately, some party leaders are anxious to have this over. But one top-level party honcho says, we're taking three more weeks. Let it ride.


BROWN: And, Candy, I know you have been talking to a lot of big- name Democrats today. Do they honestly think that Clinton is going to stay in this race much longer?

C. CROWLEY: They actually do, but not much longer.

I heard, really, an echo of that last comment, which is, we're talking about three more weeks. Yes, we want this over with, but, first of all, there's this kind of reservoir of respect for Hillary Clinton, even among those who think that she ran a campaign that was unnecessarily nasty toward him. There is still this reservoir of respect for her.

But I did hear, listen, you know, it's fine if she wants to stay in for three-and-a-half weeks. But it depends on what kind of campaign she runs.

So, what they don't want to hear from her is any kind of attack on Obama that would undermine him moving forward.

BROWN: All right, thanks, Candy -- Candy Crowley for us tonight.

For his part, Barack Obama says there is a magic date, May 20. That is the date of the crucial Kentucky and Oregon primaries. His top strategist says, after that, Obama will be ready to declare victory.

Earlier today, Obama sat down with our Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" and talked about the perception that he's already won the Democratic race.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Here is the cover, "And the Winner Is..." That's a picture of you. What do you think?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think -- I don't want to be jinxed. We've still got some work to do.

BLITZER: It's almost like you got the cover of "Sports Illustrated." Is that what you're -- you're nervous about that?

OBAMA: Exactly. Exactly right.

We've got six more contests left. And then we've got a lot of work to do to bring the party together, but, obviously, we felt very good about our win in North Carolina on Tuesday. I think we ran a terrific campaign in Indiana. And it was a virtual tie. And, if you look at where the race is at this point, I think we have seen voters across the country say they are ready for change. They are feeling real anxiety about the economy.

BLITZER: It's been intense in the primaries. But you realize it's going to be much more intense in the next chapter, in the next phase, given the differences between you and John McCain. Are you ready for this next phase?

OBAMA: I'm actually looking forward to it, if we're successful. I don't want to get ahead of myself here. Senator Clinton is a very formidable candidate. She is very heavily favored to win West Virginia. She will win that by a big margin.

She's favored in Kentucky. We'll probably split the remaining contests. And, so, she's -- she's going to be actively campaigning.

BLITZER: We asked our viewers to send us in some questions, and we got thousands of responses, as you can only imagine. I have got a couple. I just want you to watch one of those and get your reaction. A lot of people asked this basic question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that you do not have enough support among blue collar workers as Senator Clinton did. Would you consider just on that basis alone considering her on a joint ticket as vice president?


OBAMA: Well, you know, as I said before, "TIME" magazine notwithstanding, we haven't wrapped this thing up yet. At the point where I'm the nominee, I will start going through the process of figuring out what -- you know, what my running mate -- who my running mate might be.

Senator Clinton has shown herself to be an extraordinary candidate. She is tireless, she is smart, she is capable. And so obviously she'd on anybody's short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate.


BROWN: Coming up next: What did Senator Obama say to Wolf Blitzer that has the McCain campaign fuming?

Stay with me. The fireworks have just begun.



W. CLINTON: Don't believe all this stuff you read in the press. She can still win this thing if you vote for her big enough.



BROWN: Bill Clinton out on the campaign trail today, refusing to accept defeat for his wife Hillary.

At the same time, Barack Obama sat down one-on-one with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, and I want to play what he told Blitzer that's has sent shockwaves through the campaign.


BLITZER: Today, the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. He says you're not necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel.

He says this, for example: "I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas' worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly."

OBAMA: Yes, this -- this is offensive.

And I think it's disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I'm not going to run that kind of politics. And then to engage in that kind of smear, I think, is unfortunate, particularly since my policy towards Hamas has been no different than his. I have said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and unless they're willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And, so, for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.


BROWN: I want to bring in now some of America's top political observers.

We have got Democratic strategist Keith Boykin, an aide to the Clinton White House, former aide to the Clinton White House, we should say, Michael Crowley, senior editor at "The New Republic," and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez.

Guys, welcome to everybody.

You just heard Obama saying that McCain was -- quote -- "losing his bearings."

Then, this scathing memo comes out tonight from a McCain senior adviser, Mark Salter, saying -- quote -- I will read -- that the comment "was a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain's age as an issue."

Now, the Obama campaign spokesman fires back and says, this is a bizarre rant, saying, Obama was not at all bringing up the age issue.

But this is, what are we, 24 hours since "TIME" magazine has declared Obama the nominee, and already they're at war.


KEITH BOYKIN, HOST, "MY TWO CENTS": Anybody who thought this was going to be a quiet, civil campaign just got an awakening today about what's really going to be happening in the months ahead.

The reality is that John McCain and Barack Obama are going to run a strong, tough campaign. They are both going to run I think what they consider to be a positive campaign. But it's going to be really nasty.

And what they are going to do is, they're going to use their surrogates, and they're going to use their campaign officials to make some of the messages that they won't say directly themselves.

BROWN: So, they can still sort of take the high road when they're...


BOYKIN: They want to take the high road and pretend to be above the fray.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Michael?


Well, there are two things that are interesting to me about this. One is, there's a little bit of history here. Mark Salter wrote a very vituperative response when McCain and Obama briefly worked together on campaign finance reform a couple of years ago. Obama, according to the McCain people, sort of bailed out of this bipartisan negotiation.

It's a complicated story, but it was a very angry letter. So, they have traded blows before. And Salter is going to be a fun guy to watch in this campaign.

Number two, this is an interesting campaign because McCain now, for the first time, has started getting in on the victim act. Hillary has been saying, the men are ganging up on me. This is sexism. People around Obama have complained, they're playing the race card against me. And now McCain sort of wants to get in on the action, saying, they are calling me old.

And you are going to see more of that in this campaign.

BROWN: Leslie?


I think, first off, let's be very clear about what this is. You know, it's interesting, because Barack Obama asked for civility in this race, and that's the first thing that he shies away from. He can't take criticism. He's very quick to get on the defensive. We have seen that he has a glass jaw.

He's the one -- a lot of people fear he's going to make those Jimmy Carter type of gaffes in terms of foreign affairs. He's already talking about sitting down with the Iranian leader. These are the distinct differences in policy differences that you are going to see the -- McCain pound upon. And he needs be prepared to take that type criticism.


BOYKIN: I really have to disagree with you, Leslie. I don't think those are policy differences at all. I think those are old Republican...


SANCHEZ: They're clearly differences. That's what he is talking about.

BOYKIN: There are old Republican Party talking points.


SANCHEZ: How is that? How is that? (CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Even Hillary Clinton has said she would never meet with these type of rogue leaders. And he's the first one in the debates months ago who made that assertion. And a lot of people questioned his political aptitude at that point.


BROWN: All right, let Keith respond.

BOYKIN: I just want to say, look at what he's responding to. For God's sake, John McCain is accusing him of being in the pocket of Hamas, which is considered by some of us to be a terrorist organization.

I think that's an offensive statement for John McCain. And so for him now to respond and say something, and then for the McCain people to pretend like that he started it, it's a really disingenuous argument on the part of the Republicans.

SANCHEZ: I think if you look at the blogosphere, if you look what's happening out there, in terms of who feels which candidate is going to keep us safe, keep a very strong kind of assertive type of defense in terms of national security, there are very clear differences about how Barack Obama and John McCain are going to see this, and plan their course of action. That's the distinct difference. And it's a fair debate.


BROWN: All right. Stay right there, guys.

This back and forth between the two gets even nastier. I'm going to read you more from this memo coming up after the break.

Plus, Christiane Amanpour reports on the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, possibly threatening thousands of more lives -- all of that ahead.


BROWN: This presidential race that started so long ago will be over in less than six months. Can you believe it?

And, as you see, the general election is 180 days from today. And we have got a lot to chew over already tonight.

Michael Crowley, Keith Boykin and Leslie Sanchez all joining me once again.

And I want to touch with everybody one more point from that McCain campaign memo I mention. It trashes Obama's self-proclaimed positive campaign and says that the media was complicit.

Michael, you will enjoy this. This is the quote: "Senator Obama is hopeful that the media will continue to form a protective barrier around him, declaring serious limits to the questions, discussion and debate in this race."

Now, what is so ironic about this is that John McCain was the original media darling. Fair?

M. CROWLEY: That's right. That's right. And, I think some of that luster has worn off. I think that a lot of McCain's fans in the media loved the fact that he was sort of a renegade, maverick was the cliche, who voted against his party, and McCain is sort of less fun for journalists now that he's toeing the Republican line a little more. He's a little more cautious in what he says.

But what really interests me about that quote, it looks like it could have been written by Bill Clinton, who spend so much of the past few months saying, it's a fairy tale, Obama. Nobody is asking him the tough questions. And now that's transferring over. And it's going to be McCain's turn to make that case.

And this is why Obama is an effective politician. He drives people crazy, because his opponents feel like they can't land a glove on him sometimes.

BROWN: Leslie, you have to concede at least there was a long time there -- maybe it's over -- where the press was having a love affair with John McCain, not Barack Obama.


SANCHEZ: I think that's a lot of history.

And I wouldn't call it trashes, Campbell. I have to take an issue with that statement. I think it's a very fair point. There are a lot of Democrats and a lot of women that we interview, Democratic or left-of-center women, that think Barack Obama has gotten a free ride. There are a lot of swing voters who believe the press has not really been as critical to him as they have to Hillary Clinton, especially on CNN.

I know we hear about that all the time. It's a fair point.


BROWN: Come on, Leslie. Over the last couple of weeks, though -- over the last couple of weeks, given what's going on with the Reverend Wright issue, you don't think that the press was tough on the Obama campaign and on Barack Obama?

SANCHEZ: I think they were particularly on this one issue.

But when it comes to policy points, can he take those roundhouse punches? Is he prepared for a very strong policy debate on health care, on his experience? He has to be prepared to handle that. And a lot of people feel he's been a mediocre, if somewhat absent senator. What type of record is going to have... (CROSSTALK)

M. CROWLEY: John McCain is the guy who said he doesn't understand economics. He does not have a good grasp of the details of domestic policy. He confused the Sunni insurgents with the Shiites and their relationship to Iran. So, I think there's a little bit...


BROWN: I will give you the economy comment, but that was a misspeak. It's hard to argue that McCain doesn't know his stuff on Iraq.


M. CROWLEY: I thought so at first, and then he did it again. And I wondered.


M. CROWLEY: He did it more than once.

BROWN: OK, Keith, get in here.

BOYKIN: He's the candidate who says he's experienced. He's the candidate who says he's been around Washington all this time. He misspoke about the economy, supposedly. He misspoke about 100 years in Iraq, supposedly. He misspoke about the difference between who is feeding al Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunnis or the Shiites.

What kind of experience does this guy have, if he can't even get these things straight? When he answers a phone call at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, do we really want John McCain to answer that phone call? I don't think so. And I think the American people can see through the Republican talking points, Leslie. And they're not going to work. They're not going to work.


SANCHEZ: If I could. I let you go. I think that's very fair.

You raised a lot of different things. I will try to address the main ones. Let's about driver's licenses for illegal aliens. He's flip-flopped on that. You weren't very clear. I don't think we still even understand where he stands in terms of immigration reform, what he wants to do with the border.

And when you're talking about foreign affairs and national security, which is a key issue, you know, John McCain has a very strong, proactive, you know, take on the extreme jihadist type of position, vs. somebody who is more kind of European and reactive. It is a very distinct policy difference. Those are very stark differences that need to be kind of evaluated.

BROWN: OK. All right, Leslie, a preview, you just got it, of the general election debate sure to come if, in fact, we should say, with the caveat, Barack Obama gets the nomination. It is not a done deal yet, everybody. And let's remind all of ourselves of that, I guess.

Thanks to our panel, to Michael, to Keith, and to Leslie. Appreciate it.

Barack Obama also sounded off on taxes and CEOs today. Does that mean your taxes are going up? Or do you need to hold on to your checkbook? What is he talking about? We're going to have that after the break.


BROWN: Barack Obama paying a call on Capitol Hill today, trying to pull in more of those all-important superdelegates.

Right now, I want to bring you more from the Illinois senator's other major stop today, his revealing sit-down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.


BLITZER: You know they're going to paint you, the McCain camp, Republicans, as a classic tax-and-spend liberal Democrat, that you're going to raise the taxes for the American people and just spend money like there is no tomorrow when it comes to federal government programs.

Are you ready to handle that kind of assault?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

But -- because think about what I am going to be running against: the failed policies of the Bush administration, which John McCain wants to continue. I don't think there is anybody in this country who thinks that, right now, we have got a government that's managed our domestic policies well.

And, so, we can talk about the slogans of tax and spend or fiscal conservatism, but the fact of the matter is, this -- we have had an administration that's been profligate, that has raised our national debt to a record level. We have seen a lack of shared prosperity. So, you've got CEOs making more in a day than ordinary workers are making in a year, and it's the CEO that's getting the tax break, instead of the workers.

BLITZER: He's going to say you're going to raise their taxes. What are you going to say?

OBAMA: I will raise CEO taxes. There is no doubt about it. If you are...

BLITZER: What about the average American...

(CROSSTALK) OBAMA: If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more taxes. They won't be prohibitively high. They're -- you're going to be paying roughly what you paid in the '90s, when CEOs were doing just fine.


BROWN: Well, I kept the panel here, because I want to get their take on Obama and taxes, once again, Keith Boykin, Michael Crowley, and Leslie Sanchez.

And, Keith, let me start with you on this.

"National Journal" has rated Senator Obama as the most liberal senator of 2007. Is that going to be his Achilles' heel come fall, this tax-and-spend liberal label?

BOYKIN: I don't think that those labels are going to work this time, because I think the American people are upset -- 81 percent of the American people are not satisfied with the direction of the country. They do not want a third term for George Bush.

And if you look at where we were when Bill Clinton left office and where we are now, there's a dramatic change. Gas was $1.45 a gallon. It's $3.60 now. We're spending $3 billion a week on the war in Iraq. That's having an impact on our deficit, while we have a $9 trillion debt. And this all happened in a Republican administration.

I worked in the Clinton administration, when we had peace and prosperity. Now we have debt and war. And the American people are fed up with it.

BROWN: Leslie, do you think that line of attack is going to work, the tax-and-spend liberal?

SANCHEZ: I don't. And I don't because, first off, Senator McCain is so distinctly different from George Bush. He's been contrarian to just about everybody in Congress, and including the president. So, and I think he stands on his own, fundamentally, and has his own ideas.

That being said, if you are looking at the fact that Obama has already proposed over $800 billion in new spending, but he's yet to talk about where he is going to get that money. Is he lying to us now or will he lie to us after he was president as to how he's actually going to be able to perform that without raised more taxes?

And he's talking about CEOs. Is he talking about small-business CEOs? There's a lot that's unknown right now. And that's what's frightening about it, not to mention his kind of lack of experience on national security and foreign affairs.


BROWN: I want to change the subject here and get -- go down that path quite yet. I do want to ask Michael about something else, or have you all comment.

All day, there was this drip, drip of comments from Clinton supporters. Most telling may have been this one coming from New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He has been one of her strongest backers. And he had said -- quote -- "It's her decision to make. I will accept whatever decision she makes" about whether she should get out.

Candy Crowley reported a minute ago that a lot of her supporters think she still has a shot. But what will it take at this point to change her mind? How do you guys see this playing out? I mean, she does have a decision to make. That seems to be what they're all saying, Michael.

M. CROWLEY: Well, I think it would take clear public defections, to the point where there's just nobody left standing. I mean, you saw Senator Dianne Feinstein yesterday expressed some doubts about the candidacy. Feinstein came back out today and kind of revised and extended her remarks as, you know, should I really actually still behind here?

I think it really has to be people peeling off left and right. I think Senator Clinton feels like there are a lot of people behind her candidacy, and she, on some of them, kind of wants to keep fighting for them. I just think the Clintons, in a way, almost see themselves as still owning the White House. I mean, that they are entitled to it.

I think there really is a degree which they just can't process the fact that this is over, and it's not totally impossible to understand. They were there for eight years. They were Democratic royalty. I think it's just going to take a little while for it to sink in with her.

BROWN: OK, hold that thought, Keith. I'm coming back.

Right after the break, Obama's dream ticket and who should be topping his dream list. Plus, we're also going to talk about the desperation in Myanmar. Why the government there is apparently ready to let people die, rather than let international aid in. And I'm going to ask CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, about that when we come back.



H. CLINTON: Now, there are some folks who have a said, well, we needed to end this before we got to West Virginia. Well, I don't think so. I think we want to keep this going so that the people of West Virginia's voices are heard and their votes are counted.


BROWN: Well, don't tell her it's over. That was a tenacious Hillary Clinton today, vowing to press on, clearly not giving up on being number one. But should Obama consider her for number two if he indeed gets the nomination?

My political panel weighs in. Keith Boykin, Michael Crowley and Leslie Sanchez, once again. And we heard Obama tell Wolf that Hillary Clinton would be on his short list, but that it was too early to discuss VP choices. Well, it's not too early for us to discuss VP choices.


So, is this dream ticket idea coming back? Do you think he would offer it?

Do you think she would accept, Keith?

BOYKIN: I think it is too early, honestly, not for us to discuss it but for him to make that decision. Because the way they are right now, it's not necessarily where they would be in August. And right now, when the Democratic Convention happens in Denver in August, who knows where we're going to be, who knows how Hillary Clinton's ratings will be and how Barack Obama's rating will be.

I think he needs to take some time, look at the polls, think about who's going to be the best candidate and who's going to be the best vice president. You know, they always say, when they are selecting the vice presidential running mate, they want to pick somebody who can be ready to run the country. But the other thing is they want pick somebody who can help them win the election.

Hillary Clinton I think would help them win, but I'm not so sure he wants Bill and Hillary walking around the White House for four to eight years.

BROWN: Come on, he's still -- I mean, if that were the case, he'd still be the president. But how can you ignore these exit polls? You all remember this Michael and Leslie, from Tuesday night, that said something like half of her supporters would not support Obama if he, in fact, was the nominee.

CROWLEY: I liken that to a married couple that goes to bed not talking to each other, and you know, they wake up the next morning and we're married. And what are we going to do? We're going to keep fighting, no. And that's what it's like right now. It's the heat of the moment. People are really upset, and little things are getting blown up on blogs, indeed apocalypse --

BROWN: These are emotional responses.

CROWLEY: These are emotional times. Some people will carry on hard feelings. But I think basically, in the end, people will refocus their attention when they start thinking about the issues that we've been talking about tonight, the contrasts and things like Iraq. I think Democrats are all going to come home and feel united against John McCain. I don't think that's going to be a big problem.

BROWN: Leslie?

SANCHEZ: I think really clearly, one thing we know about ratings, I think we know that Hillary Clinton's unfavorables will still be over 50 percent. I think you'll know that to be true. I think she will try to muscle her way onto that ticket, but it could be a toxic relationship.

BROWN: All right. We got to end it there.

Leslie Sanchez, Keith Boykin, Michael Crowley, thanks, guys. Appreciate your time tonight.

When we come back, we are going to talk about what has become a horrific situation, the aftermath of Myanmar's killer storm. And when will the survivors get the help they desperately need? Christiane Amanpour is joining me right after the break.


BROWN: Those are some of the absolutely shocking facts and pictures. This is nearly one week now after Myanmar was struck by a deadly cyclone. The situation there is now being described as desperate. The top U.S. diplomat in Myanmar has said that the death toll could exceed 100,000.

The southwest part of the country was the area hardest hit, and only today did the country's military government begin to allow some aid agencies in to deliver medicine, food and clean water. But aid workers say the supplies are not getting in nearly fast enough.

Chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is here with me now to talk a little bit about this.

And I think what's so shocking to so many people is that the generals who run the government in this country apparently are willing to let thousands of people go without help.


They have these draconian visa restrictions, which they're not willing to lift anytime soon. There is many times where their provisions for countries to lift visas in emergency situations present in the earthquake in Iran back in 2003.

The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with Iran, were unable to come in and help with the relief effort. It is possible if they want to do it. They're just not doing it. And according to all aid agencies and all the disasters that I've covered, you really need to get in there quickly just like with any emergency. The early days are the vital days. And while they are getting a little bit of food and aid in now, they're not getting the personnel to be able to take it around the country as fast and as efficiently as they need to.

BROWN: And people keep asking me how it's possible that 100,000 people, if this number turns out to be accurate, could be dead. And why isn't every news organization in the world there, why isn't it getting the kind of coverage that the tsunami got in 2004? And the answer, in part is, you know, no visas. They are not allowing journalist in.

AMANPOUR: For the simple reason, they don't allow journalists in.

BROWN: Why do they --- what is it they're trying to hide? Why --

AMANPOUR: Well, there's many reasons. It's a very isolated, secretive place. The generals have no real sort of action with international journalists. They don't care about international public opinion.

As we've seen in their brutal repression of democracy there, as we've seen in the crackdown on the monks and the ordinary people who are protesting in the streets back in September, and added to that, they have this political charade that they are about to put on, this weekend called the constitutional referendum, which they insist on going ahead with, and which many people in the country don't agree with, because it's widely seen as an excuse to cement military rule and not to go back to democracy.

So, all of these things, in addition to their natural inclination not to allow foreigners in, in any great numbers and not to allow journalists in, is combining to the detriment of all these people in such desperate need.

BROWN: Do you see that changing, as it becomes apparent to them, that this is not sustainable, I mean, you know, dealing with the situation as it is without international help.

AMANPOUR: You know -- you know, you can't underestimate some governments' lack of concern for their people. I've been reading around quite a lot of the newspaper accounts. Already, there are pictures of, for instance, the prime minister going out to some of these areas and handing out television sets and DVD sets. I mean, you know, that kind of insensitivity or lack of reality --

BROWN: Just this total disconnect.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And the real issue is, in all these disasters, you've got to get in there quickly. And if you are going to, you know, there are provisions whereby countries can go in and relieve untenable suffering, whether it's in war, genocide or in natural disasters. But you have to be willing to challenge a country's sovereignty to do that. And the international community is not at that stage. If Myanmar is not going to let them in, Burma is not going to let them in, are they going to go and force their way in? No.

BROWN: Well, let me ask you this because I just read about this. That the U.N. can force its way in...


BROWN: ... under what you were talking about, this responsibility to protect doctrine.

AMANPOUR: It's got to be -- but it's got to be willing to do it. It can, it can, and, in fact, Kofi Annan, the outgoing secretary general, made that his defining piece of policy at the U.N. before he left. Much of it because of the grotesque failure in Rwanda, where a million people were killed and the world simply did not want to get involved after the terrible tragedy and failure in Bosnia, all these places that I've covered.

So he's put that thought but it depends on a country's willingness to actually break another country's sovereignty and go and do it.

BROWN: Right.

AMANPOUR: It's happened before. First President Bush did it in Somalia. Somalia was a total collapsed and failed state under a terrible famine. News pictures went in, showed this terrible famine, and the United States started and spearheaded a massive air lift which stopped the famine.

It has happened before. It's possible, but you've got to be willing to do it.

BROWN: We'll see what happens over the next coming days.

Christiane Amanpour, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BROWN: And this weekend, tune into Christiane's special, we should also mention, which is "Notes from North Korea." She is going to take us inside that country, as the New York Philharmonic makes a historic visit to one of the world's most closed societies. And she'll look at North Korea's tense nuclear weapon standoff with the U.S.

We should tell you that is Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. We'll look forward to it. Thanks, Christiane.

And Larry King has a fascinating hour coming up. He's going to take us deep inside a mysterious Doomsday Cult led by a man who is now charged with sex crimes.

Larry, who's with you tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": It's really weird. We'll have a panel talking about it, and we'll meet the gentleman's son. The gentleman is in jail. His son, now the son has a wife who the father has had an affair with. It's very tangled.

We'll also get an update on what's going on in Texas with the polygamy case. This is a different kind of polygamy, I guess. Anyway, it's all ahead at the top of the hour. We'll do our best to sort it out for you.

BROWN: I was going to say, do your best there, Larry. Thank you.

KING: Thanks.

BROWN: Appreciate it.

I want to bring you up to the minute on some other news coming in to the ELECTION CENTER.

OK, this is running gun battles in the Middle East, happening throughout the day. Dramatic video you won't want to miss. We're going to have more on that when we come back.


BROWN: The latest delegate count. This is updated from last night. Obama has 1,846 delegates. Clinton has 1,685. Obama needs 179 more delegates to clinch the nomination.

I'm going to have a lot more news from the campaign trail tonight. Like, how does a candidate celebrate victory when he has yet to actually win the race?

But first, David Mattingly is joining me right now with tonight's "Briefing" -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Campbell. We begin with a day of running gun battles in Beirut, Lebanon. Shooting broke out after Hezbollah leaders charged that a government shutdown of the group's communications network amounted to a declaration of war.

An international manhunt for a pedophile may have ended in New Jersey. Authorities are holding a suspect Interpol says abused at least three boys from Southeast Asia possibly as young as 6-years-old. The arrest came a day after Interpol posted photos of the suspect on its Web site.

And, President Bush at Andrews Air Force Base today, for the flight home to Crawford, Texas, and a wedding. Check out the right elbow.

The president demonstrating how he will escort daughter Jenna down the aisle on Saturday. The first family is expecting about 200 guests at the ranch. If you're not one of the lucky ones on the guest list, you're welcome to celebrate at the local gift shop where a selection of wedding memorabilia is on sale. Can't wait to get that commemorative snow globe.

BROWN: All right. Congrats to the happy couple.

Thanks there, David. Appreciate it. A quick check on the Political Ticker tonight. Alec Baldwin may want to take on a new role. The TV and movie actor says now that he's 50 years old, he may run for political office. Baldwin spoke to Morley Safer of "60 Minutes" in a segment that airs on Sunday night, and Baldwin says he has been interested in politics since he was 39, and he adds that he is now ready for the public scrutiny. For more stories like this, check out political ticker on

Now, look ahead to "A.C. 360." Charles Manson and his family of killers were convicted of seven murders nearly 40 years ago. But now, we hear that there may be more Manson family victims in Death Valley, California, as Ted Rowlands tells us.

Take a look.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gold prospector Emmett (ph) Harder knew Manson and his top lieutenant, Charles "Tex" Watson. He says rumors about more Manson victims have swirled for years, stories like the one that Harder says a Manson follower told him.

EMMETT HARDER, GOLD PROSPECTOR: This one girl didn't get along with Manson, or Watson at all, and they took her for a walk. When they came back in a short distance and she -- we never saw her again. I would hope that maybe they would find her.


BROWN: And you can see Ted Rowlands' full report tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time on "AC 360."

Coming up next, what do you think? Was that an Obama victory tour today in Washington? When we return, we've got the stagecraft of showing you're the winner without actually saying so.


BROWN: There are six Democratic primaries left between now and June 3. West Virginia is next, five days from today. And as you heard earlier, Barack Obama says the Democratic race isn't quite over. He plans to declare victory after the Oregon primary on May 20, according to his top strategist.

But in everything Obama did today in Washington, he looked like a winner, and that was no accident. It was stagecraft. Erica Hill is here with me tonight to talk about that.

So, Erica, how exactly do you hold a victory tour when you still haven't technically won the race?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is an interesting, very important question. You just make it look like you're the winner, right? You want everybody surrounding you to be sort of pumped up. Ready, behind you. So today in Washington, there were definitely efforts in that direction. And, of course, when you starting on a sort of victory tour, even though you haven't quite won yet, it helps when you got a "Time" magazine cover...

BROWN: Declaring you the winner.

HILL: ... along with you, declaring you the winner. Although there is this little asterisk right here...

BROWN: Oh, yes.

HILL: ... which down here at the bottom, that asterisk translates into really, we're pretty sure this time. A little disclaimer, just in case. But, anyway, so you got the "Time" magazine cover behind you.

So, Barack Obama in Washington today, this is him leaving. He had a meeting earlier in the day with some members of the House, some supporters, some undeclared folks in Washington, some undeclared superdelegates. So here they are. A little bit of press with them as they walk on over to the House after he's made his case on these folks, of course, helping to win them over.

And then, when Barack Obama gets to the House, just a small band of reporters, and a throng of cheering school children. And really, he kind of lucked out on this one, Campbell.


HILL: Because it's oftentimes, there is some sort of a school tour happening, like all of these kids right here, at the House, at the Capitol, on the steps there. But it doesn't hurt when, again, you're trying to do some sort of a victory tour, to walk up the steps with some cheering kids. Makes you look good, right?

BROWN: And for the kids, it's not every school tour they get to meet a possible...


BROWN: ... you know, future president.

HILL: Absolutely. Very exciting for them. So then he goes in, because, remember, his day job is not necessarily campaigning. Technically he is a senator, Campbell. So, he's kind of back at work, in a way.

But here he is meeting with some more folks. Plenty of press, as you can see. And here, if you look on the right side of the screen here, actually, he'll come into my circle in just a moment. He's coming to my circle.

Well, I better redraw the circle. There you go. So right here, these are all the pages.


HILL: There they are taking a picture. Big moment for them to take a picture with a senator, of course.

BROWN: Yes, of course.

HILL: To take a picture with a senator who may be the Democratic nominee, and eventually, who knows what else. So, that's looking pretty good for him, too, today. And then really, if you want to cap your day off in style, you want to show people that you could be the man in November? You sit down with our own Wolf Blitzer. Here he is.

Wolf showing him into "THE SITUATION ROOM." He comes on set, scoping it out. Nice "SITUATION ROOM" you got here, Wolf. There we go. Say hello, make the rounds, little handshake, and we just thought this picture was kind of cute.


HILL: Yes. It's an interesting shot. I don't know if he's saying, Wolf, nice digs here, or, what's really going through his mind at that point.

BROWN: Yes. At the Capitol today though, he didn't get that kind of attention when he was a senator, just a senator.


HILL: He did not. It's true.

BROWN: All right. Everything --

HILL: We'll see what it all means.

BROWN: Everything is changing now.

Erica Hill, thanks.

You will not want to miss the tearjerker I'm going to show you next from the presidential candidates themselves. That's coming up.


BROWN: The candidates from both parties know that this Sunday is a very important day. They remember who really counts on that day. Good old mom. John McCain put his mother in a campaign message today in honor of Mother's Day.


ROBERTA WRIGHT MCCAIN, SEN. JOHN MCCAIN'S MOTHER: He was the sweetest, nicest child I've ever known. I think he'll make a wonderful president. Well, he's not perfect. Did I say that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He doesn't pay enough attention to his mother, I think. R. MCCAIN: No, I'm happy. I have no complaints.


BROWN: And Barack Obama honored not just one, but two mothers in his interview with Wolf Blitzer today.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A quick question on this Mother's Day weekend. Your mother raised you. She was on food stamps at one point, a single mother. If she were alive today, and she saw where you have reached, the point that you have reached right now, what would she say to you?

OBAMA: She'd say, don't let it get to your head. Just keep on working hard. But I think she'd be pretty proud. Everything that I am, I owe to her.

She was the kindest, most generous person I ever met, and her values and her integrity still guide me. She's somebody who, when I'm confronted with difficult choices, I have to ask myself, you know what would she expect of me? And I think that's usually a good guide post.

Now, I've got to say that the mother that counts most in my life at the moment is Michelle, who, through a very difficult process, continues to raise two of the best daughters that anybody would ever want. And she's out on the campaign trail at the same time keeping me straight, so Happy Mother's Day to her, as well.


BROWN: And on that note, Happy Mother's Day to my mom.

That's it for me tonight here in the ELECTION CENTER.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.