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Hillary Clinton Wins Big in West Virginia

Aired May 13, 2008 - 00:00   ET


ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Of course, the main focus now is making sure that the staff there and that the people who are taking care of them, making sure that they are okay.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable hearing from John Vause, this thing stretches for a hundred miles, with people just littered on the side of the road without being aided.

That does it for this edition of 360. For international viewers, "CNN Today" is next. Here in America, Larry King Live. Starts right now - Larry

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Hillary Clinton as we all know has won big West Virginia. But what does it mean? Is there real hope for her campaign, or is it over?

Welcome to a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" on primary night in West Virginia. We have outstanding panel members throughout the night.

We begin in this first segment with John King, CNN's chief national correspondent, Lanny Davis is in San Francisco. He served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton and is a supporter of Hillary Clinton. And in Fargo, North Dakota, our old friend, Ed Schultz, the talk radio host, supporter of Barack Obama.

In segment two, John King will be on with us alone and we're going to ask him to do his famous map scene. But for this segment, we'll ask John to tell us, in his opinion, is it over?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Larry, it's not over. The math is still overwhelmingly stacked in Senator Obama's favor. And I know Lanny wants to jump in on that I know he'll get his chance in just a moment.

But as the rules they are now written the way the Democratic Party rules now are, Senator Obama now only has to win 3 out of 10 of the remaining delegates in the five remaining contests and 3 out of 10 of the superdelegates and he'll be the nominee.

There's still an "if" though attached to it. And that's why Senator Clinton is staying in this race. And as she stays in this race, you know what Larry, she has a pretty powerful argument to make tonight that this was her day and that the results in West Virginia where I'm going to pull the state up behind me. I know we're going to do math later but she's getting 67 percent of the vote to 26 percent of the vote with 90 percent of the vote in. That's a thumping. She thumped Barack Obama in a state that is a swing state in presidential politics; a state that Democrats would like to win. Don't necessarily need to win, but would very much like to win if they want to get the White House back. She's winning big with white working-class and white rural Americans. She's winning big with older Americans, voters over the age of 65.

So she can make the case that this is something the Democratic Party should look and especially as those superdelegates decide what should come next. She's short on money. The delegate math still favors Senator Obama, but this is a night where the Clinton campaign has every right and every reason to celebrate, Larry.

L. KING: Right now people may think it's over, but Senator Clinton is not one of those people. Watch.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am in this race because I believe I am the strongest candidate. The strongest candidate to lead our party in November of 2008. And the strongest president to lead our nation starting in January 2009.

I can win this nomination if you decide I should. And I can lead this party to victory in the general election if you lead me to victory now.


L. KING: Lanny Davis, Carl Bernstein reported earlier on "AC 360" that she, seriously, if this doesn't happen for her, wants the vice presidency. You're close to her. Does she?

LANNY DAVIS, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, I never know when Carl is using anonymous sources who he's talking to, and that's the problem with the use of anonymous sources. My direct information is that she is focused on winning the presidency, and she's not even considering such a possibility.

And she loves being United States Senator in Robert Kennedy's senate seat. That's my direct knowledge. I don't talk about anonymous people.

But let me tell you, first of all, that we have two great candidates here. My friend, Ed Schultz, and I have might have some arguments tonight, but our two candidates agree on almost every single issue. But they appeal to different constituencies.

And this is not about race when I say that Barack Obama has weakness among white working-class Democrats. Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale showed the same weakness when something called Reagan Democrats created super majorities for the Republicans in the 1980s.

The Democratic Party has had, historically, problems with getting conservative -- culturally conservative working-class white Democrats, whether it's a white or an African-American candidate. That was true in the '80s, it is now true for Barack Obama.

It was Bill Clinton who won West Virginia and Kentucky because he found a way to talk to those voters. Now Senator Clinton has found a way to talk to those voters. Senator Obama hasn't yet figured out how to do it, nor did Michael Dukakis.

It's not about race. It's about his ability to connect with those voters.

L. KING: Ed Schultz, would, in fact, an Obama/Clinton ticket be extraordinarily tough to beat?

ED SCHULTZ, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, it would be tough to beat, Larry, but I still don't think it's feasible. I think we had a big news night tonight, Larry.

I think that Senator Clinton in so many words in her speech tonight, in listening to Harold Wolfson on your network tonight, CNN, that they're not going anywhere until Florida and Michigan are decided. And the rules are set right now at 2,025.

I think the question for Senator Clinton right now and her campaign is, if Barack Obama hits that number, are you going to give up? Are you going to exit the race? Because it appears to me that there's a chance with the way the superdelegates have moved within the last week, that Barack Obama could hit 2,025, and the question should be posed to the Clinton camp, are you going to push the rules further, or are you going to put it to the sideline and talk about the vice presidency?

I think tonight was a big night.

DAVIS: To my good and fellow liberal Democrat, Ed Schultz, the answer is definitively, no. That is not the number the Clinton campaign and Senator Clinton will continue using the number that counts all 50 states. That's a definitive answer, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Well, then there's the divide, Lanny. Here we go with the divide. The table is set tonight because there's a real chance that Barack Obama could hit 2,025 before Florida and Michigan are decided.

And if that happens, and if the Clintons push back on the rules, then we're going to see a divide in this party, and there's going to be a real Donny Brook, and I don't know how gains out of that.

Now, if we want to push this combined ticket with Obama on top or Clinton on top, to answer your question, Larry, yes, I think it would be a fabulous ticket, but I don't think feasibly it's going to happen.

L. KING: Ok. Let me get a break and we'll come back. Lanny and Ed will return with us in segment three.

But when we come back with segment two, John King will be with us solo. We'll get his look at the map and where he sees all of this going. There is the chairman of the board. And when we return, he'll be with us right after this.


L. KING: We're joined by my buddy, John King, CNN's chief national correspondent. Hillary's argument is that she can win the swing states; that's what she calls them. What are those states, John?

J. KING: Well, there are a number of states, Larry, about a dozen we would look at if we're talking about a November contest.

Let's start though by looking at her argument based on what happens now. I'm going to stretch this out a little bit. Let's start with the neighborhood where people voted tonight.

Here's West Virginia in here. I'm going to circle this area. These are the rural areas where Hillary Clinton has done very, very well in the primary so far. And if you notice, I'm circling an area that includes some of Virginia, some of North Carolina, some Tennessee over here, you have West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Kentucky has not voted yet this year, so that's why it's a different color.

Hillary Clinton thinks she'll do quite well right there. What Hillary Clinton's argument to the superdelegates is look, I'm doing very well out here in white rural America.

And why does that matter? Because let's look at what happens when you run for president. This is an area that -- the red is George W. Bush against John Kerry. He won big in all of these areas.

Now, the Democrats did win the state of Pennsylvania. But all of these other states in this circle right here went Republican in the last presidential election.

So many out there are saying apples and oranges. I showed you primary. This is the general election. They are apples and oranges to a degree, but Hillary Clinton's argument, Larry, is that if she can run stronger in these areas in a primary, she's likely to run stronger in the general election.

I want to shrink this down for you little bit. Let me come out of the map here and pull out right here. Here's her other argument which is, again, look at these areas right here. This is where she did very well, right along the Ohio/West Virginia border.

She says I won in West Virginia. I won the Democratic primary in Ohio. Remember a guy named Bill Clinton? He was president of the United States.

Look what he did. He won many of those same areas and he won the state Ohio. Republicans don't win the White House unless they win Ohio. So that's how she looks at it in the small scale of this particular neighborhood.

Now let's pull out our other map. We'll go over to the electoral college map. These states that have the gold or yellow barrier around them, those are what both the Republicans and the Democrats think will be the dozen or so major swing states in the fall.

And Hillary Clinton's argument -- again, Obama has a compelling argument of his own -- but this is Clinton's argument to superdelegates, is that I'm winning those white, working-class voters. Well then maybe I can switch West Virginia blue. Maybe I can get Ohio back to the Democratic Party.

I will protect us up here in Wisconsin and Minnesota where John McCain is going to make a run. I will put Missouri back by getting those white, blue-collar voters. I can maybe put Iowa back on the map.

Again, Obama would argue he can run just fine in these states, too. But Senator Clinton's argument is that she can put more states in play for the Democrats. Not necessarily that she'll win them all but that she can put more states in play for the Democrats if she is the candidate. That's her argument to superdelegates.

It's a tough one to make, Larry, but she had a big win tonight, and she will continue to make it.

L. KING: Is she saying, then, we're going to break the rules?

J. KING: No, she's not saying we're going to break the rules, but she is saying the Democratic Party needs to move the line.

Now, remember when she was campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire at the beginning, she said Michigan and Florida would not count. Those are the statements the Obama campaign is circulating saying that back then, she was for the rules. Now she wants to change them.

Lanny has a persuasive case. The people of Michigan and Florida should be counted. They'll make that case to the rules committee at the end of the month. The reason we have the math like this now -- and I know Lanny and others in the Clinton campaign dispute it sometimes.

I'm going to go to our delegate map just to show it to you. I come up with a graph here that overwhelmingly shows how far out in front Senator Obama is. We use this finish line because that is the rules.

And essentially, if you think they're going to raise the speed limit to 85 but it's only 65 today, you can't drive 85 thinking they're going to raise it. You have to still stay at 65. And the rules still say this is the finish line which is why we base our math on what the rules are today.

If they change the rules, we'll move the finish line. Until they change the rules, this is where the finish line stays and where the line is right now, Larry, Barack Obama needs to win only 3 out of every 10 remaining delegates to get to that finish line where it stands as we speak tonight.

L. KING: Looking at November, I brought it up earlier, John, wouldn't -- if they got together, pulling in all the white voters, all the black voters, all the working class, pulling in West Virginia and the other states, wouldn't that be a formidable ticket if they ran together?

J. KING: There is no question that these are two incredibly formidable candidates. The reason the Democratic Party has the dilemma it has today that we are talking about is because you have a remarkable Obama campaign that has registered new voters, increased African-American turnout, caused some excitement in states that normally you would not think would be on the Democratic map.

Then you have the Clinton campaign which has mobilized women voters, has deep commitments with senior citizens, two critical constituencies. There's no question these are two very formidable candidates.

The question Democrats have to ask themselves -- and more importantly, that Obama and Clinton will have to ask each other, depending on who finishes up on top -- is do they fit together? Do they have a mesh to go to the people in November?

Most people in the Obama campaign will tell you privately, Larry, they do not see him picking Senator Clinton. Maybe picking someone like the Ohio Governor Ted Strickland; someone who has appeal to those same types of voters. They don't see him picking Senator Clinton.

But Larry, you've been through this many times before. We never say no in this process until we get to the end and the candidate looks at all the polling data, looks at everything else and says, what do I need? Then you make a political calculation about what to do.

So, many Democrats -- one of the reasons many Democrats say Senator Clinton is staying in and running so strongly in these states like West Virginia, wants to run strongly in Kentucky is to make a case that she would be a strong vice presidential candidate. Some Democrats say that. Others say she was around the White House for eight years. The last thing she would want to be is vice president.

L. KING: Of course, we'll never forget Kennedy/Johnson. That was an impossible pairing.

John, can you hang around a while? We've got panels coming, but we're always interested in your input.

J. KING: I'll stay right here if I can help you, Larry.

L. KING: We want to hear from you right now. Go to and answer our quick vote. Question, should Clinton and Obama run together?

We'll ask our panel, too, after the break. You're watching "LARRY KING LIVE."


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: There are some who have wanted to cut this race short. They say give up. It's too hard. The mountain is too high. But here in West Virginia, you know a thing or two about rough roads to the top of the mountain.


L. KING: By the way, special announcement, former governor, former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis will be with us tomorrow night.

Lanny Davis and Ed Schultz return from panel number one. And we are joined here now in this panel and for the next two with Tanya Acker, the Democratic strategist and Obama supporter. She's here in L.A.

And in New York is Hillary Rosen, a Hillary Clinton supporter. She's political director and editor of the Huffington Post.

We've heard from Lanny and Ed; they'll come back in, of course. Tanya, what's your read on tonight?

TANYA ACKER, OBAMA SUPPORTER: I think it was a magnificent win for Senator Clinton.

Look, I think there are a number of reasons for her to stay in this race. She's still getting votes. As a woman, I'm proud of her. We've never seen a woman come this far in the American political process. I know there are a lot of women who have waited a longer than I have to see this happen. I think that her speech tonight was elegant and graceful.

I don't think the concern has been Hillary staying in the race. I think the concern has been the tone of the race and what the ultimate end game is. You know, I know there was some discussion in the last segment about that end game being "let's get to a number of 2,209."

That will be a big divide for Democrats. You know, how can you count Michigan when senator Obama's name was not on the ballot? The last time I checked, we don't have high school elections for class president where we crown a nominee, when the other candidates weren't on the ballot.

L. KING: So you don't see Senator Obama losing this?

ACKER: I don't see a mathematical - I don't see how the math can play out where Senator Obama loses.

L. KING: Hillary, do you see a way for her to win?

HILLARY ROSEN, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Well, you know, the audience really are the superdelegates right now for Senator Clinton. I don't think it's about Florida and Michigan.

I think it's entirely about the superdelegates. And I think you heard in her speech tonight a contrast with Democrats and Republicans. She's making the case that she's the strongest candidate to beat Senator McCain, and her audience are really about, you know, 250 elected officials who haven't yet declared.

The case for them to hear is that in swing districts, in a majority of the districts that George Bush won but Democrats won in their house seats, she took in this primary. Those are numbers they're paying attention to. Whether that's going to change the math, I don't know. But those are clearly the constituents she's most interested in reaching right now.

L. KING: Ed Schultz, is that a good point?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think that you could make a point that Barack Obama has got some pretty good coat tails whereas it was a big night for senator Clinton and that she's making the case that she can win in big states, in swing states. But I think we have to take a look at what is actually happening boots on the ground when there are elections, Larry.

You know, Travis Childers won after being attacked by the conservatives. He won down in Mississippi tonight. And he has very close ties with Barack Obama.

There are two other Democrats that have taken Republican seats in this election cycle in special elections that were also very close to Barack Obama. So I think that the tea leaves are saying that Barack Obama's pretty good to be connected to, and he's got some -- it's good coat tails.

So I think that that's big. I think the superdelegates are looking at that, that having him on the ticket would be a good thing in rural America.

L. KING: Now, Lanny, logically, can she pull this off?

DAVIS: Yes. First of all, Travis Childers had distanced himself from Barack Obama, I'm afraid to say, Ed. You're not accurate on that.

Let me tell you the pathway that she can win. Superdelegates are allowed to independently make a judgment, who can defeat John McCain? Whether they're currently for Senator Clinton and they've switched over to Senator Obama or they're currently for Senator Obama, they can switch back to Senator Clinton.

That's one of the reasons that I disagree with some of my friend, John King's, statements about the math. The math can change if the following is true. And it is right now. It can change.

In every swing state, Ohio, she beats McCain, and Senator Obama is much weaker. In Florida, senator Obama loses by 15 points in most state polls, she is ahead of McCain in Florida. In Ohio and in Pennsylvania, same thing.

In Massachusetts, my classic example, Senator Obama, in the most reliably blue state in the United States in the most recent state poll by WVZ is running neck and neck with John McCain, not beating McCain in the general electorate of Massachusetts, whereas Hillary Clinton in the same sample, 15 percent.

L. KING: I see your point.

DAVIS: If the superdelegates read that the way I do, they're not going to want to nominate Senator Obama unless he can turn that around between now and the convention which he might well be able to.

L. KING: John King, hold it, hold it. Go ahead, Ed, quickly.

SCHULTZ: The ads that RNC ran were against Childers. The ads that the RNC ran were really attacking and connecting Obama to that candidate. That's the point I'm making.

DAVIS: But he distanced himself, I agree, Ed. He distanced himself from Childers.

L. KING: Ok. John King, before you leave us, I want to get a wrap-up from you on the night and where the math looks and where it's going as we head to next week.

J. KING: On the night, and I'll go back to our election math tonight, on the night, Senator Clinton has every reason to brag about a big victory.

Let's pull out the state of West Virginia. She won every county. She is winning 67 percent. Barack Obama is not even cracking 30 percent. He's at 26 percent. And he can say he didn't campaign there. He did run some TV ads.

If you're about to be the Democratic nominee and I said if -- that's pretty embarrassing, in a state that could be a swing state in the fall. He has issues with white rural voters.

I think they realized that. That's why Barack Obama was in southeast Missouri tonight. He'll be in McComb County, Michigan, in the days ahead trying to address his weaknesses with the anticipation of being the Democratic nominee.

Lanny Davis rightly notes that Clinton will fight on. Yes, some of those superdelegates who have endorsed Barack Obama - they could switch their minds, but they're politicians. They've made public commitments in most of these cases. So that is unlikely barring something cataclysmic.

But the debate, as Lanny says, is about this map, which is the November map. And what this is -- both of them side by side in a race where McCain starts with George W. Bush's votes and both Obama and Clinton in this scenario have John Kerry's votes.

And now the debate for the superdelegates, Lanny Davis makes the case -- here's what Hillary Clinton's argument is. I'll put The Clinton-McCain side by side. She says I can get Ohio, I can get West Virginia, I'll get Florida back. And look, I'm the next President of the United States.

Now, what Obama would say, if you switch it over, is he'll say, you know, maybe I don't win these, but I'm bringing in new voters in out here. He's not conceding these, mind you, but maybe I'd only note, but I bring in new voters out here. I think I can win Missouri. And I think I can win Iowa and maybe even out here in Nevada or New Mexico.

He says he can put plenty of states in play, too. If you're a superdelegate, Larry, you are getting faxes of the math, faxes of the polling, phone calls from all the political directors, both campaigns making their competing cases about November.

Did Senator Clinton strengthen her case somewhat tonight? Of course she did. She won big in a state that if it goes Democrat in November, that means the Democrats are likely on the path to the White House.

Did she win -- is it enough? You know, we will learn more about that in the days to come. Most of the phone calls and e-mails I've made tonight and most of my colleagues have made tonight, the expectation is it's not quite enough, but she has some big meetings tomorrow with her donors to try to get more money. She's making phone calls to superdelegates.

She has a very small window to pull this off. Again, a very, very small window, but it's not over, Larry.

L. KING: As usual, John King, an outstanding job all afternoon and tonight. We'll see you tomorrow.

J. KING: Thank you, Larry.

L. KING: John King. He's become the best at what he does.

We'll be back with more of our panel. Lots more to come on this special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that the American people cannot afford four more years of those policies, the Bush/McCain program. Not this time, not when the stakes are so high, not when the opportunities are so great.

We need a new direction in Washington, and that's what we've been offering throughout this campaign.


L. KING: Tanya Acker, is there anything worrying you in the Obama camp tonight?

ACKER: I think there's no question but that he has some work to do amongst rural voters. I think that we overstate the notion about whether or not he can bridge certain gaps. I think he's demonstrated an ability to win in states that Democrats have historically struggled in. I think he's demonstrated an ability to build coalitions.

And so sure, you know, look. I think that we shouldn't ignore these results in West Virginia. There are constituencies that he's got to do some more work in. But I'm certainly not at all compared to concede that Hillary Clinton's got the better argument to make to the superdelegates. I just don't think that's accurate.

KING: Is it true, Hilary, these polls say that many of Hillary's supporters will not vote for Obama? And if true, why not?

HILLARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HUFFINGTON POST: You know, I don't believe it. I actually agree with Tanya. I think that he can bring the party together the same way I think that she can bring the party together.

Frankly, I think with both of them on the ticket, they'd sail to the White House with a united party. I think Democrats are so determined to win, and the difference between both of them and John McCain is so huge that, as we start to go through these next couple of weeks where there are going to be a lot of heated arguments and a lot of hurt feelings, we need to keep focused on the fact that John McCain is organizing the Republican Party and working hard for the independents.

Those are voters that we can get. And frankly, I think a joint ticket is the best answer here.

KING: What are you concerned about, Ed, as an Obama supporter?

ED SCHULTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, I'm concerned that Barack Obama and his campaign might get hung up in all this promotional talk about Hillary Clinton being a vice president when she may not be the best pick. I think there's a lot of great people out there. What about Bill Richardson? Here's a guy who's not too close to Washington, has a wealth of experience, can probably bring New Mexico, has done international deals.

That would certainly help the next administration. I think there's a lot of qualified people out there that...

ROSEN: Yes, I think he got about 3 percent of the primary vote?

SCHULTZ: ... could go along with Barack Obama. I think Terry McAuliffe out there saying, hey, watch what you say about Hillary because she's got 16 million people behind her. I mean, that's almost like trying to hold the rest of the Democratic Party hostage. Give me a break.

ROSEN: No, no, no.

SCHULTZ: She might not be -- she might not even want the VP spot.

ROSEN: That's true, she might not want it. But I think, you know, let's be realistic. This is pretty much a 51/49 race here.


ROSEN: I mean, Hillary Clinton has gotten, you know, almost as many delegates as Barack Obama. Just not quite as many. So I -- you know, we have two very significant leaders of the party. And I don't think you can really put anybody else this in that category.

KING: Lanny, Lanny, quick, I want to get a phone call. Lanny, go ahead.

DAVIS: Yes. Very, very quickly, let's just go back to the facts. Barack Obama has done a fantastic job with the George McGovern liberal coalitions that I was a part of from the '60s. Young people, upper income professionals, African-Americans. We lost elections because of something called Reagan Democrats.

Bill Clinton won Kentucky and West Virginia. We won the presidency in the '90s because we went back to working-class Democrats who defected to Ronald Reagan in the '80s. I'm sorry to say right now that Barack Obama had to prove...

KING: Yes, I said quickly.

DAVIS: ... that he can get those Reagan Democrats back into the Democratic Party.

ACKER: Larry, can I just...

DAVIS: So far he has failed.

KING: Tanya?

ACKER: One quick point, I think there's been a lot of revisionist history about this election. Barack Obama won Virginia and he won more white votes in Virginia than Hillary Clinton did. He won Iowa, he won Colorado, he won Wyoming. So enough of this, I think it's...

DAVIS: This isn't about race. This is nor about race.

ACKER: I mean, I don't want to be disrespectful. I don't want to be disrespectful, I don't want to be disrespectful, but the notion that he's only winning in these markets or in these -- amongst voter groups that are African-American or upper income, it's just nonsense. That's not accurate.

KING: Let me get a call. Let me get a call. North Port, Florida, Hello.


KING: Hi, North Port, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED NORTH PORT, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Yes, I've been watching this whole election process, and my concerns are, I hear a lot about Michigan and Florida coming into play. And being a voter, a Democratic voter and supporting Hillary Clinton in this race, I did not go vote because I was told it wasn't going to matter.

So has anyone ever thought that maybe there's a lot of people out there that haven't voted yet? And what right did the DNC have to say our votes didn't count if our delegates are or elected officials knew this was going to damage the Democratic Party?

KING: That's a good question. I'll get a comment out. I want to show her a tape and then we'll have a comment.

Florida and Michigan, do they matter anymore now that Obama is looking like a lock? Here's what Senator Clinton said about that tonight, and then we'll get a comment from our panel.



SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This race isn't over yet. Neither -- neither of us has the total delegates it takes to win. And both Senator Obama and I believe that the delegates from Florida and Michigan should be seated.


CLINTON: I believe we should honor the votes cast by 2.3 million people in those states and seat all of their delegates.


KING: OK. Is it Ed Schultz wanted to comment on that?

DAVIS: I -- it was actually, I just wanted to point out...

SCHULTZ: Well, the question...

KING: Ed, then Lanny, go ahead.

DAVIS: Go ahead.

SCHULTZ: All right. Well, the question is, what if Barack Obama hits 2025 before the committee meets at the end of the month, you know?

KING: Right.

SCHULTZ: You know, I mean, that's a fair question because it could happen. We've seen 30 delegates since North Carolina in the last week go to Barack Obama. I'm told that there's going to be some more coming out tomorrow. The avalanche continues. So I think that Senator Clinton set the table tonight to tell the Democratic Party, look, we're not getting out of this race until we have conclusion with Michigan and Florida no matter what the rules say.

KING: Lanny? DAVIS: I would make the equity argument on behalf of the Clinton campaign. The rules are the rules, and the rules were broken. Then Senator Clinton said, let's have a revote, and I'll help finance it. Senator Obama, let's let them build back into compliance. Howard Dean said that will fix the problem. Senator Obama said no. No to a revote in Michigan that could have been done in June. No to a revote in Florida.

Now the equities change. Now because Senator Obama did not allow them to come back into compliance, we in the Clinton campaign say, OK, now they should be seated as they voted. It was Senator Obama that blocked that revote. That is a fact.

ACKER: Larry...


KING: Tanya, Tanya, hold it.

ACKER: That assumes that the revote was going to be a proper and correct remedy. You're assuming that the revote was going to put the parties in the same situation they would have been in had they been able to campaign and move forward in the way that the Democratic Party rules...

DAVIS: Howard Dean...

ACKER: ... and that is just not -- that's just not right. So the equities don't change. The equities don't change.

DAVIS: Howard Dean is ready to go forward -- everyone was ready to go forward.

KING: OK, Tanya and Lanny will be remaining with us. We thank Ed Schultz and Hilary Rosen, who will be back with us probably tomorrow night. And Reed Dickens and Lauren Schwartz will join Tanya and Lanny right after this break.


KING: Tanya Acker and Lanny Davis remain with us. We're joined now by -- here in Los Angeles, Reed Dickens, former White House assistant press secretary for George W. Bush, and in Jacksonville, Florida, Laura Schwartz, Democratic strategist who worked in the Clinton White House.

Reed, is this a good night for Republicans?

REED DICKENS, FMR. ASST. PRESS SECY., PRES. G.W. BUSH: Well, I don't think we know. I don't think this primary is as bad as Democrats think or as good as Republicans hope. I think that the only thing we know about the elongated primaries is that it shortens the general election. And if you're John McCain and you don't have a lot of cash, I think shortening the general election is a good thing.

But I think in general it's energized the Democratic Party and I think it's been good for the country.

KING: Would you fear an Obama/Clinton ticket?

DICKENS: Look, I think on paper it works. In reality, I -- it's hard for me to see it happening.

KING: But it would certainly...

DICKENS: It would -- absolutely on paper, it would bring every constituency that the Democrat would need to win in November to the table. So on paper, it obviously would be formidable.

KING: Do you expect it might happen?

DICKENS: I don't.

KING: Laura Schwartz, do you expect it might happen?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I don't, Larry, because Barack Obama, one of the great things about this campaign, has been his consistency on message, change, the new generation moving forward, not backwards, and although Hillary Clinton has been running with experience, it's also change, and we all hope it's change for the better.

But honestly, I think it would be tough for her -- him to bring her on after going through an election season saying that hey, she's the opposite of me. It kind of cancels out that message that has brought him so far today. I think she'll be a great advocate for him. I think there could be a Cabinet position. I think she could go back to the Senate, become majority leader, or run for governor at some point in New York.

But I just don't see her on that ticket.

KING: Laura, do you see many of her supporters not voting for Obama or voting for McCain -- I mean, Tanya, affects your candidate more? Do you see many of Hillary's supporters going away that far?

ACKER: I don't. I mean, I know that there's been a lot of exit polling on both sides where supporters of both campaigns have said that if the other one wins, they're not going to -- they wouldn't support the nominee. I just don't think that's an enduring statistic. I think that this has been a heated campaign.

I think Rita's right. It hasn't been as heated as some might suggest. I think it's had some low points. But I just -- I don't think that that's an enduring statistic. I don't -- I don't buy that. I cannot imagine that any of Hillary Clinton's core supporters are going to say, you know what? Forget it. We're going to support John McCain. They don't want four more years of George Bush.

DICKENS: But it's important -- it's an important number, though, if you put it in context. It's an unknowable, I agree. It's unknowable, but a lot more Democrats say they would vote for McCain and vice versa. KING: Now that poll in West Virginia tonight, man, I think it was -- over 25 percent said they would vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee. Do you buy that, Lanny Davis?

DAVIS: I tend to agree that most partisan motions right now will be put aside, and the issues will be a lot more important, Larry. And I think that Obama and Hillary Clinton agree on most issues, but you cannot ignore the consistent defection rate in every Gallup, every national poll that's been taken when Barack Obama is against John McCain, the defection rate among Democrats, not partisans, Democrats, voters...

KING: Why?

DAVIS: ... is about 25 to 30 percent. That is the reminiscent...

KING: Why?

DAVIS: ... pattern. It's what we're seeing in Kentucky and -- next week, what we saw tonight is white working-class voters who are the same people who voted for Reagan...

KING: In other words, they won't vote for a black man?

DAVIS: ... over Mike Dukakis and the same people -- no, Mike Dukakis was white.

KING: They why point out white?

DAVIS: This is not -- because it is a fact that in the '80s we lost the white working-class to Ronald Reagan. They were called Reagan Democrats. People make a mistake to say this is about race. Barack Obama has the same problem of relating to working-class people that Dukakis and Mondale did, and they were white. We have a problem.

Bill Clinton won in Kentucky, in West Virginia. John Kerry and Al Gore lost. Barack Obama outspent Hillary Clinton in West Virginia 2-1...

KING: But Bill Clinton, Lanny...

DAVIS: ... outspent Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania 3-1.

KING: Bill Clinton didn't run as a liberal.

DAVIS: Exactly. He was able to connect...

KING: He is a centrist Democrat.

DAVIS: He was able to connect beyond the McGovern liberal African-American...


DAVIS: ... coalition that we have lost elections with. KING: Tanya?

ACKER: I -- Larry, I think that you've made...

DAVIS: Hillary Clinton shows the ability to do the same thing.

KING: OK. You're -- we're being repetitive. Tanya.

ACKER: Larry, I think you've made a very good point about the emphasis that we're putting on race. And I actually borrowed this line from Reed earlier. We're discussing this point. I think that this election has been raced out. I think that we are assuming so much about the racial demographic. We're assuming that all of those white voters and the rural white voters in West Virginia might be afraid to vote for a black man or this black man.

I just don't think that's accurate. There's another important statistic. 6 out of 10 of those West Virginia voters said that Bill Clinton was an important factor in this election. There are a whole number of reasons why rural white voters...

KING: Let be logical, Reed. Isn't race still a factor in America?

DICKENS: It is a factor. I don't think the point is that race...

KING: Sadly.

DICKENS: I don't think it's that race is not a factor. I think that there are a lot of other variables that are weighing into this. I think Barack Obama, if you look at Barack Obama, he is losing, you know, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida -- you go on -- I won't say Florida and Michigan, I'll get slapped -- but there's a lot of states that he's not doing well in.

And I don't think it's a race issue. I think it has to do with guns in West Virginia. I think there's a lot of issues at play.

KING: Right. We'll ask Laura where she thinks this is all going right after this.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I see the environment, national security, our economy all coming together. Perhaps that's going to spark in this nation an incredible impetus for us to sit down together, Republican and Democrat, environmentalists and business and banker and retailer, all together, and address this problem.


KING: OK, Laura Schwartz, we didn't get your thoughts on this. Where's it all going?

SCHWARTZ: Well, it is going...

KING: What's going to happen?

SCHWARTZ: ...until the very end, Larry. And I think it's a good thing. I think it's a good thing as long as it stays positive. It gives Hillary Clinton a graceful exit. When she talks about democracy, when she talks about getting votes counted, when she talks about having every state in the country, including Puerto Rico, who doesn't vote in the general election, a say in this process.

It's allowing the Democrats to put on the ground organization. They're getting more voters than ever before. They're getting more volunteers, more organization, and that helps when it comes to the general election, especially when you look at Barack Obama's map for the electoral college going after some states that otherwise weren't in play.

I think they're in play now because of a 50-state strategy. So I think this is good for the Democratic Party. But it will be nice when the Democrats start spending all their money to talk about John McCain. You've already seen a pivot to that. I think you'll see more.

But again, Larry, that's all hinges on this becoming a positive, united, Democratic message. No more negative campaigning. And I thought we saw a good message from Hillary tonight.

KING: Yes. Reed?

DICKENS: I think you have to think about just the basic math of an election. The Democrats have what the Republicans had in 2004, and that is high voter intensity, and they're adding a lot of new voters. And so that can't be anything but a good thing. But if you look at the electoral path in November, I think Senator Obama has a lot of question marks in states like West Virginia, like we saw tonight, where Hillary Clinton and John McCain are more known commodities.

I mean Barack Obama ran uncontested in '04 for the most part. He's never been contested from the right. If you're using a boxing analogy, he's 1-0 and the Clintons are 46-6.

KING: Are you saying we're going to see swift boats?

DICKENS: I think you're going to see a lot on both sides. And they're going to be better funded and they're going to be more organized and more structured. I think there are going to be 527s on both sides.

KING: What's then -- what's your worry from a McCain standpoint?

DICKENS: Well, Senator McCain, obviously, has to run -- has a lot of the president's baggage to deal with, and that's no secret. I think -- but no matter how slow the economy is right now, pro-business policies campaign a lot better than whining and complaining and raising taxes and raising -- increasing regulations. So I think he's got a lot of good things going for him.

KING: Tanya, you're smiling.

ACKER: I'm smiling because of the notion that contravening this administration's policies would constitute whining and complaining. Look, I think this is what Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have in common. I think that part of the reason why this contest is being so hard fought right now is because whoever wins it is going to be the next president.

John McCain has just -- he's thrown in his oars with this administration, and I don't think the country's having it. And just really quickly, you know, I'd never -- I certainly would never suggest that race doesn't matter, but I do think that in this current climate, I think that there are people that Barack Obama has brought to the table who are really fed up.

And I think that we are seeing a big change. It's almost a cataclysmic change in sort of electoral alliances in this election.

KING: Lanny?

DICKENS: Here's the big problem, Larry. Hold on. Here's the big...

KING: I'm coming right to you, Lanny. Hold it.

DICKENS: Here's the big problem. In this climate, if the election were tomorrow, I agree the Democrats should win. One, the election's not tomorrow. Two, Democrats have a very bad habit of losing elections they should win. And electoral path gets very complicated for Barack Obama.

KING: Lanny, is that a good point?

DAVIS: I think this is a great panel, and I'd like to agree with everybody. First of all, I don't think that the race -- I do agree that Senator Obama has run a great campaign. The fact that he's an African-American appeals to me to vote for him and lots of other Americans who want an African-American to be president of this country, what it would say to the world.

He's energized young people. He's done a great job in putting a campaign together. So has Senator Clinton. And we are neck and neck. I do think that what we're talking about Senator Obama not being able to do is not about race. It's the same problem that white liberal candidates had, and I repeated it again and again tonight, you're right, Larry.

KING: Yes, we said that already. OK.

DAVIS: Let's just remember that where we are as a party is we have two great candidates who on the great issues, on getting out of Iraq, doing something about the economy, on really using the federal government as a friend, not looking at it as an enemy, these two Democrats agree on most things. We're going to be unified in the fall. That's for sure.

KING: More after this.


KING: Take a call for this panel. Alexandria, Virginia, hello.



UNIDENTIFIED ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA RESIDENT: Good -- good evening, panel. I wanted to know if Hillary were to get on the ticket with Obama, would that be essentially Bill's third turn because Bill is -- I mean, how can you contain him? He's a beast.

KING: That is a great question. OK, Reed, what would Bill do if he were vice president? Let's go around -- let's start with -- OK, let's start with Reed and then go around. Reed?

DICKENS: Obviously, Bill Clinton is a once-in-a-generation politician. I don't know what he would do as the second lady. I don't know.

KING: What do you think, Tanya?

ACKER: I think that Hillary is not going to have any problem keeping Bill in check should that happen. Should she be on the ticket as a VP.

KING: No problem.

ACKER: I don't think she's going to have any problem.

DICKENS: You're not basing that on history.

ACKER: Stop that. Stop that.

KING: You think Obama would use him as a special representative as she had planned?

ACKER: Oh, I think he'd be magnificent.

KING: You're saying -- he should.

ACKER: He's (INAUDIBLE). He'll be magnificent.

KING: Laura, what do you make of that? Could Bill be second lady?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I actually -- I think -- I don't think there's enough space in that house for all three of them, ideally. But I believe that if Obama becomes president, he would want Bill Clinton on the road. He's an amazing figure, well respected overseas.

If Senator Clinton becomes president, I think he would be -- like she said a great roving ambassador. I think he'd like to finish up the Middle East peace process he got so close to finishing...

KING: Yes.

SCHWARTZ: ... when he was in office. I think he'd relish the opportunity to be back.

KING: Lanny, what do you think?

DAVIS: Look, I've known both of them for almost 40 years. He is a planetary treasure. President Bush I and Bill Clinton have done more for this planet, and he's taken a lot of hits, but he's done those hits on behalf of his wife, in defense of his wife, campaigning for her, and she has taken command of the campaign, told him when to be quiet and when to speak, and he has followed instructions.

But he is a planetary treasure. Both parties, both parties, President Bush in the White House and his father, everybody appreciates what President Clinton has done around the planet. And whoever is president, he'll be a resource for either one.

KING: Reed, what do you expect -- by the way, who will McCain choose as a running mate?

DICKENS: I think McCain -- that's -- it's a great question. I think there's two strategic paths that Senator McCain has. I think he doesn't have a lot of time. You're talking about a 60-day sprint to the election. So I don't think he has time to introduce and brand, if you will, an unknown commodity. So when you see Rob Portman and all these names thrown out, I think that's nonsense.

I think he's going to have a few very well known people, Mitt Romney, Condee Rice, that's he's going to have to choose from, because there's not a lot of time until the general.

KING: Would he choose Condee Rice? That puts him closer to Bush.

DICKENS: You know what? I think he would be having to concede a few issues if he did that. But it's possible, as Dan Senor, my good friend, said, that he might say, look, things are messy, but leave the adults in charge.

KING: Tanya, who would you like Obama to choose?

ACKER: I like Jim Webb, senator of Virginia. I think that he would really help -- Virginia is in play. Virginia is going to be in play for Democrats this season.

KING: Also a Vietnam hero.

ACKER: Vietnam war hero, fought in Vietnam, he's got a son in Iraq, Reagan secretary of the Navy. I think he'd be masterful, somebody who switched parties because of the disastrous way that foreign policy has been handled recently.

I'd like to jump back. I would actually -- you know, if I could have my Republican ticket, I wouldn't mind seeing Condee Rice on that ticket. Yes, John McCain would have to -- he'd have to concede a few things like the sort of the disaster that the Bush foreign policies has been. I think that that would be an easy ticket to beat.

KING: Thank you all very much. Reed Dickens, Laura Schwartz, Tanya Acker and Lanny Davis.

DICKENS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Should Clinton and -- thank you all guys.

Should Clinton and Obama run together? That's the vote on our Web site. You vote now, and we'll keep tabulating and I'll ask the panel what they think next time or tomorrow night. We'll get their results as we announce the panel -- to the panel that is here tomorrow night, I think.

Anyway, it's been that kind of night, folks. Have a great evening. CNN News continues. I'm Larry King. See you tomorrow evening with former governor Michael Dukakis.

Good night.