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Reviewing the Week's Political News

Aired May 18, 2008 - 13:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, HOST: Is the United States on the right track? Not according to voters. A plunging economy combined with rising layoffs and a real estate bust have millions terrified the country is on the wrong track, heading for disaster. Politicians love to take credit for good times. Who will take the blame now?
We'll have all the ups and downs of THIS WEEK IN POLITICS right after a look of what's in the news right now.


FOREMAN: Welcome to THIS WEEK IN POLITICS. I'm Tom Foreman. And look at a startling answer to a simple question. Do you think the country is on the right track? Over 80 percent of Americans in a new poll say no. So Republicans were scrambling this week to get onto a new track before the fall elections derail their party.


TOM FOREMAN, HOST (voice-over): The Democrats are on a tear, mowing down Republican challengers in three special congressional elections in a row. Barack Obama is all over the news, even beleaguered Hillary Rodham Clinton is holding onto headlines. And the Republicans...

REP. TOM DAVIS (R), VIRGINIA: At this point, the reputation is just in the trash can. And the Republican brand name, if you were to put this on a dog food, the owners would just take it off the shelf because nobody's buying it.

FOREMAN: Consider just one of those congressional races. In Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers was hammered by tough ads paid for by the national Republican party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Obama's pastor cursed America blaming us for 9/11. Childers said nothing.

FOREMAN: But he won anyway.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: It's a wake-up call that we have to show Americans that we can fix the problems here in Washington.

FOREMAN: None of this bodes well for John McCain.

JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I want to do today is take a little time to describe what I would hope to have achieved at the end of my first term as president. FOREMAN: Perhaps because things are pretty grim right now, McCain took the extreme step of talking about where America will be four years from now under his administration. The war won, Osama done, the economy fun.

MCCAIN: I want leave office knowing that America is safer, freer, and wealthier than when I was elected.

FOREMAN: The rush for Republicans to put distance between their party and its president is so pronounced, McCain is practically hugging trees to show how much he differs from George Bush.

MCCAIN: I think that I will be as I have in my own person, I have taken positions on issues that I have sometimes not agreed with President Bush, climate change, spending, the handling of the war early on.

FOREMAN: Still the Democrats are crowing. They know getting on the wrong side of the tracks of public opinion destroyed Jimmy Carter. The first George Bush, too. No wonder the current president was doing some knife work.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals.

FOREMAN: Taking direct aim at the man who looks like target number one in the general election, Barack Obama.

BUSH: We have an obligation to call this what it is. The false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and that alienates us from the world.

FOREMAN: Marlarky. Well, he called it something else, but we can't use that word on television. We can only hope that guests are less inhibited in New York. Mark Halperin, editor of "TIME" magazine's political column "The Page," and here with me, Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

Mark, let me start with you. Is this a good fight for the Republicans to pick? Or do they just have to pick any fight they can right now?

MARK HALPERIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Ba, ba, buoy. I show I'm uninhibited, Tom. I think this is a fight the Republicans were eventually going to pick. The president chose the symbolically important time to make it. McCain wants the election to be -- he knows it'll be about change. He wants to show he's a change agent, but his allies in the White House also know it's going to be about national security. And they're trying to raise the stakes on that debate. And Democrats are trying to call him on it now, rather than having that fight later on when it could be very dangerous, the way it was for John Kerry in 2004. Kevin, how did the Republicans wind up in this position? They've always been the party that says, we're disciplined, we know what we're about. And now the voters are saying we don't know what you're about. We don't think you're very disciplined.

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well I think right now, we fundamentally haven't answered the question why Republicans? And that is something that the party, on the House Republicans, on the Senate Republican side, in John McCain as the titular leader now of the Republican party, we need to answer that question. Why are we -- why should we be entrusted with the national economy? Why should we be entrusted with national security?

FOREMAN: Well, what's your answer?

MADDEN: Well, that's what we need to come up with. If you look at the events of this week down in Mississippi, that was more than a wake-up call. That was a sledgehammer to the head. And we have to find out a very cohesive message that answers the questions on the big issues that the American people care about, as well as those kitchen table issues, the ones that drive Americans anxiety right now, which answer the questions that -- about why 82 percent of this country thinks we're going in the wrong direction.

Because that fundamentally also brings the Democrats into this. They're the ones in charge of Congress right now. They're also not answering these questions. There's an anger out there with the status quo in Washington. Republicans have to answer the questions, why us and how we're going to fix it?

FOREMAN: Well, Mark, do you think that the Republicans are ready to answer those questions or have any answers right now?

HALPERIN: Tom, I think the one silver lining for Republicans this past week is that they've got no choice now but to turn to John McCain. They don't have answers. And this isn't the kind of thing you can just make up in the very short time between now and November.

I think the Republicans' congressional leadership, the state parties, activists around the country are basically going to say our brand is currently trashed. We've got no ideas that we can sell that are particularly going to resonate with the public. The president's unpopular. We're going to just have to ride McCain. And if McCain can find a way to talk about these issues, they've got a chance to survive this election. If not, and maybe even McCain does it, may not help the party this time. They're going to have to go into the wilderness and figure out what they stand for again.

FOREMAN: I want you to listen very quickly to two little bits of sound from McCain, which are interesting because he's presented himself as a guy who won't get down in the dirt with the other folks on this. But when this business of Obama came up this week and the notion of talking to Iran or talking to countries that we may consider tied with terrorism, listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: It's a serious error on the part of Senator Obama. It shows naivety and inexperience and lack of judgment to say that he wants to sit down across the table from an individual who leads a country that says that Israel is a stinking corpse, that is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel.


FOREMAN: Now I want you to listen to the same candidate a couple of years ago, when he was asked about talking to Hamas.


MCCAIN: Well, hopefully, that Hamas now that they are going to govern will be motivated to renounce this commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again. We can resume aide. We can resume the peace progress.


FOREMAN: Kevin, he's certainly couching it in delicate language there the idea of when you would talk to these governments or not. But again, he's basically admitting to some degree, we do have to communicate with other areas. Should they be fighting over this kind of thing with Obama? Or should they be fighting on more of those bread-and-butter issues you were talking about?

MADDEN: Well, absolutely. I think national security is going to be baking the cake as far as a big debate during this campaign. And John McCain has a very firm, I know Mark used the word before, brand. He has a very firm brand, a reputation as somebody who is going to be very, very direct when it comes to dealing with our enemies on national security issues.

And that sets up a contrast that is very favorable to John McCain in this campaign with Barack Obama's past statements on wanting to deal directly with a lot of these rogue elements...

FOREMAN: Yes, but Mark, do you buy the notion that that's going to resonate if the Republicans cannot connect on the cost of gas, the cost of bread, the cost of houses?

HALPERIN: No, he's going to have to do that as well. McCain and the party's going to have to talk about domestic issues and the economy. On the international stuff, on national security, they're going to have to pick their fights. They've picked some fights with Barack Obama this past week where they were not just on shaky ground. They were on no ground, just totally distorting what he said in the interview about the Middle East. They need to find the areas of contrast.

What's more - what's difficult for them is the world views of John McCain and Barack Obama on many issues are not that far apart. They're coming closer together on Iraq. As we've seen, McCain's past positions have not been that far apart from Obama on the question of dealing with some of these hostile countries and organizations. McCain needs to figure out what he thinks the real differences are and try to emphasize those. If he gets it buzzed up, if he takes some liberties, I think Obama will effectively call him on it and maybe take the national security issue off the table. If that happens, Obama will be the next president.

FOREMAN: Kevin, very quickly, do you have time to do it before the election?

HALPERIN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think Mark's right that the degree of clarity, which McCain can draw distinctions on national security issues, you can absolutely make this a case about fundamentally different world views on how we approach these global challenges when it comes to radical Islamic jihad.

FOREMAN: We'll have you back in a month and a half and see how you guys are doing. Thanks, Kevin, thanks, Mark.

OK, we have a lot more coming up on THIS WEEK IN POLITICS. The cost of college, the battle for Capitol Hill, and who is code name "Phoenix"? Here's a hint. You'll know the face.

But straight ahead, can the Democrats really come together behind one candidate? CNN political producer Josh Reuben put that question to voters in West Virginia.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I tell you that people here are for Hillary Clinton, you can take it to the bank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Hillary doesn't take the nomination, will you vote for McCain or Barack Obama?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll have to weigh it out. I'm not really sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will never vote for him. I think - I just don't like him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea. I'm putting all my thoughts on Hillary Clinton at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have faith that once West Virginia and Kentucky come out, the math is going to play out in her favor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll have Barack Obama sticker on my car on Wednesday morning if he takes it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama doesn't have as much experience as the other candidates. That's the only thing that worries me with Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reverend Wright did it in for me...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it in for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you cannot go and set in a pew for 20 years without believing the same thing that your pastor is telling you.


FOREMAN: The devil's dictionary was written in 1911 by Ambrose Beers, sort of the John Stewart of his time. And since Beers mysteriously disappeared two years later, we've decided to update his work. For instance, major endorsement, that's an event that seems to happen to Barack Obama right when he needs it. And right after Hillary Clinton's resounding win in West Virginia this week, you guessed it.


JOHN EDWARDS: There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two. And that man is Barack Obama.


FOREMAN: John Edwards called Obama right after the West Virginia primary and volunteered his endorsement after previously refusing to give it. And according to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, the reason was to stop the division within the party. Hillary Clinton put it bluntly in a phone call with "USA Today."

CLINTON: Senator Obama's support among hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again.

FOREMAN: Eight out of 10 white voters in West Virginia cast their ballot for Clinton. Over half of them said that they still believe that Obama shared the radical values of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Senator Clinton insisted to Wolf Blitzer that racism has no place in her campaign.

CLINTON: I obviously regret people exploding an issue like that because I think it's not only unfounded, but you know, it's offensive. I think people vote for me because they think I'd be the better president.

FOREMAN: But apparently John Edwards was so concerned by the results from West Virginia that he moved to unify the party.

EDWARDS: Brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats.

FOREMAN: So will racism, the electrified third rail of American politics, play a key role in this fight for the White House? Over in the Virginia headquarters for Politico, executive editor Jim Vandehei. And in Charlotte, North Carolina, radio talk show host and CNN political contributor Roland Martin.

Jim, let me start with you. This really did cut the legs out from underneath Hillary Clinton's big victory, didn't it. The things turned around so quickly with John Edwards hopping on?

JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO: It certainly helped. I mean, the fact that Hillary Clinton won by 40 points and won across all the demographic areas in West Virginia and it wasn't big news is kind of shocking. You know, she came under a lot of fire, as you talked about in the lead in segment, for talking about how she gets a lot more support from working class whites.

The truth is she does. It happened in Pennsylvania, happened in Ohio, certainly in West Virginia. And when you get John Edwards come out and put his stamp of approval on Barack Obama right when people were starting to ask questions about the West Virginia result, at the very at least to put the focus on the momentum of Obama. And it showed to superdelegates that other candidates of appeal the working class whites were rallying around him.

FOREMAN: But the racial aspect of this vote seems a little shocking to a lot of voters as well. Let's take a look at this graphic that shows that one poll we made reference to. The number of people that think that Barack Obama shares the views of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, where all that controversy's around, 51 percent think that. Roland, what do you make of this?

ROLAND MARTIN: Well, I mean, it clearly shows - well, first of all, one of the problems was that Barack Obama did not campaign extensively in West Virginia. And I understand the rationale because you want to move to more of a general election situation.

But Tom, I also think it's important for us to remember something. When there have been states where we expect big blowouts, we don't pay a lot of attention. When Obama won Mississippi, you know what people said? OK, large black population, he's going to win Mississippi, let's focus on Pennsylvania.

And so I'm not surprised that an expected win -- we didn't spend lots of attention focusing on something.

But where the race issue does come into play, really if you go back to Pennsylvania where 16 percent or so of voters say that race was the number one factor for them. In a very tight election, remember, George W. Bush won Pennsylvania by about 200,000 votes back in 2004. If you take the 16 percent of people and project that to some four million folks who vote, that 16 percent can loom very large in a tight race. And so, I know we should look at the 84 percent who say race means nothing. But even if it's 5 percent, 8 percent, 10 percent in a tight race, that issue could matter.

FOREMAN: Jim, are you surprised, though, that this is what's coming out? Because so many people in this country would like to believe that we've reached a point of being more of a colorblind society. And certainly younger voters, those under 40, for example...


FOREMAN: ...are more colorblind. VANDEHEI: Reality bites. I mean, as Roland pointed out, like the truth is there are a lot voters who do make their decisions based on race. There's no doubt that you can see a pattern both in the polling and anecdotally when you're out there talking to voters, that a lot of them are still troubled by the idea of having an African-American as president. Like is it uncomfortable to talk about? Certainly, but it certainly exists. And I think...

FOREMAN: Roland - well, let me ask you this, Roland. Is there anything that Barack Obama can do about this? He's not going to change the color of his skin. And presumably a lot of people are going to have a hard time changing their minds. Is that bothersome?

MARTIN: Oh, I think the people who have a problem with it need to get over it. I think they need to start asking themselves some critical questions. And that is if they enjoy watching African-Americans on television, play sports, if they enjoy them singing, if they enjoy them acting, if they enjoy them serving food, if they enjoy them working alongside with them, well then at some point they're going to have to say, wait a minute, what is wrong with this?

I'm an African-American. We've been 43 out of 43 in terms of voting for white males in this country. I don't have an issue voting for a woman. I don't have an issue voting for an African-American.

And so, if people actually want to say that they are a patriot, they are an American and the flag lapel pins are important, and showing that, well, then they need to understand that Obama is an American, McCain is an American. And so I say don't vote against McCain because he's 72 years old. Don't vote against Obama because he's black.

But the real issue, Jim and Tom is here. The people who don't even admit to it. See, that's the -- we might say, hey, it's 18 percent and 12 percent, but maybe even a larger number, we need to say if you truly believe in America, look at the person and the issues versus the color of their skin.

FOREMAN: Let me jump in very quickly and let you hear a little bit of sound from Hillary Clinton, who wanted to point out this week for all to talk about a general election that she still has not quit. Listen to what she said.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have contests yet to go. People have been trying to end it. And the voters just won't let it happen. As a recent poll suggested, 64 percent of Democrats want to see this continue. And I think for good reason because it's one of the most substantive, exciting, energizing political events I can remember in my lifetime. And there is no winner yet.


FOREMAN: Jim, very quickly here, obviously the Clinton supporters want her to stay in. She has pledged to stay in until the end. But if this were not Hillary Clinton, if this were Bill Richardson or Joe Biden, would we even be covering it?

VANDEHEI: Oh, I think we would. It's still close enough. She has every right to still be on the field. And the truth is who knows? It's been such an unpredictable campaign that anything could happen.

And that's what their strategy is. She's living on a prayer. She's praying that something that none of us can ponder right now happens in the next couple of weeks that gives her some kind of chance to win it.

They all know she's done as far as looking at pledged delegates and popular vote , number of states won. She's going to need like one of those things you could never imagine happening in politics happening.

FOREMAN: But you're absolutely right. And this race, it's possible. Thanks for being here, Jim and Roland both. I'm afraid we're out of time.

MARTIN: I got you. No problem.

FOREMAN: When we come back, what are the candidates doing about the skyrocketing cost of a cap and gown?

And tumbler, tempo, twinkle, and turquoise. You've seen them, you know them. They utterly changed the face of American politics. So who the heck are they? All that's coming up.

But as Barack Obama would say..


OBAMA: Hold on one second, sweetie.


FOREMAN: Hold on because it's time for our weekly political sideshow.


FOREMAN: This week, John Tyler Hammonds was elected mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma. He'll chair the city council as long as it doesn't conflict with classes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


FOREMAN: After all, Mayor Hammonds is a 19-year-old college freshman, not bad for a summer job.

HBO Films is recounting the most famous recount in American history in an upcoming film called "Recount." The film focuses on the 2000 Florida showdown between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The star-studded cast includes Kevin Spacey as former Gore chief of staff Ron Clane (ph), Tom Wilkinson as James Baker, chief legal adviser to George Bush, and Laura Dern as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

Some key Democrat players such as former Secretary of State Warren Christopher have criticized the film, saying it unfairly portrays him. I don't see what he's complaining about, though. After all, he's being played by John Hurt. Never looked so good.

And finally, in an attempt to stave off World War III, the U.S. Olympic Committee is teaching its athletes a little diplomacy, proper Chinese etiquette. According to their website, touching strangers is a big no-no. Going to be tough for the basketball team. Burping at dinner is OK, but cleaning your plate is an insult. And always, always carry your own toilet paper.

The website even supplies you with a Chinese name if you want to give it a try. I did. So this is Fan Tan Ming, saying, good luck, team USA. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better listen to him, Flounder. He's in premed.


FOREMAN: In the movie "Animal House," that advice was for college students. But today, it could apply to parents faced with rising tuition bills. Gasoline, groceries, and the cost of college are all skyrocketing. The candidates say they want to help in the future, but right now, many high school seniors are looking at next fall and getting a hard lesson in economics.


TOM FOREMAN, HOST (voice-over): In Falls Church, Virginia, Laura Peppe is a high school student with her eyes set on a career in architecture. Her brother, Matthew, is already in college and hoping to get into medicine. That's all great for their parents, Ron and Beth, but what is not so great is the cost. They've saved for years, but still worry that they don't have enough.

RON PEPPE, FATHER: I think we fell into one of those holes where the folks, we're moderately well off, we do OK, but we can't just write a check for the kids to go anywhere. So we started saving up for it when they were young. And we thought we'd have this covered by the time it was here. We did some calculators when the kids were younger and came up with a big scary number at the time. I think I was in my 20s that said we were going to need $100,000 for each of the kids to go to four years of school, which sounded daunting.

FOREMAN: The Peppes are not alone. The cost of college is rising much faster than everything else. Average total cost at a private school are more than $32,000 a year. At a public in state school, more than $13,000. That's up 22 percent over the past five years. One reason? Schools are competing to be the biggest and the best for new research labs and sport complexes.

KATHERINE COHEN, CEO, APPLYWISE.COM: Colleges and universities are like businesses. And they're not immune to things like employee salaries. They have to increase those every year. Health care, retirement benefits, they need to make sure that they are providing for their students, their employees and their faculty.

FOREMAN: The candidates all say they are aware of rising education costs and worry about American students falling behind in the global marketplace. They all have ideas on how to help.

OBAMA: We will give you the money you need to afford a college education without going into $30,000 or $40,000 worth of debt. And in exchange, you are going to participate in community service.

CLINTON: I want to offer young people up to two years of national service where they can earn $10,000.

MCCAIN: I propose the Department of Education work with the governors to make sure that each state's guarantee agency has the means and manpower to meet its obligation as a lender of last resort for student loans.

FOREMAN: How realistic are these proposals? Hard to say. But Congress hasn't been able to even pass legislation updating the GI bill to help veterans afford college.

And the credit crunch is making some lenders so reluctant to issue new student loans, this month Congress had to pass a law supported by the president allowing students to borrow more money backed by the federal government. Simply put, those young engaged voters everyone prizes so much are feeling the pinch.

JEANNE CUMMINGS, CHIEF MONEY REPORTER, POLITICO: They are feeling most acutely the stress of paying for their colleges and trying to get those loans. And their parents, too. And so when you motivate that young adult, you also probably influence his parents, too, or her parents.

FOREMAN: And whether those families feel the government should help or not, college is a real pocketbook issue that could help shape their votes when classes reconvene in the fall.


FOREMAN: Speaking of education, in just a moment, get out the gauze and band-aids. Lessons in the brutal art of political advertising.

But first, some of the other news in THIS WEEK IN POLITICS.

In the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that struck central China, President Bush called Chinese President Hu Jintao personally and released a half million dollars in immediate aid with indications that much more will follow. This is starting to sound a bit like the movie "Groundhog Day," but this week, , once again, gasoline prices rose to new highs. Congress jumped into action voting overwhelmingly to stop pumping oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But analysts say since that will add less than 1 percent to the nation's oil supply, probably won't have much effect.

And it's official. The Bush administration has now ruled that polar bears are a threatened species. However, since the bears are dying because the ice they live on is melting, something that most scientists say is a result of global warming, it's not clear if the decision, which will do nothing about global warming, will actually help the bears unless of course they can adapt. We'll be right back.



FOREMAN: There's a bar on Capitol Hill called the Hawk N' Dove, where the young political hang out like "West Wing" after hours. These days, we can only suspect that the Republicans are the ones listening to the sad songs.

There have been three special congressional elections this year and solid Republican districts. And Democrats have won them all. Looking ahead to November, it only gets worse.

Joining me are two veterans of the political wars, Republican strategist Amy Holmes, one of CNN's political contributors, and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

Stephanie, you guys must be feeling pretty good right now.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, 3 out of 3 isn't bad in these special elections. Very, very deep red states. Mississippi is one of the most conservative districts in the country. And we won it.

FOREMAN: Were you surprised by this three in a row win?

CUTTER: No, I wasn't surprised because there seems to be a little bit of a tidal wave going on, at least the start of a tidal wave. The question is whether it continues.

You know, the -- when you start picking it apart and looking at what's actually happening in these races, there's a couple of things about Mississippi. One, the Democrat fit the makeup of the state. He was culturally conservative, but had a very strong economic populist message.

Two, the influence of the Bush drag on that race was significant. Cheney went into the state and campaigned for the Republicans. And many people see that as a mistake.

FOREMAN: Amy, jump in here, because you raised a very interesting point here. When you say culturally sensitive to the areas, the simple truth is that what Democrats are doing in some of these places is running like Republicans.

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, they're actually waking up to Tip O'Neil's famous maxim that all politics are local. And what you saw in Mississippi was a pro-life, pro gun Democrat. And I think we can kind of overdetermine this at a national level in that district, while federally, yes, it's a red district. At the state level, it votes Democrat. So I think that we can maybe overinterpret some of these results.

FOREMAN: In any event, there are going to be potentially huge national repercussions. Look at this map over here. We've marked off six states here that looking like they will very likely turn Democratic. And then we add five more where the Democratic leadership has real hopes of possibly making this thing swing this way.

The big question, obviously, Stephanie, is whether or not you guys can get 60 votes...

CUTTER: Right, in the Senate.

FOREMAN: the Senate. If you get that, you can override a White House veto. And you guys are a freight train rolling.

CUTTER: Right.

FOREMAN: Do you think there's any real chance of doing that this time?

CUTTER: Well, you know, we're competitive in states we never thought we'd be competitive. Like in Alaska, for instance. It's a very, very red state. And we are competing there. And we need analysis and favor there.

We need nine seats, if you count Joe Lieberman and his Democratic caucus. We need nine seats to get to 60. That's a tough sell. You know, will we pick up seats? Absolutely. But you know, whether or not we're going to get to 60, it depends on what happens on a national basis and whether this national tidal wave carries Democrats across the country.

FOREMAN: We're going to run some pictures over the next words I say. Just because you ought to take a look at this. The fact is this has already turned into some mighty dirty fighting everywhere. Down in Mississippi, for example, and some other places, the Republicans have tried to link every candidate out there to Barack Obama suggesting that somehow this is some tidal wave of something that may worry people for some reason.

And flipside, DNC running ads linking the Republican to the KKK. As always, people will say, well, you know these are facts, but man, this is a dirty race already. And we're still a long way from November, Amy.

HOLMES: Well, yes, it's politics and politics (INAUDIBLE). And what we did see among the Republicans in Mississippi was that the attack ads didn't work because the Republican had not defined himself. He hadn't made the sale. And even some strategists down in Mississippi said that Childers, he got the bubba vote. He was much more able to connect with the voter. Going back again, you look at most voters in polling shows, they like their congressman better than they like Congress. Kind of like nobody likes lawyers, but they want their kids to become one.

FOREMAN: Stephanie, so many people, though, so many voters have said they really are turned off by the degree of viciousness. And frankly, a lot of the young voters now are saying, we're tired of this way of fighting. We want a change.

Do the Democrats possibly implode on this if they get too involved in these old attack techniques? Should they taking more of a page from Obama's book and saying this is about a great vision of the future?

CUTTER: Well, I think -- let me first address the ads that were run in Mississippi. The ads that tried to paint the Democrat as part of the liberal Democratic...


CUTTER:, showing pictures of Obama, the result of that on the Democratic side is that it turned out more votes. It angered people and drove them to the polls to vote for the Democrat.

FOREMAN: (INAUDIBLE) bigger issue, though.

CUTTER: In terms of how Democrats handle the state of play across the country. You know, there's attack ads and there's contrast ads. I think both sides have to be very careful about not tapping into the anger of the electorate.

FOREMAN: More of a contrast between the candidates...


FOREMAN: ...but not so much these personal or professional attacks.

CUTTER: We're going to see negative ads. You see, no matter...


FOREMAN: Amy, last word.

HOLMES: Getting back to your point about the young voters, younger voters tend to be idealists. They want to know what you're selling. They want to know what you're for, not what you're against. And I think that both parties have to...

FOREMAN: And on that, we have to sell something and take a break here. Thanks, Amy and Stephanie both for being here.

HOLMES: Thank you.

FOREMAN: When we come back, vice presidential polusa. Why who's on second could be who's on first. But first, our favorites from the Internet this week. A viral video cruise down the boulevard of broken dreams.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, yes, down below, they're waiting for the princess.

FOREMAN: Some of you may remember this scene from the 1950 classic "Sunset Boulevard." but check out this new classic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh What's going on, Anderson Cooper? Where am I?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the staircase of a White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, yes, down below, they're waiting for the president.

FOREMAN: A remake on youtube has Hillary Clinton in the starring role lost in dreams of what might have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm ready for my presidency..

FOREMAN: This week, two foreign films, Barack Obama goes Bollywood with a touching love song to a girl of his dreams. Maybe she's a super delegate.

It looks like Obama girl has picked up a second language and a new crush. Russian President Dmitri Medyedev (ph). Wow, she's using up her 15 minutes of fame in each and every time zone.

TYRA BANKS: I'm extremely disappointed in you.

FOREMAN: And finally from comedian Andy Borowitz, top model Tyra Banks tells Hillary Clinton it's over.

BANKS: I was rooting for you. We were all rooting for you, how dare you! I have never in my life yelled at a girl like this.

CLINTON: I see what's happening.

BANKS: Learn something from this.

FOREMAN: Tyra is tough. Future Secretary of Defense? Maybe, but we'll be right back.


FOREMAN: Yes, the primaries are almost over. And at some point, we have to hope that there will only be only two major candidates. Or it's time to start calling shotgun, guessing who the vice presidential picks will be. And who better to kick off this political power game than Chris Cillizza, who writes's political page "The Fix".

Well, first of all, how important will vice presidential picks be this time?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, they're always important. But what's hard about it is we never know how much speculation is accurate and how much is just pure speculation. This is something that everyone has an opinion on. I get stopped on the street all the time. People say who do you think it's going to be? And as soon as I start saying it, they say, I'll tell you who I think it's going to be. So it is...

FOREMAN: And we know it is going to count. But let's take a look this. This is John McCain in this picture here. He's quite old for a candidate. He's also suffered some bouts of cancer. You can see the scars there.

Barack Obama has had a security detail earlier than any of the other candidates out there, very frankly, because people do worry a little bit. He's the first African-American running for office. So who they pick are people folks really believe have to be picked well?

CILLIZZA: I think -- the important point especially with McCain is age. 72 years old if elected in November. Oldest president ever elected to a first term. Health has been a big issue with him. As we know, this is someone who has not had the easiest life. He spent five years in a POW camp in Vietnam.


CILLIZZA: Lots of questions about his age. He has acknowledged that his vice presidential pick is perhaps more important than your average because of age.

FOREMAN: Let's take a quick look on the Democratic side first. One of the top picks is Kathleen Sebelius, the governor out there in Kansas. What's good about her for the Democrats?

CILLIZZA: Well, two things. One, she's a woman. And that would really reaffirm Obama's change message, new faces. Let's not just put the same old people in. It would really say that this whole ticket is about doing things differently. It would be an historic ticket on any number of levels. Second, you mentioned she's from Kansas. This is a very Republican state. Barack Obama's message is about changing the playing field, trying to put states like Kansas in play.

FOREMAN: Let's look at Ted Strickland. What's good about him?

CILLIZZA: Two things again. Ohio, he's the governor of Ohio, a popular. That's the state it's come down to in 2000, 2008. Second, he's a Clinton supporter. Would be an olive branch to the Clintons without putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket.

FOREMAN: Hillary Clinton is obviously a consideration in all of this. We've all talked a little bit about the pluses and minuses of her. I think that we'll leave that to another show to get into more, because we will talk about it more.

CILLIZZA: And she'll continue to be mentioned no matter what.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. But there's also what happened this week. John Edwards stood next to Barack Obama. There was a screaming crowd. And a lot of people said that boy, looks like a ticket. Any chance of that happening?

CILLIZZA: You know, I think it's slim because John Edwards has been vice president once before, but...

FOREMAN: Vice presidential candidate.

CILLIZZA: Vice presidential candidate. Very important distinction.

FOREMAN: There's a big difference.

CILLIZZA: If you look on paper, though, John Edwards is the right kind of candidate. Southern, a white male, maybe assuage some of -- concerns in the working class with Barack Obama. The problem is if there's concerns about Obama's experience, Edwards was only a senator for six...

FOREMAN: Let's go to the GOP side and look at some of the possibilities here. Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, why would John McCain like this guy?

CILLIZZA: This is a guy that not many people know about. But he's a guy you should know about. He's a second-term governor of Minnesota. Minnesota's going to be a swing state in the fall. He's known John McCain for an extremely long time. And the best thing about Tim Pawlenty is he doesn't offend anyone within the party. And sometimes you do the least bad when you pick a vice presidential candidate.

FOREMAN: I used to live in South Dakota where we knew how to not to offend people. And that's where John Thune is from, a junior senator up there. Why is he good?

CILLIZZA: The one thing you'll notice with Pawlenty and Thune is both considerably younger than John McCain. Both are 47-years old. John Thune is a guy who looks presidential or at least vice presidential. Tall, handsome, articulate. He's a lot more conservative than he comes across. And that's important because remember, John McCain needs to appeal to conservatives without being too conservative.

FOREMAN: And we've only got a few seconds left for Rob Portman. Does he have much of a chance?

CILLIZZA: You know, he's a former congressman. And that would suggest, no. The thing about him, he's from Ohio. And he's an economics expert, both things that John McCain's going to need in the fall.

FOREMAN: We'll have to see how it plays out. Chris Cillizza, thanks for being my vice president here on THIS WEEK IN POLITICS.

Next, everything you need to know to face the next week in politics in only 90 seconds. That's fast track straight ahead. But first, a couple of great vice presidential moments.

There was Lloyd Bentsen crushing Dan Quayle.


LLOYD BENTSEN: You're no Jack Kennedy.

FOREMAN: And the classic line from Ross Perot's running mate, James Stockdale.

JAMES STOCKDALE: Who am I? Why am I here?

FOREMAN: Why, indeed? We'll be right back.


FOREMAN: It's time for fast track, everything you need to get through your next week in politics. And who better to help us out than CNN political editor Mark Preston.

More primaries coming up. Help us. Oregon and Kentucky, do they really matter?

MARK PRESTON: Boy, you know, Tom, in the grand scheme of things, the results probably won't matter Tuesday night. But there are two things we should be looking for. One, how will Barack Obama perform with rural and blue collar white voters in Kentucky? And what will Hillary Clinton when she takes the stage Tuesday night after the results are announced?

FOREMAN: Barack Obama, meanwhile, is headed south to Florida. What's that all about?

PRESTON: Well, I'll tell you what. He hasn't been there since the summer of 2007 campaigning. He has got some work to do. George Bush won the state by five points in 2004. Barack Obama needs to build an organization. But most importantly, he needs to reach out to the 1.75 million Democratic voters whose votes didn't count in the primary.

FOREMAN: John McCain is reaching out and grabbing the elephant in the room. What does that mean?

PRESTON: John McCain's releasing his medical records next week, Tom. He's opening a window into his personal life that most people would like to keep private. Look, he's battled cancer. He endures pain still from his years of torture as a POW. The big question is his age. He turns 72 in August. He would be the oldest first-term president in U.S. history. But guess what? He's no conceding the youth vote.

He's on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. He's appeared 13 times on Comedy Central's "The Daly Show." He's been endorsed by a soap operate star on MTV, Heidi Montag. John McCain's rocking the vote.

FOREMAN: And there's going to be convention out in Denver, but it's not the one we're all thinking about. What's happening? PRESTON: Former conservative Republican Bob Barr and ultra Democratic Senator Mike Gravel are heading west. They're leading the list of about a dozen candidates who are seeking the libertarian party's presidential nomination. Obama-Clinton? Maybe it's Barr-Gravel that's going to be the dream ticket this year.

FOREMAN: That would be something. Mark Preston, thanks so much for giving us the word on it all.

PRESTON: The word at the White House is a secret. We'll explain that in just a moment. But right now, our late night laughs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot be defeated by electoral process alone. Your delegate count only makes me stronger.

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: After Hillary won the West Virginia primary, she held a campaign rally. And she said, this is a quote, "it's not over and I will never give up. Yes. Then she flew off on a broom and said, and I'll kill your little dog, too.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Her campaign is $21 million in debt. $21 million in debt. So her campaign is the world's most expensive fantasy camp. Look at it that way.


FOREMAN: The Secret Services. See that guy over on the left? He probably didn't have a code name for Teddy Roosevelt back when they began to guard the president in 1902. That has changed, however. So here are our five coolest code names, all the double meanings we can think of.

For instance, noted ladies man John F. Kennedy was called Lancer. And the often, shall we say, wooden Al Gore was saw horse for a while. Then they changed it to Sundance.

Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter was called deacon. While Ronald Reagan was Rawhide. You can't find any hidden meetings for the Bush's code name. That's Tumbler and that's tempo. And the twins are Twinkle and Turquoise, but I can't keep them straight.

Phoenix works for John McCain these days. He rose from the ashes.

Political upstart Barack Obama is of course renegade. And as for Hillary Clinton, who some say refuses to make like a tree and leaf, her code name is evergreen. And don't worry we're not giving away any secrets here. The Secret Service uses encrypted radios these days so you'll just have to keep guessing who is eagle, or angler or energy.

That's it for THIS WEEK IN POLITICS. I'm Tom Foreman. Thanks for watching. Straight ahead, "Lou Dobbs This Week."