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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Harold Ickes; Interview With Howard Dean

Aired June 1, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.
Democrats divide the delegates. But will the compromise over Michigan and Florida divide the party?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a travesty. I think it's a travesty of democracy. You can't make up votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We'll talk with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean; top Clinton adviser, Harold Ickes; and Obama adviser David Bonior.

Puerto Rico votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: It's time to cut through the tough talk before we have some straight talk with the American people.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: I am running for president to tackle a lot of the challenges that face the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The first returns are expected in only a few hours, and CNN has exclusive exit polls. We'll assess the race with Senators Chris Dodd and Bill Nelson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Senator Obama is driven to this position by ideology, and not by the facts on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: John McCain takes on the Democratic frontrunner over the war in Iraq. McCain supporter and potential running mate, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, joins us.

From Puerto Rico to Tuesday's final contests, insight and analysis from the best political team on television. The first hour of LATE EDITION begins right now. ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN election center in New York, this is a special LATE EDITION, "Puerto Rico Votes."

BLITZER: It's 11 a.m. here in New York and in Washington, 8 a.m. in Los Angeles and 6 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching, from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for this special LATE EDITION. We're reporting from the CNN election center.

We'll get to the details of the Democrats' delegate decision and my interview with the party chairman, Howard Dean, in just a moment.

But first, there are only three contests left in this campaign, and today the voters in Puerto Rico are having their say.

Jessica Yellin is on the scene for us. She's following all the action.

They're voting right now, Jessica. Set the stage for what's going on.

YELLIN: Well, right now, there are a steady stream of voters going to the polls here in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

And at at least one polling location, there are an even greater number of people outside the polling location, protesting the idea that this island would participate in a U.S. mainland vote. Some folks here very passionate that this should not be part of the presidential contest. So, it's a very divided island.

Senator Clinton has been here. She is pinning her hopes on a huge win today, and she has crisscrossed this island yesterday. She ended her day in a major, a very, very large church that turns out the vote quite successfully. That ended an eight-hour road trip that took Clinton across the island as she has tried to drum up support.

Now, the latest poll from Univision shows that Senator Clinton is expected to win here quite comfortably. But the question is, how many people will turn out, because Clinton needs a major turnout -- at least two million people -- for her to get enough of a victory for her to claim that she has won the popular vote in all these contests.

As you know, that's the marker she would like to claim after this as sort of a moral victory for her. So, we will see how good the turnout is and how Senator Clinton comes out at the end of this day. We'll follow it all for you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica. She's also hoping to send a message to those still undeclared superdelegates, that she's more popular than Barack Obama.

Jessica, we'll check back with you. Thank you.

Emotional and acrimonious, Democratic Party officials met this weekend and finally agreed on a compromise to seat those Michigan and Florida uncounted delegates. Those delegates now will be seated at the Denver convention at the end of the summer, but they'll only have half a vote each.

The Clinton campaign is threatening to challenge this compromise.

And joining us now, the former governor of Vermont, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Also, James Roosevelt, Jr. He was the -- he still is the co-chairman of the DNC's Rules Committee, which made those decisions yesterday on the fate of Michigan and Florida.

Gentlemen, thanks very much for joining us on LATE EDITION.

DEAN: Thanks for having us.

ROOSEVELT: It's good to be with you.

BLITZER: Governor Dean, I'll start with you. And I want to play a clip, a dramatic threat, from Harold Ickes, a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, a member of the Rules Committee himself. He was not happy with your compromise on Michigan.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HAROLD ICKES, SENIOR ADVISOR, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the Credentials Committee.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO)

BLITZER: All right. Let's get your reaction, governor.

DEAN: Well, I think we ought to think about the positive things that happened yesterday. And I want to thank Jim, and also his co- chair, Alexis Herman, for doing an extraordinary job. This is the beginning of the unification of the party, despite what you just saw on television.

These proposals were essentially the Michigan proposal, put together by both Obama and Clinton people in Michigan. They were voted for by both -- unanimously, in the Florida case, and 19 to eight, which is two to one, which means that significant numbers of Clinton folks on the Rules Committee voted for these proposals.

So, Harold's statements notwithstanding, this is the beginning of agreement on how we can resolve the Michigan and Florida problem, how Michigan and Florida voters are to be heard. And I particularly want to commend the Rules Committee for seating the entire delegation.

It's true they got half a vote, which is actually what Florida asked for, because they recognized that there had to be a penalty. But it is also true that everybody gets to go, everybody gets represented.

The governor of Michigan signed off on this as a Clinton supporter.

So, we think this is fair. We think this is the beginning of the healing of the party that has to take place. And I again want to commend Jim and Alexis for doing that.

BLITZER: All right. So, what happens, governor, if the Clinton campaign decides to go ahead with this threat and challenge it, and go before the Credentials Committee in July, and maybe even take it all the way to the floor of the convention in Denver at the end of August?

DEAN: You know, as I've often said to you, with having raised two teenagers, you never answer hypotheticals unless you have to.

So, we'll see what happens, but I expect this to be wrapped up sometime in June. We need to know who our nominee is long before we get to the convention in August. We need to be unified.

And again, yesterday was a really big step, I think, towards unification. I again want to commend the Rules Committee, and all the folks that came to see that.

You know, democracy is messy, but it's real democracy. And I thought it was great.

BLITZER: Harold Ickes, Mr. Roosevelt, was really angry that you decided to allocate votes, delegates to Barack Obama in Michigan, even though he didn't get any. He wasn't even on the ballot by his own decision, he took his name off the ballot.

And he used very strong words in railing against this decision. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ICKES: There's been a lot of talk about party unity. Let us all come together, wrap our arms around each other.

Hijacking four delegates, notwithstanding the flawed aspect of this, is not a good way to start down the path of party unity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You allocated those uncommitted voters in Michigan, Mr. Roosevelt, to Barack Obama in large part, even though Harold Ickes makes the point that having uncommitted delegates is a recognized status going into a convention.

ROOSEVELT: You know, I kept waiting in our discussions all week and then our lengthy discussions this weekend, for Harold to come up with a better plan to how to represent the voters of Michigan. He never did that.

And I understand -- I've been on these committees with Harold for more than two decades. Harold always fights for his candidate and his position to the very last breath. But we came up with a plan that was asked for by the people from Michigan and supported by both Obama and Clinton supporters in Michigan.

BLITZER: Because he made the point that she should have gotten the delegates that she won in that Michigan primary, as flawed as it was, and he should have basically received zero delegates, since his name wasn't even on the ballot. I guess that was his proposal.

ROOSEVELT: Remember, what happened in Michigan was not a legal event. It was a violation of the rules, which the Supreme Court has said have the force of law in scheduling primaries and caucuses.

That's why it was so confusing with who was on the ballot, who wasn't on the ballot. And we had to try to do the best thing to represent the voters of Michigan.

And certainly, a lot of Clinton supporters in Michigan -- and on the Rules and Bylaws Committee -- agreed that we did.

BLITZER: Now, Governor Dean, Hillary Clinton's point is, she will emerge with more of the popular vote in all of these primaries, especially if she does very well later today in Puerto Rico. She's expected to do very well there.

I want you to listen to the argument she's making to the superdelegates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It is strange that the person who's gotten more votes would be the person asked to leave. I believe in democracy. More people have voted for me than have ever voted for anyone running for a nomination of a major party.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Should that popular vote -- and assuming she gets more of the popular votes, if you include Michigan and Florida, and she does really well in Puerto Rico, where there are a lot of people getting ready to vote right now -- assuming she does well, is that a factor, as far as you're concerned, who has the most popular votes in these primaries?

DEAN: Well, first of all, whether it's a factor or not is up to the individual unpledged delegates.

DEAN: When I asked about two months ago that they begin to start saying who they're for, because we need to get this wrapped up before we get to the convention, they had. And they did respond. And Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid also pushed very hard to get this done.

So, both candidates are going to make their arguments to the unpledged delegates. And they should, and they have a right to make that argument. Both candidates are claiming that they have more votes than the other. It's not up to me to sort that out. That's up to the voters to sort that out. That's up to the unpledged delegates to sort that.

I'm the referee here. I'm not going to adjudicate one person's claim or another person's claim. That's not the right thing to do.

And I'm certainly not going to tell the unpledged delegates what their criteria for voting is. The rules are very clear about that. They get to make their own criteria up, and they get to vote the way they see fit.

BLITZER: As far as party unity is concerned, Mr. Roosevelt, I guess one way of unifying these two wings of the party right now, the Hillary Clinton camp and the Barack Obama camp, would be to unify the two of them and get them on the same ticket, an Obama-Clinton ticket.

Are you personally in favor of that?

ROOSEVELT: I think that the nominee will choose a candidate for vice president who will be good for the country and who will be unifying for the party, and lead to a victory for the Democratic ticket in November.

I don't really have any idea who that will be yet.

BLITZER: What about you, Governor Dean? What do you think about an Obama-Clinton ticket?

DEAN: Well, I think that's going to be up to whoever is the nominee to pick their running mate.

But I will say, despite all the controversy generated by the media, this has been an extraordinary couple of weeks. We've had a finance agreement -- and it'll go for the benefit of the nominee -- negotiated, but directly between the Clinton folks and the Obama folks. We started off being the intermediaries. They said, look, let's just negotiate this directly. And we did. And we raised over $1 million last night at a dinner and a reception in New York that's going to -- with both Clinton people and Obama people at the dinner -- so that we can win this election.

And now comes last night's action, where you had both Clinton folks and Obama folks coming together to unify the party around the very difficult question of what to do about two states that had their primaries outside the window, but whose voters we wanted to respect.

And I think these are both very good developments. We've had 35 million people vote in these caucuses and primaries. This is an extraordinary thing.

So, look. I think the glass is more than half full here. I think we are beginning to become unified.

We do understand that we need change in this country, and that John McCain is another third term for George Bush, and that's not what the American people want. They don't want more high gas prices. They don't want to stay in Iraq for 100 years. They don't want the George Bush remedy for the economy.

And in order to not have those things, we've got to elect a Democrat, and that's what we're going to do.

BLITZER: Howard Dean, thanks very much for coming in. James Roosevelt, thanks to you, as well.

Good luck.

DEAN: Thanks very much, Wolf.

ROOSEVELT: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next, will Hillary Clinton take the fight to the convention floor in Denver? How serious is this threat from her campaign?

We'll ask a top Clinton campaign advisor, Harold Ickes. He's standing by live.

And stay with us for our exclusive exit polls from today's Puerto Rico primary. We're the only news organization that's authorized to go forward with these exit polls. The voting is underway right now in Puerto Rico. We're standing by for the first exit poll results.

Stay with us. You're watching a special LATE EDITION. We're live here at the CNN election center.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from New York today. We're here at the CNN election center, where we're joined now by Harold Ickes, one of the top advisers to Hillary Clinton. He's a member of the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee.

He had some choice words about the delegate decision in Michigan this week.

And Harold, thanks very much for coming back.

ICKES: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. You've just heard Howard Dean insist this was a fair compromise. James Roosevelt, the co-chairman of the Rules Committee, saying, if -- he was waiting and waiting for you to come up with a better idea. He said you never did.

What's wrong with this compromise in Michigan?

ICKES: Well, first of all, Wolf, a lot good came out. The people of those two states are now -- will be seated and heard at the convention, which is a real step forward. Hillary Clinton pressed for that. I think it would not have occurred without the work that she did, and we picked up an additional 24 delegates.

Having said that, they hijacked -- you know, they just plain reached in and grabbed four delegates from Hillary. It's unheard of and unprecedented in this party. To take delegates from a candidate and give them to another candidate is quite incredible.

BLITZER: What was your proposal to the Rules Committee? What did you want them to do?

ICKES: Our proposal was that the vote of the 600,000 people who participated in the Michigan primary in January should be honored. And Hillary got 75 -- or, I'm sorry -- 73 delegates out of that, and uncommitted got 55.

Mr. Obama decided, for strategic and tactical reasons, to voluntarily withdraw his name from the Michigan ballot. He didn't have to. Nobody required him to. Nobody asked him to. He did it for his own strategic reasons.

Now he comes back and says, "Oh, my goodness. I want these delegates. Not only do I want the 55 uncommitted delegates, but, by the way, I'd like to take four of Hillary's."

Well, why -- you know, why did he stop at four? Why didn't he just ask for the whole bunch of them?

BLITZER: So, what are you going to do about it?

ICKES: We, as I said yesterday, Mrs. Clinton instructed me to reserve her right to appeal to the Credentials Committee. She's busily campaigning in Puerto Rico. Have not had a chance to have any extended discussion with her. She'll be consulting with people, and she'll be making a decision later on.

BLITZER: Because, as you know, Barack Obama may be in a position as early as Wednesday, after the final two contests in Montana and South Dakota, to announce that he has reached that new magic number -- if you include the delegates from Michigan and Florida -- he's over the top. And he'll be perhaps in a position to claim this nomination.

What I hear you saying is, you're going to challenge these decisions, at least going into the Credentials Committee, which meets at the end of June. Is that right?

ICKES: Mrs. Clinton has not made a final decision, Wolf. But if, you know -- in our view, the final number for the nomination will not be fixed until Michigan is ultimately resolved. But that will, you know, depend on what Mrs. Clinton decides to do.

BLITZER: You liked the decision in Florida, giving them all the delegates, but only with a half a vote. You didn't like the decision in Michigan, because you voted against that, and you spoke harshly against that decision in Michigan.

But realistically -- realistically, what can you do right now, other than simply complain?

ICKES: Well, as I said, we reserved our right to go to the Credentials Committee. Florida and Michigan are very distinct in nature and outcome.

In Florida it was decided to give each delegate half a vote, because they had broken the window, they had gone earlier than they should have under our rules. I thought that they should have a full vote.

ICKES: I thought that 1.7 million people who participated in the Florida primary should have full access to our national convention.

But, you know, I -- it certainly is better than nothing. Michigan -- they actually took votes won by Hillary Clinton in a primary and gave them to Barack Obama. It is stunning. It is just outright hijacking.

BLITZER: The argument that your colleagues on the Rules Committee, who voted favor of this compromise made is, that was the recommendation of the Democrats, the Democratic Party in the state of Michigan.

Carl Levin, the Democratic senator basically made that pitch. Other than losing half of their vote total, he basically said, here's how you should divide up the -- allocate the delegates?

ICKES: Wolf, as I said yesterday, a fundamental premise of our delegate selection rules is that the delegates will fairly reflect the vote for the presidential candidates in a primary. That was violated yesterday in two ways.

They took the 55 from the uncommitted slots and gave them to Barack Obama. Even more outrageous and egregious, they reached out and hijacked four delegates won by Hillary Clinton and gave them to Barack Obama, a man who withdrew, voluntarily withdrew his name from the ballot.

BLITZER: All right. Here's what the leadership, the Democratic leadership in Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, what they said in the past few days. Because they want this thing resolved in the coming days. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: I will step in. Because we cannot take this fight to the convention. It must be over before then. I believe it will be over in two weeks.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEV.: We all are going to urge our folks, next week, to make a decision very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. What's your reaction to what they're saying? ICKES: Well, I think people will make their decision. There's about 210 uncommitted superdelegates. They'll be making the decision in the coming days.

One of the things we're pressing them to look at is the popular vote. Mrs. Clinton leads in the popular vote, will continue to lead in the popular vote.

When all of this is over, she has won 500,000 more in popular vote than Barack Obama, since the first of March. And the second points we are making is that, of the two, she is the one who has the deeper and broader general election electoral base or demographics to bring in the swing or purple states such as Ohio, such as Florida, such as New Mexico, Nevada, that is necessary if we are going to win the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

John McCain is not your standard-issue Republican. He is going to upset the electoral math, I think, for this coming election. It is going to be a very, very close election.

I'm not saying Barack Obama cannot win the White House. What we are saying and what we have been pressing on these uncommitted superdelegates who will in fact make the decision is that Hillary Clinton has the stronger set of demographics for the general election.

BLITZER: Here's how Barack Obama reacted to the Rules Committee decision yesterday on Michigan and Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Many members of the Florida and Michigan delegation feel satisfied that the decision was fair. And our main goal is to get this resolved so we can immediately turn the focus of the entire party on winning Florida and Michigan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you think it's a good idea for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to be on the same ticket?

ICKES: That's an issue that will be down the road. We expect Hillary is going to be able to persuade enough of these uncommitted delegates to, you know, to win the nomination.

I would say, in response to Senator Obama, if he's so interested in getting this settled, why did he have his agents take four delegates from Hillary Clinton?

That is not a way to settle something, as he proclaimed just a moment ago. Nor is it a way to foster party unity.

BLITZER: Your campaign, earlier in the week, wanted Barack Obama to really condemn the pastor, Pastor Pfleger, the Reverend Pfleger, who spoke at his church in Chicago yesterday.

He announced -- Barack Obama -- that he's leaving that church. Does that satisfy you?

ICKES: Well, look, you know, he has to make decisions on his own. As Hillary Clinton has said long ago, she would have left that church had she been in the congregation based on statements of prior pastors. I note, however, I have not read anywhere or heard anything in which Senator Obama has ever mentioned Hillary in connection with his statements about this most recent incident.

It would seem to me that that is owed her. But he has to be guided by his own internal guidance.

BLITZER: Because you're saying that Father Pfleger, the Catholic priest who spoke at that church mocked -- he ridiculed Hillary Clinton.

And what specifically would you like to hear Barack Obama do or say in response to that?

ICKES: Look, that's up to Senator Obama. I'm not his counselor on this. All I can say is that these were outrageous, outrageous statements made by this minister. And Barack Obama has left the church. He has condemned the statements. But he has never once, as far as I know, ever uttered the name of Hillary Clinton in connection with this.

BLITZER: Finally, give us your scenario, the best-case scenario for Hillary Clinton to capture the Democratic presidential nomination.

Because, if you look at the math, the pledged delegates, the superdelegates, the states won, and all of that, he seems to be in so much more of a formidable position, right now, going into these final three contests.

ICKES: Wolf, we have always predicted, and our prediction, so far, has held fast, that, by midnight on Tuesday when the final two primaries are voted, neither one of them will have the -- enough delegates for the nomination. We've been saying this for months.

And the fact is that this has held true. We have to make our case. Is the road steeper than it was several weeks ago? The answer is yes.

But the central fact is that neither will have locked down the nomination. Assuming that it's 2, 018, the new number -- and it may be higher, depending on the final resolution in Michigan -- and we'll have to make our cases. And both of us are making our cases.

Both are, you know, both have run strong campaigns. But not since 1972 has this party nominated a candidate -- and then they nominated George McGovern over Hubert Humphrey, and Humphrey had more popular votes than McGovern -- not since 1992 has this party nominated a candidate who was lagging in the popular vote.

That is an important feature that these superdelegates have to take into account, as well as who can best win the general election? Who can best carry the case against John McCain?

Hillary is running ahead of McCain in Florida, in Ohio and other states that are -- will be key to winning the White House.

BLITZER: Harold Ickes, thanks very much for coming in.

ICKES: Thank you, Wolf. Good to be here.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

And up next, a look at the flip side. A key Obama adviser, former Congressman David Bonior of Michigan -- he's standing by to join us, live.

And don't forget, there are still two more primaries after today's primary in Puerto Rico. Join me and the best political team on television as we bring you the results, Tuesday night, from Montana and South Dakota. Our special coverage will begin Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special "Late Edition." We're here in New York. We're watching the Puerto Rico primary. You're looking at these live pictures from San Juan, right now.

We're going to have the first exit poll results, our exclusive exit polls. That's coming up on "Late Edition." We'll share those numbers with you.

We're the only news organization that's commissioned an exit poll in Puerto Rico today. And you're going to be interested to know what we're learning.

Joining us, right now, from our studios in Washington, D.C., is Obama campaign adviser, the former congressman from Michigan, David Bonior.

He was certainly right in the middle of it all, at that contentious Democratic committee meeting on Florida and Michigan, yesterday in Washington.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

BONIOR: Nice to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. You heard Harold Ickes in our interview. I'm going to play what he said yesterday. Because I want you to respond not only as an Obama supporter but as someone from the state of Michigan. Because he uses blistering words like "hijack" to denounce this compromise the Rules Committee made yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ICKES: I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 6,000 voters.

(APPLAUSE)

Was the process flawed? You bet your ass it was flawed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and make the case why you think it was fair to give Barack Obama so many of those delegates, even though he received no votes. He took his own name off the ballot. And as Harold Ickes says, you, quote, "hijacked" four of those Clinton delegates and gave them to Barack Obama.

BONIOR: Well, first of all, Wolf, let me just say that I admire the strength and the persistence and the fight of the Clinton campaign. And I admire Harold Ickes for his fight for the things that he believes in, in all the years.

But I am reminded, just watching Harold and watching him yesterday, of the film "Casablanca," when the inspector says, "I'm shocked. I'm shocked that there's liquor here."

I mean, Harold Ickes was the individual who, on this committee, voted to penalize these states for going out of order and having what James Roosevelt said on your show, a little earlier, was a nonevent.

And the fact of the matter is, is that Hillary Clinton called the Michigan primary, just days before it took place, while she was on a public radio show in New Hampshire, said -- she said "Michigan does not count." Those were her words, "Michigan does not count."

Four major candidates were not on the ballots, including Senator Edwards, whose campaign I managed at the time; Senator Biden; Governor Richardson, as well as Senator Obama.

There was no campaigning in the state. So the whole system in Michigan was broken. And the people didn't go to the polls voting for who they wanted to. In many instances, they just didn't go to the polls because they didn't have any choice

BLITZER: So why is it fair to simply allocate these delegates in some random fashion the way your -- what you support, right now, what this Rules Committee did?

BONIOR: Well, the -- yes, I do support it. And I think you ought to understand one thing. We had the votes, in the Rules Committee, for a 50/50 split between Obama and Clinton for the delegates that were at stake.

There were the votes there. It was a narrow vote that we had, but we had the votes. And we decided, in the spirit of unity, the Obama campaign, to go with what the Clinton people, for instance, the governor of Michigan who supported the final outcome, wanted, which was the solution that was reached.

You ought to know, also, that, in that committee as James Roosevelt and Howard Dean said earlier, on your show, the vote was 27- 0 on the floor, to a resolution to this and 19-8 in favor of the resolution for Michigan, including people who are pledged to Hillary Clinton. BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, a lot of angry Clinton supporters out. Let me play a little clip of some of the sampling of the reaction that we got. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (UNKNOWN): I think it's a travesty of democracy. You can't make up votes.

(UNKNOWN): They wouldn't listen to us enough. We tried to be heard.

(UNKNOWN): They've done the very worst thing they could do, which is somehow "make it up."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How worried are you that this threat from the Clinton campaign to take this Michigan decision to the Credentials Committee may be all the way to the convention?

How worried are you that this is a real, credible threat?

BONIOR: Well, as you just heard from Harold, he said that he reserves the right to do that. And the Clinton campaign does. We're hopeful that that won't happen.

This was a -- an effort, yesterday, to reach a reasonable compromise. We think it's reasonable. A lot of people who were for Clinton, on that committee, voted for it.

The party is moving in the direction, as we enter the end of this campaign, to move forward to take on Senator John McCain. And I think there will be some unity.

This race will probably have a victor at some point next week. We're about -- you know, there's about 170 super delegates who haven't made a decision yet. And I think, at the prodding of leaders of the party, I think they'll start to come out. And I think we'll have a winner, here, some time next week. And I believe it will be Barack Obama.

And I think, as Hillary Clinton has said in the past, that if it is Obama, she will work as hard as she can for him in the general election.

And I think supporters around the country will see that there is a huge difference between Senator McCain and Barack Obama. We're not going to spend another 100 years as Senator McCain want to do, in Iraq.

We're going to have a different policy on the economy that puts people to work and has a better trade policy than they have.

BLITZER: You made the case for the Obama campaign, from Michigan, yesterday. Congressman Robert Wexler made the case for the Obama campaign, from Florida, yesterday. And I spoke with him in the course of the day yesterday. And he left open the possibility that he personally could support a Clinton- Obama ticket. Here's what he said. Unfortunately, we don't have that sound bite. But he left open that possibility, that, personally, he could support that kind of ticket.

The same question to you, Congressman. Would you support -- do you think it's a good idea to try to unify the party and put Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the same ticket?

BONIOR: Well, I definitely think it's a great idea to unify the party. And that's what's going to happen between now and the convention. And I think we are coming together. That decision, Wolf, though, is the decision of Senator Obama. And he will make it. In the meantime...

BLITZER: What you about personally?

BONIOR: I am not going to engage in that. And I'm not going to go there. We'll let Senator Obama make that decision. I'm sure that there are a lot of people out there who want him to do that. And I'm sure he'll factor that in, in his decision making.

BLITZER: Congressman David Bonior, thanks very much for coming in.

BONIOR: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Now that a deal has been reached on Florida and Michigan, where do Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stand on the -- as far as the all-important delegate count is concerned?

John Roberts is standing by, live. He's got some answers for us at our magic wall. "Late Edition," a special edition, continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: How will the compromise decisions on Michigan and Florida affect the delegate count? John Roberts is here over at the magic wall. It's changed the equation, moved the goal posts a little bit forward.

ROBERTS: The first thing that it did, Wolf, was to change the finish line. The finish line was 2,026 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Now the finish line has become 2,118. They added just a little more than 90 delegates to the whole thing.

Hillary Clinton now with 1,906 total delegates. She is now 212 back. Barack Obama, 67 left, and he crosses the finish line.

Let's take a look at how it broke down in Florida and Michigan. Hillary Clinton was awarded 56 delegates; Barack Obama 36. That's pledged delegates and some super delegates who had declared for each candidate. Here's how it broke down in Michigan. Hillary Clinton awarded 38 delegates, Barack Obama 31. Again, pledged delegates and some supers who had already declared.

So what do we have left? And how is that going to take us toward the finish line?

Let's look at where they are now. Barack Obama right about there. Hillary Clinton here. Here's the finish line at 2,118.

Let's bring in Puerto Rico, which is the nest next contest.

BLITZER: Where they're voting right now.

ROBERTS: Right. The proportions likely to be allocated perhaps along the lines of some of the most recent polling. The recent polling finds Hillary Clinton with about 60 percent support, Barack Obama with 40 percent; 55 pledged delegates at stake. So if we were to allocate those at a 60-40 basis, she would get 33 pledged delegates, Barack Obama would get 22. So we'll put those in the map, plug those in.

Then let's go on to Montana and South Dakota, the next contests coming up on Tuesday. And just for argument's sake -- Barack Obama does lead in those states -- but for argument's sake, let's split them evenly, because we don't know what the outcome is going to be. So that indicates a tie there. There is an odd number of delegates here in South Dakota. So because Barack Obama is ahead, we'll allocate him one more. Let's plot this on the linear graph now.

And you can see this is where they are now. Hillary Clinton 212 away, Barack Obama 67 away. We add in the final contests. The numbers move just a little bit. Fifteen pledged delegates left. Those represent John Edwards' delegates. He had -- he was awarded six in Florida. He got some other ones in other states. So let's -- they would probably mostly go to Barack Obama. But just for the sake of argument, let's try to split those about evenly. It's difficult, because there is very little room left here. OK. Let's give six of those to Barack Obama. And we'll be generous to Hillary Clinton and we'll give her nine.

Barack Obama just about 25 away now from the finish line, 207 super delegates left.

BLITZER: They will decide, in other words, who is going to be the nominee?

ROBERTS: These remaining superdelegates are going to be the ones who decide who the nominee is going to be.

How many does Barack Obama need? If we take about that many, there's 27. He's across the finish line.

BLITZER: So he only needs 27 out 200 or so, which probably is easily doable.

ROBERTS: That gets him to 2120.

Now, let's take those back and give those back to the center pod here. Hillary Clinton would need to get 90 percent -- 90 percent of those superdelegates to cross the finish line ahead of Barack Obama.

BLITZER: Highly unrealistic.

ROBERTS: Does she -- well, here's the thing, does she have the argument to say to those superdelegates, the 207 who are left, I need 90 percent of you? Come over to me? What is the argument for that?

He is ahead in pledged delegates. He has won more contests. Many people believe that he is the de facto nominee at this point. She can argue I've got the -- at the end of this, she may have the popular vote in pocket, if you don't count some of the caucus states that didn't count the popular vote. She can say I'm stronger in some of the Midwestern states, the rural areas where you have to battle against the Republicans. But she has got to make an incredibly strong argument, because he needs a little tiny slice, as we saw here, of those superdelegates; she needs almost the whole pie.

BLITZER: And that's why David Bonior was saying maybe by next week, he could declare himself the winner.

All right, John, we're going to be coming back to you. Stand by. Thanks very much.

Also coming up, is the long primary fight wounding the eventual Democratic nominee for the fall campaign against John McCain? We'll get some special insight from three of the best political team on television. Much more "Late Edition" right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're standing by for the first exit poll numbers from Puerto Rico. We're the only news organization that commissioned an exit poll. You're going to see it and hear it right here on "Late Edition." Much more of our coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And joining us now to talk about this race for the White House, Leslie Sanchez. She's a Republican strategist. Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. He supports Barack Obama. And Hilary Rosen. She supports Hillary Clinton, appropriately enough. Hilary for Hillary. Thanks very much, guys, for coming in.

Let's talk about Puerto Rico, looking ahead to Puerto Rico right now. This is very important for Hillary Clinton, because if there is a massive turnout, she does really well, it will bolster her argument that she will emerge when the dust settles Tuesday night, after all these 58 contests or so, with the most popular vote.

ROSEN: Yes. We just heard from John Roberts that Hillary Clinton needs about 180 of these superdelegates out of just over 200.

BLITZER: She's not going to get that.

ROSEN: It is going to be an awfully tough road to hoe. Her only argument left after the Michigan and Florida numbers have been settled is, you know, I'm winning the numbers across the country. Democrats have always cared the most about the popular vote. And I'm doing better in the polls. Those are her two remaining arguments.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You heard Harold Ickes make the point that the last time the Democrats nominated someone who didn't get the most of the popular vote that was in '72, when McGovern beat Humphrey, and McGovern then wound up losing in a landslide.

SIMMONS: Yeah. I was 1 I think when that happened.

So this is all going to be interesting stuff that we'll be talking about for a long time. People will be arguing about it. Books will be written about it. But at the end of the day, according to the rules of the Democratic National Committee, you have got to get the most delegates in order to win. Looks like Barack Obama is on the verge of getting the most delegates. And once that happens, the party needs to really unify very quickly, get behind someone.

We've got a big fight to go after John McCain, who has got some really bad ideas on health care and the war and the economy. I think Democrats are ready to have that argument. BLITZER: The pressure will be enormous on the Clinton campaign at that point, assuming Barack Obama gets those superdelegates and declares himself the presumptive nominee, for the Clinton campaign to back down from the threat to challenge this decision over Michigan at the Credentials Committee fight. Do you think they'll back down? Do you think they'll go forward? What do you think? How determined is the Clinton campaign to keep this battle going?

SANCHEZ: I think if you look at the interview you had today with Harold Ickes, the type of language he was using, you know, this is being hijacked, very hot, very acidic language. I think he is setting the tone and the foundation.

What's interesting is we shouldn't look at this as if this is a surprise to the Clinton campaign. I think overall, they say, look, we're going to have a bad day. We're going to have a good day. We're going to ride it out. They really do look long term.

And the fact that Harold Ickes -- you're talking about superdelegates and the Rules Committee. He's really the mastermind for the last half-century -- or the last 25 years at least -- in developing those rules and understanding maneuvering in Democratic politics.

BLITZER: He is a fighter, there is no doubt about that, Harold Ickes. But there are other Clinton supporters who are saying to themselves, you know, maybe it's time to give it up and move on.

ROSEN: Look, I think we shouldn't take Harold's passion, and, you know, the man was exhausted. He's worked tirelessly for the last several weeks on this issue. I think he got a little hot last night at the committee. He was a little calmer today. Senator Clinton did tell him she wanted to reserve her rights to think about this and make a decision, but I don't think by any means the message that the Clinton campaign is sending is that they want to blow up the convention or that they want to create this trouble.

They're frustrated, though. You know, there were delegates taken away from her in sort of an historic way that's never really happened before.

BLITZER: In your home state of Michigan, they were, in his words, they were hijacked.

ROSEN: A little sense of disrespect. And I'm not saying it matters in the end, but people should understand that, you know, if the Obama campaign is so confident about the delegates that are coming, you know, the sort of do that last little oomph, you know, I think was something that now is giving the Clinton team a little extra energy today. But I think...

BLITZER: But if you're hoping to unite the party, this (inaudible) to do it.

ROSEN: They want to be on the team. I know that. SIMMONS: But here is what is interesting about what happened in Michigan. The Michigan contest wasn't a real contest. We heard Jim Roosevelt call it a beauty contest, or someone else has referred to it as just a big straw poll that actually happened to occur in some polling places. But it wasn't a sanctioned event. But -- on behalf of the party.

BLITZER: It was sanctioned by the state of Michigan, though.

SIMMONS: But it was not sanctioned on behalf of the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party is who determines the Democratic nominee, not the state of Michigan.

So the problem here is you had an event that was -- it wasn't a real event. So they had to come up with a way to reflect the intention of the voters and where people's minds were. And that's how they got there.

BLITZER: Leslie, as a McCain supporter and a good Republican, do you -- do you think...

SANCHEZ: I have a hat.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Does this -- the conventional wisdom is this fighting between Clinton and Obama helps McCain. Do you buy that?

SANCHEZ: Absolutely. I think in many cases it allows the Republican Party to start building its coalition. John McCain is raising money. I think he's going to do it incredibly well this month. And it gives him a platform to give these Rose Garden speeches to talk about national security and the issues he wants to talk about. BLITZER: I'm interested in getting your reaction to Barack Obama's must have been a very difficult decision yesterday to leave his church in Chicago and take his family someplace else. What do you think?

SIMMONS: Yes, it certainly looked to be very painful. When you think about someone like Barack Obama, who's been a member of a church, where he says this is where he found Jesus Christ and became a Christian, that then to have to sort of say that this is something I can't control, that there are things that are happening inside of this church that I can't agree with. And he doesn't want to talk about this on the campaign trail for the rest of the year, or the church has to answer for everything that I do and withstand all that pressure. You hear all these stories of church members having reporters come in and try to interview them while they're passing the peace in the middle of service.

So people -- it sort of makes sense for him to go ahead and distance himself.

BLITZER: What do you think? ROSEN: I think this will end up reflecting very well on Barack Obama. And, frankly, you know, his faith comes across as authentic. He talks about it in a natural way. He has been a loyal church goer. I think this is going to hurt John McCain over the long term. If the Republicans try to make this an issue...

BLITZER: The relationship with Reverend Wright?

ROSEN: The white evangelical church over the years has been the bastion of hate and intolerance and attacks against women, attacks against gays and lesbians, attacks against families. I mean, if they want to go toe to toe on explosion, and I don't think they want to do that. I don't think McCain...

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: I think that's a way too harsh a criticism for evangelicals. I think there is a lot of misstatement in that.

But I will say this, I think there are a lot of people that question is this politically motivated? You know, why he is doing this after 20 years? And people of faith really are fundamentally asking that. And that's why you have them looking at this (inaudible) decide.

BLITZER: Don't go away, guys, because we've got a long day ahead of us. It is going to be exciting to watch to see what is coming in from Puerto Rico. Much more ahead. Puerto Rico's turn to vote. They're voting right now. Remember, we have the exclusive exit poll numbers. They're coming up right here on "Late Edition." We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is "Late Edition". the last word in Sunday talk. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice over): A Clinton campaign challenge may be in the works, after Democrats (inaudible) on delegates.

Plus, Puerto Rico is voting. CNN has exclusive exit polls, and the first returns are only hours away. We'll assess the race with Obama supporter Senator Chris Dodd and Clinton supporter Senator Bill Nelson.

MCCAIN: Clearly, I was right about the surge. I was correct in saying that we can still win in Iraq.

BLITZER: Will John McCain's war stance hurt the Republican nominee with voters in the fall?

McCain supporter, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford weighs in.

Plus, it's the home stretch, a look at the last three presidential primaries with three of the best political team on television.

FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY SCOTT MCCLELLAN: What can we learn from the mistakes we made, in order to change Washington for the better, going forward?

President Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan talks about his new tell-all memoir, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

"Late Edition's" second hour begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Election Center in New York, this is a special "Late Edition: Puerto Rico Votes."

BLITZER: And welcome back. The Democrats are battling over the delegates. And there's a threat to take the fight to the national convention.

We'll talk about that and more with Democratic senators Chris Dodd and Bill Nelson, in just a moment. We're also standing by, this hour, for our exclusive exit poll results from the Puerto Rico primary, where voting is taking place right now.

In fact, let's check in with CNN's Jessica Yellin. She's there in Puerto Rico, watching the voting going on. The polls close in less than three hours now.

Jessica, what do we know?

YELLIN: Wolf, right now, the news from one local polling place in San Juan is not welcome news to Senator Clinton. The polling director at this big location says turnout, right now, is half of what they usually see for a local election.

Now, that's bad for Senator Clinton, because she is counting on a massive turnout for her to get the popular vote victory overall, which would be a moral victory for her and something she hopes to use to convince the remaining superdelegates to come out and give her the nomination.

Now, Senator Clinton has been campaigning aggressively. This morning she went to a bakery in San Juan and spoke to voters, chit- chatted. This came on the tail end, after yesterday she barnstormed the state on an eight-hour caravan across this island.

Senator Clinton is promising Puerto Ricans to help them with their health care -- they do not get Medicaid or Medicare -- to help with troops who are serving overseas in Iraq and sometimes have difficulty with benefits, and also to resolve this crucial question of statehood.

And that is one of the reasons turnout, we're told, is so low, because many people here want to be independent and see this primary as a foreign election.

They don't get to take part in the general election in November, and those folks don't want to weigh in right now.

So we will continue to monitor the situation for you. But, right now, not looking so promising for Senator Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

YELLIN: Wolf, I should add, she's expected to win, but the turnout's not looking great.

BLITZER: All right. Good point.

And as I say, we're standing by to get those first exit poll numbers. We're going to share them with our viewers. We have the exclusive exit poll numbers, right here on "Late Edition".

Whoever the Democratic nominee is, it's clear that he or she will have a lot of work to do to unify the party. Let's discuss this and more. Joining us from Washington, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- he's supporting Barack Obama, and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. He's a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton.

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

Senator Nelson, let me start with you. Harold Ickes is using strong words, not condemning the decision, the compromise decision on Florida, but condemning the decision on Michigan, using words like "hijacking" and threatening to take this to a challenge to the credentials committee.

Listen to what Ickes told me earlier, in the last hour, right here on "Late Edition".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ICKES: They took the 55 from the uncommitted slots and gave them to Barack Obama. Even more outrageous and egregious, they reached out and hijacked four delegates won by Hillary Clinton and gave them to Barack Obama, a man who withdrew, voluntarily withdrew his name from the ballot.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Nelson, what do you think?

You also support Hillary Clinton. Are you going as far as Harold Ickes?

NELSON: At least it's done. Florida and Michigan are done and will be seated, and Florida is being seated proportional to the almost 2 million people, in the way they voted...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Should the Michigan decision be challenged?

NELSON: I'm not going to speak for the campaign.

BLITZER: What about yourself?

NELSON: Well, no, I'm happy with Florida. I would have preferred it to be that all the delegation got a full vote instead of a half vote, but the principle of one person, one vote; let the vote count and count as the people intended it. that was honored, and that was what I...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Are you happy with Michigan?

NELSON: Well, I can't speak for Michigan. I know Carl Levin, our colleague in the Senate, tried to work a compromise and had most people, the Democrats in Michigan, signed up on the compromise. So I'll have to defer to Carl Levin on that.

BLITZER: All right. What about you, Senator Dodd? What do you think?

DODD: Bill Nelson has the right answer for this. If we get into the weeds on these things, Wolf, we could probably never answer everyone's question. And it's never going to be perfect. We understood that.

I was pointing out, I was -- when Hillary won the Michigan contest -- I say so teasingly, to some degree -- the only person she beat was me. I was the only candidate on the ballot in Michigan, other than "uncommitted."

And so, in a sense, it really wasn't a contest. And I didn't take my name off because it was a filing fee.

But all of us agreed, at that point, that we'd take away from that contest because of the issues you're well aware of, and your viewers are, with the DNC rules. But I think what they've done here -- what Bill Nelson was able to orchestrate and work, in terms of Florida, and what Carl Levin and the Democrats in Michigan have worked out, I think, settles the issue, knowing full well that you're never going to make anyone or everyone happy with those decisions.

We now need to move beyond that, Wolf. This is the point, I think, this morning, here -- we've got to move, now, to unity. We've got 20 weeks between now and Election Day. And Democrats ought not to make the false assumption that this is an automatic victory...

BLITZER: How worried are you, Senator Dodd, that the Clinton campaign will challenge this Michigan decision and make it go to the credentials committee?

DODD: Well, I don't know about the Credentials Committee.

And our good friend Harold Ickes -- and I have great respect for him, as I do Hillary Clinton -- and they may do that; I'm not sure. This much I will tell you. I know Hillary Clinton well. She's a great Democrat, and more important, she cares about this country deeply.

And the last thing she wants is to have a third term of George Bush, on Iraq policy, on domestic issues. You're going to see Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lock together in a common effort, here, to win this White House back, not for a party, but for a country.

And that I am absolutely certain about. I was a former chairman of this party. I know what it means to be unified. And, believe me, we're going to be unified very quickly.

NELSON: And by the way...

BLITZER: Senator Nelson, I want you to respond, but I also want you to respond to what Howard Dean, the current chairman of the DNC, told me in the last hour. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: It's true they got half a vote, which is actually what Florida asked for, because they recognized that there had to be a penalty. But it is also true that everybody gets to go; everybody gets represented.

The governor of Michigan signed off on this as a Clinton supporter, so, we think this is fair. We think this is the beginning of the healing of the party that has to take place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It doesn't look like there's a lot of healing going on, right now, based on the very tough words coming in from the Clinton campaign, Senator, including those strong statements from Harold Ickes.

NELSON: Well, I beg to disagree with you. Chris and I are here, are giving you a message of unity.

And what I was about to say, after Chris, was that, if Barack gets the nomination, I think Hillary ought to be his running mate. And if Hillary gets the nomination, I think it ought to be Barack.

And I think we've got, now, the way ahead. There's going to be this intense battle for these remaining superdelegates. And then, let's take the lesson from what we've gone through in the last 10 months, and let's reform this primary process that is nothing but chaos. Because if we don't, states will keep jumping each other and the first primary will be at Halloween.

BLITZER: All right. What do you think about that ticket, the Obama-Clinton ticket, Senator Dodd?

DODD: Well, I'll leave that up to Barack Obama. I think that's a matter he's going to have to wrestle with here. And that will come in time, here. I wouldn't make any predictions about that today.

BLITZER: Do you think, if he offered it to her, she would take it?

DODD: I don't know. That's a question only she can answer only he can offer. And so I just don't know the answer to that. It seems to me, at this point, whether that happens or not, it's going to be in everyone's interest to be together here and to make sure that happens quickly. Because that's important.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Dodd, listen to your colleague, Senator McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. He's been going after Barack Obama, big time, over the last several days, suggesting this guy isn't fit to be the commander in chief, especially when it comes to dealing with the situation in Iraq. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Senator Obama was driven to his position by ideology and not by the facts on the ground. And he does not have the knowledge or experience to make the judgments.

I'm confident that, when he goes, he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq, because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, you want to respond to Senator McCain?

DODD: Well, first of all, look, Barack Obama has been a tremendous supporter of our troops, first and foremost. Democrats may disagree about policies, but the admiration for the men and women in uniform serving in harm's way, we just embrace entirely.

The idea that I made four or five trips to Iraq doesn't make you a policy expert in this area, and if you're embracing George Bush's theory about Iraq and a continuation of that policy, which I don't think the American public is, then I think we're on the wrong track.

People want change. I just spent four days in Latin America, Wolf. I was in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. There is a great sense of hope about change, not only here in this country but also in the conduct of foreign policy, and they see a lot of that change being expressed by Barack Obama and what he offers the American people and offers the world in a different direction.

And so with all due respect to John McCain, for whom I have great respect and admiration, I don't think the American people want a continuation of George Bush's policies, and how many trips you've been to Iraq isn't going to necessary change that. In my view, what it is is a policy difference, and Barack Obama offers that difference.

BLITZER: I want Senator Nelson to weigh in, as well. And listen to what else Senator McCain is saying about Barack Obama, Senator Nelson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Why is it that Senator Obama wants to sit down with the president of Iran but hasn't yet sat down with General Petraeus, the leader of our troops?

He doesn't understand the situation in Iraq. He doesn't get it. This is now the 872nd day since Senator Obama went to Iraq. Once.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You know the subject well, what do you think?

NELSON: That's not a fair comment. I spent the last week in dozens of town hall meetings all across my state of Florida, and I can tell you people want change. They are frustrated, and some of that frustration is turning into anger, and it's not just about Iraq. It's about the price of gas. It's about medical care, and you can go on down the list.

And what we need is a leader that will chart a new course. And, of course, Barack is prepared. So is Hillary. That is going to be the choice for America with someone who wants to keep the Bush politics.

BLITZER: How worried, Senator Dodd, are you that the Republicans this time will do what they've done very successfully going back 30 or 40 years, basically paint the Democrats as weak on national security, soft on the nation's support for the military?

DODD: Well, I think that's not going to work, because, first of all, it's not true. But secondly...

BLITZER: But they've been successful in making the charge over the years, as you well know.

DODD: That's not going to happen this time. Again, I think the people are seeing through this. Listen to what -- the guest you had on this morning, Scott McClellan, talking about what actually went on in the White House during those years, the politicalization of a critical foreign policy issue, where more than 4,000 of our young men and women have lost their lives, more have come back injured and broken because of that experience. People in their second, third and fourth tours of duty.

I think the American public, by and large, are not going to believe a candidate that wants to continue those policies for another four, eight or 12 years or longer.

Secondly, there are huge issues. Bill is absolutely correct about this. People are struggling at home. The price of gasoline, the foreclosure issue is closing in. The unemployment numbers. They want a president that can create real change here at home on domestic issues.

And so while security obviously involves supporting your military, it also involves doing things at home to get us back on our feet again, and I believe that Barack Obama offers -- that's what he's been able to attract over these last two years, why you saw 80,000 people show up to hear his voice in Oregon, why young people and others are attracted to this campaign. Why you talk about Obama Republicans for the first time. We're talking about a Democrat who reaches independents and Republicans. I believe this candidacy is going to win, but, more importantly, I believe it is going to get America back on its feet again, both at home and abroad. That's what Americans are looking for.

BLITZER: Senator Dodd, Senator Nelson, we're out of time. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

NELSON: Thanks, Wolf.

DODD: Thanks very much.

BLITZER: And just ahead, will the sparring between John McCain and Barack Obama hurt the Republican nominee with voters? We're going to talk about that and more with one of John McCain's top supporters, the South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. His name has been as a potential vice presidential running mate. He's standing by live.

And, remember, we're standing by to get the first exit poll numbers from Puerto Rico. Stay with us. "Late Edition" continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, a lot of people are voting. We're going to be standing by because shortly we're getting the first exit poll results. They'll be closing the polls soon in Puerto Rico. We'll see what's happening there. Stay with us for the exclusive exit poll results right here on "Late Edition."

This week, John McCain took on Barack Obama over the war in Iraq, saying the Democratic front-runner was simply uninformed about developments on the ground, and he blasted him for visiting the war zone only once.

Joining us now from South Carolina is that state's Republican governor, a key supporter of John McCain, Mark Sanford. He's also been mentioned very often as a potential, potential vice presidential running mate for John McCain. Governor, thanks very much for coming in.

SANFORD: Pleasure, thank you.

BLITZER: All right. Let me get that off the table first and foremost. You want to be the running mate?

SANFORD: No, I'm just trying to survive the week. I made it to Sunday. I got another week ahead of me.

BLITZER: What's wrong with being vice president of the United States?

SANFORD: There's nothing wrong with being president, there's nothing wrong with being president, there's nothing wrong with being vice president. But it's not on my radar screen. I'll worry about that lightning strike if it comes my way.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see if it does. I know your name has often been floated.

All right, let's talk a little bit about the Democrats' strategy, whoever the Democratic nominee is against John McCain, simply suggesting if you liked eight years of George W. Bush, you're going to love John McCain. This will be a third term. Listen to what Barack Obama says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: The disturbing thing is we've seen this movie before. A leader who pursues the wrong course, who is unwilling to change course, who ignores the evidence. Now, just like George Bush, John McCain is refusing to admit he made a mistake, and that's exactly the kind of leadership that has got us fighting for five years in a war that we shouldn't have authorized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, that's going to be one of the key issues, namely if you like the war in Iraq, if you like what's been going on over there over the past five years, vote for John McCain because he'll keep troops there maybe even for 100 years. You heard the Democrats make that charge.

SANFORD: And I've heard even Democrats come back and say that's a completely unfair misrepresentation of what Senator McCain said.

And I think that when you look at the war in Iraq, whether you're for it or against it, what you'd have to acknowledge is that things have changed. On the front page of the Charleston paper today was the fact that you had the lowest number of both military and civilian deaths over this last month than at any point over the last four years. And due to the surge, due to General Petraeus, due to a variety of different things, for whatever reason, this situation seems to be beginning to change.

SANFORD: And so you talk about this larger notion of change and I think that I'd give credit to John McCain for saying, look, this is where I happen to have stood, for better or for worse, he staked to a degree his presidential bid on it.

And the situation has changed and if you're Obama or if you're in the Democratic camp, if the situation, indeed, is changing the Middle East, wouldn't you begin to change or temper your words?

You have not seen any of that. It has just been attack point, regardless of the situation on the ground in Iraq, which makes that much more relevant to the fact that he hadn't been there in, what, 800 days or...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Here's the argument Barack Obama will make against John McCain because he made the same argument against Hillary Clinton and the other Democrats that he has done so well against in this primary contest.

He'll say, you know what, John McCain may have a lot of experience on national security, but he didn't have the common sense, the good judgment to oppose this war from the start. It was a bad idea. I thought it was a bad idea back in 2002. John McCain thought it was a great idea. He was wrong then, he's wrong now. How are you going to counter that kind of argument?

SANFORD: Well, I think that the circumstances over the last couple of months have, in fact, countered that argument. Because what you've seen -- a lot of people, political pundit types would said, this race is over.

If you look at the history of two-term presidencies, if you look at the economy, you look at Iraq, look at a variety of different things, it's going to go Democratic. But what has happened in this prolonged struggle between the two Democratic candidates is an amazing opportunity has opened up for John McCain and, in this case, the Republican team.

Because what has happened during that time period is that it looks like Obama will probably limp over the finish line and become the nominee. And in that time period, this whole notion of "change that you can believe in" has been questioned -- or "common sense that you can believe in" has been questioned by the events that have been uncovered. I mean, these different, you know, preacher pulpit episodes that we've all been through have caused people in my state that I've just run into of the course of town meetings and other things to say, I don't get it, you could sit in that church for 20 years and look at that kind of performance or that kind of vitriolic language being used on a regular basis and stay in that church.

BLITZER: But you know, Governor...

(CROSSTALK) SANFORD: ... "change that you can believe in" I think is questioned.

BLITZER: But John McCain has had some problems with preachers who have endorsed him, as you well know, one of them, Pastor John Hagee, for example, he has had to completely disassociate himself from him.

SANFORD: Absolutely. Some guy comes along and endorses your campaign is a very different thing than sitting in that church for the course of 20 years. And so I think that, you know, that has caused some people to ask some questions.

Look at the farm bill that just went down a couple of weeks ago. In that case, you know, you talk about "change that you can believe in," Obama had a chance to vote for a proposal that would have lifted the -- lowered the cap from somebody making $2.5 million to $750,000 in getting price subsidies, agricultural subsidies, and he voted no. And he voted for the subsidies in the farm bill while McCain voted against (ph).

So I think that there have been some things over these last couple of months that have really caused people to say, is this kind of the change that I want?

BLITZER: Here's the other argument Obama will make on the economy. If you like the economy under George Bush, vote for McCain. Here's the point he makes, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: John McCain is running for a third term of tax cuts that only shift the burden on to working people. That might make sense to Washington lobbyists who run John McCain's campaign, but it won't do anything to help families that are struggling. That's why I'm going to give a tax credit to working people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now we're going to hear a lot about that from the Democrats. What do you think?

SANFORD: Well, it has been coupled with $800 billion worth of spending proposal increases. And, so, when I talk to, again, rank and file people, Republican, Democrat, independent here in South Carolina, they say the idea of increasing Washington spending by $800 billion is not the way that you create more opportunity for working folks, whether they're in South Carolina, Iowa or, for that matter, California.

BLITZER: Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, you have got a beautiful state. Thanks very much for coming in.

SANFORD: Thank you for letting me join you, appreciate it.

BLITZER: And I'll leave it the way we started, maybe we'll see more of you in the coming weeks and months, maybe -- then again, maybe we won't. We'll have to wait for John McCain to make up his mind. Appreciate it.

SANFORD: A pleasure for me to be on your show, thanks.

BLITZER: Thank you.

President Bush's former press secretary has written a scathing new book that paints a very unflattering picture of his former boss. Why is Scott McClellan speaking out now? My conversation with him when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're standing by to get the first exit poll results from Puerto Rico where voters are participating in the primary right now. They closed the polls in about two-and-a-half hours there. We'll have extensive live coverage coming up at 2:00 p.m. Eastern here at the "CNN ELECTION CENTER."

President Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan had Washington buzzing this week with his new-tell-all memoir. It's entitled "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and the Culture of Deception in Washington." In it, Scott McClellan details what he calls the White House propaganda campaign leading up to the war in Iraq.

I asked him why he didn't raise concerns earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCCLELLAN: I'm someone who grew up in a political family that was taught the importance of public service, taught the importance of speaking up, taught the importance of making a positive difference.

When I went to work for then-Governor Bush back in 1999, I had great hope in him. I was an idealistic young political staffer and someone who believed in his bipartisan leadership in Texas where his approval ratings were well into the 70s. And I continued to have -- believe that he would bring that same kind of bipartisan spirit to Washington, D.C.

But I realized when I got there, after a while, that it was not meant to be. Now, I wasn't sure who was to blame for -- in terms of responsibility or who shares the responsibility for that when I was there. But, unfortunately, with the Iraq War, that bipartisan spirit completely disappeared as information that we claimed was true turned out not to be the case.

BLITZER: You're going to make a lot of money on this book -- so you are going to be making a lot of money. It's going to be a major bestseller. And the accusation is you sold out the White House for a buck. And I want you to respond to that.

MCCLELLAN: Not at all, Wolf. In fact, the point of the book is -- there's a much larger purpose to the book. And that is, trying to change this poisonous atmosphere in Washington, D.C. where both sides, left and right, are squabbling in bitter ways over every single issue and little gets done, little of import gets done.

And that's part -- that's the overarching theme in the book, is what can we learn from the mistakes we made in order to change Washington for the better going forward? And if it takes talking about unpleasant truths to force change, then so be it. I don't know that this book will force it, but hopefully it will contribute in some small way to making a positive difference.

I've spent my career in public service. And this book is an extension of that public service career, where I want to continue working to make a positive difference. You know, obviously...

BLITZER: When the...

MCCLELLAN: Yes?

BLITZER: When the president's former counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, left the White House and then he subsequently wrote a book blasting the administration, you railed against him.

I'll play a little clip of what you said back then about Richard Clarke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCLELLAN: Why all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner?

MCCLELLAN: This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now all of a sudden he's raising these grave concerns that he claims he had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So the question is, it's a blunt one, are you a hypocrite?

MCCLELLAN: That -- no. That was part of our talking points at the time. I didn't even read the book. I actually ran into Dick Clarke last night here in New York City and I expressed my apologies to him for that. Unfortunately, that's what happens when you get caught up in this permanent campaign...

BLITZER: So you were just reading...

MCCLELLAN: ...culture in Washington, D.C.

BLITZER: So you were just reading talking points, you never bothered to read his book, is that what you're saying?

MCCLELLAN: I had not read his book at that time. And I think you're seeing the same thing happening out of this White House, the information -- or that people are saying things about my motivations and about me in terms of this book and they haven't even had a chance to read the book, or haven't taken the opportunity to read the book.

I think that anyone who is objective who reads the book will see that it was a very tough process to come to these conclusions. It wasn't easy to write these things, but I felt it was vital to write these things in order to move this country forward and get Washington back on track.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And up next on LATE EDITION as the primary season comes to a close this Tuesday, is Barack Obama on the verge of closing the deal? We'll assess the Democratic race for the White House with three of the best political team on television. Stay with us. Much more LATE EDITION right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Barack Obama is getting ready to speak over at what is being described as a pancake breakfast in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We're watching this for you. We'll check in with that, that's coming up.

Also we're only minutes away from the exit poll results from Puerto Rico. These are exclusive exit poll results. You'll only see them here on LATE EDITION. That's coming up, as well. But let's go to John Roberts once again, he has got some interesting analysis of the new goalposts, new delegate count, where we stand right now.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, just where the state of the race is right now, Wolf, after the decision yesterday by the DNC Rules Committee. Remember, under the old rules when the finish line was 2,026, Barack Obama was 42 delegates away from crossing the finish line. The new goal post is 2,118. So he is now 67 away. Hillary Clinton is 241.

But what I've done here is I've preloaded a possible hypothetical scenario for what we could see over the next few days. Hillary Clinton is leading Barack Obama in recent polling in Puerto Rico, approximately 60-40. So we put that in and we gave her 33 of the 55 delegates, him 22 of the delegates.

And then we sort of roughly split, just for argument's sake, Montana and South Dakota. The numbers could be more heavily weighted in Barack Obama's favor, but just for the sake of argument, we split it.

So we take that, we match the map here, now there are 15 delegates that are still left. Those are John Edwards' delegates from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. So let's just roughly split those in half, as well.

Here's a 3, give him a couple more and then give the rest to Hillary Clinton. So, Barack Obama is now 24 votes away -- 24 delegates away from crossing this finish line. Here is the pot of superdelegates that will be left, 207. He just needs the smallest, little slice of those. If he gets 25, just 25 of those superdelegates, boom, he is across the finish line. Hillary Clinton would need to get 90 percent of that pot. So for her, the goal -- the route there to the nomination is very difficult. He just needs the tiniest slice, 24, 25 superdelegates will get him across the line.

So let's look at where we are today. Puerto Rico...

BLITZER: They're about to close the polls in just about two-and- a-half hours or so from now.

ROBERTS: Politics in Puerto Rico are different than we're used to in most of the other primary states. There are some 2.4 million registered voters in Puerto Rico, 2 million of which voted in the last gubernatorial election.

And there's some letters that you need to understand. There is the PPD, which is the Popular Democratic Party. Governor Acevedo's party, he's in some trouble, he has been indicted on campaign-finance related crimes. He is supporting Barack Obama. And then there is PNP, which is the New Progressive Party. They're throwing their support behind Hillary Clinton. So what you have to look at in terms of how the vote may go is where the strongholds of these various parties are. San Juan is a stronghold for the PPD, therefore you could extrapolate that some of that vote may go to Barack Obama.

Mayaguez again went to the PPD in the last gubernatorial election. That's also where the University of Puerto Rico is. Barack Obama tends to do well in university towns. In Ponce here on the south is a real stronghold for the PPD as well.

In Bayamon and Carolina, which are the western and eastern suburbs of San Juan, that is PNP territory. Hillary Clinton could do well there, as she would perhaps do in Arecibo. And don't forget, right down here, if you saw "GoldenEye," that James Bond movie, that's where that big radio telescope is.

The question marks here are Humacao, there was 1.1 percent margin in the last gubernatorial election there. And here in Guayama, this is the real swing district where it was 0.6 percent difference in 2004.

So, we'll be watching today to see how all of this breaks down.

BLITZER: We're going to be learning a lot about the geography of Puerto Rico in the course of this day. I think it's fair to say.

ROBERTS: Hillary Clinton needs to be -- needs good turnout here. There are 2 million people...

BLITZER: San Juan.

ROBERTS: ... in this area. Don't know how many of those are registered voters. But if she polls well in here, she could get that popular vote count up. But as Jessica Yellin was saying earlier, at least one polling place, turnout is lower than expected.

BLITZER: That's bad news for Hillary...

ROBERTS: So we'll keep watching.

BLITZER: ... Clinton, if, in fact, that holds up. All right. John, stand by, because we're going to have a busy day coming up here on CNN.

Up next, right on LATE EDITION, we'll get analysis of what is going on with three of the best political team on television. Stay with us, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Michigan and Florida's delegate problem may be settled for now -- repeat "may" be settled for now -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama looking to close out a long primary season with today's Puerto Rico primary and Tuesday's Montana and South Carolina primaries.

Let's talk about this and more. Joining us, Fareed Zakaria is the host of the brand-new show debuting today, right after "Late Edition," "Fareed Zakaria: GPS."

He's also the author of the number two bestseller on the New York times bestseller's list, right now, "The Post-American World." We're hoping it becomes number one pretty soon.

Also joining us, our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. She's been out on the campaign trail for months now; and our own senior analyst, Jeff Toobin, who knows a lot and had a bestseller, "The Nine," which was a great book, as well.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

Fareed, Puerto Rico: Hillary Clinton needs to do well with this popular vote to at least make the case to those remaining undeclared superdelegates, "I got the most votes. Support me."

ZAKARIA: Precisely. And I mean, you know, it's hard, of course, with Puerto Rico, with Guam, as Jeff and I were talking about. They don't even vote in the general election. This is, sort of, the ultimate example of the Democratic Party's inclusiveness, in that they get to vote in the primary.

So this is all about just the look and feel of it. If she does well, it presumably gives her some greater moral case.

But at this point, the math, as you pointed out, is looking pretty unforgiving. And at some point, people -- it hasn't quite happened yet, but at some point people in the party, I think, are going to start turning. And it might happen tomorrow.

BLITZER: You were just there in Puerto Rico, Suzanne, so give us the lay of the land. What did you see when you were there? MALVEAUX: She has a lot of support in Puerto Rico. There's a lot of excitement, obviously. There are 4 million Puerto Ricans on the mainland, and many of them she represents in New York.

So there is a sense of, you know, that this could work in her favor. There are a lot of people who support Barack Obama. But I want to tell you, just talking to people inside of her camp here -- you spoke with many of them, and Harold Ickes coming out, saying, you know, we're going to take this to the Credentials committee -- there are a lot of people who don't really believe that's is going to happen, that that's essentially the next...

BLITZER: Is this an idle threat from Harold Ickes, Jeff, that the Michigan compromise was a hijacking of democracy and, as a result, Hillary Clinton has authorized him to say they might take it to the Credentials Committee, which could set up a floor fight in Denver?

TOOBIN: Harold Ickes has been the id of the Clinton campaign for since there's been a Clinton campaign. So he is the forward wedge of aggressiveness in that campaign.

I think, as Suzanne said, it is not likely to go to the Credentials Committee.

Remember, going into yesterday, there were two states in play, maybe 300 delegates in play. Florida is now completely off the table. Clinton has agreed to the Florida solution.

So there's only Michigan, and only a handful of delegates are really in dispute in Michigan. I think there is really nothing left to fight about, even though some people are still upset.

ZAKARIA: Which suggests that all this is, at this point, a, kind of, a hope more than a strategy.

You know, there is just some kind of wild hope out there that something will change in the next few weeks. As far as I can tell, this is all tactical maneuvering and hoping that somehow there will be some kind of "Hail Mary" out there, but there isn't going to be.

TOOBIN: But I think it's days, not weeks. Because Harry Reid said Wednesday is going to be...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And Nancy Pelosi said...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Howard Dean -- the party elders want to wrap it up.

MALVEAUX: And also, the Obama camp -- I mean, just speaking with them yesterday and this morning, I mean, the focus here is party unity.

This is -- I mean, they watched those protesters yesterday, inside and outside of the hearing, and they looked at that and said, we've got a big problem here; I mean, we have to resolve this. And perhaps the Rules Committee came together, but you saw the people inside of that room. There's a lot of anger. There's a lot of passion and emotion. The Obama folks know they have a lot of work to do.

BLITZER: To unify this party. Because these Hillary Clinton supporters out there -- as Suzanne says, you saw them outside demonstrating, crying. They're very angry right now.

They think she has been treated very unfairly, that this whole element of sexism had a major role against her. It's going to take a lot of work to try to bring both of these elements of the Democratic Party together.

TOOBIN: And it is interesting that the people who are most upset about Hillary Clinton are a very identifiable demographic group. They are older women. That is by far the overwhelming group that is angriest.

BLITZER: They vote in very high percentages.

TOOBIN: And they vote for Democrats. So it's a group that is critical for Obama getting back. And he has to have a real strategy to ingratiate himself with them again. And, you know, he hasn't done it yet.

ZAKARIA: But the principal part of that strategy, frankly, would be Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton decides that she is going to try and unify the party, it will happen. If she decides that she's going to, you know, take her marbles and not play, it's a whole different matter.

BLITZER: Do you have any doubt that, if Barack Obama -- and this is a big "if" -- were to ask her to serve as his running mate, she would say yes?

ZAKARIA: I think she would say yes. I believe it.

BLITZER: What do you think, Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: I think it would be hard for her to say yes, but...

BLITZER: Why?

MALVEAUX: I just -- I just don't know if it's in her constitution that she would do that, that it would be hard to take a number two spot.

But I will tell you, people who are close to Barack Obama say that he has the personality and the constitution to make that gesture, to make that offer. I'm not really sure that the people around him who support him would really want that to happen.

BLITZER: I think you're right on that last point. I think he, personally, probably would be more open to it than some of his closest advisers and supporters. What do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, it's not clear that she is the answer to his electoral problem. It's not clear that...

BLITZER: Who else could unify the Democratic Party as thoroughly as she would if she decided, you know what; I'm on this team and we're raising our hands together; we're going forward?

TOOBIN: I don't think the Democratic Party is going to be unified, going into the election, no matter who the running mate is.

I think the bigger issue for him is, who can reach out to independents, to Republicans?

I think someone like Joe Biden, who has a long history of service, of knowledge of foreign policy -- he might be someone who would make moderates and independents more comfortable than Hillary Clinton would.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAKARIA: Hillary has positioned herself in the center far more than Joe Biden has. I mean, I like Joe Biden greatly and I think it's a great idea, but why would Hillary not help with the center?

She has actually been more conservative, in many senses, very careful, precisely because she's always worried about that.

TOOBIN: But she remains a highly polarizing figure, even among people who agree with her on issues. There are a core of people who simply can't stand her.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys, because we're going to continue this. We're not going anywhere. Bill Schneider is also here with the very first exit poll numbers, our exclusive exit poll from Puerto Rico. That's coming up, something you're going to see only here on "Late Edition," right after this.

Remember, I'll be back with the best political team on television at 2 p.m. Eastern, a little bit more than an hour from now, for full coverage of all the voting in Puerto Rico. The polls there close at 3 p.m. Eastern. Lots more coming up, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. We're standing by for the first exit poll numbers coming in from Puerto Rico. Bill Schneider will share those numbers with us momentarily.

But, Suzanne, what did you think of Barack Obama's decision, yesterday, to formally separate himself and his family from the church in Chicago?

MALVEAUX: I wasn't surprised by it. The last time I had an opportunity to talk to Michelle Obama about this, and she said it was a very painful experience, the whole Reverend Wright, and they really wanted to move beyond that.

At the time, the family was still a part of Trinity church. That was a difficult -- a really difficult decision for them to make. And in talking to people who really had tried to keep Wright quiet, who tried it put a lid on all of that, they were very, very frustrated that they couldn't.

When we saw the priest, the Roman Catholic priest who went before the church, mocking Hillary Clinton, there was a sense of frustration that they had to do this because this was just something that was going to follow him. It continued to block him.

BLITZER: It was just never going to go away. It was going to follow him every step of the way.

ZAKARIA: Yes, you know, part of the problem here, I think, is really that, with all the other controversies Obama has been involved with, you know, whether it's the foreign policy stuff, I think he was breaking with conventional wisdom on those issues, taking a lot of flack for it, fine. and there was a lot of people who liked the fact he was breaking with conventional wisdom.

The Reverend Wright one was a real problem, and especially once reverend wright started talking.

And there was no way to, kind, of explain away the problem. He had been in this church for 20 years. Clearly this guy used this kind of rhetoric routinely. And so this, I think, is an attempt to finally close a chapter on -- you know, because it's the substance you're trying to get away from. It's not...

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: I don't remember a time when pastors have played such a role in both the Democratic and Republican race for the White House, do you, Jeff?

TOOBIN: Well, there's never been any evidence before that any of the candidates' pastors has been so outspoken. And YouTube didn't exit so we didn't know what people said in the pulpit as much as we do now.

I have to say, on this story, you know, we're used to evaluating these candidates as if they are robots. This is a human being who has a church and a family that's affiliated with a church. And I think this is a sad story. And it's too bad it worked out so...

BLITZER: All right, I want to go right to Bill Schneider because he's getting the first exit poll numbers coming in from Puerto Rico.

What are we learning about the voters in Puerto Rico, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: What we're learning, Wolf, is that the division between Clinton and Obama supporters among mainland Americans also shows up among Puerto Ricans, who are also Americans.

They can't vote for president, but they are Americans. They live under the jurisdiction of the American president. We asked the Clinton voters in Puerto Rico today, would they be satisfied if Barack Obama becomes -- wins the Democratic nomination?

Seventy-two percent, nearly three-quarters of them say, no, they would not be satisfied with Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee.

What about the Obama supporters in Puerto Rico? Would they be satisfied if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee? The answer is also no -- not quite as strong, but 59 percent of Obama supporters say they would not be satisfied if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination.

So it suggests that the division is becoming deeper and deeper between Clinton and Obama supporters, and both of them would be dissatisfied if the other candidate wins the nomination.

BLITZER: All right, Bill, thanks very much. We're going to be getting more exit polls coming up throughout the next hour, as well, the polls closing in a little bit more than an hour -- two hours or so from now. And our special coverage will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Jeff, what do you think about these results?

Because it shows that there's -- as much as they want to talk about unity, Puerto Rican voters, Puerto Rican Democrats are less than unified right now.

TOOBIN: The party has work to do. This is not a surprise, that's true. But I don't think that is the biggest -- is going to be as big a hurdle as all that. As we've talked about, in the 2000 campaign, the polls showed the Bush and McCain fight was a bitter one. The supporters of each candidate said they wouldn't vote for the other. They wound up unanimously supporting Bush.

BLITZER: All right. Hold on one second.

Fareed, I want you to set the stage. Because you've got a brand- new show that debuts on CNN, right after "Late Edition." It starts in a few moments. You have a great lead-off guest.

Give us a little flavor of what your mission is and what you hope viewers will learn as they watch "Fareed Zakaria: GPS."

ZAKARIA: Well, what I'm hoping, Wolf, is that people who watch CNN, people who watch other channels will realize that, while we talk very intensely, seriously, and substantively about the news in America, there is, you know, the other 95 percent of the world.

And we do cover it a certain amount. You do a particularly good job. But I'm thinking, at some point, people are going to get interested in what's going on aside from Hillary versus Obama.

And there's a whole bunch of stuff that's been happening in the world: the Chinese earthquake, the political consequences of the Chinese earthquake. Tony Blair is the lead-off guest. And we're going to have a long conversation with him.

BLITZER: Congratulations. We'll be watching every Sunday, right after "Late Edition," "Fareed Zakaria: GPS."

Congratulations. Good luck with the new show.

ZAKARIA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And, guys, don't go anywhere. We've got a lot of political coverage coming up.

That's it for us. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting. I'll be back in an hour with more from the CNN Election Center.

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