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CNN ELECTION CENTER

Will Democrats Unite?; Interview With Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell

Aired June 2, 2008 - 20:00   ET

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


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody.
We begin tonight with some breaking news. Take a look at this. This is Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They are waiting for the start of Hillary Clinton's last rally on the last day before the last primaries. She is going to be speaking in less than an hour. And this could be the end.

People all across the country will be weighing her words very carefully tonight, because tonight the Democrats -- the Democratic back channels are really buzzing. Here's some of what we are hearing tonight. Number one, Barack Obama is furiously trying to line up enough superdelegates to declare himself the winner as early as tomorrow.

Also, there are some reports that the Clinton campaign is starting to close up shop. But Senator Clinton sure doesn't sound like she is ready to close up just yet. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tomorrow is the last day of the primaries and the beginning of a new phase in the campaign.

The voters will have voted. And so the decision will fall to the delegates empowered to vote at the Democratic Convention. And I will be spending the coming days making my case to those delegates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: But here's why some of us feel like we are getting a bit of a mixed message. This was what Bill Clinton had to say earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. And I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run.

(LAUGHTER)

B. CLINTON: But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, which is it? Is Senator Clinton getting out or not? And how close is Senator Obama to clinching the nomination, no matter what she decides?

Well, as we said, the back channels are buzzing.

So, let's go right to senior political correspondent Candy Crowley and also CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, both of whom have been doing a lot of reporting on this.

Candy, the million-dollar question tonight, what is Hillary Clinton thinking? Is she going to drop out this week? Or will she stay in the race? Read the tea leaves for us.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we are being told the people in the field have been told, listen, go home and stand by your phone for further instructions or come on up to New York, where Hillary Clinton is holding her last primary night celebration.

I am told that they -- nobody in the campaign expects that that will be any kind of speech that says -- that has her pulling out. She is still talking about superdelegates. But, as you say, there are all these signals. The field people, others have been told to turn in their expenses by the end of the week, that kind of wrapup material that makes you think it.

Now, many in the campaign toss this off and say, look, this is the kind of thing that happens all the time. But I have got to tell you the strongest hint we have is that sound bite from Bill Clinton. I'm told there are five people who understand what is in Hillary Clinton's mind. And one of them is Bill Clinton. And for him to say that I think is pretty indicative of how she may be feeling.

BROWN: Yes. It was a pretty stunning bit of business there from Clinton. Hold on, Candy.

I want to ask Gloria.

The Obama campaign really wants this thing over. They're trying to get the superdelegates to get off the fence pronto. What are we going to see happen in the next 24 hours?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you're going to see that melt start to occur. There have been private meetings with high-level Obama surrogates with senators, uncommitted senators, telling them, declare now, before Montana, South Dakota.

These being senators, those 17 left, they're probably going to wait. They don't want to be the deciders in this race. But we are told that tomorrow there are going to be eight to 10 superdelegates, some from the House of Representatives, some from around the country, who are going to declare themselves. And some Obama supporters believe -- they're keeping their fingers crossed -- that by tomorrow night, after Montana, South Dakota, they may be over the finish line. BROWN: And, Candy, the Clintons have been in politics for a long time now. They don't like to lose; that's for sure. What are you hearing has to happen before they throw in the towel, before she throws in the towel, I should say.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Right. Well, I think it is a "they." I think you are right on the first time, Campbell.

It definitely has been a joint effort here, Bill Clinton very invested, obviously, in her victory here. But, look, what has she said all along? She has said three things: I'm going to be in this until everyone gets to vote. Check. That happens tomorrow. I'm going to be in this until Michigan and Florida are seated. Check. They're not happy about it. But Michigan and Florida were seated in some fashion.

Third, she said, I am in it until one of us gets enough delegates to put them over the top. And as you just heard Gloria say, they really expect that to happen in the Obama campaign Tuesday, no later than Thursday.

BROWN: And, Candy, also, CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is reporting that a friend and adviser to Hillary Clinton says that Clinton is sending a signal she would accept the offer of vice presidential running mate if she was asked. Do you see any chance of that happening?

CROWLEY: Of her being asked?

Look, we have watched this campaign since -- for a year-and-a- half. We know anything can happen. We know that people around her really want her to be on this ticket. They feel she has deserved it, that she in fact has 17 million supporters, many of them women, who are even, I am told, angrier now in light of what the Rules and Bylaws Committee decided.

They think that if he put her on the ticket, this would do a lot in bringing those women back to the Democratic followed, willing in fact to vote for Barack Obama. So, absolutely, it's possible. But, you know, so much will happen between now and the time Barack Obama, if indeed he is the nominee, picks a V.P.

But the fact that Suzanne is reporting that she is signaling that she is ready certainly is a step in that right direction.

BROWN: What do you make of this, Gloria?

BORGER: You know, I think that when you talk to the Clinton people, lots of them would look to have and see Hillary Clinton on the ticket. And I'm sure the signal is there, as Suzanne is reporting and as Candy was just saying, that they would -- a lot of Clinton people want to see her on the ticket.

When you talk to the Obama camp, not so much. BROWN: Yes, I was going to say.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Are there any sort of discussions under way or not at this stage of the game?

BORGER: No, no, not so much.

There's discussions at very high staff levels about ways to maybe combine the staffs together and all of that, but nothing about that -- way, way, way too early.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: All right. Gloria Borger for us and Candy Crowley, as always, thanks very much.

And if you think all the last-second moves, the rule changes, the back-channel discussions are confusing, well, don't worry. Everybody is confused, especially after all the drama this past weekend.

So, here is the play-by-play.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, hello.

BROWN (voice-over): After a tremendous marathon and extraordinary drama building up to this weekend, for Hillary Clinton at best it was anticlimactic. The all-day meeting of the Democratic Rules Committee voted to let Florida and Michigan into this summer's Democratic National Convention after all, but not the way Clinton wanted.

And it wasn't pretty, lots of emotion, a lot of frustration.

PROTESTERS: Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver!

BROWN: Clinton's last, best strategy was hanging on to delegates from Michigan and Florida. But the Rules Committee decided delegates from both states will only be entitled to a half-vote at this summer's convention. It is a compromise.

Remember, the party had punished both states for holding primaries too early. Plus, in another blow to Clinton, the committee didn't divvy up the delegates the way her supporters wanted. By the time it was over, tempers were raw.

HAROLD ICKES, SENIOR CLINTON CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ICKES: Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BROWN: Throughout the day, Clinton was calling in from Puerto Rico, where she would have something to cheer about.

CROWD: Hillary! Hillary!

H. CLINTON: Thank you so much.

BROWN: Her easy win in Puerto Rico Sunday was marred by disappointing voter turnout. Roughly 80 percent of the voters stayed home. It was a momentous weekend for Senator Clinton, but not momentous enough.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And a lot of delegate count numbers are changing now. John Roberts is over at the magic board tonight to show us Clinton's challenge and how close Barack Obama may be to the finish line. That's coming up in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Tomorrow, the primary season is finally done, over, finished. No kidding. We couldn't be happier, right? Or sadder for some of us, maybe.

So, how does it add up for the Democrats and what is next?

"AMERICAN MORNING" anchor John Roberts is here at the magic board to crunch the numbers.

And, John, a lot has happened in the last 48 hours to change the math that we have been looking at on this wall. So, bring us up to speed.

JOHN ROBERTS, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": Yes, the never-ending story. And tomorrow will close a chapter. But I don't think it will be over as of tomorrow.

So, what happened over the weekend? Well, first of all, because of that DNC Rules Committee, we have got a new finish line, 2,118. Here it is.

BROWN: Yes.

ROBERTS: This is where Barack Obama is. This is where Hillary Clinton is.

We had a few contests over the weekend that were decided, Florida and Michigan. Here's the way that those broke down. Hillary Clinton got 56 delegates out of Florida. Barack Obama got 36. Out of Michigan, Hillary Clinton got 38. Barack Obama got 31.

And then yesterday's Puerto Rico contest, where she absolutely blew him out of the water, 68-32 percent, she came away with 42 delegates, he with 19.

Here's where we are right now in terms of the overall numbers. She is 201 away from the finish line. He is 42. Now, it's interesting to note, too, that, in just the last few hours, he has picked up four superdelegates. She has picked up one. So, even though she blew him out of the water in Puerto Rico...

BROWN: Right.

ROBERTS: ... he is still ahead. So, that's where the race sits right now.

BROWN: OK. Tomorrow night, the final two primaries.

ROBERTS: The last two.

BROWN: Yes, show us, I guess, the likeliest scenario. I know I am asking you to read the tea leaves a little bit, but the likeliest scenario for tomorrow.

ROBERTS: Well, we just got some new polls. American Research Group did some polling in Montana South Dakota. They found that Barack Obama is ahead 48 percent to 44 percent. So, that would probably roughly mean that they're going to split the delegates there. There's 22 delegates available. So, let's make that an 11-11 split.

A real surprise. South Dakota, according to American Research Group, Hillary Clinton is ahead, with about 59 percent to 30 percent -- or 39 percent. So, that's -- it's just about a 60-40 split. So, let's allocate some delegates there. And we will give her three more than Barack Obama, because a 60-40 split is pretty significant. That's not quite what it was in Puerto Rico, but still very significant.

So, we graph that now on the linear graph. Barack Obama is 38 away from his number of 2,118. She is still substantially back. There are nine more delegates. Now, you are saying, well, wait a minute. Haven't we allocated all of the delegates?

BROWN: Right.

ROBERTS: Leftover from John Edwards.

BROWN: Ah.

ROBERTS: His win in Florida, Iowa, and in New Hampshire. Because he is supporting Barack Obama, likely that all of those delegates would go to him, so Barack Obama now 20 away -- 19 away.

So, if you just take that many delegates, try to peel them off here, 22 delegates, he is across the finish line. Hillary Clinton would need all of the delegates, pretty much all of the superdelegates that are left to get herself across the finish line. And 90 percent, how does she make that argument?

BROWN: Well, that is what I was going to say. It's tough math. She would have to win virtually -- I don't know what -- is it more than 90-something percent, right?

ROBERTS: Yes, it's 85 to 90 percent.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: And as we know, according to Gloria Borger, many of the 17 Democratic senators who haven't declared yet -- they're superdelegates -- are going to go for Barack Obama.

So, what does it all mean? Let's look at the Electoral College map. And this is where we are shaping up for the 2008 general election here. There's going to be a lot of swapping back and forth in states. Just to give you a quick brush of where we are, these are the results from the 2004 campaign, George Bush against John Kerry.

We have just swapped the names here. So, 286, this is where we left off with the Republicans, 252 for the Democrats.

BROWN: Right. Yes.

ROBERTS: So, Barack Obama says, well, there's a Democratic governor in the state of Ohio. That's got 20 electoral votes. Maybe I can switch that. He becomes the president. Maybe there is a chance that he could switch Florida. He becomes the president.

And even without any of those states, there is a Western strategy.

BROWN: Right.

ROBERTS: It goes through Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. He gets across the line. Then there is also this possibility. This is one that nobody really wants to see.

John McCain says, Republican governor here. I can take that state.

BROWN: Right.

ROBERTS: Barack Obama says, different demographics here in the state of Virginia. Maybe I can take that. And then he employs the Western strategy. He gets Colorado and New Mexico.

BROWN: Right. Right. Right.

ROBERTS: And look at where we are, 269-269.

BROWN: Wow.

ROBERTS: A tie. It goes to the House.

BROWN: OK, a political reporter's dream come true. John Roberts for us.

ROBERTS: There is an amazing story.

BROWN: Yes, thank you very much, John. Appreciate it.

So, what are Clinton's options at this very crucial moment?

We want to hear now from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and ardent Clinton supporter.

Governor Rendell, you're there? Good to see you.

GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm still ardent.

BROWN: Yes. I know you are, until the bitter end, of course.

So, not exactly the outcome that Senator Clinton was hoping for in Florida and Michigan. She had a big win on Sunday. But as we just saw with John Roberts at the board here, the math just isn't on her side. What do you think that Clinton should do now?

RENDELL: Well, I think what the senator is going to do is after the primaries Tuesday night, she is going to get on the phone Wednesday and Thursday, and make her last-ditch case to the superdelegates.

And I am just astounded at the way the superdelegates are reacting. I mean, think about this for a second, Campbell. In the last three months, March, April, May, Hillary Clinton has clobbered Barack Obama. Popular vote would probably be a 10-point spread at least, 55-45. She's had historic margins in West Virginia, 41 percent, Kentucky, 36 percent, Puerto Rico, 36 percent, Pennsylvania, Ohio, 10 percent each.

She has really won the day in the last three months of the campaign decisively. If you listen to John Roberts talk about Florida and Ohio, well, Senator Clinton is ahead of Senator McCain handily in those two states. Senator Obama is trailing. The electoral math, it's clear that Senator Clinton is the stronger candidate.

So, what the superdelegates are doing -- and it really confounds me -- it bewilders me -- they're breaking for the candidate who is clearly the least strong for us to field in the general election. It makes no sense.

Hillary is going to make that argument herself, probably the president and others. I don't think it's going to prevail, to be candid. I think Senator Obama is going to get the delegates he needs certainly by the end of the week.

And then I think Senator Clinton is going to do the right thing and move fairly decisively to unify the party and we will all follow her lead and fight as hard as we can to make Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

BROWN: But what is your thinking? You said yourself, it is puzzling, I mean, if you lay out the argument the way you laid it out. Why do you think it is? Why do you think it is that the superdelegates are clearly lining up behind him? RENDELL: Well, I think the Obama folks -- and I think David Axelrod is the smartest guy in America right now -- they did a great job convincing people, well, the one who gets the most pledged delegates deserves the nomination. You would be taking it away from him.

Well, that is not our rules. The Hunt commission back in 1980 decided...

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: I know. But, Governor, you guys used that same argument with regard to the delegates at the beginning of the campaign. It changed...

RENDELL: I didn't. I didn't, Campbell.

I always believed that the superdelegates were invested with the responsibility of seeing who our strongest candidate is as we go into the fall and nominating that person.

Secondly, the Obama folks kept saying, their mantra was, we have got the pledged delegates. We have got the popular vote.

Well, they don't have the popular vote anymore. Why in God's name we're going down this path is a puzzlement to. Now, Barack Obama is a great candidate. He's a terrific senator. And I think he will make a fine president. But Hillary Clinton would do all of those things and is much more likely to win.

BROWN: And, on the popular vote issue, you are including Michigan in that when you do that popular vote math, right?

RENDELL: Even without Michigan. Even without Michigan. According to AP, even without Michigan, she is ahead by several thousand votes.

But of course you have got to count Michigan. Fifty-five percent of the people picked her. They voted for her.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: With his name not on the ballot.

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: But everyone knew, everyone knew that -- they were instructed to vote uncommitted. And, by the way, he took his name off the ballot voluntarily. That was not required by DNC rules. That was not required obviously by the state of Michigan.

BROWN: Let me ask you, this idea of a dream ticket, it was first floated at a very different point and time in the campaign, when things were a lot less contentious between the two of them.

And since then, a lot of bad blood, a lot of potentially damaging things have been said by both sides. Is Clinton as the possible vice president still a realistic or even a good idea for Democrats?

RENDELL: Well, I think -- I certainly think it is a realistic idea, Campbell.

We think back -- everyone thinks back to Kennedy-Johnson. But think back to President Reagan and George Bush. Didn't George Bush call President Reagan's economic strategy voodoo economics? And yet they banded together and were a very effective ticket. I think the same thing could happen here.

And I will tell you, it would supercharge Democrats. It would certainly supercharge active Democrats. But, again, it's a tough call. And that can only be decided, in my judgment, not by their staffs, not by party leaders or party brokers. But that has to be decided by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton in a room together by themselves talking it out.

BROWN: Governor Ed Rendell, always good to see you. Thanks, Governor.

RENDELL: Thanks, Campbell. Still ardent, last of the Mohicans.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: OK. I'm sure she appreciates it. All right.

So, she is still in the game, as they say, despite the numbers and the calls to drop out. Does Hillary Clinton have any remaining good moves?

Plus, it's happened again. It's definitely not over for Bill Clinton, the former president letting loose on a reporter. We're going to tell you what he said when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: As it comes down to the wire, a defiant Hillary Clinton insists this is not the time to say goodbye. So, where does she go from here?

Joining me NOW, some of the best political minds in America, CNN political analyst Roland Martin, Hilary Rosen, who is political director at "The Huffington Post," and a Clinton supporter, and CNN political analyst with me here in the studio Gloria Borger.

Hilary, let me start with you.

Several of Clinton's closest supporters are essentially conceding that this is over. Could anything happen to change the game at this point?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the odds are so much against her, that it's -- it's not entirely likely. But, look, she could actually win South Dakota tomorrow.

And people may not want to talk about it, but she will want to talk about it. And because she will want to talk about it, tomorrow night won't be a concession speech. It will be more about how Democrats are going to go win this election in the fall and why she thinks she is the best person to take that forward.

You know, it's -- Ed Rendell gave a kind of pretty good rendition before about the banner couple of months that Hillary Clinton has had. I know what she is going to do now is -- she has been on the phone as much as possible today. And she has lists of superdelegates in her hands. She is going to stay home tomorrow in New York in Chappaqua and make phone calls.

She needs to hear from superdelegates themselves. Nobody is getting off the hook here not to have to justify the decisions that they're going to make.

BROWN: Right, that they're making.

Gloria, Saturday at that hearing, we saw a lot of angry people, a lot of angry women. But you heard shouts of "McCain, McCain." Is this sort of heat of the motion -- heat-of-the-moment emotion, or is this a real problem for Obama?

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Well, I think in the short term it could be a problem for Obama, because as you look at the exit polls -- I know you have done that, as well as I have -- you see that the feelings are hardening on both sides, that there is a lot of sentiment among Hillary people, anyone but Obama. They're angry.

But there is a long time between now and the election. And, generally, those kinds of emotions tend to subside. And there is going to be such a stark contrast between John McCain and Barack Obama in a general election, I bet a lot of those people are going to change their minds.

BROWN: And, Roland, I want to follow up on one thing that Hilary mentioned. Governor Ed Rendell mentioned it earlier, too, as well.

What does it say that Obama is going to win this thing, but that, in these last races, he is getting his tail kicked?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look. Look, Campbell, you look at how the state is set up.

Imagine this. Imagine if Louisiana or Kansas had voted in May. He would have blown her out in those states. If you look at all of the stakes in the campaign, there have been states that are set up perfectly for Clinton, states that are set up perfectly for Obama. That's how we have seen this all throughout the campaign. So, we shouldn't be shocked by this.

Remember, when he won Wyoming, when he won that state, it was a blowout. That's what you have. You have states tailor-made for him, tailor-made for her. So, I don't know why people are shocked by it.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Hold on.

Quickly, Gloria.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: I disagree a little bit. I disagree.

I think she found her voice. I think she became a better candidate. And I think he is limping across the finish line because Hillary Clinton has actually started connecting with voters. But timing is everything in politics. And it's too late.

MARTIN: Of course.

BROWN: All right, hang on, guys. We're coming back to the panel shortly.

Bill Clinton lets loose on a reporter today. And I want to ask you about that.

Also, Barack Obama does have his own problems. Check out what is now on YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. MICHAEL PFLEGER, CHICAGO ACTIVIST: Racism is still America's greatest addiction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: More incendiary words from Father Michael Pfleger. This controversy caused Barack Obama to quit his longtime church. But will it come back to bite him this fall?

We will be back shortly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Politics and protests, they go together like ants and a picnic. Exhibit a, this weekend's DNC Rules Committee meeting which drew hundreds of angry Hillary Clinton supporters. But when the rest of the public is not quite as outraged, it can take a bit of stagecraft to make your point.

Tom Foreman is in Washington with more on all of this for us -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, right after this decision to give Florida and Michigan back half of their delegate power, I was caught in the storm of a furious bunch of voters flooding out of this meeting insisting the decision was undemocratic and unfair to Hillary Clinton. It was heartfelt. It was exciting, and it was a kind of grassroots stagecraft.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the matter with my party?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believed in everyone. And the right to vote and to be counted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pay attention, 2,500 of us in here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't understand why they did what they did in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a travesty. I think it's a travesty of democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doomsday will come home in the fall because we're not on the Democrats' list (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will not come home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: These folks are genuinely angry and by raging away for the cameras they give the impression that the entire Democratic Party will just fall apart unless this decision is overturned.

But now, look at this. In Florida, at the same time, we asked some other Democrats for a reaction to the committee's decision. And listen to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I am definitely a Clinton supporter but I think in order to unify the party, a decision has to be made before you get to the convention. And I feel that we have to support whoever the Democratic nominee is at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Much calmer, a totally different tone. So how deep is the ditch between the Clinton supporters and the Obama supporters? Well depends on whose stagecraft you're watching, Campbell.

BROWN: Well, Tom, how did this protest outside the meeting pick up so much steam so quickly?

FOREMAN: Well, it was no accident. Clinton fans organized a protest outside the meeting. They brought people in on buses, and her campaign staff workers, while saying they were not behind this effort also did nothing to discourage it.

Obama's supporters by contrast, also turned out heavily. But his campaign actively told them to remain calm and that stagecraft too, the kind that says, "look, we're being reasonable, while the other side is going crazy." But that's the act you get to do when you're ahead -- Campbell.

BROWN: Indeed, it is. Tom Foreman for us as always. Tom, thanks.

FOREMAN: Good talking to you.

BROWN: A lot to talk about with regard to Bill Clinton when we come back with our panel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Bill Clinton is in the middle of yet another raging controversy. He is furious over an article filled with rumor and innuendo. In the latest issue of "Vanity Fair" magazine, we're going to have more about that coming up in just a minute.

But first, Gary Tuchman has a look at what may be Bill Clinton's last stand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the tiny South Dakota town of Milbank on the day before the nation's final primaries, Bill Clinton, for the first time, sounds like his wife waving a white flag could be in the offing.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say also that this may be the last day I am ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.

TUCHMAN: Quite a comment.

CLINTON: Aren't you glad that South Dakota gets to close out this primary season?

TUCHMAN: But on this last 24 hours of primary campaigning, he didn't say it again to voters --

CLINTON: All the evidence shows that she is by far more likely to win in November.

TUCHMAN: Nor to me. Mr. President, is it still winnable?

CLINTON: Yes!

TUCHMAN: He blitzed through six South Dakota stops on Monday from an elementary school in Watertown, to a high school in Sisseton. All tiny towns that heard in many cases a defiant former president criticizing his party's rules committee.

CLINTON: In Michigan, I don't know what they did. It didn't make a lick of sense to me. They said we are not only going to give Senator Obama the delegates equivalent to 100 percent of the uncommitted votes, even though some of those votes were for John Edwards and others. We're going to give you some more just to shut everybody up.

TUCHMAN: The former president may be finding himself in an unexpected situation.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The Clintons are simply not used to losing. Between Bill and Hillary Clinton they have won eight consecutive, presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial races. The last defeat in 1980 when Bill Clinton lost the Arkansas governor's race. It was so long ago that Barack Obama was a teenager when it happened.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Now, another moment of truth may be arriving.

CLINTON: She's the best I've ever seen, and I hope South Dakota will say yes to her tomorrow. Thank you and God bless you.

TUCHMAN: But Hillary Clinton's surrogate in chief is giving it his all to the very end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: So that was Gary Tuchman reporting for us in South Dakota. And now, Bill Clinton has some pretty outrageous things to say along the campaign trail. Now some of what Clinton has reportedly done has become a serious issue for the campaign. Thanks to a scathing article in "Vanity Fair" magazine.

Listen to what reporter Todd Purdum writes. That "four former Clinton aides told me that about 18 months ago, one of the president's former assistants, who still advises him on political matters, has heard so many complaints about such reports from Clinton supporters around the country that he felt compelled to try to conduct what one of these aides called an 'intervention' because the aide believes, 'Clinton was apparently seeing a lot of women on the road'".

An intervention. So now, listen to this furious Bill Clinton response. He said, "He is a really dishonest reporter. There's just five or six blatant lies there. But he's a real slimy guy. He's still a scumbag."

Whoa, Bill Clinton on fire, everybody. So this needs a closer look from our political panel. Once again, Roland Martin, Hilary Rosen and Gloria Borger joining us again.

Roland, let me get your take on it. What do you make of all of this?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: As a former editor of three newspapers, Campbell, I would never allow that story to get published ahead. That many people on the hood attributing comments but don't have their name to it. I'm sorry that's wrong journalistically.

BROWN: Unnamed sources in the piece?

MARTIN: That number of unnamed sources making those kind of allegations, I'm sorry, you put your name behind that. You don't hide behind anonymity.

BROWN: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of thoughts. First of all, I think this gives you some indication of the kinds of things. Say Hillary Clinton were put on the ticket. I think, you know, you have to think of Bill Clinton as part of that team and the question of whether more and more stories like this are going to come out.

Also, I should point out tonight though, Campbell, that Jay Carson, the president's spokesman, gave a statement to our Sasha Johnson, producer at CNN.

BROWN: And you got that while we were sitting here, right?

BORGER: While we were sitting here, Sasha sent this. And the statement says, President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article as he called it. But the language today that he used -- but the language today was inappropriate and he wishes he had not used it. So an apology from the president on his words.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: Is that -- I was going to say, Hilary, is that part of the problem that sometimes his reaction, you know, to these sort of things, they would be ignored or blown over or whatever, but that his reaction in the heat of the moment, in front of the cameras, ends up making it into a bigger issue?

HILARY ROSEN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, this article wouldn't have been ignored if he, you know, hid out and said nothing. It would have gotten the same amount of attention. And good for him for fighting back. I mean, Roland has got a point.

You know, I know Todd Purdum well. He's a good reporter. He stands by his sources and says they're good sources. The timing of this is hugely unfortunate.

There's an awful lot of stress on the Clintons right now, and President Clinton in particular, that he is as disappointed as anybody with the outcome of this race. So I think if anything the timing, you know, has contributed to the reaction here.

You know, charges like these are almost apocryphal when it comes to President Clinton.

BROWN: Right.

ROSEN: And the fact that there is still nobody who goes on the record and talks about it specifically, you know, I'm sure it's frustrating to him. Everybody has got something that tells him this is constantly now for real reasons. It's going to be the thing that tails him.

BROWN: Roland, yes -- ROSEN: But that doesn't mean that that's how he wants this campaign to end. I think that's kind of unfair for him.

BROWN: Roland, do you think that Bill Clinton hurts, or has possibly already dimmed Hillary Clinton's chances of a VP slot once this is over, this primary thing?

MARTIN: Well, first of all, I want to say he has doomed it but certainly this goes into the equation in terms of these kinds of stories. They have to factor in because you have to look at the fact of high negative ratings, how will the GOP play it. Will you bring us stuff from the 1990s? It factors in.

But still as a journalist, at some point you can't just run stuff with aides being anonymous because these are some serious allegations. Somebody should man up or woman up and go on the record and put their name on it if they feel strongly about it.

BROWN: All right, guys. Guys, we got to end it there. I'm sorry, Hilary, we're out of time tonight.

ROSEN: OK.

BROWN: But many, many thanks to Roland, to Hilary and to Gloria as always, guys.

Barack Obama quits his church, but that doesn't keep another embarrassing video off the Internet. You're going to hear it coming up in just a minute.

I'm going to ask you how -- or we'll ask or talk to our panel, I guess, how much it will hurt Obama during the campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: It's about the last thing that Barack Obama needs. But tonight just as he is closing in on the Democratic nomination, another embarrassing video is all the rage on YouTube. And once again, it features Catholic priest, Michael Pfleger, a Chicago activist and long-time Obama acquaintance. And this is another part of Pfleger's sermon from a week ago Sunday when he caused a political firestorm by mocking Hillary Clinton. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. MICHAEL PFLEGER, LONG-TIME OBAMA ACQUAINTANCE: Racism is still America's greatest addiction. I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God. This greatest sin against God, racism, is as natural as the air we breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Pfleger's sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's long-time parish was the last straw, and Obama quit the church over the weekend. Here's what he told reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear that now that I am a candidate for president, every time something is said in the church by anyone associated with Trinity, including guest pastors, the remarks will be imputed to me even if they totally conflict with my long-held views, statements and principles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: CNN political analyst Roland Martin broke the story of Obama's decision to leave his church, and he is back with me now. And Roland, why did Obama leave the church? And was it in your opinion the right thing to do?

MARTIN: Well, he left the church primarily because obviously what he said he didn't want to have to speak about every time somebody said something. But also, he was very concerned with the pressure the church was under. There were members sitting there not knowing if the person next to them was a visitor or they were recording comments. They were calling sick and shut-in.

And so, he was really concerned also with how the church was under the kind of microscope. And he said, you know what, it's best for both parties that I simply leave.

BROWN: And you know, Roland, some of Obama's appeal as a candidate was his willingness to talk openly about his faith, you know, which is kind of a rare thing for Democrats. So now, at the start of the general election campaign, he finds himself without a church. How is this going to hurt him or affect him in terms of the overall campaign?

MARTIN: Well, he hasn't been going to church much since he has been campaigning. Also, we don't even know what church Hillary Clinton goes to. You know, we know about John McCain's church.

Look, we understand politicians, OK, in terms of how busy they are on the schedule and those things like those, Campbell. So, that's not surprising at all.

I got to say this, Campbell, the Father Pfleger sermon, the purpose of that sermon, the United Church of Christ in all their pulpits across the country, talked about race on the same Sunday all across America. And so, that's what that sermon was about. The issue of race in America. That's the context of which he was speaking of.

BROWN: All right, Roland Martin. We appreciate it, Roland.

MARTIN: Thank you.

BROWN: Senator Ted Kennedy sailed through a risky brain operation today, and our own brain specialist, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is standing by to show us what exactly happened and explain what's next for him. We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Hi, this is Larry King.

Senator Ted Kennedy is doing well tonight after brain surgery. CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta will tell us why the experts had to act now.

Plus, the final primary push is on. Is this Hillary Clinton's last hurrah? Can Barack Obama finally declare victory? We'll address these questions and others on the eve of an incredible political end- game. It's all on "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour, and Campbell Brown will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Senator Edward Kennedy was awake during 3 1/2 hours of surgery for a malignant brain tumor today, and our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon. He is joining us right now to explain what happened.

And Sanjay, walk us through the surgery itself, what happened and how he is doing right now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really an incredible thing to think about doing a major operation like this awake. Even as a neurosurgeon, I still find it pretty wondrous. Let me show you here images maybe more than anything else.

Go ahead and take this brain, spin it around a little bit. I want to show you the area of biggest concern here, take away some of this gray tissue here, and look at this area over here. Flash that red.

That is the parietal lobe area, Campbell, so important. And yellow is the motor area. Over here, the speech area.

So crucial today was taking out the tumor from this area without damaging these other areas. That's what they tried to do.

Campbell, you know, what they do is actually -- because he's awake, his head is immobilized in what are known are skull pins. He's actually able to squeeze a hand, raise an arm, identify objects on flash cards. So crucial because they can actually test those areas if the tumor, if they're getting close to that as they're resecting this tumor, they stop.

The goal here is to try and make more reward than risk and not do any harm. Take out as much tumor as possible. That was what they did today. By all accounts, the neurosurgeon said it was a successful operation. They accomplished what they were trying to do.

Surgery is sort of the first line of sort of the mainstay of therapy for malignant glioma. It's the type of tumor that he had -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Sanjay, stay with us, because when we come back, I know you're going to talk us through the recovery, the very long road ahead for him in terms of recovery. We'll be back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We're back now with Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about Senator Edward Kennedy's cancer surgery today. And Sanjay, I know that the doctors said it was a success in terms of the operation. But what happens now for Senator Kennedy? What's the next step for him?

GUPTA: Well, you know, because he was awake during the operation, he was able to talk the entire time and immediately afterwards. I think his recovery is going to be fast, relatively fast. Probably be in the hospital in North Carolina for a few days.

After his wounds heal on his -- on his head, on his scalp from the incisions, he'll be able to start chemotherapy and radiation and that's going to take a period of time.

Those are long days. Those are tiring days certainly for him. But he should be able to go back to work and do some of the things that he was doing beforehand.

Interestingly enough, as well, Campbell, one of the things that Duke, this particular hospital is known for is a clinical trial, where they actually create a brain tumor vaccine, a vaccine that's created to try and kill whatever remaining tumor cells might be left in his brain. We don't know if the senator is going to have this done or not, but there are some options for him.

BROWN: And Sanjay, you said he could go back to work but he's a lot more aggressive about it than that. He's talking about not only going back to work but hitting the campaign trail on behalf of Senator Barack Obama. What's the timing on this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, he's got a strong will. There's no question. I think, you know, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that maybe within the next several days you might actually see him out.

Campaigning is hard work, as you know, Campbell. But you see him out there maybe giving talks, talking to people again. I think people will be surprised at how quickly he can recover.

BROWN: Wow.

GUPTA: He may have some time where he goes down again when he's getting the chemotherapy and radiation. That's very tough on him and very tiring as well.

BROWN: But some of these experimental treatments you were referencing, Sanjay, I mean, that is a much longer process, right, and a riskier process I guess in terms of the kind of results he'll really see?

GUPTA: Well, yes. And you know, there are so many different therapies, so many different options for him. But one of the things that they talk about is this vaccine therapy. It's not as risky as it is still untested. You know, this is in clinical trials still. But I can tell you, at least the initial data which just came out today and made news today, is that it can actually double the survival, double the length of survival for someone who has the most malignant of all the tumors. We don't know specifically what his was, but there are some options for him, some hope out there possibly as well.

BROWN: All right, Sanjay Gupta. Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Campbell.

BROWN: Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Sure, thank you.

BROWN: And we just want to leave you with the story tonight.

Vice President Dick Cheney made a joke about West Virginia today and it backfired big time. Today at a Washington event, Cheney talked about his family roots and how he is distantly related to Barack Obama. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'd always known about the Cheney family line on my father's side of the family back to Massachusetts in the 1630s. My grandmother was named Tyler, but it turned out she was descended from a Richard Cheney, same last name, who descended -- who landed in Maryland in the 1650s.

So we had Cheneys on both sides of the family. And we don't even live in West Virginia. But -- you can say those things when you're not running for re-election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Oh, no, you can't. That joke, about inbreeding in West Virginia immediately provoked furious demands for an apology from among others the state's powerful Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. A Cheney spokesman says the vice president thought it over and realized that it was after all an inappropriate attempt of humor that he should not have made, and Cheney did in fact apologize.

All right. That is it for us. Tomorrow night on the ELECTION CENTER, we are going to have complete coverage of the Montana and South Dakota primaries. The final primaries of the 2008 election. Now that is a reason to throw a party.

I'm going to be here with the best political team on television starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. That's it for me tonight. LARRY KING LIVE" starting right now.

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