Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Barack Obama Meets With Hillary Clinton
Aired June 5, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We knew it was going to happen but no one knew it was going to happen tonight.
Sources now tell CNN that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, after one of the toughest primary campaigns in memory, are sitting down behind closed doors at Clinton's home in Washington.
Senator Obama, of course, was campaigning hard today in Virginia. When reporters showed up at the campaign plane to head back to Chicago, the candidate wasn't there. That's when they knew something was up.
The meeting may in fact already be over. We have got people working all the angles on this late-breaking story tonight.
Let's go first to CNN's Candy Crowley, who interviewed Barack Obama today. And we will play a lot of her interview later.
But, Candy, what are you hearing about this meeting?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing, first of all, that it might still be going on. We do have -- CNN has people on the scene. They talk about a lot of suburbans in front of her house, on the side of her house. The problem is, of course, that they both have Secret Service. Bill Clinton has Secret Service. So, there could be a lot of reasons for those suburbans to be there.
But, nonetheless, we do know that the meeting either is still taking place or has taken place. This is something that, yesterday, Clinton sources said they thought would happen before she actually pulled out of the race, that they could have a sit-down, a small meeting. It may even be just the two of them, not really to hash out things, but we understand how really tense the past five months in particular have been. They needed to do that.
It is a step in the process of trying to bring the Democratic Party together. Both of them understand that that is something that they needed to do, is to bring the party together, particularly because they have got this convention coming up. And they would like to try to heal those wounds, because, quite frankly, Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton's supporters.
So, this is another step in this process. And, again, the meeting tonight, Barack Obama was supposed to fly home here from Virginia, because he was here campaigning and looking forward to the general campaign. But hard to do that general campaign until he and Hillary Clinton come to a meeting of the minds.
COOPER: And reporters started to get a sense when something was up when, what, he didn't show up on the campaign plane?
CROWLEY: Well, I tell you, when he was here and we were interviewing him, after the interview, I said, so, are you going to have that meeting with Hillary Clinton; you have got a date?
And he totally turned around and started talking to someone else. And, so, I said sort of went at him again. Oh, you must have a time and a place. And he sort of smiled and completely walked off.
So, I had messaged a few people, saying, you know, he was really dodgy about this. But, you know, if he doesn't show up on a plane that he's supposed to do, that's pretty much is a big hint that he's somewhere. And where else could he be, particularly in the Washington area, but talking to Hillary Clinton at this point?
So, yes, the plane was really the huge tipoff. I can tell you, I have been trying most of the afternoon to try to find someone who can tell me. I did talk to a number of people in the Obama campaign to say, hey, what is up? Is he going to meet with Hillary?
I either didn't against a response or people said, I don't really know. So, you know, we knew something was happening. But the plane is obviously the tipoff.
COOPER: You know, Candy, it's remarkable when -- you said that it may just be the two of them. It may be a smaller group -- a larger group, but a very small group in number. It's remarkable to think that after, you know, a year-and-a-half of campaigning, after all the thousands of people they have been surrounded with at rallies, all the advisers they have, that it boils down to a room in her house where either the two candidates are meeting or a handful of other people are meeting.
It's remarkable that it now just boils down to that small core group.
CROWLEY: It is. And I also think it's interesting that it's at her home. I think there is a gesture in here somewhere.
He's the nominee. He went to see her. I think there is something -- there is a graciousness in that, that is fully intended, I'm sure, by the Obama campaign. And, yes, I mean, in the end, politics is about people. And the people the politics have been about this year is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And they know, at different levels, how important this meeting is.
I don't think it will probably be the last meeting, certainly probably won't will be the last conversation. But she clearly wanted to have this meeting before she talks to her supporters on Saturday.
COOPER: We should note that Barack Obama sat down earlier today with Candy, as I mentioned, talked extensively about the choice of a running mate. We are going to bring you the extensive interview a little bit later on in the program.
Candy is going to join us again for our roundtable.
But, first, CNN's Tom Foreman is outside Senator Clinton's house right now. He joins us on the phone.
Tom, what are you seeing?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're not seeing a whole lot except, several suburbans outside the house, as you would, the Secret Service, a fair amount of Secret Service activity sort of walking back and forth.
The house is all closed up, but there are lights on inside. And, of note, there are lights on in the downstairs room, where the shades are all pulled. So, you can see there's light inside and presumably something going on, but we don't know what, which is of course the big mystery.
But, other than that, it's a quiet suburban street, with a bunch of TV crews making it not so quiet right now -- Anderson.
COOPER: And, Tom, if -- I mean, there's no way to indicate -- the fact that there are Secret Service people there, I mean, that's a common occurrence, given both that President Bill Clinton lives there and the senator lives there, and perhaps Barack Obama is there as well.
FOREMAN: Yes, we can't necessarily tell anything from that.
But it's -- you cover these things long enough, and you get used to seeing a certain buzz of activity. And there seems to be a certain buzz of activity here right now. So, I think we're all going to be watching the door here for a while here to see if it pops open and somebody comes out.
There is one suburban pulled up right in front of the door. I was talking to one of our camera crews who were with Senator Obama earlier today as well. They were describing the vehicle he left in. And we don't necessarily see that vehicle here. But that's not uncommon, for people to change vehicles, that sort of thing.
COOPER: All right.
FOREMAN: This is a little cul-de-sac, Anderson. Just for point of reference for people here, that's just a stone's throw away from the British Embassy and not really far all away from where the current vice president of the United States lives.
COOPER: All right, Tom, we will continue checking you -- with you throughout this hour.
Let's dig deeper now with Candy Crowley, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and CNN contributor Ed Rollins, a GOP strategist and former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee. Good to have you all.
First of all,, just a quick brief.
David, what are your thoughts on this meeting that either has taken police or is still taking place?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm curious whether Bill Clinton is in the house or not.
But I would imagine it's a meeting between the two of them. It's a very significant meeting. This is the kind of a meeting that if, Teddy White were still alive, writing those chronicles of political campaigns, he would make a whole chapter out of this, because of the psychodynamics of it, trying to mend the rift within the party.
But for the first time, they are meeting under very circumstances. They have been together for a year-and-a-half as equals, indeed, with Hillary Clinton probably looking at Barack Obama as, you know, the upstart. And now they go into a meeting with the dynamics completely upside-down, with he's the victor and she's the vanquished.
And, so, they both have to figure out the chemistry of how they're going to talk to each other, how they're going to get along in their new roles. And that is a prelude to sort of them thinking about, how would it be if we got together? What might we do together in the future and that sort of thing?
So, I think this is a very, very important meeting.
COOPER: Donna, do we know much about -- we have seen a lot of tension between supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Do we know -- or do you know -- much about the relationship between the two?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Actually, they know each other, clearly. They are colleagues in the United States Senate.
Senator Obama has officially taken charge of the Democratic National Committee. And I'm sure, at this hour, that they're -- they're talking about a host of -- of things, Senator Clinton's role going forward, of course the tremendous support that she has, not just with voters across the country, but some of the most important constituencies inside the Democratic Party, the women's community, the labor community.
This is an opportunity to really talk about how the party comes together, reconciliation, making sure that the platform committee will be comprised of people who are Senator Clinton's supporters, the Credentials Committee. We still have some issues that we have to resolve. So, this is an opportunity for them to talk about the tone and the tenor going forward.
COOPER: Ed, do you agree it's tone and tenor talk?
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's -- I think it's a very important meeting. I'm surprised that it came together so quickly, but I think it's very important to come together quickly.
COOPER: Why surprised? Because, I mean, if she's coming out Saturday with...
ROLLINS: Because I think she clearly has made the message today: It's over. We're now moving forward. It's his party. We're going to support him.
And there's been a little hesitancy to get to that point. And some people thought she may wait until Saturday to fully -- fully wave the white flag. I'm not saying she's waving a white flag, but it's definitely over today.
I think the critical thing, too, is, if, for any reason, he's made up his mind he doesn't want her as the vice president, this would be a perfect position to say: Hillary, I so appreciate everything you have done. I look forward to working with you. This is our process. Here's how we move forward.
I think the critical thing, if he's made that decision, he needs to pass that decision very, very quickly in order for her and her people to get -- get -- move on.
COOPER: That is the $64,000 question, probably worth a lot more than that, the question of the vice presidency that Ed raised there.
We're going to talk more about it after a short break.
We're going to update the breaking developments throughout the program tonight.
As always, I will be blogging as well, time permitting.
To join the conversation, go to CNN.com/360. Do you think Hillary Clinton should be the vice presidential nominee? You can weigh in on the blog.
Coming up: Candy's interview, Barack Obama with some tough words for people telling him to hurry up and pick a running mate.
And, later, more on the Hillary factor, her role from here on out, and new insight into how she finally got the message to call it quits.
Also, we're following what is shaping up to be a dangerous night of tornadoes -- breaking news on that, the latest on a storm system that forecasters call the scariest they have seen since 1974 -- that and more tonight on 360.
COOPER: Well, we continue to follow our breaking news: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton meeting tonight at her house in Washington, D.C., laying the groundwork, it would seem, for her announcement on Saturday that she's ending her campaign and endorsing him.
Senator Obama going to her, read into that what you will. If it's a gesture of conciliation, it's only part of the story. The Obama forces also spent the day putting their stamp on the party, and, as you will see, sending a tough signal to anyone, Senator Clinton included, who would try to push them on the vice presidential decision.
It was topic one for Senator Obama when he sat down with CNN's Candy Crowley.
Here's that part of the interview up close.
CROWLEY: Let me start out with a couple of political questions first.
And that is, you know and I know that, if Senator Clinton wanted to tamp down this vice presidential conversation by her surrogates, that she would.
She has, as she will tell you, more than 17 million voters. She has come -- she has more delegates than any runner-up in history. Do you have to put her on the ticket?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me begin by saying -- repeating what I said on Tuesday night.
She has been an extraordinary candidate. She's been an extraordinary public servant for years now. She ran as tough a race as could be imagined. And I have nothing but respect for Senator Clinton and what she's going to contribute to the party. And I'm also confident we're going to be unified in November.
What I have also said is, the vice presidency is the most important decision that I will make before I'm president. And it's something that I take very seriously. I know Bill Clinton took it very seriously when he had to go through this process. Senator Clinton, I'm sure, would take it very seriously if she were going through this process.
So, we've got a committee that's made up of some wonderful people. They are going to go through the procedure and vet and talk to people and get recommendations. I will meet with a range of people. And I will ultimately make a decision.
Senator Clinton would be on anybody's short list.
CROWLEY: But you don't feel this -- there's an enormous amount of pressure out there for you to put her on the ticket. Do you feel that pressure?
OBAMA: You know, I am a big believer in making decisions well, not making them fast and not responding to pressure. And I think Senator Clinton right now is in the same position I am, which is we just completed 54 contests. We want to catch our breath. We need to take stock of where we are. I'm sure she has to do the same thing.
And, you know, she and I will have a conversation -- we won't be doing it through surrogates or the press -- to talk about how we move forward, join forces, to make sure we are successful in November. And, so, there's going to be a lot of time for that.
CROWLEY: Is it the best way to win over her supporters, though, if you put her on the ticket? You've seen, I'm sure, the polling showing that you're dropping women, sort of downscale voters, those kind of voters. Isn't it the best way to win them over, is to put them on that ticket?
OBAMA: As I said, I think everybody just needs to settle down. We've just completed this arduous process. It's only been two days.
And, you know, I think it's both not just in my interests and Senator Clinton's interests, but in the Democratic Party's interests and the country's interest, to make sure that I make this decision well. And I will be deliberate and systematic about it, because this will be my final counselor when I'm making decisions in the White House. And I want to make sure that I get it right.
CROWLEY: So, you don't feel at this moment you have to put her on the ticket, is bottom line?
OBAMA: Well, the bottom line is, is that we're going to go through a process, and I will make my decision some time in the weeks to come.
COOPER: Candy joining us live.
You tried to ask the question in as many different ways as possible, clearly, Candy.
COOPER: If this meeting is still going on, or if it's over -- we don't know at this point -- that's happening in her house in Washington, did -- would you expect them to make some sort of a statement? Probably not.
CROWLEY: Well, I think if their aides want to get any sleep, they might put something out that says they met, they had a cordial conversation, and the process will continue. It may be a paper statement. I don't think that they will come out and have a joint news conference, if that's what you mean.
So, yes, I do think they will say something in some way, simply because there's all this hoopla around it. And, as you know, as you heard from Tom, there's all sorts of media outside that house. So, I think they probably will put out a piece of paper to recognize that the meeting took place.
COOPER: Let's bring in CNN political contributor Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, CNN contributor Ed Rollins, a GOP strategist and former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee, as well as David Gergen.
David, is this a good move, moving pretty fast? Ed said he was surprised how fast Obama moved to have this meeting. Smart, though?
And I must say that, after sort of 24, 48 hours, almost, some awkwardness about how each of them was handling this. He lacked forcefulness in his campaign. She seemed to be holding back. I think, today, they really began to move smartly. This is a -- smart to have this meeting tonight.
I -- if I were there as an aide, I would recommend they both come out the door and wave together at people, because I think, if he leaves alone, it may suggest to people that, somehow, they had a rough meeting or something like that. So, I think the jointness actually matters at this.
She pulled back today, as Ed Rollins said. She has -- I think that was very wise of her today, after talking to a variety of people, to recognize what she did on Tuesday night and the way her supporters have been trying to pressure him is backfiring.
And then that interview tonight that we just saw clips of with Candy Crowley, there are a lot of Democrats who are going to be reassured by the quality of that interview, by the demeanor, by the sense of judgment that he was showing. I think all of -- I think everything they have done in the last -- today has been very positive, from a Democratic standpoint.
COOPER: Donna, you have been in meetings like this before between candidates. How much of this boils down to personal -- I mean, to personality of the candidates?
BRAZILE: Well, there's always personalities involved.
But Senator Clinton is a leader of the Democratic Party. She's been through this process, of course, as the wife of a former nominee and a former president of the United States. So, I think she's in a unique position to understand the challenges that Senator Obama is now facing, as the titular head of the Democratic Party.
He wants to do everything possible to ensure Senator Clinton, her supporters, her donors, the voters who went to the polls to cast their ballots that he will champion their cause, he will fight for their issues, and, of course, he will earn their support.
I think it's very important that they're sitting down tonight, because, as you know, there's a lot of healing to be done. But I trust both Senator Clinton, as well as Senator Obama, to begin that process tonight. COOPER: Ed, you say it's often all about personality. You have been in these kind of meetings on the Republican side between candidates.
From the outside, I think we often look at it as, OK, they're talking process and this and that.
ROLLINS: The job has become so enhanced, beginning probably when Walter Mondale was Jimmy Carter's vice president. I mean, obviously, Kennedy and Johnson didn't get along. It didn't matter. Nixon and Eisenhower didn't get along. It didn't matter.
But it's mattered ever since, because, as he said tonight, in a very serious conversation here: This is my most important counselor. This is the person I'm going to go to.
And he has to make a judgment, who does he want to go to? I think the key thing here is, she obviously is going to be a major party player for a long, long time. She's going to be a senator as long as she wants to. I live in New York. No one is going to beat her.
I think the other part of this story is, she's not just going to be subservient to anybody. She's someone who basically has been the first lady of this country, has traveled the world, is a major figure, could be -- if she stayed in the Senate, she could be like Teddy Kennedy in 10 years, the lion of the liberal causes.
But, more important, I think he has to exert himself: I'm now the leader of the party, a party that I haven't really been actively involved in. I'm -- I'm going to be the leader of this nation. I have got to show I have those skills, and I'm not depending on someone else to make it happen.
COOPER: And you say, Ed, if he doesn't want her as the vice president, he should tell her now. How would he do that?
ROLLINS: I would discourage her right now. I would basically say to her: This is the process. Thank you for everything. We want you to have input into the process.
But I think, the longer this thing weighs out there, it makes him look weak. If he wants her, he doesn't need to vet her. He can name her.
GERGEN: Go ahead. Sorry. Candy, go ahead, please. (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: Go ahead.
CROWLEY: Well, I was going to say, you know, that -- yes, sorry.
Let me just sort of agree with David, in that I thought it was really interesting, after he was asked time and time again, that he was very much in control, because this thing was getting out of control, this whole vice presidential, Hillary should be on the ticket.
And he was sort of calmly, coolly saying: I have got a process. I don't respond to pressure.
And it's what he needed to do. At the same time, he really took control of the Democratic National Committee today. So, you saw him moving out, and not just taking control of this spinning-out-of- control vice presidential mess, really, but also the DNC.
So, he's moved forward. As David says, that is going to be really -- that will be something that will reassure people. But I love Ed, but I disagree with him. I cannot see, in this first meeting, him kissing her off as a vice presidential nominee. I don't think it will happen.
COOPER: David, what about you?
GERGEN: I must say, Ed -- I respectfully disagree with my good friend Ed Rollins as well on this.
I think he just told Candy Crowley in his interview today, this is a deliberative process. She would be on anybody's short list.
And, therefore, it follows from that it must be a series of weeks, in which he considers her, along with others, and he takes control of the process. But I think to tell her now would deeply alienate not only her, but a lot of her supporters, as if: Well, I'm going to have a deliberative process, but, by the way, a long time ago, I decided you're out of this thing. Hasta la vista.
You know, I think that is the wrong move, given especially the -- the kind of taking charge that he did in that interview and what he's done today. This is a man who is moving, I think, in a way which many Democrats will find, as I say again, reassuring, because it seems calm. It seems deliberate: I'm not going to be panicked. I'm not going to be rushed into this. I will have a serious -- footnote -- just a footnote to this, by the way.
In 1994, I -- or -- I guess it was '93, when I was went into the -- I was invited into the Clinton White House, the first interview I had was with Hillary Clinton late at night, one on one, before I met her husband.
GERGEN: And I remember so well how direct she was. It was no- nonsense, but very warm, very positive, trying to make it work.
And I have seen her in this situation. And I will guarantee you, I think this meeting will have a very positive result between the two of them.
ROLLINS: Let me say one thing.
And, obviously, David, you and I are disagreeing.
I just think that he has to show these Democrats who voted for her are going to be his Democrats. They're not voting tomorrow for John McCain. They're not running away. There's a long period of time to go here. I just think, if you keep her floating, if you really made up your mind she's not going to be your candidate, and you basically keep this thing afloat for a period of time, you can do some irreparable damage to your party.
Reagan and Ford made it clear very early that they weren't going to be part of a ticket together. Reagan sent messages that he didn't want to be. Ford sent messages he wasn't going to ask. I think those are important things early on.
COOPER: OK. We have got to take a quick break. We will be right back on the other side of this.
COOPER: And we continue to follow our breaking news.
You're looking at a picture, a live picture, of Hillary Clinton's house there on the left. We're not sure if the meeting is still going on. We're not sure if Barack Obama is still inside.
Joining us again, Candy Crowley, CNN political contributor, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, CNN contributor Ed Rollins, a GOP strategist and former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee.
Donna, we were talking before, as Candy pointed out, that Barack Obama took control over the Democratic -- the DNC today. What exactly did -- does that mean?
BRAZILE: This is a very important move for Senator Obama, as the nominee of the party, to put in place his general election manager, Paul Tewes.
I have to claim Paul Tewes. Anderson, with all due respect, Paul Tewes is one of my boos.
BRAZILE: He's actually one of my...
COOPER: Oh, sure, sure.
GERGEN: How many do you have there?
BRAZILE: I have several hundred.
BRAZILE: I have several hundred.
BRAZILE: Paul ran the Gore operation in Iowa, along with Steve Hildebrand.
So, what -- what Senator Obama is doing right now putting people in place to begin the long march to 1600 avenue. He has a convention to run. He has three important committees at a convention. He has to begin to put together speaking slots. There's a great deal of work that must go on behind the scenes.
And what Senator Obama did today is clearly begin the transition. And, clearly, he's reaching out to Senator Clinton tonight also to bring aboard some of her people. Look, she has some of the most experienced Democratic operatives. He doesn't want to leave them behind to be picked up by someone else. So, I think what happened today was clearly the first step in the healing process, but also the first step of planning for the -- for the general election.
COOPER: David, it's interesting. You were talking about your own personal experience in your first meeting with Hillary Clinton. Can you talk a little bit more about that? What is it like when you're sitting one on one with her? It's a view few people have ever seen.
GERGEN: Well, she -- you know, in that case, as in this, I think she wanted to make something work. She wanted to make an arrangement that could have been very, very awkward work, in my case. And she wanted to -- I think she obviously wants to make this work.
COOPER: So, is there small talk? Is there chitchat? Is there...
GERGEN: No, very, very importantly, Anderson, I thought maybe she would bring in one or two other people from her team to sit with us, and it wouldn't be a direct conversation.
She shooed everybody out of the room. She wanted to have very much one on one. She -- that's why I'm curious about whether Bill Clinton is in the house or not, and what happened to him.
But my bet is that they sat down one on one, because both of them wanted it, that she wants -- she is very much her own person in this campaign. And she wants to be seen as her own person.
And my experience with her -- and I think others have had this similar experience with her -- is, she's a very direct person who understands exactly what is happening around her. She is not living in a cocoon. She is not living in some kind of bubble that sometimes happens to people in politics.
She's very sensitive to all these issues. And she will have a very, very intelligent conversation.
GERGEN: And, in my judgment, she will now accept the role, as she signaled today: I am important. I brought a lot of people to the table, but I also recognize, I'm the vanquished. You're the victor.
I think that's the dynamic that I think you will see.
COOPER: David, Tom Foreman, who is outside the house right now, is just reporting there's an uptick in activity.
Tom, what are you seeing?
FOREMAN: Well, there's been a considerable uptick in activity here, Anderson, a lot of more movement by Secret Service people, a lot of vehicles sort of coming and going, the buzz, that either signals in all likelihood someone showing up or someone leaving.
The truth is, we don't know if he's inside at this moment or has been inside earlier today. Some of the crews who were out here longer during the day said they did not see him arrive.
But, clearly, there's been much more activity of people walking around here, Secret Service sort of buzzing around. A suburban just backed up to a gate here as if it's preparing to load someone and leave, or something like that. It's difficult to read what all this means, because it's all tea leaves at this point. But I can tell you it's much busier here than it was 10 minutes ago -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed, as we look at this picture of the house, do you make much of the fact that Barack Obama went to her house?
ROLLINS: Well, I assume she has the big house, and he has the apartment somewhere.
COOPER: You think it could be as simple as that?
ROLLINS: If he has a big house, I promise the Republicans are going to found out how he afforded it.
ROLLINS: I hope what is happening that I think would be very symbolic, if Bill Clinton is arriving back at the house from hamburgers, from Big Mac, and they're all going to sit down and make peace here.
BRAZILE: That's not on a diet anymore, Ed.
ROLLINS: Once a Big Mac eater, as I know, is always a Big Mac eater.
ROLLINS: But the bottom line here, though, I think -- and I think the move to take charge of the party -- Republicans have done the same thing -- is a very important thing.
They have a very short time frame to get to their convention here. And I think these are not -- these are not Washingtonians. Obviously, Donna has one of her people. But the reality is, he put a campaign together with outsiders, talented political strategists, but they're not part of the DNC. They're not part of the Washington establishment. That's very important they get in there and take charge of this operation.
COOPER: Here we go. We've got to take a short break. We're going to stay on this story tonight, just ahead.
Also, behind the scenes in the Clinton campaign, what some of her key supporters did today against the campaign's wishes. We've got the "Raw Politics" on that.
And more breaking news: a dangerous storm system we're following, moving across the heartland. Details next on 360.
COOPER: We'll go back to the story of the Clinton-Obama meeting in a moment, but we have more breaking news. An especially dangerous storm system battering the heartland, including Kansas, with tornadoes on the ground and the threat of a whole lot more to come. Erica Hill has the latest in a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Anderson. A long night ahead. Meteorologist Chad Myers, our severe weather expert, is standing by in Atlanta with the latest.
And still a tornado watch in effect in Kansas, right, Chad?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Tornado watches, Erica, in effect until 6 a.m. Eastern Time. So we're going to be here for many, many more hours. This is a wound-up storm. It's going to go all night long, all the way from Minnesota down through Texas. And we already have watches. I mean, more watch boxes than I can talk about, all the way from Minneapolis right on back down into west Texas.
We are watching the most significant, though, tornadoes in Iowa right now. Also in the next 30 minutes, Des Moines, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City, you are going to get wind events. I'm not talking, maybe, tornado events, but somewhere in that 60- to 70-mile-per-hour winds as they come through.
Des Moines, there are some tornadoes down toward Creston, and interestingly enough, Creston had 20 last night, as well. But about an hour, hour and a half before it gets to Tulsa, we've had trucks blown over on I-20 near Sweetwater, trucks blown over onto their sides on the I-29 north of St. Joe in Missouri. And these storms are not going to stop all night long.
The closest I can get to a tornado right now on the ground is near Kent, Iowa. And that's it, at least so far. But for a while, for a while, Erica. Earlier we had eight tornadoes -- eight tornado warnings at the same time.
HILL: It has been rough. And we're not done yet with tornado season.
HILL: Chad, thanks.
COOPER: More developments in our other breaking story, and that's the meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Also ahead, the "Raw Politics" behind Hillary Clinton's exit from the campaign and how Clinton's aides tried to stop her most loyal supporters from endorsing her rival. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Now we're looking at a live picture of the Clinton home in northwest Washington, D.C., updating our breaking political story. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton apparently meeting there tonight. Sources telling CNN the meeting took place there. "The New York Times" also reporting that the meeting took place there.
Senator Obama slipping away at the end of a day on the trail to Virginia, not flying home tonight Chicago, going instead to the Clintons' home, we're told, not far, incidentally, from the vice president's residence near the British embassy.
Now, according to "The New York Times," the meeting came at the request of Senator Clinton. More now on the decision that brought her to this point. How she got out.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux has the "Raw Politics."
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the lead-up to Hillary Clinton's endorsement of Barack Obama, Clinton's most loyal supporters, her New York delegation, got behind her rival.
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Outstanding candidate and, in our collective opinion, he has won the nomination.
MALVEAUX: Thursday's event is part of a highly-orchestrated public effort to make the best of what some saw as a serious Clinton blunder: her decision not to concede the race Tuesday night.
RANGEL: The New York congressional delegation is with her until the end, but we thought the end was the end.
MALVEAUX: Clinton loyalist Charlie Rangel helped negotiate where that end would be. Wednesday, in a series of conference calls with Hillary Clinton, Rangel expressed lawmakers' private frustrations that some were ready to quickly endorse Obama and move on.
Clinton aides tried to convince the delegation to wait until after Clinton herself gave Obama the nod. The compromise? This tortured announcement today.
RANGEL: We come here collectively to endorse the decision that's been made by our fearless leader who comes as a member of the state of New York that makes us so proud.
MALVEAUX: Friday, New York state officials will hold a similar event in Manhattan. Clinton has designated two of her top advisers, Bob Barnett and Cheryl Mills, to negotiate with the Obama camp over such things as how she would campaign, what role she'd play at the convention, how to wipe out her debt and whether she'd get an official campaign title.
Meanwhile, her campaign put out a statement today, distancing Clinton from reports that she's actively seeking the vice presidency. However, sources close to the Clintons say she not only would accept the offer, if it came, but initially she was not discouraging supporters from pushing her candidacy.
(on camera) Friday night, Clinton will have her staff over for dinner at her home, but all eyes will be on Saturday when she goes before her supporters, calling for the party to unite around Barack Obama.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, New York.
COOPER: Suzanne, of course, is also checking her sources to try to find out more information about this meeting tonight.
Candy Crowley, who was with us for the last half hour, has now stepped off so she can get on the phone and talk to some of her sources, as well. We're trying to collect as much information as we can about this meeting.
Let's go back for a strategy session with those who are still with us, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen; Democratic strategist, undeclared super delegate Donna Brazile, who's also a CNN contributor; along with Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins.
David, to pick up what Suzanne was talking about, if Clinton does not wind up on the ticket, how -- what would be her best role in the campaign?
GERGEN: Well, that's going to be a very interesting question. Because it -- in resolving the question of whether she might be the vice president, they'll also have to be -- resolve the question is there some other role she might wish to play in the administration, ranging from secretary of state to being an attorney general with a possible appointment to the Supreme Court, should there be a vacancy, as there's likely to be in the first term. All those questions would have to be resolved.
If they were resolved in a favorable, or at least forward- leaning, as they say in politics, way, then I think she won't take an official role in the campaign, but she would be a major surrogate. There would be funding provided for her to travel the country. And she would have frequent appearances, both with him and with her husband.
I think there will also be, obviously, a second conversation about her husband's role, what they would play.
But I think the first and most important decision is this vice- presidential decision, and Barack Obama was absolutely right today. This is the most important decision he has to make before the election. It will send a signal to the entire country about what kind of team he intends to signal -- to assemble, what kind of people to have around him, whether he's going to move left, whether he's going to move right, all those kind of other issues. And it will be -- continue to hang over him.
But I do think what's happened in the last 24 hours is really significant, because instead of putting the pressure on him, she's now trying to depressurize the situation. She's trying to move to make it his decision, and he's taking charge of the party. That's a very different stance than we were in just 24 hours ago.
COOPER: Again, you're looking at pictures, live pictures from outside Hillary Clinton's home. Sources have told us the meeting was taking place or has taken place. We've not been able to independently confirm that fact.
There's been no official statement from either of the campaigns about where this meeting has taken place or even if it has taken place. But we continue to believe, as does "The New York Times," that the location was Hillary Clinton's house.
Ed, should the Obama campaign be concerned about Hillary Clinton's high negatives? I mean, Jimmy Carter raised this issue with "The Guardian" paper yesterday, saying that she shouldn't be on the ticket because of her high negatives. Does she -- the fact of the negatives and the fact that she can mobilize the Republican base, does that make her an unattractive candidate?
ROLLINS: The Republican base is going to be mobilized. I mean, John McCain has got to really mobilize them. And I think, to a certain extent, this great myth that you're running against Hillary or running against Barack is enough to make everybody get all worked up.
COOPER: Right now the Republicans all seem to be complimenting Hillary Clinton. John McCain seems to be...
ROLLINS: I think the bottom line is Hillary is someone who went to the Senate. We've had great respect, because people -- by Republicans, because she was a worker.
And I think the bottom line is anybody who was for her or against her, watching her for the last three, four months in this campaign, she's been a tremendous candidate. I can tell you, I would not want to run a campaign against her.
The key thing here, I think, though, is just simply it has to be his game. He has to win these voters. If he's dependent on someone else to win half the Democratic Party, he's not going to be successful. The bottom line is those people aren't running to John McCain tomorrow. You've got five months to go here.
And I think that he has to basically go out, and have a message, whatever that message may be, he has to bring the blue collar and the women.
COOPER: Donna Brazile, Geraldine Ferraro, I think, suggested that Barack Obama should hold some fundraisers to pay down Hillary Clinton's debt. Does that make sense to you?
BRAZILE: Well, I just learned that Bob Barnett, who's an exceptional lawyer, is going to head up the transition effort on Senator Clinton's side along with Cheryl Mill, another exceptional lawyer.
I think that, between Bob and Cheryl and whoever Senator Obama will put forward in his campaign, they will sit down and iron out all of these issues. There's no reason...
COOPER: What does that mean, the transition? Where are they heading?
BRAZILE: They are going to be reaching out to Senator Obama's campaign to talk about issues like debt. The debt. The policy of platform tomorrow of the party, the credentials committee and whether or not we restore 100 percent of the delegates. And going forward, the Democratic Party would like to see both teams on the playing field, because we know that the battle against John McCain will not be easy, but if we're united, we can defeat John McCain and the Republicans. COOPER: Again, we're waiting, seeing activity. We're not sure what it may mean. It may not mean anything. This whole meeting may be over for all we know.
Candy is working her sources. She's on the phone trying to figure it out. We're, of course, waiting to see if there's any joint picture or, obviously, a joint statement between these two candidates. That's why we're staying live, to bring that to you.
Up next, we'll have more developments from the Clinton home. And part two of Candy Crowley's interview with Barack Obama on Iraq, Israel and Iran, coming up.
COOPER: And we're following this breaking story. Candy Crowley, we understand has new information.
Candy, what have you learned?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We are hearing, actually, from Chris Welsch (ph), who is our embed with the Obama campaign. Those are the people that took off without Obama and went to Chicago.
The spokesman there is, in fact, confirming that the meeting did take place. They're talking in past tense now. But saying that the meeting did not take place at the Clinton's house.
It took place, at this point at some place I don't know where, some undisclosed place in Washington, D.C., not at Hillary Clinton's place. But nonetheless, it did take place. Sounds like it is over.
It was described by Robert Gibbs, who is her communications -- I'm sorry, Obama's communications chief, that this was about bringing the campaigns together in unity for the party.
So again, absolutely the meeting took place. It was a unity meeting. Their very first since he won the number of delegates he need to become the nominee. It took place somewhere in Washington.
COOPER: All right. Well, clearly that's why Tom Foreman wasn't seeing much activity at Hillary Clinton's house.
HILL: Exactly. Sorry about that. What can I tell you?
CROWLEY: I mean, the...
HILL: Candy, go ahead.
CROWLEY: Exactly. No, I was just going to say this is -- sometimes when, you know, when you don't have people on the scene, plenty of sources knew about this meeting, told us and others that it was at Hillary Clinton's house.
But clearly, it wasn't now, because we're getting it on the record from the Obama campaign. COOPER: It's interesting just to see the process of how we report this stuff, play out just, Candy, in real time.
You checked with your sources and, what, early on you heard a couple of people confirming, "Yes, I'm hearing there's a meeting at the Clintons' house." "The New York Times" was also reporting it was at the Clintons.
MALVEAUX: They said there wasn't -- right. It wasn't -- it wasn't even I'm hearing. It was there is a meeting tonight. I had two sources. Our Suzanne Malveaux had another, so we had three sources. Two of them saying it's at her house.
So we knew that the meeting was taking place, because we had three sources saying that, and they had direct knowledge of it. But what we got wrong and what they got wrong, and sometimes this happens, is that it's not -- the location is not right. It was not taking place at her house. What all those Suburbans are doing there, I'm not really sure.
COOPER: Right. Well, right, all right. For fuel consumption, we'll take up later on. So obviously the meeting is done. Clearly, there was no photo from what we can tell, no photo, no statement. I guess that's not much of a surprise.
CROWLEY: Well, you know, not to me. But, again, I'm extrapolating that it's over, because...
COOPER: ... past tense.
CROWLEY: Again, this word from the communications director is he's talking in the past tense.
CROWLEY: So I'm assuming it's over.
Ed, it doesn't really change anything. I mean, the notion of making a gesture of going to her house obviously is no longer the case.
ROLLINS: Now. And the cameras don't have to sit there all night waiting for somebody to come out. So when Bill comes out in the morning to pick up the newspaper. I see all these cameras, so I think "Happy days" again.
I think -- I think the bottom line is that it was a very important meeting, I'm sure. And I'm sure it was a good first step.
COOPER: All right. We're going to take a short break. We'll continue to follow this story, update some of the other stories making news tonight. We'll be right back. Stay tuned.
HILL: Updating our breaking news. The meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama wrapped up earlier this evening. Now part two of Candy Crowley's interview with Senator Obama.
CROWLEY: I want to ask you about something you said in APAC yesterday. You said that Jerusalem must remain undivided. Do the Palestinians have no claim to Jerusalem in the future?
OBAMA: Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations.
CROWLEY: But you would be against any kind of division of Jerusalem?
OBAMA: My belief is that, as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute. And I think that it is smart for us to -- to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city.
CROWLEY: You've upset the Palestinians with this, who have said -- some of the leaders have said, "It shows he's not for peace if he believes Jerusalem should remain undivided." It causes a problem, doesn't it, as the U.S. being an honest broker?
OBAMA: I've said some things, and I've said even some things yesterday, that probably some Israelis aren't happy with.
You know, there are a whole host of areas where I think there's going to have to be compromise on both sides. And what I said yesterday is that we're going to have to start earlier than we have historically on this process. I recognize that a president comes in with a lot of stuff coming at him. But the Middle East peace process is so important that we can't reserve it to the end of a presidency. We've got to start soon, and I'm going to be absolutely committed to making that happen.
CROWLEY: You have said you want to go back to Iraq...
CROWLEY: ... see what the situation is on the ground. Is there nothing that they could show you or that General Petraeus could tell you that would move you from wanting to immediately begin removing U.S. troops?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I'd never say there's nothing or "never" or "no way" in which I'd change my mind. Obviously, I'm open to the facts and to reason. And there's no doubt that we've seen significant improvements in security on the ground in Iraq. And our troops, and General Petraeus, deserve enormous credit for that.
I have to look at this issue from a broader strategic perspective, though. And in terms of long-term strategy, I am absolutely convinced that the best thing we can do is to set a clear timetable, tell the Iraqis, "We are going to start pulling out," do it in a careful fashion, make sure...
CROWLEY: When you say "careful"...
CROWLEY: ... what are we going to be careful about?
OBAMA: Well, we're going to be careful about two things. One is, we've got to be careful about the safety of our troops. It's not an easy exercise to bring out the thousands of troops that we have there, the tons of equipment that we have there. So we've got to execute that effectively.
But we also have to do it and pace it in a way that works in concert with the diplomacy that's happening inside Iraq and in the region.
There's a lot of work that's going to have to be done. It's a very complicated operation. And I've got no interest in doing it carelessly.
CROWLEY: ... but a timetable would slide, then (ph). I mean, if you took all those things into consideration.
OBAMA: But I think it's important for us to say to the Iraqis, "We're not here for the long haul. It's time for you guys to achieve agreement on critical issues like how you're dividing up oil revenues, how provincial government is relating to the national government."
But we have a lot of other interests. We've got to make sure that Afghanistan is not sliding into chaos.
We've got to deal with Iran. And we have to tamp down the anti- American sentiment that has become so pervasive in the Middle East.
Those are all things that I've got to take into account, and that's why I believe that my Iraq approach is much better to an approach that is, essentially, open-ended when it comes to John McCain.
COOPER: Candy's interview with Barack Obama today. Let's check in with Candy, who's been following this breaking story on the meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Candy, just review for our viewers the latest.
CROWLEY: Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met tonight somewhere in the Washington area. The meeting is now over. It is their first honest sit-down since he became the Democratic nominee. It was something that the Clinton people said they thought would happen before she has her speech on Saturday when she will recognize him as the presumptive Democratic nominee. It is the first, I am sure, of many, many conversations of people do not get over this very easily. Politics are politics, but it's very personal to lose. So this will be a dance from now for a long term, probably through the fall.
But it's the beginning of the Democratic Party, in particular, these two people, trying to come together for what they all say they really want, which is a victory in November. So that first meeting taking place tonight in Washington, Anderson.
COOPER: And David, you've been in these kind of meetings before. The significance of it?
GERGEN: Very important meeting, reassuring the Democrats. The fact that it was not more stage-managed suggests to me they really did want to keep it quite private, and they weren't quite certain going in whether it would be a cordial meeting.
COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, Candy Crowley, all our guests, Donna Brazile, Ed Rollins, thank you very much tonight.
More on tonight's breaking news coming up, including a massive and dangerous storm now hitting the central states.